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Comment Apple Lisa/early-Mac "tags" on steroids (Score 1) 124

The Lisa and early Macintosh drives supported 532-byte sectors. The extra sectors were used for "tags" - basically a less-sophisticated version of this scheme and without the "block 0."

For details on why "tags" were eliminated, see Macintosh Technote #94, "Tags," by Bryan Stearns, November 15, 1986.

Submission + - Corporate Call Centers are Now the Weakest Link in Security

Trailrunner7 writes: Criminals are targeting corporate call centers at an unprecedented rate, resulting in a 113 percent spike in the fraud rate in the last year, new data compiled by Pindrop shows.

Phone fraud has become one of the favored tactics for criminals as they look for less-risky and more-profitable avenues to get into targeted organizations. The phone channel typically is not as well-defended as other channels, including the web and in-person transactions, making it a juicy target for fraudsters. Data published in Pindrop’s 2017 Call Center Fraud Report today shows that these criminals are having more than their share of success.

In 2016, one in every 937 calls was fraudulent, a significant increase from 2015, when one in every 2,000 calls was fraudulent. The data, extracted from more than 500 million calls to Pindrop’s customers’ call centers, is an indication that the fraudsters running these phone scams are getting better and better and continuing to develop new skills and schemes to get past call center agents.

“The sophistication of the fraudsters, the expansion of criminal rings, heightened security in other channels, and the amount of information available on the dark web is making the call center the easiest fraud target in virtually every industry,” said Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO and co-founder of Pindrop.

Comment Case by case (Score 1) 387

Assuming there is no conflict of interest, it should be treated the same as reading a non-work-related book, listening to music on a personal device, or take ng a nap.

In some situations these actually improve overall productivity and should not be discouraged.

In other cased they are a symptom of dissatisfaction or boredom, and the employer should try to address those issues.

In other cases they really are just stealing time from the employer or they are setting a bad example that outweighs any benefit to the company and disciplinary actions, up to and including termination, may be justified.

In short: It depends.

Submission + - WikiLeaks Reveals The "Snowden Stopper": CIA Tool To Track Whistleblowers (

schwit1 writes: As the latest installment of it's 'Vault 7' series, WikiLeaks has just dropped a user manual describing a CIA project known as ‘Scribbles’ (a.k.a. the "Snowden Stopper"), a piece of software purportedly designed to allow the embedding of ‘web beacon’ tags into documents “likely to be stolen.” The web beacon tags are apparently able to collect information about an end user of a document and relay that information back to the beacon's creator without being detected. Per WikiLeaks' press release

But, the "Scribbles" user guide notes there is just one small problem with the only works with Microsoft Office products. So, if end users use other programs such as OpenOffice of LibreOffice then the CIA's watermarks become visible to the end user and their cover is blown.

Comment There is no "The Only Way" (Score 1) 417

But it should not be The Only Way to approach a program - unless you are Truly One with the Tao.

Unless you are a total newbie who has only been exposed ot one tool, or a hypothentical/mytical code-master-of-all-code-masters who is "Truly One with the Tao," then you know there is no "Only [one reasonable] Way" to approach a program/problem, at least not one of any reasonable complexity.

Comment Light-induced chemical and biological memory (Score 1) 104

Light-induced chemical memory: photographic films/papers, typically subject to fading but it can be "fixed" to last decades or longer.

Light-induced biological read-only memory, very short-term/fades fast if not refreshed: photoreceptors in the eyes

Light-induced biological read-only memory, fades after a few days or weeks if not refreshed: sunburn/tan-lines

Comment Demand a "hardware reset switch" (Score 1) 49

Demand that devices come with a "hardware reset switch" that will reset the firmware and other settings to factory condition.

Yes, your data is still screwed if you get firmware ransomware that encrypts your storage, but at least you can get your device back.

I would allow for one exception: Devices like phones and laptops which may NEED to be remotely controlled or even "perma-bricked" if they are stolen or otherwise fall out of your physical control. This kind of theft-protection/deterrent is incompatible with the "factor reset" I'm proposing.

Comment "Nobody will ever re-purpose this ... (Score 1) 548

... so I don't have to write defensively."

or the opposite extreme

"Someone may re-purpose this for [insert laundry list here] so I better spend 10x the effort to create perfect code, never mind that it will blow the budget and make the product too late to market."

For the newbie programmer:
There are times when you do NOT need to write defensively. There are times when you must strive for perfect code at the expense of time and money. Most of the time the best approach is somewhere in between. With experience, you will begin to learn which times are which.

Comment Precious metals are kind of like fiat currency (Score 1) 366

They only have value above their utilitarian value because people say they do.

Two major differences between precious metals and fiat currencies are:
* The utility value for fiat currencies is zero for book-entry money, almost zero for paper/plastic currency, and that of base metals for coinage ("melt-down value"). The utility value for gold, silver, and most other precious metals is at least as much as base metals, there's just a lot less of it to go around.

* precious metals have a known, reasonably-predictable caps on long-term future supply based on active mines and known deposits (subject to technology disruptions such as what aluminum went through in the 19th century). The "future supply" of fiat currencies is about as predictable as politics. That is to say, it may be reasonably predictable in the short- or even medium-term but for anything longer than a decade or two, the political risk can become significant even in countries that currently enjoy stable govermnents, stable banking systems, and stable currencies.

I'm leaving out the difference that fiat currencies are typically legal tender in their country of origin. Precious metals might have been legal tender in the past, but I can't think of any major country where they are legal tender in any practical sense of the word (that is, the are legal tender, AND when you pay your debts with them you are credited with the current spot price of the metal in your local currency, or at least something very close to it).

Comment Re: Underpaid? Vote with your feet (Score 1) 566

If something is being done to undermine your value in a market then you are being underpaid.

One could argue that if something is being done to lessen - or raise - your value in the market, then that's just the market at work.

One could also argue that the "baseline" with regards to immigration would be "free borders" and anything else is an artificial deviation from that "baseline." In other words, if NOT allowing anyone and everyone on the planet to move about freely and compete in your industry in your city causes your wages to be higher than they would be if there were no such limits, then your wages are "artificially high."

Likewise, one could argue a complete protectionist labor force, where any labor from outside the country would be taxed enough so that the company hiring them would automatically be paying more than they would for even the most expensive domestic applicant and the "baseline" would be "set" by supply-and-demand accordingly. If you are being paid less than this amount due to a less-protectionist legal regime, you could argue that your wages are "artificially low."

I'm not going to claim that either argument is more logical than the other.

Comment Underpaid? Vote with your feet (Score 1) 566

Most tech workers in American earn at least the median income for their local region, or at least they could do so easily if they wanted to.

Those workers shouldn't complain about being underpaid - they should either "vote with their feet" or admit that they like their current job even with their current pay and stop complaining.


Yes, I realize there really are some tech workers in American who are underpaid and, for whatever reason, don't have the freedom to look for work elsewhere. I'm talking about 90% who aren't in such situations.

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In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle