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Comment: Re:The sad part? (Score 1) 577

As a furriner, this is the part I always find hilarious.

If an enlightened citizenry were ever going to use their weapons to overthrow the overbearing state, there have been plenty of occasions over the last 50 years where you could construct an argument for justification.

And yet it never happens. And why not? Because the people who believe in the weaponisation of civil society have been right behind every form of oppression from slavery through to the Patriot Act.

The US government would be mad to deprive the gun nuts of their guns - they do their work for them.

Comment: Re:There are no such things as human "rights". (Score 1) 313

It was a big worry for the British government that in the event of a nuclear strike the people they needed to maintain the fiction of continuing authority would actually prefer to be at home dying with their families rather than assisting the remnants of the state.

So, for example, there was a secret list of telephone engineers (all, at the time, government employees) who would be kidnapped at gunpoint in the event of a nuclear emergency and forced into their nearest bunker to maintain the telecommunications equipment.

"For your own good", indeed.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 1) 392

>I almost can't believe we're talking about effective encryption being illegal

Then you must be very young.

Back in the days of telegrams, many countries had strict regulations regarding the readability of messages sent. The US wouldn't allow the export of software which permitted encryption with (symmetric) key lengths longer than 40 bits until 1996 when the limit was raised to 56 bits by the Wassenaar agreement. PGP was eventually determined to be legally exported from the US as a result of a court decision that source code printed on paper was protected as free speech (you couldn't legally at that point export the source code in electronic form, only as printing on paper). The late 1990s saw many governments agonising about encryption and although the commercial imperative was clear (in particular for electronic financial transactions), because of its military origins it was regarded as a hostile technology - there are endless proposals from various countries for key escrow systems (eg "Clipper Chip"). A proposed encryption system for the UK National Health Service was considered that included key escrow, presumably because it would otherwise be difficult for medical information to be obtained without a court order.

The last few years, in which encryption has been freely available (but little used), are very much the exception in the history of cryptography.

Comment: Its audio quality compared to a CD is debatable (Score 3, Insightful) 278

by cardpuncher (#48719619) Attached to: Vinyl's Revival Is Now a Phenomenon On Both Sides of the Atlantic

It's debatable in the same way as the audio quality of regular speaker cable compared with gold-plated oxygen-free copper cable is debatable. It's not a long debate.

If you look at the equipment the analogue-faddists are using, it is for the most part not the high-end audio equipment of a previous generation, but retro-reproductions of the portable record players teenagers used to have in their bedrooms, record players that sounded terrible then and sound just as bad now. The only thing that's changed is that there were a lot of genuinely hi-fi systems around in those days for comparison. These days tiny speakers with wildly exaggerated bass are the norm on pretty much everything you buy from mobile phones to TV sound bars; it's hardly surprising that the sound from a Dansette record player sounds better by comparison.

I still have the speakers I used with my pre-CD sound system and I don't regret ditching a turntable for the first model of CD player that was available - the sound quality is superior in every respect (noise, frequency response, dynamic range). Vinyl records are the audio equivalent of Instagram - washed out, artifically-coloured facsimiles of the original that have become a passing fashion.

Comment: Re:Brought it on ourselves (Score 4, Insightful) 229

by cardpuncher (#48651979) Attached to: GCHQ Warns It Is Losing Track of Serious Criminals

Don't forget that the Telegraph is an extremely conservative newspaper which is very cosy with the British establishment.

The key phrases in the article, "the Daily Telegraph can disclose", and "a senior security official said", imply that the Telegraph has been explicitly briefed knowing that it will big up the story. You know the quotation:

"You cannot hope to bribe or twist
(Thank God!) the British journalist.
But, seeing what the man will do
Unbribed, there's no occasion to."

Mind you, the fact that they're talking about drug gangs is especially significant as on the one hand it's an attempt to deflect attention from the political nature of GCHQ spying whereas on the other it's suggesting that GCHQ has a routine role in what would normally be considered police work. They're obviously proud of their mission creep.

Comment: Re:Sure... (Score 2) 343

I don't know how Sony Pictures internal systems communicate, but I'm pretty sure they don't need to have direct access to world+dog in order to do so.

What seems to have happened here is that by network-based manipulation of external firewalls, direct communication routes were established between malilcious hosts on the Internet and internal systems. You can avoid that and still maintain e-mail communication by relaying your mail over something other than TCP/IP between your internal-facing and external-facing systems, for example.

And there are actuallly very good productivity reasons for restricting Internet browsing to dedicated computers on physically separate networks - it considerably reduces the amount of the day your staff spend on facebook and amazon.

I'm amazed the "Internet of Everything" mentality still prevails. It was a utopian dream of the 1980s and 1990s but we now have very clear evidence of what happens in practice with universal connectivity - a dystopian nightmare in which governments and criminals are in competition to gain the most effective control over people and commerce.

Perhaps we can ask Sony Pictures how their present productivity is looking compared to, say, RKO?

Comment: Re:Wrong conclusion (Score 1) 269

by cardpuncher (#48588721) Attached to: Apple's iPod Classic Refuses To Die

Actually, most people who buy stock are just speculators, however they might like to describe themselves.

If you buy newly-issued stock in a company, you're definitely an investor - the company gets your money. If you buy enough stock in a company to give you control and use that control to grow the business better than the previous management, you might be considered an investor. If you buy a small bundle of stock from an existing shareholder, you're not investing anything, you've just placed a bet - an indirect consequence of which is that the original actual investor was able to realise his gains.

Comment: Re:Discovery nightmare (Score 1) 79

by cardpuncher (#48456805) Attached to: Slack Now Letting Employers Tap Workers' Private Chats

>As far as monitoring of sent messages goes, the first rule is "If you're on someone else's network, they can see everything you do."

That might apply in the US. The first rule in the EU is that they can see only what they've informed you they want to see, and only if doing that is proportionate. You can't in general snoop just because you own the wires.

Comment: Re:It's just vanity (Score 1) 213

by cardpuncher (#48424555) Attached to: Congress Suggests Moat, Electronic Fence To Protect White House

For a country that believes so strongly in the free market, I can't see the economic logic behind providing any security for politicians. There's not exactly a shortage of candidates, so the correct free market response is to cancel all publicly-funded security for presidents, actual or potential, at least until the year of Cletus v Putin.

And I'm sure in a free market society, simple vanity wouldn't trump anything so fundamental as basic economics, would it?

Comment: Re:It's what you do with it that counts (Score 1) 184

by cardpuncher (#48332727) Attached to: British Spies Are Free To Target Lawyers and Journalists

The government were explicitly required to comment on this very aspect of the matter. Although they said they did not routinely keep data that would allow them to put a number on the number of trials that might potentially have been "tainted" by the transfer of data to prosecutors, they did confirm that they knew of "at least one" but refused to identify it.

In other words, the government are aware of a mistrial and are conspiring to pervert the course of justice and are prepared to admit as much.

Comment: Re:DOJ Oaths (Score 1) 112

by cardpuncher (#48112725) Attached to: National Security Letter Issuance Likely Headed To Supreme Court

>Didn't these guys have to take an oath to defend the Constitution?

I'm always amazed how Americans treat the Constitution like some kind of sacred text and then argue constantly about angels and pinheads.

If you're looking to distinguish between right and wrong, a religiously fundamental obsession with scripture is going to get you nowhere - it's better suited to defending the indefensible.

Even if some bewigged and berobed supreme priest deems it constitutional, it's still wrong - and that's what matters.

Comment: Re:I've been wondering why this took so long (Score 3, Informative) 127

by cardpuncher (#48109757) Attached to: London Unveils New Driverless Subway Trains

The Victoria Line has had automated train operation since it opened in 1968. All the driver does is push a button at each station to close the doors.

It's not really a matter of technology.

There is a safety issue in that there are no escape routes other than the unilluminated and electrified track meaning you'd need some on-board staff member to ensure that people could be safely evacuated in the event of an emergency.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead

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