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Comment Re:A pattern emerges (Score 1) 161

8.) Openness is formally removed.

Android is *not* removing openness.

Yet. Give it time. Android isn't at that step yet, but I have seen absolutely no indications that Android will not end up at step 8 in due course. At the very least, Google isn't defending openness very well, either. Google has done little (if anything) to discourage locking bootloader. Google not only failed to discourage Samsung's Knox e-Fuse, they integrated that feature, along with several others, into recent releases of Android. These are not steps to preserve the modding community.

I'm a member of the Android security team, and worked around the edges of this feature. We (I'll use that pronoun for simplicity, but please note that I'm not claiming credit) put a great deal of additional effort into making sure that it supported modders who unlock their bootloaders and install custom software. We even made sure that they can use the verified boot feature to ensure that their self-signed images are not modified without their knowledge.

I appreciate the consideration put into this. Sincerely, honestly, and genuinely - it is nice to hear that these cases are still a part of the development process. At the same time, Microsoft required that Windows 8 motherboards both had secure boot, as well as a user-facing option to disable it in the BIOS. Windows 10 certification kept the former, but not the latter. Do I blame Google for the tresspasses of Microsoft? Of course not...but given that the outcry over this was basically limited to a few strongly worded Slashdot comments, I do not see Google as a company so principled as to actively avoid step 8 when there was clearly no blowback.

The goal is not to prevent modding, the goal is to improve security by ensuring that malicious images can't be installed.

The goal isn't to prevent modding *now*. Android At Work's core features were a solved problem by Nitrodesk with Touchdown, which could be configured to require its own passcode and disable screenshots and respect Exchange wipes and determine if the device was rooted...and these were solved in the Froyo days. Google chose to deal with this in firmware. The switch has not been flipped, but the infrastructure went from "not being there" to "being there", changing the trust requirement from being "they can't" to "they won't"...and I'm very hard pressed to find a "they wouldn't" that didn't eventually become a "they did".

I understand where you're coming from, and I do appreciate your response. I hope you can understand my hesitance and concern.

Comment Re:A pattern emerges (Score 1) 161


It's almost like Google wants everyone to stop using Android.

I don't think that's it. I think it is simply 'the pattern'...

1.) A company releases software or a device. It adheres to standards very well, and although it's a bit rough around the edges, it's open enough that an enthusiast community develops that picks up the slack for those willing to tinker with it. Thus, it requires a bit of understanding to become useful, and it may lack some polish, but the community picks up steam.
2.) The modding community recommends the item to others. The technologically illiterate will stick with 'what works' for now, but other enthusiasts come on board. A few forward thinking companies develop software/addons for the item, which help legitimize the platform.
3.) The item gets an iteration or two, implementing popular features from mods, squashing bugs, and improving its utility. The item is headed toward critical mass, and more companies leverage the item.
4.) Between a few malicious actors and a few technologically illiterate folks who have loud mouths and no patience, things get a bit more messy. Overall though, the item is still on the rise as step 3 continues to grow the item.
5.) As the item gains more legitimacy and experiences some mainstream success, more of step 4 happens, to the point where the manufacturer needs to do something about it. In many cases, the openness of the item has a number of avenues of attack for malice to be successful, so a few of the mods stop working in the name of security.
6.) As mainstream acceptance becomes the norm, the modding community becomes more of a liability than an asset. With mainstream acceptance comes lots of money, in contrast to the modding community's inherent DIY mentality.
7.) Protection of the revenue stream well exceeds the value of the modding community. Thus, protecting the item is a much bigger deal. Openness becomes more and more difficult to leverage; after a few iterations of progressively removing openness without revolt, the dev team is given less of a voice than the accountants. Frequently prices are increased, and sometimes the ability to export data is removed.
8.) Openness is formally removed. A few principled holdouts of the original modding community leave, but since the product has integrated into mainstream usage so effectively, many mainstream users require functions to be performed that only the item can perform, in either a primary or secondary capacity. In many cases, the item holds mission critical data, ensuring its continued usage for some time.
9.) Litigation of those who force openness begins.
10.) A company introduces an item....

Comment Re:PS4 XBone (Score 1) 99

I only see one idiot here. I'm guessing you're either too young to remember the early days of PC gaming, or you simply forgot because of the past decade of Apple lauding their monoculture as a panacea.

In the late 80's and early 90's, fragmentation was a bit more of a problem. Going from the internal PC speaker to actual audio cards was a mess, with games needing code written for several popular cards, until we ended up with "Sound Blaster Compatible" becoming the de facto standard before Windows 95 gave us a universal abstraction layer that works well enough that offboard/external audio cards are either for enthusiasts (there's still a few sound blaster cards floating around Newegg) or audio professionals (Tascam/Presonus/M-Audio/Rane).

In the early days of graphics cards, games once again frequently needed code for individual GPUs. Grab a copy of "Forsaken" off eBay and you'll have to specify whether you have a TNT2 card, 3dfx card, and one or two others. Again, this was commonplace until DirectX and OpenGL provided an intermediate solution that allowed game designers to target the abstraction layer, rather than the hardware.

Now, things have gotten even simpler on the PC side, because developers don't even necessarily have to write code to DirectX, but because they can code to the engines - Unity, Unreal, Source, Crytek, or in-house ones like Frostbite. Code to the engine, and the engine worries about ensuring DirectX compatibility, which in turn worries about hardware.

Finally, cross-platform development has brought its own cancers to the PC side. I could have a bad encounter with a table saw and still be able to count on one hand how many AAA games released in the past two years allow for dedicated servers. Console folk can't be bothers to configure port forwarding on their routers, and to be fair, it's not like consoles work all that great with that paradigm, which is why XBL and PSN exist. I don't begrudge those services in the least, but dedicated servers were a standard component for multiplayer PC games for over a decade, but are now an endangered species. Games used to frequently ship with level editors and modding kits, that allowed for new characters and maps to be community created (DLC used to be DIY, and free). Again, this is a highly exceptional state of affairs now, and I'm patently unconvinced it's a positive direction for PC gaming.

So yeah, there are near-infinite hardware variations. There are also time-tested methods of addressing them.

Comment Re:I can understand removing the servers. (Score 3, Informative) 89

But couldn't they still offer a VPN client that connects to a server outside the country with a "dynamic" IP of sorts to keep it from from being blocked by the ISP? [snip] We need some good news, and we just aren't getting any yet.

They do. That is the good news. Here's the summary...

Private Internet Access owns about 3,000 servers in 34 countries. You pay $7/month, and you set up a PPTP/IPSEC/OpenVPN client with the credentials they specify. When you log into your account on their website, you can pick which country you want your data to be originating from, and that is your endpoint. If they have a server in France, then your traffic is VPN'd from your computer to their servers in France. If you connect to their VPN and then head over to IPChicken, you'll see a French IP address from the block of IPs they own from that region. If tomorrow you want your traffic to come from Kansas, you pick your server there, and your IPChicken will reflect that IP instead. Meanwhile, those IPs are used by dozens of other users, so it's neigh impossible to tell exactly which user was responsible for a given piece of traffic...unless you explicitly configure those server to log which users were logged in and sent what traffic where, which is what Russia is looking for.

Comment Re:We dont need a better private mode-- (Score 1) 126

Spam-free??? Can you give an example? Last time I checked (it *has* been a while) misc.rural, comp.lang.pascal.borland and others were a cesspool of spam.

The first thing to note is that a lot of spam is quite old. It's not at all uncommon for unused groups to have a lot of spam listed from ten years ago, if you're using a provider that has 2,500 days retention or something like that. Imagine how much spam your inbox would have if you scrolled for ten years and neither deleted anything nor had much in the way of filtering at that time. I'm not saying it doesn't still happen, but 'sort by date' is your friend.

That said, comp.misc has lots of active users, as does and alt.windows7.general. If you're of the non-Microsoft persuasion, alt.os.linux.ubuntu is pretty active, as is alt.os.linux.debian, comp.unix.bsd.freebsd.misc, and I'll concede that none of the Pascal groups I looked through seemed to be anywhere I'd like to actually invest my time. On the non-computer related front, rec.arts.drwho.moderated gets reasonably active during the broadcast season, and has some really interesting discussion regarding case laws and has a number of actual-lawyers who participate.

Yes, virtually every topic one would potentially look at on Usenet has a metric ton more activity on a comparable vBulletin forum somewhere. Much as the 'Eternal September' is still referenced here and there, the masses seemed to have left Usenet and camp out on Facebook and Twitter, leaving a much smaller group of technically inclined people an experience reminiscent of the early days once again.
Eternal September provides free text-based NNTP access, with most paid providers providing block accounts for which even the smallest block will likely provide years of message board activity.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 4, Informative) 89

Because Archfield and the Anonymous Coward missed the point, I submit the following rephrasing...

Why would a person/company who is using a commercial VPN service actually want their internet traffic to originate from Russia?

An employer requiring a VPN to the home office? Makes perfect sense, and happens every day. An employer requiring their remote-working employees who are probably working from home (e.g. likely within 50 miles and 10 hops of that office) to connect via Sonicwall NetXtender or Cisco VPN to their front-facing router? Absolutely. However, what possible security could be accomplished by having remote employees use a commercial VPN service to encapsulate traffic making a 50(ish) mile trip or less by making it traverse through Russia before getting to the home office?

A multinational company having a site-to-site VPN also makes plenty of sense. Even if it's to their office in Russia, it still makes sense, but it's not what Hagbard was referring to, because in that context its from their company, to their company. The question implicitly doesn't apply. If you're in China or Iran and VPNing due to government oppression, doesn't it make a lot more sense to send your traffic through the US or UK or Japan or some other country with less draconian oversight of internet traffic? Actually, that proves the point of the article - the company pulled out of Russia because Russia was implementing that very level of oppression for which a VPN would be needed. Finally, latency alone would be reason enough not to VPN through Russia for remote viewing of a security camera.

Nobody is asking whether VPNs are useful. The question being asked is whether there's any utility for the endpoint to be in a country that is beginning to require a year's retention on connectivity logs.

Comment Re:I'm Covered (Score 1) 126

I bought the CCleaner suite really for the SpaceMonger application; CCleaner was just a very useful bonus. The real reason I use it, though, is because it covers all of my browsers. I'll have Firefox, Chromium, Opera, and Internet Explorer all open at the same time; I don't get caught up in browser religion. Thus, CCleaner covers all bases, and I don't have to think about it.

Comment I'm Covered (Score 2) 126

NoScript with only first party scripts allowed by default, and a handful of CDNs whitelisted. CCleaner Pro cleans up all of my browser activity every time I close it. Untangle denies connections to ad servers and trackers at the firewall level.

Am I still being tracked? Probably...but the information obtained is much less juicy. I haven't seen an ad 'follow me' around the internet in quite some time.

Comment Re:How does the "Free" licensing work? (Score 1) 156

Exactly how would the community "fix up all the problems and snooping"? It's a closed source operating system, you are totally beholden to the manufacturer for any changes. And you have no say whatsoever in the design, implementation and quality of the product.

You're right, this can't be readily changed by the community at the OS level. However, Windows still (at least for the moment) gives users root access. I got sick of Cortana's executable starting up, so I went to the folder and did a 'deny all everyone' file permissions change; not even the system user can access it. O&O ShutUp 10 and Spybot AntiBeacon both reduce telemetry and set policies that disable many of the snooping/syncing features. It's possible to configure Windows Firewall to block system applications and - at least for the moment - the firewall isn't smart enough to ignore those rules if configured.

The community can't change the OS...but there are measures that can be taken to reduce the telemetry. If the community wants to conjure up an open source "Windows 10 Privacy Suite", there's nothing stopping them from writing it, and nothing stopping users from installing it.

Comment Re:If you didn't know about Microsoft a long time (Score 1) 212

Genuine question: Did you also do a Wireshark session on a Win10 machine after running both Spybot Anti-Beacon and O&O ShutUp 10? They appear to do more than the regular placebo that the toggle switches, but I definitely would be interested in whether they cause a reduction in that sort of traffic.

Comment Re:Counter-example, anti-hipster ThinkPads! (Score 1) 168

That because, as been demonstrated time and again, Apple is truly the only company that seems to be able to make a buttonless Trackpad that isn't cringe-worthy.


I got stuck with the Sentelic trackpad from hell last year...but I've generally been a fan of Synaptics trackpads. The trick is disabling tap-to-click and using the left mouse button to click. I completely agree that only Apple makes trackpads that are usable without any buttons, which is an annoying fact, considering that trackpads with buttons are an endangered species. On the whole, Synaptics trackpads with buttons and tap-to-click disabled are great to work with.

Comment Re:Not Surprised (Score 2) 83

Got to keep those bandwidth costs down!

Well, think about it. ISPs cite peak hour congestion because everyone is streaming during primetime. If I could set my iPad to kick off a download at 3AM that I could watch the next day, that helps stagger the network usage so it levels out better...and if you've ever attempted to use Wi-Fi at an airport, this would be an amazing thing on both ends - fewer people needing the Wi-Fi relieves congestion for those who do.

I've been a fan of Netflix making a "Magical Netflix Box" that allowed queuing and off-peak downloading, as well as transfers between MNBs, rather than hitting up the Netflix servers for content where possible. If it's kept encrypted and unreachable by traditional network means (trail blazed by the AT&T and Verizon microcells), it'd be entirely possible to make everyone happy by distributing the load.

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