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Comment: Re:Truly sad (Score 1) 358

by danheskett (#47694487) Attached to: Ebola Quarantine Center In Liberia Looted

You have presented the exact reason why many argue that we should shut down the US border, with the military as necessary, quarantine foreigners, and become a far more closed society.

Education is an unproven method of preventing the spread of the plague. The three proven methods are: (a) kill the sick, burn the bodies; (b) quarantine all the sick and their families until they all die; (c) vaccine. Also, combinations of a and b and c.

There is no amount of education that will guarantee that an infected carrier doesn't make it to the US, spread the infection, and become patient zero for a stateside epidemic.

Comment: Re:One word: PDFLib (Score 1) 132

by danheskett (#47626047) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best PDF Handling Library?

I second PDFLib.

I've created approximately 3 billion pages of PDF with it, since 2000. Very, very well done. The library is well thought out, and it can work even with bindings to languages that you would not think are usable. It's fast, really has a nice scope model, has a nice consistency, and rounds off the edges of PDF better than anything else with it.

If you come it with their import library, and pcos library, it can do almost everything you want. The developers are helpful and don't mess around. If you find a bug they fix it. Plus their documentation is about ten times better than anything else out there I've seen. They have a real reference and a cookbook that covers common scenarios.

Comment: Re:RUDEST PASSENGER EVER (Score 1) 928

I agree about boarding priority, but the cabin is transmitted to the government and recorded in several databases. If the airline moves the person from one cabin to another, then they have to retransmit that information, which is non-optimal, as I heard it.

Comment: Re:Are the *sure* they got the right guy? (Score 0) 790

Nonsense. If this were true, any pissed off person who knows your e-mail address could get your arrested by spamming you with kiddie-porn from an anonymous e-mail provider. You're not going to go to jail just for receiving e-mail.

You just made that up. Ready for this?

Federal law prohibits the production, distribution, reception, and possession of an image of child pornography using or affecting any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce (See 18 U.S.C. 2251; 18 U.S.C. 2252; 18 U.S.C. 2252A)

You receive child-porn, you are guilty of receiving it, and once you've opened the email, of possessing it, even if you later delete it. Federal jurisdiction applies because they treat all Internet activity is interstate commerce.

The problem with this law, like most of them, is that is badly drafted, subject to abuse, and vague. In actual reality, prosecutors and judges and juries have serious legal jeopardy from even viewing evidence in a trial that is related to these charges.

Comment: Re:Best secure email? (Score 2) 790

A long time ago, a friend and I co-developed a utility that would use reversible encryption and a very large random dictionary that was time coded. Since it was quite early in the internet days, we would burn the large dictionary to two identical CDs, and then while chatting online, we just had to have the time sync'd on our PCs. The time was converted to a byte offset on the CD, and then the next 128-bits were read from offset, which was good for 1 second, and then sent or received message was encrypted using something (must have been.. well it was before AES so probably DES or 3DES).

If I remember right the CD was good for a long time. At 700MB per CD, with 128-bit key length, and 1-second resolution seems to work out to around 533 days of really solid encryption.

We thought it was fairly clever at the time. It was a time of the Clipper chips and all that business.

Looking back, I always think that perhaps something like with USB-drive support and a few additional features would make a fairly useful direct point to point chat tool.

Comment: Re:This is chilling (Score 5, Informative) 790

Not according to the courts. The Courts have said that an un-read, e-mail stored on a server, is like an envelope containing a letter. A warrant is required to do anything other than examine the header (i.e. the face) of the letter.

Once read, it is no longer like a letter, it is business correspondence, and a warrant is no longer required.

This is extremely relevant in law. Recently, the former head of the CIA used unsent drafts stored in a drafts folder to communicate with a lover. This has profound legal implications. It is also how some terrorists were communicating - not sending e-mails, but storing drafts in a folder. This is important because those drafts are even more protected because they are not "in transit" (even though the data is in transit, the message was not "sent", therefore, it can't be put through all sorts of special NSA/CIA dragnets).

What this means in effect is that services like Lavabit are only part of what is needed. What is really needed if you want your email security is end-to-end encryption, where the unencrypted document is never stored anywhere but your computer. Anything else, and once read, your email can be legally produced to any government agency with only a subpoena or national security letter, no warrant needed.

Comment: Re:Well at least they saved the children! (Score 2, Informative) 790

If all the evidence came from Google, I would absolutely not vote to convict. It is far, far, far more dangerous to trust a single entity with detecting and providing the sole evidence to convict a person of a serious crime than it is to allow one child predator to go free.

After learning that the DEA and other agencies of government have knowingly and continue to knowingly lie and create false histories of how evidence or alleged evidence came to be, I have upped my personal tolerance for the idea that government, in a fascist alliance with big business, is able to corrupt the legal process with impunity.

I've already had one chance to exercise that judgement, and to let the prosecutor know that was why, and I hope to have many more opportunities in the future.

For anyone who is going to jury duty: no matter what the judge or prosecutor says, you have the unassailable, unreviewable, unabridged right to acquit anyone, of any charges, for any reason you wish. They will threaten you, lie to you, and mislead you, but you have the ultimate power. It is an awesome power, and even if the person on trial is guilty, you should consider handing down a not-guilty verdict, just to keep the powers that be in check. You will sleep better at night.

Comment: Re:Sorry, but... why? (Score 1) 180

by danheskett (#47591843) Attached to: How Many Members of Congress Does It Take To Pass a $400MM CS Bill?

You've pretty much hit on a few major themes of what is wrong with the American economy right now.

Three broad things:

1. Companies have successfully externalized costs that they should be paying. This legislation is an example of that: companies that are large and profitable should pay to train the workers they want, instead of importing ready-trained (sometimes) workers for less pay. By making the education system the training ground for a highly industry specific field, big companies that need lots of technical people are pushing their costs out to third-parties, namely schools and people who pay for schools.

This is just one example. Huge companies are being built and disrupting industries, and much of it is built upon on labor, capital, and regulatory arbitrage. Uber is a good example - it is executing a strategy of regulatory arbitrage to undercut the traditional taxi business. Additionally, in the Uber example, you have massive cram-down of costs to smaller parties, like Uber drivers. A traditional taxi cab company will pay a huge operating expense to maintain and insure it's fleet. In the Uber model, that cost is pushed down to the driver, where this is enormous incentive to skimp or take risks. Every new disruptive thing that is happening is wringing not only excess (which is long-term economically good) but also decades or centuries of practice, tradition, and local law. The cost savings eventually must come from somewhere, and that somewhere is the middle class.

2. The distributed state model is good for trying out new policies, but eventually bad for business. Having a non-uniform employment and benefit market nationwide is a problem in the long-run. Also, businesses have persuaded the thousands of policy makers to create thousands, or tens-of-thousands, of small carves out, protections, etc that distort the market and create uneven and eventually economically harmful protectionists. Example, in New Jersey consumers can't pump their own gas. Nationwide, industries with good paying jobs are convincing state and local regulators to require specialty business licenses and operating requirements to prevent competition and sustain economic rent seeking activities that normally would be driven from the market. The ongoing failure to fix our national pension system, our healthcare payment and delivery system, and the failure to provide a rational basis for funding primary education has resulted in a hodge-podge of inefficient taxation and revenue collection models. Federal-level failures have created the high-cost, low-wage conundrum that you point out. The result is a labor market where the best jobs are being retained by the financially most stable and well-off cohort (the near-retirement boomers and their followers).

Basically, economic inefficiency is being codified and cemented instead of allowed to run it's course and be purged from the system. From over financialization of the economy, to corporate cost shifting, to environmental concerns - across the board, our nationwide policy making apparatus has been in paralysis for 30 very dynamic years, and it's not good.

3. The basic economics are getting out of whack. We are importing both legal and illegal a large number of foreign workers who are acting like a pressure relief value on economic development. By depressing wages and not-forming American-style, 2-parent/child households, consumption across the economy is being thrown out of whack. Despite jobs reports to the contrary, the US economy has not seen any quarters of real growth where economic activity expanded faster than new credit extension. Essentially, since the mid-1980's, every dollar of GDP expansion has come at the cost of a dollar or more of credit expansion. This is driving a growing demand gap that simply can't be papered over. Americans feel more insecure because they are poorer, which is an unusual thing for us to feel. We are not used to it. But the demand gap that been floating around in the system since 2007-2008 is getting worse, and each passing month it grows and grows. On top of that, Americans are declining, morally, into slothful and wasteful libertines, spending enomoursly on entertainment, dining, and housing far more than their relative wealth should be able to support.

The net result is that we are wasting a lot of American-labor capital, mis-allocating a dramatic share of our economic activity to things which do not increase the wealth or health of a nation, and starting to feel the effects of decades of credit-based expansion and monetary inflation.

Comment: Re:RUDEST PASSENGER EVER (Score 1) 928

According to Southwest's policy, people travelling together but with different boarding positions have the option to board together, provided the person higher up in line waits with the people further back. How this applies to families, I'm fuzzy on, but I would assume if you have a business select or other pass that allows boarding in the A1 through A15 group, it would make sense to have young children (say, under 10 years old) board with you. It seems like this is what the guy had done on several flights previously.

I have tried to find this regulation, recently, but I am fairly certain that that TSA regulations require the airline to honor any preferences and boarding assignments for all minors with the ticketed adult they traveling with, or else treat the minors as unaccompanied minors. A few times I have flow and received an automatic upgrade to first class, but not my minor travel companion. It's actually turned out to be a hassle, because they filled my old seat, there by stranding my child next to a random stranger. Obviously not acceptable. In both cases that it's happened, they ended up trading the stand-by person into my first class seat and putting me back into coach (which was fine). However, in both cases they told me that TSA regulation required them to board us together, and to use the adult traveler's cabin class, boarding priority, and seating preference. I travel for business quite a bit and I wouldn't wish my kids into 1st class with others who are traveling for business so I was happy to move back to coach, but both times the gate agent was quite adamant that they would bump a 1st class passenger to follow the reg if I wanted.

I sort of think this can't true. Someone from the TSA told me it had to with a terrorist screening database, that the children were not entered anyways, so it worked around a problem in the database with moving passengers between cabins. Could just be a myth.

Comment: Re:Customer service? (Score 3, Informative) 928

I fly a lot, and pretty sure he was in the right. The version of the story I read was that he was a Southwest A+ member, which is their (crappy) version of a frequent flyer. You get free pre-boarding priority with that status. It is customary for it to extend to any minors traveling with you on the same itinerary.

Comment: Re:Customer service? (Score 1) 928

On most 3-across, left-right configuration regional jets - like the 737 variants the Airbus 300, there is only enough overhead space for 2/3 of the passengers to bring on a rollerbag. This creates a problem where every 5-6 rows, or so, you lose 1/2 or 1/3 of an overhead bin to the preceding sections theoretical over seat compartment. By the time you get to the last rows, there is no longer any overhead space. People traveling without a rollerbag will typically get their bag or laptop bag or purse handed back to them and asked to put under the seat in front of them. Even then, it's not unusual for a full-flight to require a dozen or more rollerbags to be gate checked.

Basically all of the rollerbags now are FAA-size approved for a carry-on. A few have puff-out zippers that will add an extra inch or two but compress back down when forced.

This is basically the airlines overselling capacity and then having to do their best to accomodate. Personally, I don't mind gate checking a carry-on, but most of the time, traveling for business, I do not enjoy waiting for my luggage. It would be fine if after the 5-10 minute deplane and walk the luggage was waiting for me, but it never seems to work that way. It seems to take 30-60 minutes even in smaller airports with minimal traffic.

Comment: Disagree (Score 2) 962

by danheskett (#47512853) Attached to: The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

With one myth and conclusion:

"The Myth: Women should just laugh off online harassment and not take it personally. "

The problem is: there are never any police reports to go with this behavior. If anyone is reading this, especially women, and you are threatened online or in person, and the words have: the nature and content to cause or instill fear, have enough specificity to demonstrate actual malice and show intent, and from an anonymous source a crime has been committed. All of the reactions I hear about women doing are the wrong ones. You shouldn't post to Twitter to show you aren't afraid, you shouldn't pen an op-ed denouncing men or the industry or the culture or other women or whatever.

What you should do is preserve the digital evidence, go to your police station, file a police a report, and then take the police report, and go to or travel to the nearest FBI field office and ask them to open an investigation. Every time. If you get a lot of this type of activity, you should get to know the officers who will be taking your reports daily or weekly. You can usually setup a standing appointment.

Brianna Wu would do more to change the environment by retweeting a threatening post followed by a mug shot than writing a hundred shaming articles that only the people who already agree with her are going to read. Showing your solidarity, having catharsis, raising awareness among like minded people has it's value, but it pales in comparison to making them pay. Not metaphorically, by doxing them and giving them a dose of medicine, but you know, like, pay actual fines, do actual jail time, and pay actual damages. Please, women (and men, when the shoe fits) stop "fighting simultaneous urges to hurl my phone across the room in anger and cry" and take actual action.

There is a perception that these people are anonymous, that it's untraceable, but it's a lie. Whatever the medium was - email, blog post, Tumblr, tweet, etc, there are a big companies behind them. A prosecutor or even a cop can often make an automated request through the companies CALEA compliance tool to get identity data when the above criteria is met. It's not controversial or hard. The service providers all comply, and willingly, and fast. The investigators will get the IP information, and then go to the ISP, and get subscriber information. These people are not going through eight layers of tor proxies. They are home, on their Wifi, thinking that a throw-away reddit account is really anonymous. They are wrong.

Comment: Re:Competent (Score 1) 962

by danheskett (#47512789) Attached to: The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

But at the same time my experience within various organizations is that female programmers weren't treated any differently that I could see. It certainly wasn't ever a living episode of Mad Men.

This is my experience also, but it's somewhat limited because their just aren't that many women programmers out there as a sample size.

What I took from the article was that people in Silcon Valley are not nice, which is generally easily supported by the facts. Just go somewhere else, and you will find nice, non-bubble inflated, non-VC backed, stable businesses that will happily hire women programmers, and treat them as well as anyone else, which is to say, well. You can have a nice life filled with a good stable job doing something you love. You won't be making games, you'll be writing line of business, boring b2b business products, or backend systems that run mid and small sized businesses.

On the other hand you can go to Silicon Valley, or a few other tech spots, and live a life in an industry full of assholes. Gaming, fashion, gossip blogging, entertainment, etc. It's all assholes, all the way down. Your customers are assholes, your co-workers are assholes, the venture capitalists are assholes, the competitors are assholes.

One picture is worth 128K words.