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Comment The whole outrage over this makes me angry (Score 1) 287's not like there haven't been young people committing suicide after being railroaded on charges for things they absolutely didn't do, in this country, for years.

But they're minorities and poor and must have been guilty, right?

Let a tech-elite white kid run afoul of the legal mechanisms, though...

Comment Re:Not new: .com, .net, .org? U.S. jurisdiction (Score 5, Interesting) 354

What is scary here is the cooperation of Verisign. In this case, Verisign maintains the registry for .com. But Verisign also still operates the 0 Root servers under contract to the Dept. of Commerce. So, if they wanted to (or were ordered to by the U.S. Govt) they could "technically" take out an entire TLD, including a ccTLD like .ru or .cn.

"Technically" is in quotes because the realities of the root servers would make it easy for the rest of the world to tell the U.S. to go screw at that point, and stop syncing the dozens of root servers that are distributed around the world off of the Verisign "corrupted" servers. However, it would be the end of the canonical DNS system as we know it.

AFAIK, the engineers at Verisign who handle root server issues try very very hard to stay out of any type of corporate shenanigans, but at the end of the day Verisign operates those servers, and Verisign is a U.S. Company, on U.S. soil, with executives who are very much subject to the immediate coercion of the U.S. Government.

Comment Pet Peeve: it's not a "Spy Plane" (Score 2) 428

Forgive the rant, but:

It is not a "spy" plane, it is a "surveillance" plane. Ever since the 2001 Hainan Island incident this mistake has really irked me. The Chinese used it as a rhetorical club to beat us with when GWB chickened out and let them chop up our plane and imprison our crew.

A "spy" plane would be one that is designed/intended to escape detection and/or interception while conducting surveillance in places it has no right to be (such as the U2 and SR-71 or the Global Hawk). During the cold war, the Soviet Union consistently protested our overflights of their territory with the U2 and SR71, and sought (and once succeeded) to shoot them down, as was their right. Those were "spy" planes, and Francis Gary Powers was, technically, a "spy."

The JSTARS E-8 and the Hainan EP-3E are both military versions of the Boeing 707 -- they aren't designed to hide from or evade anyone trying to see and/or catch them. They are big obvious platforms that fly in neutral territory (or over an actively declared battle zone when we have air dominance) and provide surveillance and other capability. They aren't hiding or trying to deceive anyone.

Comment Re:Giving up passwords (Score 4, Informative) 575

First, the quote was from the Declaration of Independence, a document that preceded the U.S. Constitution by more than a decade, was purely symbolic in nature -- which is to say, it has almost zero application in the law of the United States of America.

What both of you are trying to recall from your ancient civics classes is the Fifth Amendment (part of the Bill of Rights, passed 2 years after the Constitution), which reads (in relevant part):

No person shall be . . . compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. . . .

Whether or not coercing someone to unlock the chest where they put their confession is the same as forcing them to incriminate themselves is a tricky and unsettled question of law that we (the Yanks) are still working on. (Whether the coercion is beating them with a $5 wrench, or putting them in prison indefinitely for "contempt", the principle is the same.)

Your meta-point is quite true, however - the creation and protection of such individual rights in conflicts with the State was the fundamental schism that led North America to diverge from the previously (fairly homogenous) Anglo/European civilization about 200 years ago. Now build some Settler[early game]/Armor units[late game] and get out there and spread the word to the rest of the map.

Comment What are we doing (seriously) (Score 1) 395

I can't speak for most. I can speak for the ten or twelve of us who compared notes at work today over the snark. Sure, we're being flip. But there's no sense being stupid. Things I'm doing which we all thought seemed like a good plan:

1) Remembering that the winds aren't a big deal.
2) Being happy I live in a high spot, so rather than evacuating:
3) Stockpiling water (1-liter thermoplastic seltzer bottles ftw)
4) Freezing some of those (thermal inertia ftw if we lose power, plus, tasty cold water)
5) Making sure we have a week of food in the house for peeps *and* cats (check, I usually do, could prob. go 2 on what we have)
6) Making sure I have cash in the house (ATMs might die if net/power goes)
7) Making sure I have candles and lighters/matches
8) Making sure I have adequate whisky!


Comment Keep perspective (Score 4, Informative) 395

300,000 people and the 'affected areas' are a relatively small percentage of New York City. The vast majority of New Yorkers are doing what we normally do when doom is predicted - snark, ignore, and stock up on liquor and cigarettes.

Seriously, though, there's no way New York City itself could be evacuated without something on the scale of Dunkirk. The thought of 8 million people trying to escape over a mere 4 or 5 Interstate-class roads makes a lot of us laugh at the idea of the 'go bag' that the authorities and preparedness obsessives keep talking about. If anything happened that was big enough to force a major evac on NYC, we'd be going nowhere so fast due to traffic we'd end up using all three changes of clothes just sitting in cars or in train stations or airports. So unless the 'crisis' is fairly personal, I plan on having lots of time to pack whatever's needed - or to make sure I have the requisite amount of booze and books to see me through the forting up!


Comment Re:Americans are worse (Score 5, Interesting) 220

At least the Chinese do something about it. Unlike Americans who sit down watching tv and drinking beer and bitching on slashdot (and never doing anything about it) while their government not only censors their internet connections, but the whole worlds.

This is why Americans are so fucking hypocrites. Do whatever you want on your own land, but leave rest of the world alone. We don't want your bullshit around here in Europe, and the rest of the world.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't approve of censoring the internet for any reason. Nor do I approve of the U.S. government's record on IP-related enforcement *or* electronic freedoms. However, I should note that your angry objection is overwhelmingly colored by the fact that all of your links seem to point to a single source - - and all seem to involve actions taken during IP related seizures and enforcement. I realize that in your anger, you won't be able to separate me from the IP apologists, but I appeal to your cooler-headed colleagues of the copyleft movement and its ilk. Understand that a clumsy and self-centered attempt at comparison like this - IP enforcement to the Great Firewall - just makes you and your cause (which I mostly agree with), self-centered, and not too bright.

Not to put too fine a point on it, it sounds like you're comparing the effects of the Great Firewall on the citizens/netizens of China to the effects on you, somewhere (as you say) other than America, can't download bittorrents.

That demeans the struggle that the Chinese are undertaking.

Suck it up.

Comment Multiple methods are helpful (Score 1) 266

I have a 'personal documents' folder which fits within my Dropbox limit, so those files are on the cloud and multiple computers. The only place I use files other than from there is on my main desktop at home, which has an external drive holding a Time Machine backup (one update/day so as not to age the drive as fast) and a nightly SuperDuper backup (SuperDuper is utter win). Finally, I have a 4TB RAID6 NAS at home where my non-critical files (ripped DVDs, ripped music) is stored as well as an automatic weekly copy of the SuperDuper backup from my desktop.

Comment OP Doesn't Understand The Law (Score 4, Insightful) 202

As an attorney, reading this question invokes the same reactions that many of the /. crowd would have if I started trying to opine on the technical failings that would allow our mythical vandals to reprogram the hypothetical robot.

Not to get too technical, but just because you sue the company doesn't mean you win. The liability insurance that even the smallest companies carry would cover the legal costs of having such a suit dismissed. (For the technically inclined, look up comparative negligence and the proverbial "intervening bad actor").

The homeowner (the ones suing) would probably be found more responsible for not following basic security etc.

As others have pointed out, software companies have long been given practically a free ride in harm caused by poorly written software. First, they have been allowed to disclaim the standard warranties of fitness and function. This is akin to buying a car that the manufacturer won't promise to actually work or be safe. If Ford told you that they wouldn't guarantee that pressing the brake pedal actually engaged the brakes, would you drive that car? Yet every piece of commercial software we use specifically says that there is no promise that it will work at all, or do what the purchaser wants.

Here is a counter hypothetical (more realistic as it has actually happened). A relative dies in a plane crash. The FAA investigation conclusively shows that the accident was caused by a bug in one of the key computer systems. Should you sue: the airline? The manufacturer (boeing/airbus)? The subcontractor that wrote the software?

The answer is, you sue the airline, and the system is set up so that anything you win from them, they can then sue to recover from the party up the chain. Thus, everyone's liability is ultimately apportioned according to their degree of fault (note, yes it is a gross simplification). This is why people writing software for critical systems (ones where a failure can cause property damage or injury) need a good lawyer to write their contracts/licenses. They law has allowed programmers to avoid their responsibilties for a long time, so if a sw company doesn't take advantage of that, it is their own fault.

Consider, there is no educational or professional certification required to write and sell software that controls an infant incubator used in an NICU, but you need a government license to drive to the store. Programmers and engineers have been getting a sweet deal in liability for years, so it's awesome to hear them still complaining.

Comment Re:Of course they are going to say that. (Score 1) 398

I completely agree that this is marketing fodder by Unisys. But it is also corporatism that will prevent this from ever happening. Logistically, it would not be that difficult to shut off the internet for 95% of Americans. First, there are a finite number of physical cable trunks entering and leaving the U.S., and the FCC knows all about where each and every one of them comes ashore. The number of companies with independent inter-city backbone capacity is probably fewer than 10. (Level 3, AT&T, Verizon, ???). But, the fact remains that each of those networks -- no matter how regulated -- is the property of a corporation that has every incentive to protect its property from undue government control. These are the interests (with deep pockets) that will finance the 5th amendment litigation that would ultimately apply the Constitution.

The two things I worry about more is (1) the individual rights with no corporate interest to back them, and (2) when corporations aid and abet the government's violation of those individual rights (e.g. turning over vast amounts of consumer data for government data mining, or allowing the government to tap your customers without a warrant, etc. etc.)

As soon as the government puts a "kill switch" on the current network, someone will have a strong incentive to build a new one the government can't kill without physical violence. Information wants to be free, and the internet is beyond the power of even the U.S. government to ever contain.


Red Hat Settles Patent Case 76

darthcamaro writes "Red Hat has settled another patent case with patent holding firm Acacia. This time the patent is US Patent #6,163,776, 'System and method for exchanging data and commands between an object oriented system and relational system.' While it's great that Red Hat has ended this particular patent threat, it's not yet clear how they've settled this case. The last time Red Hat tangled with Acacia they won in an Texas jury trial. 'Red Hat routinely addresses attempts to impede the innovative forces of open source via allegations of patent infringement,' Red Hat said in a statement. 'We can confirm that Red Hat, Inc and Software Tree LLC have settled patent litigation that was pending in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas.'"

Comment Article has problems with facts (Score 4, Informative) 131

The article presents the situation as Andrew Crossley being in conflict with ACS:Law over the use of templates. The problem with that is that Andrew Crossley is in fact the proprietor ("principal?" Don't know the correct term) of ACS:Law, so it would be difficult for ACS:Law to steal his work. To quote WikiP: "The main partner of the company, and its only registered solicitor is Andrew Crossley."

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