vilain 's Techdirt Comments

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  • Judge Says Sniffing Unencrypted WiFi Networks Is Not Wiretapping

    vilain ( profile ), 10 Sep, 2012 @ 09:23am

    All depends on who's doing the tapping

    A reporter for a local paper sat on the bleachers of the local high school and accessed an OPEN mount point on the schools file server via an open WiFi network. He didn't modify any files but he was able to open and read stuff that shouldn't have been publicly available. Then he wrote about it for the paper. The school district's IT department was in a dither about the lack of security but don't know if the City attorney tried to go after this guy. This was in Palo Alto, the heart of the Silicon Valley.

    If open WiFi networks aren't wiretapping, then the DA had no case. But that didn't stop them from trying to make one.

  • The Inevitable Crowdfunding Backlash When People Realize Projects Fail & Change

    vilain ( profile ), 29 Aug, 2012 @ 08:47am

    Depends on why you're funding a project

    Up until seeing this post, I hadn't considered using Kickstart or other crowdfunding to do something other than offer a way to see a project that might not otherwise happen. I've funded two things so far--a gay-themed superhero comic book (and seen the pages the author and artist has posted over the last months) and a coming-out film (it didn't make it's goal so the film didn't happen and my card wasn't charged $20). In both cases, I was funding something I wanted to see happen.

    If it something to "invest" in, where I expect a monetary return for my money, that's another matter. I see crowd funding as a dicey proposition for that--rife with fraud and possible criminality as well as an opportunity to make money faster. It's not what I would do with my money in order to grow it.

    I'd rather spend $$$ to keep the Castro Theater in SF showing the nightly eclectic Queer-friendly fare rather than it turn into another souless cineplex for the yuppies that are invading the neighborhood. They growl at the same sex couples holding hands and get all bent out of shape when those same couples tell them to 'F*ing breeders. This was _our_ neighborhood before you were even born. Take your 2-cup baby stroller and go live in the Marina."

  • People Who Pay For A Service Are A Lot Nicer Than Those Who Don't

    vilain ( profile ), 17 Aug, 2012 @ 07:16pm

    NeoOffice users aren't so nice

    The 2 guys in a garage who ported OpenOffice to MacOS have found that new users have become the bane of their existence. These people are upset that they have to pay $10/year for support of a 'free product'. It's gotten so bad that the developers have stopped fixing bugs because they're spending all their time answer tech support calls from users.

    So, they shut down the payment system and let the current crop of people go without help. Only if you've bought support in the last year will they allow you to pay for another year for support and then answer your questions.

    This seems just the reverse of what the original article is saying. But this is pissing off a LOT of people in the Macintosh news groups. You can't even post to the NeoOffice forums and emails from non-subscribers are bounced back. Their excuse is that they aren't a company and are doing this 'because they want to'. They took a free-software package (OpenOffice), forked it, changed the copyright to another form (it's legal), and now users are left twisting in the wind. The last time a developer did this (Brian Clark, 'author' of Thoth, a MacOS news reader), users either held their nose or told him to bite the big one.

    Someone needs to drop a house on these guys who are doing this to NeoOffice.

  • Where Do Teens Discover New Music? YouTube.

    vilain ( profile ), 17 Aug, 2012 @ 05:48pm

    Certainly is for me

    I stumbled across Sam Tsui (recent Yale grad) who's a "Youtube phenomenon". He and his music producer led me to other Youtube artists who subscribe to. The video for this summer's hit CALL ME MAYBE was mentioned by one of the Glee actors. The ending became the plot for quite a few fanfic stories.

    The idea that you need a recording contract to get your music out there is, I think, no longer true. Those struggling artists need $$$ to tour and actually give live concerts. Kickstarter, maybe? That's why I buy covers from them in iTunes--they get more $ from the sale than any commercial album.

    Time for the record and movie industry to stop with their rectocranially impacted business model. They're selling buggy whips and don't even smell the gasoline.

  • Bait & Switch: Buy A Lifetime Account For As Long As We Exist Or Until We Get Tired Of You

    vilain ( profile ), 17 Aug, 2012 @ 03:27pm

    Some companies keep their promises

    An aunt was a 'lifetime' subscriber to the New Yorker until she died at 89. That subscription lasted 70+ years. Someone else down the block was a lifetime subscriber of The Reader's Digest (they were from the Midwest--not their fault) and had a similar run.

    I'd love to see the early customers band together to launch a class action lawsuit against these clowns. No one really wins in those things except the lawyers, but if it makes the company keep their promises, great. Otherwise, they deserve to go out of business.

  • Viacom Uses Fans As Hostages: Blocks Daily Show, Colbert Streams For Everyone To Spite DirecTV

    vilain ( profile ), 12 Jul, 2012 @ 08:05am

    Why aren't Colbert and John Steward looking to move

    If the distributor isn't doing their job by making their content available, why aren't Colbert and John Stewart's attorneys now screaming at Viacom to get their head outta their collective anni? If that's not part of their contracts, it sure ought to be. "Keep your corporate hands offa my show or you loose the right to distribute it. Where _I_ want it distributed."

  • Fair Use/Fair Dealing Doesn't Require Payment Or Permission

    vilain ( profile ), 14 Jun, 2012 @ 03:14pm

    Song lyrics

    I recently had a story on a fanfiction site taken down without explanation. I wrote a number of times asking why only to be ignored. Finally, I emailed a copy of the story and they objected to my use of the word "Bitch" in the title and the song lyrics I had in the story. I researched Fair Use and the advise from the US Copyright office said "when in doubt, get permission". If you can't, then don't use it. The use-case for Fair Use would require a judge and jury to decide, according to this site. This from

    So, I trimmed the song down to 4 lines rather than the whole song. The site seemed to accept that. I took out "bitch" in the title.

    So Mike, where did you get your guidelines for Fair Use. When someone won't accept them, do you say "Talk to my lawyer" and leave it at that?

  • Police Arrest Woman For Filming Them, Take Phone Out Of Her Bra, Claim That It Must Be Kept As 'Evidence'

    vilain ( profile ), 12 Jun, 2012 @ 08:08pm

    growth industry for litegators

    Once the internet uploading phone app appears, which would stream directly to the cloud, confiscating the phone will be the least of the police's problems. A court order to take down the video (as "evidence") would soon follow.

    What I think is needed here is skilled observers. This would make a great 1st year associate's job. Go around filming police, staying out of their way, getting arrested, phone impounded, 'resisting arrest' and 'inciting' while being arrested to compound the arresting officer's offenses, and ultimately fighting the entire thing in court, filing damages against the city, police chief, and officers involved. Cities would settle. Marginal cops would be off the streets guarding the malls of America, and these law firms would make a ton of money.

  • Park Ranger Tases Guy Walking Dogs Without A Leash

    vilain ( profile ), 10 Feb, 2012 @ 09:46am

    Bust gone bust

    When this all comes to trial if some DA decides to prosecute, I'm sure the ranger will be called to the stand to explain why she tazed the suspect. And to explain why, when asked, "Can I go now?" she said yes.

    If the judge throws this out of court, I would not be surprised.

    If the DA charges this guy and not accept a plea, I would not be surprised.

    If this park ranger continues tasing people with impunity, I would not be surprised.

  • US Can Extradite UK Student For Copyright Infringement, Despite Site Being Legal In The UK

    vilain ( profile ), 13 Jan, 2012 @ 12:20pm

    what about the reverse

    If the UK will extradite one of their citizens to the US for doing something that's legal in the UK but illegal in the US, then I see the reverse happening. Meeting the grounds for libel and defamation in the UK is a lot easier, so suing a US citizen in a UK court for such might be interesting. Same for other crimes.

    A disaster that caused a gas pipeline to explode killing 8 people in SF has been found to be caused by various illegal and the company diverted funds collected from rate payers to pay themselves. Suppose some QC in the UK decides to prosecute the CEO and Board of the gas company various criminal charges because a UK citizen died in the explosion. Doubt the US courts would extradite these 1%-ers to the UK for trial. So Interpol sends some people to 'extradite them' with extreme prejudice. I can see this as a LAW & ORDER-UK episode in the near future.

    What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

  • Who Wants To Own Domain Seized, About To Be Auctioned

    vilain ( profile ), 22 Dec, 2011 @ 12:59pm

    import the assets

    I did a little victory dance when an owner of a property that illegally went into foreclosure sued the bank that did the robosigning. He won a judgement against them and made every attempt to contact them for funds. So he showed up at their offices with a moving van, court order, and sheriff's deputies. It took the bank president 5 minutes to make out a cashier's check for the amount of the settlement plus the cost of the van, court costs and the sheriff's time. It made the papers and was on the AP.

    I'd love to see this happen with Righthaven's CEO. The asset of Righthaven hauled away in a van along with their cars and the contents of their house.

  • First Grader Investigated For Sexual Harassment For Kicking A Bully In His Private Parts

    vilain ( profile ), 07 Dec, 2011 @ 03:53pm

    If the DA files, fire them

    If the DA files on this case, I'd go after them for prosecutorial misconduct. I hope the family court judge sanctions them. And the kid's mom should contact the ACLU. I wonder what strategy they'd use to go after the school district and specifically this clueless administrator.

  • TSA Agent Threatens Woman With Defamation, Demands $500k For Calling Intrusive Search 'Rape'

    vilain ( profile ), 06 Sep, 2011 @ 11:25pm

    Can't imagine this going to court

    In what court would any jury be impanelled that hasn't been manhandled by TSA? Instant verdict for the defendant.

  • Woman Kicked Out Of A Restaurant For Complaining About Bartender On Twitter

    vilain ( profile ), 19 Aug, 2011 @ 10:30am

    Social Media does make a difference

    A chain lamp store sold my 85yo mom a lamp that broke 4 months later. When she called them to get a replacement, she was told over the phone that they didn't do repairs and she'd need a reciept to exchange it. She'd thrown that out along with the box it came in so she was out $50. I called to clarify and got the same sales person and talked to the store manager who reiterated the store's policy. I made a point of offering 'service' vs. a product and that I got 'service' from the family owned lamp store down the street who know me and my mom but the manager wouldn't budge. I put all this on Yelp and a corporate communications type from the store's main office sent email to assure me that the incident was being used as a teaching moment for the store's staff even though we'd already purchased a replacement from the local store.

  • Police Say They Can Detain Photographers If Their Photographs Have 'No Apparent Esthetic Value'

    vilain ( profile ), 16 Aug, 2011 @ 10:08am

    kill two birds with 1 stone

    bring a friend and have him video you taking photographs. When the police question you, have the friend continue to video the incident. With luck, they'll claim you were wiretapping them and you can go after their photographers policy and the "no videotapeing police" craziness. And while you're at it, do an open carry thing with an unloaded gun on your belt wearing an NRA t-shirt.

    Should be a fun speaking engagement.

  • Koch Brothers Can't Abuse Trademark & Hacking Laws To Sue Satirical Critics

    vilain ( profile ), 11 May, 2011 @ 12:34pm

    I stayed clear of BLUEHOST

    when I found out their business tithes to the Mormon Church. After all the California Pro-Prop 8 stuff the Mormon church was supporting, I didn't want my money going to such a company.

    And told the CEO this when he sent me a 'personal note' to find out why I canceled my account. Never heard back and I am glad I steered clear.

  • Phone Calls Are So Last Century

    vilain ( profile ), 24 Mar, 2011 @ 09:14am

    Still stuck in the 20th century

    I agree that a phone call is inherently intrusive either at home or on the go. As a rule I don't answer my stupid cell phone unless I recognize the number. Business calls will leave a VM if it's important. Once I stopped hearing a phone ringing as an automatic "Answer me! I'm important", I looked at other means of communication. And I don't feel I'm at the beck and call of a device in my pocket. Don't text or want to pay for it, so that's not an option.

    All of my family still have a phone but only 50% have a computer. So email isn't for everyone, but that's what I tend to use. If I had a smart phone, I suppose Twitter or SMS would replace that, but email however 20th century still is my fallback. If I need immediate communication, a phone call is still the only thing.

  • Botched TSA Pat Down Leaves Traveler Covered In Urine

    vilain ( profile ), 23 Nov, 2010 @ 10:13am

    This Pistole guy needs to go

    Replace this idiot with someone who's been trained by the Israelis.

  • TSA Threatens To Sue Guy For Not Agreeing To Having His Groin Touched By TSA Agents

    vilain ( profile ), 15 Nov, 2010 @ 07:47pm

    Re: Deal with it.

    The whole "nothing to hide argument" has been fought back and forth between legal scholars for years. I may truly have nothing to hide but that's none of your beeswax. And making the rational decision to opt-out of being scanned and being patted down should not be required. I think TSA is in for a fun time on Nov 24 when the "OPT OUT" crowd shows up at America's airports essentially shutting them down.

    Personally, I'd be happy to be patted down while wearing my kilt commando. Just so long as the guy doing it is hot. I'll even bring my own lube for a cavity search if it goes that far.

  • TSA Threatens To Sue Guy For Not Agreeing To Having His Groin Touched By TSA Agents

    vilain ( profile ), 15 Nov, 2010 @ 07:23pm

    Re: Tough Call

    If you have a favorite lube, bring that if this is going to be your strategy. I'm thinking you joke with the screeners, a cavity search is next. Might as well make it fun for everyone. Say you're allergic to the stuff they use and they have to use your mint flavored lube.

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