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Comment Time for this community to step up. (Score 2) 451

Many moons ago, people used to stuff all kinds of ridiculous claptrap in their Usenet .sig lines to "clog the NSA monitors." Keywords like nuclear, communist, peace, soviet, blah blah blah blah. It was a fairly useless exercise whether the underlying suspicions were true or not.

The execution was amteurish, but today's news proves that the principle is worth exlporing further. Software developers need to stop talking the talk and make a more concerted effort to transparently encrypt all the network communication conducted by their applications, their mail systems, their social media platforms, whatever. The cypherpunk community has long pooh-poohed allowing "weak" encryption to become entrenched and create a false sense of security. But this "secutrity through purity" approach has resulted in the abject failure of the widespread adoption of encryption at all levels. Can we not find some sort of barely acceptable common standard and just start routinely implementing it and make the marketing people figure out how to describe it as a sexy feature?

Comment Thank you Ron. (Score 5, Interesting) 163

I don't have the privilege of living in Sen. Wyden's district any longer, but I always voted for him when I did, and that was well before his name became associated with civil liberties in the digital age. He played a critical role in getting the NTSB to conduct a much-needed-and-unheard-of civilian investigation of a C-130 crash that killed 10 Oregon National Guardsmen. From then until now he has repeatedly demonstrated tenacity, intellectual curiosity, and a willingness to say unpopular things for as long as I've cared to watch his performance as a Senator.

Yes, I realize Slashdot is probably the absolute last place on earth to say anything positive about an elected official. I should be trying to hype some unelectable wacko instead. Sorry to dissappoint.

Comment Lefties beware! This way lies madness! (Score 4, Interesting) 643

I'm really amused by all the ideological civil libertarians who are shocked (SHOCKED I tell you!) at finding common cause with Scalia on this issue. The general assumption seems to be that Scalia "is finally right for once." Here's an alternative explanation: Scalia hasn't changed at all. It's the ideologically motivated civil libertarians who are off their rockers here.

If you'll tie your jerking knee down for a minute and whip up a Top 20 list of the most pernicious and chilling abuses of government authority, I suspect you'll have a hard time finding a spot for this line item. The risk/benefit equation on this is different. Managing this data in an appropriate and accountable fashion is officially Not Rocket Science. You may not trust the government to behave in a reasonable and appropriate manner, but there's all kinds of stuff you accept silently right now which is already egregious. Letting that stuff slide (Guantanomo, CIA-run drone strikes against civilian targets, National Security Letters, good old fashioned "driving while black", take your pick) while getting your panties in a bunch over soemthing with tangible benefits to a civil society is not much more than masturbatory paranoia.

Or maybe I should put it this way: When extremists of different factions agree, it doesn't make them less extreme.

Comment Re:This is a phenomenally ignorant respose. (Score 2) 54

Congratulatons, you have managed to parlay your irrational fear of GMO into an irrational fear of entirely unrelated technologies. There's no gene splicing going on here. The RNA material they are embedding into the bandage are not genes, are not being spliced into living cells, and will not replicate. They are basically custom marching orders being sent to the existing genes, temporarily telling certain ones to shut the hell up for the duration of time that the RNA persists in the immediate area. The bandage approach is specifically because the RNA is so fragile as to not deliver effectively via traditional methods. So... you're wrong on so many levels, it boggles the mind.

Welcome to Slashdot, BTW. You fit in just fine.

Comment You insensitive clod! (Score 4, Insightful) 397

Since you felt it would be tedious to explain specifics, you create a huge hole in our ability to give you a serious answer that is relevant to your situation. So to speak on a purely generic level, there's no such thing as too good a user experience.. The notion that you might make the user of your product TOO happy, or make their lives TOO easy, is the sort of sadistic logic that I would normally attribute to someone whose just shitty at developing user interfaces and wants some kind of perverse rationalization to justify their shortcomings.

However... this whole "flying car" analogy leads me to believe that you're not really talking about "user experience" in terms of user interfaces, ergonomics, and the like. It seems to me that you're talking about feature sets and what you are empowering the user to accomplish with your software. For example, some advanced text editors may enable global search and replace. That same text editor may support using regular expressions in a variety of ways. With this hypothetical text editor, it might be possible to combine the application of these features and modify dozens of critical files in unexpected ways, really wrecking the local PC.I'm wondering if this is the scenario that's really behind this question? If so, referring to this as "user experience" is misleading.

I'm fully in agreement that you want to be careful about what sort of capacities you grant the users of your application. If that particular feature has a crappy risk/benefit ratio, then drop it altogether. On the other hand, if you have powerful but risky features that you believe the software needs, then you should be working hard to improve the user experience in such a way that inexperienced users don't stumble across those features accidentally. Although I have personally railed against Microsoft's history of nesting options under multiple layers of dialog boxes, part of the intent there is to segregate "power user" options where they will not distract casual users from the features they actually care about.

Comment Best. Cleanup Plan. Ever. (Score 1) 218

1. Send the best minds in Japan to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Study the tools and methodologies used. Interview all the engineers participating in the cleanup effort. Learn absolutely everything you can about waste recovery techniques, environmental stewardship, and safety protocols.

2. Do exactly the opposite.

Comment My shot at obscure, fuitile wonking: (Score 1) 694

  1. Allow modern statistical techniques to be applied to the Census.
  1. Enlarge the House of Representatives by shrinking and fixing the population size attributed to each House rep. Then modernize the participatory infrastructure to allow the MUCH larger house to perform meaningful work while spending more time in their home districts. The effect would be that reps would need less money for their re-election campaigns, would have much more exposure to their local consituents, would have less comittee assignments to track, and would make national-level lobbying interests spend a lot more.
  1. Targeted spending of federal capital on decaying infrastrcuture. Roads, bridges, and the like.
  1. A combination jobs/environment program, as a public/private partnership with wilderness firefighting companies, to actively reduce fuel load in national forests

I'm sure there's lots more but since our electoral system was designed in a way that reinforces a two-party model (intentionally or not), I don't see any need to giveadditional futile suggestions to a group that will never have any meaningful power at the national level.

I really don't intend that as a dig. It is what it is. It's certainly possible that the GOP will continue it's self-marginalization until a third party finds an opportunity to supercede it. The GOP themselves did that in the 19th century.... but for any 3rd party to realize the possibility of becoming the new 2nd party, it will have to capture the attention of "boring" middle-of-the-road voters who feel disenfrancized by the polarization. Nibbling around the edges of public policy with highly technical optimizations are not going to cut it. If the GOP leaves that door unlocked, you'll need big, heavy, sexy planks to beat it down with.

Comment These pictures are more than good enough. (Score 5, Informative) 416

I'm surprised that the doubting Thomases are getting so many mod points around here today. There is no better facial recognition system in the world than the human brain. The pictures are worthlessly low-res and indiscriminate? Someone who knows these individuals will correlate the physical details of the face, the expression, the height, haircut, posture, and clothing instantly and unconsciously. They will be recognized. Those acquaintances can see the forest. All we are getting is trees.

And to cover the other criticism of why these two were chosen... Both were seen walking together with black backpacks. Then each one was seen individually right at one of the two bomb sites. In the case of suspect #2, there is video of him putting his backpack down and then walking away from it. Personally I agree that this is sufficient to refer to both individuals as "suspects."

Comment Facebook, Twitter, Paypal: the small biz trifecta. (Score 2) 121

If I'm a small entrepeneur, these three give me platforms for advertising, promotion, and e-commerce with optional "social interaction" channels built in. I'm probably already an experienced user with all of these systems, and I can safely assume that the overwhelming majority of my current and future customers know these systems as well. How much time and money do I need to invest up front in order to exploit these tools? Zero. Zip. Nada.

Anybody who wants to deliberately insert a $$ product or service into this space is going to have to identify a gap in the current ecosystem that is painful enough that the entrepeneur will happilly throw the money at them. I don't see Foursquare doing anything right now that meets those crieria. They might have something interesting in mind but we'll just have to see.

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