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Comment Re:Editorial bias, anyone? (Score 1) 79

I didn't mention that because I don't buy that as a cause. For one thing, if you think the Post is that much of a liberal hangout, try asking around, say, Daily Kos about Post editorials and op-eds--or how the paper covered the prelude and start of the war in Iraq a decade ago.

For another, have you looked at the political demographics of the Washington area? I don't think tilting to the left would lose you that many readers here.

Comment Re:Idiotic Summary (Score 1) 106

Says who? If VLC were using any licensed DVD playback code, it wouldn't have the option of ignoring region codes (granted, newer drives make it harder to defeat that) or doing any of the other things that authorized DVD apps can't do. Further, I can assure you that I didn't compile libdvdcss on my Mac to get VLC to play any DVDs.

Comment Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (Score 2) 106

I don't think it's illegal myself (IANAL, but who in this thread is?), even subject to DMCA logic. It's not “primarily designed or produced” to play DVDs and has more than "limited commercially significant purpose” besides playing DVDs. But I would not be remotely surprised if somebody in the entertainment industry tried to bring a case against it anyway. Like I wrote in the linked article: If a printer manufacturer can try to use the DMCA to put a manufacturer of ink cartridges out of business, why wouldn't a movie studio try to nail VLC as a DVD-cracking tool?

I honestly don't know why nobody has.

Comment Don't give Microsoft PR too much credit (Score 1) 442

My take was that they were trying to pull an Apple--they invited only a select few people to a splashy launch event in the hope they'd get some advance buzz, but then they forget that Apple product-launch events also generally include prices, ship dates, and the chance to do a hands-on inspection of the product. That did not go over well.

(FWIW, they didn't send me a review unit either, but I was hardly alone in being shut out. I wound up buying one at a Microsoft Store to write my review, then returning it two weeks later.)

Submission + - Some 13 years after the DeCSS case, Congressional IT endorses VLC (project-disco.org)

robp writes: After a link to VLC showed up in one of HBO's DMCA takedown requests, I recalled how often I've linked to VLC in my own copy, and how often I've seen that app noted across traditional-media outlets--even though you could make the same arguments against linking to it that Judge Kaplan bought in 2000. Now, though, even the House's own IT department not only links to this CSS-circumventing app but endorses it. Question is, what led to this enlightenment?

Comment Like my profession's image could get any worse... (Score 3, Insightful) 277

To any tech journalists upset that Apple isn't spoon-feeding them product news: Get out. Just leave the business. Please?

Seriously, if you don't know to do your own digging for a story or don't want to, you're in the wrong line of work. And there are plenty of other people who would gladly take your place.

Comment Re:Looks like NSL requests went down in 2012 (Score 1) 33

You should know soon enough--although the administration doesn't want the recipients of NSLs getting too specific, the FBI has to cough up a yearly total. It provided a count for 2011 (16,511 NSLs, covering 7,201 people) on April 30 of last year, so if they stick to that timing we should get last year's total in another month or so.

Comment Re:Facebook wants to be the Internet's ID layer (Score 1) 283

Some smaller newspapers have switched to Facebook-only commenting (here's one example, the Fort Meyers News-Press) because their old systems allowed anonymity without accountability, and they felt it easier to hand the job over to Facebook than develop something better in-house. I think that's a mistake--if you want to outsource your comments system, you could use Disqus or other services that police spam but permit persistent pseudonyms--but it's a real trend, or at least a trendlet.

Comment Re:Facebook wants to be the Internet's ID layer (Score 1) 283

The original purpose of Facebook, AIUI, was to help Harvard students hook up. Its business model does, indeed, providing a large and defined audience to potential advertisers--but people's names are the least of it. To a marketer, somebody's name is less useful than their address, their household income, the car in the driveway, the phone in the pocket, etc.

As for G+, I think its real purpose at the moment is to peel people away from Facebook.

Comment Facebook wants to be the Internet's ID layer (Score 1) 283

If you read what the top executives at Facebook say--and if you then spend some time talking on background with some of them--it's clear that this company wants to become the layer of identity or authentication that it apparently feels should have been put into the Internet's original architecture. (I linked to that Vint Cerf interview because it has him explaining, at about 6:40 in, that the Internet needs identifiers but not fixed identities... oh, and because the video features me bantering onstage with Vint Cerf.) Facebook Connect logins and Facebook social plug-ins exist because they extend your Facebook identity across the rest of the Web--and at some sites, your Facebook identity is now the only way to leave a comment.

- RP

Comment Credit cards and name verification = not so easy (Score 5, Insightful) 283

Hi, I'm the author of the Discovery piece (and yes, I'm posting under my real name). One detail I couldn't get into that post was the credit-card issue--at first, I thought that a Facebook or a Google+ could just query Visa or AmEx or whoever and get a name match. It turns out that it's not so easy. Neither of the two usual card-verification schemes actually confirm a cardholder's name:

* asking for CVV2 numbers just proves that the person has the card in their hand (or has memorized those digits);

* AVS, or address verification system, only checks the numbers in the billing address.

There are other services that claim to verify names nearly instantly--but as gurps_npc notes, the real reason neither Facebook nor G+ bothers is because they don't want to discourage people from signing up.

- RP

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