darkoshi: (Default)
Every once in a while I come across an article like Hidden Animal Fats which indicates that ingredients like glycerin or stearic acid are typically non-vegan. Those 2 ingredients and their derivatives are quite common, and I've been of the belief that they were "probably vegan/ok". So reading an article like that, and thinking that I've been buying and ingesting non-vegan things, is surprising and disappointing.

Then I find a page like Vegetarian Journal's Guide To Food Ingredients which indicates that both of those are typically vegan. I tend to trust that organization's information. For the purposes of their article, they contacted several of the large companies which produce the ingredients for commercial use, which gives it more credence. So then I breathe a sigh of relief.

But there are some items the VRG lists as "typically non-vegetarian", which I didn't expect. Palmitic, Oleic, and Myristic acids. Even modified food starch may be non-vegetarian, due to oleic acid being used in the processing.

That bone char is often used in the production of white sugar, I was aware. (I buy unbleached organic sugar rather than white sugar, but I don't avoid items which have sugar as an ingredient, as that would be too limiting.) But it never occurred to me that activated carbon/charcoal might also come from bone. That may be in my water filters. I'll have to find out.

Wait. The VRG page says that activated charcoal is vegan... oh, I guess that only refers to the kind which is intended for ingestion. The VRG page says that the activated carbon which is used in filters may be non-vegetarian, from bones.

Update:
This page about PUR water filters indicates that the activated carbon in the filters is made from coconut shells. (I've read that about Brita filters too). However, the page has a disclaimer at the bottom: "This post was created as part of my collaboration with PUR. As always, all of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas in this post are my own. I am solely responsible for the content."
So, as it's not an official statement by the company, I've contacted PUR's customer support for verification.

Update #2:
PUR responded to my query: "All of our PUR filters are made from Carbon derived from coconut husks."

flight skills

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017 11:39 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Walking back from my lunch break, I passed a group of 7 crows cawing and flitting between trees.

Next, I came across a group of vultures standing together in a group on the grass. At first glance, they looked like black crows too. I tried not to look at them very directly, as doing so generally scares them away. But I got out my cell phone and took a furtive photo.



A few of the vultures flew upwards and bumped into the side of the building behind them before landing back on the ground. Huh? A couple more did the same thing, and I wondered what were they doing. Then I realized... they were all younglings, and were frightened of me and trying to fly up onto the top of the building. But their flying skills aren't good enough yet to fly straight up 20 feet like that. I walked away, not to scare them further, poor things.

It reminded me of a day last week when I walked right past a single young vulture that was sitting on a railing, not even noticing it until the last moment, as I had just walked out of the building into the sunshine.


A few days ago I was reading about vines... ah yes, to see if my mom was correct that letting them grow up the pine tree trunks can hurt the trees. While doing that, I found out the name of one of the vines that grows in my yard: Virginia Creeper. It has little suckers on its tendrils that helps it climb, and 5 leaflets in each compound leaf.

Earlier today while walking, I saw a similar looking plant with leaflets of 3... and remembered that rhyme, "leaves of three, let them be". I wondered if it was poison ivy. It looks so innocuous; I walk by it nearly every day. In lieu of touching the leaves to find out, I did a web search on my cell phone to find some images of poison ivy, and sure enough, that is what it was. Now I know what it looks like. For the moment, anyway.


darkoshi: (Default)
Note to self: If you want to put pasta into that soup or stew that you're cooking, first pre-boil the pasta. Don't put dry pasta into the soup. Even if it may have worked well in the past, now you'll likely end up with it stuck and burnt to the bottom of the pot.

Remember the orzo incident? It's not only orzo. It's the macaroni too. (But what about noodly noodles? Surely they wouldn't sink and stick?)

solar power

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 11:05 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Our electric company has a program where you can either buy or rent solar panels which are set up out in the countryside (rather than on your roof). They take care of all the setup and maintenance. As I want to support clean renewable energy, it sounds like a great thing for me to do. But after reading the details about the program, I have a nagging feeling that it sounds too good to be true.

Especially the part in the FAQ about renting panels, which says "Monthly credits are expected to be greater than monthly fees providing for instant saving."
I wonder if the panels provide more power when they are new, so that to begin with, the credits might exceed the fees, but in later years the reverse would be true?

Do any of you have experience, or know someone with experience, in these type of programs?

The electric company also has a rooftop solar program. Each customer can only participate in one of the programs, not both. I've seen several houses with solar panels on their roofs. My house would likely be a good candidate for that too, as it gets a good amount of sunshine. But the idea of putting solar panels on my roof worries me in that
- the panels would interfere with getting the shingles replaced, whenever the shingles eventually need to be replaced (although maybe they lengthen the life of the shingles underneath them, as the shingles would be less exposed?)
- if someone needs to walk on my roof for something (cleaning gutters, fixing leaks, trimming tree branches), the panels would be in the way
- if not installed well, they might cause roof leaks?

cashews and olives

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 10:46 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
I've discovered something that's even better than the dried olives I mentioned here: those same dried olives eaten together with salted cashews! Who would have thought that eating something oily and salty together with something else oily and salty would be a thing? Maybe that's the appeal of cheese and olive appetizer plates.

On a side-note, I had tried some unsalted dried olives, and they were one of the most unpalatable things ever. What a difference some salt can make.

howdy

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 10:51 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
amusing realization: I don't know them well enough for it to be appropriate to say "Hi there, stranger!" to them.

80s

Sunday, July 9th, 2017 01:58 am
darkoshi: (Default)
Am just now watching a CNN series on the 1980s.

The first part they showed was about MTV. I didn't know that MTV refused to play black artists in the beginning. Back then we were living in Germany, and the only American channel we got to watch was AFN, the Armed Forces Network. I didn't get to watch MTV until 1985 or later, when we were back in the U.S. But nonetheless, it seems like nearly all the music that was popular in the 80s is among my favorite music, even without me having seen the videos for those first years.

There was a segment about the space shuttles and the Challenger disaster on Jan 28, 1986.

I had a memory of being at home, listening to my radio in my bedroom, and hearing about the Challenger accident on the radio... as if I was hearing it live*, or right after it had happened. The apartment/bedroom of my memory matches the year, 1986. Both the year before and the year after, I lived in other places. So the memory must be at least partially true.

But I just looked it up, and the accident was on a Tuesday, at 11:39am in the same time zone as I was. So surely I would have been at school when it happened. I don't remember hearing about it at school though. If I was home that day, what could the reason have been? Even if the school day ended fairly early, it wouldn't have been that early. So surely I must have been at school, gotten home at the normal time, and then heard about it on the radio after the fact. Unless we had a half-day for some reason...

Surely if I had been home at the time of the launch, I would have been watching it on TV, not listening on the radio? Or were space shuttle launches not televised live back then? ...

When a national disaster unfolded live in 1986
If you were an American kid in 1986, you probably remember exactly where you were: That's because so many classrooms were watching the shuttle launch live via a special NASA satellite feed to showcase what would have been the first American teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe.


No, I don't remember watching it live in school. Gah, no way to verify my patchy memories.

*I do think it likely that I listened to the launch live, probably on PBS, because I was into astronomy and NASA and things like that. Maybe we didn't get CNN at the time, or maybe I didn't know it was being televised too. I remember listening to other launch attempts on the radio, including aborted ones. (But as this post shows, I no longer trust such old memories. Maybe I only heard replays, not live broadasts?)

This morning I was lying in bed trying to figure out how long ago Qiao bought his house - was it 2 or 3 years ago? And how long ago was his accident? 2011 or 2012? And when was my brother living in my house? etc., etc. All that only within the last 7 years or so, and I'm already getting it all mixed up in my mind. At least now I have ways of looking up what happened when in my life. But not for 1986. I did occasionally write in a diary back then, but not about the space shuttle.

Update (7/10): I think I figured out why I was not at school that day. According to historical weather sources, it was a very cold day. In my area, it was under 20 degrees until 9am, and didn't go above freezing until the afternoon. Such weather is not usual in the South, and school was probably cancelled to keep kids from having to walk to school or wait for the school buses in such cold.
darkoshi: (Default)
Back in high school, we had to choose a scene from Macbeth, memorize it, and later recite it to the class. I chose one of the shortest scenes I could find, because, while I was good at remembering things, I wasn't particularly good at memorizing long strings of words.

I'm not sure if I ever recited it to the class; as much as I dreaded having to speak in front of the class, I usually ended up not having to do so. I never volunteered to go first (or 2nd or 3rd, or ever), and so the class usually ran out of time before getting to me. (Though in retrospect it would have been good to have more practice at public speaking. And it probably was a tiny bit of a let-down, getting all worked up at having to speak, and then not having to speak after all.)

As with the few other things I've memorized, I remembered it for a long time, because every so often I would recite it to myself. I didn't remember it perfectly - over time, I may have swapped in some wrong words here and there - but could still recite most of it.

Lately I had noticed that I could hardly remember any of it, except the first line. But this week at work, while standing at my desk, for some reason I started reciting it in my mind, and I remembered the whole thing again! The words flowed without a break.

Weird.*

It's the part with the witches talking, Act 3 Scene 5, that starts with "How did you dare to trade and traffic with Macbeth in riddles and affairs of death..."

But actually, reading that link, it turns out that in the intervening years, I had completely forgotten the 2nd half of it. I thought it ended with "thither he will come to [meet] his destiny". But I used to have the rest memorized too. "I am for the air" ... "my little spirit, see, Sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me." Yep, I liked those parts!

Heh. And now I learn that the scene I memorized probably wasn't even written by Shakespeare. The above link describes the scene as "un-Shakespearean". This page says: "Some literary critics believe that these [sic] scene is way too hokey to be Shakespeare's work..."

Heh, hokey! You stick your left foot in, you stick your left foot out, you do the hokey-pokey and you shake it all about!

And that's another example of me remembering something, but not remembering it quite right.

*It's like how sometimes people's names are easy to recall, and sometimes not.
darkoshi: (Default)
(Following up on this post)

I haven't seen the Breyer's non-dairy flavors so far in the stores I've been to.

But I have tried 2 of the new Ben & Jerry's non-dairy flavors - "Coconut Seven Layer Bar" and "Caramel Almond Brittle". Both are very good.

Kroger even sells their own dairy-free frozen almond dessert now, under the "Simple Truth" brand. They have Vanilla, Sea Salt Caramel, "Butter" Pecan, and Chocolate flavors, for only $3.29/pint each. I really like the Vanilla - it has a light frosty texture similar to what used to be called "ice milk". The caramel one is too sweet for my taste (thought it's fine for milk-shakes). I haven't tasted the others yet.

(More) Vegan Ice Creams - even Häagen-Dazs has non-dairy now too!

Note to self: Check the Häagen-Dazs the next time I'm at Target.

hiring qualifications

Saturday, July 1st, 2017 12:46 am
darkoshi: (Default)
note to self:

Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified - apparently, "required qualifications" aren't always really required. Did you know that? I didn't know that.

non-binary

Monday, June 26th, 2017 12:00 am
darkoshi: (Default)
Several news articles were posted to the Yahoo Androgynes list recently about legislative progress on allowing people to get identification documents that specify their gender as "non-binary".

California moves closer to recognizing third gender - ... The state Senate passed a bill that would allow Californians to choose gender non-binary for identifying documents like drivers licenses and birth certificates...

Oregon becomes first state to allow nonbinary on drivers license - ... Beginning July 1, Oregonians will be able to choose "X" for sex Instead of "F" or "M" on their licenses and identification cards...

D.C. to allow gender-neutral driver’s licenses - At the direction of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the city’s Department of Motor Vehicles will begin allowing residents to choose a gender-neutral “X” identifier on driver’s licenses and other city identification documents on June 26. ...
on the same day that six members of the D.C. City Council introduced a bill that would enact the gender neutral I.D. policy proposed by the mayor administratively into city law. ...


Activist vying for non-binary birth certificate taking N.L. to court

While reading the first 2 articles, I wondered if it's possible that in the not-too-distant future, I could even get a driver's license here in South Carolina which says non-binary. It seems quite unlikely to happen here, but then again, that's what I thought about gay marriage.

But with the Republicans in control of the federal government, it seems likely that there will be some kind of backlash first. Like a "defense of gender act" which would make it illegal for states to issue IDs with non-binary markers.

When the second article mentioned the California legislation again, it suddenly hit me. I was born in California. If the bill passes, I could conceivably get my birth certificate updated. !!! I wouldn't have to wait for SC to pass such a bill, at least not for my BC.

But then that might present other difficulties. Like, "You can't renew your driver's license (or sign up for XYZ), because we only allow M and F, and your BC says X, which isn't a valid value."

I wonder how non-binary gender IDs will affect things that are segregated into M and F. Obviously, there's the bathroom thing... if a state like NC has a law saying that you have to use the restroom which matches the marker on your DL, and your marker is X, can they legally keep you from using both restrooms? And what about prisons... For a non-binary person who is convicted of a crime, how will they decided whether to send them to a men's or women's penitentiary?

For that matter, what about selective service? That will be a can of worms. Suppose that anyone could get out of the draft by changing their gender marker to X or F, because only males are required to sign up? (I'm against the draft and selective service in the first place - I don't think anyone should be required to join the military, regardless of their sex or gender.) I imagine that they'll eventually change the selective service rules to require everyone to sign up, regardless of gender.

Another problem - what about sporting competitions? Will non-binary people not be allowed to compete in men's or women's competitions? But that's already an issue for trans athletes, even without considering non-binary people.

plumbing washers

Friday, June 23rd, 2017 09:36 am
darkoshi: (Default)
If you have any kind of filters or adapters on your faucets, especially in the kitchen, check the rubber washers once in a while. While replacing the filter unit on my kitchen sink, even though it hadn't been leaking, I discovered the old washer had completely disintegrated, leaving behind nothing but black goo. That's not something I want in my drinking water.

In the past, I've encoutered washers partially disintegrated, but I've never seen one completely gone to goo, like this one was.
darkoshi: (Default)
A while back while squirting toothpaste onto my toothbrush, a tiny bit of it splashed into my eye (don't ask me how). It burned for a moment, then was ok.

A few weeks ago, while filing away some papers, the corner of one sheet of paper hit my eyeball (don't ask me how). It hurt like hell. Worrying that I've got a severe injury always makes it worse, too. I kept thinking that my eyeball must have gotten a paper-cut. After some minutes, I was able to look in a mirror (with difficulty) to verify there was (probably) no shard of paper still stuck in there. The eye kept tearing up, so I had to press a washcloth against it for a couple of hours to soak up the tears, as well as to block the ambient light which was painfully bright.

The incident with my eye happened 40 minutes before a scheduled Spectrum appointment, for my intermittent connectivity problem (which since that last appointment has not recurred, hurrah!) That was the 4th appointment for the same problem; the 3rd time was not the charm. I didn't want to cancel the appointment. So when the tech came, and for most of the time he was here, I kept holding the washcloth against my eye. The tech was unperturbed.

After a few hours the pain was mostly gone and my vision seemed normal. For the next few days, the eye ached only slightly and sporadically. Then it felt completely normal again.

Last week, toothpaste accidentally spritzed into my eye again. This time, it hurt quite bad, and continued to hurt badly for 10 to 15 minutes even after rinsing out my eye as well as I could. It was the same eye which had the paper-cut. Maybe the cut wasn't completely healed after all, and the toothpaste irritated it again. This in spite of it being the wintergreen-flavored toothpaste which is fairly mild. The peppermint and spearmint flavors are too strong for me; they make my mouth burn.

One of the pages I found while searching on "toothpaste in eye" mentioned that most toothpastes shouldn't be dangerous to the eye... except perhaps if it's one of the whitening kinds with silica, as those are more abrasive. I thought to myself, well I know mine doesn't have silica. I purposely don't buy that kind, because their whitening power comes from sanding off the outer layer of tooth enamel. I'm trying to increase my amount of tooth enamel, not decrease it.

But yesterday I happened to look at the ingredient list on the toothpaste tube. Surprisingly, the main inactive ingredient after water was "hydrated silica". I could have sworn it used to be calcium carbonate. Did they change the ingredients?

Then I remembered that I have a small box full of empty toothpaste tubes. They can't be put with the regular recyclables, but there's a place - TerraCycle that takes them for recycling, if I ever accumulate enough of them to make it worthwhile to send them.

So I checked the box, and found an older tube, which indeed has a slightly different ingredient list. Both the old and new tubes mention "whitening" on the front, but somehow I'd never paid attention to that.

(OLD) Inactive ingredients: glycerin, water, calcium carbonate, hydrated silica, xylitol, carrageenan, natural flavor (wintergreen oil and other natural flavor), sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium bicarbonate, zinc citrate.

(NEW) Inactive ingredients: water, hydrated silica, sorbitol, xylitol, glycerin, natural flavor (wintergreen oil and other natural flavor), sodium lauryl sulfate, zinc citrate, xanthan gum, titanium dioxide, carrageenan.


The Tom's of Maine (my toothpaste brand) website says:
In our Antiplaque Tartar Control & Whitening flavors, the hydrated silica we use is milled to produce a slightly larger particle size (an average particle size of 10 microns, versus 8 microns, on average, in our children's and Wintermint flavors). This makes it a better cleaner, so that it can help to remove stains that have formed on teeth.


So at least the silica in my toothpaste is small-sized. If it were only that, I might continue using it. But with this new propensity for splashing into my eye, I'll be looking for an alternative. (Is it unreasonable to think that brushing one's teeth or doing paperwork shouldn't require wearing safety goggles?) Now when I brush my teeth, I've started holding the tube at arm's length and pointing it away from me.

All About Whitening Toothpastes - has a chart comparing the abrasiveness of different brands of toothpaste.
Setting the record straight about toothpaste abrasivity - says there's no difference in tooth-wear, as long as the toothpaste is under 250 RDA. I don't quite believe that.

total solar eclipse!

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 08:27 am
darkoshi: (Default)
The path of the total solar eclipse that will happen on August 21 includes Columbia, SC, where I live!

The total eclipse path in SC also includes Greenville and Charleston, two of the other largest cities/towns in the state.

This NASA map shows more details, and the area that will get a 90% eclipse is pretty big. I imagine 90% will be pretty stunning to see, too. But it may not be, because we had a partial eclipse before which was nearly unnoticeable. A small amount of sun is still very bright.

I hope it won't be cloudy here on that day.

korean island walk

Saturday, June 17th, 2017 03:35 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
This is so cute.

Very good dog crashes every street view shot of this South Korean island

If you explore the map, the island itself is lovely too, beautiful ocean views, fields, a wooded path with interesting things along the way... there's a cool silvery monument in one spot along the path. I haven't found a way to link directly to that location. But (looking at the overview map), it is right near where the path along the east side of the island forks in the middle.

The island is called Jukdo.

(After more wandering along the map-path) This island is like a video game! One page I read said the island has only 3 families; another page said it had 2 inhabitants. And that the island has no running water, that rainwater must be collected, or it must be brought over from the nearby larger island of Ulleung.

But judging by the map-photos, it must be a somewhat popular tourist destination. There is a small building at the southern loop of the path, which appears to have bathrooms. There's a wood fence along the path, with many little rest/overlook areas and picnic tables/benches. There's another building with signs in front, which may be a restaurant. There are signs/markers along the path (in Korean, so I don't know what they say).

Ah, now I feel I must post some screenshots after all.






darkoshi: (Default)
I had never heard about this before. The first piece on it which I read this evening left me thinking it must be a fake story. But unfortunately, like most things about human history, it's not fake.

Tulsa, 1921 - 1921 article by Walter White for The Nation

TULSA RACE RIOT - Oklahoma Historical Society

A Report by the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 - a very detailed report from 2001, with photos, which I haven't had time to read.

Wikipedia article - Summary:
The Tulsa race riot, or Tulsa race riot of 1921, occurred between May 31–June 1, 1921, when a white mob started attacking residents and businesses of the African-American community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in what is considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in the history of the United States. The attack, carried out on the ground and by air, destroyed more than 35 blocks of the district, at the time the wealthiest black community in the nation. More than 800 people were admitted to hospitals and more than 6,000 black residents were arrested and detained, many for several days. The Oklahoma Bureau of Vital Statistics officially recorded 39 dead, but the American Red Cross estimated 300, a number supported by historians since then.
darkoshi: (Default)
My old phone was a Motorola Droid X2, running Android Gingerbread.
My new phone is a Moto G4 Play, running Android Marshmallow.

In general, I really like the new phone. But I wasn't expecting to lose features by getting a newer phone. It's like upgrading Firefox to a new version, and having to find add-ons to add back functionality that was removed in the new version.

So far, these are the things I've found that my old phone had, which are lacking on the new phone.

An LED notification light, which would periodically blink to indicate any voicemails or texts that had been received. From what I've read, some phones still have LED notification lights, but many new ones don't.

The ability to add Contacts to a local phone account (rather than to a Google account), without having to first install an app to provide that functionality. From what I've read, some phones have this built in, but some don't.

The ability to add a custom phone type label, when adding a phone number to a Contact, without having to first install an app to provide that functionality. Some things I've read indicated this was a problem already before Froyo (but it was working ok for me on Gingerbread). Some things I've read indicate this is only a problem on certain types of accounts - the functionality may be there for Google accounts, but not for local accounts. But on my old phone, it worked for local accounts.
Addendum... after installing the Contact Editor app, by dmfs, to add back the custom label functionality, it started working via the regular Contact add screen too - even after uninstalling the app. So I don't know what is up with this issue.

The ability to export contacts to a VCF file in VCARD version 3.0, which included the custom phone type labels. My Marshmallow phone exports it in VCARD version 2.1 instead, which omits the custom phone type labels. My new phone can import contacts from a 3.0 VCARD file, and displays the custom phone type labels fine. But it doesn't include the custom labels when exporting the contacts - even after the above fix so that custom labels can be added and edited.

A minor thing, but the built-in ringtones and notification sounds on the new phone aren't nearly as cool as they were on my old phone. But I was able to copy the ones I liked best over to the new phone.

Another minor thing, but my old phone had an option to display all apps that I had downloaded/installed (as opposed to the built-in apps). On the new phone, the built-in and downloaded apps are all displayed together, so it may be harder to find a particular one, if I don't remember its name, and I didn't add it to a homescreen. I guess I'll create my own folder and put shortcuts to my downloaded apps in there.

opera browser

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017 02:44 am
darkoshi: (Default)
I was getting ready to install one of the Opera browsers on my phone, but I noticed that their Google Play pages say "contains ads" - even though the browser itself supposedly contains ad-blockers. So where do the ads get displayed? Do they block the normal ads and inject their own instead?

The app details mention: Opera Mini may show ads from Facebook. To learn more, see https://m.facebook.com/ads/ad_choices
But that link results in a Facebook page with message "The page you requested was not found."

I did a web search and didn't find more info on that, but found this (from July 2016): Opera browser sold to a Chinese consortium for $600 million.
That is news to me.

It reminded me of something else I read recently that surprised me too. I thought that Lenovo was a part of IBM, and that IBM was still a PC/laptop manufacturer. But IBM sold "off its personal computer (ThinkPad/ThinkCentre) and x86-based server businesses to Lenovo (2005 and 2014, respectively)". And Lenovo "is a Chinese multinational technology company with headquarters in Beijing, China."

iTunes and DRM

Sunday, June 4th, 2017 11:21 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
I finally managed to buy that song I wanted from iTunes.

I never want to go through that much trouble to buy a song again, even if, like this one, IAMX's I Come With Knives, I really want to support the artist for making such a wonderful song and video. Maybe, if an MP3 of the song had been available to purchase on the band's website, or on Amazon, it wouldn't have taken me over 4 years to buy it.

The band's website only has the full album available, and only as a CD, not MP3s. Some of the other albums are available as MP3s, but not that one. Likewise, Amazon only has the full album on CD. The MP3 version seems to be a single instead, as it only has 4 songs, of which 3 are different versions of "Unified Field". The only place I found the song I wanted was on iTunes.

The plus of it was that the iTunes price was in GBP, not dollars. So I got to use up some of that GBP balance I still had left over on my PayPal account.

The 2 TV show episodes that I wanted to buy are also priced in GBP, which would have been another plus. But after doing some research, it seems that if I bought them, they'd be in MV4 format, which I'd only be able to play on that desktop computer from inside iTunes. Because of the DRM, I wouldn't be able to play them on my normal laptop (without iTunes), nor even on the TV (no, that computer doesn't have an HDMI port). So I won't be buying them after all. There's only so much I'm willing to put up with. Sure, maybe I could use some software to strip out the DRM from the files in order to play them on my other devices without iTunes, but that would defeat the whole point of buying them legally.
darkoshi: (Default)
This page on the Apple.com site: Government Information Requests
states: In the second half of 2016, Apple received between 5,750 and 5,999 National Security Orders.

Apple's Transparency Reports - contain details on the various customer information requests received by Apple from 2013 through 2016. The number of national security orders received by Apple increased from less than 500 in 2013, to between 8500 and 9000 in 2016.

See below for the difference between "National Security Orders/Requests" versus National Security Letters.

In this prior post, I linked to another article which stated: the FBI issued nearly 13,000 NSLs in 2015 alone. But that number must have been way under-estimated. Indeed, one of the below articles indicates that over 48,000 NSLs were sent in 2015.

A Decade-Old Gag Order, Lifted (November 2015):
relying on changes made by the Patriot Act, the FBI began issuing hundreds of NSLs demanding credit reports, banking information, or records relating to Internet activity. Some of the NSLs sought information about terrorism suspects, but most sought information about people who were one, two, three, or more degrees removed from anyone suspected of having done anything wrong. According to the Justice Department’s inspector general, the FBI issued a staggering 143,074 NSLs between 2003 and 2005. And every NSL was accompanied by a categorical and permanent gag order.


That link and this one: Doe v. Holder describe a decade-long court battle to get a single gag order lifted. It mentions some changes made to the laws regarding the gag orders during that time, but I'm not clear on the final outcome. I assume that most other NSL recipients are still under similar gag orders which haven't been changed.


Newly published FBI request shines light on National Security Letters (November 2015):

In 2007, the Office of the Inspector General reported that the FBI issued approximately 40,000 to 60,000 letters per year. President Obama’s Intelligence Review Group reported more recently in 2013 that the government issued an average of nearly 60 NSLs per day.
..
Companies can only report NSLs in bands of 1,000, if they're separated from FISA court order requests, or in bands of 250 if reported as a broader "national security request."


The "national security orders" referenced on the Apple.com page must be the broader category, including FISA requests in addition to NSLs, as they are listed in bands of 250. But the last link below indicates there are less than 2000 FISA request per year, so that doesn't explain the large discrepancy in numbers.

Even the above article implies that in 2013, a total of 365*60 = 25,550 NSLs were issued, while twice as many were issued 6 years prior. I doubt the number would have decreased that much over time, if there were no legal changes governing the issuance of the requests.

US foreign intelligence court did not deny any surveillance requests last year :
The court received 1,457 requests last year [in 2015] on behalf of the National Security Agency and the FBI for authority to intercept communications, including email and phone calls. ... The court did not reject any of the applications in whole or in part, the memo showed.

The total represented a slight uptick from 2014, when the court received 1,379 applications and rejected none.
..
The memo also stated that 48,642 national security letter (NSL) requests were made in 2015 by the FBI.
..
The majority of NSL requests, 31,863, made in 2015 sought information on foreigners, regarding a total of 2,053 individuals, the memo stated.

The FBI made 9,418 requests for national security letters in 2015 for information about US citizens and legal immigrants, regarding a total of 3,746 individuals, it showed.

The FBI also made 7,361 NSL requests for only “subscriber information”, typically names, addresses and billing records, of Americans and foreigners regarding 3,347 different people.