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Comment: Re:Still ignoring the big issue with graphene. (Score 1) 36

Hmm... I was just realizing that this DVD method should also allow for the printing of graphene-based circuits; instead of pitting the foil, the laser would be reducing paths in the disc (instead of the entire thing). I wonder how good the resolution would be using a method like this? Would it work with blu-ray and a blue laser, or would that break down the oxide too much? You should get better resolution that way, and if someone made a multi-layer disc with graphite oxide instead of reflective foil, you could burn your own multi-layer circuit board. Not sure how you'd do the connects and pass-throughs though. Maybe just print one layer at a time, and manually finish off the rest after you're done....

Comment: Re:Obviously didn't work so well... (Score 1) 87

by Em Adespoton (#48928653) Attached to: Snowden Documents: CSE Tracks Millions of Downloads Daily

Not to be apologetic or anything, but that's like saying crosswalks don't work because of the number of crosswalk fatalities.

Sure, they're probably not actually getting any useful information from this dragnet beyond the addresses of people who upload/download "extremist" material, and the identities of those people help more in populating no-fly lists and as monitoring start-points to track down their handlers should they actually become "radicallized", but you can't expect less than hyperbole from the gov't organizations and politicians if we aren't willing to rise above that ourselves.

Comment: Re:Something Suspicious (Score 1) 176

by Em Adespoton (#48928443) Attached to: Adobe's Latest Zero-Day Exploit Repurposed, Targeting Adult Websites

Actually, there ARE browsers built on Flash. They've got an entire platform people can use should they care to. However, Adobe's revenue stream comes in mostly via the reseller market -- so they make more money off of things like ADS and being an ePub certificate authority -- hence, no reason for them to focus too much time/money on their actual products.

I guess that's what you get for building with mud.

Comment: Re:But power corrupts (even if unintentionally) (Score 4, Interesting) 396

Interesting story. One of the things I find most reassuring about the police service* in the UK is that they have long maintained, great consistency and at almost any rank, that good community relations are the heart of good policing. Officers who go out on patrol** have consistently and overwhelmingly said they do not want to routinely carry firearms, because that goes against the basic principle of policing by consent, and instead they tend to assume that the solution to local problems often starts with trying to improve those relations if they are failing. Concerns are also raised often by the police themselves about the balance between having officers patrolling in vehicles for rapid response and having officers literally walking the beat and actually making contact with the public. I get the feeling that police officers in certain other parts of the world have a very, very different attitude to their relationship with the public.

*I remember well that when the local police schools liaison officer visited us, he made a point of saying he didn't like the term "police force" because it had the wrong connotations before you even started to look at what the police did.

**It's curious how often police officers and politicians in some places refer to officers "on the front line", this being about as overt a military metaphor as I can think of (short of being "on the front line in the war against $ABSTRACT_NOUN" I suppose).

Comment: Re:Security is a yes/no question (Score 1) 396

The key point from an ethical/legal point of view might be the warrant. The key safeguard from a practical point of view is that to plant those bugs someone has to actually visit the site and do something. This requires time, effort, and a risk of getting caught, which means it's potentially an option if you really do have a good reason to consider a specific individual to be a threat but it's prohibitively expensive to spy on everyone all of the time. As far as defending democracy is concerned, that is a much healthier balance than mass surveillance of the many by the few.

Comment: Re:When everyone is guilty... (Score 1) 396

All agreed, though I am increasingly of the view that systemic bias in favour of the accused is not sufficient. Merely being dragged through the legal system even if ultimately found not guilty is sure to be stressful, time-consuming, and possibly costly in more ways than one. People who have committed even quite serious crimes are sometimes released immediately after conviction on the basis that they've already served as much or more time than their sentence -- but of course, someone who was entirely innocent and not convicted in court also served that time. Right now you're unlikely to get much financial compensation for any of that, and even less any obligation for those who caused the damage to do anything else to set the record straight or otherwise make things right as much as possible.

The more I've thought about these kinds of issues as I get older, the more I think our modern "justice" systems are no longer fit for purpose, if indeed they ever were. In particular, they take an absurd amount of time and resources to deal with trivial infractions, sometimes at a cost to all involved that is far greater than any damage done by the alleged act itself. For major cases, the court proceedings can cost millions and drag on for years, and by the time they are finally over the result is no longer relevant anyway.

I think we would probably do much better if we built on the kinds of distinction we already make about severity: misdemeanour vs. felony in the US, magistrates vs. crown courts here in the UK, small claims courts with less formal procedures for minor civil disputes, and so on. For example, I don't see why any very minor offence can't be fully tried and a judgement made within a single court session and within a matter of days after the alleged infraction. Either there is clear evidence to convict, or you acquit. If you convict in a fast track procedure, you have strict limits on the level of penalty that can be imposed.

Then for repeated minor offences within some defined time period or for more serious crimes (probably anything including violence that allegedly caused significant injury and/or damage needing repairs exceeding a certain cost, for example) you can extend the timescales involved to a degree to allow for more careful preparation of the case, perhaps increase the degree of scrutiny in terms of magistrates vs. judge and jury and allow the use of expert witnesses, and so on.

Crucial to all of this, in my ideal world, would be the idea that there was also proper compensation for anyone brought through the system at any given level but not ultimately found guilty, making it not cost effective to bring cases in the first place without a reasonable expectation of a conviction. No doubt experienced lawyers could come up with much better ideas for the specific details of any such system, but I think the idea of having more well-defined tiers with strict limits on applicability and proportionate compensation arrangements is basically a sound one.

Comment: Re:Still ignoring the big issue with graphene. (Score 2) 36

Maher El-Kady and others at the University of California at Los Angeles have now found a way to fabricate graphene films, and graphene capacitors, without any sticking together. The researchers take a DVD and apply a layer of plastic, followed by a film of graphite oxide. They then insert the DVD into a standard DVD drive, so that the in-built laser chemically reduces the graphite oxide to graphene. Having removed the disc, the researchers peel off the plastic, which is then coated in graphene, and cut it into whatever shapes they desire.

Sounds like Riverside and LA need to team up on this. The method of using a red laser to reduce the oxide should be relatively easy to replicate at an industrial scale. Then the problem becomes sourcing large quantities of graphene oxide. However, since the US creates its own synthetic graphite, it should be relatively simple to apply the next stage of converting it to graphene oxide as part of the synthesis process.

Comment: But power corrupts (even if unintentionally) (Score 3, Insightful) 396

I agree with your basic point about the need for balance. Of course there are bad people in the world and of course we need police and courts and the like.

I think the problem today is that many in our current political class don't recognise that need for balance so much as they see "them and us" and even start to forget whose side they are supposed to be on. The truly evil part of the situation is that this result seems almost inevitable. The people calling the shots are exactly the people who necessarily deal with the worst of humanity as part of their job. How could this not affect their perspective? They naturally want to trust their allies, who are the people who would be empowered under all these proposed security measures and aided by restrictions on the privacy and security of others. And of course being influential figures within the government, it is highly unlikely that they will personally ever find themselves on the wrong side of a government screw-up and unable to get the problem fixed very quickly.

I don't think these people are evil. On the contrary, I suspect most people in government, including their agents in the police and security services, are probably just normal people who have a job to do and who genuinely want to do the right thing. As with any large group, there will eventually be a few bad actors included as well and it is necessary to identify and contain them, but that isn't usually the main problem.

However, I do think we're talking about people who are heavily biased, even paranoid, because it would take a superhuman level of detachment not to be when you look at the kind of people they have to deal with at times. I also think in most cases they are ignorant about the technologies they are dealing with, and therefore unable to make rational, objective judgements about the likely effects of the technical measures they propose as policy. Finally, I think that the more senior these figures get within the government and its agencies, the more detached they tend to be from reality for average citizens and the more ignorant or dismissive they can become of how things tend to play out for innocent people in less privileged positions who are nevertheless caught up by the measures the politicians propose.

As the saying goes, power corrupts. It doesn't necessarily have to be malicious or intentional. Obviously in some cases it has been, but often I think the corruption is more of a slow but almost inevitable change in perspective caused by the situations you find yourself in when you have power to wield.

And so it is necessary for those who are looking from outside, those who don't spend disproportionate amounts of their time dealing with a particularly nasty minority of the human race, those who understand the technical issues, to speak out about what is happening and where it could lead. As with any issue of civilised government, in the long run you're going to get much further by educating people about relevant issues and promoting intelligent discourse than you are with wildly exaggerated rhetoric and extreme positions backed by intimidation and ultimately violence. The latter are seductive, and often appear quite effective in the short term, but I doubt they've ever truly solved much.

Comment: Lawful Access Through a Court Order? (Score 2) 396

"We understand the value of encryption and the importance of security," she said. "But we're very concerned they not lead to the creation of what I would call a 'zone of lawlessness,' where there's evidence that we could have lawful access through a court order that we're prohibited from getting because of a company's technological choices.

Sorry? This is idiotic. In real life, it (is supposet to) go like this:

1) Find signs that something illegal is likely going on
2) Go to the court and get a court order for more investigation, based on these signs.
3) Execute the court order and get the information.

In other words, there IS a lawful access route -- the police get a court order, they approach the suspect and confiscate their phone, and as part of the process, require their password. Suddenly, there's no encryption issue.

The problem here is when police want UNlawful access to someone's device. At no point does encryption prevent lawful access.

Comment: Re:Security is a yes/no question (Score 1) 396

Notice that I very carefully said secure against a certain attack in my previous post. You are talking about something different to breaking the encryption technically: the xkcd attack, which any large organisation with weapons can apply, but not covertly and not without consequences if they try to apply it systematically against innocent people.

Comment: Re:Then there was War Plan Red (Score 1) 299

Sorry, but there is no fucking way on this green earth that I would willing fly the US flag on Canadian soil.

Sorry... go to your local shopping mall/hotel/marina/etc. Notice the flags flying there? Canadian, Provincial and... American.
I never said anything about taking down the Canadian flag (although there's been more than enough argument about scrapping that and getting something more flashy, whether it be going back to the 3-leaf flag, replacing the leaf with a polar bear, etc.)

Your arrogance at suggesting that we would willingly submit to an outside authority would be the same as me suggesting that we simply take Alaska from the US.

I think you missed the point -- Canadians don't submit to INSIDE authority, let alone outside. At this point, the US saying they owned Canada wouldn't be all that different from the current Federal government. But canadians don't shout about this and thump their chests -- they just ignore the politicians, nod knowingly at each other, and carry on as usual.

After all, its pretty obvious that Alaska is a better fit in Canada than it is in the US.

I'm sorry... but you're starting to sound very American here. This is American logic Canadians don't care about "better fit" and don't try to take over other territories -- there's enough unoccupied Canada already. For example, did you know that there have been multiple cases of other countries begging to join confederacy? Newfoundland was the last one that made it in, and will probably continue to be the last. Canada finally learned its lesson: new lands mean new liabilities and new debt to pay down.

Besides, last time we fought (1812) we kicked your ass and sent you packing back across the border, and burned what was to become the 'White' house (hence the name).

OK; I'm starting to wonder who you are actually aiming this at. But for the record, it was the British who went down and burned the White House in 1812; that was 55 years before Canada became a country. And I'm pretty sure you weren't alive then, and your ancestors most likely didn't live in Upper Canada, nor were part of the British garrison that made that sortie.

If you can't handle an insurgency in a place like Afghanistan, what makes you think you'd be able to do it in Canada?

Now THAT is a good point. I hope the Harper government thinks long and hard about that one.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.