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Comment: Let me get this straight... (Score 0) 133 133

A company whose core technology is a search engine and knowledge aggregation that virtually everybody uses is using that technology against the competitors... Yeah, that sounds just like what a company who has a strangle hold on a particular market generally does.

Comment: Russian Space Agency Hand Waving (Score 1) 307 307

I'll start this comment by stating up front that a SpaceX fan.

Now with that said, imagine you're in the Russian space industry... Falcon9 / Dragon / DragonRider/ CST100 represent serious competition. At a time when the Russian economy could best be described as struggling, the last thing it needs is for SpaceX to start gobbling up the lucrative ISS lift slots. Yes, I know congress just recently decided to keep funding sending astronauts via Soyuz. However, in the longrun, once Dragon{9,Rider} prove themselves, that source of funding dries up...

Ask this question... Once SpaceX has a fully operational DragonRider... how much does that cost per seat? Would the Russian government in the face of financial short comings come to the conclusion it's cheaper to spend US $20M to send a Cosmonaut to the ISS on a SpaceX rocket instead of the cost for a whole Soyuz?

Comment: Shadow IT, aka the computer under the desk (Score 1) 583 583

Stay inside the IT framework, no matter how dysfunctional it is.

I did this in 1999, told my new boss to just get me a spare PC and I could handle the morning report printout ourselves. Want a change? Done in minutes, not months. Those web postings? Simple, couple lines of VBA to FTP. Another report? Sure. The Access database can manage all those mapping locally outside of Oracle. Corporate goal calculations? Err, why not. Daily compliance reports? Ok... Just give me admin on a SQL Server and I'll manage the tables...

Then it broke on vacation, so I had to modem in from FL. I became tied to this beast as the sole programmer supporting a dept of 8 people. I never got a budget for hardware upgrades, never got awards or credit for project management, since this thing was off the books. It took 7 FTEs to rewrite the mess after personal life & management changes in 2009.

In retrospect, I should have let IT do it and played the beurocracy. It would have made me happier in the long run.

Comment: Re:Too bad to see them go this way... (Score 1) 167 167

Yes; as you say, in the 2002--2004 timeframe they were great. My experience was that it all started to fall apart when 64-bit machines came along. For a year or more Mandrake's 64-bit repositories were full of broken packages that simply would not install. I kept with them as long as I could, through the change to Mandriva, but nothing seemed to improve very much so I eventually switched the up-and-coming shininess that was *buntu. Which was great for a few years, before their quality control went the same way as Mandrake's had done :-(

Comment: Games (Doom) helped me into an IT career (Score 3, Informative) 170 170

So it was 1993. My friends and I all loved video games, consoles, etc. In '92 we had all gotten hooked on Wolfenstien, and most of us already had computers cobbled together from things begged, borrowed and stolen. We spent days tweaking our config.sys and autoexec.bats to get the most of what little ram we had. (himem.sys, load TSR high) Then Doom came out.

We started doing dial up games almost immediately. Then one day one of our friends tells us about LANNING a game. We all bought into it, getting 3c509c's? Ahh those days, magelink for transferring maps, loading ipxodi, lots of fun. "WHO UNPLUGGED THE TERMINATOR?"

From there a lot of us went to tech support for the then blossoming ISP industry, and from that we went on to desktop support, and bigger and greater things. I owe my career to video games.

Comment: As a Patriots fan... (Score 1) 225 225

*shrug* By all measures actually having properly inflated balls caused the Pats to play better... it doesn't seem this was much of an "advantage."

With that all said... I was also shocked to find out that the NFL didn't just supply the balls... it seems obvious. Let's let the pitchers bring their own baseballs to the baseball game... what could possibly go wrong....

Comment: Re:Single case anecdote. (Score 1) 469 469

I have a somewhat similar story. I was an aspiring CS college student and had bought a copy of Turbo C++ (3.something). I had saved a ton of money I went off and got myself a pentium 166. The thing rocked... except it ran Win95 and my fancy IDE compiler environment... yeah it crashed... a lot.

A buddy of mine came over with a pile of floppies, a zip drive with slackware and a "Learn linux in 24 hours" Sam book. We got my machine duel boot, got X working and then my buddy headed off.

I dove in head first and while the learning curve was steep, I figured it out. Even better, I had a functioning C compiler and "Jed" as an editor. I did managed to dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda within the first week and learned how to reinstall everything... so that hurt, but that's how you learn.

Comment: It is worth it. (Score 1) 267 267

They might not be programming languages per se, but I've spent a lot of time with autohotkey, NSIS, apple applescript and the like. The one thing all of these have in common is quick, clean looking applications with a narrow degree of focus; automation and deployment.

I've done some pretty nice tricks with them, mostly from a IT side of things. I've done a few applications with autohotkey. One startup I worked at couldn't really customize their helpdesk system, but wanted more info from tickets. I made a nice little app that took it from editing a txt file, to a few tabs of checkboxes, radio buttons, etc that would copy the answers to the clipboard.

Automator has helped me tons, especially when creating apple accounts. I started with a script I found, and I've been customizing it for our own needs within the company. We have a few services that only have a web interface to administrate them. Using the appleIDautomator script as a base, I've been able to tweak it to set these up as well.

Finally did an active directory rollout a few weeks back and needed to bundle meraki, bit9, and forsit's profile migrator. Bundled all 3 setups in NSIS. I've done even better installers than that with NSIS. I took a 7 server JBOSS application, bundled mysql, apache, etc and made an installer that even did CRC checks on the files post install. Meh, it did all kinds of crazy stuff, changed the machine name, added entries to the hosts file. It cut the install time down from 40 hours to 4.

Comment: No, they are categorically NOT doing that... (Score -1) 164 164

...and your comment represents the absolutely fundamental misunderstanding that pervades this discussion.

The truth no one wants to hear:

The distinction is no longer the technology or the place, but the person(s) using a capability: the target. In a free society based on the rule of law, it is not the technological capability to do a thing, but the law, that is paramount.

Gone are the days where the US targeted foreign communications on distant shores, or cracked codes used only by our enemies. No one would have questioned the legitimacy of the US and its allies breaking the German or Japanese codes or exploiting enemy communications equipment during WWII. The difference today is that US adversaries -- from terrorists to nation-states -- use many of the same systems, services, networks, operating systems, devices, software, hardware, cloud services, encryption standards, and so on, as Americans and much of the rest of the world. They use iPhones, Windows, Dell servers, Android tablets, Cisco routers, Netgear wireless access points, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Gmail, and so on.

US adversaries now often use the very same technologies we use. The fact that Americans or others also use them does not suddenly or magically mean that no element of the US Intelligence Community should ever target them. When a terrorist in Somalia is using Hotmail or an iPhone instead of a walkie-talkie, that cannot mean we pack our bags and go home. That means that, within clear and specific legal authorities and duly authorized statutory missions of the Intelligence Community, we aggressively pursue any and all possible avenues, within the law, that allow us to intercept and exploit the communications of foreign intelligence targets.

If they are using hand couriers, we target them. If they are using walkie-talkies, we target them. If they are using their own custom methods for protecting their communications, we target them. If they are using HF radios, VSATs, satellite phones, or smoke signals, we target them. If they are using Gmail, Windows, OS X, Facebook, iPhone, Android, SSL, web forums running on Amazon Web Services, etc., we target them -- within clear and specific legal frameworks that govern the way our intelligence agencies operate, including with regard to US Persons.

That doesn't mean it's always perfect; that doesn't mean things are not up for debate; that doesn't mean everyone will agree with every possible legal interpretation; that doesn't mean that some may not fundamentally disagree with the US approach to, e.g., counterterrorism. But the intelligence agencies do not make the rules, and while they may inform issues, they do not define national policy or priorities.

Without the authorities granted by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA), the United States cannot target non-US Persons who are foreign intelligence targets if their communications enters, traverses, or otherwise touches the United States, a system within the United States, or, arguably, a system or network operated by a US corporation (i.e., a US Person) anywhere in the world. FAA in particular is almost exclusively focused on non-US Persons outside the US, who now exist in the same global web of digital communications as innocent Americans.

Without FAA, the very same Constitutional protections and warrant requirements reserved for US Persons would extend to foreign nations and foreign terrorists simply by using US networks and services â" whether intentionally or not. Without FAA, an individualized warrant would be required to collect on a foreign intelligence target using, say, Facebook, Gmail, or Yahoo!, or even exclusively foreign providers if their communications happens to enter the United States, as 70% of international internet traffic does. If you do not think there is a problem with this, there might be an even greater and more basic misunderstanding about how foreign SIGINT and cyber activities fundamentally must work.

If you believe NSA should not have these capabilities, what you are saying is that you do not believe the United States should be able to target foreign intelligence targets outside the United States who, by coincidence or by design, ever utilize or enter US systems and services. If you believe the solution is an individualized warrant every time the US wishes to target a foreign adversary using Gmail, then you are advocating the protection of foreign adversaries with the very same legal protections reserved for US citizens -- while turning foreign SIGINT, which is not and never has been subject to those restrictions, on its head.

These are the facts and realities of the situation. Any government capability is imperfect, and any government capability can be abused. But the United States is the only nation on earth which has jammed intelligence capabilities into as sophisticated and extensive a legal framework as we have. When the intelligence committees of both houses of Congress, multiple executive agencies under two diametrically opposite Presidential administrations, armies of lawyers within offices of general counsel and and inspectors general, and federal judges on the very court whose only purpose is to protect the rights of Americans under the law and the Constitution in the context of foreign intelligence collection are all in agreement, then you have the judgment of every mechanism of our free civil society.

Or we could just keep laying our intelligence sources, methods, techniques, and capabilities bare to our enemies.

âMany forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." - Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Speech in the House of Commons, November 11, 1947

"The necessity of procuring good Intelligence is apparent and need not be further urged â" all that remains for me to add, is, that you keep the whole matter as secret as possible. For upon Secrecy, Success depends in most Enterprises of the kind, and for want of it, they are generally defeated, however well planned and promising a favourable issue.â â" George Washington, our nation's first spymaster, in a letter to Colonel Elias Dayton, 26 July 1777

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin

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