Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Re:Dang... (Score 3, Informative) 139

by jc42 (#47535075) Attached to: Siberian Discovery Suggests Almost All Dinosaurs Were Feathered

Interesting. Science is wrong, and "creationist parks" get the blame.

Hmmm ... This isn't really a case of scientists being wrong. The old images of dinosaurs have generally been "artists' interpretations" of the evidence, and scientists generally agreed that they had little evidence of the outer appearance of dinosaurs. Skin and other soft tissues don't fossilize too well, and we haven't had many samples until recently.

And the idea that birds are close relatives of or descended from dinosaurs isn't new. It was suggested by none other than Charles Darwin himself, based on similarities in the skeletons. Many of his colleagues agreed, but they even more agreed with the reply "Yeah, that's certainly interesting; can you find us some better evidence?" The situation stayed that way until the 1970s or so, because birds don't fossilize well. New fossil discoveries finally supplied enough evidence so that in the 1980s, the birds got officially reclassified as a branch of the dinosaurs.

But it was still well understood that there were a lot of loose ends, and Further Research Is Needed. Were feathers a development of the birds, for flight? Or had their non-flying ancestors had feathers, perhaps for insulation? The evidence wasn't nearly good enough, and it was left as an open question. Over the past decade or so, the evidence has trickled in, and this report seems to be filling in the gap. People who've followed the story aren't surprised; they're just happy to read about the evidence.

In any case, it never was a case of "Scientists thought that dinosaurs didn't have any sort of fur or feathers, but they've been proven wrong". It was more like "We didn't have the evidence, since feathers don't fossilize well, and now we've collected enough evidence that we can be pretty sure that those old artistic interpretations reptilian dinosaurs with bare skin were inaccurate; most of them (except the largest) probably did have feathers." This isn't considered a criticism of the artists, of course, since they didn't have evidence either, and many of them stated repeatedly that most of their drawings included a large shovel-full of conjecture. It was expected that, as evidence trickled in, they'd have to revise their drawings a lot.

But it likely is a good example of non-scientists saying "Scientists proved wrong" when the scientific data goes from "we don't really know ..." to "we've found the evidence ...". This is sorta the flip side of the constant "Those scientists just wasted time and money doing research to prove something that we knew all along" comments from people who have little understanding of what science is all about (and have always "known" things based on no evidence at all).

(Actually, since I first read about this topic back in the 1970s, I've been rooting for the tyrannosaurs having big, colorful cockatoo-like crowns of feathers. But that's just me, and I'm still waiting. But I won't be surprised either way. ;-)

Privacy

Dutch Court Says Government Can Receive Bulk Data from NSA 109

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the convenient-loophole dept.
jfruh (300774) writes Dutch law makes it illegal for the Dutch intelligence services to conduct mass data interception programs. But, according to a court in the Hague, it's perfectly all right for the Dutch government to request that data from the U.S.'s National Security Agency, and doing so doesn't violate any treaties or international law.
Privacy

A New Form of Online Tracking: Canvas Fingerprinting 194

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the subverting-features-for-evil-and-profit dept.
New submitter bnortman (922608) was the first to write in with word of "a new research paper discussing a new form of user fingerprinting and tracking for the web using the HTML 5 <canvas> ." globaljustin adds more from an article at Pro Publica: Canvas fingerprinting works by instructing the visitor's Web browser to draw a hidden image. Because each computer draws the image slightly differently, the images can be used to assign each user's device a number that uniquely identifies it. ... The researchers found canvas fingerprinting computer code ... on 5 percent of the top 100,000 websites. Most of the code was on websites that use the AddThis social media sharing tools. Other fingerprinters include the German digital marketer Ligatus and the Canadian dating site Plentyoffish. ... Rich Harris, chief executive of AddThis, said that the company began testing canvas fingerprinting earlier this year as a possible way to replace cookies ...
Government

Activist Group Sues US Border Agency Over New, Vast Intelligence System 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-see-what-you-have-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about one of the latest unanswered FOIA requests made to the Department of Homeland Security and the associated lawsuit the department's silence has brought. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has sued the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in an attempt to compel the government agency to hand over documents relating to a relatively new comprehensive intelligence database of people and cargo crossing the US border. EPIC's lawsuit, which was filed last Friday, seeks a trove of documents concerning the 'Analytical Framework for Intelligence' (AFI) as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. EPIC's April 2014 FOIA request went unanswered after the 20 days that the law requires, and the group waited an additional 49 days before filing suit. The AFI, which was formally announced in June 2012 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), consists of "a single platform for research, analysis, and visualization of large amounts of data from disparate sources and maintaining the final analysis or products in a single, searchable location for later use as well as appropriate dissemination."

Comment: Re:Propaganda (Score 1) 667

by jc42 (#47497643) Attached to: Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

I thought Obama was Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America, not the world.

For the past several decades, the US political system has considered these to be equivalent. Google "only remaining superpower" to read the evidence. You'll also find lots of uses of the phrase by non-Americans implying that they accept this as fact. Some of them complain, of course, but they often do so in ways that effectively acknowledge the fact of US rule. The US government is now immune from any so-called laws and is free to use its power as it likes anywhere in the world.

Comment: Re:I don't see the problem. (Score 3, Interesting) 667

by jc42 (#47497565) Attached to: Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

"Terrorist" is the wrong word, it's obvious from the intercepts this was a tactical error on someone's part.

Terrorism isn't defined by actions so much as the reason. For the love of Jebus, it has a well understood meaning folks, look it up.

That may have been true 10 or 20 years ago. Nowadays, here in the US and in many other countries, the common media and governmental meaning of "terrorist" is now "anyone we don't like".

This is a rather familiar sort of linguistic change that has happened to many other words in the past. There's not a whole lot we can do to persuade people to stick with the original definitions. After all, we can't even persuade people to stop using "literally" to mean "figuratively". What's our chance of persuading politicians that they shouldn't similarly retarget handy insult words to refer to their opponents?

Wikipedia

Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17 667

Posted by samzenpus
from the writing-history dept.
An anonymous reader writes A political battle has broken out on Wikipedia over an entry relating to the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, with the Russian government reportedly removing sections which accuse it of providing 'terrorists' with missiles that were used to down the civilian airliner. A Twitter bot which monitors edits made to the online encyclopedia from Russian government IP addresses spotted that changes are being made to a page relating to the crash. All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) changed a Russian language version of a page listing civil aviation accidents to say that "The plane was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers." That edit replaced text – written just an hour earlier – which said MH17 had been shot down "by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation."

Comment: Re: Missing information (Score 1) 32

by jc42 (#47483185) Attached to: Pushdo Trojan Infects 11,000 Systems In 24 Hours

Determining what is "related" is not an easy thing to do, programmatically speaking.

It's especially difficult for the Media, since for most of them, "computer", "IBM machine", "Microsoft" and "Windows" are synonyms. A few have heard of things like unix and linux, and some even use a mac. But hose gadgets are never called "computers", so they're not relevant to any news story dealing with computers. In common speech, saying that some new virus infects "computers" is all that needs to be said, since there are no brand names in the computer industry, only IBM and Microsoft (and maybe Apple, if that's a brand name).

I have seen a number of instances where some geeks will try to bring up non-IBM/Microsoft systems, and the media folks are clearly baffled by why people would try to change the subject, when the topic is clearly computers, not those other electronic thingies. I remember back in the early 1980s, when IBM first introduced their new DOS machines, and the reaction of lots of business and media people was "Finally there's a desktop computer." They didn't see any need to mention the brand name, because computers didn't have brand names. (The more knowledgeable did know that computers actually do have brand names, but since there was only one, it was a waste of time and page space to mention it.)

Comment: Re:The United States Voted For That Declaration (Score 4, Insightful) 261

by Blue Stone (#47477263) Attached to: UN Report Finds NSA Mass Surveillance Likely Violated Human Rights

The founders of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights had, at the time, just faced down a global fascist hegemony, which made those rights seem just and proper and self-evident for great peace and wellbeing.

Now those founding states are becoming a global fascists hegemony ... they're not so keen on them.

Quelle suprise! :)

Comment: Re:Missing information (Score 1) 32

by jc42 (#47475699) Attached to: Pushdo Trojan Infects 11,000 Systems In 24 Hours

Well it runs on Windows obviously. With the number of reported infections, the speed with which it happened, and the fact that it is a Trojan (meaning you need to trick the user into running it), it can only be Windows. There wouldn't be 11,000 Linux users tricked into running it in 24 hours even if it would run correctly on all their distros because we know Linux users are too smart to run Trojans. Hell, there probably weren't 11,000 Linux machines with users sitting in front of them to BE tricked into running it in that amount of time. With Macs - well every Mac user will tell you they don't get Trojans or viruses. That leaves Windows. Lots of doofuses to be tricked there.

While I can appreciate your sarcasm, I also followed the summary's first link to the report at labs.bitdefender.com, and thought it was interesting that in the "Related posts" in the column at the right, there's a Tags section, and the very first is "android" in a large font. There's no instance of "window" or "micro" or "soft" on the page. The obvious inference to a reader is "Hmmm ... Can this actually be a major infestation on android, i.e., linux?"

But no, this list of "Related ... Tags" appears to be some sort of subtle redirection or FUD or something, because as others have already reported here, this is indeed yet another MS Windows trojan infestation. The report page lists keywords including "android", "bitcoin", "facebook", "etc, but doesn't mention MS or Windows as related.

Anyone have any idea why the folks at bitdefender might do things this way?

Software

Australian Electoral Commission Refuses To Release Vote Counting Source Code 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
angry tapir writes: The Australian Electoral Commission has been fighting a freedom of information request to reveal the source code of the software it uses to calculate votes in elections for Australia's upper house of parliament. Not only has the AEC refused an FOI request (PDF) for the source code, but it has also refused an order from the Senate directing that the source code be produced. Apparently releasing the code could "leave the voting system open to hacking or manipulation."

Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment. -- Robert Benchley

Working...