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Phil Zimmerman Launching Secure "Blackphone"

isaac Re:bork bork bork (156 comments)

This is going to end up a complete mess. Either no one will use them in which case they won't make much difference, only evil people will use them, in which case the US government will shut them down, or a lot of people will use them, in which case the US government will subvert them.

Governments (plural) will subvert them, that's what they do. No legal restriction will prevent them back from doing so. Forget about hiding from governments, that game was lost the minute you picked up a mobile phone.

The only real potential privacy benefit here is in limiting the opportunities for commercial (Google, Apple) or malicious (malware authors) entities to track and/or exploit mobile users. The problem is, of course, that all private commercial entities are inherently untrustworthy when it comes to privacy protection - companies change management or change hands (Nest anyone?) or are careless.

Really, who's the target market for this? Because it just sounds like a honeypot (like Tor) to me.

about 9 months ago
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Charlie Stross: Why Microsoft Word Must Die

isaac Re:Here's the real problem he has (479 comments)

I have no idea what lawyer work demands from a word processor, though.

Once upon a time, it demanded WordPerfect because docs had to be just that. Aggro clerks of court would shitcan anything that deviated from the expected (monospace) fonts, spacings, margins. I'm sure that's still true, though I know standards have slipped a bit - proportionally-spaced fonts are allowed now (Times New Roman seems to have become the standard.)

I took a summer job helping a white-shoe law firm convert from WP51 to Word over one summer almost 20 years ago. It *was* madness back then but their IT department was all over that windows 95 shiny shit.

Word sucks, but like Excel, it's a highly-evolved (or at least accreted) multi-tool. There's no single replacement for it.

-Isaac

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Is Your New Years Eve Tradition?

isaac Collard Greens and Hoppin' John (256 comments)

I take new year's eve easy. What I'm doing for new year's day:

1 large onion
1 bell pepper
6 cloves of garlic
3 stalks celery
(a good-sized smoked ham hock) and/or (4 strips of bacon and a fist-sized chunk of tasso ham)
4 bunches of collard greens, torn off the stems between the veins
1 lb of dried black-eyed peas
quart of chicken stock or broth - homemade is best, low-sodium if you're buying the canned stuff.
a couple stems of thyme and a bay leaf
salt and pepper
tabasco sauce
rice
green onions

Soak the black-eyed peas overnight (12 hours, preferably) then rinse and drain when you're ready to cook

Dice the onion, pepper, and celery, split between 2 bowls

If you've got a ham hock, heat a little oil in a dutch oven and sear it in a dutch oven for the peas. If you have bacon or tasso, cube it and render out some fat in the dutch oven or stock pot. You want 2 pots going with a little rendered pork fat, preferably with some meat (either hock or bacon.)

Pour a bowl of trinity (the onion/celery/pepper mixture) into each pot and sweat for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring every so often. Press 3 cloves of garlic into each pot and give a quick stir after 30 seconds.

Add beans, thyme, bay, and stock to one pot and give a stir; wait for it to come to a boil then lower heat and cover. While waiting for first pot to boil, gradually add torn-up collards to the other pot, stirring often to let the greens wilt. When all greens are in the pot, cover it and lower the heat to a simmer. Season before serving.

While peas and greans are cooking (cook beans for about 45 minutes, greens for a little less), make a cup or 2 of long-grain white rice (basmati is great.)

Put peas and greans over rice with some chopped scallions and a good dash of tabasco.

about 2 years ago
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Amazon and Google Barred From UK Government Cloud

isaac Re:Imagine that... (79 comments)

And um, regarding comments on off-shoring data/services, Amazon certainly does have cloud services that run on hosts in the UK... Dublin mostly. (There may be open questions about the parent company being US-based, but those wouldn't have to do with the geographic location of the services and data, which surely would be hosted from the Dublin data centers.)

I feel compelled to point out that Dublin, Republic of Ireland (where Amazon does indeed have datacenters) is most definitely not in the UK.

about 2 years ago
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Amazon Wants To Replace Tape With Slow But Cheap Off-Site "Glacier" Storage

isaac Re:Where are the S3 tools now? (187 comments)

More curious is the fact that Dropbox, SugarSync, the MS solution, Google's new solution etc seem to be thriving and providing exactly the kind of services that you'd expect third party S3 clients to provide.

Dropbix IS a consumer interface to S3.

https://www.dropbox.com/help/7/en

"Once a file is added to your Dropbox, the file is then synced to Dropbox's secure online servers. All files stored online by Dropbox are encrypted and kept securely on Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) in multiple data centers located across the United States."

-Isaac

more than 2 years ago
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When Flying Was a Thrill

isaac I don't want thrills... (382 comments)

I want safe, quick transportation from point A to point B at a reasonable price. Modern air travel mostly delivers this. It didn't use to.

Air travel was of dubious safety and blinding expense in the '30s, '40s, '50s - and wasn't particularly comfortable either. I don't wish to return to that era, one bit.

-Isaac

more than 2 years ago
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RIM Drops Playbook Price By 66%

isaac Re:Still not interested (302 comments)

It still doesn't have native BES connectivity. If it did, it might have actually sold.

Unfortunately, RIM decided they'd rather use it as a sales vehicle for their phones.

That didn't turn out so well.

The end.

more than 2 years ago
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Research To "Reveal the Unseen World of Cookies"

isaac Cookies not the only way to do this... (108 comments)

Cookies are not the only evidence of tracking. Even Flash LSO, HTML5 local storage, etc.

There's a surprising amount of identifying information in request headers and what's available to javascript. (see http://panopticlick.eff.org/ for a demonstration.) That means, one often needn't accept or store a cookie to be tracked.

A really comprehensive pro-privacy browser extension would munge request headers and enumeration of fonts, plugins, screen resolutions, etc. to match one of, say, the top 5 most common desktop browser fingerprints - and to change every so often (Changing per request would itself be a trivially detectable signature.)

-Isaac

more than 2 years ago
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Super-Privacy-Protecting ISP In the Planning

isaac Re:Honey Pot (184 comments)

The only way this makes sense is as a honeypot, intentional or not.

First, government surveillance of the internet is a solved problem - it's already comprehensive and embedded in the infrastructure of every major carrier and exchange. What good is a theoretically surveillance-free ISP if you can only talk to other customers of the same ISP? The ISP would not be surveillance-free much longer if it ever build any kind of user base.

Second, essentially everyone on the internet leaves - even if they take pains to avoid doing so - a rich data trail with private companies. Facebook, Google, Omniture, CDNs, etc. etc. Data aggregated by these entities render wiretapping at your ISP unnecessary in a lot of cases, and as a bonus may be used against you by private entities for non-criminal matters.

(It's also reasonable to assume that small, mostly-disconnected graphs - i.e. users that successfully manage to communicate only with each other - are inherently of interest from an intelligence or law enforcement perspective. Think of a set of pre-paid phones that only ever call other pre-paid phones, or IPs that only ever communicate peer-to-peer or only visit a single third-party site. Who would ever use the network that way?)

I mean, it's a neat idea and all, but the horse is already out of the barn as far as gov't surveillance goes, and does nothing to address the private data aggregators that are the more real threat to people's lives and livelihoods.

-Isaac

more than 2 years ago
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California Going Ahead With Bullet Train

isaac Re:Portland-Seattle-Vancouver would make more sens (709 comments)

Yes, but if Washington and Oregon were to submit a proposal such as you describe, wouldn't it have gotten those same stimulus money?

Probably, but it would never go down that way.

This is the Pacific Northwest you're talking about - the plan they submitted and got federal money for (to the tune of about $780 million) is to marginally increase the speeds on the existing line, shaving 45 minutes to an hour off a 3.5 hour trip by 2023. (Not kidding, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Northwest_Corridor)

Way to shoot for the moon, guys.

-Isaac

more than 2 years ago
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California Going Ahead With Bullet Train

isaac Re:Portland-Seattle-Vancouver would make more sens (709 comments)

Something tells me that the state government of California isn't particularly interested in building a railroad for Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

Much of the proposed funding is federal stimulus money.

more than 2 years ago
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California Going Ahead With Bullet Train

isaac Portland-Seattle-Vancouver would make more sense. (709 comments)

This doesn't make sense. A rider arriving in LA is going to need a car when they get off the train, unless they fancy spending a lot of time waiting for on Metro (formerly known as the RTD - Rough, Tough, and Dangerous.) Total boondoggle.

It would make a hell of a lot more sense to link the Portland-Seattle-Vancouver, BC corridor with high-speed rail, since these are all cities where one can actually get around reasonably well without a car. It'd be a game-changer to have TGV-speed rail on that corridor - one hour between the downtown cores of Portland and Seattle, or Seattle and Vancouver? I've had regular, daily intracity commutes longer than that.

Oh well.

-Isaac

more than 2 years ago
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Are There Any Smartphones That Respect Privacy?

isaac Re:About BlackBerry's "centralized mail server" (478 comments)

Actually, it isn't completely clear what the arrangement is with RIM and the various intelligence services. RIM allegedly have some kind of data-sharing/intercept agreement with U.S. agencies

RIM's customers are overwhelmingly not located in Canada. Yet RIM's servers are in Canada, rather than somewhere with cheaper power, more bandwidth, and lower network latency, like, say, Virginia. Why is that?

NSA is (OK, was) forbidden from intercepting domestic communications between US entities. But every packet a Blackberry sends is addressed to Canada! Problem solved.

Of course, if an intelligence agency is interested in you, nothing you do with a phone - no matter the make - is going to be private. OTOH, if your objective is to prevent Google or Apple or your mobile carrier from monetizing your identity, a Blackberry connected to your own BES server is a relatively easy and secure option.

I can't really be bothered at this point, though. I'm pro privacy but have realized that I am, in fact, mortal and have other things I'd rather spend time doing than operating my own VPN head-end for the purpose of backhauling my mobile IP traffic.

more than 2 years ago
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NoScript For Android Devices Released

isaac Too bad it can't work system-wide... (107 comments)

My single biggest beef with Android (at least the Sense-flavored version that I have to use due to ActiveSync policies) is that there's no reliable way to disable HTML email and remote element loading. As a result, I'm continually guessing from subjects and senders whether or not a given message is safe to open.

Google and/or HTC developers really should know better. At least I have a decent browser-only solution now, but I'd prefer something integrated with the base system's webkit (assuming that's what's being used to render HTML in the mail client as well as in the lousy default browser.)

-Isaac

more than 2 years ago
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Spock Gives Up the Con

isaac Re:Not surprised (183 comments)

The scary thing is... Leonard Nimoy was in the original Transformers movie. No, not that one, I mean the one from the 1980s. Leonard Nimoy voiced Galvatron in it.

Another fun, if irrelevant fact about the animated Transformers movie from 1986 - it was Orson Welles' last performance. He was the voice of Unicron, the giant planet-eating robot. Presumably this wasn't much of a stretch for the good Mr. Welles.

-Isaac

more than 2 years ago
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White House Proposes "Wealthy Tax"

isaac Re:Ryan is ignorant of economic history (2115 comments)

Today's Republicans think they are on the debate team and will take the opposite side of any Democrat position. I bet if the Democrats said "we are against the raping of babies", the Republicans would instinctively pick the opposite side (regardless of their personal opinion; no I am not saying or implying the Republicans are for that).

No, naive.

The R's would run campaign ads with a scary white-on-black text: "Democrat John Jackson: 'we are... raping babies" and a voiceover reminding the viewer that only Jack Johnson can be trusted to stand up to the baby-raping Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco (and we all know what that means, wink wink.) Elect Jack Johnson!

about 3 years ago
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Delivering Medicine By UAV

isaac What's the kid on a bike going to do now? (87 comments)

At least hiring the kid on a bike gives the kid on a bike a job.

Hypothetically, say a UAV can do the kid's job for 20% less per delivery. What are the kid's prospects now that the delivery business has been taken over by a robots? What about the kid's family who depended on that income?

I'm no luddite - it's not as though e.g. manufacture of antiretroviral medications can or should be done by people stirring pots by hand - but this doesn't sound like a good use of automation.

A much more interesting innovation in distribution is filling the extra space in Coca-Cola crates with pods for delivering medicines, leveraging the awesome distribution network of Coca-Cola (which is available in some of the most remote inhabited places on Earth.) See http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/-/2558/633148/-/r17ejdz/-/index.html

-Isaac

more than 3 years ago
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Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda Resigns From Slashdot

isaac Re:Thanks for all the Fish Wrapper (1521 comments)

What Chris said. Thanks for the fun ride & for providing a space for nerds and trolls of all stripes.

Also, I'll always remember that bitchin' party at the China Club.

Have fun with the next thing.

-Isaac

more than 3 years ago

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