Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×

Comment Some Lessons Are NEVER Learned (Score 1) 239

In the summer of 2003, the Great North-East Blackout hit New England and other areas in the U.S. and parts of Canada. My wife were in Montreal at the time. When we tried to fly home non-stop to California from Trudeau International Airport (called Dorval International Airport at that time) via Air Canada on an early morning flight, we instead found ourselves flying in the late afternoon to Dulles in Washington, DC, changing planes, and then flying home. We arrived at our house more than 12 hours late.

No, Montreal and the rest of the province of Quebec were not affected by the blackout. Air Canada's computers, however, were in Toronto. Toronto and much of the province of Ontario were indeed blacked-out. While other airlines continued normal operations out of Montreal, Air Canada could not confirm reservations or issue boarding passes. Air Canada had no remote backup facilities.

Apparently, Delta Air Lines learned no lesson from Air Canada's experience 13 years ago.

Comment Re:Screw Them (Score 1) 46

I consider myself an expert in modern technology. For 40+ years, I was a software specialist. For 30+ of those years, I tested software used by the military to operate their earth-orbiting space satellites. I do not have a cell phone, not because I do not understand them but because I have no need for one.

However, the big deal is that cell phone text messages are very insecure. The Social Security Administration's form of two-factor authentication will not enhance users' security. Wait until some Social Security recipient -- relying on the asserted but false enhanced security of the SSA's two-factor authentication -- discovers that a hacker has redirected the direct deposit of his monthly benefit payment into a hacker's back account.

Submission + - US Social Security Web Access Requires Two-Factor Authentication 1

DERoss writes: Effective 1 August, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) requires users who want to access their SSA accounts to use two-factor authentication. This involves receiving a "security" code via a cell phone text message.

This creates two problems. First of all, many seniors who depend on the Social Security benefits to pay their living costs do not have cell phones. In order to manage their SSA accounts, they will now have to buy a cell phone and pay monthly subscription fees; but the SSA will not be increasing benefits to pay those costs. Many seniors who do have cell phones use them only as phones and are not knowledgeable about texting.

More important, cell phone texting is NOT secure. Text messages can be hacked, intercepted, and spoofed. Seniors' accounts might easily be less secure now than they were before 1 August. For example, seniors might find the direct deposits of their benefits being redirected to hackers' bank accounts.

This is not because of any law passed by Congress. This is a regulatory decision made by top administrators at SSA.

Comment Test More Than Once (Score 3, Interesting) 104

Visit the test Web site more than once. If subsequent visits indicate that you remain unique -- that you are the only one out of all visits including your own prior visits -- then you are somewhat safe from tracking. Even better is when it reports inconsistent results from several visits within a short period of time. I did that, and the report was that I was unique twice relative to HTTP_ACCEPT Headers. Also, the Monitor Contrast Level was not the same for two consecutive visits.

I get this result by installing the Secret Agent extension from https://www.dephormation.org.u.... Panopticlick has similar problems characterizing my browser. And various Web sites that attempt geolocation have me all over the globe.

Comment Current Version is GIMP 2.8.18 (Score 4, Informative) 117

The current end-user version of GIMP is 2.8.18. Per the GIMP Web site home page, version 2.9.4 is a development version and not an end-user, stable version. The next end-user, stable version will be 2.10. Use 2.9.4 at your own risk.

Go to http://www.gimp.org/downloads/ and scroll down about 2/3 to "Development snapshots".

Comment My Browser Is SeaMonkey (Score 5, Informative) 195

To a large extent, SeaMonkey extensions are also compatible with Firefox. The reverse is not always true.

I have 27 extensions (not plugins) installed. Here are my most important. Note that three are merely to restore capabilities that were lost when Mozilla developers decided that users really do not know what they need.
* Adblock Plus -- I do not subscribe to any filters; instead, I depend entirely on my own, manually-entered filters.
* Expire history by days -- Some developer at Mozilla decided that the users are wrong, that browser history should be pruned only when the database gets full. This extension restores that prior capability for users to set a preferred life-span for history entries. This extension was Firefox-only, but a Web tool allowed me to convert it for SeaMonkey.
* Find Preferences -- I hate the proliferation of banners in the user interface, another case where developers at Mozilla think they know what users need more than what the users say they need. This extension restores the prior capability to use a popup dialogue to search within a Web page.
* Flashblock -- Yes, I could use the Addons Manager to enable and disable the Flash plugin, Via the PrefBar extension (see below), Flashblock allows me to have a checkbox on my tool bar to enable and disable the Flash plugin without having to open the Addons Manager. Flashblock also indicates where on a Web page Flash presentations are present, provides a simple click to show the presentation, and a context menu to completely delete the presentation.
* Live HTTP headers -- I used this to find that my credit union was setting cookies for Facebook.
* Old Default Image Style -- Again, Mozilla developers decided that the user-set background color was not what users really wanted when displaying only a selected image. Instead, they forced a black background, which conflicts with images that have black along their edges. This extension restored the use of user-set background colors (pale mint green in my case).
* Password Exporter -- I use this to move passwords from my PC to my wife's. This extension was Firefox-only, but a Web tool allowed me to convert it for SeaMonkey.
* Passwords Button -- Part of the Toolbar Buttons extension (see below), this gives me a tool bar button to open the edit window of Password Manager so that I can delete, change, or copy passwords. This extension was Firefox-only, but a Web tool allowed me to convert it for SeaMonkey.
* PrefBar -- I want this as an inherent capability in the vanilla browser. I cannot easily browse without it. I have 31 checkboxes, buttons, and menus setup in PrefBar. Some are from the basic extension, some are added from the PrefBar Web site, and some I created myself.
* Secret Agent -- Although not entirely effective, this confuses attempts by Web servers to track me.
* Show Password On Input -- This is for my master password; see Show my Password below.
* Show my Password -- This is for login passwords. This and the Show Password On Input extension make passwords visible upon my request. I am getting old, and my fingers do not always type what I think I am typing. These let me see if I have mistyped a password and take corrective action.
* Theme Font & Size Changer -- This controls the fonts and their sizes in the browser's user interface, not on rendered Web pages. As I get older, I increase the sizes.
* Toolbar Buttons -- This provides an enhanced set of buttons for customizing my browser's tool bar. Additional buttons beyond that enhanced set are available from the extension's Web site.

Where I indicate "This extension was Firefox-only, but a Web tool allowed me to convert it for SeaMonkey.", the tool is at http://addonconverter.fotokrai....

Comment Lots of Luck (Score 1) 144

If this lawsuit reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, Google wins. There is a justice on the Supreme Court who used to head the U.S. Equal-Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). While in that position, he sat on over 20,000 age-discrimination complaints until the statute of limitations expired. If he had been an attorney in private practice or a non-judge government attorney, he would have been disbarred. Who is he? Hint: Anita Hill was a side issue.

Comment Streaming Radio (Score 1) 316

I listen to streaming radio, plus one non-broadcast source. These are mostly classical streams; but I also listen to Greek, big-band, Irish, and news streams. A list of streams is near the bottom of my Web page at http://www.rossde.com/music.ht....

I listen to streams without capturing them. Depending on the characteristics of the stream, I use RealPlayer, VideoLAN, or Winamp. To me, Windows Media Player® is an abomination; I do not use it. On vary rare occasions, I go to YouTube; sometimes I capture a YouTube stream and save it on my PC.

I have a large collection of vinyl, cassettes, and CDs. Sometimes, I play the CDs on my PC. The others I can only play when my wife is not watching TV since the cassette deck and vinyl turntable share speakers with the TV. I also listen to a classical radio station (KUSC) or a news radio station (KNX) in my car, but hills surrounding my house make radio reception inside my house problematical.

As for those who claim to be old (e.g., in their 40s), I will be 75 in less than two months.

Comment Public OpenPGP Keys (Score 1) 637

I download a public OpenPGP key from a key server. Each key consists of over 2,000 apparently meaningless upper- and lower-case letters, numerals, and the symbols + and /.

I select a 8-10 character string from within the key. Before using the result, I check to make sure that the special characters + and / are allowed in the password. If the string has those characters but they are not allowed in the password, I delete them and extend the string with additional characters from the key.

For more information about OpenPGP, including links to key servers, see my http://www.rossde.com/PGP/inde....

Comment Protecting Against Loss: Local (Score 1) 229

To protect against loss, I use Acronis True Image to backup locally.

I have two physical hard drives. One drive is an SSD partitioned into my C-drive and B-drive; both of these are for software. I have Windows on the C-drive and try to install all non-Windows software on the B-drive. However, some applications insist they must be on a C-drive. The other drive is a spinner partitioned into my E-drive and F-drive. The E-drive is for data. The F-drive is a "recovery drive", which I hope I never have to use.

Once a week on a three-week cycle, I manually do backups. In week #1, I backup all of the C-drive and incrementally backup changes to the E-drive and B-drive. In week #2, I backup all of the B-drive and and incrementally backup changes to the E-drive and C-drive. In week #3, I backup all of the E-drive and and incrementally backup changes to the B-drive and C-drive. I retain all of the current three-week cycle of backups and the prior cycle of backups, deleting the older complete cycle for only one drive when I do a new full backup of that drive, using a disc-eraser application for deletion. The F-drive never changes, so I do not back it up.

I am using less than 20% of the E-drive, so I write all backups to the E-drive. I then use PGP to encrypt the latest backups, both full and incremental. I move the encrypted backups to a portable hard drive, which I store remotely from my PC.

I exclude photos from my weekly backup of my E-drive; I backup the photos separately, only when I have more than a few photos. The backup of photos is copied to the portable hard drive without encryption. I archive software installer files and files of fonts on a flash drive; this I backup directly to the portable hard drive without encryption when there are more than just a few. For both photos and software installers, I follow a four-phase backup (full, incremental, incremental, incremental) instead of a three-phase.

When I delete backups for a "drive" from my E-drive, I also delete the corresponding backups from the portable drive.

By the way, for protecting against malware, I have a anti-virus application always running in the background. Before installing new or updated software or opening an unexpected E-mail attachment, I scan the file with that application and also with two other anti-malware applications. I have Microsoft's software firewall enabled, and I have a hardware firewall in my LAN router. Nevertheless, I fell victim to a virus late in 2014, which required reinstalling Windows 7 and all my applications. Fortunately, my data were untouched; and none were lost.

Comment Minimizing Tracking (Score 5, Interesting) 206

The short answer to the original question is "Yes, they can and will track you."

However, you can making tracking very difficult. The following is what I do. This for those who use Firefox or SeaMonkey as their browser on a Windows system. NOTE WELL the exception.

1. Mark the file cookies.sqlite as read-only. For "smooth" Web browsing, I do want some cookies. To set or update them, I terminate my browser, mark cookies read-write, launch my browser to visit ONLY the Web site for which I want cookies, terminate my browser to eliminate session-only cookies, and restore the read-only setting for cookies.sqlite. Web site might act as if they were setting cookies, but those cookies are lost when I terminate my browser.

2. Disable geolocation. For all of my profiles, I insert the following into file user.js:
                  user_pref("geo.enabled", false);
  The semi-colon (;) at the end of the line is mandatory. You can insert an adjacent comment line indicating why you did this; just begin the comment with two virgules (//).

3. Install the Secret Agent extension from https://www.dephormation.org.u.... Each time I request a Web page, my outgoing Internet headers are different. Some sites that try to use those headers to determine my location have me bouncing all over the world. Every time I go to Panopticlick at https://panopticlick.eff.org/, I get a different result. Two NOTES: (1) Because some Web sites require consistent user agents as you navigate through them, I disabled the extension's capability to vary my user agent string. (2) Because Firefox now requires extensions to be signed by Mozilla and the developer of Secret Agent refuses to submit his extension for signature, this cannot be installed in Firefox. Unsigned extensions can still be installed in SeaMonkey.

Comment Problem Is NOT In GPS But In the Mapping Services (Score 1) 622

With GPS, you can accurately tell your latitude, longitude, and altitude within a very few feet. However, commercial GPS mapping services often contain wrong data.

Visitors using GPS to locate my home for the first time from my address often travel up a collector street and then turn right. I am a left turn from that collector street. I have seen this happen with contractors and airport shuttle vans.

The problem lies within the maps used by the GPS services, not with the GPS satellite system. This is quite understandable since Web-based mapping services have similar errors.

Comment Books (Score 1) 238

I can suggest two books.

"The World of Mathematics" is a four-volume set edited by James R. Newman. This might be somewhat dated, but it should still be relevant. Besides mathematical essays, the set also contains biographies of mathematicians and histories of mathematical concepts.

Any book by Martin Gardiner, who wrote the monthly "Mathematical Games" column for "Scientific American" magazine for 25 years. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/....

While some of the contents of either recommendations might be beyond the understanding of your nephew, he will still understand some of each and find them interesting.

Comment It Depends on Why You Are Using Hash Codes (Score 3, Informative) 87

For use in encryption or for verifying that a file is authentic, SHA1 and MD5 should definitely be avoided.

When transmitting a file over a LAN, WAN, or the Internet, however, SHA1 and MD5 are still useful to ensure that the file has not been corrupted (e.g., packets lost). Also, those two hashes can be used to determine if two files in the same system are the same.

Slashdot Top Deals

The only problem with being a man of leisure is that you can never stop and take a rest.

Working...