Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×

Comment Re:Caller id spoofing already broke that. (Score 3, Interesting) 119

How about some variation on holding the telephone company responsible for the falsified CallerID information? The false information gets there in the first place because the phone companies let anyone with a digital interface supply their own CallerID information. Perhaps the phone companies should develop a screening process whereby they don't accept CallerID information from a subscriber if it doesn't match a previously agreed-upon pattern (for the text, and for the number). Legitimate uses of injected CallerID information are for things like Direct Inward Dial trunks handing out the internal PBX routing number; this would fit the pattern for the number, and the names could be prefaced by some kind of approved organizational identifier.

If the CallerID information could be guaranteed to lead back to the real call initiator, then the Federal reporting forums for illegal and harassing phone calls could have real data to work on. As it stands now, I can report the illegal robocall, or the call even though I'm on the "Do Not Call" list, but even as I report it I'm pretty sure nothing will happen because the CallerID information I'm using to identify the actual caller is falsified. And... good luck getting an actual organization name out of an individual should you choose to speak to one on a robocall. They know better than to give you an actionable name.

Comment Re:So what is YOUR plan? (Score 1) 406

My mother-in-law spouts out with stuff like this. What's funny, is that I've driven up and down and across the US quite a bit in the last few years, and I have yet to see all the gross examples of crumbling infrastructure that are supposedly out there. I have also seen my entire family, getting by on USDA food surplus cheese, powdered milk, and eggs in the 1970s, achieve reasonable levels of living, with their own homes, vehicles, and no more welfare/food stamps etc.

Ironic that you push for people to vote for gun control (which we already have plenty of), then talk about people slowly loosing more of their freedoms. How about we encourage people to be civil and respectful to each other, everyone all together. That might work better.

Comment Re:Time and place (Score 2) 283

Perhaps more to the point, if people start using VPNs so that they can view porn while they are at a family restaurant, McDonald's may choose to start blocking VPNs (like my local library did). And that would screw up my ability to securely access my Contacts, Calendar, and e-mail while I'm chowing down at lunch or dinner while I'm on the road.

We are all members of a *society* - anyone who wants to be anti-social should excuse themselves and head for the woods or the mountains. Good luck finding porn there. If someone likes the benefits they gain from society, they should understand that they need to put up with some restraints as well. (Don't they sell stroke mags at convenience stores anymore for the wankers?)

Comment Re:Fair vs. Free (Score 1) 148

I think Microsoft already made the argument that free/open source software was a threat to the commercial software industry and needed to be reined in, that using Microsoft's typical FUD wasn't going to be enough, and that they now needed to be fighting standard protocols, using tactics such as "embrace, extend, and extinguish." See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween_documents. Given the revealed and suggested tactics, its not hard to imagine that a different attack vector could be funded.

Comment Re:Can't stop the signal... (Score 1) 288

The problem could be removed, easily. Eliminate the completely artificial premise that just because a person makes a particular noise, they have the right to control all subsequent times that noise is made, and to be enriched by all subsequent times that noise is made. Will society really cease to function if that premise is no longer valid? Will all music suddenly vanish? If all corporately-produced music did vanish, would our lives be left less rich and meaningful?

Musical performers would still be able to make a living, if they are good enough, putting on live performances for other people to attend. They would probably have to adjust the cost of a live performance to account for the competition from recordings and other performers with the same music/sound... and some of them would have to find another line of work.

Comment Re:No. (Score 4, Insightful) 262

I think health insurance is for everyone, because the risk of having expensive health problems exists for just about everyone, especially if health issues due to accidents are included. This is similar to automobile insurance - everyone who drives carries insurance, not just the bad drivers. However, insurance companies of all types love to have reasons to divide people up into very small risk pools, and charge people more for insurance if they have even a casual relationship to some risk factor that indicates that they may make claims (or higher than average claims) against insurance. In the US, auto insurance companies are using things like people's credit score to determine how much to charge them for automobile insurance, on the basis of a belief that people with certain ranges of credit scores are more likely to be involved in accidents, apparently.

For health insurance, the risk of the health companies getting access to too much data about individuals is that they will start charging individuals for insurance according to their perception of the risk of insuring those individuals. Even if they could correctly screen people into various risk categories, this would be detrimental to the overall way insurance works in general - a large pool of people are charged for insurance based on the average risk in the pool. Everyone pays a more or less affordable rate, and when the risks materialize as claims, those claims get paid off, but the insurance company doesn't have to pay out more than they took in (if they did, they would go out of business).

If only sick/unhealthy people get health insurance, then the cost of that insurance has to be high, because they will have a higher rate of claims. Those who are fortunate enough to have great health might forego insurance, but on average most people expect to have some issue or other that might require insurance coverage, so on average most people will want insurance. So more people get insurance, and the average cost of insurance goes down because the average claims rate across the larger pool is lower.

The higher the certainty of people making claims, the less of a solution "insurance" is - insurance is intended to spread risk among a large pool. It seems to be very hard to get people to understand that on average, people cannot expect to get more out of an insurance plan than what they pay into the plan. If that were so, the insurance company would go out of business. As much as people may dislike insurance companies (and many insurance companies have earned the dislike/hatred of their customers), they provide a substantial social benefit when they perform their basic risk management function.

Comment Re:Traffic lanes designated to buses or bicycles n (Score 3, Interesting) 165

The only way I can think of addressing the problem of a lack of competition in the last mile of communications services is for local governments to provide the communications service as a basic utility, the same as water, sewer, trash pickup. Or maybe its provided by a utility provider like electricity or gas. Then companies like Comcast don't need to be a "monopoly" cable provider for a town or county; other companies like Verizon don't need to be a "monopoly" telephony provider either - anyone who wants to provide services (any data service, including telephony data and what we now thing of as cable television service data) can, with the services riding over the utility communications network. Perhaps that is what we are backing into, with ISPs being declared to be the utilities that they so obviously seem to be. Couple that with VoIP telephone services being broken free from cable companies and RBOCs, and the move to "cut the cord" with A/V entertainment services, and pretty soon there aren't any government-protected monopolies for phone and cable... just a basic communications utility provide by or on behalf of the local government, and a multitude of service providers, all competing openly with one another.

Comment Re:Major Loss for Internet Freedom (Score 4, Interesting) 165

One of the things I like about "the Internet" is that Internet Service Providers (the actual entities that were found to be Title II communications carriers) are most emphatically NOT the Internet. In the days of CompuServe, AOL, GENIE, et al., that confusion was understandable, because the only part of the service that wasn't run by the commercial provider was the actual analog telephone circuit used to carry the modulated data. Now, however, the major ISPs have steadily reduced most elements of service that used to be expected: no FTP services, no web site hosting except for very lame web site hosting, no USENET news feeds; the only thing most of them do except provide transit of IP packets from a subscriber's premise is provide e-mail hosting.

The Internet is a grand bazaar, forum, and meeting place, and what is needed on the parts of the absolutely necessary firms that transport our communications traffic to/from the Internet is for them to most emphatically not muck with it, whether that mucking comes in the form of "super-cookies" (injections of information into what should be inviolate virtual connections), invading people's privacy by tracking what they are doing, or trying to enhance their profits by trying to charge both ends for the same traffic.

There IS honor in providing an ordinary, plebeian transport service, albeit that honor may come with lower profit margins. Over the road truckers don't sort through our packages in order to build dossiers about what we buy, nor do they insert GPS trackers into packages in order to see where they are going. We wouldn't stand for them trying to monetize the delivery service they are already being paid to provide. We should expect no less from Internet Service Providers.

Comment Re:To be fair (Score 1) 186

The word "robot" as used by roboticists, although not specifically defined in a way that all would accept without quibbling, does not include the requirement of "Artificial Intelligence". See, for example, the way that industrial robots are defined in ISO 8373 as "an automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose, manipulator programmable in three or more axes, which may be either fixed in place or mobile for use in industrial automation applications."

Even the word "autonomous" is not synonymous with "Artificial Intelligence" (or else there would be great demand for the thousands of students creating LEGO Mindstorms-Based autonomous robots to play the FIRST LEGO League "Robot Game"). So even if the requirement for something to be a robot is for it to be autonomous (and many roboticists would disagree with that requirement) that still doesn't require the device to be imbued with Artificial Intelligence.

As pointed out in the parent posting, it is Science Fiction literature that tends to equate robotics with Artificial Intelligence, not the actual, real practice of robotics that is all around us in the world today. I interpret Asimov's fascination with the three laws of "robotics" as being an exploration of the consequences of creating sentient (or at least conscious") artificial minds, regardless of whether they are embodied (in the form of a robot), and then trying to place restrictions on those artificial minds sufficient to prevent those minds from ever turning on their creators. The ancient Greeks demonstrated in their mythology an understanding of the potential for the created to turn on and become superior to the creators (younger gods tended to rebel against and imprison/destroy the elder gods who created them). It would be silly for us humans to not be wary of the possibility of a truly sentient/conscious artificially-created mind becoming a threat to humanity, whether for our own good (as in some science fiction explorations where the robots seek to protect us from our own flawed selves) or to our detriment (such as in the Terminator series, or the Matrix movies).

The idea that a machine built for the purpose of causing pain/harming people in any way represents a serious exploration of the challenges/pitfalls of building a machine capable of harm but designed specifically to avoid harm seems odd to me at best.

Comment Re:Only an academic... (Score 1) 240

The claim that I was refuting was the narrow one that CERN and the EU developed the "IP/TCP/HTTP/HTML stack", not the broader idea that Europeans were involved in the network research that contributed to the knowledge used by the people who defined the IP protocol. I provided citations to the Request For Comments that define the IP and TCP protocols, both of which emanated from US institutions being funded by the US government. Those RFCs clearly identify the source of the IP and TCP protocols that are in use today for the Internet.

Comment Re:Only an academic... (Score 2) 240

Packet switching - aka ARPANET- was US funded. The IP/TCP/HTTP/HTML stack was developed at CERN, EU.

To be clear - The foundation of the Internet as we know it today, the IP protocol stack, including IP (the Internet Protocol) https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc791 and TCP (the Transmission Control Protocol) https://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc793.txt, were most emphatically *not* developed at CERN or by any entity in Europe. Europe was busy working on the International Standards Organization (ISO) Open Systems Interconnect (OSI) protocol stack while the US was whipping up IP, TCP, UDP (et al.) as a follow-on to the original ARPAnet communications protocols. The ISO OSI reference model for networking survived (sort of); the OSI protocol stack largely sank beneath the waves. The Internet development model (rough consensus and running code) was a lot more productive than endless committee meetings and the attempt to put everything including the kitchen sink into a protocol stack (think of it as Agile development versus Waterfall development). I'm a bit touchy about this because I got embroiled in battles involving European agencies who tried to insist that major global communications networks should be based on ISO OSI long after TCP/IP was firmly established as the clear standard for internetworking.

This of course in no way diminishes the value of the introduction of HTTP/HTML to the Internet by Tim Berners-Lee while he worked at CERN.

Slashdot Top Deals

You can't go home again, unless you set $HOME.