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Comment Re:I've Persuaded Voters on Facebook (Score 1) 399

Peter Koutoujian: He's the Middlesex Sheriff. In Massachusetts, a sheriff is mostly responsible for prisoners. Koutoujian has been working for prison reform to make changes so that people who are released are less likely to return. I have no idea why someone would mount a challenge to him--he's generally popular, and I doubt that there's much risk of him losing the primary.

Bob Jubinville: He's the member of the Governor's Council from the second district (of eight). In most other states, the senate will approve gubernatorial appointments, but in Massachusetts, we have a separate body to do this. Jubinville has been very independent in his role, sometimes being the only vote against a nominee. He's very concerned that judges ruling on criminal cases have a good understanding of addiction, as that is often a significant factor in the circumstances leading up to the infraction. He makes a significant effort to attend public events throughout his huge district, so I see him regularly, which is not something you can usually say about someone in his office.

State Rep: If you're actually in my district (parts of Framingham and all of Ashland), let me know, and I'll fill you in.

Comment Stick with LTS kernels (Score 2) 67

If the idea of your kernel no longer getting point releases bothers you, you should stick with the Long Term Stability releases. For most users, this is done by default using the distribution kernels. For users that build their own kernels, upgrading to the next release isn't much more difficult than upgrading to the next bugfix point release. If you're building your own kernel and use commercial kernel modules (e.g., VMWare), then stick with LTS kernels to minimize version conflicts.

So for most Linux users, this story is a non-story.

Comment Re:CUSeeMe (Score 1) 114

Skype works fine on my Android phone, and it works on my mother's Windows laptop. When we tried Google Hangouts, something didn't work. We're sticking with Skype because the core functionality works for us: video phone calls.

Yes, it has it's problems:
*) Encryption is sub-par.
*) It drops connections if my phone jumps networks.

But it works on the platforms we need it to work on, and it solves our problem. Switching would require that the core video conferencing of the new alternative be noticeably better. Otherwise it's not worth the effort to walk my mother through it.

Comment CUSeeMe (Score 1) 114

No thanks. I'll stick with CUSeeMe.

Seriously, this was working just fine twenty years ago. Why is this still a problem? Granted, CUSeeMe didn't have encryption, but you could do multi-way video conferences, and it was cross-platform.

Skype at least covers all the major platforms. We use it for a weekly video call with our son's grandparents across the country who would otherwise rarely see him. It's not perfect, but it works well enough (Android to Windows laptop).

Google Hangouts also covers all the major platforms. We tried it for our weekly video call, but ran into too many glitches, and Skype does the job.

This may add end-to-end encryption, which is a plus, but it needs to be significantly better than Skype to take over. That means a *good* desktop interface, as well as mobile. You might even be able to do an HTML5 version and have it work everywhere.

Comment I've Persuaded Voters on Facebook (Score 2) 399

If you're only looking at the Presidential general election, then it's probably true that Facebook posts aren't going to be flipping votes. But that's not the only election. Political posts can make a huge difference in primaries. Political posts can also make a difference in down-ticket races.

Several times people have told me that my posts have convinced them to change their vote in a primary to a different candidate in the same party. I once had someone tell me that they flipped their vote to a candidate in a different party in a general election (down-ticket) based on my Facebook post (in what turned out to be the closest state-wide race on the ballot).

For example:

If you're in Massachusetts, please vote in the state primary on September 8th. If you take a Democratic ballot, I've met the Middlesex Sheriff, Peter Koutoujian, several times, and he's working on important criminal justice reforms. Please vote for him. Also, Bob Jubinville is doing an excellent job on the Governor's Council--please reelect him (I could go on and on and on as to the reasons why). If you're in Tom Sannicandro's district, he's stepping down, and Brett Walker is the best of the three seeking to replace him; I was briefly running myself and withdrew to support him--I'm that convinced he's the best candidate.

Comment Re:First cool site was 'the liquid oxygen barbecue (Score 1) 136

Besides the LOX demo and his invention of Refrigerant R-406A "AutoFrost", George was an Alpha Hardware Hacker at Purdue who presented at Usenix conferences. He got a grant to work on multiprocessing, and so he took two VAX 780's, and connected them by the backplane, creating a multiprocessor VAX. Digital Equipment liked it so much that they made a product of it, called the VAX/782. The CPU clock was 5 MHz and there were a lot of DIP-package digital logic ICs in there, with lots of space between them on the PCBs.

Comment Classic Steve Jobs and the Nascent Web (Score 5, Interesting) 136

Steve Jobs and some folks from Pixar were going out to lunch one day. While walking out of the building, Steve said "we have to find the killer app for the Internet". Steve and I both had NeXT workstations on our desks, and they had the first Mosaic web browser for NeXTStep on them. I'm not sure I even tried that browser, but we both completely missed that this was the killer app for the Internet.

Comment Re:No Sharing Allowed (Score 3, Informative) 77

With the fingerprint scanner, you can add multiple fingerprints. This can be useful for reading the same finger in a different orientation, recording fingerprints from both thumbs, or letting multiple people unlock the same phone. There's no technical reason that they couldn't do the same with the iris scanner.

In my case, I like to let my wife unlock my phone so that she can handle it if someone texts me while I'm driving (or other similar situations). I'm sure lots of other people have legitimate reasons for wanting to have multiple people easily unlock the same phone.

Comment Re:Special character requirement (Score 1) 211

I use the Hacker's Keyboard, but some apps require a password and don't let me rotate the screen. The profile keyboard doesn't have all the symbols as conveniently on the screen. I know you can turn them on, but I'm not happy with that, either.

Also, I've had to enter my password on other devices, such as to log in on the Xerox copier. (I often use it to scan to PDF, which requires logging in. I call it "unprinting.")

So regardless of the device or keyboard, the period is the one special character that seems to always be available as a primary key without any alternate keyboard or shifting.

Comment Special character requirement (Score 4, Insightful) 211

I have several passwords that require a "special" character. I've found it frustrating on the occasions when I need to enter these on my phone, having to switch to the symbols to enter my password. Now if a password requires a special character, I use one that is part of the default keyboard, which limits it to using a period.

Special character requirements might be fine when using a physical keyboard, but mobile devices change how people will use them.

Comment Fingerprint Randomizer (Score 4, Insightful) 104

People have talked about browser fingerprints for years, but I haven't heard any solid reports of sites making use of them. For example, news sites that limit you to a few free articles before paywalling you are easily viewed in a private window or with self-destructing cookies.

If this becomes a real issue, then a browser extension that sanitizes and randomizes the fingerprint would defeat the process. Some aspects might be harder to sanitize or randomize than others, but with a bit of effort, fingerprints could be rendered useless.

Maybe this should be the next extension offered by the EFF.

Comment Re:This is NOT a matter of trademark violation (Score 2) 247

Not necessarily. Take a look at the relevant portion of the Lantham Act. It would have to fit one of the provisions therein. It might make a false suggestion of affiliation, but it's arguable.

15 U.S.C. 1125 - False designations of origin, false descriptions, and dilution forbidden

(a) Civil action

(1) Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which

(A) is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person, or

(B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another person's goods, services, or commercial activities,

shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.

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