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Comment: Re:Pretty pointless (Score 1) 227

by swillden (#49158817) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

You are assuming the company would know the legal limits of an NSL. you are assuming the company would care about legal limits. If the NSA agent makes a good case of "Terrorism" then they will likely get what they want.

Of course the company would know the legal limits. They have attorneys.

That they might not care I addressed in the second paragraph.

Comment: Re:Pretty pointless (Score 1) 227

by swillden (#49158471) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

I guess even if there was a way, the vendor would probably just get a NSL to put the backdoor in himself

NSLs can't do that. The law is quite specific about what an NSL can request. Not only can't it demand pro-active measures like backdoors, NSLs can't even demand the content of communications that the recipient already has. NSLs are limited by law to demanding communications metadata only.

Well, I suppose a letter can be issued that demands anything at all, and companies may choose to comply, but they don't legally have to if the letter specifies more than what is allowed by law.

Comment: Re:do no evil (Score 1) 175

by swillden (#49158419) Attached to: Google Taking Over New TLDs

Perhaps they should be asking for a ".google" gTLD, for that purpose, instead of trying to monopolize a generic identifier.

I was about to suggest the same, but with ".goog", to make it shorter.

They've applied for and received (been delegated) both.

Comment: Re:And no one cares (Score 1) 175

by swillden (#49158367) Attached to: Google Taking Over New TLDs

URLs have a reason to exist, and they will. The same way that IPs have a reason to exist and will, even though we rarely use them today.

Clearly they're important, and will be whether or not people see or use them. To the degree we can build infrastructure that hides the technical details and provides people with more human-friendly interfaces, we've made progress. Of course, the security engineer in me worries about the attack surface provided by these additional layers of abstraction.

But 10 years ago, I knew the IPs of all my servers by heart. Today I need them rarely, but sometimes I do and I know where to find them.

A few years from now you'll be glad that you need them rarely. Even with zero-compression, IPv6 addresses are unwieldy for humans.

Today I know all my domains by heart. Maybe in 10 years I will use them rarely, but when I do, I know how to do it.

It will be interesting to see what direction we go.

Comment: Multiple whiteboards + Google Hangout (Score 4, Interesting) 147

by swillden (#49154779) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Whiteboard Substitutes For Distributed Teams?

Okay, so the submitter asked for "good" solutions, and this may not qualify, but it's what I do: A whiteboard at each location, with a camera pointed at it. I can't draw on your drawing, but I can see what you draw, and you can see what I draw. I've experimented with various web-based shared whiteboards, but they all require drawing on the computer. Even with a tablet (either Wacom-style attached to a laptop/PC or a mobile device) and a pen, a real whiteboard is better.

In my case, generally there are at most three locations in the meeting, and usually only two: My home office and a group of people in a conference room. Having more may make the "real whiteboards" solution less effective.

Comment: Re:And no one cares (Score 4, Funny) 175

by swillden (#49154727) Attached to: Google Taking Over New TLDs

Well, then that's their limitation, not mine. I am tired of this trend of dumbing things down to the lowest possible.

Damn straight. It's like all these stupid GUI interfaces. I mean, I can see using a graphical interface if you're editing photos or something, but for reading and writing text? It's ridiculous and just makes it so that stupid people can do it without having to understand anything.

It all started with visual text editors, you know? Line editing was good enough, heck, you could argue that it made things too easy, too. What was really good was when we used toggle switches to enter data and read the output from a sequence of lights. If you can't mentally translate binary to ASCII you don't deserve the power of computation.


Comment: Re:And no one cares (Score 2) 175

by swillden (#49154699) Attached to: Google Taking Over New TLDs

Right on. It annoys me when I see people using google search to go to a specific website, rather than use the address bar to go there directly. If you try to explain to them that the address bar will take them there without having to click the first search result, it's like they don't even want to know.

I think this is just a further extension of the location bar vs search bar change.

I remember when I first saw the Chrome omnibox. It offended me. Mildly, but still. I know the difference between a search and a URL, and I am perfectly capable of clicking into the correct bar. Then I actually used the omnibox for a while (because Chrome was so blindingly fast compared to other browsers at the time) and found that when I jumped back to Firefox I got annoyed at the mental effort required to use the split location/search fields, even though it was trivial.

The fact is that low effort is not the same as zero effort. I like the omnibox because I just click and type, no need to spend a millisecond deciding which box I should click into.

I can see what you describe as the next step, so people don't have to bother understanding, or thinking about if they do understand, the difference between "cnn" and "". Or I suppose those who type slowly may prefer to omit the last four characters purely for that reason.

Comment: Re:I wonder how much hyperloop will really cost (Score 1) 152

by swillden (#49154621) Attached to: Hyperloop Testing Starts Next Year

I hope Elon Musk isn't getting arrogant, with the push into communication satellites, and hyperloop. The size of the hyperloop vehicles, suggests that it will have a lower capacity than a high speed rail line.

But much higher velocity, which can be combined with frequent runs to create high capacity.

If a high speed rail line wanted to, it could run the long, double deck high speed trains from Japan, that can carry ~1,600 passengers, every 3 minutes. Multiple trains could be stuck end to end.

That would provide massive throughput, but higher latency.

Comment: Re: Mistake or canny PR? (Score 2) 100

by swillden (#49154075) Attached to: Google Reverses Stance, Allows Porn On Blogger After Backlash

I have a friend at Google that says the real backlash was internal, and he thinks Matt Cutts even threatened to quit over this.

(I'm a Google employee)

Internal backlash was massive, and as far as I can tell hugely stronger than the fairly mild complaints outside the company. The strength of the internal opposition took me by surprise. I understood that while Google doesn't wish to censor the web it also doesn't wish to be the entity serving up sexual content. That seems like a reasonable position to me. I thought the 30-day notice was a bit short, even though the terms of service only offer 14 days, but other than that it seemed reasonable to me, basically bringing blogger into line with the policies in place for YouTube, etc., for years.

Many of my colleagues, however, vehemently disagreed, calling it censorship, application of one region's values upon the world and generally declaiming it as the beginning of the end for Google as a force for openness and access to information. Many called the decision deeply inconsistent with Google's stated mission, "To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful". The internal memegen system was awash in anti-censorship memes, and one of the memegen team went further and more or less shut the system down in protest, replacing it with a complaint about the blogger shutdown. Eng-misc, a high-volume internal mailing list for random discussions of, well, anything, was overrun with threads complaining about it. The founders got hammered with questions and complaints in the weekly company-wide TGIF meeting (which is actually held on Thursday these days, so more Googlers around the world can see it live).

It's been quite the storm.

As soon as the internal reaction started I expected the reversal, though it went further than I expected. I thought the result would just be more notice, maybe 90 days. But I suppose that's because I thought the basic decision was reasonable, and only the short notice unreasonable. Many others felt differently, obviously.

It's going to be interesting to see if this provokes re-examination of the YouTube and G+ policies. I doubt it, but I was wrong about the nature of the reversal, too.

Comment: Re:It's almost like the Concord verses the 747 aga (Score 4, Insightful) 152

by swillden (#49153949) Attached to: Hyperloop Testing Starts Next Year

Actually, it's the Return on investment (ROI) that matter in business. Or in other word, how many time it'll take to make enough profit to cover the cost of the initial investment. And in this case, the US$9.95 billion California High-Speed Rail is a huge example on how much money you can make on transportation.

Using the $56 million per km quoted on California High-Speed Rail as the low estimate of how much it would cost to build a hyper loop, the minimum cost across the US would be $56 million per km * 3000 miles * 1.6 km per mile = $270 Billion dollars MINIMUM. That's going to have a hell of a long ROI, and because of that I can't see anyone in their right mind financing such a project in the near future.

Did Musk ever propose transcontinental hyperloops? I don't believe he did. As I recall this was always intended as a regional transportation technology, something for distances short enough that air travel is inconvenient because of the airport delays at both ends, but long enough that traditional train travel is too slow.

Comment: Re:Genius. (Score 4, Informative) 205

by swillden (#49150045) Attached to: Lenovo Saying Goodbye To Bloatware

Genius executive: Maybe we should promise not to do stuff like that anymore.

Super-genius executive: Maybe we should promise not to do stuff like that any more, but exempt "security software and Lenovo applications". That way we can continue getting paid by McAfee and others to continue loading their stuff, as long as they don't mind us slapping our logo on it.

Comment: Re:... Driverless cars? (Score 1) 299

So... you still have nothing to cite.

Just the fact that you're trying to pretend that this all stopped in the 1930s means I have no more patience for this tangent.

I said no such thing. You were the one who brought up the 30s, I just used your era.

And I really have no dog in this fight, and would be interested to hear about examples of the Teamsters behaving badly in recent years. So I asked if you had any evidence that they still behave this way. You apparently don't.

"Consequences, Schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich." -- "Ali Baba Bunny" [1957, Chuck Jones]