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Smartphone Kill Switch, Consumer Boon Or Way For Government To Brick Your Phone?

rlh100 Smartphone violent muggings (292 comments)

Why Law Enforcement in California pushed for the law was that there is a real problem with violent smartphone robberies. The victim steps away from her friends to talk on her smartphone. The thief hits her from the back so she falls forward grabbing her phone and runs. She would not see who the thief was. This is an every weekend occurrence in San Francisco and the San Francisco Police don't like this. A kill switch would make smartphone theft less profitable.

2 days ago
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Alleged Massive Account and Password Seizure By Russian Group

rlh100 Collected email addresses used for spam (126 comments)

Looks like they have started selling email addresses. I just got email from multiple spam runs for my email addresses from:
    netfirms.com
    joker.com
    sys-con.com
    mixonline.com
    livedesignonline.com

Spam does not bother me so much. But the first two email addresses do. They are my domain registrars. So they have my account information and could change my domain registration. Time to change some passwords.

RLH

about two weeks ago
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Airbnb Partners With Cities For Disaster Preparedness

rlh100 A critical need in disasters is housing (55 comments)

This is a great idea. Getting people to think about opening their homes in times of a disaster before the disaster happens. Sort of like the organ donation sticker on your drivers license.

Having a database of people who are willing to open their homes in a disaster and what their parameters for guests are would be invaluable. I am a single older man so I would be willing to have other single older men stay with me as well as a family or a couple. What Airbnb is proposing is using their tools to help disaster relief agencies create a database of places for people to stay. Probably of limited use the night of the disaster, but useful for the next two weeks.

This is an interesting step forward for disaster relief agencies learning how to use social media. Airbnb is willing to help this happen. While it is good PR for Airbnb, it is also a great way for them to give back to the community.

about three weeks ago
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The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

rlh100 Re:Occams Scalpel (962 comments)

You don't see it in the workplace any more, or very rarely, now that it's illegal.

Are you a software developer? How many women programmers are on your team? What, no women on your team? Or if they are on your team they are QA or documentation people? It is not because they are not qualified. It is because most development teams are toxic to women.

I am a sysadmin and most of the female sysadmins I have known have left the field. It is not because they can't take it. They can and dish it out as well. They just get tired of the "boy's club" attitude of their male coworkers. They kept waiting for the boys to grow into men, but then realized they probably won't.

It takes a real MAN to own up to the fact that this harassment of women is insidious and pervasive in the tech/geek communities. But the boys will just continue to try and explain why it is the women's problem, not theirs.

about a month ago
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The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

rlh100 Re:And the result of all this? (962 comments)

Situation A: Tom says something mean to Fred. Fred tells Tom to go fuck himself. Big Boss hears about it and calls them both into his office. Big Boss tells Tom to square his shit away or he's fired. Big Boss admonishes Fred to come see him about this in the future rather than responding in kind. Tom and Fred go on about their work and are a bit more careful about their interactions. This is a regular thing for Tom as he's brilliant but a loose cannon verbally. Big Boss talks to Tom and admonishes him that if he can't keep his asshole comments to himself, he will end up fired with prejudice.

Except that unless Tom had something equally offensive to Fred, then the Big Boss tells Fred to square his shit away or he will be reported to HR. And HR if it has any smarts at all will look this very seriously. If Tom did say something equally offensive, then the Big Boss will tell them both the same message. If the Big Boss does not take this seriously, then he has just dropped the companies pants for a big lawsuit.

about a month ago
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The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

rlh100 Re:This has nothing to do with sexism (962 comments)

If women don't want that and want to be treated equal... then fine... but that means not complaining when you're treated like a man.

Maybe being treated equal is something other than being treated like a man. Maybe it is treating the woman with respect.

about a month ago
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The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

rlh100 Re:Let me count the ways (962 comments)

Don't talk to many women do you? Just try asking them.

You want well researched in depth commentary on the subject go to YouTube and look for Feminist Frequency by Anita Sarkeesian. She talks in depth about the issues and the problems women face in the gaming industry. She also talks about how she has been persecuted by men on the Internet. Well researched, well thought out commentary.

Know any geek girls? Ask them what they think of sexual harassment in the gaming industry. Have they received any rape threats over postings?

You mentioned death threats. Do you ever get death threats with your home address included? It is not uncommon for rape threats to include detailed personal information about the woman. Where they live. Where they work. What their email address and phone numbers are. Truly scary stuff.

But truth be told, you are probably not really interested in the truth. You would rather keep your blinders on so you don't have to face the fact that this is a serious problem that technical women / geek girls face every day. You might have to change your views and own up to how you are part of the problem.

about a month ago
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The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

rlh100 Re:This is bullshit (962 comments)

Don't talk to many women do you? Just ask a woman. Ask your mother. I think you will be surprised how common it is.

Ask simple questions like:
Have you ever felt unsafe because of the comments men are making about you?
How often do you evaluate your personal security around men?
Have you ever been sexually harassed?

Know a geek girl? Ask her:
Have you ever been harassed with a rape threat because of a comment you made on line?

Listen to the answers and then start looking at your own behavior. Why are you making it the women's problem rather than looking at your own behavior and beliefs?

about a month ago
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The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

rlh100 Geek Girls gets first rape threat around age 11 (962 comments)

My daughter and I were talking about how much personally directed sexual violence geek girls must endure. She was talking about the obsessive personally detailed threats Anita Sarkeesian creator of Feminist Frequency endures from the male geek community on a continual basis. Some of these are threats include her personal details needed to carry them out. This is really scary stuff.
We were talking about this and she casually let drop:
"I received my first rape threat in a forum when I was eleven"

She casually went on:
"Eleven is the age when geek girls first start discovering the Internet and make their first posts. They comment on a game about some small feature they don't like. Some guy will flame them with a rape threat"

This is very shocking for a dad to hear his daughter say. "My eleven year old little girl!" She is twice as old now. But her saying it so casually is deeply disturbing.

My daughter has assimilated it. She has grown a "thick skin". I think she enjoys giving back as good as she gets. But not the violent rape stuff.

It is very sad that the male geek culture permits such abuse to go on.
We MEN need to start talking about this. We MEN need to ostracize the men who threaten rape.
* It is never funny.
* It is not "just a joke".
* It is not harmless.

It is really scary for geek girls because there is always a risk that it might be real. There are unbalanced men out there after all.

How do I change this? I start by writing about it. I talk with other people. I try to get MEN to understand the problem and see how scary it is for women.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Resolving the Clash Between Art and Technology In Music?

rlh100 Re:Opera is a dieing art form (121 comments)

Sorry about dieing. It looked wrong but aspell liked it.

When you comment on someone's spelling errors do you ever think about how that might hurt the writer. I know you probably thought it funny or helpful but spelling has always been a struggle for me. Up until 10th grade when an English teacher looked at any of my writing, the first thing out of their mouths was "Robert, you need to work on your spelling". Like Calvin, I would tune out and visit planet Zoke. It was not until age 16 that I got an English teacher who made me feel like I could write. That was almost 40 years ago.

And for people who suggest that maybe I should use a different spell checker, aspell works for me. My text editor is vim. My spell checker is aspell.

Besides there are some basic problems with spell checkers as Taylor Mali says in his hilarious poem:
"The The Impotence of Proofreading"
Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Resolving the Clash Between Art and Technology In Music?

rlh100 Opera is a dieing art form (121 comments)

Opera attendance in America is dropping off dramatically. Most of the audience are older women and couples. Over 50. The opera community is having a very hard time attracting younger members. Competition of other types of music and high ticket prices.

So I think what this person is trying to do is great. It probably won't be a success. But it may draw new audience members in.

Once when I complained about modern classical music to a friend of mine who composes new symphonies, he said:
"Traditional classical music has had time to filter out all the bad symphonies leaving just the best. With modern classical we are listening to it in real time. All the new compositions and ideas, good and bad. Isn't that exciting."

RLH

about 2 months ago
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New Permission System Could Make Android Much Less Secure

rlh100 Phone security frameworks are fundamentally flawed (249 comments)

What is the point of asking a security policy question when the only answer is yes? Why do apps want access to so many different services? The android/apple security permissions frameworks are fundamentally flawed. A polite term might be naive.

At DeveloperWeek 2014 I went to a talk by a Mozilla developer on the Android security policy framework. He put forward two ideas:
Fine grain access control.
Prompt for permission the first time an app accesses a service, not at install time.

His first observation was that the granularity of the permissions was far to coarse. Access the Internet. Use the phone. Access memory. Why are you forced to allow near complete access to the Internet when a service might only want to write to a specific site? Why read/write entire user memory when it only needs to store a state file or a small collection of cache files. Fine grained access controls are all standard features of the operating systems that underlie Android and Apple smart phones.

The argument might be made that it would confuse users to be asking for complex permissions. I would say, what's the diff? The user is going to say yes either way. The only other option is to not use the app.

Fine grained permissions enforced by the OS would limit damage that a rouge app could do by limiting what it could do without popping up an access request.

The speaker's second idea was that the permissions policy questions should be asked the first time you use a service in an app, not at install time. The first time an app might build a current list of requirements/sites/etc and ask in one question. If an app needs to access something new like a new tracking URL or call a new phone number, a new permission request pops up enforced by the OS. A user who is annoyed by the pop-ups can always click "Don not show this message again".

The benefits of these two changes is that you do not have blanket permissions granting for apps even for services the user may never use. This would prohibit a virus from starting to use a service that had not been previously accessed. Even a naive users might think twice when his GPS app suddenly wants to reformat the memory card.

The two prongs of making permissions more granular and not granting them until they are actually accessed by the user would fundamentally improve the smart phone security policy. Both of these should be implemented by the OS so they are automatic, uniform and enforced.

The argument of its too complex for the user is null because the users it might confuse are going to say yes in any case. They always do. The argument that it is too complex for the developers, my answer is "tough, you're a developer, deal with it".

I wish I could find a reference to the talk. It was the afternoon of the last day of DeveloperWeek 2014 in San Francisco. The guy was from Mozilla. I recall it being a last minute change because someone canceled.

Standard arguments about how nothing is perfect and everything can be bypassed apply. The standard reply of something is better than nothing apply as well.

Brought to you by Captain Obvious

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Where's the Most Unusual Place You've Written a Program From?

rlh100 In the middle of the Tuolumne River (310 comments)

At San Jose Family Camp in the middle of the Tuolumne River writing a Perl/CGI script to generate sendmail.cf files.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Re-Learning How To Interview As a Developer?

rlh100 Re:You're getting old? (218 comments)

IBM discovered back in the 1960's that they were taking great engineers and promoting them to become terrible managers. So they came up with a two track promotion policy so that great engineers could be promoted to manage and vice president class positions with similar pay and benefits but remaining engineers. Most larger technology companies follow this model.

about 4 months ago
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Federal Agency Data-Mining Hundreds of Millions of Credit Card Accounts

rlh100 IRS Data Mining Catches Working Poor (264 comments)

In the past year or two the IRS has manged to organize their data mining capabilities into a "useful" automatic auditing tool. The IRS is cross checking tax returns with "third party information". Bank records and soon credit card transactions.

The program was supposed to catch the wealthy tax cheats hiding their money and collect hundreds of billions of tax revenue. It turns out that what these robo-audits do best is catching poor people who try to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit and have some un-reported income on the side, only collecting a couple of billion.

People are complaining about what the NSA could do with the data they collect. This article is about what the CFPB might do. I am more concerned about what the IRS is actually doing with their data mining. Catching the people who have the most to loose and the least chance of hiding their tracks. The working poor.

The IRS data mining is an actual example of how data mining by the government can backfire. Rather than catching wealthy tax cheats hiding their millions, it caches poor people.

Rather than focusing on "maybes" and "what ifs" of the NSA and the CFPB. Shouldn't we be more concerned about what the IRS is currently doing? Effectively targeting the working poor.

BTW, do you have an eBay business that earns you a couple of thou a year? Expect to pay income tax on it in the next couple of years.

about 7 months ago
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Network Solutions Opts Customer Into $1,850 Security Service

rlh100 Automatic PayPal renewal? (405 comments)

Is anyone else bothered that PayPal allows automatic renewal without my entering my PayPal password?

Is there any way to block this type of automatic payment from my PayPal account?

about 7 months ago
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New Home Automation?

rlh100 Flexible non-metallic conduit (336 comments)

When I did the same thing for a house I had stripped down to bare studs it was a year or two before cat 5 wiring became the norm. So the house has a lot of cat 3 wiring in the walls, but no cat5. What I discovered and wish I had used is flexible non-metallic conduit. In 100ft rolls is it about 35-40 cents a foot. Run it to every location you might want Ethernet or cable. Run a cat 5 cable there as well. This allows you to run other types of wire as needed pulling it with an electrical fish tape. Check that the installers do not kink the flexible conduit. The other thing you might think about is running Ethernet to more locations than you think you need. Where you aren't going to use it immediately just leave it in the wall and install a blank outlet cover.

Have you thought of in the wall wiring for speakers? This takes some forethought because you have to figure out where the A/V system will be and where the speakers will be.

If you are going to install an alarm system, have an alarm company design the wiring for it.

A final suggestion. Just before they are going to install insulation and button up the walls, go around with a camera and systematically photograph the studs, wiring and plumbing. In a couple of years when you are wanting to screw into a stud or figure out where the plumbing is, you have photos. Be systematic in the sequence so you can figure out which room and where you are later.

about 7 months ago
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Watch Out, Amazon: DHL Tests Drug-Delivery Drone

rlh100 Qualified operators, legal liability, battery life (134 comments)

This whole drone delivery thing is a publicity stunt.

First off it takes a skilled operator to fly a drone. A friend of mine has learned to fly a 1/20th scale helicopter. He does it well. But he has spent a lot of time learning and he still has mishaps. With drones your delivery driver has to be a reasonably competent pilot. And don't tell me "computer control". It will be a long time before we see self flying drones.

Second, as pointed out, a drone out of control can kill. With a truck out of control you slam on the brakes and it generally stops. With a drone out of control if you slam on the breaks, i.e. turn it off, it falls from the sky. To do anything safe with a drone you have to regain control to land it safely.

Just imagine if in your car or truck when you started to loose control you could not just slam on the breaks but had to regain control before you could stop safely.

Third, legal liability. When the drone falls from the sky or crashes into something, who is going pay for damages? If it kills someone who will pay for the law suite?

And the last thing is power. If the drones are battery powered how far will the get on a charge. My guess is that it would be measured in 10ths of miles not 10s of miles. My friend who flies helicopters gets 10 to 15 minutes on a charge with no payload. Drones that can fly farther are gas powered and are really small airplanes which need runways to land and take off.

I love to read about drones and drones delivering packages. They are great. But I also love to read about stunners and phasers, transporters and faster then light interstellar travel. But I read about them in science fiction not in business plans.

Drone delivery in the foreseeable future is just a publicity stunt, AFAIAC.

about 8 months ago
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Affordable Blood Work In Four Hours Coming To Pharmacies

rlh100 Walgreens in Palo Alto has one (282 comments)

According to Theranos' web site the Walgreens in downtown Palo Alto has one. Looking at their price list, the tests are very affordable for people without insurance

about 9 months ago
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Withhold Passwords From Your Employer, Go To Jail?

rlh100 Router configurations not stored in NVRAM (599 comments)

Every router's configuration was only loaded into system memory, not NVRAM. The ASCII files the routers were configured from were all encrypted. Terry was very careful to make sure that no one could play with his toys.
There was no way to "root" or hack into the routers. Cisco's best could not do it and they tried.
He ended his temper tantrum by requiring then Mayor Newsom to come down to the jail so Terry could give him the passwords in person.

about 10 months ago

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