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Comment friend's computer hit by this (Score 5, Interesting) 39

i have a friend who called me to say that their computer had had the default browser search settings changed to some adware. so i checked the instructions on how to remove it, only to find that the settings shown in the screen-shots *weren't there*. turns out that inspection of the timestamps on the filesystem, the phishing-malware had *replaced* legitimate system libraries, which enabled them to disguise the malware and prevent its own removal. it was necessary for us to go round some friend's houses, drop the macbook into single-user mode and copy over replacement files from an identical copy of macosx.

now, this is the first time i've ever dealt with macosx viruses, but i was surprised that it was so easy for my non-technical friend to be fooled by a phishing attempt which scared her with the "you have 2,500 viruses do you want us to fix it?" tactic. as a purely software-libre end-user for the past 20 years, all i can say is, "welcome to the monoculture world, apple. your false sense of security myth is well and truly over, and you have a hell of a lot of catching up to do".

Comment fix the spelling ability of the editors (Score 1) 1835

over the past two years there was a drastic increase in the inability of the editors to spot the most basic of spelling errors. "it is" instead of the relative pronoun "its" and so on. these errors - presented to technically-competent people whose careers critically depend on ensuring that code and documentation contains absolutely no errors of any kind - generally tends to piss them off and leaves them with no respect for slashdot.

the second thing: as mentioned previously, there's not enough good content. "powered by your submissions" only works if you have a large enough threshold of people willing to "power the submissions". given that so many people have been pissed off at various stages of slashdot's lifetime, those people that used to submit stories no longer do so.

the third thing: the advertising, despite being a long-term contributor who clicks the "ads disabled" button, really really pisses me off. i am NEVER going to buy a product from slashdot. EVER. deal with it. respect my right to not be advertised at and put to inconvenience, and i will continue to help with moderation and submissions. otherwise, if you continue to irritate me i will either look at adding extra manual rules to u-block, or to junkbuster, or i will just quit using slashdot entirely [after 20 years of continous reading and contributions].

Comment critical instability (Score 1) 121

like the last grain of sand on a pile that tips it into a landslide, consciousness exists at that "critical instability" point. that's according to a friend of mine - dr alex hankey - who has been studying consciousness in a formal mathematical way for over a decade. i am _delighted_ to see that other people are finally catching up.

Comment leeches (Score 1) 235

"Shall we start leeching the four humors from the body again to achieve balance?"


actually... leeches have started to be used again in the western medical world because the removal of blood - especially blood which has heavy toxins or other dangerous pollutants - can have a beneficial effect (obviously), and leaches automatically inject anti-coagulants.

just because they didn't necessarily understand the exact science *doesn't* mean that over centuries of empirical observation doctors from older times weren't "on the right track".

much of what western medical doctors tell patients is "simplified to the point of being bullshit".... but, *very importantly*, is *reassuring* bullshit. calming the patient down (especially in stress-related illness) is actually a recognised branch of medicine, and has been for many centuries.

anyway... sorry, had to point that out.

Comment story development... (Score 0, Flamebait) 203

"that may include rewrites to focus more on the new class of Star Wars characters"

yeah. that'll be because they ignore george lucas, who has been working on a storyline for several decades. did anyone else notice that the film was pretty much a quotes modern reinvention quotes of the exact same story of the very first film - right down to having a tunnel that the tie-fighters went down and got shot at?

i heard a story related to john lasseter, where the only reason that some of the older artists working on disney films stayed on was out of loyalty to walt. this despite the managers and directors at disney studios for over a decade basically viewing disney studios as a "profit generation outfit". as a result we got absolutely awful films like that one about voodoo down in new orleans, and that one about a bison in the U.S. desert, which was a truly nerve-grating scratch-your-own-eyes-out bitch-fest, with the main characters verbally back-stabbing each other pretty much the entire time [and this is supposed to be a kid's film].

marvel comics and dc comics films are successful because there is a HUGE volume of material developed by extremely talented writers over many decades. script-writers therefore actually have *too much* originality to work from, as well as having the advantage of not really needing to do too much in the way of "back-story" - they can jump right in.

to dick about with a 3-decade-long complex story by IGNORING THE PERSON WHO WROTE IT is just... well... disappointing.

Comment Re:All in for transparency? (Score 1) 208

I'm all for a hardware manufacturer who creates and promotes 100% open hardware with public code provided.....................know any?

yeah, that'll be me.

i also have an RYF / FSF-Endorseable CPU Card under development:

just so you know, i currently have a sponsor for the 15.6in laptop, i've been working on it for 14 months now. sponsorship works well for two reasons: firstly, investment is usually profit-driven, so the priority is on maximising the investor's profits instead of getting the product - and even more importantly the modular standard - right. secondly, sponsorship is absolutely fair and honest. i receive what i need to do the job, and the sponsor(s) get to be able to buy (or in the case of my main sponsor, sell) the end product(s).

so if you'd like to sponsor the development of these products, do contact me ok? love to hear from you.

Comment Re:Why are so many moving away from the GPL? (Score 5, Insightful) 208

The BSD and MIT licenses offer true freedom. The GPL offers restriction and the elimination of freedom.

this is a very subtle and dangerous perspective that has one extremely large software project which has ended up in complete chaos, causing headaches for many people, including misunderstandings and ignorance by vendors who assume that because the majority of the software is BSD/MIT, the linux kernel's GPL license is somehow magically transmuted to a BSD/MIT license as well.

that software is android.

the only reason why we have things like cyanogen, thank god, is because there is one last bastion of fundamental GPL code left in android devices: u-boot and the linux kernel. without that, the smartphone industry would be viewed with extreme hostility. it's *already* bad enough in cases where companies such as Mediatek blatantly and continuously violate the GPL.

look at what happened with Fairphone, for example. great product, yes? envisioned as being sustainable, yes? and after 2 years, what happened? well, there turned out to be some security vulnerabilities in the version of android that was supplied (by Mediatek). it was *critical* that the users upgrade. but, because Fairphone had naively bought a binary-only GPL-violating OS from a 3rd party OEM company that *DIDN'T EVEN HAVE THE SOURCE CODE*, there was no way to provide updates of *ANY KIND*. the buyers therefore had to abandon their products for security reasons. bear in mind that this is supposed to be eco-conscious *sustainable* hardware that's supposed to be re-usable. it was extremely embarrassing for Fairphone, and a very hard lesson for them.

so that's even when there's a GPL kernel. imagine what it would be like - imagine the situation if the linux kernel *wasn't* GPL? you would end up with the exact same situation as with apple. apple _used_ to release the kernel source code (based on FreeBSD) back to the community... they stopped recently. the end result: people no longer actually own their own hardware.

the GPL is, at its heart, a recognition that collaboration is better than competition and secrecy. the BSD and MIT licenses were developed when everybody released source code *anyway*. the licenses were therefore more about fighting the liability that is inherent in releasing code as "Public Domain". everyone *trusted* that the code modifications would be released.... and then suddenly they weren't [did you even *know* for example that Windows 95's TCP/IP stack is actually BSD-licensed?]

google's insistence on using BSD licenses - to the point of re-implementing entire GPL-based pre-existing libraries - has resulted in untold very subtle harm to end-users and to software freedom in general - harm that is very difficult to quantify and explain because it's long-term, and the consequences are ongoing.

the one thing that really really stinks about what google did with android is summed up in this simple question: they replicated dozens of critical low-level libraries and applications that had perfectly-functional GPL versions that were proven and had stable communities based around them (that could really have done with the financial support of google).... so why did they not replicate the Linux Kernel as a BSD-based project as well? that hypocrisy - that they did not also re-create the Linux Kernel as a BSD/MIT project - tells you everything that you need to know.

Comment Re:Wrong... (Score 5, Interesting) 208

The biggest barrier to true open hardware is the fact someone has to pay for a tangible good, and that tangible good - hardware - is designed for a specific purpose. The BIOS and bootloaders and such are immaterial, and do not limit you from using a piece of silicon as you desire. The block is silicon that does what you want to do in the first place. And that carries with it costs beyond just software creation.

i'm designing Libre Hardware, right now. i've been on this task for the past five years, since the embarrassing time when i encouraged 20 software libre developers to join me in buying one of the very first ARM netbooks to come out (back in 2010) that turned out to be GPL-violating. i had to spend a frantic 3 weeks reverse-engineering the hardware in order to provide those people with a GPL-compliant linux kernel.

this example just on its own demonstrates that what you have said is simply untrue in a very profound and subtle way. you claim "The BIOS and bootloaders and such are immaterial, and do not limit you from using a piece of silicon" - how can you load a kernel into memory using the BIOS's bootloader (if there is one) if you do not know how the BIOS *actually works*? how can you load a kernel into memory if you don't have the hardware's documentation? what if the proprietary bootloader (if there is one) has some sort of checksum or DRM where you are not provided the keys?

another example is the IBM / Lenovo laptops, where the BIOS had the PCIe device and MAC address of the WIFI adapter *burned into EEPROM*. quite literally the only way for people to replace the WIFI adapter was to *replace the entire BIOS*. that required a *massive* reverse-engineering effort and we now have coreboot support for many Lenovo laptops.

time and time again i have had to cut certain SoCs and ICs from the list of products because i cannot get the SDK, cannot get the Datasheet, cannot get *any* information about how the SoC or IC works.

so you claim "the block is silicon that does what you want to do" - it only does what you want to do via a hardware API which requires an extremely comprehensive bit-level and timing-critical software-driven understanding of that "block". without that, the hardware is LITERALLY useless. [remember NDISWRAPPER for WIFI cards?]

can you see, therefore, through these examples, that you've fundamentally misunderstood the complexity of the issue, and why there are such severe barriers to entry in the hardware arena?

i *do* understand this, so it's why i have been working for the past five years on creating Libre-compliant eco-conscious hardware, where the hardware - all of it - will be vetted for GPL-compliance before putting it into production. sounds mad? but it's the only way, i feel, that instead of waiting for someone else to tackle this, i'm *actively* taking responsibility for ensuring that there exists Libre-compliant Hardware.

Comment Re:Lets see ... (Score 1) 104

... budget for lots of equipment including high end FPGAs to be located in a mine shaft. What shall we say we're doing with it? .

actually there's someone out there already working on a way to hack into their network so that they can run bitcoin mining on them. i bet however that they'll probably find that the scientists secretly installed bitcoin mining on them already... ostensibly to help justify the insane cost of the equipment. so now you know the _real_ reason why they haven't found any so-called dark matter....

Comment Re:And keep Stallman out of the limelight, please (Score 0) 231

The FSF needs a leader who is cool with you running open source apps on Macs and Windows PCs, and understands that it's the goal of free/open source code that matters, not how "pure" you are.

absolutely not. you fail to understand the critical, critical importance of leading by example. read this story, please: http://www.habitsforwellbeing....

imagine that the scenario you describe were to be the case. Dr Stallman (or his replacement) says, "Don't use proprietary software! It's Bad", and one person pipes up in the crowd, "But You Don't Believe That, You Use Proprietary Software And Proprietary Apps, So Why Should We Bother To Listen To You?" .... and there's no answer, is there?

another example: a slave driver tells people "don't own slaves, it's inhumane!"

another example: a known corrupt judge passing sentence on people

another example: a paedophilic or gay priest advising people on marriage counselling...

another example: a bankrupt life-coach telling people how to make money...

by breaking and abandoning the very principles that you expect others to follow, your position is totally and utterly false.

Comment reactions (Score 4, Interesting) 184

i know they like to describe it as "response", but the "response" to terrorism is actually a "predictable reaction". these "predictable reactions" are what the psy-ops teams behind terrorist groups use to extend their reach well beyond what they would otherwise be able to achieve. kill a few people in a public place, get a MASSIVE reaction, governments predictably react in a 2-dimentsional zombie sleep-walking way, calling it a "response", and the damage is magnified and furthers the aims of the terrorists: to terrorise as many people as they can.

blunt and simple question. why are governments HELPING terrorists?

even this "news" report - where the U.S. govt is now holding talks with the companies that hold the most information about people in the history of humanity - far more than IBM could ever hold on punched-cards when it was commissioned by the Nazis to track the jewish population - is yet another example of the terrorists WINNING.

i didn't approve of it at the time, but there was significant censorship of the bombings that occurred in dublin in the 1980s. TWELVE bombs - set off in ONE DAY by the IRA - reached all of the Irish newspapers... but not a single word reached us in the UK or anywhere else. the only reason i got to hear about it at all was because we had some irish workers who would have newspapers specially shipped over.

this kind of "non-reaction" - non-reporting - i can see now is much more sensible than any kind of "reaction" dressed up with the words "response" or "proportionate response". it however takes extreme bravery to not react in the face of this kind of thing, and that, really, should be the role of governments: to say, "look: our current approach, to try to reassure you that we're 'taking care of this' for you by "reacting", isn't working. everything we try to do just makes things worse. instead, what we'd like you to consider doing is a VOLUNTARY censorship of terrorists. if you see something illegal on a social media site, report it. but DO NOT re-tweet it. do NOT send messages to your friends 'oh dear look at this, isn't it horrible'. take a deep breath, be compassionate, feel SORRY for these people that they're so deluded that they have to kill other human beings, but don't react in fear and loathing, because that's exactly what they want you to do".

sounds naive, maybe? but look, historically, at what's worked. the current "policies" aren't working, are they? so maybe it's time to try something different, yes? remember: definition of madness - to do the same thing over and over again, given the exact same conditions, expecting every single time a different outcome...

Comment Remember Active Desktop? (Score 2) 84

does anyone remember microsoft's ActiveDesktop, and why it failed? it failed because they took away all of the privilege separation that you get from having separate programs with permissions, and enabled and empowered a single process with carte blanche to access a vast array of resources... *and* failed to properly secure them. the mozilla foundation is now spending its sponsor's money on re-discovering why this is a non-starter, by permitting javascript direct access to hardware GPIO.

there is a better way - i have actually told the mozilla developers this but they are in some sort of hell-bound zombie sleep-walk mode - which is to go back to basics, remove *all* "special" APIs, then write JSON or other local services running on loopback that carry out the "special" work that has absolutely nothing to do with GUI rendering.

this design strategy has the key advantage that high-priority code may be written in an *APPROPRIATE* programming language, but it does have the disadvantage that you can't really write eye-catching press releases....

Comment why is critical infrastructure on the internet? (Score 5, Insightful) 62

i've said it once and i'll say it again: what the FUCK is wrong with people who think it's okay to put a country's critical infrastructure on the public internet AT ALL? there should be absolutely no way that power, water, gas, electricity or any kind of public utility should be even VAGUELY "internet connected". to anyone considering responding "but they might want to quotes manage quotes the infrastructure" then they should fucking well have a private closed-loop network or pay key emergency staff to live right next door to the infrastructure. there's a whole boat-load of long-range communications options that don't involve the public internet, which we *know* is wide-open to attack. any country that doesn't have laws in place which make it illegal for critical infrastructure to be on the public internet is quite literally asking for trouble. you don't leave the door to your house unlocked and then complain "but someone stole all my stuff!" - this is exactly the same thing.

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