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Comment real easy- limited accounts (Score 1) 932

this really isnt that hard.

1. do a fresh windows install
2. install AVG free antivirus, etc etc
3. Make the only account that has admin access be in your name. Put a password on it. Don't tell them what it is.
4. Make accounts for each of them, all Limited accounts.
5. back up the computer (take an image file).

Now if they screw it up, just unfuck their user account or re-create it. And if somehow it really gets screwed up (unlikely), then just restore the image. They may whine and complain about not being able to install some software, but that's tough cookies. Tell them this keeps their bank account safe (it does!)

Comment Re:a slippery slope, best stop this nice and quick (Score 1) 785

kids were doing stupid sex stuff long before cell phones existed. However that isn't a cell phone problem, or a technology problem, or even a sex problem- it's an education problem. Most kids have no idea that sending nude snaps of themselves to each other could land them in jail.
And if they don't do it on their phones at school they'll do it on their phones at home, or on their laptops or whatever. Banning or jamming phones won't help here- educating them will. Persuading a kid not to do a thing will work 900x better than preventing him from doing it (and encouraging him to find ways around your prevention in the process)

And also any state attorney who prosecutes a stupid kid for innocent "sexting" pics should be fired. The law was meant for child predators, not to wreck dumb kids lives.

I agree we as a society could do well to be more considerate of where we are on the phone...

Now I'm glad I could amuse you with my bit about respect. Perhaps your district is worse than average, in which case you have my sympathies. If there are truly no consequences for kids, and this situation goes all the way up to the top, then the best any teacher can do is build a bubble around the good kids and ignore the bad ones. If that's you, then you have my deepest sympathies that you aren't being backed up.

But you are also illustrating my point- a good school system will respect the students as real people, and in return expect/demand appropriate behavior, with punishments for those who don't behave. A system like the one you describe is a very bad school system, which is probably the type that believes a $5000 jammer is their best bet.

I agree somewhat about the current sad state of our society. But it all comes back to schools. Right now you have people going through crappy underfunded teach-the-test public systems which teach kids that learning as a process is something not-fun which should be avoided, so the most important thing kids learn is to avoid learning. These kids grow up to watch the bullshit that passes for TV news and think they're getting informed.

But if you start at the beginning of a kid's life I believe anything is possible....

Comment Re:a slippery slope, best stop this nice and quick (Score 1) 785

Nope, not a teacher. But I have been in a great many classrooms, most of them as a student.

I don't blame the teacher by default, at least that wasn't my intent. You're absolutely right that primary responsibility for any action lies with the person taking that action, in this case the student. In a school, a secondary responsibility lies in the faculty and school policies.

If out of 20 students, you have 18-19 fully engaged then you're doing a great job and should be commended for it. As the saying goes, there's a bad apple in every basket...

My suggestion-
If the 1 or 2 kids in the back can't be bothered to pay attention- you have tools to deal with this. Obviously take it away (i'd suggest just take it away until end of class and give them a 0 for that day's participation grade).

As for the rest of it- it depends on the kid. If the kid is great at learning the material and does well on tests or a one-to-one conversation about the material, maybe his/her learning style just doesn't like classroom instruction.

One of the best teachers I ever had understood this, and he had a simple policy for his physics classes: When you go in his classroom, you are welcome to pay attention or not to the day's lesson. If you don't want to pay attention to his lesson (which was a real loss, he had great lessons and conversations in class) that's fine, as long as you were doing something physics related. So you could make up physics homework, read ahead in the book, or if you really were out of it he kept a stack of physics magazines and books near the door that you could take and read during class (stuff kids would like- ie the physics of dirt bike racing). He made it quite clear that you did this at your own peril, classroom content was highly recommended if you want to do well on the test. Anyone that broke this rule and did non-physics stuff in class was punished relatively harshly. Few ever broke the rule.

As for the shitty kids with shitty parents- like i said, there's a bad apple in every basket. But you have to separate your desire to punish them from the logical question of what will best get them to succeed. If they don't want to play ball, then do what you can but in the end it's their decision how they will act.

Comment Re:a slippery slope, best stop this nice and quick (Score 1) 785

Wow, you have some aggression issues to work out.

A few quick responses:

If there's an emergency, students of course should leave but if they are unable to they will want to summon help. And short of screaming at the top of their lungs (which may not always be feasible), a cell phone is your best bet. Let's say there was a gunman (which is absurdly unlikely), chances are everybody would be huddling under their desks or trying to blockade their classroom doors. Jamming cell phones might delay the 911 call by 3-5 minutes (until administration got their shit together), which costs lives. Or let's say there's a fire and someone is trapped somewhere, too bad they can't call 911 to get a ladder sent to their area.

If I'm in your class you're right my phone should be off. But if I can't be trusted to turn it off or put it on silent, then you should take it away from me and not waste time worrying about it.

As a kid you may have hated authority. But did you ever (even now) stop to consider WHY that was? You were told to do this do that and learn shit and you rebelled because YOU DIDNT LIKE BEING CONTROLLED. On the other hand if you treat the kid like an intelligent person, and get him to WANT to learn, you're 90000% better off.

I realize this isn't possible with all kids, and that's why schools have discipline systems. But if you assume from the start that it won't work on ANY kid so why bother trying, well then let's just say I'm glad I never had you as a teacher.

I would also point out that "shut the fuck up, you are an idiot, go suck a big one" aren't very intelligent arguments. Disagree with me if you so choose, but don't hate me just because my opinion differs from yours.

Comment Re:a slippery slope, best stop this nice and quick (Score 1) 785

"The kids that text all through class would just talk to their friend 5 feet away if they couldn't text."

Exactly. If kids don't want to pay attention in class, playing whack-a-mole with individual distractions will get you nothing but a sore wrist.

I wish I could mod you up...

Comment Re:a slippery slope, best stop this nice and quick (Score 1) 785

that's counterproductive.

You can't regulate respect into people. You can't force it into them with technology either.
However if you do try to regulate or force respect into people, that in itself is a disrespectful action. While it may stop the immediate problem, it creates a bigger one- now the disrespected, regulated person has no respect for YOU. If YOU are the school, that's a problem.

There was an article (i believe on slashdot) about a week ago, a study showed that in the inner-cities, hiring teachers that give a crap and treating the kids with respect did far more to lower violence & truancy, and raise grades & graduation rates than metal detectors and cops ever did.

The principle is the same- respect a person, and they will respect you back. Assume they are incapable of respecting you and force them to behave respectfully, and they will disrespect you and fight you in any way possible.

To that end the district might try some more constructive approaches- for example if this is such a huge problem that they want to spend $5k on a jammer, say that any student who doesn't get busted for cell phone use all quarter gets some kind of bonus. Maybe better grades, maybe a few no-homework days, whatever.
And/or when a kid gets busted using a cell phone, if you don't want to take the phone away then give them more homework or something.

Comment a slippery slope, best stop this nice and quick (Score 2, Insightful) 785

Jamming cell phones is a slippery slope and I think we (as a society) would be just as well off to put a stop to this right here.

There is of course the fact that jamming a cell phone for almost any reason is quite illegal. But let's set that aside.

As has often been mentioned- the idea that the jammer would be shut off in an emergency is absurd. If there's a 'big' emergency nobody will remember to turn it off (assuming anybody knows how to), and for 'little' emergencies (as someone else said, girl getting raped in the locker room) this would create a serious problem. Plus which a jammer, being an RF emitter, doesn't immediately stop jamming when you walk thru the school doors. It will either be overpowered, and reduce or degrade service around the school, or underpowered leading to kids just sitting next to the window so their phones will work.

These problems arise anytime you talk about cell phone jamming, and there is no solution. Cell networks are encrypted, so you can't block only non-emergency calls. And no carrier is going to be the first one to step up and help block their customers, it's just not in anybody's best interest.

This is a societal problem, not a technical one, and it requires a societal fix. If people are yakking on their phone in the movie theater, the solution isn't a jammer, the solution is to get people to not be rude assholes.
As for the school, if they can't get kids to pay attention in class maybe the problem is that their lesson plan is boring and the teacher couldn't care less if the kids are interested or not. Or perhaps their problem is that the faculty doesn't demand student respect, so students ignore the rules.

As a previous poster said- just take away the phone or battery of any kid that is using it in class and give it back to him at the end of the day. If he does it again make his parent come in and get it.

Put simply, this school has a discipline problem and needs better teachers or better administration. It does not have a technical problem, so a technical solution won't help them.

Comment Re:HAM Radio (Score 2, Informative) 838

To our freedom-loving friends from Iran,

Parent is absolutely correct, but for two reasons.
1. Amateur radio, aka ham radio, allows small portable transceivers to be set up with a range of many miles, even hundreds or thousands of miles depending on frequency, radio, and antenna. A modern HAM radio can be as small as a car's stereo (about 8"x4"x12"), run off 12v DC power (a car battery), and with an antenna made up of nothing more than a few sections of wire cut to the right length and hung from a tree can send a signal halfway around the world if needed. This allows for instant, long-range communication that's easy to use and hide.

2. But more importantly, you must teach yourself about RF and radio signals and how to work with them. Read books about how to design electronic circuits, how to build simple transceivers, how to design RF electronics.
Simple radio transmitters can be constructed VERY cheaply from used electronic parts and aren't large (can be about the size of a paperback book). With the right antenna and perhaps a small amplifier this could have many miles of range.
On the same thread, someone with good RF and electronic knowledge could modify personal two-way radios to transmit in broadcast FM bands.

So my suggestion is to start acquiring this knowledge and training people in it. With a modest amount of RF know-how, or even a few simple designs to be copied, you will be able to inexpensively construct a large number of small transmitting devices...

Comment Re:Not Flash! ARGGGHHH (Score 1) 41

first, as the OP, I'm as surprised as you are that I got modded up to 5. However, I was not attempting to start a flamewar.

I am simply speaking from experience. In my experience (using adobe flash with firefox, and internet explorer) Flash is slow and buggy. Things take much longer than they should and use more CPU than they should. I would happily switch to a 3rd party flash plugin but none exist that come really close to providing the same functionality. So I am stuck with using this buggy piece of crap that slows down my intarwebs.
That's all I'm saying- IN MY EXPERIENCE USING IT, flash is slow and buggy.

Javascript- at least there are multiple implementations. I can use Firefox, or switch to a beta and use the new TraceMonkey engine, or I could use WebKit/safari's, or I could switch to Google Chrome and their absurdly fast V8 javascript engine.
All of these implementations run faster than flash, and are less buggy, FOR ME, IN MY EXPERIENCE. YMMV.

The SWF spec may be mostly open (it's not completely open, certain bits of it aren't open), and there may be open compilers and IDEs, but I'm not a dev. I care about running the thing, and right now the only real choice is the official version unless I want half the sites I use to not work. That's what matters to me, as a user.

You say that open development brought us IE6, no offense my friend but what the hell are you smoking? MICROSOFT brought us IE6, and in doing so they chose to ignore the many years of open standards that you speak of. Now that IE isn't the only game in town, they start embracing web standards, but that wasn't always the case.

Standards, real standards that everybody embraces, that's where compatibility and portability come from.

What you're saying is akin to saying Microsoft ported IE6 to mac as well so it works for everybody. It just doesn't make sense, not if you truly believe in open standards.
You also say that flash can do what HTML cant, and thats true. Embedding video works great with flash and badly without. No argument there. And yeah it's used for a bunch of annoying ads, but that's not why I don't like it. I use the flashblock plugin for Firefox, so I control what I see (and don't). I don't hold this against flash as a platform.

I do agree that Flash is somewhat a write-once-run-anywhere type thing, but that's only because Flash plugins exist for many environments. You could say the same thing for Java.

Now you do say that the gaming implementation of flash is made by ScaleForm, and that's interesting, I didn't know that. Maybe their implementation of flash will suck less than Macromedia's / Adobe's. I keep an open mind, like i said, we'll see if the beta sucks.

Comment Not Flash! ARGGGHHH (Score 4, Interesting) 41

To be honest, my interest in this game just dropped by 30% upon hearing it uses Flash.

Flash for me is slow, buggy and proprietary. I would much prefer something like WoW where UI addons can be scripted in Lua.

I applaud the idea of making the UI totally customizable, really thats a great thing. But I really don't like that it uses Flash.

I guess only the beta will tell if it sucks or not...

Comment Re:Zombie Tax (re: E-stamps) (Score 1) 251

I'm not denying that a new service requires investment. However, for most people spam does not render the current system useless, it's just an annoyance that drives up costs a bit. I do IT work, as well as email systems my clients need email and anti-spam systems. That keeps the spam down and the one or two that get through are just ignored/deleted.

In short, I don't think I'm afraid of change, I just don't think there's a need for change, not on the scale and cost that you propose.

As for HTTP(s), HTTP isn't well suited to email. What you propose would mean that (in my example) your company mail server would have to start making HTTP requests to the destination MX. Or perhaps email goes by SMTP, but http is used to authenticate the stamps (that would work decently well). However, as mentioned, this would require the patching of millions of servers, and as above I don't think the desire for it is as great as you think.

You propose that mail is now priced based on destination as well as sender, requiring more complication and authentication of email setups... gone is the day when some company can set up an email server in half an hour, each server will now have to be registered and authorized and blah blah... as an IT person, and someone who's been on the Internet since the day it was opened to the public in the 90s, this is not the internet i want to use.

You say anything good costs money. I think that money would be better spent on a good spam filter than replacing the whole email system.

Also in another post you mention that because payments are required, this will stop career spammers-- no it wont. Look at the spammers selling knockoff Viagra, watches, or anything else you have to 'buy'. CC companies shut down their merchant accounts all the time (due to numerous chargebacks) but they just register more. Wherever you have a corrupt official, or a registrar-type organization that values money more than honesty, this will be the problem. I doubt e-stamps will be any different.

Put differently, I think that e-stamps would be spending a huge amount of effort to replace one problem with another, perhaps two. I believe that most email system operators would agree.

There are simpler (and cheaper) ways to combat spam.

The easiest might be to have all ISPs adopt a policy of blocking port 25 egress (making zombie bots unable to send their spam) unless the customer requests it. Many US ISPs do this already.

Blacklists and SPF also help- by verifying that the machine sending the message is not a known spammer and is authorized to send on behalf of that domain, much spam can be removed. Such checks are cheap/free and effective.
A few months ago one of my clients complained that they were being deluged with spam. I added blacklist and SPF checks to the incoming email, 95+% of the spam disappeared instantly. Bayesian (keyword and keyphrase-based) checks on the client mop up the rest.
This particular client went from 100+ spams/day/mailbox to 1-3 spams/day/mailbox. Needless to say they were pretty happy. The point is their solution is easily duplicated, and doesn't require replacing the whole SMTP infrastructure.

Comment Re:Zombie Tax (re: E-stamps) (Score 1) 251

so let me get this straight... you propose that we replace the worldwide email system? And you don't think that's going to be difficult and expensive?

Okay, so lets say we drop SMTP as a protocol and start using something else. Let's call it PMTP (paid mail transfer protocol). Let's say we write this protocol from scratch, let's say the protocol is secure and openly available to anybody that wants to implement it.
This would seem to require a whole new address space. Let's say that instead of user@host.com we have user$host.com.

From a tech angle, we now need a whole new DNS record for PMTP servers. So instead of MX we have PO (post office). Or perhaps a PMTP extensions could be made for SMTP so they could answer on the same port. We'd need crypto to deal with these payments in a secure manner, which would have to happen through a network of clearinghouse type companies that sell the 'stamps'.

Let's ignore the fact that we've now created many points of failure (the financial clearinghouses) where there used to be only one (DNS).

What will happen is you have a 'new' system that's more expensive than the old. Adoption will be slow, because people will have to maintain two email boxes (user@host.com and user$host.com) for a long time. All the while you'll have every legitimate mailing list screaming bloody murder, you'll have whoever is collecting the money promoting the hell out of the system, and normal users will just be confused.

And the worst part of this all- for a long time, probably forever, you will have two email systems. The PMTP system may be used by more affluent people and companies, while the old SMTP system is left to rot, even though most people in developing countries will be using that.

Speaking of developing countries, you say you want to charge .1cents per message. That may be nothing to us, but what about in developing countries, where a person's salary is like $50us/year? Do they get a discount, and if so, whats to prevent spammers from setting up shop in Africa?
If they don't get a discount, aren't we just making it hard for the africans by making them unable to email the rest of the world?

As a concept, e-stamps are an interesting idea, and would probably solve a lot of problems. It's the implementation where it breaks down.

If you want a nice and easy way to stop spam, here it is: all residential broadband connections, by default, disallow outbound port 25 connections. Many US ISPs do this already, some allow you to unblock if you know what you're doing. Result is those armies of bots now just can't send their spam. Legit users get around it by using alternate SMTP ports (a standard one exists, 587 or 462 as i recall) or going thru the ISP mail server.

The problem is getting the rest of the world to do this...

Comment Re:E-Stamps, the only way to reduce spam (Score 4, Informative) 251

To understand why this won't work you have to understand how e-mail works. We start from when you hit 'send' in outlook.

Your message first goes to your ISP's or company's outgoing mail server. Let's ignore that for a moment.

That outgoing mail server looks at the recipient- user@domain.com. So it uses DNS (the thing that converts a name like www.google.com into an IP like and asks what the MX (mail exchanger) servers are for domain.com. Domain.com has those listed in its DNS.

The outgoing mail server then connects to the domain.com MX server. It says "i have a message from person@company.com for user@domain.com". If the MX agrees to take it, your outgoing mail server transmits the message, and the MX sends a confirmation that it is accepted. They then disconnect.

If you're running your own mail server, or are using a company mail server, or a different email system, your ISP has nothing to do with this other than moving your packets around.

The point is that email is not a single system that can be changed like raising the fare on the subway. If you're the city and you want higher subway fares, you just reprogram a few thousand turnstiles (all of which you own) and you're done. Email/SMTP isn't like that, SMTP is an agreement, a protocol which millions of networks and servers have chosen to implement. Email is just another internet protocol, no different than AIM, skype, HTTP/wwww, FTP, etc. It's just one of the most widely used protocols.
There is no central authority to enforce anything like e-stamps. For this to be enforced, the domain.com MX would have to say 'please give me a tenth of a cent before I deliver your mail'. The only useful way to handle that would probably be with a 3rd-party clearinghouse for exchanging the 'stamps', so your mail server would say 'i give you stamp ID (long stamp id number)', the destination MX looks that up with the clearinghouse, approves it, then accepts the message for delivery.

For that to happen, both your SMTP server and the recipient's MX would have to be modified to deal with these payments, and optionally require them for mail delivery. There are many different mail server programs out there, this would require all of them to be updated to support payments, and then (heres the hard part) all the people who run them would have to install those updates. Then anybody who runs a mail server would have to do some financial setup to let them accept payments and send payments for email. IE, every random geek and company and IT department and ISP that runs a mail server now has to jump through a financial hoop. If I run my own mail server, does that mean i get 2/3 of the payment (the recipient fee and the ISP fee)? Does my ISP get it even though I'm not using their servers? There will be great resistance to this.

The main issue is, it would *NOT* be transparent, not to anybody. This would be a large, time-consuming and very expensive implementation.

Now let's say best case scenario, lets say you get all the major isps and webmail providers on board (msn, aol, yahoo, google, comcast, timewarner, verizon, cablevision/optimum, charter, adelphia, etc).
Let's say they immediately set up their system to start dealing with these micropayments.
What happens to the (literally) millions of companies in the US and abroad who run thier own mail servers, but whos systems are NOT updated? Can they no longer send mail to all of the above networks, or is there a break in period? If the payments are optional, what incentive does anybody have to adopt them?

Also you say approved senders can send for free. Who is an approved sender? What is the qualification? If it's difficult and expensive, some of the large bulk-mailing companies will try it anyway, and the smaller legit companies are shut out. If it's easy to get one even for a small biz, then the spammers will get them too. If extensive investigation is performed on the applicants, that money has to come from somewhere, so it'll be expensive. And whoever you put in charge of this all will undoubtedly want to make money off it so the price may well go up over time. No matter what you do, a lot of people are going to be very unhappy about this.

Say you have a 'free' list for each subscriber. Is this maintained on the server? Great, now the MX server which used to just relay mail has to maintain allow lists for thousands of subscribers. Expensive.

You say that the people with infected computers would patch if it cost them money-- no they wouldnt. Many of those machines are in asia where nobody cares and everybody runs pirated software. And for the US side ones, you're talking about having ISPs start packet inspecting their traffic to look for email to bill for. This is a BAD idea.

I agree with you that tiny e-stamps might help the spam problem. But I just don't see it happening anytime this century. One of the biggest principles of the Internet is that anybody can send any kind of data across it at any time for any reason. SMTP (email) is just another type of data, just another protocol. You can't just change it, even if you have a good reason for doing so it's just not physically possible.

Comment Re:E-Stamps, the only way to reduce spam (Score 0, Redundant) 251

this is never going to happen.

The only reason email works worth a damn right now is because everybody's email server speaks SMTP. Sure, SMTP has its flaws (IE lack of authentication and security) but it does what it's supposed to do.
Requiring payment for e-mail would require significantly changing, or outright replacing, SMTP. This isn't going to happen, because any changes will never reach critical mass. There's always going to be a million companies with email servers that haven't been patched since 2002, not to mention that most of the Internet would be up in arms about paying for e-mail.

There have been attempts to make email more traceable, for example DomainKeys and SPF. But take SPF as an example- it requires only the smallest of changes to implement, and still a huge number of systems don't have or use it.

But to repost something I found on slashdot a few years ago...

Your post advocates a

(*) technical ( ) legislative (*) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
(*) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
(*) Users of email will not put up with it
(*) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
(*) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
(*) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
( ) Asshats
( ) Jurisdictional problems
(*) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
(*) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
( ) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

(*) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
( ) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
(*) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
(*) Sending email should be free
( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

(*) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!

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