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Comment It's a mature industry and a "solved" problem (Score 1) 1

(Note, I'm in the anti-spam industry, both via F/OSS (SpamAssassin) and via a proprietary solution.)

The anti-spam industry is "mature market," which means any "new" customers are stolen from a different anti-spam vendor (including home-brew SpamAssassin setups). This makes it really hard to compete, so only the biggest players are still in the mix. McAfee decided they had better opportunities to make more money, so they cut email security loose.

So we have a market that's nearly impossible to breach for a newcomer. (Note that at the enterprise level, machine learning doesn't work well because there's nobody fleshing out the ground truth, so anti-spam is separate from the explosive growth of ML techniques like CNN, though this is of course an oversimplification.)

At the same time, we have an assumption that spam is a "solved" problem, with end users being satisfied that enough of their spam is caught that they have a workable solution. Until they're phished. Then, all of a sudden, a 99.0% catch rate isn't good enough, yet at the same time, a 0.1% false positive rate (referring to legit email wrongly blocked as spam) is an even bigger problem. Learn your ROC curves: you can't have it both ways. This means that those of us left in the anti-spam world have to very carefully balance our inputs and ensure we have maximal data to train on (yet another barrier to entry for a newcomer).

Ever hear about snowshoe spam? You can think of it as anti-anti-spam. It's specifically designed to bypass spam fighting technologies. Spam fighting is a cat-and-mouse endeavor and it takes a lot of work. Frankly, it's significantly harder than anti-virus. Anti-spam rules are very different from Anti-virus definitions. Anti-spam is probabilistic, basically "reading" the content and judging it almost the way an (expert) human would, while anti-virus is procedural, looking for very specific patterns that are exclusive to a particular virus family. (Again, an oversimplification; spam fingerprints and malware heuristics both exist but are both minorities in their respective worlds for a reason.)

So, to summarize, Intel abandoned anti-spam because it's too hard, the competition is too good, and other focuses for Intel's teams would make more money. (Also remember that Intel bought McAfee for virtualization technologies first, and binary analysis capabilities second. The security part appears to be a lower priority.)

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Why are Major Companies Exiting the Spam Filtering Business ( 1

broswell writes: For years we used Postini spam filtering. Google bought Postini in 2007, operated it for 5 years and then began shutting it down.

Then we moved to MX Logic. McAfee bought MX Logic, and McAfee was purchased by Intel. Now Intel is shutting down the service

Neither company chose to raise prices, or spin off the division.

Anyone want to speculate on the reasons?

Comment I have often wondered about expiration dates (Score 1) 68

Expiration dates are indeed predictable. One common trick used by subscription services is to merely bump it the appropriate number of years during their auto-renew phase rather than complaining to the user (and therefore offering a reminder that it exists, thus possibly getting the service canceled, and that's lost revenue!).

Giving a random range of -1 to +4 months from the standard shouldn't harm anything (except the aforementioned squirrelly services?) and would offer a lot more protection. Consider googling 4147 visa for example; you'll find a few expired credit cards. Now bump the expiration dates by 2 or 4 years. (Slashdot covered this two years ago.)


TeslaCrypt Isn't All That Cryptic 52

citpyrc writes: TeslaCrypt, the latest-and-greatest ransomware branch off of the CryptoWall family, claims to the unwitting user that his/her documents are encrypted with "a unique public key generated for this computer". This coudn't be farther from truth. In actuality, the developers of this malware appear to have been lazy and implemented encryption using symmetric AES256 with a decryption key generated on the user's machine. If any of your machines are afflicted, Talos has developed a tool that can be used to generate the user's machine's symmetric key and decrypt all of the ransomed files.

Comment 80% is unusably bad! (Score 1) 279

The 80% figure, which is the AUC (area under the curve), refers to threshold tuning. In order to make that usable in the Real World, you'd have to crank it so that it has nearly zero false positives (and thus very few detected trolls) or else you'd have to make it flag posts non-fatally, perhaps with nearly impossible captchas, which immediately defeats its anti-troll utility (not to mention angering all of the falsely identified trolls!).

The article, like the paper itself, ends on this note:

Regarding the possibility of developing automated methods for identifying and even banning trolls, the researchers are circumspect, since 1 in 5 of users were misclassified by their analysis system, which otherwise claims to spot a persistent comment pest within as few as ten posts. “While we present effective mechanisms for identifying and potentially weeding antisocial users out of a community, taking extreme action against small infractions can exacerbate antisocial behavior (e.g., unfairness can cause users to write worse)“

Comment HBO has loved piracy for 20+ years – full qu (Score 1) 148

In Time Warner's quarterly earnings call on 2013/08/07, Tuna Amobi of S&P U.S. Equity Research Services asked CEO Jeff Bewkes about piracy and Game of Thrones. The end of the call, as transcribed (and emphasized) by Business Insider:

Tuna Amobi: Game of Thrones has obviously had a phenomenal performance, but one other issue that has come up with regards to that title is the online piracy. I think by all accounts one of the highest pirated shows and I'm not aware what you guys have done to kind of address that. It seems that you have viewed it as kind of a compliment in terms of looking the other way so much. Is that the right way of thinking? Kind of a paradigm shift with the piracy and its impact on shows going forward that what you've done.


Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes: To end on Game of Thrones on HBO, I have to confess I think you're right. I have to admit, our first reaction to how much people want to watch it — now first of all it's got ratings of 14, 15 million — a lot of it is VOD [video on demand] on your TV system, an increasing amount of it is VOD on your [HBO]Go Service.

It's just really strengthening not just the image, but the engagement of our subs [subscribers] with HBO programming, it's also getting them familiar and more involved with using the video on demand capabilities of HBO and don't forget, the television part. The part where you go to your house and you turn on that big screen TV watching it over the video plan, also the HBO Go service where Game of Thrones is the leading introduction manual for how to use HBO Go which more and more people are doing.

Then go to people watching it who aren't subs, it's a tremendous word of mouth thing, the issue would be if they were doing it and because they could get it not subscribing, we don't see much of that.

Basically, we've been dealing with this issue for years with HBO, literally 20, 30 years, where people have always been running wires down on the back of apartment buildings and sharing with their neighbors.

Our experience is, it all leads to more penetration, more paying subs, more health for HBO, less reliance on having to do paid advertising — we don't do a whole lot of paid advertising on HBO, we let the programming and the views talk for us — it seems to be working.

If you go around the world, I think you're right, Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world. Well, you know, that's better than an Emmy. (laughter)

Comment Net neutrality has nothing to do with promotion! (Score 1) 489

one of the best ways to route around a big firm's brand recognition is to buy special treatment in the form of promotions, product placement and the like (payola, after all, is how rock and roll circumvented major label contempt for the genre)

Promotions and product placement are not shoving unsolicited third-party ads into Google or throttling Netflix, they are buying ads from Google or getting characters in movies to use the promoted brand. If you happen to see a movie on Netflix in which the characters are talking about a show on Hulu, you'll know it works (and works well).

This has nothing to do with net neutrality, which is a far better tool at doing the opposite; a big player like Netflix can pay the ransom and get special treatment, a up-and-coming startup video streaming service can't pony up the resources to do that, but perhaps they can get a celebrity to name-drop their brand in an ad-libbed line of a hot movie.

Comment Re:here's some statistics (Score 1) 765

This is the fallacy of small numbers, a.k.a. hasty generalization. There weren't many CS majors (of either gender) in the 80s, so the gender ratio will be less representative of a real trend (consider flipping ten coins. Your probability of getting 50% heads isn't as good as it would be if you flipped a thousand coins). Most of my software engineer peers who got degrees in that era actually studied other fields, such as math or electrical engineering.

That said, the drop from 10-15 years ago is completely valid and this is indeed a problem.

(disclaimer: I did not listen to that story and I don't have stats at the ready to prove my observations)

Comment Project onto a TABLE for restaurants and games (Score 2) 57

They had one of these (not necessarily this vendor) on the floor of one of the wings of the Burlington Mall in Massachusetts 5+ years ago (it may still be there). It's a fun toy, but it has little practical applications beyond games and promotions. There's no reason this couldn't be on a wall or table though.

Restaurants: I see this technology as the future of table service at restaurants; consider your white tablecloth as your touchscreen, capable of breaking down into one screen per patron (the camera notes where people are seated) or one big screen for everybody to watch a video presentation. This becomes your menu. The camera can also note when you are running out of drink, when it's appropriate to bring out your next course, and when to clear your plates, which allows the wait staff to better optimize their time. Perhaps the bussers are even drones.

Gaming: A ceiling-mounted camera and projector are far cheaper than a coffee-table sized tablet, and you don't have to worry about spilling drinks on your tabletop destroying your system. This can replace board game equipment and other tabletop games and activities. Giant jigsaw puzzles and multi-day wargames can be saved and cleared to make room for something else, then resumed on demand.

Comment What if he gives 100% of his profits to the FAA? (Score 2) 239

It does not appear that this drone operator was making money himself. The FAA doesn't want a cut of the profit (even 100% of $0 is zero), so this is perhaps more complicated than it may seem.

That said, even if they were to demand a cut of Google's profits from the YouTube ads, the collection process would cost the FAA more than the take-home.

Comment It's because YouTube has ads (Score 0) 239

The FCC says this is "commercial" because the drone's videos were posted to YouTube and because YouTube has advertisements, even though the drone operator gets zero profit from those ads.

... what if the drone were flying a banner (and not recording a video)? Is that an advertisement? What if the banner said "Vote for Joe Candidate" and nothing else?

Comment Re:DICE OWNS SLASHDOT, disclaimer needed! (Score 1) 292

Yeh, seriously, Nevral's Lobster shows an exceptional lack of journalistic integrity by being an employee of and posting nothing but stories--WITHOUT A DISCLAIMER.

Hm, I hadn't realized that Nevral's Lobster was exclusively a sock puppet. That's fine for the submissions, but not so fine for the accepted stories, which an editor (ideally) more affiliated with Slashdot than other Dice holdings should have curated and appended the standard disclaimer after Nevral's Lobster's quote.

Comment DICE OWNS SLASHDOT, disclaimer needed! (Score 5, Informative) 292

Dear Slashdot editors,

Don't forget your journalistic rigor. I know it's so very often forgotten these days, but I've chosen Slashdot as one of my last "traditional" news outlets (in the sense that it the editors, including Nevral's Lobster, are paid to curate the content) because it used to be better about this. It is irresponsible of Slashdot to omit the fact that Dice owns Slashdot in the article summary.

Comment No, it is NOT free (as in freedom) software (Score 2) 143

I can't find references to the actual license text, but the expectation of paying royalties back to Epic certainly makes it non-free with respect to software freedom. This makes it incompatible in the same sense that the Creative Commons License's "noncommercial" clause is incompatible; most copyleft licenses insist on unrestricted redistribution (which would be broken by a requirement of paying royalties).

The video notes that this is "unprecedented," yet Epic's competitor Id Software used to release all of its engines as GPLv2 once they were ~two generations obsolete (e.g. Doom 3). No royalties expectations necessary.


What Does It Mean To Be a Data Scientist? 94

Nerval's Lobster writes What is a data scientist? "To be honest, I often don't tell people I am a data scientist," writes Simon Hughes, chief data scientist of the Dice Data Science Team. "It's not that I don't enjoy my job (I do!) nor that I'm not proud of what we've achieved (I am); it's just that most people don't really understand what you mean when you say you're a data scientist, or they assume it's some fancy jargon for something else." So how do Simon and his team define "data scientist"? In this blog posting, he breaks it down along several lines: solid programming skills, a scientific mindset, and the ability to use tools are just for starters. A data scientist also needs to be a polymath with strong math skills. "All good scientists are skeptics at heart; they require strong empirical evidence to be convinced about a theory," he writes. "Likewise, as a data scientist, I've learned to be suspicious of models that are too accurate, or individual variables that are too predictive." His points are good to keep in mind right now, with everybody throwing around buzzwords like "Big Data" without fully realizing what they mean.

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