Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×

Comment Background and the real issue (Score 5, Informative) 70

The lifeline subsidy does not come from your income taxes, but from a fee charged to telephone subscribers. This is used to make sure that poor people can call 911 and can participate in our society sufficiently so that they can get a job, go to school, and make use of government services that were formerly only available by phone or personal visit.

These days, getting a job requires use of the internet and you can't really hang around the library for the entire time you're trying to get work. So, it makes sense to give poor people some basic connectivity.

I believe the actual motivation behind this move is the same one that is behind making it more difficult for poor and disenfranchised people to vote - even though there is no evidence of significant voting fraud in the USA: Poor folks and minorities might vote Democratic. Suppression of the Black vote has historically been an important part of Republican strategy, this is just one of many reports on that issue. Having gerrymandered them into the most odd-shaped electoral districts, it becomes time to make sure they can't get news online or participate in democratic discourse.

Comment Re:Most of the alternatives he describes... (Score 4, Insightful) 129

It is also telling that most of the communications alternatives can send you emails when something arrives.

You can get an email update if new tweets are added and not checked, an email update when people post on your facebook wall, an email update when someone touches your google doc. Slack emails me if I've got messages when I wasn't logged in. iCloud sends an email notice. And for developers in particular, all kinds of monitors and services send email when there is a problem, not a tweet or wall post.

Email is the current universal standard, the fallback when the other specialized communication fails. That suggests something more fundamental about its nature if you pause to consider it.

Submission + - SPAM: Quicken Bill Pay is No Longer Safe to Use 1

Bruce Perens writes: I don't usually make security calls, but when a company makes egregious and really clueless security mistakes, it's often the case that the only way to attract their attention and get the issue fixed is to publicize it. This one is with Quicken Bill Pay, a product of Metavante (not Intuit). It's from personal observation rather than an expert witness case, and the company has been unresponsive through their customer support channel.
Link to Original Source

Comment Re:I use them quite a lot (Score 5, Insightful) 266

The story says the engineers found it was used rarely, citing that as the reason for removal.

However, doing something rarely does not mean it is used never, nor does it mean removal is appropriate.

I rarely use a fire extinguisher, yet I keep one in my kitchen and my vehicle. I rarely use my window shutters, but I'm absolutely glad the house has them as they can save a fortune during a storm. I rarely print documents, but I still maintain a printer.

Just because it is rarely used does not mean it isn't useful, nor does it mean it should be removed.

Comment Abandoning Time-Worn Processes Leads to Atrophy (Score 5, Insightful) 158

Scientists determined that those people who made use of machine washing rather than hand washing had diminished hand strength and neurological motor communication necessary for fine motor control. Seamstresses who bought thread rather than using the spinning jenny were similarly impaired. But worst off were teamsters who used the internal combustion trucks rather than teams of horses and used forklifts and other mechanical devices rather than loading their vehicles by hand. Their overall body strength was much reduced.

Comment Re:Stealth Layoff (Score 2) 303

The alternative offered? To "quit" his job and lose severance and other benefits. Why he (and them) complied? Because he's near retirement age and doing anything else would be end-of-life economic suicide.

That's an involuntary termination, not quitting. When companies try it generally it is a legal quagmire. If it is even slightly questionable companies will generally offer a huge settlement package rather than risk a drawn-out lawsuit fighting in the courts; and since they're leaving the state the drawn-out lawsuit would be in a state they no longer are local to, further increasing cost.

I'm curious, did you talk with a lawyer before accepting the deal?

Comment The article suggests "and", not "or". (Score 1) 110

Yes, some of them are hurt, many will be reduced, a few will be eliminated. But at the same time, it enables many more new markets, it creates new avenues for culture to grow, it opens options that have never existed.

The article talks about death of newspapers (probably because they are the New York Times) and it is obvious the selling of printed paper articles has plummeted, yet more people than ever before are reading news stories. The article talks of the fall of independent bookstores, yet there are new bastions online that help people discover, trade, and publish their writings. The article talks about music, and how the music industry has been fighting change with all they've got, yet new genres continue to appear and new talent has been popping up everywhere for years.

Any gardener can tell you: a good pruning stimulates rapid growth. It is certainly painful for those who were pruned, those whose business models need to be modified or have become completely invalidated, but the end result of the change is generally something better than before. Collectively as humanity we can create quite a lot.

Comment Re:Data protection (Score 1) 67

Not sure if this will apply, but could they not plead the fifth amendment on this warrant.

That isn't the protection of the 5th. The relevant parts of the 5th are protections against self incrimination and due process requirements.

Warrants usually don't (but very rarely do) have something to do with self-incrimination. They are a demand to seize an item for evidence purposes. Even so, US courts have treated this type of data as business records which can be obtained through several methods. They aren't trying to incriminate Google, they are trying to incriminate someone who uses Google. The due process issue doesn't apply because they DID follow due process. They got testimony of the probable location and contents of the data, they signed a statement of probable cause, they got a warrant specifying the exact items to be seized and searched, that's due process.

The fundamental problem is one of jurisdiction on the Internet. It is an open problem.


On the one side, companies should not be able to move data to another country in order to avoid law enforcement actions. If that were allowed, every major company on the globe would open a data center in that location and preserve all copies of documents in that haven. There (arguably) needs to be some reasonable way for law enforcement to access data stored remotely so criminals cannot merely hide their crimes by storing documents in a server located abroad. Governments must be able to enforce their own laws, which means some access to information.

On the other side, governments should not be able to violate rights of other nations with impunity, including digital privacy rights. If that were allowed, companies could leverage the most oppressive nations and the most aggressive nations to compel discovery of their most secret documents. There needs to be ways for people to legally ensure their privacy and protections granted by their own governments, and individuals have rights to be secure from interference.

Like most things in law, it is a tricky balance of between rights, benefits, and interests. In criminal cases society has a security interest in getting the criminal caught, but that interest competes with the interest of security for individuals to be safe from intrusion. There is also the balance of one nation's sovereignty and another nation's sovereignty, the one wanting access and the other wanting protections. There is also the issue of an individual's rights to secure their property how and where they please, versus storing their property in a way that violate's society's rights to security by identifying criminals. None have an easy answer.

Comment Re:"Human Colleague"... Nope, You Just Don't Get I (Score 1) 407

Clarke did very little writing on robot brains.

Um, I'll have to assume that you weren't around for April, 1968, when the leading AI in popular culture for a long, long, time was introduced in a Kubrick and Clarke screenplay and what probably should have been attributed as a Clarke and Kubrick novel. And a key element of that screenplay was a priority conflict in the AI.

Comment Re:"Human Colleague"... Nope, You Just Don't Get I (Score 1) 407

Well, you've just given up the argument, and have basically agreed that strong AI is impossible

Not at all. Strong AI is not necessary to the argument. It is perfectly possible for an unconscious machine not considered "strong AI" to act upon Asimov's Laws. They're just rules for a program to act upon.

In addition, it is not necessary for Artificial General Intelligence to be conscious.

Mind is a phenomenon of healthy living brain and is seen no where else.

We have a lot to learn of consciousness yet. But what we have learned so far seems to indicate that consciousness is a story that the brain tells itself, and is not particularly related to how the brain actually works. Descartes self-referential attempt aside, it would be difficult for any of us to actually prove that we are conscious.

Comment Re:"Human Colleague"... Nope, You Just Don't Get I (Score 1) 407

You're approaching it from an anthropomorphic perspective. It's not necessary for a robot to "understand" abstractions any more than they are required to understand mathematics in order to add two numbers. They just apply rules as programmed.

Today, computers can classify people in moving video and apply rules to their actions such as not to approach them. Tomorrow, those rules will be more complex. That is all.

Comment Re:"Human Colleague"... Nope, You Just Don't Get I (Score 4, Insightful) 407

Agreed that a Robot is no more a colleague than a screwdriver.

I think you're wrong about Asimov, though. It's obvious that to write about theoretical concerns of future technology, the author must proceed without knowing how to actually implement the technology, but may be able to say that it's theoretically possible. There is no shortage of good, predictive science fiction written when we had no idea how to achieve the technology portrayed. For example, Clarke's orbital satellites were steam-powered. Steam is indeed an efficient way to harness solar power if you have a good way to radiate the waste heat, but we ended up using photovoltaic. But Clarke was on solid ground regarding the theoretical possibility of such things.

Slashdot Top Deals

Men take only their needs into consideration -- never their abilities. -- Napoleon Bonaparte