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Submission + - SPAM: Quicken Bill Pay is No Longer Safe to Use 1

Bruce Perens writes: I don't usually make security calls, but when a company makes egregious and really clueless security mistakes, it's often the case that the only way to attract their attention and get the issue fixed is to publicize it. This one is with Quicken Bill Pay, a product of Metavante (not Intuit). It's from personal observation rather than an expert witness case, and the company has been unresponsive through their customer support channel.
Link to Original Source

Comment Abandoning Time-Worn Processes Leads to Atrophy (Score 5, Insightful) 158

Scientists determined that those people who made use of machine washing rather than hand washing had diminished hand strength and neurological motor communication necessary for fine motor control. Seamstresses who bought thread rather than using the spinning jenny were similarly impaired. But worst off were teamsters who used the internal combustion trucks rather than teams of horses and used forklifts and other mechanical devices rather than loading their vehicles by hand. Their overall body strength was much reduced.

Comment Re:Just stop incrementally (Score 2) 181

As a civil engineer (albeit not a wastewater one), I was thinking about this issue too. On one hand, flushing unused medicine does add to the downstream contamination. But on the other hand, even if it were used it (or its metabolites, which might be equally bad) would still end up being flushed anyway. And even then, medicines aren't the only (or even the largest) problem: there's also pesticides, detergents, etc. to deal with. this study (which, it should be noted, measured streams as opposed to treatment plant outflow, which means some pollution sources were untreated runoff) has this to say:

The most frequently detected chemicals (found in more than half of the streams) were coprostanol (fecal steroid), cholesterol (plant and animal steroid), N-N-diethyltoluamide (insect repellent), caffeine (stimulant), triclosan (antimicrobial disinfectant), tri (2-chloroethyl) phosphate (fire retardant), and 4-nonylphenol (nonionic detergent metabolite). Steroids, nonprescription drugs, and insect repellent were the chemical groups most frequently detected. Detergent metabolites, steroids, and plasticizers generally were measured at the highest concentrations.

IMO, the only complete solution would be to change the treatment criteria on its head: currently, we only even consider treating for substances that are proven to be harmful (i.e. default-allow with a blacklist, to use a computer firewall analogy). Instead, we should switch to a default-deny policy and use better wastewater treatment techniques to remove all non-H2O chemicals from the water. The trouble is, it would be a lot more expensive.

Comment Re:When can we expect a ban? (Score 1) 202

To be honest, people like OP are right to be suspicious. It really is always a possibility any sort of claim about an adversary's capabilities could be a ruse to lull you into a false sense of security.

However, when the claim matches up with the independently-verifiable evidence (in this case, the mathematical proof that the algorithm is unbreakable before the heat-death of the universe), I tend to believe it.

Comment Re:clearly the truckers are right (Score 1) 331

First of all, I acknowledged that the history must be preserved. Re-read the second paragraph of my previous post. What I'm saying is that you if you want to know what the law is on any given date -- whether that date is today or sometime in the past -- it should be written/stored/organized in such a way that you can retrieve it and just read the thing from beginning to end without having to cross-reference other documents or piece together stuff like "subsection X is hereby repealed and replaced with language Y." Instead, it should just replace subsection X with language Y and not tell you about it. (If you want to know about that, you can use the version control system to figure out how it changed, who changed it, when, why, etc. -- but that's a *different* kind of operation than retrieving a copy to read.)

Second, I would *hope* that if an act were legalized before the case had a chance to get to trial, that the prosecutor would have enough common decency to drop the case. That's probably asking too much, though...

Comment Re:clearly the truckers are right (Score 1) 331

Sometimes a new law is explicitly a diff. "Repeal The Idiot Act of 1822 and add "new text" in the place in the criminal code, 4.2 (1)A(2)(c). The law is a diff.

That's exactly the sort of cruft I'm complaining about. Making a law like that is *fundamentally stupid* because it leaves the entire history of the law embedded in the code so that you have to step through all the changes just to figure out what the *current* law is.

Instead, laws should be repealed by *actually deleting the old law* and keeping track of the history separately. (I mean, I realize you need to be able to look up historical laws in order to, for example, understand cases that were prosecuted under the old version... but that doesn't mean you need to clutter up the current version by keeping it all mixed together!)

Comment Re:Potential Damages? (Score 1) 318

The F-35 is sadly one of the best military R&D projects of the past 20 years, as it's actually somewhat usable for its intended purpose.

What about the F-22? I admittedly have not paid much attention, but I was under the impression that it's good at what it does and is only over-budget because the military bought fewer of them than was intended (because they tried to inappropriately substitute the "cheaper" F-35, screwing up that program too by trying to expand its mission scope too much).

Comment Re:Potential Damages? (Score 1) 318

One of the strategies that's been core military doctrine since the US-Soviet conflict in Afghanistan (and Vietnam before that) has been to try to make your enemy outspend you by a large margin.

Core military doctrine among the victors (i.e., not the US), you mean, right?

Incidentally, I watched an interesting lecture on Youtube the other day comparing the tank manufacturing strategies of the US, Germany and Russia during WWII. It turns out that all three were different: the US used efficient assembly lines and precise tooling to mass-produce standardized tanks of mid-range cost/complexity, the Russians zerg-rushed low-quality tanks using massive amounts of cheap labor and simple tooling, and the Germans used skilled craftsmen to build high-quality tanks and constantly improved the design (so that each tank was pretty close to unique). Guess which strategy was least successful...

Comment Re:clearly the truckers are right (Score 3, Informative) 331

First of all, I'll agree with you.

However, at the very least, this could have been easily solved by using a bulleted list instead of writing it out in a sentence. Non-standard syntax is not necessary in this particular case.

Second, law-making bodies (and the general public, as they ought to be able to access the law conveniently too) need better software tools for dealing with legislation. For example, they need better version-control -- I'm involved with local government, and getting a diff-like representation of the proposed changes to a law is way more of a pain in the ass than it should be. Another issue is that laws are structured like computer code, with external references, but there needs to be a better way to "inline" the other clauses being referenced so that it's easier to see the whole law without having to jump around and reference multiple sources. Finally, lawmakers need to be introduced to the concepts of "refactoring," "technical debt" and "removing unused code."

Comment Re:"Human Colleague"... Nope, You Just Don't Get I (Score 1) 407

Clarke did very little writing on robot brains.

Um, I'll have to assume that you weren't around for April, 1968, when the leading AI in popular culture for a long, long, time was introduced in a Kubrick and Clarke screenplay and what probably should have been attributed as a Clarke and Kubrick novel. And a key element of that screenplay was a priority conflict in the AI.

Comment Re:"Human Colleague"... Nope, You Just Don't Get I (Score 1) 407

Well, you've just given up the argument, and have basically agreed that strong AI is impossible

Not at all. Strong AI is not necessary to the argument. It is perfectly possible for an unconscious machine not considered "strong AI" to act upon Asimov's Laws. They're just rules for a program to act upon.

In addition, it is not necessary for Artificial General Intelligence to be conscious.

Mind is a phenomenon of healthy living brain and is seen no where else.

We have a lot to learn of consciousness yet. But what we have learned so far seems to indicate that consciousness is a story that the brain tells itself, and is not particularly related to how the brain actually works. Descartes self-referential attempt aside, it would be difficult for any of us to actually prove that we are conscious.

Comment Re:"Human Colleague"... Nope, You Just Don't Get I (Score 1) 407

You're approaching it from an anthropomorphic perspective. It's not necessary for a robot to "understand" abstractions any more than they are required to understand mathematics in order to add two numbers. They just apply rules as programmed.

Today, computers can classify people in moving video and apply rules to their actions such as not to approach them. Tomorrow, those rules will be more complex. That is all.

Comment Re:"Human Colleague"... Nope, You Just Don't Get I (Score 4, Insightful) 407

Agreed that a Robot is no more a colleague than a screwdriver.

I think you're wrong about Asimov, though. It's obvious that to write about theoretical concerns of future technology, the author must proceed without knowing how to actually implement the technology, but may be able to say that it's theoretically possible. There is no shortage of good, predictive science fiction written when we had no idea how to achieve the technology portrayed. For example, Clarke's orbital satellites were steam-powered. Steam is indeed an efficient way to harness solar power if you have a good way to radiate the waste heat, but we ended up using photovoltaic. But Clarke was on solid ground regarding the theoretical possibility of such things.

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