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Comment Re:Bingo (Score 2) 94

Gamification existed long before "online". People have always played the angles to get a better grade, and some even mistake the effort of "begging for points" for "doing actual work and learning from it". They've learned only how to game the system, so to them every future task becomes a game in which they only have to demonstrate a positive outcome.

We generally call them "executives."

Comment Re:"Online" classes (Score 1) 94

My online classes have occasionally included a few points for "participation". Some profs simply stated "thou shalt post thrice weekly to thy Blackboard forum", and that gets them off the hook for having to think about how to get online students to participate. They can show a metric to the department chair and say "see, 80% of my students are participating. Therefore your decision to mandate classroom participation online was a good and wise decision, o chair of my department." </brownNose>

The better profs didn't define participation. They simply said "I'll notice when you participate." The ambiguity encouraged people to speak up, ask questions, send emails, etc. I don't remember any case where the Blackboard forum was effectively used for "participation" in those classes.

Pretty much the only thing I ever remember people posting to Blackboard were whiny complaints about 'hey, I answered question #17 with A, and you said A and B, so I should get half credit right? And you should round all those half points up, so I will get a B- instead of a C+."

Comment Re:Your phone as a lifestyle: NO. (Score 2) 133

This lack of real communication between people is leading to more and more misunderstandings.

Au contraire. In an email, I can carefully choose the exact words to tell you what I think of you, your ideas, and describe in precise detail where you exist on the food chain. After reading that email, you will have no doubt as to what was said. In conversation, I could slip up and say the wrong thing in the presence of the wrong person, or forget what X said about Y even though I was there and so I must have been "listening".

Email is great. Conversation is for chumps.

Comment Re:A corporation in jail - that's not gonna happen (Score 1) 188

Most of the things you list would punish the stock holders, who are just as likely to be a pension plan for retired veterans. You want to punish those responsible, not the senior citizens who got blindsided by the crimes of someone else.

Are you kidding? No retirement plan or index fund is heavily invested in a single stock, just in case something happens to the stock price. Corporate malfeasance is just one of many possibilities, so fund managers hedge their bets and spread the risk amongst dozens or hundreds of stocks. You're not going to seriously hurt grandpa Joe by bankrupting these slimeballs.

Regardless of their percentage of investment, the actions of the company are indeed the responsibility of the stockholders. While they may not have said "go do illegal things to increase my share value", they did not sell their stock as they profited from the ongoing illegal behavior. They can damn well lose that money if the corporation is found guilty.

Comment Re:You're not logged in as a super user (Score 1) 686

You can't gerrymander the state borders, but you can gerrymander congressional districts within a state. The winners of each district get to choose an elector. By drawing the districts to your party's advantage, you can win the whole state.

Let's say you are the architect of the strategy for the Purple party, and your opponents are in the Orange party. Start by finding a larger state with 20 or more electoral votes that is fairly evenly divided and is not strongly leaning one way or the other, but has a purple-majority house at census time. Have the house gerrymander that state's districts so that the orange voters have a strong majority in 9 districts, purple voters have a slight majority in 9 districts, leaving the last 2 districts evenly split between orange and purple. Go to the evenly split districts and spend a lot of corrosive money there. Bribe election judges. Secretly pay some skinhead group to terrorize some immigrants in a few orange-majority neighborhoods. Loudly donate purple money to local churches and food shelves. Smear the orange candidates with accusations of everything from pandering to prostitution. Have the purple Secretary of State install brand new, but difficult to understand, voting machines, then bus in as many senior citizens as you can.

If you swing those two districts, you tip the whole state, and that can decide the election.

Comment Re:You're not logged in as a super user (Score 1) 686

Because it does not take very much corruption to change an election, at least not in the weird electoral college system we have today

Let's say you are the architect of the strategy for the Purple party, and your opponents are in the Orange party. Start by finding a larger state with 20 or more electoral votes that is fairly evenly divided and is not strongly leaning one way or the other, but has a purple-majority house at census time. Have the house gerrymander that state's districts so that the orange voters have a strong majority in 9 districts, purple voters have a slight majority in 9 districts, leaving the last 2 districts evenly split between orange and purple. Go to the evenly split districts and spend a lot of corrosive money there. Bribe election judges. Secretly pay some skinhead group to terrorize some immigrants in a few orange-majority neighborhoods. Loudly donate purple money to local churches and food shelves. Smear the orange candidates with accusations of everything from pandering to prostitution. Have the purple Secretary of State install brand new, but difficult to understand, voting machines, then bus in as many senior citizens as you can. If you swing those two districts, you tip the whole state, and that can decide the election.

Comment Slump? (Score 2, Interesting) 202

"Last week, a report from market research firm NPD Group claimed the Apple Watch was partially behind the largest slump in U.S. watch sales since 2008." And according to the article, "Retailers sold $375 million of watches during the month, 11 percent less than in June 2014 ... a 14% decline in unit sales."

Put another way, the Apple Watch led the US in the largest sales boost in watch history, with an estimated $4 billion in sales so far.

It's almost impossible to feel bad for someone who produces such a clearly inferior product get handed their asses when the competition arrives. If Fossil had been producing watches people really wanted, part of that $4 billion would have been theirs.

Comment Re:Stop abusing hash algorithms (Score 1) 177

You're missing the purpose of the digest as it is being used by Google. They are not being given cryptographic hashes, and they are not trying to assure anyone of the integrity of the file. These hash digests are being used only as an index to perform comparisons without needing to keep the original files around. Think "java HashMap", not SHA-1.

When they find a matching value, Google doesn't try to do any other comparisons or investigations. They blindly zip up the file and log information, then turn it over to a qualified investigator. The investigator determines if it's a false positive, at which point the evidence is deleted, or if it warrants further investigation.

Comment Re:Telecoms, ISPs and the hash list (Score 1) 177

The courts won't convict you of having a file that hashes to a known bad number. They will convict you of having an actual image of child porn. The hash digests are just a way for ISPs and law enforcement to perform a comparison without needing the actual thing to compare against.

There's a lot more to this than just saying "child porn". Once an automated system discovers a file that matches a hash, they involve an investigator. The investigator first views the image in question, and if it's a false positive, discards it, case closed.

If the data in question is or could be child porn, they investigate further, obtaining logs from the parties involved, finding out who else this person communicates with, online forums they frequent, etc., and compares the images they've already recovered to other cases involving child pornography. They document every finding. Once they've built up a case, they present their evidence to a judge and request a warrant. During the exercise of the warrant, they'll try to monitor the suspect to determine the exact moment he is online, then execute the warrant without warning in hopes of catching the suspect in the act of viewing child porn, or at least of having the files decrypted at the time they execute it. They'll bring a "mouse wiggler", which is a USB stick that emulates a mouse moving up/left/down/right every few seconds in order to prevent the activation of any screen savers or auto-locking mechanisms. They use a UPS to keep the device powered up in order to bring it to the digital forensic investigator, who will take an image of the computer's memory and image all the writable storage they find. They may have only once chance to recover the encryption keys used by the suspect, and it's possible if they're still in memory. And they will confiscate every digital device in the suspect's home. The forensic investigator will then trawl through the drive image, looking at any image files. There are forensic investigation programs such as Encase and Autopsy that provide a quick way to display any files it can encounter. These programs include knowledge of the various file systems in common use, and can find images in ZIP files, images inside nested ZIP files, image files in the recycle bins, and any deleted files in unallocated disk space that they can still recover. They have specific capabilities of searching for many various things including cached IP addresses, browser histories, password managers, and pretty much any regexp the investigator can come up with. Perhaps there's a password reset message still lurking in the Trash mailbox. Or there might be record of an online payment to a co-conspirator. It's surprising how few people have good enough operational security to erase all their tracks.

Once they've found evidence, anything the investigator can do to help identify the scene of the crime and/or the identities of the parties involved is top priority. This might include obvious things like EXIF tags in the images, or a hotel room service menu in the corner of an image, or they may check out clothing, decor, monogrammed towels, etc. There have been cases where the child's face was distorted with a paint tool but was recovered by the investigator.

If any usable data comes of this, the police will contact child services to see if the victim(s) can be identified, located, and helped.

Investigating these is a really awful job, and it takes someone with an iron stomach to do it, but it comes with the occasional reward that you've helped put away someone who is involved in the rape and torture of little children, and sometimes even helped rescue a child from a horrific situation. I have a friend who's been doing it for over a decade, and I still don't know how he can go home and sleep some nights. Most of his co-workers burn out after just a year or two on the job, because it really is heart wrenching. Sickening as it can be at times, it is a truly necessary job.

Comment Re:Don't they do this already? (Score 1) 177

a hash list already, better yet an MD5 list

Can a pedant come along

Of course.

and explain how MD5 is not a hash?

No, because that would not be right. MD5 is a member of the family of hash algorithms, so all MD5s digests are hash algorithm digests, but not all digests are MD5 digests. The GP is requesting a list of hashes, but would prefer the subset of that list that consists only of MD5 hashes.

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

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