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Comment Re: Futile gesture (Score 1) 145

There were too MANY warning signs... half the world was already at war, and it's very unlikely that the signal of any legitimate intel that Pearl Harbor was about to happen could have risen above the noise of everything else the intel community had to keep up with at that time. How many incorrect tips and hints do you think came through, and to whom, and from whom? It's easy to find that needle in a haystack with 70 years of hindsight, but at the time, with everyone gathering intel but without the technology we have today for ferreting out useful information, I doubt it was possible to give any real warning. Besides, any attack on our land would have brought us into the war... if a conspiracy truly wanted that, then they could have given just enough warning to still witness the attack, but be alert enough to not cripple our navy and waste a huge percent of our might going into the war.

Getting back on topic, though, this IS why modern spy agencies exist. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if everyone we spy on is fairly cognizant of it without Snowden's revelations (which, I still point out, are going far beyond the "exposing domestic spying" that is the core of his defense). When Obama was quoted in his "All nations collect intelligence" comment about people knowing what he has for breakfast, I think he was conceding that other countries, even allies, keep abreast of our leadership's activities through all means necessary. Is that right? I don't know... some of it depends on the methods and some on how deeply we go even when that leadership is trying to be private, and how much we truly share about these activities with our allies. That is, while it may be easy to know what the president had for breakfast, and while we may not even mind that that information gets out, it should be difficult to know what he discusses in the situation room or the oval office with doors closed. Snowden provides no context, no background, and no well-balanced research that traditional journalism should provide, and he and his information are losing a lot of credibility, at least with me, in so doing. Of COURSE we collect information on foreign leadership. So does the entire media population. If a crisis breaks out you can bet that some reporters will know exactly how to get hold of any leader they want to almost immediately.

From the article, it's clear that whatever documentation Snowden provided is not sufficient to prove anything, and even if it were a red-handed case (which it's not), there's still the possibility that it was done with some level of consent or coordination with Germany. The US, Germany, and Britain do actually have pretty strong diplomatic ties... something also confirmed by Snowden (http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/nov/01/gchq-europe-spy-agencies-mass-surveillance-snowden). A quid-pro-quo trading of this sort of information isn't out of the question, and could certainly make the legal aspect more difficult to unravel. This stuff is all far from black and white.

Comment Re:Consider... (Score 2) 490

Thank you... I can't believe how many posts it took before someone mentioned this. "Only" 70-80% of the country has some form of internet or broadband, depending on who you ask... I bet the remaining 20+% account for more than their fair share of DVD users (I can't be sure, but still). Alienating that group is potentially bad for business.

Your first three points were very good as well... Ultimately, though, it's also about what people are willing to pay for. I don't really care WHY people are renting DVDs, but as long as they still want to (any of the reasons you gave or more), providers will be willing to take their money. Given that streaming options are becoming more and more prevalent, it's less likely that people are being forced to and more that they prefer to, but either way people keep buying DVDs.

I, personally, buy them because they're cheap, I like having them, I can be more sure what my collection includes (my options aren't taken away by constantly changing catalogs), I can share them, they work on all sorts of old cheap hardware... all sorts of reasons.

Comment Re:I wonder (Score 1) 154

Of course, you could also imagine a group of highly intelligent and capable programmers that grew up on legends of the Enigma, Bletchley Park, and Alan Turing... who live for reverse engineering code and breaking ciphers. People who know that enemies of the state (in this case the US) had used secret communications since the US War of Independance (http://www.nsa.gov/about/_files/cryptologic_heritage/publications/prewii/Revolutionary_Secrets.pdf and yes, there are non-nsa links to similar material, but I thought it proved the point that much better), up to the modern day -- new and old enemies, large governments and small factions, and all enemies in between.

They believe to their core that protection of the country to whom they actually are very loyal requires not only a strong military but a strong counter-intelligence program and, given the way modern information is exchanged, "things have worked out about as well as you'd imagine". Just like the military, these people have built what they hope is the world's most capable collection of people and tools. By "capable" of course I mean able to execute the core objective -- to collect intelligence. We have no background, no history on why any individual piece of code is put in place. The person building injection attacks to MySQL, as an example, may have had a specific MySQL using target in mind when it was created, just like the nuclear bomb was created largely in response to World War II, and no matter how controversial, we still have those weapons and we still keep them available should they need to be used. Invoking nuclear weapons isn't even necessary -- guns, missiles, missile defense, any military tech has moral implications. Whether we should use any weapon or not is fine for debate, but I do see parallels -- you can't write off the people developing or using these weapons as "amoral", when, in fact, the vast majority of them are explicitly doing so for the defense of their country.

These people need not be "amoral". They may be misguided, or have priorities not in line with the majority of the public (although even that is easily debated). I give these guys the benefit of the doubt most of the time, however; by and large they believe they are working for the right side.

Comment Re:Do not overreacht please (Score 5, Insightful) 187

I consider it an overreaction because the reaction is more against the change rather than to the impact of the change itself. I, for one, prefer the new mechanism. The main reason is that I found the grey boxes and light lines difficult to discern, particularly on poorly calibrated monitors (including some of my own -- I tend to prefer a high monitor temperature that mutes the contrast there).

The big yellow "Ad" symbol is much easier for me to identify. The yellow stands out. It's not garish; they could certainly make it MORE visible, but again, for me, personally, the yellow is easier to spot than the grey, and I consider it an improvement. Yes, I'd probably have preferred that they do both.

Anyway, I'm sure people will disagree, but people disagree on any change... it's not the end of the world. Ads are still labeled and people will get used to it then complain about the next change. That's why it's an overreaction.

Comment Re:reduce the amount (Score 1) 983

I like the compression idea. Blu Ray media is cheap per GB, and it's a nice alternative to HDDs if you want to keep two media types (i.e. to have one that resists magnetic damage). Given that media libraries don't change frequently (other than adding new content), this might make some sense.

Still, copying to BR is slow and loathesome, and at 50GB each (or 25 if you go the cheaper route) for home burning it will take a while to off load. Of course, once you have it, you have it.

External hard drives in an offsite vault may be easier; you may be quick to dismiss them. Archive by date or by content and a handful of cheap drives will get it done in such a way that you can easily find what you're looking for if you have to go searching for individual files, and it's quick to recover. You could probably get a backup for less than a grand and it will be pretty fast and easy to store and move.

Paid cloud storage is fine for this, but honestly the bandwidth has never worked for me for that capacity; "never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with," well, hard drives. I'd archive the most recent stuff to the cloud (because that's the stuff at the most risk if you haven't off-sited it yet),

Comment Re:On Science, Actuaries, and FUD (Score 1) 139

Thanks fort he nice replies... "disfavor" was probably strong, in terms of "Actuary", but I meant it more in terms of not having a negative connotation, just not having a rock-star or very popular buzz-word sort of connotation that "Data Scientist" seems to have now. I grew up wanting to be an actuary, curiously -- my father was one -- I got the math degree, I just wandered off into database work, but I do actually see our jobs as very similar. I think actuaries still come in as some of the "best" jobs annually in places where people report such things (http://money.cnn.com/2013/04/25/news/economy/best-job-actuary/).

But (and don't tell my father this), I've never heard anyone call actuaries sexy (other than my mom and, let's face it, we don't want to go there). Not in the way "Data Scientist" has been hyped. That's what I meant -- no disrespect to actuaries anywhere. ;-)

Comment On Science, Actuaries, and FUD (Score 4, Insightful) 139

"Science" lacks a robust definition, but clearly the OP's definition is overly simplistic and narrow. Stephen Hawking has a lecture somewhere (found it: http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-origin-of-the-universe.html) where he talks about the idea of the "positivist" approach defined on the ability to predict outcomes, and I like to apply that definition to Science (Hawking doesn't, directly, but it's sort of an underlying theme). That is, Science becomes the observation and experimentation required to form predictions or cause changes in predicted outcomes.

So Social Science can be a science in so far as it actually informs usefully on how people will behave or provides useful ways to affect and improve the behavior or state of society's future. Computer science is a science insofar as it is required to make computers function as expected (as predicted) -- if you want something to perform faster, you must do the research and experimentation to cause the outcome to be faster. Even archaeology can be a science by this definition in that discoveries are added to a general model of the past that predicted all sorts of things -- ancient society's behavior, glaciation, geological events... "predict" may be a stretch there (except when archaeological finds help predict the future), but in this case the method of building a model of how the world worked based on observation to describe and generalize behavior (of the earth, of ancient religions, or what have you) is a form of prediction; it's just after the fact.

Data Science is very much science in this form; the job of a data scientist is almost universally to predict what the data will say about the future given what it has said in the past. This is invaluable to businesses and while the name may fall into disfavor, in the same way "actuary" which means something very similar already has, the abuse in this article is unwarranted, unfounded, and inaccurate. I will only agree that many who sport the "Data Science" moniker may not actually be doing science by any definition, but that's the individual's fault, not the concept's.

Comment Re:A few problems... (Score 3, Insightful) 149

I don't know about "anti-pattern", but they cause trouble because they cause other code to be non-deterministic and it's very difficult to create patterns around that sort of behavior. They're practically the logical equivalent of the "COME FROM" in Intercal, which was originally a joke for goodness sake. I was flabbergasted when I found out people are vaunting code that actually works this way. It's particularly painful in implementations where the "reactions" can override program flow with errors or silent rejection or just running off and doing whatever they want. It's nearly impossible to debug since reactions (triggers) are almost always coded in a language or paradigm separate from some procedural language used to provide the UI or whatever other layer is being reacted TO.

I just don't like it! But that's just me.

Comment Re:The cypher (Score 1) 89

Thanks for beating me to this -- it sounds like a simple substitution cipher; even with a many-to-one I'm amazed it would be THAT hard to crack. Of course, looking at the images in the articles I wasn't having a good time telling one rune from the next (there was a series of like 5 "R" looking characters in a row), so maybe it was a high order many-to-one so the trick helped narrow the field.

I'm impressed that such a cipher lasted this long, though!

Comment Re:Classic Slashdot (Score 1) 463

Ob-On-Topic Follow up... off site backups are BACKUPS... if you archive something off of your production systems (say, because it's outdated), you once again need TWO COPIES (like beta and classic Slashdot!). Putting an entire country's banking records in one place seems like an awful bad idea whatever that place is.

Comment Only for swing voters (Score 3, Insightful) 269

Most voters stick with long-standing ideals that they think will work long-term -- most people will poll to the same party over and over. Only a small percentage of people that are willing to break with their party could be influenced this way (unless their party was doing something particularly silly near a vote). Swing voters matter, of course, but this article generalizes something that is not generally true.

Comment Re:One and the same (Score 1) 441

"Why would they seek retribution for willingly dropping all of the evidence in a shredder, letting the bad guys know how to plug the leak, and walking away?"

There's no evidence of that happening! And as many have said, IF the proper channels failed, THEN you could go public. For many of these ongoing issues, the evidence can't be shred, and in many cases doing so is in fact a viable resolution to the problem.

Do we have a single example of one of these high profile folks someone saying "I reported egregious behavior properly via the whistleblower protections, but now all the evidence is gone, but they're still doing bad things so I decided to go public"? I mean, someone had just said "hey, we shouldn't be doing this, should we?" and then everyone said "you know, you're right", and then stopped, that actually sounds like a working system. And we don't know how effective the current system is -- many (obviously not all) abuses may have been stopped via whistleblower protections done properly, but some of this will be classified so that information getting out is both unnecessary and unlikely. And as I said before, we DO know that a few thousand of these a year go on largely without incident.

But even if we grant that going public was the only way, again I think the difference between approaches are vital. Taking precautionary steps to ensure very little classified information gets out, and that the information that does leak is vital to proving the abuse case is far less destructive than taking loads of evidence and giving it to wikileaks or foreign press. Many of the documents so leaked have hurt diplomatic and intelligence concerns in areas that are disconnected from the targeted abuse. That is unnecessary and what I find punishable, and where I think Drake could be treated with leniency due to his diligence in keeping classified information safe.

Lastly, just to be clear, I'm not supporting the actions of the organizations either... I was in DC protesting the Patriot Act with many others years ago because I think the problem is more in the laws that allowed this sort of thing to happen. The problem is that the actions may have been LEGAL, if unethical and not what the voting populace wanted or intended because we let these privacy eroding laws happen in the first place. We need more voters to put pressure on politicians to write laws that clearly disallow this sort of privacy-invasion in the first place; that would make whistleblowing more effective (and hopefully less necessary) because the abuses would be more clearly illegal.

Sorry that's so long, I'll stop ranting now. :-)

Comment Re:One and the same (Score 1) 441

In the last 10 years over 20,000 cases have come through the "proper" whistleblower channels that are published (many classified cases are not, and while they could be different, there's no evidence that they are), and I'm not aware of any of these scary retribution stories being applicable to those. Of the 7 in the story, how many considered the large amount of cases that DID go through proper channels, and how many actually tried the process BEFORE violating any laws (like stealing classified information)? The scary examples that are held up are of people who violated the rules in the first place; of the people that followed the whistleblower act's provisions, I don't see examples of this.

I admit the statistics don't look great -- only 20-30% of the cases are settled while 60% are dismissed (the remainder are withdrawn or kicked out), and only a small percent are found completely in favor of the whistleblower. But there's nothing from those 20,000+ stories to indicate that this proper channel is causing retribution to anyone that uses it. It's the people who circumvent the process that are the poster children, and it's a terribly false comparison.

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