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Comment Here is a better takedown of the case (Score 1) 98

Elizabeth Nolan Brown gives her (derisive) take on the prosecution of the Backpage CEO, filled with links to further details on the case.

Among the allegations:

Backpage removed an ad suspected of offering prostitution when it was reported and then blocked it from being re-posted.


Backpage uses automated filtering to try and prevent people from posting about illegal activity.

Nolan-Brown writes about prosecutors using Backpage's cooperation with law enforcement to prevent illegal activity as proof that Backpage is a criminal organization:

"Backpage acknowledges that pimps routinely pay Backpage for ads trafficking children for sex," Fichtner states. And how does he back up this outrageous claim? By stating that Backpage has cooperated with law-enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in sex trafficking investigations—which does not really sound like an "acknowledgment" of wrongdoing from Backpage at all. Still, Fichtner offers no further evidence to support either the claim that "pimps routinely pay Backpage for ads trafficking children for sex" or that Backpage acknowledges any such thing.

Comment Re:This is about power, control, and greed... (Score 1) 314

I've been affected by stingray deployments before..... they were investigating someone near my kid's preschool. It only impacted a small area, but at the edges of the stingray coverage it caused weird disruptions of cell service, hopping back and forth between full bars and one or two bars while sitting still, dropped calls, other oddities. And the data connection was crap - which kept frustrating me while I was sitting in the car line waiting for pickup.

I think it was probably mostly a multipath interference problem at the edge of the coverage that was forcing the phone back and forth between the real and fake tower. Still, it was quite annoying and went on for a few weeks. 15 or 20 years ago you never would have noticed it, but cell service has gotten so good that this sort of thing really stands out.

Comment There was a nice AI bot mod in Quake C (Score 4, Interesting) 170

All the way back in the original Quake there was a really nice learning AI written in quake C. One version allowed you to add practice bots to work on your deathmatch strategy.

Similar to the AI described in this article, the AI in this mod was ignorant of the map and had no preset patterns. It learned by doing. So as you began playing against them they were easy kills in the early rounds. They'd often just stand there and get shot. And they couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.

But they learned the map. And they learned your moves. And within a few rounds you'd be lucky to stay alive long. And finally they would learn enough to get you every time. They'd know which direction you were going to dodge before you did. And they kept track of every resource in the game and all of the respawn times, so they'd deny you any ammo or health by timing their movements perfectly to collect all spawns instantly.

It was very cool.

Then the guy who wrote it used his AI to replace the original game AI for all of the enemies. Wow. It made the game into an entirely different experience.

After about a half-level, the enemies would learn to avoid you, go out and recruit all the bad guys from the level and return in force. After a couple of more levels they'd learn to ambush, flank and surround you. They'd team up their fire, so you'd dodge a fireball to the left and strafe right into another fireball.

It was really interesting, but ultimately unplayable. It really gave me an appreciation of the level of "balancing" that goes into creating a proper game AI. It certainly isn't about the same thing as making a chess AI that can beat Kasparov. It requires a great deal of work to make the enemy realistic and interesting and difficult but ultimately beatable.

Comment Re:Haha no. (Score 1) 114

Remember that the Hubble exists because US spy satellites existed. They looked suspiciously like a hubble telescope, except pointed in the other direction.

Why weren't they any bigger? Because they wouldn't fit on the launcher.

This launcher might be able to put a Keck-class scope in outer space. Think the CIA might find a use for something in that class? I know astronomers would.

If launch cost was a couple-hundred million, I'd say we could find the money to build the thing. The Hubble cost a lot more than that to launch.

Comment Re:Haha no. (Score 1) 114

This is all true if nothing changes.

But what happens if they build a reusable booster that can lift this sort of weight? If Spacex could lift 200mT to LEO for costs that are comparable to today's heavy launches, would new uses arise?

NASA is also building a heavy lift rocket - the SLS. So Spacex is not alone in thinking a big rocket is a good idea. Of course, NASA is responsible to Congress, not the owners of a private company, so that part is different.

Comment Re:True and false - billion$ moving the wrong way (Score 1) 114

The recent Falcon 9 accident has been traced to a Helium COPV tank in the oxygen tank. It runs at more like 5,500 PSI, not 300 PSI. Delamination of COPV in cryogenic applications is a longstanding problem which they must have thought they'd conquered, having used them successfully so many times.

And this article is about an engine, not a composite helium tank. The engine runs on cryogenic methane, which is a new fuel for Spacex, replacing kerosene. They are running scaled tests during the design phase of their new engine - so not exactly building it faster now and hoping to get lucky that it doesn't blow up. The new engine is supposed to be much more efficient than current incarnations and is specifically tuned for use in a vacuum. Plus it has the advantage of using a fuel that can be harvested or manufactured from several locations around the solar system.

Comment Surprising reaction from a supposedly tech site (Score 1) 56

Do we know anything about what was "lax" at yahoo? I certainly doubt that the lawyers involved in this have the slightest clue if there was any negligence at all involved. Their calculus is "wow, millions of accounts compromised. Let's go class action!

And then I read through the comments here, and there is indignation at such weak security and lax procedures and they shouldn't just be sued they should all be taken out and shot and big corporations are teh evil!!

What we do know is that the hackers targeting the company were "state sponsored". That means that the equivalent of the NSA targeted Yahoo for penetration.

Does Slashdot really think that China's Ministry of State Security doesn't have the resources to hack into your server? Or the Russian FSB? You really don't think they have the resources to penetrate competently implemented security, particularly when an enterprise comprises tens of thousands of people and hundreds of thousands of devices?

For all I know, Yahoo had an intern drive a box of backup tapes with all of the account info unencrypted to the dump and that's how they got hacked. But somehow I think it was a little more sophisticated than that. And my first thought certainly wouldn't be gross negligence.

And I'm pretty sure the lawyers don't have the slightest bit of evidence that it was gross negligence at this point. They just see the size of the whale, and they'll seek to prove their case later. Or just make enough noise to get a big pile of cash to go away.

If they really had something, I'd feel differently. But somehow I doubt they have anything at all at this point

Comment Re:Really? Why? (Score 4, Informative) 867

I'll add that the Clinton campaign has been proudly touting its Twitter and social media strategy ahead of the debate. They are happy to tell you that they have their affiliated PACs and supporters coordinated in a campaign to influence debate moderators to "fact check" Trump during the debate, producing an advantage for Clinton.

They also proudly tout their strategy to have an army of supporters and astroturfers alike live-tweet the debate to create the impression that Hillary is winning the debate. They are specifically targetting the reporters and pundits who cover the event to ensure that they get the early buzz as winning the debate and have a quick declaration that "the election is over" following the debate.

This story, with labels like "Shitposting" would appear to be cover for this strategy, designed to neuter any criticism of the Clinton strategy, which has been fairly openly discussed at least since the Matt Lauer national security forum.

So we have moved into a new era of political ground game - where social media is used in increasingly sophisticated ways by the campaigns to influence the election. They both seem relatively hamfisted about it at this point, but that doesn't mean it isn't having an effect.

Comment Re: Market failure (Score 1) 428

That described Amazon for quite some time as well.

The ability to raise what seems to be effectively unlimited amounts of capital for business expansion has really changed the world. I'm no economist-historian, but I'd wager that as recently as the 1970's there wouldn't have been the ability to grow businesses this fast, this globally while losing money. In fact, I suspect that simply losing money for a couple of years would have killed off any startup. People had a different performance metric until recently. The late 90's introduced the exponential growth potential of internet based businesses and changed people's risk/reward calculations.

Comment Re: Market failure (Score 1) 428

Only if we are talking about a one-off transaction with an isolated hermit.

Around my area it is common knowledge that Uber is cheaper, faster and more reliable than the taxi companies. This may not be true in your market, but it certainly is here. People talk. When everyone meets up after work and has a couple of extra drinks, they discuss how they are getting home. They share stories about how that cab company never showed up. Or about how they used to take a taxi, but Uber was half the cost so now they always Uber it.

And they also share stories about how that Uber driver was creepy. Or how they couldn't get the app to work right. Or how they had trouble getting their car last time so they are going to drink less so they can drive home.

Knowledge is a big part of the market, this is true. And we've all made bad decisions based on incomplete information. But Uber and Lyft are more transparent than other similar services at the moment of sale, even if they are not guaranteed to be transparent or egalitarian. Like Amazon, they could offer you a better price than me. But at the moment of purchase, I know how much my ride is going to cost. If I hire a taxi on a meter, this isn't the case. I can make a guess based on posted rates, but it will be just a guess. And people talk about their Uber rides. If Janet is paying less than I am, there's a good chance I'll figure it out when we call Uber at the same time as we head home. And maybe I'll be annoyed enough that I jump to Lyft.

Comment Re:Channel saturation (Score 1) 160

Further, the modems should report appropriate usage for the same billing period in a way that customers can verify (e.g measuring data going to the modem using a tool like OpenWRT's bandwidth measurements).

I ran into this problem when Comcast introduced data caps in my area. After about 9 months I started getting overages. But the data at my router showed we were not over.

Because Comcast takes over the modem with their own locked-down configuration even if you own the modem, I couldn't figure out what was going on. Neither could their tech - he didn't have access either. After some digging and a couple of different techs, they decided that my modem was an older model and probably throwing off lots of bad packets. I was worried that the thing was being hacked. So after some reboots and resets and another month of trying it out, I settled in to a just-below-the-cap rhythm.

But I couldn't find a way to measure the actual usage, or find out where the data loss was coming from. No access. Eventually I changed my service and bought a new modem. And the TB cap came in. So I still don't have access to what is happening at the modem level, and neither do most of the line employees (call Motorola, I was told when I asked about enabling SNMP. This despite the fact that Motorola didn't lock down my modem).

The whole thing is quite frustrating. But at least with the new caps it isn't hitting the wallet.

Comment Re:I don't have any yoga emails .... (Score 1) 569

This is why businesses are being pushed to start purging all of their employee's email on a regular basis. They want to preserve that plausible deniability and ensure some former employee didn't say something in a company email you weren't aware of that winds up costing you $'s in a lawsuit.

Any company with half a brain will now have in place a document retention policy that destroys most communications within a year or two. But then you have to have an archiving system that allows the team of lawyers you have to go in and flag certain things for preservation, pursuant to pending or active litigation.

The whole thing is a mess, really, with class action trolls combing through decades of internal documents looking for any embarrassing email that they can hold up in a tobacco-industry like moment to earn themselves billions. All it takes is one employee saying something stupid... maybe even at odds with corporate policy.

So if you are a corporate type who isn't in IT and for some weird reason you read slashdot, if you don't have competent IT leadership, go out and hire it today. It isn't just about making sure the email server has good uptime anymore. IT can be the key to good corporate governance for a hundred reasons.

Comment Re:So glad I don't work with her (Score 1) 290

Though, I understand that many people, possibly even a majority, read by mentally vocalizing the words at a pace not much faster than speaking them out loud, so they can't actually read substantially faster than they could listen.

I wonder if this is true. I'm a pretty fast reader, so I have to recognize that my experience may not be typical. But I have voice mail with voice to text. The text arrives as an SMS style message. I almost never listen to the voicemail, because it is so very much faster to read. Probably 5x or 10x. It isn't remotely close, but I've never measured it.

Maybe that's why other people aren't so excited to turn on Google Voice for their voicemail with transcription service. If there's no time advantage, the tradeoffs of losing the original voice might not be worth it.

Anyway, to your point about mentally vocalizing: I find that I do this with good fiction books. I read substantially slower when faced with passages containing lots of dialog. But I don't find this happening with most voicemail, email, text messages and the like, even though it is conversational content.

Comment Re:Meh (Score 3, Funny) 196

Spoken like a tech dude.

Several women in my life manage to blow through more than 6 gigs per month. And that's while trying to keep a limit on their data use.

They love to watch those videos of cats, babies and random celebrities I've never heard of. Immediately. So in the car, at the restaurant, everywhere. And checking to see if they are on wi-fi is insulting and humiliating. So don't bring it up. And if they are trying to watch Netflix in full 1080p on a smartphone, don't bring that up either. 'Cause if you do, you are a jerk. I have empirical evidence on this, so just go with my recommendation here.

I don't understand it. But I do recognize that it exists. I know at least two women who would easily use up 10-15 gigs per month, and they wouldn't have the slightest idea what they used the data for. They would complain that "this phone sucks, I need a new phone" long before they'd look at the possibility that the way they are using it might have something to do with it. And I won't be mentioning it to them again. I'll just be moving us to T-mobile's all you can eat 4G plan.

Comment Re:Clintons have killed tons of people (Score 1) 706

Ok, so apparently there's this site that caters to people who want to commit suicide. I guess, I didn't read much. But google pulled it up when I put in "suicide by gunshot to the back of the head" to help with your question.

Shooting yourself in the back of the head is one of the recommended methods.

Man, the internet is a weird place.

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I'm still waiting for the advent of the computer science groupie.