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Comment: Re:Um... good for whom in the US? (Score 1) 53

by Obfuscant (#47578633) Attached to: French Provider Free Could Buy US Branch of T-Mobile

You must excuse me, you see we in the US have never really had any experience with that sort of thing - a company doing something that's good for the consumer... wow, I wonder how that feels like.

I'm a T-Mobile US customer, and considering they recently dropped "overages", I know what it feels like. Yeah, it's rare.

If Free buys T-Mobile and implements a 20Eu service, my bill will drop by something less than $10. Less, because I assume the 20Eu service will still have federal taxes/fees.

Comment: Re:USB 4.x to offer signed USB device signatures?? (Score 1) 192

by Obfuscant (#47577969) Attached to: "BadUSB" Exploit Makes Devices Turn "Evil"

Its not a 'whoosh'

It's a 'whoosh' for you because you didn't read the entire comment, which included the sentences: "So no, you don't have to scream at it or plug in a mouse, just press F1. Do'h!"

"Just press F1". Read all the words. You seem pretty clear on the idea that you can't "just press F1", you need to find a working keyboard first, and you thought you needed to lecture me on the issue because YOU DIDN'T GET THE JOKE. Admit it.

"The keyboard is missing; I'm currently configured to ensure that one is attached, so please attach one, and then press F1 on it to continue"

Had the BIOS authors intended the error to say that, they would have written the error to say that. Or to say something shorter like "Keyboard error. Attach working keyboard". They did not. You read much more into what the error says than the authors wrote into it.

Comment: Re:USB 4.x to offer signed USB device signatures?? (Score 1) 192

by Obfuscant (#47576461) Attached to: "BadUSB" Exploit Makes Devices Turn "Evil"

At which point you plug in a working keyboard and press F1.

No, at which point you plug in a keyboard, reboot, press DEL or Fwhatever (2?) to go into the BIOS setup, fix the stupid "stop on keyboard error" or similar setting, save and exit, and then pull the keyboard back off.

I develop embedded/standalone systems that won't have a keyboard on them. I usually remember to set the BIOS as one of the first things on any new system, but many times I've gotten the "press F1" instruction when I get to final testing in target configuration.

But mostly I would say ... "whoosh".

Comment: Re:USB 4.x to offer signed USB device signatures?? (Score 1) 192

by Obfuscant (#47575949) Attached to: "BadUSB" Exploit Makes Devices Turn "Evil"

And if it's your first keyboard, how do you answer? Scream "YES" at it, or plug in the compromised mouse?

I've lost track of the times I've had a BIOS report: "Keyboard failure. No keyboard detected. Press F1 to continue...". So no, you don't have to scream at it or plug in a mouse, just press F1. Do'h!

Comment: Re:USB 4.x to offer signed USB device signatures?? (Score 1) 192

by Obfuscant (#47575911) Attached to: "BadUSB" Exploit Makes Devices Turn "Evil"

What they are talking about here infects on firmware/driver level initialization between USB device and computer when plugged in that is an inherent part of the USB standard, before and invisible to any user mode (software) inspection (and how do you plan to see/test that the usb firmware is not infected?).

Actually, this sounds like an interesting job for a Pi. I just checked the latest raspbian on my Pi and USB is compiled into the kernel (no USB modules, at least nothing obviously so). Recompile the kernel so USB is all loadable modules, then modify the base USB code to report transactions.

Plug your USB stick or disk or keyboard into the Pi, and if it reports that there's a new not-a-USB-stick/disk/keyboard, you know there's malware on the device.

On a different note, does anyone know of any modified firmware for any USB disk or stick that makes it look like a CD-R? (Preferably, a dozen at the same time.) I'd like to get around having to burn an actual CD-R when exporting audio books from Overdrive and then importing them into grip or itunes. And, unfortunately, many of the books I'm trying to write are JUST a bit larger than a CD-RW can handle.

Comment: But seriously... (Score 1) 160

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47571239) Attached to: The Problems With Drug Testing

What does this story have to do with Linux?

I assume you were going for "funny".

But on the off chance you (or some reader) is asking this seriously...

Slashdot is about things that are of interest to nerds. The approval process for new drugs (which might save, enhance, damage, or end their lives) is one of those subjects.

Comment: Re:Get used to this... (Score 1) 250

Just because someone is talking about manipulating the voters in a vote that did not go their way does not mean that they are citing merely that outcome as the sole evidence of the manipulation... especially in the comments on a article that is *specifically about the hard evidence of manipulation*.

TFA didn't have hard evidence of manipulation. They reported one survey from well before the referendum. Surveys are not votes. Surveys often, as the article points out, ask questions in a way designed to get the answer the pollster desires. I've yet to hear a survey ask "if the ballot contained the question ... would you vote yes?", it is always biased towards whoever pays for the survey. It is so common there is a term for it: push-polling. The article tells us that the cable company survey asked "should taxpayers fund pornography ...", but they don't tell us what the survey that had a 72% favorable rate asked. How biased was the survey in favor of the referendum?

The result of the vote didn't match the survey data, so yes, the fact that the result didn't go the way they wanted it to is being used as proof that there was manipulation. And it didn't go they way they wanted it to not once, but twice.

By the way, someone else claimed that a municipal internet service would never be sold. TFA talks about one such service that was sold out to a commercial provider when it discusses the systems that the cable companies claim failed. So that BIG consideration isn't valid.

Comment: Re:So! The game is rigged! (Score 5, Informative) 559

by Obfuscant (#47561849) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

In order to get approved for debt, you must have debt.

No, to get approved for debt you need one of two things:

1. A credit history. That's not necessarily debt, it is a history of handling small debts that you've paid off.

2. Belong to a demographic that the credit companies are chasing.

When I was in college, the stores were deluging me with offers of credit cards because of my age/college while the credit union followed rule 1 and repeatedly denied me a credit card. In recent years, the largest flood of credit card offers were when I had no debt at all, but had a paid-off car loan.

It's a SCAM! A scheme to make sure that you are constantly in debt,

Nobody can force you to go into debt.

Comment: Re:Get used to this... (Score 1) 250

All that writing and you never covered the fact that no one will buyout a municipal ISP. Or "merge" and that's a BIG consideration.

Why wouldn't anyone ever buy one out? Privatization is not a new buzzword. If an entire country's telecom can be privatized, why couldn't a municipal internet system? I've heard of cities selling off public utitlites before. Our trash collection used to be public, now it isn't.

And it is a BIG consideration for whom?

Why the negativity and 'speaking for us' Slashdotters???

I'm not speaking for /.rs. I'm pointing out that /.rs speaking for the voters (by deciding what is "better", or your "BIG consideration") is the problem.

I think a lot of these responses are from paid employees of the providers, Eh?

Right. If you can't argue facts, argue the person. There's a latin word for this that I cannot ever spell correctly, so I won't try now.

And what are they so afraid failing? No it might be what we actually need for balance.

No government utility exists "for balance". It either uses the general tax fund so it can run cheaper and drive out the competition, is created explicitly as a monopoly, or it is run so incompetently that it becomes a white elephant. But "balance"? No.

And this is not "health care" so why even try to scare people by mentioning it.

I wasn't trying to scare people, and I wasn't talking about "health care". I was pointing to one recent, very glaring example of a failure of government to provide services to the taxpayers that cost a lot of money and did diddly squat, in contrast to the implicit assumption that a government service would be cheaper and better. (And, in fact, providing services for lower cost is a driving force behind privatization of government services. Were government services always cheaper, privatization would have no impetus.)

If your argument is "that was 'health care' and this is internet service so it will be different", I find it to be very very unconvincing. You'd have to come up with so many "that was X and this is different" excuses that Occam's Razor would say that the obvious answer is probably the right one: government management of complex systems is usually inefficient and costly.

Comment: Re:Get used to this... (Score 1) 250

You mean, I did not bother to provide evidence for either one of those in this case.

No, I mean that the term "better" is a subjective term that depends on what weight and value one puts on objective measures, and in many cases, includes subjective measures like "happy with service".

"Better" is not a fact. "Meets specified connection speeds 95% of the time" is a fact. "Costs less than other similar services" is a fact. You assume that "faster and cheaper" (facts) means "better" is a fact, but that's simply not true.

But you didn't provide contrarian evidence either.

I didn't try to show you that something wasn't "better" because "better" is subjective. The point is that the VOTERS who voted down the municipal service can, and do, have their own views of "better" that may not align with yours.

Unlike your example of education, internet service has objective measures of success - uptime, bandwidth, latency, peering.

And those may be called "facts", but then you have to weigh the facts to come up with the subjective evaluation of "better". What is better for me may be a service that isn't as fast but comes with a static IP. Or I may consider it better if the service comes over existing wiring because I don't want installers mucking about my house and property. I may consider it better if I'm not forced as a taxpayer to fund a service for you because in your opinion the existing options are too slow/too expensive/provided by a company you hate.

As opposed to private utilities like Comcast that care? And why can't you vote them out? At least you have some choice there. I pity the person at the mercy of monopolistic private utilites.

1. Comcast has a financial interest in keeping customers, even if it is a small one. A government-run service has no financial interest in keeping subs. Any cost overruns will just be pulled from the general fund.

2. You can't vote out a civil service employee because their position isn't an elected one. I shouldn't have to point that out.

3. If the government is the ISP and has driven the competition out, then you have no choice. If the government has forced the competition to raise prices, then your choice is more expensive. And even if the competition is the same price, you're paying twice for service.

4. I pity more the people who face a true government monopoly on service. They have two choices: use the government service or go without. Why is a government monopoly better than this alleged private one (that really doesn't exist)?

You would never be convinced to vote against your own interests.

This /. attitude that we're all smarter than the average voter and know what is "better" for him, to the point of calling your opinion of "better" an objective fact, is pretty arrogant. The point I'm trying to get across is that the voters have the right to decide what is best for them and what is "better". Saying that they're voting against their own best interests is rather presumptive, since I'm sure that many of the voters simply don't care about internet service or paying taxes so that you can get your downloads faster than you can already get them through any of the existing commercial services. And I expect that many of them do not share the "fuck Comcast" reason that apparently makes "anything else" a better choice.

Because there is a right answer.

In your opinion, there is a right answer. In their opinion, there is a different right answer.

First, they would be in different unions.

Sorry, but no. AFSCME and SEIU are very large unions that cover a very large number of state, county, and municipal employees. It is most likely that all the unionized employees in a municipality are members of one of those two, except perhaps for specialized unions that cover specific occupations. "City employee" is not a specific occupation, and clerical workers in the cop shop are not police union members. In our city it is SEIU, and it was big news a week ago that a contract was finally signed a year after the last one expired. Disgruntled city employees running your internet service? What a great idea. A union slowdown that stops work on the internet service? Great!

Second, there is no way that evidence gained like that could be used in trial.

Of course it could. One employee sees it happening. They tell it to another, who tells it to someone who gets a warrant. Bingo. The law that protects your privacy at an ISP includes exemptions for admins seeing things in the course of their duties (like investigating email problems). Or they just start investigating you based on the word of mouth and come up with other evidence. It doesn't have to be used directly in a trial for it to make your life difficult. Do you really think that one city employee telling another one who works in the cop shop that "I think John Doe is downloading CP" would be ignored because the information came informally? Even if John Doe isn't actually doing that, he's low hanging fruit that can be used to show the community that the cops/prosecutors are tough on crime.

The consequences of misusing that data are so great it would never happen.

You have such great faith in the honesty of the government. Here's a fact that hasn't gotten a lot of press but should put the "consequences" claim in its proper context. The NSA monitoring of cell calls? Ron Wyden, the Senator from Oregon, admits that he was briefed on the program months before it became public BUT HE DID NOTHING. A US Senator who has a reputation for standing up for "the little guy" knew it was going on and said nothing about it and did nothing to stop it.

This is the government you think would consider the "consequences" of handing data about you across the aisle to a co-worker too great for it to ever happen.

Comment: Re:Get used to this... (Score 1) 250

4. Why can't the government just include suitable performance metrics and penalties for failing to meet them when handing out the franchise? Including a regular review cycle?

Every franchise I've seen has them. Because of the changes to the federal laws for local regulation of such companies, the local municipalities have very little stick anymore.

Comment: Re:Trivial observation (Score 1) 133

by Obfuscant (#47558993) Attached to: A Fictional Compression Metric Moves Into the Real World

The underlying figure of merit once you cut through the bullshit is r / log t. r is the compression ratio (unitless) and log t is log seconds. So yes, the units of the underlying figure of merit are reciprocal log seconds.

The fact that the actual equation is a ratio between a proposed compression implementation and a reference is a hint that it is not a "figure of merit" in absolute terms, but only with respect to some common standard. Yeah, you get to pick your standard, but simply reporting r/log(t) is meaningless. The actual measurement is unitless simply because, as you point out, units of 1/log(s) is meaningless.

It's done that way so things can be repeatable. If I create a compressor and report a Weissman of 3, then you should be able to repeat that on your computer, even if you've got a 3GHz I7 and mine is only 2.7GHz. Here's the data I used, here's the executables for both compressors, you run it. Now you can play with the source and see what happens. But first you need to be able to reproduce my results. That's called "scientific method".

You need learn to cut through the hocus pocus and analyze the actual underlying equation

The underlying equation is a ratio between two compression implementations, not an absolute measure of one.

You can well imagine that those who actually understand programming metrics are holding their sides laughing at those who are taking it seriously.

I'm not here to argue whether the metric is meaningful or not. The value of a metric is in the eye of the beholder. You don't think it has any value, and I really don't care if it does or not. I'm just pointing out that the actual metric is unitless. You can't throw half an equation out and then complain that the units on the result don't mean anything. Sometimes equations are constructed the way they are so that the units DO come out right, and there are many examples of equations that have empirical constants that have meaningless units just so the equation they are used in come out right. That's especially true in physical modeling where someone sees a relationship between the data and tries to create an equation to represent that. If the fit is best with some variable taken to the 8/3 power, that's how it winds up, and the constants get units to make it all come out right. A more common example is R in PV=nRT.

Now, you're correct, the alpha constant is useless because the only purpose it could serve is to correct the units, and since it is unitless it doesn't even do that. So laugh at that part of it, but don't throw out the important parts and laugh at what's left when the units don't work anymore.

CCI Power 6/40: one board, a megabyte of cache, and an attitude...