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Comments

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NYC Considers Google Glass For Restaurant Inspections

Mephistophocles Re:Better Idea (104 comments)

Neither do I, IMHO the state doesn't really have any business forcing the owner to do anything. The idea was to make a point; there's no way the state would agree to independent oversight of their inspection practices since they don't give a flying #*&$ about safety; it's about revenue.

about a week ago
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NYC Considers Google Glass For Restaurant Inspections

Mephistophocles Better Idea (104 comments)

Here's a proposal for a minor change in the legislation. If this law is all about protecting the consu--I mean citizen, and limiting abuses of the inspectors, providing an accurate record, etc, then instead of the inspectors wearing a recording device, how about requiring those being inspected to wear them instead? Same results, right? Surely the state inspectors won't have ANY problem whatsoever being recorded doing their jobs - if everything's so above board, then they have nothing to fear.

about a week ago
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UN Votes To Protect Privacy In Digital Age

Mephistophocles Drivel (124 comments)

Meaningless posturing. The UN is utterly powerless against the NSA and its whims. This resolution carries about as much weight as a post on Slashdot critisizing it.

about 3 months ago
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How a MacBook Camera Can Spy Without Lighting Up

Mephistophocles Re:Maybe (371 comments)

No argument with any of that, and great points re: NSA's deceit and the fact if Snowden could make off with such a database, it was likely child's play for most governments with an interest in it. However, expecting Apple to actually follow through with installing privacy controls like what you've described is probably the height of foolish optimism. I'm perfectly comfortable taking the matter into my own hands, hence the destruction or careful blocking of the camera.

about 3 months ago
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How a MacBook Camera Can Spy Without Lighting Up

Mephistophocles Maybe (371 comments)

I'm not an electronics engineer, but I dunno. That seems a little harsh on apple; the camera and led could have different power sources for any one of many innocuous reasons. That said, if you're paranoid (like me), a nail and jeweler's hammer will make quick work of the camera, and then power sources don't matter much. If you don't want to damage it permanently, some electrical tape works great too.

about 3 months ago
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Don't Want a Phonebook? Give Up Your Privacy

Mephistophocles Re:Just lie (357 comments)

...seeding the database with strings that could be construed to create a hostile work environment...

That's more or less where I was going with that line of thought - even if not truly a "hostile environment," at least enough that finding people to take the job is pretty difficult - or perhaps enough that the postal service doesn't think it's funny that they're delivering mountains of mail to Mr and Mrs C*********g F*******s at a couple hundred different addresses.

about a year ago
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Don't Want a Phonebook? Give Up Your Privacy

Mephistophocles Re:Just lie (357 comments)

And that's why we use a VPN/some-other-obfuscation-tool. While you're at it, unsubscribe a few (hundred) other random addresses. Impossible to prove it was you, and you have the added bonus of knowing you further hurt their intrusive marketing campaign.

about a year ago
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Don't Want a Phonebook? Give Up Your Privacy

Mephistophocles Just lie (357 comments)

So just visit their website and lie about everything. Make the information offensive, even, or obviously false (all except the address, I guess, which they have to have). 99% of the mail I get is junk mail anyway, so much so that I rarely look at it and just use automatically it for fire starter, animal bedding, etc.

Never give up privacy, even under duress. When this kind of thing happens, meet them on a level playing field and corrupt their database with junk info.

about a year ago
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PayPal Preparing To Address Frozen Funds Policy

Mephistophocles Too little too late (175 comments)

Yep, don't care. They lost me 2 years ago and short of their entire executive team kissing my bare ass on national TV, there's no way in hell I'm ever going back. Doing business with them was exactly like being raped.

about a year ago
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Canada To Stop Producing Pennies In 2013

Mephistophocles Re:Excellent; (362 comments)

No, I seriously doubt the government is going to give up tax revenue. The merchant is still going to pay 13 cents on that .99 purchase. The merchant will lose 2c. Or, as is more likely, they'll raise their prices accordingly; if they charge $1.01 for it, it'll get rounded up to $1.15.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Can I Explain To a Coworker That He Writes Bad Code?

Mephistophocles Re:You write code for humans... (683 comments)

That's nice in theory, but in practice, the "top priority" of code is to meet the deadline and get shipped. Everything after that is secondary.

This. This is exactly why 99% of code written under corporate auspices sucks major ass. Try getting a Director/VP/C-suite to understand why unmaintainable, shitty code sucks and hurts the business. Believe me, I've tried. Maybe 1 in 100 understands. The rest have the same response: "we met the ship date, it works. So what? And by the way, since you can't understand that, you're not an asset to the business. So don't bring me this crap again."

I don't know the answer to that particular debacle, myself - such that I usually just shut up about it and tell the devs working for me that, "yes, you can write shitty code. It will get you a pat on the back from management and a slap in the face by the guys you have to work with every day. Your choice."

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Can I Explain To a Coworker That He Writes Bad Code?

Mephistophocles Re:You don't (683 comments)

If management wants your opinion of your coworkers, they'll ask for it.

Not necessarily; having managed a few dev teams I actually appreciated it when someone would come to me with issues like this (privately, non-confrontationally, without a lot of arrogance, etc - any of those things would probably just make me ignore you). Management isn't telepathic; they can't see every single problem like magic.

That said, if your manager a) doesn't have at least enough understanding of coding best practice to know why the stuff you're bringing him is bad, b) is an arrogant asshole himself, or c) is one of those types that believes the ladder to success is built from the heads of underlings, then yeah - STFU. And start job-hunting.

about a year ago
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Net Neutrality Bill Aimed At ISP Data Caps Introduced In US Senate

Mephistophocles Re:Sen. Wyden. (151 comments)

Yeah, I'm not sure I like this actually. All this really does it put data caps in the hands of the government - doesn't mean they're going away. I'd rather not have them at all, but if they're going to happen I'd rather the providers control them than the FCC.

about a year ago
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School Shooting Prompts Legislation To Study Violent Video Games

Mephistophocles Re:Gingrich & Huckabee Weigh In (1168 comments)

Yes. That doesn't matter - the point still stands. If you take only countries where that isn't the case, you still can't draw a definite line showing that high gun crime is directly linked to gun ownership by the populace - and that still doesn't address the fact that gun deaths in the US are extremely low - low enough that gun death can't even be considered a leading cause of death in the US. Not remotely.

about a year ago
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School Shooting Prompts Legislation To Study Violent Video Games

Mephistophocles Re:Gingrich & Huckabee Weigh In (1168 comments)

Your data doesn't pan out, boss. Check this out: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list Sort that chart by "Rank by rate of ownership" and you'll see a problem. The US has a relatively high murder rate (compared to 1st-world countries) by firearms, and the US is #1 in gun ownership. But the problem is that Switzerland, Finland, Serbia, and Cyprus are ranked 3, 4, 5 and 6 in gun ownership - and they have very low homicide rates by firearm. The problem that data presents to you argument is that it undeniably demonstrates that gun ownership does not directly affect the murder rate. If it did, you would expect a gradual and more-or-less parallel drop in the murder rate as the gun ownership rates drop as well. But that just isn't the case.

The other interesting point this data makes is the fact that the murder rate by firearms (rate per 100,000 population) is not very high in 1st-world countries. In the US, where the rate is relatively high, less that 3 people are killed each year per 100,000. Cancer, on the other hand, causes 178.7 deaths per 100,000 people in the US ( http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/all.html ) each year. Accidents or inintentional injuries: 38.4 per 100,000 per year.

I'm not purporting to know what the cause of incidents like Newtown and Aurora is; that's beyond my abilities. But what I can say, based on hard data, is that gun ownership is not a direct cause of gun deaths, and gun deaths in the US are not high enough to warrant this kind of fanatical attention. You want to really cut down on senseless violence? Go after cancer and the other big terminal killers. Guns just aren't that big of a problem.

about a year ago
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ISP Data Caps Just a 'Cash Cow'

Mephistophocles Re:$45 a month unlimited Everything (353 comments)

Every business has a phone. Failing that, most folks in the rural US will be happy to make a call for you (on their landline) if you ask nicely and don't look and smell like a bum. Hitch-hiking is a lost art, but in a real pinch even that might work. If you're not in the rural US (meaning you're in the urban US; I don't know how this works elsewhere), you're near a business, and it's gonna have a phone.

Again I ask, how do you think people pre-1995 did this? Just sat in their cars and starved to death?

about a year ago
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ISP Data Caps Just a 'Cash Cow'

Mephistophocles Re:$45 a month unlimited Everything (353 comments)

I guess your argument makes sense if you live deep in the woods somewhere, but if you're as far out as I am your cell phone doesn't work anyway. Most places in the US have plenty of civilization around, and plenty of ways of getting help in an extreme situation like that...

about a year ago
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ISP Data Caps Just a 'Cash Cow'

Mephistophocles Re:$45 a month unlimited Everything (353 comments)

HA! And what do you think people did before everyone had a cell phone? I got my first cell phone in '99 (i think), 13 measly years ago. Believe it or not, you don't actually need one to live.

Now get off my lawn! :)

about a year ago
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ISP Data Caps Just a 'Cash Cow'

Mephistophocles Re:OK, so how is that monopoly removed? (353 comments)

Essentially what you're pointing out is that capitalism, while admirable in terms of the freedom it provides in its early stages (anyone can start a business and probably be successful just by working hard), eventually always ends in monopolies (eventually those businesses will be bought up or bullied into selling, creating one central mega-power - first one in each market, but eventually even different market verticals are all controlled by the same umbrella corporation - that's why you can buy bullets, baby diapers, and a gallon of milk at the same checkout at Walmart). There has to be a system to keep power decentralized - whether it's by regulation, taxation, incentive - whatever.

The sticky point, though, is that whatever method is used to keep that power decentralized must not either a) infringe on individual freedom, or b) simply make the government the monopoly.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Using Quantum Physics to Secure Your Network

Mephistophocles Mephistophocles writes  |  about a year ago

Mephistophocles (930357) writes "Scientists at Toshiba and Cambridge University have perfected a technique that offers a less expensive way to ensure the security of the high-speed fiber optic cables that are the backbone of the modern Internet.

The research, which will be published Tuesday in the science journal Physical Review X, describes a technique for making infinitesimally short time measurements needed to capture pulses of quantum light hidden in streams of billions of photons transmitted each second in data networks. Scientists used an advanced photodetector to extract weak photons from the torrents of light pulses carried by fiber optic cables, making it possible to safely distribute secret keys necessary to scramble data over distances up to 56 miles.

Such data scrambling systems will most likely be used first for government communications systems for national security. But they will also be valuable for protecting financial data and ultimately all information transmitted over the Internet.

The approach is based on quantum physics, which offers the ability to exchange information in a way that the act of eavesdropping on the communication would be immediately apparent. The achievement requires the ability to reliably measure a remarkably small window of time to capture a pulse of light, in this case lasting just 50 picoseconds — the time it takes light to travel 15 millimeters."

Link to Original Source
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Israel Infrastructure Proves Too Strong For Anonymous

Mephistophocles Mephistophocles writes  |  about a year ago

Mephistophocles (930357) writes "Ever since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense, hackers have been working overtime to strike a blow against the Israeli government’s computer systems, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Sunday. No fewer than 44 million attacks have been recorded since the operation began five days ago — with nearly all of them failing, thanks to the recent strengthening of computer defense systems in Israel.

Speaking at a special press conference at the Government Computing Center in Jerusalem about the cyber war against Israel that has accompanied Hamas’s rocket attacks, Steinitz said that hackers “are trying to disable the symbols of Israeli sovereignty, to enter web sites and install anti-Israel content, thus compromising information and data and damaging the government’s ability to serve the public.” Most of the attacks, he said, were against government sites, like the Prime Minister’s Office site, and security-related sites, such as that of the Home Front Command, the body charged with informing Israelis on how to protect themselves in the event of an attack.

Out of those 44 million-plus attacks on government and defense related sites, said Steinitz, only one succeeded – partially. One site, which he did not name, was “wobbly for a few minutes,” but quickly recovered. Even though the government has been successful in warding off hack attacks, Steinitz said that government sites were fully backed up and mirrored, meaning that they could be replaced by a duplicate site instantly if the original site were compromised."

Link to Original Source
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NASA Security Breach

Mephistophocles Mephistophocles writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Mephistophocles (930357) writes "If you work for NASA, you saw this memo sent to all agency employees yesterday afternoon:

"On October 31, 2012, a NASA laptop and official NASA documents issued to a Headquarters employee were stolen from the employee's locked vehicle. The laptop contained records of sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) for a large number of NASA employees, contractors, and others. Although the laptop was password protected, it did not have whole disk encryption software, which means the information on the laptop could be accessible to unauthorized individuals. We are thoroughly assessing and investigating the incident, and taking every possible action to mitigate the risk of harm or inconvenience to affected employees.""

Link to Original Source
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Cyberespionage For Everyone

Mephistophocles Mephistophocles writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Mephistophocles (930357) writes "A chilling article by Darkreading's Kelly Jackson Higgins describes how the growing accessibility of hacking tools like RAT's (Remote Access Trojans) have made cyber-espionage possible for more than just those financially backed by large nation-states, and speculates on what the implications of this may be:

"Researchers at Norman Security today revealed that they recently analyzed malware used in phishing emails targeting Israeli and Palestinian targets and found that attackers used malware based on the widely available Xtreme RAT crimeware kit. The attacks, which first hit Palestinian targets, this year began going after Israeli targets, including Israeli law enforcement agencies and embassies around the world. Norman says the same attacker is behind the attacks because the attacks use the same command-and-control (C&C) infrastructure, as well as the same phony digital certificates.

This attack campaign just scratches the surface of the breadth and spread of these types of attacks around the world as more players have been turning to cyberspying. "We're just seeing the tip of the iceberg," says Einar Oftedal, deputy CTO at Norman.""

Link to Original Source
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Sony Entertainment Head Steps Down

Mephistophocles Mephistophocles writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Mephistophocles (930357) writes "Japan Times reports today that Sony Entertainment Chief Tim Schaaf has stepped down. Schaaf's division has recently drawn the ire of users and governments alike after multiple hacks which resulted in the theft of millions of users' personal information. Schaaf joined Sony after a stint at Apple, and had ambitious plans for unifying the end-user's entertainment experience on Sony products, as well as having some big words for how to help out Sony's music division. Tim will be replaced by Andrew House, currently of Sony's Game Division.

One wonders — is this a continued sign of deterioration in Sony's Entertainment house?"

Link to Original Source
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Can't Pass the Cybersecurity Bill? Sign an Executive Order

Mephistophocles Mephistophocles writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Mephistophocles writes "What do you do when you can't get a bill through congress? Why, you just get the president to sign an executive order, of course! The Hill reports that Senator Jay Rockefeller of Virginia is doing exactly that:

"[B]ecause it is very unclear whether the Senate will come to agreement on cybersecurity legislation in the near future, I urge you to explore and employ every lever of executive power that you possess to protect this country from the cyber threat," Rockefeller wrote in a letter to Obama on Monday. "We must act to address our cyber vulnerabilities as soon as possible and many components of the Cybersecurity Act are amenable to implementation via executive order, normal regulatory processes, or other executive action under the authorities of the Homeland Security Act."

The bill in question failed to pass congressional vote earlier this year. So much for due process."
Link to Original Source

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Microsoft Helps NYC Deploy Big-Brother Monitoring System

Mephistophocles Mephistophocles writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Mephistophocles writes "Microsoft has teamed up with the City of New York to implement a draconian crime monitoring system. Interestingly, the NYC will be keeping 30% of Microsoft's licensing revenue due to their level of involvement in designing the system's architecture:

Microsoft executed the system, but it was the NYPD that had to design it, choosing what data needed to be surfaced and when, and how it could best be presented to officers. As such, it is a true joint effort, and New York will be taking 30 percent of the revenues Microsoft gets from licensing the technology. Other cities will surely want to utilize this powerful system, so it's possible that, as Mayor Bloomberg put it, both parties will "we think we can recoup all our expenses over a period of time, and maybe even make a few bucks"

Is it just me, or does something about a city gaining direct monetary gain from designing a system to spy on its citizens seem a little unsettling?"
Link to Original Source

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