Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Jun 15 2016

Let’s play a game.

Let's pretend that Americans can have a reasonable discussion about the issue of gun control. Personally, I don't believe that is possible- a certain segment of American society is totally committed to a completely unreasonable position on the issue. We have long passed the point of reasonable discussion on this issue.

But for the sake of discussion, let's pretend, shall we?

What I propose ( and this should be really interesting to watch unfold) is to have a debate on the why or why not certain specific gun control proposals could be enacted. To do this I propose to ask a series of questions, and ask for answers in the comments section.

However before we start, I think it's critically important to lay out the rules of this game:

1) Responses have to be REASONABLE. If you go off the rails with rants about tyranny and freedom, I will "shoot" your comment in the heart.

2) For purposes of this discussion, we must make the assumption that the 2nd amendment rules. The right of an individual to possess a firearm is accepted and not up for discussion. Repealing the 2nd amendment is not on the table for discussion. (We will get to that in a later post). Having said that, we must also accept the logic put forth by Justice Scalia in his majority opinion in the Heller decision:

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…”. It is “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

 “We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller (an earlier case) said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time”. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ” 

The court even recognizes a long-standing judicial precedent “…to consider… prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons.”

3) Recognizing the above, we also recognize the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, so all arguments about "states rights" will also be summarily discarded. In other words uniform standards for the states is an accepted starting point for the discussion. Don't like that, go watch wrestling, your presence here is no longer required.

4) The " defense against tyranny" argument is not welcome here. I'm repeating that because : 1) its the weakest argument for the 2nd amendment and 2) we already established that individuals have rights to firearms.


So lets play the game, shall we?

Question One: What is wrong with having restrictions on buying ammunition? Why not need a license to sell ammunition, and creates a new system for collecting information about those sales?

Question Two: Why can't we have restrictions on large capacity magazines? Why does any sport user need a magazine that holds 30 rounds? What's wrong with limits to 10?

Question Three: Why not allow a ban on gun sales over the internet? Require that all gun sales require a face to face sale and completion of background checks and waiting periods. In other words, eliminate the gun show loopholes.

Question Four: What's wrong with being in favor of smart gun technology? In other words to fire your gun you need  a safety feature or features that allow it to fire only when activated by an authorized user. The NRA by the way, is on record as opposing this.

Question Five: Why can't we have an accepted definition of what constitutes "sporting use"? Weapons of certain calibers and certain types? A ban on weapons that clearly have no sporting use or utility and a ban on all semi automatic weapons. 

That's probably enough for now. I fully expect things to spiral down a rat hole soon enough so let me remind you, you don't play by my rules, I will consign your comments to the flames of woe.

Let's begin.




12 responses so far

Feb 25 2016

So here is a tech question I know someone out there can answer.

Published by under Technology

This is about Apple's fight with the FBI. I , by the way, am siding with Tim Cook because I don't want the FBI having a back door to look at my porn phone. ( Even though I stopped being an I phone user 2 phones ago and I have no doubt that Android has already given away the farm. PS. all models are over 21 wink).

Security does not just mean protecting people from terrorism, but also warding off the threat of rogue espionage agencies, cybercriminals and enemy governments. If Apple writes a new piece of software that could circumvent its password systems on one phone, that software could fall into the hands of hackers and be modified to unlock other devices. If the capability to unlock iPhones exists, so will the temptation for the authorities to use it repeatedly. And if tech firms are forced to comply with this sort of request in America, it is harder for anyone to argue against similar demands from more repressive governments, such as China’s. This newspaper has long argued against cryptographic backdoors and skeleton keys on these grounds. It is possible to imagine a scenario that might override such concerns: if information is needed to avert a specific and imminent threat to many lives, for example. But in this instance, Apple’s case is the stronger.


So that part I get.

But why can't Apple unlock the phone in the privacy of its own labs, with its own people, and just give a "transcript" of the phone to the FBI?

No software revealed-in fact no FBI agents allowed near the lab.

What am I missing here?

8 responses so far

Sep 17 2015

Not liking the competition

Published by under Sex,Technology

Back when I was in Japan, I remember vividly the complaints of Western Women, evil arch enemy of all us great guys who savored living there, complaining about us coming down with "Yellow Fever". 

Now it seems technology is going to replicate that cultural conflict on a grand scale:

A campaign has been launched calling for a ban on the development of robots that can be used for sex.

Such a use of the technology is unnecessary and undesirable, said campaign leader Dr Kathleen Richardson.

Sex dolls already on the market are becoming more sophisticated and some are now hoping to build artificial intelligence into their products.

Those working in the field say that there is a need for such robots.

Dr Richardson, a robot ethicist at De Montfort University in Leicester, wants to raise awareness of the issue and persuade those developing sex robots to rethink how their technology is used.

"Sex robots seem to be a growing focus in the robotics industry and the models that they draw on – how they will look, what roles they would play – are very disturbing indeed," she told the BBC.

She believes that they reinforce traditional stereotypes of women and the view that a relationship need be nothing more than physical.

And the follow up question should be, "So what's your point?"

Really? Robots are going to replace real women?  I don't think so-but at the same time, having an alternative that is not loaded with baggage is not exactly a bad thing either.

Besides as Sam Kinison pointed out, market forces are at work here:


No responses yet

May 09 2014

The paradox.

Published by under Technology

Out the door this morning for an early am departure for the land of milk and honey ( of which in all my trips to Eretz Yisrael I have seen neither). Suprisingly the airport was packed at 5:30 am, which was not something I was prepared for.  Especially going through security. It would seem George Clooney's advice still holds true:


I had the misfortune of being behind a group of (rather attractive) young women going on holiday together, by appearances. Every one of them got their bags searched. For what reason I know not why.

I also again learned to my disappointment- that I must speak German with a pronounced American accent. When I asked for something from the guy behind the counter in German, he answered me in English. What? No points for trying?

Time to board the plane soon so I leave you with one of the everlasting paradoxes of our time. This hits remarkably close to home I think.


2 responses so far

Jul 16 2013

Acceptable Substitutes

Published by under Technology

I am a big fan of IGoogle. Its a great way to put the content of your favorite news sites and blogs all together in one place-and then make it your default home page when you fire up the browser. It makes a great aggregator and allows me quickly browse for headlines-then click on links to read in greater detail.

Which is what a real news hound should do. Its a better alternative than using Drudge, which has mostly made up headlines anyway. (Friends don't let friends use Drudge!).

So of course, Google being Google, is getting rid of IGoogle on the first of November this year. Just like Google Reader and many other useful apps-they are getting rid of. Google's explanation? Not a good one.

We originally launched iGoogle in 2005 before anyone could fully imagine the ways that today's web and mobile apps would put personalized, real-time information at your fingertips. With modern apps that run on platforms like Chrome and Android, the need for something like iGoogle has eroded over time, so we’ll be winding down iGoogle on November 1, 2013, giving you a full 16 months from the announcement to adjust or easily export your iGoogle data.

That's fine I guess, if you live and breathe with an I-Pad or your smart phone, but some of us still have use for a desktop or a laptop. The recommend solution by Google, customizing Chrome, doesn't really work very well. I've been casting around for a new aggregator that has the look and feel of IGoogle.

And I finally think I found it.

It's called Ig Home ( It looks remarkably like I-Google, you can customize it and it has tabs you add-so you can have one tab for news, another for blogs, another for sports etc. I have been using it more and more-both at work and at home. ( The IT Nazis at work won't let me set my own home page-so I have to go to Ig Home as soon as I log in).

It takes a little time to set up-but now after 2 weeks, I have it just about the way I want it.

So if you are an IGoogle fan like I am-this a very acceptable alternative.

7 responses so far

Jan 01 2013

Not boding well for the new year

Published by under Technology

Well we rang in the new year in fine -well, sort of fine fashion. Went over to our neighbors house and watched all the fireworks, drank champagne and beer and came home about 3 AM. S.O. fell into bed-without even so much as a "Happy New Year" handshake. I'm taking it as a good sign she is not getting the fucking point here.

Then I wake up this morning to find my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone-dead. Completely. Won't charge, I have changed the battery ( well took it out and put it back in) and can't even get it to do a hard reset. It is now just a slim, black, paperweight. So on top of dealing with the car tomorrow-on top of having to go to work, I have to get to a store and see if they will swap out this phone for a new one. Yea I am liking that. šŸ™

And to add insult to injury, I was awake when the booze wore off-while the S.O. is still sleeping, now 4 hours past.

The neighbors were talking about 2013 being an un-lucky year. I wonder if they were right.

No responses yet

Jul 28 2012

Feel the power of the dark side!

Published by under Technology

Rick Blaine:  "So how we doing tonight?"

Croupier: "A couple of thousand less than I thought there would be…….."


And why is that exactly?

Because yours truly just bought a Mac Book Pro with a Retina display!

After hearing Spike loft its praises-I decided to take the plunge-aided in part by the urgings of my sister and the fact that I have gotten the "Blue Screen of Death" on my old laptop twice this trip. And it took more than a little effort to get back to the old restore point.

So after all the years of decrying Mac's-now I are a member of the dark side. What is your bidding my master?

7 responses so far

Jul 18 2012

The cycle is in the middle

In the middle of a hectic work / travel schedule. Have a trip to elsewhere in Deutschland on the horizon, immediately followed by a trip back to the Whining States of America. Part business-part familial pilgrimage.

In the interim-between going back and forth to both work and the doctor-I got a new toy:

I finally got tired of my non smart, pre-paid,  German cell phone. Perhaps not the smartest idea I have ever had-especially since I hope to be on my way back to Asia in the next year and a half, but my I-phone will not be able to be unlocked till next winter. I miss my smart phone. ( I use the I-phone now as an American cell when back in the US and this one over here-since one way or another, I would have to pay ATT.)

As an I-Phone aficionado, it was a little hard to make "the switch"-but I find that on the whole I am liking the phone. For one thing-it was cheaper than a new I-phone ( when you included the service contract). Since European phones are sold unlocked-I can use it in my travels which is nice-especially when I go to Israel and back to Asia.

Things I like: The screen is bigger than the I-Phone and the image is just about the same as that of a I-POD with retina screen. I like being able to move files via Windows to the SD card. I like being able to change the SIM card easily. I have figured out how to replicate my apps-so I have most of the ones I used on the I-phone.

I think I-tunes has a better way to present Music-but as for Video-I call it for the Samsung. The other definite advantage of the Samsung is the thinness of the body.

Downside of the Samsung-you have to be careful not to scratch the screen. I bought a case with a flap that covers the screen and is insulated. Problem is-it folds the wrong way, in relation to the buttons that move me through the menus. I am getting used to it however.

Bottom line? I like it as much or more than my I-phone. Sad news for Apple-of which I am a shareholder. I'm still sold on the IPad though.

One response so far

Jan 16 2011

In the command center…….

Published by under Technology

I might be overdoing it-just a bit.

While I was working on the project which will come to fruition one way or another by mid week- I pushed back from the “L” shaped desk that the S.O. gave me-which is the heart of Far East Cynic HQ- to marvel at my set up:

Monitor connected to my desktop Dell 530-which is connected to two external hard drives and a printer as well as some kick ass speakers. ( Safety tip number one-always put the “video” library under ‘lock and key’).

To my left the lap top is set up so I can look at other things via the wonders of the wireless router.

To its left, the I-pad is propped up on its keyboard charging dock-also connected via wireless to the web.

Sitting in front of me are a Blackberry and an I-phone.

Plus I have a big desk phone with a great set up for handsĀ free speaker phone-for those annoyingly timed conference calls from our masters in DC.

I think we can…. officially ……call…….it…….. overkill ………………

5 responses so far

Jan 10 2011

It is a blessing

Published by under Freelancers,Technology

To be holed up inside the house because of this:

I needed the time to get caught up on this project. I spent most of the weekend holed up in my “man cave” writing draft after draft of a proposal and taking the occasional break to bang my head against the wall.

It is not that the work is that hard-but it is quite serious. In a lot of ways, the defense contracting business is similar to the world’s oldest profession. How to figure out how to get as much ass in your service-for the lowest possible price the market will bear.

Except, these are real people we are talking about here-and no matter how this turns out, real people are going to get screwed. People I know personally ( and possibly myself), and don’t deserve this kind of disrespect.

So this project weighs on me a lot. I know we have to get it right-and in a normal world we would have well over 60 days to so. With that kind of time this would be a relatively straightforward task and the weekends would be free.

But not our erstwhile task master. Who thinks its a good idea to staff a multi million dollar project in less than two weeks? I don’t-and I don’t know anyone else in the trenches who thinks it is either.

But such is the world we live in.

Snow keeps the phone from ringing-and that’s a good thing. Back to the salt mine……………

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