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NSA CTO Patrick Dowd Moonlighting For Private Security Firm

Trepidity Re:Communist (83 comments)

Under communism there is no private sector, thereby solving the problem of government officials moonlighting for private-sector companies. ;-)

about a week ago
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Google Announces Motorola-Made Nexus 6 and HTC-Made Nexus 9

Trepidity Re:phablet (201 comments)

I hope it does along with the form factor...

about a week ago
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Federal Government Removes 7 Americans From No-Fly List

Trepidity Re:confusing many very different lists (124 comments)

I'm not sure if it's the same as the "terrorist watch list", but there's some kind of intermediate "can fly, but only after extra hassle" list also. I was on one for a while, apparently because of some British person with the same name as mine (I'm American, but have a very common English name). I couldn't use web check-in and had to always go to the airport to check-in with a person, who would first assume I was just dumb and didn't know how to use the machine, then after they verified I could indeed not check in on the machine, they'd poke around at the desk a bit, then call someone, check my ID, then give me a boarding pass, I guess after verifying I was not the other guy. Could've been worse, but was pretty annoying, especially because nobody would actually explain what was going on.

about two weeks ago
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More Details On The 3rd-Party Apps That Led to Snapchat Leaks

Trepidity Re:half-true, half-not-true (100 comments)

Android could perfectly well let you give an app local permissions without giving it call-out-to-the-network permissions. Snapsave shouldn't need to ever call out to external servers in the first place, if it does only what it advertises.

Android doesn't do this because of their broken ad-based ecosystem, though: they don't want to draw your attention to apps that unnecessarily call out to the network, because the most common reason for doing so is to show ads.

about two weeks ago
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More Details On The 3rd-Party Apps That Led to Snapchat Leaks

Trepidity half-true, half-not-true (100 comments)

It's true that without controlling the endpoints, Snapchat can't stop one particular attack vector: the people who control those devices saving images themselves. The usual "DRM" problem.

But what seems to have happened here is that users installed an app which, unbeknownst to them, sent copies of the images to a third-party server. That threat model is possible to guard against, although it's arguably more an issue with Android than Snapchat that something like that easily happens without users noticing, because Android's app-permission model leaks like a sieve.

about two weeks ago
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Goodbye, World? 5 Languages That Might Not Be Long For This World

Trepidity Re:Perl? (547 comments)

It's used in a ton of places in the bowels of big companies as well.

about two weeks ago
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Belkin Router Owners Suffering Massive Outages

Trepidity Re:Mod parent up. (191 comments)

Apple does that too, though on end-user machines. When connecting to wifi, it doesn't enable the connection until it first verifies you're really connected. It does that by trying to pull a specific known Apple URL. If it doesn't get the expected contents, it guesses you're behind a wifi hotspot's login wall, and pops up the "please log in" page. The intent of this is to make sure apps like Dropbox and your email and whatever don't think they're back online and start failing connections, in the time between when you connect to a hotspot wifi and when you log in. But it also means that if Apple's URL goes down, wifi connection will end up with extra hoops to jump through to get it to work.

about two weeks ago
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Why Military Personnel Make the Best IT Pros

Trepidity Re:Military personnel have a different attitude... (299 comments)

I don't have any experience with the military, but I do have experience working with defense contractors on DARPA projects, and in that context I have not been very impressed.

about two weeks ago
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David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

Trepidity Re:Simple answer (942 comments)

First of all, barely anybody lives in Saskatchewan. It has about 0.2% of the population of North America. If you plot a population density map of the continent, Saskatchewan is in the "unpopulated' part of the continent.

Second, I'm not claiming it never spikes or dips to those temperatures, just that nowhere inhabited actually stays in those range of temperatures for any significant length of time, except a few Siberian cities that exist for strange Soviet-related historical reasons. There is no month of the year in which the average temperature in Saskatoon is below 0 F. The coldest is December, which has an average temperature of 4 F (average high 14 F, average low -5 F).

Now Yakutsk, Russia, that's a cold city, which somehow has as many people as Saskatoon. Average temperature in December? -37 F (average high -31 F, average low -43 F). That is uninhabitable territory, but the USSR managed to inhabit it, go figure. However outside of Siberia, you don't find cities in such climates.

about three weeks ago
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David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

Trepidity Re:Simple answer (942 comments)

A rounding error from zero people live in such temperatures. Not even the inhabited parts of Norway have such a climate. Some parts of Siberia, basically, which were forcibly settled by the USSR.

about three weeks ago
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David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

Trepidity Re:Simple answer (942 comments)

It does vaguely fit North American weather patterns: 0-100 F is vaguely habitable, below 0 F is unlivably cold, above 100 F is unlivably hot.

about three weeks ago
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Linux Foundation Announces Major Network Functions Virtualization Project

Trepidity Re:Businessese Bingo (40 comments)

* complex open source middleware

* for the cloud

about three weeks ago
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Medical Records Worth More To Hackers Than Credit Cards

Trepidity Re:Scarier (78 comments)

My experience with doctor's offices has been that everything is kept on paper, and they fax things around if they need to transfer the data "electronically"...

about three weeks ago
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Update: At Least 31 People Feared Dead After Japan Volcano Erupts

Trepidity Re:wow - this is so tech (54 comments)

Natural-phenomenon news is one of those things that isn't a recent /. change. Random example.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Swift Or Objective-C As New iOS Developer's 1st Language?

Trepidity Re:Obj-C (316 comments)

It is now under the primary control of Apple, certainly, but it didn't "come out of the Apple compiler group" as you erroneously stated. It came out of the University of Illinois's compiler group. In addition, Lattner was not the only person developing it there.

It is true that LLVM has been Apple-driven since 2005, but it didn't come out of Apple— they picked it up after it was already out there.

about a month ago
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Apple Yet To Push Patch For "Shellshock" Bug

Trepidity Re:Bash a bad fit for osx (208 comments)

That's getting less common since Debian and Ubuntu no longer have bash as /bin/sh. There are still packages that expect that, but they now don't work on Debian, Ubuntu, or the BSDs, which starts to make it more likely the authors will care about fixing them.

about a month ago
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Australian Senate Introduces Laws To Allow Total Internet Surveillance

Trepidity Re:Don't complain... (212 comments)

Depends on what part of the government. People on the (American) left tend to be in favor of social spending but against military/police/prison spending; people on the right tend to be in favor of military/police/prison spending but against social spending. With various quirks and exceptions on either side, e.g. rural conservatives are in favor of farm subsidies (a kind of social spending) while some "national security democrats" are in favor of the War On Terror and military/police spending.

about a month ago
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Australian Senate Introduces Laws To Allow Total Internet Surveillance

Trepidity Re:Don't complain... (212 comments)

There is a small-government strain of the American right, and especially a lot of small-government rhetoric, but in terms of actual policies, the Republican Party generally expands the size of government (and faster than the Democratic Party does, though they also do). The three post-WW2 presidents who expanded government the most are: Nixon (R), LBJ (D), and Reagan (R).

about a month ago
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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Premieres On Linux, 2 Years After Windows

Trepidity Re:Awesome (93 comments)

What'd be even better is if Linux got traction with games where you didn't have to install the PoS that is Steam to play them...

about 1 month ago

Submissions

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Political Pressure Pushes NASA Technical Reports Offline

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Trepidity writes "The extensive NASA Technical Report Archive was just taken offline, following pressure from members of U.S. Congress, worried that Chinese researchers could be reading the reports. U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) demanded that "NASA should immediately take down all publicly available technical data sources until all documents that have not been subjected to export control review have received such a review", and NASA appears to have complied. Although all reports are in the public domain, there doesn't appear to be a third-party mirror available (some university libraries do have subsets on microfiche)."
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AI Systems Designing Games

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "AI systems can (sort of) paint and compose classical music, but can they design games? Slashdot looked at the question a few years ago, and several research groups now have experimental systems that design board games and platformers with varying levels of success. I've put together a survey of the AI game designers I know of, to round up what they can do so far (and what they can't). Are there any others out there?"
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US Navy Admiral Questions Expensive Stealth Platforms

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "United States Navy Admiral and Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert stirred a controversy by questioning much of the thinking underlying current U.S. defense technology. He argues that stealth technology is unlikely to retain its usefulness much into the future, and so focus should switch towards standoff weapons. In addition, he criticizes the focus on expensive all-in-one platforms such as the F-35 fighter, arguing for a payload-centric, flexible approach he compares to trucks rather than luxury cars."
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Appeals Court rules TOS violations aren't criminal

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "In a decision today (pdf), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act "does not extend to violations of use restrictions", and therefore violating terms of service and corporate use policies is not a federal crime. Law profesor Orin Kerr cheered the decision, but since three other Courts of Appeals have reached opposite decisions, it might be heading to the Supreme Court."
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MP3Tunes wins victory for cloud music storage

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Trepidity writes "In a case being closely watched by companies like Amazon and Google, for the implications it could have for their own cloud-based "music locker" services, a judge ruled in the case of MP3Tunes that the way such services operate is generally legal. In particular, they are eligible for DMCA safe-harbor protections, and de-duplication of identical files uploaded by different users does not create a "master copy" that would make the company liable for public-performance royalties. Furthermore, if a fingerprint finds an exact match with an already-uploaded file, the company can legally skip the actual uploading step, rather than only de-duplicating after upload. While this is good news for many other such services, MP3Tunes itself partially lost, because they hadn't properly responded to DMCA takedown notices, and the company's founder had made the bone-headed move of personally distributing public links to some of the "privately" stored copyrighted music. Full decision here (PDF)."
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Gamification roundup

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Trepidity writes "Controversy continues over the seemingly unstoppable trend of "gamification" (something Slashdot's covered previously). The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business held a Gamification Symposium entitled "For The Win" this week, indicating apparent academic respectability. But in the opening panel debating definitions of "gamification", one participant, game scholar Ian Bogost, defined it as "bullshit". Elsewhere, Jon Radoff responds that it may not be bullshit, but is too focused on superficial behaviorism rather than deeper gameplay. For my part, I wonder if by claiming gamification is a completely new thing, rather than just a new word, we're missing out on important past lessons, like the very strange history of Soviet gamification."
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Places with the most Wikipedia articles

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Trepidity writes "Wikipedia has been making an effort to mark up articles with latitude-longitude coordinates when they refer to a specific location. It's now done so for over a million articles (across all languages). I was curious which parts of the world have gotten the most coverage. The answer is: Florence, Italy has the most articles within a 1-km-diameter circle; and London tops both the 10-km and 100-km lists. Here are the full results."
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Cow Clicker tackles world hunger

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Trepidity writes "Cow Clicker distilled Facebook games down to their essence: clicking on cows. Since then, though, social games have upped their sights, focusing on lofty goals like solving hunger, disease, and poverty. Not wanting to miss this utopian gaming trend, Cow Clicktivism turns clicks on cows into real cows, via Oxfam America. Even better, anyone with a revolutionary idea for how clicking on cows can fix the world can now implement it, using the Cow Clicker API."
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Cow Clicker: The Essence of Facebook Games

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mjn writes "Game designer and academic Ian Bogost announces Cow Clicker, a Facebook game implementing the mechanics of the Facebook-games genre stripped to their core. You get a cow, which you can click on every six hours. You earn additional clicks if your friends in your pasture also click. You can buy premium cows with 'mooney', and also use your mooney to buy more clicks. You can buy mooney with real dollars, or earn some free bonus mooney if you spam up your feed with Cow Clicker activity. A satire of Facebook games, but actually as genuine a game as the non-satirical games are. And people actually play it, perhaps confirming Bogost's view that the genre of games is largely just "brain hacks that exploit human psychology in order to make money", which continue to work even when the users are openly told what's going on."
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Facebook retroactively makes more user data public

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mjn writes "In yet another backtrack from their privacy policy, Facebook has decided to retroactively move more information into the public, indexable part of profiles. The new profile parts made public are: a list of things users have become "fans" of (now renamed to "likes"), their education and work histories, and what they list under "interests". Apparently there is neither any opt-out nor even notice to users, despite the fact that some of this information was entered by users at a time when Facebook's privacy policy explicitly promised that it wouldn't be part of the public profile."
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Library of Congress to Archive All Tweets

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mjn writes "Continuing their recent push to archive more digital content, the U.S. Library of Congress announced a deal with Twitter to archive all public tweets, dating back to Twitter's inception in March 2006. More details at their blog. No word yet on precisely what will be done with the collection, but besides entering your friends' important updates on the quality of breakfast into the permanent archival record, the deal may improve access for researchers wanting to analyze and mine Twitter's giant database."
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Prison bans D&D for mimicking gang structure

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Trepidity writes "In a case that has been winding its way through the courts for a bit, a Wisconsin prison banned inmates from playing Dungeons & Dragons, using the justification that 'one player is denoted the Dungeon Master... [who] is tasked with giving directions to other players ... [which] mimics the organization of a gang'. The prison also cited some sparse evidence that a handful of non-inmate D&D players once committed some crimes that allegedly were related to their D&D playing. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld [pdf] the regulation Monday against challenges from inmates. The court appeared skeptical of the ban, sarcastically referring to it as the 'war on D&D', but nonetheless upheld it as having a 'rational basis'. Law prof. Ilya Somin suggests that the court may have had no choice, given how deferential rational-basis review usually is."
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The Murky Origins of Zork's Name

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mjn writes "Computational media researcher Nick Montfort traces the murky origins of Zork's name. It's well known that the word was used in MIT hacker jargon around that time, but how did it get there? Candidates are the term "zorch" from late 1950s DIY electronics slang, the use of the term as a placeholder in some early 1970s textbooks, the typo a QWERTY user would get if he typed "work" on an AZERTY keyboard, and several uses in obscure sci-fi. No solid answers so far, though, as there are problems with many of the possible explanations, that would have made MIT hackers unlikely to have run across them at the right time."
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Supreme Court skeptical of business method patents

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Trepidity writes "The U.S. Supreme Court held oral argument Monday in Bilski , a business-methods patent case that might also have important implications for software patents (Slashdot's previously covered the case several times). The tone of the argument appears to be good news, as the justices were very skeptical of the broad patentability claims. They even brought up a parade of absurd hypothetical patents quite similar to the ones Slashdotters tend to mention in these kinds of debates. Roberts surmised that "buy low, sell high" might be a patentable business method, Sotomayor wondered if speed-dating could be patentable, Breyer questioned whether a professor could patent a lesson plan that kept his students from falling asleep, and Scalia brought up the old-time radio soap opera Lorenzo Jones , featuring a hare-brained inventor with delusions of getting rich."
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Lori Drew case cyberbullying case dismissed

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "About 7 weeks after the judge tentative overturned Lori Drew's guilty verdict for "cyberbullying" following her online harassment of a teenager that was linked to the teenager's suicide, the case was finally officially dismissed. In a 32-page opinion [PDF], the court avoided a minefield of possible follow-on effects that civil-liberties groups had warned of by holding that merely violating a website's Terms of Service cannot constitute "unauthorized access" for the purposes of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C. 1030)."
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Computing education on a treadmill?

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Mark J. Nelson writes "A recent op-ed discusses some educators co-opting cell phones to be used for educational purposes: "Among the exercises, students measured the area of a school hallway, recorded the geologic stages of the rock cycle and found mean, median, mode and range from a group of numbers. They sketched and even animated on the phones." While this might be a useful strategy, Prof. Mark Guzdial wonders if computers in education are on something of a fashion treadmill. Previously, students used graphing calculators for all these things; now we're reinventing the same thing on cell phones. In other areas, the "Hello World" of yore, having grown stale, has been replaced with playing a sound or displaying some graphics. Is progress in CS education really just a process of constantly updating the same fundamental stuff with a fresh look?"
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Harmful Effects of SPEC Storage Benchmarks

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "Sun engineer Bryan Cantrill, probably best known as one of the designers of DTrace and now working on storage servers, wrote an interesting thorough dismantling of the SPEC storage server benchmarks, accusing them of driving worse performance and especially worse performance-per-price for most workloads. In particular, they seem to be based on workload assumptions from 1986 with little revision (ironically, largely from 1986-era Sun documents), and have particularly egregious requirements for large, randomly accessed working sets that effectively make caching architectures useless, instead rewarding architectures that just throw a bunch of really fast, expensive drives into a box. Coincidentally, that's what the ultra-expensive products from entrenched market leader NetApp do. Cantrill isn't a neutral observer, of course: his current work is on cache-heavy storage architectures based around SSDs and ZFS. But his criticisms still seem pretty solid."
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Airport-Security Game iPhone Approval Woes

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "G4TV has a segment on the iPhone App Store approval process of JetSet, a game parodying airport security policies. While you might think Apple objected to the concept itself, they rejected it instead for "inappropriate sexual content", apparently because of the inclusion of items like underwire bras (which are notorious for setting off metal detectors). Worse, they initially didn't say what parts of the game they objected to, leading to a months-long guessing process to get the game eventually approved."
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Atari 2600 Book Released

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "AtariAge reports that 'Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System' was just published by MIT Press. It seems to be the first book-length retrospective on the Atari VCS (2600), covering its hardware, programming, business rise and fall, culture, aesthetics, and how all those interrelated to produce one of the most influential gaming platforms. Authors Ian Bogost and Nick Montfort chose six cartridges for particularly in-depth study: Combat, Adventure, Pac-Man, Yars' Revenge, Pitfall!, and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. (The title is a reference to the line-by-line video output required by the 2600's lack of a framebuffer.)"
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MIPS/Linux hacker Thiemo Seufer dies

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "Longtime Linux-MIPS hacker Thiemo Seufer died in a car accident on December 26. Among other things, he was a major contributor to the Linux kernel's MIPS port, served as the MIPS maintainer/co-maintainer for binutils for 5 years, was the main supporter of the Debian MIPS port, and produced thousands of patches to free-software packages ranging from SBCL to QEMU to get them working (or working better) on or with the MIPS platform."
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