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  • Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 8:43am

    (untitled comment)

    We do this, like other countries, for legitimate reasons, and it's harder to do this now with what has been made public, legitimate intelligence targets.

    Yes, Mr. Hayden, I agree that having a harder time spying on legitimate intelligence targets is a bad thing - but it's your own fault, for having failed to limit your spying to only things likely to be legitimate intelligence targets.

    Compare it to the phenomenon of antibiotic resistance.

    If you use antibiotics only in cases where there's strong reason to believe that the infections they're meant to target are actually present, they are likely to remain effective for a long time, perhaps indefinitely.

    However, if you use them broadly - even when there is little or no evidence that any harmful bacteria at all are present, much less the specific ones you want to target - then the general bacterial population evolves resistance to the antibiotics, and the antibiotics become less effective; the legitimate task of fighting the real infections becomes harder.

    Likewise, if you had used these (and similar) advanced surveillance methods only with things you had strong reason to believe were legitimate intelligence targets, those methods would have remained effective; you would have been able to continue to use them for a long time, perhaps indefinitely.

    However, because you chose instead to use them broadly - gathering up as much information as possible from all corners, even without any reason to suspect a connection to a national-security concern - you now see that these techniques are less effective; the task of observing the legitimate intelligence targets has become harder.

    You made this bed for yourselves. If you want to complain about having to lie in it, at least acknowledge your own share of the responsibility.

  • Mar 22nd, 2014 @ 2:08pm

    Re: UK Terrorism Law Terrible

    To be fair, none of the things you describe generally include the "serious risk" element required by the law.

    Which doesn't mean they couldn't be deemed to in some cases, however...

  • Mar 22nd, 2014 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Intel community blog name

    It was pointed out a long time ago, actually - I think here on Techdirt shortly after its launch, or at least its becoming relevant to the Snowden story (which may have already been underway at the time of its launch, I'm not sure).

  • Mar 22nd, 2014 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Agreed. This is probably the one thing I'd fix about the English language, if I were given the opportunity: the missing pronoun cases.

    If you think about it, there are actually quite a few pronoun niches:

    * Singular, gender specified as male. English has "he" and "his".
    * Singular, gender specified as female. English has "she" and "her".
    * Singular, gender specified as none. English has "it" and "its".
    * Singular, gender nonspecified.
    * Plural, gender specified as male.
    * Plural, gender specified as female.
    * Plural, gender specified as none.
    * Plural, gender nonspecified. English has "they" and "their".

    And possibly others I haven't considered, but I think that's mostly comprehensive.

    We only cover three of the eight slots in English, and I doubt most other languages are much better - although they're probably missing coverage in different patterns.

  • Mar 22nd, 2014 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re:

    Well, I imagine he could institute severe penalties for e.g. having the alternate-DNS-info graffiti up on your building, much less for actually putting it up there. Add draconian enforcement efforts, and he might have some success in that regard.

    There would probably also be significant negative consequences from it, but that's a separate issue.

  • Mar 22nd, 2014 @ 12:21pm


    I think the point wasn't to avoid confusion when grabbing a tool out of the toolbox, but to avoid confusion in identifying which tool is being purchased.

    I.e., if competing multimeters are allowed to look like a Fluke, someone who doesn't investigate closely enough might think they are Flukes, or at least are of similar quality; thinking that, the someone might buy one, and use it in a way which would be safe with a Fluke but is not with the product which was actually bought.

    I don't disagree that the trademark itself does look overly broad, but as applied, the stated purpose of this seems quite consonant with the actual purpose of trademark law.

  • Mar 22nd, 2014 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re:

    I think the question wasn't "Why not force people entering the country to get vaccinated if they haven't already been?", but "Why not refuse to let people enter the country if they haven't been vaccinated?".

    There might be logistical issues, and there would certainly be questions of abuse of power (Customs and Border Control appears to be way out of control as it is), but on the face of it that seems like a reasonable and legitimate use of customs authority. If I'm not mistaken, there's considerable historical precedent for that sort of thing, if perhaps not on the scale of modern nations.

  • Mar 22nd, 2014 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Vaccination is one of the most important medical advances in history but

    In response to your question 1:

    I would say that this is the wrong question. The right question would be "What constitutes protection?", or possibly "Who gets to decide what constitutes protection?", which are the first two parts of your question 2 - and then your question 1 becomes the same as the third part of your question 2, i.e., "Anyone who applies the standard for what constitutes protection".

    I don't have an immediate answer to your question 3 (although I'm not sure that I would meet the premise for that question), but I would note that just because government doesn't do everything - or even some particular thing - well doesn't mean that there's any better choice for doing that particular thing, even when the thing is something that needs to be done.

  • Mar 22nd, 2014 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: WTF?

    While you're right that we knew what he meant, and that what he said was insightful, "would of" et al. are still incorrect and it's not inappropriate to point that out.

    It may be less appropriate to do so in some contexts than in others, and there's certainly room to do it badly and/or offensively (not taking a position on whether that was done in this case), but I disagree with the claim that "it's not so much incorrect as it is informal and slangy".

    It's an incorrect way to write some of the variant pronunciations of a stock phrase. Writing it that way when you're specifically trying to convey the variant pronunciation is one thing (though there's no sign that that was done here), but when people then start to think that it's written that way because it represents a different word rather than a variant pronunciation of the original word - and then to use the different word in place of the original word - that's a problem.

  • Mar 20th, 2014 @ 5:20pm


    Is that last sequence of punctuation an attempt to convey an expressive pause, or is it Morse code?

    Let's see; it translates to "SOS SOSOSOS". I'm not sure; that could go either way.

  • Mar 19th, 2014 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Re: Just under 120MB/s

    If I did the measurements enough to notice, then yes, I would.

    I base that on the fact that I've felt ripped off after buying a hard drive with an advertised capacity of 1GB and discovering that it had an actual capacity of only about 950MB.

    (The original numbers were smaller; I think I first noticed this back around the time when 60GB was a midsize-to-large hard drive. Didn't make it any less noticeable to me, though.)

    That said: yes, using different values for the multiplier prefixes for the different contexts (count of data size vs. count of anything else) does make the math harder, and the potential for confusion greater, when converting between them. However, the "powers of two" meaning of the prefixes in a data context were far too long-established before anyone tried to come up with replacement terminology. They left it too late; there's no going back and changing it now, and trying to do so is high-handed and offensive.the established one

  • Mar 19th, 2014 @ 3:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: o one I know in the tech community uses those terms either

    you determine exactly what these prefixes mean (the same problem exists with kilo-, mega-, tera-, etc) from context: if you're talking about units of memory, it's the power of 1024 prefix. Anytime else, you're talking about the power of 10 prefix.
    Exactly this. I've been arguing this every time I get too aggravated with the "gibi-" crowd to avoid getting sucked into a discussion about the subject for quite some time; it's good to see someone else advocating the same guideline.

  • Mar 15th, 2014 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re:

    Let's think about that a bit further.

    Under this idea, no one is allowed to pay for political advertising - not a candidate, not a corporation, not a private citizen, no one.

    What does that leave?

    Obviously, it leaves people talking about issues among themselves, such as we're doing here.

    It also leaves news coverage of issues and of candidacies - also arguably such as Techdirt is doing here.

    Thus, an established news outlet (say, radio or TV, just to keep things simple for the moment) would be able to air political advertising of their own viewpoints, without running afoul of this law; they wouldn't be getting paid to air the ads, they would be doing it on their own initiative.

    This is problematic enough on its own, because it means the interests and ideologies of the organizations sufficiently established to already have a megaphone of their own would get disproportionate air time, and it would be disproportionately difficult for a disagreeing perspective to make itself heard.

    Beyond that, if they can air ads supporting their own viewpoints on their own initiative as long as it isn't for payment, presumably they could also air ads that someone else asks them to, as long as it isn't for payment.

    If they can do that, then can they air ads that someone else asks them to, as a "favor" - with no money changing hands?

    How do you track what counts as "paid" here? Does it have to be actual money (or direct gifts, et cetera), or do promises of favors count? How long do you keep watching to see whether there's a payback in a form you do track later on, that might be tied to an under-the-table deal to air the ads?

    There are probably other ramifications to consider as well, but those should do to start out with. I like the idea at a glance (aside from the problems with restricting freedom of speech, which might be unavoidable for anything that actually does solve the "money in politics" problem), but I'm not at all sure it wouldn't end up causing at least as many problems as it solves.

  • Mar 15th, 2014 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Meanwhile, In Venezuela...

    Allegedly, even with the exact same ingredients, differences in the way you put them together can make a difference in the resulting effect - something like how you can start with "flour, water, and yeast" and end up with a loaf of bread, a pie crust, a pizza crust, or a batch of crackers, depending on what you do with them.

    Also, allegedly even when the formulation is the same, the way it's packaged can make a difference in delivery results - think "delayed release" medications for "day-long relief with just one dose!", vs. something that gives you the same total dose all at once up front, so you get a stronger effect right away but a much weaker one near the end of the cycle.

    Things like that probably don't make a difference in many cases, but I can certainly see how they could do so in some cases.

  • Mar 15th, 2014 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Confusion

    Respect indeed must be earned, and no, it cannot be earned just by being born a human being.

    Everyone deserves courtesy until they show they don't deserve it, but no one deserves respect until they show they do deserve it.

    More than that: Just because you've earned the respect of one person, that doesn't mean you've earned the respect of anyone else. If you want to be respected by multiple people, you have to earn the respect of each of those people individually - and each person's criteria and/or thresholds for what they consider worthy of respect can be different.

    I suspect this is a disagreement about what the word "respect" actually means, but unfortunately, in this case I don't have a good attempt at a definition of what I understand it to mean. If anyone wants to offer one, I can try to explain what I disagree with about it, and we might be able to narrow down our positions by going back and forth that way...

  • Mar 15th, 2014 @ 8:53am

    Re: A question needs asking...

    I'm pretty sure the underlying idea here is that the preparation and presentation of the food is a work of art - and that the chef, as the artist, has a copyright interest in the resulting work of art. (Just as with ephemeral works of art such as ice sculpture, or even - to tie in food directly - cheese sculpture.)

    Doesn't mean they're right or that it would hold up in court, of course, but I think if we want to either understand the claims here or effectively argue against them we need to do it from that angle.

  • Mar 13th, 2014 @ 4:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think you read him wrong. Applying missing punctuation and capitalization, what he said is "If China can't do it, how can the UK do it?". I think you missed the "t" in "can't".

    In other words, I think he's asking "If even China - who are applying much more in the way of resources to this, even proportionally - can't successfully filter their citizens' Internet access, how can we believe the UK is going to be able to do so?".

  • Mar 12th, 2014 @ 3:50pm


    Beyond that:

    The only reason an AT&T employee or other representative should be uncomfortable at the sight of this logo is if they actually agree with, or otherwise support, the policies, principles, and attitudes which the logo is trying to call out.

    If they disagree with those policies, and agree with the ideas behind the logo, then there's no reason they should feel uncomfortable, and no reason discussion should be in any way inhibited.

    If they do agree with those policies, then making them uncomfortable helps put pressure on them to change their minds, and thereby to increase opposition to those policies - which is exactly what the logo is all about.

  • Mar 5th, 2014 @ 5:53pm

    Re: Re:

    And even if that really is all it's used for now, what is there to keep it from being (ab)used for other things later on?

  • Mar 5th, 2014 @ 5:50pm

    Re: Gross images

    I read the "five places" as being four pants pockets (two front, two back) and one shirt pocket. And some pants have more; I keep my cell phone in an extra pocket on the right leg of my pants.

    That's not even counting the possibilities in coat pockets and inside pockets and so on, of course. Or clipping something on to your belt (even if just a belt pouch), or "wearable computing" devices such as Google Glass, or...

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