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Regin Malware In EU Attack Linked To US and British Intelligence Agencies

Zocalo Re:How will I explain this to my children (129 comments)

Do you really have to ask? "Do as I say, not as I do"; the mantra of far too many governments (and parents) for quite some time now.

3 days ago
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Uber Threatens To Do 'Opposition Research' On Journalists

Zocalo Re:Wow ... (299 comments)

I tend to agree about the media. This doesn't really pass the sniff test for me, it sounds more like the Uber exec in question (Emil Michael who apologised almost immediately for his comments) simply shot his mouth off in front of a Buzzfeed journalist out of frustration at the way Uber is being treated by some members of the media and this in no way represents the official company line. Foolish, sure, but when did the media ever care about a little verbal faux pas when you can take it out of context and spin it into a clickbait story about a hot topic to grab some quick ad revenue?

about two weeks ago
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Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

Zocalo Re:Do they have choise but.... (473 comments)

Technically correct, but that doesn't help those people who expected single player to be a fully off-line mode that would let them play the game when an Internet connection was not available. Some people spend a lot of time travelling and like to have something a little more entertaining the Solitaire or Minesweeper to keep them occupied while they have some downtime, even if they are slightly hamstrung by lack of space and limited control options, so when a game promises a fully offline single player mode that's a big draw - especially given how many SP games require connectivity for their copyright protection schemes these days.

That E:D not only reneged on that initial design goal but left it until the last minute to announce the fact when they must have known about it for months comes across as a deliberate bait and switch to keep the money coming in as long as possible to me, especially when considered with the "Give us MOAR money!" rider on many of their newsletters. Sure, there are no guarantees in crowdfunding and the golden rule is "don't give money you can't afford to lose", but annoying a large chunk of your customers right before a major product launch isn't exactly the best of business strategies either. IMO, Frontier badly needs to offer an olive branch here, including at least partial refunds to those that really want one.

about two weeks ago
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I'm most interested in robots that will...

Zocalo Re:Basic jobs, but not to avoid talking (307 comments)

In terms of mental stimulation perhaps, but plenty of people manage to make a living out of doing mundane chores for others or managing those that do the work. True, a lot of people doing this kind of work are in borderline slave labour or actual slave labour, but that is not necessarily the case. There was an article on Slashdot a while ago about how cleaners could make a pretty good living in some of the Scandinavian countries (well, where else?), and there's nothing to stop you popping on a pair of head phones and listening to educational podcasts and the like to benefit yourself at the same time, or just to think something through.

about two weeks ago
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LHC Data Generation Expected To Scale Up To 400PB a Year

Zocalo Re:Compared to Facebook (99 comments)

The porn industry would be a good bet, but on a more serious note the SKA will easily exceed that, once it becomes operational. Lots of radio telescopes, listening on lots of frequencies, and able to run 24/7... I found a few articles on likely data sizes and some of the figures are insanely large - the test size, a mere 1% of the size that final project project will reach, spits out raw data at 60Tbit/s and even after compression that's 1GByte/s. Figures for the completed array are in the range of 1EByte of compressed data (1EByte/day uncompressed) every two weeks or so, or about 70PBytes/day, so even allowing for further data aggregation they are going to be *well* beyond Facebook and the LHC in terms of daily data production.

What's missing from the stuff I looked at was any indication of long term storage capacities for retained data. I get the impression that 70PBytes is then processed and a smaller data set is actually retained, but couldn't find any hard figures on how much volume that the processed data might have, which is the value I think should be used for comparison purposes with Facebook. Maybe someone familiar with the project is reading and can fill in the blanks?

about three weeks ago
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Pirate Bay Co-founder Arrested In Northeastern Thailand

Zocalo Re:Maybe a routine VISA run (189 comments)

Yeah, I suspected that might be the case which is why I mentioned the robustness of the border controls. I've been across several borders between close allies and trading partners where the crossing is largely a formality and you are pretty unlucky if they even look at you, let alone ask for any ID - assuming you even bother using a road with a check point on it. Unless they were specifically watching out for him (a distinct possibility given how the Kim Dotcom arrest appears to have been arranged) it does indeed sound like he might have just got unlucky with a trip to get his tourist visa updated and maybe pay a visit to the in-laws.

about three weeks ago
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Pirate Bay Co-founder Arrested In Northeastern Thailand

Zocalo Re:um yea (189 comments)

I doubt very much that his method of communication with others had anything to do with things. He was arrested at a border checkpoint, so I suspect all that happened was they checked his ID as a matter of routine and got a red flag because of the arrest warrant. I doubt very much that a Thai/Loatian border guard would even know who Fredrik Neij was, let alone recognise his shirt as being the one in his arrest photo. What's more surprising to me is that Neij was attempting border crossings with an outstanding international arrest warrant - unless he wasn't aware of the warrant or the Thailand-Laos border control isn't particularly robust.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Useful Are DMARC and DKIM?

Zocalo Re:SpamAssassin & DKIM (139 comments)

I was talking about the *net* average score for DKIM signed emails as a whole, which does indeed seem to be positive - e.g. more likely to be spam - and pointing out that the one major reason for that being the case is actually Yahoo! because they put a *legimate* DKIM signature on their outbound email regardless of whether it's spam or not. The upshot of that is that a lot of spam from compromised accounts hits the net with a valid DKIM signature and so the probability of an email with a valid DKIM signature being spam is quite a bit lower than it probably ought to be, so SpamAssassin's analysis tool assigns a smaller score to seeing a valid DKIM signature than might otherwise be the case. A fake DKIM signature clearly is going to get a significant score, no matter what.

An individual email will, of course, have a combination of positive and negative scores as you say, with the individual rule scores coming from a statistical analysis of test runs (you can do them yourself if you wish and have a decent corpus - the tool is known as "mass-check") against the team's accumulated email corpus.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Useful Are DMARC and DKIM?

Zocalo SpamAssassin & DKIM (139 comments)

Default scores in SpamAssassin have been assigned based on tests against a large corpus of both emails to obtain a statistical likelihood that a given email will be spam or not for ages, so I take the positive score (more likely to be spam) as a pretty solid indication that its use doesn't provide a good indicator of legitimate mail. Ironically, the biggest culprit for that is probably one of DKIM's biggest proponents, the sheer volume of spam from compromised Yahoo accounts and signed by Yahoo's outbound mail relays is largely responsible for that positive score in my experience - if only they'd do better spam filtering of their outbound email... Not that they are the only ESP with that failing, of course.

about three weeks ago
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

Zocalo Re:Only YEC denies it (669 comments)

Sure, but having God's representative on Earth make the claim is meant to carry a little more weight than the concensus view of a bunch of Cardinals and Bishops, isn't it? Something about the Pope's word supposedly being infallible to Catholics, or some such? Between this, acknowledging the child abuse issue, and the more accepting view of non-heterosexuals he expressed a few days back we've possibly got one of the most progressive Christian leaders of all time leading the largest denomination of the same. Best of all, I don't think he's done yet, and even as an atheist I think that's a great thing. The more conservative members of the conclave are probably wondering if they might have made a huge mistake about now, and it does make a hugely refershing change to see that religion can be progressive after all the fundamentalist crap being used as a cloak for all sorts of personal agendas (because it sure isn't religion) that is nearly all we've been hearing about on that front for the last decade-and-change.

about a month ago
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3D-Printed Gun Earns Man Two Years In Japanese Prison

Zocalo Not in the slightest bit surprised (331 comments)

Seriously, what did he expect? I'm sure there will be some debate from those who live in place where guns are legal and public gun ownership is common place, but in the jurisdiction in question (Japan) they are not. If he'd manufactured some other proscribed substance/object - hard drugs, say - he'd would likely expect to be punished if caught, so I can't imagine why his expectations here would be any different. Is there a statement somewhere justifying why he thought this would be acceptable, because I'm somewhat curious as to how anyone could rationalise this out in this manner other than the claimed "I didn't know"? (Which in any event seems like a very weak legal argument, given the nature of the anti-gun sentiment and any form of an "ignorance of the law is no defence" statute that Japan might have on the books).

about a month ago
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At CIA Starbucks, Even the Baristas Are Covert

Zocalo Re:Yeah So? (242 comments)

Given that they apparently couldn't figure out how to work around the issue for themselves we might not be talking about the most imaginative bunch of case officers here. I can picture it now; they got a whole queue of people called "Bond, James Bond", "Jason Bourne" and "Jack Ryan". Hilarity ensues...

about a month ago
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On Independence for Scotland:

Zocalo Re:Probably a bad idea, but... (192 comments)

I'm in favour of it on behalf of Scottish self-governance, and as a Brit from the NW of England I can only imagine that the feeling that the government in London doesn't give a damn about the provinces is far worse than it is where I grew up. However, overall I think it would be a disaster for both countries. Scotland is much more Pro-EU and Anti-Conservative than the rest of Great Britain, so one likely outcome would be a Conservative victory in the next General Election, resulting in Cameron's promised referedum on EU membership going ahead with a likely victory for the anti-EU crowd in the referendum. Given the likely reaction from the rest of the EU to this, I don't imagine this would work out very well for the rest of the UK.

I'm also deeply concerned by the fact that Salmond's default response to any argument as to a potential problem is accuse people of being "wrong", "bullying", or whatever, but has in almost every instance failed to provide a plan for what the SDP will actually *do* to address the point should they be successful in getting a "Yes" vote. I'm really starting to think they have no idea what they are going to do in the event of gaining independance, other than to thrash out a plan in the aftermath of the vote - as if a half-baked plan is going to work for anyone. Finally, even if Scotland gains independance and manages a successful transition to higher GDP and wealth, does anyone *seriously* think that those benefits are going to be distributed where they are needed, and not simply end up in the back pockets of the politicians and business leaders that get to determine how the new nation is going to work?

about 2 months ago
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To prepare for a coronal mass ejection, I ...

Zocalo Head for the hills, or the coast, or... (151 comments)

CMEs usually lead to an enhanced chance of aurora, so if I'm in a suitable location it's more a case of getting the camera gear out and heading off to somewhere scenic and away from any major source of light pollution. Keep watching the skies, we could be in for something spectacular if it hits us head on.

about 3 months ago
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Is It Time To Split Linux Distros In Two?

Zocalo Re:No Need (282 comments)

I would say the same thing. The user can currently either choose a different "sub-distro" based on their primary flavour of choice, opt for a desktop/server specific spin, or just accept the current one distro to rule them all but just install the necessary packages for what they want approach. There really shouldn't be any need to split a Linux distro (or BSD distro for that matter) in two for this (and why stop there, why not a phone/tablet optimised version, or one for embedded devices...?) - just provide a specific spin for desktop that includes a selection of GUIs and another for servers that includes a broader selection of alternative server daemons and maybe a simple GUI for those that really need it. Apply some task specific optimizations to the default configuration files for bonus points and off we go.

about 3 months ago
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GSOC Project Works To Emulate Systemd For OpenBSD

Zocalo Re:Er? (314 comments)

Where, exactly, do I state that I am putting a GUI on a server? Perhaps you got confused when I mentioned Gnome requiring SystemD as an example of how applications making SystemD a dependency was forcing distros into a Hobson's Choice of either adopting SystemD whether they want to or not, or going through a lot of pain to replace it with an alternative when it breaks major dependencies like Gnome? RHEL, like many distros, includes Gnome - but how many of those distros have adopted SystemD mostly as a result of this, not because it is better or worse than the alternatives?

Note also that I point out that the dependencies work in *both* directions; as antientropic points out Gnome requiring SystemD is absolutely an issue with the Gnome team and nothing to do with SystemD, but it does have implications in that it helps build a mess of inter-dependencies that is making it increasingly hard to strip systems down to the minimum. RHEL's insistance on NetworkManager by default, with all the baggage that brings, doesn't inspire confidence either, as this is apparently one of the next daemon in SystemD's sights - maybe SystemD can improve it, but I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, regardless of that, we've made our choice and moved to BSD; SystemD played a significant part in that, but it definitely wasn't the only factor, as I noted in my OP. ?

about 3 months ago
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DNA sequencing of coffee's best use:

Zocalo Re:Context (228 comments)

Improving the qualities of robusta or the hardiness of arabica, either works for me. I love the smell and taste of a well prepared coffee, but the increasing use of robusta has started to mess with my digestive system for some reason (I suspect the part that makes robusta taste bitter) making me feel like I've drunk acid. Adding sugar or salt (depending on the chain) helps a bit, but the result has been to pretty much stop me from buying coffee to drink from the usual high-street chains that are all we available here, and my attempts to offer feedback in the form of suggesting a "premium" high-arabica based brew don't seem to be getting very far.

about 3 months ago
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GSOC Project Works To Emulate Systemd For OpenBSD

Zocalo Re:Er? (314 comments)

I have three main issues with SystemD that might help you understand where some of us are coming from:

1. It effectively works as a monolithic replacement for several daemons, contra to core UNIX design tenets, and even though some of those sub-daemons can be swapped out with an alternative, often that works by running the second daemon in parallel - you can't actually disable the SystemD equivalent, let alone remove it altogether. This makes troubleshooting much more complicated when something goes wrong, especially if you have booted a system from a recovery disk to troubleshoot after a crash, compromise, or whatever and can no longer directly access several of the key sources of information necessary to do that.

2. Because of the growing number of packages that depend on SystemD, and vice-versa, it's creating a huge mess of package inter-dependencies that mean that it's getting almost impossible to build a stripped down and hardened server. Ballmer might have been right with his "Cancer" comment, he just wasn't specific enough: Gnome requires SystemD, $distro wants to bundle Gnome, therefore $distro adopts SystemD - and forces the default install of all the other package dependencies that go with it, thereby increasing the attack surface of the system. So much for hardening systems by removing all superflous code, huh?

3. All that cruft seems to be bogging the system down. We are currently migrating a large number (much larger than planned after initial results) of systems from RHEL to BSD - a decision taken due to general unhappiness with RHEL6, but SystemD pushed us towards BSD rather than another Linux distro - and in some cases are seeing throughput gains of greater than 10% on what should be equivalent Linux and BSD server builds. The re-learning curve wasn't as steep as we expected, general system stability seems to be better too, and BSD's security reputation goes without saying.

That said assuming that it "just works" a SystemD based desktop with everything from a desktop application down to the kernel talking through the same set of core services does sound like a nice idea. The problem is that most of us are not actually running Linux desktops; we're running servers and would just like the OS to mostly get the hell out of the way so we can get on with running whatever server daemons we are using. If SystemD were better architected - say a core PID1 init replacement, then a bunch of optional packages I don't even need to install if I want to use an alternative or not bother with at all, plus a massive clean up of the dependency hell that it has introduced - then I'd be a lot happier with it, but as it stands I just can't see including it on a hardened Internet facing server as being a remotely sane thing to do.

about 3 months ago
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Invasion of Ukraine Continues As Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Sabre Rattling

Zocalo Re:Not the end... (789 comments)

Also, since both sides are talking via the UN and elsewhere neither side appears to have breached 6 either.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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Star Citizen takes the crowdfunding crown, reboots the Space Sim genre?

Zocalo Zocalo writes  |  about 2 years ago

Zocalo (252965) writes "Star Citizen, Chris Robert's attempt to reboot the Space Sim genre, hit a major funding milestone earlier today, exceeding the previous record of $4,163,208 secured by the game Project Eternity and more than doubling the initial funding target set by the producer of the Wing Commander series. With Stretch Goals now being passed every few hours bringing new features to the planned game, and David Brabham annoucing a new installment of the classic Elite using a similar funding model at Kickstarter could this be a wake up call for the big game publishers to take another look at the genre?

There's still two days left of Star Citizen funding as well, so if you feel like being a part you can chip in either at the main RSI site or on Kickstarter."

Link to Original Source
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A glimpse at piracy in the UK and beyond

Zocalo Zocalo writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Zocalo (252965) writes "The BBC has a fascinating look into the music download habits of the UK population based on stats compiled by Musicmetric. The stats, gathered through the monitoring of BitTorrent swarms and geo-locating the IPs, shows the hotspots for music copyright infringement across the UK and regional preferences for certain types of music. Some of the outliers are somewhat unusual though, suggesting some problems with the methodology or sample size, unless people on the Isle of Wight really do prefer trumpet-playing crooner Louis Armstrong to the likes of Rihanna and Ed Sheeran who top the lists nationwide.

Not in the UK? There are some global stats on the "Most pirated near you?" tab of the story. Better yet, if you want to crunch the numbers for yourself all of the data has been made available at the Musicmatch website under a Creative Commons license and a RESTful API to access the data (free for non-commercial use!) is also available."

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CNet / download.com trojaning OSS tools

Zocalo Zocalo writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Zocalo (252965) writes "In a post to the Nmap Hackers list Nmap author, Fyodor, accuses C|Net / download.com of wrapping a trojan installer (as detected by various AV applications when submitted to VirusTotal) around software including Nmap and VLC Media Player. The C|Net installer bundles a toolbar, changes browser settings and, potentially, performs other shenanigans — all under the logo of the application the user thought they might have been downloading. Apparently, this isn't the first time they have done this, either.

Fyodor's on the lookout for a good copyright lawyer, if anyone has one to spare."

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Free IPv4 pool now down to seven /8s

Zocalo Zocalo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Zocalo (252965) writes "For those of you keeping score, ICANN just allocated another four /8 IPv4 blocks; 23/8 and 100/8 to ARIN, 5/8 and 37/8 to RIPE, leaving just seven /8s unassigned. In effect however, this means that there are now just two /8s available before the entire pool will be assigned due to an arrangement whereby the five Regional Internet Registries would each automatically receive one of the final five /8s once that threshold was met. The IPv4 Address Report counter at Potaroo.net is pending an update and still saying 96 days, but it's now starting to look doubtful that we're going to even make it to January."
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Following protons on a trip to (& through) the

Zocalo Zocalo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Zocalo (252965) writes "Ars Technica visits CERN and takes an in-depth look at the LHC, providing details on the extensive array of supporting technologies and science that don't get the same level of media attention as the main ring. The article details the various stages and sub-accelerators that protons go through in their roughly 6 million kilometer journey from CERN's proton sources, through to their entry into the LHC's main 26km ring and then onwards to an eventual high energy collision at one of the four detectors. Unsurprisingly, there is no mention of any of Dan Brown's outlandish super-jets and paragliding facilities, but there are plenty of fascinating bits of information about the accelerator and the high degrees of precision involved in its construction and operation."
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KDE Software Collection v4.5 officially released

Zocalo Zocalo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Zocalo (252965) writes "Version 4.5.0 of the KDE Development Platform, the Plasma Desktop and Netbook workspaces, and many applications are released today. The KDE team focused on the usability, performance and stability of many previously introduced new features and technologies — click on the relevant links for the full announcements. Ars Technica has already posted a quick look at the new release of the Plasma Desktop here."
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Microsoft to pay providers to delist from Google?

Zocalo Zocalo writes  |  about 5 years ago

Zocalo (252965) writes "Slashdot recently discussed Mark Cuban's plan to kill Google which was later revealled to be just a thought experiment, but has Microsoft been taking the idea seriously? According to Matthew Garrahan and Richard Waters of the Financial Times, discussions to achieve just that may already be in the early stages with News Corp., and probably with other providers too. Could getting search engine providers to pay for the "privilege" of indexing their sites be a means for old media companies to survive in the Internet era or does Matt Brittin's (Google's UK director) statement that "economically it's not a big part of how we generate revenue" indicate that Microsoft (and News Corp.) are grasping at straws?"
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