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Comments

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The UK's Internet Porn Filter and Fighting Censorship Creep

OldSoldier Merely making you vocalize it (234 comments)

Search engines can figure out most of this stuff anyway, right? Isn't our privacy on these issues already gone? What's the difference between UK asking you for it and Google just paying attention to your browsing history? Now a-days I'm just going to assume the NSA and my ISP (I'm in the US) can see this stuff anyway.

This is in part a rhetorical question meant to focus on the general lack of privacy these days. We shouldn't get up in arms about being asked, we should be up in arms about not having privacy in these matters be a fundamental right. (Eg a law requiring ISPs to destroy all such records after 90 days.)

about 7 months ago
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Researchers Develop the Most Detailed Map of Gravitational Variations Ever

OldSoldier Re: Your Mom's House (88 comments)

They say it's a "gravitational map" but is it with or without the effects of the earth's rotation? How much less do you weigh because the earth's rotation is trying to fling you off it on a mountain top (longer radius arm) near the equator (faster rotational speed)?

about 10 months ago
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Canadian Couple Charged $5k For Finding 400-Year-Old Skeleton

OldSoldier Re:Don't Do The Dig ... (601 comments)

if "the law" wants to require people to do something that costs money, then "the law" needs to pay for it. otherwise "the law" can go bugger itself.

Stupid building codes, driver's permits, garbage collection, always making ME pay for them.

Usually codes like the one the OP cited only apply to new construction, retroactively requiring a tornado shelter on an existing building is hardly ever done in the US. However, stupid shit still is done... we remodeled our house and even though we didn't change the number of plumbing fixtures we had to bring our septic system up to current code. To make matters worse, the county did not certify the old drain field because "the soils were disturbed" ... no duh, there's a SEPTIC field there. So at great expense we had to completely install a new septic field.

about a year ago
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Another Study Confirms Hands-Free Texting While Driving Is Unsafe

OldSoldier Re:No shit (286 comments)

THE PROBLEM WITH THESE TESTS is they FORCE the driver to do the distracting task.

I would love to see a more real world example of this sort of thing... LET the driver pause as he would if a traffic emergency came up. Let the driver do whatever they naturally would be trying to do in a driving situation. I would NEVER text-to-speech a text message while driving. I would never count backwards from 100 by sevens over a cell phone while driving (and try to get a perfect and rapid score) ... I would pause and stop as traffic got bad or situation warranted. Face it, we talk in the car to our passengers so there is SOME level of interaction here that's safe. These tests are a waste of time, they merely prove at the highest level of distraction we're ... distracted. Again... "No Shit".

Show the world at the lowest level of distraction we're still distracted and THEN run that story!

about a year ago
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Schools Scanned Students' Irises Without Permission

OldSoldier Encrypted Iris Information (342 comments)

That concern about your iris scan being compromised has me wondering if these systems encrypt the iris information in a manner similar to password encryption. If so it strikes me that the decryption problem **might** be harder because AFAIK the unencrypted iris data is just a string of numbers. So... if compromised it won't fall to a rainbow/dictionary attack. What I don't know is... does this make it any more secure?

Can someone knowledgeable in both cryptography and whatever parameters are stored about irises in systems like these comment?

Regarding RFID being replaceable following a compromise... from the other side they're also subject to being stolen and used nefariously that way, a feature that iris's supposedly don't have. (click through to the explanatory video where they make a point about a **live iris**)

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Important Is Advanced Math In a CS Degree?

OldSoldier maybe yes maybe no (656 comments)

First, I agree 100% with everyone who says "yes" I agree 'even more' (math joke there) with those who suggest a different computer degree where math is emphasized less. However, let me paint an oddly two-sided picture with 2 different stories.

I have a masters in math. In class one day our professor mentioned that he consulted for the forestry (or some such) department at the school. They were trying to calculate the area of an arbitrary region so as to estimate the number of trees within that area. Problem is the area may be convex or concave. The CS department at this school was trying to solve the problem by triangling the polygon, but ran into difficulties if the area was concave. My professor suggested using Green's theorem. Moral??? On the one hand advanced math gave a much more elegant solution to this problem, on the other hand **the CS department** at this school wasn't advanced enough to suggest it on their own... so if THEY can't do it... (fill in the blank).

Many years later I was managing a small group of contractors on a project (I was also designer for this project) and I casually mentioned during a design meeting that we could calculate the score we needed by doing a weighted average of the various datapoints we already had. One developer mentioned outright that he would need me to write up the weighted average routine in psuedocode and I suspect the other developer felt the same way but was less forthcoming about his ignorance. Floored but already stuck with these guys, but then again... they're contractors and I believe they've been able to keep themselves employed since.

At the end of the day, I'm one of those who thinks math and computer science is like solving puzzles... I would rather hire someone who likes solving all kinds of puzzles than one who has an admitted weakness in some (but perhaps not all) puzzles. If you indeed hate math that much I think you need to do some soul searching and figure out what sub-field of CS would be best suited to you. If you go into a field that requires math and you suck at it you'll probably be eclipsed by others more adept at it. On the other hand a lot of people who like math and CS are quite content to end their careers there... so if you have a growth plan that gets you out of CS work within a few years of graduating...

about a year ago
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Physicists Attempting To Test 'Time Crystals'

OldSoldier Re:What does this have to do with time? (231 comments)

If you think of regular crystals as "space crystals" instead and that they have a regular structure that repeats in space then "time crystals" doesn't sound so awkward a term. Indeed that's what the principle investigator suggested was his inspiration... eg if Einstein said space and time are really "space-time" then could we have the "space-time" equivalent of crystals but repeating in time instead? At least that's how I'm reading the article.

Where I'm losing it... is that I never thought "space crystals" broke the symmetry of uniform space but instead that quantization seemed to me to be a function of the crystal (or atoms), not space itself.

However, taking the physicists enthusiasm at face value, this clearly appears (to me at least) to be another research avenue into unifying the space-time concept of general relativity with the incompatible space-time concept of quantum mechanics, and as far as I know the only one do-able in a laboratory. (Gravity wave experiments are detectors for events that happened "outside of a laboratory".) So... it's easy for me to share the enthusiasm even though I don't quite get it.

about a year ago
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Will Donglegate Affect Your Decision To Attend PyCon?

OldSoldier Two Thoughts (759 comments)

Minor one first
WHAT WERE THE ACTUAL COMMENTS??? Can anyone tell me? I've taken comments out of context before and been offended only to be embarrassed when I finally understood the context. In this case, I'm not given the chance to come to my own conclusions as no one is posting the actual comments, only how others perceived them.

Next...
I have to wonder if this may be a watershed event for the public shaming response. Part of the utility of a justice system is enforcing proportional response/punishment for various crimes. Manslaughter warrants less of a penalty than murder, yet in both cases the victim is dead. What offense would warrant the the punishment of a public shaming as widespread as this one is? And if your answer is that it's OK here as it will also serve as a deterrent to others then what was your opinion of the RIAA suing a woman for $222,000?

about a year ago
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Twitter Sued For $50M For Refusing To Identify Anti-Semitic Users

OldSoldier Re:I've been waiting for this... (335 comments)

Why is this even an "internet company" question... If I live in France and subscribe to a US magazine that I get in the mail could France sue that magazine for similar reasons? Would that US magazine be held accountable to French courts? Would/Could France prohibit that magazine from entering the country?

about a year ago
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Australian Tax Office Stores Passwords In Clear Text

OldSoldier Re:Storing plaintext passwords should be illegal (84 comments)

Agreed about making it illegal... but many US companies store passwords in clear text too. Most notably many cell phone companies store your PINs in cleartext... any agent at the carrier can see what yours is.

This has been a pet peeve of mine for years... when companies have (are required?) privacy policies about what they do with your personal information yet there's no discussion at all as to what they do with your passwords, it's like putting a bandaid on a severed artery.

about a year and a half ago
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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: Forget the iPad, Surface Is the Tablet People Want

OldSoldier Re:First impressions on Surface (403 comments)

My first exposure to the MS "Surface" term was a few years back when they used it to describe their TABLE offering.The coolest thing about this (IMHO) was the build-in "picture scanning" technology. (Scroll down to the "computer vision"/"object recognition" section.) I kinda hoped the new tablet would employ some of the same technology (I'd love to be able to lay a business card down on the face of the tablet and have it scan in automatically).

If MS did that... that would really rock the world!

about 2 years ago
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Avoiding Red Lights By Booking Ahead

OldSoldier They'll do that when they fix... (299 comments)

Highway on-ramp lights.

Ok, this is a pet peeve of mine, but we're all programmers here. The situation is an on-ramp for a highway has 2 lanes each with traffic metering lights. One line has 2+ cars lined up, the other has none. New car rolls up to the neighboring lane and immediately the light turns green for him. WTF? Seems this is lazy programming. Two clock chips timing the green for each light, when the fairer method would be one timer that either gives all the traffic to the only light with cars queued up or evenly alternates between the 2 occupied lanes. Would that have been so hard for the original designers of the system to implement? To me this is the most visible sign of lazy programming I've even run across as an ordinary user.

more than 2 years ago
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Tanks Test Infrared Camouflage Cloak

OldSoldier Moving Panel Images (309 comments)

> The cameras can also work when the tank is moving.

Did anyone else envision a 1000 heat pixel display on moving tank being made to display an image of a **moving** cow when they read this sentence? Somehow just seems funny.

more than 2 years ago
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The Most Expensive One-Byte Mistake

OldSoldier Re:The Road Not Taken (594 comments)

The narrator as "vain, shallow individual" is entirely a character pulled out of your hindquarters, as there is nothing in the text of the poem to lead to that conclusion.

I've heard this too. I believe it was an NPR story. That story (whoever it was) was relayed by a friend of Frost's who said Frost was irritated at a colleague who behaved just as the commenter posted which inspired Frost (in part?) to write that poem. Sorry I can't find the link.

more than 2 years ago
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The Dangers Of Amateur Astronomy In Afghanistan

OldSoldier Re:If you're doing nothing wrong... (137 comments)

I'm sorry... should have mentioned that this was done with the cooperation of school officials.

So, we were NOT trespassing. Although I do wonder if someone called the school officials and double checked and that's what called off the 'copter.

about 3 years ago
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The Dangers Of Amateur Astronomy In Afghanistan

OldSoldier Re:If you're doing nothing wrong... (137 comments)

Some minor harassment happens in the US too. We were doing a star viewing event at a local elementary school. There were perhaps 3 big dobsonians and 2 or so smaller scopes, 20-30 people in the ball field of this school at 10:00 in the fall (so it was very dark, well past sundown) and somehow a police helicopter started circling us. We figured some neighbor must have called about some activity in the school and maybe there was a helicopter already near by so the local authorities dispatched it instead of a squad car. Thing is, it wasn't a quick fly-by. It circled us about 10 times, but otherwise left us alone. No police lights, no spot light, no loud speaker announcement, just 10 very noisy circles of our location then it went away.

I think unusual activity of any kind gets noticed and "inspected" these days.

about 3 years ago
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The Dangers Of Amateur Astronomy In Afghanistan

OldSoldier Re:Now THAT is sacrifice for science, brother (137 comments)

These poor bastards have to practice astronomy in a country where 70% of the population is illiterate,

AND they have to practice it at night, in the dark too!

about 3 years ago
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Court to Decide If Man Can Keep His Moon Rock

OldSoldier Re:Good call (390 comments)

If the government's response is to sue people for doing such things though, then why bother in the first place?

To put it more bluntly: would you rather it be in a private collection or lost completely? Those are your two options.

Although this may be going in a direction different than you intended, I wish the government took a longer view on many more things. In this situation it seems reasonable to let the person "own" this as compensation for his efforts at salvage but to restrict his ability to pass it along to his heirs and instead when he dies it reverts to the government.

I recognize there are a lot of practical difficulties with this, but in principle, there ought to be a middle ground between turn over immediately and keep forever and if the government can't take a longer view of a middle path, who can?

about 3 years ago
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DOJ: We Can Force You To Decrypt That Laptop

OldSoldier Re:When Can They Force Decryption? (887 comments)

I read the article and it appears in this case it's NEITHER the TSA nor the CBP, but regular law enforcement. The article makes no mention that the woman traveled across country lines and the password was requested upon re-entering the country. It DOES make a reference to how revealing this password is similar to giving up the keys to a safe in your home (should the LEO have a court order I assume).

about 3 years ago

Submissions

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Password Storage and Privacy Policies

OldSoldier OldSoldier writes  |  more than 2 years ago

OldSoldier (168889) writes "Privacy policies talk about what companies will do with your personal data. Some policies you may like some you may not like, but disclosure of the policies is the key thing. My problem is these policies neglect to mention the single most important data item sites collect about you, your password. It seems most companies do one of three things with your password. a) store it in the clear, b) store it encrypted or c) store it encrypted but you need to share it with an operator to use it. Examples of this last variation include any pin-like code you need to verbally share with a phone operator to (say) adjust your billing record.

The thing is I care deeply which policy is in place at whatever company wants me to give a password. I will give different passwords depending on the type of system they use. Yet trying to determine which system they use is very difficult.

Government requires privacy policies yet appear to be mute on this very important issue. What can we as slashdot readers do (or should we do) to fix this situation?"
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Password Security Policy

OldSoldier OldSoldier writes  |  more than 3 years ago

OldSoldier (168889) writes "I recently signed up with a company that does background checks for prospective employees. I had forgotten my password (or so I thought) and called them to get a new one. Their email back to me included my original password, NOT a reset one!

This is not the first time this has happened to me. Several years ago I had forgotten my [Wireless Carrier] Account password (who uses those?) and when I was in a Sprint store the clerk happily pulled up my account and told me what it was.

With all the privacy policies that exist and/or are mandated by government regulation I'm stunned that there is no similar legislation for password management. I would think that companies like cell phone companies and this background check company would know better. But more to the point, I'd like to know what the "password policy" of a company was before I am required to create an account on their site."

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