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If Your Cloud Vendor Goes Out of Business, Are You Ready?

danheskett Re:AWS losing $2 billion a year? (150 comments)

Agreed. Three is an intense price war going on in the cloud providers right now, with unprovoked cost decreases hitting my bottom line all the time. I am fine with it, except as the big vendors fight for marketshare I am well aware at some point the products become mature, the market becomes mature, and I may find myself on a vendors platform which is not the one I want to be on.

There is good revenue to go around. Right now I don't see any cloud providers actively trying to really manage support, hardware and acquistion costs for new customers. I suspect as the industry matures margins will improve.

about a week ago
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Who's In Charge During the Ebola Crisis?

danheskett The Frame is a Frame of Dictators, Not Free People (279 comments)

The frame of the question is essentially "who will be the dictator who can fix things if one is needed". This frame is inherently anti-American, and also, deeply counterproductive.

It is firstly, and most importantly, anti-American because it supposes that the default state of things is order and control, that liberty and a free society are conditions that must be suspended when order and control are in jeopardy. The "resting state" of the United States, however, is not tyranny, but rather, freedom. Importantly, there is no provision in which the "resting state" in some way changes to "tyranny". That idea is deeply preposterous. Even if the country was in the throws of a world-ending pandemic, we are still a nation governed by the supreme law of the land - namely, the Constitution, Federal Laws, and treaties appropriately made and ratified. This doesn't change in a time of crisis. It doesn't change in a time of need.

It is a deeply disturbing character flaw on American that so many citizens reduce themselves to half-retarded infants in the face of danger. After Sept. 11, 2001, it became fairly obvious that the rational exercise of faculties was suspended without question by large chunks of the public. A widespread Ebola outbreak could lead us back to that infantile state once again.

The question is also deeply counterproductive because it assumes that having a single point of authority will be helpful. Turning over authority to deal with a large problem is not the way to solve difficult problems. Doing so will ensure inefficiency and increase the odds of failure. There is a role for national policy making (which should be done via our elected representatives, acting in concern with the Executive), but it is not to assign authority to a single person for whom all solutions or failures will flow.

As Americans we have many stupid ideas that make it into policy, and granting power to a single person or even a small group of people just increases the odds that something stupid (and deadly) becomes official policy. During hurricanes, and extended power outages, we have idiots governors and attorneys and local government officials arresting and charging people with price gouging for bringing in generators and selling them at market prices. They would rather deny the realities of the iron clad laws of supply & demand and have no spare generator capacity, than have more people with generators who paid higher pricing. The ideology of fairness trumps the realities observable in nature. This and thousands of other outrages upon liberty and nature happen without constraints when Americans turn off their brains and give in to the instinct to obey authority at all costs.

One of the many hidden design advantages of the American system of government is that we have a redundant array of independent actors. There is no central fount of power, from which authority flows. Instead, people act on their own, in their own interests, under the constraints of law established by representatives. In a crisis, especially a large one, this is more workable than a centralized authority. A layered model of decision making and authority creates a mesh that is efficient at transmitting information about successes and failures, and is resilient to localized problems. There are no great success stories of the Federal government handling nationwide emergencies and problems. In past regional problems we have seen systematic problems from mass information loss, inefficiency, and communication failures. These are problems that have solutions, for sure, but they are not universally solvable. The premise of a "czar" is that a single forceful person can reconcile the many uncertain states and create order from chaos. But it is implied that this is inefficient - the implication that moving fast is better than not moving carefully is only true for a limited subset of problems.

about a week ago
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Despite Push From Tech Giants, AP CS Exam Counts Don't Budge Much In Most States

danheskett Re:For the love of god... (144 comments)

Even just 15 years ago there were a lot more.

Can you post your sources for this? I have not seen solid data that indicates a net decline in the numbers. I have seen some numbers that start to suggest this, but they do not separate out foreign born workers from domestic workers. I think that if we are going to actually look at the numbers, and make a policy prescription, we have to discount that the imported foreign-born workers coming in are disproportionately male. US-policy should not try to fix the gender imbalances in foreign work forces.

Yes, it is, so I don't know why you keep bringing it up. It isn't the stated goal of any of the major schemes to get women into engineering, and it isn't the stated position of any prominent feminists or feminist groups. It is a classic straw man.

This I don't think is totally fair. You don't see any attention being given, to say, the percentage of women who are garbage collectors. And very little attention being given to those percentage of women are death row. Both of which are well below their overall demographic representation. Just because something isn't the stated goal doesn't mean it's not a goal or at least a priority. The fact this story continues to re-appear in the popular media suggests that someone is paying attention to it. I do think it is a good question which is, is there any grass roots effort to actually change this, or is it simply a corporate/business priority?

about two weeks ago
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Lennart Poettering: Open Source Community "Quite a Sick Place To Be In"

danheskett Re:Critics should take positive action (993 comments)

See, it was a good wakeup call, as it shows that a small group of people can do something which causes you a lot work.

about two weeks ago
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FBI Says It Will Hire No One Who Lies About Illegal Downloading

danheskett Re:Excellent (578 comments)

They can already fire anyone they want though. Why go through the hassle.

about two weeks ago
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FBI Says It Will Hire No One Who Lies About Illegal Downloading

danheskett Re:Polygraph (578 comments)

They are most frequently know to be used to convince stupid people the police have evidence they don't, and to give whatever results the examiner wants them to give.

about two weeks ago
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FBI Says It Will Hire No One Who Lies About Illegal Downloading

danheskett Excellent (578 comments)

I look forward to the FBI having effectively no employee pool for anyone under the age of 40. As time goes on, I hope this rolled out government wide. In a few more years, there will be no more eligible government employees.

about two weeks ago
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Lennart Poettering: Open Source Community "Quite a Sick Place To Be In"

danheskett Re:Critics should take positive action (993 comments)

This is, in the larger world, usually where people with a level head stop and consider if they are not on the wrong-side of a polar issue. If you use Debian, trust it, and love it, and Debian has made this change, and you abhor the change, it's a good wakeup call opportunity. Most people will take this chance to say "perhaps I am on the wrong side of this issue" and then adjust accordingly.

In the OSS world though, it's a chance to troll and vent. I

about two weeks ago
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Silk Road Lawyers Poke Holes In FBI's Story

danheskett Re:What does it matter? (191 comments)

Furthermore, metadata is not content -- and even that data is only queried for specifically articulated counterterrorism purposes, which means it would have nothing to do with this case. Even now, no one has ANY idea whether NSA or any other agency was involved...the FBI could be hiding its own sources and methods, or could have even omitted information or made a mistake.

This is exactly the problem - we can't know, and we can no longer trust. The problem is broken trust. We have a clear pattern of lies to the very top of the national intelligence agencies, and when the lies are not brazen enough, they will invent new legal justifications supposed onto overly technical redefinition of common words - i.e. "collect".

As far as metadata not being content, that is 100% in the eye of the beholder. As you say, we'll see if it gets re-evaluated in a modern context. I am skeptical that any challenge will survive standing.

Parallel construction requires trust and oversight, and what we have learned in the last two years is that there is no trust, and no effective oversight.

about two weeks ago
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Marriott Fined $600,000 For Jamming Guest Hotspots

danheskett Re:Not surprised in the least (278 comments)

Just so you know, thanks to US crappy laws, that was "exceeding authorization" and a serious computer crime.

about three weeks ago
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Silk Road Lawyers Poke Holes In FBI's Story

danheskett Re:What does it matter? (191 comments)

Parallel construction, however, has limits, and those limits are pretty well explored. For one thing, the judge typically can know about it. And so, he or she has a way to balance the the provenance of evidence versus a defendants right to open trial and confront accusers.

Secondly, the basis of a parallel construction is incidental discovery. The NSA or other agency in the course of it's lawful duties incidentally discoveries domestic crime, and it can be turned over for investigation and prosecution. That's fair game.

What's not fair game is when an agency like the NSA is used in order to skirt the 4th amendment. That's a different story. The FBI cannot engage the NSA in order to avoid legal restrictions, or because they have technology that they themselves don't. Prior to the Snowden leaks, it was easy to take the FBI or DEA at face value. What we learned from the Snowden leaks is that the NSA conducts massive meta-data collection and that this collection is not "collection". That program hasn't been challenged because no one has standing (thanks to various officials refusing to disclose who has standing).

The premise of parallel construction fails when we can't know that the discovery was incidental.

about three weeks ago
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Silk Road Lawyers Poke Holes In FBI's Story

danheskett Re:Perjury (191 comments)

" That's not a conflict of interest. The prosecutors are always supposed to represent the state's interest. It'd be like saying "conflict of interest because the defendant is paying his lawyer". It's kinda silly."

This is not true, Federal prosecutors have an oath and a duty to protect the Constitution, not the state. And that may mean siding with a defense motion or a defendant. It is patently false that a prosecutor must do everything possible to secure a "win".

about three weeks ago
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Silk Road Lawyers Poke Holes In FBI's Story

danheskett Re:What does it matter? (191 comments)

And speaking of the law, the only person doing anything illegal here -- under our system and body of law, whether anyone agrees with it or not -- was Ulbricht.

The point is we don't know that, we only know that the government has told us. And the way they have told us, so far, indicated to be less than honest.

Parallel construction is not nearly as well supported legally as you make it out to be. In fact, much of it has never been tested in court because the government denies the information about the source being the NSA, in order to prevent legal challenges. The Solicitor General lied to the Supreme Court in order to avoid having to disclose anything.

about three weeks ago
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The Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes

danheskett Re:is anyone really surprised here (201 comments)

"Throwing people in jail" also isn't a very good solution. The financial collapse was a result of mistakes, not crimes. We don't arrest people for making bad investments. Ironically, the biggest company betting against mortgage backed securities, was Goldman Sachs. Yet they have probably been demonized more than any other company. That makes no sense.

There were endless amounts of laws that broken all the time. Daily, in fact. We'll never even know about them because most were not investigated, and now we've just decided that jailing people isn't good policy. Throwing people in jail and taking all their stuff is the way to fix white-collar crime.

Banning revolving door employment deals isn't a good solution either. The government already has enough trouble attracting good people. If you want people that know how the system works, you need to hire people that have worked in the system. After their stint in government is over, those people expect to continue in their profession.

This is very easy to solve with good policy:

1. After leaving government employment, your private sector salary above your top government salary is taxed a 100% the first year, declining by 10% each year thereafter.

2. Pay after bonuses for regulated industries is tied to the pay of the regulators. Pay and bonuses and equity in excess of the government regulator salary is taxes at a rate of 90%.

As a matter of fact, this will solve just about 99% of all problems in the financial services industry, because it will remove the absurd profit motive that drives bankers to take massively inappropriate risks. We'll end up with a nice, respectable, small, non-dynamic, stable financial services industries, doing things like encouraging savings, and lending out money that is accumulated through savings at a reasonable rate of interest.

about three weeks ago
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FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous

danheskett Re:And thus the balance shifts. (354 comments)

Not to my knowledge. The problem comes down to two things:

a. No one has standing. If the person is blown to smithereens, there is no standing. You can't get a write of habeus corpus, as there is no person left to produce.

b. Actions that have been filed get killed by the States Secrete privilege, the government can produce no evidence, can make no response because doing so would reveal state secrets.

It's a perfect kangaroo court. Kill someone, can't face accountability because doing so would expose how you killed them.

about three weeks ago
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Miss a Payment? Your Car Stops Running

danheskett Re:What is the net effect? (907 comments)

If subprime auto lending is really so profitable why aren't there more people doing it?

It is a huge business. On the very bottom end, there are Pay-Here car lots. In low-wage areas, they on every steet corner. Big auto lenders like GMAC have started to push down into that business, thanks to these devices. The profit is too irresistible- access Fed funds at 1%, lend at 14.99%.

Given the small amounts of money that are involved any tiny bank or hedge fund could get into. At the prices you're talking about even a small investment club could make these loans.

Yes, hedge funds are involved in auto-lending now. There are now securitized car loan instruments, much like REIT's and all that before the housing crash. I am sure some of the local car lots in the country are operated that way, by upper-middle and investment class people floating the cash.

Take your first example. How much do you think it costs to repossess a car? Of course there are legal fees and court fees. Then you have to pay a guy to go and get the car to some holding area (which you also have to pay for). Then you need to arrange to sell it and unless the bank is going to open it's own used car lot (which costs money) they need to pay someone to sell it for them (which costs money).
Well, generally, repo'ing an older car if you know where it is costs a few hundred bucks. In most states, there is non-judicial repossession, which means you have to provide notices, but not go to court. Then you sell it to a wholesaler who will take it to auction. The spread is there, but it's not nearly as much as you would imagine. The difference is that on these cars, most of the value is already gone. To a prime buyer, there is a huge difference between a car with 0 miles on it, and one with 20,000 miles on it. The value difference is amazing. To a sub-prime buyer, there is marginal difference between a car with 100,000 miles on it and 120,000 miles on it.

Then you need to arrange to sell it and unless the bank is going to open it's own used car lot (which costs money) they need to pay someone to sell it for them (which costs money).
Many credit unions, who are also in this business, do exactly that. But if you are a buy-here/pay-here lot, doing sub-prime loans, you already have the sales channel. So doing a repo, and putting the car back on the lot, is very low cost proposition. You will often have the same people doing sales and repo'ing the car later.

Also, if a bank repossess a car and somehow manages to sell it for more than the outstanding value of the loan plus expenses they don't get to keep the difference.
In theory no, but in practice, they never give a penny back. The internet is replete with cases with banks repo'ing a car worth $10k on a $2k balance, and the borrower never gets a nickel back.

about three weeks ago
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Forest Service Wants To Require Permits For Photography

danheskett Bogus justification (299 comments)

"She said the agency was implementing the Wilderness Act of 1964, which aims to protect wilderness areas from being exploited for commercial gain."

The Wilderness Act was designed to protect wild lands from being exploited in the traditional sense of the word - meaning, deforested, mined, or otherwise permanently changed.

If we are talking about some sort of mega industrial photography in which the flash bulbs destroy the trees, or a camera crew of 10,000, sure, that's exploitation for commercial gain.

But if we are talking about the normal filming or photography associated with any day to day activities or programming, then there is no exploitation for commercial gain.

about three weeks ago
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FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous

danheskett Re:partly agree with him (354 comments)

It's fine, if he wants to make the case to repeal the 4th amendment, and institute national key escrow, to save the children, I'll hear him out. He can take it to the states and to the US Congress.

But in the meantime, too fucking bad. I don't care if my encryption makes it difficult to do your job. And I don't care that if my teenage daughter has something on her iPhone you want that you can't get it. Too fucking bad.

about three weeks ago
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FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous

danheskett Re: ...allow people to place themselves beyond the (354 comments)

What this calls for is encryption and deniability. You need to have the data encrypted, but you also need it hidden in plain sight, so that decrypting the data produces only trivially non-incriminating evidence.

A real mathematical feat would be one set of data, encrypted such that decryption with key #1 produces JPEG's of the US flag and patriotic jingles, while decryption with key #2 produces your actual data.

about three weeks ago
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FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous

danheskett Re:And thus the balance shifts. (354 comments)

It's not even the black letter law. There is the law, and then there are legal memo's which provide the legal reasoning of the laws interact and what the practical effects are. The legal reasoning becomes a new form of law. It's not black letter, it's not case law, it's not administrative law, it's some sort of zombie law. And worse, we can't even see what the zombie laws are.

It turns into these vast, scary, obtuse legal situations where their is no defense because you don't even know what you have supposedly broken for laws.

For example, we have no idea what legal basis Pres. Obama has for killing Americans abroad by drone.

about three weeks ago

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