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Comment The Zazi Lie (Score 4, Informative) 419

The ... program helped the NSA stop a 2009 al-Qaida plot to blow up New York City subways.

That is at best an extreme exaggeration of the value of the cell phone records. I'm sure his data was in the database, and was probably accessed after he was discovered, but his plot was discovered as a result of monitoring that was (or easily would have been) warranted.

Wikipedia: Operation Pathway:

On November 9 2009 The Telegraph reported that the operation produced the tip that lead American security officials to place Najibullah Zazi under investigation. British security officials were reported to have intercepted an email from a Pakistani planner to Najibullah Zazi containing instructions on how to conduct his attack.

The Telegraph: British Spies / Zazi:

The alleged plot was unmasked after an email address that was being monitored as part of the abortive Operation Pathway was suddenly reactivated.

Operation Pathway was investigating an alleged UK terrorist cell but went awry after the then Met Police counter-terrorism head Bob Quick was pictured walking into Downing Street displaying top secret documents.

Eleven Pakistani suspects were arrested immediately after the gaffe but later released without charge.

However, security staff continued to monitor the email address which eventually yielded results.

Comment How about longer name fields while we're at it? (Score 1) 814

Many customer record databases don't seem to allot more than ten characters to given name or surname, with some stopping at eight or nine which make even less sense. How many people are actually named "Christophe", "Stephani", "Angeliqu", "Elizabet", "Gwendol"? Not nearly as many as get mail that way. It's been an issue for a long time, and now you're expecting databases to be updated for gender changes?

Try telling a utility company sometime that you un-duplexed a building and you need service to the whole building under one address some time. They'll typically ask which address you want the bill delivered to and which one gets the service or something equally asinine.

Comment Re:More Booth Bros & Babes (Score 2) 737

Most women I've known are attracted more to a thick wallet. I've seldom seen one trade down, if you know what I mean. Often I've seen them leave the cute hunk once they get a few years of just getting by and land the ugly engineer. Just sayin'.

You raise a strong point. I think there's a function of age involved, at least in my observations. I have some friends who are DJs, and through them I have been friends with a number of very attractive women. When we became friends, they ranged from late 20's to mid 30's. They were very focused on guys with big pecs and sick abs. I was a little jealous, but hey, they're my friends, and they were having fun so I'm happy for them.

Now, as they're in their mid 30's to early 40's, most not yet having settled down, there is a great deal of reevaluation going on. The party boys they have been with haven't really made much of themselves. Now they're looking for more substance (success is a big part of it, but it's bigger than that).

And here's the part that is a bit painful to see in people I care about: They're realizing they are no longer the hot commodity. Having not spent too much time on their own educations or careers, they are wondering if their window is slipping past. Same can be said of some of the men I've known -- particularly those in young-mans careers (eg: I know some investment bankers).

Here's the truth that runs throughout it all though: The sooner a person comes to terms with reality and accepts themselves for who they are, the happier they are. By miles. The lies are poison.

Comment More Booth Bros & Babes (Score 3, Insightful) 737

While there are fewer 'booth babes' than in earlier shows (and while some are trying to bring balance by adding 'booth bros')

Now that is a solution I can get behind. I'm not a hot guy. But I'm not full of shit either -- I know that straight women like hot guys, just like straight men like hot women. There's a hundred thousand years of evolution behind it. Pretending it is not true is stupid. Women are naturally drawn to men with a pronounced V shape from their waist to their shoulders -- a trait I do not posess. And men are naturally drawn to big chests. That is reality.

You can argue that it is not sound economic policy, because it directs consumer spending in ways that are not reflective of product quality. Fine, let's talk about that, and maybe start by making advertising not count as a business expense for tax purposes. But if you are upset because it is objectification (or, more realistically, because you are, like me, not hot) -- you've got to get over it. Pretending it is not true is just lying to yourself. It will not change reality.

Comment Re:what makes you worth tracking? (Score 1) 364

what makes you worth tracking? ... do you really think that there is a guy sitting in the NSA tracking you for no reason?

What makes you think collaborative filtering and similar analyses are done one person at a time? The state of the art is done with linear algebra and similar maths, and solves simultaneously for each individual in the sample set.

Comment Re:Critical Tool (Score 1) 568

I know plenty of people (mostly liberals) complained when the warrant-less wiretaps happened under Bush.

As it happens, I know plenty of people (mostly liberals) who are complaining about the warrant-less wiretaps happening under Obama. The few people I know who still don't have a problem with it are right wingers (though most of my right wing friends are just as pissed as the lefties).

This isn't about left and right -- it's about authoritarian versus American.

Comment Re:Critical tools (Score 1) 568

See, I believe that when we give up our freedoms because we're afraid of terrrorists...now, that's when the terrorists win.

Oh yes, I completely understand. I was not glibly bashing some perceived lack of sufficient jingoism in your comment. I intended to express my own dismay at the painful position these authoritarians are putting us in.

Well, that, and an attempt at some seriously dark humor. Cuz you've gotta find a way to laugh.

Comment Re:Critical tools (Score 1) 568

If our government believes throwing out the Constitution is what it takes to protect our nation from terrorist threats, I'm less scared of the terrorists than I am of the government.

Jeez -- that's a cold bucket of ice water to the noggin. Our government has become such an afront to our nation that the epithet, "You want the terrorists to win!" invokes the contemplative response, "Well, not exactly..."

Comment Slower? He's Saying Slower?!? (Score 3, Insightful) 73

a 7-day turnaround of fixes for actively exploited unpatched vulnerabilities, is rather naive and devoid of commercial reality.

I read that and I was thinking, "Well, yeah, sure - I shoot for one hour and can't recall the last time it took more than a day to get a critical bug patch out, but that's not really reasonable for everyone. The team I work on is pretty focused on keeping the tracks polished so we can get high priority things through. I think 7 days is OK. It could be better, but it's OK. And Google isn't even saying it will take 7 days, they're saying 7 days is the max. But, whatever, I guess -- ultimately agitating for faster patches is something I support."

for 95+% of the rest of the world's software development companies making thick-client, server and device-specific software this is unrealistic.

What?!? You mean it's not realistic to get the patch available within 7 days? I mean, obviously you can't expect users to have their systems patched immediately, and sometimes a third party (like a walled garden approval path) can lock you out. But is the writer saying 95% of companies can't even have a patch pushed for release in 7 days?

If that is true, we, as a society, need to drop what we're doing and focus on security, build management, QA workflow, whatever it is that is making that a reality. 7 days is acceptable. 95% of companies can't hit 7 days? First, that is not true in my experience. But if it is? That is not acceptable, if it is true. There really are bad people out there trying to root our electronics. Seven days to get a patch out for an actively exploited in the wild vulnerability is enough. Work the problem. Figure out why you can't hit that number, and fix it.

Comment Re:impediments to access? (Score 2) 270

If W3C were to scrap the plans for HTML5 DRM the content providers would simply cling on to proprietary plugins and we'd be no better off than we are already.

And if we start calling proprietary things that almost everyone is forbidden to implement "standards" then we will be worse of than we are already.

With the HTML5 DRM we could atleast shed all the excess weight provided by these plugins

That's it?!? That's all we get for making the term "standards" mean "proprietary thing that you are forbidden to implement"? That is a horrible trade.

Comment Extrajudicial Takedowns by Plutarchs (Score 1) 182

the idea of going after the sites as a business, which in practice would mean strangling their (often voluminous) advertising budget.

So this would be another avenue of extrajudicial shutdowns of businesses accused of harming some other, more privileged business, that also has a financial relationship with the largest market-share search engine company, which would be executing the takedown. That doesn't sound like a just and free market to me. That sounds like plutocracy.

And before you say, "But maybe plutocracy would be good, maybe Google loves us and just wants us to be happy," consider this: Most superpower societies in history have bookended their dominance by evolving some close variant of plutocracy or oligarchy.

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