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Submission + - Aluminum Foil is a Criminal Tool (

Midnight Warrior writes: It looks as though that RFID-blocking wallet you bought could be considered a criminal tool in Ohio. Two women were arrested at a Dayton, OH mall (incl video) for using a bag meant to (poorly) look like a baby in a stroller. The bag is a Booster Bag that is lined with aluminum foil. Clothes with tags are typically dumped into the bag, the bag closed, and the thieves leave undetected. Anti-shoplifting companies are starting to sell add-on components to existing systems to go after organized retail theft. This fad started up as early as 2001 (underwear???), spiked in 2005, and seems to be making a small comeback. Some states with recent activity include Florida and Louisiana.

Comment Controlled Interfaces (Score 1) 227

The U.S. Government fully understands the need for isolation and just how impossible it really it. There are niche companies out there that make systems that comply with specific DCID 6/3 requirements to make the system match a Protection Level. They use mandatory access control with Solaris 10 Containers, Trusted Solaris/Irix before that, and SELinux nowadays.

Here's their problem though. In order to be effective, an organisation must clearly know what must come in or out, network wise. It is difficult, technically speaking, and managing such an interface point is a speciality either run by expensive people or by cheap, clueless dimwits.

As Bruce Schneier has pointed out, liability laws need to be in place because the market will not apply the proper controls, if for nothing else, then for cost alone. Folks may complain about PCI or SOX compliance and how it doesn't really make things safer and I agree because it just forces compliance but doesn't make them want to be compliant. Companies that are able to equate vulnerability with a decrease in stock price will find themselves motivated to make it right. The fear of lawyers can be pretty good motivation to do the right thing.

Here's my recommendation. Provide an incentive for passing an inspection. Provide an incentive for the inspector. Then clearly set the rules of the competition. The incentives are not based upon a "failure to hijack," but upon an ability to control an intrusion. The inspector does not get incentive for penetration, he gets incentive for control after he's in. The integrators need to pride themselves in limiting the damage that can be done. If they keep the installation simple and easy to understand, then it's harder to find sneaky ways in.

Meanwhile, light one up and pass it over 'cause I'm not holding my breath.


Looks Like the End of the Line For LimeWire 277

tekgoblin writes with news that a federal judge has issued a permanent injunction against LimeWire for copyright infringement and unfair competition. A notice on the LimeWire home page says "THIS IS AN OFFICIAL NOTICE THAT LIMEWIRE IS UNDER A COURT-ORDERED INJUNCTION TO STOP DISTRIBUTING AND SUPPORTING ITS FILE-SHARING SOFTWARE. DOWNLOADING OR SHARING COPYRIGHTED CONTENT WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION IS ILLEGAL." An anonymous reader points to coverage at CNET, too.

Comment Re:Violation of TRIPS (Score 1) 310

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I've read through the TRIPS link you graciously provided. There is some good reading in there. What I failed to find though was anything that supported your argument of mandatory enforcement. I'm sure it's in there, I just wasn't having very much luck.

What if the patent holder was required to take a more active role in their patents and the applicability to proposed standards, as governed by industry and government bodies (e.g. ANSI, MILSPEC)? If a call went out looking for patents related to a specific standard, they would be required to participate in the standards body within, say, 3 months of being notified. Failure to respond or to provide reasonable licensing terms (to the standards body) is a forfeit of the holder's right to prosecute those who implement the standard.

I've got this idea because it means that:

  • Lawyers will be retained to provide continuous monitoring of the standards landscape
  • It encourages patents to be licensed rather than sat on and thus impeding progress
  • The sheer volume of patents would either be a boon for the legal industry or a discouragement from filing yet more patents
  • Patents are encouraged to get organized into standards bodies

Comment Re:What's an "industry-recognized standard"? (Score 1) 310

Thanks for the detailed reply, tambo. You are quite right that I am not a lawyer and thus make simple, repeated mistakes in this area. You pointed out a confusing point I had and the more I stew on it, the more I'm convincing myself that this is a complete dead end. It's starting to feel like a Game Theory model is going to have to be built in order to make any significant improvements to the system.

I really like your observation that the first standard established becomes the de facto standard as it would be the only one with any real patent protection according to my plan. The process of even trying to develop the next generation technology would have to stand on the shoulders of the previous work, but since it wouldn't be part of a standard yet, the developers could be easily sued.

As for submarine patents, thanks for calling me out on that. It might have helped if I had run a Google on it before I posted that phrase.

Can you conceive of a plan, then, by which RAND can force non-members to at least identify their patents within a short, finite time span or forfeit most forms of redress? Ideally, a patent search would find relevant conflicts, but I'm starting to get the idea that more and more generic, broad patents are being issued with too much being left to interpretation.

I guess what I kind of want is patent owners to be required to be more involved in nearby issues like the involvement required for trademarks. I'm looking to change the balance of things since the issuing rules don't appear to be up for change any time soon in the U.S. And that's what everybody on Slashdot complains about the most.

Thanks again!


Submission + - Legislate past the MPEG-LA? 2

Midnight Warrior writes: We could solve the H.264 debate if a country's legislature were to mandate that any patents that contribute to an industry-recognized standard were unenforceable in the application of that standard. Ideally, each standard would also be required to have a "reference design" that could be used without further licensing. This could also solve problems with a ton of other deeply-entrenched areas like hard drives, DRAM, etc. RAND tries to solve this strictly within industry, but both the presence of submarine patents and the low-bar required to obtain a patent have made an obvious mess. Individual companies also use patent portfolios to set up mutual, assured destruction. I'm not convinced that industry can solve this mess that government created.

But I'm not stupid. This clearly has a broad, ripple effect. Can Slashdot come up with non-computer industries where this would be fatal? What if the patents were unenforceable only if the standard had a trademark and the implementer was compliant at the time of "infringement?" Then, the patents could still be indirectly licensed, but it would force strict adherence to standards and would require the patent holders to fund the trademark group to defend it to the end. In the U.S. model, of course. Or should I go off and get a master's degree and use this as my thesis?

Submission + - Rejuvinate the Movie Theater Industry (

Midnight Warrior writes: US$1 billion dollars is a lot of money for a movie to make. Sure, lots of that came from overseas for Avatar, but recouping 3x the cost of the movie is a major boon for a movie studio. I have an idea that would cause a massive rebound in the movie theater industry. If a movie grosses the cost of production (using the numbers advertised in the press, of course) in a particular country/region, then show the movie for $1 per seat ($5 for 3D) at all theaters in that region, but only in theaters already showing the flick. The studios will still make a couple of bucks, and a theater would have already been forced to play their games to get the flick in the first place. But everything after that is gravy, or should I say popcorn and sugar. I also might not feel so bad about seeing a couple of ads at the beginning then. Some theaters report that up to 85% of their profit comes from their snack bar, and more customers means more snack bar usage. Besides, it would cement the supposition that the movie industry is recession proof.

Comment Double Double Fees (Score 1) 319

These termination fees don't apply just to the whole contract. If you add a family member in for the $9.99/mo, they get their own phone number (duh), which is effectively another contract. If that family member leaves before the end of the contract, they own the remaining balance on the termination fee. The primary holder on the account can also be hit for the remaining balance of the termination fee if they cancel early too.

So, if you subscribe your wife and/or girlfriend on to the plan 18 months into a 24 month plan, they charge you $9.99 a month. I don't remember if they charge a fee to set up the phone, but the cynical side of me says that they probably do. If your significant other dumps you in the 23rd month of the contract, they can prorate the termination fee any way they want. They may take their $175 prorated to remove (23-18=) 5 months and you owe the rest. Then, when that is done making you mad and you decide to leave a month early, they'll hit your side of the contract with the prorated termination fee too.

Oh. Did I forget to mention this: when your significant other left you in month 23 and you canceled her phone, you automatically signed yourself up for a different plan. So, if you go to leave at the end of month 24, they find a way to prorate the termination fee because you are leaving the new plan early.

This is insane, you say? Then go to a pay-as-you-go plan where the profits are really juicy. Go ahead. I dare you.

I'm just glad none of these fuzzballs got bailout money. Or at least I'm hoping they didn't.

Comment U.S. Air Force Museum (Score 1) 435

There is a museum in Dayton, OH which is just about Dayton's only attraction. This is the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Some of their exhibits include:

  • Rockets from satellites with cameras that used to drop their film back to Earth once fully exposed.
  • The new (and now discontinued) F-22 Raptor
  • A full-size B-2 bomber (engineering model with no engines, but everything else)
  • Many planes formerly known as "Air Force One"
  • Lots of experimental aircraft, including those from the famous Skunkworks project
  • Frames from real atomic bombs

Admittedly, this may not be as electronics or computer nerd like we all assume you are, but if you are into any level of mechanical engineering or have been a pilot at any level, then you will surely appreciate this place, even if you only visit it once in your lifetime.

There are no parking or admission fees and they're open just about every day of the year, except for three major holidays.

Comment ZenOSS all the way (Score 5, Interesting) 342

We use ZenOSS exclusively at work and have enjoyed every minute of it. Pro's include:
  • 2D map with status of all nodes or submaps, organized by network
  • Application monitoring, with more advanced maps available for purchase (Oracle, JBoss, Cisco) for those things you already paid a lot of money for
  • Performance monitoring via SNMP or other data sources using RRDtool internally which includes graphs linked to each other during zoom in/out or panning
  • Nagios plugins already do some of the heavy lifting
  • Built-in support for watching Windows servers (any metric accessible via WMI)
  • Access control using at least LDAP and Active Directory
  • Secondary data collectors for those networks which are too big for just one central source
  • Highly customizable through Python
  • It has so, so much more than pathetic commercial solutions like OpenView


  • You have to keep your eye on the back end database
  • It still takes a long, long time to tune it to remove noise events
  • If you don't know Python, it can be tough in a few places
  • Proper support is not cheap

Comment Derms (Score 1) 203

Everybody keeps neglecting his use of derms to deliver drugs. Yet, the first "patch" I saw widely in use was the anti-smoking patches in the mid-90's. I'd bet he didn't invent them, but he did envision they would be widely used. Derms even got mentioned in a recent computer-animated flick where a lady peels her sleeve up and shows us about 15 "coffee derms."

Comment WARNING: UNSAFE Javascript (Score 1) 287

For those of you not using Firefox and NoScript, InfoWorld's website pops an error with Firefox that claims InfoWorld would like to run Javascript marked as UNSAFE. That is, it will have access to all windows and panes, which is plain evil. Tread carefully please, especially if you are using Internet Explorer. This, of course, assumes that you will RTFA.

Comment Similar to... (Score 1) 62

Opticks is developed in the U.S. and is also open source, uses the QT library and C++ and is certified for use under Windows and Solaris. It could be compiled for Linux and/or OSX by anyone determined enough to get it compiled. When I last examined the source code, it's build system was focused around Visual C++.

Opticks lists compatibility for reading SAR data and it would be interesting to see what it took to read from the mentioned sensors. It is fully capable of dealing with multiple image or motion typed analysis techniques and formats.

Opticks is available at and is released under the LGPL 2.1.

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