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Book Review: Bulletproof SSL and TLS

MobyDisk Cookies and SOP (88 comments)

they are not in sync with the main security mechanisms browsers use today, namely same-origin policy (SOP).

Really? What's different? (Yeah yeah: someone will tell me I should buy the book... I'll add to my book list and get to it by 2047).

2 days ago
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Married Woman Claims Facebook Info Sharing Created Dating Profile For Her

MobyDisk Don't install facebook games (185 comments)

This is just a friendly reminder that the purpose of Facebook games is to get your personal information. When you "install" the game you get a EULA that grants the game access to your profile. But, as far as I know, clicking on a Facebook ad should not give them your profile. The article mentions OAuth, but that should not be relevant to an advertisement.

2 days ago
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Cops 101: NYC High School Teaches How To Behave During Stop-and-Frisk

MobyDisk Re:Great point, but ..... (474 comments)

It is a big factor.

First, a clarification: They aren't talking about making small community police forces. They are talking about having the one central police force patrol with some consistency, so they get to know the community and build relationships. I'm imagining that officer Joe patrols Elm street every Monday, rather than seeing Elm street once a year.

Here in Maryland, both of the candidates for Attorney General were fighting over who could address this problem with the police force better. They talked about how difficult it is to conduct an investigation in a Baltimore City neighborhood when even the people you are trying to help don't know you and don't trust you. Previously, the department was organized by specialty. So there is a homicide investigator, a fraud investigator, a drug investigator, etc. They covered those crimes regardless of geography. Now they are saying each investigator gets a district, regardless of the type of crime. So the community gets to see the same face over and over again. That investigator learns who they can go to, who to believe, etc. Patterns form.

It's the realization that crime is about people and places not statistics.

2 days ago
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WhatsApp To Offer End-to-End Encryption

MobyDisk Re:The problem is always the client (93 comments)

Bingo!

I worked for a company that had secure online backup software, and these kinds of things are exactly what they did. The original software really honestly didn't have the key. They even sent it to an escrow service whose contract said they could never ever give us the key. But later, features were added to the system: The server could transcode mp3 files and stream them to your phone - how could it decrypt the mp3 files to transcode them for streaming, if they didn't have the key? And the install.exe had the secret key embedded in it, because customers didn't like having to type it themselves. And the web site would give you your files inside a password-protected ZIP. The password on the ZIP file was the key. How could it decrypt the file, then ZIP it up, then set the password on the ZIP file if the server didn't know the key?

5 days ago
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Google Launches Service To Replace Web Ads With Subscriptions

MobyDisk Micropayments are finally here, YouTube is next (306 comments)

This could turn into a real micropayment system.

About 7 years ago I (incorrectly) predicted that ISPs could bootstrap micropayment systems by allowing users to put money into an account with their ISP. When the user visits a site with ads, the site could "bill" the customer via the ISP anonymously, transparently to the user, and cheaply. The payment system would essentially live in the ISP's HTTP proxy server.

The Google model sounds like a variation of that, with Google collecting the money and distributing the micropayments to the web site via the ad network.

A similar ad-free subscription-oriented option will be available for YouTube soon. I am surprised to see this announcement without it connecting to that one.

5 days ago
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What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

MobyDisk Re:With a RTG, it couldn't have got to the comet. (519 comments)

The lander doesn't need to operate continuously!

So instead of powering the lander directly with a big 20kg 32-watt RTG, how about a much much smaller RTG that slowly recharges the battery over a period of days or weeks? Replace the solar panels with perhaps a 2kg 2-watt RTG. (Yes, I made-up those numbers for illustration purposes). That would allow a 32-watt lander to wake for ~10 hours every week.

about a week ago
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WhatsApp To Offer End-to-End Encryption

MobyDisk The problem is always the client (93 comments)

This really only works if the client is open source. Otherwise, you don't know that the client doesn't send the keys through a side channel or store them somewhere.

about a week ago
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Three-Way Comparison Shows PCs Slaying Consoles In Dragon Age Inquisition

MobyDisk Note to HotHardware (227 comments)

When creating comparison images, use PNG not JPG. One of the images compares the texture detail on the face, but the "more detailed" PC image just shows more JPEG artifacts. That indirectly shows there was probably detail there, but you can't really see it. If you do JPEG it, use the ridiculously high settings.

about a week ago
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Halting Problem Proves That Lethal Robots Cannot Correctly Decide To Kill Humans

MobyDisk The "researchers" cheated (327 comments)

The "researchers" did not prove anything to do with what the article claims. What the article really proved is that it is impossible for a robot to make an ethical decision, if that ethical decision is based on analyzing source code.

They created a scenario where the "robot" must determine if a computer program was written correctly or not. An ethical decision hinges on that. If the program is written correctly, it must do one thing, and if the program is written maliciously then it must do another. Then they point out that the halting problem makes it impossible to guarantee that the computer program was written correctly or not. And since the computer program involves a life-or-death decision, therefore, robots can't make life-or-death decisions.

Using that logic, I can prove that a robot can't do anything. Let's try it: I will prove that a robot car cannot decide if it is safe to make a left turn or not at an intersection. I do this by imagining a scenario where the software for the traffic light might be written incorrectly. So my robot car must first analyze the software for the traffic light, determine if it is written correctly, then only make the left turn if the traffic light software is correct. Since the halting problem shows that it is impossible to create a general purpose robot car that can analyze the source code to all other pieces of software, it cannot be guaranteed to make the right decision about the intersection in this case. Ergo, robot cars are impossible and we should not make them.

Actually, all I proved is that a robot can't decide if it is safe to make a left turn if that decision is based on analyzing the source code to the traffic light.

P.S. Yes, I simplified of what the halting problem says. It doesn't say the robot absolutely can't analyze the software. It says that it may not be able to analyze the software, because the software may never end, and the robot can't determine that. I didn't want to go into that subtle difference in my TLDR analysis.

about a week ago
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Court Rules Google's Search Results Qualify As Free Speech

MobyDisk Re:Nothing to do with freedom of speech of 1st ame (137 comments)

A few other people chimed in and pointed out quotes indicating that the lawsuit might have been based on antitrust claims. That makes more sense than the first amendment thing.

about a week ago
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Court Rules Google's Search Results Qualify As Free Speech

MobyDisk Re:Nothing to do with freedom of speech of 1st ame (137 comments)

Okay, I stand corrected. So they invoked antitrust law. Maybe first amendment angle was just to get people riled up. Arggh, I think legal reporting is almost as bad as technology reporting. Although overall arstechnica is pretty good on that.

about a week ago
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Court Rules Google's Search Results Qualify As Free Speech

MobyDisk Re:Nothing to do with freedom of speech of 1st ame (137 comments)

It was a lawsuit claiming Google broke a law.

Not it was not. No one claimed Google broke any law, and the government was not on either side of the case. This was a civil case, where someone thought Google was treating them unfairly.

about a week ago
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Court Rules Google's Search Results Qualify As Free Speech

MobyDisk Nothing to do with freedom of speech of 1st amendm (137 comments)

While I agree with the ruling, I don't see how the first amendment applies. It states that "Congress shall make no law..." but since this was a civil case, and did not involve congress, how does the first amendment apply? Google should win the case simple because Google can do whatever they want in their search results. It is as simple as that. Applying the term "free speech" or "first amendment" to a computer generated algorithm seems like a slippery slope to me.

  I just read the ruling: the case was dismissed because "the claims asserted against it arise from constitutionally protected activity..." so nothing to get excited about here...

about a week ago
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Microsoft To Open Source .NET and Take It Cross-Platform

MobyDisk Wasn't this announced back in August? (525 comments)

The open-source x-platform server announcement was revealed on Scott Hanselman's blog in August 2014. But oddly, the permalink now points to this new announcement. Is there some conspiracy to pretend this wasn't already announced?

Google cache of the August announcement

about two weeks ago
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ISPs Removing Their Customers' Email Encryption

MobyDisk Don't blame the ISPs for STARTTLS (245 comments)

1) Because SSL/TLS was so poorly supported for years, many email clients default to using security only if the server supports it. Email software should simply drop support for unencrypted SMTP, or report a big warning if the server doesn't support it. We would not tolerate such a proxy for the web, so we should not tolerate it for email either.
2) A recent Slashdot discussion revealed that the STARTTLS stripping was due to misconfigured proxy servers. I think this is a rehash of the same incident.

about two weeks ago
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333 Km/h Rocket-Powered Bicycle Sets New Speed Record

MobyDisk Bike cannon (51 comments)

So if I shoot a bike out of a cannon can I win the record for fastest bike? How about if I strap it to an airplane?

Shame on the author of the article though. This is a truly awesome creation. But focusing on the "record breaking" aspect taints the accomplishment. It shifts the discussion from "hey, look at this cool thing!! Awesome!!!!!" to "That's cheating!"

about two weeks ago
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Gridlock In Action: Retailers Demand New Regulations To Protect Consumers

MobyDisk The summary is wrong (127 comments)

The summary claims that the retailers would bear the brunt of the legislation. The opposite is true. The letter is written by retailers, asking for increased regulation of cloud providers and banks. The letter is specifically calls out Apple and J.P. Morgan as the causes of recent data breaches. It complains that the retailers are responsible for notifying their customers of breaches, but they aren't the only link in the chain.

about two weeks ago
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The Students Who Feel They Have the Right To Cheat

MobyDisk Re:Be the Change You Wish to See in the World (438 comments)

I like your comment, but I do want to point out a difference in magnitude about your example:

Case in point, a friend in the medical profession was actually complaining about tax dodges while setting up his own backdoor Roth IRA [personalcapital.com]. When I asked him about abusing the very rules he was decrying, he simply shrugged and said he doesn't make the rules he just follows them. He acknowledged it's shady as hell but pretty much felt like his hands were tied.

I will say that this example is an order of magnitude different from cheating on a school exam. In this case, the doctor is following the written laws. Of course, the laws are foolishly written in this case, and should probably be fixed, but few people believe that tax loopholes represent a "moral" quandary. (Update - another poster explained that backdoor Roth IRAs are explicitly allowed by the law, so it isn't a mistake apparently. Perhaps the name makes it sound worse than it really is.) Cheating however, is closer to lying. The cheater is lying about their knowledge and skills. That lie denies someone else their right to education, instead granting it to some lazy person who does not have the credentials.

Back to your medical professional, I would still go to a doctor who had a backdoor Roth IRA. But I would not want to go to a doctor who cheated their way through medical school! In America, we mostly accept the concept of "merit," but I'm not sure that all cultures do. It wasn't that long ago that India had castes, where birthright was more important than merit. Is it like racism in the US: publicly most everyone agrees it is wrong but there are still deep-seated biases?

I know very few people who turn down tax benefits because they disagree with that particular tax benefit.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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MobyDisk MobyDisk writes  |  more than 7 years ago

MobyDisk writes "Network Performance Daily retracted last week's interview with Professor Christopher Yoo from Vanderbilt University Law School on his opposition to Net-Neutrality policies. The new article is clearer, more subdued interview. The editor, Brian Boyko, says he never received Mr. Yoo's corrections to the article. From the apology: "The article had done him a disservice and resolved to repair any inaccuracy or anything that would be unfair to his words or image." Lost corrections, or a revision in response to criticism?

Last week's article now points to an series by Art Brodsky, Communications Director of Public Knowledge that is in support of Network Neutrality."

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