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Comments

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How Your Compiler Can Compromise Application Security

valderost Need new compiler features (470 comments)

Compilers ought to have switches that deliberately branch to the error cases they're trying to optimize away. Getting rid of a divide by zero? Force the error instead so it gets attention. Coder forgot to declare volatile variables? Make local static shadow copies of static variables for comparison at every reference. And so on. Development environments ought to be helping with this stuff, not confounding developers.

about a year ago
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Last year, I spent the most on ...

valderost Re:Taxes! (651 comments)

Same here - taxes are my largest expense. Housing is a distant second.

more than 2 years ago
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How many robocalls do you get each month?

valderost This is Rachael from Card Services (228 comments)

Mostly from Rachael at Card Services, calling about my account. I press 1 to speak with an agent and ask which account, and they hang up on me. I'm glad the car extended warranty calls have stopped. Now if I could end Rachael's calls, the political surveys and Newt Gingrich's calls to my cell phone I'd be a pretty happy camper. Newt doesn't want to hear what I have to say anyway.

more than 2 years ago
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PETA To Launch Pornography Website

valderost Aversion Therapy (348 comments)

This sounds like aversion therapy. People will begin to associate pr0n with suffering animals and not want to view it any more.

Leave it to PETA to drain the fun out of our lives!

more than 3 years ago
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United Pilots To Use iPads For Navigation

valderost Re:And a backup Ipad, and a backup of a backup? (253 comments)

The navigational instruments have their own databases too. It's not like a plane will get lost or crash if an iPad doesn't turn on.

more than 3 years ago
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United Pilots To Use iPads For Navigation

valderost Stow for landing? (253 comments)

Those electronic approach plates aren't going to do anyone any good once the iPads are turned off and stowed for landing.

more than 3 years ago
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FCC Ups Penalties For Caller ID Spoofing

valderost Untraceable = Unaccountable (68 comments)

This is worthless pandering. The fact is that there is no way for the receiver of a spoofed CID call to complain. The number on the Caller ID doesn't identify the caller, and the caller won't identify themselves. If you can't identify the caller, you can't complain. If you can't complain, the callers can't be held accountable. The system is broken, and therefore so are all the laws that assume the system is working. Fix the system first, then write new laws if they're needed.

more than 3 years ago
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Proposed ADA Requirements May Affect Public Internet Use

valderost I'll take my site down rather than comply (420 comments)

I will take my neighborhood civic association website down before I spend my personal, volunteer time to make it ADA compliant. It's not that I don't want it to comply, but there's simply no budget to hire people who know how to do this right, and I can't put the extra time in to do this myself.

more than 3 years ago
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Smart Phones Could Know Their Users By How They Walk

valderost Cure for drunk dialing (96 comments)

Phone locks up when you're stumbling drunk - for some people that's a good thing!

about 4 years ago
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Apple Patents Remotely Disabling Jailbroken Phones

valderost Re:UCITA and bricking (381 comments)

That would only apply to the rightful owner of the software (on the phone), not to a thief.

Theft doesn't automatically release an owner from his obligations under a license, so the license remains in effect until it expires or is terminated under its terms, or until invalidated by a court. And even if the license terms allow Apple to unilaterally terminate the license for some reason (including their determination of a possible theft), their act of bricking the phone in response seems to fall squarely in line with concerns about self-help.

Legitimate theft that a licensee reports is a completely different matter, and it should be easy for both user and provider to agree to brick the phone until it's recovered.

more than 4 years ago
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Apple Patents Remotely Disabling Jailbroken Phones

valderost UCITA and bricking (381 comments)

There are two states, Maryland and Virginia, under which remote disablement of software is allowed under UCITA, the Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act. Even then, bricking, or "self-help" as UCITA calls it, has some limitations, and it's not allowed in "mass market transactions" such as those involving non-negotiated licenses. The intent was to address shrink-wrap licenses, but a cell phone contract is similarly non-negotiable. This sounds like an "invention" that can't really be used in most of the US.

UCITA and its self-help provisions have been an issue for a long time, and a lot has been written about it that's probably applicable here too.

more than 4 years ago
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I mailed / filed my tax return form ...

valderost Re:What do they mean "Mailed???" (432 comments)

The USPS doesn't offer many hackable interfaces for information thieves worldwide to view mailed articles. Use of certified mail provides a degree of accountability for its handling.

There is no perfectly confidential way to get a document, whether paper or bits, from one's fingers to somebody else's eyes. You're free to judge the risks differently and make the decision that best suits you. I'm still mailing my returns the old-fashioned way.

more than 4 years ago
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I mailed / filed my tax return form ...

valderost Re:What do they mean "Mailed???" (432 comments)

This self-respecting slashdotter doesn't e-file for two reasons.

First, there is no technical need for an intermediary to receive and forward my data to the IRS. Nobody seems to acknowledge that involvement of intermediaries means there are more interfaces that might be hacked to reach my data. No thanks.

Second, the reason that there are even intermediaries is that (and I wish I could cite a source for this but it's too long ago, mid-1990's) when the IRS originally proposed that taxpayers file directly, the software lobby successfully argued that removing the intermediaries would result in the loss of jobs. The government didn't want to cause job loss, so it caved and now requires those intermediaries.

My tax filings are on paper to protest the idiocy.

more than 4 years ago
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I mailed / filed my tax return form ...

valderost Tax deadline postponed for regional flooding (432 comments)

My county was flooded and has been given until May 11 to file and pay taxes. I will file for an automatic extension and procrastinate to the fullest extent of the law!

more than 4 years ago
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NASA Launches Giant Magnifying Glass Into Space

valderost Move it to L1 (115 comments)

The magnifying glass is scorching only the Western Hemisphere because it's been placed in a geosynchronous orbit. NASA is rumored to be preparing to reposition it to LaGrangian Point L1 to provide a greater degree of stability, provided that they can account for positional oscillation resulting from the moon revolving around the Earth. Meanwhile, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum is preparing to return the Hubble Space Telescope's COSTAR lens to NASA for refurbishing and redeployment to correct LENS' focal length for its new location.

Aside from being able to put away our asbestos suits, another direct benefit of placement at L1 is a smaller footprint in the sky, letting more of the sun's light reach Earth.

more than 4 years ago
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Gaming in the 4th Dimension

valderost Spatial dimensions and geometric projections (303 comments)

I haven't wtfv (watched the video), but 4-D can be represented in 3- and 2-D using projections, just like we regularly watch 3-D images projected into 2 dimensions (TV, video games).

Think of a cone, a 3 dimension shape. In the 3-to-2 dimension projection, that cone can look like a triangle, a circle, an ellipse, or an ellipse with a point, all depending on how you rotate it.

Now imagine that there's a 4-D shape whose projection changes appearance as the shape is rotated about its fourth-dimensional axis. There's no reason you can't have one projection of it that shows a cube, and another of the same object that shows a sphere.

It's tough to conceive of what this shape looks like since we can't see or experience it in four dimensions. But it's still possible to develop enough of a concept of the shape to recognize its various projections, learn how they're connected, and eventually be able to navigate it.

Projecting a shape from 4 to the 2 dimensions of a screen will lose an awful lot of information, but we seem to be good at developing a 3-D concept based on motion and visual cues.

Interesting stuff.

more than 4 years ago
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EPIC Files FTC Complaint Over Facebook's New Privacy Policy

valderost Re:Formal review of changes would benefit everyone (103 comments)

There are always going to be churn and minor movements of users among services, but I think people who have a lot invested in a network, e.g. home pages, relevant postings, active participation in groups, many photos, lots of friends they actually do interact with, etc., probably aren't going to pick up and leave en masse unless there's some grossly distasteful change in the policies or terms of service. If you're providing the service, you don't make those grossly distasteful changes at once, you progress toward them in increments that each fall below users' overall threshold of discomfort.

more than 4 years ago
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EPIC Files FTC Complaint Over Facebook's New Privacy Policy

valderost Formal review of changes would benefit everyone (103 comments)

On the whole, we're still in the middle of a huge transition in the ways we communicate with each other, and the degrees to which we trust third parties with information that rightfully belongs to us. Facebook is no more accountable to its users than any other service; and no matter how much we might bitch and moan about changes in their privacy policies, the fact is that they are going to use our information in as many ways as they can to make money. Sharing information directly with third parties is the most obvious, but there are plenty of indirect means.

Now that we can't hide ourselves, we're bound to attract more friends. Every one of those relationships is a potential revenue stream, either directly or indirectly. Folks at MIT recently demonstrated that they can determine to a high probability who on Facebook is gay without knowing anything about them except their friends. I'm sure the same technique applies to religion, various types of hobbies, and a number of other things we don't always give as much thought to, like criminals, terrorists and the like. These affiliations and attributes have to be a gold mine for someone, and the policy changes are a new mother lode.

I'm glad that EPIC, FTC, etc., are interested in our privacy, as they can exert pressure to change things in ways that we as users cannot. What I'd really like to see out of all this might be some kind of formal privacy impact review before changes to social networking policies are made. Any change that degrades privacy would need to be identified by third parties, justified or mitigated by the social network, then reviewed again until it's clear that users will be better off after the change than they were before. I think that expecting users to flee a service following troublesome changes is unrealistic. The users are caught between a rock and a hard place, and Facebook will continue twisting their arms as long as the users are paying more attention to their friends and apps than they are to their privacy.

It will be sad, yet very interesting at the same time, to see what happens when lost privacy demonstrably results in crimes of various sorts. Facebook may find that its greed has a higher human price than it might ever have realized.

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

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Court rules for software ownership over licensing

valderost valderost writes  |  about 5 years ago

valderost (668593) writes "Out-law.com reports on a finding of the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, in favor of an individual reselling Autodesk's AutoCAD software in "his claim that he owned the software and had the right to sell it on." The decision hinges on some technicalities in the Autodesk license and conflicting precedents involving a Vanessa Redgrave film, but it's some good news for the idea that a software purchase is just that."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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When is a troll not a troll

valderost valderost writes  |  about 4 years ago

Somehow a subset of slashdotters has been getting reasonable posts (front page articles) tagged as trolls. Although these posts present a point of view that the archetypal slashdotter might disagree with, they offer a glimpse into marketing and real world considerations that aren't always visible to the slashdot community. Two cases in point.

First, a day or two ago there was a post claiming that the Linux desktop will never happen. Okay, inflammatory headline, but when I look at the point the article is making, I see some marketplace realities from a personal perspective as a user of some commercial apps. First, my mission critical applications are Quicken, Quickbooks, MS Access, and TiVo Desktop. If I don't have these, I can't do my work and I can't watch or listen to my media through my entertainment system.

The market reality in the desktop article is that there is a lack of end user content on Linux. Slashdot reads this as if OSS is all anybody needs yet fails to miss the point: if there's no Intuit, Microsoft, TiVo, etc. available, there is a gaping, showstopping hole in Linux desktop content that will necessitate my continuing to use Windows. I'm not switching to GnuCash because I need to exchange data with other people using Intuit's software, there's no good replacement for Access, and I have a significant hardware investment in TiVo so will not be switching to MythTV.

My second case in point was a posting today, where Steve Jobs lashed out at Google Android. There are very valid points to some of the arguments against Android. It's not a consistent platform, either at the UI or internally. Thorough quality engineering of apps will need to account for over 100 variants that, simply stated, pose a legitimate testing nightmare. I can't hold a vanilla Android device in my hand and know how to use it just because it's an Android, because OEMs are modifying the UIs. The ability to do this is both a blessing and a curse, but when ordinary, non-technical people (the vast majority in the country) hold this thing in their hands, the blessings aren't so apparent, the perception is skewed, and the reputation is skewered.

Folks, it's not a troll or flamebait to point this stuff out. And it's a fact that the world into which we want to deploy and market these things into extends far beyond our own little geekdom, yet nobody is looking that far out. Until OSS advocates and radicals start seeing what's outside their walled kingdom, the rest of the world will see that kingdom as something odd and irrelevant. That's what the Linux desktop is when it doesn't have peoples' mission critical software.

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