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Comment Re:Data went up... (Score 1) 249

But did consumption go up or did video bit rate go up? Maybe more people are now selecting "HD" streaming than they used to.

And they're probably torrenting higher video bit rates, too.

My money is on the first supposition in the summary being right: The legal services have gotten good enough, and cheap enough, that people have less incentive to reach for illegal torrents.

Comment Re: @slashdot: use https per default! (Score 3, Interesting) 256

Yes, indeed. This meme that SSL is broken or useless is very damaging and needs to end.

The fact is that despite all the handwaving and noise, nobody has yet presented proof that a CA has been subverted by intelligence agencies, let alone knowingly. It's certainly possible that this has happened and one may think it is even likely, but in the absence of any proof it's hard to credibly argue the entire system is hosed.

The difficulty of course is finding such a proof. If a CA was found to have been routinely issuing certificates to intelligence agencies, it's very very likely that browser makers would revoke that CA and destroy the business. Their written policies are quite clear on this point and do not make governments special, that's why GoDaddy revoked LavaBit's SSL cert after learning the private key had been disclosed to the FBI. So far we don't have any evidence that the NSA or GCHQ were willing to risk destruction of a civilian business in order to reach one of their targets - though I guess there are still plenty of Snowden disclosures to come.

But even if there have been such certs issued, SSL is not useless. Firstly, it raises the complexity a lot. And secondly, there are initiatives underway to prevent subversion even by multi-billion-dollar intelligence agencies. For example the certificate transparency initiative is intending to upgrade the certificate format to contain a proof of inclusion in a public log. Browsers will start requiring the presence of these proofs in future, and thus it will no longer be possible to issue secret SSL certs that nobody can see except the victim. This is a large, complex upgrade of a massive infrastructure so it will take years, but eventually this system will raise the bar for SSL attackers to the point where they will either have to give up, or actually pass new laws that formally subvert SSL to the will of governments (at which point of course it does not matter if they are detected and there is no need to compromise CA's).

Which will happen is an open question at this point. However, Slashdot should get its ass into gear and switch on SSL and HSTS by default. Saying it's an option for logged in users just isn't good enough, especially when that option is so well buried I can't actually find it! SSL all the time should be the default, these days, there's just no reason not to anymore.

Comment Re:Ideas vs. Implementation (Score 1) 204

How do you reconcile,

Google really doesn't want to track you if you don't want to be tracked.


Virtually everything that we want to do, I think, is somewhat at odds with locking down all of your information for uses you haven’t contemplated yet. - Larry Page

If you don't want to be tracked, Google will not be able to provide you with the services Page was talking about. There's no contradiction, particularly when you realize that Page is thinking about services like Google Now, which use information about you to predict what information you need and proactively help you. If you lock down all of your information it is impossible to provide those services.

Google wants to make its services so compelling and useful that you'll actually find sharing your personal data with Google to be a net positive for you, but at the same time wants you to make that decision, and will honor your choice. I repeat, there is no contradiction.

If you have one, you might want to do some soul-searching about the evil company you work for.

Right, because giving people a lot of awesome free services in exchange for seeing some targeted ads is really terrible. Your definition of "evil" is more than a little bit skewed.

Comment Re:CAFE Standards (Score 1) 236

Huh? It wasn't like high-mileage cars were banned before. I've been able to get one for a long time. The CAFE standards are about what cars can be produced and sold, so low-mileage cars are harder to get without making high-mileage ones much more accessible. It's true that a drop in gas prices might be the difference between somebody biking and driving (although not all that many people bike in the US), but that's something different.

Comment Re:Brazil aims low, film at 11 (Score 1) 130

Depends on whether the fine is intended to cover damages or punish and deter illegal behavior. To do the latter, it has to make it more expensive to violate the law than to obey it. In general, I want illegal behavior punished and deterred (although there's a lot of illegal behavior that I think should be legal). That's based on profits.

Billing for damages is more complicated. It can be easy to determine an action is illegal, but extremely difficult to know what the damages are. What are the damages of violated privacy? For any given individual, it will probably be trivial, but could wind up being catastrophic.

Comment Re:Yet another government... (Score 1) 130

That would be possible, if you could find a very-short-range communication method that would work with any laptop. I don't know of any.

Furthermore, I've got about a dozen devices in my home that need to connect to my wireless router, and I want my guests to be able to use it also. These devices vary in their input methods. Not all of them have USB or anything useful like that. They don't have ultrasound communications. Some can accept infrared communications of some form, but most can't. Some of them are fully user-programmable and can easily take standard peripherals, some aren't.

The only communication modes they all have is (a) wireless, and (b) some form of keyboard, real or simulated. This does suggest a password, and we all know how bad most people are at generating passwords. If somebody doesn't use a password, the only way to connect multiple devices is to have an open connection.

Comment Re:Forget trans fats, carbohydrates are the proble (Score 1) 376

This carbs is bad for you stuff is pure bullshit. Eating more calories than you burn in the problem. Compare my diet living in the US vs when I lived in Germany. I ate like shit over here and over there. In Germany I tended to eat a lot of carbs. Hell there were 3 bakeries on my way from work to home. My breakfast and often lunch were usually some kind of bread product. I ate a lot of carbs. I ate the same fast food over there as over here including Pizza Hut, McDonalds, as well as local places. Granted they generally had smaller portions, but at the end of the day I lost 30lbs while living in Germany because I walked 5+ miles a day on average.

I tried to keep that habit when I moved back to the US. I don't drink as much soda these days and walk about two miles a day plus play hockey. I've gained back about 10 of those pounds in the past decade.

But this carbs thing being so bad for you, I call bullshit.

Comment Re:They should upgrade the warning ... (Score 1) 526

What upgrade could do that with ICE vehicles? Switching to unleaded or low-sulphur diesel were about the only things, everything further improvement (catalytic converters, better efficiency) requires changing vehicles each time.

Unleaded required car changes, too.

Earlier vehicles had valve stems in the engine - especially on the exhaust valve - which were lubricated by lead from the antiknock additive. I understand that valve slides had been changed far in advance of the requirement. But the lead additive was sold for a time for owners of older cars to add in order to protect their engines.

Similarly, some antismog oxygenates caused a lot of car fires in older cars, by rotting the rubber tubes in the parts of the fuel systems that had to flex. (This, of course, got a lot of older, high-pollution cars off the roads, reducing pollution (if you don't count the smoke of the burning car...). Thus the environmentalists didn't complain - or warn people.)

Similarly, ethanol stripped the coatings off the inside of older cars' fuel systems and attracted water, starting corrosion; dissolved some gasket sealents, creating manifold leaks, and dissolved plastic float valves from carburators, again causing major damage to (and retirement of) some older cars. (Sometimes some gasoline would have methanol in it, due to a mistake or a crooked supplier, and this would strip things almost immediately.) Many modern vehicles have different materials,and are rated for substantial percentages of ethanol in the gasoline.

Comment "Buy Belize" (Score 1) 66

One thing that has amused me, over the latter half of this year, is the strings of advertisements trying to get people to buy property in Belieze and move there, as a retirement home and/or tax haven.

Apparently the authorities chasing of MacAfee (allegedly on trupmed-up evidence in an effort by corrupt officials to seize his remaining wealth, or something of the sort) has caused others. seeking a comfy paradise and tax haven, decide this country is too risky and look elsewhere.

It would be interesting to find out how badly this has hurt the country's property values and economy.

Comment Re:Attenuating waves and generating harmonics. (Score 1) 216

Not everybody in the country. Just much of the capital city slum around the transmitting tower.

Notice that the field got so weak that, in part of the country, it was too weak to be adequately processed by a RADIO RECEIVER.

A country-covering station can easily transmit several hundred thousand watts. A fully illuminated fluorescent tube of the era is burning 10 watts per foot - at 4our or eight feet per lamp. Assuming ten thousand apartments, each with a four-foot lamp (with some wires arranged to get it to normal brightness), and you lose 400,000 watts from the radiated power.

Comment Re:Can we have a week without ... (Score 1) 144

Actually, the law (in the US) says that the US Dollar is payment for all debts. That doesn't apply if there is no debt. If I order a meal in a restaurant, and I owe $20, that's a debt, and they have to accept a twenty-dollar bill as payment. If I want to buy a $20 book in a bookstore, there is no existing debt and therefore the payment law does not apply. To put it another way, they have no legal obligation to sell the book to me (not entirely true, but probably close enough), so they can put conditions on the sale. Some places do not want to accept bills over $20, for example, so they will refuse to sell me $100 of merchandise for a $100 bill.

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"The urge to destroy is also a creative urge." -- Bakunin [ed. note - I would say: The urge to destroy may sometimes be a creative urge.]