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Comment: Re:Excel & Paper (Score 1) 385

by Nkwe (#46757205) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

In order to buy a version of TurboTax that would handle my federal and state returns, they wanted $140. I can't stand the thought of paying for the 'privelege' of filing my tax returns.

You aren't paying for the privilege of filing your tax returns; you are paying for the time you would otherwise spend researching, preparing, and filing your taxes. Was the time you spent worth the $140? (I am not saying that it was or wasn't, but the answer should be what drives your decision on if you do your taxes by hand or not.)

By the way, you should be able to purchase TurboTax for much less than $140. The "Home and Business" edition, which should cover the most complicated returns that an individual would normally need (home office deduction, stocks and options, property sales, etc) lists for $110 and can be found for about $80. If you have a simple tax situation, the even less expensive editions would suffice. Whatever the cost for tax software, the question of the software cost vs. the value of your time is what you should focus on.

Of course the question of why our tax system is so complicated that companies like TurboTax can sell software and find plenty of buyers is certainly valid.

Comment: Re:Caution (Score 1) 117

by Nkwe (#46738379) Attached to: Linux 3.15 Will Suspend & Resume Much Faster

If your UPS dies, a suspended machine is screwed just the same.

Not necessarily. Windows desktop machines can write out RAM to disk so that if power is lost during suspend, the machine can come back up to where it left off. It is basically a cross between suspend and hibernate. If power is maintained the machine comes up out of suspend almost instantly, if not it comes out of hibernate.

Comment: The key is cost (Score 1) 245

by Nkwe (#46513847) Attached to: Is Analog the Fix For Cyber Terrorism?
It is not a analog or digital issue, it is a cost issue. To be secure from remote attack you have to be willing to pay to have trusted (human) individual with a sense of what is reasonable (with respect to the process) to be in the control loop. The problem is of course that trusted humans with a sense of reason are expensive.

+ - Slashdot beta sucks 9

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Maybe some of the slashdot team should start listening to its users, most of which hate the new user interface. Thanks for ruining something that wasn't broken."

Comment: Re:Replusive (Score 4, Insightful) 505

by Nkwe (#46128667) Attached to: The JavaScript Juggernaut Rolls On

Why do the worst technologies that are just barely able to solve the problem always make it? Is the developer community collectively really this stupid? I fear it is...

Because technologies that just barely solve a problem allow people who can just barely do the job to barely solve the problem. People that can barely do the job are less expensive than people who do the job right. Unfortunate enough people are willing to live with "just barely".

Comment: Re:Z-Wave (Score 2) 336

by Nkwe (#45946797) Attached to: New Home Automation?

Z-Wave is the only one that you want to have. Insteon is not very reliable, being dependent on power lines for signaling (at low baud rate, to make things worse) and nothing else can compare to these two.

If you think you might ever want to use Insteon (which does have some issues, but has some cool features as well), make sure you include a neutral to all of your wall switch boxes. Typical house wiring carries the hot and neutral lines between the ceiling fixtures and drops only a hot "send" and hot "return" to the wall switch. The cost before you close the walls of running 14-3 over 14-2 wire to the wall switches is minimal, the cost of changing after you close the walls is high.

As others have said, run coax and Ethernet from a central location to each room and consider running empty conduit from a central location to each room as well to handle whatever future wires you may want.

Consider running alarm wire to every window and door to support physical alarm switches (either mechanical or magnetic reed). Hardwired alarm switches are generally better than wireless (more secure, look nicer / better hidden, don't need batteries, and cheaper (if installed before you close the walls))

Not really an automation thing, but central vacuum is cool.

Comment: Re:That's what you get (Score 1) 252

by Nkwe (#45822135) Attached to: USB Sticks Used In Robbery of ATMs

Ehhhh, what? Plug in the the pretend-to-be keyboard and then? Bruteforce the root password? You do realize unix is a multiuser system right? Well, of course you don't.

I absolutely realize that unix is multiuser. I also know that on multiuser systems the physical console of the machine typically has special access. As mentioned above, one could send a keyboard sequence that reboots the machine -- say maybe Magic SysRq or maybe even a simple CTL-ALT-DEL. Sure, the configuration may have disabled these things, but probably not. When the system reboots, keystrokes can be sent to the BIOS directing it to boot off of your USB device (before the OS reloads.) Since presumably the attackers have intimate knowledge of the hardware (they know where to find the USB port), they could likely figure out the timing involved in driving the system through a reboot and alternate startup.

Comment: Re:That's what you get (Score 3, Interesting) 252

by Nkwe (#45820515) Attached to: USB Sticks Used In Robbery of ATMs

I don't know any Linux or unix machine which would be compromised merely by plugging a memory stick. Hint, hint: autorun. Furthermore, you presumably wouldn't get administrative access.

It doesn't require autorun. A usb device that emulates a keyboard or other input device would do the trick. Send the keystrokes necessary to break in. Think Linux is immune? How about the keystrokes necessary to reboot the machine and start up in single user mode? Even if single user mode has been protected, the usb device could provide both keyboard emulation and cdrom emulation -- during reboot the hack could boot to alternate media. The real fail is a design that allows access to the hardware (physical access is full access) and not the choice of operating system.

Behind every great computer sits a skinny little geek.