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Comment: Re:Microsoft's child porn collection (Score 1) 353

by nerdonamotorcycle (#47618341) Attached to: Microsoft Tip Leads To Child Porn Arrest In Pennsylvania

I remember reading about this a while ago, so my memory on this may be somewhat fuzzy.

As I understand it, there's a fairly large database of checksums (MD5, SHA1, whatever) derived from known CP images that's maintained by law enforcement agencies and supplied to large email and hosting providers like Google, MS, Yahoo, etc., for use in detecting such content. If they get a checksum match, they take action. Apparently there's a small enough pool of commonly-circulated images that that approach works fairly well.

I think some news agency some years ago interviewed someone at Google whose job it was to review images to see if they were CP or not. People don't last long because they find the work so traumatizing.

Comment: Like a sports star (Score 2) 323

by nerdonamotorcycle (#46547487) Attached to: More On the Disposable Tech Worker
Eventually, tech workers are going to have to demand pay like sports stars, and for the same reason: you only get an extremely abbreviated career, in your youth, that lasts maybe ten years, and by the time you hit your mid 30s, you're done. During that time, you need to make enough money to last the rest of your life. The only difference is that a tech worker doesn't face the risk of a work-related, career-ending injury in the same way that a pro athlete does.

Comment: Re:Is there evidence that profiling is not effecti (Score 1) 226

Yup, and magnetometers and x-raying carry-ons pretty much put a stop to those guys, because then they couldn't bring guns on board any more. That was the level of security that was in place from the early 70s up through the 9/11 attacks. Most people seemed to consider it minimally invasive, and security lines generally moved pretty quickly unless it was the day before Thanksgiving or something.

Comment: Re:To Deter Filthy Criminals (Score 1) 225

by nerdonamotorcycle (#43736907) Attached to: Federal Judge Dismisses Movie Piracy Complaint

Where "Filthy Criminals" = "Commercial Infringers". "Commercial infringers" are the guys who make copies of CDs, or who bootleg concerts, and sell copies out of their car trunks to all and sundry for profit. Sometimes the counterfeit goods are even sold in legitimate stores. The statutory damages are fixed at an amount intended to be punitive, so that commercial infringers cannot figure lawsuit payouts into the cost of doing business. Statutory damages were also intended in part to cover lost sales from all the copies that were sold that the cops *didn't* confiscate as evidence when they busted the crooks. A single commercial infringer could represent hundreds or even thousands of lost sales. If the goal is to deter commercial infringers by making the potential profits not worth the risk of potential lawsuit payouts, then the sort of extreme statutory damages contemplated in the law are reasonable.

When these laws were passed, nobody considered legions of small-time, non-commercial copyright infringers infringing from their homes, with no greater benefit to them than a free movie or free music CD, and receiving no commercial profit therefrom. Each user represents at most one lost sale of a music CD or movie retailing for roughly $10-$25. The statutory damages provided for in the law are, therefore, way beyond what is reasonable.

Comment: Re:Slippery slope. (Score 1) 604

by nerdonamotorcycle (#43505031) Attached to: Bruce Schneier On the Marathon Bomber Manhunt

Disclaimer: I live about a mile from the cordoned-off search area.

I think the response was warranted given the threat level. These guys had an obvious willingness to use IEDs to kill innocent bystanders and there was a firefight with over 200 rounds of ammo expended. Honestly, given that threat level, and the fact that there were legions of nervous, heavily armed cops walking around looking for a cop-killer, I wouldn't have wanted to be out and about yesterday either unless it was a matter of life and death. It's a testament to the professionalism of our local law enforcement people that there were no additional tragedies that went with this, like someone getting shot in a case of mistaken identity.

But now that we've done it once, a precedent has been set, and it will be that much easier to do it the next time. It's also scary how efficiently we turned a medium-density suburban neighborhood into a war zone, how efficiently the authorities were able to put a stop to civilian movement *just by asking*. I don't want to be all "ZOMG THIS WAS A DRY RUN FOR MARSHUL LAW!!!1!!!one!!1!!" like some people but we *have* created a dangerous precedent, and I'd at least like to see some kind of public discussion as to what threat level warrants that sort of lockdown and "How bad do things have to get for us to do this again?"

Comment: pet peeves (Score 1) 591

by nerdonamotorcycle (#43361109) Attached to: If I could change what's "typical" about typical laptops ...
  • Trackpads suck. They're much too easy to actuate inadvertently with the heel of your hand, and I also often inadvertently end up actuating "tap to click" while trying to position the pointer. I much prefer the "pencil eraser" type pointer that used to be common.
  • Proper install media in the form of a plain-vanilla Windows install CD instead of a "Recovery partition", please.
  • No more goddam bloatware. I don't need your remote diagnosis software, trial versions of antivirus software, and whatever other junk the laptop comes bundled with. Fortunately there's PC Decrapifier, but it's still annoying.
  • *TALLER* screen, please. I don't watch movies on my laptop but the number of lines I can fit onscreen in an ssh session really matters to me.

Comment: Neither fish nor fowl (Score 1) 564

by nerdonamotorcycle (#42852717) Attached to: On the end of USPS 1st Class Saturday delivery:
Look, Congress has one of two choices:
  1. 1. Run the USPS like a business. This means that they get to charge what the traffic will bear, and drop money-losing services, like closing and consolidating small, low-volume post offices. If it's mandated that they serve all customers, then they are allowed to charge those customers whatever it costs to provide them the mandated service--i.e. no more flat-fee delivery where delivery to some small hamlet in the boonies costs the same as delivering a letter from one side of L.A. to the other.
  2. 2. Run the USPS like a government agency. This means that we throw enough taxpayer dollars at it to fix it so it works, like every other First-world country on the planet.

As it is, the USPS has the worst of both worlds. They're expected to survive without taxpayer subsidy, yet they're mandated to provide universal service, cannot charge customers what it actually costs to provide them with service, and cannot drop money-losing customers and services. Congress made it even worse by front-loading all their pension responsibilities for the next 75 years, a liability that no other entity, private or public, has ever had to face.

As for you Tea Partiers who are all "But..but...SMALL GOVERNMENT", recall that the postal service is one of the few things specifically called out in the Constitution as being a responsibility of the Federal Government.

Comment: The best camera (Score 1) 316

by nerdonamotorcycle (#42783369) Attached to: Current favorite still-image camera type:

The best camera is the one you'll carry with you, because it's the one you'll have available when the opportunity for the perfect photo arises. A cheap cell phone camera that's on your belt beats a high-four-figure DSLR rig that you left at home in the drawer because it was too big/bulky/expensive/theft-prone/annoyance-causing to bring with you.

I also notice that people tend to object to point-and-shoot pocket cameras being aimed in their direction a whole lot less than they do to a (D)SLR with a big honkin' piece of glass on the front. Very important if you're taking shots in public that include strangers in the background, or if you're That Guy walking around a party or a family gathering with a camera taking pictures. The smaller the camera, the less people get annoyed at it.

Comment: Re:I'm an old geezer (Score 1) 330

by nerdonamotorcycle (#42509843) Attached to: How Old Were You When You First Got a Cell Phone?

Me too. When I was 22, it was the 1980s. Cell phones existed, but they were either very large "bricks" or they were permanently mounted in your car. Either way, they were very expensive things for yuppies. (Fake "pigtail" antennas were sold as decorative car accessories, for a time.) Mere mortals like me had to go find a pay phone, which were ubiquitous back then and the prices weren't a complete ripoff either.

I finally got my first cell phone in the late 1990s, when I was 32 and the prices had come down enough that they were a mass-market item. By then I knew one or two people using a mobile in lieu of a landline, especially if they lived in group houses and spent the bulk of their time away from the house.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to adjust the onion tied to my belt.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long