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  • Oct 14th, 2015 @ 3:20pm

    (untitled comment)

    It's worth pointing out that horrible people have rights, too. Maybe it's especially horrible people that have rights, because the only time you really need them is when someone in the government is angry with you, up to and including wanting you dead. And when they're that pissed, they can use their government-granted powers to make you sound like the scummiest scumbag who ever scummed.

    Rights that only exist when you're popular aren't rights, they're revocable privileges, easily removed with a smear job.

    Even if you have no empathy at all for the 'bad guys' (who may not, in fact, be bad at all), protecting everyone's rights is enlightened self-interest, because they protect you, too. In our nasty, nasty system, if you ever need them, you will need them very badly.

  • May 11th, 2015 @ 12:52pm

    Re: In other words

    Yeah, this is precisely what I was logging in to say -- it probably wasn't a hunch, they most likely bugged or tapped this guy somehow.

  • Apr 26th, 2015 @ 3:49am

    (untitled comment)

    I actually have a funny story about this, one that highlights just what scaredy-cats people have turned into over the last generation.

    When I was young, over thirty years ago, I got interested in doing a science fair, and decided that I was going to do electroplating. For whatever reason, I decided it was going to be copper; I have no idea why. So I visited a local electroplating shop to learn how to do it.

    Well, to make a long story short, they sent me home with a sheet of instructions and two big bags of potassium cyanide. I am not kidding. Not even a little bit. I think I was about 13, I walked into that shop, and they sent me home with enough potassium cyanide to probably kill several hundred people. Size memory is a little strange when you're still growing, but I think they would have been roughly quart-size, full of powder. A LOT of it, in other words.

    They were very careful to explain to me that even getting that powder on my skin would kill me. So I was incredibly careful while using it, probably the most cautious I've ever been around anything in my life, except possibly guns. I successfully completed my project, and won a second-place ribbon; it would have been first place, I'm sure, if I'd done a better job on presentation. (I electroplated a bunch of stuff, using pennies as a source, and they came out gorgeous! But I didn't present them well; more time there and I'd have won for sure.)

    Can you even imagine someone doing that in 2015? They'd probably arrest everyone in the shop for doing that today. And a kid wouldn't learn how to do copper electroplating.

    It's actually a lot of fun, and it's surprising how well it comes out. Even very fine detail comes through, unless you put a very thick coat on. You don't need anything complex, either: I did it with a simple power supply, some mason jars, some wire, some target objects, and a bunch of pennies.

    And some potassium cyanide.

  • Nov 25th, 2014 @ 8:34pm

    (untitled comment)

    Heh, yet another thought: as far as T-Mobile is concerned, the nightmare scenario is the family-of-five on the road, with one driver, and four people pulling separate Netflix streams simultaneously.

    That image would keep their network teams up at night. Wired providers shouldn't care in the slightest, but in the wireless business, that is (at present) a very scary idea.

    Four music streams? Not so scary.

  • Nov 25th, 2014 @ 8:23pm

    (untitled comment)

    Oh, and from another angle: I believe the 'free music streaming' is, at its most fundamental, T-Mobile saying, "We have enough bandwidth now to support a live audio stream to a lot of devices at once." What they're probably (rightly) scared of is people using their service for video, which can be something like 25 times as data-intensive as a basic MP3 stream. So they're kind of trying to split the difference, using the data caps to try to keep people from using services they can't truly support yet (like Netflix), while simultaneously letting them use ones they CAN handle, like Spotify.

    In another ten years, it's quite likely that their network will have grown enough that they won't care very much about Netflix anymore: maybe they'll just do away with caps completely, sometime between now and then.

    Again, commit and burstable numbers fix this problem, but if you're being honest in wireless, saying something like '64K commit, 2Mbit burstable' looks very unappealing next to your competitor who's lying his socks off and screaming about FIFTY MEGABITS TO YOUR PHONE, and then adding, in mousetype at the bottom, "until you hit your data cap, fifteen minutes later."

    tl;dr: they don't want to admit that they're lying about bandwidth, like everyone else in the industry, so they're trying to be creative about telling you that using a little bit of data, all the time, is okay, just dear Lord, don't stream Netflix.

  • Nov 25th, 2014 @ 8:13pm

    What they're doing isn't so bad: plus, you're coming from the wrong angle anyway.

    I think you're missing the boat a little bit on this one, Techdirt.

    Having done networking for a long time, one of the fundamental truths of being an ISP is that, for the most part, you're paying for bandwidth. T-Mobile is in that same position; their customers pay them for traffic, and then they buy the capacity to deliver that traffic from other people. (taking, of course, a hefty markup, since they're buying enormous circuits and get a heck of a volume deal.)

    One thing that T-Mobile can do, though, is avoid paying for traffic by peering directly with destination networks. That is, rather than buying transit via Cogent to get bits from Netflix, they can run a wire directly to Netflix, and then carry those bits over their own infrastructure without having to pay anyone else.

    What has net neutrality supporters really upset is when an ISP uses its monopoly control over its customers to extract rent from providers; they're demanding to be paid on both sides for delivering data to customers, when the fundamental idea of the Internet is that you're only supposed to get paid for bandwidth once, and that people are free to buy bandwidth from any provider. In essence, ISPs like AT&T are using their monopoly status to muscle out the competition, taking money away from Cogent, Level 3, and other transit providers, and demanding that it go into their pockets instead. This is profoundly abusive, and it's something to be furious about.

    But just running a link to another network, and avoiding paying for transit? That's just smart engineering. My take is that T-Mobile is saving money by directly peering with different services, and then passing those savings along to the customers. As long as they don't charge the provider anything, it's cool. In fact, it can save money for both sides; Netflix doesn't have to buy bandwidth for T-Mobile customers, and T-Mobile doesn't have to buy bandwidth for Netflix. They have a (significant!) upfront capital cost to buy the routers and run the fiber, and then it's done, and costs almost nothing to run. And all the money being spent goes to other companies entirely, like Cisco and Juniper and so on. There's no conflict of interest, it's just eliminating the middleman, and passing the savings along.

    Now, over the long haul, this could become a problem; T-Mobile might decide it wants to charge Netflix for access to T-Mobile's customers. That, in a word, is garbage. As long as that doesn't happen, as long as the peering agreements don't cost either side anything, other than the capital cost to build the link, then it's not such a big deal.

    And what about small players, without their own network numbers and BGP presence? Most of them are going to be so small that T-Mobile can probably just absorb the streaming cost without hurting too much. If they get big enough to be visible on the usage charts, then they can set up some kind of peering arrangement. If nothing else, they could set up a small remote presence in a colo where T-Mobile has equipment. This isn't hugely expensive, and any service pushing enough traffic to be noticeable on a giant network like that should easily have the money to set something up.

    Further: you're looking at this from the wrong angle, anyway. You're being a little horrified that T-Mobile is charging more for some bits than others. What you should actually be horrified about is the idea of charging per-bit at all. Data caps should not be allowed: ISPs should be required to sell bandwidth as commit speed, and burstable-to speed. This reflects the actual architecture of networking. Transferring bits from place to place is just barely this side of free, until you don't have enough space in your pipes, at which point you have to spend a bunch of money to run a bigger one... and then the run cost goes back to just about zero. Charging per bit is an absolute racket.

    Going with a commit and a burstable-to communicates truthful figures. Commit represents what everyone will get if they're all trying to use their connections at the same time, and will be quite low, but guaranteed to always be delivered, barring major hardware or software failure.

    Burstable-to is what everyone sells now, the headline number, and it's fundamentally a lie. Very few ISPs can actually deliver the bandwidth they're claiming to sell. This is what you should be furious about. Net neutrality is really only an issue because ISPs are under-provisioned. If they weren't allowed to lie anymore, if they were forced to sell only what they could really deliver, then there would be no need for prioritization, because there would be enough bandwidth.

    The whole idea behind caps is to try to monetize a free resource. Bits are so cheap you can think of them as costing nothing; it's not quite true, but it almost is. What actually costs money is peak demand, and that's where the commit and burstable-to figures come in. They represent your slice of the big pipes at the ISP. After you've paid for your slice, it's nobody's business what you do with it. Use it 24x7, or don't use it at all: those pipes cost the same amount either way. There's no marginal cost on usage.... the cost comes from laying in more capacity, and from paying the people to keep it all running. Those costs don't change based on usage.

  • Aug 31st, 2013 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re:

    No, because you know *someone* owns them, and you're depriving that person of the use of their item.

    If, however, you were able to wave your hand and make an exact copy of the electronics you found laying in their house, without changing the original electronics in any way, would that be theft?

    What harm would have been done, and to whom?

    Unauthorized enjoyment is not a crime.

  • Aug 21st, 2013 @ 2:48am

    (untitled comment)

    > Irrational fear is one of the government's biggest allies, whether it's the DHS or a local police force. Claiming bad things will happen keeps bad laws and policies in place. As long as the laws and policies stay on the books and "bad things" fail to happen, officials are constantly "proven" right.

    It's important to note that the same agency making the claims about violent crime going up will also be generating the statistics about violent crime going up.... and we've watched The Wire. A lot of the things they showed were absolutely real, and one of them was the way the police and politicians screw with the crime stats to make themselves look good.

    The same shit they pull to 'reduce' the crime rate can be used in reverse just as easy. So they will be absolutely be 'proven right', no matter what the actual outcome is. They'll make certain.

  • Aug 10th, 2013 @ 10:34am

    (untitled comment)

    But I should also emphasize: storing data in your own home gives you a *lot* more protection than any other method. There's lots more data you could have than just simple email, and if you're storing the data on hardware owned by other people, particularly if it's shared access on a single machine, then your protections against search and seizure are almost nil.

    Keeping your data in your house *probably* means they'll need a warrant to get at it, although with the way they keep redefining things, maybe they'll be able to just hit you with a worm program instead.

  • Aug 10th, 2013 @ 10:32am

    (untitled comment)

    I've been an advocate of 'be your own cloud' for quite awhile, and have in fact been doing it myself for years and years, because I didn't trust the cloud providers. (I thought Google was snooping, not the government.)

    But one thing we truly need to understand, here, is that email is not encrypted, and the NSA has taps all over the Internet. Even if it's encrypted on your local drives, and the NSA would need a warrant to break into your house and read it, it's not encrypted in transit. The NSA can snarf it right off the wire, store it in their huge new data center in Utah, read and analyze every word at their leisure, and track all your acquaintances. If they miss the mail in transit, great, the home cloud will give you a lot of protection, but they probably won't miss it in transit.

    In addition to running our own clouds, we also need to redo the SMTP protocol to include some kind of encryption that's not easily hijacked; I suspect that some kind of distributed 'watch system' for self-signed certificates would probably work fairly well, making it hard for the NSA to do man-in-the-middle attacks without people noticing. It would be nice to also get GPG mail going on a wider basis, but that requires attention by end-users, where SMTP-level protocol encryption will prevent casual snooping.

    Basically, we need to rebuild a lot of the Internet. Not the physical wires, but the protocols; we need to move to encrypted traffic by default, all the time, everywhere, in every protocol except probably games. Hell, even there, we probably want text messages between players encrypted -- witness that one kid who went to jail for months because of game trash-talking.

  • Aug 6th, 2013 @ 7:43am

    Re: Skewed perceptions

    It is always the duty of any government employee to refuse unlawful orders, and to report on illegalities that the government is engaged in, no matter how uncomfortable the government is made as a result.

    Snowden had the courage to live up to his true oath, to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not the hired staff presently in charge of the government supporting that Constitution.

  • Aug 6th, 2013 @ 3:30am

    (untitled comment)

    Obama apparently cannot distinguish between communicating information to the enemy and communicating information to the press,” Mr. Goodale wrote. “The former is espionage, the latter is not.”

    But, if you combine this with the fact that who we're at war with is now classified: p_ref=world&ir=World

    it makes perfect sense. The American people are the enemy.

    You may think I'm kidding. You may think I'm paranoid. The latter may be true, but I think I'm absolutely correct, and that history will prove me out.

    All this surveillance state stuff isn't to protect you from terrorists. It's to protect the government from you.

    Over the short to medium term, only those with 'acceptable outlooks', according to those doing the surveillance, will be able to prosper in politics, because people who disagree with the surveillance state will, mysteriously, be ruined. Old contacts will pop up to impugn them, or damning facts will 'accidentally be unearthed' by news agencies. They'll be able to pinpoint your opinion on surveillance almost exactly, because they'll be able to track your whole social network. And, if you or any of your friends have ever been deemed "interesting", they'll be able to read almost everything electronic you've ever sent to anyone. If your opinions aren't acceptable, your missteps from your past will mysteriously arise to dog you. If you support vast surveillance, then you'll sail right through, while your saner opponents struggle and fail as 'coincidences' keep piling up.

    Those who don't like the surveillance state will not have viable political careers in this country, no matter how good they might otherwise be.

    Eventually, the subtle sabotage will start to become obvious, as the bureaucracy gets lazy and/or stupid, but by then the policies and procedures will be so ingrained in the government that it will be impossible to root out except through a total overthrow of the entire system -- and that's precisely what all these programs are explicitly designed to make impossible.

    If you are an American, you are living in a police state. If you're a racial minority, you probably already know it, but if you're white, you probably haven't internalized it yet. That doesn't make it not true, it just means you haven't caught up.

  • Jul 24th, 2013 @ 3:58pm

    (untitled comment)

    Despite the myth, students do not leave their constitutional rights at the doorway of their public school.

    That's actually not a myth. Students have been getting the short end of the stick for decades. While at school, they're better off than, say, federal prisoners, but not by as much as one might expect. Some schools are probably worse.

    In this case, the student was making a simple statement of fact, and the overall outcome here was correct. But if he had, for instance, directly named another student as being unacceptable, then I think it's extremely unlikely he'd have won his case. School administrators have ridiculous latitude.

    I think that's very wrongheaded, but it seems to be quite rare for courts to override administrative decisions about things that happen on school grounds. Typically, administrators only get slapped when they try to control kids off school grounds.

    This case came out well, but from what I've seen, the kid got lucky to get a discerning judge. Perhaps his family was able to hire a good lawyer, something that's not really an option for so many of the kids abused by our educational systems. And, from the sound of his name, he probably had a huge advantage over many of the other abused students: not much melanin in his skin.

    This is what happens to black students: ience-project-mistake

    She ended up okay, but only because of the media attention. If this had stayed off the larger radar, her school record would have been ruined.

  • Jul 11th, 2013 @ 11:17pm

    (untitled comment)

    Their argument seems to boil down to this: Nintendo asserts it has the right not to let you play its games.

    Someone really needs to take a rolled-up newspaper to Nintendo of America.

    And that's before you take your excellent points about the impact on Nintendo into consideration, the fact that the very last thing gaming companies should be doing is trying to prevent people from playing their games.

    Right at the very start, the thing is crazy.

  • Jun 28th, 2013 @ 5:50am

    (untitled comment)

    Maybe I'm missing something, but I thought the point of families in this game was to make kids of your own bloodline to carry the fight forward? (Maybe I'm mixing that up with Rogue Legacy?)

    If the major game mechanic is indeed having offspring, wouldn't same-sex couples mean the game would automatically end? Yeah, you could adopt, but then you're losing out on the whole genetic bloodline mechanic.

    I dunno, it seems to me that, given the constraints involved, putting same-sex couples into the game is trying to force a specific worldview into a place where it doesn't really fit.

  • Jun 27th, 2013 @ 9:16am


    Argh, I completely misread the quote. Duh. Sorry.

  • Jun 27th, 2013 @ 7:44am

    (untitled comment)

    After all, isn't EFF defending basic Constitutional freedoms that Americans hold dear, and which our government is supposed to be protecting?

    Of course not. That's what they say in public, but with secret laws and a secret interpretation of the Constitution, their real purpose is not known. It can't be known.

    You must derive what their goals must be from the actions they take, and I submit that mass surveillance is not about finding terrorists, it's about finding dissidents.

    These programs are not to protect you from terrorists, it's to protect them from you. And if you think otherwise, well, secret laws.

  • Jun 26th, 2013 @ 7:50pm

    Re: It doesn't seem to occur to anybody

    Again, this is part of the systemic protections that are being set up to stop dissent, and to get people used to being searched.

    The No Fly List is a lousy tool against terrorists, but it and the other TSA garbage is a freaking great tool against dissidents.

    See: Occupy movement. Had the severe beatings not convinced them to go home, this sort of thing would have been next on the list.

  • Jun 26th, 2013 @ 7:44pm

    Re: Re:

    Unless you are willing to challenge it in a court, or you are a part of the Supreme Court, NO ONE CARES about your specific opinion. (well some might, but they don't matter either).

    You're right that they don't care much about my opinion individually. But laws can be changed with enough popular support, and these programs are explicitly designed to disrupt and destroy the networks needed to form that popular support. They're also tailor-made for destroying charismatic individuals.

    Think about Martin Luther King a little. Do you seriously think the civil rights movement would have succeeded if the government had had these powers at the time? He and his entire network would be in prison or in forgotten graves, and blacks would still be second-class citizens.

    This is the real reason they're going after these powers. It's not to protect you from terrorists. It's to protect them from you.

  • Jun 26th, 2013 @ 4:20pm

    (untitled comment)

    Another way of putting that: the surveillance becomes the justification for the surveillance; the abuse makes more abuse possible.

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