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The NSA: Never Not Watching

dbkluck Re:Constitution (568 comments)

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 ago

Judge Orders Child Porn Suspect To Decrypt His Hard Drives

dbkluck Cloud Storage, ironically, sounds safer (802 comments)

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 ago

'Nuclear Free' Maryland City Grants Waiver For HP

dbkluck Re:Movies (277 comments)

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.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Good Low Cost Free Software For Protecting Kids Online?

dbkluck Learning to evade filtering software is valuable (646 comments)

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.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Open Source Tax Software?

dbkluck Re:For this you want a professional product (387 comments)

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.

more than 2 years ago

Senators Ask Feds To Probe Facebook Log-in Requests

dbkluck Re:Violation of Facebook ToS (396 comments)

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?

more than 2 years ago

US Prosecutors Have a Sealed Indictment On Assange, Say Leaked Files

dbkluck Re:Where Does It Claim to Be Under US Law? (328 comments)

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.

more than 2 years ago

Supreme Court Rules Warrants Needed for GPS Monitoring

dbkluck Re:Question (354 comments)

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.

more than 2 years ago

Samoa and Tokelau Are Skipping December 30th

dbkluck First Break in the Seven Day Week Cycle (140 comments)

According to 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.

more than 2 years ago

China Reveals Its Space Plans Up To 2016

dbkluck Re:What the hell is wrong with you? (218 comments)

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:

  1. 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.
  2. China botches the planned handoff in leadership from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping.
  3. A pro-independence candidate wins in the 2012 elections in Taiwan.
  4. North Korea collapses; refugees stream across the border; US crosses the 38th parallel to secure nuclear materials, then decides to stay a while.
  5. One or more EU countries is forced into an unplanned, unmanaged exit from the euro, disrupting the global financial system.
  6. US passes significant protectionist trade policy targeting Chinese imports and/or currency.
  7. 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.

more than 2 years ago

Techrights Recommends An Apple Boycott

dbkluck Re:Apple does not block choice. (542 comments)

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?

more than 2 years ago

Adobe Ends Development of Flash On Mobile Browsers

dbkluck Re:Rather Petty, Adobe... (485 comments)

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.

more than 2 years ago

Scott Adams Proposes a Fourth Branch of Government

dbkluck Increase the Size of the House of Representatives (341 comments)

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.

more than 2 years ago

Phelps Clan Tweets Intent To Picket Jobs Funeral Via iPhone

dbkluck Practicing Patriotism (699 comments)

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.

more than 2 years ago

CERN Experiment Indicates Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos

dbkluck Infinite energy (1088 comments)

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.

more than 2 years ago

I've lost more computers to ...

dbkluck Computer of Theseus (317 comments)

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?

about 3 years ago

SignalGuru Helps Drivers Avoid Red Lights

dbkluck Re:The human drivers era is ending (436 comments)

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.

about 3 years ago

More Schools Go To 4-Day Week To Cut Costs

dbkluck Re:Wow... (614 comments)

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.

about 3 years ago

My phone is ...

dbkluck Un-lockable (274 comments)

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.

more than 3 years ago



iPhone 4 Death Grip Result of Software Bug

dbkluck dbkluck writes  |  more than 4 years ago

dbkluck (731449) writes "Apple today announced that they were "stunned" to discover that the so called "Death Grip" glitch that causes the iPhone 4 to seemingly lose reception when held a particular way is actually a software bug. From the press release: "[T]he formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength." Apparently, when lefties and others who shouldn't "hold it that way" appear to suffer massive signal dropoff, "their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place.""

Moon May Have Been Formed By Nuclear Blast

dbkluck dbkluck writes  |  more than 4 years ago

dbkluck (731449) writes "Discovery News reports that contrary to accepted theory, the moon may not be the result of a giant impact between the young earth and a Mars-sized object. Instead, some scientists propose that everyone's favorite chunk of green cheese resulted when "a massive nuclear explosion occurred at the edge of Earth's core." However, the skeptical author asks, in what will certainly be a rhetorical question for any Slashdotter familiar with Lord Xenu, "if there was no impact, there's still the matter of the explosion — how do you get a nuclear bomb to go off in the middle of the planet?" Link to the underlying academic paper here."
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