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User Journal

Journal Journal: PyCon 2011 4

I am in Atlanta for PyCon, and you're on Slashdot reading about it. So there. Neener neener neener.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I think they're trying to kill Slashdot. 12

I seriously believe that someone is trying to sabotage Slashdot by making it decreasingly pleasant.

Exhibit A: the new-and-busted discussion system. I actually like it more than the old way for reading comments, but for writing comments it's almost maliciously bad. The new system's preview button is much slower than the old way, and the mandatory waiting time between posting comments is a lot longer than it used to be. The net result is that whenever you're eventually allowed to click the "Submit" button, if your comment doesn't go through immediately, you're stuck staring at a pink error message until the countdown is finished. The only thing keeping this tolerable is that you can middle-click on "Reply to This" to open the old-style comment form in a new window, but I don't know if this workaround is going to be left in place long-term.

Exhibit B: Idle. This is truly the worst interface I've ever seen on Slashdot, from the painful color scheme to the tiny fonts to the difference between the markup used in comments between Idle and the rest of Slashdot. For example, the <quote> tags are treated like <p> in Idle, so there's no visible difference between text you're quoting and your own words. I don't even mind the content so much because it can be an amusing diversion, but wow, the implementation is just terrible.

No, I contend that the new changes are deliberately designed to drive away readership. I don't think that the Slashdot admins are incompetent, so I'm convinced that this is on purpose.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Avoid the Ramada 5

This isn't tech-related in the least, but my family just got back from staying at the Ramada Inn in Kearney, Nebraska. It wasn't pretty.

Not that Kearney is a likely destination for Slashdotters, but for those who might find yourselves there: you've been warned.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Tuning Slashdot, part 1: Relationship CSS 11

Refactoring relationships

Right now, relationships are embedded into the comments section of story pages with tags like:

<span class="zooicon"><a href="//;uid=198669"><img src="//" alt="Friend of a Friend" title="Friend of a Friend"></a></span>

This is ugly for a few reasons. First, it's a mess. Second, it means that every visitor has to have their own custom-rendered comments sections so you can't apply aggressive caching to the page-generation code. I would replace this with per-user CSS.

First, create a CSS file for each user like this:

/* Default class */
a.relationship {
background: url(neutral.gif);
width: 12px;
height: 12px;
display: inline-block;
text-decoration: none;

/* User-specific values start here: */

/* Friends */
a.user3352,a.user42 { background: url(friend.gif); }

/* Foes */
a.user666 { background: url(foe.gif); }

Next, replace the HTML in the comments section with generic relationship information such as:

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="relationships.css">
<p>by neutral (1234) <a href="bar" class="user1234 relationship">&nbsp;</a> on 2008-01-20</p>
<p>by Just Some Guy (3352) <a href="bar" class="user3352 relationship">&nbsp;</a> on 2008-01-20</p>
<p>by foe (666) <a href="bar" class="user666 relationship">&nbsp;</a> on 2008-01-20</p>

All "a" tags with the "relationship" class get the default CSS values. If there is also a corresponding "user*" selector in the visitor's stylesheet, then the values in that selector override the defaults. For a sad user with no friends, this means that everyone gets the neutral.gif icon. As that user accumulates more specific relationships, those CSS definitions are applied instead.

This benefits Slashdot because suddenly they don't have to generate a brand new comments section for every visitor. The per-user CSS would also be extremely simple to generate. In any case, it would be no more difficult than the current method of embedding all that information directly into the comments section.

Finally, those CSS files could also be cached very easily. Since they would only change whenever a user's relationships are modified, Slashdot would no longer have to query that information every single time it creates a page.

There are two drawbacks to this idea. First, there are no more alt attributes on images, so users don't see a "Friend" popup if they hover over the relationship button. If that's a problem, replace the icons with little smiley or frowny faces as appropriate. Second, it would take slightly more work to support putting users in multiple categories at the same time ("Friend" + "Freak"). The fix is to create a whole set of graphics like "friend_freak.gif" and "foe_friendoffriend.gif" and corresponding CSS classes. There aren't that many categories, though, so it would require only minimal extra work to cover every possible combination.

How 'bout it, Taco - could you use something like that? Less code, less bandwidth, and less processing should be pretty easily reachable goals.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Get over it, UbuntuDupe 4

UbuntuDupe screwed up an Ubuntu installation almost two years ago. He still hasn't gotten over it.

UD, let me give you some free advice: move on. Really. You don't even have to admit that you were wrong. Just stop yapping about it and move on.

Do you notice that every time you bring this up, everyone opposes you? It's not because we don't like you, but because even if you were in the right (which you weren't), after two years we simply don't want to hear it anymore. Stop embarrassing yourself and let it die already, OK?

User Journal

Journal Journal: NSFW? Fark off. 1

Fark: Is read by your boss.
Slashdot: Is read by the weird guy in the server room.

Fark: Tries to be corporate friendly.
Slashdot: Links to Tubgirl.

Fark: Garfield.
Slashdot: Doonesbury.

Quit whining about "oh noes this is not teh NSFW!" If you want Fark, read Fark. This is Slashdot.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Comments I've left elsewhere, lately

In reference to I posted over on Bob's site:

Mr. Squidoo said in response to Cringley's article:

I certainly do not think that a 3rd party notice from someone other than the copyright holder are grounds for YouTube to remove my clip. Even a notice from Oregon Public Broadcasting would have to be considered an "alleged infringement" claim from a copyright holder.

What's so great about copyright is there isn't any alleged infringement. It works like this: did you distribute some work? Yes. Are you Oregon Public Broadcasting? No. You are infringing. Now you'll probably argue that your case is an example of Fair Use -- but get this -- Fair Use is an affirmative defense. If you claim Fair Use you are affirming "guilt" (copyright infringement) by making the defense. At which point a judge decides against the four point test if your infringement is Fair Use, or not. With copyright you are essentially* infringing until proven Fair Use, i.e., "guilty" until proven "innocent"!

In short, Fair Use isn't a right, it's a defense. Copyright isn't a right either; it is a limited-time** State-granted monopoly on distribution. For more info, check out 17 USC 107 and also

*Since you can't be non-infringing without being sued and winning!

**One day short of forever, is inexplicably constitutional to some Supremes. Extention every time new works are about to reach the Public Domain still counts as "for a limited time"; See Article 1.8.8.

And just now I left this over at Moyer's new blog re:'Open source journalism':

"As long as source materials are kept private and as long as the final product is copyrighted, it is incorrect to call something open source. Critiquing an article or emailing a suggestion is not nearly enough to justify the title of "Open-Source Journalism". It actually has to be open source." --DR (above)

I feel like I'm back on Slashdot right now! You are misunderstanding what "open source journalism" is, or claims to be. The swarm of emails, posts, crossposts, hat-tips, comments and cross references that coalesce across the 'net to form a "story" is the phenomenon described as "open source journalism". In this respect bloggers (Josh Marshall included) are both the journalist and the audience in the same fashion that open source coders are both the developer and the end-user. It's the many eyes and the feedback-loop that produce the refined results. The phrase open-source journalism doesn't describe the (absolutely critical) goals of either the FSF or the Creative Commons, though.

It needs to be said, in direct response to the quotation above that both the CC licenses and the GPL rely on copyright -- so to claim that because something is copyrighted it is not open source is absolutely incorrect. The difference between written journalism and (most commercial) software applications is that writing is distributed as source already. AV is a different story, one that Creative Commons is going to great lengths to address (remix and reuse without the chilling effects of rampant copyright litigation).

I wanted to say "RTFA", as the episode in question and the post go into detail about what "open-source journalism" is (and you can watch it right there on the site :-D).

Journal Journal: Slashdot to Fix Headlines 1

The contents of a story I submitted that's sure to be rejected... I am after all abusing the editors' time:

After threads like this one and its forerunners in similarly affected stories, Slashdot editors have agreed to stop accepting kiddie slang in headlines. This move was heralded by the vast, silent majority of Slashdot who don't have time for this sort of childish crap. CmdrTaco was overheard saying, 'I know I'm a [World of Warcraft] addict -- like many of you -- but I will nip this in the bud before we have headlines containing ZOMGWTFBBQ!!~. This is not Digg and I'd like to keep it that way.'

I didn't mean to submit it containing the world heralded, but ... mistakes happen.


Journal Journal: Naurus' NSA Intercept Machine

The evidence from the Electronic Frontier Foundation's suit against AT&T indicates that the pen-register (phone call records) and call-graph analysis is really just the tip of the iceberg. The equipment that the NSA installed in AT&T's main switching and routing centers is known, it is made by Naurus Inc., and the frightening capabilities of the equipment are posted on that company's website.

Naurus' equipment is designed to do phone and Internet wiretapping on a massive scale. The company has extensive links to telecom, law enforcement, defence contractors, and intelligence agencies in the US as well as the old-boys club of major finance and consulting firms. Naurus also provides services to repressive regiemes such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Here is a research dump of the evidence of these technical capabilities and business links I have found so far:

Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room by Ryan Singel

AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full access to its customers' phone calls, and shunted its customers' internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against the company.


"While doing my job, I learned that fiber optic cables from the secret room were tapping into the Worldnet (AT&T's internet service) circuits by splitting off a portion of the light signal," Klein wrote.


The split circuits included traffic from peering links connecting to other internet backbone providers, meaning that AT&T was also diverting traffic routed from its network to or from other domestic and international providers, according to Klein's statement.

The secret room also included data-mining equipment called a Narus STA 6400, "known to be used particularly by government intelligence agencies because of its ability to sift through large amounts of data looking for preprogrammed targets," according to Klein's statement.

All About NSA's and AT&T's Big Brother Machine, the Narus 6400"
by bewert Fri Apr 07, 2006

Specifically, this equipment was the Narus ST-6400, a machine that was capable of monitoring over 622 Mbits/second in real time in May, 2000, and capturing anything that hits its' semantic (i.e. the meaning of the content) triggers. The latest generation is called NarusInsight, capable of monitoring 10 billion bits of data per second."

Naurus products page:

        * Universal data collection from links, routers, soft switches, IDS/IPS, databases, etc. provides total network vew across the world's largest IP networks.
        * Normalization, Correlation, Aggregation and Analysis provide a comprehensive and detailed model of user, element, protocol, application and network behaviors, in real time.
        * Seven 9s reliability from data collection to data processing and analysis.
        * Industry-leading packet processing performance that supports network speeds of up to OC-192 [10 Gbit/sec - internet backbone capacity] at layer 4 [the TCP or transport layer] and OC-48 [2.5 Gbit/s - often the largest lines in major regional carrier networks] at layer 7 [The application layer: web, email, VoIP, etc.] enabling carriers to monitor traffic at either the edge of the network or at the core.
        * Unsurpassed and limitless scalability to support the world's largest, most complex IP networks.
        * Unparalleled flexibility -- NarusInsight's functionality can easily be configured to meet any specific customer requirement (Narus Software Developer Kit -SDK).
        * Unparalleled extensibility -- NarusInsight's functionality can easily be configured to feed a particular activity or IP service such as security, lawful intercept or even Skype detection and blocking."

"NarusInsight(TM) Intercept Suite (NIS)

        * CALEA- and ETSI-compliant modules for lawful intercept featuring a robust warrant management system. Capabilities include playback of streaming media (for example, VoIP), rendering of Web pages, examination of e-mails and the ability to analyze the payload/attachments of e-mail or file transfer protocols.
        * Proprietary directed analysis monitoring and surveillance module offering seamless integration with the NSS or other DDoS, intrusion or anomaly detection systems, securely providing analysts with real-time, surgical targeting of suspect information (from flow to application to full packets).

NarusInsight(TM) Discover Suite (NDS)

NDS supports detection of the following services and protocols for the purposes of billing, quality of service (QoS), planning, reporting, provisioning as well as blocking:

        * VoIP (SIP, H.323, MGCP)
        * Skype
        * Streaming media (RTP, RTCP, RTSP)
        * Peer-to-peer (Gnutella, BitTorrent, KaZaa, eDonkey, etc.)
        * Web browsing
        * e-Mail (SMTP, POP3, IMAP)
        * Messaging (IM, MMS)
        * Push to talk

Naurus solutions page:

Lawful Intercept and Regulatory Compliance

Recent government regulations and the resulting standards referenced under CALEA in the United States and ETSI in Western Europe are designed to preserve law enforcement's ability to conduct authorized electronic surveillance while preserving public safety and the public's right to privacy. Moreover, as carriers migrate to next-generation networks (NGN), and deliver Services over IP (SoIP), the volume and complexity of the data required to deliver to law enforcement increases dramatically. NarusInsight's Intercept Suite of application modules enable carriers and service providers around the world to comply with these new regulations in the multi-faceted world of Service over IP.

About Naurus

With its patented technology and processes, Narus helps customers like AT&T, Brasil Telecom, Korea Telecom, KDDI, Telecom Egypt, Saudi Telecom, France Telecom and T-Mobile in areas of network security, traffic classification and monitoring.

Narus is headquartered in Mountain View, CA (USA) with offices throughout North America, EMEA (France, Germany, U.K.), Asia (Japan, Korea, China), and Brazil. Core product development is done in Mountain View with additional development facilities in Bangalore, India.

Naurus executives:
Naurus executives have past employment links to:
Nortel Networks
IBM Global Services
Verizon Wireless
Ziff Davis
(and others less well-known)

Naurus Board of Directors:

Naurus Board of Directors:

William P. Crowell is an independent security consultant and holds several board positions with a variety of technology and technology-based security companies. Since 9/11 he has served on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Task Force on Terrorism and Deterrence, the National Research Council Committee on Science and Technology for Countering Terrorism and the Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age. Bill's past positions have included President and Chief Executive Officer of Cylink, a leading provider of e-business security solutions as well as a series of senior positions at the National Security Agency, including Deputy Director of Operations and Deputy Director of the Agency. He has also served as chairman of the President's Export Council (PEC) Subcommittee on Encryption, which worked with the Administration, Congress and private industry to substantially loosen restrictions on the export of encryption products and technology.

Other Naurus board members have past employment links to:
Booz, Allen & Hamilton
GE Equity, a division of GE Capital
JPMorgan Partners, the private equity investment arm of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
Bankers Trust and Prudential Securities, Inc.

Naurus business partners:
Naurus global partners:


Giza Systems of Egypt
has licensed Narus' comprehensive portfolio of real-time traffic insight products in the Middle East region.

NEC ...

VeriSign ...

Naurus regional partners:

Carahsoft Technology Corp. is offering Narus' high performance IP security, monitoring and traffic classification solutions to government agencies on GSA schedule. Carahsoft Technology Corp. is a trusted government IT solutions provider delivering software and support solutions to Federal, State and Local government agencies. The Carahsoft Team has a proven history in helping government agencies find the best possible technology solution, at the best possible value. With a deep understanding of the technologies we provide, as well as thorough knowledge of the government procurement process, Carahsoft offers needs analysis, configuration support, ease of ordering and special government pricing. GSA Schedule # GS-35F-0131R. 888-662-2724

FITec Technology Innovations is making Narus' leading real-time traffic insight solutions accessible to telecommunications service providers in Brazil. FITec, a top technology innovator and integrator in Brazil, is using Narus' software to provide Brazilian carriers with security, analysis, monitoring and mediation applications, all based on Narus' ability to capture and analyze IP traffic in real time. ... Its main areas of expertise include IPTV, NGN and VoIP technologies.

Info Quest is the largest Greek IT company...

Naurus technology parners:


Cisco Systems...

ManTech International Corporation
  is a leading provider of innovative technologies and solutions for mission-critical national security programs for the Intelligence Community; and the Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, and Justice; the Space Community; and other U.S. federal government customers. ManTech's expertise includes systems engineering, systems integration, technology and software development, enterprise security architecture, information assurance, intelligence operations support, network and critical infrastructure protection, information technology, communications integration and engineering support.

ManTech Board members include:
Richard L. Armitage, former Deputy Secretary of State

Admiral David E. Jeremiah, USN Ret., also on boards of Wackenhut Services, Inc., advisory board Northrop Grumman, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Defense Policy Board and the National Reconnaissance Office Advisory Panel.

Richard J. Kerr, former Deputy Director for Central Intelligence, Scientific Advisory Board of the National Security Agency and the Board of Visitors of the Joint Military Intelligence College and is currently on the advisory boards of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Sandia National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory.

Dr. Paul G. Stern, former CEO of Northern Telecom [Nortel] anf former President of Unisys, He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Whirlpool Corporation and Dow Chemical Company. Additionally, he is the Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, serves on the Board of Trustees of the Library of Congress, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Business Executives for National Security.

Over the past 20 years, Pen-Link Ltd has developed two core software products for telecommunications intelligence collection, recording, monitoring, analysis, and reporting: Pen-Link 8 and LINCOLN 2. Together, these two software technologies provide a complete system solution for any electronic surveillance (wire line, wireless, satellite, ISP or VoIP). Pen-Link clients include the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, US Marshals, US Secret Service, and hundreds of state and local law enforcement agencies.
[See the "products" link at the top of the Pen-Link site for information.]

Pen-Link v7.0 for Windows is the most complete law enforcement PC-based software system on the market.

The LINCOLN [Local Intercept Network Collection-On Line Network] System provides a complete data collection solution for telephonic intercepts. LINCOLN digitally records call content and call details from proprietary telecommunications switch formats.

Headline on Pen-link website:

SS8 Networks Partners with Pen-Link in Global Distribution Deal to Create Industry's Most Complete Lawful Intercept Solution

The partnership expands SS8 Networks' portfolio to include Pen-Link's LINCOLN® 2 collection server, a high-end data collection and monitoring platform that stores and tracks activity of specific targeted individuals. SS8 Networks' customers also now have access to the Pen-Link 8 analysis software as part of the portfolio. This software provides the ability to provide multi-dimensional analysis of target individual's telephone calls, emails, push-to-talk conversations and multimedia messaging -- critical capabilities for law enforcement officials as suspect individuals continue to leverage IP-based network architectures and mobile devices for voice and other communication services. .... Through a series of extended relationships, lawful intercept solutions are now also available for government and law enforcement agencies worldwide. SS8 Networks' solutions are installed in global tier one wireless, wireline, VoIP and cable networks and are also available through a channel of major international switch vendors.

See SS8 Xcipio for details on SS8's intercept product.

... a clear need has emerged to create products and standards that can also enable interception of IP-based communications.

To address this need, SS8 Networks has combined its existing lawful intercept technology for voice and data networks into a single product called Xcipio(TM), a cost-effective solution for provisioning, delivery, and recording activities of lawful interception.

Xcipio's modular architecture supports lawful intercept requirements for both domestic and international markets as well as multiple delivery standards for traditional circuit-switched (wireless and wireline), next generation packet, ISP, and hybrid networks.

[SS8 is not a Naurus partner, but a partner of a partner.]

Naurus technology partner:

Visual Sciences, LLC is the leading provider of streaming data analysis software products and on-demand services to Fortune 1000 enterprises and government agencies. The most information-driven enterprises depend on Visual Sciences' real-time analysis platform -- Platform 4 -- and suite of applications built upon it to collect, process, analyze and visualize their data for decision making.

Visual Call delivers real-time intelligence about the usage and performance of large and complex interactive voice response, call management and computer telephony networks, systems and services. Visual Call provides the most complete solution available for interactive voice channel and call detail analytics, offering unrivaled flexibility and scalability. Visual Call is the only product in its market to offer a comprehensive view of the activity of the voice channel --including all caller activity at any and all levels of detail...

About Visual Sciences

Visual Sciences' client base includes one or more of the world's largest retail banks, consumer credit companies, insurance companies, mortgage origination companies, global hospitality and lodging companies, global airlines, U.S. Government Agencies, business and consumer computer systems companies, security, transaction services and trust companies, networking products companies, global telecommunications service providers, global retailers, and newspaper and magazine publishing companies. Visual Sciences does not publicly disclose the names of our more than fifty (50) Fortune 1000 enterprise clients and U.S. Government agencies and more than five hundred (500) Internet and voice properties because of our privacy agreements with our clients.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I've been mod-bombed - yay! 9

Within a five minute period yesterday, 5 of my comments got modded down with "-1: Troll". They were in different stories about completely different topics, but they were my most recent posts at that time.

I noticed that I've been building up a nice little list of liberal extremist freaks lately. It seems pretty clear to me that one of them happened upon some mod points and decided to spend them by modding me into oblivion.

I'm kind of flattered in a way, because they must have felt that I'm pretty important to spend their points against me. Even better, though, is this reminder that the favored tool of the liberal is silence. It's not enough to ignore opposing viewpoints, since someone else may hear them and be influenced. No, their response to someone who doesn't buy into their propaganda is to steal their voice.

On Slashdot, at least, they're limited to moderation. That's a lot better than in reality, when they'd probably scream "racist!", or "sexist!", or "capitalist!" in hopes that I'd run for shelter. That's not quite as funny.

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"The vast majority of successful major crimes against property are perpetrated by individuals abusing positions of trust." -- Lawrence Dalzell