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Comments

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Radar Changing the Face of Cycling

Excelcia I'm confused (235 comments)

A radar activated light... so that the driver of a car knows that the cyclist knows that the car is getting closer to the cyclist? Huh? How about just a light that blinks really fast to begin with, and a rearview mirror on the bike so the cyclist can see the car, rather than depend on LEDs to tell him there's a car behind him. Total savings, several thousand dollars and the heartbreak of putting your heart and soul into a project that will never go anywhere.

If the inventor was bound and determined to go high tech, then how about handlebar a mounted smart phone with a rear-facing bluetooth camera. Putting together some image processing software that recognizes something approaching from the rear and notifies the cyclist with a flash or a tone would be a lot easier than building a radar, and you get the added bonus of having the rearview camera image on the smartphone display too.

Either way you are using off-the-shelf hardware. As it stands, at the frequency he's working at, in any kind of weather that diminishes visibility to the point where you'd want to have it, it would be useless. 24GHz will give you returns off of humid portions of air, let alone actual smog, fog, or mist, and doppler isn't the be-all-end-all in an environment where air currents and gusts can move the stuff you're getting returns off of at the speed of a car.

I hope those venture capitalists haven't put real money into this.

about three weeks ago
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Meet Carla Shroder's New Favorite GUI-Textmode Hybrid Shell, Xiki

Excelcia What if... (176 comments)

What if you could have a shell you had to sit out and plan a custom UI for? What if you had a shell that took one of your most excellently trained typing hands away from the keyboard every command or two to make you do stuff with the mouse. What if you had to pay kickstarter money to get this shell rather than stick with existing open source tools?

++notinterested. I'm not even sure why I'm taking the time t

about a month ago
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NADA Is Terrified of Tesla

Excelcia Re:My Anecdotal Evidence (455 comments)

Sure, local dealerships can fight over the scraps over who will take the lowest cut. And the manufacturer, who sets the "cost" price that the dealerships pay, is who laughs all the way to the bank. So while dickering on a price isn't possible with Tesla, it's also not possible with the existing dealership model. You can't go to ten dealerships and tell them, ok, which of you is going to more aggressively call up Ford and get me a better price from them?

So yes, you can negotiate for a dealership that adds less markup on top of what they pay, why introduce that layer at all anyway?

about a month ago
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Firefox 30 Available, Firebug 2.0 Released

Excelcia Re:Please, please just stop... (270 comments)

Most everyone is aware of the ESR. This is just a bandaid over the real problem. Chrome was designed from the very beginning with a rapid release schedule in mind. Release numbers in Chrome are essentially meaningless. Firefox adopted the same rapid release schedule as Chrome in a project that wasn't designed for it either technically or from a project management or project cultural perspective. Firefox gave addon developers the finger as they constantly broke extensions and themes. They carelessly spent valuable resources trying to make Firefox extensions less reliant on versions numbers, which only more badly broke legacy extensions, and rather than using resources to actually help extension authors, they wasted them on semi-automatic systems to catch non-compliant extensions and disable them. Which left users high and dry when they were forced to upgrade (lest they get left behind on security fixes) and lose functionality. More and more UI changes were forced on users, despite in some cases, clear majority opposition. Mozilla has consistently adopted a "we know best" attitude when it comes to what users want. And it shows, with marketshare stagnant. Google is still a major funder of Mozilla, and it's easy to see they think it money well invested. They make Chrome and then pay Mozilla to implode trying to slavishly copy their success.

Who wants to go to an ESR that is a bandaid on a bad system? You just place yourself in the eye of the storm for a short time.

No project can emulate another project and outcompete it. ESR's are not the answer. I personally have moved to PaleMoon. It too is based on a Firefox ESR, but at least they are committed to sane development and user-based UI decisions.

about a month and a half ago
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It's Official: Voyager 1 Is an Interstellar Probe

Excelcia Re:LOL ... (218 comments)

Imagine the world we'd live in if the "Voyager" kind of engineer had more say in how society worked?

Indeterminate in the extreme?

about 10 months ago
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Math Advance Suggest RSA Encryption Could Fall Within 5 Years

Excelcia Why not go back to original RSA? (282 comments)

Why elliptic curves when we can go back to good old fashioned original RSA that uses prime number factoring as the problem? No patent nonsense to worry about there.

about a year ago
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Security Researcher Attacked While At Conference

Excelcia This is horribly wrong (666 comments)

All we know for sure is that a woman is claiming a man violently attempted to rape her, and the man is apparently denying any such thing happened. As far as the other 99.99999% of the world is concerned, either side could be telling the truth. We have no way to know. We have no appropriate way to find out, unless people are advocating a Boston Marathon type witch hunt. And given what happened there, I am surprised and disappointed that Slashdot posted this.

Shame on Slashdot, and shame on anyone else who engages in the actual debate. Each side may be making public posts about what happened, but that does not make it our responsibility to indulge them in the wrong way to approach this. All this can do is serve to muddy the water to make it harder for any sort of proper official investigation.

about a year ago
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Hacker Exposes Evidence of Widespread Grade Tampering In India

Excelcia Ummm.... isn't this stolen data? (304 comments)

So my first reaction was like most people, wondering what caused the staccato marks spread. But then I started asking, hey, isn't this stolen data? Sure the security sucked, but what efforts did he take to correct the problem or bring it to the proper attention before he announced to the entire whole world how anyone could steal personal information on hundreds of thousands of students? With detailed instructions.

This is at best unethical. Hopefully it's illegal in his jurisdiction.

about a year ago
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Hacker Exposes Evidence of Widespread Grade Tampering In India

Excelcia Looks like mark scaling (304 comments)

The results look to me like some sort of scaling. In fact, if you load up Gimp, take a photo and go into levels and compress the input levels, when you go back and look at the levels again the graph will look almost identical to what these marks graphs look like. It looks to me like the marks spread is being expanded and the algorithm isn't smooth.

about a year ago
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Rough Roving: Curiosity's Wheels Show Damage

Excelcia Re:Mass and Weight are different (78 comments)

First of all I will concede that yes, you are right that weight is properly measured in newtons. I used the common reference of weight most people think of. However it seems I need to explain a little bit about inertia. I'll try to use small words so even NASA engineers can understand:

Curiosity wheel encounters rock. Wheel exerts force to lift itself over rock. To do this, wheel must lift all of Curiosity. Curiosity masses 900kg. Object at rest tends to stay at rest. Curiosity tends to stay at rest. Curiosity wheel has much inertia to overcome to make Curiosity start moving up and then over rock.

NASA test robot masses 342kg. Test robot wheel encounters rock. Test robot exerts force to lift itself over rock. Test robot has much less inertia to overcome to make test robot start moving up and then over rock. Test robot has few dings. NASA engineers cheer.

about a year ago
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Rough Roving: Curiosity's Wheels Show Damage

Excelcia Mass and Weight are different (78 comments)

From the article:

“We have the same wheels on our Scarecrow test rover, which weighs the same on Earth as Curiosity weighs on Mars,” Heverly added. “We have driven Scarecrow about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) in the Marsyard over rocks and slopes much harsher than we expect for Curiosity. There are some dents and holes in these wheels, but the rover is still performing well.”

This sounds an idea from the same people that brought us the Mars Climate Orbiter crater.

The problem with this is that Curiosity weighs 342kg but masses 900kg. Scarecrow weighs and masses 342kg. Whatever Curiosity weighs, it hitting a rock at 1m/s is still 900 newtons of force. Scarecrow hitting a rock at 1m/s is 342 newtons. The fact it drove 12km and has serviceable wheels does not make me feel better.

about a year ago
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LLVM Clang Compiler Now C++11 Feature Complete

Excelcia Re:Executable performance (291 comments)

I wish I knew what specific optimizations give MSVC its performance gains. What I do know is that it''s not trivial. For encryption and compression libraries, MSVC compiled libraries give me a 20% speed gain over GCC. I really want to supply my projects built with a completely open-source tool chain, but I can't justify taking that kind of performance hit for that.

I suspect MSVC produces better performing code less because of any one particular optimization and more because it is way more tightly coupled with the x86/AMD64 architecture. Most open-source compilers are three stage. Front end (language), a (generic) optimizer, and the back-end machine code emitter. The front end and optimizer stages don't know what sort of code will be emitted, so they can't make any assumptions. Does a particular construct cause cache misses? Does it invoke Intel's replay system? They don't know or care. It's only the emitter at the very last stage that is processor-aware, and by then there is only so much you can do. MSVC, on the other hand, is processor-aware from stem to stern. It can make CPU-specific assumptions at a very early stage and can take far greater advantage of SIMD instructions.

Compilers were much better when each one was for one architecture only. When they didn't mess around with intermediary bytecode, and were intended to one thing only - take language X and turn it into machine code Y.

about a year ago
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LLVM Clang Compiler Now C++11 Feature Complete

Excelcia Executable performance (291 comments)

I'm not so concerned about C++11, or compiling speed - which is what most people tout about LLLVM as its big feature. I'm concerned about the quality of the binaries produced. LLVM produces generally inferior code to GCC, which itself is already quite inferior to MSVC. I just wish there was an open source compiler where binary performance was a primary concern, not an afterthought.

about a year ago
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Linus Torvalds To Head Windows 9 Project

Excelcia I'd expect something like that from Linus... (174 comments)

Ya, but the thing is, I'd actually expect something like this from Linus. He really doesn't give much of a wet snap about software freedom - the GPL was a choice he made based on convenience (there's a pre-made license over there, and ooooh.... look how shiny and legal it looks). To make something like this actually funny, it should have been someone like Bruce Perens or Richard Stallman.

about a year ago
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MySQL's Creator On Why the Future Belongs To MariaDB

Excelcia Re:What they did was not account for Monty (208 comments)

And as a follow-up, from the article...

"MariaDB can only evolve if there are companies that are prepared to either do the development of MariaDB or fund it ... The MariaDB Foundation is ... actively seeking sponsors" Widenius says.

Wow... Monty is not only taking MySQL back from the company who got it after he sold it, but after getting a billion for it he's now looking for other people to foot the bill.

about a year ago
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MySQL's Creator On Why the Future Belongs To MariaDB

Excelcia What they did was not account for Monty (208 comments)

The only thing Oracle is doing wrong is thinking that no one could be bold enough to try and sell the same product twice.

It's a gutsy move. It really is. Sell MySQL to Sun. Claim Sun's purchaser is doing __________ (fill in the blank with whatever evil nasty thing you like) with it. But that's ok, MariaDB will save you from that. Distributions flood to it to get away from the nasty big evil corporation, and suddenly Monty has legally taken back control of what he sold for a cool billion dollars.

The best part about it, is if Oracle says anything about it, then it just looks like they are trying to trash talk the little guy who is just trying to do the right thing for
the community.

And before you think of flaming the idea, remember, Monty is very much the businessman. He almost invented using the GPL as a weapon. He stopped releasing any connector or client licensed as LGPL so he could claim that even using MySQL as a back-end for something else required the entire front-end to be GPLed too - either that or pay him for a commercial license.

The next company to buy something from Monty better get an iron clad agreement never to fork it.

about a year ago
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What Is Your Favorite Polearm?

Excelcia Re:sword vs polearm (469 comments)

Indeed. For example, the close to thousand years of dominance the Roman legions enjoyed over every other force in the world happened because of the hugely famous Roman Polarmius.

about a year ago
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HP Back In Tablet Game With Android-Based 'Slate7'

Excelcia Re:So what exactly is 'beats audio?' (120 comments)

It's simply an equalizer preset that boosts the bass and high end a little.

Funny thing. On the HTC One V phone, a little Beats Audio icon would show up in the status bar when you plugged in headphones. Originally, when you'd drag down your notifications and select Beats Audio, you'd get a dialog where you could select from about 10 different equalizer presets, only one of which was the "Beats Audio" setting. The rest were the typical equalizer presets. Rock, Pop, Bass Boost, Classical, etc. When the first update came out for the, that dialog was replaced with a simple "Enable/Disable" for Beats Audio. I guess they didn't want people realizing this much vaunted "Beats Audio" was just another equalizer preset.

Normally something like this would be the other way around, with the handset or laptop manufacturers licensing some Dolby sound labeling. In this case, the HTC update having deleted all the other equalizer preset settings leads me to suspect that this is a Beats marketing strategy. I'm guessing Beats is going to the handset manufacturers and paying them to advertise "Beats Audio" on their handsets in order to boost name recognition and give them street cred in the audio market. And when HTC dumped Beats Audio in with a bunch of other equalizer presets, I suspect Beats wasn't too happy about that, which caused the change.

about a year and a half ago
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When 1 GB Is Really 0.9313 Gigabytes

Excelcia Oh puh-lease (618 comments)

I think it's safe to say that most people who have been in the scene from the beginning think the "correct" SI definition of kilo can also fuck off when it comes to computers. As can kebi, mebi and friends. It had been accepted from the beginning that "kilo" meant something just a little different when it came to describing bytes. I accepted that. Everyone accepted that. There was no problem. Even in academic circles, there were no issues.

The problem came with the storage industry and their pious "oh, but that's not what SI says the units mean". If you think that conforming to strict SI is the reason they made their change, then I'd suggest you not accept kool-aid from strangers. Ever. It was marketing greed, nothing more

However, while I think kebi, mebi and friends can fall down a deep dark hole, I actually don't mind using their unit symbols. At least in that way there is no misunderstanding in writing what is meant, and the trickle down effect from intellectual papers where it's vital that it's specified what value is means to more lay writings can occur without changing the unit symbols. But I do not now, nor will I ever, read 500MiB as "five hundred mebibytes".

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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Google Trials Near-Space Balloons for Internet Access to Remote Areas

Excelcia Excelcia writes  |  about a year ago

Excelcia (906188) writes "Google is launching balloons into near space to provide internet access to buildings below on the ground. About 30 of the superpressure balloons are being launched from New Zealand from where they will drift around the world on a controlled path. Attached equipment will offer 3G-like speeds to 50 testers in the country.

Access will be intermittent, but in time the firm hopes to build a big enough fleet to offer reliable links to people living in remote areas. The firm says the concept could offer a way to connect the two-thirds of the world's population which does not have affordable net connections, but one expert warns that trying to simultaneously navigate thousands of the high-altitude balloons around the globe's wind patterns will prove a difficult task to get right."
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Google Patents Frowns and Winks To Unlock Your Phone

Excelcia Excelcia writes  |  about a year ago

Excelcia (906188) writes "Users could soon be asked to pull a series of faces to unlock their Android phones or tablets. Google has filed a patent suggesting users stick out their tongue or wrinkle their nose in place of a password.

Requiring specific gestures could prevent the existing Face Unlock facility being fooled by photos. The software could monitor if there were changes in the angle of the person's face to ensure the device was not being shown a still image with a fake gesture animated on top."

Link to Original Source
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New Solid State Maser May Allow Hundredfold Increase In SETI Sensitivity

Excelcia Excelcia writes  |  about 2 years ago

Excelcia writes "The BBC is reporting that researchers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and Imperial College London in the UK have completely revamped the way "masing" is done, by carrying it out in a crystal of material pumped by a commercial yellow medical laser. Masers had languished in obscurity because they required high magnetic fields and difficult cooling schemes.

The key value of masers lies not in their ability to produce a useful beam as lasers do, but to carry out the amplification process in a particularly clean way, without adding much noise. That is why they are used to detect the tiny signals coming from space missions as distant as the Voyager probes, billions of kilometres away. The lead author of the Nature article, Dr Mark Oxborrow suggested "... you could make a radio telescope that was very low-noise, 100 times more sensitive than the best at the moment... this type of maser could be used to detect some extraterrestrial intelligence that hasn't been detected.""

Link to Original Source
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SCO v. Novell Goes to the Jury

Excelcia Excelcia writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Excelcia writes "Closing arguments in the six and a bit year old slander of title case between SCO and Novell occurred today and the case is finally in the hands of the jury. It's been an interesting case, with SCO alternately claiming that the copyrights to UNIX did get transferred to them, and that the copyrights should have been transferred to them.

Judge Ted Stewart said, after the jury left to begin to deliberate, that in all his years on the bench, he's never seen such fine lawyering as in this case.

We're not going to find out the results until at least Tuesday, however, as one jurist is taking a long weekend. Great lawyering notwithstanding, we can all hope next week that the energizer bunny of all spurious lawsuits will finally go away."
Link to Original Source

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Can an eCommerce Site Without SSL Be Secure?

Excelcia Excelcia writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Excelcia writes "I recently decided to try out the SecureSpot feature of my router. I signed up for a trial account, decided I liked it, and was about to submit my payment for the service when I noticed something peculiar. The protocol was http, not https. The little lock icon on my browser was grayed, and the browser's information dialog on the site said in no uncertain terms "your connection to this web site is not encrypted". I went back to the original login page for SecureSpot, and it too seems to lack any indication of SSL. I'm a little worried at this point, as the SecureSpot control panel lets me configure my router. Have my family's privacy settings, and worse, have my router settings and passwords all been sent over the wire in the clear? And what about people's credit card numbers? I examined the page source for each page, and they both seem to use a standard html POST with some JavaScript sanity checks. About the only secure element I can see on either page is the VeriSign gold seal they each sport proclaiming the site secure.

BSecure actually runs the service for D-Link, so I e-mailed both of them. D-Link's reply was a terse "the site is secure and your information will not and has not been exposed." My question simply is, is the site secure? And if it is secure, how are people to know it is if your browser can't tell?"

Link to Original Source
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D-Link/BSecure Has eCommerce Site But Forgot SSL!

Excelcia Excelcia writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Excelcia writes "Did D-Link and BSecure set up an eCommerce web site and simply forget to use SSL? Yesterday I decided to activate the SecureSpot family web filtering feature on my D-Link router. I signed up for a free trial account since the service was perfect for my family, I went right to the checkout page to pay for a year's worth. I was just about to hit the "submit" button when I looked at the URL [note: SecureSpot account needed] and noticed it had "http:" as the protocol, and not "https:". The lock icon that depicts a secure site was greyed out too. I went back to the original SecureSpot login page, and it too is lacking SSL. So the control panels where I'm setting my family's privacy settings and passwords are all being sent accessed in the clear? I keep thinking I'm missing something. Surely they wouldn't put up an eCommerce site for a security product of all things and just forget to use SSL. Clicking on Firefox's security icon, though, brings up a dialog informing me that the page indeed is not encrypted. I crawled through the page source, thinking that maybe some use of frames was hiding a real SSL page in there somewhere. But the only encrypted element of the page was the VeriSign Gold Seal logo graphic that proclaimed it secure. Is this a candidate for the correct use of the word "irony"?"
Link to Original Source
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D-Link/BSecure Credit Card Checkout Without SSL

Excelcia Excelcia writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Excelcia writes "Yesterday I decided to activate the SecureSpot feature on my D-Link router. I signed up for a free trial account, and loved the service. Perfect for my family. So I went right to the checkout page to buy a year's worth of service, and just about hit the "submit" button when I looked at the URL and noticed it had "http:" as the protocol, and not "https:" The lock icon that depicts a secure site was greyed out too. I went back to the original SecureSpot login page, and it too is lacking SSL. So the control panels where I'm setting my family's privacy settings and passwords, all being sent in the clear? I keep thinking I'm missing something. Surely they wouldn't put up an eCommerce site for a security product of all things and just forget to use SSL. Clicking on Firefox's security icon, though, brings up a dialog informing me that the page indeed is not encrypted. I crawled through the page source, thinking that maybe some use of frames was hiding a real SSL page in there somewhere. But the only encrypted element of the page was the VeriSign Gold Seal logo graphic that proclaimed it secure. Is this a candidate for the correct use of the word "irony"?"
Link to Original Source
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For Sale - One Nearly-New Infant

Excelcia Excelcia writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Excelcia writes "The BBC is reporting that a couple in Germany advertised an infant for sale on eBay. The advertisement read:

"Offering my nearly new baby for sale, as it has gotten too loud. It is a male baby, nearly 28in (70cm) long and can be used either in a baby carrier or a stroller."
The parents, for their part, say the advertisement was just a joke. The mother said she just wanted to see if anyone would make an offer. The German authorities weren't laughing, though. They have taken the infant away from his parents on suspicion that they were actually trying to traffic the child and are forcing the mother to undergo psychiatric tests. Apparently in the two hours the advertisement was up, there were no bids."
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Excelcia Excelcia writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Excelcia writes "The deadline for filing contradictions on the Microsoft OpenXML ISO bid, and the results are in. A total of 19 countries have filed, comprising most of the free world, although the United States seems to be absent from the list. From Andy Upgrove's Blog on the subject:

This may not only be the largest number of countries that have ever submitted contradictions in the ISO/IEC process, but nineteen responses is greater than the total number of national bodies that often bother to vote on a proposed standard at all ... All in all, not a very auspicious start for OOXML. And not one that augers well for a very fast Fast Track experience. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft deals with this slap in the face.
"
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Excelcia Excelcia writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Excelcia writes "ComputerActive is reporting that Microsoft's bid to get its Open XML format approved as an ISO standard has been delayed by at least three months. From the article:

The British Standards Institute, which represents the UK with the International Standards Organisation, has issued what is called a "contradiction" to Microsoft's specification.
... A spokesman for the BSI could give no details of the organisation's contradiction but he said it meant the next stage of the application would not proceed for 90 days, because ISO has to consider the submissions from member countries.
No word yet on whether any other national standards organizations have followed suit."

Journals

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D-Link/BSecure Site Sending Credit Card #s In Clear

Excelcia Excelcia writes  |  more than 4 years ago

I decided to activate the SecureSpot service on my D-Link router yesterday. After trialing it and being very happy with the configuration and flexibility of the service itself, I decided to pay for the service. The checkout page looked like most do, and I've become so accustomed to them now that I almost clicked the submit button before checking the URL (note: you need a SecureSpot trial membership to access the page). Whoa there cowboy, that protocol is http, not https. So, thinking that maybe some use of frames was disguising the true URL of the checkout page, I looked for the trusty lock icon on Firefox that depicts a secure site, and it too was missing. Ok, the warning bells are now clanging, so I go back to the beginning, all the way back to the original SecureSpot login page. It sports a gold VeriSign seal, claiming to be secure. No https, no lock. I look all through the SecureSpot configuration control panels and none of it seems to be using SSL. So as I'm logging into the BSecure web site that runs SecureSpot, and as I'm setting my family's filtering and privacy controls and passwords, is everything going over the wire in the clear? Both the SecureSpot login and the payment checkout pages sport that VeriSign gold seal. This is supposed to assure me the site is secure, right? From VeriSign's site:

"Gold Seal" is a graphical representation that assures customers that a Web site has been Authenticated and that all transactions are secured by a Secure Site Certificate or a Secure Site Pro Certificate.

I poked through the checkout page source to see if I missed something, and about the only secure element on the page is the VeriSign gold seal. Well, at least their assurance that the page is secure is secure.

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