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The Courts

Boston Marathon Bomber Charged With Using 'Weapon of Mass Destruction' 533

New submitter bunkymag writes "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has now been indicted on over 30 charges relating to his part in the Boston Marathon bombing. Of particular note however is a charge of using a 'Weapon of Mass Destruction.' It's a bit out of line with the commonly-held perception of the term, most notably used in justifying the invasion of Iraq. However, U.S. criminal law defines a 'weapon of mass destruction' much more broadly, including virtually any explosive device: bombs, grenades, rockets, missiles, mines, etc. The question arises: is it wise for Tsarnaev to face such a politically-loaded charge? From an outsider perspective, it would seem easy enough to leverage any number of domestic anti-terror laws to achieve anything up to and including the death penalty if required. Why, then, muddy the waters with this new WMD claim, when the price could be giving further ammunition to groups outside of America that already clearly feel the rules are set up to indict them on false pretenses, and explicitly use this sense of outrage to attract new terrorist recruits?"
Programming

Dr. Dobb's Calls BS On Obsession With Simple Code 381

theodp writes "Over at Dr. Dobb's, Editor-in-Chief Andrew Binstock has a nice rant on The Misplaced Obsession with Simplicity. 'Any idiot can write complex code,' goes the old maxim, 'the true art is writing simple code.' Right, Andrew? Wrong (mostly). Binstock explains, 'It's not true that any idiot can write complex code. Complex code is difficult, often very difficult, to write. It's entirely true that it's more difficult to maintain, too. But that's the nature of complexity. Some things are intensely difficult to express in code and they require complexity, simply because they're not inherently simple.' After citing the complex-but-necessarily-so code of Al Aho and sometimes-misguided reverence for cyclomatic complexity limits to help make his point, Binstock concludes, 'My view of simplicity is unemotional and free of idolatry because I define it with respect to complexity, rather than the other way around: Simplicity is the quality of code that is no more complex than required to express the underlying complexity. In this way, simple code can be intensely complex. There is no inherent good/bad dichotomy.'"

Comment Re:Tax dodge (Score 1) 356

What I'd prefer seeing instead of a Sales Tax (consumption based) is a flat tax of ten percent with no deductions/allowances (everyone pays the same amount)

Ten percent on what? Income or profit?

If you say "profit", what do I get to deduct from my income to call "profit"? Wages? Rent? Equipment? Raw materials? Transportation costs? Marketing and advertising? Employee training? Sales retreats? Investment expenses?

If it is income, I buy 100 shares at $10, and sell that 100 shares for $11, when I sell the shares I have an income of $1100, but a profit of $100 (actually less once you figure in brokerage commission). Are you going to let me deduct the cost of the shares I bought and the brokerage commission? Or do I have to pay $110 in taxes on that trade?

Privacy

Introducing the NSA-Proof Crypto-Font 259

Daniel_Stuckey writes "At a moment when governments and corporations alike are hellbent on snooping through your personal digital messages, it'd sure be nice if there was a font their dragnets couldn't decipher. So Sang Mun built one. Sang, a recent graduate from the Rhode Island Schoold of Design, has unleashed ZXX — a 'disruptive typeface' that he says is much more difficult to the NSA and friends to decrypt. He's made it free to download on his website, too. 'The project started with a genuine question: How can we conceal our fundamental thoughts from artificial intelligences and those who deploy them?' he writes. 'I decided to create a typeface that would be unreadable by text scanning software (whether used by a government agency or a lone hacker) — misdirecting information or sometimes not giving any at all. It can be applied to huge amounts of data, or to personal correspondence.' He named it after the Library of Congress's labeling code ZXX, which archivists employ when they find a book that contains 'no linguistic content.'"
Displays

Ask Slashdot: Does LED Backlight PWM Drive You Crazy? 532

jones_supa writes "I would like to raise some discussion about a hardware issue that has increasingly started to bug me: backlight flicker, from which many LED-backlit monitors suffer. As you might know, the backlight and its dimming is driven by a pulse width modulated square wave, essentially flicking the LEDs on and off rapidly. Back in the CRT days a 100Hz picture was deluxe, due to the long afterglow of the display phosphor. LEDs, however, shut off immediately and my watering eyes and headache tell that we should be using frequencies in multiple kHz there. Unfortunately we too often fall behind that. As one spark of hope, the display review site PRAD has already started to include backlight signal captures to help assessing the problem. However with laptops and various mobile gadgets, finding this kind of information is practically impossible. This issue sort of lingers in the background but likely impacts the well-being of many, and certainly deserves more attention." So do LEDs bother your eyes? I think CRTs gave me headaches far more often than has any form of flat panel display, at least partly because of the whining noise that CRTs emit.

Comment Which Ones?!?! (Score 5, Insightful) 145

What an absolutely useless article and report. Scaremongering at its best, with no actionable content. Which plugins have vulnerabilities? Can they be mitigated through configuration changes or do they need to be disabled/uninstalled? What is the potential exposure? Those are the sort of things a computer professional needs. Where are the damned CVEs?
Google

Google's Crazy Lack of Focus: Is It Really Serious About Enterprise? 226

curtwoodward writes "Driverless cars. Balloon-based wireless networks. Face-mounted computers. Gigabit broadband networks. In recent months, Google has been unveiling a series of transformative side projects that paint a picture of the search pioneer expanding far beyond an online advertising company. At the same time, Google has been trying to convince enterprise software buyers that it's finally, really, truly serious about competing with Microsoft for their business. Which version of Google's future should you believe?"

Comment Re:God (Score 2) 359

If he wanted us to use sharpened sticks and clay tablets then why did he give me an appendage to write my name in the snow with?

Climate change -- no more snow. See -- this is what climate change brings. Touchscreen laptops. Now you know who to blame.

Cellphones

Prosecutors Push For Anti-Phone-Theft Kill Switches 257

New submitter EdPbllips writes "Law enforcement officials nationwide are demanding the creation of a 'kill switch' that would render smartphones inoperable after they are stolen, New York's top prosecutor said Thursday in a clear warning to the world's smartphone manufacturers. Citing statistics showing that 1 in 3 robberies nationwide involve the theft of a mobile phone, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the formation of a coalition of law enforcement agencies devoted to stamping out what he called an 'epidemic' of smartphone robberies. 'All too often, these robberies turn violent,' said Schneiderman, who was joined at a news conference by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. 'There are assaults. There are murders.'" Apple described a system like this in their presentation about iOS 7 at WWDC.

Comment This is Stupid (Score 4, Interesting) 622

None of those things will help you. To the NSA, the content of your email may be less important than with whom you are communicating. Yes, the care about the content of some emails, but their dragnet appears to be for network analysis -- sender, recipients, date, time, etc. The NSA almost certainly catalogs every DNS lookup you do. This is the stuff that is erroneously being referred to as metadata.

One possibly surprising way to keep your communications private is to read/post your communications to a very public forum. That way the intended recipient is difficult to determine. Keep the communication slightly covert -- a little steganography goes a long way if you can fly under the radar. Just don't trust others with your privacy.

Our rights are inalienable -- but only if we use them.

Privacy

Majority of Americans Say NSA Phone Tracking Is OK To Fight Terrorism 584

An anonymous reader writes "While the tech media has gone wild the past few days with the reports of the NSA tracking Verizon cell usage and creating the PRISM system to peer into our online lives, a new study by Pew Research suggests that most U.S. citizens think it's okay. 62 percent of Americans say losing some personal privacy is acceptable as long as its used to fight terrorism, and 56 percent are okay with the NSA tracking phone calls. Online tracking is fair less popular however, with only 45 percent approving of the practice. The data also shows that the youth are far more opposed to curtailing privacy to fight terror, which could mean trouble for politicians planning to continue these programs in the coming years."

Comment Re:Yes it is real (Score 1) 206

Yeah, if only they'd invent some sort of device to turn a transmitter on in civilian airspace and off in restricted airspace. Maybe they could call it a Radio-Controlled Switch or something. In other news... if you're worried about insurgents shooting down your precious drones, why the fuck did you clear that area for civilian aviation?

Right.... because no insurgent would ever choose to put their hang out near a civilian airport. Someplace nice and safe from those pesky drones. Nope... that would never, ever happen.

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"It says he made us all to be just like him. So if we're dumb, then god is dumb, and maybe even a little ugly on the side." -- Frank Zappa

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