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Comment Re:Spreadsheets (Score 2) 142 142

Any place where you have to take a number of observations and perform statistical analysys on the data. A lot of yield analysis in agriculture is done this way; remember, agriculture was the mother of statistics. Then you branch out to the other hard sciences and a spreadsheet is the right tool for the job. Once you learn the limitations of the tool (precision, range, accuracy) it can slash effort to a fraction of other methods.

Comment Re:"Secure in their ... papers" (Score 1) 157 157

Are we talking about a single piece of paper, or are there three independent pieces of paper? If the former, then the warrant would have to be served on Bob, because he has possession of the letter. If you made a copy or otherwise made a separate recording of the letter, then LEO could come after YOU for the contents. And you have no standing to contest the warrant on fourth amendment grounds. You could be questioned about the contents in either case.

Comment Re:Nonsense law still can't be ignored (Score 1) 157 157

Where the third party *does* have standing to challenge the warrant is when there is an undue financial burden on said third party to provide the requested information. Telephone companies have routinely charged the issuer of the warrent a fee for, say, the local-calling record of a party. The key is that word "undue" -- that can be interpreted many ways. The Founding Fathers of our country could not have predicted this, given the record-keeping practices of the time, versus now, and the fluidity of the concept of "ownership" of information. I'm afraid it would take a constitutional amendment to bring personally identifying information to be owned by the *person* and not by the party who collected it as a "normal part of business."

Comment Re:Nonsense law still can't be ignored (Score 2) 157 157

But what is being demanded is information being held by a third party, and not under the control of the party being investigated. Once you disclose anything to a third party, that information is now "out there", where the government can pick it off when they want to. The same is true if you use a third party to handle your e-mail, web site, or any other service. Look at the second phrase: the warrants fall within the four corners of the restrictions. Plus, the gag order that usually accompanies such requests prevents the data-holding party from tipping off the person being investigated.

Comment First, the attacker has to get through to SSH (Score 1) 157 157

On my edge router, I use TCPWRAPPERS to block access to a number of quasi-public services, like SSH. If the attacker isn't coming from the limited number of IP addresses allowed, the attempts get stopped and logged. Too many rejects, and they land in my edge ACL for all services, not just SSH. (Going on the theory that a bad apple hitting SSH probably has other bad habits.)

Comment FTA: did anyone else read the law cited? (Score 4, Informative) 674 674

When I clicked on the link to see the definition of "abstracting electricity", in the section on case law the offense cited was meter tampering. As in substantionally "more than a few electrons." The cost of prosecution would far exceed the cost of the electricity used. (I would also see where this particular law would apply to unauthorized taps or splices, where the power draw would be signifiant.)

One issue the article did bring up: the power at that train-car outlet isn't at all clean. If it uses external power pickup (third rail or overhead catenary) I could see where the surges, sags and dropouts would be severe enough to damage a phone or laptop, especially as the drive motors of the train, a highly inductive load, would cause very large spikes as the power pickup loses and re-makes contact. Contrast that with a long-haul train which supplies power from a locomotive generator, which shouldn't flicker at all.

So it could well be that there is a cause for action of a different sort: "We are not liable for any damage caused by plugging anything into the outlets on this train."

Submission + - No, you can't use Wi-Fi to power your phone. Do the math!->

richi writes: Did you see the headlines squawking about how Wi-Fi will charge your smartphone in the future?

Bunkum, I say. Each time the story gets repeated, it loses a little more veracity. So I aimed my Computerworld curation cannon at this.

Researchers have improved the ability to capture power from radio waves. By tweaking some standard Wi-Fi hardware, they've increased the amount of power that can be leeched from unused transmissions. It could help power IoT sensors.

But wait — don't believe everything you read on the interwebs, kids. Predictably, some science-illiterate journalists and bloggers are saying it can actually charge your smartphone. Sadly, the researchers only achieved power levels of a few microWatts — that's about 100,000 times too small to run your phone, let alone charge it.

Link to Original Source

Comment Re:Clean room implementation? (Score 0) 223 223

I may just be dense, but reading the documents I get the impression that the API definition itself is not the issue, but the specific implementation of the code behind the API definition. If I'm reading this right, Google incorporated Oracle's Standard Library wholesale, instead of re-implementing the Standard Library from scratch. This is where the copyright infringement comes into play, where you use the expression of an idea instead of just the idea itself in your own works. Let's look at ANSI/ISO language standards: the API to the standard library for the language is specified in the Standard, but no implementation of the library routines are included in the Standard. Someone wanting to make a Standards-compliant implementation of the language would need to write their own library, or buy the library from someone else. ("Buy" doesn't necessarily mean money, see the GPL.) If what I stated above is indeed the fact pattern in this case, then the DoJ is correct in their amicus brief.

Comment Who says the humans go away? (Score 1) 615 615

If you've ever been around trucks in the retail and wholesale delivery to retail markets, you know that the drivers also do double duty as payload handlers. Think of the gas truck pulling into a station to fill the station tanks; there is a human making the hook-ups and monitoring the transfer. Furniture delivery trucks, even when self-driving, will still need handlers to take the furniture in. (Or, for Salvation Army trucks, to take the furniture out to the truck.) Also, how are self-driving trucks going to handle some of the really wild truck docks? There will be a reduction with long-haul drivers, granted, but trailer-trains have been taking some of that market already.

Comment Re:Controversial because? (Score 3, Informative) 284 284

We've tried that, and it turns out that it doesn't really lead to independent states in education. Look at all the textbook debacles that start in Texas, for example. Why would textbooks in Texas matter if you live in a different state? They matter because the companies that publish textbooks don't want to publish different versions for each state, they want to publish for the largest states (population wise) first and then try to sell the same texts to other states.

This results in textbooks going in to non-nutter states that include discussions on intelligent design and other rampant bullshit. The states only have the flexibility to get textbooks of their own choosing if they exist (as few states have the time and money to go about preparing their own textbooks) so they end up with what the boards in Texas approve.

In my high school in downstate Illinois, several of my classes were taught using locally published material. Oh, we had the standard textbooks, but we were tested on the material in the local material. Chemistry was taught from a locally-written textbook, and my father (a research chemist) thought that home-brew textbook was better than some of the college textbooks on his shelf. This wasn't restricted to just one state: in Oklahoma we had a textbook written by an in-state college professor about the history of the Native Americans, from Columbus through to then-present day. I'm not aware of any Texas textbook that does more than scratch the surface about the "Trail of Tears." And the state didn't publish the textbook.

Comment Re:Controversial because? (Score 1) 284 284

As for innnercity schools that seems to be more of an issue with lack of parental oversight...

How about just the lack of parents, in the plural? How many of those inner city schools have significant populations of single-parent children? Particularly children without fathers?

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."