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Comments

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Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

bill_mcgonigle Re:Grad school is voluntary... (303 comments)

Seriously, wtf is up with people thinking that they should get everything they want all the time?

That's what we call 'entitlement'. It's the confusion of cause and effect when applied to societal systems.

13 hours ago
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Google's New Camera App Simulates Shallow Depth of Field

bill_mcgonigle Re:"subject" (97 comments)

Can boken be overdone? Sure. A 1mm think depth of field is overdoing it, but so is shooting at f/16 everywhere. But even a thin DoF and the right can result in some magical results

Just because you know what you're talking about, and we're among friends:

It's bokeh, with an 'h'. And it refers to the character of the blur, not the blur itself. If you've got an image, say f/3.4, a hipster might say "nice bokeh" to you, but he means that you have a good lens, not that you've selected a good aperture. And then he might also suggest you make a "glisse" print. ;)

And, of course, shallow depth of field is a huge fad, and there's an entire generation of kids who won't ever be able to tell where they were in any of their childhood pictures. *That* will seem very "early 21st century" in a couple decades.

yesterday
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Heartbleed Sparks 'Responsible' Disclosure Debate

bill_mcgonigle Re:WTF? (176 comments)

There's no one-size fits all solution. I've made the argument for informed disclosure here in the past, but in this case it probably wouldn't work. The DTLS code is so small and self-contained and the code so obvious to an auditor that just saying that there's an exploit in DTLS or to compile without heartbeat is probably enough to give the blackhats a running start. But there are other situations where informed disclosure is better than responsible disclosure.

Did Google do the right thing here? I'm not sure, but it's not completely clear that they didn't. There are several factors that bridge the gap between theoretical ideal and what can work in every situation in the real world.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Which Router Firmware For Bandwidth Management?

bill_mcgonigle Re:Pfsense (98 comments)

In your haste to get FP, you missed the requirements in TFS.

I use pfSense extensively, but its bandwidth controls are not easy to use, and nobody would recommend deploying it on ARM in 2014.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: System Administrator Vs Change Advisory Board

bill_mcgonigle Re:Nonsense (289 comments)

and with the greater long term job security that working as part of a larger company provides

Aye, there's the rub. It works out until it doesn't. Wouldn't this guy be ripped if the put up with two years of this crap to just get outsourced anyway?

Because that's what they're saying here. They don't trust him to do his job. Maybe that's fair, maybe it's not, but it's something a professional in his line of work can handle and they're saying "no". They wouldn't ask a surgeon to file paperwork on each cut he intended to make, because they feel the surgeon is competent to make the best decisions in the time alotted. Him, clearly not (I'm assuming this is standard work, not 10-9's / life safety).

So, they're going to fire this guy anyway at some point. He might as well find employment with an outsourcing company that gets paid by the value and minimizes their time expense, which it sounds like the environment he's more comfortable being in.

You can live to work or work to live - it's not worth being in a sucky job when there are so many opportunities to get or create a different means of employment.

2 days ago
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Lavabit Loses Contempt Appeal

bill_mcgonigle Re:Procedural Rules? (128 comments)

Procedural rules trump right and wrong.

What's that meme going around say? Something like, "Everything Hitler did was legal - everything Schindler did was illegal."

aside: you. You who is just jumping up and down to invoke Godwin's Law. Wiki it.
 

3 days ago
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

bill_mcgonigle Re:Are you kidding (803 comments)

I have no interests in controlling women's reproductive lives, but as a Catholic I believe life begins at conception, and abortion is murder.

I don't disagree with you, but what matters in public policy is actions, not sentiment.

The operative question is whether you believe society is better off by imprisoning mothers who get abortions.

It's possible to both believe it's murder and to believe that imprisonment/prosecution is not the correct response. Don't be fooled into the "insult/vengeance" paradigm that we're told by civil religions to be essential. I'm pretty sure you'll find the opposite recommendations in the Gospels.

And, BTW, this is why "the issue" cannot be resolved by our current system of governance - it's located directly at the insult/vengeance nexus. Until we can get past legislating revenge the "two sides" will never find any common ground.

3 days ago
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Google Looked Into Space Elevator, Hoverboards, and Teleportation

bill_mcgonigle Baloney (98 comments)

I cannot believe the summary. Thousands of Slashdotters here already knew that elevator cables need to be super strong and that carbon nanotubes are the only calculated material that can do it and that spinning long nanotubes is a technological problem.

The Google research team did not discover these things - they're smart guys, they already knew this.

So, venturing further into the story will be a waste of time. If Googlers did spend time on space elevators, then they probably did learn some new things. But they may well be keeping that knowledge in the "deep freeze"r for when they can make some money at it.

3 days ago
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Pollution In China Could Be Driving Freak Weather In US

bill_mcgonigle Re:Polution tax (156 comments)

Hey! That's a good idea. Put a 500% tariff on everything that's not made here. Who care who makes it?

Brazil does this. Since Nikes cost $300 a pair, the local manufacturers can get away with charging $165 for a pair of sneakers. That's just under a week's median wages.

All these policies do is keep the people poor. It's a non-zero-sum game with losses on all sides.

3 days ago
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Mt. Gox Ordered Into Liquidation

bill_mcgonigle Re:Get this over with (44 comments)

Money laundering, theft, gross negligence. I'm sure there's plenty more.

Let's assume the premise. You want the US to now arrest people for crimes committed in Japan?

Team America World Police was satire.

3 days ago
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Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

bill_mcgonigle Re:The Canadian Exodus.... (1575 comments)

Everyone should be armed.

This is how Switzerland does it. They haven't been in a foreign war in two hundred years. Even Hitler decided not to try it.

Their crime rate is very low and they actually have a civil defense plan that doesn't involve people hiding in closets and hoping somebody shows up to save them. Plus, obviously they don't need to incur all the costs of foreign wars, so they can run data centers, banking platforms, and ski resorts instead.

3 days ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

bill_mcgonigle Re:Get rid of income Tax (416 comments)

If you want to talk overall economic health, taxation does not really impact it since all those tax dollars just go strait back into the economy anyway.

Please remove this falsehood from your economic system. If you take productive money and piss it away on boondoggle projects instead of useful purposes then it's a complete loss for the economy. The entire premise of capitalism is that money that gets invested into useful purposes (production equipment, invention, entropy-reducing services) multiplies the value of that money over time. All spending is not created equal (so far from it)! Hanging fiber optics on poles and getting drunk are not equally beneficial!

it tends to skew who pays and who does not

Everybody pays. The producers add their tax burden to the cost of goods. The study from Harvard econ. sets the price of goods as 22% higher (average) than they would otherwise be without the income tax. When that single mother is buying a $3 loaf of bread for her kids' school lunch, more than fifty cents of that is going straight to pay the income taxes of the people in the supply chain. That's why it's the most regressive tax possible. People can only pretend that it's progressive if they completely ignore second order effects and beyond.

4 days ago
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This 1981 BYTE Magazine Cover Explains Why We're So Bad At Tech Predictions

bill_mcgonigle Re:Author is stupid? (275 comments)

I'm thinking the author has zero clue as to what he is talking about in tech

It said right in the summary that he wrote this for TIME magazine. Don't pretend like you didn't get fair warning!

4 days ago
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OpenBSD Team Cleaning Up OpenSSL

bill_mcgonigle Re:And they've already stopped (289 comments)

$30,949 is how much the OpenBSD Foundation received in donations in 2013. That has to get fixed as their expenses were $54,914 and only a one-time transfer from an old account covered the deficit.

The community that depends on OpenSSH, OpenNTPD and the like needs to figure out how to support these projects.

Personally I'd like to see the Foundation offer targeted donations to specific projects with a percentage (~20% perhaps) going into the general operations fund. I bet there are a bunch of people who would throw a hundred bucks at OpenSSH but would be concerned that a general donation would go to some odd thing Theo is doing (whether that be fair or not).

And if "Fixing OpenSSL" were one of the donation options, then hold on to your hats - I think we're all in agreement on this. We do know that the folks currently working on the projects are paid by others but if the Foundation can get enough money to offset expenses then it could actually do some development work and possibly finally take care of some sorely-neglected tasks on a few of these codebases.

4 days ago
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Mozilla Appoints Former Marketing Head Interim CEO

bill_mcgonigle Re:And they've already stopped (202 comments)

They cancelled this policy [nytimes.com] almost immediately after it was brought to light.

Here's the thing: the data mining apparatus and amount of data entry required to get to this point must be enormous. Finding all of the information required to get to the point of issuing seizures of refunds would require complete integration of all SSI payment history, all tax payment history, family histories, movement pattern tracking, etc.

There might even be a tie in to NSA/"not-TIA" to enable this, since the scope is so large. They probably started putting out bids for the work shortly after the law changed in 2008 and have only recently yielded results.

It's not going to be turned off just like that.

5 days ago
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IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

bill_mcgonigle Re:And they've already stopped (630 comments)

They cancelled this policy [nytimes.com] almost immediately after it was brought to light.

Here's the thing: the data mining apparatus and amount of data entry required to get to this point must be enormous. Finding all of the information required to get to the point of issuing seizures of refunds would require complete integration of all SSI payment history, all tax payment history, family histories, movement pattern tracking, etc.

There might even be a tie in to NSA/"not-TIA" to enable this, since the scope is so large. They probably started putting out bids for the work shortly after the law changed in 2008 and have only recently yielded results.

It's not going to be turned off just like that.

5 days ago
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First Glow-In-the-Dark Road Debuts In Netherlands

bill_mcgonigle Re:Light Pollution (184 comments)

this adds to light pollution

Assuming street lights are removed, does the upward light from these strips exceed the reflected light from the streetlights?

5 days ago
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First Glow-In-the-Dark Road Debuts In Netherlands

bill_mcgonigle Re:Useless (184 comments)

your car is not oriented so as to illuminate it.

That's a good point - I tend to rely on my navigation device to get some forewarning of the curve and slope of the road ahead just because on a dark and winding road there's no way to see very far ahead.

Then again, glowing roads won't work to entirely replace this when the road winds around a hill or mountain. But more passive safety devices are still a good idea if they can help a little bit. It seems like rumble strips - they don't do anything for most people most of the time, but they do a great job for a few people every once in a while.

5 days ago
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GM Names Names, Suspends Two Engineers Over Ignition-Switch Safety

bill_mcgonigle Re:Hero ? (236 comments)

a whole lot of work had to be done to revise the tooling

Ah, so we need to name the machinists too! Charge the whole lot with a conspiracy to embarrass management!

Somehow Harry Tuttle is probably involved.

about a week ago
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NSA Allegedly Exploited Heartbleed

bill_mcgonigle Re:It's time we own up to this one (149 comments)

This was a failure in the Open Source process.

Indeed. People have been saying for years that the OpenSSL code leaves much to be desired but nobody dares fix it because it might break something (needed: comprehensive unit tests).

There's been a bug filed for years saying that the code won't build with the system malloc, which in turn prevents code analysis tools from finding use-after-free conditions. The need here is less clear - leadership of the project has not made such a thing a priority. It's not clear that funding was the sole gating factor - commit by commit the code stopped working with the system malloc and nobody knew or cared.

Sure, a pile of money would help pick up the pieces, but lack of testing, continuous integration, blame culture, etc. might well have prevented it in the first place.

We still have sites like Sourceforge that are solving 1997 problems, like offering download space and mailing lists when what we need today is to be able to have continuous integration systems, the ability to deploy a vm with a complex project already configured and running for somebody to hack on, etc.

about a week ago

Submissions

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Snowden NSA Claims Partially Confirmed

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  about 10 months ago

bill_mcgonigle (4333) writes "Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D NY) disclosed that NSA analysts eavesdrop on Americans' domestic telephone calls without court orders during a House Judiciary hearing. After clearing with FBI director Robert Mueller that the information was not classified, Nadler revealed that during a closed-door briefing to Congress, the Legislature was informed that the spying organization had implemented and uses this capability. This appears to confirm Edward Snowden's claim that he could, in his position at the NSA, "wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president." Declan McCullagh writes, "Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, Nadler's disclosure indicates the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval." The executive branch has defended its general warrants, claiming that "the president had the constitutional authority, no matter what the law actually says, to order domestic spying without [constitutional] warrants", while Kurt Opsahl, senior staff attorney at EFF claims such government activity "epitomizes the problem of secret laws.""
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World's First Bitcoin ATM

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  about a year ago

bill_mcgonigle writes "I just bought bitcoins from the World's first Bitcoin ATM at Liberty Forum. I created an account using an Android Bitcoin client, held up its QR code to the Raspberry Pi-based device's optical scanner, fed in a $20 Federal Reserve Note, and got back a confirmation QR code on its display (which I then scanned and checked the third-party confirmation URL). The machine can function on any wireless network and will soon be available for purchase by merchants, who can make a commission on customers' Bitcoin purchases."
Link to Original Source
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Intel to Attempt A-la-carte Television over Internet

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  about a year ago

bill_mcgonigle writes "Updating the previous story, Forbes and Gigaom are now reporting that Intel is running an internal startup aimed at offering a Internet-connected set top box with a-la-carte 'cable' channel subscriptions. They also apparently plan to record everything and offer all content on-demand. While some are skeptical that content providers will give up their cable cash cow, perhaps the economic effects of cord-cutters are finally making this business model viable."
Link to Original Source
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Amazon Data Center Outage Takes Out Netflix & Others

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  about a year ago

bill_mcgonigle writes "Many families sat down this evening to watch a Christmas Eve tale on their favorite streaming service to find a Grinch in their cloud computing service as both Netflix and Amazon Video services were unavailable (with error messages saying that their Internet connection was bad). It turns out that Amazon's East Coast data center is having yet another outage, causing a loss of service on several platforms. Other AWS-based sites are affected as well."
Link to Original Source
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Capitalists Who Fear Change

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  about 2 years ago

bill_mcgonigle writes "In his essay, Capitalists Who Fear Change, author Jeffrey Tucker takes on "wimps who don’t want to improve." From DMCA take-downs on 3D printing files to the constant refrain that every new form of music recording will "kill music", Mr. Tucker observes: "Through our long history of improvement, every upgrade and every shift from old to new inspired panic. The biggest panic typically comes from the producers themselves who resent the way the market process destabilizes their business model" and analyzes how the markets move the march of technology ever forward. He takes on patents, copyrights, tariffs, and protectionism of entrenched interests in general, with guarded optimism: "The promise of the future is nothing short of spectacular — provided that those who lack the imagination to see the potential here don’t get their way.""
Link to Original Source
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NASA Laptop Stolen With Space Station Command Codes

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bill_mcgonigle writes "A year ago, NASA had an unencrypted laptop stolen, containing "algorithms used to command and control the International Space Station," according to NASA’s inspector general, Paul K. Martin. Also stolen were devices with "Social Security numbers and sensitive data on NASA’s Constellation and Orion programs." Since then, NASA has encrypted 1% of its mobile devices. Martin tells Congress, "Until NASA fully implements an Agency-wide data encryption solution, sensitive data on its mobile computing and portable data storage devices will remain at high risk for loss or theft.""
Link to Original Source
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Deterministic Multithreading Solves Race Condition

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bill_mcgonigle writes "Researchers at Columbia Engineering School have developed PEREGRINE, a system that promises to improve the reliability and security of multi-threaded programs by addressing what they claim is the root cause of data race conditions in multi-threaded programs: non-determinism. Peregrine works with existing languages and "can make threads deterministic in an efficient and stable way. Peregrine can compute a plan for allowing when and where a thread can 'change lanes' and can then place barriers between the lanes, allowing threads to change lanes only at fixed locations, following a fixed order. This prevents the random collisions that can occur in a nondeterministic system.""
Link to Original Source
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Cause of Redbox Price Increase? - Congress

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bill_mcgonigle writes "Following up on the previous story story about the Redbox price increases, Redbox's third-quarter earnings announcement ends the speculation. Redbox explains, "The change is primarily due to the increase in operating expenses, including the recent increase in debit card interchange fees as a result of the Durbin Amendment." The Durbin Amendment creates a 'debit interchange fee floor', which increases costs on small transactions made with debit cards — estimated to be an additional ten cents per Redbox transaction."
Link to Original Source
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Netflix dumps Qwikster, keeps DVD service on netfl

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bill_mcgonigle writes "In a sudden fit of sanity, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has announced that Netflix will not be splitting its DVD service into a separate website.

He writes, "It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs. This means no change: one website, one account, one password in other words, no Qwikster." He forgot, "one queue, one recommendation engine preference set."

Netflix had previously detailed plans to split its DVD-by-mail business into a separate business, Qwikster."

Link to Original Source
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Wired Releases Full Manning/Lamo Chat Logs

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bill_mcgonigle writes "After more than a year, Wired has finally released the (nearly) full chat logs between Adrian Lamo and Bradley Manning. Glen Greenwald provides analysis of what Wired previously left out. Greenwald writes:

Lamo lied to and manipulated Manning by promising him the legal protections of a journalist-source and priest-penitent relationship, and independently assured him that their discussions were "never to be published" and were not "for print." Knowing this, Wired hid from the public this part of their exchange, published the chat in violation of Lamo's clear not-for-publication pledges, allowed Lamo to be quoted repeatedly in the media over the next year as some sort of credible and trustworthy source driving reporting on the Manning case

. Slashdot has previously covered the controversy (here, and here.)"
Link to Original Source

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Controversy over Zappos Advertising with the TSA

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  about 3 years ago

bill_mcgonigle writes "A blog post from Amazon's Zappos unit talking about its advertising on TSA collection trays has recently caught the attention of TSA critics and its customers. Zappos writes, "Since the airports that have the sponsored security bins don't have to put the money/time/energy into those efforts anymore, TSA can spend the money hiring/training more agents." Do customers really make a connection between Zappos's advertising and reduced wait times for security screenings, or is this an example of hamfisted marketing to a privacy-conscious online customer base?"
Link to Original Source

Journals

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Idle Friends Purge

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  about 4 years ago

I'm removing non-fan friends who haven't posted in two years since I'm at my limit and I use friends to game the scoring system to see more interesting posts.

Any of you who have been discontinued - send me a note if you start posting again and I'd be happy to re-friend you.

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iPod Shuffle Clone Shown at CeBit

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  more than 9 years ago

An outfit out of Taiwan, Luxpro, has introduced a digital music player, the Super Shuffle, that's a no-tradedress-barred physical clone of the iPod Shuffle. Available in .5 and 1GB models, it lacks AAC but adds WMA, FM Radio, and Voice Recording. Playlist has the story.

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Atlantic Mega-Tusnami to Hit North America

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  more than 9 years ago Scientists at the Benfield Hazard Research Center have determined that a Mega-tsunami will hit the coast of North America when the Cumbre Vieja Volcano and part of the Island of La Palma in the Canary Islands collapse into the sea. The wave hitting North America will be up to 50 meters (164 feet) high and surge up to 20km (12.4 miles) inland while Brazil will see 40 meter waves with up to 100 meter waves on the West Saharan shore (ILM Rendition). Insurance losses are estimated to be in the multi-trillions, yet the landslide has been completely unmonitored since 1997. The BBC has an FAQ on the Mega-tsunami.

[edit: rejected by Slashdot 2004-12-28 17:22:50]

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Massive Solar Flare Headed Straight For Earth

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  more than 10 years ago

At 1110 UT this morning, the third largest solar flare on record erupted from the Sun, sending a coronal mass ejection directly towards Earth at 5 Million MPH (picture, animation), and starting a solar radiation storm. We may see bright auroral activity tonight. Passengers on high-altitude airplane flights may receive chest-x-ray-level dosages of radiation.

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You're In A Political Party's Database

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  more than 10 years ago

The Democratic and Republican parties have 158 and 165 Million voters in their databases, "DataMart" and "Voter Vault", respectively. They track how you vote, what issues you're concerned about, demographics about your home and family, and who you associate with. From it they mount door-to-door, telemarketing, spam, and junk mail campaigns offering customized versions of the political party to appeal to your passions, while avoiding issues that might offend you.

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W32.Blaster linked to Blackout

bill_mcgonigle bill_mcgonigle writes  |  more than 10 years ago The first of the problems that eventually cascaded into the blackout began at 1 p.m on August 14th. "The inability of critical control data to be exchanged quickly across the grid could have hampered the operators' ability to prevent the cascading effect of the blackout," said Gary Seifert, of DOE's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. "It didn't affect the [control] systems internally, but it most certainly affected the timeliness of the data they were receiving from other networks. A former Bush administration adviser who has consulted with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on the power grid issue said the Blaster worm also hampered the ability of utilities in the New York region to restore power in a more timely manner because some of those companies were running Windows-based control systems with Port 135 open. The control systems ... are often based on Windows 2000 or XP operating systems and rely on commercial data links, including the Internet and wireless systems, for exchanging information.

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