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I use Linux a bunch. Not for everything, but I like it when a device… - Blather, Rinse, Repeat
July 23rd, 2010
11:12 am

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I use Linux a bunch. Not for everything, but I like it when a device that I own is running, or can run Linux. I installed Linux on my PS3, back when that's what PS3's Open Platform meant. I was excited years ago about having a car stereo that would run Linux. It's not that Linux is a great system, it's that I really dislike closed proprietary systems that presume to control how I use my hardware.

Not too long ago, I finally got a high-def display for my living room, after far too long in the 480i wilderness. Oooh, crisp details at last. I started getting Blu-Ray disks from NetFlix. Fancy!

And then Sony decided to un-open the PS3. So much for the "It only does everything" ad campaign. It seems the PS3 only does what Sony thinks is OK this month.

By the way, do you recall when Sony was installing malware on legitimate users' machines? I don't trust Sony to decide what's OK.

So, I'm in the process of building a home theatre pc. It'll run Linux, of course. Well, that seems like a natural choice, but the options for playing Blu-Ray disks under Linux are convoluted, scary, and somewhat shady.

I'm OK with convoluted (see above where I mention using Linux). I'm peeved that we're living in a world where watching a movie is a tightly controlled activity.

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From:ginsu
Date:July 23rd, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
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I'm peeved that we're living in a world where watching a movie is a tightly controlled activity.

Well, it's all a matter of perspective, I guess.

Take a company like Google. Lots of open hardware. Lots of Linux. Sounds mighty open at first. But the exact process used to rank-order sites in searches... mmmm, let's call that proprietary and secret-saucey.

But at least those searches are voluntarily conducted by users. Worse, of course, is what Google is doing with its ever-expanding pile of user data, which is collected in a diverse and frightening number of ways, many of which do not resemble opt-in. For instance, there's the scanning of private WLANs via Google-hired cars.

I'm peeved that we're living in a world where corporations hire cars to collect and mine personal data from private homes without the consent or knowledge of the people living there.
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From:tsmaster
Date:July 23rd, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
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corporations hire cars to collect and mine personal data

I suspect that there are corporations that hire cars to collect personal data, but the Google incident you refer to was incidental - the cars were hired to collect public data. The data wasn't intended to be collected, and has been deleted:

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/wifi-data-collection-update.html
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From:ginsu
Date:July 23rd, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
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we said that while Google did collect publicly broadcast SSID information (the WiFi network name) and MAC addresses (the unique number given to a device like a WiFi router) using Street View cars, we did not collect payload data (information sent over the network)

Well, this changes everything. While photographing from multiple angles the private homes of Americans in many major cities, Google only additionally meant to collect (without the knowledge or consent of the owners) their SSIDs and MAC addresses. Not actual data packets. That was just an accident.

Similarly, I suspect Buzz was never meant to be forced on all Gmail users. That was just some sort of fluke or oddity, for which there is no apparent explanation except something like "we goofed." Yet it remains opt-out to this day.
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From:tsmaster
Date:July 23rd, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
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Well, this changes everything. While photographing from multiple angles the private homes of Americans in many major cities, Google only additionally meant to collect (without the knowledge or consent of the owners) their SSIDs and MAC addresses. Not actual data packets. That was just an accident.

Exactly. The outside of houses as viewed from public roads is considered public information, but collecting transmissions, that was accidental, like you said.
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From:ginsu
Date:July 23rd, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
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The outside of houses as viewed from public roads is considered public information

The trick is that on a mass scale, "public information" begins to imply some awkward possibilities.

For instance, conversations held in public places are public, aren't they?

So if Google decides to pay restaurant chains a fee to install microphones at tables and booths, record all customers' conversations, upload them to Google, translate them to digital text, search the text for keywords, and sell or apply the results -- well, who can find fault with that?

It's public information, after all.
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