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Comment Re: Backups (Score 1) 465

Yeah, robocopy is how I do backups for my own computer these days. Combined with svn. I store all my data in a version controlled directory, commit to my off-site repo when I'm done for the day, and then in the middle of the night I robocopy the contents of my working directory to a backup hard disk that I occasionally swap off-site. Weekly, I copy the SVN repos off-site. Sounds a little paranoid, but I saw too many sad grad students walk in to the help desk with the only copy of their entire thesis on a 3.5" floppy disk that had gone bad...

Comment Re:Backups (Score 2) 465

I was doing IT support many years ago as an undergrad. I was called to someone's office because their hard drive had failed. When I arrived, she had already purchased a new hard drive, and was quite pleased with herself for having made backups. She had a tape backup drive and multiple tapes that she swapped on a schedule so they'd wear evenly, stored the tapes in different locations, and so on. So all she needed me to do was install the new hardware and restore the backup onto it.

I put the new HDD in, booted off the recovery floppy disk, and went to restore the backup off the tape. In her backup software, she had checked the box next to 'C:\'. Turns out, the software defaulted to not backup subdirectories. So all she had on all of her backup tapes was the contents of her root directory: autoexec.bat, config.sys, and that sort of junk. That was a depressing trip.

Comment Re:All this crap... (Score 1) 104

The US IRS tax system is set up to make us ALL guilty of tax fraud

No, it isn't. It's just the result of a hundred or so years of feature creep and kludges meant to encourage/discourage certain behaviors in the population (like mortgage interest deductions to encourage home ownership) and to favor certain businesses as a result of lobbying and cronyism. It sucks, and it should be simplified drastically, but the tax preparation lobby is now very powerful and strongly resists efforts to make taxes easier.

It also explains why there are tens of thousands of armed IRS agents, equipped with REAL assault rifles (fully automatic, short barrel carbines) and other real military-grade equipment.

This is just untrue. The IRS' enforcement division has a payroll of about 3,500 people, about 2,500 of whom are agents (1). According to IRS policy, those agents might be armed with Remington Model 870 or 11-87 shotguns; Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifles; and/or Glock 22, 23, and 27 pistols (2). None of these weapons is fully automatic, none is unavailable to civilians, and there is nothing specially 'military-grade' about any of them.

You are entitled to your own opinions about the IRS, but not your own facts.


Comment Re:WTF is happening (Score 1) 198

I just tried it. It's better than the typing exercises that were inflicted upon me as a kid... transcribing nonsense like 'ask a sad dad lad had gad' and on and on to infinity. My typing speed was always poor on such things because it's gibberish. The zombie game is better, although it has kind of an odd and repetitive dictionary... I've just typed the word 'xylem' more times in one game than I have in the rest of my life. My one problem with it is that it still doesn't give me a coherent sentence to type, so I feel like my WPM as measured in the game is quite a bit lower than when I type in real conditions. On the other hand, maybe for a beginning typist, that's not a big issue?

Comment Re:More guns, less bodies. (Score 1) 120

Non-terrorism, non-suicide gun deaths are already so much higher than terrorism- or workplace- or hate- or school-related mass shootings that we shouldn't be noticing these things (as much as we are). In 2015, in the US, there were 22 mass shootings (defined as shootings where 4 or more people were shot). In these 22 incidents – which averaged about one every 16 days – 133 people were killed and 52 were wounded.* Around 10 times as many people are killed falling down stairs in the US each year.

It seems clear that the true menace is staircases.

Uh, please note that I'm not advocating for allowing drunken nightclub patrons to carry firearms.


Comment Re: MS Spyware (Score 1) 421

I seem to remember the GNAA being part of slashdot since, well forever.

Yeah, but isn't that kind of weird? I mean, I started reading Slashdot in the late 90s, and GNAA has always been here. Who are these people who are so dedicated that they tirelessly post the same shitposts to every article, every day, for almost 20 years? How do they have time for this? Do they never grow bored, or tired? Do they never become disenchanted with their chosen occupation?

It's like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill only to watch it roll back down, except somehow even less useful than that.

Comment Re:How I learn't to code: (Score 1) 515

My first was David A Lien, Learning BASIC for Tandy Computers

It has a series of cartoon illustrations in which a dude argues with his witty computer, which appealed to me as a youth.

Plus, copying programs out of magazines like BYTE and the like. I think I really learned how to program by debugging my transcription errors from magazines, then by figuring out how to alter the functionality of the programs that I'd entered.

Comment Re:This fixes a UI failure (Score 2) 664

What? I'm not defending their behavior. I just said that MS is taking away user choice, and I think that's bad. I also think that as long as they're taking away user choice, it's better that they do it without misleading people into thinking they're being offered an opt-out. But I certainly believe that they should be offering users a clear and simple way to opt out of the upgrade.

I think that Microsoft is being manipulative, abusive, and dishonest with their users. And if I'm supposed to be an MS shill, then I think they should review their hiring process.

Comment Re:Meh (Score 1) 39

According to Pew Research, 41% of Americans believe that it is likely that the second coming of Jesus will occur within forty years. Make that 58% when looking at white evangelical Christians. Some number of these people are actually in positions to make decisions that affect our country. Our previous president claimed that God told him to ban embryonic stem cell research using federal funding.

So even if the rapture isn't right around the corner, one thing we have to deal with in the US is that quite a lot of people believe that it is.

Comment Re:And what's our suggestion to friends and family (Score 1) 79

Apparently many of these malwares also encrypt data on attached volumes like Windows shares and the like. It seems to me that the best approach is a 'pull' solution, where Mom keeps her photos in a place that's shared on her network, and then another machine does periodic backups of that share. Mom's computer doesn't have write access to the pulling machine, in fact doesn't even know or care that it's there. So the backups are safe.

That means having a linux machine in the house to do the pulling. Build a super tiny linux box with a big hard drive, stick it in a closet, and let it pull nightly backups from Mom's computer. If she gets ransomwared, just reformat her hard drive, reinstall the OS, and grab her personal files from the backup. She never has to interact with linux, and her files are pretty safe.

Comment This fixes a UI failure (Score 5, Insightful) 664

The close button (red X) didn't work as users expected. It was a user interface failure, and Microsoft solved the problem. Now the dialog box correctly tells users, as MS intends, that their options are to upgrade now or schedule a time for upgrade. No more users getting surprised and outraged when closing the dialog box results in an unexpected Windows 10 upgrade.

Whether or not you are a fan of MS's upgrade approach, this is a solution to the UI problem. We can still be outraged about forced upgrades, but this isn't a terrible fix.

Comment Re:the dark side of arduino (Score 1) 396

Yeah but why off the ex-girlfriend too?

I guess if you're going to go on a shooting spree culminating in suicide, you might as well shoot everyone who's ever done anything that you perceived as bad or unfair to you. You'll never see any consequences regardless of the number of people you killed or maimed, so why not?

I mean, other than the fact that the whole idea is monstrous.

Comment Re:Yeah, right? (Score 1) 110

Why do companies bother to say this kind of crap?

People tell lies all the time, and most of them don't bother me that much. Politicians lie, and I get it. They tell lies that people want to hear so they can get elected. White lies smooth social interactions. All kinds of lies. But this particular lie really pisses me off.

It often starts with words like 'To better serve our customers' or 'For your convenience' and then it says something that makes my life worse and less convenient. And it's so goddamn transparent.

'To better serve our customers, we are closing the only branch of our business in your town. The nearest branch will be conveniently located 40 miles away.'

Fuck you. You aren't doing it to better serve your customers, you're doing it because you've decided that this branch doesn't bring in enough money. You're already pissing me off by closing the store. Why piss me off more by shitting all over me with lies?

Sorry. Sore topic.

Comment Re:What sensitive data? (Score 1) 72

Certainly it's possible, and they're readily available. It seems to me that it's less important in this case that they used SHA1 and more important that they didn't salt. If they had salted their passwords, even if the attackers managed to learn the salt value they would still have to generate a whole custom rainbow table just for that password table. And that takes a lot of computational effort, especially for longer passwords containing a variety of non-alpha characters.

I suppose that there are other problems with using a weaker hash, but any hash is susceptible to rainbow tables without salting or double hashing or something of the sort.

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