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Comment What about all of the other toys? (Score 3, Interesting) 59

I've got to say, this seems creepy to me. It's not just spying on kids, it's spying on whoever is in range. It's basically an open mic in your home, transmitting to god knows who.

So is a "smart" TV, a laptop computer, a tracker (a more appropriate name for a cell phone or mobile phone which recognizes the activity it does the most), and so many other voice-activated gadgets with network connectivity all running proprietary (read: untrustworthy by default) software. And a lot of these devices have cameras in them too, also under proprietary software control. And virtually all of them have been used by kids for years. Some of these devices have geolocation hardware in them too, that must make it easier to geotag the data the proprietors can acquire, keep, and share. I think it's great that people are finally getting around to thinking about the security and privacy implications when this is presented to them in the form of a toy but really this is far too late in coming.

Departing from the parent comment, situations like this are also a constant reminder of the profound inadequacies of modern-day IT experts who choose to surround themselves with these things, not in an experimental way to investigate them but as consumers who apparently value minor convenience more than their own privacy.

Only software freedom helps you enjoy all of these devices in a way where you, the user and owner of the device, can have a real say in what gets recorded, where that data is copied, and thus who gets access to that data. It's not about shutting these things out of your life entirely, it's about respecting who should control this data.

Comment Re:Who is doing the building? (Score 1) 74

I've already considered the possibility of search-driven algorithm and data structure selection for a certain system I have in mind. After all, why try a large (combinatorially exploding) number of options/programming decisions manually when they can be tried and scored automatically?

Comment Re:Um, so? (Score 1) 224

Because some people want to spend money other people earned. Apple earned a lot. So time to imply Apple "unfairly" keeps their own money. You should support ending this "unfairness" by taking away Apple's money -- so the anointed people can spend it on themselves without the inconvenience of working and earning it.

Comment Re:ARM Server CPUs, x86 on ARM (Score 4, Insightful) 84

So far in the micro server and embedded space, ARM has been particularly disappointing to me. I have a drawer full of ARM devices I've accumulated over the years. SheevaPlugs, GuruPlugs, RouterStation, etc. All are potentially useful devices, but ARM is hobbled by proprietary boot systems and differing device trees and proprietary supporting hardware. These devices rely on customized linux distributions, and they are often fairly hard to update to new kernels and new flash file systems. Some of these devices have good CPU performance specs, but in practice I've never had them outperform an intel-based server, even a small low-powered one like the atom.

And now in embedded space we have a plethora of Arm-based devices based on lots of different SoCs from companies all over the world. All with their own forks of Linux. We've got Raspbery Pis, Orange PIs, Pine64s, etc. All very interesting and probably useful. But a nightmare to do anything with in a sustainable way.

The Pi (and some of these devices) at least is easy to update since everything comes off of the sd card, with no kernel flashing required. And some of them like the Pi have a fair amount of hacker inertia behind them, so they are capable of doing cool things (maybe not as server replacements though).

With x86-based embedded systems and small servers, at least I can run more standard, off-the-shelf distros on them. I'd far rather deal with a conventional linux server than a sheevaplug, even if the sheevaplug is a nice tiny thing with lots of potential.

In fact my current home office router is a small, low-power Intel-based computer running bog standard, minimal install of CentOS 7. Wifi is hung off of that using a consumer-grade access point running in bridge mode.

If arm devices had a standard boot process like ufi or even the bios, and could boot off of a variety of devices in a standardized way, including ssds, hard drives, usb sticks, and internal flash storage, and could run stock distributions downloaded from distribution web sites, without custom kernels, then I'd say for sure x86's days are numbered. Arm is good at remaining fragmented though.

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