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Comment Re:Good intentions pave the road to a stalking cha (Score 1) 459

How about this: imagine you're the father of an 18 year old girl who is living on her own for the first time. Is this app still not creepy?

The idea that doesn't "rob a woman of her free will" is based on the idea that we have free will when it comes to who we trust. We've all got healthy baseline distrust toward strangers. It takes a bit of a sociopath be good at manipulating people into building trust quickly. Fortunately, there really aren't that many people who can do it, because we're *all* vulnerable to those folks out there who have a knack for making us into love them. Free will is bullshit. We're social animals and we operate by a fairly standard playbook. We're not expecting people to enter into our lives with a complete portrait of who we are, ripe for exploitation. It changes the rules of interaction that have governed our behavior since sometime around when cities arose. It's basically a tool that turns everyone into a potential sociopath and makes a lot more people into potential victims.

"Oh hey, you just got out of the Peace Corps? I was with them in Kenya last year. Did you know so and so? Oh, you're turning 21 tonight? Let me buy you another drink or two."

My "is this thing creepy?" line is somewhere around "would I stop being friends with anyone who used this?" In this case, the answer to that is definitely "yes".

As for people deserving this because they put the info out there or the company that produced it having any kind of moral standing because they didn't break the law? Bullshit. This is not how people intended for their information to be used. Few people have any clue that this sort of thing could exist. Just because privacy concerns are part of the nerd consciousness, does not mean that the hundreds of millions of people using social networking are on the same page. Whether or not this is legal, creating and using it is gross.

Comment Re:lockdown coming. (Score 1) 658

Really? Which would you have an easier time doing:
A: Remove all your personal data from your Mac/iPhone, move it to a Linux/Android system and tell Apple to take a hike or;
B: Find an alternative to all the Google services you use.

I could do A this evening and, after spending a few bucks on software for the new platform (which you need to do ANY time you switch platforms, walled software garden or not). I couldn't do B without a whole lot of hardship. The alternatives to Google search, maps, reader, mail, etc are just not in the same league. People who think Google is some fuzzy wuvvy wittle bunny wabbit are delusional. Apple makes money by keeping you happy and coming back for more. Google makes money by selling you to others. Not saying Google is evil, just that the core business model involves some semi-hidden transactions.

This might be working towards a lockdown from a developer's perspective, but the consumer retains the ability to leave at any time. DRM'd music/video notwithstanding (which is why you're nuts for buying that in the first place).

Comment Re:evil is as evil does (Score 4, Insightful) 239

To me, it's not what they sell now, but what they might be willing to sell in the future. This data persists a long time.

You can already buy consumer data analytics systems with fancy GIS based interfaces that allow you to click on an individual house and pull up hundreds of records. What type of movies they watch, how old they are, what prescription drugs they do (or might) take, who employs them, what types of purchase they make, psychographic profiles, etc. They pull from hundreds of public and private data sources, then consolidate and geocode *everything*. Bob Jones likes to buy hydroponics supplies and glass pipes, laxatives and My Little Ponies. Sally Fields apparently collects Chia Pets. I suppose it's fine when just advertisers and marketers are using this stuff, but it gets real creepy when it moves beyond that.

I'm fine with customized ads from Google, but I want it de-identified and siloed as much as possible and not linked across services. Not being a lawyer, I dunno how privacy policies and EULAs translate in this circumstance, but it's easy for me to imagine a hypothetical bankruptcy fire sale of Google assets in which their data was made available to these consumer data warehouses.

The applications for this stuff are in their infancy, but it's very easy to imagine a scary future. Do I really want my state child protective services cross referencing households with children with households of, I dunno, atheists? Or the DEA looking up all the aforementioned buyers of grow lights? Or my city cross referencing the purchases of plumbing supplies with people who pulled permits to try to find building code violators? Or some loony group like Westboro Baptist Church publishing some kind of index of the best people to target for harassment or worse? Or employers building enormous psychological profiles of all their employees to try to weed out the subversive types?

Comment Re:This is a sad day for the tech world (Score 1) 1027

Design, defined as the part of something we see/touch/interact with, is everything. Technologies without design are useless. For whatever reason (maybe because they don't understand humans) nerds seem to forget this. His genius went way beyond making stuff look pretty. He took the equivalent of a rock (great tech for hitting stuff!) and turned it into the equivalent of a ergonomic claw hammer. That's design.

As for closed-ness, you can make an argument that OS X/Darwin itself brought a bit of openness to the PC platform at a time when windows was, at best, highly restrictive. Steve is/was pragmatic about products and didn't give a damn one way or another, but where open genuinely works better than closed, I think they chose it. Apple has done an amazing job of picking technologies that help it reach its goal of making money for shareholders.

With the iPhone/iOS they nailed it. Apple understands just how stupid consumers are, has done an incredible job of simplifying things for them. The fact of the matter is that iOS works so well for most people because it's frustratingly closed off to those of us who would implement a bunch of half-assed hack-y apps/mods to it.

Jobs, as the leader of Apple, was absolutely brilliant. Just stop for a moment and think what the technology landscape would look like if he'd never made his comeback, let alone if he'd never started Apple. Computers before the Mac? Laptops before the iBook/Powerbook? The truly terrible MP3 players before the iPod? 'Smart' phones before the iPhone? All the miserable tablets before the iPad? Even if you hate those specific products, you have to admit that the products Apple's competitors put out as a response have absolutely improved our lives as consumers. I think his company changed the world for the better, regardless of what you think of his philosophies or personality or methods or even the specific products he brought to market.

Submission + - AirTunes private key cracked (

An anonymous reader writes: Hacker James Laird has reportedly extracted the private RSA key for the AirTunes (RAOP) protocol from the ROM of his AirPort Express. If confirmed, third party media software such as VLC ( ) could convince iTunes that they are valid Apple ApEx.

The public key had already been exposed by Jon Lech Johansen a few years ago.

Comment Re:Yes! (Score 1) 270

I easily spend as much time using my iPad for work as I do consuming media on it. It's not necessarily good for the sort of work we do on traditional desktops, but it's definitely become the tool I grab 95% of the time I walk out the door.

For my work it's like a very, very sophisticated clipboard or pad of paper. Drawing, note taking, marking up technical drawings during review sessions, etc. I take it with me in situations where I wouldn't dream of taking a laptop. You can't beat the battery life, unobtrusive weight/form factor, small personal space impact (laptops sitting on conference tables can be a little's like throwing up a wall), time it takes to go from briefcase to usable, etc. Plus, it's very social in that you can pass it from person to person very easily which is maybe its killer ability in a corporate environment.

The more I see and use tablets in the wild, the more I wonder if maybe laptops are the niche product. My laptop rarely gets used as a portable machine, and when I do it's usually to do stuff that the iPad excels at (web browsing, presenting materials, taking notes) rather than working with more hardcore tools like AutoCAD/ArcGIS/Photoshop/Excel. Those heavier pieces of software that work great on a 27" LCD all feel cramped and miserable on a laptop screen. I usually put off working with them on a laptop until it's plugged back into a monitor. A laptop never really feels right being used like a desktop, but a tablet feels great because it's not trying to be something it isn't. Sadly for Apple, I doubt I'll ever buy a $2000 MacBook Pro again when a desktop/ipad combo seems to be so much more flexible for my needs.

Submission + - Windows 8 Details Emerge: Ribbons Everywhere (

jfruhlinger writes: "As the first iterations of Windows 8 go to OEM partners for testing, screenshots and details are beginning to leak out, nicely summarized by Kevin Fogarty. Of particular interest: the "ribbon," the much-hated UI paradigm Microsoft attempted to introduce into Office, is finding its way into the Windows interface as well."

Comment But why would this be? (Score 2) 220

Not being a doctor, researcher or expert in EMF fields, I gotta ask: is there a plausible explanation for why this would be? It seems to me that there are a lot of researchers out there fishing for weird correlations with cell phone use, and if you look for statistical fish long enough you're going to find something that isn't really there. Without a plausible mechanism for messing with bone density, I'd be tempted to write this one off entirely until someone else confirms it. Especially since it's the first study of its type and is a relatively small group of subjects (n=24).

Recipe for science fail: conduct 30 studies looking for some type of harm done by a random controversial bogey man. Don't publish the 29 that fail to reject the null hypothesis. Publish the one that does.

Comment Trolling for page views much? (Score 1) 789

I've never heard anyone say laptops are dead, although I think *I* may not need one any longer. I'm not an Apple fanboy, but it's safe to say I'm a serious convert to the iPad.

Author misses the point or deliberately ignored it. The iPad is defined entirely by its physical simplicity. Why would I want a slot for disks when anything I want to watch or listen to can be streamed from my PC at home or from the cloud? Why would I need a terabyte of storage when I have a fast network connection back to my stockpile of data at all times? Why in the hell would I want to watch video while typing (though YES you can listen to music or internet radio while you do other things)? Why do I want to carry around 5+ lbs of machine that does everything a little bit worse than my desktop when I can carry a 1.3lb featherweight that focuses on doing what it does better than anything else while still letting you do a bit of standard computer work on the go?

If I need more battery life I'll get an external battery pack. If I need to connect a camera I'll get a $30 dongle or two. If I need output to a monitor I'll buy that dongle, too. But most people don't need any of those things. Sure it doesn't have a real keyboard, but I can still type at about 75% keyboard speed. Certainly well enough to take the notes I'll need to do my real work when I'm back in front of a desktop.

It is what it is. Whether you like the iPad or want to hold off for a decent Android tablet, the tech gods should bless Apple for what they've done. It's not a laptop, doesn't need to be and doesn't want to be. Comparing it to a laptop is missing the point BIG TIME, but that's what I'd expect from an author who doesn't own one! Laptops always have and always will feel like cramped desktops. Mine is connected to a 27" LCD 95% of the time because a 13" or 15" screen is just too damn small for the multi-windowed interface. The iPad gets around that by doing away with the desktop OS and input devices. It's tactile, paper-like experience that doesn't try to emulate a "real" computer. It can be whipped out and used while you're walking, held over your head while you're in bed, put between you and a coworker on a table to share documents or put on a table in a restaurant and used as a checker board with your kids. When you're using it for what it does well, the experience is entirely transparent and the device disappears.

Finally, hell yeah it's expensive. The thing is a little over a pound, goes 10 hours on a charge and benchmarks almost as fast as a G5 processor from a few years back. It's beautifully designed in a way few other consumer products are. It has a fancy capacitive multutouch IPS display you can see from any angle rather than a turd TN monitor. The funny thing about the iPad compared to other Apple products is that it's a steal. No one who buys an iPad 2 is going to get it home, use it for a week, and thing that they got anything other than an absolutely amazing value for their money.

Comment Re:No, you're not alone, companies always do this. (Score 1) 375

For what it's worth, I can type on the iPad almost as fast as on my desktop. I have to look at the keyboard a bit while I do it, but I can take notes faster on the ipad than on paper, and I've only had it a week. After some time setting it up so I can access all my documents and media from the tablet, I haven't felt the need to use my laptop since buying it. Obviously it's not a full blown desktop, but it's incredible if you think of it as simply a window to content. It's definitely going to replace the gigantic reams of paper I used to carry around to meetings, replace all my paper auto repair manuals and be the end of hauling a laptop around as a multimedia device. Like the iPhone (and later Android/WebOS stuff), it's a device that truly opens up a lot of possibilities that weren't there before and developers are only getting started with it. It's just going to take a while for people to figure out exactly what its strengths and weaknesses are.

Comment Re:No more one-off prototypes (Score 1) 156

Engineering is about taking old solutions to problems and tailoring them to fit a unique case. The best part of engineering is, at least in my mind, about finding the most direct route to a sufficiently robust solution. Sometimes you need a mass-producible widget that works 99.999% of the time, sells for $500 and only costs $1.25 to make. Sometimes all you want is a collection of stick and twine that will hold together long enough to let you climb over those pesky prison walls.

The White House Listed On Real Estate Website 123

Forget visiting the White House, if you have $10 million you can own it. At least that is the price for the president's home on the real estate website Redfin. From the article: "Obviously this is an error. It looks like Redfin software pulled an example listing from the website by mistake. That example listing was the White House. We have e-mailed Redfin for comment." I know it's historic but it still looks a bit on the high side according to the comparables in the area.

Comment Re:Still Overpriced? (Score 1) 411

True. My early-'07 MBP will probably still net me $700 or so on ebay, which goes a long ways towards the purchase of a new one. It's still a roughly $1300 loss over 3 years, but given how much time I use my laptop, it seems silly to worry about the price too much. It works out to around $20-$40 per month to own an Apple, compared to maybe $15-$35 for an equivalent Dell. It's worth ten extra bucks a month to me. I like running OS X without all the minor issues I get with my hackintosh netbook. I like the minimalist design and consistency from generation to generation. I like how solid they feel compared to most other laptops. I've had good experience with their customer service. And OF COURSE it's a bit of a fashion accessory. I don't buy $5 dress shirts or drive a used Aztek, either.

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