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Comment News to Me... (Score 1) 157

Here in the San Francisco bay area, AT&T has been running an ad for the last couple months or so on one of those electronic billboards advertising gigabit fiber service. Well, if they're actually offering it somewhere on the peninsula, I have no idea where, because every time I check on their site, they claim it's not yet available in my area, despite the fact that I've seen their trucks running around the area apparently putting up new cabling of some sort. Google seems to have gotten bored with Google Fiber, so I'm not holding my breath for them anymore. In fact, the only ISP I know is offering gigabit fiber service in the bay area is Sonic.net, in a very slow, limited roll-out.

Comment Re:Hyoervisor (Score 1) 288

Neurons always fire faster than sensory input data can arrive. That's the root of intrinsic brain activity.

Everything you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste comes from predictions made from your past experience. These predictions are then compared to sensory input from the outside world and if they're wrong, the brain adjusts. This all happens outside of awareness. This is called the predictive coding model of brain activity.

Hallucination is just a special case in which sensory input is ignored in favor of predictions. Same thing for dreams and daydreaming.

Comment Re:The biology of why we drive with cell phones (Score 1) 344

>You're over thinking it. People in general are poor at risk assessment.

Sorry, I think you're under-thinking it. :-) "Risk" is a mental concept made up by people, not a basic part of biology, chemistry or physics. A better question is why people are bad at assessing risk. It's reasonable to argue that the reason, in part, is that we cannot mentally simulate the consequences of risky actions with any accuracy, because the human cortex is wired not to detect bodily signals finely.

>You don't need to feel agony of an accident to know you don't want to be in one.

True, but not really the point. If we could feel agony by imagining it, I suspect we'd be a lot more careful in the car.

Comment The biology of why we drive with cell phones (Score 3, Interesting) 344

People continue to use their cell phones while driving because of a limitation of our biology. Here's a quick demonstration.

Imagine right now that you're petting a dog. Can you see (in your mind's eye) the dog's face? Can you "feel" the fur against your fingers and the dog's breath against your face? Can you "hear" the dog panting in your head? Most people can, easily. Your brain is great at simulating these sensations through imagination.

Now, try to imagine agony. Imagine the physical feeling of crashing your car at high speed, because you were on your stupid cell phone. Can you actually experience the agony of your destroyed body in your mind? The answer (for almost everybody) is no. Your brain is very bad at imagining/simulating internal feeling. Our brains are wired that way. So we continue driving with cell phones, even though we know the risks.

These ideas were inspired by the book, "How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain," by Lisa Feldman Barrett, chapter 4, "The Origin of Feeling." https://www.amazon.com/How-Emo...

Comment Re:Lack of torrents is a bad sign (Score 1) 84

I'll let you in on a little secret: As you can see from the Kickstarter page, people who contributed at a certain level and above were granted access to downloadable copies of the entire season -- all fourteen episodes.

However, throughout the entire production and post-production process, Joel has sent out updates to all the Kickstarter backers explaining that, if MST3K proves successful, Netflix may pick it up for another season. But in order for that to happen, Netflix needs to see that the viewing numbers would support such an investment. Therefore, he has firmly but respectfully asked backers not to share their downloadable copies with anyone. Since you claim that no torrents of the season are available, it would appear his request has, so far, been honored.

...Which is, kind of, y'know, what we've been saying the model should be all this time, right? Respect the artist's work and wishes? Well, so far, it looks like that's what's happening, so he can keep doing it.

Comment Re:Oh come on (Score 5, Informative) 606

You are in seriously [sic] need of some perspective.

I *HAVE* perspective, you twit.

I was around when Canter and Siegel "discovered" spamming, and suddenly the burden of deflecting what became billions of unwanted, exploitative, obnoxious emails fell upon the end-users, the people least equipped to deal with it. (And no, spam is by no means a, "solved problem," or a large chunk of Barracuda Networks' business would no longer exist.)

I was around when that chowderhead Brendan Eich kluged JavaScript into Netscape and fscking enabled it by default, even though the massive problems with macro viruses in Microsoft Word in the years prior clearly showed what that would lead to. Now we have scripts being uncritically yanked in from thousands of sources, rampaging around in our browsers looking for any datum they can exploit to our disadvantage.

Mark my words: If BK and its ad agency aren't smacked for this, hard, it will get worse very quickly. Every media source will become an attack vector. And sophists such as you will dryly intone, "Get better security," fully aware that that aphorism will solve nothing.

And lest you think I'm merely a member of the Tinfoil Hat Brigade: I, too, can be a smug shit about this. I have never trusted cookies or JavaScript, keep my browsers thoroughly nerfed, and I use a console-based mail reader. The result is I have only moderate patience for people victimized by advertising, malware, or phishing. The tools are there; they have but to learn how to use them. Don't even cost nothin'. But there is a boundary when you stop being a Clever Clogs for making the other guy's computer unexpectedly go beep and you become an active exploiter and victimizer of the weak and ignorant.

BK crossed that line. They need to be smacked.

Comment Re:Oh come on (Score 1) 606

If you had a gun in your house that went off every time someone on tv said "shoot" would you blame the film maker?

If the filmmaker put "Shoot" in the film with the express intention of making my gun go off -- even after I took affirmative steps to keep it from happening -- then... YES. I would unhesitatingly toss their ass in prison for negligent firearm discharge and/or sue them for everything they've got.

Comment Re:Oh come on (Score 1) 606

ERROR: INVALID REASONING

Sophistry such as yours is what led to this problem. Leaving your front door unlocked does not absolve a thief from stealing or misappropriating your property. While your insurance carrier may have something to say about how much of the loss they'll cover, the fact of the theft is not erased; the thief will still be charged with a crime.

Burger King made unauthorized use of computing resources that did not belong to them. In this respect, they are no different from any other spammer or purveyor of malware, and their act should be regarded in that light. Computer intrusion laws are fairly clear on this point: Only the system's owner gets to decide what constitutes authorized use. Abusing weak security in the name of delivering a fscking TV ad cannot by any reasonable, honest measure be described as authorized, and Burger King's actions both before and after the fact likewise cannot be said to be inadvertent or accidental.

Submission + - Burger King Won't Take Hint; Alters TV Ad to Evade Google's Block (washingtonpost.com) 1

ewhac writes: Earlier this week, Burger King released a broadcast television ad that opened with an actor saying, "Ok, Google: What is The Whopper?" thereby triggering any Google Home device in hearing range to respond to the injected request with the first line from the Whopper's Wikipedia page. Google very properly responded to the injection attack by fingerprinting the sound sample and blocking it from triggering responses. However, it seems Burger King and/or its ad agency are either unwilling or congenitally incapable of getting the hint, and has released an altered version of the ad to evade Google's block. According to spokesperson Dara Schopp, BK regards the ad as a success, as it has increased the brand's "social conversation" on Twitter by some 300%. It seems that Burger King thinks that malware-laden advertising infesting Web pages is a perfectly wonderful idea (in principle, at least), and taken it to the next level by reaching through your TV speakers and directly messing with your digital devices. You may wish to consider alternate vendors for your burger needs.

Submission + - Inside the Tech Support Scam Ecosystem

Trailrunner7 writes: A team of three doctoral students, looking for insights into the inner workings of tech support scams, spent eight months collecting data on and studying the tactics and infrastructure of the scammers, using a purpose-built tool. What they uncovered is a complex, technically sophisticated ecosystem supported by malvertising and victimizing people around the world.

The study is the first analysis of its kind on tech support scams, and it’s the work of three PhD candidates at Stony Brook University. The team built a custom tool called RoboVic that performed a “systematic analysis of technical support scam pages: identified their techniques, abused infrastructure, and campaigns”. The tool includes a man-in-the-middle proxy that catalogs requests and responses and also will click on pop-up ads, which are key to many tech-support scams.

In their study, the researchers found that the source for many of these scams were “malvertisements”, advertisements on legitimate websites, particularly using ad-based URL shorteners, that advertised for malicious scams. This gives the scammers an opportunity to strike on what would seem like a relatively safe page. Although victims of these scams can be anywhere, the researchers found that 85.4 percentof the IP addresses in these scams were located across different regions of India, with 9.7 percentlocated in the United States and 4.9 percent in Costa Rica. Scammers typically asked users for an average of $291, with prices ranging from $70 to $1,000.

Submission + - New Season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 Premiers on Netflix

ewhac writes: In 1988, comedian Joel Hodgson launched what is possibly one of the silliest ideas for a television show yet conceived: A man and two sentient robots sit in a theater and heckle a bad movie. Improbably, Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) became a smash success on cable, spawned a feature-length film, and ran for ten official seasons on Comedy Central and The Sci-Fi Channel, its last episode airing on 8 August, 1999. Now, 17 years later, Season 11 of MST3K debuts today on Netflix. A full season has been produced, including a stretch-goal Christmas special, funded by the highest-earning Kickstarter Film & Video campaign to date ($5.76 million) – thousands of contributors are listed in the show’s end credits, spread across all fourteen episodes.

The show remains true to its low-budget roots, relying almost exclusively on models and practical effects, including a very inventive new door sequence. The backstory for the new season is very swiftly established in the opening to Experiment 1101, as Jonah Heston (played by co-producer Jonah Ray) is abducted by the evil mad scientist Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day) and her sidekick Max a/k/a TV’s son of TV’s Frank (Patton Oswalt). Together with Gypsy (Rebecca Hanson), Tom Servo (Baron Vaughn), and Crow (Hampton Yount), Jonah quips his way through a barrage of bad movies, including Reptilicus, Starcrash, The Loves of Hercules, and The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t.

Submission + - Investigation Finds Inmates Built Computers, Hid Them In Prison Ceiling (cbs6albany.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The discovery of two working computers hidden in a ceiling at the Marion Correctional Institution prompted an investigation by the state into how inmates got access. In late July, 2015 staff at the prison discovered the computers hidden on a plywood board in the ceiling above a training room closet. The computers were also connected to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's network. Authorities say they were first tipped off to a possible problem in July, when their computer network support team got an alert that a computer "exceeded a daily internet usage threshold." When they checked the login being used, they discovered an employee's credentials were being used on days he wasn't scheduled to work. That's when they tracked down where the connection was coming from and alerted Marion Correctional Institution of a possible problem. Investigators say there was lax supervision at the prison, which gave inmates the ability to build computers from parts, get them through security checks, and hide them in the ceiling. The inmates were also able to run cabling, connecting the computers to the prison's network.

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Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984

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