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Comment: Re:Trial and error (Score 1) 4 4

Mark Russinovich experimented a fair bit with this under Windows XP - there at least, you could actually kill off smss.exe and still have a working system; really, the only one you need to leave in place is csrss.exe, since that provides the userspace parts of the Win32 API, and without Win32 you can't run any "normal" Windows programs at all. Of course, you also lack important things like networking, making this rather academic - and you can't reboot any more either, since you've now killed off the process which handles that!

Comment: Re:Free Speech (Score 2) 180 180

If you run a messenger service, you aren't entitled to decide that select groups can't use your service. You can't decide that you will monitor the messages, and only deliver those messages that you approve of. You don't get to decide that you will deliver partisan messages that favor your position, and just lose messages that support the other side.

As an email provider/carrier/whatever, Google has a responsibility to pass the messages on, unless and until they actually violate some law.

How about if your phone company listens in to your conversations, and cuts you off when they disapprove of your conversation?

Now - you can twist a pair of panties into any kind of a wad you like, but you cannot twist morality and ethics enough to justify censorship of private communications. Nor can you justify political communications. Can't even justify censorship of business communications, until those communications violate a valid law.

Morally and ethically, you have a point - but legally, no. Telephone companies in the US have specific laws regulating what they can and can't do - but if Google decided that from now on, any email containing the word "viagra" would get blocked from Gmail, that's up to them. Probably not a useful choice (spammers already use workarounds like "\/iagra" anyway, and the occasional legitimate email would get caught) but it is theirs to make. Indeed, this very site has a few rules to reduce spam and misuse - so you can't post very long words without getting random whitespace added (to combat the old "page widening troll"), you can't post more than a certain number of messages in one period of time - all rules they are perfectly entitled to adopt and enforce, since it's their own site/service.

Someone posted here earlier that the domain looks quite "spammy" on some of the heuristics Facebook and co probably use internally: it wouldn't exactly be the first time legitimate content got caught by a spam filter. More likely than a conspiracy theory about Twitter and Facebook being so determined to stifle criticism of TPP. As of right now, stopfasttrack.com is not listed in Spamhaus's database; probably someone got over-enthusiastic promoting it, and some of those messages got reported as spam. Nothing new there, either.

Comment: Re:More importantly (Score 1) 8 8

My office is similar in this respect - the occupant of the next desk seems to think of heatstroke as a good thing. Fortunately, I work from home most of the time so don't need to sweat it out, but it can be pretty uncomfortable at times. No air-conditioning, this being the UK, but I do tend to open the office windows whenever she's out of the room...

Comment: Re:Soon (Score 1) 138 138

How would an ISP block them, however? The only mechanism I know about would be DNS blocking, whenthe DNS server is supplied by the ISP.. Is there some new British trick where pages of certain sites could be selectively blocked? If so, how long before "politically sensitive" human rights pages would be blocked, or whistle blower pages?

CleanFeed, built by British Telecom to block access to child abuse imagery, sold to other ISPs, then inevitably abused as a blunt instrument to enforce copyrights. It's a two-stage filtering system: a list of IP addresses gets loaded into the ISP core routers, which diverts all access to those addresses through a proxy server; that server checks against a (secret!) list of prohibited URLs and lets the rest through. It has already blocked part of Wikipedia by mistake or misjudgement, and the government has already announced plans to filter "extremist" websites too.

TalkTalk, another of the named ISPs, bought a more elaborate setup from the People's Republic of China for millions of pounds, and push their "adult" content censorship system on all customers who don't specifically opt out. It's been a big political issue lately, with the current government wanting to force all ISPs down that route so you'd have to ask your ISP specifically to stop filtering your connection.

Comment: Re:Blocking access (Score 1) 253 253

Easy. You call up the US vendor that sold China their Great Firewall and order another one. This one will be cheap, considering the UK's population is a fraction that of China.

Already done: TalkTalk (arguably the UK's worst ISP in general, as well as being the first to jump on the government's bandwagon) spent many millions of pounds (described in a related court case as "an eight figure sum") importing a horribly flawed censorship system from Huawei, which is one of the Chinese manufacturers of part of the Great Firewall.

A few principled UK ISPs are standing up to censorship, and still offering unfiltered services - though I do fear Cameron will attack them for it now: like most bullies, he can't handle criticism or opposition.

Comment: Re:"Surge Pricing" (Score 1) 96 96

Sometimes it's needed to help prevent a service being overwhelmed: our phone calls used to cost 4x more 9am to 1pm than 6pm to 8am because our phone service (government run) had limited available bandwidth. Now that is no longer an issue (largely c/o fibre optics) there is no pricing surcharge for the daytime peak.

In fact on a wholesale level from BT there still are three different time bands for pricing (daytime, off-peak, weekend) and different charges based on whether the call just goes through the local exchange, one regional ('single-tandem') exchange, or two ('double-tandem', which in turn is broken down into short, medium and long distances). Retail phone companies tend to lump them all together into a single rate, though - either an unlimited use bundle, or a simple flat-rate per minute.

For that matter, many of the better ISPs still have some time-based variation in charging: my previous one only charged for usage during the working day, my current one has three tariffs, one of which is much much cheaper outside working hours. (The worse ISPs tend to offer "unlimited" service, and accept that their network is congested and slow at busy times.)

Comment: Re:Why it is hard to recruit... (Score 1) 67 67

They don't need script kiddies, they need social engineers. Question number one in the job interview should be "Is your native language Russian, Chinese, Farsi, Korean or Arabic?"

No, that's the beauty of global outsourcing: all they need's a Hindu accent. "Hello, I am being Sanj - I mean, Bob, from IT. I am needing you to be visiting TeamViewer to be fixing the Windows errors on your terrorist cell's PC..."

More seriously, I thought the offensive hacking was more an NSA/CIA operation: Army cybersecurity would be all about keeping the Windows systems patched and stopping generals replying to hot students who want naked sexy time over Skype in exchange for their passwords. (OK, it turned out that one should have been a CIA job too lately...) There's only a passing reference in TFA to the US having offensive capabilities, everything else is about securing DoD and contractor networks from attack, as I'd expect.

Comment: Re:This is why markets are not a good model for go (Score 5, Informative) 121 121

The government should not be constrained by market assumptions, such as that resources are limited because of efficient allocation.

That's not a "market assumption", it's plain old reality: resources are finite, so you need priorities. If a cop pulls someone over for speeding, then sees an armed robbery in progress, or a paramedic is treating someone's sprained ankle then a bystander has a heart attack, do you want them to stick to what they were doing and reject the notion of priorities as being a "market assumption"? I'd rather they focus their efforts on the higher priority, because that gives the best outcomes.

In this case, the FTC had more pressing enforcement jobs, like telemarketing scams, the fight with cellphone companies over ripoff premium services ... they felt putting their resources there made more sense than fighting Google over the order of search results, and I'm not at all sure they were wrong about that.

By coincidence, I was discussing law enforcement priorities at work on Friday (we teach computer forensics for law enforcement, among other things); unlike the world of CSI, real law enforcement doesn't go spending days testing out an obscure theory, or digging into every possible detail of each case: they do enough work on a case to pass it to the next stage, then get on with the next case. No "market" - there just aren't an unlimited number of hours in each forensic caseworker's day.

Comment: Re:It still helps (Score 1) 101 101

And it would be trivial to keep any "clean" account(s) they have on a separate IP,

Trivial, perhaps... but over time it's easy to slip and use an IP that's more traceable to you, which is why I said to publish all of the IP's that handle has posted from.

I can see some appeal to that, but surely any sane leaker will post using a restaurant's free wifi or similar - meaning their doxing gets associated with any other innocent user who happens to have posted updates from that restaurant, with no apparent link to their own isolated accounts?

Personally, I'd probably use the free wifi at the railway station on my daily commute - indeed, I do use it most days, for innocent purposes - or if I wanted to do something that might be traced, ride an hour or so on one of the lines and use another station on the network, using a randomised MAC address on a laptop. Anyone who was identified as associated with me then is completely uninvolved. Yes, maybe you'd catch a few low-level trolls, but you'd be falsely smearing a whole lot of innocent third parties - making the identification worthless anyway.

Comment: Re:Nice (Score 1) 294 294

I do have to wonder, though - What will the UK nannies do if essentially the entire country opts out and says "Yeah, thanks, but we want our porn and violence, thankyouverymuch"?

That's almost precisely why this is being done in the first place. A Member of Parliament named Claire Perry saw a bandwagon she could jump on, using a tale she concocted about her daughter Googling for cookie recipes and getting porn instead, and used this as an excuse to hold a "hearing" on the subject. The hearing found that most parents were already aware of parental controls, had the option and chose not to use them; she took this as an excuse to push filters harder, demanding that ISPs make them opt-out rather than opt-in in hopes of boosting uptake. (Funnily enough, several of the people testifying at her "hearing" happened to be from companies involved in the filtering business...)

Since the biggest four ISPs agreed to force all their customers to reiterate specifically that they still don't want filtering, hopefully this will be enough to stop these idiots pushing any harder for a while - albeit having forced them to flush money away buying in a filtering system most customers never wanted. My current (much smaller, tech-savvy) ISP is very much opposed to this nonsense, which is one reason I'm happy to be their customer - though unfortunately this has already drawn government attention (after which, they had to take on an extra member of staff and upgrade transit pipes to handle the increased demand - probably not the result the politician expected!)

Comment: Re:AC current maintained only by tradition? (Score 2) 578 578

I can see applications for DC power distribution in certain circumstances. High-density computing, for one - why have a full mains PSU in every server? It's expensive, more points of failure, and you end up going from mains incoming to DC for the UPSs inverted to AC to send back to the servers converted back to DC for use inside - and those inverters are not that reliable too. It makes more sense to feed all the servers off of DC (Usually 48V - any lower and current gets silly), and have the power supply stuff all centralized. All the servers need is a DC-DC converter for each rail.

Telcos have been doing exactly that for decades now: all their exchanges and much of the optical kit runs on -48V: it's a low enough voltage to be safe to work on when live (negative rather than positive because that protects against corrosion on the wires), easy to combine sources (a diode will do it), no need to "switch" to backup power (just connect your load, battery and source together, job done).

Facebook went the other way for a large server farm, though: running 480V 3-phase AC to the racks (277V per phase). Cleverly, though, they don't need to convert DC from the batteries to AC in power cuts: the mixed DC/AC bus feeds switch-mode power supplies which convert incoming power to DC anyway, so switching between AC utility power and DC battery power doesn't matter. Pretty clever really, IMO.

Comment: Re:One fiber to rule them... (Score 1) 221 221

Why not just run one fiber, ditch all the copper, terminate it at the local POP and then allow various vendors access to that fiber and compete for my business?

Home-run fiber per home would get very expensive I think - normally the idea is something like PON (Passive Optical Networking), where a single fiber is split across a few dozen locations, rather like gas, electricity and water/drainage. Telephone service is, I think, unique in using home-run wiring back to the exchange; even there, the faster post-ADSL services such as VDSL share a single fiber link back to the exchange: my current 80/20 service is VDSL2 as far as the cabinet around the corner - all the hundred or so users on that cabinet share a single fiber from there.

Right now in the UK BT have this set up so everyone on FTTC or FTTP is connected to an Ethernet switch in the exchange, with their own VLAN; any ISP can connect their own equipment to that switch and get your VLAN trunked onto their Ethernet port, or they can pay BT to run PPPoE over that and transport it to them. That probably works better in practice than physically patching a few thousand fiber connections directly to different ISPs in each exchange building - my inner geek would love a straight through fiber link, but how much more would that cost?

Comment: Re:Good luck with that (Score 2) 308 308

Not only that but if they change the physical requirements it's going to have a lot of repercussions.

First off, Basic Training. Is there going to be a "cyber warrior only" camp for that?

Secondly, promotions. Will the promotion points for Physical Training be altered for "cyber warriors"?

Also, you have to pass Physical Training tests every year to stay in. Will the guy who cooks the food the "cyber warrior" eats be held to a higher physical standard than the "cyber warrior" is?

I'm thinking that Lt. Col. Sharlene Pigg does not understand anything about morale or esprit de corps.

Should the cook be held to "physical standards" which aren't relevant to the actual job either? Outside movies like Under Siege, shooting at people really isn't part of the chef's job either. (As an Air Force cadet, I was pretty good at Escape & Evasion - and if I'd gone on to be an actual fighter pilot, that could well have been a vital skill if shot down over enemy territory. As a drone pilot, eight time zones from the action where the biggest threat is road rage on the daily commute? Not a chance.)

Supposing Stephen Hawking were a computing genius, rather than a physicist. Does it really make sense to anyone to reject his brilliant contribution, just because he can't do pushups? Isn't it a better army if it includes that talent?

Comment: Re:Bit too late (Score 5, Interesting) 68 68

For those kids who got shipped out to the USA for linking videos. If only they had embedded them.

In fact, the same court had already ruled in a earlier case (Svensson) that linking to a file does not constitute copyright infringement either.

The court doesn't seem - at least from this report - to have taken into account that the uploader on YouTube has the ability to permit or deny this embedding, which would have strengthened the argument that it is that uploader who was to blame, not others linking to the video there. I wonder if the copyright owner went after them as well - considering a copyright takedown against the video on YouTube would have disabled the embedded view anyway?

What could be interesting here is how this relates to recent UK court orders forcing the largest UK ISPs to censor access to "pirate" websites like TPB, some of which also merely link to files which may be online in breach of copyright?

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