Dwolla, for one, Venmo is concentrating on person-to-person at the moment, but has plans to expand. Personally, I think that having a variety of players is a good idea, it might just push existing poorly-behaved incumbents to clean up their acts.
I am getting involved in a number of these alternative systems so that I have options. I am also encouraging merchants to look at these alternatives by letting them know that I do not regard PayPal as an option, and routing credit cards through them counts.
The major point here is that for alternatives to get going, people have to be willing to try them. My Android phone is accumulating all manner of money-transfer apps. Look into the options, and use them when you can. If you mention your options to others, they may look into these other systems. I'm making the effort to open things up. How about some of you join me?
Though I'm careful about it. I'll put some comment I find amusing in a QR Code and either print it on a sticky note or on a plain bit of paper and leave it somewhere. Using various bits of paper means that they can be tossed or recycled when someone decides to get rid of them, no permanent marking like regular graffiti leaves.
On the issue of automatic adding of information to your phone, I disabled all automatic actions in my scanner, it presents me with the results of the scan, and I decide what, if anything, gets done with it.
Since the time I first got a cell phone, I've used whatever handsfree abilities were available. My current phone in concert with my current GPS means that the only thing I can't do by voice command is answer the phone when a call comes in. And that is at least down to reaching out and tapping the answer button on the GPS screen. I can place calls without any use of hands by voice control. The GPS (a Garmin Nüvi) does all the voice processing for call handling. I can give it contacts from the phone book by name, and even dial arbitrary numbers just by speaking them into the unit. This makes it much easier to keep eyes on the road and still be able to handle calls.
And on the navigation front, apart from having to touch in the security code when I turn it on, the major navigation features are also voice controlled. A common use of this is requesting a detour when I can see a jam ahead, another is locating a gas station by means other than watching for signs.
Used with good sense (not common sense, common sense is codified stupidity, common sense gets people killed) these gadgets are actually safer than not having them around.
As for distraction, I actually cultivate a small amount of distraction when driving, it keeps my mind more focussed on the road, as odd as that sounds. This makes more sense when you allow for driving fugue. In the absence of distractions, I can lose awareness and start paying attention again in a different state than I started out in. The intervening time is just gone. I therefore tend to load my CD player (car is too old for MP3 hookup) with audio books and radio shows of various types to hold enough of my attention that there is some available for the road. This is only an issue on long drives, and when possible, I keep talking to my passenger when I have one or more.
I suspect that people who claim to pay full attention to the road at all times actually have no clue about how much their mind is doing. Remember that the human brain has this habit of creating dedicated systems to handle things you do repeatedly to "take the load off" of your mind. Driving is no different. Once the systems are in place, your conscious mind can be at loose ends while the dedicated system does its job. If you doubt this, try to imagine the incredibly complex chain of events that is walking. You have to start by tilting your body mass forward so your balance center shifts, then you swing a leg forward (a series of actions all by itself) to that it hits a place on the ground ahead of you such that your mass will be lifted by the lever action in concert with muscles to add force, then you have to repeat this action with the other leg, all while you have to shift your mass side-to-side because of your changing balance point, a process that usually involves your arms, but if they are full you have the additional complexity of adjusting your stride and swing to allow for not having the arms available as counterweights. And this incredibly complex chain of events is handled by most people while talking, eating, photographing, and a range of other tasks that in themselves are complex. And they give almost no thought to walking while doing it.
As a practical matter, I suspect that only humans with certain varieties of cognitive disorder can actually pay full attention to an extremely repetitive task indefinitely. The rest of us go on autopilot, and there is no way to change this, as it is part and parcel of being human. Trying to ban all distractions is pointless, as if nothing else, the mind will either wander off into mental processing to keep itself occupied, or it will go on hold and wait for a signal from a subsystem that something needs attention that the subsystem cannot supply.
When that major failure in the Northeast happened several years back, I remember early cries of terrorism. My reaction: "It has to be an accident, no government could have coordinated something this big without 50 years lead time and a staff large enough to populate a small nation. Forget about a group of terrorists doing it."
About the only way I could see a really large induced failure would be coordinated physical attacks on the major switching points. And even then the failure-to-take-out ratio would be so high that the results would be limited.
The film did not use a specific story adaptation, but the plot of the central computer system taking the first law to extremes was an adaptation of things that Dr. Asimov raised once in an early story, and increasingly in his later robot stories/novels. To that degree, they did explore a question that Asimov himself raised, except that the movie brought the thread to a conclusion, wheres Asimov himself had left the options open in the last work of his that I am aware of.
Also the police detective with a distrust of robots was taken from The Caves of Steel and later novels in the series, although the distrust was not as extreme in the books. Susan Calvins attitude towards robots was also reasonably consistent with her portrayal in print.
I know, off-topic, but credit where it's due. I'll even say nice things about Microsoft on those rare occasions when they deserve it.
Re: Re: Re: Re: Look at it from their (uneducated) viewpoint
I tend to take the position that is is wrong to hide the underpinnings so thoroughly that the slightest variation from the usual paralyses people into helplessness.
There have been any number of times I've made myself bleed by having to bite my tongue over being called in to solve a problem that only existed because the user of the system treats it as a magic box, simple problems that would have been easily solved if the user had even the faintest clue of how computers work.
In an era where people take pride in ignorance (how else could you explain books with titles like "X for Dummies" or "The Complete Idiots Guide to X"?) bad regulation of technology is pretty much the only way things can go.
While I'm generally against the idea of law as a way to solve a problem, perhaps we need a law that says no one is allowed to regulate some subject until they can converse about that subject with subject matter experts without those experts laughing, crying, screaming or vomiting.
The only time I purchase deliberately sabotaged software is when I am paid to do so. (Yes, people pay me to work with Windows.)
Other than that, I don't buy anything that has lockdowns, activation codes, or other such garbage.
Software that is designed to fail gracefully when things go wrong is not merely acceptable, but expected.
Software that is deliberately designed to fail, regardless of the reason, is unfit to exist. If the programmer(s) logic is so distorted that engineered failure is considered acceptable behavior, can you really trust the program with your data? Of for that matter, on your machine at all?
(Virtual machines, a cage for potentially feral software.)
Censorship would be removing the comments completely so that no one could get at them. All the hiding does is say to anyone passing by "Here there be idiots." People can simply choose to lift the sign and see the stupidity if they either don't trust the group judgement or think it might be funny stupid instead of burning stupid.
My current worship for a singing goddess is Nanne Grönvall, who I only know about because of what the copyright maximalists would call theft. (I watched an AMV.)
How they would explain a theft that resulted in my tracking down all but one of the albums I know her to be on via various international sellers (that part is easy, finding ones with English web pages was a bit more work) is an interesting thought. The one album I can't get is her least successful, yet I can't seem to get anyone who has one to part with it.
And for good measure, I tracked down Princess Tutu from the AMV and bought the series box set.
Actually, Cingular IS AT&T now. The old AT&T ceased to exist a while back. SBC bought the assets, including the name, and instead of taking the opportunity to bury it once and for all, they adopted the name and have been trying (and succeeding quite well) to live down to the name.
The only time I go to theaters anymore is when friends ask me to go with them. The theater experience is so bad the people I am with serve to distract me from some of it.
Let's see. Tickets that cost more than is reasonable for a disc of the film, concessions (which I have not purchased in well over a decade) priced worse than the films, ads running any time a film isn't.
After some time spent around 30 years ago doing some research on the subject, I am convinced that it is illegal to exist, and that anything that is possible for a human being to do is illegal under some or another idiot law. As a result I laugh whenever I agree to terms of service that mention illegality, since I can't have done anything legal for decades. Passing this new law is just lazy as there are probably several hundred laws already lurking that could be used for far worse than anyone has speculated yet on SOPA.
It should still be set aflame before it can be voted on.
Someone has just flagged themselves as a net.newbie.
At least to those of us who pre-date the whole concept of the internet.
"First off, stop with the /. Its annoying and serves no purpose."
Before HTML infested the net, there were generally-accepted ways to specify things like *bold* and /italics/. These do indeed serve a purpose. They can give an indication of intended formatting, and yet not be stripped out of e-mail by a working security system. They are also are visually easier on non-HTML supporting systems than <i>italics<'/i> and <b>bold</b> and a lot faster to type.