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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?

Comment: Re:Not just for terrorism (Score 1) 178

What is really going on is hat these Fusion centers have found the ultimate workaround for those pesky little constitutional annoyances like Probable Cause and jurisdictional boundaries.and due process. Names just happen to turn up from anywhere and some tangential, half muttered possible connection to possible terrorists is given IF it's even requested and then the fishing begins. Another particularly frightening thing to consider is that the Fusion centers have become the destination spots for the super high tech surveillance technology after it returns from being deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and other military operations. One of the inherent problems presented by some of the new advanced capabilities that are available with these toys and esp the way military has been using them, are illegal or or require very specific legal procedures in exceptional circumstances. It shouldn't be a surprise to find that when this gear is sitting around, available to the personnel, that there have been disturbing reports of it's being used by local law enforcement, with the assistance of US military in ways that are simply not legal. What disturbs me even more is the culture o shoft that might be taking place within local police ranks in terms of being comfortable with rationalizing sloppy adherence to privacy protections, probable cause and some of the legal protections that may the only things that are protecting us from sliding into a the kind of data and scanning police state. And these Fusion Centers have enough loopholes in their charters to get away with just about anything. There aren't even enough people to keep an eye on them or even occasionally review them.

We're ten years away (tops) from cheap, very portable scanning technology that will be able to instantly detect anything from 100 feet away, even a dust sized particle on your shoe. It can deployed to scan a busy street corner 24/7, and when it yields a positive detection from something stuck on your shoe, it spits out a a full ID via facial recognition. Probable cause test passes with flying colors, a visit with the judge, and a few hours later, with that search warrant in hand, they could be busting down your door. What could go wrong?

Comment: He should make it clear (Score 1) 1223

by partofthepuzzle (#41481245) Attached to: Torvalds Uses Profanity To Lambaste Romney Remarks

I think the only thing Linus needs to do is make it clear that he's speaking as an individual and not in any capacity related to Linux or the Linux community. The fact that he was correct in his assessments is just something that makes me smile. Their size and their business clout, plus a lot of lot PR has given the Mormon religion an aura of normalcy but taken strictly on it's own beliefs and teachings it would be considered a fringe, quite bizarre religious cult. Before anyone jumps up to defend the Mormon Church, go ahead and spend a good 4-5 hours visiting the Mormon complex in Salt Lake City, as I did a couple of years ago while I was passing through the area. Bizarre, intellectually bereft, culturally constricted, frightening political power, spookily secretive. My impression after my visit was that underneath the surface, there is something very unhealthy and more than a little scary going on. I left SLC depressed and concerned.

Comment: Re:Downgrade rights (Score 1) 671

by partofthepuzzle (#40959511) Attached to: CowboyNeal Weighs In On the Windows 8 "Metro" GUI

There was considerable customer interest in a full touch screen mobile phone well before the rumors surfaced re: Apple making one. It was discussed as a natural evolution of the Palm Pilot concept and the Treo, just using touch either with a stylus or replacing it. Apple's brilliance with the first iPhone, was obviously in their their particularly elegant implementation. There were other companies working on touch screen phones but the iPhone was much more elegant and immediately captured almost total consensus that it represented the best direction for touch phones

Because there was a very strong interest in smart phones in general and touch implementations in particular at that time, Apple should addition brilliance in the timing of the iPhone's release. It was innovative to the ideal extent: it created excitement and gear lust but it wasn't so far out that only geeks could relate to it. But I think the crucial timing decision was related to the price. I've been told by a close friend who was involved with the hardware design, that the price point was a a hard target and they simply wouldn't release it until they could hit that price. He said that they could have released it almost a year earlier but the extra cost would have slowed adoption and reduced their head start on their competitors. Jobs was determined to come out with huge sales numbers. He didn't want the perception that Apple was just doing OK in a new market (for them).

Comment: Why Win 8 isn't really a risk for MS (Score 1) 558

by partofthepuzzle (#40864515) Attached to: Windows 8 Is Ready

I think MS are idiots for trying to force feed Metro to non-tablet users, rather than letting interest and adoption be driven by the tablet users. And they're double dumb for making everyday workflow more difficult for most of their users. But in the absence of an alternative OS that will reliably run the Windows software that users and corporate IT have invested their time and money to learn, most Windows users will just deal with the annoyances. If people really hate it, then MS will have the next Windows 9 out in 18-24 months. If I want or need to stay with Win 7 for another 2-3 years, that's just fine.

Comment: It doesn't have to perfect... (Score 1) 589

by partofthepuzzle (#40864301) Attached to: Existing Solar Tech Could Power Entire US, Says NREL

It seems to me that a lot of the discussion/arguments around renewable energy tech, esp solar, revolve around whether it will be the complete solution. Wouldn't it be worth pursuing solar electricity generation on a massive scale, even if it "only" supplied 50% - 80% of what we needed? If solar was installed on *all* new residential and commercial buildings and say, 50-70% of existing buildings were retro-fitted, wouldn't that move the planet significantly away from oil dependencies and jump start the engineering and cultural changes that will *have* to embrace at some point. Doing something like would provide the real world lab to improve the technology and inspire new ideas. It's always going to be an iterative process.

We can't wait around for "perfect" solutions. Sure it's not smart do rush into something with a small payoff but it looks like we've reached a point where at least 2 or 3 energy technologies are well worth implementing on a global scale now.

Comment: Re:crash faster (Score 1) 563

I know this is off topic but I think it's important:

I fix malware infected PCs for a living. Every Windows user should be aware that in the last 4 weeks or so I have seen what I believe is the beginning of a new pandemic of malware infections. Unfortunately, the anti-virus companies still haven't agreed on a common naming process. Microsoft Security Essentials is calling it Trojan:Win32/Sirefef.AC (or AH or C, etc.). AVG is calling it Dropper.Generic_C.MMI. This is a rootkit and multi-virus type infection and in many cases it is so difficult to remove that for the AH variant, Microsoft doesn't even offer removal instructions and recommends reformatting and re-installing Windows. All of the systems that I have cleaned have become infected via web site "drive-by": simply visiting infected web sites.

Most of these infections are taking over the Services.exe file. I also strongly suggest using a Repair Disk or DART and learning how to use the SFC command line utility. Booting off of CD/DVD, deleting the infected Services.exe and running SFC, which will scan all of the Windows system files and fix or replace them, including Services.exe. You can also delete other infect files from the command line. Then you can at least have a somewhat clean boot into Windows and run a tool like Hitman Pro to finish the job.

A Google search for those virus names will show the huge number of threads on the malware help sites and note how recent the dates are. I think we'll be hearing about this in the news very soon.

Comment: Re:Mod parent up! (Score 1) 738

by partofthepuzzle (#39873795) Attached to: Software Engineering Is a Dead-End Career, Says Bloomberg

Back in the late 90's, I had a conversation with a Microsoft exec in which he said that in the early days of Windows, they hired several very young programmers who initially were hailed as heroes for their work on some the Windows internals because of how fast they were able to solve problems related to performance, etc. but that in the long run, their inexperience led to problems that took a lot of work to correct and cost them dearly. He said that it was an expensive lesson on the value of older, more experienced programmers.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken