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Comment: Re:well (Score 1) 197

by dunkindave (#47705207) Attached to: Phoenix Introduces Draft Ordinance To Criminalize Certain Drone Uses

The general rule of thumb for photographers is that if it can be seen from a public place, it can be photographed from a public place, UNLESS the subject being photographed is on their private property.

I think there are a lot of missing caveats here since if your statement is taken literally, then you are not allowed to take a picture from the sidewalk of me standing in my front yard which is on my private property. It would also make a lot of the Google StreetView a crime.

Comment: Re:Equal Share of Bandwidth (Score 5, Informative) 316

by dunkindave (#47611441) Attached to: Verizon Throttles Data To "Provide Incentive To Limit Usage"
Except what Verizon is doing is throttling only people with "unlimited" plans during peak times. People on paid usage plans are not subject to the same throttling. This isn't apparent throttling because of congestion, this is Verizon actively saying that because you have an unlimited plan, they will not allow you to use the available bandwidth, while if you drop the unlimited plan and subscribe to a metered plan then you CAN use the available bandwidth. Unfortunately the quote by the Commissioner is being dropped in these later articles where he said that he can see no legitimate claim for reasonable network management to be based on which plan a user subscribes to.

Comment: Re:Duh! (Score 2) 78

by dunkindave (#47610095) Attached to: EFF: US Gov't Bid To Alter Court Record in <em>Jewel v. NSA</em>

While I disagree with what the government tried to do here, if they did get such a change performed, I would expect that its existence is also not publicized, so the EFF not knowing that it has happened is far from proof that it hasn't.

Also, I take exception with the EFF's line "The government's attempt to change this history was unprecedented." The government attempted to censor part of the record, i.e. remove it from the transcript. The way the EFF phrased it makes it sound like they were trying to substitute what was said with things that were not said, which isn't the case (as far as I know, I am a Slashdot reader so haven't read the actual story).

Comment: Re:Murica (Score 1) 502

by dunkindave (#47583581) Attached to: Judge: US Search Warrants Apply To Overseas Computers
I think the article is poorly written since it uses the term "warrant" but what it describes is a subpoena. Note the line in the article "requiring a company receiving the warrant to search multiple locations for the information". A search warrant is issued by a court and authorizes the police to enter a premise to search for something. If it was truly a search warrant, then we would be hearing about US authorities showing up in Ireland with a US warrant and demanding entrance in order to conduct a physical search, and potential confiscation of property. Instead, what is happening is the authorities are giving a court issued demand to Microsoft telling them they are compelled to produce the information. That is a subpoena, no matter what term the article's author chose to (incorrectly) use.

Comment: Re:Murica (Score 1) 502

by dunkindave (#47582585) Attached to: Judge: US Search Warrants Apply To Overseas Computers

So Iran should be able to get evidence that one of its citizens is a Christian, off US servers? I mean it is not like they are persecuted over there or something.

This ruling isn't claiming the US feels it has the right to reach into another jurisdiction and take information it thinks may be evidence, rather, the US feels it can compel people/businesses in its jurisdiction to produce evidence within the control of the entity, even if the information is currently in another jurisdiction. If Iran felt one of its citizens had committed a crime, and that evidence of it was stored on a foreign computer that the accused is known to have access, then you can bet dollars-to-donuts that they would demand the person produce it else, given their system of justice, either use the lack of production as proof that the evidence exists and shows the guilt of the person, or the person would be thrown in jail until such time as they change their mind and produce it.

Yes, I know to some degree the latter is also a possibility in the US since if the court knows the person has something being demanded under subpoena and the person refused to produce it, then they are in contempt of court, and as long as they choose to be in contempt the court can continue to hold them (the violation is self-renewing). A simple rule that the US court system employs (imperfectly) is that illegal actions taken to avoid being charged or convicted will normally have a worse penalty than the original crime. The crimes of destroying evidence, bribing judges or juries, perjury, etc., all have very harsh penalties. Refusing to produce items or information demanded by the court is considers an obstruction to the judicial system so can have a very harsh penalty as well. The main difference in this case is if the information resided on a computer system in the US and the party refused to produce it the court could order it to be seized, while here they cannot. They can still punish the person for not producing it.

Comment: Re:Ignorance is no excuse ... (Score 1) 96

by dunkindave (#47550521) Attached to: Google's Mapping Contest Draws Ire From Indian Government

The trouble is, as the Entrope mentioned, unless they tell you specifically what information is not to be published, then how are you to know? Making it illegal to publish data about "sensitive areas" means somehow they have to make it clear what areas are sensitive, or else they are creating unrealistic expectations. Imagine a law that said it is illegal to proceed through a green traffic light when an unmarked police car is approaching from a perpendicular direction. How can you obey such a law since ANY car could be an unmarked police car. Same with making a blanket law that is equivalent to saying you may not publish anything the government deems sensitive unless they give you a way to know what information that is.

And in the summary, I don't think the phrase "The mapping competition required citizens to map their neighbourhoods" is phrased very well, since Google doesn't have the legal authority to require people to do anything. Do they stop you from using the Google search page unless you first submit a neighborhood detail?

Comment: Re:Low probability of getting hit by CME (Score 1) 212

While I agree the probability is low as compared to how the gloom-and-doomer portray it, I can immediately see a few major issues with your analysis.

1) The CME doesn't have to directly hit the Earth since disrupting the magnetosphere, which is many times the size of just the Earth, is what would be required.

2) I don't believe CMEs are uniform in the direction they occur since they are created by anomalies in the Sun's magnetic field, which like the Earth's, has poles. I could not however readily find any breakdown about distribution versus latitude

3) Your caveat is a big one. Your analysis is treating the CME as if it is a single point in space, equivalent to if the Sun fired a bullet at the Earth. The reality is, as you mentioned, CMEs have width, breadth, and height, and these dimensions are big. A CME may be many times the size of the Earth. CMEsalso spread out as they travel the 1 AU it takes to get here. That last part is both good and bad, since the original strength of the CME at the Sun would devastate the Earth, while the greatly weakened version that reaches this far could at worse cause havoc, not devastation.

In short, the Earth has been flying around this neighborhood for a few billion years, including hosting animal life for a good chunk of that, and so far we haven't seen any CME calamities. The game changer is of course our use of satellites and long haul electrical lines which are prone to disruption or damage from a strong CME, but based on the number of known events, the odds of a massive CME causes widespread damage is very low, though not as low as you calculated (0.0028% in 100 years). There may be a handful of CMEs a year that the Sun puts out that if they were to hit Earth could break things, as you pointed out the Earth is a small target in a very large shooting ranges. If I had to guess based on known statistics, a major ground-based disruption will probably happen about once every 100 years. (reference solar storms of 1859 and of 1989)

Comment: Re:Or, maybe there's no paradox at all. (Score 4, Informative) 227

by dunkindave (#47524269) Attached to: Black Holes Not Black After All, Theorize Physicists

And yeah, I know that astrophysicists with a vastly more qualifications than I have came up with these ideas, but in the end, an argument from authority does not make one actually right.

This is actually one of my nits with these kinds of articles. When someone says "Now one physicist has worked out the answer", the use of the phrase "the answer" means in English that the question is now closed. He has found THE answer, meaning the one and only answer, hence the use of the word 'the' instead of the word 'a'. In reality, the article should say "Now one physicist has worked out a possible answer". What he has presented is a theory that he believes is consistent with known physics and observations. That is all it is.

Comment: Re:well (Score 3, Insightful) 128

by dunkindave (#47520835) Attached to: The Psychology of Phishing
No, like if they want to gain access to data in company ACME Co, they do some research about that company, find people who belong to it, often in specific groups they are particularly interested in (the missile division of ACME for example), then seak out information on these people, like what conferences they have attended (attendee lists are often published on the web) or what projects at the company they are working on (a newsletter on the web mentions them in a small article about the Ramrod SuperAgile Counterstrike Missile System), then send them an email tailored just for them: Hi Joe, we found another missile system using flight parameters that may be interesting for use in the Ramrod. Here is the website..., signed your coworker Frank.

The spam from your bank doesn't normally address you by name, or mention details like your account number or which local branch you use and when. In fact, it is the lack of such details that most people use for clues that it is spam, so when those details are there they typically trust it. That is the gist of the article.

Comment: Re:well (Score 4, Insightful) 128

by dunkindave (#47520685) Attached to: The Psychology of Phishing

The criminals offer people stuff they want, marketing offers people shit they don't want. Seems simple enough

Except the article is about spear-phishing. In spear-phishing, the emails are tailored to the intended victim, pretending to be from someone the attacker knows or believes the victim trusts, such as an email from their boss or their HR department, and the emails normally include information that the victim assumes isn't public which adds to the email's trust. Such emails may pretend to contain important employee training updates, company newsletters, specific conference information for conferences the target is known to attend, references by project name to projects the victim is working on, etc. This means the spear-phishing email is very different from typical spam which is clearly marketing, or so generic as to be obvious spam. It also means that without confirming the email's legitimacy via out-of-band methods, it may be virtually impossible to verify if it is real or not.

The problem for the defenders is the only real defense against a well crafted spear-phishing email is to instruct people NEVER to open an attachment, to click on a link, to visit a website if so instructed, or even to respond with information that may be requested. But such a world would render most business email useless.

Comment: Re: What? (Score 1) 52

An NSL is quite frankly whatever the author of the NSL wants it to be. Typically, you're right, it's a request for information or access, but it also prevents you from telling ANYONE about it. So, who knows. You don't most likely. Unless you're party to it.

No, an NSL is specifically only for requesting of information.

From Wikipedia: A national security letter (NSL) is an administrative subpoena ...

A subpoena is a writ issued to compel testimony by a witness or production of evidence.

What makes the NSL special, and the reason people believe it is unconstitutional, is 1) it is not directly authorized by a judge, and 2) it can come with the requirement that the recipient not disclose that it happened or that the disclosure occurred.

An NSL is NOT a blank check for the government to order people to do whatever they say. It is very specific in its abilities, and that is only to request information, and possibly (though while the norm, this is not required) to require its existence to be kept confidential. So you see, I do know, as does anyone else who does a cursory lookup about what an NSL is.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 4, Informative) 52

Put your tin foil away. People at institutions like Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute typically work on grants and funding that come with conditions, such as the funder owns the material or can dictate its dissemination. It sounds like the researchers discovered something they thought interesting, looked around and decided BlackHat would be a good place to present, then the lawyers pointed out that they hadn't yet received the required permissions per the funding agreement/grant so they have backed off for now.

An NSL is a directive to disclose info that may include the requirement not to reveal the disclosure occurred. An NSL is not a way to simply order someone to be quiet.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? -- Woody Allen