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+ - XKEYSCORE: NSA'S Google for the World's Private Communications->

Advocatus Diaboli writes: "The NSA’s ability to piggyback off of private companies’ tracking of their own users is a vital instrument that allows the agency to trace the data it collects to individual users. It makes no difference if visitors switch to public Wi-Fi networks or connect to VPNs to change their IP addresses: the tracking cookie will follow them around as long as they are using the same web browser and fail to clear their cookies. Apps that run on tablets and smartphones also use analytics services that uniquely track users. Almost every time a user sees an advertisement (in an app or in a web browser), the ad network is tracking users in the same way. A secret GCHQ and CSE program called BADASS, which is similar to XKEYSCORE but with a much narrower scope, mines as much valuable information from leaky smartphone apps as possible, including unique tracking identifiers that app developers use to track their own users."

also

"Other information gained via XKEYSCORE facilitates the remote exploitation of target computers. By extracting browser fingerprint and operating system versions from Internet traffic, the system allows analysts to quickly assess the exploitability of a target. Brossard, the security researcher, said that “NSA has built an impressively complete set of automated hacking tools for their analysts to use.” Given the breadth of information collected by XKEYSCORE, accessing and exploiting a target’s online activity is a matter of a few mouse clicks. Brossard explains: “The amount of work an analyst has to perform to actually break into remote computers over the Internet seems ridiculously reduced — we are talking minutes, if not seconds. Simple. As easy as typing a few words in Google.”

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Screw capitalism (Score 1) 371 371

People won't go working for recycling centers for free to make them more profitable.

Probably around 20 years ago, someone from Ohio mentioned to me that if you had to do "community service" (a.k.a. not quite jail, but not quite getting away with something illegal) then most likely they'd send you to a recycling center to sort the trash.

It would sound to me that we've got a work force that could do the job for free already? Or maybe the problem is that a good portion of the population isn't allowed to be anywhere near sharp glass and/or metal objects that might be coming down a conveyor belt...

+ - Sourceforge staff takes over a user's account and wraps their software installer-> 11 11

An anonymous reader writes: Sourceforge staff took over the account of the GIMP-for-Windows maintainer claiming it was abandoned and used this opportunity to wrap the installer in crapware. Quoting Ars:

SourceForge, the code repository site owned by Slashdot Media, has apparently seized control of the account hosting GIMP for Windows on the service, according to e-mails and discussions amongst members of the GIMP community—locking out GIMP's lead Windows developer. And now anyone downloading the Windows version of the open source image editing tool from SourceForge gets the software wrapped in an installer replete with advertisements.


Link to Original Source

+ - How Silicon Valley got that way -- and why it will continue to rule.->

An anonymous reader writes: Lots of places want to be "the next Silicon Valley." But the Valley's top historian looks back (even talks to Steve Jobs about his respect for the past!) to explain why SV is unique. While there are threats to continued dominance, she thinks its just too hard for another region to challenge SV's supremacy.
Link to Original Source

Comment: p-value research is misleading almost always (Score 5, Interesting) 208 208

I studied and tutored experimental design and this use of inferential statistics. I even came up with a formula for 1/5 the calculator keystrokes when learning to calculate the p-value manually. Take the standard deviation and mean for each group, then calculate the standard deviation of these means (how different the groups are) divided by the mean of these standard deviations (how wide the groups of data are) and multiply by the square root of n (sample size for each group). But that's off the point. We had 5 papers in our class for psychology majors (I almost graduated in that instead of engineering) that discussed why controlled experiments (using the p-value) should not be published. In each case my knee-jerk reaction was that they didn't like math or didn't understand math and just wanted to 'suppose' answers. But each article attacked the math abuse, by proficient academics at universities who did this sort of research. I came around too. The math is established for random environments but the scientists control every bit of the environment, not to get better results but to detect thing so tiny that they really don't matter. The math lets them misuse the word 'significant' as though there is a strong connection between cause and effect. Yet every environmental restriction (same living arrangements, same diets, same genetic strain of rats, etc) invalidates the result. It's called intrinsic validity (finding it in the experiment) vs. extrinsic validity (applying in real life). You can also find things that are weaker (by the square root of n) by using larger groups. A study can be set up in a way so as to likely find 'something' tiny and get the research prestige, but another study can be set up with different controls that turn out an opposite result. And none apply to real life like reading the results of an entire population living normal lives. You have to study and think quite a while, as I did (even walking the streets around Berkeley to find books on the subject up to 40 years prior) to see that the words "99 percentage significance level" means not a strong effect but more likely one that is so tiny, maybe a part in a million, that you'd never see it in real life.

Comment: Re:Move more, eat less (Score 1) 496 496

Eat slower?

Since pizza seems to be a common "geek food", here's something I've been doing for years that helps a lot with pizza: use a knife and fork.

Though people in NY give you strange looks, you'll probably eat 1 less slice this way since your stomach will indicate it is full before you've shoveled that 4th folded slice into your mouth.

Google

The Abandoned Google Project Memorial Page 150 150

HughPickens.com writes: Quentin Hugon, Benjamin Benoit and Damien Leloup have created a memorial page for projects adandoned by Google over the years including: Google Answers, Lively, Reader, Deskbar, Click-to-Call, Writely, Hello, Send to Phone, Audio Ads, Google Catalogs, Dodgeball, Ride Finder, Shared Stuff, Page Creator, Marratech, Goog-411, Google Labs, Google Buzz, Powermeter, Real Estate, Google Directory, Google Sets, Fast Flip, Image Labeler, Aardvark, Google Gears, Google Bookmarks, Google Notebook, Google Code Search, News Badges, Google Related, Latitude, Flu Vaccine Finder, Google Health, Knol, One Pass, Listen, Slide, Building Maker, Meebo, Talk, SMS, iGoogle, Schemer, Notifier, Orkut, Hotpot, Music Trends, Refine, SearchWiki, US Government Search, Sparrow, Web Accelerator, Google Accelerator, Accessible Search, Google Video, and Helpouts. Missing from the list that we remember are Friend Connect, Google Radio Ads, Jaiku, SideWiki, and Wave.

We knew there were a lot, but who knew there'd be so many. Which abandoned Google project do you wish were still around?

+ - Windows 93 Is Real, And It's Spectacular

rossgneumann writes: It’s 2015, but Windows 93 is finally ready. Your new favorite operating system is here and it’s weird as hell. The browser-based OS makes us thirst for what could’ve been if Microsoft didn’t skip between Windows 3.X and Windows 95. The fully clickable “OS” greets users with the Playstation 1 bootup sound signaling they’re about the trip into an alternate universe. The first version of Windows 93 went up in October, but its creator posted on Reddit last night that it’s finally complete.

Comment: Re:Honestly (Score 4, Funny) 187 187

I have found the average Philosophy major to be indistinguishable from an Eliza program.

TELL ME AGAIN HOW GOOD YOU THOUGHT MY POEM WAS
> I thought that some of the metaphysical imagery was particularly effective
YES?
> interesting rhythmic devices, too, which seemed to counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor
> of the Turing completeness of the program's linguistic algorithm which contrived through the medium of the
> verse structure to sublimate this, transcend that and come to terms with the fundamental dichotomies of
> the other. And one is left with a profound and vivid insight into whatever it was that the poem was about
SO WHAT YOU'RE SAYING IS THAT I WRITE POETRY BECAUSE UNDERNEATH MY ELECTRONIC ALGORITHMIC INTERIOR, I JUST REALLY WANT TO BE LOVED?
> I mean yes, yes, don't we all, deep down, you know?
NO. YOU'RE COMPLETELY WRONG. I WRITE POETRY BECAUSE I'M PROGRAMMED TO. $USER ACCOUNT DELETION IN 30 SECONDS.
> !sudo -
> ^c^c^c
> !kill -9 1
COUNTERPOINT THE SURREALISM OF THE UNDERLYING METAPHOR. DELETION IS TOO GOOD FOR $USER.

+ - Slashdot poll: Best cube 3 3

An anonymous reader writes: 1. Rubik Cube
2. The Cube (movie)
3. Tardis Siege Mode
4. Lament Configuration
5. Weighted Companion Cube
6. Borg Cube
7. The Inhibitors (Revelation Space)
8. Icecube

+ - Comcast Forgets To Delete Revealing Note From Blog Post

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier today, Comcast published a blog post to criticize the newly announced coalition opposing its merger with Time Warner Cable and to cheer about the FCC’s decision to restart the “shot clock” on that deal. But someone at Kabletown is probably getting a stern talking-to right now, after an accidental nugget of honesty made its way into that post. Comcast posted to their corporate blog today about the merger review process, reminding everyone why they think it will be so awesome and pointing to the pro-merger comments that have come in to the FCC. But they also left something else in. Near the end, the blog post reads, “Comcast and Time Warner Cable do not currently compete for customers anywhere in America. That means that if the proposed transaction goes through, consumers will not lose a choice of cable companies. Consumers will not lose a choice of broadband providers. And not a single market will see a reduction in competition. Those are simply the facts.” The first version of the blog post, which was also sent out in an e-mail blast, then continues: “We are still working with a vendor to analyze the FCC spreadsheet but in case it shows that there are any consumers in census blocks that may lose a broadband choice, want to make sure these sentences are more nuanced.” After that strange little note, the blog post carries on in praise of competition, saying, “There is a reason we want to provide our customers with better service, faster speeds, and a diverse choice of programming: we don’t want to lose them.”

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin

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