But consider -- this multimeter in no way competed with Fluke. Fluke makes high-end multimeters, not ones like these. These are entering a field that is absolutely saturated with makers of yellow multimeters at the same price point.
Exactly. They could have copied the shape, dimensions, colors, and almost everything else perfectly and it's still unimaginable they would have confused a single Fluke customer.
This is actually a little more complicated than it may appear on the surface. While it's true that yellow and grey have become standard colors for multimeters, that hasn't always been the case. Until about 15 or so years ago most of the meters I saw were black or red or occasionally blue. It has always been my impression that the shift toward yellow and orange bodies with grey or black faces was primarily intended to make them look like Flukes. And yes Fluke meters really are that much better than the hobbyist units most people buy.
On top of that, these particular meters aren't just colored like Flukes, they're clearly knockoffs of Fluke's design. I'm sure that's not because Sparkfun asked for it. These are almost certainly a commodity model designed exclusively by the manufacturer and sold under numerous brands - probably even as counterfeit Flukes in some parts of the world.
The problem is none of that makes this any more defensible. The people who might confuse one of these meters for a Fluke aren't the same people who are going to shell out several times as much money for the real thing. They are, in that respect, more like knockoff handbags. They might fool some people, but those people aren't Fluke's customers. Furthermore, the other Fluke design elements they're copying are functional, not decorative. They're not supposed to be relevant in the first place.
The best case scenario for Fluke is these meters were never competition for their products at all and removing them from the market has absolutely no impact on their market position. At worst they're alienating some number of electronic hobbyists, a community which seems to be growing steadily thanks to products Sparkfun is known for, like the Arduino. Some of those hobbyists will certainly decide to upgrade to better quality tools at some point and decide to look a lot closer at Fluke's real competitors than they would have otherwise.
The more they look, the more likely they are to realize they can go with one of those other brands for less money, and likely without losing anything that's going to make a difference for them. And whatever they end up with will probably look just as much like a Fluke as these Sparkfun units.
It may seem like he's saying the NSA shouldn't have access to everything but actually he's laying the groundwork for another CISPA push. If anything that would expand their data collection capabilities while also making their corporate partners lawsuit proof.
But while he appeared to soften his position on bulk domestic surveillance on Thursday, Alexander also implored Congress to pass legislation that would expand the authority of the NSA and its twin-sister military organization, Cyber Command, to protect private and business networks from online data theft and cyber attacks.
If I owned a bunch of Apple stock this would be the reason I decided to start unloading it. Not because this one deal will destroy them financially. It almost certainly won't. But to me it's the first ironclad proof that Steve Jobs did not leave the company in capable hands.
First a disclaimer. I don't own any Apple products nor do I have any interest in owning any. I'm not some frothing at the mouth Steve Jobs fanboy. I don't believe he had some unique and mystical vision of the future. As a supposed tech guru he was fantastic at packaging and marketing.
Once you peel back the legend, though, what you're left with is one of the all time great CEOs and that's the reason Apple didn't make this deal when he was alive. His brilliance was not in understanding technology - he really didn't. His success at Apple (the second time around) was the result of recognizing when a product was ready for the existing market and perhaps even his ignorance of the technology.
Until the day he died Jobs insisted Apple TV was just "a hobby." That was a lie, but a necessary one. The truth is he always envisioned it as the platform for some new killer video app. He also recognized that the legacy players who controlled all the content hadn't been beat up enough by the market to pull their heads out of their asses.
Instead of letting the broadcast and production industries bend Apple over he dismissed it as a hobby to keep investors and analysts off his back. At the same time he did everything he could to saturate the market with Apple TV boxes, quite successfully I should add. Before he stepped down it had overtaken even Roku for a commanding lead in the Internet set-top box market.
He knew the same things Mike has been publishing here at Techdirt for years. It was only a matter of time before the real world came crashing in and a bunch of shell shocked broadcast executives would show up begging for access to Apple's massive network of set-top box customers and they would agree to stupid terms to secure it.
Steve Jobs didn't know what the service he intended to sell one day was going to be. Or if he thought he did it's a sure bet he was wrong. But he knew for sure that begging the broadcasting industry for scraps was a sucker's bet and he was right.
The more Rogers opens his mouth, the more convinced I am he has a lot more to hide than just bad behavior as committee chairman. Let's look at the facts.
He has close personal ties to the intelligence contracting industry. His wife is a former intelligence contractor executive who is now among the most powerful lobbyists in Washington for that industry. She also serves on the board of directors for Qualys Inc, which appears to be the world's largest provider of cloud security services whose partnerships read like a who's who of telecom and application service providers. According to Wikipedia that list includes both Verizon and British Telecom.
Qualys and Booz Allen Hamilton are both influential members of the Cloud Security Alliance. After a few minutes of (extremely incomplete) research it looks like the CSA is the industry group primarily responsible for identifying and responding to security vulnerabilities.
Mike Rogers is the leading fear monger for the so-called cyberwar threat which extends from the contractors all the way up to the Director of National Intelligence. After the Supreme Court unceremoniously shut down the NSA's illegal nationwide wiretapping program and ordered them to shut down their listening stations on telco premises there were suddenly thousands of intelligence operatives and a mission. That was in 2006.
In 2007 Mike McConnell took over as DNI and started whispering in the president's ear about the insidious threat of cyberwar. In short order he had arranged for a $200 billion cyberdefense contract for Booz Allen Hamilton where he became Vice Chairman upon his retirement. Before retiring, though, he organized a fear mongering campaign with the assistance of military leaders, most notably Keith Alexander, who became the head of the newly created US Cyber Command.
James Clapper succeeded McConnell after Obama took office and cranked the fear mongering up to 11 with a widespread PR campaign providing nebulous details about attacks which had supposedly already resulted in major breaches of government systems. The level of rhetoric inside the administration got so bad that the one actual security professional Obama selected as an advisor opted to leave at the beginning of his second term because nobody was listening to him.
Clapper, on the other hand, pushed Obama into letting him draft a new policy for US cyberdefense which neatly sums up the real end game of the growing surveillance industrial complex. In a nutshell it says:
1. The Internet is not a secure communications system. 2. Government systems keep getting hacked. 3. Therefore Internet infrastructure is the problem and the NSA needs to be put in charge of it.
Mike Rogers is the standard bearer for cyberwar propaganda, primarily through his advocacy for CISPA Unlike the government, corporate America has a pretty good track record with respect to the security of their computer systems. It's not perfect, but compared to the government it might as well be. There is no real oversight or auditing of government system security. We do know they can't even protect themselves from the threat of thumb drives even though their own security protocols dictate USB ports be locked down.
It's no secret the real purpose for CISPA is immunity for granting the government access to any and all private data. So why would so many tech companies be supporting it? For many it's almost certainly fear. National Security Letters are impossible to fight. Even the handful of companies with the resources to go through the motions will be fighting with both hands tied behind their backs because the most important evidence is classified and therefore out of their reach.
But that doesn't explain why IBM decided to pay for 300 executives to fly to Washington and personally lobby for the bill. They didn't spend that kind of money for fireside chats with government IT drones. Either they were desperate for the immunity or they were anticipating a return on their investment of another kind.
Mike Rogers' psychotic break Rogers looks just as desperate to keep the bodies buried as IBM. When Microsoft and Facebook bowed to public pressure over CISPA and withdrew their support Mike Rogers went off the rails and around the bend and he hasn't been back since. Keep in mind this was before the Snowden leaks surface so as far as he knew there was no risk of government secrets coming out.
He also remembered how the 2006 NSA wiretapping case eventually made it to the Supreme Court because an AT&T employee blew the whistle. He knew it would only be a matter of time before some conscientious private sector employee went public and the whole house of cards would fall. CISPA's immunity represented a shield against discovery in civil court and a way to keep NSA partners quiet.
Most people see his ongoing public temper tantrums as clueless bullying but that doesn't add up. When he was just talking down to all us commoners in the street that made sense. But you don't get to be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee without being a savvy politician and you certainly don't get their by telling the rest of Congress to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up. This isn't arrogance - at least not anymore. It's panic and hysteria.
Ask yourself this. Why is a senior Republican Congressman desperately trying to protect a Democratic president's administration from the most embarrassing scandal since Watergate?
He could have convened a media circus of hearings, probably drowning out all the allegations against himself, and possibly even coming out of it the hero of his party for bringing down the hated opposition. Why is he falling on his sword for that president instead?
The only explanation that makes sense to me is he's more scared of whatever would come out of those hearings than he is of committing political suicide. These aren't the actions of somebody who just knows where the bodies are buried. He looks more like a guy with the shovel in his garage and fresh piles of dirt in his backyard.
As information continues to come out from the Snowden leaks I fully expect Mike Rogers to look less like a self centered, arrogant jerk and more like a co-conspirator. No matter how long he keeps digging that hole he won't be able to tunnel out of this.
Mike Godwin curb stomped the FBI a couple years back when they demanded Wikipedia stop using their seal. In that particular instance all he had to do was shine a light on their blatantly dishonest misreading of the law.
Obviously that wouldn't work here. The NSA's complete lack of give a shit about what the public thinks is the foundation of the market in this case.
None of which makes Amazon affiliates employees. They are, in essence, independent contractors. They get paid for (successful) advertising and whatever income that brings in is certainly taxable.
It does not, however, make them part of Amazon's internal corporate structure. They are separate legal entities and their presence or activities in the state where they reside does not equate to Amazon having a presence there any more than it would if we were talking about an advertising agency rather than an individual.
The company I work for has affiliate deals with a number of different software companies. If your reasoning is sound that makes our entire company their employee, which of course would be ridiculous.
If we take the judges at their word, keeping in mind what we know they did sign off on, what must the nearly 25 percent of NSA requests they claim to have turned down look like. I'm guessing something like this:
My astrologer told me to beware of the numbers 2 and 7 so I made a list of every area code that has both those numbers.
He named his son Corey and his daughter Anne. If you say them together really fast it sounds kind of, a little, almost, just like Quran.
Elvis came to me in a dream...
...and then I saw his face in the bong water.
If you play the third track on the new Slipknot album backwards you can distinctly hear 'at GMail dot com.' I couldn't make out the first part so we'll need to intercept everything.
Sorry, my mistake. They did actually approve the last one.
We should probably be thanking NIST for this actually. If it wasn't true they'd be denying it. Their decision not to deny it is all the confirmation I need - not that there was any doubt in the first place.