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How To Beat Online Price Discrimination

Alain Williams Time for a Firefox plugin ? (144 comments)

How difficult would it be for a firefox plugin to alter HTML headers like HTTP_USER_AGENT & HTTP_REFERER to convince the sales site that you are a poor student ? The on-line sites will howl - but if it is OK for them to profile to charge me more, then I believe that it is OK for me to game them.

11 hours ago

Obama Administration Argues For Backdoors In Personal Electronics

Alain Williams Is this a double bluff ? (575 comments)

The spooks get various government loudmouths complain how the current adoption of better device security is only helping terrorists/drug-dealers/paedophiles/... and so please, pretty please, do not do it. The result is that those concerned about privacy & the tech-savvy crowd think ''f**k you - we now have our privacy back''.

The reality is that the NSA/GCHQ/... have the current technologies sussed/back-doored but are scared shitless that something better will be adopted. So: they convince us all that we have them on the back foot and so do not implement anything better.

Whatever the truth of the matter: we MUST continue to implement ever better security on all our devices - complacency is our enemy!

about three weeks ago

Comcast Allegedly Asking Customers to Stop Using Tor

Alain Williams Re:why? Better for Comcast to not know (418 comments)

This raises the question of why Comcast would care.

Excellent question. There are a few things that an ISP can reasonably complain to a customer about:

* Excess use of bandwidth (I am not going to discuss what 'too much' is)

* Loss of IP address reputation, by this I mean getting their IP range blacklisted by spamming, etc

* Using up too much of their admin time. This might include dealing with copyright/DMCA type requests (again not interested here in rights/wrongs)

So, 2 reasons for wanting to know (roughly) what content a customer is moving. But these go away with TOR since the TOR IP addresses have nothing to do with the ISP, so they should not care. So what other reasons are there ?

* Requests from FBI/NSA/... that they comply with, willingly or otherwise

* Want to know what a customer is doing so that they can profile them to better monitise the customer (eg sell more targetted adverts)

Anything else ?

about a month ago

Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

Alain Williams James Clapper (499 comments)

So why was he not fired when he was found to have lied under oath to congress ?

about a month and a half ago

MetaFilter Founder Says Vacation Firm Forged Court Docs To Scotch Review

Alain Williams Re:This was not done by Sundance Vacations ... (116 comments)

And yet, a corporation is a person.

True, that is so that laws of property & similar can be made to apply to corporations, ie so that they can own things, pay taxes, .... However: a coproation does not have arms & legs so it cannot write documents, send emails, etc. These things have to be done by people on behalf of the company, typically these are employees. It is these people who should be made to be held responsible for what they have done with their arms & legs.

about 2 months ago

MetaFilter Founder Says Vacation Firm Forged Court Docs To Scotch Review

Alain Williams This was not done by Sundance Vacations ... (116 comments)

Sundance Vacations is a company/corporation, as such it cannot do things. It is individuals who do things on behalf of company. This is important. The court is going to be very pissed off with forged court orders being used. They should prosecute the individuals who did this forgery and fine them personally and massively or even better put then in jail.

If Sundance Vacations is made to pay a fine, then this will be seen as part of the cost of doing business. The criminals who did this will not really suffer much and just be more careful the next time that they want to threaten someone. If the individuals have to pay the penalty then hopefully this will stop this ever hppening again - not only at Sundance Vacations but at other corporations that might think of doing this.

There is not enough personal liability within corporations for criminal actions with the result that crooks try all sorts of things knowing that at the very worst they could lose their job and have to find another. If individuals have to pay the penalty (money and/or jail) this sort of thing would be less likely and we would all be better off.

about 2 months ago

Feynman Lectures Released Free Online

Alain Williams Re:He dead (70 comments)

As will all of us be - sooner or later

about 2 months ago

DoT Proposes Mandating Vehicle-To-Vehicle Communications

Alain Williams I thought that ... (261 comments)

talking on a mobile 'phone while driving was supposed to be dangerous ... so now we will all have to do it ???

about 2 months ago

TechCentral Scams Call Center Scammers

Alain Williams Use $deity to hit them (251 comments)

The trouble is how to hit back at them. Normally the most that you can do is to waste their time & phone bill -- but your time is more precious than that. I wanted to try to get some of them to stop scamming and, to a limited extent, succeeded.

I had a phone call from one of these crooks claiming to be from Microsoft security center trying to tell me about a problem on my MS Windows machine (I run 100% Linux). After a few seconds I interrupted him and asked him if he was a religious man. He was puzzled and, after a couple of prompts, said 'yes'.

I told him that I was worried about his eternal soul ending up burning in the fires of hell because he was trying to steal money from people while he was alive. I asked if it was really worth it spending billions of years burning in hell for the sake of making some money in the few short years that he is alive. None of us is alive for many years compared to the billions of years in heaven or hell after we die.

I asked him to think about it before he went to sleep tonight. Where did he want to spend eternity ? Should he be doing the job that he is doing ? Is it worth it ? How will he be judged by God ? He was by now sounding a very different man from the one who started the 'phone call a few minutes earlier. Thanked me for being concerned about him. The call continued for another minute or so, me laying the eternity bit on very thick. Him getting quieter, before quietly thanking me again before the call ended.

I don't know what long term effect this will have on him, but hopefully he will decide that he ought to get another job. I did this a few times, some just laughed, then I got bored with the game.

about 2 months ago

Munich Council Say Talk of LiMux Demise Is Greatly Exaggerated

Alain Williams Re:LibreOffice (190 comments)

Any change to the document would change these bullets.

There are still small compatibility problems.

Yes: MS-Office/Word still has compatability problems with OpenOffice.

Why do people always complain that free s/ware is incompatible with proprietary ones ? OK: in this case he saved as a .docx - mistake, only use document formats that are properly defined, eg .odf - you will still find that MS Word will not import 100% -- in that case where is the problem: MS-Word or Open/Libre-Office ?

about a month ago

BBC and FACT Shut Down Doctor Who Fansite

Alain Williams Here is the site (186 comments) -- however, the domain is being transferred so the content might not stay there for long. At the time of writing (23 Aug 16.45 BST) there is roughly the story above and some chats at, and whois shows the domain still owned byJonathan Carlyle .

No real indication why it was taken down ... talking about Dr Who cannot be a problem. Was there copyrighted material hosted ?

about 2 months ago

Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars

Alain Williams Legal challenges (276 comments)

Expect all sorts of (spurious) legal challenges from the motor industry ... they won't want their business badly dented.

about 2 months ago

Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft

Alain Williams Re:Popularity effects & user perception (579 comments)

As a smaller organisation a better strategy for you would be to install free s/ware on machines where it can do the job as well, eg: firefox instead of IE; thunderbird for outlook (depending on what you do for calendaring); LibreOffice instead of MS Office; ... Most (say 80%) user's requirements are simple and free stuff will work well for them. When a user's PC dies, you look to see what they are using - if it is all free s/ware you replace their box with one running a free OS; if not then you give them one running MS Windows or OS x

about 2 months ago

Research Unveils Improved Method To Let Computers Know You Are Human

Alain Williams Re:Not so good if you are blind (91 comments)

More to the point the web site needs to comply with disability legislation. In the UK blind/partially-sighted people must, by law, be able to use the web site. This is one of the advantages of CSS - you can keep the site clean so that it works well with a screen reader. In theory a web site (owner) can be prosecuted for disciminating against people who have sight problems, in practice this does not happen very often.

So: all the bot would need to do is to claim to be blind and so avoid the game playing CAPTCHA.

about 2 months ago

Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft

Alain Williams Popularity effects & user perception (579 comments)

Reading TFA I suspect that the sorts of problems are:

  • * Interoperability with third parties. Eg document exchange. In a world where most others use MS software then there will be issues, moving to ODF will help, but not eliminate all issues -- incompatabilities between the way that MS and Open/Libre Office interpret the spec will remain. People will still use other formats where Open equivalents may not exist - eg CAD
  • * Munich have gone out on their own, few are following their lead. They thus have to pay the first implementor's penalty. Those who follow will find things easier and cheaper.
  • * Hardware devices (eg mobile phones). Although many of these might have Linux as the base, the vendor will make sure that it works with MS products and not worry about Linux equivalents
  • * Users are using something that is new and will blame problems on it. This time they have a name ''Linux'' - this becomes perceived as the root of all evil.
  • * Similar problems would have happened with a roll out of a new MS system and these problems would just be accepted as teething problems of a new system. But because Munich is doing something different by having software running on Linux systems this will be seen as the cause of it and thus blamed, with a belief that return to MS will fix all the problems. It will fix some but cause others, but until then Linux systems will get all the blame.

The best way to fix Munich's problems is for others to grab the LiMux distribution and use it. This will:

* Reduce compatability problems. A tipping point will eventually be reached, look how MS IE was king and then it went to less than 80% and suddenly slid as web sites had to take web standards seriously.

* Hardware vendors will have to test against more than just MS Windows and its ecosystems

* Others will contribute software and patches, the cost to Munich will drop.

* Munich IT department will not be seen as maverick since others are also doing it. Eventually they will, hopefully, be lauded as pioneers and visionaries.

about 2 months ago

More Quantum Strangeness: Particles Separated From Their Properties

Alain Williams Bankers will study this hard ... (144 comments)

in the hope that this might provide them with yet another way of separating the public from their properties (especially money).

about 3 months ago

When Spies and Crime-Fighters Squabble Over How They Spy On You

Alain Williams If they have done nothing wrong ... (120 comments)

then what have they got to hide ?

At least: that is what we are being told. So if that is good enough for us, why is it not good enough for them ?

about 3 months ago

SpaceX Releases Video of Falcon Rocket's Splashdown

Alain Williams Why the annoying sound track ? (49 comments)

Not everyone has such a short attention span that they need jangley noise to keep them from moving to another web site.

about 3 months ago

Firefox 33 Integrates Cisco's OpenH264

Alain Williams Re:Trusting a binary from Cisco (194 comments)

Who modded this troll, it should be modded insightful? Are the NSA operatives getting in quick these days ?

about 3 months ago



Slashdot Poll suggestion on energy saving light bulbs

Alain Williams Alain Williams writes  |  about 4 months ago

Alain Williams (2972) writes "How long had the last energy saving light bulb that you replaced been working ? * 0-1 months; * 2-4 months; * 5-8 months; * 9-14 months; * 15-23 months; * 2 years; * 2-3 years; * 4+ years; * never had one fail; * I eat carrots you insensitive clod!."
Link to Original Source

Jewish school removes evolution questions from exams

Alain Williams Alain Williams writes  |  about 8 months ago

Alain Williams (2972) writes "Religious sponsored ignorance is not just in the USA, a school in Hackney, England is trying to hide the idea of evolution from its pupils. Maybe they fear that their creation story will be seen for what it is if pupils get to learn ideas supported evidence. The girls are also disadvantaged since they can't answer the redacted questions, thus making it harder to get good marks."

Detained David Miranda loses legal battle

Alain Williams Alain Williams writes  |  about 8 months ago

Alain Williams (2972) writes "The BBC reports that the nine-hour detention at Heathrow Airport of an ex-Guardian journalist's partner has been ruled lawful. David Miranda lives with reporter Glenn Greenwald who has written articles about state surveillance based on leaked documents by Edward Snowden. At the High Court, Mr Miranda claimed his detention under anti-terrorism laws was unlawful and breached human rights. But judges said it was a "proportionate measure in the circumstances" and in the interests of national security."

Study doubts quantum computer speed

Alain Williams Alain Williams writes  |  about 9 months ago

Alain Williams (2972) writes "The BBC reports that a new academic study has raised doubts about the performance of a commercial quantum computer in certain circumstances. In some tests devised by a team of researchers, the commercial quantum computer has performed no faster than a standard desktop machine."

Work begins on hardware to aid Edsac replica recreation

Alain Williams Alain Williams writes  |  about 2 years ago

Alain Williams writes "Plans to rebuild the pioneering Edsac computer are a step closer to completion as parts that will form its metal chassis start to be manufactured.

Edsac — Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator — ran its first program in 1949 and was created to help scientists at Cambridge University."

Link to Original Source

Apple drops 'thermonuclear' patent bombshell

Alain Williams Alain Williams writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Alain Williams writes "Apple has launched a new patent assault on its competitors, first granted to the American Mathematical Society in October 1912, subsequently renewed, then acquired by Apple at an unknown date. The first entry among the patent's Claims describes "A quadrilateral having all four interior angles of 90, opposite sides that are parallel, and congruent diagonals that bisect each other.""
Link to Original Source

Actress sues Amazon over her age on its IMDb site

Alain Williams Alain Williams writes  |  about 3 years ago

Alain Williams writes "An actress has sued for more than $1m (£639,000) after her age was posted on its Internet Movie Database. She says revealing her age on the site will lose her acting opportunities. So is her career dependent on lies ?"
Link to Original Source

Kodaks' patent spat threatens photo web sites

Alain Williams Alain Williams writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Alain Williams writes "The fallout from a patent dispute between Kodak and web photo site Shutterfly could embroil many online image sites, says patent experts.

Kodak claimed it owns patents regarding the display of online images that is being infringed by Shutterfly."

Link to Original Source

UAE 'moves to suspend some Blackberry services'

Alain Williams Alain Williams writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Alain Williams writes "The move comes amid UAE concerns that data from the devices is immediately exported offshore and managed by a foreign organisation.
The UAE's telecoms regulator, TRA, said last week the devices could therefore pose a threat to national security.
It follows an alleged attempt last year by the state-run telecoms company to install spyware on Blackberry handsets."

Link to Original Source

Slashdot poll suggestion

Alain Williams Alain Williams writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Alain Williams (2972) writes "''Job control: largest job number''

When you hit Ctrl-z in an app and type ''jobs'' you will get a list of job numbers in square brackes, eg ''[2]'', what is the largest number that you have seen ?
(I currently have 20 on one of my ssh sessions).

* 2
* 5
* 10
* 20
* 20+
* I don't control my jobs"


Alain Williams has no journal entries.

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