top The NSA: Never Not Watching
They are allowed to tell their lawyer, it says so right on page 2: "IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that no person shall disclose to any other person that the FBI or NSA has sought or obtained tangible things under this order other than to . . . (b) an attorney to obtain legal advice or assistance with respect to the production of things in response to the Order . . .
Don't know why this keeps getting repeated. The order is disgusting enough without making things up about it.
about a year and a half ago
top Judge Orders Child Porn Suspect To Decrypt His Hard Drives
Seems like his mistake was putting it on his own hard drive; he should have stored everything in an encrypted volume somewhere publicly accessible in the cloud. Access the file from a couple of different IP addresses every now and again. The more people have physical access to the file, the stronger your argument that decrypting the file would give the government something it can't already prove, i.e., that the file is yours. Just make damned sure you trust your encryption.
about a year and a half ago
top 'Nuclear Free' Maryland City Grants Waiver For HP
That, and living at the top of some big, steep mountains that any attacker would have to climb up whilst being shot at. If thou wouldst have peace, move to Denver.
top Ask Slashdot: Good Low Cost Free Software For Protecting Kids Online?
When I have kids (our first is due November 28), I plan to use filtering software not because I don't want him to see, but because I'm hoping he'll try to get past the filtering software. Evading online censorship (and covering his tracks) is going to be an important skill when he's older, and I feel it's my responsibility to prepare him with a curriculum of progressively more draconian censorship measures for him to learn to break. Some parents dream of high school graduation; I dream of the day my son gets his porn on virtual machine connected through TOR and remembers to reset the VM to a clean snapshot when he's done.
top Ask Slashdot: Open Source Tax Software?
It is, however, Turbo Tax which is lobbying for the IRS not to publish their own web-based E-Filing software:
Steve Ryan, a lawyer for the tax-preparation industry who negotiated a deal that has the IRS promising not to set up its own Web portal for e-filing, says his argument was simple.
"When the government becomes my competitor," Ryan says, "then I have every right to run an ad that says 'Big Brother is watching your keystrokes.'"
I nearly choked when I read that. "Big Brother is watching my keystrokes"?! WTF? Of course they are, that's the point. They're not just watching, they're recording every value I enter into the form, so they can keep it in a file with my name, address, and social security number on it, and then use against me in a court of law! They get the exact same information if I use TurboTax, the only difference is TurboTax gets to watch my keystrokes, too, and then charge me for the privilege.
top Senators Ask Feds To Probe Facebook Log-in Requests
No, it's not illegal to encourage someone to break a contract (might be tortious interference, I guess, but hard to see how). But now that Congress has got its hands on the issue, I can't say I'd be surprised if the solution to this is a MP/RIAA-pleasing "It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly facilitate, solicit, encourage, or require as a condition of employment the violation of any End User License Agreement." Because hey, why draft a narrowly-tailored law that addresses privacy concerns when you could use the issue to sell the public on a much broader law that would please a powerful lobby?
top US Prosecutors Have a Sealed Indictment On Assange, Say Leaked Files
Indictment by a U.S. grand jury necessitates that he was indicted for violating some U.S. law. U.S. grand juries can't indict for violating foreign laws; for that matter, a Maryland grand jury couldn't even indict for violations of Virginia law. How specifically the prosecutor tortured U.S. law to apply extraterritorially here is one of many head-scratchers about this case, though.
top Supreme Court Rules Warrants Needed for GPS Monitoring
No, traditionally "the location of your car, driving around in public places" is not reasonably considered private. ("A person traveling in an automobile on public thoroughfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from one place to another." United States v. Knotts, 460 U. S. 276, 281 (1983)). The interesting thing about Justice Sotomayor's concurrence is that she left the door open to revisiting this in a future case. ("[B]ecause GPS monitoring is cheap in comparison to conventional surveillance techniques and, by design, proceeds surreptitiously, it evades the ordinary checks that constrain abusive law enforcement practices: limited police resources and community hostility." Slip. Op. concurrence at 3 (citation omitted)). She ultimately agreed with Justice Scalia that because there was an actual physical trespass here, the Court didn't need to reach that. ("We may have to grapple with these “vexing problems” in some future case where a classic trespassory search is not involved and resort must be had to Katz analysis; but there is no reason for rushing forward to resolve them here." Maj. Op. at 12.)
Traditionally if you were walking around on a public street you would expect that it would be possible for you to run into one of your friends, acquaintances, co-workers, or indeed, a police officer. If you were on your way to or from robbing a bank when that happened and that person ended up being a witness against you, you would call it bad luck, but you wouldn't say it was unreasonable invasion of privacy by the state: although possible, the improbability being meaningfully observed while in public colored our expectation of privacy. The police could follow your every public movement, of course, but the crushing cost of paying officers to follow you round the clock is beyond what most police departments could afford for any but the most serious offenders.
However, with omnipresent surveillance cameras, gps-enabled devices, and complete electronic records of our every transaction, we are fast leaving the realm where your public movements' being observed could be chalked up to bad luck and entering the era where the state can know everything about you with minimal cost or expense. And from reading this opinion, it seems like all the justices are in agreement that they are going to have to grapple with this soon.
top Samoa and Tokelau Are Skipping December 30th
wikipedia (admittedly with a "citation needed") the seven day week cycle has continued unbroken for almost two millenia, despite numerous readjustments in the date over the centuries. So although skipping even a whole bunch of dates is not unheard of (e.g., Thursday, October 4th, 1582 followed immediately by Friday, October 15th when the Gregorian calendar was adopted), this seems like the first time in a long time that the day after Thursday hasn't been Friday.
top China Reveals Its Space Plans Up To 2016
You know, I've heard the "China and the US are too interdependent to go to war" theory a lot, and while on the whole I'd say you're probably right, there's this nagging doubt at the back of my mind. The exact same sort of hubris-filled sentiment was very common in the run up to World War I: the great powers are far too economically entwined, war would be catastrophic for businesses, no one would let it happen. The fact that it did is still so mind-boggling that almost a century of the best minds have struggled to explain what caused it. Take a look at the "further reading" section on
Causes_of_World_War_I. So while I agree that it would be suicidal, a war between the US and China can't be completely ruled out just because it would be so colossally stupid. Off the top of my mind, I could see things deteriorating if some or all of the following things happen in 2012:
China's massive property bubble collapses; China's new middle class, whose life savings is mostly tied up in real estate, loses everything; instability ensues. China botches the planned handoff in leadership from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping. A pro-independence candidate wins in the 2012 elections in Taiwan. North Korea collapses; refugees stream across the border; US crosses the 38th parallel to secure nuclear materials, then decides to stay a while. One or more EU countries is forced into an unplanned, unmanaged exit from the euro, disrupting the global financial system. US passes significant protectionist trade policy targeting Chinese imports and/or currency. Some quasi-state supported cyberterrorists in China exceed the scope of whatever authority they're given by the murky command structure and hack a high-profile US company or defense institution.
To reiterate, I think war is unlikely, even if all of those things were to happen. But I think it's important to realize that just because war is not a rational decision doesn't mean it can't happen. Things have a way of spiraling out of control when you don't expect it.
top Techrights Recommends An Apple Boycott
You're saying it will definitely happen "somewhere between a week and 7 or so billion years" and allowing for no possibility it won't happen at all. How is that different from inevitable?
top Plate Readers Abound in DC Area, With Little Regard For Privacy
Yet another way in which Steve Jobs
predicted the future.
top Adobe Ends Development of Flash On Mobile Browsers
Steve Jobs can't say "I told you so," all Android users knew he was right (or should have, anyway): flash is crap and we wish the web would switch to something better. But we're not going to be the ones to cut of our noses to spite our faces by going without flash while it is still so pervasive on the web. Steve and his devoted market segment are making the sacrifice for us, and at the same time driving content providers away from flash while I get to enjoy the convenience of still being able to use the flash content from websites who haven't switched. I have nothing but gratitude for that. I'd never buy an Apple product, I don't agree with the man's business practices, and I think the godlike homage he's gotten in the past few weeks since his death unfairly ascribes to him a lot of technical knowledge more properly attributable to the Woz. But credit where credit is due, he repeatedly had the balls to say "this is an outdated technology, we're switching to something better, backward compatibility be damned. Our users will follow us through the rough transition and be glad of it." See OS9, the floppy drive, the PS/2 keyboard and mouse, and soon, hopefully, Flash.
top Scott Adams Proposes a Fourth Branch of Government
There's no constitutional requirement that the House be limited to 435 members, and in fact it was historically increased after each census until 1920 or so. As a result of the fixed number of Reps, the ratio of people to representatives has exploded from what the framers originally intended (around 40 or 50k to one) to an average of 700k to one, with disproportionate representation given to people who live in states with less than 1/435 of the total US population because of the requirement that every state have at least one. 435 is a comparatively small number of targets for lobbyists and special interests, and it allows incumbents to become too easily entrenched. With modern technology like televised (and video recorded) debates and committee hearings, remote voting, etc., coupled with a major overhaul of the House rules, it seems like it should be possible to manage a House with a thousand or 1500 members, maybe more. Reduce the influence of special interest money by reducing the influence of individual representatives, making it no longer cost effective to buy one off. At the same time, you increase the power of the general populace: since a representative will be less attractive to special interests, he'll have focus more on pleasing his constituency to maintain his job--a constituency which will then have easier access to his time and attention. This is how the system was supposed to work in the first place, the artificial cap on representatives has just knocked it out of whack.
top Phelps Clan Tweets Intent To Picket Jobs Funeral Via iPhone
I, for one, am pleased with the opportunity to practice my patriotism by ignoring speech I don't like. I need truly vile abuses of the freedom of speech like this every now and again to test my skills at suppressing the natural urge to find some way to silence them.
top CERN Experiment Indicates Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't it be remarkable even if neutrinos (which have mass) are travelling AT the speed of light, much less exceeding it? As I understand it, for any particle with mass to even reach the speed of light under special relativity requires infinite energy. So the expected speed limit of a neutrino excited by something significantly lower than infinite energy would probably be significantly slower than the speed of light, no?
Disclaimer: Liberal Arts graduate. Knowledge of modern physics limited to reading snarky comments of slashdotters nitpicking sci-fi that fails to account for relativistic effects.
top I've lost more computers to ...
I'd like to say "I have never given up on a computer," but my ThinkPad has become a computer of
Theseus. I've replaced the LCD screen once, the fan twice, the hard drive once, the RAM (to put more in), and probably some other shit I can't remember. Additionally it's had at least half a dozen operating systems over the years. Is it still the same computer?
top SignalGuru Helps Drivers Avoid Red Lights
Even if automatic driving has a clear advantage, human innumeracy will keep the era of human drivers alive for a long, long time. Even if an automatic car is a statistically a thousand times safer than a human driver, when the first story breaks of an automatic car malfunctioning and killing its owner (or worse, its owner's children), legions of humans will a) refuse to use them and b) try to pass legislation preventing others from using them on the roads. For a preview, see the vaccine-deniers.
top More Schools Go To 4-Day Week To Cut Costs
Ah, but that's the beauty of it. The ones who don't want the tax increase are property owners, who are far more likely to be affluent enough to have a stay-at-home parent who wouldn't care about having the kids home for an extra day a week. So they pass the cost off to single-parent or dual-income households who now have to pay for an extra day of daycare. And daycare is EXPENSIVE. This strikes me as having the same effect as an incredibly regressive tax increase.
top My phone is ...
Do you mean un-lockable? Or unlock-able? If the former, I chose option one. An un-lockable phone that is nonetheless locked. I like paradoxes.
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