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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 107 declined, 29 accepted (136 total, 21.32% accepted)

Submission + - Firefox 44 Deletes Fine-Grained Cookie Management (

ewhac writes: Among its other desirable features, Firefox included a feature allowing very fine-grained cookie management. When enabled, every time a Web site asked to set a cookie, Firefox would raise a dialog containing information about the cookie requested, which you could then approve or deny. An "exception" list also allowed you to mark selected domains as "Always allow" or "Always deny", so that the dialog would not appear for frequently-visited sites. It was an excellent way to maintain close, custom control over which sites could set cookies, and which specific cookies they could set. It also helped easily identify poorly-coded sites that unnecessarily requested cookies for every single asset, or which would hit the browser with a "cookie storm" — hundreds of concurrent cookie requests.

Mozilla quietly deleted this feature from Firefox 44, with no functional equivalent put in its place. Further, users who had enabled the "Ask before accept" feature have had that preference silently changed to, "Accept normally." The proffered excuse for the removal was that the feature was unmaintained, and that its users were, "probably crashing multiple times a day as a result" (although no evidence was presented to support this assertion). Mozilla's apparent position is that users wishing fine-grained cookie control should be using a third-party add-on instead, and that an "Ask before accept" option was, "not really nice to use on today's Web."

Submission + - Busybox Deletes systemd Support

ewhac writes: On 22 October, in a very terse commit message, Busybox removed its support for the controversial 'systemd' system management framework. The commit was made by Denys Vlasenko, and passed unremarked on the Busybox mailing lists. Judging from the diffs, system log integration is the most obvious consequence of the change.

Submission + - Windows 10 to Share WiFi Credentials by Default?

ewhac writes: Even those of us who reflexively (and correctly) bash Microsoft every chance we get are having trouble wrapping our heads around this one. It seems that the latest build of Windows 10 has a new feature called Wi-Fi Sense which, by default, will share your WiFi connection profiles and credentials with all your Facebook friends, and Skype and contacts.

Wi-Fi Sense is apparently a feature that first appeared on Windows Phone 8.1, and is described by Managing Editor Sam Sabri in this Windows Central article from last year — without irony or sarcasm — as a, "killer feature." The apparent use case for this "killer feature" is to more conveniently share the connection credentials to your own WAP with your friends. If, however, you would prefer your WAP's info to not be shared, you have but to append the string "_optout" to your SSID (no solution is provided for people whose SSIDs are already near the 32-character limit). The WinPhone version of Wi-Fi Sense reportedly does not display the WAP's password to recipients but, since recipients can connect, the password is (probably) stored using a symmetric cipher and, thus, can be easily extracted. Wi-Fi Sense will also automagically click through any ToS page that typically appears on public WiFi access points (thus destroying any remaining illusion of meaningful assent to such so-called contracts).

Wi-Fi Sense can apparently be turned off completely, but its default state appears to be enabled and sharing everything. It is unclear how much, if any, of this "killer feature" will be in the final release of Windows 10.

Submission + - Say Something Nice About systemd 4

ewhac writes: I'm probably going to deeply deeply regret this, but every time a story appears here mentioning systemd, a 700-comment thread of back-and-forth bickering breaks out which is about as informative as an old Bud Light commercial, and I don't really learn anything new about the subject. My gut reaction to systemd is (currently) a negative one, and it's very easy to find screeds decrying systemd on the net. However, said screeds haven't been enough to prevent its adoption by several distros, which leads me to suspect that maybe there's something worthwhile there that I haven't discovered yet. So I thought it might be instructive to turn the question around and ask the membership about what makes systemd good. However, before you stab at the "Post" button, there are some rules...

Bias Disclosure: I currently dislike systemd because — without diving very deeply into the documentation, mind — it looks and feels like a poorly-described, gigantic mess I know nothing about that seeks to replace other poorly-described, smaller messes which I know a little bit about. So you will be arguing in that environment.

Nice Things About systemd Rules:
  1. Post each new Nice Thing as a new post, not as a reply to another post. This will let visitors skim the base level of comments for things that interest them, rather than have to dive through a fractally expanding tree of comments looking for things to support/oppose. It will also make it easier to follow the next rule:
  2. Avoid duplication; read the entire base-level of comments before adding a new Nice Thing. Someone may already have mentioned your Nice Thing. Add your support/opposition to that Nice Thing there, rather than as a new post.
  3. Only one concrete Nice Thing about systemd per base-level post. Keep the post focused on a single Nice Thing systemd does. If you know of multiple distinct things, write multiple distinct posts.
  4. Describe the Nice Thing in some detail. Don't assume, for example, that merely saying "Supports Linux cgroups" will be immediately persuasive.
  5. Describe how the Nice Thing is better than existing, less controversial solutions. systemd is allegedly better at some things than sysvinit or upstart or inetd. Why? Why is the Nice Thing possible in systemd, and impossible (or extremely difficult) with anything else? (In some cases, the Nice Thing will be a completely new thing that's never existed before; describe why it's good thing.)

Bonus points are awarded for:

  • Personal Experience. "I actually did this," counts for way more than, "The docs claim you can do this."
  • Working Examples. Corollary to the above — if you did a Nice Thing with systemd, consider also posting the code/script/service file you wrote to accomplish it.
  • Links to Supporting Documentation. If you leveraged a Nice Thing, furnish a link to the docs you used that describe the Nice Thing and its usage.

We will assume out of the gate that systemd boots your system faster than ${SOMETHING_ELSE}, so no points for bringing that up.


Submission + - MythBusters Mishap Sends Cannonball Through House (

ewhac writes: "The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the MythBusters accidentally sent a cannon ball hurtling in to Dublin this afternoon, punching through a home, bouncing across a six-lane road, and ultimately coming to a rest inside a now-demolished Toyota minivan. Amazingly, there were no injuries. The ball was fired from a home-made cannon at the Alameda County Sheriff's Department bomb range, and was intended to strike a water target. Instead the ball missed the water, punched through a cinder-block wall, and skipped off the hill behind. Prior to today, the MythBusters had been shooting episodes at the bomb range for over seven years without major incident. It is not clear whether Savage/Hyneman or Belleci/Imahara/Byron were conducting the experiment."

Submission + - xkcd Creator Randall Munroe Nominated for Hugo (

ewhac writes: "Easter Sunday saw the release of the nominations for the 2011 Hugo Awards. Among the many distinguished names was Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd, nominated for the 2011 award for Best Fan Artist. The 2011 Hugos will be presented at WorldCon 2011 in Reno in August this year. (Be sure to fill out and return your ballot!)"

Submission + - Facebook App Exposes Abject Insecurity ( 1

ewhac writes: "Back in June, the American Civil Liberties Union published an article describing Facebook's complete lack of meaningful security on your and your friends' information. The article went virtually unnoticed. Now, a developer has written a Facebook "Quiz" based on the original article that graphically illustrates all the information a Facebook app can get its grubby little hands on by recursively sweeping through your friends list, pulling all their info and posts, and showing it to you. What's more, apps can get at your information even if you never run the app yourself. Facebook apps run with the access privileges of the user running it, so anything your friend can see, the app they're running can see, too. It is unclear whether the developer of the Facebook app did so "officially" for the ACLU."
The Courts

Submission + - Fry's Exec Arrested for Embezzling $65M (

ewhac writes: "The vice president of mechandising and operations for Fry's Electronics, Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, was arrested last Friday on charges of embezzlement to the tune of at least $65 million. Sales representatives are normally independent contractors, to preserve impartiality during negotiations. According to IRS allegations, Siddiqui convinced Fry's management he should be sole sales representative. He then struck side deals with major vendors (not named in the complaint) starting in 2005 where, in exchange for placing large orders and keeping their products on the shelves, the vendors would pay enormous kickbacks to a shell corporation set up by Siddiqui, called PC International. Siddiqui used the money to lead an extravagant lifestyle, racking up nearly $18 million in casino gambling losses. He is currently held on $300,000 bond."

Submission + - Vandal Destroys (

ewhac writes: ", a/k/a, a site continuously streaming demoscene-related music for over eight years, was destroyed today by an online vandal.'s collection was one of the most comprehensive on the net, with tunes going back over 20 years to the Commodore-64 days. Still recovering from a similar attack barely a month ago, had been reassembled and was staggering back to its feet when today's attack maliciously and completely destroyed the database. Left without a usable backup, the site's administrator Christophe has sadly decided to throw in the towel, and has recommended to PayPal subscribers helping to defray bandwidth costs to cancel their subscriptions.

Editorial Remarks: We may idly speculate about Christophe's security and administrative acumen, but this remains a sad loss for the net, not merely for the destroyed resource, but for the ever-decreasing ability for hobbyists and enthusiasts to operate an Internet presence without being completely overrun by anonymous, and in many cases automated, sociopaths."

Wireless Networking

Submission + - Diagnosing WiFi Dropouts

ewhac writes: "A rather important user on my home wireless network — my sweetie — regularly experiences drop-outs on the network lasting from a few seconds to three minutes, which cause timeouts and are nearly fatal to her computer usage. Before I blame the problem on her machine, I would like to conclusively prove or disprove the culpability of the wireless network environment. What diagnostic tools are available? Are there ways of measuring the resilience of a WiFi interface to noise/interference? Assuming it's neighbors with competing WAPs, how can I measure the degree of interference they may be causing? How can I correlate RF noise with a network hang?

More detail: My sweetie extensively surfs the net from a Win-XP laptop (and before you accuse the machine of being infected with something, she's very dilligent at keeping it clean and up to date). She virtually lives off this machine, so I can't run dedicated diagnostic tools on it for more than a couple hours. I thought I'd solved the problem by upgrading the WAP from an old Linksys WAP54G to a Netgear WG302v2, but it only marginally reduced the problem. These drop-out issues are not observed on any of the hard-wired computers. The LAN switch is Linksys, and the NAT gateway to the Internet is a dedicated FreeBSD box, so I don't suspect any issues there. So I'd like to test the wireless network and find out what, if anything, is causing the hiccups. I'm aware of passive monitoring tools like kismet, but ultimately I need to diagnose the connection to her machine, ideally in a minimally invasive way."

Submission + - Appeals Court Tosses "Wardrobe Malfunction" (

ewhac writes: "One of the most famous live television gaffes in recent history was the 2004 SuperBowl halftime "wardrobe malfunction," which briefly exposed a mortified Janet Jackson's breast to an international audience. Bowing to coordinated pressure from socially conservative groups, the FCC fined CBS $550K for the mishap — the $27,500 maximum fine multiplied by CBS's 20 owned-and-operated stations. Today, the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals threw the fine out, saying that the FCC had deviated from its 30-year history on previous such matters, and had, "acted arbitrarily and capriciously," when levying the fine."
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - "Cheaper" 3G iPhone May End Up Costing You (

ewhac writes: "What Apple giveth, AT&T stealeth right back. A Salon article reads the fine print and crunches the numbers, and finds that the $200 handset price drop is more than eaten up by AT&T's $10/month price hike for unlimited data access over the mandatory two-year contract period. There has been no announcement of new carriers, so AT&T presumably remains the exclusive service provider for iPhone. Also, this rebalancing of the carrier subsidy may give Apple a fiscal incentive to quash 'jailbreak' hacks more vigorously."
The Courts

Submission + - Calif. Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban ( 1

ewhac writes: "The California State Supreme Court today struck down the state's law banning same-sex marriages. In a 4-3 decision, the court said that "domestic partnerships" were not a complete substitute for marriage. This may pave the way for California to become the second state in the Union to officially sanction same-sex marriages."
The Courts

Submission + - Wikileaks Back Online (

ewhac writes: "After basically bringing down the wrath of every civil libertarian in the country, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White has conceded that he erred and exceeded Constitutional authority when ordering the Wikileaks domain to be erased, and has dissolved the injunction. He also rejected a motion to have the disputed documents purged from the Wikileaks site. White left open the possibility for Julius Baer & Co's suit to continue forward, but suggested that the bank may want to investigate other ways to redress its grievances."

Submission + - Tools for Understanding Code 2

ewhac writes: "Having just recently taken a new job, I find myself confronted with an enormous pile of existing, unfamiliar code written for a (somewhat) unfamiliar platform, and an implicit understanding that I'll grok it all Real Soon Now. Simply firing up an editor and reading through it has proven unequal to the task. What sorts of tools exist for effectively analyzing and understanding a large code base? (You should not assume the development or target platform is Windows.)

I'm familiar with cscope , but it doesn't really seem to analyze program structure, per se. It's just a very fancy 'grep' package with a rudimentary understanding of C syntax. As such, I've only put minimal effort in to it. A new-ish tool called ncc looks very interesting, as it appears to be based on an actual C/C++ parser, but the UI is klunky, and there doesn't appear to be any facility for integrating/communicating with an editor."

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