Christopher Froehlich's Techdirt Profile

Christopher Froehlich

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Christopher Froehlich's Comments comment rss

  • Mar 21, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    Re: I think he's parsing carefully

    Having actually worked at the NSA through the Army, I happen to know that the NSA not only has the ability but does collect this data. In the context of IP traffic, the NSA's collection points are simply dumb garbage collectors. They collect every bit that comes through their channels. These databases are not directly exposed to most intelligence collectors, rather predefined filters pull subsets of the data into other systems. These filters, by themselves, are not sufficient to remove all US based traffic. When the law is respected, it is done so by training, protocols and network monitoring of intelligence users by auditors. Vast collections of US inbound/outbound data are present and directly accessible to many tiers of the intelligence community. Resolve to obey the rule of law is the only "technological" impedance to "spying" on US citizens.

  • Oct 24, 2011 @ 06:21am

    Apples and Clouds

    Sometimes, the idea for an icon is just so generic that it can't be avoided. There are only so many ways to draw an abstract image of an apple. Coincidentally, it seems there is only one way to draw a cloud:

  • Apr 09, 2010 @ 07:42am

    first sale

    I think the CD to MP3 comparison is most apt. Were I to purchase a CD and choose to rip it to MP3 format, that is perfectly legal and ethical; however, it's fundamentally no different than purchasing a CD and downloading someone else's MP3 rip of the same. It may be illegal, but it cannot be unethical simply because it happens to be more convenient and someone else has done the work of ripping the album.

    Similarly, I *could* purchase a book and rip it to eBook format myself, and that would be equally lawful and ethical as ripping a CD; however, it is infinitely more convenient to allow one person to do that work and simply distribute the labor. Illegal? Possibly. Unethical? I doubt it.

    If it were easier to "rip" a book to eBook format, this conversation wouldn't be happening.

  • Dec 29, 2009 @ 08:05pm

    Re: government already had the codes

    Exactly. The US had the signals intelligence to do this as early as 2003 and the Brits were certainly ahead of us by that point. Historically, Britain has been years ahead of the US in signals intelligence; but the problem for US operations was not the decryption of the individual frequencies but the multi-frequency modulation of the unique call. This is possible with the right dedicated equipment, but mobile platforms generally had to sacrifice GSM capability due to the overhead. At any rate, all of the problems with GSM intercept have largely been solved for some time in military/DoD operations--that anyone would suggest otherwise is laughable.

  • Oct 22, 2009 @ 05:30pm

    Just listen for that sigh of relief sailing across the Atlantic

    Like the sound of gentle waves rolling into the shore, a thousand disconnected Frenchmen exhale in inestimable pleasure. "Three strikes: the laxative for your digital life."

  • Sep 29, 2009 @ 08:03pm

    Staged Release Cycle, Anyone?

    Netflix is the quintessential example of customer focused innovation. The Xbox Netflix experience is a dream. Netflix has spent thousands and tens of thousands of man hours on perfecting the art and science of streaming HD content over bandwidth of fluctuating strength and quality. Their software is intuitive, sophisticated and comprehensive. Within the confines of a 4 button remote, one can command an entertainment giant.

    That said, Netflix's streaming service provides me the same gag reflex as my local Blockbuster. The selection is limited, arbitrary and fleeting. This is not the fault of anyone in the Netflix employ. Netflix simply suffers the hand that feeds the staged release cycle, be it by the MPAA and its affiliates or the major network studios.

    Netflix has, in my opinion, the best user interface and user experience of any IP based delivery system (Boxee, Hulu, etc.) that I've used to date. Whether they will be allowed to deliver content is still up in the air.

  • Aug 21, 2009 @ 07:01am

    Re: "The system we have now actually works pretty well (despite the economic mess faced today)."

    I agree to some extent, though I do not think the problems of the dollar are limited to the efficiency of currency exchange. I would posit that our system of valuing the dollar is fundamentally broken for several reasons: first, the dollar is not commodity supported (by gold, beads or cattle), instead as a FIAT currency, the value of the dollar rests on a promise from the Fed to "honor" the currency in trade. As such, the dollar is only as valuable as that promise. Second, as Mr. Masnick rightly points out, the flow of new dollars into the economy is now largely digital--so one of the key, former barriers to monetary inflation (the printing of paper money) has been excised from the system. Very little prevents banks from issuing new lines of credit, new loans, and new money other than their own risk assessments of the transaction. See Money as Debt (and take with two grains of salt)
    Third, currency is already highly subjective in its local valuation. Consider the cost-of-living adjustments we must make when traveling or moving even within our own states. An Ithacan myself, a dollar spent in Ithaca will get you (optimistically) 25 cents in New York City. A ratified global currency (ignoring the digital currency that already exists) would only expand and accentuate the problems already facing the U.S. currency.
    There's an interesting bit on the history of currency in China, which is a country and economy worth studying specifically for its use (or lack thereof) of currency over thousands of years:

  • Mar 31, 2009 @ 06:18pm


    Doesn't this (slightly) conflict with the earlier story of 10,000 successful in-flight phone calls in Europe? The principle demand is the same: connect point A to B, while point A is in motion on a plane. In the case of digital phone communication, you're talking about voice traffic. In the case of WiFi Internet communication, you're talking about data traffic and voice over data traffic. Suddenly, voice traffic is demanded and required without dispute but data without voice is a superfluous traffic that no one wants?

  • Feb 26, 2009 @ 06:26pm

    Re: I support this!

    Indeed. Imagine living in the Andes and googling 'Amazon' without keyword context.

  • Feb 26, 2009 @ 06:15pm


    As almost everyone else has iterated:

    1. When applications are free or cost so little as to be trivial expenses, consumers will try more apps and forget more apps than they would otherwise. Consider video game demos, shareware applications that promise to streamline x process or fix y widget or boost z performance, and any number of 30-day trial programs that you desperately hope will solve your need.

    At the end of the day, little has changed from the classic retail buy-and-return consumer. In this case, the cost to buy is so negligible that we substitute a delete for a return.

    2. The free market will sort itself out. Poor execution will always exceed good execution, because ideas are cheap. If the market allows any execution of an idea to compete, there will always be more poor executions than good. Depending on the cost to the consumer, this can mean that more widgets lie unused in the basement than gadgets sit gleaming in the kitchen; but this does not mean the market has failed. Rather, the market and consumer are evolving together.

    Of course, the App Store is not a truly free market, so evolution is somewhat confined and contrived. The App Store has evolved to meet consumer demands, and there (of yet) no reason to believe it will not continue to bend and bow to the wind of consumer whim. Should it not, the bow will break, and the consumer will fall into another market.

  • Oct 03, 2008 @ 10:25am

    Re: wiki.....

    Ditto. Had the same thought myself.

  • Sep 12, 2008 @ 10:00am

    Do it for DVDs

    I want this to extend to all media. For example, my wife and I shouldn't be able to watch the same copy of a DVD. We should have to buy it twice to cover licensing for each of us. If we have friends over for dinner and a movie, we should have to pay public performance rates to watch anything in our home. Sharing books should be a criminal activity. Licensed should be purchased per read, per user which expires 24 hours after purchased. Books should then self destruct if licenses are not renewed. Any broadcast of music, from car radio to computer speakers should require public broadcasting licensing. Games shouldn't be sold, only rented and should require blood testing for domestic terrorism.

  • Jul 21, 2008 @ 01:29pm


    Isn't innovation (at least in part) driven by the desire to create solutions to existing problems? There exists a void between that which (currently) is and isn't possible, and technology is the bridge over that divide.

    To my mind, the simplest way to predict the future is to study that divide. What can't we do now that we want to do? Supposing then that in the future, some enterprising soul will answer the where's and how's of the implementation of the solution to that problem, we are then free to just create an arbitrary, *magical* device that suddenly exists in this future vision.

    Hypothetically, teleportation could solve the problem of the transportation of large and small, organic and inorganic objects across vast spaces. Whether or not this is ever scientifically achievable matters not, but the solution to the current problem could introduce other more significant problems to the future that creates it, and the solution to those problems would surely be fantastic.

    That's my penny.