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Comment Re: On the one hand ... (Score 5, Informative) 132

As someone who WAS there, working with the security community dealing with the Morris work in 1988 and the WANK worm shortly after and as the author of the first detailed analysis of WANK (Worms Against Nuclear Killers) while at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, I was there when the term "cracker" was born. I can credit folks like Russell Brand (not THAT Russell Brand) with the creation of the term.

This was before the commercial Internet, before TCP/IP, and in a day when no one thought twice about having an open "guest" account on a system because computer security was not an issue. People who played around with computer code and modified system kernels, as opposed to those designing or writing them, were referred to as "hackers". We were professionals who did custom modifications to software and wrote tools to analyze them. At the time I had licensed access to the source code for a variety of systems of that day including AT&T Unix, RSX-11M, IAS, and VMS. Things like custom system calls, an un-delete command, code to allow a co-processor (FPS AP-120B) to directly access a computer's file system. These were what I was paid to do and I, like many I worked with.I called myself a hacker. I hacked code.

When the first transmittable worms, viruses, and trojans appeared, the people who wrote them were also "hackers", but those of us who hacked code legitimately didn't much care to be lumped in with the bad guys, so the term "cracker" was devised. It never really caught on. To most people, hackers are bad guys. It's unfortunate, but the horse has left the barn, and is now dead and continues to be beaten to a rotten pulp.

To this day, in the developer community the term "hacker" retains its original meaning, It's someone who hacks code, often to fix or work around limitations or bugs or to add new functionality. They still hold "hackathons" to work as a group on resolving very complex issues in open source projects and understand what "hacker" means in that context and just live with the fact that the general public has a slightly different idea of whet the word means.

Comment Verizon/UUnet used to be the best (Score 5, Interesting) 120

A few years ago, Verizon employed some to the best people in the best people in the world to handle network and routing security. They were very responsive to reports of address hijacking and related issues. Those folks have all left Verizon since they bought UUnet, though the rush for the door didn't start until about 4 years ago.

This all happened about the time I left the operational world and started moving into retirement, so I don't know the people who replaced them, but I am sure that, if they were replaced at all, that the new people were not of the caliber of those who left.

As is often the case, network security seems to have been declared a low priority at Verizon. after all, it does not make them any money. Of course, if they become known for bad security, it could have an impact on the bottom line at some point.

Comment Re:Use a leased line. (Score 1) 103

These are not the sort of issues that most are concerned with, though they are legitimate. As far as spying goes, leased lines are no more immune from targeted attacks (specific wire taps) than any other connection, though they do avoid mass data collections (e.g. GCHQ data sweeps).

The point of the article is that common issues with "normal" networks such as congestion and data loss need magical networking. My point was that leased lines are not a solution to the general problems that are most likely to cause a remote surgery to fail and don't mitigate the most intractable issues that remote manipulation of vital or critical "things". Their only real benefit is eliminating congestion and a minor side benefit is keeping data away from mass surveillance.

FWIW, I have been involved network configuration for trans-continental physics experiments (San Diego control of New Jersey hardware) and am very aware of the issues. We had our own switched network, ESnet, running over leased lines with known and stable latency and used CoS capability to provide best possible connectivity, but all experiments were designed to be "fail safe" so that network disruption would not damage the equipment, though it could cause the experiment to fail.

Comment Re:Without online terrorists... who is there to fi (Score 1) 150

Or maybe it should be "without cyber terrorists... who is there to fight online hackers?"

Did their mothers never tell them that two wrongs don't make a right? You need at least three lefts to make a right, or something.

The correct quotation (from The Harvard Lampoon's Deterioata) is "Two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do."

Comment Re:There's also another problem (Score 3, Interesting) 123

on a computer that filled a room and whose user interface had moving parts which could physically injure the careless.

OK, I must know. Exposed tape reels from before the cool vacuum chamber tape drives? Carelessly designed card punch or printer paper output path?

OK. In my youth (early 70s) I worked on a computer in which the logic was all carried in the doors. They swung open and, being full of vacuum tubes, probably weighed in at around 100 Kg. Get hit in the head by one of these and you might wake up next week (or you might not).

To turn on the computer, you had to open the door (see above as a risk to others), reach past the exposed + and - 100 VDC buses, grasp the rubber grip on the drum memory drive shaft with your right had and spin the drum. Then you immediately turned on the power (remember the exposed power buses) with the left hand. If you didn't spin the drive, the electric motor generated too much torque for the system to handle and you got to spend a half hour replacing the sheared pin in the link between the motor and the drive shaft. See how many ways you can get hurt just turning the monster on.

If you find this hard to believe, visit either the Smithsonian in D.C. or the Computer History Museum in Mt. View, CA and looked at the Bendix (or CDC) G15 computer from the 1950s. Both had G15s on exhibit last I knew.

This is just the case of one small computer from the dark ages. You could also look up the IBM Photostore (which stored high density data on film) or the Datacell (both IBM and CDC made similar ones) for examples of computer hardware that could seriously hurt you. And these don't touch the more common risks from IBM Hollerith card hardware.

Comment Re:Pot, meet kettle. Ketle, meet pot. (Score 2) 402

You learned Photoshop first with no pre-suppositions of how to do things. You moved to GIMP and nothing was where you expected to find it. Exactly the problem I experiences with Photoshop. But I won't defend the GIMP design as it is really terrible. But that does not make Photoshop good.

I do find it interesting that you mention brush and pencil characteristics. I have to say that I had a terrible time with these when I first used Photoshop.

As a matter of clarification, I am NOT a graphics expert in any way. I use mostly Photoshop (four year old version) these days and I know how to do the things I need to do. I don't use large portions of its capabilities and this may have produced a different reaction than pros or serious graphics amateurs might have.

Comment Pot, meet kettle. Ketle, meet pot. (Score 4, Interesting) 402

I'd say it's an all out war for worst design between GIMP and Photoshop. I really, really hate the design of both.

Many people complain about the GIMP, but I started there and then had to learn Photoshop. The only reason people complain about GIMP is that they learned to use Photoshop first.

Then again, Apple, who used to be king of very functional design has thrown that all away in the search for "clean" appearance... whether or not it is consistent or usable and Google (Android) seems determined to follow.

Comment Not the first time (Score 4, Informative) 421

Three years ago the Donald tweeted "Ugly wind turbines have destroyed the entrance to Palm Springs, CA. These monstrosities are ruining landscapes all over the globe -- expensive and bad electric".

In a local TV interview he expanded on the tweet."The turbines are made in China for the most part and certainly outside the United States, but mostly in China. They are a bird killing machines, they kill birds,"

Current estimates are that windmill are the cause of 3 out of every 100,000 human-related bird deaths and are way, way below #1, windows (think "Trump Tower") and #2, domestic cats. As to the place of manufacture, at least those windmills are imported from the USA. Yes, Made in America. But the Donald has never been one to let facts interfere with a good sound byte.

Comment Re:So? Who did it? (Score 1) 166

When something bad happens, we normally look for the guilty party or at least a scapegoat. Now we get "was hidden". Who hid it? What individual inserted CISA into the budget bill? Why don't all the major news outlets say "Rep. Smith inserted CISA into the budget bill"?

"Those who love sausage and the law should never watch them being made."

I'm afraid I have seen that these things are often totally anonymous and untraceable. You see, when a law is passed by both houses, the two versions seldom are quite identical and the bill goes to a committee to iron out the differences. In "conference" lots of people who work for representatives from both houses work to incorporate changes agreed to, but they generate the actual wording that is voted on. They have been known to slip in something that some congress critter wants and, once the bill is approved by both houses, unless it is really significant or really bad, it's left alone.

At a place where I worked we were allocated a fair chunk of money that was expected to have gone to the NSF. It really ticked off some NSF folks we worked with, not to mention requiring us to re-start a project we had dropped with the certainty that it would not receive any funding the following year.

Embarrassing to say the least. We worked with our D.C. office to try to track it down, but we never could find out if someone thought that they were doing us a favor or trying to screw us. They did the latter.

Comment Incorrect headline (Score 4, Informative) 34

As is all too common these days, both the summary and article are right, but the headline is wrong. Jeff Kell did not invent BITNET (Because It's Time NETwork or Because It's There NETwork). BITNET was developed in the early '80s by Ira Fuchs of CUNY and Greydon Freeman, Inc. of Yale. It was an early store and forward network based on IBM protocols.

Both the summary and article correctly credit Jeff with the invention of BITNET RELAY which was a predecessor of IRC. It was important, but was just a component of BITNET.

Comment Re:so it must be good (Score 1) 291

If governments urge you not use a specific type of encryption, then you know you are using it right.

Remember that the government warned against the use of DES a few years ago because it WAS open to attack, though it took a few month for the drtails to become widely known. If you use DES today, you KNOW that anyone can crack it, so the warning was exactly right.

Comment One of hte last (Score 1) 220

In 1971 I took the required freshman Engineering slide rule class. Not too difficult as I had been using my father's K+E Log-log Duplex Decatrig for many years and my father had taught me many tricks to squeeze out one more significant digit. (I still have it.) Not only was it dropped from requirements, but it was not even taught the next year. I still think it was a bad idea.

I also took tube design (valve to you Brits) and I still think that what I learned there was invaluable even though I never worked on any tube circuit other than CRTs and Thyratrons.

Slide rules still catch errors that a calculator won't.

Comment Re:End the drug war (Score 1) 245

yes, you have to be hit with the stupid stick to get on a jury

Or maybe a lawyer does.

I was selected for a jury when my employer of 35 years was one of the defendants. I just assumed I'd be kicked by the plaintiff at once, but the lawyer in the lung cancer case (asbestos) said I was fine. I'd like to think I'd be unbiased, but...

The judge had more sense and met in chambers with the attorneys after which another juror and I were sent home. (The other juror had a close business relationship with a different defendant.)

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Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson