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Comment Let's call this the Acquia tax (Score 3, Interesting) 364

I think I know the origin of this tax bill and what it is intended for.

Acquia - http://www.acquia.com/ - is a large firm that specializes in Drupal. A lot of the work they do is around setting up, configuring and maintaining Drupal websites.

While they don't produce the majority of the code that is in Drupal, they do provide a lot of services around it to consumers and other businesses. This is really a tax on VARs and other people who implement Drupal using their services.

I am sure there are a lot of other companies that operate in a similar space. While I don't like it, I can see the potential revenues to be drawn in through such a tax.

Comment Re:Jeff Moss works for the feds (Score 1) 250

I think Jeff is a sincere fellow who seeks to have a nice conference and avoid issues that could be tough on either the Fed side or the Hacker community side.

I don't take his request as retaliation over government policies, and mroe as recognition that the community coming out to DefCon is very different from the one that will be attending BlackHat.

The point of the conference, regardless of anything anyone wants to say, is to have fun. My take is that he is trying to preserve that spirit for the conference.

Comment It Just Occurred to me (Score 1) 204

It just occurred to me, one of the researchers pulling out was slated to give a presentation on how to hack sharepoint.

While it would be an enormous loss for the community not to have the opportunity to learn more about the specific ways this guy attacks M$'s premium CMS ... ... how much effort would it really take for a bunch of Defcon attendees to put together a session with equally useful information about hacking sharepoint to replace it?

Comment This sort of thing happens (Score 5, Insightful) 204

I can't speak for the people who have chosen not to participate or their reasons for doing so.

I am sure it will be a loss for the event, but not as much as the one that comes from the lack of a public dialogue about the government's actions and activities tracking internet traffic.

Saying that Defcon fosters an open community where there are no sides is a little misleading. The government has it's own reasons for showing up and they are not all related to sharing ideas, learning and having a good time. It's just the other people who really lack an agenda.

I know people who are not going to Blackhat because the NSA is giving the keynote. What kind of strange alternate future is it we live in where this even happens?

Comment Uncomfortable Relationship (Score 5, Insightful) 250

I have never really been comfortable with having the Feds in there in the first place. Anyone in government can potentially serve in a prosecutorial role, and the government has demonstrated over the years they are perfectly willing to demonize hackers if it serves a need. Thinking about Mitnick, Gonzales, and a bunch of other guys who got railroaded here, along with 2600 meetings where we would get interrogated just for showing up to have coffee.

It's a little like inviting the fox into the henhouse to have these guys around. Pretending that they care about the hacker community is a little hard for me to do.

Comment Re:We don't want to prevent them, duh. (Score 4, Insightful) 381

The question is what you can do to prevent it, not whether or not Snowden is a hero.

It's an interesting problem on it's own. Imagine the situation in reverse - someone working in IT for an aid organization, beset by government hackers looking for information about political opponents who would kill them. How do you prevent someone from leaking information of a completely non-criminal nature to forces who mean to do them harm?

One of the problems with disclosures, and why they are so divisive, is that they expose people's relative values. For everyone who thinks Snowden is a hero, there is someone who things he broke an oath and the government is being completely reasonable.

It's not worthwhile to judge situations the same way you judge individuals. I work with a lot of NGO where people would get killed if information about their operations is exposed, and one of the big threats is someone handing over documents under duress.

Comment Re:Its a Sysphian Task (Score 3, Informative) 381

I agree with this point. It's not impossible to stop leaks, but organizations can change to mitigate the impact one individual can have.

The thing that is most interesting to me about the Snowden case, as well as the Manning case, is the level of access intelligence communities give to these people. I mean, Manning was able to dump years of diplomatic cables, and Snowden has been able to detail a worldwide architecture of network ops.

Did they really need to have this much access to information? If their roles were more compartmentalized, these situations would be different.

I feel the problem with these leaks is a management issue moreso than the acts of individuals. Taking young, principled, intelligent guys and giving them the keys to a trove of information about questionable activities is just not the way to run an organization. The people he reported to should be the ones being indicted over this.

A solution (without knowing the particulars) would be to spread out access across a range of individuals with specific skill sets in their area and that's it. If you want to train people to be hackers, focus their development on one level of infrastructure and make it impossible for one guy to do this all on his own.

Comment Jet Pilots Are Always in Demand (Score 1) 207

As someone who makes hiring and firing decisions, I have never seen a better qualification than someone having been a fighter pilot. Several of my friends are former pilots for the Navy who have done well in various entrepreneurial pursuits involving technology. I would hire them immediately if they ever needed a job.

The basic qualities I pick up on, and that seem to be the most appealing as an employer, are the level of preparation that goes into being a pilot and the practical math behind operating an aircraft. In my business, we need to have a lot of planned out from the beginning for things to go well. It's clear to me that structure and process, and the ability to compensate effectively when something does go off track, are in a pilot's DNA.

Not sure what jobs you have been applying for, or why this is not coming across with other employers, but feel free to reach out to me via PM if you want to discuss directly.

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It was pity stayed his hand. "Pity I don't have any more bullets," thought Frito. -- _Bored_of_the_Rings_, a Harvard Lampoon parody of Tolkein