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* Posts by Charles 9

3554 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Fiendish CryptoLocker ransomware survives hacktivists' takedown

Charles 9
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Re: Hate to say it but

Easy enough if you plug each hole you come across. Hard to phone home when you can't phone, period. And if anyone complains, tell them their machine is full of holes and needs to be fixed and to read the T&Cs again.

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Charles 9
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Re: What goes around...

Unless CL was ALSO the product of organized crime, meaning your scenario would escalate into a mob war.

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SHOCK! US House swats trolls, passes patent 'extortion' bill

Charles 9
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Re: End software patents, everywhere, immediately.

Just because something is intangible doesn't mean it doesn't have power (literally). Energy is intangible, for example. We can't feel radio waves (and many electromagnetic waves pass THROUGH us) yet we can harness them for assorted ends.

Plus, remember the adage "scientia est potentia" ("Knowledge is power.") This applies not just to specific topic but also to knowledge IN BROAD (like the concept of radioactivity, polished in the late 19th century). You're stuck on the concept that concepts are always specific. I'm recognizing that concepts can be broad as well, and copyrights ONLY cover specifics; they're not useful enough for generalities since you can end-run around that with a second implementation (that's why I brought up the Compaq BIOS--it specifically defeated a COPYRIGHT, but what if IBM held a PATENT on the concept of a Basic Input/Output System). All this attitude about patents being a whole "protection" racket a la the mafia is an overreach and smacks of "Gimme! Gimme!" entitlement. That kind of attitude can make conceptualizers think, "Blow this for a lark!" and keep their ideas to themselves, just as they can for inventors. Remember, information wants to be free, but people are greedy; you have to play with that hand or new ideas die in their heads and you can't tell when it'll come again (has anyone given thought to how much knowledge was lost in the Alexandria Library disaster?). You need the incentive to make them come out, BUT at the same time it should be recognized that they can only exploit their idea for so long, which is why I keep saying limit conceptual and software patents to terms like three years. Is that really too much to ask?

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Charles 9
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Re: End software patents, everywhere, immediately.

"You say that as if it were a bad thing. It's not."

Look at it from the perspective of the one writing the code or developing the technique. If you planned to sell you technique on the market, how would you feel if you learned your hard would could just be copycatted and sold for less if not just given away? People rarely work for work's sake, especially when bread needs to get on the table, and if I just happen to develop a new and radically-useful algorithm, perhaps I'd like to SELL my idea. And before you say it's intangible, suppose I put the code on a microchip or circuit board; how's THAT for intangible? Plus you can apply the same principles to medicine, which use programming of a different sort with chemistry.

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Charles 9
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Re: Double edged sword

"The aim behind this is to prevent Patents from being unusable because the holder refuses to hand out licenses - and in some cases that can go on for decades - effectively blocking any forward progress for mankind as a whole."

Isn't that the "ND" part of "FRAND": Non-Discriminatory? It could also apply to the "F" part: Fair.

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Charles 9
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Re: Might work...

I thought America had been first to file for over a century. Isn't that how Bell won the patent for the telephone: by beating a simultaneous inventor to file by about three hours?

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Charles 9
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Re: @Charles 9

"If you think this is worthy of patent protection rather than copyright you are siding with Oracle in their spat with Google regarding the Android Java affair. As a developer my choice is copyright (which doesn't preclude FOSS) and never patents for software."

I'm with NEITHER side. My side is that patents for software and the like should exist BUT that patent terms should be relative to the industry in which they apply. And for the software industry, lifecycles are short, so make the patents short as well (my current throught is three years--long enough to get some value out of it, not long enough to really abuse or troll it). If you don't allow for the truly novel to be worthwhile, especially in this day and age, then nothing truly novel will appear. Patent law is meant to act as both stick AND carrot.

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Charles 9
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Re: It was promising...

"It also doesn't help in situations where a patent troll company with deep pockets takes a small software company to court, for example Uniloc suing every just about Android developer and their grandmothers too."

Thing is, if I'm reading this right, the trolls can't go after these developers if the code in question was not theirs by design. IOW, they'd have to take it to the originator of the offending code, and if it's in the Android base, that's probably Google...a company with some of the deepest pockets in the IT world, a company that was able to hold the dreaded MPEG-LA to a stalemate.

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Charles 9
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Re: End software patents, everywhere, immediately.

Some form of software patent MUST exist somewhere because copyright is not enough to protect a TECHNIQUE which can be defeated with a clean-room copy (remember how Compaq cloned the IBM BIOS). BTW, people can get around a software patent by burning the code into a chip, turning it into HARDware instead. No, the main issue is the short lifecycle length of the computer industry. A more reasonable solution would be that software patents only be granted for very short lengths, say three years.

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Lightning strikes USB bosses: Next-gen jacks will be REVERSIBLE

Charles 9
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Re: A curse on the inventor of PS2

"As for being under desks, why not simply rotate the cpu case so you *could* see the sockets?"

Because sometimes, be they on or under desks, PCs are locked down, tied down, or otherwise in a position (think inside a specialized cubby-hole) where they can't be moved, meaning you have to take the cable to the device.

PS. I've seen PS2 connectors get mangled just by manual labor. Since socket orientation doesn't always correspond to the plug, it's STILL difficult to know which way is supposed to be up (consider sockets on PCI (Express) cards where all the connectors are UPSIDE-DOWN). People can twist and turn those plugs to the point that those literally-wire-thin pins get bent, if not snap altogether. A GOOD connector design needs to prevent that point from happening. The current USB A plug design and standard B plug do a good job at this but are too big for today's smaller devices, and the smaller B versions, while honest attempts, have their drawbacks.

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Charles 9
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Re: USB isn't "universal" after all

The point is not the communication standards but the PLUGS. For example, why was it deemed necessary for USB 3.0 to use an additional pair of data lines to transmit its ~5Gb/s mode? If the B-plug was too big for a phone, why not make ALL the peripheral makers (INCLUDING the printer makers) settle on Micro-B and stop the cable shuffling (which I admit to be having an issue with--which B end do I need--standard, mini, or micro, they're all over the map).

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Charles 9
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Re: still crap, try harder

Five. Two for the voltage (remember, the bus can need power irrespective of data), two for the data, and one for the shield.

And it's the shield that's the hard part. In order for the plug to be electrically safe, THAT has to be connected first AND stay connected while the rest of the pins are connected. Oh, and since we have POWERED pins, we might also want to make sure the wrong pins don't touch each other. Got anyway to achieve that besides a parallel insertion?

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Charles 9
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Because trying to plug it in the DARK (with no access to light) is a common enough scenario. So is trying to plug in a confined space where you can't see your hand (think back of a PC that can't be moved). Eyes can help you sod all here. Not to mention it discriminates against the BLIND. So you really need a standard that is capable of being plugged in by touch alone and forgiving enough that one need not know which way is up (because EITHER way can be up).

And before anyone chimes in with round, please direct me to such an orientation-neutral connector that (a) ensures the ground is connected first and stays connected before any data pins connect, (b) is small enough to fit in a device less than 1cm thick), and (c) provides enough pins to transmit data at USB3 speeds.

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Charles 9
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OK. Try it IN THE DARK. Or in confined spaces. Or with cables without enough label embossing for usable tactile feedback. Plus some devices have the SOCKET upside-down (like my GS4), probably because the socket got installed to the UNDERside of the circuit board.

Put it this way. USB is simple, just not simple ENOUGH. It's been determined to have practicality problems in blind or otherwise compromised installations. They need the installation procedure to be even simpler than what they have now.

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Mexican Cobalt-60 robbers are DEAD MEN, say authorities

Charles 9
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Re: Goiana incident

"As far as nasty isotopes go, the most dangerous are alpha and beta emitters with long half lives such as 90Sr and suchlike as these irradiate over a long time and bioaccumulate."

I can understand alpha and beta emitters to be murder once they're in you, but what about gamma emitters that are so hard to contain? At least alpha and beta emitters can be contained easily enough while outside, but gamma rays pass through a whole lotta stuff, making them pretty dangerous even when some distance away from the body.

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Charles 9
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Re: education issue.

It's the "Forbidden Fruit" effect: plain and simple. And it's this that makes keeping people out of a place virtually impossible. That's the dilemma. Try to hide it and by the law of averages, someone will stumble upon it by chance. Put a sign of any kind on it, and you polarize people: some will stay away while others will have just the opposite effect and be ATTRACTED to it. And since the effect is based on curiosity (a basic human trait), it's not something you can easily mitigate.

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Lantern lights the way to web freedom for Great Firewall prisoners

Charles 9
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But don't the two go hand in hand since one of the big concerns with blowing a whistle is being found out by who you're blowing the whistle on? And once they can say you dissed them, rubber hoses follow. Thus the only safe way to blow a whistle is to do it in such a way that no one can prove who said it.

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Must try HARDER, infosec lads: We're RUBBISH at killing ZOMBIES

Charles 9
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No, because the malware writers are savvy enough to keep such a mechanism to an extreme minimum. Usually, the self-destruct is self-triggered upon the malware detecting a honeypot or VM (to prevent analysis) and can't be rigged remotely. The botherders want to make sure as many bots remain intact as long as possible.

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Charles 9
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Re: I'm reminded of a story about the tunnels of Viet Nam...

"That's why you have to establish a tight perimeter first, otherwise it does not work."

But what happens when you discover part of the perimeter is, for one reason or another, UNREACHABLE? Like how the Cong kept some routes into neighboring (and neutral) Laos? Like how many of the malware writers are located in countries with less-than-favorable relations to the West?

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Charles 9
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Re: I'm reminded of a story about the tunnels of Viet Nam...

That third group then must've been fortunate to not have their perimeter undermined because ONE tunnel snaking PAST their perimeter would've ruined their effort: not only providing an escape path for those underground but also creating a potential ambush point for anyone who dared to go down: possibly creating a line breach for a combined over/underground assault.

That's the same thing you have now with these malware writers. They know the underground better than anyone so know all the routes they can take: some of them the InfoSec people may not even be aware (or even capable of addressing--consider havens in anti-Western countries). How does the West combat a botnet that's secretly being funded by radical Muslims or the Chinese or someone else who may not be inclined to cooperate?

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Charles 9
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Re: Learn what an algorith is

Have you considered the idea that botnet designers KNOW about the possibility of decompilation and take steps AGAINST it using such things as self-modifying code, code obfuscation, and remote download of payloads that then only reside in memory (and more of them know how to root and thus block access to its own code; plus they're becoming VM-aware)?

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Two million TERRIBLE PASSWORDS stolen by malware attackers

Charles 9
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Re: Random passwords for the masses!

Just because a dictionary attack doesn't do it NOW doesn't mean they won't add it in in the future. Much as dictionary attacks now handle chains of words to deal with "correcthorsebatterystaple", soon they'll be savvy enough to try literary initialisms such as "Iwtbot,iwtwot." Especially with help from an e-book library where the text can be extracted.

Plus it doesn't address the main issue: too many sites, not enough memory. Now you have to know which book you pulled the password from and what line from what page. Plus what if you lose the book or someone else (within your local circle) figures out your mnemonic?

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Charles 9
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Re: Just because 12345 is the combination for your luggage

12345? That's amazing! I put the same combination on my luggage!

But SERIOUSLY, remembering the password IS an issue just as big as having it stolen which is why it creates a second, competing barrier to passwords: you need one that's hard enough to guess but not SO hard you can't recall it. Think of it like having a ring full of keys. If time is pressing, could you retrieve the one key you need quickly enough? And if you use anything to help differentiate the keys, then someone who STEALS the keys can use those mnemonics, too. And key vaults only help if you're in known systems. What if you MUST login on a new or otherwise unknown device where the key vault can't be retrieved?

Sometimes I wonder if we should try to develop something better than passwords because, let's face it, people's memory can be flakey, but what alternatives are out there that can tick all the boxes?

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PC market staging a RECOVERY. (Only joking, it's through the floor)

Charles 9
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Re: Lets try to look at the facts @Denarius

"I suggest that you take your Android tablet, attach a OTG USB cable to a small USB hub, and plug a proper keyboard and mouse in."

But that presents a problem of its own. Under almost all circumstances, using USB OTG prevents you from charging the device (as they both need the same port). Not to mention attaching an OTG device usually means more power draw (Yes, you propose a self-powered hub, but that's exception to the rule).

Also, the size of the tablet can have an effect on the practicality of the idea. A 10-incher, OK, but a 7-incher can be a bit small for the job, especially if it's a cheapo tab with only a 480x800 resolution.

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Charles 9
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Re: Lets try to look at the facts

Actually, Android adopted MTP because you didn't have to unmount the storage on the host to use it (USB requires this in UMS), and since many Android apps expect the storage to be there, it presented crash risks.

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Charles 9
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Re: Only to be expected....

"Sales are more likely to come in bursts, as far as corporate purchases go, during the next 5 - 10 years. Mainly machines being replaced as they go out of warranty more than because they are under spec."

And even that's iffy if the math supports extended service plans vs. replacements.

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Charles 9
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Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"?

"Consumers had 3 years of the option to replace XP with Win7."

If you were early enough, the privilege was pretty cheap. I preordered a copy of 7 Home Premium and it only set me back $49. Although I use Xubuntu now, I still have the disc; I could go back if need be. And since 7 offered enhanced graphics and sound support for newer systems (vs. XP), not to mention the 64-bit support (spotty on XP, only really hit mainstream with Vista), there was at least some impetus to jump from XP, especially if the price was low enough (which as I said, it was).

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Solar enthusiasts rays idea of 'leccy farms on MOON, drones

Charles 9
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Re: Heard better..

The moon may always face the earth, yes, but the Earth rotates under the moon approximately once per day (it's off by about 1/28th in one direction--forget just which way; does the moon orbit with or against the Earth's rotation?). So there's still the matter of aiming a beam back down to Earth (and with that, the inherent risk of mishap--or worse, sabotage).

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Charles 9
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Re: All of the above is true with the proviso...

It also probably helped there was a very concrete goal in mind when canals and later railroads were built. In both cases, the main goal was speedier commerce: moving more stuff at a time at a faster rate than one could before overland.

But then again, think back to the great age of sail. Who underwrote most of those transoceanic voyages? As has been said, once you have the basics down, private enterprise can build upon them, but when you're trekking into the great unknown, where the goal itself, let along its attainment, was anything but certain, you probably need backing from an entity for which money isn't the first priority.

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Charles 9
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Re: Store the energy @fpx

Saying eight hours makes me think all of these solar-powered aircraft were flying widdershins (east, against the sun), producing shorter day-night cycles. I wonder if anyone's built one with enough lasting power to fly sunwise (west, with the sun): longer days but longer nights, too.

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Charles 9
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Re: not rocket science

"I think you'll find that Desertec's plan used solar thermal, which is an efficient way to harvest all of the solar spectrum by heating a working fluid to high temperature and hence drive a pretty conventional steam turbine."

Can you point to a study that supports this? I would think the "thermal" in solar thermal implies that the energy absorption would be concentrated on the low end of the spectrum (particularly in the red to microwave ranges--this includes infrared, the wavelength we most commonly associate with heat). What happens to the higher frequencies like green, blue, violet, and ultraviolet?

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Charles 9
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Re: where the cost of delivering heavy equipment and maintaining it is minimal

"Moondust is just as bad as desert sand, but it's still a lot easier to maintain in a desert."

At least the moon has no atmosphere and therefore no WIND. Sand by itself doesn't do much until air picks it up. It's not sand that raises the maintenance costs but sandSTORMS.

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Charles 9
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Re: not rocket science

Ivanph is in the desert, too, and is solar-thermal. Thing is, despite its size (5.5 sq. mi.), it's estimated to only provide enough power for just over 1% of California's homes, to say nothing of big energy sinks like heavy industry (and let's not start on industries like aluminum smelting which specifically requires lots of electricity due to the smelting techniques involved---at least steel smelting can use non-electric sources).

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Charles 9
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"Now, I'm the first to say governments everywhere are the single most inefficient organized bodies on the planet, but they are also the best suited to absorbing the costs of huge programs that benefit all of society. It's actually what governments are designed to do, gather resources and redistribute them where the greatest good can be had. I am not saying they currently redistribute those resources the best way, but programs like this is what they're structured to do."

Put it this way. There are some things you can't trust the private sector to do right because money isn't the right motivation (at best, it distracts; at worst, it actually interferes). That's why I don't trust the private sector when it comes to medicine. This is one industry where the money angle interferes with the greater goal of improving health (think treatment regimens vs. permanent cures/vaccines).

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Charles 9
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Re: not rocket science

"Current solar cells in a clear sunny location near the equator can generate at least a kWh per square metre per day. A square kilometres of panels can generate a terawatt hour per day."

I would like to know where you obtain these figures. Because I have a counterpoint.

Ivanpah is the largest solar plant in the world, at 5.5 square miles. It's about to come online. And note this plant is solar-thermal (using molten salts) so actually CAN still generate electricity at night unlike photovoltaics. It's rated generation is 392MW, enough to power about 150,000 California homes (thing is, California is the most populous state in America--over 12 MILLION homes alone). So may I ask where you numbers come from? And how is night accounted for?

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French court: Google, Microsoft en ami must say 'au revoir' to pirates

Charles 9
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FAIL

Aw come on, government types. Why don't you come out and say what you REALLY want: a government-approved Internet whitelist so that you can go to these addresses and ONLY these addresses?

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Sceptic-bait E-Cat COLD FUSION generator goes on sale for $US1.5m

Charles 9
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Re: Don't stand too close

PV is one of the few that doesn't require use of a turban to generate electricity. Then again, its efficiency also stinks compared to modern turbines.

In any event, aren't some plants finding ways to harness the waste heat more productively?

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Charles 9
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Re: Why the scepticism?!

Because by actually taking money for an actual device but not delivering, he would be legally on the hook for fraud. No, what he wants is to draw in more "R&D" bucks which he can then launder.

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Meet the BlackBerry wizardry that created its 'better Android than Android'

Charles 9
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Re: "It doesn't mean that QNX is necessarily more secure"

Only because formal verification is very complicated, and even then the formal verification only applies to specific compilations/implementations like that for SEL4.

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Charles 9
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Re: Well done guys, plenty of overtime coming up

I would think it will start happening sooner than that. Android 4.4 KitKat introduces the new Android Runtime (ART). The big feature of ART is precompiling Dalvik apps upon installation. Seems a bit rough around the edges, but it definitely shows where they're going.

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Got a NAKED Jelly Bean Samsung S4 or HTC One? Maybe it's time for a KitKat

Charles 9
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Re: No update on Galaxy Nexus

Most of the security issues fall to the apps, which DO get updated routinely outside the OS update cycle. When was the last time a security hole was found in the Android kernel or other base functions?

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Charles 9
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Re: Kit-Kat rules

4.4 has been making the rounds in various custom ROMs. It IS rather snappier thanks to the new Android Runtime; but there have been some teething issues as well. I've been thinking about flashing to it myself, but I think I'll have to wait until those kinks get worked out.

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Vint Cerf: 'Privacy may be an ANOMALY, now over'. And it's no secret I think that

Charles 9
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If not, there were always the bards and troubadours, who made it a living to pass on the "news" (read: gossip) they learned along the way.

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Charles 9
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Re: Do not buy stuff from adverts

They're not that dense. And the advertisers' job is to, to coin a phrase from an ad, "make the fish bite even when they're not hungry." They've made it their art form for over a century, and they're MASTERS of persistence. If they don't get you one way, they'll work another way until they get a hook (and they WILL get a hook eventually--it's what makes spam worthwhile after all). Sooner or later, they'll make a deal you just CAN'T resist because it hits something that makes you snap it up before it's gone (like a deal on something for the wife or kids just in time for Christmas). And that's all they need to get started.

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Berners-Lee: 'Growing tide of surveillance' is destroying the internet

Charles 9
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Re: Proposed solution?

1. Overhead's a bitch. Try running a Freenet node for a few weeks and see how little useful traffic you get for the bandwidth allotment.

2. You forget about pwning the endpoints. IOW, the plods can always go AROUND the encryption.

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TrueCrypt audit project founder: 'We've set our sights high'

Charles 9
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Re: Still a problem for non-techies

"People are always going to be surprised by the unexpected. One way to minimize this is to expect more. Generating a random or strong pseudo random salt for every encryption you do is just good practice. Worst case it is a trivial bit of extra work for nothing. We are at a bit of an impass because you obviously can't see how compromised salts can be an issue and I am unable to see how they could not be."

Not necessarily. That's what contingency planning is all about. The thing is to plan for

But back to the thing about key sizes. In the real world, the key size hits realms of diminishing returns, plus there are issues of bandwidth and storage limitations AND they don't account for all possible avenues of attack like insiders or pwning. Ultimately, security is a risk assessment. Since perfect security is impossible, even WITH a one-time-pad, it becomes an exercise in just how far one is willing to go to be secure. At some point you hit the sweet spot where beyond that you reach diminishing returns: where it's more effort than it's worth in trying to thwart your attack (such as in making the key large enough or quantum-resistant, the adversary switches to the new path of least resistance).

That's why practical secrets like Formula X (the Coca-Cola recipe) or the WD-40 oil ratios aren't kept in electronic form at all. It's kept by a very small inner circle who performs the mixing in a black box--ingredients go in, the desired product goes out. Even then one could learn some things (at least a maximum) from the ingredients that go in, but they probably don't use everything and intentionally waste some things to throw off the trail. But that's the kind of risk assessment they made with this system.

As for the multiple sources issue, that goes back to the Trent problem. If ONE source can be compromised, how can one be certain they're not ALL compromised? Particularly by using the one compromised source to reach out to all the rest like a plague?

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Lavabit founder: Feds ORDERED email providers to stay open

Charles 9
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Re: O Rly...?

Except THEIR services ARE under government mandate AND described as "life-saving". Providing a secure e-mail service doesn't have a direct effect on whether people live or die. Stopping a shooter, putting out a fire, or rushing a heart attack victim to the hospital DOES. Meanwhile, history has shown that private companies in such a service can "go mafia" and start protection rackets (once upon a time, fire services were private until THAT bit), so they made most life-saving services answerable to the government and thus the people.

Oh, and before you thing it went over my head...(Reveals the cricket ball that tried to go over his head, only it's too torn up to be worth using). I'm not responding to sarcasm but to BAD sarcasm that can easily be taken seriously.

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Charles 9
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Re: For Starters: USENET

You could do the same thing with a chan-type webpage where anyone can post a message without any kind of header information. Then the page is just downloaded wholesale.

Thing is, what about those with bandwidth restrictions? Trying to obfuscate your message has a price, and unlike with a Times advertisement that price may not be affordable to the paranoid.

And going back to trust, there's also the potential paranoia of the state, one of the most powerful and resourceful agencies around, cooperating or subverting OTHER states and creating a kind of MiniLuv that can subvert enough of a trust system (even a key exchange) to still be able to figure you out.

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Arm-wave bye BYE! Apple grabs Kinect flail-sensor maker for $345m

Charles 9
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Re: Apple Telly

Jobs' widow may have the largest individual share, but I suspect the MAJORITY of the shares are held by types who would see things the media firms' way and thus vote to secure their content behind as many walls as they can. As Disney has itself proved, keeping a good chunk of their stuff locked up makes people clamor when they DO come out those rare times. BY stirring up excitement in rotations, they can actually draw repeat business out of a one-time thing. When it comes to 4K, I'm pretty sure Disney and the other movie companies want to get it right the first (and only) time. Who cares if the customers get ticked at the hoop-jumping; too many aren't bright enough to see the hoops for what they are: enough to keep business going. It's 1 smart vote against 10 stupid votes; stupid wins.

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Eat our dust, spinning rust: In 5 years, it'll be all flash all the time

Charles 9
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Re: Speed (bandwidth)? Or acceleration (latency)?

"If your Internet commerce business model really does involve never knowing what (large) pieces of data your clients will instantly need from anywhere in your single-tier all-flash storage setup, I hope that they're paying well for the service..."

As I recall, Google (one of those businesses who DOES have a "no stale data" issue) rolls their own.

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