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Comment Re:Not sure I understand the question. (Score 0) 410

"Hosting in Europe is exactly the same as hosting in the US!"

Not really. A US citizen does have legal rights regarding US spying that non-citizens do not, and can at least nominally ask for restitution, and use their vote and political action to influence the practice. Note how the widespread surveillance being exposed is illegal for targeting US citizens, but perfectly legal - and thus with no recourse available - for non-citizen targets.

In the same way, if you're a European citizen you really should prefer using hosting, email and other providers based in EU jurisditions. That will in the same way give rights and leverage to influence privacy issues that you are not given by US authorities.

So yes, the rational response to the widespread surveillance is unfortunately a balkanized internet, where we all mostly use and pay for services within our own legal bloc and avoid any companies based elsewhere.


Obama on Surveillance: "We Can and Must Be More Transparent" 537

Today President Obama held a press conference to address the situation surrounding the NSA's surveillance activities. (Here is the full transcript.) He announced four actions the administration is undertaking to restore the public's confidence in the intelligence community. Obama plans to work with Congress to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to give greater weight to civil liberties, and to revisit section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which is the section that allowed bulk collection of phone records. (Of course, "will work with Congress" is a vague term, and Congress isn't known for getting things done lately. Thus, it remains to be seen if anything substantive happens.) Obama is ordering the Dept. of Justice to make public their legal rationale for data collection, and there will be a new NSA official dedicated to transparency efforts. There will also be a new website for citizens to learn about transparency in intelligence agencies. Lastly, a group of outside experts will be convened to review the government's surveillance capabilities. Their job will include figuring out how to maintain the public's trust and prevent abuse, and to consider how the intelligence community's actions will affect foreign policy. In addition to these initiatives, President Obama made his position very clear about several different aspects of this controversy. While acknowledging that "we have significant capabilities," he said, "America is not interested in spying on ordinary people." He added that the people who have raised concerns about privacy and government overreach in a lawful manner are "patriots." This is in stark contrast to his view of leakers like Edward Snowden: "I don't think Mr. Snowden was a patriot." (For his part, Snowden says the recent shut down of encrypted email services is 'inspiring.') When asked about how his opinion of the surveillance programs have changed, he said his perception of them has not evolved since the story broke worldwide. "What you're not seeing is people actually abusing these programs." Obama also endorsed finding technological solutions that will protect privacy regardless of what government agencies want to do.

Camels May Transmit New Middle Eastern Virus 163

sciencehabit writes "Ever since people in the Middle East started dying of a mysterious new infection last year, scientists have been trying to pinpoint the source of the outbreak. Now they may finally have found a clue in an unlikely population: retired racing camels. Countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates produce and consume large amounts of camel meat. The authors of the paper point out that huge numbers of camels are imported to the Middle East from African countries as well as from Australia, where the animals were introduced in the 19th century and which now has an estimated 1 million feral camels. (Australia started exporting camels to Saudi Arabia for meat production in 2002.) That raises the possibility that African or Australian bats harbor the virus and camels carried it to the Middle East."

Comment Categorical 'no' (Score 1) 373

I will never buy a hybrid drive from seagate or anyone else. It's a huge waste of effort and money which only adds additional more uncertainty to the failure cases that already exist. 8GB of flash on a hybrid drive at best improves boot times by a second or two (literally, just that), and there's no point 'caching' application binaries when you can trivially stuff 16G+ of ram in a modern machine.

My windows box boots from a normal HDD just fine. If anyone is unhappy with their boot times it's probably because their machines are loaded with tons of crapware.

Laptops don't need HDDs at all. Just go with a SSD. There is absolutely no need to store your life's work on your laptop when a myrid of wireless/internet/automatic backup solutions are available.

Workstations and servers will want discrete SSDs in addition to HDDs. We stuff 128-256GB SSDs on our servers, use ~30G for boot+root, and the remaining 200GB to help cache the filesystems on the HDDs. Works great. The last thing you want are idiotic multi-failure-mode hybrid drives on an important machine.

I am not particularly married to WD or Seagate, but the last few years Seagate's line-up has been such a horrid mish-mash of half-baked features that I've pretty much been sticking to WD.


Comment Re:I want low power consumption (Score 1) 373

Not really, no. You will save money going with 2.5" HDDs instead of 3.5" HDDs, however. SSDs still eat less power when idle, but HDDs don't eat a whole lot of power when idle either.

Otherwise it depends on the kind of machine it is. If it's a desktop or workstation, then cpu's with integrated graphics (AMD APUs or Intel xxx5 chips typically) use far less power than systems with discrete gpus or graphics cards. Later generation chips eat less power when idle. Intel pretty much wins on that front if you want a powerful but low-power workstation. Haswell mobos and a good PSU will draw under 20W without having to go to sleep. Costs some money, though.


Comment Re:Really? Political correctness? (Score 2) 772

If you're concerned about political correctness making it's way onto Doctor Who, that tardis has long since sailed. It's not only gay-friendly to a fault, it's eco-friendly and anti-militarist. UNIT doesn't count -- our brave boys in berets represent a military reduced to its proper scope: gamely attempting to repulse cheesy alien invaders while someone with more brains figures out what to do about them.

In Dr. Who the military isn't some kind of awesome war machine, it's more like occupational therapy for the incurably dunderheaded.

Comment Re:Er, no, that isn't the story (Score 1) 382

The moral of the story here is that people who aren't law enforcement are really, really, epic bad at being judges of character.

I see no evidence that the police are immune from epic fails in judging character, or are indeed better at it than anyone else. But they do have a lot of experience with *investigations*, and that counts for something.

Comment Re:Bush (Score 5, Insightful) 923

If you folks on the right had asked one of us *liberals* back in '08, we'd have told you Obama wasn't one of us. He's essentially what would have been a centrist Republican thirty years ago. These were people, like Bob Dole, that we liberals didn't agree with, but could respect and work with. In fact, "Obamacare" pretty much follows the private sector oriented reform plans of Bob Dole. If Obama were a liberal he'd have gone with single payer, and negotiated tough price concessions with pharmaceutical manufacturers (which is the source of America's runaway heath care spending). You'd have seen banks regulated or broken apart, and criminal investigations in response to the financial crisis of '08, not an attempt to put the system back together again the way it was before the crash.

In fact Obama is very much the kind of president Dole would have been: an economic pragmatist, a diplomatic multilateralist, and an aggressive user of military force where he perceives an imminent threat to national security.

If you want to stop state intrusion into private affairs, you've got to stop being afraid, and convince others around you to stop being afraid. The more fear there is in the political climate, the more impunity the government has in its actions.

Liberals got behind Obama in '08 for the same reason we got behind Obamacare: we backed the best alternative achievable in a climate of fear -- a climate, by the way, that makes the state internal security apparatus feel empowered to do anything it wants in the search for terrorists.


Google Pressure Cookers and Backpacks: Get a Visit From the Feds 923

An anonymous reader writes "Massachusetts resident Michele Catalano was looking for information online about pressure cookers. Her husband, in the same time frame, was Googling backpacks. Wednesday morning, six men from a joint terrorism task force showed up at their house to see if they were terrorists. Which raises the question: How'd the government know what they were Googling?"

Comment Re:Failed Marketing (Score 1) 251

I've seen gaming headsets that mix two audio sources (is yours the PS3 headset?), but I haven't found wireless earbuds available that do that (thinking more about it, it seems my problems are only with wireless earbuds (I've had sets from two manufacturers)).

I use the Sony SBH20 wireless earbuds: Seems to work fine. I haven't had any problem with mixing up devices, but I'm pretty careful about turning off BT whenever I don't use it to save battery. So I turn on the headset (or keyboard), then turn on BT on the device I want to use. Then turn both off once I'm done.

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