* Posts by Eric Olson

178 posts • joined 22 Sep 2007

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American bacon cured with AR-15 assault rifle

Eric Olson

Re: American Bacon

It just looks like smoked, streaky bacon from the picture, what am I missing?

If Wikipedia is not lying to me, you are right. Bacon here in the US is pork belly that has been cured then smoked, usually over hickory or applewood. It's then sliced into 1/4" to 1/2" thick strips. The stuff one finds in a diner, however, is usually the mass-produced stuff, quick-cured through numerous injections into the pork belly with a saltier brine and sliced as thin at 1/8". I generally avoid it..

We don't have back bacon as you find in the UK, as the Canadian bacon here is just the loin, no belly.

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Eric Olson

Re: American Bacon

As a US Citizen, I will point out that maple syrup on bacon is purely a personal decision. Pork belly is cured then smoked, making what we call bacon. What happens after that is entirely up to the one consuming it.

At the same time, maple syrup is delicious (the real stuff, not the corn syrup version) and as bacon is often served at breakfast along with pancakes, waffles, French toast, or other syrup-friendly item, a bit may spill over and touch the bacon, which some people enjoy.

As far as cinnamon... are you talking about the real stuff of cassia? Here in the US, both are called cinnamon... though the use of either is generally restricted to sweet or dessert items.

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London teen pleads guilty to Spamhaus DDoS

Eric Olson

Re: going down

I'll add to the downvotes and ask a simple question: When you were 16 (the crime was 18 months ago), did you possess the executive functions to properly assess the consequences of your actions? The reality is no, though I'm sure some folks will chime in and claim they were some type of wunderkind that developed a fully functioning brain in 2/3rds the time as the rest of humanity.

So while you might just be pointing out the reality, the fact that you don't call them out as unfair or even over-the-top means you bear some responsibility for perpetuating these absurd punishments, though not to the level of the the slackwits further down the thread who are baying for blood.

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Heyyy, you seem to be trying to post a DRUNK PICTURE. You know your boss looks at this?

Eric Olson

Mother yes...

Boss... only after I've left the company on good terms, he/she was sad to see me leave, and they might provide an impeccable reference/great drinking buddy in the future. I often treat co-workers the same way.

Frankly, I'm not the type who posts or gets tagged in self-incriminating information on Facebook, though it might have been different if I was still 19 and going to college. And while my parents (and much of the rest of my family) do currently live close by, it's helpful when I'm traveling... and I'm pretty sure they will be even more interested in current events soon.

In-laws are another matter....

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HORRIFIED Amazon retailers fear GOING BUST after 1p pricing cockup

Eric Olson

Once again proof...

That those who engage in business should carry liability insurance. It's pretty simple. Amazon provides a marketplace, retailers sell in the marketplace, and Repricer Express (apparently) sells a service for marketplace resellers to use that (presumably) prices items from a retailer in a way that is congruent with the other resellers in the marketplace.

So... the simple reality is that as a consumer you are walking into a marketplace with posted prices. You find a price you like, you order the product, and it gets shipped. Whether it was priced at 1p or 1,000,000p is inconsequential for the consumer. If it gets caught along the way, then you deal with the PR hit that comes with a faulty system and canceling orders. If the consumer gets the product, one of those parties that make up the marketplace is screwed. Ideally, it's whoever caused the issue, be it a mistake by Amazon, Repricer Express, or the reseller.

Like it or not, this is why lawyers and insurance companies exist. If Repricer Express messed up but didn't have insurance or has contractual language that attempts to absolve them of liability, then godspeed to the retailers. This is how things are supposed to work.

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Bloke, 36, in the cooler for leaking ex's topless pics on Facebook

Eric Olson

Re: Why not just unauthorized

And that is why libertarianism will never be more that an extremist point of view in society. The selfish notion that all that matters is you disregards the entirety of history and evolution of the human race, not to mention the social contracts that are entered into when living among other people. Do you at least allow your actions and behavior to be modulated or modified by your family group? Your close friends? A spouse? Or do you always assert your dominance over them as well?

Humans are social animals. Our entire species is based on our ability to work and play within a social context, including the suppression of our own desires and wants for the betterment of those around us that we know. We only built civilizations when we were able to take our urges to fuck, eat, and kill and subsume them for what was to be future gains. Libertarians tend to speak as if they believe the fucking and the killing and the eating today is all that matters, regardless of the cost to them tomorrow.

Finally, it's cute the way you froth at the mouth when I tell you about society, as if you've never heard about it. And that schtick about killing you is precious. I guess I know who to talk to if I want to see hyperbole taken to it's own extreme. In general, you just prove my earlier assertion about how libertarians are nothing more than a bunch of selfish pricks who believe they are owed something and have no real interest in governance, society, or humanity, beyond its capacity to provide a cheap thrill or quick high.

Go grab that security bowl and smoke until you feel better. Self-medicating is so sexy.

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Eric Olson

Re: Why not just unauthorized

Morality is yours. Do with it as you wish, but try to pause for a moment to recognize the hypocrisy of telling me that my morality is meaningless while yours trumps it.

If you are unable to recognize that, consider this: You participate in society and society provides a framework around your actions. Society has a set of rules. You can rebel against the rules, rail against them, raise holy hell, even outright ignore them. Consequences can be minor like being ostracized by people you don't like. It can also be incarceration, confiscation of property, freedom, or even your life in extreme situations. Them's the rules. You don't like them, use the levers of power provided and recognized by society to change them.

But if things don't change, they don't change. You don't win hearts and minds by prattling on about how your morality is superior to mine on the basis that my morality shouldn't be used to override yours. The circular reasoning there is astounding. That's why I said a true libertarian will disappear into the woods, never to be seen from again. You want to live by your own set of rules and have no one ever tell you where you might be wrong, you need to remove yourself from society.

Otherwise, life is about compromise and realizing that some things just aren't going to be your cup of tea. If you can't change it, you can't change it. I agree that there are some actions currently criminalized by the government that maybe shouldn't be due to either arbitrary bright lines (alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine good, everything else bad) or political process by a group better connected than another. But that's how things are done. Try to change them, move the needle. In the US, that's worked for gay marriage and the pot smoking thing is starting to take off. Things change, they take time.

Sometimes, however, things don't change.

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Eric Olson

Re: Why not just unauthorized

Because most libertarians start off as stoned lax bros or frat boys who feel entitled to a certain amount of respect and/or deference, and it turns in to a full-blown case of megalomania, swimming in the intelligence of the same depth you find in a kiddie pool.

Private actions with no harm is one thing. I don't care how many bowls are smoked each day after class or if you shoot heroin into your eyeballs while tottering on the line between life and death. You do it in your house, your apartment, or anywhere else that is private, and that's fine. But what if you start being a negligent parent? Or you let your home fall into disrepair? Or you have late-night parties that attract folks who then engage in criminal activity after they leave?

Libertarianism, for all intents and purposes, is an anarchist, anti-social mentality that can't even rise to the level of basic philosophy. It wants everything without consequence, or worse, it wants everything regardless of consequence. At best, libertarians express a cute amount of naivety about the world and the community in which they live or how what seem to be private actions actually cause harm to that community. More often than not, however, libertarianism is the breeding ground of nativism, ignorance, refusal to accept responsibility, and rigid social constraints (ironically). Someone isn't part of the majority or ruling class, too bad. They have no protection because if they try to dismantle anything, they'll be outmanned or outgunned.

Libertarianism rejects a central part of the human experience and our evolution: society imposes constraints on participation. It's what society did in the past, does today, and will do tomorrow. The only true libertarian is one who disappears into the woods and lives off the land, far away from the rest of society. The rest of them play at politics while claiming they don't want government to exist.

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Eric Olson

Re: Why not just unauthorized

I'm not a fan of libertarianism, as it seems to have all the hallmarks of a philosophy hammered out while passing around a bowl, wondering why such private activities that harmed no one should be prohibited. It's rather bereft of intellectual rigor, and even the organized groups tend to leave the most contentious questions unanswered, probably because they realize the footing of their belief system is as firm as a greased skid on an inclined plane.

Nevertheless, the reasonable person standard is about the best way one can protect the speaker while also protecting the spoken against. It's mushy, it's gray, and it's damned near impossible to apply in a consistent manner. The downside is it means that every single situation has to be litigated rather than decided before it gets that far, which often means the person with the deeper pockets (or nothing left to lose) wins.

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Eric Olson

Re: Why not just unauthorized

Part of the reason (currently being litigated at the Supreme Court) is that the First Amendment tends to protect "off-the-cuff" or undirected speaking, regardless of how rage-filled or angry it is. Generally unspecific threats that have no target are allowed or at least tolerated, as is speech against a person or group where no harm is likely to come to them. However, the case before the Supreme Court is testing a different online harassment law where a man who was either estranged or divorced from his wife, went online in a public forum (his Facebook account) and made graphic and specific posts about wanting to see her die, watch her bleed out, etc.

She got a restraining order that was to prevent him from making such posts in the future, so he created a performer identity of an angry rapper, and then wrote lyrics that said much the same thing. He also made reference to going to a kindergarten and shooting the classroom up. Oddly enough, the FBI investigated him after that classroom thing, and he then wrote some rap lyrics about how hard it was to no slit the FBI agent's throat while being interviewed by her.

So he was tossed in jail for violating a restraining order and making terroristic threats. The law he was charged under is widely believed to be too broad, and the argument before the Supreme Court included a moment where the Chief Justice recited Eminem lyrics from the bench, in which Eminem also describes actions he would like to take against an ex.

The concern is what standard needs to be applied before speech turns criminal, with the defense arguing that the state has to prove that the speaker actually had intent to carry out the things they were speaking about, while the government wants a standard where causing harm to others, regardless of intent by the speaker, is all that matters. The court watchers think that the standard will land somewhere around a reasonable person standard that states that a reasonable person reading the words would believe that the speaker intended to harm or injury the person or party that is the subject of the speech.

The TL;DR version: You can say some pretty harmful and injurious things in the United States, and usually intent is the dividing line between "venting" and criminal activity. That line has moved a lot and will continue to do so.

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Eric Olson

Under a criminal case, the jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that, per the letter of the law (and allowed clarifications by the judge) the accused did the crime. This means that any evidence that would prove that the photos were posted with permission, posted using a fake identity to frame a party, or a myriad of other things would be admissible to court and would be weighed by the jury. The last thing a country prosecutor would like to do with a law that was a huge PR win is to misuse it or ignore evidence that the accusation is false or other wise trumped up.

At the same time, you have to be careful about tarnishing the accuser in what is essentially a sexual exploitation crime. Just like sexual assault, rape, and other exploitative or sexual crimes against a person, it is both bad form and highly prejudicial to engage in even the tiniest amount of victim-blaming. In cases were there is doubt, the jury should return a Not Guilty verdict, and that would include situations where the only evidence of wrongdoing is hearsay or conflicting accounts lacking in any evidence that will given credibility to one side or the other.

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Eric Olson

@Michael Thibault

You forget this is the United States, a nation that has a hate/self-abuse relationship with most parts of the female form. Breasts are indeed considered pornographic when in any context other than art at the museum, and even then it's a minor scandal every time the little ones are exposed to such filth on a field trip.

My fellow citizens tend to write angry letters to their representatives over public breastfeeding, a pierced and covered aureola, and the thought that some woman somewhere might be naked in the shower. They then furiously rub one out and shuffle to the mailbox with the stained letter in hand, imagining all the righteous sex they will force on their wife.

Personally, I blame the Brits for being too licentious in the 1600s and causing the Puritans to don pointy hats, sail across the ocean, and "bring the Lord" to the natives.

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Eric Olson

Re: Good, good

Do not take pictures of yourself naked. Don't allow other people to do that. If they do it without your knowledge, I'm sure there are laws covering that already. Actually, don't get naked for someone who will leave you. Crazy I know, but sex outside marriage is a very high-risk activity which leaves you open to abuse. Entering into a legally-binding agreement to "forsake all others until death us do part"- provides an indication of how highly your partner esteems you and dramatically reduces the risk of you being abused.

I can only imagine you are suffering from oxygen deprivation which is impairing your cognitive abilities. That's usually the problem with such tall equines.

You and all the others who are so sanctimonious about what other people do in their private lives must be true saints. You must never have been in love, thought you were in a forever relationship, sent your special someone a video or picture to cheer them up while on a long deployment, or otherwise did anything that a single person would deem "wrong."

None of us can see the future. What seems like a sure thing now may fall apart in years. The man or woman you know today could have a latent psychological disorder, develop an addiction, or just turn out to be a total ass clown. In short, whatever secrets you think are safe may become public knowledge because you trusted the one person or people who you thought you could trust with everything.

So your options are to either pretend everyone is a leaking sieve waiting for the right moment to dump your dirty laundry on the world or realize that life is short, you have to take risks, and sometimes, especially when you're young, you do some things you will regret. That doesn't give a single person anywhere the right to use it to intimidate, harass, or otherwise try to ruin your life. Taking a nude picture of yourself, writing risque letters or prose, or even engaging in kinky sex are not crimes that demand prosecution. Violating restraining orders, making specific threats, and maliciously posting any kind of material in the hopes that an employer, friends, family, or significant others will use it to harm you is a crime.

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Brit boffins debunk 'magnetic field and cancer' link

Eric Olson

Re: Changes in circadian rhythms

Without taking time to document the references, there is evidence that visible blue light does impact the sleep cycles of humans. And from an evolutionary standpoint, it does make sense as blue-trending light is closer to UV than the other photoreceptors in the eyes, so it could work as a proxy for day-night recognition. I can't think of any natural UV sources that aren't tied to the sun itself, though I'm sure someone could spend the time looking for it. But in terms of constant and regular exposure, the sun is the big one, so if the blue photoreceptors are firing, it probably means that UV light is present, which implies it's day time.

We might not be fruit flies, but convergent evolution provides a mechanism for very different lineages to develop similar adaptations to the same evolutionary pressures.

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Eric Olson

Re: You can't use science to disprove theories not based on science

My problem with research like this (other than wasting money finite research money to debunk yet another idiotic claim) is that other folks who go on about the stupidity of other people will take the study to it's own absurd limits to prove their own crap. Not that anyone here is doing it (yet), but this study does one thing: it takes a single proposed mechanism for the supposed lethality of cell phones and gives it the spurs. Nothing happens, so it can be concluded that the evidence for this specific hypothesis takes a shot to the groin, one which might stagger it and send it to the ground for good.

But, and this is a huge but, it does nothing else. Other forms of artificial or unnatural levels of non-ionizing radiation are not considered here, nor are other mechanisms of action of this specific type of magnetic field. That's not to say I think there is any kind of link, but we do have plenty of examples of mammals and other higher lifeforms being negatively impacted by EM pollution, though maybe not of the cancer variety. So once again, a very tiny piece in a very large puzzle has been placed... but we still don't know what the entire picture is.

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'We're having panic attacks' ... Sony staff and families now threatened in emails

Eric Olson

Re: having panic attacks

Unless they themselves were the architects of that behavior, your logic is at the same grade-level of the logic used by screwballs the world over to justify collateral damage.. including many world governments: Hey, they should have known better than to be born in a country associated with a few idiots with guns.

It's called guilt by association; it is never reasonable and is often reprehensible.

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Eric Olson

Re: Too far, on both sides

If I was an employee, I would be working with all the lawyers to sue the company, the individuals involved in security, and maybe even the consulting firm and activist shareholders who pushed Sony Entertainment down these paths. No one should be spared and as an employee, I would care little over who got screwed in the end; the only appropriate punishment for such malpractice and negligence is hefty legal bills, settlements, and a PR nightmare that might rock the foundation of the current practice of blaming the fish for being eaten by the sharks.

That's not to say that each defendant would be responsible, but it would set off a nice merry-go-round of recriminations, investigations, and perhaps even a few ruined careers. If the C-suite, management firms, activist shareholders, etc. want to justify their huge salaries, returns, and power, a little responsibility (and associated consequence) should go a long way towards ensuring that if nothing else, they are paying through the nose for personal liability insurance.

It seems the only way we can ensure that people play by the rules is to make the punishments much greater than the profit. This is a lesson we've been learning for since 2008 and will continue to learn as long as we allow people and entities the ability to get away with negligence or outright malfeasance for a minor penalty that still made the behavior profitable.

</rant>

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'How a censorious and moralistic blogger ruined my evening'

Eric Olson

Re: When did Uber become the establishment?

If you think only the "establishment" (whatever that actually is) is a legitimate target, then you clearly need to ground yourself in world history of all kinds. We have numerous examples just from the 20th and 21st century of corporate and charismatic "upstarts" who used shady, illegal, immoral, or violent methods to rise to the top. The outsider or insider status of any person or entity should never have any bearing into investigation to the means of their ascent, as the climb may have bodies buried that need to be uncovered.

Simply put, this story wouldn't have legs if Uber hadn't begun to display all the culture and decorum of a frat house during pledge week. Keep in mind that this executive's threat (real or not) was in response to unflattering press documenting rather dubious (and possibly illegal) official activities by the company. This is not someone commissioning a take-down piece because Uber was proving to be a thorn in some company's side; this was because Uber itself was painting a huge target on its HQ while still printing the "Kick Me" signs they were going to slap on each others' backs for fun.

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Eric Olson

Re: Strictly off the record, I'll explain these welts..

To use a role-playing game analogy, "off the record" has the same impact as saying "no meta-gaming." We all know that when Fiznab the Sorcerer is told something by the DM and he turns around and tells a lie to the rest of the group, the group will pretend they didn't hear the truth but then subtly tailor their actions in a way that keeps them from falling for the lie.

Anytime you tell any one that what you are saying is "off the record," you're just telling them that whatever they uncover better not be traced back to this conversation.. So in the case of this "off the record" event, a journalist who cared about getting access in the future would have found someone with a personal or professional dislike that attended the event to pretend to be an "unnamed source", followed by some garbage about wanting to change the company culture. I'm sure that if this man is as loose of a cannon as described by some, he could have been a suitable scapegoat for when Uber was forced to clean house.

Obviously in this case, a few roasted bridges were a small price to pay to be the first to put a name, face, and target to a company that is clearly run like a frat house with too many legacy or trust fund kids to finance their debauchery.

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The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS

Eric Olson

The less yucky transplant is here...

Here in the states, they've successfully taken healthy, um.... donations, screen them, get rid of the useless bits, freeze them, then deposit it into many-layered glycerin capsules that can be taken orally, no enema or GI tube needed. This allowed the bacteria make it to the intestines unmolested by the stomach acids and enzymes that often spell death to bacteria.

Now, I think it was something like 15 capsules a day, and the capsules are pretty large... but that seems preferable to aspirating fecal matter through a GI tube or going through a colonoscopy.

Source: NPR

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I need a password to BRAKE? What? No! STOP! Aaaargh!

Eric Olson

Re: Sorry

...and the drivers are almost 100% dicks

They come up short in every other part of life, typically the trouser region, so why not go deep into debt to purchased a truck that has been rendered useless by aftermarket codpieces?

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Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers

Eric Olson

Re: Nothing works until it works.

If you read the article, the takeaway is rather different. The short story is that they couldn't find a way to make existing technologies cheaper than coal without subsidy or carbon taxes, a sudden ceasing of all CO2 emissions tomorrow would still lead to ruinous climate change as it takes centuries for it to naturally leave the atmosphere, and there is not nearly enough money spent on R&D for new or disruptive technologies as it's all being spent on incremental gains for existing generators.

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Eric Olson

Re: Hairshirt, Sackcloth and Ashes

Nuclear is all well and good, but the costs to building a single plant are huge... and sadly the know-how has disappeared due to the unspoken moratorium on building them since the late 80s. Only France has any real experience, and even there many of the plants are 20+ years old.

Can you describe how we ramp up from 0 to 120 on these plants, all without driving up construction costs because everyone decides to employ the same set of experts across the planet?

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Eric Olson

I've heard this somewhere before...

Granted, the details might have been different, but the structure is the same. Week after week, someone somewhere makes a proclamation, and because they have a couple letters after their name or a tangential relationship to the field they are prognosticating, those predictions are followed by stories from both sides about how this supports them or refutes the other.

Here is a passage from the linked article that seems to describe why Google pulled the plug:

For us, designing and building novel energy systems was hard but rewarding work. By 2011, however, it was clear that [the project] would not be able to deliver a technology that could compete economically with coal, and Google officially ended the initiative and shut down the related internal R&D projects.

In short, the plug was pulled because current technology did not allow Google to monetize the project. Crucially, they made assumptions that things such as carbon taxes or subsidies would not be used and it would require a true level of parity on a kWh basis. The rest of the article also goes on to point out that we're already screwed because CO2 lingers in the atmosphere for a long time, so even a complete ceasing of carbon emissions tomorrow would still likely lead to ruinous climate change.

Also glossed over is the that the researchers talked about the importance of shifting R&D from existing technologies to disruptive or experimental ideas. It's the only way we can meet the world's escalating needs.

I'm all for repeated looks at the economics, "doing the maths", and serious discussion regarding our energy economy in the future. But we can't take our eye off the ball for the sake of short-term point-scoring; we are going to need alternative sources of energy. Coal isn't just a CO2 threat; it harms human health through soot, mercury, sulfur, and NOX emissions, and the mining of it has massive costs in terms of human lives (even in the US, permanent injury and death are very common) and destroys the environment.

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FTC to Apple: Turn your head and cough while we feel for balls-up with HealthKit privacy

Eric Olson

More sailient...

More likely than not, this data will fall under HIPAA as either Personally Identifiable Information or Protected Health Information. Both require a very high degree of security and operate under framework of minimal information necessary when it's being used. In the insurance and provider world, that often means such information isn't just in a walled garden, but is completely isolated from the internet. Transmission of this data is highly regulated and requires secure connections, full traceability, audit logs that will show every single access or view, human or machine, and the ability to allow the subject of the information a way to see how it's being used if requested. I believe there are also strict opt-out rules that govern PHI that can result in quickly escalating fines and enforcement actions if Apple is found to be in violation of such rules.

In short, Apple likely has to prove it is using best practices on the level or your doctor or insurance company. That's not an easy hurdle to clear. It wasn't until recently that the government cleared the use of Amazon Web Services to process or house PHI for the purposes of running rules engines, metrics, ETLs, etc.

And I speak as a former healthcare and wellness industry professional. Dealing with PHI and PII, even within our own company, was extremely difficult.

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My HOUSE used to be a PUB: How to save the UK high street

Eric Olson

Maslow's Hammer...

My answer would be to shoot the planners and let rip the free market. Agreed, that is also my solution to most things. It's just that here it's obvious that it would actually work.

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

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'You have no right to see me NAKED!' Suddenly, everyone wakes up at the Google-EU face-off

Eric Olson

There are plenty of cases where private data is stored on systems outside of our control where we can reasonably expect and do expect privacy to be maintained. My bank account, my medical records, my tax records. While I accept these institutions haven't always performed perfectly and I don't expect all services will be accident free or free of the occasional breach we should and do expect the attitude towards the data should be that it is private, should be respected by the custodian and that it should remain private.

That's your first mistake. Those entities do the exact same "anonomizing" that Google does to find more products to sell to people like you as well as sell to third-parties to target folks with your habits. The fact that you are paying them for the pleasure of being their product makes it even worse. And if you think that they don't have a way to trace each dodgy purchase or transaction back to you when the local police come calling, I have some swampland in Florida available at rock-bottom prices.

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Eye laser surgery campaigner burned by Facebook takedown

Eric Olson
Coat

Re: Depends on perspective @Lee D

Clearly you've never tried to comment on any Andrew Orlowski articles.

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Trolls pop malformed heads above bridge to sling abuse at Tim Cook

Eric Olson

Re: Free speech...

Free Speech is protection of the citizens from being censored, jailed, or punished *by the government* for something said. There is nothing in the First Amendment that protects idiots from public humiliation, boycotts, and destruction of reputation.

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Eric Olson

Re: Free speech... @malle-herbert

My guess is that you were too lazy to read the comic. The point is that Free Speech is a two-way street. In fact, to shout the idiots down, sully their reputation, and destroy their business through boycott is the price they pay for the hate and garbage they spew.

So yeah, the reality is that if you open your mouth in a public square, the public square can and will respond. And the response might nott be flowers and chocolate but a destruction of your online persona.

Free Speech is not protection from your stupidity; it's an invitation to be a moron so we know how to handle you in the future.

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HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'

Eric Olson

We shall see, BigAndos

I am US-based, stuck with the options of Tweedledee and Tweedledum for my internet access, also known as Comcast and CenturyLink. The former is an "all-in-one" provider that has a single cable to rule us all... which also provides for a convenient single point of failure. CenturyLink started to roll out an IPTV model in some markets in the US, but has moved to "run silent" when it comes to expansion of that. In place of that, they offer DirecTV, the satellite provider... which works great in sunny Southern California, but not so well in places with weather.

So my option lately has been Comcast, who back in March decided to force me to interact with their "tech support" team in Malaysia or somewhere who continually insisted that they needed to send a "reset signal" to my cable box to get HBO back, followed by 60 minutes of being placed on mute while they consulted the flowchart that included every termination point besides "Issue Resolved". Only a late-season snowstorm 2 weeks later brought the neighborhood-wide problem to light because it (finally) caused a detectible voltage drop in a trunk line... after having a half dozen techs out to my house at different times, having my DVR/cable box replaced with a version containing a 120GB HDD made by Seagate back in 2006 (and running as well as one would expect), and having a new line from the trunk patched to my house.

Needless to say, I've been looking for every reason to turn Comcast or CenturyLink into a dumb utility provider with all the same value adds as my water company, power provider, or LNG supply. OTT can't come soon enough, though I need ESPN and Fox Sports to get there too, as I would otherwise lose my hockey and baseball.

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Gates and Ballmer NOT ON SPEAKING TERMS – report

Eric Olson

And again...

We have an example of a large company succeeding despite the CEO's best efforts. While I don't begrudge the wealth, I do have to wonder if there will ever come a time that shareholders realize it is not in their best interest to allow the C-suite folks the ability to set compensation packages based on what the CEO across the street got.

Very few CEOs provide value that is even a fraction of the wage + benefit + retirement package they get. And the few who do are usually founders or key contributors who have been in from the ground floor and likely are still significant shareholders, meaning they are both invested in the continued success of the company and are compensated handsomely by said success (or pantsed by its utter failure).

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Meg Whitman: The lady IS for TURNING. HP to lob printers'n'PCs OVERBOARD

Eric Olson

A pondering...

Having worked for a number of large corporations in my life and having seen the results of splits, mergers, takeovers, buyouts, etc., I'm wondering if we are finally reaching the logical end of super-corporations.

There was a time where it made sense for a parent company to buy unrelated companies, let them be relatively autonomous, and just book the revenue and profit. That's how you end up with a situation in which General Electric owned NBC. Then as those fell out of fashion, mergers and acquisitions focused on building a patent portfolio for the Great Patent Wars of the Aughts and Teens or to expand capabilities into a related but tangential market. That's how you ended up with Google (temporarily) buying Motorola Mobility or Microsoft buying out Nokia.

And those last two, I think, are actually the dying gasp of the last strategy. As the hangover from the Great Recession and the lost 2000s after the dot-com bubble start to fade into history, I wouldn't be surprised if shareholders kept demanding that tech companies (and non-tech companies) start to look at how disparate functions within the super-corp can be split out into two or more chunks. With a marketplace that has favored the bold and nimble for the last 5 years, the corporate bureaucracy of an HP or MS just can't bob and weave anymore.

Plus, I think shareholders are getting wise to and tired of the notion that some product lines support others because they can't be profitable (see Windows/Office supporting pretty much anything else, including XBox, that MS tries). If it doesn't float in a few years, no amount of subsidy from other regions of the balance sheet is going to help.

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Eric Olson

Re: good

Except the new owners will be the old owners. The different is that the old owners can slowly divest themselves over time, though that looks to be less than likely in the short-term as Whitman is staying on as a "nonexecutive chairman".

The only thing that might change is that there will be a better line of communication from operations and support to the top of the food chain, and the only thing that the new HP Inc will have to trade on is their PCs and Printers. Assuming of course this change doesn't also signal a move into the smartphone and tablet business as part of the PC business.

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Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills

Eric Olson

Re: Malware proteced payment device....

I would say that counterfeited bank notes are a much older form of malware. While they might work for the customer, or even a retailer, they either will eventually be noticed and no credit will be given for the note, or the inflationary impact of those bank notes will hit all of us in the wallet.

There is already concern that state-sponsored (read N. Korea) counterfeiting is sophisticated enough to pass all but the most advanced detection systems. Not too much different from state-sponsored malware, I suppose.

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Eric Olson

At this rate..

I'll never have to pay for identity protection services again. However, could we try to space these out a bit more so I can get the most out of each individual subscription?

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Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say

Eric Olson

Re: I'm not in opposition to Apple's fee.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Even cash has a cost associated with it. For example, I worked at a retail chain years ago as a supervisor and one of my jobs was to take the cash and coins from the tills from the prior day, stock up our reserves in smaller denominations so that we could account for the fact that ATMs only spit out $20s and that the type of retail establishment we were meant that customers used us to break them into smaller bills ($2.50 item becomes $17.50 in change), and then place an order for rolled coins and singles from our local bank. Then once that was complete and the morning rush was done, I would drive over to the bank with the surplus, pick up the order, and return to the store with the cash and coins, fill up the till trays that needed it, and place the rest in the safe.

Between the counting, ordering, and driving, that was about an hour of my day. As I was paid hourly, it was a daily cost, in addition to the fees charged by the bank for the coins and bills (separate charge). And it usually seemed that without fail I would come back to a store filled with a long line of customers upset that they weren't getting their coffee in 2 minutes, which meant we always needed to keep an extra hand around for an extra hour so I could complete my duties (albeit at a lower rate than my own).

Larger retail chains contract out to firms that have armed guards and armored vehicles to transport the cash to a processing center.

And then there is the cost associated with the increased service time required for a cashier to handle transactions that are conducted in cash rather than a swiped card. Not as bad as waiting for the 75 year old check writer, but still a time sink. And there is always the chance that handling all that cash will increase the absentee rates due to more employees out ill as well as a slight increase in the opportunities for theft-as-a-servant, though most retail operations have figured out how to track tills in a way that makes it hard to get away with such a crime.

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Eric Olson

Re: "Tidy" Payday?

I think a valid question is what value add is Apple providing? You could argue (mostly with a straight face) that the Visas and MasterCards of the world are charging a fee for providing infrastructure, prompt payment, and payment integrity to the process by acting as a middleman to confirm that the CC is legitimate, it has an available balance, and that it wasn't involved in fraudulent activities seven states and fifteen clones ago.

Apple is just providing a key that unlocks a door to new locks that still need to be unlocked by the banks and credit processing firms. They are little more than an electronic version of a piece of plastic with a magstripe or chip that lets the retailer start the process of confirming payment. So even 0.15 cents on the dollar seems a bit steep for something that is almost entirely for the benefit of the consumer.

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Eric Olson

You forget one thing...

That charge is called overhead, and like most other types of overhead, the cost is factored into the retail price.

There is very much a charge to the user, though it would be spread out among all customers, not just the ones who use Apple Pay. These places aren't charities and are hoping that by being of the first-use bandwagon, they can skim a few extra sales from their competitors. But if this becomes widespread (or rather, this model), it means that like credit card transaction fees, they will be baked into the sticker price of each and every good or service for sale, regardless of if you pay with cash, credit, check, Apple Pay, or bits of string.

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The Schmidt hits the clan: Google chief mauls publishers' 'abuse of dominance' claims

Eric Olson

Re: Monopoly

At least in the US, there nothing wrong with a monopoly per se. You can be the dominant player in a given market and it's fine. The problem comes up when that monopoly (or any number of companies in a given market) conspire or use the 900lb gorilla routine to ensure they remain in a dominant position.

So when Microsoft was making a mint off of Win 95, 98, and Office, that wasn't a problem. The problem was when they went out to Dell, Gateway, HP, Acer, etc. and used that position of dominance to strong-arm those OEMs into only loading MS products, threatening to raise prices, end licensing agreements, or played market participants against each other in hopes of keeping prices and volume higher than it might have been if said market participants had stepped out on MS for something else (*nix, Word Prefect, OS/2, etc.). If MS had just let those OEMs fall on their face for backing inferior or less successful products without interfering, no anti-trust action would have been taken. That's just market forces.

That's not to say Google is innocent of things, and the actions between Apple and Google to artificially suppress wages for their top employees is an example of anti-trust violations even without either having a dominant position as the sole employer of said top employees. The point is that being a monopoly just means you have to tread carefully and just make sure you keep innovating and staying a step ahead of the competition, without raising the barriers to entry so high that people start sniffing around for collusion or conspiracy.

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Scared of brute force password attacks? Just 'GIVE UP' says Microsoft

Eric Olson

Re: Twats

It's called picking your battles. If you know or expect that a site or account is going to be well-built and administered and it's of high-value to you, then by all means take the time and effort on your end to not be that weakest link. That means hardening the password reset system by using fake questions and answers, for example, making hideously complex passwords that either can only be remembered through obscure and personal mnemonic devices and hashes or writing them down in a secured environment (so your home, not your wallet), and turning on two-factor authentication and keeping that 2nd factor on a device or account that is also protected in a similar manner.

But if it's high-value but associated with dodgy security practices, there is no reason to carry out the above, as it will just be compromised the next time the sys admin decides to install a turnkey device as a gateway to everything that has known unpatched vulnerabilities and keeps the install vanilla and default. Or they encrypt everything in plaintext and never bother to test for SQL Injections. Or has a hash table that is kept in the same vulnerable database as the username and password table.

In those cases, your best bet is to take simple steps (which vary person to person) to secure yourself, turn on all the possible alerts and notifications about changes or modifications, and then sit back and pray. It's not if, it's when. It might even make sense to change the password on a monthly basis, just so that when it is compromised, you limit the window of vulnerability. Or just stop doing business with such miserable failures and find a new provider for your high-value services.

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Eric Olson

I feel like I've read these comments before...

Every time a new study, database theft, or webcomic comes up regarding passwords, everyone has an oar to stick in. On one side, you have hardened IT security and ops bods; the folks who have been assaulted from both sides over the years and want nothing more than to tell the users and hackers to fvck off and die. On the other side, you have IT professionals and other super-users who come here who want nothing more than to access their bank accounts, email, forums, etc. without having to worry about complex password requirements or resetting those same passwords because someone made a hash (no pun intended) of database security and now a table dump of plaintext passwords with usernames is floating around out there.

I'm more of the latter group, though I did work in IT ops long enough to have developed a certain amount of contempt for users who think "letters and numbers, 6-12 character long" is an onerous password requirement. However, with my hundred or so logins between work, play, and educational pursuits, it's hit a point where every time a breach occurs, I'm likely impacted, meaning I have to go out again and change my passwords that might be related to the email address or username I used for the compromised site.

Because of that, I've developed a certain amount of cynicism over the years about the value of coming up with a 16 to 20 character password (assuming it's accepted by the site) that uses numbers, letters, special characters, etc. As amusingly debated above about the safe, the problem is that we don't know where the safe is, how it's protected, and how hard it is to penetrate. And that's assuming that your aren't being spear-phished or compromised by a man-in-the-middle attack that doesn't even care about best practices being used by both your safe-keeper and yourself (spear-phishing is getting better and better and even the smartest person can be hoodwinked by a well-crafted attack, or be surrounded by people who can be).

So for those most important sites, accounts, etc., assume the worst and make a unique password that is complex, enable two-factor authentication if possible, device-logging and notification, and even treat the security questions and answer routine as password-esque, keeping a hard copy of the questions and answers offline and in your possession. That's about all you can do, unless you have the money and resources to create a dedicated link to the site, get biometric verification implemented, and require some kind of at-login phone-call to a randomly generated number that always goes to your secured and special built phone.

Everything else is a crap-shoot and should be treated as such.

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Anonymous threatens to name cop who shot dead unarmed Michael Brown

Eric Olson

I think this is one of the few times I've agreed with you, Don. The public interest is served by knowing the name of the shooter. That or the police need to be forbidden from leaking names, addresses, shoe size, and everything else they typically "leak" when pursing a suspect, person of interest, or witness who isn't hiding behind a badge. Cops don't get special treatment because they are cops. If they commit a possible crime, even if on-duty, such information should be publicized. In fact, it should be the first thing they do: "Office Bob was involved in a situation today that left a citizen dead. As it's one of our own, the investigation is being turned over to <insert non-city police department or sheriff's office here> to ensure that Office Bob acted within accordance of the law rather than acted in a manner unbecoming of an officer."

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Eric Olson

Re: @Eric Olson

Yes, and if you had watched the freely available video, you'll see his resistance was standing there and saying, "Don't touch me." And while doing that, the murderer... I mean peace officer... jumps on the man's back, wraps his arms around the man's neck, and choke-holds him to the ground. I guess never mind that even within the NYC Police Department, such a move is banned and forbidden. The man said, "Don't touch me." That is clearly resisting arrest in a manner that requires complete and utter disregard by the officer of official policy, kind of like, I don't know, the Boston Marathon bomber. Totally in the same league.

You might want to look at the facts (as documented in video) before you try to pull stupid crap like that.

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Eric Olson

Re: On the matter of the public's right to know. (They don't!)

As a public employee, they actually have little right to privacy. Public servants in other arenas of government do not have it. If you work for the local DMV and you are terminated for cause, that's something the public can find out. By law (at least in many states) cities must publish the salaries and ranks of all public employees, but since that method of publication hasn't been defined, it usually becomes a matter of, "Here's a shovel. Start digging through these papers until you find what you want."

So no, there is no right to privacy. In fact, challenges to that have generally been thrown out on the basis that as government officials/employees, they are subject to more scrutiny and leave some of those pesky civil liberties at the door. As an agent of the government, they are protected less in that role than a regular member of the public. It's a thankless job, which why I'm constantly amazed that these folks try to protect the people who give them black eyes and tarnish public opinion.

Due process is fine, but when your initial reaction is that, "He's one of ours, so let's protect him regardless of how many extra 'warning shots' we found in the kid's body or that simple forensics shows he was running away," you do nothing but further the impression that your first duty isn't to the public, but to your buddies. A computer can't even count high enough to arrive at the number of times the police has released the name and information of citizens, public officials, and others because it was the public's "right to know."

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Eric Olson

Re: Has anyone given thought to the fact that...

I don't think anyone has disputed that something went wrong at the car. All reports are that a struggle ensued, which may or may not have involved the victim grabbing for or seeming like he was grabbing for the officer's gun. That is something only one person alive had a view of. What is in dispute is what happened next. If the kid was killed at the door of the car during the struggle, then how did he end up away from the car with six bullets in his corpse? It's hard to imagine that multiple witnesses who didn't know about the other witnesses had a similar story, where there was a initial gunshot, the kid went away from the car, and then turned around with his hands up, only to be shot some more. That's not a situation in which the cop is being threatened anymore.

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Eric Olson

Re: What happened to the principle of...

Public opinion never has nor never way held to that same idea. And as the idea of a perp walk is something that gets county and state prosecutors all hot and bothered, it's hard to understand why cops should be protected. Not to mention that cops are quick to leak and broadcast action against civil servants and public officials who aren't cops.

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Eric Olson

Jurisdiction and trial can easily be moved at the request of the defense. Additionally, this could end up being a federal case if there is a finding of civil rights violation by an officer of the government; the notion is that by acting as an agent of the city or state, the city or state cannot be impartial or unbiased arbiters and the US Federal Court needs to take over, just like how the investigation has been taken out of the hands of the city police department and transferred to the county, with the assistance of the FBI.

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Eric Olson

You just need to look to NYC

Where a man was killed by a cop for selling smokes without a license. Yes, the man had priors for similar activities. Yet when six (if I remember correctly) surround the man, one plainclothes office jumped on the man's back and put him in a choke-hold. The man eventually went to the ground, complained about being unable to breath, lost consciousness, and died at the hospital.

How do we know this? It was videotaped by a witness (who was later arrested by police for carrying a handgun). Choke-holds have been forbidden by the city for a decade, so much so that cops are supposed to receive alternative methods and be continually trained on them. Yet the fraternal order that represents the police closed ranks, in the face of absolute proof that the cop not only killed someone but did it by violating police procedure, and pleaded with the public and media that they should not be held accountable, as being a cop is hard.

The 90%+ of cops who are honorable and work day in and out to be peace officers are smeared by idiots like this, yet they still protect their own. Better to cast those fools out and revoke protection since it endangers the rest of them.

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