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Comment: Re:About time... (Score 1) 135

by Dr_Barnowl (#49149397) Attached to: Invented-Here Syndrome


> At least in open-source, if they don't you can try and fix it yourself.

I've had *excellent* support from OSS projects. I've had lead developers personally upload patched builds to my FTP server.

But I've fixed bugs for myself more. Even having the source is often enough to pin down the problem without havign to patch it.

That's why it's my policy that all things being equal (or even a little unequal) to choose open-source components.

Comment: Re:Another carefuly planted article (Score 1) 274

by Dr_Barnowl (#49136695) Attached to: Drones Cost $28,000 Per Arrest, On Average

And of course, illegals

* Prop up the economy
* Depress the working wage

If they actually managed to put up a proper border control, people might have to pay their gardener / maid / pickers a decent wage....

It must be hard being a right-wing politician. On one hand, wanting "American jobs for Americans!". On the other hand, not wanting to actually have to pay for them.

Comment: Re:But can we believe them? (Score 1) 97

They wouldn't need a warrant canary - they are in Denmark and not subject to the force of a National Security Letter.

But as others have pointed out, if they come out and say their SIMs are compromised, the consumer outcry will cost them many millions. They have 2 billion units in the wild.

"Corporate responsibility" (to the shareholders...) dictates that they can't admit that, even if it's true.

Comment: Re:But can we believe them? (Score 1) 97

Yeah, but that's a loss-leader.

They sell the SIM in the expectation that you'll spend money on service. It doesn't imply that the cost of the SIM is less than $1. The dollar is likely just something to incentivize the shop to sell them.

My provider will send you a package of multiple SIM cards to give out to people, for free. Doesn't imply that they have a zero cost.

Comment: Re:Because capitalism, idiots. (Score 1) 242

by Dr_Barnowl (#49136053) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics


The cost of antibiotics is where it is, because the first ones were developed on a socialist basis.

Penicillin production was boosted tremendously by the Second World War ; a serious effort was made to find a way to mass produce it cheaply so that it could save the lives of war wounded. There was no requirement to put it through an expensive double-blind clinical trial.

This established a low cost for antibiotic drugs, which meant that subsequent drugs also had to have similar prices.

The return on investment for society in general on these drugs is enormous. Alas, big pharma isn't interested in the benefit to society because of the way it's funded.

The return on investment for the pharmaceutical company these days would be small in comparison to a new cancer drug, but new cancer drugs typically only have a very small niche in which they can be applied. Antibiotics would have a large niche (particularly safe ones that kill MRSA), but entering the market would require the full double blind RCT and lots of paperwork. It just wouldn't be profitable enough for the taste of the pharmacy company, even if the benefits would be incalculable.

All in all, this is a strong argument to have a nationalised (or even a global-level multi-state owned) pharmaceutical company. Which would never be supported by capitalist governments, because of their incentive structure (politicians get into power on the back of corporate contributions, and thus will tend not to support actions that could benefit the whole of humanity without maximising corporate profits).

Comment: Re:get to work (Score 2) 292

by Dr_Barnowl (#49127389) Attached to: Moxie Marlinspike: GPG Has Run Its Course

Agreed. The CLI of gpg is horrible. There are some semi-acceptible GUI variants, not least Enigmail, and a good UI is is definitely going to be required if you are going to get general acceptance.

But the main reasons it continues to not get used are

0) Math* is hard!
1) The rise of webmail
2) Inverse network effects

* encryption being a subset of math.

0) It's hard to explain to people that they need encryption, how it works, what it is. People think email is secure! The "envelope" iconography is very misleading - email is more like a postcard, delivered by a random selection of disreputable postmen.

1) Webmail makes it much harder to do encrypted mail because to make it secure you'd have to install browser plugins. None of the webmail providers want to make one, because it will destroy their revenue stream of monetizing the analysis of your mail traffic.

2) If you want to actually use (G)PG(P) your recipient also has to grok it, install software to use it, and you have to exchange keys. This is a massive hurdle to overcome for all but the most dedicated cryptonerds. Until there is a majority of people who want to use encrypted mail, that will carry on being the case.

There are projects attempting to overcome some of these hurdles ; you have the likes of keybase.io that takes some of the sting out of key exchange (and verification).


Until encryption comes with the communications software you are using out of the box, is enabled by default, interoperates with everything properly, and forces you to configure it to even use it, the vast mass people won't use it. And this is well known by the SIGINT agencies who view people actually using encryption AT ALL as a red flag that they should look closer at.

Comment: In concert with the UK (Score 1) 400

by Dr_Barnowl (#49121169) Attached to: NSA Director Wants Legal Right To Snoop On Encrypted Data

The same burblings emerged from our Prime Minister a few weeks ago.

From him, it was potentially forgivable as the technically ignorant ramblings of a politican trying to score some election points.

From the Director of the NSA.... he knows exactly what he's asking for. Compulsory key escrow.

They tried this already with Clipper. They were unanimously told where to shove it. Are we really going to have to fight this battle every 20 years?

Maybe he's just acting out all petulant because their biggest hack, stealing the keys from Gemalto, has come to light and they aren't going to be able to pull that one again in a hurry.

Comment: Re:Greek Myths (Score 2) 253

Fascism is the natural end state of capitalism; the concentration of power eventually means that the state and the corporation merge and things are done for the benefit of the corporation.

You can't have unregulated capitalism without it devolving into fascism. I think the UK and the US are already there - the essential dishonesty of our leaders, who publicly claim to want to do the best for us, then turn around and do the best for their corporate masters. The careful creation of a rhetoric of "them and us" to justify military action which just takes what they have and has us foot the bill (and much of it goes to private contractors). The brutal destruction of our public welfare systems to clear the way for much more profitable and expensive corporate systems.

Without regulation, how does this go down? Really, the only difference would be that you'd be cowed by the private armies of the corporations, rather than the force deployed by government on their behalf. Rich men act to protect what is theirs. They fear being bereft of it. The only way people lack fear is if they feel in control, and when your interests are so large, that needs a lot of control.

Comment: Re:Greek Myths (Score 2) 253

"Crypto" is also a terrible misnomer for cryptographically secured currencies :-)

They aren't hidden. They are public. BitCoin only works when the entire transaction ledger is available to all it's users.

In contrast, banks keep their ledger as private as possible. Historically this stems from the fact that you had to keep it secure - or people would just alter it. Then the secrecy became something that people relied on and almost more important than the security.

Comment: Re:Greek Myths (Score 0) 253

More like the capitalists don't dare let them succeed. It would show the world that there was another way, and demands to go that way would escalate in other states.

A cryptocurrency would be a bold step ; placing control of the money under the government, or the people, instead of a private bank.

The real problem is "Klepto" currency - the fiat currency that's thought up out of nothing. Yes, it provides liquidity, but it also provides power. If concentration of weath begets more wealth, then the guy who can grind out as much as he likes can use it to steal everything from everyone else, which is what is by and large happening.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"