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Comment Liberty Reserve has *NOTHING* to do with Bitcoin!! (Score 5, Informative) 138

I do not expect this to be common knowledge amongst the general public, seeing as most people are still coming to grips with the concept of an e-currency via their interaction with (or hearing about) Bitcoin, but...

There was an entire selection of e-currencies to choose from before cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin being the first, and premier, example) were even invented by Satoshi in 2009. Liberty Reserve wasn't even the first example of such, but indeed an often trusted replacement for the original e-Gold service that came under fire by the US Department of Justice already over 6 years ago in 2007. There seems to be a basic confusion in the comments so far as to the blatant fundamental differences between services like LR (and e-Gold before it) and Bitcoin (and cryptocurrency derivatives thereof). As a user of centralised e-currencies multiple years before Bitcoin existed, I would like to make a couple of things clear:

The difference between services like Liberty Reserve and e-Gold and Bitcoin is that the former are centralised services operated and controlled by a single collection of people, often legally protected by an incorporated entity in the Central American/Carribean region of the Earth. The pioneers of Internet "e-currencies" such as these specifically chose to create their corporations in this part of the world within known tax havens. It is only natural for the creators to wish to legally establish such a corporation designed specifically to manage money transfers in a place that will minimally tax such transfers.

e-Gold's creators incorporated in the Carribbean island state of St. Kitts and Nevis, and the Liberty Reserve creators incorporated in Panama (altho I truly did not know where the masterminds lived or where from they operated until now, but it seems from this article the answer is España). The entire difference between them and the pseudonymos 'Satoshi Nakamoto' is that old generation e-currency operators maintained central control of monitary transactions using their service. You managed your account by connecting to their website, logging in, and checking your funds, managing transfers, and so forth, but all of this was always under their full control. If they had any issues with your use of your own account, they had the right to shut off your access to it and confiscate all of your funds, with essentially no capability of retrival (I know of people who lost access to thousands of USD this way). They taxed every transfer you wished to make, which affected both transfers between 2 users within the same system (sending LR LR) or to exit/enter the system (exchanging LR to/from USD). They could monitor all transactions made between every user and geolocate non-anonymised users' IP addresses to log all financial activity within their system; with Bitcoin, all transactions are public to all, as opposed to only a select few being able to monitor all else who use this system to transfer money.

The most essentially incorrect aspect of confusing this story with anything to do with Bitcoin, is that Bitcoin is exciting and inspiring exactly because it is the antithesis of centralised architecture, or at least the closest successful example thereof. When we were using Liberty Reserve (or other centralised e-currency), we were completely under the creator's control. LR eventually forced upon users a captcha based in Flash that prevented us from using Tor to login securely as we could for multiple years before. When LR attacked our technical ability to use the service anonymously, many moved to Pecunix. Whilst Pecunix has a better login system (one that blatantly allows for anonymous access), it was still a centralised e-currency controlled by a single group of people operating behind a legally incorporated entity.

We have, however, evolved beyond the necessity for these services. It is funny to read a story about Liberty Reserve now, because I and everyone I know have long-considered them anachronistic holdover from the bleak era before decentralised e-currencies. It has already been a preposterously uphill battle for even technologically inclined people to psychologically accept that Bitcoin (and derivatives thereof) are an obvious superior approach to currency generation and transfer than reliance on a select few bankers writing all of the rules behind closed doors. Trying to promote mainstream acceptance within even these otherwise intelligent Bitcoin skeptics of the reliance of such centralised e-currencies as e-Gold, LR, Pecunix, and their ilk seems downright impossible, in retrospect.

But as always, even before in the late 90's and early 00's with e-Gold and soon thereafter with its centralised clones such as Liberty Reserve, these e-currencies had/have value both because there are people who buy/sell goods with them and exchangers making active transfers between them and common fiat currencies such as USD, EUR, GBP, RUB, etc. This is the ultimate test of what defines currency in the modern era, that others we wish to do business with psychologically accept it as a currency. In a time where we have largely eschewed using heavy metals with intrinsic material value as currency long ago, and now have switched to abstract paper notes signifying value merely because a central bank issuing said notes defines certain quantitative rules for us all... and even beyond this time to the present, where such values are no long largely represented on paper notes, but simply numerical values in digital databases on bank-controlled mainframe computers or transfers running down undersea fiberoptic cables to signify wealth transfer....

What most Bitcoin opponents conveniently ignore is that the vast bulk of wealth transfer in currencies they support instead (usually USD or EUR) are already done electronically. To advocate these obsoleted currencies is to therefore merely to advocate for power centralisation of capitalistic control with whoever happens to be writing the rules in the central banks (Federal Reserve in the USA, European Central Bank in the Eurozone, etc.). To fight against Bitcoin and to call its proponents and users foolish is only to the benefit of an insanely tiny percentage of the human race. Before, to discount services like Liberty Reserve as discussed in this article, this would have merit, because it was never a safe system. Your funds, data, information, IP access info, etc. was all controlled by them, not so similar from modern bank branches, only with centralised e-currencies you could much more easily provide pseudonymous (or no) identity information. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies obsolete the need to any such centralised control.

LR is fundamentally different from Bitcoin because it was centrally controlled by a single corporation requiring logging in to their service to access USD/EUR/gold funds, just like your bank controls your access to your USD/EUR/xxx. Most modern currencies are mostly traded electronically anyway: thusly campaigning against Bitcoin is soley to the benefit of the select few old white men running most of the world's current currency systems. Only decentralised currencies implemented in Free/Libre Software have the true and honest potential to bring about egalitarian, global access to capitalistic activity and wealth transfer, making this story a non-issue (albeit interesting footnote) for anyone who has been paying attention to e-currency development in the past 3-4 years.

Comment ...but they can tell when multimedia support works (Score 1) 226

Conversely, one of the reasons GNU+Linux on the desktop has not been a hit is because of the abhorrent support for commonly used multimedia file formats. The common user may not understand the technical names of software codecs and the multimedia formats they encode to and decode from, but they sure feel it when they are shipped a default installation that can read or create any possible format out there.

It's an immense achievement that an operating system with a Social Contract dedicated to only including Libre Software in its main repositories can be automagically more versatile at handing more media formats than proprietary OSes like Windows or Mac OS X. "Casual users" want their audio players, video players and editors, etc. to read and write anything, and the news here is that the complex libraries and codecs are included to be used by any software that needs to call them.

Comment Re:MEGA was foolish to use PayPal in the 1st place (Score 1) 143

You are absolutely correct, and I should have indicated this in my initial post. I did not actually mean to come off as dismissing the work of the Scatterbytes creator, as his system (even in beta) is the most solid attempt at solving the technological problems of relatively secure, web-based distributed storage that I have seen. And I was very glad that he seemed receptive to implementing support for BitCoin in response to my comment in the earlier story. Personally, I have enough work to do than help him implement BitCoin support for his (and MEGA's) own profit, but I was perplexed that they didn't forsee an issue using PayPal in the first place (and I am not surprised AT ALL to see how fast that part of their plan failed).

To be honest, I am mostly perplexed at the admins/creators of MegaUpload/MEGA. They know first hand the extent of the global power of their enemies: they were on the receiving end of an excessively brutal campaign to ruin their lives. Millions of dollars of servers confiscated, SWAT team raids on private property, jailtime, property and asset seizure, onerous international court cases, threats of extradition: all of this is based on the concept of profiting from data storage. To force contributors of the backend of the resurrected version of MegaUpload (who would be profiting via similar methods on a service with almost identical name) into using PayPal is, in my opinion, absolutely irresponsible. It would be announcing, loud and clear, to the US government (perpetrator of the aforementioned excessive force) that we too would be profiting from this new version of MegaUpload, not just Kim Dotcom and his associates. This puts contributors in danger, with those with the capacity to be the largest contributors in most danger.

The harsh tone in my post mostly stems from a burning desire to see people cease using (and therefore funding) PayPal. To anyone reading this, please close your account if you have one !!! Do humanity a favour and let's let this one die, for the betterment of all of us. Exponentially so if you are running a service which uses (promotes) it.

Comment MEGA was foolish to use PayPal in the 1st place... (Score 5, Interesting) 143

Last month, just a couple days prior to the launch of MEGA, Slashdot ran a story that informed us all that each user would get 50GB gratis storage on the service. This story brought with it a comment from the creator of ScatterBytes, the distributed storage backend that MEGA uses. The entire reason that gratis 50GB can even be offered to all users, and indeed one of the oft-touted improvements of MEGA over MegaUpload (to try and convince us we won't lose our data at the whim of any given government like last time), is that anyone with spare storage space and bandwidth can be financially compensated for hosting the (encrypted) data of other MEGA users.

The concept of this distributed storage and accompanying financial compensation system is certainly a more novel approach to what file lockers have offered in the past, and this is precisely what ScatterBytes is providing to the infrastructure of the MEGA network. But I was shocked to learn, in the comment of ScatterBytes creator, that the financial compensation system would be using PayPal. Why the creators of MEGA & Scatterbytes would be so short-sighted and foolish to base their system off of a centralised, USA-based payment company widely known to be the Internet sector of the US financial-military-industrial complex was completely beyond me.

As a server operator myself, why would I want my disk space (NOT in the USA) to be a part of the MEGA network (NOT a US website) when details of my contribution (and a cut of the profits) would be handed directly to a US company known to directly work with the US government? Had the people behind MEGA & ScatterBytes not been paying any attention to PayPal's history? Shouldn't the operators of a file locker site which was mercilessly raided by the moneyed American corporate interests trying to stymy progress (and currently entangled in a court case) be slightly more intelligent and aware than this?

In my response to his comment, I asked the ScatterBytes creator why they are creating a system that would hand the US government banking-level details of MEGA collaborators , easily sortable by size of contributions no less! For the successor site to MegaUpload, this level of unthinking oversight is absolutely embarassing. MegaUpload's servers are still sitting in limbo, and people have served jailtime over this service. Why any third-party (ie most of us on Slashdot) would be enthusiastic to contribute to the relaunch of this service, even if it does differ technologically from the previous incarnation, when it means giving all of our personal information to an organisation as nefarious and unfriendly to progress as PayPal is beyond me. To Jack's Complete Lack of Suprise, within a week of the launch of MEGA, an organisation seemingly created to kill file locker services (at least ones which multimedia publishing cartels decide to target) worked to shut off PayPal access to the primary MEGA resellers. So much for paying attention to history.

To see adoption of BitCoin is good news, but it's what should have been done at launch. It's 2013. We don't need centralised US-controlled middlemen spying on all of our financial transactions and taking our money anytime we want to transfer funds. We have an alternative now. BitCoin liberates capitalistic activity from an oligarchical structure which has increased the wealth so few and oppressed so many in various incarnations of the same theme throughout history. It's time to embrace a system which is verifiably fair for every participant, truly international, and decentralised. To PayPal and their meatspace bankerscum ilk: Good Riddance.

Comment Re:The point is that Google uses XMPP.... (Score 4, Informative) 95

I do believe that XMPP servers cannot use SSL to communicate with GTalk servers.

The use of SSL or TLS alone can almost never be considered protection from eavesdropping on the server-side when using XMPP. Unless you are running the XMPP server yourself and every person you talk to also has accounts on your server, the operators of the server(s) not under your explicit control will be able to read your messages, regardless of SSL/TLS use. This is because the SSL or TLS connection is decrypted as soon as they hit the server: if alice and bob both use with SSL or TLS, then can still see the decrypted message.

This is why even though using SSL or TLS is a nice idea, it pales in importance to using a true end to end encryption method such as OTR. With OTR, the encryption keys are stored with alice and bob themselves, and the servers in between cannot decrypt the XMPP messages. On the contrary, SSL and TLS are designed as such that the encryption ends and begins again each hop of the XMPP communication chain, as those cryptographic certificates are stored on the XMPP servers which must then orchestrate (or not, as is often the case) the next hop of SSL/TLS encryption.

In your example, even if Google's Server2Server connection were SSL/TLS encrypted, Google could still read all of the messages you send to your buddies, and those that you received: they control the TLS certificates and by design always decrypt all messages passing through their servers. For any amount of real security, a true end-to-end encryption must be used. This is why I recommended OTR encryption and listed only XMPP clients capable of support OTR: relying on only SSL or TLS provides exceedingly inferior security.

The fun bonus is when you use a TLS connection to your XMPP server to send your end-to-end encrypted OTR session over, whilst first proxying the data packets via Tor (which incidentally adds its own layer of TLS security between your client and each successive Tor node). Triple crypto whammy!! ;-)

Comment The point is that Google uses XMPP.... (Score 5, Informative) 95

The fact that Google is based in the US is far less important than the fact that the backbone of their communications infrastructure uses a protocol with an open specification (RFCs included). Google Talk (also including Gmail Chat) provides every single person with a Google account a connection to the macrocosm of every federated XMPP server on the Internet, which also happens to be a benefit for those who want secure, end-to-end encryption on a service not controlled by a single company.

XMPP (aka Jabber), as an open protocol, has been implemented in a gigantic amount of both client & server software, in both free/libre and proprietary projects, and on many platforms. Google accounts (meaning every single Gmail, Youtube accounts, and almost all Android users) all have 100% standards compliant XMPP accounts as well, meaning they can use any client they choose. You don't need to hear it from me, read what Google themselves have to say on the matter:

In addition to the Google Talk client, there are many other clients out there that provide a great communications experience. We believe users should have choice in which clients they use to connect to the Google Talk service and we want to encourage the developer community to create new and innovative applications that leverage our service. To enable this, Google Talk uses the standard XMPP protocol for authentication, presence, and messaging.

What does this mean for those who care about security? For one, you can choose software that includes Off-the-Record end-to-end encryption (OTR) such as Pidgin with the OTR plugin on GNU+Linux or Windows, or Adium (which has OTR built-in and enabled by default) on Mac OS X. On Android you can use Beem or Gibberbot, although I personally recommend Beem (and if you are using iOS you obviously don't give a shit about security anyway). By using OTR, Google has no idea what you are typing, even as you use their servers to send & receive XMPP data. As a bonus, you can proxy any of these applications over Tor, so Google has no idea where you are even connecting from, anonymising your IP address.

Because of the benefits of an open protocol, the fact that Google is in the US is far less of a problem than Microsoft being in the US because Skype by design restricts your ability to know how it communicates with Microsoft's supernodes and other Skype clients. This is the very nature of proprietary software: to subjugate you, keep you ignorant, and wield power over you. Google may not be perfect, but at least they are committed to using open standards as the base level of their communication networks, and explicitely encourage people to use what software they want, allow proxied and/or Torified connections to their services, & allow you to use end-to-end encryption with crypto keys that YOU control.


I am very happy to find out a friend has a Google account, so that as soon as they use it with OTR encryption, I can communicate with them safely & securely from my own XMPP server with end-to-end encryption using an standard, open protocol. Incomparably better than Skype.

Comment PayPal? Are you kidding?? (Score 2) 203

There's no way I would consider pooling considerable disk space, bandwidth usage, and number crunching time from my machines enough to get paid if it means I must give out all my info to the online US payment processing corporation that is an essential part of the status quo of the moneyed banking elite that took Megaupload down in the first place. You would be a fool for not learning from the mistakes that have already been made: in 2013 you are still going to base your financial payments between your company and new Mega project's heavy contributors on PayPal?

This is no different than handing the US government banking-level details of your collaborators! Sortable by highest-valued contributors, at that. How do we know we won't be singled out by the federal agencies and their international network of state-sponsored goons in other countries who are attacking Kim Dotcom and co. so voraciously? Even in another country, I'd be giving my name, address, e-mail, phone #, and banking details to the US and jumping up and down shouting "ME! ME! I'M PROFITING OFF OF MEGA 2.0 NOW TOO, NOT JUST Mr. DOTCOM!!"

These potential contributors (presumably, many of us) are going to be involved in the relaunch of a project that drew a fully armed international SWAT team to, however retardedly overzealously, forcibely attack, imprison, and plunder the possessions of those involved in its creation. Many of the more intelligent people who could lease serious rackspace and RAID arrays for money to diversify the network nodes and add larger amounts of high bandwidth data access are NOT going to want to have anything to do with being compensated via PayPal.

You need to get serious with your security, cut out the US-based middlemen who will be obviouslly surveying you, and implement BitCoin. If you do not have BitCoin and your code is not Freely/Libre licensed, there's going to be quite a large section of technically inclined folk who will stay the hell away from anything you build (beyond using the gratis service). That said, if you do embrace these things, maybe you will change the world with this new service after all... only time (and your decisions) will tell.

Comment Re:You Disgust Me (Score 1) 382

In the 10+ years I have been reading Slashdot, I am normally very enthusiastic to see what regular contributor eldavajohn's insight into a variety of topics may be. I am normally greeted with his intelligent insight into relevent topics, and is one of the usernames I have come to respect through much of the noise that appears on this site. But with this despicable and disguisting rant of his, I will never look at anything he contributes the same again.

You know, that almost sounds like an endorsement for suicide which is probably one of the most disgusting and vehement posts I've read here so far. There is nothing rational nor sane about taking one's own life. When I was 16 one of my friends committed suicide...

Your incredibly selfish view is that everyone MUST continue living, no matter what suffering they are currently undergoing and/or what horrors they are facing, simply because it might make their loved ones & acquaintances sad? While I do not empathise with suicidal thoughts, and I would try to help someone like Aaron escape the twisted shithole the status quo was shoving him into in lieu of his choice to end his life, it is a gross and despicable suggestion of yours that it is only insanity and irrationalism that causes people to choose suicide. You obviously have no way of empathising or even sympathising with terminally ill people or those who face a life that is arguably worse than death (in their perception). That you would label such people as insane is shameful on your part, and your entire rational is centered around your (or in the case of those unfamiliar to you, others') outright selfishness and inability to understand that maybe for some people, their own independent choice to end their life is in some cases a superior option than the physical and/or psychological terrors (in Aaron's case, both) that exist in life. From your boot-licking of all laws the US government has ever passed, I would guess that you have never faced the prospect of going to (or been incarcerated in) a federal US prison. You have a clear inability to empathise with someone facing or currently in prison. If Bradley Manning wanted to end his life, and I could help him do so (but could not help him escape), I would be glad to provide assistence. If you do not know the feeling of being in a prison (and never being able to leave, for most or all of your life), or being terminally ill, or any of the other legitimate reasons why someone chooses to end their OWN life, then you have no just cause to force your skewed vilification of suicide on others, especially if your best reason is that it might make those living sad. You also display an utter lack of understanding about what insanity is, if you think every person in the past who has commited suicide is insane.

Did you know he was a Fellow at Harvard University's Center for Ethics? What do you think this meant for his career to be indicted on such charges? How would you, as a student, listen to a lecture on ethics from someone who had broken laws and evaded police?

While some may agree with you that suicide implies insanity, this is where you really show your utterly pathetic and slavish perspective: to suggest that all laws and every member of the police is in on the ethical side of all arguments and issues shows a level of rueful obsequiousness and brainwashed authoritarianism on your part that induces disgust in me. You write as if you agree with the bus driver who called the police to have Rosa Parks arrested: after all, they are just enforcing the law. Surely those police were ethical, in your skewed viewpoint? Or surely it is ethical for the government to behead a woman for practising sorcery? Or is it only the government of the country *you* were born in that is magically always on the superior side of ethics? If you were alive 150 years ago, you write as if you would have supported the idea that only white males are citisens and would decry giving others voting rights. You write as if you support the mass imprisonment of people for growing certain kinds of plants, as you willfully ignore (and thankfully others replying to you have pointed out) that there is a direct financial incentive for the prosecutors, attorneys, and prison operators to get guilty convictions and increase prison populations past their already obscene & embarassing levels.

If Swartz were still alive, and he gave a lecture on ethics, I would be glad to attend and hear what he has to say, as would MANY people who aren't so brainwashed to believe that laws and police are always right as you seem to be. And for you to posthumously call Aaron a coward is simply icing on the cake confirming that your perspective is not only skewed in the direction of slavish authoritarianism, but you successfully come off as an asshole, as well.

It's very ironic that eldavajohn's post is titled "You Disgust Me", because it's the most overtly disguisting thing I have read in a while. I secretly wish someone broke into your account and posted this under your name, eldavajohn, but I am afraid this might not be the case. I am sorely disappointed and will never look at your contributions to Slashdot the same again.

Comment Re:I'm guessing.... (Score 4, Insightful) 94

Im guessing that they do want to support Linux as a platform but the maintenance of the thing is killing them. Linux gamers exist but for the small numbers they provide I but the upkeep of the client is killing them time wise. Open sourcing the client makes sense if this is the case, otherwise why bother?

...except that they released their Windows client under GPLv3 as well?

With only a single developer being employed at the company for the native GNU+Linux port, of course the arguement can be made that they did a cost-benefit analysis and determined that crowd-sourcing development talent and time from the Internet would yield a superior product that improves faster. This is not a testament to small numbers of GNU+Linux users, but rather the efficiency of modern Free Software development methodologies. The fact that they GPLv3-ed their Windows client is further proof of this fact.

Comment Prices outside the USA are wildly different... (Score 1) 618

Here in the Netherlands, I receive a monthly cost of about 7 euros per month for my HSPA+ connection with Vodafone NL. This is with a prepaid SIM card, anonymous (they do not ask for name, ID card, or address, much less an SSN equivalent). Sure, the handheld computer itself will indeed cost 400 to 600 dollars for a non-contract ownership, but it's a mistake to think of it as anything other than a computer purchase. Similarly speced laptops cost this much, so why wouldn't a much smaller form factor not cost at least this much, if not far more considering the engineering feats required to make the computer fit in your hand?

Your estimations of paying for "data capable plan" in the USA are wildly off as well. Non-contract obligations for T-Mobile USA (with FlexPay) start at $60/month last I checked, and this provides unlimited SMS and HSPA+ data connections (although with speeds slower than generally available in The Netherlands).

Maybe you should think about leaving the two largest, most blatantly evil telecom corporations in the USA (Verizon or AT&T) and begin to analyze costs and benefits associated with locking yourself into 2-year contracts to get a simple mobile Internet plan. Almost any other country has prices wildly below your USA-based figures, and even if you play your cards right in the USA you will be paying far less.

Comment Some CPU microarchitectures dropped from Debian... (Score 5, Informative) 250

It's interesting to note, that while Debian has traditionally supported more CPU microarchitectures than any other mainstream GNU+Linux distribution out there, they have decided to officially stop supporting multiple microarchitectures with the release of Squeeze. The dropped architectures are alpha, hppa, and arm, the latter of which is replaced by the new "Embedded" ABI of ARM, which Debian calls armel.

Although kfreebsd-i386 and kfreebsd-amd64 have been added, these are not true new CPU microarchitectures in and of themselves, as they are compiled to standard x86 and x86_64 respectively, but obviously with the fairly radical change of not using Linux at all with a different GNU libc requiring all packages to be recompiled. This is the same situation as we have traditionally seen in the never-officially-released hurd-i386 port of Debian (which makes sense to call Debian GNU I suppose, as the Hurd kernel is part of the GNU project already) which seems to be missing so far with Debian 6.0 so far, pending a decision to potentially drop it as well.

All in all, amazing work by all in the Debian project. It remains an incredibly impressive feat that such a project can have no corporate oversight or ownership yet maintain such an impressively influential, relevant, and useful place in the operating system ecosystem. Even with dropping a couple of architectures, Debian still supports more computer types than most people even know exists, and continues to provide package updates that many many other operating systems base their repositories from. Also wonderful to see the website be updated!!

Comment This is not news, this is not true. (Score 1) 625

This is not news, because it's not true. Five years is nowhere near long enough for any change to occur in an input device which almost every desktop and laptop workstation uses. Think about it: all they point to are the Wii controller and touch screens on smart phones. These are horrible indicators for gaging the future of general purpose computer trends.

The Wii is a gaming console, and the iPhone is a cell phone. They are devices which fit into a very specific market and therefore have evolved to have input mechanisms that work well within that market. Not to mention that both of these examples are not comparable in any way: TVs/projectors aren't touchscreens, and iPhones don't point at anything.

If you expect us to believe the mouse is going away so soon, then you need to show us the currently available viable alternative that not only fulfills the functionality of the mouse, but surpasses it. To believe that such a method of input is not only available now, but also will be inexpensive enough to acheive market dominance over a device which basically every desktop/laptop user has grown accustomed to... it's just plain silly.

This seems like more of a troll statement to get clicks or news coverage than anything else.

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