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Privacy

US Congress Votes To Shred ISP Privacy Rules (theregister.co.uk) 355

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: The U.S. House of Representatives has just approved a "congressional disapproval" vote of privacy rules, which gives your ISP the right to sell your internet history to the highest bidder. The measure passed by 232 votes to 184 along party lines, with one Democrat voting in favor and 14 not voting. This follows the same vote in the Senate last week. Just prior to the vote, a White House spokesman said the president supported the bill, meaning that the decision will soon become law. This approval means that whoever you pay to provide you with internet access -- Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, etc -- will be able to sell everything they know about your use of the internet to third parties without requiring your approval and without even informing you. That information can be used to build a very detailed picture of who you are: what your political and sexual leanings are; whether you have kids; when you are at home; whether you have any medical conditions; and so on -- a thousand different data points that, if they have sufficient value to companies willing to pay for them, will soon be traded without your knowledge. With over 100 million households online in the United States, that means Congress has just given Big Cable an annual payday of between $35 billion and $70 billion.

Comment Re:Real Question: Consensual or Non-Consensual? (Score 1) 601

Indeed. These people try to enforce constraints on what private, non-public life people in their community can have. Reminds me of fundamentalist religious fuckups. Probably the same people acting here, but somehow they did not catch religion and are now acting out their perverted fantasies of conformity this way.

PHP

Prominent Drupal, PHP Developer Kicked From the Drupal Project Over Unconventional Sex Life (techcrunch.com) 601

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Last week the Drupal community erupted in anger after its leader, Dries Buytaert, asked Larry Garfield, a prominent Drupal contributor and long-time member of the Drupal and PHP communities, "to leave the Drupal project." Buytaert claims he did this "because it came to my attention that he holds views that are in opposition with the values of the Drupal project." A huge furor has erupted in response -- not least because the reason clearly has much to do with Garfield's unconventional sex life. [Garfield is into BDSM, and is a member of the Gorean community, "a community who are interested in, and/or participate in, elaborate sexual subjugation fantasies, in which men are inherently superior to women."] Buytaert made his post (which is now offline) in response after Larry went public, outing himself to public opinion. Buytaert retorted (excerpt available via TechCrunch): "when a highly-visible community member's private views become public, controversial, and disruptive for the project, I must consider the impact [...] all people are created equally. [sic] I cannot in good faith support someone who actively promotes a philosophy that is contrary to this [...] any association with Larry's belief system is inconsistent with our project's goals [...] I recused myself from the Drupal Association's decision [to dismiss Garfield from his conference role] [...] Many have rightfully stated that I haven't made a clear case for the decision [...] I did not make the decision based on the information or beliefs conveyed in Larry's blog post." TechCrunch columnist Jon Evans goes on to "unpack" the questions that naturally arise from these "Code of Conduct conflicts."
United Kingdom

London Terrorist Used WhatsApp, UK Calls For Backdoors (yahoo.com) 357

Wednesday 52-year-old Khalid Masood "drove a rented SUV into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before smashing it into Parliament's gates and rushing onto the grounds, where he fatally stabbed a policeman and was shot by other officers," writes the Associated Press. An anonymous reader quotes their new report: Westminster Bridge attacker Khalid Masood sent a WhatsApp message that cannot be accessed because it was encrypted by the popular messaging service, a top British security official said Sunday. British press reports suggest Masood used the messaging service owned by Facebook just minutes before the Wednesday rampage that left three pedestrians and one police officer dead and dozens more wounded.... Home Secretary Amber Rudd used appearances on BBC and Sky News to urge WhatsApp and other encrypted services to make their platforms accessible to intelligence services and police trying to carrying out lawful eavesdropping. "We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp -- and there are plenty of others like that -- don't provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other," she said...

Rudd also urged technology companies to do a better job at preventing the publication of material that promotes extremism. She plans to meet with firms Thursday about setting up an industry board that would take steps to make the web less useful to extremists.

Comment Re: MapReduce is great (Score 1) 148

Quite possibly these people are vastly overestimating their own skills because they "work at Google". Fortunately, I did not run into socially inept interviewers, but as to the questions asked, they did not have more than surface knowledge. That is not how you interview somebody with advanced skills and experience, because people on that level rarely run into things they have not seen before in some form and that they need to solve on an elementary level. I think this happened to me once in the last 5 years, and there likely is a next case upcoming in the next few months. Both are in research projects.

The really funny thing is that I do know Google would have needed people like me desperately, because on architecture-level (where you need the real experience and insights), they still suck badly and may even be getting worse.

Comment Re:MapReduce is great (Score 1) 148

No offense, but "I'd rather just use a library" seriously brings into question what you bring to the table.

Except that's the right answer. It's arrogant pricks who think that they're hot shit who reinvent the wheel, do it badly and then charge headlong into their next coding disaster, energy drink in hand and earbuds in ears. Meanwhile, a more responsible engineer has to come along afterwards and clean up the hot mess so that the users can actually have a working system that isn't chock full of silly bugs.

Oh yes. Of course the answer is not to use "any library", but to carefully select a good algorithm and then use a library for that. I cannot count the times some "Rockstar"-wannabe has reinvented the wheel and did it really, really badly because they were not even aware of the basics.

They want to test if you have the intellect, knowledge and creativity to sketch a solution yourself.

The best way to determine that is to ask an abstract hypothetical question, where there is no existing implementation and no risk of getting it wrong. Bringing in real world concerns that you want the candidate to ignore because "it's an interview question" is stupid because it clouds the issue and prevents the type of answer that you're looking for. Maybe the candidate is an honest guy and prefers to give you the "don't write your own encryption algorithms" answer because in reality that is the right answer. Then you pass up an otherwise excellent candidate because your interview question was poor. Is that really what you want?

While I know that this is not what Google wanted, it is what they did. And on the hash-question, I do know that I do not have what it takes to come up with a good solution (you need to be a cryptographer for that these days and I am only a competent user of crypto) and so I have stopped bothering to even look at it. This is something that everybody competent selects from a catalog. Of course the real problem is that the Google folks vastly overestimate their own skills, or they would have been able to evaluate what the actual quality level for the selection I proposed is and then could have asked why exactly I proposed this one. That question never came, which is an utter fail.

Comment Re:MapReduce is great (Score 3, Interesting) 148

No offense, but you miss the point entirely. What I answered is very far from "use a library". First, it is an algorithm, not a library. That difference is very important. Second, it is a carefully selected algorithm that performs much better than what you commonly find in "libraries" in almost all situations. And third, the hash-functions by Bob Jenkins (and the newer ones bu DJB, for example) are inspired by crypto, but much faster in exchange for reduced security assurances. In fact so fast that they can compete directly with the far worse things commonly in use. "Do not roll your own crypto" _does_ apply_ though.

So while I think you meant to be patronizing, you just come across as incompetent. A bit like the folks at Google, come to think of it...

Government

Terrifying Anti-Riot Vehicle Created To Quash Any Urban Disturbance (boingboing.net) 195

"Are you an urban police force thinking about how to control your fellow humans?" jokes Cory Doctorow. "Look no farther! Your pals at Bozena have an all-new RIOT system, a crowd-control killdozer for all your protest-suppressing needs!" He's one of several web commentators marveling at the marketing copy for a Slovakian company's new anti-riot machinery, also spotted by Slashdot reader drunkdrone. Some quotes from the BOZENA RIOT SYSTEM site about the device's features:
  • Easy attachable bulldozer blade.
  • The [6,600 pound] shield comes equipped with launching ports designed for use of guns or other rubber projectiles launchers.
  • The trailer is capable of displacing the water/foam or its mixtures (available additives: pepper or painting substances) under the high pressure into the distance of several dozen meters.
  • Communication with rioters through the loudspeakers.
  • Designed to control riots in streets and urbanized areas...intended predominantly for the special military and police units responsible for the CROWD CONTROL during the violent political/social demonstrations, against football hooligans, etc.

Comment Re:MapReduce is great (Score 5, Interesting) 148

Indeed. I went though their "interview-process" a while back at the request of a friend that was there and desperately wanted me for his team. Interestingly, I failed to get hired, and I think it is because I knew a lot more about the questions they asked than the people that created (and asked) these questions. For example, on (non-cryptographic) hash-functions my answer was to not do them yourself, because they would always be pretty bad, and to instead use the ones by Bob Jenkins, or if things are slow because there is a disk-access in there to use a crypto hash. While that is what you do in reality if you have more than small tables, that was apparently very much not what they wanted to hear. They apparently wanted me to start to mess around with the usual things you find in algorithm books. Turns out, I did way back, but when I put 100 Million IP addresses into such a table, it performed abysmally bad. My take-away is that Google prefers to hire highly intelligent, but semi-smart people with semi-knowledge about things and little experience and that experienced and smart people fail their interviews unless they prepare for giving dumber answers than they can give. I will never do that.

On the plus side, my current job is way more interesting than anything Google would have offered me.

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