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Comment: Re:Not my findings (Score 1) 284

by IamTheRealMike (#48947635) Attached to: The NSA Is Viewed Favorably By Most Young People

So, now you have strong evidence that the people you talk to are not representative of America as a whole.

I would not put it that way. I'd say we have strong evidence that opinion polling can easily result in confusing or apparently contradictory results. The first sentence of the linked blog post has an air of mild surprise about it, and not surprisingly - when polled, 75% of Americans disagree that their government is trustworthy all or most of the time, yet they view most departments favourably? That makes little sense.

Something else doesn't make much sense. This result can easily be read as "people approve of what the NSA is doing". That must be what favourable means, right? Yet this very same polling agency has found a year ago that a majority of Americans oppose NSA practices. It's possible things have changed in the span of 2014, but other polls frequently return contradictory results too. This one by the Washington Post says, in the same set of questions, most people think monitoring all online activity to prevent terrorism isn't worth it, but monitoring all phone calls is. Why the difference?

At any rate, it's certainly true that the civil liberties wing of western societies has done a really appalling job of explaining to people why this sort of behaviour by governments is so risky, and Americans don't have recent local experience to fall back on. Unlike, say, people in former Soviet bloc countries, or Germans.

Comment: Re:In other news... (Score 2) 284

by IamTheRealMike (#48947567) Attached to: The NSA Is Viewed Favorably By Most Young People

TFA is actually covering opinion polls relating to several government agencies, but in typical Slashdot form, TFS only focuses on the NSA section, because that will be more inflammatory.

.... or maybe, just of more interest to a tech/geek focused site? I guess the NSA is a lot more relevant than the VA, especially to non-American slashdotters like me.

The poll isn't very surprising given its consistency with previous polls, but that doesn't change the fact that the attitudes of Americans don't seem to be very internally consistent or easily explainable. Either American people are just strangely illogical or there's some subtle issue with the polling method (or both?). The big question mark this survey leaves hanging is why trust in government is at an all time low (along with falling trust in most institutions), yet iterating specific parts of the government yields mostly favourable views. This is such an odd result that the very first sentence in the poll writeup says:

The public continues to express positive views of many agencies of the federal government, even though overall trust in government is near historic lows.

Yes, indeed. The public does A even though B. How strange.

The way the poll works means there's little information that can be used to explain this. Perhaps the 8 departments they chose to ask people about aren't the reason people distrust government. Perhaps their distrust falls exclusively on Congress, or on the judicial branch. We can't tell from this result alone.

Another possibility is that the wording of the poll - although superficially neutral - does trigger bias. The question was "do you trust the government in Washington always or most of the time?". People might be distinguishing between "the government in Washington" and "other bits of the government", e.g. the NSA is not actually in the city of Washington whereas Congress is. Ditto for various other departments and especially the military which does a great job of spreading itself around the country.

My final thought is that people might be more naturally inclined to take out their dissatisfaction on Congress than on the executive branch, because getting mad at Congress feels like it might achieve something due to voting, whereas getting mad at the NSA is about as useful as getting mad at a brick wall. They answer to no one and can't be controlled, so it's a lot more comfortable if you can convince yourself they're on your side rather than not.

Comment: Re:Majority leaders home district (Score 1) 174

Yeah, but the processes to refine the stuff out is horrendous. They make oil refineries look like unspoiled wilderness in comparison.

Yeah, but we're already storing it, anyway. I might be nuts but from what I've seen if we were to take 10 or 15 square miles of land - totally insignificant when you look at the size of our country - and decide that it was going to be a nasty radioactive place but that we would work to keep it contained and do whatever we need there - seems like we could do it. But nobody wants that "in their back yard".

Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 2) 475

We had plenty of choices for dial-up too, what we lacked particularly in the UK was free local calls, that made modem calls expensive compared to the US. Since then everything has been going our way.

However, the issue of free vs metered local calls hasn't been relevant for a long time. I don't think government intervention is a great explanation either, given that the UK telecoms network was privatised.

For large parts of Europe I think there's a simpler explanation - a combination of population density and more regional competition with ISPs. Whereas in the USA you have a handful of nationwide ISPs. There's no equivalent of Verizon or Comcast in Europe that serves the entire continent.

Comment: Re:Security is a process ... (Score 3) 46

There will -always- be flaws. However, part of a company selling security is how they respond to issues, and here, BlackPhone has performed quite well. There was a problem, they fixed it, and that is what matters.

I agree that how a company handles incident response is important and the BlackPhone guys have apparently handled this well.

However, there are several things that are troubling about this story which lead me to not trust BlackPhone and question the security experience of the people designing it.

The first thing we notice about this exploit is that the library in question appears to be written in C, even though it's newly written code that is parsing complex data structures straight off the wire from people who might be attackers. What is this, 1976? These guys aren't programming smartcard chips without an OS, they're writing a text messaging app that runs on phones in which the OS is written in Java. Why the hell is the core of their secure messaging protocol written in C?

The second thing we notice is that the bug occurs due to a type confusion attack whilst parsing JSON. JSON?! Yup, SCIMP messages apparently contain binary signatures which are base 64 encoded, wrapped in JSON, and then base64 encoded again. A more bizarre or error-prone format is difficult to imagine. They manage to combine the efficiency of double-base64 encoding binary data with the tightness and simplicity of a text based format inspired by a scripting language which has, for example, only one kind of number (floating point). They get the joy of handling many different kinds of whitespace, escaping bugs, etc. And to repeat, they are parsing this mess of unneeded complexity .... in C.

Compare this to TextSecure, an app that does the same thing as the BlackPhone SMS app. TextSecure is written by Moxie Marlinspike, a man who Knows What He Is Doing(tm). TextSecure uses protocol buffers, a very simple and efficient binary format with a schema language and compiler. There is minimal scope for type confusion. Moreover, the entire app is written in Java, so there is no possibility of memory management errors whilst trying to read messages crafted by an attacker. By doing things this way they eliminate entire categories of bugs in one fell swoop.

So yes, whilst the BlackPhone team should be commended for getting a patch out to their users, this whole incident just raises deep questions about their design decisions and development processes. The fact that such a bug could occur should have been mind-blowingly obvious from the moment they wrote their first line of code.

Comment: Re:Tax (Score 1) 525

by Trailer Trash (#48926045) Attached to: Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

I thought I'd check, and in their 2014 annual accounts, Apple showed tax payable of $14 billion on a net profit of $40 billion. Unless this is just some totally fictitious accounting entry, I'm not sure where you get the idea that they don't pay any tax.

You apparently have no left-wing friends on facebook.

Comment: Re:Slave Labour is certainly profitable (Score 1) 525

by Trailer Trash (#48926037) Attached to: Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

What electronic products do you use that are made in a country with decent labor laws? And what about your clothes and shoes?

Are you setting a positive example for this world like you promised?

This reminds me of a lot of Christian friends who say how great it is that Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sunday and that's so Christian of them and all that. These same people usually point this out while eating in another restaurant on Sunday.

Comment: Re:Armchair engineering at its finest (Score 1) 247

by Trailer Trash (#48925885) Attached to: Engineers Develop 'Ultrarope' For World's Highest Elevator

I'm probably going to lose some karma for this...

I, too, could come with a half-dozen answers that would be "far superior" to what 100+ years of the finest minds in the industry could come up with. But in reality, I really, seriously doubt that my designs would hold up because there's a *reason* that things are done the way they are.

And, yet, some guy named Elon Musk - who never worked at Ford, GM, Honda, the guy's a nobody - is the one who's making all the money in electric cars right now. Why?

Now and then industries that have been around for 100 years get so stuck in doing things the same way and simply scaling it can't get over the hump where you have to say "we can't scale this way of doing it, we have to start from scratch". They also have a huge patent catalog related to their current way of doing things, a huge number of engineers who know this method inside out, etc. There's considerable inertia to overcome, and few companies overcome it.

That's why when things change it's often the newcomers who do it.

Here's another one - Vizio. Ever heard of them 15 years ago? They never made a CRT-based television. The founders came from a monitor manufacturer and decided to start making TVs based on LCD technology. They went straight to Sam's and Costco to sell them. They pretty much own that market now.

Meanwhile, where's Westinghouse? Or RCA? They turned out a ton of tubes back in the day, but they're gone. Nobody wants a freaking X-ray generator in their house now.

Honestly, I think a shakeup like this is long overdue in the elevator business. You say there are so many moving parts to your caterpillar drive - do you have any idea of how many moving parts are in a standard elevator. Your idea cuts the moving parts down to perhaps 1/10th of what there is now. Getting rid of counterweights is a huge deal. You can even keep the counterweight and change the traction to your idea and there are still far fewer moving parts.

Elevators were first made when a tall building was 10 stories. The idea that a radical overhaul in design isn't needed for buildings that are 20 times that tall is laughable.

So, yes, I think you're absolutely wrong. An outsider is almost certainly what is needed to scale elevators up like this.

Comment: Re:Not sure it's a good job choice (Score 1) 327

They're already past the "make things worse" stage. That's what austerity brought.

No, austerity didn't bring it. If anything, trying to spend within your limited means will postpone making things worse. Do it long enough and things might even get better.

But borrowing and spending isn't going to make it better, even if they can find someone from whom to borrow.

Comment: Re:This doesn't sound... sound (Score 1) 327

Leftist borrowing and spending? As opposed to the Right's strategy, which is to borrow much more and give it to your rich business partners?

I don't know how folks like you can live in the real world and parrot these lines over and over again with nothing to show for it. When the left "borrows and spends", the "spending" side all goes to rich business partners. Every single time.

Why do you think that the "recovery" in the US has gone mostly to the top 10%? What do you think about Solyndra? Geeze. Get out of the partisan gutter and join us here in the real world.

Friction is a drag.