WyBlog, the best thing about New Jersey since the invention of the 24 hour diner.
The nine most terrifying words in the English language are "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." - Ronald Reagan
CH 2.0 Info Center
The Jersey Report
Labor Union Report
Net Right Nation
The Patriot Post Newsletter
Victor Davis Hanson
J! E! T! S! Jets! Jets! Jets!
NJ.com Caldwell Forum
The Caldwells Patch
The Jersey Tomato Press
"This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social issues, etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes."
#VRWC Twitter feed:
Sorry Marriott, you can't block personal Wi-Fi hotspots. Because, freedom!
On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission issued an "Enforcement Advisory" stating that blocking W-Fi in hotels is unequivocally "prohibited."
"Persons or businesses causing intentional interference to Wi-Fi hotspots are subject to enforcement action," the FCC bluntly stated, referencing a dispute between Marriott and its customers who said the hotel chain had blocked their personal hotspots to to force them to pay for Marriott's Wi-Fi services.
"The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment's premises," the FCC wrote. "As a result, the Bureau is protecting consumers by aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawful intentional interference."
Marriott's greed already cost them $600,000 in fines. Now they're officially prohibited from ever pulling the blocking stunt again. Their lame excuse — they block non-Marriott Wi-Fi to protect us from "hackers" — is patently absurd. What's more secure than my personal hotspot, linked only to me, and encrypted via a VPN tunnel?
Nah, their only motivation is money. Logging in to a hotel's Wi-Fi typically adds $15 to $20 per day onto your bill. And some convention venues charge two or 3 times that per attendee. Who wouldn't want to find a less expensive alternative?
Plus, I've rarely encounted a hotel network that wasn't slower than molasses; oversubscribed and underprovisioned is the usual configuration. (One notable exception? Disney World. They do Wi-Fi right!) So forcing me to pay for inferior connectivity isn't exactly a way to win repeat business.
Now let's see if we can guess what new way the hotels will find to nickel
and dime us. I can hardly wait.
Why are Barack Obama and his cronies on the FCC so eager to reclassify internet service providers as "common carriers" like the phone company?
Money. Lots and lots of money. In the form of FCC Universal Service Fund and Subscriber Line Charge taxes. "Common Carriers" pay these taxes, which they pass along to you as line items on your phone bill. Internet companies don't pay, yet, and as we all know, the Democrats never met a tax they couldn't raise.
So the guys deciding on Net Neutrality are in the enviable position of profiting from the implementation of Net Neutrality. And they've got Big Plans for spending all that newly found revenue.
The tax, which could total over $7 per month on the typical American's broadband bill, would be imposed as a consequence of regulating the internet via "net neutrality" rules that President Obama has urged the FCC to adopt.
Under Obama's plan, Internet access providers — such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast — would be declared to be common carriers providing "telecommunications services." This would place those companies under comprehensive regulation by the FCC.
The move would mean that the companies would have to pay a portion of their Internet revenue to the FCC's "Universal Service Fund (USF)," which provides subsidies for Internet service. This fee currently is set at 16.1 percent of revenue, or $7.25 per subscriber per month according to one estimate.
And don't look for the FCC to waive this new found windfall. [FCC Commissioner Mike] O'Reilly (who opposes the plan) reports the FCC already is planning a "spending spree" on USF subsidies.
There it is. "Net Neutrality" is just another way for the government to take money from you and give it to someone else. They're busy pretending Comcast wants to charge you more for internet "fast lanes" when in reality it's the FCC who'll be reaching into your pocket.
Here's Ted Cruz, sounding presidential, making the case against Net Neutrality, in words even a Democrat can understand.
ObamaNet. It's ObamaPhones for the internet. Because what we really need is yet another entitlement program, staffed by unionized bureaucrats beholden to their Democratic Party masters, apportioning technological spoils in exchange for votes.
Just say "no" to Net Neutrality; keep the internet tax free. You'll be glad
Despite the shellacking they took in last week's elections, the progressive power-grab continues unabated. Obama's FEC is already debating how to regulate what you say on the internet. Now he's demanding FCC regulation of what you can see on the internet too.
President Obama threw down the gauntlet Monday with cable companies and Internet providers by declaring they shouldn't be allowed to cut deals with online services like YouTube to move their content faster.
It was his most definitive statement to date on so-called "net neutrality," and escalates a battle that has been simmering for years between industry groups and Internet activists who warn against the creation of Internet "fast lanes." The president's statement swiftly drew an aggressive response from trade groups, which are fighting against additional regulation, as well as congressional Republicans.
"We are stunned the president would abandon the longstanding, bipartisan policy of lightly regulating the Internet and calling for extreme" regulation, said Michael Powell, president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the primary lobbying arm of the cable industry.
Obama, in his statement, called for an "explicit ban" on "paid prioritization," or better, faster service for companies that pay extra. The president said federal regulators should reclassify the Internet as a public utility under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act.
Back in 1934 the internet was merely a gleam in Al Gore's father's eye. But the FCC was doing a bang-up job regulating its phone company predecessor — AT&T. You could have any phone you wanted, so long as it was a black rotary-dial desk phone. You could call anywhere you wanted, at $8 per minute for long distance. You could even get a mobile phone.
Like the telephone companies of old, broadband providers would be required to file a "tariff" at the commission, meaning they would submit mountains of paperwork and ask the government to approve the prices they intend to charge for services. The bureaucrats would then consider whether the prices are fair. FCC bureaucrats would also hold sway over plans to expand or build digital networks. Under such conditions, who would invest to build the next generation of broadband technologies?
Let's have a show of hands? Who wants to trade their iPhone 6 for a 1946 Western Electric model 41A?
Didn't think so.
It took deregulation of AT&T to give us the phone and internet choices we have today. So why would Obama want to put it all back under the government's bureaucratic thumb?
Control. The progessives want to control what you say, see, and do. The internet is already "neutral," anyone can log in, anyone can create content, and anyone can view anything.
Statists don't like that.
So they create straw men, obviously ridiculous arguments designed to sway an unwary public into accepting their supposedly benevolent hegemony.
Comcast might prevent you from accessing Google!
Time Warner could slow down Netflix!
Trust me, these doomsday scenarios are pure fantasy. Comcast and Time Warner do not want to face the wrath of their subscribers. Just look at the hullabaloo that already occurs when FCC-regulated TV channels demand higher subscription fees from cable operators, and the cable operators turn them off. Consumers complain, because FCC "must carry" regulations interfere with the free market and the end result is higher prices for cable TV.
The internet doesn't need the FCC telling them what to pipe into your home.
You should get to decide that, not lobbyists and bureaucrats.
And if you want to pay Netflix, and if Netflix wants to pay Time Warner to give them a faster path into your home, why is that anybody's business but yours?
The idea that the internet has always treated all content equally is a bald-faced lie. Internet operators discriminate every day. They have to. Some data is more important than others. The concept is known as QoS — Quality of Service. Without it, the internet would be unusable.
Asking Netflix to pay for a connection to the internet is no different from asking you to pay for a connection. But Net Neutrality mavens believe Netflix should get a free ride. Why? I dunno. Maybe Netflix has great lobbyists, or maybe Netflix hires cool kidz and lets them play XBox all day. Whatever the reason, the progressives are insistent that Netflix, and all the other content providers, should get a free path directly into your PC.
I happen to have some experience with running a network and delivering content. Many years ago, before home broadband, there was dialup. And my day job set up a dialup service for insurance agents to access policy and claims information electronically.
It took the agents about 15 minutes to discover they could also use the dialup service to download pornography. Lots and lots and lots of pornography. It got to the point where the pornography ate up all the available bandwidth (download speed) we had. And thus no insurance data was able to get through.
I blocked the pornagraphy sites. Yeah, that's right, I violated Net Neutrality. Because the people paying the bills wanted to get what they were paying for. And, I know you're going to find this hard to believe, the pornography sites weren't willing to pay me.
Now imagine Obama's FCC telling me I couldn't do that. Imagine me being forced to carry all the pornography the insurance agents wanted. Because right there is the essence of Net Neutrality. Everything is "equal." It's also the core maxim of communism by the way, except you quickly learn that under communism some people are more "equal" than others. So it will go with FCC regulation of the internet. The government will pick the winners (and the losers).
Here's a tip, when the government is involved, the winners never include
It's good news for sure, but with an asterisk.
Federal regulators have ended a longstanding rule that prevents certain sports games from being shown on TV.
In a bipartisan vote Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission unanimously agreed to do away with the sports blackout rule, a much-criticized 40-year-old ban on local broadcasts designed to force sports fans to their local stadiums rather than allowing them to watch poorly attended games from home.
Under the blackout rule, games that failed to sell out could not be shown on free, over-the-air television. For decades, it also meant that cable companies and satellite TV providers were effectively forbidden from showing those games in the same market, as well.
Now the FCC has signaled that it will no longer be backing the blackout rule, which the commission says mainly benefits team owners and sports leagues, such as the NFL, by driving ticket sales.
"For 40 years, these teams have hidden behind a rule of the FCC," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. "No more. Everyone needs to be aware who allows blackouts to exist, and it is not the Federal Communications Commission."
And there's the asterisk, the leagues themselves can still impose blackout rules via their TV contracts. But they can't pretend it's the government that's forcing them to do it.
Personally, I don't think the NFL much cares what we think. They're gonna do things their way no matter what. And blackouts are dying off anyway due to better team marketing and seat license sales. Fewer than 1% of NFL games are now blacked out.
The rule that really gets my goat is the "local market" rule. With NFL Sunday Ticket I can stream any Sunday afternoon game except a game that's being broadcast by a local New York TV station. Those I have to watch on a physical TV. Why? So I won't miss the fabulous local commercials. You know, the ones for Route 22 Nissan and the New York Lottery, that I'd obviously never see if I wasn't watching the Jets.
Don't count on the FCC ditching that rule any time soon. The NFL is "powerful," but the broadcast networks are the 800 lb gorilla, and the FCC isn't about to take them on. Just look at what they did to Aereo and you'll immediately conclude that it was the networks driving the FCC to rescind the blackout rule; they want the ad revenue from every sporting event. Reruns of Gilligans Island don't get anywhere near the ratings of a football or baseball game. So a game that's not on TV is one that isn't making money for them.
Protectionism sucks. But it's here to stay.
The science is settled. You don't want to argue with science, do you?
To put it one way, small doses of hydrogen sulfide help keep cells healthy and thus help ward off maladies such as dementia, diabetes, and even cancer.
To put it another way, "smelling farts could be the best thing you do today," as per CNET. As the Independent explains, researchers at the University of Exeter discovered that while hydrogen sulfide — the stuff produced in the gut that causes gas — is toxic in large doses, it's actually quite beneficial in smaller ones.
Specifically, it preserves mitochondria, which are vital to cell life. "Although hydrogen sulfide is well known as a pungent, foul-smelling gas in rotten eggs and flatulence, it is naturally produced in the body and could in fact be a health care hero with significant implications for future therapies for a variety of diseases," say the Exeter scientists.
Hang out with me, you'll live forever!
Today's Star-Ledger business section reprinted this article from Sunday's Washington Post.
When Martin Hines takes his 8-year-old daughter for a weekday lunch at the Chili's Bar & Grill in Timonium, Md., this summer, he s looking for quick service so he can return to work.
Instead of waiting for an employee to bring his check, he prefers to swipe his credit card on an electronic tablet placed at each table, which also prints his receipt. During the meal, his daughter usually plays games on the tablet for a flat fee of 99 cents — a price Hines is willing to pay to keep her entertained.
During the past few months, Chili's has installed 45,000 tablets at more than 800 locations across the United States. Though customers are still visited by a human waiter, they can use these devices to order certain items — desserts and drinks, once the waiter has verified their age — as well as to pay checks or play games. The tablets are intended to alleviate the burden on wait-staff by automatically relaying orders to the kitchen, and expediting payment, according to Chili's.
As I kept reading it occurred to me that something must be driving this change.
Table-side tablets are proliferating in fast-casual restaurants. In December, Applebee's announced it would install 100,000 tablets at its restaurants in the United States by the end of 2014. Ziosk, the Dallas-based tech company that builds tablets for Chili's, is also working on similar devices for Uno's Pizzeria and Red Robin, among other chains.
"We recognize that although the industry aggregates a phenomenal number of people, [restaurants face] rising food costs, rising labor costs [and] rising health-care costs,:" said Ziosk chief executive Austen Mulinder.
Rising food costs. Directly attributable to Obamanomics.
Rising labor costs. Because all the right-thinking people believe in the mythical "living wage" chicanery.
Rising health-care costs. Holy Obamacare Batman!
Congratulations Progressives, you've succeeded in eliminating even more entry-level jobs. But the Important Thing is you feel good about yourselves, so there's that.
Don't forget to tip your robot.
Starting next year, the UN will control your domain names and ip addresses.
U.S. officials announced plans Friday to relinquish federal government control over the administration of the Internet, a move that pleased international critics but alarmed some business leaders and others who rely on the smooth functioning of the Web.
Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash last year to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance.
The change would end the long-running contract between the Commerce Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California-based nonprofit group. That contract is set to expire next year but could be extended if the transition plan is not complete.
"We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan," Lawrence E. Strickling, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, said in a statement.
Ah yes, "the global Internet community." Including, say, Russia, where cutting off pro-Ukraine websites is just another day at the office? Or China, where censoring the internet is mandatory, and ruthless? And don't forget Obama's Mohammedan brothers, they're just itching to decree defamation of Islam as a capital offense, and they'll deep-six your website faster than you can say "bacon."
Then, with the U.N. involved, can a global internet tax be far behind?
U.S. oversight of the internet may not be perfect. But it's a heckuva lot better than any of the alternatives. Or do you like the idea of North Korea having a say in what you can post?
This move cannot stand. Obama cannot be permitted to jettison the greatest tool for freedom and liberty since the printing press. Tyrants worldwide would jump at the chance to censor and control the web. Because free speech is antithetical to dictatorship, and the internet is the last bastion of free speech left. Maybe some of you are too young to remember when information was jealously guarded and rarely disseminated. I'm not.
Think too of the innovation that would be stifled by an EU-type bureaucracy, with their idiotic "right to be forgotten" and bizarre "tracking cookie" regulations. Nevermind the Brits and their obsession with white-listing web sites, all to protect "children" from viewing pornography of course.
It's just a short step from all that into a ban on "unsavory" or "extremist" web sites. I've been called "extreme." How long do you think this blog might last after the Euroweenies get their hands on the keys to the net?
The internet is a uniquely American invention, because no other nation's
culture embodies freedom and liberty the way ours does. Only Americans can
ensure that the internet remains free. Congress must act, now. Jimmy
Carter giving away the Panama Canal was a disaster, but that's nothing
compared to the catastrophe of Barack Obama giving away the internet.
Yesterday's conspiracy theory is today's Homeland Security reality.
The LED light bulbs in Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport are spying on you. Yes, the light bulbs.
Whether or not you pay any attention to the lighting overhead, the lighting may be paying close attention to you.
There are cases when a LED light can spy by covertly listening and then send that audio over 300 meters away to the eavesdropper. But this time, it is the LED fixtures that are the "backbone" of a new surveillance system scrutinizing and recording us. The New York Times reported that 171 LED fixtures inside Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport are "watching" us.
Using an array of sensors and eight video cameras around the terminal, the light fixtures are part of a new wireless network that collects and feeds data into software that can spot long lines, recognize license plates and even identify suspicious activity, sending alerts to the appropriate staff.
It's not the "green" side of saving energy by automatically turning the lights off and on that has the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey excited and "already talking about expanding it to other terminals and buildings." Instead, the excitement comes from the mountains of data captured by sensors and analyzed by software about "the habits of ordinary citizens."
As LED lighting becomes more ubiquitous, so does the government's capability for surveillance. And because they're programmable, the spy technology is built-in to every Philips Hue bulb ever manufactured.
This is why we can't have incandescent light bulbs. "Saving energy" is just a distraction. The capability to spy on us and mine all that data is the Real Prize.
Let's get real. The light fixtures and LEDs at Newark Airport are not about saving energy … it's about watching us, analyzing data about us and storing it for who knows how long. As Justin Brookman from the Center for Democracy and Technology told the Times, "There are some people in the commercial space who say, 'Oh, big data — well, let's collect everything, keep it around forever, we'll pay for somebody to think about security later.'"
The irony is they're doing this at an aiport named "Liberty."
The danger is that pretty soon they'll be doing it in your living room.
And before you call me crazy, it isn't paranoia when
the government really is out to get you.
In The Beginning God created Adam and Eve. Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg added 50 some-odd variants, because, diversity!
You don't have to be just male or female on Facebook anymore. The social media giant is adding a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender as well as three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them.
Really? Only three "preferred pronouns?" C'mon, you guys can do better than that!
Facebook said the changes, shared with The Associated Press before the launch on Thursday, initially cover the company's 159 million monthly users in the U.S. and are aimed at giving people more choices in how they describe themselves, such as androgynous, bi-gender, intersex, gender fluid or transsexual.
Curiously missing from the list is "confused."
Masen Davis, executive director of the San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center, said it may be hard for some people to understand the importance of having the ability to select from multiple genders online. But he said many transgender people will be thrilled with the change.
"We applaud Facebook for making it possible for people to be their authentic selves online," he said.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
Now, as a private company, Facebook is of course free to implement whatever features they like. And if letting someone pretend he/she/it is an "authentic" non-binary pangender transexual radfem activist, well it's obviously just another way to increase the value of Zuck's stock options.
My concern is that Facebook hasn't gone far enough. All 50+ of their gender-bender monikers still exist on a male — female continuum. There is a box for "bigender," but not one for tri, quad, or penta-gender. Labels exist for women becoming men, or men transforming into women. You can be a "transgender person," which is apparently disjoint from those of you who are "transexual persons." Not to worry though, FB has plenty of combinations in between.
Which is all well and good.
I mean, if you're going to entertain 50 fictions, why not throw in a few more?
Introducing the internet-connected toothbrush.
Brush smarter. That's the message from the makers of what is billed as the world's first Internet-connected toothbrush.
Unveiled Sunday at a preview event for the Consumer Electronics Show, the device from French-based startup Kolibree aims "to reinvent oral care," according to co-founder Loic Cessot.
"The technology in the industry has not evolved for years," Cessot told AFP.
"The idea is not to brush stronger, but smarter."
The Kolibree toothbrush includes a sensor which detects how much tartar is being removed in a brushing. It also records brushing activity so users can maintain a consistent cleaning each time.
The device conveys the information wirelessly to a smartphone app -- a particularly useful aid for parents who want to monitor the teeth cleaning efforts of small children, according to Cessot.
The app, which is open for developers to add on other programs, aims to increase motivation and make the experience more fun, said Cessot.
If you go to bed without brushing your teeth does it tell your phone to nag you mercilessly like your dentist would? Or does it just rat you out to your dentist via email? And do your Facebook friends really need to know how often you brush your teeth?
I suppose if you don't score at least a 90 your friends will mock you. At least my friends would.
Frankly, it seems a little bit silly to me. But what do you expect from something invented in France?
So listen. If we're gonna internet-enable various home-health and grooming appliances, let's go all the way. Embed a camera in a nose-hair trimmer. C'mon, you know it'd be a huge hit, especially if the video is live-streamed to YouTube.
Just please, no internet toilets.
But trust them, they're "loath" to do it, honest.
Law-enforcement officials in the U.S. are expanding the use of tools routinely used by computer hackers to gather information on suspects, bringing the criminal wiretap into the cyber age.
The FBI develops some hacking tools internally and purchases others from the private sector. With such technology, the bureau can remotely activate the microphones in phones running Google's Android software to record conversations, one former U.S. official said. It can do the same to microphones in laptops without the user knowing, the person said. Google declined to comment.
The bureau typically uses hacking in cases involving organized crime, child pornography or counterterrorism, a former U.S. official said. It is loath to use these tools when investigating hackers, out of fear the suspect will discover and publicize the technique, the person said.
Big Brother was a piker compared to Barack Obama.
There is no way these techniques aren't being widely deployed in pursuit of Dear
Leader's enemies. And in case you haven't been paying attention, his enemies
Today's Star-Ledger featured a front page story: Smile! Your car's on camera — and it's destinations are being logged daily.
Of course they didn't post it to their web site. So I found a version at CNN:
Police around the United States are recording the license plates of passing drivers and storing the information for years with little privacy protection, the American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday.
The information potentially allows authorities to track the movements of everyone who drives a car.
The ACLU documented the police surveillance after reviewing 26,000 pages of material gathered through public records requests to almost 600 local and state police departments in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
Police are gathering the vehicle information with surveillance technology called automatic license plate readers, and it's being stored -- sometimes indefinitely -- with few or no privacy protections, the ACLU said.
"The documents paint a startling picture of a technology deployed with too few rules that is becoming a tool for mass routine location tracking and surveillance," the ACLU said in a written statement.
The license plate readers alert police to an automobile associated with an investigation, "but such instances account for a tiny fraction of license plate scans, and too many police departments are storing millions of records about innocent drivers," the ACLU said.
To astute WyBlog readers this doesn't come as any surprise. I broke this privacy violation back in January of 2008. It's nice of the ACLU to finally notice.
Sadly though, even I didn't envision the extent to which the technology could be employed.
The growing collection of data allows police to create "a single, high-resolution image of our lives," and the constant monitoring "can chill the exercise of our cherished rights to free speech and association," the group said.
"If not properly secured, license plate reader databases open the door to abusive tracking, enabling anyone with access to pry into the lives of his boss, his ex-wife, or his romantic, political, or workplace rivals," the ACLU said.
The NSA is reading your email.
The IRS is tracking your credit cards.
The EPA is spying on your dog house.
The Post Office is scanning your mail.
Privacy is an illusion.
So godammmit, let's fight back. Instapundit posted an excellent suggestion:
Since there is no expectation of privacy while in public, and it is obvious it is legal to record the police (and by extension all other government officials) I believe a proper citizen response to the license plate imbroglio would be to ask people to install private scanners, and upload info collected to a central database, where the movements of all manner of government vehicles may be permanently tracked, stored and downloaded to drivers. That way the location of every government-owned vehicle would be known, and in real time. This will no doubt reduce crime statistics, such as speeding, to which the authorities couldn.t object. We'd be able to quantify trips to Dunk'n Donuts or the local adult store. Let's do it for the children!
Yes! Let's do it!
I have some expertise in database creation. And I have access to a shitload of storage, all connected to servers I personally control. Yeah, they're VMS, but that's probably a plus given that the Feds pwn Microsoft. If you guys want to help me build this database, I'll host it.
They're tracking us, let's see how happy they are when we start
tracking them. My guess is "not very happy," but that's OK. More
than a dozen of my neighbors are lawyers, and I've got 'em all on speed dial.
Life without AdBlock Plus is a never-ending gauntlet of pop-ups, pop-unders, flashing widgets, and autoplay annoyances. It's arguably the best Firefox extension ever created. With it the web is usable. Without it you're bombarded by hucksters 24x7.
And now it's gone and sold out.
AdBlock Plus, a popular browser extension, blocks most pop-up, video and banner ads. But according to a German news site, Google, which controls the largest online advertising network, has paid the makers of the software not to weed out some of its ads.
AdBlock Plus seems to have been quietly changing its model from blocking all ads to policing which ads are "annoying" and which are "acceptable." The larger ad networks have been funding its policing efforts by paying its German parent company, Eyeo, not to filter out some of their "nonintrusive" ads, including Google's AdWords.
AdBlock Plus. The ad blocker that doesn't actually block ads. Making the web
suck more since 2013.
It's the beginning of the end for plain old telephone service (POTS). Hurricane Sandy wiped out all the copper telephone wires in Mantoloking, New Jersey, and now Verizon has decided it won't bother to replace them.
Cell phones are the presumed alternative. Or a gizmo Verizon calls "Voice Link" which turns your home phone into a cell phone.
But the box doesn't work with remote medical monitoring devices, home alarm systems or faxes. It can't accept collect calls or connect callers with an operator when they dial 0. It also can't be used with dial-up modems, credit-card machines or international calling cards.
Other than that, it's just like your old phone. Uh huh.
I sympathize with Verizon. Replacing all those copper wires is costly. And with Comcast already laying coaxial cable and providing phone service, there is a viable alternative. The demand for POTS is decreasing every year. Like the party lines of old, its time has definitely passed.
Heck, the federal Universal Service Fund, which used to subsidize POTS lines in hard-to-serve areas, has already switched gears. They pass out Obamaphones now.
But technologically any true replacement for POTS needs to provide equivalent service. And that means supporting modem tones for things like fax machines, credit card terminals, alarm systems, and emergency medical devices. Verizon has the necessary capacity; their 4G LTE network regularly provides data speeds in excess of 10 mbps. So piggybacking a 56K modem signal ought to be a piece of cake. The cellular network can route 911, so presumably it can route 0 to an operator service and calling cards to the long distance company of your choice too.
Their FiOS gear handles all that stuff seamlessly, so there's no reason the Voice Link gizmo can't do it either.
Well, there is one reason. Marketing. A Voice Link box that supported those features might cut into FiOS revenues.
The knee-jerk reaction to all this is, of course, a call for government regulation. Force Verizon to rewire the POTS lines! Feh. I'm no fan of government interference in the free market. I see the demise of POTS as an opportunity for an enterprising young engineer to develop a Voice Link replacement box. One that offers all the features of POTS. And has more than a few hours of battery life too.
Beat Verizon at their own game. That's the American way.
How much does the Obama Administration hate Apple?
First they accused the company of being tax cheats.
And now they've issued an import ban against the iPhone 4 and iPad 2.
A U.S. trade agency on Tuesday issued a ban on imports of Apple's iPhone 4 and a variant of the iPad 2 after finding the devices violate a patent held by South Korean rival Samsung Electronics.
Because the devices are assembled in China, the import ban would end Apple's ability to sell them in the U.S.
However, President Barack Obama has 60 days to invalidate Tuesday's order from the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington. Obama is against import bans on the basis of the type of patent at issue in the Samsung case. On Tuesday, the White House issued a recommendation to Congress that it limit the ITC's ability to impose import bans in these cases.
So Obama might overrule his own trade commission.
Say, if Apple decides to cough up some extra taxes? Or repatriate their offshore assets?
Because this looks a lot like a squeeze play to me. You know, hardball,
the Chicago way.
Imagine charging your cell phone in 20 seconds.
So far, the energy-storage device has powered only an LED light, but it has the potential to do much more.
The future certainly looks bright for 18-year-old Eesha Khare, who pocketed a $50,000 prize for the Young Scientist award from the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Ariz., for her tiny and possibly revolutionary device.
Khare sees the device as potentially powering car batteries, cellphones or any electronics that could use a rechargeable battery.
"My cellphone always dies," Khare explained to NBC San Francisco, when asked what inspired her invention.
The supercapacitor, she explains on CBS San Francisco, is "basically an energy source device that can hold a lot of energy in a small amount of volume."
Even cooler, Google is interested in licensing her technology. Their first
app ought to be a supercapacitor-powered DeLorean! Just be sure keep it under
88 mph and everything should be OK…
If you're one of the other 3 BlackBerry users out there, don't upgrade the Twitter app to V126.96.36.199 on BB 7.1.
I repeat: Do. Not. Upgrade. Twitter.
I did. And it erased every email in my inbox. Three Gmail accounts and my BIS email — gone. Hundreds of messages, lost forever.
But in their stead I now have 2 copies of every Twitter DM I've ever received, so there's that.
If this is any indication of the quality control RIM put into BlackBerry 10,
well let's just say my quandary over whether or not I should switch to Android
has worked itself out.
If you aren't encrypting your email, the IRS is probably reading it right now.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has claimed that agents do not need warrants to read people's emails, text messages and other private electronic communications, according to internal agency documents.
In a 2009 handbook, the IRS said the Fourth Amendment does not protect emails because Internet users "do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications." A 2010 presentation by the IRS Office of General Counsel reiterated the policy.
Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, government officials only need a subpoena, issued without a judge's approval, to read emails that have been opened or that are more than 180 days old.
The deck is stacked against you. "Privacy" is an illusion.
In 2010, a federal appeals court ruled that police violated a man's constitutional rights when they read his emails without a warrant.
Despite the court decision, U.S. v. Warshak, the IRS kept its email search policy unchanged in a March 2011 update to its employee manual.
In an October 2011 memo an IRS attorney explained that the Warshak decision only applies in the Sixth Circuit, which covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
If you live in one of the 46 other states, you're fair game for the revenuers. Because there's no such thing as due process when you're dealing with the IRS. You're guilty until proven innocent. And the government is holding all the cards. Rights? You don't have any rights where the income tax is concerned.
Oh, don't forget, they're snooping on your Facebook page too.
For those of you who are old enough to remember Freedom, prior to 1913 the government managed quite nicely without an income tax. They built roads, conducted diplomacy, fought wars, delivered the mail, and balanced their budget. What they did not do was transfer wealth from the productive to the unproductive.
The IRS changed all that. They've got what it takes to take what you've got.
Then Congress gives it to slackers, who of course vote to re-elect
their benefactors. And if you protest, you're the one being unreasonable.
What will happend to broadcast TV if they stop actually broadcasting? We may soon find out.
News Corp.'s Fox network will go off the air and become a cable channel if U.S. courts don't stop Internet start-up Aereo Inc. from retransmitting shows like "The Simpsons" without permission, said Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey.
Fox and its affiliate stations would stop broadcasting and serve only pay-TV customers to protect the billions of dollars spent annually on programs, along with advertising revenue and hard-won fees from pay-TV systems, Carey told TV executives today in Las Vegas. A U.S. appeals court last week rejected broadcasters' pleas to shut down Barry Diller's Aereo.
Carey is threatening to upend traditional broadcast TV to counter the peril posed by Aereo, a company backed by Diller, the former Fox network founder. If CBS, NBC and ABC follow, it would and mark an end to television as it's been known since "The Honeymooners" aired in the 1950s. Fox and other networks are evaluating what to do next after the appeals court ruling.
"We need to be able to be fairly compensated for our content," Carey said. "This is not an ideal path we look to pursue, but we can't sit idly by and let an entity steal our signal. We will move to a subscription model if that's our only recourse."
There is so much wrong with that last statement that I don't know where to start. Aereo isn't "stealing" anything. The essence of broadcast TV is the ability to actually receive a broadcast. Aereo merely moves the antenna to a location where the signal is good, vs trying to pull in the new digital TV signals with rabbit ears in your living room. Yes, it's a bizarre technical solution to a silly legal problem, but it's really no different from how TV signals were delivered for decades before cable.
And their "hard-won fees from pay TV systems" are only on the table because of those broadcast signals. It's the FCC's "must carry" rule — cable and satellite systems are required to retransmit broadasters' programming and to compensate them accordingly. That's not true for pure cable channels which have to compete on price and content.
How many people would willingly pay to watch the crap put out by Fox and the other networks? As the "Zero TV" movement gains steam my hunch would be "not as many as they'd think."
Good luck Fox. I hope you think this one through. Maybe you could embrace
innovation instead of trying to maintain your anachronistic 1950s business
model. Try leading instead of hindering. You might even make some
money in the process.
Think that only your friends care about the pictures you post to Facebook? Guess again. The IRS could be snooping on you.
You have until April 15th to file a return - and the IRS will be collecting a lot more than just taxes this year.
According to several reports, the agency will also be collecting personal information from sites like Facebook and Twitter.
It says the effort is to catch people trying to beat the system, but some say it goes too far.
Attorney Kristen Mathews warns to be careful with what you say on social media platforms.
Take those warnings seriously.
Your whole life is on Facebook. The new car. That 12 day cruise up the Nile with 8 friends. Dinners at fancy restaurants. The IRS sees it all, and then asks, whaddaya mean you're only reporting $25,000 in income this year?
Or, much more likely, conservatives who regularly criticize Dear Leader will find themselves subjected to enhanced scrutiny. You know, guys like me. We could start being hauled in for proctological audits. All it takes is for them to scour social media sites and the next thing we know we're on a list.
I'm not being paranoid either. He "joked" about doing just that back in 2009. And then Tea Party groups were coincidentally audited in record numbers.
So watch what you post online, and always remember the IRS motto: "We've got
what it takes to take what you've got." Now you'll have to excuse me as I
go double-check my friends list.