the unofficial Slashdot digest

Ebola Outbreak Continues To Expand

Posted by samzenpus in Science • View
symbolset writes in with the latest about an ebola outbreak spreading across West Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to monitor the evolution of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. The current epidemic trend of EVD outbreak in Sierra Leone and Liberia remains serious, with 67 new cases and 19 deaths reported July 15-17, 2014. These include suspect, probable, and laboratory-confirmed cases. The EVD outbreak in Guinea continues to show a declining trend, with no new cases reported during this period. Critical analyses and review of the current outbreak response is being undertaken to inform the process of developing prioritized national operational plans. Effective implementation of the prioritized plans will be vital in reversing the current trend of EVD outbreak, especially in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

How the Internet of Things Could Aid Disaster Response

Posted by samzenpus in Mobile • View
jfruh writes While the Internet has made communications easier, that ease had made us very dependent on the Internet for communications — and, when disaster strikes, power and infrastructure outages tend to shut down those communications networks when we need them most. But now researchers are examining how the so-called "Internet of Things" — the proliferating array of Internet-communicating devices in our lives — can transmit emergency messages via ad-hoc networks even when the Internet backbone in a region is inoperable.

Generic headline?

By lolococo • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
howCould(char *thing, char *action) {
printf("How %s Could %s", thing, action);

howCould("The Internet of Things", "Aid Disaster Response");
howCould("My Grandmother", "Save The World");

Packet radio

By Mal-2 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

And how, way I ask, does packet radio not accomplish the same thing, across considerably larger distances than a peer-to-peer mesh network? The mesh isn't useless, but at some point it still needs to connect to some place with proper connectivity. This may not be within the range of the Internet of Things. Given the right band and the right gear, radio will be considerably slower but also considerably further-reaching. Otherwise I see no substantial use for the IoT that satellites don't already solve.

The Psychology of Phishing

Posted by samzenpus in Management • View
An anonymous reader writes Phishing emails are without a doubt one of the biggest security issues consumers and businesses face today. Cybercriminals understand that we are a generation of clickers and they use this to their advantage. They will take the time to create sophisticated phishing emails because they understand that today users can tell-apart spam annoyances from useful email, however they still find it difficult identifying phishing emails, particularly when they are tailored to suit each recipient individually. Fake emails are so convincing and compelling that they fool 10% of recipients into clicking on the malicious link. To put that into context a legitimate marketing department at a FTSE 100 company typically expects less than a 2% click rate on their advertising campaigns. So, how are the cybercriminals out-marketing the marketing experts?


By djupedal • Score: 3 • Thread
It's the singer....not the song.

School smarts lose to street smarts.

Stopped using LinkedIn

By Animats • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I was getting so much LinkedIn related junk that I stopped using LinkedIn and sent all email from them, or purporting to be from them to trash. If LinkedIn isn't putting in the effort to find their attackers, why should I use them?


By s.petry • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Sometimes yes, but not always true. Sure, "Free Porn" will get a whole lot of clicks, especially from uneducated people (who are usually schooled shortly thereafter by the spammer).

Professional phishing is geared to make it look like something the target company sent out. Working in DOD for about a decade, I saw some exceptional work. They register domains similar enough to the company and often related (support-raytheon for example) so that even people that look for questionable URLs can be fooled.

How are spammers successful so often? Simple, companies don't train people.

At the DOD site I worked at, it was a weekly training memo from our security team on the latest threats. Phishing was always a topic. People had to read the briefings or they could be terminated. 3-4 questions were enough to ensure people at least skimmed the content. Before you get anal about productivity, the email was a 2 minute read max, so even if you had to read it twice to answer the few questions it was a whopping 5 minutes out of your Friday.

We experienced numerous well crafted phishing attacks, and had 1 person out of 5,800 click the link. That person immediately contacted security, and we reset all of their account data. That was 1 out of 5,800 once, and we had professional campaigns run against us several times a year.

Now, take the average IT company in Silicon Valley which spends no time training on these issues (if your company has security awareness training I'm not referring to you, your company is not "average"). Since their people lack training, it's not uncommon to see 10% success in a phishing campaign. Compounding the problem, people often won't report the breach until it's too late if they report the incident at all (cultural issue with many companies in SV).

If your English sucketh, your link prolly doeth 2

By xxxJonBoyxxx • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

>> can tell-apart

You can't fool me...I'm not going to click any links on this craptacular "story."


By dunkindave • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The criminals offer people stuff they want, marketing offers people shit they don't want. Seems simple enough

Except the article is about spear-phishing. In spear-phishing, the emails are tailored to the intended victim, pretending to be from someone the attacker knows or believes the victim trusts, such as an email from their boss or their HR department, and the emails normally include information that the victim assumes isn't public which adds to the email's trust. Such emails may pretend to contain important employee training updates, company newsletters, specific conference information for conferences the target is known to attend, references by project name to projects the victim is working on, etc. This means the spear-phishing email is very different from typical spam which is clearly marketing, or so generic as to be obvious spam. It also means that without confirming the email's legitimacy via out-of-band methods, it may be virtually impossible to verify if it is real or not.

The problem for the defenders is the only real defense against a well crafted spear-phishing email is to instruct people NEVER to open an attachment, to click on a link, to visit a website if so instructed, or even to respond with information that may be requested. But such a world would render most business email useless.

Dropbox Head Responds To Snowden Claims About Privacy

Posted by samzenpus in Management • View
First time accepted submitter Carly Page writes When asked for its response to Edward Snowden's claims that "Dropbox is hostile to privacy", Dropbox told The INQUIRER that users concerned about privacy should add their own encryption. The firm warned however that if users do, not all of the service's features will work. Head of Product at Dropbox for Business Ilya Fushman says: "We have data encrypted on our servers. We think of encryption beyond that as a users choice. If you look at our third-party developer ecosystem you'll find many client-side encryption apps....It's hard to do things like rich document rendering if they're client-side encrypted. Search is also difficult, we can't index the content of files. Finally, we need users to understand that if they use client-side encryption and lose the password, we can't then help them recover those files."

Cloudy, chance of rain

By AndyCanfield • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Dropbox is cloud. Cloud is a remote hard disk. My hard disk has nothing to do with privacy; anyone who can SSH into my computer can read my hard disk. Put that hard disk on the Internet, in "the cloud", and the same thing applies, anybody logged in to the Internet can read your dropbox. Hey, I thought that was the PURPOSE of Drop box, to share files. If you want privacy, burn a DVD and hand it to the guy.

For me, my notebook has a 1TB hard disk. I have a web site I control. Yeah, my web site is hostile to privacy; that's the whole purpose of a PUBLIC web site. I had a "Dropbox" and dropped it.

Re:Worst Response of all Time

By Kardos • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

So, you would have preferred a positive sounding statement indicating that they are aware that some users have privacy concerns and a vague reference to ongoing efforts to address these concerns?

I didn't find that response "worst of all time". It came across as lacking in the bullshit department, almost refreshingly so, actually.

Trust No One = TNO

By Streetlight • Score: 3 • Thread
Steve Gibson's mantra: TNO. If the host has your encryption password/key, then they can't be trusted. If you don't believe that, ask Snowden's email provider, Lavabit's founder Ladar Levison:

No big deal (except the encryption part)

By scottbomb • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

I don't need them to do "rich document rendering" (whatever the hell that is) nor do I need them (or anyone else to) index the contents of my files. All I want is for someone to STORE the shit and keep it synced between all my machines. Dropbox does this very well.

As for encryption, I don't have time for that nonsense. Anything sensative such as financials is kept locally on my own server or burned to a DVD and put in the closet. I couldn't care less if someone gets a hold of my vast collection of pictures and documents. It is private, but not going to hurt me if someone at the NSA starts snooping around.

iDrive has the same problem

By Animats • Score: 3 • Thread

iDrive, which is supposed to be a remote backup service, has a similar problem. They used to be a honest remote backup service, with client-side encryption. (They didn't protect the client password very well on the client machine, but at least the server didn't have it.) File contents were encrypted, but filenames were not, so you could look at logs and the directory tree on line. Then they came out with a "new version" of the service, one that is "web based" and offers "sharing".

For "sharing" to work, of course, they need to know your encryption key. They suggest using the "default encryption key". Even if you're not "sharing", when you want to recover a copy of a file, you're prompted to enter your encryption key onto a web page. The web page immediately sends the encryption key to the server as plain text, as can be seen from a browser log. Asked about this, they first denied the problem, then, when presented with a browser log, refused to answer further questions.

They try real hard to get their hands on your encryption key. After you log into their web site, a huge pop-up demands your encryption key. Without it, some of the menu items at the top of the page still work, and with some difficulty, you can actually find logs of what you backed up. You can't browse your directory tree, though.

It's possible to use the service securely (maybe), but you have to run only the application for recovery, and never use the web-based service. They don't tell you that.

This isn't a free service. I pay them $150 a year.

Verizon's Offer: Let Us Track You, Get Free Stuff

Posted by samzenpus in YRO • View
mpicpp points out a new program from Verizon that is perfect if you don't mind being tracked. Are you comfortable having your location and Web browsing tracked for marketing purposes? If so, Verizon's got a deal for you. The wireless giant announced a new program this week called 'Smart Rewards' that offers customers credit card-style perks like discounts for shopping, travel and dining. You accrue points through the program by doing things like signing onto the Verizon website, paying your bill online and participating in the company's trade-in program. Verizon emphasizes that the data it collects is anonymized before it's shared with third parties. The program is novel in that offers Verizon users some compensation for the collection of their data, which has become big business for telecom and tech companies. Some privacy advocates have pushed data-collecting companies to reward customers for their personal information in the interest of transparency.

Re:So It's Come to This

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Except it isn't Google's business plan. Google sells advertising targeting to ad companies. Verizon is selling your data to data mining companies. Google would never sell your data because it's their core business to be the keepers of that data so they can sell targeted ads. Not that Google is altruistic, just that they are themselves the data miners so they are not going to share.

Google offers free services to compensate. Services people tend to find pretty valuable such as Android, Gmail and Search.

Verizon is going to offer "discounts for shopping, travel and dining" read: coupons (ie more advertising).
Verizon is going to "anonymize" your data and sell it to anyone and everyone willing to pay.

I see the exchange of value in one business plan, and not the other.

They were probably doing it anyay

By hacker • Score: 3 • Thread

(posting from my uber-low ID)

They were probably doing it anyway, and now want everyone to opt-in, so they can cover their arses before they got caught for tracking everyone without their consent.

Re:So, like all other rewards programmes?

By postbigbang • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Your dignity sold. What every ad man wants. Everyone has their price, and the price is frighteningly small.

Verizon already gets LBS, GPS, WiFi, and other info from most phones unless users go to fiendish depth with Snoopwall and other products to stanch the data flow. I'm wondering WHY they're asking for permission. Seems ludicrous to do so when everyone's already giving it up for free. Making it legit?

Legit like net neutrality? Legit like stonewalling their clientele? Doesn't make sense.

Re:NSA and FBI and local cops already do

By Ol Olsoc • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Wow, conspiracy nut..... whats next, the pin prick they give each child at birth for blood typing etc is actually inserting a miniature tracing beacon.

They start even sooner than that. Those sonograms expectant mothers get are actually hypnotoc coded instructions to the fetus that will turn them into jack booted thugs when they hear the keyword "Limbaugh" pronounced backwards. Then the Illuminati and Beyonce will implement the final portions of the new world order.

The clue is in the rainbows we can now see because of the essential fluid weakening chemicals and flourine they have been putting in our water.

Here is the incontrovertble proof. Stop those damn liberals NOW!

Wake UP America!!

Charging extra if you don't drink the Kool-Aide

By Moof123 • Score: 3 • Thread

Just saying...

Microsoft's CEO Says He Wants to Unify Windows

Posted by samzenpus in Technology • View
Deathspawner writes A lot of people have never been able to understand the logic behind Microsoft's Windows RT, with many urging the company to kill it off so that it can focus on more important products, like the mainline Windows. Well, this is probably not going to come as a huge surprise, especially in light of mass layoffs announced last week, but Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said that his company will be working to combine all Windows versions into a unified release by next year.

Windows Godzilla !

By gelfling • Score: 3, Funny • Thread

Only 1.5 TB and it will run on ANYTHING (with 8x8 core processors and 32GB of RAM). Of course it still comes in 24 different variations that all licensed differently.

Microsoft's strategy summed up in one link

By gweilo8888 • Score: 3 • Thread

Re:Best Wishes !

By Miamicanes • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Yes... and no. In theory, if you did a virgin installation of Windows 95 onto a pristine new computer whose peripherals ALL had genuine Win32 drivers capable of running in 386Enh protected mode, and you ONLY ran "true" Winapps that bent over backwards to have no dependencies on realmode, DOS was basically a Grub-like stage 2 bootloader invoked by the BIOS that loaded Windows, kicked the PC into 386enh Protected mode, and handed it over to Windows. And you probably had a pet unicorn living in the back yard ;-)

From what I remember, the compelling feature of Windows 3.11 that distinguished it from Windows 3.1 was native Win32 code for reading & writing (V)FAT filesystems on IDE hard drives (which gave it a HUGE performance boost compared to 3.1).

I believe that one of Win95's launch-time features was that Microsoft re-implemented the VESA BIOS extensions (and original VGA BIOS) as proper win32 drivers, so that manufacturers like Tseng and S3 only had to provide them with "miniport" drivers that did the grunt work that would have otherwise required them to fall back to realmode. I'm pretty sure the 386enh hooks for video BIOS emulation existed in 3.11, but the actual Microsoft-written code was given to vendors to distribute on their own disks & wasn't directly used by any video cards the day Win3.11 went to manufacturing. In a sense, Windows 3.11 existed to give videocard manufacturers a prototype platform so they could develop and test their protected-mode drivers on a released operating system.

Re:Server 2012 already looks like Windows 8.

By Chas • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Wait until you have to REMOTELY administer the beast.
The active areas in the corners of the screen function on the "Maybe" principle (Maybe it'll work, Maybe it won't.) So if you don't clutter up your desktop like thousands of idiots do, and stick umpty-bajillion shortcuts on your taskbar, there are times when, if the RDP+Metro session just "ain't feelin' it" and becomes a useless mess as you try to click around to get it to work.

So yourself a favor NOW and install a Start Menu replacement. You'll thank yourself later.

I've been steering clients clear of Windows 8 and Server 2012 for nearly 2 years now.

If Nadella fucks the next-gen stuff up and continues with "Tablet Interface 4 Every1", I'm going to be converting a bunch of clients off Windows and onto VMWare and Linux with some form of locked down VM solution. Because that'll be easier and cheaper than the Metro interface retraining costs for my clients.

Unify the OS, but not the UIs

By Stolpskott • Score: 3 • Thread

So many negative comments here... as if people think that a unified OS must also mean a unified UI.
A single core codebase for the OS will have a few problems with performance on different hardware, but that is a separate discussion... and who expects Microsoft stuff to run quickly anyway?
However, incorporating a different UI for each target device means that you should not need to see the craptastic Metro UI on a desktop system or workstation, while touchscreen and small screen systems are not compromised by a need to develop elements for discrete keyboard and mouse input.

Raspberry Pi Gameboy

Posted by Soulskill in Build new • View
An anonymous reader writes: An enterprising hacker took on a project to rebuild a broken Gameboy using emulation software, a Raspberry Pi, and a few other easily-obtainable parts. The result: success! The hacker has posted a detailed walkthrough explaining all of the challenges and how they were solved. "Using a Dremel, I cut out a most of the battery compartment as well as some posts that on the case for the LCD that would no longer be needed. Doing so, the Pi sits flush with the back of the DMG case. ... The screen was the first challenge. The screen runs off 12V out of the box which wouldn't work with the USB battery pack. The USB battery pack is rated at 5V, 1000mAH so the goal was go modify the screen to allow it to run at 5V. ... I finally got it to work by removing the power converter chip as well as soldering a jumper between the + power in and the resister on the top right."


By Crashmarik • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

wasn't all that interesting the first round, just how many raspberry pin a cutesy box stories are needed ?

supprised it worked

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Funny • Thread

Given this guys lack of electronics expertise it is amazing it he got it to work.

That sure is a strange looking resistor at the top right.

Re:The golden question..

By Bing Tsher E • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The important question for me would be: can I plug in any of my Gameboy carts and expect it to play the game? That would actually be fairly trivial but nobody seems interested in something like that. It's just a Z80 and the whole schematic is published.

I bought a Zelda Gameboy Advance cart at a used game store just last night. The Gameboy Advance SP still rocks, esp. if you get a model 101 version. It's so perfectly balanced, and plays any Gameboy cart going all the way back to the earliest that I fail to understand why anybody would even bother 'emulating' it with new hardware.

VP Biden Briefs US Governors On H-1B Visas, IT, and Coding

Posted by Soulskill in Politics • View
theodp writes: Back in 2012, Computerworld blasted Vice President Joe Biden for his ignorance of the H-1B temporary work visa program. But Joe's got his H-1B story and he's sticking to it, characterizing the visa program earlier this month in a speech to the National Governors Association as "apprenticeships" of sorts that companies provide to foreign workers to expand the Information Technology industry only after proving there are no qualified Americans to fill the jobs. Biden said he also learned from his talks with tech's top CEOs that 200,000 of the jobs that companies provide each year to highly-skilled H-1B visa holders could in fact be done by Americans with no more than a two-year community college degree.

Re:4 year degrees have a lot theory & fluff /

By Nemyst • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
They're not fluff. They're just not about getting a job, but about getting an education. If all you want is a degree, go to a technical school. You'll be happy. University is (or rather, should be) for people who want to learn and expand their knowledge, even in fields unrelated with what they hope to be doing once they graduate.

The "4 years places" you speak of so lowly may not have professors doing IT work, but they have highly knowledgeable researchers who have done stuff you wouldn't even be able to grasp for years, often decades. They're just not the people I'd ask about IT.


By Taco Cowboy • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Our best employees are the ones that have not been through the debt claiming process of getting a degree

Biden is insisting that the H-1B program must go on because it provides a sort of "apprenticeships" to foreigners

Well, I was from China, but am an American and I can speak with the view of a foreigner (the one from China) and that of an American and I can tell you that if America does not stop giving "apprenticeships" to foreigners one day there will be no more jobs for Americans

The old way of giving "apprenticeships" for "foreigners" was the way I got mine - When I landed on the soil of the USA I was a young refugee without a full secondary school education

I had my "apprenticeships" inside America because I had no place to go and after I graduated from college (with no debt, since I worked 3 jobs on the side - sometimes more than 3 jobs - while studying) I worked at American technology companies where I got further training.

After that I started my own companies, sold some of them, and re-invested what I got into other startup and made even more

In other words, while America provided "apprenticeships" for me this former "apprentice" stayed put in America and started businesses in America and created many job opportunities for other Americans

On the other hand, the way H-1B visa program works is that it provides "apprenticeships" for foreigners, and they got back to their own country, taking their skills with them, start up their own businesses in their own countries, create job opportunities for their own people, not Americans

Who loses in this game ?

The Americans

Who win ? The foreigners

Folks, especially you Americans out there --- please top the politicians, no matter from which political party they came from, from destroying America from the inside out

What Biden is doing is to cut out the innards of America and give it to the foreigners

Same lies told about Canadian TFWP

By WillAffleckUW • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

They said that they needed Temporary Foreign Workers and it would lead to full time jobs in Canada too.

And then the media got off their butts and figured out that it was really being used to provide cheap labour in Canadian restaurants instead of hiring local teens.

H1-B is a giant sucking sound of jobs being outsourced to India, and I don't mean native tribal lands here in North America.


By lgw • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The problem isn't people coming here on H1-Bs, but their difficulty in turn that into a green card. The "apprentices" would mostly stay here if they could. And does anyone really want to argue that immigration of well-educated, highly-skilled engineers is bad for America?

All the focus on the political immigration debate seems to be on low-skilled workers, and the answers aren't so easy there. But anyone who can come here and work a job that pays $100k+? Keep em coming, I say.

Provide apprenticeships to highly skilled workers?

By Swave An deBwoner • Score: 3 • Thread

Something is a bit off.

If H-1B is for hiring foreign highly skilled worker -- people who have skills that just aren't available in the US workforce -- then how are they "apprentices"?

Isn't an apprentice someone who is learning the trade, not someone who is teaching it to the "master"?

Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

Posted by Soulskill in Science • View
coondoggie writes: If what we know as advanced life exists anywhere other than Earth, then perhaps they are dirtying their atmosphere as much as we are. We could use such pollution components to perhaps more easily spot such planets. That's the basis of new research published this week by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. They say that if we could spot the fingerprints of certain pollutants under ideal conditions (PDF), it would offer a new approach in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence."

Major disappointment...

By creimer • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
After all these years of running SETI@Home, we still haven't found any extraterrestial TV signals carrying alien porn. :/


By KeensMustard • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
Would an advanced race actually do something so illogical?

In what other ways are we assuming alien life is like us?

Pollution as in atmospheric O2 ...

By perpenso • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Well, pollution as in atmospheric O2, not pollution as in SUV exhaust. Atmospheric O2 is not the Earth's "normal" state, its a byproduct of life.

If I remember correctly, Earth's original atmosphere was SO2 based and some photosynthetic creature with a sulfur based metabolism started emitting O2 as a waste product ... and so began global climate change 1.0.


By sycodon • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Our first encounter with an alien civilization will be the EPA trying to fine them millions of dollars.

Re:Major disappointment...

By creimer • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Well it would probably be all scrambled anyway unless we got one of those pirate boxes to descramble it for us....

If the signal wasn't scrambled, all those naked blue-colored girls I saw on a TV as a teenager may actually be naked blue-colored girls... from SPACE!

The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist

Posted by Soulskill in News • View
Advocatus Diaboli sends this report: The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither "concrete facts" nor "irrefutable evidence" to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept. ...The heart of the document revolves around the rules for placing individuals on a watchlist. "All executive departments and agencies," the document says, are responsible for collecting and sharing information on terrorist suspects with the National Counterterrorism Center. It sets a low standard—"reasonable suspicion"—for placing names on the watchlists, and offers a multitude of vague, confusing, or contradictory instructions for gauging it. In the chapter on "Minimum Substantive Derogatory Criteria"—even the title is hard to digest—the key sentence on reasonable suspicion offers little clarity.


By cascadingstylesheet • Score: 3 • Thread

Makes the Patriot Act seem kind of quaint, no?

So now we're going to tar and feather the current President over this, right? Since he's far worse?

What's that, no? Just vaguely complain?


By aNonnyMouseCowered • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The word for this is witch hunt. A simple correlation is enough.
Just as merely being unusual marked a person as a witch when a plague broke out, posting unusual comments in social media, right before or after a terrorist incident, now marks you as a terrorist.

Re:McCarthyism v2.0

By ATMAvatar • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Donald Rumsfeld was taped shaking hands with Saddam Hussein.

Re:Terrorist is an impossible label

By amxcoder • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I've read many articles already that suggests that there is a purge that is happening within the ranks of the military already. Over 200 top brass have been forced out over the past 5 years for various reasons.

Combine that with the rumored questionnaire that surfaced at "29 Palms" training facility around 1995, and has made a comback in headlines, of the military personnel being asking questions like "would you fire on American citizens", and posing circumstances like "if guns were outlawed, and civilians were ordered to turn them in, would you aid in forceful confiscation of [aka shooting at] those who refused to voluntarily turn them in?"

I know many people pass this stuff off as 'tin foil hat' territory, but in today's political climate, with mass surveillance, government lying to us on a daily basis, half of the bill of rights being eroded down to mean nothing... I don't think it's out of the realm of plausible. I might have a 'tin foil' hat on, but if you think this is even remotely possible, then you would have to have your head in the sand.

Re:McCarthyism v2.0

By Luckyo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Except that at its best, Stasi had to employ massive amount of people and it still couldn't only keep an eye on about every seventh citizen and some key people abroad. That's it.

US already keeps an eye on every single one of its citizens, and most of the people around the globe, with additional more rigorous checks done against those it puts on various "watch lists".

Between the dragnet surveillance, extraordinary rendition, targeted killing campaigns, "advanced interrogation techniques" and highest incarceration rate in the world, Eastern Germans were like little inexperienced trainees in comparison to US when it comes to surveillance and control of its population.

'Just Let Me Code!'

Posted by Soulskill in Developers • View
An anonymous reader writes: Andrew Binstock has an article about the ever-increasing complexity required to write code. He says, "I got into programming because I like creating stuff. Not just any stuff, but stuff other people find useful. I like the constant problem solving, the use of abstractions that exist for long periods nowhere but in my imagination, and I like seeing the transformation into a living presence. ... The simple programs of a few hundred lines of C++ long ago disappeared from my experience. What was the experience of riding a bicycle has become the equivalent of traveling by jumbo jet; replete with the delays, inspections, limitations on personal choices, and sudden, unexplained cancellations — all at a significantly higher cost. ... Project overhead, even for simple projects, is so heavy that it's a wonder anyone can find the time to code, much less derive joy from it. Software development has become a mostly operational activity, rather than a creative one. The fundamental problem here is not the complexity of apps, but the complexity of tools. Tools have gone rather haywire during the last decade chasing shibboleths of scalability, comprehensiveness, performance. Everything except simplicity."

Yes, no coding. No, problem is not tools

By michaelmalak • Score: 3 • Thread

Yes, it is true coders have little time to code. But the author misses the primary cause: the ratio of library/framework code to self-written code.

In the old days (say, 25+ years ago), you would pick up a book -- a single book -- of the OS API calls, memorize, and start coding. Today, with github, it's as if everyone in the world were working on the same single project. Today, a developer needs to learn all these libraries that are coming out daily and how to work with them. In the old days, there was a lot of reinvention and co-invention of the wheel. Today, that is not allowed, because one has an obligation to "buy" (for free) instead of build because of a) of course, development time and b) more importantly, one gets updates/upgrades "for free" without having to invest (much) additional development time, and c) one's organization can advertise in the future for developers who already have experience with that particular library/framework.

To address specifically the reasons identified by the author:

  • Deployment. This is big, perhaps even as big as the above. In the old days, deployment was copying a single executable file. Today, not only is deployment to various and numerous servers more complicated, but for the past 20 years we've had people dedicated to managing those servers, called sys admins, to handle all those non-coding tasks. Of course, coders end up doing some admin and admins end up doing some coding, so now for the past couple of years we have a new half-breed, the Dev Ops. The very existence of both sysadmin and dev ops are themselves acknowledgement that coding is a smaller percentage of the total work involved.
  • Tools. The author spends most of the piece harping on this, and it's just totally bogus. We've always had source code control, editors, compilers, and linkers, and they've always been a pain at times to work with. But in fact, it's better now because you can find or ask about work-arounds and solutions on StackOverflow instead of calling up tech support at a closed-source vendor.

But this new development paradigm of the global github hive -- where we're all essentially working on and contributing to this one massive codebase that we all have to understand -- is what the author missed. The amount of custom code to actually code is small now, and the majority of time is spent figuring out how to get the various libraries and frameworks to work.

Re: Just let me do brain surgery!

By krlynch • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Of course brain surgeons don't "just do" brain surgery .... in any surgery, there's a ton of pre-operative work, investigation, preparation, paperwork, practice, etc. No one just dives in and cuts open your head.... and just as no one administrator hovers over the scalpel's every move, no manager hovers over every keystroke, either.

Re:Who is stopping him?

By NormalVisual • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
You are why spec and finished product do not match.

I think the main reason why spec and finished product don't match is because "spec" is a moving target that never solidifies. Agile processes just make it worse by not even attempting to nail down requirements beforehand - "it's more important to be able to show progress than actually know what we're supposed to end up with, and don't you dare document anything because it's going to change anyway" along with the idea that it's okay to spend thousands of dollars completely rewriting stuff as the requirements continue to change. It's impossible to properly engineer a product when you don't even know what the product is in advance.

FONC: Fundamentals of New Computing -- Alan Kay

By Paul Fernhout • Score: 3 • Thread

We are faced with a need for significant action and the odds are stacked against us. Invention receives no attention, and innovation (even when incorrectly understood) receives lip service in the press but no current-day vehicle exists to to nurture it. This wiki is an open invitation for talented individuals to pool their energy and collaborate towards fundamentally changing computing.

Over the years many groups have debated how to make progress in computing. There were likely as many opinions as there were people in the debates. Nevertheless personal accounts suggest that initiatives were sometimes reduced to a handful and then pursued with vigour. Consider what could be achieved by following the same pattern today, with the added benefit of doing it as a virtual, distributed team.

Our goal could be to capture the significant ideas and initiatives that we have been exposed to, are aware of, or can discover, distil them into groups, reduce them to a handful of concepts worthy of vigorous exploration, and focus our efforts on these common ideas with the eventual aim of making substantial progress towards finding a common set of fundamentals of new computing.

See also:

A big focus of FONC was in reducing lots of complexity. Smalltalk shows what is possible... But in practice new languages and new standards often just add more complexity to the mix and what we often need are better tools for dealing with complexity. And community and trends mean a lot too, as does hireability and ubiquity and easy installability. So, again, in practice, I'm moving to JavaScript with conceptually simple backends (even in, yikes, PHP) -- inspired in part by Dan Ingall's own work with the Lively Kernel which shows what is possible as near-zero-effort-to-install JavaScript apps.

My own thoughts on FONC from 2010:
"fonc] On inventing the computing microscope/telescope for the dynamic semantic web"
Biology made a lot of progress by inventing the microscope -- and that was done way before it invented genetic engineering, and even before it understood there were bacteria around. :-)

What are our computing microscopes now? What are our computing telescopes? Are debuggers crude computing microscopes? Are class hierarchy browsers and package managers and IDEs and web browsers crude computing telescopes?

Maybe we need to reinvent the computing microscope and computing telescope to help in trying to engineer better digital organisms via FONC? :-) Maybe it is more important to do it first? ...

It's taken a while for me to see this, but, with JavaScript, essentially each web page can be seen like a Smalltalk ObjectMemory (or text-based image like PataPata writes out). While I work towards using the Pointrel System to add triples in a declarative way, in practice, the web of calling cgi scripts at URLs is a lot like message passing (just more like the earlier Smalltalk-72 way without well-defined syntax). So, essentially, a web of HTML pages with JavaScript and CGI on servers is like the Smalltalk system written large. :-) Just in a very ad hoc and inelegant way. :-)


Learn the UNIX Philosophy

By Casandro • Score: 3 • Thread

It's an attempt to get the most "bang for the buck". Essentially you write lots of small programs which have limited and well defined functionality, then you hook them up any way you like. In fact taken to the extreme (as with Plan9) you can do anything with simple shell scripts.

BTW there are simpler developing environments out there which have a decent feature set, without the complexity of a C(++) toolchain. Lazarus is just one example of it. Of course you then loose flexibility. Lazarus, for example, is mostly suitable for GUI applications. Writing a webserver with it is hard. Of course it does GUI decently well, allowing you to have one codebase compiling from everything from your bog standard Linxux (GTK) over MacOSX, Android to even exotic platforms like Win32.

Intel Launches Self-Encrypting SSD

Posted by Soulskill in Hardware • View
MojoKid writes: Intel just launched their new SSD 2500 Pro series solid state drive, the follow-up to last year's SSD 1500 Pro series, which targets corporate and small-business clients. The drive shares much of its DNA with some of Intel's consumer-class drives, but the Pro series cranks things up a few notches with support for advanced security and management features, low power states, and an extended management toolset. In terms of performance, the Intel SSD 2500 Pro isn't class-leading in light of many enthusiast-class drives but it's no slouch either. Intel differentiates the 2500 Pro series by adding support for vPro remote-management and hardware-based self-encryption. The 2500 Pro series supports TCG (Trusted Computing Group) Opal 2.0 features and is Microsoft eDrive capable as well. Intel also offers an administration tool for easy management of the drive. With the Intel administration tool, users can reset the PSID (physical presence security ID), though the contents of the drive will be wiped. Sequential reads are rated at up to 540MB/s, sequential writes at up to 480MB/s, with 45K – 80K random read / write IOps.

Intel has worked with the NSA

By sasparillascott • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
The usual comment, if you care about your drive being able to be unencrypted when the right govt authorities decide to go snooping, it'd be best not to trust this...

Great point of reference:

"Factory" Encryption == Bullshit

By CanHasDIY • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

We all know, at this point, that these tech hardware companies are total butt-fuck buddies with clandestine government organizations.

We all know, at this point, that as a result of the aforementioned butt-fuck buddies relationship, all hardware can be considered compromised before you even open the damn box.

I don't know about you all, but I'm far more concerned that an organization with the power to take away my life and/or freedom can access my data without my permission or knowledge than infamous Russian credit card scammer "Peggy."

That be my 2 pennies.

Another unverifiable "encryption product"...

By Kardos • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

... treat it as a regular unencrypted drive and apply proper encryption on top. Next.

Re:Intel has worked with the NSA

By Charliemopps • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

If I actually cared about the Government breaking into my encrypted files I'd be using a One Time Pad. It might be cumbersome, and it might flag it as actually important info, but if I really didn't want someone to have the possibility of breaking it then only a encryption method that cannot be broken with any amount of processing power will do. However, I don't have any need to worry about some trivial thing like are they looking at me today. I don't have that kind of secret to hide.

You should always be worried about the government breaking into your encrypted files.
There is only 1 group in this country that can legally torture you and put you to death. Only one group that actually does that very thing on a daily basis.
Irrelevant of their current laws and practices, it's in your best interest to protect yourself from their prying eyes.
You've no idea what you're doing today that will be illegal tomorrow. Every device I own has some degree of encryption. Will that protect me if they target me directly? Probably not, but I certainly am not going to make it easy for them if it comes to that. Decent encryption isn't that hard, and just takes a few minutes of your time.

Re:Intel has worked with the NSA

By eth1 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Not to mention that even if you have "nothing to hide," what about when you piss the wrong person off, and suddenly there's child porn on your encrypted drive that obviously only you could ever have had access to.

'Optical Fiber' Made Out of Thin Air

Posted by Soulskill in Science • View
Dave Knott writes: Scientists from the University of Maryland say they have turned thin air into an "optical fiber" that can transmit and amplify light signals without the need for any cables. As described in the research, this was accomplished by generating a laser with its light split into a ring of multiple beams forming a pipe. Very short and powerful pulses from the laser are used to heat the air molecules along the beam extremely quickly. Such rapid heating produces sound waves that take about a microsecond to converge to the center of the pipe, creating a high-density area surrounded by a low-density area left behind in the wake of the laser beams. The lower density region of air surrounding the center of the air waveguide has a lower refractive index, keeping the light focused, and allowing the higher-density region (with its correspondingly higher index of refraction) to act like an optical fiber. The findings, reported in the journal Optica, have applications in long range laser communications, high-resolution topographic mapping, air pollution and climate change research, and could also be used by the military to make laser weapons.

Re:I read the list of applications

By NatasRevol • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Maybe if that squee is out of fear.

Re:But what does it do?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

air is not transparent and does cause beam scattering. by creating a refractive channel like this they absolutely will reduce beam dispersion. obviously it doesn't eliminate beam spread but even a fiber channel perfectly designed for a single mode will have some diffusion so whats your point?

they may be able to increase snr by 10^4 over current technologies at 100 m. that's a serious improvement that shouldn't simply be dismissed so thoughtlessly.

Observation at a distance

By Scottingham • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
This would be good for performing measurements on objects you wouldn't want to get that close to. Like nuclear reactors.


By tlambert • Score: 3 • Thread

Predicted the 1960's (Kerr-induced self-focusing: ), and it was a big part of SDI: and was again applied to space-to-ground weapons systems in 2009:

It was ale demonstrated at LLNL in 2009: and 2010:

What's new about this one is that they've renamed the tunnel as the desired artifact, rather than describing it in beams going down the tunnel.

Re:Perfect to mount

By maroberts • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Why is this moderated funny?

Is this sad, tired old meme actually still genuinely funny in this day and age?



The Department of Homeland Security Needs Its Own Edward Snowden

Posted by Soulskill in YRO • View
blottsie writes: Out of all the U.S. government agencies, the Department of Homeland Security is one of the least transparent. As such, the number of Freedom of Information Act requests it receives have doubled since 2008. But the DHS has only become more adamant about blocking FOIA requests over the years. The problem has become so severe that nothing short of an Edward Snowden-style leak may be needed to increase transparency at the DHS.

Coast Guard can't be under military command ...

By perpenso • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

U.S. Coast Guard there is no conceiveable reason this agency should not be under control of the pentagon ...

The Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the U.S. armed forces from enforcing the law. That is why the National Guard is normally under the command of a State Governor and the Coast Guard is normally under the command of a civilian agency. When under such command they are not considered part of the U.S. armed forces and a Governor can have the state National Guard units enforce the law, for example during natural disasters, riots, etc. Similarly when under civilian command the Coast Guard can enforce maritime law, enforce safety regulations, arrest smugglers, etc.

Re:Dismantle DHS

By houghi • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

1st. Left? What left?
2nd. Created under right and the left hated it, extended under left and the right hated it.
So you still think you have some say in this?

Only a fool will think that if you do the same thing over and over again, you will get a different result.
Voting R one time and D the next time and then R again and back to D is not doing things differently. Building a guilotine and off with their heads if they do not perform as promissed is doing things differently.

The entire federal government

By epyT-R • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Needs about 350 million edward snowdens. Time to vote these criminals out people! Democrats and republicans both.

Re:the evil they do is always front and center

By radarskiy • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

"U.S. Secret Service they guard the president and for some mind boggling reason, investigate counterfeit currency. "

No, they investigate counterfeit currency and for an accidental reason guard the president. At the time that Congress requested a protection detail for the President, the Secret Service was the largest law enforcement agency at the federal level. The FBI had not yet been created.

Re:Are you fucking kidding?

By Rashdot • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Years ago I asked my uncle, who was a teenager during WW2, if he knew of people in our village that had hidden refugees during the war. As you mentioned, this was a very dangerous thing to do. He had to think long and hard, but managed to remember two or three families. Next I asked him if he knew about young men who had gone to fight on the German side. He immediately named about a dozen, but added that most did so because the pay was good and some simply went because they would get enough decent food to eat. At that moment I had the sad realization that those who would oppress us if they could, are living quietly among us. They live in every street, everywhere. As soon as an opportunity like WW2 arises, they will jump in and become the oppressors. But heroes are a lot harder to find.

Autonomous Sea-Robot Survives Massive Typhoon

Posted by Unknown Lamer in Hardware • View
jfruh (300774) writes Liquid Robotics and its Wave Glider line of autonomous seafaring robots became famous when Java inventor James Gosling left Google to join the company. Now one of its robots has passed an impressive real-world test, shrugging off a monster typhoon in the South China Sea that inflicted hundreds of millions of dollars of damage on the region.

In other news ...

By jamesl • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

... a two liter Coke bottle survived a massive typhoon.

Is this an achievement?

By Zebai • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Am I only one who doesn't think this is all that impressive? A manned ship surviving, yes, a stationary building surviving yes, but a unmanned sealed drone that has no problem being submerged in the water with nothing to collide against it without need to stay upright? I could achieve similar results as this drone by putting some gear in a steel container and letting throwing it out to sea. Its other purposes aside "shrugging" off a storm of any size should be trivial for such an object.

Re:Is this an achievement?

By BitZtream • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

No, it doesn't impress me but for different reasons.

Surviving a typhoon on the surface is none trivial for any vessel of any size. Waves are no fun at all during a storm of that size. I think you underestimate how well the equipment in the steel container would have to be hardened. Its not unusual to suddenly fall a hundred feet or more, only to smack into water which is rapidly raising as you run into it. Imagine repeatedly being dropped from 100 feet or more into a pool for hours on end. Thats what being in a hurricane is like. Unless you're an experience engineer, I doubt you'd make something that survived without several tries.

On the other hand, for a submersible? Meh, not impressive. Dive below and it gets calm fairly quickly. The surface waves of a storm like that don't have that great of an effect on the ocean bottom at sufficient depth. The direct effects of the waves themselves end at about one half the wave length below the wave troughs. Indirect effects are probably worse though, and those can extend down to 300-400 feet.

If the water is deep enough and the USV can dive deep enough, its trivial to wait it out. A submarine for instance has little fear of a hurricane unless its stuck trying to get out of port because they waited too long.

It's not submerged...

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

"The Wave Glider is composed of two parts: the float is roughly the size and shape of a surfboard and stays at the surface; the sub has wings and hangs 6 meters below on an umbilical tether. Because of the separation, the float experiences more wave motion than does the sub. This difference allows wave energy to be harvested to produce forward thrust."

If the unit were totally submerged a couple of hundred feet then, yes, a typhoon going by overhead would be nothing to worry about. But according to the wiki that's not the case...I'm surprised the sub and the float didn't get pulled apart.