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Comment: Re:Moat? Electric fence? (Score 3, Funny) 210

by plover (#48422125) Attached to: Congress Suggests Moat, Electronic Fence To Protect White House

"Hey, Joe, now that we've finished surrounding the Capitol building lawns with mines, we've still got a bunch of extra mines. What should we do with them?"

"They're not extra. They said ring the building, so the plans are to mine the walks and driveways, too. Maybe if they wrote the policy better, they'd have thought to add an access route."

Comment: Re:What? (Score 3, Insightful) 101

by plover (#48422093) Attached to: The Software Big Oil's PR Firm Uses To "Convert Average Citizens"

This is the same thing that every company big enough to do public relations at all does, except it's being described using inflammatory terminology.

That's what I was thinking. If they are getting real people to agree with their position and sign up with their on-line site, how would that make their individual choices illegitimate? How could that be painted as "astroturf" when it's clearly legitimate support?

Look at the other side. If I worked for a railroad that operated thousands of tanker cars that ship oil across the country, I might go to the stop-the-oil-pipeline.org site and pledge my support. As a railroad, I burn thousands of gallons of oil to ship millions of gallons of crude. I have no interest in protecting the environment, yet here I am, signing up. It's not because I'm an environmentalist, it's because I don't want the competition to take away my business. Where is the story claiming this makes the environmentalists an astroturf organization? There isn't one, because it's not.

Why isn't this story looking into the CRM software in use by the environmentalists? Perhaps their bias is a bit too evident.

Comment: Re:Impossible to build purely evil robots? (Score 1) 315

Isn't an atomic bomb just a very, very simple robot?

while (altitude() > TARGET_ALTITUDE)

        sleep(1);
explode();

And yes, it is impossible to determine if that algorithm will ever terminate.

A "good" compiler should throw an error and refuse to compile it, because the function's return can never be reached. An "evil" compiler will spit out an ignorable warning, but let you build your bomb. That implies we need to use evil compilers to program the Kill-O-Bots.

Comment: Re:By the same logic (Score 2) 315

So how many humans have to die before recognizing the AED is faulty? If it's a subtle fault, it might be delivering a barely ineffective treatment, and confused with an unsaveable patient. The THERAC 25 failure was a bit more dramatic, but it still killed many patients.

Would we accept the same levels of failure from the Kill-O-Bot 2000? We already fire missiles into crowds of people or convoys in order to take out a single high value target. If the Kill-O-Bot was more specific than a missile, but less than perfect, isn't it still a better choice?

Comment: Re:Soylent blue is managers! MAAAANAGGGERSS!! (Score 4, Insightful) 203

by plover (#48379445) Attached to: Your Incompetent Boss Is Making You Unhappy

And what are we supposed to do with these incompetents if we can't promote them out to management?

Where do you think executives come from.

You'd be surprised how much damage an incompetent executive can do. It may not be immediate, but it poisons an organization systemically. A bad boss can be fired. Firing a bad exec may not remove the toxins fast enough for the organization to recover.

Comment: Re:That's not how air conditioning works (Score 1) 34

by plover (#48352123) Attached to: A/C Came Standard On Some Armored Dinosaur Models

What, you're saying swamp coolers don't qualify as A/C? They may not use the traditional compression/expansion cycle, but they certainly do cool an area. And a mucosal surface like the nasal cavity would provide plenty of evaporation to further expel heat from the body. (Although I suspect that the dinosaurs in TFA used swamp cooling primarily in its most literal sense of "hey, let's stand in the swamp because it's cooler".)

The study postulates that dinosaurs' nasal cavities acted as heat exchangers. Without a heat exchanger, your traditional A/C wouldn't work, either. I wouldn't quibble with this categorization.

My biggest gripe is the article misused the term "model" when it clearly meant genus or species.

Comment: Re:is this really news? (Score 1) 61

I believe that in almost all sectors, users are the primary entree into the protected network, either via phishing or other social engineering. You could probably replace the word Government in the phrase "government cyber breeches" with healthcare, financial services, social networking, retail, non-profit, etc.

Social engineering will always work as long as humans have access to the data and systems. There are steps sys admins can take that can limit or mitigate the damage, but the bottom line is that if people need to access the data, then other people will be able to exploit them.

Heavy handed security often isn't the panacea it's advertised as, because ordinary users will find ways to deal with it. Do you make them change passwords daily? They'll resort to keeping a file of daily passwords. Do you make them fill out a big form to request access to a system? They'll request access to a dozen, in hopes that they will stumble across the correct one, and so won't have to repeat the ordeal; out of the dozen departments they request access from, some may approve the inappropriate request. Or some department head will proclaim "grant everything to my department, because I don't want to waste our time with all these expensive little requests." All of these can be exploited even in the best of situations.

Comment: Re:marketing (Score 2) 101

by plover (#48351481) Attached to: Espionage Campaign Targets Corporate Executives Traveling Abroad

If you think this is an attempt at marketing, you should recognize they're doing a terrible job at it. Read page 3 of the PDF above, the section titled "Executive Summary". That is not even close to an executive summary, and wouldn't explain jack to any of the executives I work with.

An executive summary for this paper should read like this:

"We have documented a sophisticated espionage ring that is targeting the laptop computers of upper level executives who travel to Southeast Asia. The attackers are using WiFi attacks, compromising hotel networks, compromising hotel business center computers, and tricking the executives into installing malware. Hotel staff are often complicit in either providing access to the attackers, notifying the attackers when the rooms are unoccupied, or by providing a distraction to the executive. They are stealing intellectual property, contacts, notes, schedules, and passwords. They are implanting keyloggers. They are tracking the executive's movements around the globe. They are installing custom malware to gain further access once the compromised computer is brought inside the corporate firewall. They are using sophisticated cryptography to hide their malware and their exfiltration activities. And they are carefully maintaining the compromised computers to ensure continued access for sustained, multi-year attacks."

That's an executive summary.

Comment: Re:Nothing. (Score 1) 209

by plover (#48315189) Attached to: What People Want From Smart Homes

You can certainly get some home automation systems that are cloud-optional. I have a Vera, which is an (overpriced) DD-WRT box, and it doesn't need internet access. You can get to it from outside the house via VPN, or you can use their SSL site to access it if you want. It runs the lights, sensors, and stuff like that. There are some proprietary devices with local interfaces of varying quality.

Some closed source devices want to phone home, just not to your home. Honeywell, Samsung, Craftsman, they don't have a locally accessible interface. You might want to avoid them.

I built mine initially to control greenhouse lighting, and liked it so much I put it in the rest of my house.

"Ahead warp factor 1" - Captain Kirk

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