Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Bayes prior (Score 1) 409

There was a breakthrough re: civil asset forfeiture in January: Eric Holder announced that of the Federal Equitable Sharing Program. Local police agencies are no longer allowed to circumvent state restrictions on civil asset forfeiture by procuring nominal federal involvement in their investigations, thereby making those investigations governed by more forfeiture-friendly federal law. Many states have changed or are in the process of changing civil asset forfeiture laws to now require arrests or convictions before assets can be seized, rather than just suspicion. Police were using the Equitable Sharing program, which has a very low bar for seizing asset (the Fed keep 20% and gave the rest back to the police).

Local and state police have abused the Equitable Sharing Program to seize billions in cash from motorists without arresting them or even charging them with a crime. This has been so profitable for the police that an entire industry devoted to training cops on how to maximize their cash seizures from motorists has appeared. A lot of this money has gone to fund the so called militarization of the police. One of the most successful techniques in these seizures is delay minor traffic stops and pressure motorists to consent to vehicle searches or to allow for the arrival of drug/cash sniffing dogs.

After this change to the federal program the cops will be forced to follow more restrictive state laws. Hopefully this will provide less incentive for the cops to abuse the asset forfeiture laws.

Comment: It changes the choice stats (Score 1) 430

by partofthepuzzle (#48944353) Attached to: FCC Officially Approves Change In the Definition of Broadband

The change in definition means that the percentages of households that have more than one option for broadband has plummeted. Before this, asshat providers like Comcast could claim that there was ample competition and choice for consumers but now it will be undeniable that they have effective monopolies for true broadband in many markets. Props to FCC for making the move. Undoubtedly, it will be appealed as a delaying tactic, even though the FCC is fully within their purview to make the decision.

Comment: Re:The Constitution is not toilet paper. (Score 1) 562

by partofthepuzzle (#48851489) Attached to: Obama: Gov't Shouldn't Be Hampered By Encrypted Communications

The problem is that if there's another terrorist attack is the U.S. then the panic will create a climate of fear and a strengthened Patriot Act., including an "emergency" on the unreadable encryption is almost a certainty. Additional attacks and we're probably looking at Constitutional Amendments that we would have considered unthinkable a few years ago.

Comment: Re:So how quick is it? (Score 1) 181

by partofthepuzzle (#48768319) Attached to: Inside Cryptowall 2.0 Ransomware

In the system that I saw infected with CW 2.0, the encryption process seemed to have been relatively slow. The user noticed that something was weird was going on, put in a USB flash drive and copied their Documents folder to it. They saved approx half of the 200 or files before they were encrypted. I think the encryption pricess on CW 2.0 is just slow, rather than intentionally delayed but that's just my guess.

A couple of things to bear in mind: CW 2.0 basically leaves Windows in a normal bootable state. CW 2.0 launches it's ransom and warning msgs when you first boot but applications all run as expected. E.G. Word ran fine but of course you get an error message when you try to open a doc. Also, CW 2.0 doesn't need any special permissions or to run as Administrator: it's only accessing the data files available in the context of the user.

Comment: YACWCV - Yet Another CryptoWall Client Victim (Score 1) 463

by partofthepuzzle (#48739111) Attached to: Writer: How My Mom Got Hacked

I recently got a referral from an older couple that also got hit by CryptoWall 2.0. Credit to them: as soon as they noticed that something wasn't right with their PC, they copied the Documents folder to a USB drive and shut off the computer. CryptoWall 2.0 encrypts files rather slowly and they were able to save about half of their files. Fortunately for them, they had never had gotten into the practice of storing precious photos on their PC.

BTW, CrytoWall 2.0 also encrypts all external and network attach storage. Someone cracked CrytoWall 1.0, and there was help for decrypting the files but 2.0 hasn't been cracked.

Comment: Nothing new here: see CALEA (Score 1) 337

Real time surveillance and listening to phone calls, emails and text messages have been available for years via CALEA, which mandates that all ISPs provide access for this purpose for law enforcement (see the Wikipedia article). It's rather baffling that CALEA isn't mentioned more often.

Comment: Microsoft just has to wait a year (Score 1) 800

by partofthepuzzle (#43881205) Attached to: First Looks At Windows 8.1, Complete With 'Start' Button

The 2nd rev of the Intel Haswell SOC is due in 6-8 months and will enable tablets that weigh 1.5 lbs, get 10 hours of battery life, & cost $400. Yep, just like an iPad! Except that it will run full Windows and all the apps that you already own and have invested years in learning. Basically, they'll be Surface like devices (you'll want a detachable keyboard and touchpad when using Windows desktop apps): only lighter, longer lasting battery life and *much* cheaper. Plus the benefits of choice that come with having dozens of manufacturers producing them.

Microsoft historically has played the waiting game very well but this time they were just too impatient: they should have simply made Metro optional on non-tablet PCs for now, kept refining it and avoided this entire mess with Win 8. Metro just had to be ready when people start needing a touch interface on Windows. It hasn't happened yet, but it will definitely happen.

Comment: Firt hand experience (Score 1) 314

by partofthepuzzle (#43698973) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Becoming a Programmer At 40?

I don't have to speculate: I started my programming career at 41. This was back in 1986, so it was a different landscape back then. I had working doing PC tech support for a very large insurance company for 3 years, prior to which I had almost no computer experience. I did show a strong ability to grok the technology right off the bat and I was passionate about it and pretty much poured myself into all aspects of it. It was also a very exciting time - there was a lot of inspiration in the PC world.

I started programming as a natural extension to developing support systems using dBase and then Paradox on DOS, so my first steps were in 4GL. But after a couple of years,I decided that I wanted to learn Windows Programming. That meant diving into hard core C programming and wrestling with the with Win32 API. I did rather well all things considered. At that same insurance company, I was one of the lead programmers for in house desktop OS apps and I was also personally responsible for getting Windows established as the standard desktop OS and gleefully managed to piss off IBM in the process. Then I watched MS turn into total douche bags when they attacked me and my department for getting Borland products widely used in my company.

I finally got sick of the corporate scene and joined a small consulting firm where I focused on 4GL development with Pardox For Windows and then Cold Fusion when the web became dominant. After 15 years, I burned out on coding. Now I'm a full time DJ, part-time support and networking tech - poorer but happy.

So, I say go for it: coding is still one of those things that either you can do it or you can't and if you're good, you''ll find work.

Comment: Reported reason for city-wide lockdown (Score 1) 604

by partofthepuzzle (#43511479) Attached to: Bruce Schneier On the Marathon Bomber Manhunt

I was initially very skeptical about the city-wide lockdown until it was reported on every news outlet that the reason for the wider city "lockdown", was to minimize the strain on law enforcement and other services that would otherwise have to respond to matters unrelated to capturing the suspects. Seems pretty sensible to me. It's still to soon to know for sure but I haven't heard of any abuses by law enforcement in areas located far away from the action.

Comment: Will the VPN's work? (Score 1) 172

by partofthepuzzle (#43063305) Attached to: Criticism Of Copyright Alert System Mounts

>I can switch to an anonymous vpn and try it again.

I thought that that using a VPN would prevent Comcast from being able to detect what I'm downloading, etc. but I've been reading conflicting stories about this on various sites.

Will any VPN work to keep my traffic private?
Do I need to use a particular protocol: will a VPN over PPTP do the job?

Programmers used to batch environments may find it hard to live without giant listings; we would find it hard to use them. -- D.M. Ritchie