Mason Wheeler’s Techdirt Profile

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  • Jul 28th, 2016 @ 12:25pm

    (untitled comment)

    Wow!

    Back before I landed a job as a programmer, I paid the bills working at a clinic, and this was one thing they drilled into everyone's heads again and again and again. Under no circumstances do you ever share patient information with anyone, without a release signed by that patient.

    If I'd pulled a stunt like that, I'd have probably been fired, sued, and possibly even arrested for it!

  • Jul 28th, 2016 @ 10:19am

    (untitled comment)

    In other countries, the concern about net neutrality was always that telcos would do things like block VoIP. In the UAE, the government goes so far as to not just support such blocking, but actively work to criminalize the use of a VPN to get around such blocks.

    In other countries, the concern about copyright was always that the publishers would do things like install malware on your computer to block copying. In the USA, the government goes so far as to not just support such malware, but actively works to criminalize the use of circumvention techniques to get around such blocks.

  • Jul 28th, 2016 @ 6:51am

    Re: Re: Maybe this is what we need...

    I've run across that idea before, and it never ceases to confuse and/or horrify me. It strikes me as similar to someone saying that the only way to demonstrate how bad car crashes are is to deliberately get in one, while they are in the car.

    More like, we're stuck in a car that's got uncontrolled acceleration and the brakes aren't working. There's only one way that's going to end, so you might as well crash it deliberately in a manner of your choosing, instead of letting it happen in a way that you're unprepared for.

    (Not saying I agree, but I can understand the sentiment without having to agree with it.)

  • Jul 27th, 2016 @ 8:28am

    (untitled comment)

    Wait... wait...

    IP lawyers write a big letter telling people in charge of IP to regulate IP less strictly, thus leading to a probable decrease in opportunities for frivolous IP lawsuits that end up benefitting nobody but IP lawyers?

    What's next? Mass hysteria? Cats and dogs living together?

  • Jul 27th, 2016 @ 7:01am

    (untitled comment)

    A year ago, we wrote about an interesting new organisation called Bellingcat. Although it's not clear what kind of project it should be called, it's easy to understand what it does: it takes publicly-available information from many sources, and tries to piece together the jigsaw puzzle of contemporary events.

    There's actually already a well-established name for people who do that kind of work: intelligence analysts. Used to be that only governments and the occasional megacorp had the resources to utilize them, but it seems technology is leveling the playing field.

  • Jul 27th, 2016 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    She never did. She's toxic. She has all the baggage of being a Clinton, without Bill's charisma. The only way she won the primaries was by cheating every step of the way, as the recent email leaks reveal, but she's not in charge of the folks running the presidential elections.

  • Jul 26th, 2016 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    New York and California are traditionally liberal states that the Republicans wouldn't have won anyway. Texas is just the opposite, and do you really think there are enough Hispanics there to change the equation? (They're called "minorities" for a reason.)

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a more committed far-left ideologue than Michael Moore, but even he says the numbers add up:


    Midwest Math, or Welcome to Our Rust Belt Brexit. I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic states – but each of them have elected a Republican governor since 2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). In the Michigan primary in March, more Michiganders came out to vote for the Republicans (1.32 million) that the Democrats (1.19 million). Trump is ahead of Hillary in the latest polls in Pennsylvania and tied with her in Ohio. Tied? How can the race be this close after everything Trump has said and done? Well maybe it’s because he’s said (correctly) that the Clintons’ support of NAFTA helped to destroy the industrial states of the Upper Midwest. Trump is going to hammer Clinton on this and her support of TPP and other trade policies that have royally screwed the people of these four states. When Trump stood in the shadow of a Ford Motor factory during the Michigan primary, he threatened the corporation that if they did indeed go ahead with their planned closure of that factory and move it to Mexico, he would slap a 35% tariff on any Mexican-built cars shipped back to the United States. It was sweet, sweet music to the ears of the working class of Michigan, and when he tossed in his threat to Apple that he would force them to stop making their iPhones in China and build them here in America, well, hearts swooned and Trump walked away with a big victory that should have gone to the governor next-door, John Kasich.

    From Green Bay to Pittsburgh, this, my friends, is the middle of England – broken, depressed, struggling, the smokestacks strewn across the countryside with the carcass of what we use to call the Middle Class. Angry, embittered working (and nonworking) people who were lied to by the trickle-down of Reagan and abandoned by Democrats who still try to talk a good line but are really just looking forward to rub one out with a lobbyist from Goldman Sachs who’ll write them nice big check before leaving the room. What happened in the UK with Brexit is going to happen here. Elmer Gantry shows up looking like Boris Johnson and just says whatever shit he can make up to convince the masses that this is their chance! To stick to ALL of them, all who wrecked their American Dream! And now The Outsider, Donald Trump, has arrived to clean house! You don’t have to agree with him! You don’t even have to like him! He is your personal Molotov cocktail to throw right into the center of the bastards who did this to you! SEND A MESSAGE! TRUMP IS YOUR MESSENGER!

    And this is where the math comes in. In 2012, Mitt Romney lost by 64 electoral votes. Add up the electoral votes cast by Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It’s 64. All Trump needs to do to win is to carry, as he’s expected to do, the swath of traditional red states from Idaho to Georgia (states that’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton), and then he just needs these four rust belt states. He doesn’t need Florida. He doesn’t need Colorado or Virginia. Just Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And that will put him over the top. This is how it will happen in November.


    That was point 1 of his recent article, "5 reasons why Trump will win." Points 2-4 basically cover the same ground as the point I made above, that Trump has a decided edge in constituency enthusiasm. Don't underestimate this; it means he's likely to win the voter turnout game hands-down!

    And point 5 is that he represents real change. Remember how many people voted for Obama's "hope and change" and ended up getting 8 years of more of the same? Hillary's the ultimate insider, but whatever else you may say about Donald Trump, he's anything but "politics as usual!" (Sure, he represents a horrible, chaotic, destructive change for the worse, but he undeniably represents real change, and that's good enough for a lot of people, and a lot of voters!)

    I don't like it, but I think Moore's right more than he's wrong with these points.

  • Jul 26th, 2016 @ 11:56am

    Re:

    Is Facebook censoring WikiLeaks following the release of Hillary Clinton's emails?

  • Jul 26th, 2016 @ 11:53am

    (untitled comment)

    "What I think I've learned," Popick added, "is that I'm not qualified to be a political commentator."

    Well, neither are most of the people who do it for a living, so you're in good company, Mr. Popick.

  • Jul 26th, 2016 @ 7:32am

    Re: "free speech questions"

    I think it is well established that freedom of speech does not necessarily extend to fraud.

    Then why have Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump not both been arrested yet?

  • Jul 25th, 2016 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re:

    The people who aren't voting for Hillary tend to hate her. There are a huge number of them. The people who are, though, tend to grudgingly admit that she sucks but she's better than the alternative.

    The people who aren't voting for Trump tend to hate him. There are a huge number of them. The people who are, though, tend to be very enthusiastic about it and honestly believe he's the change that America needs.

    I could point to a few dozen other factors, but I really don't need to. Based on that alone, Hillary has no chance.

  • Jul 25th, 2016 @ 10:21am

    (untitled comment)

    And yet, we already have stories arguing that "Putin weaponized Wikileaks to influence" the US election. That's ridiculous on multiple levels. Wikileaks releases all kinds of stuff, whether you agree with them or not. And the idea that this will actually impact the election seems... unlikely.

    Yup. If the hackers (whoever they are) had truly wanted to influence the elections, they'd have released it a few months ago, while the primaries were still going on and there was a chance to change things.

    Right now, looking at the facts of the matter, Hillary has no chance, embarrassing leaks or no embarrassing leaks.

  • Jul 25th, 2016 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Is it any different from flying?

    Do you know what airline pilots call the safety procedures they have to follow with every flight? "Rules written in blood." Because most of them are just that: lessons learned from cases where people died, turned into procedures to make sure it doesn't happen again.

  • Jul 22nd, 2016 @ 10:47am

    (untitled comment)

    Odd. None of these languages actually start with A or Z.

  • Jul 22nd, 2016 @ 10:46am

    (untitled comment)

    Meh. The Olympics lost all legitimacy when they held their competition, whose purpose is ostensibly to celebrate the dignity of mankind and the triumph of the human spirit, in China a few years back. It's been real hard to care about the Games ever since.

  • Jul 21st, 2016 @ 10:55am

    (untitled comment)

    I hope this succeeds, though that won't be enough. The only position that truly makes sense is not simply a nullification of section 1201, but a reversal.

    If my property is truly mine, then by any reasonable, objective standard, wresting control of it away from me and turning it against my interests is a violation of my rights. Therefore, any use of "TPM" to do so is a crime, an act of hacking, and needs to be legally recognized as such.

  • Jul 21st, 2016 @ 10:30am

    Re:

    I would say the recent accident where the vehicle went under the trailer of a tractor trailer rig turning in front of the Tesla vehicle is an out-and-out PR disaster, a company killing disaster. We are told the autonomous car is safer because it has the ability of a machine to constantly scan and not be distracted - accept when the machine cannot see that which the car hits. Does not matter how well it scans if it cannot see the danger. This the first fundamental rule of autonomous vehicles?

    I'd say it's exactly the opposite, for reasons I explained in my comment above.

    If I screw up at the wheel and get myself killed, there's absolutely nothing about that event that prevents you from doing the exact same thing and getting yourself killed too. But when Autopilot makes a mistake, Tesla can analyze the data, figure out what went wrong, patch the software, and push the update to the entire fleet, so that nobody in a Tesla ever gets killed that way again.

  • Jul 21st, 2016 @ 10:26am

    Re: Re: Re:

    . . . rare hazards it cannot detect YET.

    Yeah, that was exactly my point. The set of problems it can't deal with keeps getting smaller and smaller with each new iteration.

  • Jul 21st, 2016 @ 7:58am

    (untitled comment)

    Obviously, the company has been in the spotlight recently over some autopilot accidents that have killed drivers. The company's PR reaction to that hasn't been great, though there is a really good point that tons of people die in regular car accidents all the time. If autopilot can be just marginally safer, even if there are still some accidents, that's still a big improvement. But, even so, Musk argues that their goal is to get autopilot to be 10x safer before Tesla would remove the "beta" description on the feature.


    There's another important thing to keep in mind here. When a person dies, (for good, unable to be resuscitated, etc,) all their knowledge goes with them. They're unable to learn from their mistakes or pass on what they know to anyone else.

    But when something goes terribly wrong with a computer, unless it's quite thoroughly destroyed, people can still take it apart, analyze it, figure out what went wrong, and fix it. (Heck, that's a large amount of what I do for a living: figuring out why software broke and how to fix it!) This is why commercial aircraft have indestructable "black boxes" to hold the flight data recorders: when something goes terribly wrong, they use the information about what happened to make all future versions safer.

    It's a tragedy that that guy died, even if he did sort of bring it on himself by not paying attention. But given what we've seen of the competence of the folks at Tesla, it's a tragedy that's likely to only happen once.

  • Jul 20th, 2016 @ 9:57am

    (untitled comment)

    Wait, wait... a European high court talking about censorship laws breaching the fundamental human right to information?

    That's incredibly ironic. I know there's a good reason to say so, but I must have... forgotten.

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