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Comment Re:Speaking of Google and Privacy (Score 1) 88

Anyone know how to prevent Android Device Manager being able to access my location anytime it feels like it?

Find the Google Settings app (note that this is not the same as the "Settings" app -- that's general Android stuff, "Google Settings" is specific to the Google apps), open it, click on "Android Device Manager" and then uncheck "Remotely locate this device".

Note that this means that if you use your device you will not be able to use Device Manager to find its GPS location. I think you'll still be able to use it to remotely ring, lock or erase the device, unless you disable that as well.

Comment Re:Does anyone understand the "zombies" craze? (Score 1) 220

I suppose for a single individual, a bike plus a good bike trailer (or maybe a backpack and/or large panniers) would be a good option. I have a wife and four kids, though... oh, and I don't live in an urban area.

I'll stick with my SUV + camp trailer, thanks. The trailer is always packed with canned food, cooking & heating fuel, water purification equipment, has solar panels for electricity, etc. It's also got tents, sleeping bags, and all sorts of other assorted camping equipment and tools -- including the stuff we'd need if we decided to abandon the vehicle and start walking. As for the guy with the gun, well, I am the guy with the guns :-)

Also, I have a couple of neighbors who are similarly-equipped, and we've discussed how we'd pool our resources in the event of a zombie uprising, caravaning for mutual support.

In an actual disaster, of course, my first choice is to hunker down at home. It's fairly defensible and I have a roughly one-year supply of food stored in the basement. I also have a generator and generally on the order of 60 gallons of fuel in the tanks of my cars and boat (the amount in the cars varies, obviously, but the boat has a 35-gallon tank which is always full). But in the event that staying home isn't a good idea, I can have the trailer hooked up and be on the road in 5 minutes. Given 30 minutes I'll make sure the water tank is full and top up the SUV tank plus some gas cans with the contents of the boat's tank, assuming I can't stop at the gas station. Given a couple of hours I'll coordinate with the neighbors and we'll hit the road together, with everything we can jointly muster.

For other situations, I have 72-hour kits in small backpacks in the garage, one for each member of the family which we can grab at a moment's notice.

I certainly agree about the value of fitness, of course. And I like bikes -- I ride my road bike ~100 miles per week, almost year-round -- but I don't see bikes as a viable way to transport myself and my family.

Comment Re:Does anyone understand the "zombies" craze? (Score 4, Insightful) 220

As somebody who isn't a hipster, and who isn't part of Generation Y, maybe I just won't ever understand it. But the whole concept of "zombies" and any fascination with it comes off as really idiotic, petty and rather stupid.

I don't think this has anything to do with hipsters, or Gen Y.

From what I can see, the zombie apocalypse is partly a joke and mostly a convenient abstraction which stands in place of any of dozens of different disaster scenarios. The zombie apocalypse is nice in that it captures a sort of maximally extreme yet potentially-survivable scenario. There are plenty of possible disasters for which preparedness is just pointless (because you'd be dead anyway), but once you exclude those from consideration, the needs of survival in the remaining, more or less realistic, disaster scenarios are pretty neatly covered by the clearly-fictional notion of societal collapse brought on by the sudden conversion of much of humanity into mindless undead predators.

In a nutshell: If you're well-prepared for the zombie apocalypse, odds are good that you're also well-prepared for any real disaster, so it's a nice target.

Comment Re:Great! Can we have a copy? (Score 4, Insightful) 513

Obama isn't the one who started all this - he is just the one who is refusing to stop it. There's lots of blame to go around here, no need to pile it all on one person.

I think there's a lot of value in piling it all on the person who is currently in the best position to do something about it, but isn't. Accurate allocation of blame is a job for historians.

Comment Re:As a world traveler (Score 1) 252

Have the attorneys selected by the leadership of some well-established liberty-focused organizations, like the ACLU or EFF, swear them to secrecy, and have them act as opposing counsel.

There is a much better option; scrap the NSA and this pathetic court completely.

That's a much better option to recommend -- if you want nothing to change at all.

Comment Re:So what? (Score 1) 46

I don't think the search bubble really exists yet, not in any significant way. The value of personalization is obvious (as are some of the risks -- which can be addressed by having the search engine deliberately throw in a few outside-the-bubble results) but I don't see a lot of it happening yet, except with respect to the really obvious things like geographical location.

Comment Re:So what? (Score 1) 46

Note that unlike some of the people who responded to my post I wasn't saying you were being untruthful about what you saw, just that I couldn't reproduce it. It's not at all unlikely that the recent update fixed your particular search, especially since one of the changes is to use the knowledge graph more -- meaning that Google search now (probably) knows the difference between NSTableView and UITableView, knows that one is associated with OS X and the other with iOS, and understands that even though the two strings are very similar, someone searching for the former is probably not interested in information about the latter.

If you think about it, your complaint that maybe "Google thinks I should be programming for iOS" is very interesting. Making connections like that is something that human brains do automatically and so effortlessly that we often don't even realize we do it. But until very recently, Google didn't do that at all. Google searches were originally pure string searches with a clever ranking algorithm based on counting links. The ranking algorithm was improved bit by bit over time, but until very recently it was still just pure string searches with clever ranking. It's now progressing towards actually knowing what real-world entities the strings refer to, how those entities are related to other entities and what that implies about what the searcher is actually seeking.

Personally, I expect Google search to get dramatically more effective as knowledge graph data is more thoroughly incorporated. Ideally, the "verbatim" option should become irrelevant and go away, because the search engine should understand what you're looking for and know when to be literal and when to cast a wider net. To be maximally effective will require personalization as well. It's the difference between a smart "grep" and an intelligent personal assistant who knows you, understands what you're trying to accomplish and gives you what you need -- including knowing when you need a smart grep.

Comment Re:As a world traveler (Score 1) 252

The FISA court has rejected a small number of warrant requests, the government has withdrawn nearly three times as many itself, and many, many more have been modified by the court - about 4.3%.

Which is just more evidence of the problem of a "court" whose primary business is all conducted ex parte. The system allows the government to constantly test the boundaries of what the court will allow, and allows the government to ensure that no binding precedents they don't like are ever issued by it, much less by the appeals court.

But it's silly to argue about whether or not this system is constitutional. Instead, we should just be pushing to fix it. The thing that would help the most is simply to make it an adversarial system. Even if the actual target of the warrant in question isn't able to be represented (because that would require that the target know about it), we could hire some civil liberties attorneys to be the opposition. Have the attorneys selected by the leadership of some well-established liberty-focused organizations, like the ACLU or EFF, swear them to secrecy, and have them act as opposing counsel.

Further, in the event that the target of the warrant ever is brought into court, copies of the FISA court proceedings should be made available, and the opposition counsel in the FISA proceeding should be permitted to consult with the target's defense attorney. The proceedings might have to be redacted to protect sources and methods, but generally the method is "serve this warrant on this person/company", so I think that should actually be pretty rare.

Adding opposing counsel would also make the appellate court an effective tool. As it stands now, since FISA proceedings are generally ex parte, hardly anything is ever appealed because the government doesn't want to risk establishing clear precedents. So, instead, they just withdraw their request and try again. But with an opposing counsel, real appeals would happen, and binding precedential guidelines would be set.

Comment Re:What happened to certificate stapling? (Score 1) 233

Well, for one thing, your HSMs are never anywhere near a network, so there's no possible way to back door in to them without gaining physical access. Then it's just a matter of making sure they stay physically secure.

Unless the "back door" is something like reducing the randomness of key generation, or leaking bits in IVs, or... and many HSMs that serve on-line systems are on networks. They should be as isolated as possible, and of course well-secured physically, but nothing is perfect, employees with physical access can be bribed or coerced, etc.

If you assume your opponent has the resources of a major government agency, and may have colluded with your vendors, securing your data is a really, really hard problem. It's not impossible if you have the resources, but it's far from easy.

Comment Re:What happened to certificate stapling? (Score 1) 233

It would be sufficient if the HSMs contained a little NSA feature that makes the NSA's work easier.

Indeed. A very obvious approach for cryptographic keys generated inside of HSMs is to reduce the entropy. Suppose for example, if you ask the HSM to generate a 128-bit AES key and it provided one selected from a set of 2^50 possibilities. It would be virtually impossible to detect that the effective keyspace is dramatically reduced, but if the NSA knows what the 2^50 possible keys are, they can brute force the space and decrypt your data.

There are lots of other subtle tweaks that could dramatically reduce the security in ways that are almost impossible to detect.

Comment Re:So what? (Score 5, Informative) 46

Further, I often abhor Google's "fuzzy" matching system. Sometimes it's great, like when you say "photo" and it also searches "picture", "photograph", etc. But other times, it's extremely frustrating.

When the fuzzy matching doesn't give you what you're looking for click on "Search tools" (just above the results), then the "All results" pulldown and "Verbatim".

I tried to use your example to demonstrate, but even without verbatim mode I couldn't find a search result in the first half-dozen pages that mentioned "UITableView".

However, I did notice one thing that was kind of funny: Next to the results pulldown there's a time pulldown. When I set it to "last hour" the top hit was your post above.

Comment Re:I wish this was real (Score 1) 182

For some reason wanting a vehicle with a manual transmission that isn't a civic or real sports car causes sales people at dealerships to look at you like you are retarded, especially if it is a truck or SUV.

Interesting. I prefer a manual in most cars, but in a truck or SUV I'd much rather have an automatic. If you look at a given model with automatic and standard transmissions, the automatic will have a higher rated towing capacity... and towing substantial loads with it will be easier, especially in more complex situations. For offroading, it's debatable, but I think an automatic is generally the better choice there as well. It certainly takes a lot more skill to manage tricky offroad situations with a manual, though I suppose there may be some where an expert driver is better off with a manual transmission.

It's not at all surprising to me that trucks and SUVs with manual transmissions are hard to find... there's not much demand for them because most of the things you need such a vehicle for are better-served by an automatic.

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