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Alan Oleski
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My final thoughts on the Ahmed story.

I've said many of these things in comments to other posts but to recap, as a life-long Maker, this story hit fundamentally at my core. Even now I seethe with rage just at the thought of what happened to Ahmed.

Like many here on G+, I was Ahmed. Hell, I still am Ahmed. I build gadgets. I also took mine to school to show my teachers and friends. I however, wasn't arrested. My teachers offered positive feedback and frequently, advice on improvements.

So what's the difference? Many say "Times have changed. You can't bring stuff like this to school anymore." Bullshit. School shootings (and bombings) in the US go back to the 1700s. Google it if you don't believe me. Hell, in my own high school, a boy brought a handgun to school, showed it off to a number of students that day, and then robbed the local music store after school, shooting the owner dead. Shit happens. Life doesn't come with a guaranteed safety clause.

No, the difference of 35 years is money.

When I was in school, teaching was a respected, reasonably paid profession. You actually had to have qualifications to become a teacher. Teachers were well rounded. In a pinch, the english teacher could readily cover for the science teacher who was out sick.

Today, teaching is a thankless, minimum-wage job. Schools are so broke and desperate for staff, they'll take anyone, qualified or not. So, when an ignorant english teacher who's only knowledge of electronics and "bombs" is her binge-watching of Jack Bauer on 24 sees a home-made clock, Ahmed's fate was a foregone conclusion.

The story hits another infuriating turn at this point, however. Ok, stupid teacher (and stupid principal) call in the Irving police. Police are trained to recognize bombs. They knew damn good and well from the first glance that Ahmed's gadget was NOT a bomb. So why didn't they tell the school officials "It's a clock. Send the kid back to class."

Do I need to mention another under-funded profession that has attracted the wrong candidates? Yeah. "Protect and Serve" my ass.

There is an upside to this story however. In less than 12 hours, the global Maker community rushed to Ahmed's side, making his plight headlines around the world. Not even the NRA has pulled off that kind of PR escalation! The message is clear - even the President of the US couldn't ignore - Makers are many. Makers are strong. Do not f*ck with us.

In this instance at least, Ahmed will be fine. Makers have got his back. But what about your kids? Your schools? Are they full of under-qualified teachers who think STEM is some sort of drug? It's your fault. It's time to open your damn wallet and start voting in favor of those school ballot initiatives.

Otherwise, it could very well be your brown-skinned kid in handcuffs next time.


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Finally got this framed.

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Reposting to reiterate:

Always install your OS manually. Don't trust the OEM's version.
Lenovo pre-installs a web proxy that injects ads. It MITMs HTTPS traffic by installing its own trusted root certificate.

Always install your OS manually. Don't trust the OEM's version.

EDIT:  Holy shit, apparently it's the same key for all installs:

(The private key is necessarily present on the machine. So basically if the key is not public already it will be shortly, and anyone will be able to spoof any web site to Lenovo users.)

EDIT2: Uninstalling the app does NOT remove the certificate.

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Google talk is going away.

Another open service being replaced by one behind locked doors.

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Anyone using GnuPG over here?

This guy almost single-handedly maintains GPG and he's tired of not getting donations

Considering a small donation for a very important piece of software seems only reasonable, no?

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I am sympathetic to the underlying argument here, but the core of Lanier's solution is perfectly literal Luddism. At the dawn of industrialization, automated looms drove mass unemployment. And so the framebreakers -- people who had once been employed as weavers, but who no longer had a job -- broke up the machines they blamed for their unemployment. 

Never mind that creation of cloth handicrafts was an awful thing to be forced to do: the fact that it had to be done, and that people had to be forced to do it, was the reason the incipient framebreakers were able to subsist at all. In a choice between automation and their livelihood, we will each choose our livelihood. 

But we do not have to choose.

The catastrophe that faced the framebreakers, and the catastrophe that faces us, isn't caused by automation. Since the 1980s, the American companies that once employed the blue-collar middle class have been (a) shedding workers, (b) increasing production, and (c) failing to automate. That persistent growht in production? It's not capital investment. It's caused by employers shedding waste while disclaiming their duty toward their employees.

The more responsible capitalism of the 1950s and 1960s wasn't caused by technological poverty. And the solution is not to throw away our technological progress, wasting entire lives on creating sufficient busywork to justify wages -- it wouldn't work anyway, as first-world busywork cannot sustain first-world standards of living. 

If there's a second automation revolution coming, the solution is to balance the supply of labor against demand for it, not to increase the supply of worthless labor until it justifies the wages we pay for it.

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Greatest picture I've seen in a long time. Not because of the quality (DUH), not because of that stupid fisheye, but for one simple fact:


Bring. It. On.
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