* Posts by Drew V.

188 publicly visible posts • joined 25 Sep 2011


Behold iOS 11, an entirely new computer platform from Apple

Drew V.
Paris Hilton

Apple Schmapple. The guy in that picture has quite clearly discovered a genre of pornography that he was previously unaware of, rather than an OS upgrade.

Private sub captain changes story, now says reporter died, was 'buried at sea' – torso found

Drew V.

> Personally I would never get into a private submarine.

Me neither.

Before crowdfunding, we used to have another term for "risky crowdfunded projects". I believe we used to call them "public funding which require public oversight". (The taxpayers are also a kind of "crowd", after all).

SHIP OF FAIL: How do we right capsized institutions we thought would NEVER go under?

Drew V.

"so if you don't like Thatcherism you must hate all the modern political parties."

The way they all operate now? Yes, of course I do, and I am hardly alone in that, judging by the number of people who don't vote.

Those are the parties of a highly dysfunctional, corrupted and anachronistic system, and they are all part of the problem to a greater or less degree.

Otherwise I agree with you, though, in the sense that there are other additional reasons for why things are the way they are. And it didn't literally begin with Thatcher, no, but she sure did more than anyone else to make the problem worse.

Drew V.

Re: You've got it exactly backwards.

I think you've misunderstood me somewhat: I was rattling off examples, not saying that the political solution necessarily HAS to come from the state. In the specific case of energy, where economies of scale and centralized control over a national grid are pretty much unavoidable, the state is the obvious political level at which fundamental changes can be implemented.

But it doesn't necessarily have to be the state. In fact, when the author writes:

"Actions that can be taken at all levels, from the individual upwards, that may improve our standard of living and reduce our anxieties and fears whilst not requiring our only planet to be pillaged as if there was another one round the corner."

...it seems to me that (perhaps without realizing it or intending to) he's really referring to localized political solutions. That is to say, individuals and communities organizing themselves and creating a political solution at a local level. It should have been clear from my argument as a whole that my definition of "politics" is a very broad one, not limited to either parliament or the state.

Drew V.

Yeah, but then the question becomes: WHY do we not "properly value the producers and doers"? And the answer is that this is a deliberate political choice we have been consistently making (and, for most people, making it without fully realizing that they are making it) since Thatcher.

Drew V.

You've got it exactly backwards.

The problem is precisely that in our political culture, real politics has been gradually replaced with what Evgeny Morozov calls "solutionism". When you talk about "fundamental solutions", you should really be talking about political solutions, NOT science or technology. But the former are no longer possible because (we are repeatedly told) this is a "post-political" age in which we must rely on the "experts" (such as IT experts and so on) to solve all the problems for us, preferably with convenient technical solutions that instantly work in the short term. What is no longer acceptable, however, is questioning the political framework and the political choices within which those technical solutions must be found and applied...even though the real solution might be to make different political choices.

Energy is the perfect example. It's obvious that fossil fuel dependency, global warming, and related problems can never be solved with technical means alone. The free market is never going to come up with enough "green" products and technologies to solve it. A real solution would be to start with making different political choices: the state taking charge, radically changing the paradigms under which the energy industry operates, and actively mandating how we live our lives. But for that, there is no political will, and nobody is allowed to question the political framework or the ruling ideologies (meaning, neoliberalism). The politicians have no stomach for such a thing, the wealthy and the corporations reject it because it would obstruct their flow of profit, and the public has been indoctrinated by the idea of TINA (There Is No Alternative).

And the utopian technologists make this even worse, by peddling the lie "don't worry, we can solve all these problems for you. You don't have to throw out your politicos and you don't have change how you live your lifes. Just give us free rein, don't question what we're doing, and everything will magically be fine."

The truth about Apple's mind-boggling low tax rate

Drew V.

Re: Overly simplistic view of the world hooo

Right. Also, if every private company in the world were able (or allowed) to do what Apple does, then most nation-states would simply collapse.

This is all happening on the backs of the many companies and citizens who do make fair and responsible contributions to the state, without which, it's "Mad Max to the Thunderdome", trying to beat a lizard to death with your bricked iPad for dinner, and banging the metal backs of two iPods Classic together to start a fire.

Game of Thrones Blu-ray disc set

Drew V.

I agree that it may be the best epic fantasy ever seen on television, certainly in terms of execution - detailed, consistent, lavish, lovingly crafted.

Unfortunately, that level of execution is difficult to sustain (regardless even of whether the audience likes it or not) which is why I doubt it will go beyond three seasons, maybe not even beyond two.

Google asked to bin autocomplete results for Japanese man's name

Drew V.

Re: The problem is an outgrowth of censorship itself

Obviously I was taking auto completion as a sign of things yet to come, and speculating on future developments. Feel free to disagree.

Drew V.

The problem is an outgrowth of censorship itself

I am not claiming here that censorships always functions like this, as a universal rule. But at least in the specific case of a search engine run by private company, censorship appears to be self-reinforcing and to spiral out of control. Because once you start to censor beyond the bare minimum (malware, child porn, etc.), and once people become aware that censorship in this case is technically possible as well as enforcible through the courts, the demands for more and more thorough censoring start to pile up, as in this case.

And the private company that is Google cannot afford to keep turning new requests down because it wants to continue to do business at all costs. The result will be a highly filtered search experience, though, which will obviously undermine Google's position as a gateway to the "complete" web.

It is one of the realities that will probably lead to an increasing number of small competitors to Google as a search engine; not just alternatives such as Duckduckgo but also alternatives that are completely non-corporate and that may have illegitimate or even rogue status, on the level somewhere of P2P, Wikileaks, etc.

Assange bids for Senate seat

Drew V.

Re: Yawn..

He was also convicted in 1994, when he pled guilty to 25 charges of hacking.

But if he can't run for office, surely they can follow the Swedish Pirate Party's example: start your own party, act as its president while letting other members be elected to the legislature.

'This American Life' disowns Apple-bashing blockbuster

Drew V.

Change has to start somewhere

While it is obvious that the real target should be the industry as a whole - HP, Dell, IBM, Cisco, etc. (or indeed, to go with an even more holistic approach, perhaps the target should be our entire economic relationship with totalitarian-capitalist countries like China), there is a certain activist logic in attacking Apple first.

It is hard to put one's finger on it exactly - although you have enumerated some of the possible reasons already - but it may be that the best target for this sort of activism is companies who CLAIM to be better than the rest, when in reality they are only every so slightly above the industry standard.

In other words, those companies who have built their business around an image of excellence, superiority, lifestyle choice, a holistic approach to marketing and presentation. When they implicitly promise the "whole package" - as in, "everything is better with us" - then there is a genuine discomfort felt when one finds out that the "whole package" does not include things like better labor standards or a morally conscious approach to outsourcing, etc. And again, in this those companies are merely living down to the industry's standards - which should be the real target over the long term - but with these companies the disconnect grates more, thus creating a gap into which consumer/activist resistance is able to emerge.

In that sense, Apple has turned itself into the vanguard of a whole industry's hypocrisy. It's only logical that it comes under attack first.

Enormous Apple market cap swells and swells ... like a bubble

Drew V.

Yup, the stock market is like the film Rain Man

Mental patients going to the casino, that is.

"D-d-d-d-d-d-definitely Apple. Defnitely Apple."

UK kids' art project is 'biggest copyright blag ever' – photographer

Drew V.

Merely a case of extending the logic of Corporate Web 2.0

It's very likely that these kids had already given up the rights to various creations that they uploaded online, e.g. by uploading a photo to Facebook (thus giving away the exclusive copyrights to Facebook, so if Facebook wants to sell, license, transfer copyright, or sublicense their work, they have that right).

The "charity" - a particularly greedy one, apparently - has looked at this model and said "hey, why not us? Everyone seems to be doing it and no one is doing anything to prevent that." In that sense, you cannot really fault their logic. As an element of web 2.0, this is now a widely tolerated practice, and I hope that those of you who object to this particular instance will be consistent by applying the same principles to big internet companies.

Users: 'Personalized internet? Fuggedaboutit!'

Drew V.

Re: Benefits of being informed

Your view of government is ridiculously oversimplified. The state is vastly more complex than a single private company: it has competing agencies, and at all times there are multiple interest groups trying to compromise on formulating policy. The judiciary can be at odds with the legislative branch over any given issue. Law enforcement agencies may disregard civil rights, but this in no way precludes other government agencies from having an excellent record on e.g. privacy matters and anti-trust regulation. Most importantly the state is subject to the will of the people through the ballot box - in a way that no private company is - which has to count for something.

Certainly, the British state, as a particular example, is generally obsessed with surveillance and ranks lower than any country in Europe on the privacy index. But this is not a valid excuse to let anyone else off the hook.

And however much you may want to oversimplify things, lumping the issues of censorship and foreign policy in developing countries together with issue with privacy and the regulation of internet companies does not clarify anything, it just muddies the waters.

If you do choose to reduce the government to this caricature of yours, then you should realize that Google and Facebook actually contribute to making it worse. Because by storing as much information on people as they are, they make that information potentially accessible to the government. By gathering and storing so much personal information in the interest of profit, Google and Facebook also create the risk of this unprecedentedly complete and complex database on private lives being used for (even more) nefarious purposes by someone else.

When Google was operating in China, they gave the Chinese state all the information on dissidents that the Chinese asked for. Doing business in that market was more important to Google than safeguarding the individual lives of customers from the totalitarian regime.

Drew V.

Benefits of being informed

As ever, the more people find out about how companies like Google and Facebook really operate, the more they want to avoid dealing with them.

Whenever this type of situation occurs, the government has a clear duty to step in and educate the masses. We're waiting.

Drew V.

Re: Censorship

You can always migrate from Gmail to one of the paying cloud-based email/storage services like Fastmail.fm. Better privacy policy for a small yearly fee.

The true, tragic cost of British wind power

Drew V.
Thumb Down

Never ask an accountant to save the planet

Or maybe that should be "never ask a capitalist to save the planet".

"We could put a man on the moon in 1969!" - "No, sorry, if we wait another 50 years it will be so much more cost-effective. I think. If these calculations are correct."

"We can be a leader in a renewable energy! - "What, and lose half a percentage of GDP growth? Are you crazy? Obviously the British economy is much more important than the fate of the planet."

"With enough funding, we could cure cancer, but there won't be any profit in it." - "The people in accounting say: no way."

"We could..." - "NO! NOT COST-EFFECTIVE!"

Citrix drops Rush Limbaugh over 'slutgate' slurs

Drew V.

Absurd situation

Rush Limbaugh is merely being himself here, perfectly in keeping with the rest of his career and his entire philosophical outlook. So why has it taken these companies so long to realize that he was "not representing their values"? For the most part, he was representing their values perfectly, I would say.

This is less an indictment of Limbaugh (no indictments necessary, I would say) and more of corporate advertising in America. The latter will sponsor the worst kind of rightwing populist tripe that regularly slurs whole sections of society - especially because Limbaugh advocates free-market economic values - and only pulls back its financial support in those rare cases when an extreme outpouring of public anger occurs, and when US law has no choice but to actually take an interest in the case of one single slurred individual.

The fact that it takes a rare lawsuit to finally cut this guy's financial support after all those many years on the air...FAIL, America. Just fail.

Online advertising isn't creepy enough

Drew V.

Re: Might I suggest...

You have a point, but I would say that this is a separate issue.

I agree with you that most advertising is empirically useless to consumers, if not actively misleading and fallacious. But that isn't enough reason to object to its existence (in the same way that smoking is bad for our health but so far no one has outlawed it completely).

The issue is at hand is not advertising itself but the digital data gathering and profile building that supposedly enables "targeted advertising" and which plainly violates the spirit if not the letter of privacy regulations as we have gradually constructed them in our societies.

Drew V.

In a way this already exists

The Googlesharing Firefox plugin routes all the data from every Google application that doesn't require a login through the connection of other users. If I search for "pregnant skiers", it will very much appear to Google as if someone else is fapping to snow-covered MILFs, and vice versa.

Drew V.

"Personally, I don't mind this very much. I'm as boring online as I am offline."

This is just another version of "if you don't have anything to hide, you don't have anything to fear". It is worth remembering that this idea was originally invented by the bureaucrats running dictatorships.

It might take the guise here of a seemingly harmless self-deprecating attitude - "I am just a boring guy, bla bla." But it is really a brought-up-to-date cover for the philosophical position that we don't need things like human rights and universal principles.

Ubuntu for Android: Penguins peck at Nokia's core problem

Drew V.

Tempting, but I am still going to wait for the all-Ubuntu phone (if and when it arrives). No Android for me, not even to piggy-back on.

Scroogle: Dear Google, we're not bots, we're HUMAN

Drew V.
Thumb Down

Only bloody nutters are content with the current google

I remember another search engine who didn't do aggressive tracking, did not make huge profits or go on the stock exchange, and had a very minimalistic interface. And it's hippy-like philosophy seemed to be more than a mere facade.

It was Google in its early years.

Frankly I don't understand why Google has since been allowed to occupy the near-monopolistic, constantly expanding, abusive and socially irresponsible position that it does now. If I can do something to detract from that, either by using a totally different engine like Ixquick or a scraper like Scroogle, then I definitely will.

Drew V.

Ixquick doesn't scrape anyone, AC

Ixquick is simply an alternative search engine based in the Netherlands who gathers its own results.

Iran draws veil over secure internet access

Drew V.

Does I2P still work? Technically speaking just as easy to block as Tor, but

1) less visible in the media so they may not be looking for this traffic, and

2) there is no list of the IP addresses of the relays. Everyone who downloads I2P becomes a relay by default (whereas with Tor, only a select few make the effort of becoming a relay.)

I2P has been growing steadily lately, up to 12,000 users (i.e. relays) now.

USER-TRACKING Firefox sparks Mozilla civil war

Drew V.

Not to mention Ghostery, User Agent Swticher, GoogleSharing, TrackMeNot and OptimizeGoogle...

Drew V.

Too right

Privacy is the main reason why I favor Firefox over Chrome. If Firefox does go down the UUID path then it is time for me to look at the other open source alternatives.

UK gov rejects call to posthumously pardon Alan Turing

Drew V.

One problem I have with posthumous knighthoods is that it assumes they would have accepted it. Not everyone buys into that aristocratic old bollocks.

The list of people who have refused a knighthood while alive AND who by many accounts were closet homosexuals includes T.E. Lawrence and E.M. Forster.

Boffins who have refused to be knighted include Michael Faraday, Stephen Hawking, and the Nobel prize winner Paul Dirac.

Facebook post-IPO: Free not fee will make Zuck a buck

Drew V.

Ah yes, "scorched earth captalism". A Wall Street specialty indeed.

Android users more likely to put out

Drew V.

It's undeniable...

...that most of them have a habit of blatantly exposing their private information to the Chocolate Factory in a fairly sluttish, skanky manner. "Ooooh, rifle through my data some more with your algorithms, Mr. Wonka-Donka-Donka..."

Facebook IPO: Boom or bubble?

Drew V.

"If it decides to use this data fairly aggressively, then there is a near-certainty that legislators are going to retaliate and very aggressively enforce their citizens' right to privacy whether the citizens want it or not."

I like how you're implying that when FB starts to use data very aggressively, people themselves are just going let that happen and bend over for FB. You think people are just sheep, don't you?

Caution advised: low opinion of humanity.

French court lays le smackdown on Google Maps

Drew V.

Yes, it's not just about whether it is free or not, judged independently from the specific context. Freetards getting in a huff about that part are missing the point. You have to look at the company's entire strategy and how it changed through time.

Reading Reding: Pouring water on DP draft bill

Drew V.

Good point, but the backups aren't necessarily placed in "write-once", difficult to access storage. In fact, I would expect profiling companies to try and get around any superficial DP rules by using the backups in a more active way (a legal loophole that would have to be addressed in the legislation).

But it's certainly true that the proposed legislation is going to clash with the two-year data retention rule. That contradiction is going to have to be sorted out first.

Drew V.

Confusing the issue a bit there...

In the case of Amazon, we are not actually talking about deleting their sales record, but about their ability to use that record for advertising purposes. If you delete your account, it should be perfectly possible for them to delete your records, not from the actual sales record, but from the data that is actively being analysed to make "suggestions", consumer profiles, etc.

Right now, the bookkeeping data is identical to the profiling data, the latter a perfect copy of the former; they just need to separate the two. Considering that most people will not ever be deleting their accounts (assuming no disaster strikes Amazon, obviously), this would not fatally impair the profiling and marketing data, just shrink it somewhat.

Drew V.

Who are these "individuals who seek to protect us from harm" that Blunt is talking about, and "whose hands would be tied"? Anyone who genuinely cares about privacy is fighting powerful corporate interests, and can therefore only rejoice at the prospect of the law coming to their aid at last. This is the sort of gibberish you might expect from someone ideologically opposed to regulation.

A "regulatory straightjacket" sounds like exactly what I want to protect my data.

Drink diet pop all the time? Look forward to VASCULAR DEATH

Drew V.

Yes, Goat Jam, it's as David says. Myself, I was mainly referring to the growing practice of adding sugars (and alternatives such as aspartame) to some commercial lagers and the like when the brewing process is almost completed and all the fermentation has already happened.

The main reason for this is because demographically, our tastes are gravitating towards sweeter drinks. More women and young people drink beer, for one, and these groups generally don't like too much bitterness and sourness. It fits the general strategy of the big brewing companies, and there are probably other motives involved, like covering up slight inadequacies of the recipe used.

It's similar to how the amount of sugar used in ketchup has gradually increased over the decades.

Drew V.

There are even commercial beers that have started doing this. Mainly the low-alcohol ones, I am guessing, but it's probably expanding.

RIM's cartoon superheroes inspire caustic Tweet-storm

Drew V.

Can I propose an alternative team?

Rim Jobber!

Salad Tosser!

Ann Alingus!


Rick Santorum!

Mozilla releases Firefox 10, adds developer tools

Drew V.

I was warned about three add-ons becoming incompatible. I took the plunge anyway, and to my surprise, all three are enabled and working perfectly.

I can't speak for everyone but it would seem that the updater was excessively cautious this time...or maybe this is in some way part of the changes? Beats me.

Why I'd pay Apple more to give iPad factory workers a break

Drew V.

This is not the same as manufacturing issue, you know. You can't easily move chocolate plantations somewhere else, they need a certain climate and tradition. Meaning that either the kid or his parents will be getting that job in any case, regardless of whether wages are high or low, simply because those plantations need workers and the locals are the only potential source of labour.

So the case for trying to improve working conditions in that sector, if necessary by paying more for our own chocolate, becomes much stronger.

Drew V.

Several problems with that model.

1) Limits to Growth. This transition to higher living standards through outsourced labor is running into ecological and sustainability limits. China is already one of the most polluted countries on the planet, and the fight over energy and minerals is already incredibly intense. The Chinese have caused nothing but misery in Africa with their ruthless competition for its mineral wealth (in a way, we have effectively exported misery to Africa by exporting jobs to China.)

You simply can't keep the cycle of "moving to the next cheap labor country" going ad infinitum if that means they're all going to destroy their environment and start fighting over the same resources.

2) It's not enough to export jobs, you need a stable infrastructure and the right political environment in order for it to also permanently raise living standards. Most people don't realize that this, but we have been outsourcing to countries like the Philippines and Thailand for much longer than to China. But due to certain conditions there, it hasn't raised their standards of living and remains pure exploitation.

Sometimes a great deal of outsourcing does not bring about these idealistic changes that you describe; rather it remains mere exploitation with no permanent benefits to the target.

Drew V.

It's true that China has certain manufacturing advantages of scale and environment that you won't find in many other places.

I for one don't think Apple should repatriate those jobs. They should be forced to raise the standards for their Chinese employees: a higher minimum wage and shorter working hours.

Drew V.

I heartily agree with you on the problem, Matt. But as for the solution: trying to raise consumer awareness and expecting the industry leader to voluntarily change things are merely pipe dreams.

What you might call "ethical capitalism" is an illusory, feel-good practice ("Buy some Fair Trade, feel better about yourself, leave the system itself intact so we can keep doing whatever we want, thanks" is what it should say on that chocolate). Regulatory capitalism, OTOH, is something we successfully apply every day at the national level. It's why you're not drinking arsenic when you have a glass of tap water (actually, some Americans are, due to relaxed federal standards during the Bush administration).

But this particular phenomenon is located at the global level, not the national level. So the only way this is going to change, is when a global institution forces the whole industry to live up to certain standards. Apple, Dell and every other company must be forced to play by the same rules and be subjected to the same inspections, regardless of which country they put their factories in. That means creating global institutions that are capable and empowered to do this. We have a World Bank and an IMF, and we used to have a Bretton Woods system, so the principle itself is really not that novel. It does require some considerable political effort, obviously.

The necessary sea change, therefore, is not in terms of how people feel about their products, but how they feel about institutions acting for the common good. And America, poisoned as it is with frothing anti-government and anti-regulation rhetoric, they're pretty much permanently fucked, doomed to drown in a rising sea of really cheap Walmart crap. But we in the rest of the world can still make a go of it.

Obama washes hands of O’Dwyer piracy extradition case

Drew V.

Er, social media is not some magical filter that removes political spin and forces politicians to say what they're really thinking (and let's face it, their profession often requires them to put personal opinion aside).

The questions here might have been a bit different from your typical press conference or televised interview, but he's still going to answer them (or sidestep them) in the same manner.

Google spews out 'privacy' email to Sky punters too

Drew V.

You have used your email address to register on a website that was using Google Apps or cooperating with Google in some other way...

Brit pair deported from US for 'destroy America' tweet

Drew V.

At this airport, does security frisk the rich in order to relieve them of their cash and jewelry?

If so then I am all for that, actually.

Drew V.

Very true, but...

No Americans deported based on something they said in public or on a public forum, AFAIK.

Not so far, anyway.