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Comment Re:Home of the brave? (Score 1) 589

Tomorrow morning, you pick up the paper. A bold headline declares a threat against your local mall. The group behind it isn't well-known but has delivered on recent smaller threats.

Bad analogy.
There is a huge difference between the "smaller threat" aka hacking vs the "bigger threat" aka 9-11 style attacks.
Hint: Only one of them carries the risk of death.

Just because someone is good at hacking doesn't mean they have the capability to go all Rambo on you.

Submission + - U.S. Links North Korea to Sony Hacking (

schwit1 writes: Speaking off the record, senior intelligence officials have told the New York Times, CNN, and other news agencies that North Korea was "centrally involved" in the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE).

It is not known how the US government has determined that North Korea is the culprit, though it is known that the NSA has in the past penetrated North Korean computer systems.

Analysis of code shows it used knowledge of Sony's Windows network to spread and wreak havoc.

Previous analysis of the malware that brought down Sony Pictures' network showed that there were marked similarities to the tools used in last year's cyber-attack on South Korean media companies and the 2012 "Shamoon" attack on Saudi Aramco. While there was speculation that the "DarkSeoul" attack in South Korea was somehow connected to the North Korean regime, a firm link was never published.

Submission + - Australia proposed new restrictions on technology export and pubblication

An anonymous reader writes: Australia is starting a public consultation process for new legislation that further restricts the publication and export of technology on national security grounds. The public consultation starts now (a few days before Christmas) and it is due by Jan 30th while a lot of Australians are on holidays. I don't have the legal expertise to dissect the proposed legislation, but I'd like some more public scrutiny on it. I find particularly disturbing the phrase "The Bill includes defences that reverse the onus of proof which limit the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty" contained in this document, also available on the consultation web site.

Submission + - Top Five Theater Chains Won't Show "The Interview" After Sony Hack

tobiasly writes: "The country's top five theater chains — Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment — have decided not to play Sony's The Interview . This comes after the group which carried off a massive breach of its networks threatened to carry out "9/11-style attacks" on theaters that showed the film. What should Sony do? Cut their losses and shelve it? Release it immediately online? Does giving in mean "the terrorists have won"?

Submission + - Navy develops a shark drone for surveillance (

An anonymous reader writes: The Navy is testing a new underwater drone called GhostSwimmer, which is designed to look like a shark and conduct surveillance work.

It is being adapted by the chief of naval operations' Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC) project, Silent NEMO, in Norfolk, Va.

GhostSwimmer is 5 feet long and weighs almost 100 pounds. It can operate in water depths from 10 inches to 300 feet, and is designed to operate autonomously for long periods of time, according to the Navy.

Comment Re:It is to laugh. (Score 2) 98

Subscription? To a.... word processor

The geek trying to be clever.

The subscription is for a local install of the full MS Office suite + online storage and other extras; but you knew that already.

Technically correct, but most people only want the word processing function of MS Office. Blame MS for bundling unwanted 'extras' together to jack up the price. If all that you want is a fridge, but you are forced to buy a package consisting of a fridge, warranty, parts replacement, delivery service, a fan and a cooler because that is the only way the manufacturer will sell it, in your mind you are still buying a fridge. The extras are irrelevant.

Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal alone is currently worth about $500 million a year in revenue to Microsoft.

Again irrelevant. The average MS Office user is blissfully unaware and uncaring about MS profits or lack thereof.

Comment Re:This is news, how exactly? (Score 1) 187

A stack of a thousand letters holds a thousand times more weight than a thousand emails.

True. Unfortunately, in this day and age anything that will require more than 5 minutes of time and the effort of leaving the chair will be asking too much. By the time you've located an unused stamp (a rarity), you'd probably call it a day.

Comment Seems like a circular argument (Score 5, Insightful) 267

What takes your freedom away is not surveillance, it's not even the police, it's the law. Surveillance and the police are just tools, they're not the source of the problem. If you want to fight for your freedom, fight the source of the problem.

The law and the tools enforcing the law are parts of the same whole. Neither can co-exist without the other. A law which is not enforced is just a meaningless scribble. A policeman without the authority granted by the law is just a hired gun. Conducting surveillance without legal authority is being a peeping tom.

Fighting the tools is just as important as fighting the source. The tools are what enables the unjust laws. The Prohibition was ultimately ineffective because the masses decided to ignore the law.

Comment Lets begin at the top (Score 2) 267

Sometimes we must take away a few freedoms to preserve the majority of freedoms.

Sure, let us begin by taking away the government's freedom to legislate such insanity. If the system is rigged and broken, break the system.

This quote from Thomas Jefferson seems apt :-

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

Comment I truly hope not (Score 3, Insightful) 182

I am fairly uncomfortable with the thought of "one of the most transformative platforms for education of all time" being under the direct control of private corporate interests. Whose interest lies in maximizing shareholder profits at the expense of everyone else.

Aside from imposing a royalty/licence fee on every user, having platform control indirectly enables thought control in the form of restricting easy access to the mass population. The publication of material dealing with sensitive but important topics such as religion, abortion, gay rights, racism, terrorism, prostitution, child pornography etc can be curbed simply by denying them access to the platform. We are already seeing this happen to a lesser extent with Facebook (deleted posts, banned accounts etc) and Apple store (all forms of porn).

As an analogous situation, imagine if the creation of (text)books was originally patented. The patent holder would then be able to ensure that any textbooks whose contents disagreed with him do not get published simply by denying a licence to the publisher for that book.

Comment Re:how about .... (Score 2) 131

If you have a limited data-plan, using apps that autoplay/preload huge amount of data is irresponsible.

And you are assuming that all Facebook users have the knowledge, means and expertise to determine which are their "apps that autoplay/preload huge amount of data" or even know their data problems are caused by "apps that autoplay/preload huge amount of data" in the first place.

The average users of Facebook include grandmothers, hollywood idols, truckers, senators - people who may not be technologically inclined.

Come on, be fair.

Comment Read first? (Score 5, Informative) 131

I'd like to pin the blame for this, not on Facebook, but on the people who write the browsers. You can assume that there'll be some stupid site on the internet which will try to waste your bandwidth - but a browser shouldn't permit it to do so. Browsers should never auto-play videos.

If you read TFA:-

A default feature in Facebook’s mobile app that automatically launches videos in users’ newsfeeds has been blamed for devouring mobile phone users’ data and driving up their cellphone bills.

Nothing to do with browsers.

Comment Intentionally bad design, still appalling (Score 4, Insightful) 131

Too many companies continue to take their product, fiddle / fuck with it for the sake of change (keeping UI designers in a job I suspect) and then antagonise their users. Google maps is a prime example, the new google maps is AWFUL compared to the existing one, lacking several key features. Please, stop fiddling and changing things.

In this case, I believe that it was a deliberate change forced on their users because it will directly benefit Facebook. Auto-play artificially increases the click-thru rate (or whatever method they are using to measure user interaction with ads these days). Facebook can then show these inflated numbers to advertisers to justify their premium rates.

"Hey, you pay more to place video ads on Facebook but its worth it because most (all) of the viewers will see it/click on it!"

This again drives home that to Facebook, we are not its customers, we are it's product.

Comment Clay pigeon (Score 1) 215

There is no specific law against it, just like there is no law specifically against throwing bowling balls at passing bicyclists. But there are general laws against endangering or harming other people, or intentionally destroying other people's property.

If the drone is flying in my backyard without permission, isn't it trespassing on my premises? Am I therefore not allowed to defend the sanctity and privacy of my home by shooting it out of the sky with extreme prejudice? For all I know, it could be carrying a camera... or a bomb... or a firearm (unlikely I'll grant you, but sadly in today's climate not impossible).

Or to use a clearer example, if I observe that the drone is in danger of crashing into my 4-year-old son and I shoot it out of the sky, I am confident that it would not be held a crime.

My point being that the legal position of drones is far from clear.

Comment Is this some kind of secret code? (Score 1) 215

I keep getting a naggy feeling that these anonymous posts with over-the-top claims are some kind of coded communication.

Think about it - in today's times when all communication is tapped, saved, processed and filtered by supercomputers, what better way to convey coded information or pass instructions than to post in the open, on public boards, buried in posts adopting the same manner and tone as thousands of other crack-pot posts?

And if the secret is in danger of being let loose, to immediately flood the forum with derisive posts decrying the "conspiracy" -after all, nobody likes looking stupid or gullible.

Or maybe I need more sleep.

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