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Comment Re:Information shouldn't be free (Score 1) 140

Free information is the death of all culture.

That's an interesting way to put it, but there's some truth in the statement. Essentially, many struggles we're involved in right now, from ISOC v ITU to Manning/Snowden v Secrecy, from Apple v Samsung to SOPA/PIPA v The World... all of these derive from the impact of sharing, a thing that many aspects of our respective cultures protect us against. The mere presence of the internet implies that, by giving them away, we do in fact lose our differences. And that is the very essence of subversion.

Comment Re:wget (Score 5, Insightful) 169

In the Manning case, the prosecution used Manning's use of a standard, more than 15-year-old Unix program called Wget to collect information, as if it were a dark and nefarious technique.

Maybe it's not quite that, but if it's used to download information that shouldn't be collected by an individual, it certainly bears watching.

Dude, what the fuck?

wget is a web client - you know, like the one you're using to read this comment. It bears watching just like any other web client bears watching.

Now, one could argue it might profit them more to pay attention to what data they make available to web clients.... But that would be all... I dunno, sensible.

Comment Re:In Browser (Score 5, Funny) 479

We marvel that the runtime environment of the web browser can do things that we had working 25 years ago on the Mac.

Did the Mac, 25 years ago, allow people to load code from a remote server and execute it locally in a sandbox and in a platform independent manner all in a matter of a couple of seconds? No. No it did not.

We should then pay homage to the Mac 25 years ago, when it basically did what Doug Englebart demonstrated 45 years ago. Nice logic you have there.

Dude, just ignore this guy. Of all people who have the right to indulge in a good, old-fashioned 'get off my lawn' rant, Dave Winer ranks last. This is the man who, for our sins, gave us XMLRPC and SOAP, paving the way for the re-invention of... well, everything, in a web browser.

Port 80 died for this man's sins....

Comment Re:Broken leg? (Score 1) 124

OK, I'll try to put it into a language /. understands. If I have one smashed up car, will smashing up the road make it fixed?

Not necessarily, but blocking traffic completely, rather than trying to allow vehicles to crawl past the crash site on the shoulder, will have less impact on traffic overall.

Comment Re:fourth amendment vs. first amendment (Score 1) 333

Yes, but it's not entirely clear that "monitoring makes that impossible". For example, as long as the government doesn't interfere with a political rally, can you really show harm to 1st Amendment rights by the mere fact that the government databased everyone who attended?

In a word, yes. Here's an excellent legal argument from the Harvard Law Review that details how surveillance influences the exercise of First Amendment rights. From the abstract:

Surveillance is harmful because it can chill the exercise of our civil liberties, especially our intellectual privacy. It ialso gives the watcher power over the watched, creating the the risk of a variety of other harms, such as discrimination, coercion, and the threat of selective enforcement, where critics of the government can be prosecuted or blackmailed for wrongdoing unrelated to the purpose of the surveillance.

The author goes on to explain in detail how the chilling effect applies, citing sources for his claim that knowing you're being watched influences even how you think. The practice of widespread, untargeted surveillance has an insidious effect on freedom, and should therefore be subject to significant legal constraints.

Comment Re:What has this got to do with Microsoft? (Score 1) 125

Is this entire article some kind of joke? If you have physical access to a machine and are able to "steal" the cookies from their logged in browser session, then on another machine replicate that browser session and utilize that same logged in cookie so that the site can't tell the difference between the machine you HAVE PHYSICAL LOGGED-IN ACCESS TO and the replicated session, so you're able to continue using the site? Isn't this behaviour "as intended"? This would only be a "flaw" if another site could remotely copy my cookies and continue my session 'as me'. (Well, actually, I have Java installed, so they probably can *cough*). Otherwise, it's exactly how a logged in cookie is meant to work. The only tacit connection to "Microsoft" seems to be that "Microsoft, like some other companies.. have websites on the internet."

Well, for services sending clear, unencrypted HTTP traffic, local access isn't necessary. The data interception could be some random Joe or Jane sitting at the same Starbucks as you. Or it could be your friendly neighbourhood ISP, or your telco, or your government.

So yeah, knowing about it and not working out a fix is a problem. It's evidence that, contrary to advertising claims, Microsoft (and others) are not really taking your privacy as seriously as they should.

Comment Re:Why exclude 1984? (Score 2) 213

Given that Orwell got so very much right about the future, why exclude 1984 from the list? Just to make an interesting discussion that would have been largely already well-hashed-out otherwise?

It's just to be fair to the rest of them. There are some artists who simply dominate their genre. A famous singer was once asked who her favourite Jazz vocalist was, and she said, 'You mean, besides Ella Fitzgerald?'

Comment Tragic, but useful (Score 2, Funny) 814

Well, we're talking types who think they absolutely need a loaded gun everywhere they might be in the house, including racks by the bed and whatnot. And that their life WILL depend on it any day now, when squads of evil government black muslim communist ninjas will burst into their home to confiscate their bible and replace their medicare with an evil socialized one. And their kids who think that playing cops and robbers with daddy's gun, presumbaly in between eating paint chips and being homeschooled in how many dinosaurs fit on Noah's arc, is a good idea.

I dunno, it certainly is tragic, but their noble sacrifice to improve the species' gene pool will be remembered.

Comment You don't really want a black hole (Score 1) 284

Actually, you probably don't want an appliance powered by a black hole, because those convert matter into energy via Hawking radiation and the energy output actually ramps UP as the size decreases. A very small black hole, say, 1 kg in weight (a little over 2 pounds) would convert itself into energy in about 84 attoseconds and release the same energy as a 21 megaton nuke or so.

You'd need a pretty big one for it to be stable, and I doubt you really want a vacuum cleaner weighing as much as the Everest :p

On the other hand, if we ever tame one, it would make an awesome source of energy for something that needs a lot more energy. Such as a continent. Or a warp-capable ship. Hmm, the Romulans were up to something.

Of course, it would still be a Tamagochi that blows up with the fury of a supernova if you forget to "feed" it, but, hey, it's all good as long as we call it a warp core breach. Right?

Hmm, maybe I shouldn't have mentioned Romulan singularity warp cores though... I hear the Tal'Shiar are nastier than the NSA and CIA put together ;)

Comment True story (Score 2) 641

True story, at some point in the past I had to work on a company's internal application for data entry. Well, it was a lot of data and, as requested by the PHBs, pretty much half the fields were needlessly mandatory. (Which brings us of the fear of working for incompetent people;))

Most of them were pretty much impossible to validate too, because they were stuff like city or street names, and even in telephone numbers people tend to use letters. So the only real restrictions were field lengths and that they're mandatory.

So then comes the request to basically make reports and searches on that data.

And I kid you not, half the records had stuff like "n.a.", "I don't know", "no idea", etc in at least one of those fields.

And these were internal users, not some 6 year old over the internet.

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