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Submission + - Quicken Bill Pay is No Longer Safe to Use (perens.com)

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.

Comment Re:If it ain't broke... (Score 1) 204

Assuming that those options aren't problems from the code maintenance or security points of view

All options are problems from a code maintenance and testing point of view. Every feature has an ongoing cost. If the cost exceeds the benefit, which is almost certainly the case if the feature is very little-used and there are other more often-used and roughly equally-convenient/effective ways to accomplish the same thing, then the feature should be removed.

That said, I use close-to-right all the time and hope it doesn't get axed. OTOH, another poster pointed out that it's also possible to multi-select then use Ctrl-W to close the selected tabs, which is almost as convenient when close-to-right is what I want, and also handles other cases where I want to batch close but close-to-right isn't what I want, so I won't be too annoyed if close-to-right is removed.

Comment Re:Huh? I use these all the time. (Score 1) 204

I'm sure the real reasoning behind this is to pad their usage stats. Chrome users spend 25% more time on your website and spend $fake_dollars more!

Padding usage stats in this way would be a bad idea for Google, because it would appear to sites that Chrome users spend more time on their sites... but spend less per unit of time (because no one buys from an idle background tab), making the Chrome user base appear to be less desirable than the user base of other browsers.

Comment Re:Huh? I use these all the time. (Score 1) 204

It's fucking stupid. It's rarely needed function that is rarely used. IT'S STILL NEEDED.

I use "close tabs to right" all the time[1], myself, so I hope this doesn't go away. That said, I disagree with your idea that if something is rarely used it should be kept. Your other example (clearing cookies) is a bad one because there is no other way to do that, but in this case tabs can be -- and generally are -- closed one at a time, and in fact Chrome is careful to move the tabs around so that the close button for the next tab is under your cursor when you close one. This means that "close to the right" can also be done by moving your mouse to the "x" on the first tab to remove, then tapping the mouse button rapidly until all of them are gone. Unless you have more than the 20-30 tabs that I typically have open, that's really not so terrible. Plus, as others in this thread have pointed out, you can multi-select tabs then batch close them that way. There are other reasonably-good ways to achieve the goal, so if this is one is rarely used, there's no way to argue that it's actually necessary.

As for why to remove it... features cost. Every feature you keep in a product is a feature that has to be maintained and tested. Development and testing resources are not infinite -- not even at Google -- and the accumulated burden of lots of old and rarely-used features gradually slows progress on new features, security fixes, etc. It makes a great deal of sense to remove features that aren't used much and which have more often-used alternatives.

[1] My normal browsing style is to open every link in a new tab, and to use Ctrl-W to go "back". So my tab bar ends up being a breadcrumb trail of my path through a web site, and when I'm done with something I close the "site" with "close tabs to right". I also keep a couple of pinned tabs (email and calendar, in that order), so when I want to close "everything" I've been doing, I "close tabs to right" on the calendar tab.

Comment Re:sorry, no (Score 1) 447

Because Apple DOES have a presence here in New Zealand,

You are asserting Apple has a presence merely because it does. You are also asserting that by not having any stores or employees or offices, Apple has a presence. That is illogical at best.

that is how they are able to sell into schools and to Government Departments, they MUST be registered in New Zealand as a business in order to get a Tax ID in order to collect/pay GST (sale taxes).

I don't know: Does Apple sell via 3rd party? Maybe you should find out first.

The volume of sales to schools (above $50,000) a year forces the issue.

Volume doesn't matter if Apple does not sell directly to schools. Again find out first before you make the assertion.

They will have a registered office (be it with an accountant/lawyer).

Then find the registration.

Colgate is registered in NZ as a company, how (or why) Budweiser gets here I don't know. But I DO know Apple is selling direct into New Zealand and must have a tax ID to be able to do so.

My question which you did not answer: Do you force upon Colgate and Budweiser the same provisions you wish to force upon Apple? If no, then you are biased.

Comment Re:The objection ignores Bostrom's basic argument (Score 1) 359

The objection in question ignores Bostrom's basic argument.

Irrelevant. The objection is orthogonal to Bostrom's argument, but could absolutely refute it, if valid (which I don't believe, more below).

Bostrom argues that if simulation is possible, it must eventually be done which means there probably are a large number of simulated universes and only one non-simulated one (I'm simplifying here, but that's the core of it). If a counterargument demonstrates that there is some reason our observed physics is incompatible with any possible simulated physics then Bostrom's argument becomes irrelevant, because we have proof that our universe is not simulated, regardless of whether simulation is possible or whether it has been done. Or, if the weaker counterargument that our observed physics is incompatible with any reasonable simulated physics, then Bostrom's argument becomes weaker, though it's not refuted because one could postulate that the creator of the simulation chose to create an unreasonable simulated physics in order to fool any intelligences that arose within the simulation and looked (note that this latter argument also works against any proofs of the non-existence of any form of god who has some reason to demand faith -- you can always say "Yeah, but god made it that way so that we'd have to take his existence on faith.")

However, I think Hossenfelder's argument is flawed because she's making a crucial and unjustifiable assumption: that any simulation must necessarily simulate every detail of the simulated universe, i.e that the simulation in question must be a finite element model. Not only is there no reason to make this assumption, there's every reason to assume its opposite, because it's clearly more efficient to simulate at a higher level of abstraction. In that view, the weirdness of Quantum Mechanics actually supports the simulation theory, because we can surmise that the simulation does not in fact model elementary particles but only their aggregate behavior and what we're actually seeing when we try to look very closely is a predictable result of this incompletely-detailed simulation.

Note that I'm not saying I think we live in a simulated universe. I think it's probably impossible to know, but to the extent that we think we might be able to search for artifacts of the simulation, QM's very weirdness is probably the best artifact we have to support the notion, not a refutation.

Comment Abandoning Time-Worn Processes Leads to Atrophy (Score 5, Insightful) 154

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:Whats really being asked (Score 1) 267

NO, I have a problem with corporations and arseholes that don't pay their fair share

Corporations never pay taxes. Never have, never will. Only people pay taxes. Corporate taxation is just a way for government to collect taxes from the taxpayers without the taxpayers knowing it's been done. Taxpayers/voters are typically quite happy to vote for corporate taxes because it seems like a "free" way to fund government services, and anyway everyone hates those nasty corporations. In fact, any expense you impose across all of the companies in an industry just gets built into the cost structure of the industry, which means it ultimately comes from consumers (in the form of higher prices) or employees (in the form of lower wages).

In the short term, investors may take part of the hit, but only part, and only in the short term. Ultimately, either the expenses will be built into the cost structure, enabling capital to obtain the expected rate of return, or capital will move elsewhere, either to different industries or offshore. This is why if you want to tax capital, you need to tax the individuals who own capital, not the corporations which are the vehicle of that capital.

Corporate taxes are stupid at best, and arguably evil since they serve to obscure the taxes from the voters. Taxes are essential, but the voters need to see what they're paying and what they're getting for their money.

Comment Re:wow (Score 1) 102

As it's been said before, that's not the fault of "android" - that's the fault of shitty manufacturers.

Nvidia just released Android 7 for the Shield K1 tablet, even though they've discontinued production. Not a whole lot of other manufacturers out there that would continue development on something they no longer sell.

And that tablet is still one of the best (if not THE best) 8-inch android tablet you can buy, even though it's 14 months old. Every manufacturer is sitting atop a big pile of laurels right now, and wondering why the market is shrinking.

Comment Re:Much cheaper than the iPhone (Score 2) 102

That's because Apple has been ignoring the iPad Mini for like 3+ years now. Seriously, what have they done with it since putting the Retina display in it? Add the TouchID that all other iOS devices have, and throw us a bone with storage. It's the red-headed stepchild of tablets. If you really want to make it look like shit, compare it to the Nvidia Shield K1 that is now like 14 months old, and better in every way at practically half the price.

I really like the form factor of the iPad Mini, but Apple seems hell bent on not making products I want, and in fact killing off the line of products that are even close.

Comment Re:Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proo (Score 5, Informative) 240

Either it's patented (and thus disclosed) or it's a trade secret. You cannot have it both ways.

To expand on this a bit, because it's really sad (and bad!) that so many people don't understand the theory behind patents: Encouraging disclosure, and hence reuse, is the point of having a patent system. The word "patent" is latin for "lying open". Patents were created to allow inventors to open their inventions to the world without fear of losing the opportunity to profit from them. Without patents inventors have to keep their ideas secret to profit from them, which impedes progress and adds huge overhead to the process of using the ideas to build things that benefit society.

The fact that InvalidsYnc fails to understand that the notion of an NDA for a patent is utterly nonsensical is sad, but what makes it a big problem is that this lack of understanding isn't actually unreasonable, given how deeply broken our patent system is. It has been subverted and does not accomplish its primary goals of enabling open sharing of ideas.

To understand just how bad it is, note that the way to test whether a patent system is enabling the spread and reuse of good ideas is to examine the way the patent database is used. If the system is functioning well, we should see inventors regularly scouring the patent database in search of ideas they can license in order to solve their problems. If your widget needs to frobnizz cleanly in order to wozzle, but the frobnizzing operation is unreliable and unstable, you should be able to do a patent search for a frobnizz stabilization system which you can license for less that what it would cost you to research your own, which will enable you to bring your wozzling device to market sooner and cheaper.

But in actual practice, at least in the software field and I haven't heard anyone from other fields saying it's different in theirs, attorneys tell working engineers specifically *not* to look at the patent database. This is because it's chock full of obvious ideas which they might independently reinvent, but if the patent holder can prove that the engineer probably saw the patent then it's not just simple infringement due to independent invention, but willful infringement subject to treble damages. In addition, the way in which patents are written means that the database would be extremely hard to use even if engineers did try to mine it. So engineers avoid using the patent database for its intended purpose.

This doesn't mean the patent system is completely failing to do its job, because it undoubtedly still does remove the need for a lot of secrecy, which removes a lot of overhead. But it does mean that it's not working nearly as well as it should. It may be removing some overhead, but it is not actively enabling the reuse of good ideas.

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