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Comment Re:This is why we can't have nice things. (Score 1) 229

That's one thing I thought of after I saw the announcement, but I doubt that's the primary reason. Probably the main reason is just that they want to avoid the service getting eaten up by people who don't even understand what the "quality" and "resolution" settings on their cameras or other camera-enabled devices mean. Even with Google's compression, I imagine it's not too hard to use steganography to fit the Constitution, or a chunk of the Bible, or most of 1984, or the Kama Sutra, or the technical plans for a planet-destroying battle station in an image.

If a service like Google, Amazon, Facebook, or Yahoo! resizes and recompresses the image data, that's one thing. If they start stripping iTXt chunks that contain copyright or attribution information, that could be a serious legal problem; likewise if they reduce quality so much that it obscures a watermark containing a copyright or trademark notice.

Comment Not sure he has clean hands... (Score 1) 131

The first time, he makes a big deal about the address in question not being really his, but one he did use for WHOIS registration. I know there are people who have legitimate reasons for hiding their personal address when operating a controversial website, but the solution for that isn't to give a totally bogus address. Or maybe the CSA saw that it had been used as a "private" registration (not knowing it had been subsequently revealed) and assumed it was a relevant secret on that basis? And how is it's Amazon's fault if the address was used to cause the sending of a replacement credit card? Did the scammer rent a room at said hotel and request that the card be sent there?

The second time, he complains about the disclosure of the last purchased item and the shipping address. I'd say that the majority of the time when there's fraud, if the real customer calls in, he'd like to know where the item is actually going so he can include that in his police report. In spite of the scammer's attempt, the agent really didn't give out any useful information about the credit card.

The third time, we don't have a the transcript, so it's possible that the agent read off all the addresses, the AWS username, and all credit-card numbers ever associated with the account. More likely, the agent said, "I'm sorry, I can't give you that information. I can send a copy of your invoice to your e-mail address on file."

Even the last-purchased item is arguably sensitive. What if it's a bulk-pack of condoms, for example? Or (back to Amazon's roots) a book on the list of banned books? I'd encourage Amazon to close that hole, but I'm not sure I have a good solution.

Comment Sure, online address books are nice... (Score 2) 289

but there are actually a few phone numbers that I remember, and can type on a telephone keypad (or the numbers-only widget on a smartphone) quicker than I can look them up (even with type-ahead on the person's name). They're also harder make data-entry errors with than a written-out e-mail address, or, worse, someone's Facebook or Google+ name.

Comment Re:Cookie self declares path (Score 1) 66

The path and domain are not authenticated to make sure site A does not set a cookie fraudulently for site B.

These are called "third-party cookies", and browsers (for example, Firefox) already have knobs to disable them. That's not the real issue here, however.

Another problem seems to be, the browsers present all the values associated with the name to the web site, even the cookies not set by that site.

Not only that, a site could get cookies set by "parent" and "child" sites. Furthermore, a lot of web-programming languages (including PHP, ASP.NET, Classic ASP, and GWT) expose the cookies as a key-value store where the key is simply the name of the cookie, and don't document which cookie they use if the browser sends multiple ones with the same key. (Java is a bit better, it just exposes a bucket, but that's harder to work with.)

Comment Re:Questionable claims (Score 1) 60

Well, technically he still hasn't suspended deportations (or otherwise changed immigration policy) through an executive order. His "My fellow americans..." speech last Thursday was explaining a policy that the Department of Justice had told the Department of Homeland Security it could follow. He's taking credit for it for the purpose of arguing with Congress, and he would certainly veto anything that actively undoes it ("let's deport people by a random lottery", "let's deport everyone who has an anchor baby and is not yet a citizen", "let's deport everyone, Citizen or not, with a Muslim-sounding first name or an Irish-sounding last name"), but he hasn't done anything that the next President couldn't undo.

Comment Link to law (Score 1) 256

1981 version

2014 version

Difference in clause (i):
@@ -1,7 +1,8 @@
(i) Sell any new motor vehicle directly to a retail customer other than
-through its franchised dealers, unless the retail customer is a nonprofit
+through franchised dealers, unless the retail customer is a nonprofit
organization or a federal, state, or local government or agency. This
-subdivision does not prohibit a manufacturer from providing information to
-a consumer for the purpose of marketing or facilitating the sale of new
-motor vehicles or from establishing a program to sell or offer to sell
-new motor vehicles through the manufacturer's new motor vehicle dealers.
+subdivision does not prohibit a manufacturer from providing information
+to a consumer for the purpose of marketing or facilitating the sale of
+new motor vehicles or from establishing a program to sell or offer to
+sell new motor vehicles through franchised new motor vehicle dealers
+that sell and service new motor vehicles produced by the manufacturer.

Comment Re:I think it's reasonable, if it was accurate (Score 1) 276

There is value. If the creator wrote it on his free time after working 30 years in a probably thankless job he couldn't tell his family about, there's hope for me to do something similar, or at least I should advise my sons to get a good education and a stable job. On the other hand, if he was a 15-year-old kid who flunked most classes in school and spent the majority of his nights playing video games, I'd better get my sons each a latest-model gaming rig, because that ship has sailed for me.

Comment Haven't had this issue with GMail, but with other (Score 2) 388

My GMail (and Yahoo! as well) username is (first name)(middle name)(last name), all fairly common [in fact at my current employer there are multiple matches of (first name)(last name), and my father has the same (first name)(last name) as well], and I have not had this problem with either service. Perhaps using initials instead of full names is part of it; or your last-name may have different demographic connotations.

I did, however, recently have that problem with a Comcast account. When the tech visited our home for installation, he created an account (first name)(last name) @comcast.net . I didn't actually give it out anywhere, yet within a few months it was filled with a hundred or so messages for someone in another state. I did try responding to one item that seemed moderately important, and whoever got the response [the help-desk of some organization] didn't seem to grasp that I had no connection with the intended recipient. Since I hadn't advertised it anywhere, it was easy to change the username, to (my first initial)(wife's first initial)(my last initial)(wife's last initial)(string of digits) @comcast.net. While this address appears to have been reused, apparently Comcast no longer allows address reuse; I tried using a previous ID that I had used a long time ago, and it was not available.

Since you ask for advice, I recommend two courses of action:

  • 1. As long as you still have access to that address, when you receive anything that is clearly misdirected and potentially of high value, deal with it politely. Don't use a "form response", instead personalize the response to the content of the message. CC the intended recipient on the response, if you are able to divine who it is. Once you've dealt with the matter, delete the whole thread. For newsletters, try following an "unsubscribe" action, if that's not available mark as spam.
  • 2. Consider an exit strategy from your current e-mail address, no matter how much is attached to it. See the Google help posting "Change your username". For the new address, try a long nickname or full first name instead of first initial; or maybe add a string of numbers, a city your contacts will recognize, or a title. Give your important contacts plenty of advance notice, post the new address with the reasons you're switching [perhaps with a list of the confusing other identities as well] on your "old" Google+ profile. After a reasonable time (say six months or a year), delete your old account. Make sure you change your address at all the "various sites" you've registered at before doing so, in case you need to use a password reset function.

Comment Re:Switch to an easier technology (Score 1) 399

I wouldn't want to trust just the secretary of the other org. However, with public keys (HTTPS, PGP, SSH, anything else similar), it's good for the information on "how to verify" the key to be widely disseminated. For example, the org could put its key fingerprint, and a screenshot of the same as used in common applications, on an indexable part of its HTTPS-protected public website. An individual could put his PGP key fingerprint on his (paper) business card, as fine-print on his resume or CV, and in his e-mail signature. The secretary should be able to say what the key is, and how to verify that.

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