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Comment Contractors (Score 1) 44

It important to remember that Edward Snowden was a contractor. Why did he work for NSA as a contractor instead of a regular employee? Because he had no degree. Such people are generally shunned by HR managers. But if they have the right skills, hiring managers will often use contractor status to circumvent their own HR dept.

Thanks to a number of lawsuits, most employers have mandatory time limits for contractors, typically 1-3 years. Although many employers promote their best contractors to regular employment, HR often balks at waiving a degree requirement, even for people who are doing excellent work without one.

All contractors know (or should know) how much time they have on the clock. Once they understand the time limit, every contractor needs an exit strategy in case the employer declines to offer full-time employment when the time limit expires.

Whatever Snowden did, he did it with the understanding that his time at NSA was limited, and crossing over to full-time employment was going to be a challenge. In other words, he had nothing to lose.

If employers didn't have to use contract employment to circumvent their self-imposed budget and HR obstacles, you wouldn't see so many contractors with incentives to take secrets put the door.

I'm wouldn't be surprised to see this scenario repeated many times at the NSA.

Comment No surprises here (Score 1) 495

For years, friends and relatives asked me to help with their Windows problems. After it became unbearable to fix my computers and fix theirs too, I switched to OS X. I told everyone that I no longer had a Windows machine and therefore could not help them. I advised everyone to switch when they could no longer tolerate their PC's behavior. Some people switched, some didn't. Those who switched never needed my help again. Those who didn't were on their own. Ultimately, my pro-bono support incidents dropped to ZERO.

Microsoft has made progress in recent years. And Apple has dropped the ball a few times, especially when they punish people who don't upgrade their computers and phones fast enough, or migrate their data to icloud. Even so, if you consider the cost of support labor and the lost productivity while waiting for help, Macs should have replaced PC's in corporate life years ago.

Comment Re:Reason (Score 2) 105

Google doesn't actually want your phone number for security. Google wants your phone number so that they can link the account in their database to other information that contains your phone number.

Correct. It's not Google that wants your phone number linked to your email account -- it's the NSA. Email accounts may be disposable and free, but every phone is costing somebody money. Unless you buy a burner phone and service cards for cash, there is a financial trail behind every phone that leads back to a person. Once the NSA knows the person's phone number, geolocating the phone (and therefore the email account owner) is child's play for the inventors of PRISM.

Even if you buy a burner phone and service for cash, and even if you turn off the phone after setting up your Gmail account, tracking down the account holder is as simple as forcing Google to "screw up" someone's password, forcing them to use the telephone-based password recovery protocol.

Once you understand the loss of privacy that comes from linking telephones to user accounts, it's much easier to understand how the real goal has nothing to do with making your account "secure". The real target is your privacy.

Comment LinkedIn recommendations are mostly bogus (Score 2) 48

I have written 100% truthful, positive recommendations for some really good people. And some of those people have written 100% truthful, positive recommendations for me. But in the competitive marketplace, the value of this information is lost as truthful stories are diluted into an ocean of fiction.

The only thing LinkedIn is good for is entertainment. It's fun to visit the profile of known underachievers, just to see who is writing "quid pro quo" recommendations. I have seen stories about accomplishments that never happened, touting various achievements for projects that were spectacular failures.

And all of this is on top of imaginary degrees, fictional job titles at imaginary companies, or sometimes inflated job titles at real companies. Fact-checking this stuff is tougher than it looks. Most employers have a strict "no comment" policy regarding ex-employees. And then there are all the companies (and even colleges) that no longer exist. Even if a person can produce a reference to vouch for their story, it may turn out to be a case of one liar validating another. Background checks are definitely not working. I know of some people with fictional LinkedIn profiles, and somehow they bounce from one employer to the next with impunity.

Comment I call BS on blaming the Russians (Score 2) 377

Assuming the Russians have ALL of Hillary's emails (to be expected with her defenseless email server), why wouldn't they want her to win? How hard would it be to blackmail her into becoming Putin's puppet? If she loses the election, they squander the value of the work. If the Russians have a preference in this election, it's for a candidate who is easily controlled. Trump is utterly unpredictable, so it's hard to imagine why the Russians would work to promote him.

If (the original) Guccifer was a FSB asset, no way would he be extradited to the US. Based on what he revealed about Hillary's server, it could have been hacked by the Geek Squad from Moscow Best Buy.

No matter who these people turn out to be, they weren't the idiots who deployed the server, nor did they force Hillary to use it.

Blaming the Russians is just a political ploy to set expectations low. Don't expect anyone to get caught. Problem is, blaming the Russians isn't any more plausible than blaming the Benghazi attack on a YouTube video.

Comment Re: Worst election canadates in 50 years (Score 1) 157

What you see in the debates are distraction issues. Moderators are deliberately trying to avoid any meaningful discussion of economics, taxes, trade, immigration, or foreign policy. I would ditch the moderators altogether and give each candidate equal time to answer questions from the audience. Also cut down the number of questions so the candidates can answer in depth.

Comment Re:It's not just a cost issue. (Score 1) 184

You bring up an interesting point. Recovery is the last line of defense. There may not BE a defense (at any price) to ward off the latest zero-day exploit. When security measures become difficult or expensive, it's important to remember that there is no such thing as 100% prevention. At some point, beefing up security reaches a point of diminishing returns. Although a business model MAY collapse due to security issues, it will SURELY collapse if overhead cost exceeds revenue.

Comment Re:The reality is... (Score 1) 153

Yes, limited storage IS a problem. On my phone, Facebook (and other assorted bloatware) is pre-installed. Although I can uninstall updates and disable the app, unless I root the phone, the space can never be truly recovered. For any new app I might want to install, at least one existing app needs to go.

And when you consider the tendency of apps to run processes in the background, it's time to think about memory, CPU, and battery life. The more apps you have, the slower your phone runs.

Comment Isn't this really Ireland's problem not Apple's? (Score 1) 564

It seems the problem was Ireland's offer and Apple's acceptance of this incredibly generous tax agreement. It's a bit late for the EU to step in and try to retroactively rewrite the actions of a member state, while handing the bill to a company that negotiated in good faith, thinking they were dealing with a government that had the authority to regulate its own taxes.

That said, the business of foreign tax havens is extremely common throughout the corporate world. It's one of the most successful tax dodges on the planet. Worst of all, it encourages hoarding of cash in low-tax countries, which does nothing to help the economy in countries where products were sold and profit was earned. As much as I'd like to see the corporate tax havens disappear, that's not going to happen.

Comment Re: Russian hacker? Any proof? (Score 2) 82

Only circumstantial evidence. Hackers who work for an intelligence service are never going to get caught, much less extradited. Of course, the same can be said of ANY elite hacker.

IMHO, it's not the Russians. They are widely suspected of getting Hillary's emails by monitoring the original "Guccifer". If so, they would want Hillary as POTUS because they could easily control her via blackmail. Hell, they don't even need the actual emails. The mere threat should be enough.

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