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2014 Geek Gift Guide 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the watch-out-for-robot-santa dept.
With the holidays coming up, Bennett Haselton has updated his geek-oriented gift guide for 2014. He says: Some of my favorite gifts to give are still the ones that were listed in several different previously written posts, while a few new cool gift ideas emerged in 2014. Here are all my current best recommendations, listed in one place. Read on for the list, or to share any suggestions of your own.

Clarificiation on the IP Address Security in Dropbox Case 152

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Bennett Haselton writes A judge rules that a county has to turn over the IP addresses that were used to access a county mayor's Dropbox account, stating that there is no valid security-related reason why the IP addresses should be exempt from a public records request. I think the judge's conclusion about IP addresses was right, but the reasoning was flawed; here is a technically more correct argument that would have led to the same answer. Keep Reading to see what Bennett has to say about the case.

Comment: Re:DOJ Oaths (Score 1) 112

by modecx (#48108689) Attached to: National Security Letter Issuance Likely Headed To Supreme Court

And if we are making generalizations a lot of the second amendment people love to use their rights to intimidate people exercising their first amendment rights.

The only thing a lot of your so-called second amendment people choose to intimidate on a regular basis are criminals and thugs, such as their representatives in Congress--and sometimes, other miscellaneous miscreants.

Comment: Predisclosure should NOT be the normal practice (Score 2) 81

by Hizonner (#48047175) Attached to: Xen Cloud Fix Shows the Right Way To Patch Open-Source Flaws

Predisclosure is very risky. You don't really know which members of your "predisclosure list" have good control over who finds out and which don't. And even with perfect control, if you're going to patch something the size of Amazon at all, you're going to have to tell a lot of people. Are you sure you want every individual who happens to have a certain job at Amazon to have the chance to exploit other people's systems?

You're not really trusting organizations. You're trusting collections of individuals. And with that many individuals, you are going to have some bad actors. But you'd have a problem even if you could think of organizations as units with perfect policy enforcement. Suppose the NSA comes to you and says they're running a big Xen cluster (they probably are somewhere). And it's critical to national and maybe global security (it could very possibly be). Do they get on the list? How are you going to feel when they use that preannouncement to break into somebody else's system?

Furthermore, people inferred that there was probably a Xen vulnerability from Amazon's downtime, before the official announcement. So how, exactly, was that better than having the Xen project actually announce that fact, with or without details or a patch?

Also, it's not so easy to really know what's a "critical deployment". The fact is that, whether you're Xen or you're bash, you don't really know who's using your stuff. You don't really know what's critical. And you definitely don't know who's trustworthy.

And all of THAT assumes that you even control the disclosure at all. If you find a problem in your software, that problem is "new to you". That does not mean that a bunch of other people don't already know about it. Especially the sort of people who make a business of exploiting these things. So you don't even know for sure who you're depriving of the knowledge.

There's always an exception. Maybe Xen is that exception. But the idea that predisclosure should be the normal approach for software in general, whether open source or otherwise, is a very dangerous one.

Comment: Re:War of government against people? (Score 1) 875

by modecx (#47206469) Attached to: America 'Has Become a War Zone'

My sources do not include anyone from Detroit, at least that I know of; perhaps the boys in blue from Detroit are better behaved than the cops I've met.

I will say this however: my current job often places me adjacent to current and former police officers from around the country. My sources are the anecdotes (and I acknowledge them to be just that) and self-admissions I've heard over last few years from numerous people. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard something like "If I did the shit I used to do in the old days, I'd be thrown in jail.", often as other officers cackle on in agreement.

I'm not being anti-cop or police-antagonistic, just relaying my experience. So, take that for what you will.

Comment: Re:War of government against people? (Score 1) 875

by modecx (#47204199) Attached to: America 'Has Become a War Zone'

Violence by Police departments has escalated drastically in the same time as criminal violence has gone down

I disagree. The violence was always there. What has changed more than anything is the visibility of the violence. Everyone packs a cell phone with a camera, everyone is connected to the net and social media, which in turn filters into the mainstream news. If a cop uses or abuses their power these days, it's covered six ways from Sunday, and twice even then. Just a few years ago, the only evidence of police malfeasance would be eye witness reports, and some beat-up individual.

Back in the 60's, 70's, 80's, and to a lesser degree the 90's, big city police regularly used violence with relative impunity, which would result in dismissal and criminal charges today. My source? Conversation with former policemen. I will agree the types of force any given police department might use has escalated. Where someone might have been clubbed silly back in the old days, in this day, they get tazered and riddled with bullets instead.

As for MRAPs, many departments have had armored vehicles for decades. Tanks with the main gun taken off--and frankly, MRAP armor doesn't compare to that. I support SWAT having access to these kinds of things. They come in handy in exigent circumstances. Like when that nutball was shooting at firemen. Or when someone gets held hostage. Like firearms, they are morally inert; tools that are only as good or evil as the user who bares them.

Comment: Re:Gun nuts (Score 1) 1374

by modecx (#46900093) Attached to: "Smart" Gun Seller Gets the Wrong Kind of Online Attention

Again, the problem is the same companies making the biometric and electronic safeties are lobbying governments around the world for the mandatory adoption of that technology for all new civilian owned guns, often also arguing for retrofitting of older guns, with the addition of an electronic bore-lock.

Do you deny that Anchutz and Armatix are not out there doing both? Since when does a seperate, immoral activity not indict all of the activities of that firm? Nazi doctors made scientific advancements using real, live, unwilling participants in their experiments. We don't like to use their data, even if it's relevant to modern research, because it's ethically tainted.

Here's the computer analogy: you have to wear a watch with a unique code to log in to a computer, and to access sites that are arbitrarily deemed to be 'unsafe' to some segment of the population. The new technology is both made by Intel, and actively lobbied for mandatory adoption.

Remember Processor ID? Clipper Chip? Boot loaders that won't start unsigned operating systems? The bottom line: if the something like this were happening in the computer world, nerds the world over would likewise act as if their hair was on fire. Also, social problems arenâ(TM)t amenable to technological solutions.

Comment: Re:Gun nuts (Score 1) 1374

by modecx (#46892869) Attached to: "Smart" Gun Seller Gets the Wrong Kind of Online Attention

Nobody is forcing them to buy one....Nobody is preventing them from buying a different make or model.

Actually, that's exactly what's at issue here, and that's exactly why gun owners are pissed. You have companies that are lobbying the varying state (and Federal, and international) legislatures, with the idea that all guns should have this technology, in the name of safety, crime, muh chillunz, or whatever they think will sell it. Same thing with the companies that are promoting firing pin and breech microstamping technology, never mind that it can be defeated in a matter of minutes with some fine grit sandpaper.

They're not invested in making the world safer, they're invested in making their wallets fatter, and they bribe representatives toward that end. They don't just want to put a new product on the market, and promote it for what it is. Heck no. They want state-sanctioned mandatory monopolies. They want to outlaw these devices as they traditionally exist, in favor of their own monetary interest. Is that a threat? I say yes!

Comment: Re:Stupid gimmick, and I even don't care about gun (Score 1) 1374

by modecx (#46889841) Attached to: "Smart" Gun Seller Gets the Wrong Kind of Online Attention

All of this said, I cannot imagine for the fuck of it a situation where I would want a fucking piece of shit that only fires if I am wearing a watch

Also, assuming the watch/firearm actually work as designed: god forbid you have have to shoot with your weak hand for some reason (such as your strong arm/hand being injured) and all you can do is uselessly pull away at the trigger (since the watch is more than 10" away), as your attacker continues to do whatever it was that prompted the use of lethal self-defense in the first place.

Comment: Re:Bush (Score 5, Insightful) 248

by modecx (#46838177) Attached to: New White House Petition For Net Neutrality

This attitude is exactly why we will persist in having such flagrant assholes and abusers of democracy in office. There is precisely one, and only one scenario that it's not good to vote for a third party (supposing that party more correctly aligns with your ideals than the others), even if they're going to lose; rather, especially if they're going to lose.

And that scenario is this:
When the lesser of two evils is on the brink of losing to the greater of two evils.
Whatever the lesser/greater means to you as an individual.

There. That's it. Pretty damn simple.

As you pointed out, if you know a major party candidate is going to lose by double digits, it's pointless to vote for that candidate. It's throwing your vote away. However, if you agree with their agenda even a little bit, voting for a third party in that situation sends a message. A message that says people are fed the fuck up with the other two options. It gives mind-share to the third party in general.

If enough people did that in races where it's going to be no contest, an interesting thing could happen: the two parties might take notice and actually fix something about their politicking (HA HA! Yeah, right), or maybe, just maybe...a third party could become viable enough to be included in debates and start taking a significant chunk of the vote.

Comment: Re:It's an odd phrase (Score 1) 1633

by modecx (#46776633) Attached to: Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

Strange you say? So, let's replace some of the contentious words so we can get a better idea of the sentence structure, without having the associated emotions derailing us.

A well stocked fridge, being necessary to the health of a free man, the right of the people to keep and eat ham sandwiches, shall not be infringed.

Huh. You know, it reads alright to me. The problem isn't the wording. I think the problem is the founders didn't or couldn't imagine a time in the future where so many uneducated and uninvested people would have the opportunity to vote.

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer