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* Posts by Charles 9

3689 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Google's boffins branded 'unacceptably ineffective' at tackling web piracy

Charles 9
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"I'm not a lawyer (thank goodness), but bizarrely, my recollection is that consent for *photographs* is almost universally 18, regardless of the age of consent for sex. I think there are plenty of states in the US where the AOC is 16 (can't say it's ever come up for me... uh...) but that doesn't change CP laws. So you can have sex with her and it's hunky dory, but if you take a picture you're a monster. :P"

You assume the laws and customs are the same everywhere you go. Consider, until recently a girl could appear nude in Germany's Bravo Magazine as early as 14. Even now, it's still only 16 where other countries can insist on 18 or even 20. Which shows some countries take a looser stance on the subject (and it's not considered a big thing by the populace) as long as it's known the participants are willing. And last I checked, standards and customs in Asian countries can be even more varied.

So, like copyright, you have a problem of conflicting standards. And that doesn't address the issue that if copyright dodgers can change their names, use codewords, and so on to hide from Google, why can't the CP'ers do the same thing: turn the business into a game of Whack-A-Mole while hiding out in countries that won't extradite for CP?

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Charles 9
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Re: Oranges are not the only fruit

"Or - heaven forfend - what if a bunch of people donated some CPU time to a crowdsourced search engine with a distributed database. Try and shut *that* down ...."

If you really want to look into such a thing, look up YaCy (http://www.yacy.net/)

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Charles 9
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Re: Oranges are not the only fruit

Altavista was closed earlier this year, IIRC, some time after being eventually bought indirectly by Yahoo!.

As for your distributed search engine idea, that has potential flaws. It's like with Freenet, things can drop off the map, plus there may be ways to attack the infrastructure or poison the results.

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Charles 9
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"Not to mention, copyright laws are different in every country. You're asking them to enforce a mix of criminal and civil laws with multiple interpretations across multiple jurisdictions."

Can't the same be said about CP laws? After all, there are differing ages of consent and differing attitudes toward the practice. It's not like there's a universal standard here, either.

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Charles 9
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Re: Ask one back

"I think the problem comes when you try and print them. Some bright spark realised pretty early on how important it would be to keep the lid on fake notes and got everyone to sign up."

And how did they convince the firms operating outside the country? Import restrictions? What about international bank note copying (copying notes from another country and then moving them over there)? What if there's a note re-issue (the US now refreshes notes $5 and greater every few years).

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Charles 9
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Re: A coherent responsible answer

But the thing is, the same things you describe can be used by CP flingers to get around censors, yet Google appears to be much more aggressive in closing those links than they are in closing piracy rings. So it DOES smack of a double standard. Unless Google can explain clearly what's so different about CP that they can clamp those down and not pirates, they'll be looking like a Janus.

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Thorium and inefficient solar power? That's good enough for me

Charles 9
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Re: Thorium reactors and A-bombs.

From a breeder reactor, yes, but from the byproduct of a Thorium fuel cycle? Not likely because the byproduct is usually laced with very-hard-to-separate and very-dangerous Uranium-232.

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Charles 9
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Re: Transmission is key

IOW, you're not teleporting an electrion; you're making an electron on the other end move by moving the one on your end. Think of it like a variant of the tin-can telephone.

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Charles 9
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Re: What about the Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor?

Hate to rain on the parade, but I believe that design (a variant on the MSR) makes a lot of assumptions about the fuels it can handle. Because there are plenty of contaminants natually produced in nuclear fuel cycles that can affect future reactions (it's part of the reason they're left as waste rather than reprocessed into new fuel).

MIT may be full of eggheads, but I don't recall the design being vetted by the oldest heads in the nuclear industry as of yet. Some of them, IIRC, posted similar criticisms.

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Charles 9
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Re: Thorium reactors and A-bombs.

That's not what I heard. The Thorium fuel cycle normally does produce U-233, yes, but it's usually contaminated with U-232, which is not only extremely dangerous (it's worse than the 233, which is more dangerous than plutonium) but also extremely hard to separate from the U-233 because they're so close in atomic weight (U-235 is 3 away from U-238 and is still a pain to separate, U-232 is only 1 away from U-233).

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Charles 9
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Re: Intermittency of Solar

The thing is, we can always find uses for excess power (think desalination, aluminium smelting, research into synthetic hydrocarbons). It's a lot better to have too much power than too little. We can find ways to deal with too much.

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Charles 9
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Re: Thorium reactors

Meaning, at the time, the US and the USSR WANTED uranium reactors. They WANTED the plutonium byproduct to put into thier nuclear arsenlal. It's only now, after the Cold War, that the idea is no longer as appealing.

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Charles 9
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Re: Cause for concern

Given that the isotope you want is Uranium-235, which is hard to get out of Uranium-233, I don't think so. LFTR byproducts are typically contaminated with Uranium-232. Basically, you're better off handling plutonium.

But this does raise a question. If Uranium-233 is a byproduct of the LFTR, how does one deal with it, given that it has a half-life in the 10^5 range of years?

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Charles 9
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Re: Commercial fusion may not be as far away as you think

We ARE talking about the same firm that took the challenge of reducing radar cross-section and producing the F-117 (which overachieved the goal by an order of magnitude), so they DO have a history of being able to crank out surprisingly effective tech, but we've been trying to crack the fusion problem for the past few decades, so as the saying goes, "I'll believe it when I see it."

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Bill Gates: Yes, Ctrl-Alt-Del salute was a MISTAKE

Charles 9
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Re: TURBO on a joypad?

They called it a Turbo-fire to distinguish the fact the Rapid fire only happened as long as you held down the button, in contrast to a true auto-fire which simply kept that button rapid-firing with no user input.

As for slo-mo, I believe this was intended as a way to help slow down fast-paced games making them easier to negotiate (more time to dodge bullets and so on). It was a bodge at best since Slow was basically Auto-fire rigged to the Start button (which since the Nintendo days was traditionally used to pause the game).

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Charles 9
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Re: Sun Server Keyboard...

For the Apple IIe onward, Ctrl+Reset performed a break to the system prompt. Adding the OpenApple (the hollow Apple logo left of the Spacebar) performed a reset.

The Commodore 64 and 128 had a Stop key. In BASIC, hitting this aborted execution; it mapped to ASCII 3 (Ctrl-C) so could be caught by any program (It was labeled Run/Stop because shifitng it ran the LOAD macro command for tape drives). On a harder note, holding it with the Restore key triggered a Panic sequence. It usually broke you out of whatever program you had, restored default colors and sent you back to BASIC. The 128 went the extra distance and added a hard reset button. To be on the safe side, though, it was located on the SIDE of the machine, next to the power switch.

I believe the Atari 400/800 computer line had a dedicated reset button, too, located among a cluster of four normally above the numbers on the keyboard.

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US House Republicans: 'End net neutrality or no debt ceiling deal' – report

Charles 9
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Re: I'm surprised that the Republicans are doing this in public

And the GOP won't budge because they feel the threat is existential (meaning, do this or the USA is DEEEEADDDD!). The troubling thing about existential threats is that it tends to relax any taboos you may have at the time. All bets are off, no holds barred if your future existence is at stake. That's why the Tea Party won't budge. It's not just reflexive drivel to them--THEY ACTUALLY BELIEVE IT!

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Charles 9
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Re: Will Google change sides?

IINM those tubes of theirs are completely private, meaning they sidestep the neutrality issue the way a privately-funded highway does. They don't have to be neutral because they didn't built the lines with government money. As long as that condition exists, it's basically "my line, my rules".

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Charles 9
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Re: Two issues..

Actually, if the faucet is designed with a wider mouth or some other physical aspect, your water may come out at a different pressure or quality. You want your water hotter? Perhaps a different water heater. Just saying some things can be controlled by your decisions.

Thing is, the Internet is very much like the highway system: built mostly out of public funds with a sprinkling of private investment, used a lot, and getting crowded. So the argument is basically boiling down to how best to manage it. At its core, Net Neutrality is saying not to allow the equivalent of HOV lanes or the like, as one can't tell at a glance what's really important (especially as more and more traffic starts going encrypted end-to-end, obscruing its nature). They have a point, but it's also fair to ask them for a better idea, as bandwidth demands aren't currently keeping up with infrastructure.

As for the person who has no choice but cable ATM, hasn't there been competition from an alternate cable provider or a FTTP provider?

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Charles 9
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Re: End the Drug War or No More Debt

Criminal organizations WANT the status quo, as it creates a "forbidden fruit" effect that makes their trade valuable (just as Prohibition allowed mobs to make a killing off distilleries, breweries, and speakeasies in the 1920's). Legalization would mean above-the-board businesses could grow and market the stuff, increasing the supply and undercutting the criminals.

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Charles 9
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Re: I strongly suspect...

Forget screens. They were lucky to have printers. And the average transatlantic round-trip time in the early 19th century was, what, two or three months? It wasn't until telegraph systems appeared that textual communications sped up considerably, (to the point that text streaming became possible for the first time) and even then there were no pictures (early attempts at facsimiles were too clunky for practicality, and it wasn't until the 1920's, I think, that sending pictures over the phone became practical for industries like journalism). And it was all still printed.

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Charles 9
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Universal suffrage was a mistake. It was never part of the US to begin with but the system they had to begin with (must be a male landowner), while it made sure the voters had skin in the game, also wasn't flexible enough to allow for the rich who didn't own land (which started appearing more with the Industrial Revolution). The vote needs to be a privilege given only upon passing a knowledge-based test (and naturalized citizens go through it already--a civics test is prerequisite). IOW, you shouldn't be able to vote unless you know what's involved in the process.

Yes, I know, as long as it's manmade, the test can be corrupted and skewed against certain demographics, but do you have any better ideas to keep out stupid votes driven by impulse with no knowledge of the consequences (since nowadays ten stupid votes easily swamp one intelligent vote)?

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Charles 9
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I've always wondered why the country didin't keep possession of the critical infrastructure like spectrum and so on and simply leased them to private firms to manage under terms and conditions? IOW, make the stuff held in trust instead of just flaw owned to be exploited?

Then again, perhaps I'm not seeing the whole picture, and I'm pretty sure such a concept has its flaws. Please feel free to post counter-arguments, as I'd like to find a way to manage this most efficiently while at the same not allow it to be exploited and hoarded.

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Charles 9
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Re: They did add a pony

"Reduction of SNAP benefits (food assistance for the poor)"

I actually WANT this one. Limit the eligible food list to wholesome foods, as the program is frequently abused to splurge on junk food. If you're going to be on the dole, lay down some tough ground rules to encourage better behaviour.

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T-Mobile US exec mulls merger with rival Sprint

Charles 9
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Re: Putting two piles of shit together just makes a bigger pile

I beg your pardon but both of them HAVE been investing in infrastructure. That's why they both have LTE bands. Thing is, infrastructure is a high barrier of entry in a market like utilities, so incumbency and customer base tends to produce a feedback loop among the leaders of those kinds of markets. They tend towards cannibalism and natural monopolies, especially when an important commodity of the business is inherently limited (in this case, spectrum). IOW, the most cost-effective way to get more infrastructure is to get it from someone else.

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Charles 9
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Re: clearwire not a competitor

Even hex-band LTE phones have limits. There have been hex-band phones for some time (The S4, for example). US-tuned phones used by AT&T and T-Mobile use the same set of six: I, II, IV, V, VII, & XVII. Bands above XXX (like the Clearwire band, XLI) are TDD and not as well supported, especially in international applications.

I will admit the RF360 and others like it could moot the point if it really can deliver on being able to tune to ANY LTE frequency, but devices using it probably won't show up for a number of months yet (It was only announed this February). Plus note it says *40* bands, yet the Clearwire band is 4*1*, so support may still not be a given yet. Finally, consider that we'll probably be transitioning from LTE to LTE Advanced within the next few years, which will require phone refits yet again for the ability to handle wider, more variable frequency bands.

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Charles 9
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Re: clearwire not a competitor

T-Mo has been transitionoing from HSPA+ to LTE for the last year or two. HSPA bought it some time and kept it competitive. Plus the fallout of the failed AT&T merger means T-Mobile has some access to AT&T equipment. In simple terms, T-Mobile's LTE concentrates on Band IV, AT&T's on Band XVII. Most LTE Phones sold in the US focus on those bands as well as Bands I and/or VII (which are common bands abroad). Unfortunately, US phones can't use Band III (the de facto common global band) because it's an active military frequency.

The current issue with Sprint is that, not only do they still use CDMA for voice comms and as a fallback (VoLTE is not ready yet), but their LTE bands are different (Sprint uses Bands XXV, XXVI, and thanks to Clearwire, XLI, I think) and not on more typical bands. Meaning Sprint LTE phones run the risk of not supporting the AT&T/T-Mobile bands or dropping support for international LTE bands like I and VII.

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RSA: That NSA crypto-algorithm we put in our products? Stop using that

Charles 9
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Re: Maybe the clue's in the name?

Actually you can, as it has to be stored somewhere for the CPU to implement. Microcode is like any other program. It has to be stored somewhere and then sent to the CPU to actually use. If it isn't already hardwired into the CPU (which you're saying it's not), then it has to be stored somewhere, and since we're talking an initial startup microcode, it's bound to be internal to the CPU since it can't rely on external inputs this early.

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Charles 9
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Re: On the bright side...

"Interestingly enough, they're still available. For around 1300 Euros."

Most of those are high-performance cards meant to pour out megabits of entropy per second. You need that much entropy in a high-activity secure server (like an SSL trandaction server) to prevent the server getting blocked.

For lower-performance needs, other devices are available for a few hundred quid each. Some use USB, others PCI, still others 1x PCIe.

The cheapest prebuilt home solution, the Entropy Key, is now about as backordered as the Raspberry Pi was in its early days (BTW, the Pi's SoC has a HWRNG in it). So hacks are coming up with alternative ways to feed decent amounts of entropy to systems that may need it (like systems that do more than your average load of encrypted traffic). You can find plans that use webcams, sound cards (with or without radios plugged into them), even a smoke detector (the alpha particles from the Americium can be detected). They have their uses provided you whitewash the raw data first. I've been looking for a bodge-it-yourself solution that can use more reliable sources like avalance diodes or thermal noise, but the ones posted on the web are a bit beyond breadboard hacks. Oh well. For now, I'll settle for an old, cheap (read: noisy) webcam with the lens taped over (not this time, Big Brother).

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Charles 9
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Re: And now for something completely different

If that were true, wouldn't at least one company simply refuse to comply, and if threatened with the loss of export privileges, reply, "We lose either way; compliance means the world won't trust my company. So, given a lose-lose situation, I'd rather lose gracefully."

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Charles 9
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Re: Maybe the clue's in the name?

"and which Intel won't let you see the details of ...."

Hasn't anyone tried to decap one of these Intel CPUs to find out for themselves what's in the works? I'd find it hard to think they'd create an implementation that would fool even a direct physical examination.

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Valve shows Linux love with SteamOS for gamers

Charles 9
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I frankly don't know if nVidia or AMD will EVER fully open-source their cutting-edge stuff since that stuff's probably loaded with trade secrets each wouldn't want the other to know about. Intel doesn't care because they're the third fiddle, primarily intended for low-end performance.

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Charles 9
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"The Nintendo Problem" in other words.

Perhaps that's why Valve is taking this approach. It wouldn't be too surprising if Valve releases a SteamBox to act as a template machine for others in future. The idea is to make a PC that doesn't look like a PC, much as Nintendo had to make a game console that didn't draw the stigma consoles got in North America after the Crash of '83.

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Google smacks Surface with free Quickoffice for Android, iOS

Charles 9
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Trademarks CAN be shared if they're differnt enough from each other.

For example, in America, the term "Cracker Barrel" is trademarked twice. One is for a line of natural cheeses from Kraft (don't knock them here--the cheeses here are real, just not fancy). The other is for a restaurant/novelty store chain with a distinct 19th-century motif. There has been no complaints from the USPTO over the matter since they are essentially non-competitive.

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Charles 9
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Unhappy

No ODF Support

Just gave it a spin for the sake of it. One problem: I use LibreOffice.

Guess what? No ODF support.

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Charles 9
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Re: Hey, we have another source of money

US law does have laws against that, too (here we call it "dumping"), but since alternatives already exist that are not only free but FOSS, trying to assert dumping is going to be a hard sell, especially since the tie-in to Google Drive means they can claim competition by a different business model.

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Charles 9
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Except they can't because they used the VERY generic term "Office". They can trademark the complete phrase "Microsoft Office", but not the word "Office" because it's too broad. Therefore, QuickOffice (which is different enough in name and logo to MS Office) would get a pass. Also, Microsoft would have to answer why they didn't make such an assertion with StarOffice/OpenOffice/LibreOffice previously (there is IIRC a statute of limitations for filing a trademark infringement claim).

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Charles 9
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Re: Byz At this rate...

Not even with Google Docs, which can ALSO access Google Drive, meaning you can edit on the desktop and have access on the phone PDQ?

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'Occupy' affiliate claims Intel bakes SECRET 3G radio into vPro CPUs

Charles 9
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Re: Like all good conspiracies

"what network would the be connecting to?"

Probably a whispernet. Black-and-white Kindles employ this technique. As for signal propagation, any bets one of the pins goes to an antenna that's mounted within the motherbard as a requirement or the like?

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Charles 9
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Except 3G is STILL wireless, and the 3G tech is pretty well known. Radio transmissions should be pretty easy to pick up, and once you know enough about what is happening, you can probably conduct Faraday cage experiments to support your findings.

Besides, the 3G part of vPro is hardly secret, as it's being advertised as an anti-theft/remote-brick device.

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So, Linus Torvalds: Did US spooks demand a backdoor in Linux? 'Yes'

Charles 9
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Re: Linux backdoor?

So the spooks insert code that detects the VM. Malware authors do that all the time. Exploit never appears in the VM; only on a live system.

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Charles 9
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Re: rdrand: Well

How do you open-source a chip schematic. Plus if the chip makers were true genii, they'd have accounted for the possibility of someone decapping or otherwise stripping the chip down to the circuits and trying to trace them (on the assumption that a truly determined adversary, say another state, would try to identify or subvert it) and simply made it so the chip fried and was useless on any attempt.

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Charles 9
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"Linus thought this was absurd because even if the data was not random, it wouldn't reduce entropy. That's true so long as the data is produced without any knowledge of the other random data it will be combined with - but the sufficiently paranoid observe that we can't check that's the case."

Given most of the other inputs to /dev/random (the true RNG stream) are environmental, they'd have to subvert the environment to a great degree to be able to know the state of even one of the input streams to the point of being able to counter it.

And there are other true random sources of bits besides radioactive decay. You can use a reverse-biased transistor, shot noise, avalanche noise (this is what the Entropy Key uses), and so on. Then there are projects like HAVEGE that emply the hectic, multitasking nature of modern CPUs to draw entropy.

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Charles 9
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Re: Agreed.

"If I were the NSA, I would just have the "right" people placed in a company like RHEL, where the compiler could be doctored, and the doctored binary and clean source code could then be distributed.

Any recompile would, of course, inject Trojan horse code - regardless of how closely the source was inspected: Neither the compiler source, nor the project source code would contain any evidence"

But they'd also have to dodge an independent compile using another toolchain's compiler: one outside NSA control.

In the end, a compiler could probably be vetted a few times, down to the machine code, and its binary code hashed a few ways (just in case the spooks have a way to create a preimage trojan for one of them--it would be statistically infeasible to tamper with the code AND match the hashes on two different hash familities). Once that could be verified, then you can compile against that one and establish a chain of trust that shows the code wasn't tampered without it showing up in the source. I don't think we're at the stage were we need such anal retention YET...but it's still an option.

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Charles 9
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Re: Don't know about that

I know there's at least one culture that intentionally swapped their nods and shakes to stave off trouble from oppressive overlords while at the same time end-running a "cannot tell a lie" canon. Even after they were freed, the trend stuck.

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Hiroshi Yamauchi, bizlord who gave the world Donkey Kong, dead at 85

Charles 9
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Re: Not sure if it's true....

Just a slight pedant alert. In Japanese, when they're trying to accommodate a foreign word, they differentiate it by using an alternate phonetic alphabet: katakana (vs. the traditional hiragana you used).

To translate the word "monkey" into katakana would be 「モンキ」, though as you say Japanese has a direct term for monkey and wouldn't need katakana.

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Charles 9
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Joke

Oh? I'd have figured either poison mushrooms or infection from a turtle bite.

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I, for one, welcome our robotic communist jobless future

Charles 9
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Re: Nice article, but way over-simplistic

1) Isn't that what the criminal code is for: to weed out dangerous elements like power-mongers?

2) There's the condition of "ignorant bliss". Unless you say the desire to live is innate and fixed, there may be a point where people enter the world not knowing better.

3) There will still be a desire to improve things. The thing is, the best designs tend to come from people who can devote their energy to the task. Thus why we value masterpieces and such. Even in the past there were people like artists who found natural talents and made use of them.

4) There will still be a need for doctors, but the economics of medicine will change. Doctors would be doctors because they WANT to be doctors, not out of any economic pressure. I will concede there may be a point where the desire to be a doctor could be too weak, so another thought process would be needed.

5) Don't be so sure. We're clever little ticks and since pathogens needs to interact, there will always be ways in. There's current research into Quorum Sensing disruption, for example (though I concede the supposed adaptation-free QS disruptors might still be evolved beyond perhaps by rotating QS indicators).

6) Did you know they are researching ways to produce sythetic hydrocarbons using the excess energy from nuclear reactors? Navies in particular are funding this research since it reduces logistics for aircraft carriers. This goes to the bigger problem of needing more ubiquitous sources of energy.

7) Explain why it would require complete and immediate world cooperation for this to work.

8) Like with doctors, there will still be a need for policemen (think career cops; some people WANT to protect and server).

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Charles 9
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Re: Bleak

But it speaks to a bigger problem. Humans have a maintenance cost (we eat, drink, require space to live, etc.) which taxes into currently-limited resources: resources that robots can't improve anytime soon. What the unrest in the Middle East (and occasionally in Europe with the odd rumbling in North America) tells me is we are approaching a "danger zone" where the population is tipping beyond a sustainability threshold that can trigger resource conflicts (which historically tend to spawn the worst wars). When you need fewer people to sustain the world, the question eventually goes to, "Do you really NEED that many people on the planet?"

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Charles 9
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Re: Not going to happen

"No they can't. That's just wrong and the evidence is all around us. Most people when asked "how much do you want" really, deep down, think "all of it". What it is hardly matters at all."

But then, after the think it over REALLY really well they realize, especially for some things, "Well...maybe not ALL of them." I mean, having ten million T-shirts is one thing...until you notice the size of your closet. Imagining having all of the cake sounds nice until you actually get around to eating it (otherwise, the buffet business wouldn't be viable). There ARE limits. Part of our life experience is learning them.

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