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Congress Passes Bill Allowing Warrantless Forfeiture of Private Communications

Xylantiel Re:PRIVATE encryption of everything just became... (378 comments)

I think typically each file would be encrypted with a separate symmetric key. Then you can choose who is able to decrypt it by sticking a header with this key encrypted for various public/private key pairs. Then all you have to do is remove one of the encrypted keys, not re-upload the whole file.

As far as I know asymmetric encryption is never used the way you say in practice. It is too slow. It is used to encrypt a key for a symmetric cipher that is then used to encrypt the actual data. And that "combining your private key and their public key" statement is nonsense. Your private key is useless for securing information originating from you, since your public key is, well, public. It is useful for authenticating that information came from you, which is independent of recipient.

This is all setting aside the fact that once a party has access to some data, "revoking" that access has a sortof squishy meaning because they can just keep a copy of what they retrieved before.

about a week ago
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MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

Xylantiel Re:Just wondering... (416 comments)

I would expect removing them would be to prevent anyone else being a victim. Rather than marking every page with him on it with a "warning this former faculty was found to have sexually harassed students," the prudent course of action is to shut it all down and sort things out later. While Lewin is no longer active in the courses, they are still active courses and a student might approach him if they didn't know about the issue. There are plenty of other physics faculty at MIT that can fill in the content.

about a week ago
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James Watson's Nobel Prize Medal Will Be Returned To Him

Xylantiel Re:One good turn... (234 comments)

But until recently people usually had equity in their home, so it wasn't a net negative, since the home itself has value and can be sold for more than the cost of paying off the mortgage. But since the financial crisis, there is a decent segment of the population that have negative equity

about a week ago
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Comcast Forgets To Delete Revealing Note From Blog Post

Xylantiel Re:only an idiot would buy services from comcast / (114 comments)

Well just so you know, I tried DSL via POTS and gave up (with full refund) because I couldn't get more that a few hundred kbps. I have no other cable internet vendor option other than comcast. So I'm in that category of "competition will not decrease" because there currently is no competition. (Actually the FCC probably counts my neighborhood as having DSL access, but it is a fiction.)

about two weeks ago
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MasterCard Rails Against Bitcoin's (Semi-)Anonymity

Xylantiel Re:I agree (111 comments)

Right... transaction reporting. The bitcoin register is public. Everything is reported to everyone. That's how the system works.

about two weeks ago
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Chromebooks Overtake iPads In US Education Market

Xylantiel Re:Google Docs (193 comments)

Another question you should ask yourself is -- is this legal under educational data privacy laws? The answer is probably not, but as usual with internet things people just ignore the laws.

about two weeks ago
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Revisiting Open Source Social Networking Alternatives

Xylantiel Friendica and redmatrix (88 comments)

I have been happily using Friendica for a family network for a while. While quirky, it works, and has a bunch of stuff for interoperating with other sites including facebook and even using RSS feeds. In terms of privacy, development has moved on to redmatrix. The problem being that going to a truly privacy-oriented framework means interoperability is out.

But really it seems like the protocol and the software need to be separated so that different social networking software can interoperate. There is already some of this in friendica for protocols like identi.ca and others. Nominally redmatrix is still largely just a protocol: Zot, but the user interface is progressing.

Sad that neither of these are on this guy's list. I think the wikipedia page on open social networking services is more informative than this article.

about three weeks ago
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WhatsApp To Offer End-to-End Encryption

Xylantiel Re:Wikr (93 comments)

If you think this is secure against the FBI you are kidding yourself. Since it is a closed-source app, wickr has control of your private key and they only CHOOSE not to copy it off the device. They can simply be served with a NSL to pull that info from your device. Now if you're only trying to keep things private from criminals and corporations, you're probably good.

about a month ago
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How Facebook Is Influencing Who Will Win the Next Election

Xylantiel Re:Elections are Popularity Contests (72 comments)

Yes the advantage of a multi-party system is that not every policy decision is a nuclear war for control. Parties will ally in different ways on different issues and therefore it is less likely that partisan bickering will hold up general function of government.

But it is perhaps a bigger problem currently the the loudest and most abrasive elements have almost complete control of the public dialog. This is not really a symptom of the two-party system, but of the prevalence and power of advertising-driven media. And, back on topic, data-mining-backed advertising with extensive personal information like facebook can do is frightening.

about a month ago
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Magnetic Field In Meteorite Provides Clues About Formation of Solar System

Xylantiel Really a question of: Where did chondrules form? (26 comments)

The linked article is not really even an article, but I think the interesting science topic is that we don't understand where chondrules form. They are somehow formed in the early solar system by melting refrectory elements together. But how and where that melting occurs in not known (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chondrule#Formation.

It is thought that the formation might be related to dissipation of magnetic fields in the protoplanetary disk or the young sun (so-called magnetic reconnection) but it is not clear. I expect this study is trying to test this type of hypothesis by attempting to ascertain the magnetic field in which the chondrules were formed.

Note that this is NOT the magnetic field causing the formation of the solar system, as stated in the summary. I have no idea where the submitter or editor got that, as it is not in the (non-)article linked. Chondrule formation is a critical process for creating building blocks of planets, but it is pretty tricky to interpret that as the "cause of the formation of the solar system."

about 1 month ago
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Comcast Kisses-Up To Obama, Publicly Agrees On Net Neutrality

Xylantiel Re:Window Dressing. (258 comments)

So, yes, some of us are a bit irked that the Great Hope passed a conservative health care reform bill.....

Then you are out of touch with reality, since trying to get single-payer through would have provoked a the same sort of overwhelming ad campaign from the insurance companies that it did in the 90s. And the american public is so easily manuplated by this sort of thing that nothing would have happened.

about a month ago
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81% of Tor Users Can Be De-anonymized By Analysing Router Information

Xylantiel Re:After Reading The Paper (136 comments)

But it probably is a problem if your opponent is a state-level actor. For example, China (and the US probably too) probably monitors connections to known tor entry/exit nodes. Given the attack mentioned, someone using tor in china is safe as long as the server being contacted is known to not be acting in concert with the adversary. However, if the server (or its connection to the tor entry/exit nodes) is also under control of the same adversary, then the connection can be de-anonymized. So this is a problem for chinese bloggers blogging on chinese blogs, but not so much on foreign blogs hosted outside china. Though it appears blog traffic would probably be too small to facilitate a successful attack.

about a month ago
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The Students Who Feel They Have the Right To Cheat

Xylantiel Re:Worthless degrees (438 comments)

As with another poster, I have learned a whole new meaning to rote memorization. Even in courses in the U.S. that are "just memorization and regurgitation" it is typically not literally word-for-word memorization and regurgitation. I thought that people meant that the tests would be the same problems as the homework, but I didn't imagine it could get to the point where the test was just memorizing and re-writing the solutions, with little regard for correctness. It's like a Brazil-esque caricature of the educational process.

about a month ago
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EFF Begins a Campaign For Secure and Usable Cryptography

Xylantiel red matrix and zot (96 comments)

What about RedMatrix and its underlying protocol Zot? (This is what Friendica Red became.) Seems a shame that it isn't even mentioned. But most of the things on the list are oriented toward messaging, not more full-feature peer-to-peer sharing / networking. I think the only downside for Zot is the providor has the key. But you are free to be your own providor or choose one that you trust, and move if that relationship changes.

about a month and a half ago
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The Plane Crash That Gave Us GPS

Xylantiel Re:Paper Maps (236 comments)

Actually it's worse - GPS tells you where you are. If you want to go somewhere else, you might want to look at a map to see where the roads are. GPS makes it possible to have an effectively self-orienting map. How this implies that GPS replaces maps I have no idea.

about a month and a half ago
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Silicon Valley Swings To Republicans

Xylantiel Re:Bang-bang control in action. (485 comments)

How about growing up instead of throwing a temper tantrum. Voting for conservatives because the progressives are not progressive enough is childish and stupid. There are plenty of democrats that don't like the NSA stuff either - most of the work in this area is done by the NCLU and EFF, which are not republican by a long shot - just vote and speak for more progressive democrats. Not against them! duh! (this is assuming you are not a shill paid to manipulate democrats into not turning out to vote. grrr)

about a month and a half ago
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Ebola Forecast: Scientists Release Updated Projections and Tracking Maps

Xylantiel Re:Meh.... Here's the thing ..... (294 comments)

It's not that it would be logistically impossible. It would just be a waste of resources and a hindrance to the process of actually fighting the outbreak on the ground in west africa, which is far more important. This "travel ban is good common sense" stuff is just a political gamesmanship before an election. It's something that sounds good in a sound bite but actually makes things worse. But it is quite revealing about which politicians actually care about good policy for the public and which only care about their political careers.

about a month and a half ago
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Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

Xylantiel Re:This is silly (720 comments)

If you are retired and you didn't factor standard inflation into your plan then you didn't plan correctly. The usage of "a little inflation" is just humorously saying the normal target 2% inflation would be good. Low inflation is not good for the economy as a whole. Ironically one of the reasons inflation is necessary is to appropriately encourage workers to move from less productive (in terms of the overall economy) to more productive jobs because the wage for the less productive one doesn't keep up with inflation. But that assumes in either case the worker is being paid more than minimum wage.

about 2 months ago
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NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

Xylantiel Re: New York (372 comments)

You are wrong. They were not following guidelines, though it is unclear that the appropriate guidelines were communicated well. (i.e. the people handling Duncan were clearly not properly trained).

Blaming the CDC when some Dallas hospital doesn't care enough about their staff to train them properly is stupid. And the CDC has changed policy. Active cases are now being transported to appropriate facilities instead of trusting that random regional hospitals know how to train their staff properly. (you make your own conclusions about mid-level health care from that.)

And that the administration is worried about political correctness is a complete strawman. They have said quite clearly that the problem with a travel ban or quarantine would be that it would make fighting the outbreak more difficult rather than better. The best chance here is to get the resources into west africa and stop the outbreak there. Travel bans and quarantines on non-symptomatic people only pointlessly waste resources to make you feel good about your ignorance.

about 2 months ago

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