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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: RequestPolicy and NoScript (Score 1) 353

by FeatherBoa (#49080055) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Most Useful Browser Extensions?

I use many plugins and my go-to ones are CookieMonster, Ghostery, FlashBlock, NoScript and RefControl. CookieMonster, Ghostery and Flashblock are easy to get used to, but NoScript and RefControl make an interesting pair.

Using these at first is incredibly painful. It is a true education how fragile the construction of some web sites is, with scripts and components coming from all over the place. Because you have to approve every cross site reference, separately to load and to execute scripts, you really get a feel for how cobbled-together some sites really are -- random CSSs loading from who knows where, scripts from google, trackers, CDNs, web design houses, software vendors -- a real dogs breakfast. It can be a challenge to work out how much actually has to run in order for the site to work, versus how much is analytics and advertising overheads.

As I type this, scripts from three different google tracking systems, as well as rpxnow and ooyala, whoever they are, are NOT running in my browser. But for some reason slashdot won't work without loading some junk from fsdn.com.

Comment: VM/CMS DASD mounts (Score 1) 231

by FeatherBoa (#47827751) Attached to: Did you use technology to get into mischief as a child?

When I was first in school -- and by school I mean graduate school -- the school had a IBM running VM/CMS for general computing. Everyone had an account. In those days you could set up virtual disks to be shared and there was a mount command in exec 2 that let you mount a shared volume given the password. A lot of people would put the mount command and password in an executable script that would run at login. When a professor or admin gave you credentials to a volume, it might have a script in it with credentials for another volume.

I wrote an exec2 program to sift through the files in a volume looking for shared volume mount commands, then recursively mount and search any found volumes. It seemed to work pretty well.

At that point I showed the script to a random undergrad and forgot about it. He was later expelled and arrested.

Comment: What do you suppose "US persons" means? (Score 1) 134

by FeatherBoa (#46150617) Attached to: NZ Govt May Gut Privacy Laws For US Citizens and Ex-Pats

The critical issue here is that we don't know exactly what "US Person" means. Canada is in the throes of the same issue, with the US demanding access to banking records for any US Persons, and the scope of this is troubling.

US Persons includes US citizens, of course. But it includes folks who might be entitled to citizenship through birth or parentage, whether or not they are actual citizens. It would include anyone who has ever resided in the US. And the definition can be manipulated to mean whatever the US decides it to mean, down the road. It could eventually mean anyone who has visited the US or anyone who has a dollar-denominated bank account or basically anyone who they are interested in.

There is no burden of proof on the IRS to show that they are entitled to specific records. They can ask for anyone's records and claim "US Person" interest. Do you suppose they will not simply vacuum up everything?

And if there is any avenue for information to come to the US government, you know that the NSA will have it. And the DEA and all the rest.

Comment: Re:The patent must run out soon... (Score 2) 579

by FeatherBoa (#43712929) Attached to: Supreme Court Rules For Monsanto In Patent Case

"We introduced our second-generation Roundup Ready soybean technology in 2009"

So all the seeds in normal circulation now are "Genuity RoundUp Ready 2". Unless there are stocks of viable 2008 seeds around, there may not be so easy to get original patent-expired breeding stock. Whatever the new trait in "genuity" is, Monsanto just has to prove that it is in your glyphosate-resistant crop to come after you. And it most likely will be, because of cross-pollination contamination from fields with the new stuff in them.

Comment: Java (Score 3, Interesting) 58

by FeatherBoa (#43304415) Attached to: The FreeBSD Foundation Is Soliciting Project Proposals

I would like to see improved Java support. What we have now is all either hacks based on running the Linux JVM as a compatible ABI, or you have to build a JVM from source due to licensing. I would like to see a commercial JVM run natively. Ideally IBM's.

That's not something FreeBSD can do though, I don't expect.

Comment: HowardForums: Your Mobile Phone Community & Re (Score 3, Informative) 288

by FeatherBoa (#41010745) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: A Cheap US Cellphone Plan With an Unlocked Phone?

This really is a topic for mobile phone specific forum. My favourite is HowardForums. Here is a link to the US pre-payed/MVNO forums: http://www.howardforums.com/forumdisplay.php/325-US-Prepaid-MVNO-Discussion

There are lots of people there who know what's up with pre-paid and low-cost options.

Comment: the cost of bandwidth changed (Score 1) 299

by FeatherBoa (#40616619) Attached to: RIM CEO On What Went Wrong

Blackberry, like all the phones that came before iPhone, was designed with the needs of the carrier first. The carriers need handsets to have a small data footprint so that lots of subscribers can be handled on a network at low cost to the carrier. Blackberries and their apps are still caught in the requirement to do something useful using microscopically small, closely controlled amounts of bandwidth.

What Apple did was totally break the bandwidth blockade by going to the carriers and saying "here is this shiny sleek gewgaw and you can only sell it if you also have data plans that are much cheaper than what you have now". And the miraculous thing was that the carriers caved.

Opening the bandwidth spigots meant that any idiot could make cool apps do things that the RIM guys had spent years optimizing to run with almost none. A BB can do usable email with 200 BPS, but who needs that when I have 250 KBits and can just do IMAP on my regular email provider?

That's when everything changed.

Time-sharing is the junk-mail part of the computer business. -- H.R.J. Grosch (attributed)