Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×

Comment Re:For those who may have forgotten (Score 1) 57

That certain was an important decision, but the Bell System was still requiring customers to have expensive coupler equipment installed for many years afterwards (that article was from 1974). Those couplers involved transformers that would have made even 56k modems impractical, much less DSL.

For sure, where I lived, the Bell breakup was the dividing line, after which we were allowed to buy phones from someone other than the phone company. I still remember when we got our first non-Bell telephone, though I was a young kid at the time, and it was after Bell broke up. More amusingly, we weren't even in Bell territory; we were served by GTE. That's how wide-ranging the implications of the breakup were. It rocked the industry, and changed things pretty dramatically for the better.

Comment Re:What the hell? $600K? (Score 1) 51

Just the accounting you'd need to sell the thing to the government would cost you $100K. Oh, and you'd have to pay yourself or someone else to take part in the bidding process or apply for the granted, and that has to be recouped as part of the sale cost. Er... you were planning on paying yourself for your time, weren't you?

Also, there's a big difference between building a prototype from junk you scrounged and building a reproducible product. When you build a product the second copy should be exactly the same as the first but cost less. Duplicating a one-off prototype exactly usually costs more. Why? Proof of concept prototypes are cheap because you make them with surplus stuff you have lying around or can buy for fractions of a penny on the dollar. You can be opportunistic. The problem is any particular set of opportunities (e..g the $10,000 assembly you picked up at auction for $50) aren't reproducible.

I had a colleague whose first job out of school was writing up a detailed specification for a prototype midget submarine a defense research lab built for the Navy. The Navy was pleased at the low cost and so they wanted to be able to build a second one just like it. Well it turned out that a second one would have cost a hundred times as much they'd have had to pay manufacturers to reverse engineer stuff or start up production lines. It was one of the pointless, futile tasks you dump on newbie engineers before you know you can trust their work.

Comment Re:Yes, deleted files are (sometimes) recoverable (Score 1) 57

For spinning rust that works just fine, most of the time. Flash is another story entirely. It's likely that your overwrites will get put into _other_ free cells, and the flash controller will mark the cells you're trying to overwrite as free, rather than overwriting them. Depending on your usage patterns, they might _never_ get overwritten. Aaaaaaand we're back to the problem we were trying to solve... just one layer lower. :(

There actually is a way, but it involves creating a file that's as big as the remaining space on the volume, to ensure that there are no flash pages that don't get rewritten. And even then, that doesn't quite guarantee that it will get overwritten because the flash page you're trying to overwrite could get spared and replaced with a free page. Obviously if you do that enough times, it will eventually get overwritten, but you'll also drastically shorten the life of the flash disk.

A better solution, of course, is to have a flash controller that supports TRIM properly and guarantees that overwritten pages get zeroed in a timely manner. If you have that, then overwriting the data once is sufficient, because the data will eventually get zeroed. And frankly, there's no good reason for a flash controller to not aggressively erase pages that are no longer tied to the filesystem (the old version of the data), because they are unlikely to ever be used again.

Comment Re:Not a SQLite problem (Score 1) 57

In SQLite, you can do "PRAGMA secure_delete=ON;" and it will subsequently overwrite all deleted information with zeros. This is turned off by default because it does more disk I/O. Alternatively, one can run "VACUUM" at any time to ensure that all deleted content has been purged from the database file.

The concern goes deeper than just disk I/O. On flash, there's a limited number of writes per flash erasure block, and using it in a mode that continuously overwrites everything you delete significantly increases the rate at which you burn through those write cycles. The OS is likely to coalesce a lot of those writes if they happen close enough together, but you're still abusing the hardware pretty badly by doing that.

The right approach is to come up with a reasonable policy for retention, e.g. "Guaranteed to not retain data more than n hours" and then vacuum the database every n hours, or when the OS tells you that your app is about to get terminated (assuming you can safely do it in such a short time), or when your app gets backgrounded (if you can't). Either way, vacuuming constantly is bad for the hardware, and never vacuuming is bad for security. The key is to find the right balance, and that pretty much requires your programmers to know that this issue exists, which most SQLite users no doubt do not.

And a couple of aspects of the design of iOS contribute to this problem negatively. If this were on a real computer:

  • You'd probably have a MySQL or PostgreSQL instance holding that data, and it would scrub periodically in the background. You can't do that you iOS, because you can't have a background daemon running when your app isn't running, so everybody ends up using SQLite, which is just barely enough of a database to be usable.
  • You wouldn't have the OS killing your app randomly while it is backgrounded, making it impractical to guarantee that you'll get n seconds to scrub every so many hours.

I'd love to see iOS add a centralized SQL database running on it at all times, with periodic scrubbing, with the ability to selectively share tables across apps, etc.

Comment Re:Basic Journalism... (Score 3, Insightful) 64

That's an asinine argument. Other people who should do it don't do it, so I won't do it either.

Wikileaks won't do it because Assange is a chaos-monger posing as a crusader. Wikileaks should do curate its leaks because when you possess information you act responsibly with it, e.g., don't expose people it is about to identity fraud.

Comment What's needed is a new architectural layer (Score 2) 27

which moves (encrypted) fragments of files around the world, ostensibly for performance and reliability reasons.
So it would act like a content delivery network does with whole files.
Except that this layer would be the default assumption for where you put data on the Internet.
Data in the new paradigm has no home physical location. It only has identity, and access rights granted by possession of decryption keys.
For data intended to be fully public, perhaps its metadata would be unencrypted in the layer, for searchability. But that would not imply a particular physical location for the data file payload itself. A search would result only in an identifier, which the layer infrastructure would locate an retrieve from multiple sources.

Data would automatically maintain sufficient worldwide distributed copies of itself, and the system would migrate (and cache) copies of data fragments closer to end-users of the data, based on speculative probabilistic co-access patterns. In other words, data would coalesce toward where it was needed, as an automagic feature of the distributed storage layer.

This kind of distributed encrypted storage layer thing (not owned by any single company of course, but rather both open/libre and partly peer-to-peer) needs to get implemented, and widely adopted so that it is a default assumption of how content on the Internet mostly works, BEFORE it is made substantially illegal by overreaching governments.

That's how to make the Internet remain borderless. Make it a fait accompli that is very hard to subvert technically without blocking nearly every ip address, which, if this is implemented right, could be a partial mirror of fragments of the content.

Comment For example (Score 1) 12

Blocklist: Trump, Hilary, Clinton, DNC, RNC, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, gun control, s**t, f**k, h**l, ...

Actual posts filtered:

  • Google Trumps Apple as #1 on NASDAQ
  • California Drought Finally Over? Green Grass Says "Maybe"
  • Shitake Mushrooms Pulled Over E. Coli Concerns
  • Hello. My Name is...

Word bans don't work. They never did. To do this right would involve significant amounts of machine learning, and you wouldn't need a list of things to ban if they were doing that.

Comment Re:Dont care (Score 1) 399

I got the translucent drag bars to work pretty easily, but window outlines are still just one pixel,

That's a deal breaker for everyone who has turned on focus-follows mouse and turned off click-to-raise. I.e. good old X11 behavior that lets you copy/paste between overlapping windows while maintaining Z-order.

But these days almost all users run everything full screen, and have to context switch. Sigh. Dumbing down all over.

Comment Re: Translating for the rest of the world (Score 1) 120

Your point?

Some elements end in -um, some in -ium. If you complain about aluminum, then you're a hypocrite for also not complaining about all the others. Americans aren't complaining about all the elements ending in -ium; we have no problem understanding that some are one way and some another, it's only a bunch of dickheads who seem to think they should all end in -ium and complain about this even though a bunch of them don't, and haven't for millenia.

Comment Re:The Latest Innovations (Score 1) 520

Finance? It's go Quickbooks or go home. And they *only* make a Windows version. (No, that online crap doesn't count)

According to another poster here, Quickbooks doesn't work on Windows 10, only Win7.

So saying that we "chose" to use Microsoft is like saying that someone who lives in a cholera infested area "chose" to drink beer, and that attitude won't win you any favours.

I'm not trying to win any favors. I'm actually just laughing at you all as you suffer with all the stuff MS is doing lately, which are the direct results of your own bad choices.

Submission + - Malvertising Campaign Infected Thousands of Users per Day for More than a Year (

An anonymous reader writes: Since the summer of 2015, users that surfed 113 major, legitimate websites were subjected to one of the most advanced malvertising campaign ever discovered, with signs that this might have actually be happening since 2013.

Infecting a whopping 22 advertising platforms, the criminal gang behind this campaign used complicated traffic filtering systems to select users ripe for infection, usually with banking trojans. The campaign constantly pulled between 1 and 5 million users per day, infecting thousands, and netting the crooks millions each month.

The malicious ads, according to this list, were shown on sites like The New York Times, Le Figaro, The Verge, PCMag, IBTimes, ArsTechnica, Daily Mail, Telegraaf, La Gazetta dello Sport, CBS Sports, Top Gear, Urban Dictionary, Playboy,,, and more.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Show business is just like high school, except you get paid." - Martin Mull