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Smokescreen, a JavaScript-Based Flash Player

oasisbob Re:Impressive (356 comments)

You should have told Edward Tufte this years ago, it would have saved him a lot of trouble.

Instead of naming his seminal classic, "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information", he could have just called it "Charts and Graphs."

more than 4 years ago

Smokescreen, a JavaScript-Based Flash Player

oasisbob Re:Impressive (356 comments)

On a side note, why are people suddenly so in love with the term "infographic"? Can't we call it a "graph" or "chart"?

First, infographics isn't a new term, it's a been around since the early 1990s, at least.

Second, infographics is a more inclusive category than charts or graphs. Charts and graphs tend to be quantitative in nature. A good example of an infographic is a map: calling a subway map a chart is a stretch. (Yes, I'm aware of nautical and aeronautical charts.)

So, when Dan suggests that Flash has legitimate uses for infographics, I think that's a perfectly legitimate use of the term.

more than 4 years ago

The Telcos' Secret Anti-Net Neutrality Strategy

oasisbob Re:Hooray! (457 comments)

Will you feel the same way when a Republican POTUS uses these powers the Progressives are attempting to usurp?

Honestly? If George Bush supported his FCC bringing ISPs under the control of title II as common carriers (which is now being proposed), I wouldn't have cared, or at least not for partisan reasons.

Can you explain how classifying ISPs under Title II will lead towards partisan government control of the internet? I don't see your point here.

more than 4 years ago

Lower Merion School District Update

oasisbob Re:I'm more convinced than ever that this is BS. (367 comments)

I saw this story [] earlier today and now I'm more convinced than ever the whole thing is BS. Look carefully at the photograph (provided by the parents, I might add.) Who goes to sleep with their laptop turned on and the camera pointed right at their face, so that it's perfectly centered in the frame and just well lit enough to show it clearly? If you've ever seen real photographs taken by peeping toms with hidden cameras, they're always grainy and show subjects in unflattering lighting conditions. This picture is just to perfect to be real.

I think that's a silly argument, the same sort of logic and amateur forensics lead many birthers to the conclusion that Obama wasn't born in Hawaii.

If this image was fake, I'm sure the judge in the case would be furious. IANAL, but I'm sure that lying to the media about evidence in an ongoing case is somewhat unethical...

More likely: The image was cropped, maybe by the news organization or the family. Sure, it does have good composition, but to assume that the image is uncropped and too good (and therefore must be fraudulent!) needs a great big jump to conclusions mat.

Oh and...

If you've ever seen real photographs taken by peeping toms with hidden cameras, they're always grainy and show subjects in unflattering lighting conditions.

That might just be the most disturbing thing I've read on Slashdot all day. I'm hoping you simply didn't consider your words carefully...

more than 4 years ago

What Can Be Done About Security of Debit Cards?

oasisbob Re:It was a horrible idea then AND now (511 comments)

I have been telling people for YEARS how unwise it is to have or use a "debit" card with a Visa/MC logo on it. My bank kept INSISTING that I use one, and I would have to send it back and tell them to please send me a regular debit/ATM card. Many of the same people that thought I was "paranoid" and "obsessive" or just plain strange don't think so anymore.

You are paranoid. And ignorant. As long as you report the theft to your financial institution as soon as you learn about it, there are strong protections in place. It's simply not true that it's up to YOU to track down your money. It's up to your financial institution. They are required by law to credit you in the case of errors or unauthorized purchases, and are even required to issue a provisional credit in many cases before the investigation is complete.

A Visa Debit card carries the same protections as a Visa Credit card for signature based-transactions. PIN based transactions are still covered by Regulation E, which protects the consumer.

And there's no such thing as a perfectly good ATM card: with a skimmer, a fraudster can clone your ATM card and have your PIN. Fraudulent PIN based transactions are MUCH harder to refute. People call up all the time and say, "I have no idea how that person got my PIN number, I've never given it to ANYONE!" We (my bank) pull the ATM video, and sure enough it's their son/daughter. The consumer sheepishly admits, "Oh, well, I just told them my PIN once, months ago..." Given the choice between turning the video over to the police or rescinding the claim of unauthorized use, many people will choose the latter.

more than 4 years ago

What Can Be Done About Security of Debit Cards?

oasisbob Re:What can be done? Nothing. (511 comments)

Credit cards are limited by U.S. law to a maximum of $50 liability to the cardholder. Debit cards losses are usually covered by the bank, but they are under no legal obligation to do so.

That simply isn't true. See Regulation E.

more than 4 years ago

What Can Be Done About Security of Debit Cards?

oasisbob What to do? Tell you're bank they're full of it (511 comments)

IAABG (I am a banking geek).

The rules for provisional credit on debit cards is very well established. They fall under Regulation E, section 205.11. The bank has ten days to get you a provisional refund, and can take up to 45 days in certain circumstances to complete their investigation and finalize the credit.

Make sure you get them a notice in writing! Once you do, they have ten days to credit you, and many banks will do it much faster. If the bank drags their feet, just tell them "I want provisional credit within the mandated timeline per Regualtion E".

Here's more on this topic:

The protection for misuse of debit cards is strong, you just need to know what to do. If your bank isn't responsive, Move Your Money to a smaller institution that cares.

more than 4 years ago

Will Your Answers To the Census Stay Private?

oasisbob Re:Bullshit (Mod parent down) (902 comments)

What bullshit. The privacy protections regarding census answers were put in place AFTER the Japanese internment camps as a RESPONSE.

No, good sir, what you write is indeed bullshit.

Says Says Scientific American in 2007:

The Second War Powers Act of 1942 temporarily repealed that protection [census confidentiality] to assist in the roundup of Japanese-Americans for imprisonment in internment camps in California and six other states during the war.

According to the same article, the Census Bureau denied this for decades.

It's true that in response, the privacy of the census was further codified:

The legal confidentiality of census information dates to 1910, and in 1954 it became part of Title 13 of the U.S. Code

After doing some research, it's clear that the Slashdot summary is accurate. If the "summary reads as is [sic] those protections were disregarded in that roundup", it's because they were. I pity the mods that fell for you.

more than 4 years ago

Why Are Digital Hearing Aids So Expensive?

oasisbob Re:Medical... (727 comments)

Also, try to pack all that electronics into such a small package, including feedback cancellation (that really loud whine that older hearing aids were prone to produce) and and it has to be able to run on a single battery for at least a few hours at a time.

I bet Apple could do it.

If Google has a philanthropic arm (, why can't Apple?

more than 4 years ago

Cisco Introduces a 322 Tbit/sec. Router

oasisbob Re:Will it run DDWRT or Tomato? (281 comments)

Yep, because idiots think their linux nat appliances are routers just because they use them in an 'office', and those of us who've worked in telecom laugh at them decisively.

That's odd, I always thought they were routers because they connected two different networks and routed packets between them. *shrugs*

more than 4 years ago

Xbox Live Now Allows Gender Expression

oasisbob Well, duh. (Go Microsoft!) (348 comments)

Microsoft is based in Seattle. We tend to be quite liberal and supportive of civil rights out here. Hell, I had two jobs with two lesbian managers in a row -- in IT! How often does that happen?

Microsoft learned about this the hard way in 2005: Originally opposed to a gay rights bill in Washington state, they quickly changed position.

Said Balmer at the time:

"After looking at the question from all sides, I've concluded that diversity in the workplace is such an important issue for our business that it should be included in our legislative agenda," Ballmer wrote. Ballmer said he did not want to "rehash the events" that led to the company taking a position of neutrality. But he did say the company was implementing changes to make sure the mistakes were not repeated.

I read that as "our employees [probably smart, talented, and many quite senior in the company] threw a fucking fit over our ignorance."

True to their word, in 2009 Microsoft donated $100k to support partnership rights in Washington.

I agree with other commenters that this is a civil rights issue, and seriously doubt Microsoft will screw the pooch on gay rights ever again.

more than 4 years ago

Criminals Hide Payment-Card Skimmers In Gas Pumps

oasisbob Re:Use legal tender, huh? (332 comments)

The other is that greedy operators like ARCO will skim $0.45 off the top of every debit card transaction.

Ha! What an entitled thing to say. You're American, eh? If you think ARCO is being greedy, your ignorance is showing.

The fee they're charging is to reimburse them for the cost of the debit card transaction, called an interchange fee. What started as a way for financial institutions to reimburse each other for the cost of transactions quickly turned into a way to profit. For ARCO, $.45 on a cheap-gas fill-up is a lot! That could blow the margin right there.

When faced with debit card fees, ARCO has several options. They can either integrate the fee into their gasoline prices, subsidising the fee by prices which affect cash customers as well. Or, they can be up front and let consumers decide if the cost of the debit transaction is worth it to them. If it's not, the customer can go somewhere else, or bring cash.

Most other businesses don't do this because they sell items on a higher margin. Gasoline is no such business. People use ARCO because they like cheap gas. If ARCO didn't charge the fee, gas wouldn't be as cheap.

As an aside, if you see someone charging fees for Visa signature-based transactions, it's against the rules, and Visa would love to know about it.

more than 4 years ago

Criminals Hide Payment-Card Skimmers In Gas Pumps

oasisbob Re:This isn't new (332 comments)

It wouldn't take too much hardware or programming effort to build a detection system into cop cars, at least a 2 receiver triangulation device to pinpoint bluetooth transmitters would do it.

You are aware that Bluetooth transmitters are used for, uhhh, other things aren't you?

more than 4 years ago

Comcast Launches First Public US Trial of DNSSEC

oasisbob Re:Comcast DNS hijacking? (100 comments)


Thanks for taking the time to respond to slashdot comments. I truly hope Comcast keeps this up, and stays involved in community forums to support web standards and disseminate accurate technical information.

more than 4 years ago

Comcast Launches First Public US Trial of DNSSEC

oasisbob Re:umm. (100 comments)

Probably because they aren't rebranding their corporate entity.

Also, if you think this is the first cool thing Comcast has done in support of the internet, you're dead wrong. They have some very talented and involved engineers working hard on IPv6, publishing IETF drafts on IPv6 transition strategies, making nice after their BitTorrent escapades, etc.

Say what you will about their business practices, customer service, reliability, whatever... But when it comes to IPv6 and being involved in the technical community, they're kicking ass and taking names.

more than 4 years ago

Comcast Launches First Public US Trial of DNSSEC

oasisbob Re:umm. (100 comments)

No, they don't. Comcast will still be Comcast.

Comcast's services (High Speed Internet, digital TV, etc) are being rebranded Xfinity.

So, class, let's use 'Xfinity' in a sentence. Repeat after me: "When you have no other competitors in your local area, you pick up a phone and order Xfinity from Comcast."

more than 4 years ago

Visual Studio 2010 Forces Tab Indenting

oasisbob Re:What's that old saw? (390 comments)

when it comes to complex, interesting questions of language design, very few people are even vaguely qualified to comment, and when it comes to issues of whitespace every idiot on the planet has an opinion

Ahhh! The old bikeshed metaphor! I've been using this one a lot as a web developer...

Some people have commented that the amount of noise generated by a change is inversely proportional to the complexity of the change.

I think the bikeshed should be white

more than 4 years ago

The Fourth Amendment and the Cloud

oasisbob Re:My bank does not have keys (174 comments)

Yes, in the US this is a standard practice. No financial institution I know of will keep a spare key to a safe deposit box. (The exception being those institutions which have switched to electronic locks, that technology doesn't easily allow for an institution to lock themselves out intentionally.)

That second key the bank possesses is known as a guard key. It's there to prevent what banks call "box hopping/jumping" where you sign-in on one box, and use a separate key to access another box unaudited. (eg if one has physical access to a safe deposit key, but isn't legally authorized to access the box).

If you were offering people the ability to store possessions of unknown value for a small fee, would you want a spare key, knowing the liabilities that having access to that box would bring?

more than 4 years ago

Online Services Let Virus Writers Check Their Work

oasisbob Re:Real interesting story here (61 comments)

Indeed. I started crying like an eight year old girl when I heard he was leaving WaPo. His coverage has been excellent, especially on things like banking security, the Heartland breach, etc.

I stopped sobbing when I heard he was going to start blogging instead.

more than 4 years ago

A Brief History of Modems

oasisbob Re:Acoustic coupler era and POTS! (249 comments)

and the occasional twit who forgot that email is a *text* medium.

Not since 1996 (and probably earlier) when RFC 2045 was written.

The last century called, they want their Mutt-grasping curmudgeon back.

more than 4 years ago


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