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Comment Re:Xmission? (Score 4, Interesting) 309

Or they could say they were monitoring Maddox, when in reality, they were snooping on someone else, or just mooching server space to use in a distributed network they were running. You have no idea, and neither do most people working at the NSA, or the FISA court, etc, etc.

For all anyone knows, this "monitoring equipment" could have been hosting (and let me just go for the Godwin Gold here) a child porn darknet for a ring of senior paedophiles operating inside the NSA. And if anything went wrong, or was discovered, the NSA could ahve just pinned it all on XMission, Mr. Ashdown, and his attorneys. After all, there's no official record, all are gagged from revealing what they know, and the NSA would just lie about it.

And in case this seems hyperbolic: If the NSAs programs continue for long enough, this will happen. History is the definitive proof.

Comment Re:The rest of the story (Score 0) 148

Ha! As if. I suppose you're blaming house Republicans, but if those guys were making budgetary threats, they'd be pretty hollow. Or have you been asleep for the past year and a half of gridlock? :P

And you're not doing much yourself to provide a counterexample to the notion that climate-change is a left-wing conspiracy. So I have an idea for you. How about we talk science for a bit instead of political smears?

Comment Re:Smart guns... (Score 4, Insightful) 814

For the manufacturer, it's also a political maneuver. They can say "we made smart guns!" and maybe get some politicians off their back for a little while.

And it's obvious why people don't actually buy them. Pay $$$ extra for finicky biometrics which are at least as likely to impede you as they are to assist you? I'll get right on that.

Comment Re:Yaaaawn (Score 1) 103

This solves the problem of getting to LEO cheaply enough by using a miniature, lightweight tank. That's why it's a big deal. (Or at least a medium deal.)

And forget the interstellar-space angle for a moment, too: anyone for a decent picture of Pluto?

Comment Re:Precedent (Score 1) 266

The main thing that the USA today piece gets at is this:

But his crime devastated the Vatican, shattering the confidentiality that typically governs correspondence with the pope.

Let's consider a similar privilege in the US: attorney-client privilege. It's really important that people can trust their communications with their lawyers are confidential, at least if there is any hope to maintain a semblance of justice in the justice system instead of federal prosecutors running roughshod over everyone. Likewise, it's really important for the Vatican that people trust their priests enough to actually go to confession for forgiveness of sins (important to Catholics, you may have heard) and to receive moral guidance - at least so long as people remain imperfect, which means more or less 'forever'.

There have been some big scandals recently which have compromised that sort of trust.

Comment Re:This is the slope before the cliff (Score 1) 385

What do most people need computers to begin with? They are not 3D modeling or doing highly computational mathematics. They needed a computer to surf the web, do email, and maybe now and then create documents.

They (the majority of people) are not 3D modelling or doing highly complex mathematics, or expiermenting with music, or simulations, or art, or anything beyond the box, because the software is not there. The software is not there because programmers themselves believe that computers are now for surfing the web, email, MS Office, and playing Angry Birds.

And this might be tolerable if things just stood still, but instead they're going backwards as the new generation of programmers decides that Personal Computers should be even less usable. File Manger in Windows 3.11 was a very usuable and understandable application. I bought an android tablet recently which dind't even have a file manager. Those which could be downloaded made operations like copy and paste into nigh dystopian process. Don't even get me started on inputing and editing text on this device.

Yet, we see tablet concepts actually bleeding back into the desktop, making it even less usable. It's as though programmers have collectively decided to dumb down device they once used to create entire universe in, and to make possible things which others had never even imagined. The potential of PCs is being put back into the box.

Comment Re:This is the slope before the cliff (Score 1) 385

The real issue here is that software is not being developed to exploit the new found power of modern PCs. An entire generation of programmers is wasting their time writing sophmoric beta "apps" for restricted tablet devices. People are buying these yes, but collectively our software and productivity levels are not advancing.

People used to upgrade their PCs to get a new OS with useful new applications. No such OS is being made anymore. Most of them, Windows, Mac and many Linux distros, are instead sliding ever backwards.

Comment Re:This is stupid (Score 1) 407

No. Likely there'd be a complete fork from a clean workbase to start over again, a complete distrust of code from day one, and a complete overhaul of all existing systems.

Or the NSA could just rig our cars to explode and burn us alive before we do so, or whatever.

I'm not traditionally in the tin foil hat brigade, but at this point, having SELinux installed on your machine is the height of stupidity. The NSA has comprehensively proved itself to be an untrustworthy, duplicitous, and ruthless organisation. I don't care how many people reviewed the code; I want my computer to be associated as little as possibly with anything written or developed by those people. I regard this as somewhere between reiserfs and apartheid pears.

It's a question of trust and risk. I don't trust the NSA enough to risk keeping SELinux.

SELinux is not installed on my machine by default, but libSElinux is. It's interesting how many programs would also have to be removed if the library was.

Comment MOD PARENT UP (Score 0, Offtopic) 221

The contraposition of this story with the fate of John Corzine deserves to be highlighted.

Here we have the a US intelligence agency, saying it needs to snoop on millions in a supposed effort to protect them from threats. And yet John Corzine, who openly stole customers money, is not being prosecuted, despite the reams and reams of records and evidence against him and MFGlobal.

What we see here is that information does not correllate with prosecutions, or effectiveness at protecting people from harm.

Comment Re:Can stuxnet victims ... (Score 2) 491

Again Mossad is not the problem. In fact, the NSA or Mossad developing a virus to sabotage Iranian centrifuges or what have you is also not the problem. This is what spy agencies are for. The problem is when the NSA develops viruses which affect, or engages in espionage on, the US public. The NSA is not supposed to do that.

Again, I raise the analogy of the US military dropping bombs on US citizens; they don't do it because they're not supposed to. The same rules should apply to the NSA and its espionage bag of tricks.

Comment Re:29 years old ? (Score 3, Insightful) 432

Amen. It's obvious that most "modern" interfaces and "apps" are being designed by people who have no real idea of what they are doing, delivering, and are simply winging it on bluff.

Engelbart's tradgedy is the same tradgedy that is giving us substandard tablet interfaces, less usable UI's like Unity, and which is walling us off in restricted private gardens like Facebook instead of offerring us the wider potential of the web.

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Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!