Mason Wheeler’s Techdirt Profile


About Mason Wheeler

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  • Jul 27th, 2015 @ 12:58pm

    (untitled comment)

    Like I've said before,

    Google: Don't Be Evil.
    Facebook: Don't even bother pretending we're not evil.

    Looks like at least some people are catching on...

  • Jul 27th, 2015 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re:

    Remember, don't feed the trolls. Just click Report and move on.

  • Jul 27th, 2015 @ 11:11am

    (untitled comment)

    Barnes was awarded $50,000 in damages for which the court determined that Zaccari was personally liable, sending a message to public college administrators that there can be real, personal costs for abuses.

    Sounds like a good start. When we start applying the same standard to CEOs and Board of Directors members, then I'll be truly impressed.

  • Jul 27th, 2015 @ 8:35am

    (untitled comment)

    Separately, the court notes that even if Dart is correct that those ads are not protected by the First Amendment, that's up to a court to decide, not Dart on his own. That's called due process.

    I can follow (and agree with) most of this, but that line throws me for a bit of a loop. Doesn't United States v. Williams, specifically cited in here by the court, mean that a court already has decided, and these guys consider it a valid precedent?

  • Jul 27th, 2015 @ 7:06am

    Re: Re:

    As a reminder, why the hell should people have to pay up to $200 extra for what the cable company is contractually obliged to supply?

    Because, as AC pointed out, they aren't obligated to supply it for free, and given the rental rates they tend to charge, buying your own router will almost certainly pay for itself pretty quickly. Given that, why would anyone not want to buy their own?

  • Jul 25th, 2015 @ 10:34am

    Re: Ayne Rand

    Well, that's the difference. Orwell intended 1984 as a warning, but Rand literally wrote her horrifying stories of equally dysfunctional society as a how-to.

  • Jul 24th, 2015 @ 7:21am

    Re: I agree, Gold is worthless.

    The tale is told of a group of miners during the California gold rush who used mechanical equipment to separate gold nuggets from dirt and pebbles. Problem is, the machinery kept getting clogged by this obnoxious blue-grey dust.

    A guy arrived on the scene who had some knowledge of the situation, and he offered to work for them to keep the machinery clean for a very reasonable fee. He'd even get rid of the clogging dust for them so they didn't have to dispose of it. The prospectors thought this was a great idea!

    Well, in the end, the prospectors never found all that much gold, but the cleaner ended up getting rich. He knew one thing that the prospectors didn't: that nuisance dust was composed almost entirely of pure silver, and they were giving a massive amount of it away to him for free!

  • Jul 24th, 2015 @ 7:12am

    Re: I've been saying this for a year or so....

    I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh, so I have no idea what he's been saying about the Clinton Foundation, but you really ought to read the book Clinton Cash. If you can read that and not think it's a humungo mega-scandal then you seriously need to get your scandal detector recalibrated.

  • Jul 24th, 2015 @ 7:09am

    (untitled comment)

    Wait, so what happened to that whole "works produced by the government cannot be copyrighted" thing? Did the State of Georgia just... completely forget the most relevant fact in this entire case?

  • Jul 23rd, 2015 @ 2:30pm

    (untitled comment)

    If a person wants to complain (via the courtroom) that they've been misrepresented by "slanted" statements, they should at least have the self-awareness to recognize it's their actions that are creating this negative perception.

    He must be of the NSA school of causality. If this pesky journalist hadn't talked about the things he did, then the negative perception of him would not exist because no one would be perceiving it. Therefore, it's all the pesky journalist's fault!

  • Jul 23rd, 2015 @ 11:19am

    (untitled comment)

    We have to pass the bill so we can find out what's in it. Lovely.

    We see a lot of talk around here about ideas that have strong bipartisan support among the people, but for some reason not among the politicians. Perhaps I could add another such idea:

    No bill in Congress, either in committee or before the full body of either house of Congress, may be voted upon before it has been read out loud, in its entirety, in front of a quorum of the body which is to hold the vote in question. When a bill is passed after such a vote, it is considered to have passed exactly as it was read; any amendments or changes introduced after the reading will require the bill to be read again, in its entirety, or they cannot be valid.

    This would make it more difficult to sneak dirty tricks into legislature, and have the side effect of incentivizing laws to be shorter.

  • Jul 23rd, 2015 @ 10:22am


    No, they became known as the "Party of No" because the president is a Democrat and they're working to obstruct his agenda. If the current president was Republican, the Republicans would be the party of progress (for certain highly-specific and probably unintuitive definitions of "progress") and the Democrats would be the Party of No. That's just the way the game is played these days.

  • Jul 23rd, 2015 @ 5:24am


    That's an interesting story, but it seems, at first glance at least, to be using circular logic:

    1) Program a neural network to do the computerized analog of what we think a certain brain process does under certain conditions that we think causes schizophrenia.
    2) Observe that the neural network becomes schizophrenic, exactly as predicted by the model used.
    3) Proclaim that this is evidence that the model is correct.

    Trouble is, doing a simulation this way would produce "evidence" of any model, even an incorrect one, so I don't see how we've made any real progress here.

  • Jul 23rd, 2015 @ 5:08am

    Re: Re:

    Yeah, it's easy to "just think of" the OpenSSL bugs, because they're about all there is to think of when you're looking for counter-examples. They're the one major case that's come to light in the past decade or so. You know what you haven't heard about? All the thousands of open source projects that haven't had serious problems like that, because the process works when people actually use it. But OpenSSL didn't; it could be a case study in how not to run an Open Source project.

  • Jul 22nd, 2015 @ 4:50pm

    Re: Re: Security?

    Thanks to laws of physics, this scenario will never happen. If a car hit a school bus at backing-out-of-driveway speeds (or even at highway speeds,) the children inside would almost certainly not be injured because of buses' extremely sturdy construction.

  • Jul 22nd, 2015 @ 2:37pm

    (untitled comment)

    Sigh. So much fail coming from the manufacturers here.

    if granted, the proposed exemption could introduce safety and security issues as well as facilitate violation of various laws designed specifically to regulate the modern car, including emissions, fuel economy, and vehicle safety regulations.

    Yeah, you know what the beautiful thing about there already being laws against this stuff that they're pointing out there are laws against? The fact that there are already laws against it! So that's already covered and they don't need copyright abuse to handle cases of people trying to do stuff like that.

    By allowing every automobile owner to access and copy automotive software in the name of research, the proposed exemption undermines existing research efforts and, ultimately, wrests control of such research from those in the best position to actually improve the security and safety of our automobiles: the automobile manufacturers and their suppliers, who have the utmost responsibility to ensure that vehicles are safe and secure.

    If we were talking about manufactured physical goods, such as a car, I would agree. But we're not; we're talking about the software in the car, and fixing bugs in software does not work that way. Decades of experience shows exactly the opposite, as succinctly summed up by Eric Raymond in what he calls Linus's Law: "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow." Or in other words, the more independent people you have looking at a problem, the more likely it will be that the solution will be obvious to one of them, and thus the faster it will get fixed.

  • Jul 22nd, 2015 @ 11:28am

    Re: Re:

    That's not what was said at all. What he said is that it was highly irresponsible of the researchers to do something that could put the car in question at serious risk of a fatal collision while in real highway traffic with plenty of independent vehicles that it could potentially collide with! And he has a very good point.

    The fact that he has a very good point does not in any way invalidate the research that was done. It simply points out that it was done in an irresponsible and needlessly dangerous way.

  • Jul 22nd, 2015 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It would really be nice to be able to believe that, but history shows otherwise. From the Ford Pinto to the runaway Toyotas a few years ago to problems today like Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Takata shrapnel airbags, we see that manufacturers frequently don't like to fix potentially fatal problems even when they could be held liable for the damages.

  • Jul 22nd, 2015 @ 10:15am


    Umm... it's DRM. And this particular DRM it doesn't even try to hide; it openly proclaims itself as such. What further analysis is needed? What grounds are there to doubt that it's malware when it doesn't even bother denying it?

  • Jul 22nd, 2015 @ 7:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Two Choices

    Yeah, that's called brake-checking. It's great except for one little problem: it doesn't work.

    There's basically two reasons you'll get tailgated: either the person behind you isn't paying attention, or they're a thug who's doing it on purpose. In the former case, simply flashing your hazard lights at them will generally get them to realize they're following too close and back off, and brake-checking them could cause them to freak out and react in a panicky way, possibly putting them or others around (including you) in danger.

    In the latter case, they're probably expecting it and they won't stop even after you brake-check them, because they're doing it on purpose. This is the most frustrating case, because there's really nothing you can do without putting yourself in serious danger.

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