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Comment Re:It's not just a cost issue. (Score 1) 180

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) 151

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.

Comment Re:Insurance (Score 1) 299

What you say is true in the aggregate, but an insurer's book of business spans across many risk pools. Some are cash cows, and they subsidize losers. The insurers don't want the worst risks to forego insurance, they want these people paying as high a premium as can reasonably be collected, while the difference is allocated to other risk pools. To do otherwise is to invite the government to step in and offer to insure the worst risks, with the long-term effect of government taking over the insurance market altogether.

Remember also that the ratio of premiums to claims is artificially kept as close to 1:1 as possible, for a variety of reasons. This is easily accomplished by manipulating loss reserves. It comes in handy when it's time to hide profits from the IRS or to convince state insurance regulators that premiums need to increase because the insurers will go bankrupt otherwise.

Comment Short selling (Score 4, Interesting) 111

Years ago, I developed a system to analyze stock option prices in real time for the purpose of automated trading. The algorithm was designed to detect overbought and oversold options, and trade ahead of the inevitable market correction.

Although the system worked, it occasionally lost scary amounts of (simulated) money. It seems that some people traded high volumes against the market, buying into options that were already overbought, selling even when the option was oversold. It seemed as if these traders knew something that everyone else didn't. Sure enough, the company would report something surprising, and the market would move in favor of the people who traded ahead of the news.

Ultimately, I abandoned the notition of automated options trading, but not before discovering how well the system could detect insider trading. The options market is subject to all sorts of shenanigans, but it's a pretty good advance indicator of the underlying stock. The more insider trading a company has, the better the algorithm works.

If these Anonymous people are conducting research and detecting public reporting anomalies, the path of maximum profit is to short sell the stock, knowing that the price will fall when the truth finally emerges. Using this method, you instruct your broker to " short sell" 1000 shares of XYZ Corp. The broker "borrows" the shares from someone else's account and sells them. You get the cash and the obligation to return the shares (cover the position) at a some future time. If all goes well, you can keep the position open as long as you like, wait for the stock to fall, and then cover (buy back and return) the borrowed shares at a lower price.

Looks like the hackers found a few cash cows. Good for them!

Comment Immersion works (Score 1) 369

Infants learn language by immersion -- listening to adults. At first, they have no comprehension. After a while, they understand a little. After a year, they understand quite a bit. Pretty soon, they start using the language. Learning by immersion works so well that the CIA uses it to train people in new languages.

People improve their reading and writing by PRACTICING reading and writing. Coding works the same way. Immersion works well for beginners. They can start with simple algorithms; critical thinking and analysis can wait. Until they have a language to work with, they don't have a foundation to build on. People just have to remember that learning syntax is not the end of the journey, it's the beginning.

Comment Re:Looking at you, BBC... (Score 4, Insightful) 202

Yes, there are better ways to use browser agent id. But keeping Flash on the desktop means their HTML5 code does not need to be validated on lots of browsers. If the BBC implementation of HTML5 turned out to be buggy, the damage would be limited to platforms that couldn't run Flash anyway.

If I were in charge at BBC, I would use mobile/portable devices as a beta test for implementing HTML5. Sooner or later, they have to bring HTML5 to the desktop, but it can wait until more of the obsolescent browsers are gone. Maybe the next project is to implement adaptive style sheets to get one code base that suits all browsers on all devices. At that point, Flash can finally take its rightful place in the Recycle Bin.

When you have a huge user base and many of them are technologically illiterate, you end up doing things that are far from elegant. In a large organization, it takes longer than you would expect to get anything done.

Comment Grand Theft Aircraft? (Score 1) 382

Just because the transponder was manually turned off, that doesn't prove a terrorist forced the pilot to do it. Maybe it was an inside job.
Why would it make sense for a plane to disappear? A Boeing 777 costs at least $200 million. The parts alone are worth many millions of dollars. Even though many of the parts have serial numbers, there are struggling airlines and outsourced maintenance depots that might be receptive to creatively sourced parts. Even if the plane was shredded for scrap, it's a lot of money for one day of work.

Comment BINGO (Score 1) 155

The privacy threat that people are MOST LIKELY TO FACE is the government investigating you as a "person of interest" for various reasons. Once they get your private messages, it's fairly easy to become a target for harassment. Sure, they could always get a search warrant and pressure you to decrypt the information. But hardly any of these "investigations" are backed by enough evidence to justify that tactic. The "invisible hand" prefers to work invisibly. Most email providers will quietly hand over your information to the government without so much as a whimper of protest.

Encryption that won't survive a subpoena of your ISP or email service provider is simply not worth doing. Client-based encryption is tough to set up because your contacts need to do the encryption and decryption on their machines. But it works.

Comment For once the ISP has a point (Score 2, Interesting) 573

This case really IS excessive; it goes well beyond what an individual user would reasonably use on their own.

Most of the OTHER cases (esp. cable companies) involve mysterious limits that individuals can break by watching (or downloading) too much online video. Of course, if you buy the cable company's overpriced TV services, you can watch as many shows as you like, on however many set top boxes you have, drawing down an unlimited volume of video-over-IP traffic to do it. Just don't watch video that competes with the cable provider, and it's all good.

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