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Comment Re:Canary trap (Score 5, Informative) 323

Intelligence agencies have been doing this sort of thing for decades, giving slightly different versions of a sensitive document to suspected spies or places where possible spies might have access to it, with some subtle changes in the words, seeing which one gets leaked or appears elsewhere. Tom Clancy coined the term Canary trap for the technique. Patriot Games was published in 1987, but its real-world use for exposing information leaks most likely predates the novel.

But the classic Canary Trap requires someone to modify the document manually, which is hard to do on a large scale. Here it is being done automatically by an algorithm.

However, I am aware of published methods for this problem dating back to 2001 by Mikhail Atallah at Purdue. In fact Atallah received a patent for followup work in 2007, a year after the Amazon patent was filed.

Here are a few hundred papers on the subject, via Google Scholar. Some adjust whitespace, some modify images of the text, and some attempt fairly sophisticated syntactic analysis and restructuring of selected sentences.

I apologize that I haven't read the Amazon patent, or read the prior literature carefully, or gone to law school, so I can't comment on whether the patent seems valid or not.

Comment Re:This'll be great for botnets (Score 2, Informative) 80

That's true to some degree. But computers do slow down as they age. Components damaged by the constant heating cause more errors and therefore require retransmission or error correction, slowing things down.

My Dell desktop from 1999 has been running like the wind again since last week, when I reverted it to its 2002 state from backup tape. It goes superfast now that it's virus-free, off the network, and running old apps on Windows 98.

I was only trying to recover some old files before junking an unusable machine, but I may keep it around now as a non-networked machine for the kids.

Comment Re:Cool - how do I become a security expert? (Score 2, Interesting) 222

Is there a major I can take in college?

Johns Hopkins University, near Washington, DC, offers a master's degree in Security Informatics. This is through their Information Security Institute, which was founded several years ago and includes several well-known CS faculty.

The curriculum includes many technological courses (theoretical and applied crypto, network design, network protocols, red-teaming, etc.), but also some public policy courses. I'm guessing that their graduates will be prime candidates for these jobs.

Of course, major in CS first.

Comment Re:IBM Trackpoint (Score 1) 569

I use a keyboard with an IBM trackpoint so i don't keep moving my right hand between keyboard and mouse.

It takes a little to get used to it, but it worth the try!

I heartily second this. I've been using Thinkpads (T-series) for the past 10 years. The trackpoint is great -- you can navigate quickly and precisely while keeping your hands on the keyboard. No batteries, wires, or desk space needed.

It sits in the center of the keyboard, between the G, H, and B keys, where you can reach it with either index finger. That puts your thumb right over the mouse buttons that are under the spacebar.

They corrected some early kinks with resistance and calibration, and the trackpoints work about perfectly now.

It's true that for mouse-heavy activities, like drawing or editing graphics, it still feels a bit more fluid to use a real mouse or a tablet -- I have a lovely Graphire-4 tablet with a pressure-sensitive pen. But I never seem to use them, because almost everything I do needs the keyboard too, and the context-switch slows me down too much compared to the trackpoint.

Comment Re:Sure, 17 year-olds believe this because of a ga (Score 1) 839

"Lawyers for the accused delivered a brief statement at the opening of the trial, explaining that their client had be under a large amount of stress after being homebound for a year due to a snowboarding accident with nothing to do but watch television and play video games."

So, presumably he hadn't been playing the game elsewhere.

He played it at friends' houses, according to this account of the trial (which also uses the word "homebound" -??):

Daniel's lawyer, James Kersey, gave a short opening statement. He said his client had been under great stress at the time of the shooting because of a snowboarding accident that resulted in a severe staph infection. It left Daniel with such severe spinal damage that the slightest injury could leave him paralyzed.

Daniel was homebound for a year with nothing to do but watch television and play video games, Kersey said. It was during that time that he became fascinated with the Halo series and would play them for hours at friends' houses. His father forbade the games, saying that were too violent and sexually explicit.

Comment Re:About this taxes... (Score 1) 656

... tax experts contend there's no such thing as a free spaceflight. Some contest sponsors provide a check to cover taxes, but that income is also taxable.
Iterate to convergence, folks.

Do tax experts also claim that this doesn't work? The only issue I can see is that to compute the total amount needed, you must know the rest of that person's adjusted gross income for the year (so you can compute their tax rate at each step of iteration).

I believe I've often read about corporations paying the taxes on perks they give to their senior executives. I always just assumed they iterated.
Followup: Confirmed in at least one scenario. I did a little poking around with Google. In the case of a life insurance perk, there is something called a Section 162 Double Bonus Plan. Here the company pays not only the premium and employee's tax on that benefit, but also the tax on the tax. Is this process really iterated further? Yes, judging by the $166,667 example in this article (since 1 + 0.4 + 0.4^2 + 0.4^3 + ... = 1.66667):

What are the alternatives? The so-called 162 Double Bonus Plan is one. The company agrees to make an annual bonus of the after-tax amount necessary to pay the premium on an executive-owned life insurance policy. The company also makes a "double bonus" to cover the taxes the employee must pay on the bonus(es). Because the participant is paying taxes on the bonuses, the regulations otherwise applicable to traditional NQDC (and, in particular, the Act) are irrelevant. However, since the employer is expected to "gross up" the bonus to cover taxes, this concept is expensive and tax-inefficient. Assuming a 40% marginal tax rate, the gross cost to a Company is $166,667 to yield an after-tax bonus to the employee of $100,000.

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