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Comment: Re:Still don't know what everyone's complaining ab (Score 1) 168

by bigmo (#46623223) Attached to: NSA Infiltrated RSA Deeper Than Imagined

I can understand your feelings and I don't completely disagree with them either. However I think the issue is that many if not most people have a line they draw where everything beyond it is personal and private and they do not willingly share this information with people unless it's family or very close friends. There have been suicides over people being "outed" for their sexual preference or other intensely personal things. This is bad enough in the hands of normal bullies, but in the hands of government bullies people can be jailed, legitimate governments destroyed and illegitimate governments upheld. Commercial bullies can use secret information to coerce officials into placing outlandish restrictions on our rights as well. I could of course go on and on.

I am under no illusions that we in fact have any sort of real privacy anymore. I know that ended decades ago. However I think that we have the duty to try to make it difficult for those that want to catalog us in every way, reducing our humanity to data points. I for one will continue to try to shovel back the tide, no matter how pointless it may be.

Comment: have your cake and eat it (Score 1, Insightful) 361

by bigmo (#46274879) Attached to: Killing Net Neutrality Could Be Good For You

Caution, this is a rant:

People want to be able to download as much as they want from anywhere they want for a flat rate. This is childish.

I believe completely in net neutrality. The ISPs are in fact common carriers and should be treated as such.

However net neutrality does not come cheap. People have to pay for what they use in bandwidth the same way they pay for what they use for electricity, water and fuel. Someone who uses 10GB a month should pay ten times as much as someone who uses 1GB a month and they should be able to use 100GB if they can afford it.

This is not a social issue. A poor child doing their homework doesn't need a gigantic feed. It's for people who have nothing better to do than watch netflix and play games.

sorry, but I feel better now...

+ - Ask Slashdot: How to explain the need for privacy to the "uninitiated"?

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "How do you — fellow Slashdotters — explain the need for privacy to people who don't think they should care? I feel it's wrong for Google to know who I am, where I live, where I work, who I know, for Vibre to have access to all the phone numbers in my phone, for loyalty card companies to record all my purchases and for government to spy on me with street cameras and PRISMs. But I struggle to explain why to people like my wife or teenage kids who claim they've got nothing to hide and therefore don't need to care. And all their peers are doing it so why shouldn't they? Especially if they can get a free service or marginal discounts — and think it's worth giving up the privacy. I feel it's wrong and try to minimise my exposure but it's inconvenient at times and have a hard time explaining why am I doing it. I've got nothing to hide either, I just don't think I should share everything I do with some anonymous organisations. Or should I not care, sign up and join the herd because it's a lost battle anyway?"

+ - NASA and ESA to communicate with lunar orbiter using lasers->

Submitted by cylonlover
cylonlover (1921924) writes "Space communications have relied on radio since the first Sputnik in 1957. It’s a mature, reliable technology, but it’s reaching its limits. The amount of data sent has increased exponentially for decades and NASA expects the trend to continue. The current communications systems are reaching their limits, so NASA and ESA are going beyond radio as a solution. As part of this effort, ESA has finished tests of part of a new communications system, in preparations for a demonstration in October in which it will receive a laser data download from a NASA lunar orbiter."
Link to Original Source

+ - Annoyed at the NSA, I've written a tutorial about anonymity... 5

Submitted by PhilipTheHermit
PhilipTheHermit (1901680) writes "Ok, Slashdot, I've been lurking around here for the better part of a dozen years, but I don't think I've ever submitted anything too significant... I'm actually a bit terrified because this is like putting my head in the lion's mouth. If my tutorial sucks, I'll probably be torn to shreds, although I hope that it doesn't suck. Keep an open mind when you read it, OK? So, here goes.

I think the reason why most people aren't using tools like TOR and encryption is that they don't know they CAN, and they think the government is all-powerful, as it's portrayed in movies and on television. Geeks like us know that it's not too hard to be anonymous online or use encryption, but there aren't enough of us doing these things to have much of an effect. What we need to do is get everyone ELSE using this stuff, to make the operation of a potential surveillance state as difficult as possible.

My central thesis here is that the answer to a surveillance state is to maintain two personas, the boring public one you don't care they're watching, and an anonymized one they can't pin to you where you express yourself freely without fear of punishment. My recommendations are to use Tor with anonymous email and forum accounts, GnuPG to protect your files, GnuPG and Tor with Thunderbird to protect your email, and Pidgin with Tor, OTR, and GnuPG to protect your text messaging (I also talk about Cryptocat, which when used through Tor, is kind of an interesting approach).

I've written tutorials for Gnu/Linux and Windows 8 so far (I consider Windows 8 to be a worst case scenario, so anything I managed to get working on 8 should work better everywhere else). I'm going to do a Mac OS/X version also, but I haven't started that one yet.

For Gnu/Linux, which I consider the best-case scenario, the tutorial is available for free download at my website (you can also buy a paper copy if you want to, but the free PDF is exactly the same content as the paper version). On the copyright page of my Gnu/Linux version, I give you permission to copy it to anybody you like, host it on any website you like, and in general, spread it as far and wide as you can (all I ask is that you don't modify it in any way). My site only has so much bandwidth, so if you like the tutorial, PLEASE mirror it and post links to the mirror, ok?

You can download the free tutorial here:

For proprietary operating systems, I'm not offering a free tutorial, but rather a proprietary one at modest cost. I think there's a nice symmetry to that. Besides, if the free PDF is Linux-only, this will give people an incentive to try Linux out, which is a good thing."

Comment: Re:Another fad ends (Score 1) 256

by bigmo (#42760481) Attached to: Microsoft Phases Out XNA and DirectX?

I have some video display code that currently uses triangle strips. I'm planning to change to quads so that geometry correction can be done more easily in my app. I could certainly do it with triangles, but it's just a lot easier with quads. This is used on workstation machines so I'm hoping (although I haven't dived into it yet) that the driver, rather than the hardware, won't have to re-work everything piece by piece.

Comment: interstate highway system (Score 1) 419

by bigmo (#41564103) Attached to: The Coming Internet Video Crash

The interstate highway system in the US was built by the government to increase bandwidth on the highways. It made it much easier to get lots of cars and trucks across the country cheaply, and did in fact create a lot of jobs both for the highway workers as well as auto workers. Making the automobile an unalienable right seemed like a good idea in the 50's with 30 cent gas; now, maybe not so much.

The last 30 years or so have made it seem that we might have been better off going more slowly and letting the market decide if highways were better than rail or possibly other transport systems that never got to see the light of day due to unrealistically inexpensive highway travel. It's seems equally obvious at this point in time that more internet bandwidth is also an unalienable right. On the other hand, it's hard to say what unintended consequences might come from mandating perhaps unrealistically inexpensive bandwidth for communications.

I can't think of any reason why cheap unlimited internet bandwidth might be counterproductive. On the other hand cheap unlimited travel seemed like a good idea 60 years ago before pollution and energy became the problems they are now. I think we should pay for the bits we use now at a realistic market rate that isn't skewed by mixing the price of content along with the price of bandwidth to make it seem cheaper.

Comment: Re:Maybe I'm old (Score 1) 126

by bigmo (#41505645) Attached to: Blender Debuts Fourth Open Source Movie: <em>Tears of Steel</em>

I was very excited to see this come out & watched it within hours of release. Unfortunately, the very first scene has some of the worst acting/directing I've ever seen. Sure they're teenage actors and this is really a technology demo, not a film for the masses, but it wouldn't have taken much to get this small part right. As soon as I saw that 15 second section I nearly shut if off. I'm glad I didn't because the tech stuff was very interesting, but only to geeks.

While you can argue for hours over what the film does and doesn't get right, it simply is not on the same level as Big Buck Bunny. Everyone I show that to loves it, kids and adults alike, and it gives me the opportunity to talk about open source principles to people who would never know this sort of thing exists.

I would never be able to show this film to people and get that effect because it is in fact just like many Hollywood movies: good effects, but awful writing, directing and acting. It looks like something made by geeks with too much spare time while Big Buck Bunny looks like an old time Disney or Looney Tunes short film: funny and thoughtful with perfect timing.

I'm very sorry to say that this film is a showcase of people's stereotype of geeks.

Comment: Diamond Age (Score 1) 49

by bigmo (#41302133) Attached to: Creating a Better Chatbot Through Crowdsourcing

I guess it's old news, but this sounds exactly like what was being described in Neil Stephenson's Diamond Age. Actors there were paid to read/act short pieces of text/commands to reply to a young girl's questions. In the story, the girl was asking a book to explain a concept to her. Not much different from what happens with a chatbot.

I guess this might also relate to the earlier post on online math courses. Presumably grad students could be given micropayments to answer specific questions for an online course that the teacher doesn't have the time/inclination to answer.

My real concern in using this sort of thing for important information/decisions is how the answers get moderated quickly. Wikipedia has a pretty good, though certainly not perfect, way to deal with this, but it's not necessarily fast enough for real time issues.

Comment: vp8 (Score 1) 285

by bigmo (#39733859) Attached to: Florian Mueller Outs Himself As Oracle Employee

FM has also been extremely vocal about vp8/webm. While I'm the format certainly has its problems, both technical and legal, I can't help but believe the slow advance of the project is at least partly because a supposed expert on open source spent a lot of his time ranting about it.

I am far from unbiased on the situation since the I feel an unencumbered video codec would make the world a better place. Even knowing my bias, I can't help but be really upset at this revelation. On the other hand all's fair in love & war, so Oracle has a right to hire a shill to promote their agenda.

Maybe the real culprit in this is the wider web's need to have an expert, even a self proclaimed one, tell people what to do so they don't have to do all the work to find the truth themselves.

Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson