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Comment Re:Dear Microsoft.... (Score 4, Informative) 117

They tried that. Up until around 1999, Microsoft wouldn't allow a new PC to be shipped with anything but stock Windows (and before that, DOS). Pre-installed software was forbidden by the licensing agreement.

An antitrust lawsuit in the late 90s claimed that this practice was anticompetitive because OEMs couldn't put alternative web browsers on PCs. So Microsoft was forced by the courts to allow OEMs to install whatever they wanted on prebuilt PCs.

Comment Re:Enormous tax and administrative burdens (Score 1) 347

For physical purchases, sales tax is based on where the sale happens, so the tax rate will (presumably) depend on whether or not the McDonald's has a bus stop on its block.

But if I ship you a bicycle fender, do we base it on whether there's a Houston bus stop on your block, or on mine? The law has always been that you have an obligation to pay if there's one on yours; this new law is attempting to shift the burden to me (a seller in another state who probably doesn't even know how Houston sales taxes work) to find out whether or not you have a bus stop on your block, charge you the appropriate tax, and send a check to the City of Houston.

Comment Re: Anonymous travel (Score 3, Insightful) 428

But if you want to drive coast to coast anonymously, you can do that. Stay within the speed limit and don't have any malfunctioning vehicle parts, and you have given no one Probable Cause to see you and your license. Avoid those particular toll roads where your license plate is photographed for billing purposes.

License plate scanners are everywhere.

Comment "Incorrect" MPG numbers (Score 4, Insightful) 177

In the United States, it is illegal for a car manufacturer to advertise any fuel efficiency number other than the one determined by the EPA.

Even running an ad campaign to the effect of "Hey, the EPA says that this car gets 45 MPG, but our testing says it's more like 42. Just thought you should know." would be a crime.

Comment Re:Oblig xkcd (Score 5, Interesting) 220

I've posted this before, but I want to get this idea out there:

Here's how to make your password truly secure, if you really have something you want to hide:

1) Get fifty dollar bills. Maybe get some fives and tens mixed in with them. Total cost less than $100.

2) Shuffle them into a random order.

3) Set your Truecrypt (or Veracrypt, or whatever) password to be the hundred-digit number formed by taking the two least significant digits of the bills' serial numbers, in order.

4) Keep the stack of cash next to your computer, and make sure you don't let it get out of order. If you lose - or even just drop - the stack, it's game over. If/when you find yourself starting to remember the password and able to enter it without referring to the stack, shuffle the stack and change your password.

5) If an adversary raids your house, chances are that the stack of cash will simply vanish into a pocket. And if that doesn't happen, odds are pretty good that the stack will be scrambled, especially if there are different denominations mixed in.

6) At this point, your password is well and truly gone. No amount of rubber hose cryptography can bring it back.

7) The best part about this plan is you don't have to actually do it. Your password can be your dog's name, as long as you're willing to stick to your story - and it helps if you actually keep a stack of cash next to your computer - that you did steps 1-4.

Comment I've said it before (Score 1) 560

Step 1: Acquire fifty one-dollar bills. If you're feeling especially rich, mix fives and tens in with them.

Step 2: Put them into a random order.

Step 3: Generate a password by taking the least significant two digits of each bill, in order, for a 100-digit number. Use this password to encrypt your data.

Step 4: Make sure that the bills never get out of order. Keep them in your desk drawer or another safe place.

Step 5: The cops raid your place. There is a decent chance that a small stack of cash would never make it into evidence, simply vanishing into an officer's pocket. Even if that doesn't happen, they'll catalog the money, sort it (here's where the fives and tens come in handy), and almost certainly get it out of order in the process.

Step 6: Your password is now gone. Unless the cops turned in the cash and kept it in order, it is impossible for you to tell them your password. If the bills make it into evidence, there are up to 50! (~200 bits) possible passwords. If not, there are 10^100 (~300 bits) possible passwords.

Step 7: Don't actually do steps 1-4. Just keep a small stack of cash next to your computer. Your actual password can be your cat's name. Just be willing to testify under oath that you did steps 1-4.

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