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Comment Re:Costs? (Score 1) 660

When the government really monitors you, they can afaik still see the links you are going to. Or does https also encrypt the url? No matter what they can still see which SERVER you connect to. So they can still see you are connecting to al-jazeera or whatever.

What you are talking about is far more than just encryption of traffic between you and the server you visit: this requires something like tor where you can hide which site you are actually trying to connect to. Which in itself would be a serious red flag for investigators: why using such a system, at high cost (slow connections, maintenance, etc) when you have nothing to hide?

And if your boss is mandating such high level monitoring of your internet use, then there are probably far more serious problems than accidentally running into something sexually explicit or so while trying to read /. at work.

Comment Re:More direct costs. (Score 1) 660

It costs a nonzero amount to get a certificate at all, and a self-signed certificate is barely better than raw http.

Well, the question was about encryption rather than trust. Trust is a whole different topic. Nobody has yet come up with a good trust model for the public Internet. The one that exists right now is next to worthless for two reasons: 1) Criminals who exploit novice Internet users never bother with using SSL on their phishing sites 2) greater than 99% of all Internet users who encounter an SSL certificate problem simply click "Okay, proceed" without bothering to understand what the warning is trying to tell them. In terms of trust alone, SSL on the public Internet is as bad or worse as any security theatre you'll find in an airport.

A self-signed certificate, however, gets you encryption without trust. That in itself is valuable to someone like me. It's incredibly unlikely that anyone would want to target me specifically to pose as my email/web server. I'm mainly concerned about preventing eavesdroppers from picking up the contents of my traffic by sniffing the wifi or compromising a router along the way. And if they did, the chances are pretty high that I would be trying to access my server using a client that already has the certificate saved, so I would likely be warned if the certificate changed in any way.

Finally, a lot of people fail to realize that there are plenty of situations where you can have both encryption and relative trust without needing the services of a public certificate authority. Anyone can set up their own CA and distribute the root certificate to all computers and devices that need them. This works fine for a corporate intranet or VPN, for example.

Comment Terrible, Terrible Summary (Score 2, Informative) 266

Mr. Anissimov (author of TFA) has either dumbed the science down too much or simply doesn't understand what's going on. I'll try to give a summary of the Nature Nanotechnology paper as clearly and concisely as possible.

First, the researchers made a nanodevice with two slots that could accommodate so-called "DNA cassettes" in a programmable way. The DNA cassettes themselves have free ends that can only bond with complementary DNA. Each of the DNA cassettes has an 'A' end (that can only bond with other A-type molecules) and a 'B' end (I'm simplifying this greatly; 'A' has nothing to do with adenine). The cassettes can be inserted into the two slots with either the 'A' end up or the 'B' end up. So this means there are a total of four states for the device: (1) first slot: A up, B down; second slot: A up, B down; (2) first slot: A down, B up; second slot: A up, B down, etc. The researchers were then able to take four target molecules (one for each of the four programmable states) and show that they bonded to their complementary state. Further, by developing an error-correcting scheme, they were able to get the fidelity of the bonding to 'apparently flawless' levels (quoting FTA, more on this in a sec).

A little more explanation is in order. All of the target molecules have an 'A' and 'B' marker on both ends of their strand. Now, say for example the nanodevice is in state 2: 1A down, 1B up, 2A up, 2B down. The complementary molecule to bind this state would have four markers with 'A' oriented downward and 'B' oriented upward on one end of the strand, and 'A' orented upward and 'B' oriented downward on the other end of the strand. The problem with this is that other target molecules which aren't complementary can still bind. For example, the target for the 1A up, 1B down, 2A down, 2B up would fit equally well into this binding pocket upside down. Also, any of the target molecules can bind with half of the binding pocket, leaving the non-complementary end either dangling or only loosely bound. The researchers get around these two problems using their error-correction scheme. It turns out that the correct target molecules bind more tightly to their complements than the incorrect ones. By heating the devices slightly, the researchers can dissociate the incorrect binding while keeping the correct binding intact. This is, I believe, what was meant by the phrase '100% accuracy.' So, in short, it's still exciting research, at least from my point of view, but no one's moving individual atoms with 100% accuracy or any of the hyper-exaggerated nonsense that I've been reading here.

Comment Re:sigh (Score 1) 577

In fact, in Germany the liberal FDP is usually seen as close to the conservative CDU/CSU. The opposite are the pseudo-left SPD (initially a worker's party, nowadays just as populist as the CDU/CSU) and Die Linke (literally "the left one") with the Greens being closer to the SPD than the CDU/CSU.

"Liberal" and "leftist" are fairly orthogonal in Germany, with the (pseudo-)leftist parties wanting to add laws that protect the workers, the conservatives wanting laws that allow them to hunt terrorists in our bedrooms and the liberals wanting laws that give big tax breaks to corporations.

"Big government" is something all the big parties like as they traditionally divide themselves over "on the employees' side" and "on the employers' side" - even though they've since both changed to "on the side where we make lots of money" (as evidenced when the SPD's left wing left the party and joined forces with the successor of the GDR's Socialist Union Party to form Die Linke).

Comment Prior use? (Score 1) 119

Phones already control software through the accelerometer data- namely switching between portrait and landscape when you turn the phone sideways.

Besides, I like the idea, but the reason you want it is finger smudging? Wash your hands and stop picking your nose.

Comment APL (Score 1) 794

I have fond memories of Fortran from the only programming course I took in college 25+ years ago. Warm, fuzzy, marshmallow-scented memories. That will sound weird until I tell you that the *other* language we had to use in that class was APL. That wacky-charactered, right-to-left, overstruck, array-spouting beast was the unholy spawn of Greek and Chinese psychotics, raised by ancient Egyptians. While marveling at the power available in a single dense line of APL code was fun (for certain values of "fun"), when we were allowed to use Fortran we felt like subsistence hunter-gatherers visiting McDonalds. "You mean you just *tell* it what to do and it does it? And these words actually mean what they say? Wow!" These days when I dabble with Linux and work on social science software syntax files, I'm grateful for two things from that long-ago course: the general programming concepts I learned in Fortan, and the fact that I don't have to touch APL. Mailbox! Open Mailbox!

Comment Re:Public Health vs. Personal Rights (Score 1) 1056

Yeah, here in Wisconsin (USA) you can sign a form opting out of the school vaccination requirement for reasons that are religious or due to "personal conviction". While I think a parent who does that should get a conviction of a different sort, if we're going to allow that stupidity, here's how it oughta work.

You have a personal conviction that your kid should be allowed to put my kid at risk? OK, sign that form and we'll have to let your kids in school. We'll post their names on a bulletin board by the front door so that the responsible parents can make their own informed decision about who our kids play with. Their names will also be available to other schools whose teams might play yours, and be grounds for forfeit if any of those parents object to involving your kids with theirs.

Oh, you're worried about them being ostracized? You're saying that this violates your right to medical privacy? Tough. Your right to swing your little disease-harboring darlings around ends where the bodies of mine begin. If you stick your crackpot "personal conviction" into the spokes of sensible public policy, we'll route around you.

Why yes, I *do* have a child about to start kindergarten. How did you know?
The Media

Submission + - Robert X. Cringely Ends PBS Column (

mcgoohan writes: Robert X. Cringely (a.k.a. Mark Stephens) has posted his 603rd and last I, Cringely column at He says the decision was his, not the network's, and he'll continue writing at I've enjoyed reading him since his InfoWorld days, particularly the annual predictions; although often wrong, he's quick to admit mistakes and good for some entertaining speculation. Notwithstanding the fun value, I don't get why PBS published him in the first place. Cui bono? The only ads on the page were for PBS itself and his TV specials haven't been on for years. Perhaps Slashdotters would know what PBS got in return for its bandwidth.

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