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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 11 declined, 2 accepted (13 total, 15.38% accepted)

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Submission + - Censorship in the West ( 2

bradley13 writes: Pussy Riot has highlighted censorship in Russia. With millions of news hits, the entire Internet now knows that speech in Russia will be suppressed with jail sentences.

In Scotland, a blogger finds it curious: A man by the name of Stephen Birrell has just been jailed for eight months, for posting "religiously prejudiced abuse" on a Facebook page. But you won't be able to find out many details, because the press shows no interest. For bonus points, the blogger claims that the few news items that do exist are not findable in search engines.

The blog mentioned above does overstate the case: If you enter "stephen birrell jailed", some news items do show up, but nowhere near the number that do for Pussy Riot. Still, isn't it ironic that the free-and-enlightened West is jailing people for "hate speech" at the same time that it criticizes Russia for much the same action?


Submission + - Choosing anonymous proxies 2

bradley13 writes: There are lots of anonymous proxies out there, and anyone concerned about their privacy probably uses one for at least some of their web-browsing.

The Megaupload story highlights the fact that having servers in the USA is not a great idea. There are also other countries one may not want to trust. Oddly, very few proxy services mention where their equipment is located.

What anonymous proxy services do members of the Slashdot community use? What criteria do you use to select them? How paranoid are you, and for what types of Internet usage?

Submission + - Gibson Guitar raided again ( 3

bradley13 writes: Practically everyone has heard of Gibson Guitars. In 2009, they were raided by the feds, who impounded stacks of ebony wood under asset forfeiture laws. No charges have ever been filed.

Well, they're at it again — the feds have again impounded palettes of topical wood and guitars. The wood is clearly certified by FSC. The feds have given no explanation of their raid, but apparently there is some evidence that they are enforcing a law from the wood's country of origin (India), even though no complaint has been made by India or anyone else.

Gibson claims that the feds are bullying them, probably because they continue to fight the asset forfeiture from 2009. There are less favorable interpretations, having to do with jack-booted thugs...


Submission + - Simple email encryption - not possible? 1

bradley13 writes: Like practically everyone on Slashdot, I often play "free consultant" for friends. The most recent inquiry: local law will soon require small companies that send accounting information electronically, to do so "securely". Many small businesses outsource their accounting; correspondingly, some accounting companies handle the accounts of dozens of small businesses. Lots of sensitive information is sent by email — which ought to be encrypted.

So my friend asked me — from the perspective of one of these accounting companies — how they can exchange encrypted email with their customers. The problem: businesses to small to handle their own accounts are certainly too small to have read IT — some cousin set up a couple of off-the-shelf computers. This means: the solution has to be (a) easy for a non-technical person to set up and (b) has to work with people who use Outlook, or Gmail, or whatever else their company happens to use.

By now, one might think that there would be point-and-click solutions to this sort of problem. But no — you need certificates, implementations are platform specific, set up requires IT expertise. About the best thing available seems to be PGP (but who wants to do business with Symantec? Anyway, when did they buy PGP — that is just sad).

Can easy-to-use, secure, cross-platform email encryption really still be an unsolved problem? What do other Slashdotters use?

Submission + - Do not show your ID when robbing a bank (

bradley13 writes: Combine a clever teller with, well, not the brightest bank robber. When poor Nathan went in to rob a bank, the teller told him she needed to see two forms of ID before she could give him the money. Nathan is now enjoying three hots and a cot.

Submission + - Best Internet payment method for young teens? 1

bradley13 writes: Many of us have kids in their young teens, who want to spend money on various Internet fripperies (browser games, etc.). Kids are too young to have their own credit cards (and that's probably not appropriate anyway), PayPal requires kids to be 18, etc. Yet it would be nice to give the kids some independence, so they don't always have to ask a parent to come and pay for them.

There are a few solutions, like Internet Cash, but the fees are pretty outrageous. What other solutions are out there? How do you handle Internet payments with your kids?

Submission + - RPost suits Swiss Post for secure email (

bradley13 writes: RPost owns a pile of software patents around the idea of secure email delivery. They are not a patent troll — they actually do offer a secure email service. However, their patents are classic software patents — simply algorithms. There is nothing non-obvious about them — any competent practitioner would come up with these or very similar ideas. Here are the two patents being used as a basis for the suit: Patent 1 Patent 2

Yet another argument to get rid of software patents?

Submission + - Does GPS tracking violate the 4th amendment? (

bradley13 writes: "Last year, college student Yasir Afifi discovered a GPS tracking device that had been attached to his car. After he discovered it, the FBi showed up and demanded that he hand it over. They told him that they would make his life difficult if he did not cooperate by giving the device back. The FBI had no warrant or court order allowing surveillance.

Now Yasar Afifi is filing suit, hoping to get a ruling that installing tracking devices without a warrant violates the fourth amendment. Unfortunately, his local federal district court is the 9th circuit, which has already decided two similar cases, coming down in favor of tracking.

The key part of the reasoning in the previous cases is this: "attaching the tracking device ... did not constitute a 'search' cognizable under the Fourth Amendment because '[t]he undercarriage is part of the car's exterior, and as such, is not afforded a reasonable expectation of privacy.'” Very strained reasoning indeed, since the point of the tracking device is not a search of the undercarriage, but rather a search of a person's movements."


Submission + - Diagnosis of Tucson shooter ( 2

bradley13 writes: This article in the New York Times points out that Mr. Loughner, the person accused of shooting 19 people in Tucson, has shown increasing mental disturbances over the past few months, and offers this diagnosis: "the rambling, disconnected writings and videos he has left on the Web are consistent with the delusions produced by a psychotic illness like schizophrenia, which develops most often in the teens or 20s". If true, this means that all of the fans of political conspiracy theories will need to look elsewhere...

Submission + - "Configuring VMware" for the complete idiot

bradley13 writes: Another virtualization question... On the side, I play "sys admin" for a micro-company of 3-4 employees. This company has an old VB6 application that they still support, and until now the old Visual Studio and all associated tools have remained installed on the two developers' systems. This summer, it's time to replace the computers, and — because of the numerous problems with running an ancient Visual Studio, Tools, etc. next to more modern versions — I want to create a VMware instance that can be loaded up on the two developer systems "as needed" to maintain the old software. One developer works mainly under Ubuntu, the other under Windows.

This VMware instance, once everything is in place, will access a VSS repository plus home directories across the network. I intend to have it revert-to-snapshop after every execution — it should be able to live on unchanged for years. I have used the free VMware server a couple of times, for example, to set up test instances of various SQL Server environments, but we're talking maybe 8 hours per year of time I spend with it. It's mostly called "accept the defaults and pray".

Could Slashdot experts provide a list of "tips for the complete idiot" on how to set up VMware server instances so that they perform well, and will continue to do so for the long term?

Submission + - Poll: How many lawsuits?

bradley13 writes: Lots of users post legal questions, and we all know that sharks never bite lawyers. How many times have you involved in a suit
Never ever ever
I have been sued
I have sued someone
I've done both
I sued myself, just for fun
I am a lawyer — I sue for other people
My name is not "Sue"

Submission + - The story of Windows version numbers (

bradley13 writes: Just a very nicely written summary of the history of Windows versions, from Windows 1.0 through Windows 6.1 (called, for reasons only Microsoft understands, Windows 7)

" is of course more complex than that, and I am going to attempt to explain it. Reading the rest of this post is unlikely to improve your life in any way, although it will teach you something about the mindset of Microsoft and/or that of nerds in general. Madness may lie at the end of it."


Submission + - Office 2007 vs Office 1997 ( 1

bradley13 writes: "In a paragraph near the bottom of Jerry Pournelle's latest mailbag, Doug McAllister gives his opinion that Office 2007 is not a notable improvement over Office 1997:

I have found nothing in Excel or Word 2007 that would justify an upgrade from the 1997 versions of these products. For the most part, they have arbitrarily moved things around and made it harder for me to get my work done. I bought them because the earlier versions are no longer available and I try to stay legal with my software.

This got me to thinking that Microsoft is bad for the economy. They offer new versions of products that have no real benefits. Instead, users spend millions of hours installing new versions and dealing with issues such as I have described with no productive benefit. Microsoft has spawned an upgrade industry that is a drag on productivity as far as I can see.

I have probably used every version of Microsoft Office since it's inception. I was very happy with Office 1997. Office 2003 was most memorable for discarding the well-indexed help system in Office 1997 and putting in with a pretty-but-useless replacement. Office 2007 brings the ribbon, which — despite using it for two years — I find mainly frustrating, since controls appear and disappear arbitrarily, for example, based on window width. If it were possible, I would frankly move the whole company back to Office 1997 in a flash.

What do others think? What significant improvements has Microsoft made to the Office suite in the past 10 years?"

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