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Comment Re:Totally. (Score 4, Interesting) 122

Well considering that only Americans could be dumb enough to think this kind of low level data is "such sensitive information"

Apparently, you don't understand anything about the physical security of dignitaries and top officials.

Travel plans, routes, and details about the stops of heads of state are always considered highly sensitive security information. This country is full of extremely stupid, gullible, and ridiculously-overarmed people, and a small subset of whom probably thinks it would be a good thing to bring harm to the First Lady. The Secret Service plans the routes, the stops, provides decoy vehicles, and secures each of those locations to an incredible degree; but no amount of effort can secure every location against a patient, well-camouflaged, entrenched sniper. Uncertainty in the travel routes is one of the best ways to keep the lone wolves from being able to plant themselves along the route.

So yes, it is highly sensitive information.

Comment Re:They've already tacitly admitted the breach (Score 1) 169

I remember I also had to change passwords on Yahoo! about two years ago.

I believe there's a clue in their "Breach FAQ" where they state "the vast majority of passwords were hashed with bcrypt". It could be that their old passwords were protected with a less-secure older salting-and-hashing system, (maybe something like the original crypt() ) and by 2014 they had replaced it with bcrypt.

But even an old crypt() hash can't simply be broken on demand without a lot of CPU grinding for every password recovered. Because the old passwords were hashed, there would have been no easy way for Yahoo! to automatically migrate them into bcrypt. So after the system conversion was complete, they prompted all users to change their old passwords so they would migrate themselves to the new bcrypt-based system. People who haven't logged in since 2014 probably still have the old original hashed passwords on file somewhere at Yahoo HQ..

Comment Re:200 Million Yahoo "Users" (Score 1) 169

According to their breach FAQ, the stolen data included "hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) ". I don't know what "the vast majority" means, nor do I know what alternate form of hashing may have been done prior to their adoption of bcrypt that they're still hanging on to.

I do know that the only reason I still have an active Yahoo! account is because of their OAuth support. Well that's pretty much in the crapper now, isn't it?

Comment Re:They don't answer the only question we care abo (Score 5, Informative) 175

The cytosine methylation signal along a strand of DNA is theoretically heritable, even though it has nothing to do with the actual sequence of bases.

There are vast stretches of junk DNA in the genome, some with old genes for ancient viruses or parasitic sequences like transposons, and the way the cell keeps those parts of DNA away from cell machinery is by methylating the cytosine residues. The methyl groups prevent RNA polymerase from transcribing the DNA and therefore it gets silenced.

When a cell divides, the methyl groups are only on the original strand; the new complimentary strand doesn't have any. The methylation signal has to be actively transcribed from one strand to another; an enzyme runs up the DNA feeling for methylated cytosine residues. When it finds some, it starts methylating any cytosine residues that might be nearby on the opposite strand, to make sure the troublesome regions all stay commented out. That's why it's heritable.

Comment Re:The Self Reward Syndrome (Score 1) 210

First, congratulations on dropping 100 pounds! That is a remarkable achievement for anyone.

Next, I think our stories sound somewhat similar. I, too, look at data and outcomes, and as I know I'm lazy, I'm constantly turning to technology to make the mundane business of data logging as painless as possible. I have a wifi connected scale that also measures body fat, and logs every reading automatically. I weigh myself daily. And yes, I also recognized that lots of people get discouraged by the daily up and down fluctuations in weight. My motivation there is to look at the three month chart, and to see the weight line steadily descending into a healthier range. It doesn't matter that this morning I was up a pound over the previous day when the overall trend line is still on a good trajectory. Every individual measurement shows a bump up or down from the previous day; the insignificance of any one day's measurement is obvious to anyone when looking at the data in aggregation.

I also have logged everything (well, everything except for a few days while on a vacation) I have eaten since I started this journey. What helps me there is a smartphone app that scans barcodes, looks up foods in a crowdsourced database, and populates the day's journal with the data. Yes, I do have to evaluate and select the data more carefully than I'd like, but it's still easier than typing in a pile of numbers. Knowing what went in enables me to stop before I reach the day's limit. Being honest with the data is critical there. So far it seems that I could maintain this pace indefinitely, but I do see how it occasionally requires returning to the touchstone of motivation.

I know that nutrition info is always an average; so I don't get all worried about exact portion sizes, or logging a few carrots or lettuce unless they exceed a reasonable threshold. I'm interested only in a good outcome, not precision in data measurements. Along with this I do know that I have to either carefully log or avoid certain types of foods entirely - sweets and snacks are not something I can write off as not worth logging.

The activity tracker study was a bit odd. I am interested and motivated to use technology and data to drive positive changes, but I ironically ended up in their control group. So I wore their tracker, but did not have access to their step counts. I continued to wear the personal tracker I've worn for the past three years, but in the interest of the study I deliberately ignored it. After the study ended, I looked and could see that my daily counts were averaging much lower than they were when I was actively trying to meet a daily step goal. Incidentally, I also discovered that the wrist-worn tracker is far less accurate in step-counting than the hip-worn tracker.

One of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome at the beginning of this was entrusting my personal health data to random companies operating cloud services. How do I know that my data won't be used against me in some way? But I decided that my long-term health concerns had to trump the fears of unknown (and possibly imaginary) consequences.

Another thing that is important to me is that I don't have a plan, but a goal. I didn't start with an artificial "drop 60 pounds by New Years" resolution; instead I know I have to continue to lose weight until I reach the target weight my doctor and I agreed to. So far, I've lost 50 pounds in the past 7 months, with about 15 to go. And as long as the one month slope of the weight line remains negative, I have high confidence I'll get there.

Finally, buying new clothes was not nearly as motivating as afterwards when I emptied my closet and donated every single stitch of old clothes to a local charity. Now I know that if I gain weight, it's going to cost me a fortune to buy a size larger! :-)

Comment Re:The Self Reward Syndrome (Score 5, Insightful) 210

As much as this explanation appears to make sense, like anything in a social study, the results are likely virtually meaningless at the individual level. How any one person reacts to a tracker will not be predictable.

Success at improving someone's health will always be based entirely on the motivation of the person, not on which electronic toys they wear or which brand of granola they gnaw upon. Perhaps they'll find a correlation where buying Garmin branded devices is indicative of people who are more motivated than people who buy Apple branded devices, but that certainly doesn't mean buying a Garmin or an Apple will alter your chances of success.

I participated in a clinical activity tracker study earlier this year. There were so many holes in the testing methodology that I'm not sure the results will be worth the PDF they'll be printed on. Yet they'll be publishing results soon enough, and no doubt will contribute to the collective misinformation already encompassing the 'get healthy' rackets.

Comment Re:Works because of one very important fact- few t (Score 1) 109

It appears to be tied to a word count. I think that if I had cut back to one instance of the T-word, it would have been fine.

But it appears to be following the same pattern as any authoritarian's response to criticism: whether it be Chinese citizens talking about Falun Gong, or slashdotters complaining about trolls, those in charge trot out the Great Firewall and censor them.

Comment North Korea is in the nineties (Score 1) 138

Hey Dan, ready for that public hanging of political prisoners? I'm just finishing up here with my new kayaking friends.

Kayaking friends on your computer?

Dan: Yeah, I just got North Korea online.

Sounds great. Listen, I can't go to the public executions today.

WHAT?

First my kids have to go to the library to read books on how great Our Leader is. Then I have to stand on a street corner and yell revolutionary slogans at complete strangers. And I have to contact my mother; she's making kayaks in a slave labor camp and gets executed tomorrow.

Hey, we can take care of all that before we go.

Yeah, right!

No, with North Korea online!

North Korea online can do all that?

How about sending your mother some nice flowers?

Comment Re:Works because of one very important fact- few t (Score 1) 109

[ Sorry in advance for the stupid l33t spelling, but the lameness filter won't let me write the word tr0ll.]

I wonder about "patent tr0lls". The inventor patents Invention X, then wants to monetize their invention. They can build a business (slow and risky) or they can sell their patent to someone else, such as a manufacturer, in exchange for money. Whether or not they get a lot of money or a little money is not important; what is important is that they agreed to the sale. The patent now belongs to Company Y. Company Y makes a warehouse full of Xs, but realizes they aren't selling. They now own a warehouse of valueless junk, plus the rights to X. They need money, so they sell the rights to X to "Patent Tr0ll Z". Again, the amount isn't important as long as they voluntarily agreed to the sale.

So now Z has no boxes of X, no real way to make more Xs, but they have the patent and want to monetize it. Companies A, B, and C start making widgets W, which have a tiny little sliver of concept that coincides with patent X. Tr0ll Z recognizes the concept and sues them. They invested in patent X in order to make money. They did not steal the patent from the inventor. They did not steal products from the warehouse of company Y. So why are the patent tr0lls evil in all of this?

If the tr0lls were stealing innovations, or tricking people into surrendering their rights, then they'd be guilty of fraud. But when everyone involved in the invention agreed to the terms of the sale of the rights, it seems like a legitimate way to execute a business transaction. They may be sleazy and undercut inventors or manufacturers, but those are all governed by contracts, voluntarily entered into by all parties. So I'm asking: what are the tr0lls doing that is unethical?

Comment Re:What we should really do. (Score 2) 70

Perhaps we could focus on saving the fauna we have now that is on the verge of going extinct from a variety of reasons.

I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

If any extinct species deserves a second chance it should be mammoths. They only went extinct because we arrived as an invasive species and killed them all ourselves.

Comment Re:RDF (Score 1) 53

Only as long as you know which transmitter to measure. In a cell system, the subscribers aren't transmitting the phone's IMEI or the SIM card's IMSI, nor are they sending out the owner's name and number. They just send a temporary mobile ID, which is a randomly generated number that changes frequently. So which signal do you lock on to? Since 90+% of the population is carrying a cell phone, your $40 directional finder would point at everyone. Even a $40,000 direction finder would point at everyone if it can't tel them apart.

No, you need to know exactly which signal belongs to the subscriber you're tracking. How? The StingRay works by transmitting like a cell tower so it can trick the suspect's phone into giving up its true identity. Once you can identify a response as coming from the subscriber you're following, those responses can then be measured using a traditional DF. (The StingRay says "ping", and the subscriber's phone replies "pong".) Harris sells the 'AmberJack' DF antenna accessory for use with the StingRay line. It pings the phone for a while, as it rotates the DF antenna. It then shows the average bearing to the strongest received signal, and the approximate distance in meters.

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