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Comment: Re:And nothing will change ... (Score 5, Informative) 138

by virtigex (#46048665) Attached to: Surveillance Watchdog Concludes Metadata Program Is Illegal, "Should End"
Police lying about how they obtained evidence (because they obtained it illegally) is called "parallel construction". Amazingly, US law enforcement treat it as just another tool they can use, rather than a method for committing perjury and circumventing the Fourth Amendment.

Comment: Re:Another proprietary mess - a pity. (Score 1) 111

by virtigex (#45807053) Attached to: BitTorrent Unveils Secure Chat To Counter 'NSA Dragnet Surveillance'
Disclaimer, Chat team member here. Chat is based on the Distributed Hash Table DHT and Arvid Nordberg, the head engineer on this project, has just released our DHT bootstrap code as open source on github. At the start of this project, we frequently ask ourselves why anybody should trust us over any other group. The only answer that we could come up with is increased transparency.

The Linux Backdoor Attempt of 2003 360

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the alright-which-one-of-you-did-it dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Ed Felton writes about an incident, in 2003, in which someone tried to backdoor the Linux kernel. Back in 2003 Linux used BitKeeper to store the master copy of the Linux source code. If a developer wanted to propose a modification to the Linux code, they would submit their proposed change, and it would go through an organized approval process to decide whether the change would be accepted into the master code. But some people didn't like BitKeeper, so a second copy of the source code was kept in CVS. On November 5, 2003, Larry McAvoy noticed that there was a code change in the CVS copy that did not have a pointer to a record of approval. Investigation showed that the change had never been approved and, stranger yet, that this change did not appear in the primary BitKeeper repository at all. Further investigation determined that someone had apparently broken in electronically to the CVS server and inserted a small change to wait4: 'if ((options == (__WCLONE|__WALL)) && (current->uid = 0)) ...' A casual reading makes it look like innocuous error-checking code, but a careful reader would notice that, near the end of the first line, it said '= 0' rather than '== 0' so the effect of this code is to give root privileges to any piece of software that called wait4 in a particular way that is supposed to be invalid. In other words it's a classic backdoor. We don't know who it was that made the attempt—and we probably never will. But the attempt didn't work, because the Linux team was careful enough to notice that that this code was in the CVS repository without having gone through the normal approval process. 'Could this have been an NSA attack? Maybe. But there were many others who had the skill and motivation to carry out this attack,' writes Felton. 'Unless somebody confesses, or a smoking-gun document turns up, we'll never know.'"

Comment: Parallelism obsoleted the supercomputer (Score 2) 123

by virtigex (#42470265) Attached to: Supercomputer Repossessed By State, May Be Sold In Pieces
There are not many problems these days that cannot be parallelized and split up to be run on a large number of off the shelf hardware. It is much easier to grow a Beowulf Cluster to add performance than redesigning to eke out every bit of capability of top-of-the-line hardware. Much easier also, to redesign your problem so that it can take advantage of parallelism. I agree that this was probably a boondoggle by a politician wanting to get some publicity for himself.

Comment: YouTube is a business (Score 3, Insightful) 278

by virtigex (#42398083) Attached to: EFF Looks At How Blasphemy Laws Have Stifled Speech in 2012
Hosting a video that is solely intended to cause outrage is bad for business and YouTube should remove it if it causes trouble. What does YouTube gain by hosting this video? This is not a US First Amendment issue, since the producer of the film is quite welcome to have the film hosted and published by some other means. Put it on vimeo your own web site or even host it via The Pirate Bay. Free speech does not mean that a company has to help you to spread your message.

Comment: Discrimination Happens, But Not Always (Score 1) 375

by virtigex (#42114449) Attached to: Silicon Valley's Dirty Little Secret: Age Bias
I've been working at a bunch of companies in my career and I'm well over 50 and now have decided to work only for startups until it's quitting time in a few years. It's like riding a roller coaster - after one exits, I just want to get back on the next one. One before this, Flip Video, was great, but we all ended getting laid off. In my subsequent job search I encountered a fair amount of age discrimination in hiring by companies large and small. However, at the startup that I currently work for I didn't get that at all. The interview was as tough as any other, but I didn't get the some of the negative vibes I did at other interviews. When I joined, I noticed that there were a fair number of crusty old guys like me, right along side of the kids right out of college. The common thing about us is that we are all good at our jobs. The company has no problems with terminating people who can't deliver. Discrimination exists, but not everywhere. The smart companies realize that discrimination in any form cuts down your pool of talented people and is therefore counterproductive.

Comment: Vulnerable if not 100% effective (Score 1) 238

No matter how many accidents that the MIT technology prevented, if this technology fails to prevent an accident the makers of this technology will get sued. The lawsuit's reasoning would go like this: Joe's standard of driving, just like everybody else's, is way above average and his super-fast reflexes were handling the traffic situation fine, but MIT's defective technology overrode his highly skilled actions and actually caused the accident. Unless the auto manufacturers and the technology's inventors could prove that the accident would also have happened with the same or higher level of damage they will be held at least partially responsible. I worked for a few auto companies and such accident preventing technology would always be put on trial when it fails to 100% prevent an accident and they would be perpetually in the courtroom defending it. This is why this kind technology rarely makes it into production.

Comment: Hard to get apps published. (Score 1) 299

by virtigex (#40615463) Attached to: RIM CEO On What Went Wrong
I worked on a product that had app for iOS, Android and BlackBerry. It took months to get a app approved for BlackBerry, much more than the iOS app store. We went through a couple of versions of Android and iOS, before RIM got around to approving our two-generations old version. Rather than give users an old and clunky version that no longer fitted the way we were doing things, we pulled the BlackBerry app and dropped BlackBerry support.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll