Xanthir, FCD’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 7:13am

    Re: Re: Re: My gloves are faster...

    Gauntlet is British English. Gantlet is the US spelling.
    No, no it's not. It *might* be some bizarre regional spelling somewhere in the US, but "gauntlet" is definitely still the way to spell it. I've never seen "gantlet" in my entire life.
  • Oct 14th, 2009 @ 6:42am

    My brain is broken...

    ...or else copyleft LETS THE T'RRISTS WIN!
  • Sep 18th, 2009 @ 6:56am

    The saddest part...

    ...is that the judge probably thought he was being super tech-savvy in his judgement. He's just a good 20 years out of date...
  • Aug 17th, 2009 @ 6:22am

    Re: Re:

    I am pretty sure the AC was pointing out the misuse of the pronoun "they." The rest of the article makes no difference. The author used "they" to refer to a singular, gender-unknown burglar, which is a grammatical taboo. "He," "she," "he/she," or just "the burglar," would have been preferable.

    Well, no, there's absolutely nothing wrong with using "they" like that. It's the singular neuter pronoun *and* the plural neuter pronoun in English. Has been for *literally* centuries - go look up some Shakespeare.

    The problem is that it's horrifically ambiguous when you also have a plural referent in the sentence - every time the story used "they" it sounded like it was talking about the homeowners. You're correct that using "the burglar" would have been best.
  • Aug 4th, 2009 @ 6:43am


    Indeed. Though that sort of thing will probably leave traces that can be mined out.
  • Aug 4th, 2009 @ 6:41am

    Re: Close!

    Sounds like they should rename it to the NSFW education department! Sorry, I just couldn't resist.

    Dude, you win. Great job. ^_^
  • Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 6:25am


    Mind expositing why (presumably) you aren't that impressed? Or are you just here to shit on things and run?

    I suppose I should be impressed that your comment is more than a "FRIST!!!1", but this is honestly not much better.
  • Jul 29th, 2009 @ 6:06am

    It's like he can see into my mind...

    It's about recognizing that people still do want physical goods, but they view it as a souvenir, to show support for the musicians, rather than buying "the music" itself. The music, to them, is free. But that doesn't mean they won't pay for goods of value.

    This puts into words exactly what I've always thought about live music. When I buy a CD of a band it's not to listen to the music - I can get that online. It's to show that *I was there*, and to spread a little love (and lucre) to the band.
  • Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How does the integrity check work anyways? I'm guessing that each client does
    a checksum after it receives each chunk.

    Each chunk is hashed using SHA-1, and the hash value is transmitted in the .torrent file. When you receive a chunk, your client will hash it and compare the value it gets with the value the .torrent file says it's *supposed* to get. If they don't match the chunk is thrown out and downloaded again (and some clients will blacklist the source that you got the bad chunk from).
  • Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:01am


    I'm thinking too much crack in the cornflakes this morning for a few of the posters (or, disturbingly, perhaps just one...).
  • Jul 17th, 2009 @ 7:42am

    Re: Re: Obviously a data conversion error...


    A comment there brings up an excellent point. All of the charges we're seeing are the *same* value, 0x2020202020201250. After you remove the padding spaces that were put there you're left with 0x1250, which is 4688 in decimal. Since these amounts are always sent in cents, that corresponds to a $46.88 charge. There's no way that all of the customers I've seen (and the 13k supposedly affected, if we assume that they all have the same amount as well) purchased the exact same value of items. One guy bought a pack of cigs and incurred the charge, which is simply impossible to reach $46.88 with.

    This is pretty clearly not *just* a padding issue. There's a genuine bug behind this, or perhaps a hack attempt. This does sort of smell like a buffer overflow exploit...
  • Jul 17th, 2009 @ 7:34am

    Re: Re: Reactionary much?

    If the companies' reps weren't so mindless and robotic and had the ability to use common sense in situations like this, rather than giving customers the run-around over something so obviously erroneous, then technical remedies wouldn't be necessary.

    That'd be the issue. Visa should have had technological safeguards against charges this high in the first place, and then reps should have been sufficiently trained that they can decide by themselves that a multi-quadrillion dollar charge is obviously wrong.
  • Jul 17th, 2009 @ 6:43am

    Re: I Am Not A Number...

    Clever clever. ^_^
  • Jul 17th, 2009 @ 6:19am


    Yeah, I'm really wondering just how Belgium thinks anything they do to Yahoo would be effective if Yahoo has no presence in the country.
  • Jun 19th, 2009 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So Wrong

    The only things that you didn't pay for that you also didn't steal are things given to you for free. If you just took them, you stole them.

    Still not true. I wasn't 'given' the air I breathe. This is a technical issue, however. The music *was* given to me for free, by people who bought that music with their hard-earned money.

    Music has a price. if you didn't pay the price, well, how did you get it? Did it magically appear in front of you? Nope. You went and got it. You didn't pay. Therefore... well, you can figure out the rest.

    Are you implying that I broke into the artist's home (or hacked into their private servers) and stole their music? That would be wrong in several ways. Someone *shared* their music with me, of their own free will. They either bought the music, or received it from someone else sharing with them.

    So, yes, the music *was* given to me at no charge. That's what sharing is all about. You learned all about this in kindergarten, try and keep up.

    yes, it is a moral issue, and a legal one. When we become numb to the idea of "petty theft", it isn't long before we become numb to pretty much all the other crime.

    It is indeed a moral issue. Sharing with others is a moral good. Telling someone else they aren't allowed to share what they legitimately bought is a moral wrong. When we become numb to the idea of "sharing with others", it isn't long before we become numb to pretty much all other acts of charity and kindness.

    The legal aspect is indeed slightly inconvenient at the moment, but law moves slower than culture. It'll change in time, as the current set of laws were designed to protect the little guy from corrupt publishers; no one thought in their wildest dreams that one day the little guy could publish as well or better than the big guys, and the corrupt publishers would be able to twist the law around to use as a weapon against the little guy. We all do our part to raise the cultural consciousness surrounding this issue to ensure that the law gets restored to benefit the little guy again.

    (As a sidenote, the idea that file-sharing is a gateway drug to raping and murdering is pretty much the most hilarious fucking thing I've ever heard.)
  • Jun 13th, 2009 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re:

    Look at it this way: As the patents expire, people like you who enjoy tweaking things have a whole universe of blueprints to work from, as this information is all public and accessible. You could just work on whatever comes off patent each day, and away you go. In fact, all this public information is probably a great source of progress, no?

    No, it's not. If you limit yourself to patents that are expiring, you're dealing with 20-year old works. This length of time may have allowed you to do as you suggest when it was first created, but many things patentable now rely on modern technology, which moves *far* too fast for a 20-year old idea to be of any use.

    For example, Microsoft's breakout success, Windows 3, is *just* now coming out of patent protection. (I don't know the exact year, but it was released in 1990, so it's sometime around now.) Windows 3 is *way* too old to have anything but historical relevance. Any invention featuring microchips from 1989 that would just now be coming out of patent is similarly completely useless to today's inventor.

    Even if you *can* find a good idea out of expiring patents (mousetraps, frex, are lowtech enough that 1989 ideas may still be useful), the fact is that patents are intentionally written to be as broad as possible. It's very likely that your new idea, based on a now-unprotected idea, is *still* infringing on some other existing patent, or at least is close enough to prevent an expensive lawsuit from being thrown out immediately.

    Hopefully this answered your question well. No, the existing patent thicket does *not* help you innovate, and relying on 20-year old ideas is only useful in limited lowtech areas, and may still be close enough to extant patents to invite lawsuits.

    Since patents don't last very long in the scheme of things, you could line up all your mousetrap tweaks, and as they fall out of patent, you would wow the world with your "progress". Remember, you can work on the problem, you just can't move forward commercially. You aren't locked out for life.

    Yes, you can't move forward commercially for up to 20 years. If you buy a brand-new product, just created and patented, and think, "You know, this thing is great, but I can make it even better with a few tweaks!" you're SOL. Patent law means that your "few tweaks" are illegal to commercialize on, and in 20 years your ideas will be irrelevant.

    So, in effect, you are locked out for life, or at least for the useful life of your idea.

    (As a sidenote, I noticed that you put scarequotes around "progress". I'm curious as to why this is. I suspect, though, that it's because you assume that anything that isn't revolutionary isn't real progress. This is an inherently naive view of progress, untempered by reality and actual work. In the real world, progress is a continual tweaking of the existing, with constant slight improvements that, over time, add up to large differences. Actual revolutionary ideas are very rare and, while they are greatly appreciated when they occur, should *not* be protected to the detriment of the everyday incremental improvement that occurs constantly. To do so would be to essentially stifle *all* innovation, to say that merely being skilled and thoughtful is not enough, that you must be both a genius and hyper-creative to imagine anything worth protecting.

    Of course, the first paragraph of your post (which I didn't quote) reveals that you *do* believe in exactly this naive view of progress. You state quite plainly that you don't believe tweaking and incremental improvement is 'progress'.)

    Progress isn't stunted, it just happens in more orderly fashion. When things are patent we don't know which ones will rapidly move to commercialization and which ones will languish, but with such short times in patent, there isn't any real issues.

    I have to wonder how old you are, that 20 years is a "short time". For anyone on this side of 60, that's at *least* half your adult life. Perhaps they are short when compared to copyrights, which can last more than a century.

    In any case, what makes you think that progress should happen in a "more orderly fashion"? This is indeed roughly what patents do - those upstarts with their startups can't "steal" my idea and make it better, outselling my inferior product, unless they ask me permission first. I might give them permission, in return for a hefty licensing fee (likely pushing their production costs up too high to allow them to competitively price their product), but I don't have to do so if I don't want. I can just say no, and continue selling my inferior product, secure in the knowledge that the law has my back, and that consumers never even had a choice.

    Hey, that's *an* order. No one ever said that all order has to be good. By the time anyone can disrupt that order, the idea is irrelevant, because "20 years" really is quite a long time in anything remotely touching on technology.
  • Jun 4th, 2009 @ 3:53pm


    "introducing legislation to make it mandatory for Internet service providers to give law enforcement basic customer name and address information upon request; "

    Is there any reason an ISP shouldn't do this? The phone company will do it on normal basis. Heck, I worked for a car rental agency, and we would gladly provide the police information on who the renter was on a given date. In fact, it was disclosed in the T&C of the rental contract that this could happen. Why should this be any different?

    Well, for one, warrants are pretty standard and not difficult to obtain. This would make it so that ISPs must hand over information *without* a warrant. Seriously, it's *not* hard to go get a judge to sign up a warrant for something, and doing so ensures that there's at least a modicum of sensibility and transparency in the request.

    For two, your internet records can be considerably more damning than the fact that you rented a car (and presumably mileage information, etc.). Even if you're completely innocent of a crime, your personal, private browsing can be used against you in dishonest ways. It's astonishingly easy to make even mundane activities sound threatening if you don't have a conscience.

    "requiring internet service providers to keep data and internet surfing records for longer periods to ensure that evidence is not destroyed; and"

    This one is probably what has you the most concerned. ISPs only tend to monitor your logon and logoff times (for purposes of billing, etc), bandwidth usage, and such. I think that all this is attempting to do is to make sure that they retain these records long enough so that evidence isn't lost (after all, if you want to know who was on a given IP address last week, it is sort of hard if the records weren't retained)

    Indeed. It's attempting to force ISPs to keep large quantities of data in storage for extended periods of time. This can be a considerable expense, and carries with it a *gigantic* risk of data breaches exposing confidential information to non-law enforcement.

    In addition, time and time again we've seen that (1) increasing the *amount* of data doesn't always increase the *usefulness* of the data (too much, and it actually hampers legitimate investigation), and (2) given large databases of personal information, abuse almost inevitably occurs. Mike gives examples of what can happen, and all of these are well-attested in actual events.

    "making it a criminal offence to refuse to give law enforcement a password or encryption information during an investigation. "

    See the first point - why wouldn't you do this? Obviously the refusal to provide a password or encryption code would be enough to raise probably cause, they are just asking to make this ALSO an offence, not just an obstruction.

    There is this thing. It is called the Fifth Amendment. Obviously that has no effect in Canada, but as we Americans obviously value it, we should decry laws in other countries that would violate it, were it in effect there.

    Making the refusal to provide a password a crime means that exercising one's American Constitutional rights is a crime. It also plays into the whole "just get a damned warrant" issue. If *any* demand by law enforcement for passwords must be obeyed under threat of punishment, then these demands *will* be abused. It is a fact of life.

    Also, seriously dude, quit hiding behind anonymity. I display a false name, but my actual personal details can be readily divined with a few minutes on a search engine. More importantly, though, I have a consistent identity across this site that one can learn about. As it stands, you're indistinguishable from every other AC. To use the rhetoric that people who make the arguments you do use, if you're not doing anything wrong, then what have you got to hide?
  • Jun 4th, 2009 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Instead of looking at the tacos, let's look at another product. When you buy a soft drink at Taco Bell, you don't get a soft drink, you get a cup. The soft drink machine is right there for your use. Why should you have to pay $1.59 for a cup, when you can get them for a nickel each at the supermarket and then go fill those up at Taco Bell anytime you're thirsty?

    Because Taco Bell owns both the soda machine and the store in which the soda machine is located, and as such has the legal right to say when you are allowed to use their property. In this case, they can bar you from using their soda machine unless you've bought a cup from them.

    Do you understand why your analogy is inapplicable here? Probably not, since you apparently didn't understand Ryan's original Taco Bell example. The problem is *not* HP telling you what you can do with HP's property. If you went into an HP office building and tried to use *their* printer, they'd be perfectly within their rights to escort you from the premises.

    The problem is that HP is trying to dictate what you can do with *your* property (the printer you bought), without any formal contract dictating terms which you have voluntarily agreed to. Further, HP is trying to shut down legitimate competition for no reason other than that it threatens them. As that's precisely what competition is *for*, and the competition is otherwise perfectly legal, this is a bad move by HP.

    I mean, seriously, why is it that anytime someone doesn't understand a story about bad business models, they end up using analogies where the customer is instead actually *stealing* from a company, as in directly walking into a place of business and taking things without permission? Ownership really isn't that hard a concept, people. We really *can* tell when you're bullshitting by moving from a situation where someone *claims* there's theft to a situation where there really is theft, and we're not convinced.
  • Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 6:04am

    (untitled comment)

    As others have said, there's absolutely nothing wrong with a loss-leader business model. As you say, consumers enjoy paying less for the large item, and don't generally mind paying a bit more for the repeated item. The issue, of course, is that the business model is inherently a gamble. Can you keep a customer loyal long enough to recoup the loss on the original product?

    In some industries, the answer is generally yes. In the aforementioned razor blade industry, people don't really *care* about their blades, so the purposeful incompatibility of the connectors is enough to keep people loyal. In the aforementioned video game industry, the systems can employ strong enough DRM (generally requiring one to actually open up the system and physically install something to get around it) to again generally keep people loyal.

    But in the printer industry? The cost of ink is high enough to care about, but it's difficult to justify putting DRM on an ink cartridge. The idea just *sounds* ridiculous. The other strategy - suing the pants off of ink refillers - is similarly ridiculous-sounding, and makes the company look like a jackass to boot.

    I think the core problem here is that the printer manufacturers realized one of the big benefits of a loss-leader strategy - once the consumer has bought enough repeatable items to 'make up' the debt from the original sale, they'll continue to buy at the inflated price - and have tried to capitalize on it for it's worth. Printers are substantially cheaper than they should be, and ink cartridges are substantially more expensive than they should be, to the point where color printer ink is one of the most expensive consumer-grade products on the entire planet now. There have literally been cases where buying a *new printer* (which comes prefilled with a supply of ink) was cheaper than just buying ink refills for the existing printer. The printer is essentially a very wasteful wrapper for value-priced ink! (To be specific, I've seen printers sell for $99 while their ink sells for $40 a cartridge, which is $160 for a full fill-up.)

    The situation is *so* ridiculous that the price savings achievable by buying ink near the marginal cost from refillers is actually *worth* the hassle of getting around whatever roadblocks the printer manufacturers have put up.

    So, yes, there's nothing wrong with a loss-leader business model. But you have to realize that it is an inherently risky strategy, and may very well backfire on you when others legitimately and legally compete with you, and don't have the original item hanging around their neck to force them to overprice the repeatable item.

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