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Journal Journal: When is a troll not a troll

Somehow a subset of slashdotters has been getting reasonable posts (front page articles) tagged as trolls. Although these posts present a point of view that the archetypal slashdotter might disagree with, they offer a glimpse into marketing and real world considerations that aren't always visible to the slashdot community. Two cases in point.

Transportation

Submission + - Are cars the next hacking frontier? (thecarconnection.com)

thecarchik writes: Is it time for firewalls and malware protection for your car? Earlier this year we reported on research from the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego, that showed how researchers were able to break into vehicle networks or change features—in some cases, while the vehicle was in motion. In the United States, the federally-mandated On-Board Diagnostics port, under the dash in virtually all modern vehicles, provides direct and standard access to internal automotive networks . Safety-critical systems (such as stability control or engine control) actually haven't been isolated from non-safety-critical systems (such as entertainment systems).

Comment Re:UCITA and bricking (Score 1) 381

That would only apply to the rightful owner of the software (on the phone), not to a thief.

Theft doesn't automatically release an owner from his obligations under a license, so the license remains in effect until it expires or is terminated under its terms, or until invalidated by a court. And even if the license terms allow Apple to unilaterally terminate the license for some reason (including their determination of a possible theft), their act of bricking the phone in response seems to fall squarely in line with concerns about self-help.

Legitimate theft that a licensee reports is a completely different matter, and it should be easy for both user and provider to agree to brick the phone until it's recovered.

Comment UCITA and bricking (Score 2, Interesting) 381

There are two states, Maryland and Virginia, under which remote disablement of software is allowed under UCITA, the Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act. Even then, bricking, or "self-help" as UCITA calls it, has some limitations, and it's not allowed in "mass market transactions" such as those involving non-negotiated licenses. The intent was to address shrink-wrap licenses, but a cell phone contract is similarly non-negotiable. This sounds like an "invention" that can't really be used in most of the US.

UCITA and its self-help provisions have been an issue for a long time, and a lot has been written about it that's probably applicable here too.

Music

Submission + - Punk Band Angy At RIAA, Releases Album For Free (wordpress.com)

geekd writes: Disgusted with the RIAA's lawsuits against music lovers, San Diego based rock / punk band The Experiments has released their new album, "What Kind Of Animal?" for free under the Creative Commons license. Anyone is free to download, distribute, re-mix or otherwise use the songs for non-commercial purposes.
"It's ridiculous that a single mom gets fined $1.9 million for downloading 24 songs. It' criminal, and the RIAA are a criminal organization," said the band's bass player, Dave Blood. "So, we say, take our songs for free. You deserve them."

Comment Re:What do they mean "Mailed???" (Score 1) 432

The USPS doesn't offer many hackable interfaces for information thieves worldwide to view mailed articles. Use of certified mail provides a degree of accountability for its handling.

There is no perfectly confidential way to get a document, whether paper or bits, from one's fingers to somebody else's eyes. You're free to judge the risks differently and make the decision that best suits you. I'm still mailing my returns the old-fashioned way.

Government

Submission + - Amazon v North Carolina? (theregister.co.uk)

garg0yle writes: Amazon is suing the Department of Revenue (DOR) for the state of North Carolina, after that government body attempted to get records of its citizens' purchases through the e-tailer.

Sales records are one thing, says Amazon. "But the DOR has no business seeking to uncover the identity of Amazon's customers who purchased expressive content, which makes up the majority of the nearly 50 million products sold to North Carolina residents during the audit period, let alone associating customers' names and addresses with the specific books, music, and video content that they have purchased during the past seven years."

While I can understand the state wanting to know how much its citizens spend with Amazon (for sales tax purposes), I can't see any legitimate reason for the state to know exactly what books and videos its citizens bought.

Comment Re:What do they mean "Mailed???" (Score 2, Interesting) 432

This self-respecting slashdotter doesn't e-file for two reasons.

First, there is no technical need for an intermediary to receive and forward my data to the IRS. Nobody seems to acknowledge that involvement of intermediaries means there are more interfaces that might be hacked to reach my data. No thanks.

Second, the reason that there are even intermediaries is that (and I wish I could cite a source for this but it's too long ago, mid-1990's) when the IRS originally proposed that taxpayers file directly, the software lobby successfully argued that removing the intermediaries would result in the loss of jobs. The government didn't want to cause job loss, so it caved and now requires those intermediaries.

My tax filings are on paper to protest the idiocy.

Patents

Submission + - Is the Tide Turning on Patents? (computerworlduk.com)

Glyn Moody writes: The FSF has funded a new video, “Patent Absurdity: how software patents broke the system”, freely available (of course) in Ogg Theora format (what else?). It comes at time when a lot is happening in the world of patents. Recent work from leading academics has called into question their basis: "The work in this paper and that of many others, suggests that this traditionally-struck ‘devil’s bargain’ may not be beneficial." A judge struck down Myriad Genetics's patents on two genes because they involved a law of Nature, and were thus “improperly granted”. Meanwhile, the imminent Supreme Court ruling In re Bilski is widely expected to have negative knock-on effects for business method and software patents. Is the tide beginning to turn?

Submission + - Virgin server admin in need of help 6

Dragon_Eater writes: "Dear Slashdot,

        I want to setup three kids, 12, 14 and 15, with newer computers so they will stop fighting for time on the one ten year old Dell they share now. I can get the individual computers and a server put together without any problems but the computer handicapped single parent needs to be able to do the following via an simple application/webpage:

                — View client computer status, On/off, sleeping etc.
                — Deny internet access, not LAN, just the web
                — Scheduled time usage of computer, ex. 7AM to 10PM on school nights etc.
                — Force log-out and/or shutdown of clients, for grounding purposes
                — Some kind of firewall filter for blocking undesired web content

        And as the administrator for this network I would like the following options:

                — Remote virus scanning of client machines, or scheduled task
                — Some kind of hardware monitor, high temp / fan speed low etc.
                — Email alerts for various log files / alarms

        Given the lists above I am thinking about a Linux based router/server machine and running windows on the clients for game compatibility. I also know that a server and network boot client is possible but not sure where to start on that one. I have lots of experience setting up PC's and a passable knowledge of Linux but am severely lacking in the server/client department so any help the Slashdot community could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Dragon Eater"

Comment Move it to L1 (Score 1) 115

The magnifying glass is scorching only the Western Hemisphere because it's been placed in a geosynchronous orbit. NASA is rumored to be preparing to reposition it to LaGrangian Point L1 to provide a greater degree of stability, provided that they can account for positional oscillation resulting from the moon revolving around the Earth. Meanwhile, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum is preparing to return the Hubble Space Telescope's COSTAR lens to NASA for refurbishing and redeployment to correct LENS' focal length for its new location.

Aside from being able to put away our asbestos suits, another direct benefit of placement at L1 is a smaller footprint in the sky, letting more of the sun's light reach Earth.

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