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Comment: Not the only one out there (Score 5, Interesting) 208

by ericfitz (#44860967) Attached to: USB "Condom" Allows You To Practice Safe Charging
There's a current KickStarter project called LockedUSB which does something similar, but which also includes a power management chip in order to negotiate higher power charging levels that normally require data connectivity. LockedUSB doesn't appear as big or ugly as the one in TFA. (Full disclosure: I'm a backer)

Gartner Says 3D Printers Will Cost Less Than $2,000 By 2016 170

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-you-one dept.
colinneagle writes "Widespread adoption of 3D printing technology may not be that far away, according to a Gartner report predicting that enterprise-class 3D printers will be available for less than $2,000 by 2016. 3D printers are already in use among many businesses, from manufacturing to pharmaceuticals to consumers goods, and have generated a diverse set of use cases. As a result, the capabilities of the technology have evolved to meet customer needs, and will continue to develop to target those in additional markets, Gartner says."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

DOJ Often Used Cell Tower Impersonating Devices Without Explicit Warrants 146

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bending-the-rules dept.
Via the EFF comes news that, during a case involving the use of a Stingray device, the DOJ revealed that it was standard practice to use the devices without explicitly requesting permission in warrants. "When Rigmaiden filed a motion to suppress the Stingray evidence as a warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the government responded that this order was a search warrant that authorized the government to use the Stingray. Together with the ACLU of Northern California and the ACLU, we filed an amicus brief in support of Rigmaiden, noting that this 'order' wasn't a search warrant because it was directed towards Verizon, made no mention of an IMSI catcher or Stingray and didn't authorize the government — rather than Verizon — to do anything. Plus to the extent it captured loads of information from other people not suspected of criminal activity it was a 'general warrant,' the precise evil the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent. ... The emails make clear that U.S. Attorneys in the Northern California were using Stingrays but not informing magistrates of what exactly they were doing. And once the judges got wind of what was actually going on, they were none too pleased:"

Misconfigured Open DNS Resolvers Key To Massive DDoS Attacks 179

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the check-your-sources dept.
msm1267 writes with an excerpt From Threat Post: "While the big traffic numbers and the spat between Spamhaus and illicit webhost Cyberbunker are grabbing big headlines, the underlying and percolating issue at play here has to do with the open DNS resolvers being used to DDoS the spam-fighters from Switzerland. Open resolvers do not authenticate a packet-sender's IP address before a DNS reply is sent back. Therefore, an attacker that is able to spoof a victim's IP address can have a DNS request bombard the victim with a 100-to-1 ratio of traffic coming back to them versus what was requested. DNS amplification attacks such as these have been used lately by hacktivists, extortionists and blacklisted webhosts to great success." Running an open DNS resolver isn't itself always a problem, but it looks like people are enabling neither source address verification nor rate limiting.

Google Pledges Not To Sue Any Open Source Projects Using Their Patents 153

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the now-and-forever dept.
sfcrazy writes "Google has announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. In the pledge Google says that they will not sue any user, distributor, or developer of Open Source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Under this pledge, Google is starting off with 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google. Google says that over time they intend to expand the set of Google's patents covered by the pledge to other technologies." This is in addition to the Open Invention Network, and their general work toward reforming the patent system. The patents covered in the OPN will be free to use in Free/Open Source software for the life of the patent, even if Google should transfer ownership to another party. Read the text of the pledge. It appears that interaction with non-copyleft licenses (MIT/BSD/Apache) is a bit weird: if you create a non-free fork it appears you are no longer covered under the pledge.

Comment: Re:It's true (Score 1) 734

by ericfitz (#37316980) Attached to: USPS Losing Battle Against the E-mail Age

The Unions negotiate all of this through free market Capitalism.

Uhhh, there's nothing free market or capitalism about USPS and unions of quasi-governmental workers. There's nothing free market about laws that prohibit companies from firing striking workers.

Government (and quasi-government, the USPS is effectively a government agency) employee unions have a unique position in that the "business" can't choose to go out of business and go elsewhere. So it's forced to capitulate to any demand, however unreasonable, that is not illegal and that the union is unwilling to budge on. Government employee unions are a bad idea for this reason.

There's another issue- moral hazard. When management of a private company make concessions during union bargaining, they are directly responsible (to their board and the marketplace) for paying the consequences of making those decisions. Politicians and government managers have much less accountability for making decisions that are not in the government's interest- managers are often shielded by law from retaliation (like firing for incompetence), and elections are often long away and often unions funnel more money to candidates who favor them in lawmaking and negotiations. So there's not much incentive to be adversarial in government employee union negotiations.

Comment: Re:no one argued that data was fake (Score 1, Insightful) 961

by ericfitz (#37209514) Attached to: Michael Mann Vindicated (Again) Over Climategate
Exactly! I was about to post the same thing.

The initial investigation by the university was a whitewash, amounting to "they said they didn't do anything wrong". Look in my history for my comments on that. The NSF report (I just read the summary) seems pretty professional and thorough, but it "exonerates" Mann against a charge that no one seems to have made, i.e. that he falsified data. I have not read any such claim anywhwere credible (and in fact the NSF report explains at the beginning that their investigation was self-generated, not based on external complaints anyway, so I guess NSF just decided to look into it on their own).

Most of the NSF report basically sums up as "NSF didn't fund his research so our standards don't apply". The whole problem with Mann and with Hadley CRU is not that they falsified any data, but (1) that their methods were incredibly biased towards the outcome they wanted (support for AGW), and (2) that a small amount of research by a small number of individuals was used to try to change public policy, out of proportion with the weight of the evidence, coupled with the clear intent to suppress conflicting studies and voices.

I have no qualms with the NSF report. However it doesn't address my concerns with Mann or Hadley CRU.

Comment: Re:Counterpoint (Score 1) 2058

by ericfitz (#33813020) Attached to: Firefighters Let House Burn Because Owner Didn't Pay Fee

We realized long ago that individual and/or private firefighting services were not in the best interests of the public.

This is incorrect.

In the past we found undesirable behavior with private fire fighting organizations. This does NOT lead to the necessary conclusion that fire fighting MUST be a government provided service. It just means that we need mechanisms, legal or otherwise, to prevent bad behavior. There were also good aspects to private fire fighters.

For example, I personally like the idea of two fire fighting companies racing to my house as fast as they can, because only the first one on scene gets paid by the insurance company. This incentivizes timely response and placement of many fire stations in order to minimize distance.

In the Tennessee case, I think that the right thing to have done would have been to put out the fire and then send the guy a bill for the cost of putting the fire out. Not out of kindness, but just to avoid bad PR. In an area with high building density then there must be a fire response, and this model would work there as well. Already some cities charge you if you have a traffic accident and knock down a light pole, for instance.

I just don't think government is particularly good at anything, and I don't think that de jure monopolies result in the best outcomes.

Comment: Re:Buying a hybrid is about vanity above all else (Score 1) 762

by ericfitz (#33204614) Attached to: Just One Out of 16 Hybrids Pays Back In Gas Savings
Read the linked article. Saving gas is NOT the self-identified main reason that most people buy Prius. As I said, most people who buy Prius, by far the dominant hybrid, is because of, in their own words, "it makes a statement about me". This is smug; it's another way of saying "I'm better than you". Even your holier than thou "I use half the gas that you do" response is smug. You have no idea what kind of car I drive, or if I even drive at all, so your statement is unsupported by facts.

Comment: Buying a hybrid is about vanity above all else (Score 1) 762

by ericfitz (#33197732) Attached to: Just One Out of 16 Hybrids Pays Back In Gas Savings
The decision to buy a hybrid is usually emotional, not rational. A 2007 survey indicates that most (57%) Prius owners' primary motivation for purchasing the vehicle is because "it makes a statement about me". As other posters (and a South Park episode) have commented, buying a hybrid is just a new way to be smug.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 467

by ericfitz (#33167796) Attached to: Web-Based Private File Storage?

I mean, if you don't want anybody to find this stuff when you're dead, why bother collecting it when you're alive?

That was my first thought as well. If you don't want people to ever see something, then don't ever record it in the first place, and for god's sake, don't record it on the web using equipment that belongs to your boss.

There have been court rulings (and probably will be more in the future) that allow bosses to monitor your communications on equipment that belongs to them. So just stay away from that.

Also, the internet never forgets- if you don't want something visible in the future, then you better keep it off the web now.

Crypto degrades over time as processing power and mathematical research improve, so it doesn't make sense to say " uses with , just use that". Who knows? The day after you die they might break the product implementation or the crypto algorithm or come up with a way to try the entire universe of key space in O(1), so encrypting something but leaving it lying around is not a safe thing to do.

Better to never create the information if you don't ever want anyone to see it. Keep it in your head. There are lots of mnemonic tricks for remembering things that you want to recall later.

The universe is an island, surrounded by whatever it is that surrounds universes.