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Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 134

by StikyPad (#49624369) Attached to: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

You sort of glossed over the thrust of my argument in one sentence. We don't just throw people in jail (mostly). They have to be charged, and go to court, and be convicted by a jury, etc. Due process. It's not like we systematically disappear people because they were overheard saying something about the President. Stating that they do not enjoy such protections does not make it so.

They *do* have to get a warrant for targeted surveillance. They get it from FISA.

What I'm not okay with is then monitoring the other individuals that use these devices or connections when those individuals use other devices or connections, without first obtaining warrants against those individuals as well.

That's never going to happen. Even if the scope of the warrant was limited to, say, the owner of the line, courts have repeatedly and consistently permitted information acquired incidental to the execution of the warrant. That is to say, if there's a warrant to search your house for documents, and they find your husband's drug stash while executing the warrant, they can still bring charges against your husband. So the scope of the warrant might be limited to the owner of the phone line, but in reality, they would have to listen to the conversation to know who is speaking, and in so doing they may make additional, admissible, discoveries.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 134

by StikyPad (#49623795) Attached to: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

The intelligence community has a fairly well-defined enemy. It might not be as binary as Axis/Allies, but the enemies still want to self-identify under some collective banner, be it ISIS or Al Queda or Boko Haram. If they didn't, they wouldn't really be able to accomplish anything. Anonymous acts of violence are just anarchy, and none of those groups are anarchists. Far from it.

The difference is that we all use the same encryption these days. The is no "Al Queda Enigma Machine," or "ISIS Fialka." It's pretty much all RSA or AES. So finding and exploiting a weakness in one of those necessarily means finding and exploiting a weakness in everyone's communications, not just the targets. And, from an intelligence perspective, the only reason to limit your focus is to avoid being overwhelmed with too much information. If a similar level of scrutiny can be applied to a broader range of communications, then there's no compelling reason not to.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 134

by StikyPad (#49623695) Attached to: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

But, to play devil's advocate, how are people directly harmed by surveillance when they are protected from punishment by due process? People might not like being watched, but that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile to society. We do a lot of things that we don't like as individuals because they help to sustain the lifestyles we enjoy. Paying taxes springs immediately to mind. I mean, it would be great if everyone just behaved nicely, and there were no threats to our security, but that's not the world we live in. So if surveillance can help to thwart attacks with no actual harm to innocent bystanders, then what's the problem? And if information wants to be free, then what's the point in even trying to shield it from the government's eyes?

(Also, you have your branches mixed up. The judicial branch issues warrants, not the legislature.)

Comment: Re:false positives aren't what you think (Score 1) 134

by StikyPad (#49623525) Attached to: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

Your argument would be compelling if not for the fact that one doesn't need this technology to build historical cases or networks. Investigators are perfectly capable of using forensics to find such connections after the fact. Of course such databases will be used retroactively, to the extent possible, but the stated goal of the intelligence community is to prevent attacks before they happen, not to pick up the pieces afterwards. See, for example,

Comment: Re:I call BS. (Score 1) 134

by StikyPad (#49623435) Attached to: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

See, you're thinking they need to perfect the technology for it to be useful, because imperfect technology is a pain in the ass for users of voice commands. But they don't. It's a different use case. Any amount of successful Speech-to-Text processing for archiving and searching is more effective than zero. They obviously would want to raise this as high as possible to avoid missing information, but they don't need perfection either. Even a 50% rate of transcription would yield a staggering amount of data, and if any specific triggers are hit, then a communication could be flagged for follow up by a human.

Comment: Re:Usefull... (Score 1) 206

by StikyPad (#49623379) Attached to: USBKill Transforms a Thumb Drive Into an "Anti-Forensic" Device

A better idea is an RFID reader and an implanted RFID chip. Separate user from computer and shutdown, or better yet, lock and start shutdown timer unless unlocked. A pain in the ass when you want a sammich, or you want to keep downloading files when you're AFK, but security has always required a sacrifice of convenience. Use a separate computer for "everyday" tasks, and one for sensitive tasks.

While this article is targeted at legal seizures, there are everyday uses as well, like preventing theft of your device on the subway from translating into theft of your data, or preventing corporate espionage. Of course it's an arms race, so if deadman's switches ever became common, then thieves will be sure to remove your implant (ouch) or just bring you along. The next step would be implanted computers, and removing or retrieving information from those will raise all sorts of constitutional issues.

Comment: Everyone's a programmer. Even dead people! (Score 1) 355

by fyngyrz (#49622191) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

A variation of it is quite prominent on Slashdot, with many users inexplicably believing that programming requires a "special mind", dividing people in to two groups: "can program" and "can never program".

Some of us just have different metrics for drawing a line between "programming" and "stumbling around in a programming language doing dangerous, stupid, and occasionally functional things."

But, hey. If you can set your digital alarm clock, or interact with your microwave in such a way as to involve more than one button push (even if you're going to destroy the comestible), you're a programmer, right?

It's like kids with crayons. They're all artists! Special butterflies! Call the Louvre!

Now get off my nursing home's lawn

Comment: Come on. What tripe. (Score 2, Interesting) 355

by fyngyrz (#49622119) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

From TFS:

If you could measure programming ability somehow, its curve would look like the normal distribution.

Since you can't measure programming ability "somehow" or otherwise, you don't know what the curve would look like. Which reveals the entire set of claims here as utter garbage. If you don't know what the distribution is, you don't know what the distribution is. How difficult is that to understand?

Comment: Re:One Criterion Missing (Score 1) 344

by Catbeller (#49621973) Attached to: No, NASA Did Not Accidentally Invent Warp Drive

The inventor had the hypothesis before he had the device, so it isn't a True Scottman drift. He hypothesized, he wrote about it, he formed a company to own it (that being how science works now). A few brave people tested it, and it seems to work. Each successive test excludes the factors that could have invalidated the previous tests, and now NASA has a group on it. And, it seems to produce a thrust. Okay, interesting.

We'll all be sad, should it come to nothing, but at this point the inventor has a hypothesis to cover the effect, described a machine to produce the effect, and now we have machines that seem to produce the effect. I've read his hypothesis, and damn, I don't have that kind of math or science and never will. But, you know, if he described an angel-making machine, and someone built the machine and made an angel, at some point you have to look at the damned angel flapping away in front of you.

Comment: Re:Warp drive? (Score 1) 344

by Catbeller (#49621815) Attached to: No, NASA Did Not Accidentally Invent Warp Drive

Cold fusion - fusing hydrogen by using chemical bonding compression - is not a fraud. It is a legitamite hypothesis, peer-reviewed and all. Probably not impossible, merely difficult to do.
The test in the eighties wasn't a "fraud". They thought they had it licked, and it turned out they didn't. What they really did wrong, however, in those early Reagan era years of science privatization, was to try to keep their idea a patented secret so they could make some $$$$$. Standard procedure today, and a major, if not the only, cancer on science today. Science came of age in an era where everyone shared their results. Now it is about the precious, precious money. Universities especially have contracted that cancer. Science is crawling when it should be leaping.
Fun fact: Tony Stark's arc reactor is a cold fusion power generator. Note the main ring he installed into the unit was pure palladium - the famous matrix used in the eighties experiment.

"Just think, with VLSI we can have 100 ENIACS on a chip!" -- Alan Perlis