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Comment: Unfortunate consequence of UEFI (Score 5, Insightful) 120

by dtjohnson (#49291845) Attached to: Persistent BIOS Rootkit Implant To Debut At CanSecWest
The Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) provides a new platform for malware to execute independently of the OS. There are now UEFI applications, UEFI variables that can store non-volatile data that can be shared between firmware and the OS, EFI system partition, etc. All of these things open gaping security holes into any UEFI system. Systems with the old BIOS and a write jumper on the motherboard were too secure. We don't have that problem any longer...

Comment: Free Speech is protected but not your anonymity (Score 1) 367

by dtjohnson (#49217033) Attached to: Yik Yak Raises Controversy On College Campuses
Your right to free speech is protected but your right to make your comments anonymously is not. Colleges (and society) should insist that all yik yak comments be attributed to their source. If the source of yik yaks is not identified, they can be banned. An anonymous commenter has no legal standing to bring a complaint about his or her free speech right being infringed. You don't have a 'right' to write anonymous letters to your campus newspaper editor that attack someone. You don't have the right to wear a mask while you walk around campus verbally attacking ethnic groups. This yik yak problem seems like an easy thing to fix.

Comment: Microsoft's UI history is...not good (Score 1) 378

by dtjohnson (#48909139) Attached to: Windows 10: Charms Bar Removed, No Start Screen For Desktops
It is not as if we must have the 'start' menu, or even a work-like or work-similar functionality. What fills us with dread is that the new Windows 10 UI is likely to be difficult and time-wasting to use...and since Windows is ubiquitous...we will likely be using it anyway. We, all of us, use a variety of digital UIs every day...the dashboard on our car, the screen on our home entertainment system, our smart phone, kitchen appliances, etc. Most of these are fairly simple and intuitive to use...simple enough that we don't give them a second thought. That's the point, here. Windows 8 is NOT simple or intuitive. It is painful, irritating, and time-wasting. That 'start' menu was nothing special as a UI feature. It was actually very poor...beginning with the obvious conflict between clicking on 'start' to perform a 'shutdown.' But...we were used to it. We were familiar with it. There's nothing wrong with a new UI if it is good as in 'powerful,' 'simple,' 'easy,' and 'fast.' The first iPhone (and ipod touch) was radically different from anything that had gone before it but it was a very good UI and people were able to use it effectively after just a few minutes. The Windows 8 UI, on the other hand, requires a book with screenshots in one hand and a smartphone with tips in the other hand to really accomplish anything for a first-timer. So...Windows 10, whatever it ends up being, will be carrying a lot of baggage to the rollout. Know that Microsoft.

Comment: Change for change's sake is not good for users (Score 1) 640

by dtjohnson (#48807919) Attached to: Microsoft Ends Mainstream Support For Windows 7
Microsoft is putting users on a continuous upgrade cycle. Windows XP to Windows 7 to Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. Obviously, this is good for Microsoft because they will keep selling Windows licenses even if they do not have new users. it good for users? Does Microsoft even care what the answer to that question is? A new version of Windows creates a lot of difficulty and expense for Windows users. A new windows often mandates new hardware, new software, and the need to learn a new user interface. These are costly and time-wasting. Of course the Windows user benefits from the new capabilities and features of the new Windows...or do they? Does Windows 8.1 really provide anything that Windows 7 did not? If not, users are not being treated well by Microsoft and perhaps should consider alternative ways of accessing computing services over the long run.

Comment: Microsoft benefits from this (Score 2) 463

by dtjohnson (#48733671) Attached to: Writer: How My Mom Got Hacked
This happened to a friend with a laptop running Windows 8. The laptop had a recovery partition with the Windows 8 install on it but that was also locked and unavailable. The only way to recover (other than pay the ransom) was a Windows 8 install disk and reformat. Of course, the data was lost (but restored from a recent backup) but at least the laptop was usable again. Since many/most new computers running Windows are sold without any media, this scenario has likely happened before. How many of those multitudes of Windows 8.1 buyers are second-time buyers just trying to reinstall what they have already paid for once? Also, this type of thing drives people away from laptops and desktop computers in general and towards less-vulnerable mobile devices.

Comment: It's all about the data (Score 2) 332

by dtjohnson (#48696681) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Companies Won't Be Around In 10 Years?
Which companies will be around in 10 years? Companies that are in the business of acquiring, managing, and selling your data to others as well as selling other's data to you. The hardware and software do not matter. Those will always be there, of course, but the players will change as they have in the past. No one remembers Data General (a hardware manufacturer despite their name) or Amdahl or Compaq. For Microsoft, the success of their cloud services is the key to their survival. IBM, Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Ebay...Yes. HP, Dell, Oracle,

Comment: Follow the money (Score 1) 231

by dtjohnson (#48351279) Attached to: Berlin's Digital Exiles: Where Tech Activists Go To Escape the NSA
Laura Poitras has made some 'feel bad' documentary films that have won awards but obviously not much revenue. Yet she spends her life traveling the world and pursuing do-good noble causes in support of people supposedly suffering under the yoke of US oppression. Who is funding her travels, hotel bills, restaurant tabs, etc.? Most of the attention that she gets from the US Government is likely related to the source of her funds. If there is one thing that the 'War on Terror' has shown us, it is that the money trail is more important than just about anything else. No matter if it is Al Qaida, ISIS, IRA, Fatah, Hamas, or whoever...following the money always leads to the main stem.

Comment: It depends on the attitude that you take (Score 1) 381

by dtjohnson (#48160053) Attached to: How Nigeria Stopped Ebola
The Nigerians were SERIOUS about containing the disease. The US Center for Disease Control has not been as serious. They have delayed the response to the possibility of incoming infected air passengers, they have failed to quickly move in with oversight, training, and other response when infections have occurred in the US, and they have provided poor guidance and leadership to people seeking it such as the Ebola-infected nurse flying from Cleveland to Dallas on a commercial flight with CDC approval or the clipboard man 'supervising' the transfer of the Ebola-infected nurse to Emory University. Now we have hundreds of people potentially exposed, two known new infections, and dozens of people in quarantine. All of that would not have happened if the CDC was SERIOUS about containing this virulent disease. They need to approach their job as if a twitchy mental case were walking behind them with a cocked and loaded pistol pointed at the back of their head. That kind of serious. That's what it will take and we will get there eventually, although it might take a few dozen more new US infections.

Comment: Error in your numbers... (Score 1) 295

by dtjohnson (#48092387) Attached to: NASA Study: Ocean Abyss Has Not Warmed
The human race dumps in excess of 40 BILLION tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, every year.

The atmospheric co2 concentration increases by about 2 ppm per year. That equates to about 1.03x10^13 kg/yr or 10.3 billion metric tons added to the atmosphere per year (which has a mass of about 5150000 billion tons). However, the global production of co2 from fossil fuel combustion (coal, oil, and gas) is about 48.9 billion mt per year. Therefore, approximately 79 percent of all of co2 produced from fossil fuel combustion is sequestered as well as 100 percent of the co2 produced from respiration, forest fires, organic matter decay, natural gas seeps, etc. To put this in perspective, if all of the known reserves of global fossil fuels were combusted at present rates, they would last about 75 years during which time the atmospheric co2 concentration would rise from the present 400 ppm to about 550 ppm before plummeting as the supply of new co2 fizzled out. More likely, though, is that fossil fuel prices will rise as they become more scarce leading to reduced combustion rates that will extend their life out to several centuries. In that case, the atmospheric co2 concentration would rise from 400 ppm to some number quite a bit lower than 550 ppm. Will planetary temperatures skyrocket when the co2 concentration is 550 ppm? No more than they have at present. As TFA points out, the heat that is allegedly being trapped by the atmospheric co2 gas...cannot be found. If the additional heat is being trapped as the crude computer models have predicted, it has to be somewhere. Global surface temperatures, polar ice caps, ocean surface temperatures, and, now, deep ocean temperatures do not show the present of sufficient heat. Where is it going? the deniers have been saying, the computer models might be...wrong...and co2 does not block the heat in the way that they claim due to kinetic gas mixing and radiation of heat from other much more abundant atmospheric gas molecules of o2 and n2.

Comment: Re:Two new deniers are born... (Score 1) 207

by dtjohnson (#47993429) Attached to: Study Links Pacific Coastal Warming To Changing Winds
It would actually take about 75 years to combust all known reserves of fossil fuels at current combustion rates. In that scenario, prices would remain constant until that last chunk of coal was burned. However, the more likely scenario would be that fossil fuel prices would increase as they become more scarce and difficult to extract and the increased prices would lead to lower rates of use which would extend the life of fossil fuel reserves out to perhaps 2 or 3 centuries. In that scenario, the atmospheric co2 concentration would never reach 550 ppm (which requires 75 years of combustion at current rates) but would instead remain below 500 ppm and then decline as combustion rates dropped below the rate necessary to maintain the current atmospheric concentration. Approximately 80 percent of the carbon dioxide released from current combustion ends up as calcium carbonate in ocean sediments rather than co2 in the air.

Comment: Where IS this Microsoft Talent that you speak of? (Score 1) 365

by dtjohnson (#47993279) Attached to: Microsoft On US Immigration: It's Our Way Or the Canadian Highway
It's not on display in their current business. Windows 8.1, Office, xbox, windows phone, where? Also, let's not forget that they are busy laying off many/most of the former Nokia engineers in Finland that actually had to design, build, and compete in a competitive world market and replacing them with...who?

Comment: Re:Two new deniers are born... (Score 2) 207

by dtjohnson (#47978739) Attached to: Study Links Pacific Coastal Warming To Changing Winds
I sense a teachable moment. Carbon dioxide molecules certainly absorb infrared radiation leaving our beautiful planet. They have been doing that for most of the 4 billion years that the Earth has existed and had an atmosphere of gases. Fortunately for the planet, though, those same co2 molecules do not 'hold on to' (or store) the IR but, instead, 'release' it via collisions with other, far more abundant molecules in the atmosphere (O2, N2, H2O) or re-radiate it. Someone has noticed that the carbon dioxide concentration has increased in the atmosphere by 84 ppm since 1958 to its present concentration of approximately 400 ppm and they are concerned that that increase will result in a net decrease in heat being radiated into space thereby leaving our planet warmer. They believe that the carbon dioxide concentration should be held to a constant value by limiting the combustion of fossil fuels. To support this belief, they have modeled the planetary climate with computer software and have determined that a continuing increase in carbon dioxide concentration will lead to a much warmer climate which will, in turn, lead to melting of the polar ice caps in antarctica and greenland resulting in a dramatically higher sea level that will inundate a large portion of the human population. However, the maximum atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration possible if we combust all of the known reserves of fossil fuels at our present rate of combustion is about 550 ppm and it appears likely that a re-tuning of the computer model will show that a concentration of 550 ppm will not result in a any of the catastrophes that the earlier computer runs predicted, as TFA is alluding to. The climate changes, is changing, and will change...yes. But...due to carbon dioxide Capiche?

Comment: Reject the Culture of Death... (Score 1) 478

by dtjohnson (#47969047) Attached to: Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"
...and embrace a Culture of Life. This 'bioethicist' is asking you to buy into his values: that the 'feeble' are less valuable than the 'non-feeble', that life is not worth living unless you are 'vibrant and engaged,' etc. These are the same sorts of values that are used to justify suicide, abortion, executions/murders, assisted suicide, euthanasia, eugenics, mercy killings, and the like, with the implied blanket claim that the killing somehow improves things for the killers. In TFA, we have the 'bioethicist' arbitrarily selecting some calendar age to begin neglecting his health based on the idea that life after that point is not worth living.

Comment: Diet sodas have ruined millions of lives (Score 1) 294

by dtjohnson (#47937375) Attached to: Study Finds Link Between Artificial Sweeteners and Glucose Intolerance
It is great to see some serious research on the aspartame/splendas type of artifical sweeteners based on amino acids. But you can do your own research. Go down to your local supermarket and look at all of the people who are 100+ lbs overweight who have a case or more of diet soda in their shopping cart. These people are severely disabled. Their quality of life is poor, their mobility is restricited, their life expectancy is greatly shortened, and the high blood sugar levels have severely affected their neurological function and cognitive processes. Worse, it is not their fault, even though their friends and families probably have castigated them about it from time to time. If there is one single person to blame, it would be Donald Rumsfeld, who as the new head of GD Searle, was instrumental in getting the federal government to approve aspartame back in the 1980s. That opened the floodgate of these sweeteners and, the rest, is history.

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.