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Comment: Re:Old School Kermit (Score 4, Insightful) 454

by goodmanj (#49143795) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Old PC File Transfer Problem

Upvote the parent. If you were trying to do this in the early 90s, you'd have either physically moved the disk into a new computer -- and oldschool IDE has a bunch of surprises that will bite the unwary -- or used Kermit.

Just be aware that your average '90s serial port probably won't work above 57 kilobit/sec, which means transferring 160 megabytes will take the better part of a day.

Comment: Snowden fatigue (Score 5, Interesting) 192

by goodmanj (#49092385) Attached to: How NSA Spies Stole the Keys To the Encryption Castle

This should either be the biggest news story on the planet, or the biggest lie of the year, but the public response seems to be "meh". The problem is, Snowden stole too much. Or claims to have stolen too much. There have been so *many* earthshattering Snowden revelations that both the outrage and the fact-checking seems to have evaporated.

This is a big problem either way.

Comment: Re:2-factor national ID (Score 1) 232

by goodmanj (#49052795) Attached to: Iowa Wants To Let You Carry Your Driver's License On Your Phone

But it demonstrates that the government can and will take steps to protect citizens' identity.

I should have added, protect citizens' identity *from other citizens*. The premise here is that protecting your identity from the government is a lost cause, but protecting it from other citizens and corporations is possible, with the government's help.

Comment: Re:2-factor national ID (Score 1) 232

by goodmanj (#49051267) Attached to: Iowa Wants To Let You Carry Your Driver's License On Your Phone

I'm imagining a smart card that provides an ever-changing one-time code that's displayed on an LCD on the front, and is embossed with your photo. Usually you use a chip-and-pin style process to confirm your identity, but when there's no power or network access, the person who needs to confirm your identity can just look at the photo and write down the one-time code, to be verified later when he's at a computer.

Without network access, it's less secure, but it's still better than any offline system we have today. I mean, last time I ordered takeout, the delivery guy took a rubbing of my credit card using a pen and some carbon paper...

Comment: Re:2-factor national ID (Score 1) 232

by goodmanj (#49050513) Attached to: Iowa Wants To Let You Carry Your Driver's License On Your Phone

There's no question you could make this system nightmarish, but the way I see it, the American public (not just Slashdot nerds) has successfully opposed national ID for ages; the only way you'll get public support for this is by offering people something better than the current system. Like an end to identity theft and spam.

Also, the social security administration already offers an identity verification service that only verifies "yes or no", and does not return names or other identifying data. Of course, it's pretty much useless because since so many private databases use the same SS#, the data's out in the wild and easy to collate. But it demonstrates that the government can and will take steps to protect citizens' identity.

Comment: 2-factor national ID (Score 4, Insightful) 232

by goodmanj (#49047335) Attached to: Iowa Wants To Let You Carry Your Driver's License On Your Phone

This is as good a place as any for me to jump on my favorite hobby horse: the US government should be issuing a standardized national ID; there should be a federal administration that handles identity of US persons.

Specifically, the government should issue 2-factor authenticators to all citizens which do absolutely nothing but verify identity to businesses, people, and other government agencies. The service should return no name, address, or other identifying data: just a hash ID code which is unique for every person, and unique for every agency or business which requests your ID. Thus, a bank can verify that you're the same person who set up your bank account, the state police can verify that you're the same person who applied for a driver's license, but that's all they can learn about you. This would makes it very difficult for anyone but the federal government to steal your identity, and tough for anyone but the feds to correlate your credit card data with your medical data with your Facebook profile.

Obviously, this means the federal government would be able to use your identity records to track you. But they can do that anyway, with a quick call to a credit card company and your internet service provider. This at least keeps everyone *else* from being able to do so.

Comment: Re:Numbers (Score 1) 149

by goodmanj (#49043987) Attached to: Mooted: An Undersea Link From Finland To Estonia

It is a classic mistake to measure the benefit of infrastructure on the basis of "does it pay for itself in ticket sales?". The benefit to society may be much larger than the direct income generated.

Sure, but this is going to benefit a tenth as much society as the Chunnel, at the same cost. And the Chunnel has never been indispensable to start with.

Comment: Numbers (Score 5, Interesting) 149

by goodmanj (#49039709) Attached to: Mooted: An Undersea Link From Finland To Estonia

This tunnel would be roughly the same length and complexity as the English Channel Tunnel. The combined metro area of London and Paris is 26 million people; Talinn and Helsinki combined are less than 1/10th the size. If you're thinking more in terms of connecting all of Finland to all of Europe the way the Chunnel connects the whole UK to Europe, the population of Finland is again less than 1/10th the size of the UK.

The Chunnel has been in or on the edge of bankruptcy for most of its existence.

I'm not sure this is gonna work.

Comment: Re:Moral hazard (Score 1) 271

by goodmanj (#48991857) Attached to: Why Gmail Has Better Security Than Your Bank

Not Google's loss. Just like the bank, Google is holding their users' property for them: it's the users who lose, and the users who demand better security. But only if the users know their property is actually at risk.

Think about it: if you knew that one stolen password would permanently wipe out your life savings, you wouldn't touch online banking with a ten-foot pole. But you know that the bank (and the FDIC) will cover it, so you don't give a shit.

Comment: Re: And suddenly... (Score 4, Informative) 259

by goodmanj (#48990907) Attached to: Washington May Count CS As Foreign Language For College Admission

You're arguing from what you expect, rather than from data.

The number of Americans able to hold a conversation in a foreign language is about 25%. Which is nowhere near "Most Americans".
http://www.gallup.com/poll/182...

This is especially bad since about 17% of Americans are Hispanic. Not all Hispanics are bilingual, of course.

In the UK the bilingual rate is about 38%; in Ireland it's 34%, both higher than the US, despite your claims. Across the EU, it's 56%.
http://www.newscientist.com/ar...

It's understandable that English-speaking countries have lower rates, but even within English-speaking nations, the US is pretty near the bottom.
(Australia is right at the bottom.)
http://yourlanguage.org/resear...

Comment: The case for foreign language (Score 1) 259

by goodmanj (#48990605) Attached to: Washington May Count CS As Foreign Language For College Admission

I'm going to skip over the whole "computer language and spoken language are two different things" argument, and focus on the quote. What's the case for forcing everyone to spend two years learning a foreign language? Is that really a better use of students' time than learning something else?

Yes. International conflict happens when societies misunderstand each other, and when they're able to dehumanize each other. The more we are able to understand the language and culture of our neighbors, the harder it is for misunderstandings to build to hatred to build to war.

Now, this isn't a sure thing, nor should it be. But foreign language learning can prevent wars. How many iPhone apps is that worth?

"It's when they say 2 + 2 = 5 that I begin to argue." -- Eric Pepke

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