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Comment Kids these days (Score 4, Interesting) 73

People use free WiFi without encryption. Not only is this unremarkable, it should not be in any way remarkable. The Internet Protocol and its children, UDP and TCP, were designed from the very beginning with one overriding goal: the intelligence is at the edges. Only the nodes matter. Everything else is just transit. Whether or not Layer 2 is encrypted is irrelevant. Only Layer 6/7 encryption can be trusted.[1] It is equally as safe to use any random wifi hotspot as it is to use your cable modem at home.

Knowing what we know about NSA spying, let me repeat that: it is equally as safe to use any random wifi hotspot as it is to use your cable modem. Historically, the various protocols that were designed to run over TCP/IP and UDP[2] largely assumed that transit would be benign. That's because IMAP and POP and HTTP were designed by engineers who were unaccustomed to designing a world that's proof against flaming assholes. Those days are over.

Now that the whole world uses the Internet, engineers have to design protocols and systems that are proof against flaming assholes. It's no longer optional. Avast saw identity leakage because not all software has come to grips with the new reality. Eventually, when all the software is updated, there will be nothing to report. The grand strength of the design of the Internet will once again make itself felt: upgrade the nodes to use encryption (math is your friend) and transit is just transit, as was and ever shall be. You and I already have the ability to upgrade the nodes under our control to be proof against flaming assholes. Eventually the nodes that Jane and John Q. Public buy will come configured that way out of the box.

We just want our packets routed. The SSID will be totally irrelevant. People who already treat it as if it is aren't wrong. They just need to use a slightly smarter node. Apparently 30% of users already have one.

[1] Or possibly you can squeeze it all the way down to Layer 4, if you use Authentication Header and Encapsulating Security Payload. (IPSEC)
[2] Why does no one ever write UDP/IP?

Comment Almost impossible to become rich... (Score 1) 224

I haven't read the linked wankery on medium.com, but I'm quite comfortable condemning it based solely on the Slashdot summary, since obviously no facts were involved in its authorship.

It pains me to say it, but resource concentration allows things that would otherwise be impossible. This is very much a two-edged sword, as powerful tools often are, but while resource concentration allows Rupert Murdoch to spew his delusional version of reality into the world, it also allows Elon Musk to build a rocket with a first stage that can land itself. Neither is possible without one person controlling resources far in excess of those necessary for his own survival.

Capitalism's great strength is the ability to get a whole bunch of people moving in the same direction, aimed at a common goal, without the use of coercive force or religious delusion. This happens only very rarely in any other fashion, and of course those other motivations can invade and co-opt capitalism, but setting aside the messy exigencies of reality for a moment, capitalism is the system whereby one person can say to 20 other people, "I want you to design, document, produce, and market a Widget. I have 20 times the resources I need to live and I will give some of them to each of you if you will do this for me." And lo and behold, a Widget comes into existence, where there was no Widget before. This is something capitalism has, historically at least, done better than any other system.

Open source has demonstrated that there are other models that work, but only rarely do you get 20+ people moving in the same direction in open source, and it only seems to work in software. Open source hardware is stillborn, in all fields. Managing developers has been famously compared to herding cats. We can expand that a little to say that managing engineers of all stripes is like herding cats. As Microsoft and Oracle and Google and Apple (and indeed GE, GM, and Samsung) et al. have discovered, the most effective way to herd cats is with money.

Comment Re:did that need clearing up? (Score 3, Insightful) 93

actually now that I think about it, why did this need to be pointed out?

Because it's Google.

Did people think it was going to be temporary or something?

Yes. It's Google. They lose interest in everything that isn't search or email or maps. And maps is iffy. They forgot that search didn't earn billions overnight, and now have unreasonable expectations for everything else. If it doesn't earn hundreds of millions in its first year, it's deemed pathetic and gets abandoned. Google Fiber probably runs in the red. Making physical things happen is expensive. It will pay for itself in the long run, but Google is about as far away from the mindset of a utility as you can possibly get while remaining on the same planet. Waiting for a long run low margin payoff is not in their corporate DNA. The continued existence of Google Fiber is anomalous already. It will only get worse.

So yes, that did need clearing up, and I'm still skeptical.

Comment US Patent Office (Score 4, Funny) 87

So apparently the US Patent Office will now grant a patent for a transcript of a late night undergrad bull session where at least 2 of the participants are high...

That seems the most likely source of this patent, to me. I think the USPTO has inverted the obviousness clause: the very most obvious of business method patents require and obviously deserve to be granted, or how can US businesses continue to get richer?

"Our drones are really short range. How do we use them to deliver stuff everywhere?"

"Drone docks everywhere!"

"Ok. So we put drone docks everywhere. How do we keep people from stealing or vandalizing them?"

"They fly, right?


"So like.... like.... uhmmmm.... what was I saying.... this is really good weed..... flying... oh yeah, put 'em high up!"

"Like on top of lamp posts and church steeples?"


"And make 'em deliver roaches!"


Thankfully, Amazon figured out that drones can have wings, and eliminated the problem entirely. So they got a patent granted for some stoner's idea. They'll never use it.

Comment Re:Wait, let me get this straight... (Score 1) 173

One single Chinese microblogger with a tin foil hat advances crackpot theory and actual Chinese official can't be bothered to even talk about, and it makes front page of Slashdot?

It's always nice to have confirmation that every culture has its crackpots, and they all post on the Internet.

Comment Re:What happened to personal resonsibility? (Score 1) 329

I agree it's mostly the driver's fault, but that doesn't relieve Tesla of liability. If I have a pool in my backyard surrounded by a 10' locked fence, and a kid climbs the fence and drowns in my pool, I can still be sued even though it was the kid's fault. If I have a pit bull in my home, and a burglar breaks in and gets bitten by the dog, I can still be sued even though it was the burglar's fault. Case law is full of suits like this that have been won by the plaintiff.

Case law is full of such cases being filed. It is NOT full of such cases being won by the plaintiff. Having a pool with no fence is having an attractive nuisance. Having a pool with a fence is bog standard across the world. Yes grieving parents will still file suit. They lose.

Comment Re:fucking great (Score 1) 329

Any idiot who has ever interacted with a product user knows that if a product lets someone do something without any (real) obstacle, they'll do it.

Yes, and we give Darwin Awards for that and move on. There are limits in consumer protections beyond which a court will say, "His own colossal stupidity resulted in his death. Case dismissed." The lone Tesla Autopilot death is most definitely in that category.

Comment Article is content-free (Score 5, Interesting) 62

The article is content-free and makes no sense, as so many of these articles do. It's also barely longer than the "summary". At least this one didn't fall victim to the usual tech reporting failure of saying the blockchain is public. Still, the magical blockchain does not eliminate $1.2 billion in expenses. Far from it. If anything, their hardware expenses will go up, because they have to devote hardware to hashing, where before, a financial transaction was a straight-forward database transaction. They still have to keep track of everything they keep track of now, plus hash. Now, they can control and explicitly cap the amount of hashing required to drive the system, since they're not limited to the Bitcoin implementation, but there still has to be work done, i.e. processing.

Here's the nonsensical part though:

The start-up has been working with about ten banks, Taylor said, at least one of which would be starting a trial using the new system in August.

At least one? You mean at least two. One bank doesn't need a blockchain at all. The controls required to prevent internal fraud are quite simple when you know everything there is to know about both sides of the transaction. It's when one party of the transaction has an account at a different bank that a blockchain comes in. The banks are hoping to disintermediate the Automated Clearing House (in the US) and the Pan-European Automated Clearing House (with the cutesy PE-ACH acronym). In practice, they're going to discover that sufficient hashing to secure 100 billion transactions per year (ACH+EPN+PE-ACH) is neither free nor even cheap. It remains to be seen if hashing expenses can be kept below ACH fees.

Comment Re:Thanks for the concise summary (Score 3, Interesting) 187

He also used a parachute to escape and had a lot of knowledge on how to actually open a commercial airlines doors IN FLIGHT.

From wikipedia: ...

Given all that, it's fairly obvious. D.B. Cooper was an ex-CIA agent arranging his own retirement. Guess the pension wasn't enough for his taste.

Comment Re:Torvalds Must Die! (Score 1) 523

What's the noÃsphere?

It was the noösphere before Slashdot got a hold of it. A word some pretentious asshole thought up to refer to the universe of ideas. Maybe when there are humans living on some other sphere besides Earth it will be a useful distinction. You could talk about the Earth noösphere and the Mars noösphere. Until then, it's just a molestation of two perfectly innocent Greek words. Or in Bruce's case, ferocious sarcasm.

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