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Comment And now maybe we'll know why ... (Score 5, Interesting) 108

And now maybee we'll know why it's been so hard for Open Source developers to get information on writing their own against-the-metal drivers for telephony radios and startup modules (BIOS, EFI/UEFI, etc.)

It has long been suspected that was not just proprietary info-walling, but to reduce chances of discovery of backdoors and persistent threats imposed in the name of spying.

Comment Pity, since I can't accept the EULA (Score 1) 144

Google's Chrome browser, on the other hand, remained unhackable during the contest.

Unfortunately for me, I can't accept Chrome's EULA.

It incorporates Adobe's, which (if I recall correctly from my AT&T Android-based smartphone) has several clauses I can't abide - including a never-compete, don't block updates, don't work on circumvention tools, we can change the license without notice, ...

I don't intend to do anything that might come back to limit my future software work or employability. Clicking through such a license (even if every bit of it is struck down by the courts - which I'm not holding my breath expecting), especially on a device that "phones home" in a way that is easily identified with my true name, is an invitation for an all-versus-one gladiatorial match with two multibillion-dollar corporations' legal departments.

Comment GitHub is in California (Score 1) 75

I struggle a bit to understand why this isn't a bigger issue. ... I wonder why some politician hasn't attempted to differentiate themselves by even mentioning the stifling effect on innovation [company-owns-all-your-inventions] policies impose.

Because it's already been adressed, long ago.

GitHub is in San Francisco, which is in California and governed by California labor law.

California labor law says that (paraphrasing from memory):
  - As a compelling state interest
  - overriding anything in the employee agreement
  - if an employee invents something
  - while not on company time or using company resources
  - and that invention is not in the company's current or immediately foreseeable business
  - then the invention belongs to the employee
  - (and the employment agreement must include a copy of this information as an appendix.)

(IMHO that law is THE reason for the explosive growth and innovation in Silicon Valley and why other states have been unable to clone it. Invent something that your current company won't use, get together with a couple friends, maybe get some "angel funding", rent the office across the street, and go into business with your new shiny thing. So companies bud off new companies like yeast. And innovators collect where they can become the inventor, the "couple of friends", or the early hires, creating a pool of the necessary talent to convert inventions into companies when they happen.)

What GitHub has apparently done is say to the employees:
"For the purposes of us claiming your IP, your lunch time and breaks are your time, even on company property, and your use of our computers and disk storage for things like compiles, storing code, and web research in aid of your project, does not count as 'using company resources'."

In other states, and other companies even within CA, that might be a big deal. For a company in CA, whose whole business model is providing archives for other people's software projects - and giving it away free to small groups, while charging large groups (or small groups that grow into large groups), it's not a big deal, and right IN their business model.

Comment saw a proof of concept several years ago (Score 1) 457

If you think about the makeup of a car the only thing that can be controlled are those with electronic controls.

Which is just about everything these days. Some of the controls, and other devices are federally mandated - like anitlock brakes (which work by turning the bakes OFF in a controlled manner) and tire pressure sensors. Others are there because running a vehicle bus DRASTICALLY cuts the cost of wiring harnesses - like nearly every controllable or reporting device in the vehicle.

A few years ago I saw a proof-of-concept demonstrated at a conference. The researchers had used a flaw in a popular (with auto companies) tire pressure sensor system to achieve remote radio control of the car's vehicle bus. (CAN bus, if I recall correctly.) That let them do a bunch of stuff. Among them was disable the brakes, set the cruise control to a high speed, and make it impossible to shut off the engine or open the doors.

There are a LOT of other ways to interfere with recent vehicles' operation, and at high speed the driver doesn't have time to figure out how to work around such interference even if it's theoretically possible.

Comment "Logical North, Physical West" (Score 1) 469

Regarding "logical north/south" in Silicon Valley":

- Much of the pacific coast of California is not north-south, but northwest-southeast, making "north-south" major highways about 45 degrees off from the nominal direction.
  - In addition, in the area around Silicon Valley (especially the southern part of San Francisco Bay) there is an additional rotation due to the arrangement of faults and the resulting layout of the bay, peninsula, and surrounding mountains (or "big hills" if you don't count them as mountains unless they're snowcapped year around).

So, in and around Silicon Valley, many "north-south" highways actually run almost exactly east-west.

It seems appropriate that, in this part of California, the roads lean about 90 degrees to the left. B-)

Comment Re:Car-Magedon in Fremont last week (Score 1) 469

I happen to commute through the area in question. 680 and 880 run roughly parallel "logical south" of a point a couple miles "logical north" of Mission (which is the shortest connector between them near the logical north end) with Fremont Bvd also roughly parallel and in between them for much of their run. If something clogs 680, Fremont Bvd is the only shunpike available. 880, meanwhile, is usually clogged from several miles logical north of Mission down to 237 or beyond. Again cutting over to Fremont Bvd via Mission is the preferred shunpike (though there's another on the bayward side).

It's going to get worse. Caltrans is doing construction on the relevant clog-prone section of 880. But rather than expanding it, they're turning the existing carpool-during-rush-hour lane into a pay-to-use-express lane - from AT LEAST the Dumbarton turnoff (and probably far beyond) down to 237. If they expand the limited-access times, or if the change repels rush-hour drivers into the regular lanes rather than attracting more from them, the already clogged part of 880 will get more clogged and produce more shunpikers.

Comment Sucking the oxygen out - media ran the pumps. (Score 1) 295

Unfortunately, perhaps, the primary votes from people who wanted a Republican were split between several similar candidates, while Trump very successfully positioned himself as different, as the alternative to "all those guys" (and he *is* different).

IMHO the media thought that Trump would be the easiest for Hillary to defeat and did their best to sabotage the campaigns of the regular - and irregular - politicians in the Republican primary.

They did this mainly by focusing on Trump and giving little coverage to the others. They even spoke of it as "Trump sucking the oxygen out of the room" whenever he entered it - when in fact they were the ones running the pumps.

Once he was nominated, of course, they turned on him - only to discover that he'd promised exactly what voters controlling enough electoral votes wanted, and he wasn't dependent on them to get the word out to his supporters. And the harder they tried to slam him, the more they discredited themselves (while Hillary managed to shoot herself in the foot, up to both knees.)

Oops!

Comment Re:I think I know their answer (Score 1) 295

The more sensible way to handle this would be to require companies to pay a minimum wage, and not a universal minimum wage, but one that follows the job description or something like that.

But they're ALREADY bringing them in on one job description then assigning them to do other work. There are a couple of reasons for doing this, but one of them is to avoid the appearance of replacing the workers on the REAL job with lower-priced imported labor, without leaving a paper trail showing that's what happened.

One of the problems with laws - "the economy of negative values" - is that the "trading partners" are strongly incentivized to find ways to loophole out.

Comment He's a businessman. He's used to keeping promisea (Score 1) 295

We have had decades of bullshit and hand wringing saying how hard it would be to change ANY law. This guy gets in on a populist platform and makes a lot of promises that most expected him to renege on (in typical politician fashion). He is delivering.

And the political establishment is surprised. But they shouldn't be.

Politicians welch on promises and their voters are used to it. (What are they going to do - elect another politician who promises something they like less?)

Businessmen work hard to make deals that give them a bunch of what THEY want - and promise the other party what HE wants. Then they deliver - because if they make a practice of flaking out, nobody will sign future deals with them.

They also do things FAST - so they can get their capital freed up and applied to ANOTHER deal that gets them MORE of what they want.

So he's used to keeping promises and getting the difficult stuff done right away. What a (pleasant) non-surprise that he's still acting like a businessman and doing it in his latest endeavor, after centuries of politicians have acted like politicians and failed to deliver.

Comment Re:False positives. (Score 1) 553

No, they would likely score as mathematicians instead. .... turn red and stare that their own shoes, or if extra sociable stare at the girls shoes.

A close friend became a convert and studied at a madrasa (Islamic religious school). Her experience, and her description of that of the other "sisters", was that the behavior of zealots ran more toward what we'd consider "abusive or perverted a**holery" than tongue-tied embarrassment

Something along the lines of "using one's personality as birth control".

Comment Re:Time to restart using antisera. (Score 1) 91

How is antiserum different from vaccination?

Four things:
  - Immunization
  - Innoculation
  - Vaccination
  - Antiserum

An immunization is a challenge to the immune system that looks to it like the target pathogen - often with an adjuvant to do enough minor mischief to convince the immune system that this is a really bad guy that needs a SWAT team response. It might be made out of:
  - pieces of killed pathogen,
  - pieces of killed related pathogen,
  - engineered molecules similar to a target site on the ,
  - live related pathogen (enough like the bad guy to provoke a cross-reaction to the bad guy, but not enough like the bad guy to cause the disease),
  - live attenuated pathogen (an artificially weakened version of the actual disease - essentially an engineered "live related pathogen"
  - the actual, full-bore, pathogen itself - but administered in a way that leads to a less severe (i.e. survivable) case of the disease,
etc.

The immune system has an enormous number of small clones (just a handful of cells) that each produce a different antibody (and can produce one or more of several types of response against a pathogen), and essentially any that produce antibodies against the body itself have already been killed off. When the body signals "I'm being attacked", by either a disease or an imunization (which mimic a disease) those that recognize the antigen go into rapid reproduction, and a fraction differentiate into active forms. This takes about three days - but after that you have a LARGE number of mature immune cells that attack that pathogen, along with a boosted number of not-yet-matured "memory cells". This doesn't stop an original infection. But it cleans up after it, and blocks (or mitigates) future infections by attacking the pathogen as soon as it shows up. If you get another case of the disease - or a booster shot - the memory cells will repeat the process, making the immunity much stronger.

Vaccination is a particular case of a "live related pathogen": One of the (closely related) cowpox or vaccinia viruses, somewhat more distant relatives of smallpox, is used to create a minor infection (generally one scarring pimple, unless you scratch and spread it). This activates the person's immune system against both the vaccine's virus and its relatives, including smallpox.

The Sabin "live virus" polio vaccine works the same way, using a weaker, mutated, version of the polio virus. (Its predecessor, the Salk vaccine, uses the outer coat of killed polio virus.) A live virus actually produces a disease process lasting several days, until the immune system clears it up. This creates a stronger and longer lasting immunity than a simple challenge with dead virus pieces. (It also is contagious: Some people who weren't administered the immunization "catch" the "fake disease" from those who recently were immunized.)

Inoculation consists of deliberately administering the pathogen. In the case of a disease, it means causing the disease, in a way that can be treated or is otherwise is survivable, leaving the recovered person immune. Before vaccination, inoculation was used for Smallpox. If you catch smallpox by inhaling the virus, you're likely to have a severe case, either dying or maybe being horribly scarred. If you catch it by having some pus from an infected person get into a cut in your skin, you're likely to have a mild case, with only localized scarring, and then (as a survivor) be immune. (Unfortunately, while you have the case, you're infectious with the disease, so others can catch it the bad way. That's the biggest reason that vaccination was such a drastic improvement.)

Unfortunately, immunizations are usually too late to protect you against a disease you already have. (A notable exception is rabies, which works its way slowly up the nerves to the brain, giving time to immunize before it becomes acute, incurable, and fatal.) An antiserum works immediately.

One of the ways the immune system attacks pathogens is for the antibody-producing cells to shed the antibodies into the blood and lymph. These antibodies then attach to pathogens, doing things like blocking the active sites, sticking them together into clumps, or otherwise marking them for attack by other immune--system cells.

An antiserum is a big dose of extracted antibodies against the pathogen. It gives you most of the advantages of being immunized (other than producing the antibodies yourself), but RIGHT NOW. So it can be used against a disease that is already in progress.

Comment ORLY? (Score 1) 104

Both FTC and FCC (and EPA and many others) are getting their budgets slashed.

ORLY? Maybe the others. But the FTC? They hardly have any budget to slash.

I'd like to see where you're getting the idea that the FTC's budget is getting the axe.

For starters, it's an ideal tool to spank the media conglomerates which own and control the news outlets that have roasted him. Much of the anti-consumer pathologies the ISPs engage in appear to be directed to giving the content part of the containing conglomerate's operation a competitive advantage.

Antitrust actions to prevent (i.e. AT&T / Time Warner merger blocking, which Trump already favors) or break up existing content transport / content provision tie-ins would let him drive a big screw into the mainstream media under the guise of (actual!) consumer protection activity. B-)

Note that he's appointed Maureen Ohlhausen to head the FTC, and she'd already written a paper on how the FTC and antitrust, not the FCC and net neutrality, is the proper remedy for any consumer-impacting misbehavior of the ISP oligopoly.

(As have I, though we seem to have a difference of opinion on how many competitors are needed before competition is an effective remedy and how well competition doing at the moment.)

Comment Time to restart using antisera. (Score 2) 91

Before antibiotics one could get an antiserum against each of many nasty infections. The rise of antibiotics displaced these drugs - even for some things (such as some forms of meningitis) where an antiserum against the particular organism, did a better job.

This actually made some sense. Antibiotics were broader spectrum, so (even after drug resistant bugs became common) you were likely to find one that worked in time to save the patient. Antisera, on the other hand, were very bug-specific.

If multiple drug resistance makes antibiotics nearly useless, perhaps it's time to revive antiserum use.

We now have the technology to rapidly identify the target organism(s) in a disease process, so we can rapidly select the correct magic bullets. And we also have the technology to make specific antisera by the bucketful.

And without the side-effects of making it by exposing an animal (like a "serum horse") to a pathogen and then (once it's developed an immunity) extracting the (horse-type) antibodies to this - and to everything else its immune system doesn't like - to make the drug. Instead we can make human monoclonal antibodies to just one target.

We can also engineer an immunization by chopping out the DNA for some conserved region snippet of some pathogen's accessible surface markers, splicing it with neighboring coding that will make the immune system take note and building it into an otherwise (and still) harmless bug - either to make an active ingredient for an immunization cocktail or a variola/polio style live-virus challenge. The bug has a very hard time evolving resistance because a conserved region of some component of its molecular machinery is usually conserved because has to be the way it is for it to work.

This is already being done to some extent. Seems to me it's time to stop crying about the end of antibiotics and focus on this set of approaches - which should be very lasting.

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