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Comment: break laws but not licenses? (Score 2, Interesting) 44

Let me get this straight; the NSA (and the other three letter agencies it serves) are willing to blatantly and flagrantly violate the US Constitution, US law, international treaties, the trust of US allies and probably even the boy scout oath along the way, but it heeds the open source licensing model???

I think there are a few problems with this:

Like others have posted, the open source community is going to have to look at the released code very very carefully. The public has to assume that the NSA will include backdoors or obscure weaknesses if at all possible.

The other half of this is how in the hell this release of code passed any internal security review in order to have the release authorized. If *I* were in charge of an intelligence agency, I certainly would use Open Source code when and where practical, but I would NOT submit my code to any third party external to my nations intelligence community. My reasoning is that any code my organization released could be used as clues to figure out my agencies capabilities and current operations. Even something as seemingly innocuous as the code for mandatory access restrictions could be helpful to an enemy because analysis of it would at least allow the enemy to rule out certain forms of attack.

Oh sure, you could make the argument that releasing better code to the world makes everybody using that code base safer, depriving malicious agents of any existing exploits they have in their tool kits and that was probably among the reasons the NSA based its decision on. The problem I have with that argument is that, in other areas the NSA has proven that it is willing to deliberately weaken code that is in public use so as to add to their own tool kits. To fix existing weaknesses while also deliberately creating others seems illogical and self defeating to me...

Comment: Re:My interest (Score 1) 69

I said "Polarized covers...prismatic covers...and so on" I did not explicitly say covers to defeat LIDAR I'll grant you. I did, however, implicitly include them in the "...and so on" part of my statement. There are companies which advertise sprays and covers intended to absorb or scatter the near IR wavelength laser light police LIDAR systems use.

Speeding isn't the crime I was referring to, since most places consider most traffic offences to be a civil, not criminal offence. However, use of a device or substance to deliberately obscure your licence plate may or may not be part of the traffic code where you live, but rather covered by the criminal code. If use of a cover plate is considered a criminal act where you live, then the car is being used in the commission of a criminal act even when it's safely parked in your driveway. Having a plate obscured on a dirty vehicle by mud or snow is plausibly neglect, there's no clear proof of intent to evade the law. Thus; most police officers will give you a warning or a "fix-it ticket". But purchasing and installing a device whose sole advertised purpose is to evade detection by police as you break traffic laws inherently displays intent to do exactly that.

Please note that I also said "...in the US". There have been numerous news stories about law abiding people being pulled over for no more reason than having a nice car with out of state plates, having their vehicles searched and cash confiscated as "proceeds of crime" even when there is NO other evidence of any crime. People who then try to protest this get beaten up and charged with resisting arrest. My reasoning is this: If certain officers and/or certain police departments are using any pretext at all to pull someone over and search for things they can confiscate to support their department financially, I certainly don't want to risk driving around with one of the license obscuring items on my car.

Comment: Re:My interest (Score 4, Interesting) 69

There are several companies which market license plate covers designed to obscure your plate when targeted by certain technologies. Polarized covers to defeat roadside speed cameras, prismatic covers to defeat overhead cameras from toll roads and so on.

Problem is; most places in North America and I imagine Europe as well, already have laws on the books covering illegible or obscured registration tags and these covers often fall on the wrong side of the law. Personally, I'd rather get the speeding ticket than a missing/illegible plate ticket and would really really like to avoid any possible "obstruction of a police officer in the performance of his duties" charge.

Something else to consider; based on what seems to be the growing trend in the US: Do you want to get a speeding ticket which usually isn't a criminal act and only nets you a fine Or do you want to use a device whose (arguably) sole purpose is to break the law with impunity, leading to your car being declared as property used in the commission of a crime and confiscated? (while you get beaten half to death and charged with resisting arrest) If you speed, you are only in violation when you speed, but if you put a contraband plate cover on, you are in violation just parked on the street

Comment: You still don't get it... (Score 3, Insightful) 2219

by morethanapapercert (#46196925) Attached to: Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!
First count me among those who have provided "specific, constructive and substantive" feedback. I did so because, like many MANY others, I am part of the community you claim to recognize. Yet your actions and words to this point come across as pro forma, like you actually take us for granted.

1) Many of us do NOT want to give up Slashdot "classic" AT ALL and have said so repeatedly and forcefully. Yet you still tell us that it will only be available until you are done fine tuning the new look. (a new look moreover that we've said we hate)

2) you claim to recognize that what makes Slashdot so special is the community, but I think you fail to recognize a key aspect of this community. We are chemists, physicists, developers, sysadmins, engineers and so on. A HUGE percentage of us are not just geeks, but professionally trained and qualified geeks in some profession that takes brains. Over the years we've self-selected that demographic. Your desire to be "more accessible and shareable by a wider audience." runs the risk of diluting what the Slashdot community is. You are courting a new Eternal September and it appears that you don't even realize you are doing so. boards.4chan.org/b/ would cease to be what it is if it became mainstream. I think you can recognize and agree with that. A flood of pop culture would destroy /. just as a flood of nice average folks would destroy /b/ and drive out the /b/tards.

3) This seriously is a New Coke vs Classic Coke moment. Like the people at Coca-cola, you want to increase your market, I get that. Like Coca-cola, you are attempting to do so by copying the kind of features found among the competition. They failed to allow for the fact that they had spent decades differentiating themselves from Pepsi. Copying the Pepsi taste threw all that away. Slashdot is not primarily a content producer, but a news aggregator, so if you go with the glossy magazine look, what is there to separate you from say Ars Technica? We geeks often make a bit of a fetish out of choosing hobbies, sources of info and social situations that are less accessible to the common herd. In other words, we kind of like being outsiders. If you expand your market, you'd be throwing away that abstract sense of clique-ishness that attracts me to this place. I'm probably not alone in that feeling...

4) At the same time, you're not fixing things that in the group opinion, should have been fixed ages ago. Where is the Unicode and foreign language support? I personally support the long standing choice to not allow full HTML in comments, but I may be in the minority on that. I still think we should be able to incorporate umlauts and other accent characters though.

Here are my straightforward suggestions for expanding your appeal and market without killing off what Slashdot is to us long loyal members: a) Allow the full Unicode set and such

b) Don't EVER "dumb it down". You can try expanding the range of news items you list, maybe add images to if they are truly relevant to the story, but do not simplify things. In fact; feel free to get MORE detailed, more in-depth. Make your own articles +5 Informative or Insightful!

c) spellcheck, spellcheck spellcheck. There should be more to editing that picking a story and copypasta the summary submitted.

d) You already have slashdot.jp , why not slashdot.ru or maybe slashdot.eu ?(which would feature multiple languages, but probably primarily French and German). While you're at it, put links to the other language sites at the bottom of the page.

e) I for one would love to be able to read the days most actively commented stories from the Japanese Slashdot. (or any other language geeky articles might be published in) I have no idea how hard it would be to implement a *decent* auto-translation of top articles in foreign languages. I think it would be easy to do shitty translation on the fly, so the challenge would be to achieve an acceptable job. I already use a browser plugin and there is also Google translate, but I'm hoping for something that will do this for popular stories. As it is, I have to pretty much guess what stories might interest me and translate those myself using the plugin and the plugin translation is usually lousy

Comment: beta.slashdot thread anyone? -1 off topic (Score 1) 103

by morethanapapercert (#46065393) Attached to: Tesla Wins One Over Chinese Trademark Troll
I've never been one for thread hijacking, flaming or any of that other sort of rude online behaviour. But I just got shown the latest beta.slashdot.org. Unlike during the last attempt at reinventing the place, there doesn't seem to be a story posted about it specifically. Given how long this story has been up on the main feed, it hasn't attracted all that much commentary, so jumping in offtopic here would be less disruptive than in say the latest Google-related news.

I know how much my fellow slashdotters like to nitpick and complain, the place wouldn't feel like home without you curmudgeons out there. (smile) I know *I* don't like the new version, I've never liked any of the new versions that have come along, always sticking with the closest thing to the classic interface that is offered at the time. I prefer the green-bar printout inspired listing of story summaries, not something that looks like it came out of a glossy magazine or pop culture website.

The way I look at it, the more images, the larger the graphics, the more space devoted to pretty floating banners, the less room there is for actual content I shouldn't have to do a full page scroll just to move from one story to the next.

Comment: Re:Secure safe. (Score 4, Insightful) 381

by morethanapapercert (#45897293) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Protect Your Passwords From Amnesia?
Small problem with your approach: It relies on you knowing what to DO with the N number of pieces given to you by your friends. Sure you may get back A, B, C...but your description seems to imply that the requirement to perform an XOR operation on the pieces is not part of the data you have given to friends. Is your resulting password WhiteSuitRicardoMontalban, WhiteRicardoMontalbanSuit or RicardoMontalbanWhiteSuit? You need the generation method to be part of the recovered data, not just the "seed" if you will. Otherwise you won't know if you need to XOR, concatenate, follow the breadcrumbs or use a simple substitution cipher on the pieces.

A similar problem lies in most of the other "tell N friends to give you the clues needed to find the password" approaches. What happens if one or more friends fail to return the clue they possess? It's like having a hard drive array as a simple spanned volume. Lose one drive and everything is lost. Trying to include a checksum or similar function seems needlessly complex IMHO.

I think most folks are over-thinking this. Lets stipulate that I have lost my memory for whatever reason. All my passwords are generated using a relatively simple pattern. If I was amnesiac, I still have all those passwords saved in my browser, chat and email clients. Amnesiac me can collect email and log into sites that I use as long as my computer is intact. My wife knows the pattern but not the current passwords, if I can't get into the password lockers, my wife can give me the starting point. From there I can access my passwords with as little as 5 tries. However, as long as my email client still has useful passwords, the vast majority of my password list can be reset with a simple "I forgot my password" request. If, for whatever reason, those two options aren't good enough, I really don't care y'know? If I'm amnesiac, I have much bigger problems on my plate than whether I can access any social sites, member-only areas of sites and so on. Given the kind of brain trauma needed to get significant amnesia, I probably would not have much use for email for the first while anyway.

Comment: Re:Paranoia (Score 4, Insightful) 194

Criminals skillfully disabling alarm system after alarm system, entering and leaving with next to no trace are the stuff of jewel heist movies. For decades, the advice of experts has been to make things difficult (not impossible) for thieves to steal your stuff. That's because thieves are usually a) lazy b) stupid c)) feeding a habit or d) some combination thereof. As a rule, they are looking for the quick score. The will not spend hours disabling alarms in order to steal your TV/computer/jewellery/etc when there are numerous other apartments in the same building or homes in the same neighbourhood that don't have that protection.

Even if we stipulate, for the sake of argument, that some criminal did break into his home in this manner, that leaves us the obvious question of why the fuck wasn't anything taken? Thieves takes things, that's pretty much the definition! Whoever broke in could have taken all of his valuables, but didn't. Ergo, he, she or they weren't interested in valuables.

Then there is the fact that it would appear that some care was taken to leave minimal traces of the illicit visit. Again, this is not the behaviour of your typical burglar. B&E guys know that most of the time cops won't bother with the whole forensic fingerprints, DNA analysis etcetera. As long as they don't leave clear prints in obvious places, the cops will usually just file a report and move on. It is just not cost effective to spend tens of thousands of department funds to pursue your typical B&E.

The only logical conclusions we can make here is that:

a) The perpetrator(s) were far more skilled and patient than your average burglar

b) They weren't after fence-able valuables

c) They were interested in something they thought he had that none of his neighbours had.

d) Based on the access to his computers, what they were interested in was electronic data of some sort.

e) Given his long standing political views, he may have been investigated by the German intelligence community on general principles, but given his well known connection to Edward Snowden, it is highly probable that he was being investigated by someone with a strong interest in that situation.

f) Virtually all of the groups with access to people with those skills and with a strong interest in the Snowden case are state actors, mostly in the covert community.

I'll concede that there is a small chance that some private sector group might be involved with this. There may be a group on the scale of Anonymous that also acts on the real world/physical level and is (therefore) more paranoid about associating themselves with any actions. One could hypothesize that such a group was looking for data so that they could reach out and help Snowden with his agenda without leaving any clues for other agencies to follow as to how they found him, but I think that is a very low probability. (it would make for a great plot for some cyberpunk novel though wouldn't it?)

Comment: I wonder... (Score 1) 1010

Mr Kaveh Kamooneh is clearly not white, in fact appears to be of middle eastern descent, and this arrest was in Georgia after all. If the arrrest happened up here in Canada, it wouldn't even occur to me that race might be involved, particularly since the arresting officers are just as likely to be non-white themselves. But since it was indeed in Georgia, there is a small chance that race might have been involved in the decision to proceed with criminal charges.

Comment: Re:Just what is so difficult.. (Score 2, Insightful) 1191

by morethanapapercert (#45012773) Attached to: Come Try Out Slashdot's New Design (In Beta)
You fool! You've doomed us all! Your lack of seething hatred for the beta, indeed the audacity to say neutral things about it, gives Timothy/Soulskill et al the chance to cherry-pick your comment and believe that they haven't failed as massively as the rest of us claim.

Seriously though, You're still voting in favour of:

1) larger default text

2) huuuuuuuuge amounts of whitespace (which we are cynically certain will become ad space as soon as it's out of beta)

3) useless stock photos whose sole purpose are eye magnets

4) a photo-mosaic approach to summarizing the top stories in the default view. (I'm sure anyone with vision issues is gonna hate this)

5) Crippling the nested/threaded comment system. Which; as many have pointed out, is an important, I dare say critical and fundamental component of /.

6) More obvious whoring out to social media venues, a phenomenon which a rather large and vocal portion of us hate and bash at every opportunity. (C'mon Soulskill, do you really think many of us are going to link to here on Facebook? And even if we did, would you *want* the kind of yammerheads you'd catch casting a net in those waters?)

7) an overall marketing and packaging approach more suited to a glossy magazine than a salon where the articles are stimulators for lively conversation, debate and even outright arguing over by a self selected group of reasonably intelligent people. (trolls notwithstanding) Shallow glitz over actual content.

Comment: Re:Search for life (Score 1) 83

I've seen a lot of conversation over the fact that earth harbours many extremophiles. We have found life that survives, occasionally even thrives in environments that would be immediately fatal to the vast majority of life that we know of. The thing is though, I rarely see anyone pointing out a few key facts and questions:

1) Sure, life can survive in some pretty inhospitable environments, but can it arise in those environments? As i understand it, life as we know it arose in comparatively benign, even ideal conditions for the chemistry to work out well. Only after literally billions of years did life manage to evolve the ability to exist in the extreme environments we are just beginning to study and understand today. Saline geysers, black smokers and deep arctic boulders all apparently got colonized slowly over time by lifeforms that could handle just a bit more of the extreme condition(s) than its competitors. Step by step until they had evolved so far from the original environment it could no longer go back.

2) Sure, our probes and such could be contaminated by earthly microflora, but what are the odds that anything that could live in the shirtsleeve environment of a space vehicle assembly would also be able to survive long enough to reproduce at all in the environments we send them to? Europa has a surface temp of something like MINUS 160 Celsius. IIRC, the coldest ever recorded on Earth was like -90C. I'm not a chemist, but it seems to me that being in an environment where carbon chemistry flat out can't work because the environment is too cold is far more of a showstopper than the radiation level, aridity/liquidity, salinity or metallicity of the landing area. Can carbon based stereochemical reactions even occur at those sorts of low temperatures? IIRC, most of the possible alternative elemental bases for life chemistry, like sulfur and silianes require significant *higher* temperatures than anything carbon based could survive, so we are't likely to find any of those on Europa either.

Time is an illusion perpetrated by the manufacturers of space.

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