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Comment I'd like to see this rule challenged (Score 1) 95

I would love to see this FTC rule challenged in Court. This is a very solid example of government overreach into private speech that they have labelled "commercial" by regulatory fiat. The entire concept of regulating this type of elective speech - where private individuals have elected to use a service which enables them to access what other people have published - is gravely disturbing to me. The FTC's view that this is a form of advertising under their control is very-outdated.

A Twitter post is much more like the answer you get when you say to a person - "What do you think?" than a form of advertising that targets people broadly.

Comment Fixed size arrays to handle unknown N items (Score 1) 674

Memory is cheap. Sometimes it's just plain faster and simpler to allocate an oversize fixed-size-array than to mess with dynamically allocating and freeing memory.

Fixed size arrays explode if N ever gets above your array size. There are many cases where you should NEVER do this... anything safety-critical or crash-critical or anything which might come under attack. However there are cases where you can assign an acceptable real-world practical limit on N and simply allocate an abundance of memory for it.

Comment Re:America, land of one-stop shopping! (Score 4, Informative) 63

Arbitration does not mean you get to resolve a dispute, it is not "small claims court, lite-version". Arbitration means that whoever has the most money will win.

I disagree strongly. I have gone to arbitration close to a dozen times against big companies. And I've won in every case but one. MOst of the time they settle before the process gets going.

What arbitration does is remove the prospect of a big punitive award against the company. But in all my cases, I got exactly what I wanted to the extent that I had actual documentated losses or damages. Would it have been nice to win a punitive award for a million bucks here or there? Certainly.

I found in all cases, that the arbitration method produced pressure on the company to assign a real person with authority to settle issues (usually a paralegal or in house counsel), and produced incentive for them to settle before owning fees to the arbitration company. In virtually all cases, the arbitration clause specified that the company would pay the initial filing fee, which usually runs like $700-$1000. That basically means that if your claim is for less than $1000, they'll just give it to you without much fuss.

The basic method to follow is:

1. Read your agreement. It will say how to file. Usually it's with the American Arb Association, which is the favorite. Or a competitor, but it's almost always the AAA.

2. You almost always have the right to have the hearing near you or a place of your choosing. Or often your place of last billing. In one case, I used this to my benefit by changing my billing address to a mailer forwarded in remote Alaska.

3. Almost every agreement, because of the patchwork of state laws and Federal Law like the FAA, have the company pay the initial filing fee. This is usually around $1,000. For example, here is Sprint:

(4) We each are responsible for our respective costs, including our respective counsel, experts, and witnesses. Sprint will pay for any filing or case management fees associated with the arbitration and the professional fees for the arbitrator's services.

4. Almost every agreement has constraints on the company as well, which means that they have to negogiate first. So:

Before initiating an arbitration or a small claims matter, you and Sprint each agree to first provide to the other a written notice ("Notice of Dispute"), which shall contain: (a) a written description of the problem and relevant documents and supporting information; and (b) a statement of the specific relief sought. A Notice of Dispute to Sprint should be sent to: General Counsel; Arbitration Office; 12502 Sunrise Valley Drive, Mailstop VARESA0202-2C682; Reston, Virginia 20191. Sprint will provide a Notice of Dispute to you in accordance with the "Providing Notice To Each Other Under The Agreement" section of this Agreement. Sprint will assign a representative to work with you and try to resolve your Dispute to your satisfaction. You and Sprint agree to make attempts to resolve the Dispute prior to commencing an arbitration or small claims action. If an agreement cannot be reached within forty-five (45) days of receipt of the Notice of Dispute, you or Sprint may commence an arbitration proceeding or small claims action.

This basically means they get a chance to make it right before you can cost them $1,000. This is an awesome incentive for them to settle, every time. If what you want costs less than the filing fee, and you seem determined to fight them, they will just cave. It's simply mathematics.

5. Without arbitration, in most cases, companies have a huge advantage. You can't sue them in small claims court or state court because of jurisdiction. The first thing the company will do is petition for removal for diversity of jurisdiction - that means moving it from small claims or state court to Federal court. They'll win, you'll have to deal with a different court, with a lot of procedures and burden on you. 99% of the time this means that you aren't even ever going to get to a hearing, let alone a trial. They'll file a motion to dismiss, and in most cases, you won't be able to even formulate an appropriate response to the Court. All that procedural bias goes away in arbitration.

So those are the good sides. The bad sides are, they can process a few cranks like me sending arbitration demands, day in and day out, and it becomes just another cost of doing business. It never gets anything changed. Class action awards are enough money that it forces the companies to pay attention.

I think if we have a strong regulatory framework, where the regulators are going after the big problems, and individuals use arbitration, things will be better than the class action system.

I'll put to you this way, if you ever are dealing with customer service, and have decided, well, I am just going to have to sue them, you know it's over. If you tell them that, they'll say go ahead, and they are out. If you instead document your problem, send a dispute notice with intent to arbitrate, they have 45 days to deal with you (in most cases), or else they are $1,000 minimum. You will get a call, it will be someone who can settle and solve problems, and that's that.

Comment This could be good for consumers, bad for lawyers (Score 1) 63

Class-action suits typically just end in big payouts to the class, that end up getting divided into a million or two parts, with a 1/3 going to the lawyers who represent the class. It's not all that useful really.

I think what an enterprising person needs to do is set it up easy to have class members compel individual arbitration. This isn't cheap for AT&T. A good trial lawyer with a nice system could bring in clients, help them file an arbitration claim, and then wait for the system to implode. Most agreements specific American Arbitration Association or a competitor. I have fought many mandatory arb. claims using AAA, and the process is titled to the consumer in a way because the mediation happens near you, the consumer, in almost all cases, often within 50 miles. There's also a lower standard of evidence, and it's relatively informal.

For most agreements, and basically anything with the AAA, requires that the company pay the filing fee.

So in the past, when I filed against Sprint, for example, they did everything they could to get me to withdraw the filing before they had to pay the $1000 or so in filing and case administration fees that become due automatically after so many days. My claim was only for about $800 (I wanted out of a contract because I literally went from perfect service to no service for over a month, straight). In the end, they unlocked the phones, refunded me a few months service, and voided the contract with no penalty. A value of about $1200.

For small claims, it's actually pretty efficient and you don't need a lawyer. If I had a lawyer, he or she could have collected 33% of that easily, for perhaps 1-2 hrs of work. Not go to Vegas, big victory, riches, but if you repeat a few hundred thousand times, it could easily add up, especially if you built a system that makes the filing and paperwork easy.

If I had one of these deals with AT&T, I'd be filing every month or so. Just on principle.

Comment Re:Where's my tinfoil hat? (Score 4, Informative) 610

You are incorrect. CALEA only applies to carriers and manufacturers of carrier technology. It does not apply to manufacturers or providers of handsets for regular commercial use.

Here is a good overview from Wikipedia:

"The U.S. Congress passed the CALEA to aid law enforcement in its effort to conduct criminal investigations requiring wiretapping of digital telephone networks. The Act obliges telecommunications companies to make it possible for law enforcement agencies to tap any phone conversations carried out over its networks, as well as making call detail records available. The act stipulates that it must not be possible for a person to detect that his or her conversation is being monitored by the respective government agency."

Comment Re:Press space to wipe and reenable OS verificatio (Score 1) 167

Sorry for the (partially) offtopic reply, but I just saw your question about Trusted Network Connect here.

I haven't been hearing much new news about Trusted Computing or Trusted Network Connect recently. Ordinarily I'd consider that a good sign that it wasn't moving forwards, however it's looking more like a successful slow-quiet-rollout strategy. Both Microsoft and Google make the Trust chip mandatory on phones, and Microsoft has declared that it's mandatory on all desktops and other devices in a few months. all new devices and computers must implement TPM 2.0 and ship with TPM support enabled , starting one year after the Win10 release. (Apparently August of this year.) The whole design of Win10 is to force rolling updates. It could get ugly if Microsoft simply pushes out all sorts of Trusted Computing crap as non-declinable "routine updates".

The phone lockdowns are definitely leading the way. Microsoft says phone manufacturers must prohibit users from turning off secureboot, and it looks like Google is also enforcing enforcing secure boot which (so far) permitting you to then drop to an eternal-nag non-Trusted mode. Sigh. Not good. I wouldn't be surprised if desktops also use a transition step of enforcing an eternal-nag-mode if you try to opt-out of Trusted Computing. At some point support can simply be ended for the nag-mode option. Then there's no opt-out at all.


Comment Re:From a former editor (Score 1) 325

By that interpretation, the very damned Wikipedia is a blog, god damnit.

Absolutely correct. Wikipedia policy says:

Self-published sources
Anyone can create a personal web page or publish their own book, and also claim to be an expert in a certain field. For that reason, self-published media, such as books, patents, newsletters, personal websites, open wikis, personal or group blogs (as distinguished from newsblogs, above), content farms, Internet forum postings, and social media postings, are largely not acceptable as sources.


Wikipedia and sources that mirror or use it
Do not use articles from Wikipedia as sources. Also, do not use websites that mirror Wikipedia content or publications that rely on material from Wikipedia as sources. Content from a Wikipedia article is not considered reliable unless it is backed up by citing reliable sources. Confirm that these sources support the content, then use them directly.


Comment Re:What? (Score 1) 325

TigerNut, I glanced over the pages you alluded to. You had the misfortune to bump into Wikipedia's most infamous editor. He has been blocked repeatedly for his abusive treatment of other editors. The community has been reluctant to permanently block him because he produces a vast quantity of high quality work. There has been a lot of controversy about it. At what point does the harm he causes outweigh the value of his massive contributions?

You also ran into a second issue. I see you've pretty well figured it out, but I'll discuss it for public benefit. Most new editors are surprised to discover that Wikipedia does not allow articles to contain "truth". Instead, the goal of Wikipedia is to accurately summarize what reliable sources say.

If most reliable sources say the moon is made of cheese, then Wikipedia is going to accurately reflect those sources.

There's a pretty good reason for that. Editors show up at all sorts of articles wanting to write "truth". Articles about astrology, politics, evolution, ghosts, religions, global warming, everywhere. People know "the truth" and want to write it into the articles. As a matter of sanity and survival Wikipedia HAS to have a rule to shut down the kooks, believers, and activists. The rule is that Wikipedia don't deal in Truth, it deals in Reliable Sources. Editors don't judge the Truth, editors judge the Sources.

It is a messy problem when reliable sources are wrong. That's a problem Wikipedia can't fix. Editors can try to apply some common sense and hopefully find an agreeable way to deal with it. But when there's a dispute, the rule is to summarize the sources. Astrologers have to accept astrology is considered pseudoscience. Experts in recording ghost-voices have to accept that it's considered pseudoscience. Creationists and climate change deniers have to accept that evolution and global warming are considered solid mainstream accepted science. And as a side effect, you may have to accept that it's going to be difficult to fix an article if the available reliable sources screwed up.

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