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

by Cyberdyne (#49510129) Attached to: How Uber Surge Pricing Really Works

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

by Cyberdyne (#49503895) Attached to: US Military To Recruit Civilian Cybersecurity Experts

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

by Cyberdyne (#49313937) Attached to: FTC's Internal Memo On Google Teaches Companies a Terrible Lesson

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

by Cyberdyne (#49152807) Attached to: Twitter Adds "Report Dox" Option

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

by Cyberdyne (#48725745) Attached to: BT, Sky, and Virgin Enforce UK Porn Blocks By Hijacking Browsers

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

by Cyberdyne (#48724569) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?

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

by Cyberdyne (#48721387) Attached to: Google Fiber's Latest FCC Filing: Comcast's Nightmare Come To Life

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

by Cyberdyne (#48239153) Attached to: US Army May Relax Physical Requirements To Recruit Cyber Warriors

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

by Cyberdyne (#48238877) Attached to: EU Court Rules Embedding YouTube Videos Is Not Copyright Infringement

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?

Comment: yeah, going with not creepy. (Score 2) 130

I actually like the idea - having been on an overnight flight landing on 9/11, I remember quite a few online contacts wanting to check I was OK. Of course, with Facebook a simple status update would have done the trick, no need for any special tool - and if I'd been offline, a friend could probably have posted that on my page on my behalf. (The gap between "can phone a friend" and "can get online" is pretty slim these days, too: much more so now than it was then.)

Comment: Re:"inspired by aviation design" (Score 2) 127

by Cyberdyne (#48119497) Attached to: London Unveils New Driverless Subway Trains

open and airy interiors inspired by aviation design.

They haven't flown coach lately, have they.

Aircraft do look nice and airy on the inside - right up until you cram in extra rows of seats to make more money, then fill them up with people and luggage. Even in coach, I had some very comfortable long-haul flights in the months after 9/11 with an entire row of seats on a 777 to myself - of course, the airlines weren't quite as comfortable with the plane being that empty. (I'm told this is how Sean Connery flies: rather than pay for first class, just book a whole row in coach. Presumably the airline's perfectly happy with an empty seat, as long as it's being paid for.)

Comment: Re:It's okay when I do it... (Score 2) 429

by Cyberdyne (#48119337) Attached to: BitHammer, the BitTorrent Banhammer

Actually this is complete bullshit. Torrent'ing in no way "help ISPs".
The shear number of connections a single person generates by downloading using torrents is ridiculous. It is basically a legal DDoS (well depending on what your downloading). The problems from bittorrent isn't because of the bandwidth used, it is from the number of connections.

The number of connections is completely irrelevant to any proper ISP (i.e. one which isn't NATting or snooping on your traffic): 100 packets per second on a single TCP connection is precisely the same traffic as 1 packet per second on each of 100 connections, except that it may spread out across more peering/transit links. My ISP literally does not know, let alone care, how many TCP connections I have open right now - only how many packets and how many bytes I'm transferring each way. It does indeed benefit my ISP if more of my traffic is local, since that means it can go via cheaper peering links at LoNAP or LINX rather than the expensive Level3 global transit they use for routing to/from more remote networks.

Where it does matter, though, is your home router/firewall/NAT device, which does need to keep track of each and every connection while it's active: a hundred or so connections might well overwhelm the available state storage long before you run out of bandwidth. On that level, downloading a single file is the same whether it comes from the ISP itself or another continent.

Of course, some ISPs are more clueful than others; mine is not only entirely happy for us to run torrent, servers (official policy: do whatever you like except spam; copyright and other issues are up to the police/courts not your ISP) but are even considering hosting their own Tor exit node. No shaping or filtering except the overall bandwidth limit - which caused packet loss for 0.83% of the last week. If only all ISPs could run like that!

Comment: Re:Someone's going to complain (Score 3, Interesting) 208

by Cyberdyne (#47996915) Attached to: Drones Reveal Widespread Tax Evasion In Argentina

In the US, this would be "Google Maps Reveals Widespread Tax Evasion"

In the UK, even before Google got in there, the government was using spy satellites to check on things like farm subsidies: when a farm submits a claim saying there's a 100 acre patch empty (to claim "setaside" payments) or has a highly subsidised crop growing, it's quick and easy to check a satellite photo and know if it's really only 90 acres - or if only the strip nearest the road is as claimed, with a big patch of some more profitable crop hidden inside. Compared to the cost of sending someone there by car to inspect the whole field on foot, using satellites (which of course they had in orbit anyway, for more predictable purposes) apparently it saved a fortune.

Comment: Re:It should be (Score 1) 364

by Cyberdyne (#47902537) Attached to: Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

It should be the car that is disabled (or your license taken away)

Exactly - as they do already in the UK: get caught driving while using a mobile phone, you get 3 penalty points. That puts your insurance premiums up in itself, and if you reach a total of 12 points, no more driving for a few years. The penalty may be increased to 6 - in which case, get caught driving on the phone twice, you're in the passenger seat for several years. If someone's been caught driving on the phone (whether texting, talking or reading Slashdot), why let them continue driving at all? Will disabling the phone stop them driving while fiddling with the radio, eating, shaving etc? Of course not - so get them away from the wheel and let them text all they like as passengers.

Comment: Re:A solution in search of a problem... (Score 1) 326

by Cyberdyne (#47902361) Attached to: Technological Solution For Texting While Driving Struggles For Traction

It is against the law pretty much everywhere. However that law is enforced pretty much nowhere. It is just simply too difficult to enforce it, as a police officer has to catch the person in the act to even write a ticket. And then the ticket is so laughably small in terms of the monetary penalty as to be pointless to even write.

Here in the UK, the penalty is that you get one-quarter of the way to no longer driving (3 penalty points, where 12 means a driving ban); the government announced earlier this year they were considering doubling that to halfway, i.e. get caught doing it twice (within 3 years) and you won't be driving again. However small the risk, I suspect that's a big enough deterrent to scare many - particularly since it would often mean losing their job too. You don't have to be caught red-handed, either, just suspected enough for the police to investigate, then they check the network usage logs and confirm you were using the handset at the time in question. (Or get seen on a traffic camera, of which there are many.)

The idea in the article is just silly, though.

If all else fails, lower your standards.