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  • Jan 15th, 2017 @ 7:02am

    Re: Re: Re: And what about Alice?

    It's a reference to a song, which exists in several versions.

    The original, with "Who the Hell":

    My preferred version, with "Who the Fuck", although this instance may be truncated:

  • Jan 13th, 2017 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, you can. In this case the argument would be that, although there are several of them, none of them has any direct connection to the others - and thus each of them individually is alone.

  • Jan 11th, 2017 @ 7:18am

    Re: You guys are looking at this from the wrong angle.

    > At no point are ANY Geek Squad employees actually under
    > contract or hire by the FBI. Therefore, Geek Squad
    > members have ZERO obligation to protect your 4th
    > amendment rights.

    I think the argument is something like:

    1. These people have been asked to do this by the FBI.
    2. When these people do this, they get paid by the FBI.
    3. Because of the combination of points 1 and 2, these people are acting on behalf of the FBI when they do this.
    4. In acting on behalf of the FBI, these people qualify as government actors.
    5. Government actors are bound by the constraints of the Fourth Amendment.

    The differentiating factor in point 1 is the fact that (apparently) the FBI sought these people out in order to notify them of the existence of the reward and make them aware that reporting what they find could get them money. Although random members of the public could also report such things and receive the same reward, most members of the public have not been targeted to be informed of the existence of the reward.

    Omit either point 1 or point 2 and you might invalidate point 3 and/or 4, either of which would make point 5 irrelevant.

    I read your argument as being that point 1 is invalid, because the reward is good no matter who reports the material. The counter to that argument is the argument I presented above about the FBI having gone out of their way to specifically target messaging about the award to these people. The linked article quotes someone as saying that "FBI and Best Buy made sure that during the period from 2007 to the present, there was always at least one supervisor who was an active informant."; that sounds like more active involvement than simply putting up a wanted poster.

  • Jan 9th, 2017 @ 7:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: been bitching about voting systems...

    What "hidden script" are you talking about?

    I'm working from the assumption that the ballots have been recorded in a data file, and I'm writing a program which will read in the contents of that data file. Nothing other than what is in the data file is available.

    That seems like a valid assumption, because if the data isn't recorded into a file rather than being stored in memory, there's no way to get it off the voting machine where the vote was tabulated to begin with.

    Once the ballots are in the data file, if the hidden record of their original order isn't stored there, it's lost - and if it _is_ stored there, it's visible to whatever program I'm writing, and my program is capable of storing whatever values it wants in that field when it writes out a shuffled version of the file.

    (Yes, the original file still exists, but it can be deleted.)

    If you're arguing "we can't trust that what the computer says it's doing / recording is what it's really doing/recording", that's an argument for open-source, community- and professionally-audited voting-system software - but it doesn't support the idea that it's impossible to make a computer shuffle votes into a storage order that has nothing to do with the order in which they came in. (It's even trivially possible to design a program which would store them in random order in the first place.)

  • Jan 8th, 2017 @ 5:28am


    Much like with patents, the standards for issuing and overturning trademarks need to be of comparable difficulty and expense.

    If it's easy and inexpensive to get a patent or a trademark issued, it needs to be similarly easy and inexpensive to challenge the patent or trademark and get it overturned.

    If it's difficult and/or expensive to challenge a patent or trademark and get it overturned, it needs to be similarly difficult and/or expensive to get the patent or trademark issued in the first place.

    (The reverse is also true in both cases, of course.)

    If it's difficult and/or expensive to get one issued, but easy and inexpensive to get one overturned, you end up with people who have a legitimate case for having one but either can't get one or can't keep it. That's the perspective behind the justifications for our current setup.

    If it's easy and inexpensive to get one issued, but difficult and/or expensive to get one overturned, you end up with the sort of thing Techdirt so often reports on: overly-broad patents and/or trademarks, used against people who have a legitimate case for using the patented and/or trademarked thing, but who can't afford to fight to get the use approved. This is approximately (and measuring difficulty and expense in relative terms) the setup we have today.

  • Jan 7th, 2017 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re: been bitching about voting systems...

    > Try making computers scramble the votes in the same way and you can't do it.

    What are you talking about? Of course it's possible. It's probably possible to design systems which _don't_ do it, but even assuming that the votes were cast on a system which doesn't, it's always possible to transfer the votes into a different system and then scramble them around there.

    I've already thought of at least three ways to approach this just off the top of my head - one of which I could implement easily if you gave me access to a system that includes functions to load a data file containing already-cast ballots with unique sequential IDs, and functions to write out such a file, and a definition of the format of the data structure which contains the ballots. Copying the ballots across in random order into a new copy of the same data structure, leaving the original unique IDs behind and generating new ones at copy time, would be trivial; delete the original data file and just use the new one, and hey presto, your ballots are shuffled and there's no way to reconstruct the original order.

    I really don't know where you're coming from on this.

  • Jan 6th, 2017 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re:

    > Price should go down? Why???

    Because of the law of supply and demand. Lower demand means lower prices, and so does higher supply; higher demand means higher prices, and so does lower supply.

    > If you are not willing to pay the price - take something else.

    Yes, of course.

    And if too few people are willing to pay the price, then the seller should lower the price, because they will be able to make more money by selling more copies at the lower price instead of fewer copies at the higher one.

    Your other comments - about remixing, and (to paraphrase very loosely) "using things without getting permission from the owner" - have nothing to do with the post you're replying to.

  • Jan 6th, 2017 @ 8:56am

    Re: Did you actually read Gladwell's article?

    Without attempting to take on your entire argument: is it possible that the difference in this case is that the wrongdoing is so pervasive that to expose it without threatening the entire organization is impossible?

  • Jan 6th, 2017 @ 5:19am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I didn't say anything about fault. The ACA has numerous flaws; I was more in favor of the original public-option proposal. I fault Obama for conceding entirely to the Republicans' objections to his first two proposals, rather than insisting they meet him in the middle somehow. (I actually think that when they screamed bloody murder over _their own established position_ after he backed it, he should have gone back and pushed through one of the earlier proposals instead.)

    Obama did many things wrong during his Presidency; you'll find documentation of some of them in the archives of this very Website. The Affordable Care Act is part of what he did wrong, and parts of what make it wrong are his (or at least his administration's) doing - but the original idea that the rest of it was built on was not his to begin with, and he would not have run with that idea if the Republicans hadn't objected so intractably to his original proposals.

  • Jan 5th, 2017 @ 7:52am


    Just to correct one point:

    The Affordable Care Act, as passed, is not what the Obama administration originally proposed for health-care reform. It's a longstanding conservative proposal, which had been backed by Republicans for quite some time before that, including (at the state level) by none other than Mitt Romney.

    The original version of the health-care reform proposal, as I recall it - and the second version, after the first got shot down - had nothing to do with requiring people to buy health insurance on the private market. Instead, it involved a "public option", in which people who couldn't get affordable health care through private insurers could get it through the government instead, subsidized by tax dollars.

    As I remember it, what happened is:

    * Obama made a health-care reform proposal which involved a public option, based on liberal viewpoints about how such a thing should be done.

    * Republicans screamed bloody murder about socialism.

    * Obama dropped the original proposal, and started over with something closer to the Republican position, in an attempt to meet them in the middle.

    * Rather than softening their position and coming closer to his proposed middle ground, Republicans screamed bloody murder again.

    * Obama dropped his new proposal and started over with a long-established conservative proposal which had been backed by Mitt Romney - essentially conceding the entire ideological argument, for the sake of getting health-care reform done in _some_ form.

    * Republicans screamed bloody murder a third time.

    * Obama pushed reform through anyway - and _that_ is what we now call Obamacare: the second-generation "anything Obama proposes is bad" Republican proposal for what reform should look like.

    Trying to spin this as Obama trying to protect the private health-insurance racket - even if protectionism for that industry is what the end result winds up looking like - is just ludicrous, IMO.

  • Dec 30th, 2016 @ 11:28am

    Re: Re: many other distros no longer give you the option to use initd.

    >Linux and Open Source is all about having a choice.

    While I agree with this, many other people do not; in particular, one common refrain from the people pushing to switch to systemd in the Debian sector of that debate was (and probably still is) "Linux is not about choice".

    I believe there's actually a Website dedicated to arguing that proposition...

  • Dec 30th, 2016 @ 11:26am

    Re: Re: Re: there something specifically called "initd"? Because I can't recall having heard of any such thing, and the top Google hits for that term are all about the directory /etc/init.d/, which is part of the sysvinit / rc.d init-scripts system.

    (sysvinit itself is just an abbreviation for "System V init", and its main binary is /sbin/init; as far as I know, nothing involved has ever been called by the name "initd".)

    The init-systems debate is complicated and contentious enough when people actually call things by their names, rather than confusing the issue further by inventing new ones...

  • Dec 29th, 2016 @ 6:20am


    That'll get you in trouble. Lying to a federal agent is a crime - IIRC, a felony.

  • Dec 25th, 2016 @ 4:27am

    Re: I don't

    > stories like this make clear that is simply not a
    > reasonable position to take, as what few 'good' cops are
    > there are almost without fail driven off by the vast
    > majority belonging to, as you put it, 'the brotherhood of
    > police' which see their highest priority as protecting
    > their own, rather than protecting and serving the public,
    > even if that means protecting the absolute worst of the
    > worst so long as they have a badge and uniform.

    I'm not sure I'd go that far.

    I know only a relatively few police officers, but the large majority of that few seem to be quite decent people, and thus far none of them have struck me as the type to engage in any of these quote-unquote "bad apple" behaviors.

    I share your conclusions, however - not because "good cops are driven out or corrupted by the institutional culture established by the bad ones", but because _there is no practical way to tell the difference_.

    In any given encounter, there is no practical way to be sure whether you are dealing with a "good cop" or a bad one. If you assume you're dealing with a bad cop, and get it wrong, you're no less safe than you were (and the only negative consequences are to the cop's opinion of the public, making it more likely that he will become a bad cop later); if you assume you're dealing with a good one, and get it wrong, the consequences are potentially severe.

    (Tangential rant: when are they going to give us a means of doing quotes via markdown which does _not_ automatically italicize what's quoted? What I want is blockquote behavior, including nesting if appropriate, and that's what seems to be depicted at the provided markdown link. What the > prefix actually seems to give here on Techdirt is italics _plus_ blockquote, which is problematic if the quoted text already includes italics; doing two unrelated things with one tag is poor form in any case.)

  • Dec 25th, 2016 @ 4:12am

    Re: Might be proper tho

    I suspect the reasoning is:

    * The name "Butterball" is familiar to most customers within the turkey company's market area as being associated with turkey, and specifically with the turkey company.

    * Therefore, when customers within that area see the wine labeled with that name, they are likely to infer (as a first conclusion) that the turkey company has now branched out into selling wine. The fact that the logo is not (remotely) identical is not likely to be a sufficient difference in this regard.

    * Therefore, the use of the same name is likely to confuse customers into thinking that the wine is from the same people as the turkey.

    Not only does that seem (at a glance) to satisfy the basic "customer confusion" standard, albeit in perhaps a different sense from the one trademark was originally intended to address, it also leads to the possibility of "if the wine is bad, that will serve to reduce customer opinion of the brand behind it, thereby devaluing the turkey company".

    As I've said before, I think that many of these misuse-of-trademark articles are arguing against a position which is not actually what motivates the actions being criticized. If you want to change people's minds, you need to argue against their actual positions, not against the positions you think their actions should be based on.

  • Dec 22nd, 2016 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes; in fact, when I went to a dentist for the first time in 10-to-20 years to ask about setting up an appointment, the hygienist who agreed to have me come back and get an initial cleaning immediately was male.

    (Admittedly, every other hygienist I've encountered at that office has been female.)

  • Dec 22nd, 2016 @ 5:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Government idiocy

    My understanding about the "one touch make ready" fight is that the poles themselves are indeed public property, but the equipment on the poles is not, and the companies which own that equipment are arguing that it is a violation of their property rights for someone to move that equipment without their permission.

    If that's the correct interpretation, then public-property poles etc. wouldn't fix the problem.

  • Dec 21st, 2016 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Errata:

    I suspect the previous poster was referring to _stored_ queries, which - being stored in the database - are indeed part of it.

  • Dec 21st, 2016 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I presume you're talking about the GOG Galaxy client? Because the comment about "a setting to keep the install files" doesn't make sense otherwise.

    I'm on Linux, which GOG Galaxy isn't available for yet, so whenever I buy something from GOG I download the installer directly from the Website and install it from that. It's more manual work, but I can easily stick the downloaded installer in my local archive, and then pull it from there whenever I want.

    GOG is not limited to the Galaxy client, though. My impression is that Steam is limited to the Steam client, and that you can't access your Steam library without going through that client; if that's not true, I'd be interested to know about it.

  • Dec 15th, 2016 @ 5:50am

    Re: Next time, don't bother

    I infer that the term "outrageous" may be a term of art, probably used / defined in some relevant statute, and by saying that the FBI's conduct "bordered on" the "outrageous" the judge is saying that the conduct comes close to but does not quite cross the line into a violation of the statute in question.

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