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Comment In other news, Saudi Authorities ... (Score 1) 915

In other news, Saudi Authorities have now asked the website "Slashdot" to reveal the identity of all those commenting on a matter of religious sacrilege. will be taken down and all those who commented, including Anonymous (the dangerous hacker group) Cowards will be put to death. If this doesn't help, a Fatwah will be issue against all those using computer terminals. May Allah's will be done! Amen.

Comment A more global, widespread issue (Score 4, Informative) 238

I live in India, and such Notes are very common here for almost every branch of Higher Education. In some cases of post-graduate and doctoral courses, the question papers are legitimately distributed by the University to students after an examination. For tests where the board does not distribute question papers, several companies which claim to be vestigial 'education' and 'training' companies pay examinees for reproducing or recollecting the questions. It is also common practice in India for corporates to hold screening examinations prior to fresh candidate intake. These question papers are also reproduced, solved by a team of experts and a key is published before the next examination. A good example is FreshersWorld.

This also happens for NCERT, Medical Entrance Examinations, Engineering Entrance Examinations among several others. No Legal action has been taken in the recent past to stop such recollection, despite the fact that it merely promotes rote learning, textual recall or fundamental pattern matching. Interestingly, in India, no one has referred to this practice as cheating, although it is. It is only in the past two years that Computer Aided Tests which shuffle questions and stagger timelines are being introduced to avoid this practice. Enforcement of legal sanctions in India especially across Educational boards, Varsities and Corporate Testing groups have not been easy.

Question papers, by themselves for any test are never copyrighted officially. Most Board question papers in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal do not come with any Copyright notices. Boards and Academic members have until recently been in the dark about 'Copyright Law' and have little idea as to how it is enforced. A vast number of books published are not registered for copyright, nor do they have ISBN assigned to them.

Part of the issue is the inability to enforce exclusivity on 'recalled' or 'reproduced' testing material. Another part is ignorance of the full extent of 'Copyright Law' itself, though this is significant in nations like India and China where their implementation has only now begun.

Comment Re:We are being kinectically assimilated (Score 1) 84

The headline gives the impression that this is being done right now. The timeline also gives a hint of the level of commitment. Before the "promised" SDK, we've heard stories like -- So this response, whatever the spirit, is delayed. It is definitely not one of the "right" things Microsoft has done recently. (There may be others.)

Comment Re:Nothing to see... (Score 1) 615

I am in complete agreement. "Inventions" are defined too loosely themselves. Their utility has not been defined in terms of a specific purpose and context. The time-scale (and therefore chronological context) of the invention has not been defined. If all premises are ill defined or undefined, there is no point to debate. Each reply to the post is a new argument in a new context. So, absolutely, nothing to see here.

Comment Obscure Security and Marketing Fud? (Score 3, Informative) 145

Bad blocks are inherent in NAND flash. SLC NAND Flash devices are more reliable (have fewer errors) and costly. MLC NAND Flash devices are less reliable (have more inherent errors) but are affordable and easily available. NAND Flash devices are known to progressively degrade until the number of bad blocks is too high to reliably store data. Inherent errors during manufacturing increase on usage (both read and write.) Most Flash Storage Devices will ultimately become too error-prone to store data. The industry might want to justify inherent errors (and gradually increasing errors) by calling it a fingerprint. They are still searching for techniques to make NAND Flash more reliable.

The article fails to provide mathematical basis to prove that two NAND flashes cannot have the same bad blocks on manufacturing or at some point of usage thereby obscuring identity. NAND flash controllers are designed to check and resolve errors using known algorithms. Most controllers allow hardware to hide errors while allowing OS device drivers to read the NAND flash medium. The Operating System and the NAND Flash Controller are at least two points were any such fingerprint can be compromised. The Filesystem adds another layer of abstraction. The number of "Real" bad blocks and remaps is usually stored on the NAND Flash. Altering the Bad Block Table is not difficult.

Hard Disks interestingly have similar failure rates and complex issues like Data remanence which have been studied. I wonder why no one proposed a signature scheme for using errors on Hard Drive Platters to identify them. Computer Forensics for Hard Drives has a longer track record of being studied. Marketing fud can be ignored.

Comment A good Investigation Report (Score 3, Interesting) 403

Pitot tubes were invented in the 1700s by the French Engineer Henry Pitot and later modified for airspeed measurements. They are also used to measure aerodynamic speed in Formula racing cars too among other uses. Here is a comprehensive article following the crash investigation that is informative with photographs and the timeline of theories.

I read both the articles posted. They do not qualify as the best investigation reports. They seem to be building "What if" scenarios from all data that is available. Other A330 failures (no recent crashes reported) and Other places where ice in Pitot tubes led to failure (The Wikipedia article has a lot of information on this and planes which had problems notably, the X31.) The investigators are clearly under pressure to say what they have found and they are unable to report "nothing" to the press. With no luck in recovering the Black Box, the investigators (like they talk about Pilots not good at flying aircraft without the aid of in-flight safety systems) have to do it the old forensic way (reminds me of Crichton's Airframe). That is going to take time and the press, the Aircraft companies using A330s are impatient to know why.

Clearly no recent theory has come close to deducing the true reason for the crash. As I remember the first news item that appeared on the AF447 was that the plane "vanished" from Radar and was sought for by the Brazilian Air Force before the crash site was positively identified. The last exchanges between the Pilot and the Aircraft tower followed by an automated message from the aircraft remain the main clues apart from the debris in this horrific accident.

Submission + - First Images of Memories Being Made (

TheSync writes: "Eurekalert reports that researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill and UCLA have captured the first image of protein translation that underlies long-term memory formation. A fluorescent protein showed the increased local protein synthesis during memory formation, which requires cooperation between the pre and post-synaptic compartments of the two neurons that meet at the synapse."

Comment The Constitutional Right to Privacy (Score 1) 836

There is no debate on the fact that this is an invasion of privacy. It seems to be a sort of test to keep tech savvy people (would that be everyone?) out of the hiring process. I am shocked at this. Here is an interesting note, the US constitution aside from the 9th amendment does not guarantee the right to privacy. The right to privacy is enforced by the interpretation of the First, Third and Fifth amendments and of the Ninth amendment itself. The Fourth Amendment contains an explicit interpretation of the right to privacy specific to computers. They are still open to interpretation. So the issue is just not about private passwords here, there's a lot more being brought up. In India, Article 21 of the Indian Constitution expressly guarantees the Right to Privacy. There is some confusion and no explicit mention in the constitution of Britain either. From the little reading I have done, the right to privacy (and therefore keeping my own passwords from the state) has been created through addendum and interpretation of prior articles of constitution rather than a specific article or amendment mentioned in the constitution. ---- IANAL

Submission + - Microsoft: Google broke Windows search (

Barence writes: "Microsoft has accused Google of breaking Windows Desktop Search with its new Outlook plug-in for Google Apps. The plug-in disables Windows Desktop Search upon installation by removing a registry key. What's more, uninstalling the Google plug-in doesn't restore the registry key, leaving Windows and Outlook search facilities crippled. Google now admits its software disables the search facilities — as well as Adobe and PGP encryption plug-ins — and says it's updated Google Apps Sync so that it repairs the registry keys properly."

Comment GnuCash is the best, but Spreadsheets easier (Score 2, Interesting) 291

I personally have used GNUCash but have restricted it to Savings Accounts and for Bill pay. I am quite happy doing a balance sheet as a spreadsheet. I've found OpenOffice Calc to fall short of some features, GNUmeric fits in where Calc fails.

Looking back at MS Money, I think GNUCash has the features to take it head on. KMyMoney is so full of features [serious] that learning to get used to it just keeps you away. The UI though is quite sleek if you are a KDE fan. I've tried it sometime, but import/export options across open source formats has been in many cases lousy.KMyMoney2 changes the file format from KMyMoney, the earlier versions which also makes it less of an option.

Microsoft's Money (not among the options really) requires .Net and some web/aspx stuff to run that might make all the Windows Antivirus/Netprotect/whatever rules really difficult to maintain. It does have a sleek and less scary UI compared to its earlier versions.

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