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Comments

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UAV Operator Blames Hacking For Malfunction That Injured Triathlete

harryjohnston He probably believes it; he's probably wrong (178 comments)

Reminds me of a student, many years ago, who told me very seriously that hackers regularly broke into his home computer to mess with him. The evidence? Visual Studio (IIRC) kept changing between "inserting characters" and "overwriting characters" when he typed.

I asked if he might be accidentally hitting the Insert key. He had no idea what the Insert key did.

To his credit, when I explained, he acknowledged that this might have been the cause and perhaps there weren't any hackers in his computer after all.

about two weeks ago
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FWD.us Wants More H-1B Visas, But 50% Go To Offshore Firms

harryjohnston Re:Isn't the upshot the same? (325 comments)

Because the H1-Bs are indentured servants they can pay them Mickey D's wages

But can they? Obviously I have no personal knowledge, but several of the comments on the FWD.us site say otherwise. I have no particular reason to believe that you know what you're talking about: do you have a reputable reference?

about two weeks ago
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FWD.us Wants More H-1B Visas, But 50% Go To Offshore Firms

harryjohnston Re:Isn't the upshot the same? (325 comments)

What makes you think the consultant is necessarily earning less for his company than the full time employee? We have consultants come in fairly often, even though we're charged substantially more than an extra employee would cost - the argument is that they have highly specialized skills that we lack, and/or that they'll only be here for part of each year so it's cheaper than adding extra full-time people. Or perhaps management just think we're incompetent, I've never been entirely sure.

It's not always entirely stupid. There are skills that are only needed occasionally by any particular business, it hardly makes sense to hire someone yourself and have him or her doing busywork the rest of the year. Better for the people with those skills to move around from company to company as needed.

about two weeks ago
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FWD.us Wants More H-1B Visas, But 50% Go To Offshore Firms

harryjohnston Re:Isn't the upshot the same? (325 comments)

I dunno, the salaries shown in the database linked to from the lobbying site don't look too shabby to me. Of course that might all be made up for all I know. Be that as it may, I still don't see the connection to the outsourcing companies. How does the fact that they're getting a large proportion of the allocated visas help prove that the visas aren't really needed?

about three weeks ago
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FWD.us Wants More H-1B Visas, But 50% Go To Offshore Firms

harryjohnston Re:Isn't the upshot the same? (325 comments)

... of course, it still makes sense to at least try to allocate the visas sensibly. I'd have thought the obvious approach was to give priority in any given period to the workers who are being offered the highest pay - that should favour the companies with a genuine need over those offering cut-rate replacements to existing workers.

about three weeks ago
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FWD.us Wants More H-1B Visas, But 50% Go To Offshore Firms

harryjohnston Re:Isn't the upshot the same? (325 comments)

It still works out the same regardless of who the visas are issued to. If there are enough graduates to fill the available jobs, then you don't need any tech visas. That's an entirely different question.

about three weeks ago
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FWD.us Wants More H-1B Visas, But 50% Go To Offshore Firms

harryjohnston Isn't the upshot the same? (325 comments)

I'm not at all sure I understand the purpose of tech visas, but if the problem they're supposed to solve is that there aren't enough tech workers to fill the available jobs, then surely the upshot is the same either way? The visas issued to Infosys may be used to displace existing US tech workers, but those displaced workers are then available for Facebook to hire.

about three weeks ago
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Mozilla Is Investigating Why Dell Is Charging To Install Firefox

harryjohnston Re:I am not ok with this. (306 comments)

In my experience, their business products are well-designed (in the sense of being robust and convenient to work with) and moderately reliable, certainly more so overall than any of the smaller, generic manufacturers we've tried over the years. We have had some bad batches from Dell. But I'm not sure how much competition they've got; HP is the only one I can think of at the moment, and I don't think they can offer us comparable pricing. But I don't work in purchasing so I'm not really up to date with this stuff.

about a month and a half ago
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Mozilla Is Investigating Why Dell Is Charging To Install Firefox

harryjohnston Re:I am not ok with this. (306 comments)

Note also that the product in question is one sold almost exclusively to, you guessed it, large companies. So I guess it was impossible for anyone to order this by mistake, so there's no problem, right?

about a month and a half ago
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Mozilla Is Investigating Why Dell Is Charging To Install Firefox

harryjohnston Re:I am not ok with this. (306 comments)

Did it need to be? Why would you check the box if you don't know what Firefox is? Is there any evidence at all that *anyone* ordered this by mistake?

> "Accidents" don't happen in large tech companies.

Large tech companies don't make mistakes? Ever?

... since when?

about a month and a half ago
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Mozilla Is Investigating Why Dell Is Charging To Install Firefox

harryjohnston Re:I am not ok with this. (306 comments)

You seem to be imaging that someone at Dell said to themselves "how can we trick people into giving us extra money". It's much more likely that some important client phoned up and asked Dell, "Please put Firefox on the computers we're about to buy from you." From what I've gathered of Dell's procedures - and I'm not dealing with them directly here, so I could be wrong, but FWIW - they can't sell you a special option without putting it into their purchasing system first. From there it could easily wind up on the web site, either accidentally or just because someone thought to themselves, "Well, this client wanted it, maybe other clients will too." That's probably why it was only on this one model. That was the one the original client was buying.

about a month and a half ago
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Mozilla Is Investigating Why Dell Is Charging To Install Firefox

harryjohnston Re:Yeah, right (306 comments)

That's not distribution! By that definition, every time you moved house, you'd be "distributing" all of the software installed on your computer.

about a month and a half ago
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Mozilla Is Investigating Why Dell Is Charging To Install Firefox

harryjohnston Yeah, right (306 comments)

The TOS don't actually say that. They talk about "distribution" but it isn't at all clear that installing software is the same thing as distributing it. No, let me put that another way: installing software is *not* the same thing as distributing it. If the law doesn't recognize the difference, it should.

about a month and a half ago
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Mozilla Is Investigating Why Dell Is Charging To Install Firefox

harryjohnston Say what? (306 comments)

Pardon? Dell is installing Firefox on a customer's machine before shipping it to them. How is that any different from my installing it on a customer's machine *after* it's shipped to them? What if the customer ships their machine to me, I install Firefox, and then ship it back?

about a month and a half ago
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Jedi May Be Allowed To Perform Marriage Ceremonies In Scotland

harryjohnston Re:And why not ? (196 comments)

This clause is pretty bizarre, though: "As a civil ceremony is non religious in all aspects, all readings and music must be of a secular nature."

So ... you've either got a choice of an all-out religious marriage, with a celebrant belonging to a recognized religion, or a marriage with no religious elements whatsoever, not even a favorite hymn? Does "here comes the bride" count as religious music? :-)

The fact that the location of the civil marriage has to be approved by the local council is also a bit dodgy, IMO. Are chapels routinely approved for civil ceremonies?

1 year,29 days
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UEFI Secure Boot Pre-Bootloader Rewritten To Boot All Linux Versions

harryjohnston Re:Samsung's response? (185 comments)

Which is fine for an embedded system, but not for a general-purpose computer.

about a year ago
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Purported Relativity Paradox Resolved

harryjohnston The Simple Version (128 comments)

For those not interested in the fine detail, there's a very simple explanation as to why there isn't any real paradox involved.

Let's start with a quote from the article (looks like the paper is a bit more subtle, but the upshot is the same): "Now imagine how things look from a "moving frame of reference" in which the charge and magnet both glide by at a steady speed. Thanks to the weird effects of relativity, the magnet appears to have more positive charge on one side and more negative charge on the other."

Now, it's true that there's an electric field, and for many purposes it is convenient to imagine that this is due to charges on either side of the magnet. But these charges are fictitious. They aren't really there, as can be easily shown by observing that charge is a scalar, and hence the charge distribution in the magnet cannot be dependent on the frame of reference. Since they aren't there, it's hardly surprising that the external electric field doesn't apply a force to them.

So, basically, a fiction that happens to be convenient in electric engineering is incompatible with relativity; or, if you prefer, in order to make fictitious charges compatible with relativity you also have to have fictitious angular momentum. I'm not sure whether this is a big deal for electrical engineering or not but it certainly isn't any sort of deal as far as fundamental physics is concerned.

about a year ago
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UEFI Secure Boot Pre-Bootloader Rewritten To Boot All Linux Versions

harryjohnston Samsung's response? (185 comments)

Has anybody seen confirmation that Samsung will be repairing affected user's machines under warranty? Definitely a design fault, it should be impossible for software to brick hardware.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Ask Slashdot: Alternatives to Groklaw?

harryjohnston harryjohnston writes  |  more than 2 years ago

harryjohnston writes "Having been kicked off Groklaw a while back for "ignorance", i.e., having opinions differing from those of the owner, I'm looking for an alternative source of news/commentary about legal issues relating to technology — other than Slashdot itself, of course! Any suggestions?"
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US Cyber Command Drinks the Cloud Kool-Aid

harryjohnston harryjohnston writes  |  more than 2 years ago

harryjohnston writes "According to the head of the NSA and General Keith Alexander, the best way to improve the nation's cyber defenses is by shifting to a "cloud architecture". Is this a well-reasoned plan or a buzzword-induced hallucination? You decide."
Link to Original Source
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Peer-to-peer traffic drops 10% after new law

harryjohnston harryjohnston writes  |  more than 2 years ago

harryjohnston writes "Following the introduction of New Zealand's new copyright legislation, which we discussed last week, major ISP Orcon reports that international peer-to-peer traffic has dropped 10%. This might mean that the law is actually working, to some extent, though experts say the effect will probably only be temporary."
Link to Original Source
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Indonesian MP caught watching porn in Parliament

harryjohnston harryjohnston writes  |  about 3 years ago

harryjohnston writes "An outspoken supporter of Indonesia's draconian anti-pornography laws was caught watching porn on his tablet computer in Parliament during a debate about plans to build a new parliamentary building. I'm all in favour of a casual approach to government, but this may be taking it a bit far."
Link to Original Source
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Palin: treat Julian Assange as terrorist leader

harryjohnston harryjohnston writes  |  more than 3 years ago

harryjohnston (1118069) writes "Sarah Palin is reported as saying that Julian Assange, director of WikiLeaks, should be "pursued with the same urgency we pursue al-Qaeda and Taleban leaders". She also asked whether the US has used "all the cyber tools at our disposal" to shut down the WikiLeaks web site. It isn't clear whether she realizes that such an effort would almost certainly be illegal."
Link to Original Source
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Man jailed for naked photo of ex on Facebook

harryjohnston harryjohnston writes  |  more than 3 years ago

harryjohnston (1118069) writes "A resident of Wellington, New Zealand has been jailed for posting a naked photograph of his ex-girlfriend on her Facebook page. This is believed to be a legal first — although since he had also pleaded guilty to threatening to kill, wilful damage, theft and assault, it seems likely that the judge took those into account in deciding on a jail sentence."
Link to Original Source
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The Psychology of Scam Victims

harryjohnston harryjohnston writes  |  more than 4 years ago

harryjohnston (1118069) writes "Frank Stajano, ARM lecturer in Ubiquitous Computing Systems at the University of Cambridge, and Paul Wilson, writer/presenter for the popular BBC Three series "The Real Hustle", have written a fascinating technical report (PDF) on the psychology of scam victims, based on the television series but with particular emphasis on how real-world scams (and the psychology behind them) translate into electronic scams, and on what security engineers need to know in order to mitigate the risks."
Link to Original Source
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Another Microsoft Update Update

harryjohnston harryjohnston writes  |  more than 4 years ago

harryjohnston writes "The Microsoft Update Product Team have announced (via their Microsoft Update Product Team Blog that the Automatic Updates client code will be updated at the beginning of next month.

Because of limitations in the client software, this update will be automatically installed unless Automatic Updates is disabled completely, ignoring settings like "Notify me but don't automatically download or install them".

In my own opinion such an update is unlikely to cause any harm, but many have disagreed in the past. Full disclosure: I have been awarded as a Microsoft MVP. Let the bashing commence!"

Link to Original Source
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New sort of social engineering - personal threats

harryjohnston harryjohnston writes  |  more than 5 years ago

harryjohnston (1118069) writes "Looks as if malware distributors have upped the ante again. Bulk email aimed at tricking people into visiting a web site for a drive-by download is nothing new, but I've never seen this particular, and rather disconcerting, approach before:

"Subject: she has already gone to hospital!!

Hello, harry.

Listen to me carefully, i don't know what your name is, but i'll find you=
  and i'll cripple you, because this is you who tempted her!!!
She has already gone to hospital, you're next, this is evidence: [malicious link redacted]"

Scary huh?"
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Pay up or no security for you

harryjohnston harryjohnston writes  |  more than 6 years ago

harryjohnston writes "Cisco appears to have adopted a policy of making people pay for service contracts if they want security updates for Cisco client software. I've been trying to update their VPN software on my home laptop (which I use to connect to the Cisco VPN hardware at my workplace) ever since I realized it had an elevation of privilege vulnerability:

http://www.cisco.com/warp/public/707/cisco-sa-20070815-vpnclient.shtml

However, Cisco won't provide me with the update because I don't have a service contract with them.

Despite repeated requests, they seem unwilling to provide any explanation of this baffling policy. Their latest response, and I quote verbatim:

"If you don't services contract on your profile and you are guess level access and which guess level access and you will not have any access download any software from Cisco website. If you have any further please contact Cisco.com suppport team or contact us 1 800 553 2447."

On the plus side their product support response time is excellent. The preceding work of art arrived in less than 30 minutes. :-)"

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