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Comment How does this happen? (Score 1) 59

... in order to sign the victim up for some premium-rate SMS services.

The fuck?

Why the hell doesn't the FTC shut these companies down? Why doesn't the FCC kick the carrier's behind into policing these companies better? Why doesn't the US attorney's office rain hellfire and brimstone down on these companies to the extent it did to Aaron Schwartz?

Premium SMS is billed through the carriers, so they have a relationship with the SMS company. There is a clear money trail. The recipient is most likely incorporated. This should be easy.

With all the US mistrust of government right now, this would be an easy way to gain some respectability.

Comment Privacy in 2 years (Score 5, Insightful) 158

This whole thing about privacy will be a non-issue in about 2 years.

There's currently a mass-exodus away from US-based cloud services, and (within the US) away from all cloud services.

Cloud services will have to provide privacy or go out of business. The only way to ensure privacy is client-based encryption keys and open-source software. Since it's impossible to control the distribution of open-source software, the client-side package will end up being free.

This is a good thing, IMHO. Cloud services will focus on the actual service, they won't be able to rummage around in our lives (both corporate and personal), they won't be able to "monetize" their customers as products to advertisers, and the NSA will be shut out of much illegal snooping.

People are already thinking about how to encrypt existing web-based mail services, and I'm even hearing rumors about replacing SMTP altogether with a more secure protocol.

Expect a lot of wailing and gnashing-of-teeth from the government, proposals to make this or that protocol "illegal" or to require government backdoor access, but in the end it will come down to simple economics.

There is an enormous market-driven push towards more privacy. Edward Snowden has had a measurable effect on the world, and probably deserves the Nobel peace prize he was nominated for.

Comment What if? (Score 5, Insightful) 243

What if... What if ... What if...

In an alternate universe where certain facts are known for certain, then sure there may be a problem. Over here, we can make up whatever stories we want about these alternate universes, but they don't affect us.

If the coworker takes off at a critical time without notice (did that actually happen?), then the job will be poorly done and you should raise the issue to management. Point out that the department was understaffed, and it's management's responsibility to have the right talent in-house at the right time.

Or, you take home extra pay pulling overtime picking up the slack, which costs management more than regular time, so they will eventually notice.

Or, you refuse unpaid overtime or have previous commitments that you cannot break and let your boss know this. If your boss can force you to come in to work even though you've got Laker's tickets, find another job.

You shouldn't particularly care if coworkers take time off or not - care about getting the job done on time, under budget, and at good quality. If you can't do this, care about whether it's your fault. Don't let your boss put unreasonable demands on you - that will only shift the blame to you when you can't pull off a miracle. Let them know about problems as they arise, and don't accept blame for things you can't control.

Holding yourself to a high standard of professionalism will work out better in the long run than putting "staying employed" ahead of everything else in your life. It may cost you in the immediate short-term, but the total returns over time far outweigh the immediate costs.

Comment Conspiracy to falsify results? (Score 5, Interesting) 163

I'm not disturbed by the note, and yes it's likely a poor choice of words from a non-English speaker.

Are we now condemning conspiracy to submit fraudulent information? I thought fraud was the bad act.

I've worked with non-English speaking students, and there are a surprising number of awkward constructions that you wouldn't notice as a native speaker.

For example, one multiple-choice optics test question had this answer: "The image is half as large".

The phrase "half as large" translates simultaneously into "big" and "small" at the same time... it was pointed out that many students didn't know what this meant. The first rewrite came out as "half the size", but since many cultures implicitly measure size in terms of area instead of height, lots of people misinterpreted this as well (half the height = 1/4 the area). Having an answer "none of the above" further confused the issue. The test should have been specific in saying "half the height".

I've proofread/edited more than 10 papers written by foreign types, and "twisted meanings" are quite common - phrases that seem syntactically reasonable but which have a different meaning to a native speaker. (I grew up in Amish territory - statements like "Sarah is wonderful sick today" and "throw papa down the stairs his hat" were commonplace.)

I wouldn't think twice about the note in the paper. Unless the researcher actually makes up the analysis out of whole cloth it's not a problem.

Science is about evidence, not hearsay.

Submission + - Silent Circle follows Lavabit by closing encrypted e-mail service (cnet.com)

Okian Warrior writes: Silent Circle shuttered its encrypted e-mail service on Thursday, in an apparent attempt to avoid government scrutiny that may threaten its customers' privacy. The company announced that it could "see the writing on the wall" and decided it best to shut down its Silent Mail feature. The company said it was inspired by the closure earlier Thursday of Lavabit, another encrypted e-mail service provider that alluded to a possible national security investigation.

Submission + - Memory Wars May Herald In Mobile Devices With Terabytes of Capacity (computerworld.com)

Lucas123 writes: With 3D NAND flash going into high production and one startup demonstrating a resistive NAND (RRAM) flash array, it may not be long before mobile devices have hundreds of gigabytes of capacity, even a terabyte with performance only limited by the bus. Samsung announced it is now mass producing three-dimensional (3D) Vertical NAND (V-NAND) chips, and start-up Crossbar said it has created a prototype of its RRAM chip. Both technologies offer many times what current NAND flash chips offer today in capacity and performance. Which technology will prevail is still up in the air, but experts believe it will be years before RRAM can challenge NAND, but it's almost inevitable that it will overtake it as even 3D NAND heads for an inevitable dead end. Others believe 3D NAND, currently at 24 layers, could reach more than 100, giving it a lifespan of five or more years.

Submission + - Malaria Vaccine nearing reality (cnn.com)

colin_faber writes: Right on the heals of Bill Gates business week article discussing the importance of disease prevention and cure over technological deployment is news from CNN that U.S. researchers may have a viable vaccine for Malaria. If true this could change the lives of up to 3.3 billion people living in Malaria danger zones and allow us to do away with this disease; which kills hundreds of thousands of people.

Submission + - Linux based Hand of Thief banking trojan hits the streets (arstechnica.com)

Billly Gates writes: Arstechnica has a story on a new Linux based trojan that steals banking data. The catch is it does not run on Windows. Targeting Linux and MacOSX is new but some are beginning to target these platforms as most users refuse to run any AV software and feel they are immune and do not need it unlike Windows users who know better.

The malware kit is available for $2,000 which makes it much more expensive than most exploit kits sold on the blackmarket.

Submission + - MS: Windows Phone 8 WiFi Vulnerable, Cannot Be Patched

Freshly Exhumed writes: Microsoft advises that a cryptographic problem in the PEAP-MS-CHAPv2 protocol used in Windows Phone 8 to provide WPA2 authentication allows a victim’s encrypted domain credentials to be collected by an attacker posing as a typical WiFi access point. Redmond further states that this problem cannot be patched, although a set of manually entered configuration changes involving root certificates on all WP8 phones and on WiFi access points will apparently address the issue. WP7.8 phones are likewise vulnerable.

Submission + - Scientists predict new structure in turbulence

liceor writes: A story on phys.org and eurekalert describes a new understanding of how turbulence works.
The article describes a new way of predicting structure within turbulence near walls, which is important because a lot of power is used by ships, planes and automobiles to overcome the drag caused by turbulence.
Although the equations that govern fluid flow were discovered in the early 1800s, nobody had figured out a way to predict recurring structure in wall turbulence directly from these equations. This is mainly because the massive range of scales of motion involved are all coupled.
The paper describes how wall turbulence can be broken down into constituent blocks that can be simply pieced together, lego-like, to approach and eventually get back to the full equations. The calculations are simple enough to be done on a laptop and just a few blocks can give realistic-looking flows.
Links to original paper (paywalled) and preprint version on arxiv.

Comment Thanks (Score 1) 531

Thanks - that's pretty insightful.

I am reading into Glen's statements (I said so in the post), so no I can't point to anything firmer.

I would like to see more evidence, though. Your first link talks about two known incidents - it would be good to have more information so we can tell who is right without speculation. The real situation may be closer to what I wrote, the WSJ extrapolation from two incidents, or something completely different.

We'd be better off with more facts.

Comment Security and Business competition (Score 5, Insightful) 531

Reading into Glen Greenwald's comments and some of his other statements, it would seem that much of the spying is used not for security purposes, rather it's to give an edge to certain select US businesses.

If this is true, it would be huge. Citizens don't count for much in terms of US policy decisions, but an unfair boost to chosen businesses would tick off every other business in the US and abroad - the economic ramifications would be nothing short of tectonic.

I don't understand why that information would ever be released. Are they trying to provoke the US government? I think so.

There really is a difference between short-term advantage and long-term gain, and it's one of the ways to measure intelligence. If Glen should withhold the information for fear of ticking off the US government, he gives up the potential benefits of a future where the US has been forced to stop such corrupt and illegal practices.

The long-term gain is enormous and long-lasting, the short-term pain is fleeting and ephemeral. That's why he is releasing the information.

In the long run, we're all better off by having this information out in the open.

Submission + - Building a full-auto Gauss gun (hackaday.com)

Okian Warrior writes: Adding to the 3-d printed gun/rifle controversy, Delta-V Engineering built a Full-auto Gauss gun (aka "machine gun"), capable of firing 15 steel bolts from its magazine in less than two seconds. At 3% the muzzle velocity of a .22 it's still in the prototype stage, bullets are made from turned-down nails and the gun uses no chemical propellants. The builder has posted the design notes online. Video of the gun in action is pretty interesting.

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