* Posts by tom dial

1566 posts • joined 16 Jan 2011

FCC death vote looms for the Golden Age of American TV

tom dial
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Re: $20B/year

This estimate clearly must be in error. I know this because a Comcast CSR told me just yesterday with a perfectly straight face that the STB the rent me for $20 a month costs them $1600. The notion that they could find a lower cost supplier of a box with the capacity of a couple of Raspberry Pi s, a terabyte disk and an OTS tuner, together with a hand held controller with the capacity of another Raspberry Pi, more or less, and a handful of control buttons, apparently escaped them completly.

$100 probably isn't quite enough, but $200 - 250 should be possible for a large run and allow for the power brick and decent profit. Two sanity checks: first, their assertion that they will provide a piece of computer equipment at a rent so small as to take nearly 7 years to recover the cost, and second, that the power brick for the STB is rated at 36 Watts.

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US Labor Dept accuses CIA-backed Palantir of discriminating against Asian engineers

tom dial
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Re: I can understand a little bit of bias

There should be no discrimination as such between "natural born" US citizens and naturalized citizens however recent. A citizen is a citizen. If that is a requirement for hire, as often is the case where defense or national security is involved it should be enough at the first pass. If the applicant is seeking a position that requres a security clearance, any relevant questions about when an applicant became a citizen, or how, can be answered connection with necessary background investigation.

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And! it! begins! Yahoo! sued! over! ultra-hack! of! 500m! accounts!

tom dial
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Re: An interesting legal question...

It is legal in the US for the US government to conduct such activities in other countries with which the US government does not have treaties that govern them; otherwise not.

It is legal in the US for a foreign government to conduct such activities in the US if a treaty approved by the US Senate authorizes them; otherwise not.

I am not aware of any treaties that allow such activities in the US by any other government (or, for that matter, any laws that would allow it by either the government or private sector actors. The hack was illegal whether done by a foreign government, foreigners, or US residents. Blaming it on a "state actor" is misdirection that one supposes is intended to increase the scariness and reduce Yahoo!'s perceived culpability in the matter.

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tom dial
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Re: Dar Yahoo Customer:

And roughly $320 Million (at 30% of the total settlement) to be shared out among the plaintiff class attorneys.

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Is Tesla telling us the truth over autopilot spat?

tom dial
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Re: It is all in a name...

An autopilot would not have to be all that good to be better (and safer) than a great many human drivers I have observed over 50 years or so. Come to think of it, I can recall some occasions when I have to admit that a relatively simple machine might have driven more safely than I.

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FBI overpaid $999,900 to crack San Bernardino iPhone 5c password

tom dial
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I think we can assume that Skorobogatov was not represented in the market as seen by US federal agencies, and that those who were charged a good deal. $1MM still seems high, but four months of part time work clearly understated the overall cost to him, as it skips by the fact that as a senior research associate he undoubtedly had considerable relevant background knowledge before starting. And in any case, four months of part time work for hire by anyone certainly would be much costlier than the $100 stated in the article as the cost of the hardware Skorobogatov used.

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tom dial
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The drift of the article seems to be that the cost of developing the attack, which evidently took Skorobogatov quite a few man hours of what seems to be highly skilled analysis and electronic technician work should be ignored because the result can be replicated for a small amount going forward. That is somewhat like saying the design, development, engineering, and testing investment in a SOC should be ignored when setting a sale price for the end product, even if the projected demand is for only a few thousand units.

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ICANN latest: Will the internet be owned by Ted Cruz or Vladimir Putin in October?

tom dial
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Re: Just a "clerical function"

Ignoring the clerical class can be and often is a great mistake. Josef Djugashvili, for example, later and better know as Stalin, arranged his rise to the top of the USSR hierarchy from his position as General Secretary of the Central Committee of Communist Party of the USSR.

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Wait, wait – I got it this time, says FCC as it swings again at rip-off US TV cable boxes

tom dial
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Re: ...expose customer data

Like many issues, this one actually is not plain and simple, and in many locations not a monopoly either. Where I live, everyone has the option of either Comcast or CenturyLink, and a large and growing number not far away have the additional option of Google Fiber for cable TV. Nearly everyone also has good visibility of a number of OTA transmitting towers and could access broadcast material for the one time $20-30 cost of an antenna. Finally, anyone with broadband internet service from one of the above cable providers can access Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or Acorn at fairly reasonable rates.

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Brit spies and chums slurped 750k+ bits of info on you last year

tom dial
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Have an upvote, and thanks for pointing me to the standard that justifies my habit for quite a few years.

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tom dial
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Maybe because some of the national security collection requests (roughly 1/3 of the total) arise out of US referrals?

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Florida Man's prized jeep cremated by exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7

tom dial
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I am a bit skeptical about this report. It is my impression that auxiliary power ports in automotive vehicles provided power only with the ignition on or in the auxiliary position, and I confirmed that toe be true of my two - a Honda and a Toyota. The Jeep Grand Cherokee might be different, of course, but if not it appears we are asked to believe the owner left the key in the ignition lock and the car running or on auxiliary. That seems a bit unusual, and very likely to risk theft of the vehicle.

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Tesla driver dies after Model S hits tree

tom dial
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Re: standard operating procedures

Judging by the easily available pictures at

http://bgr.com/2016/09/07/fatal-tesla-accident-netherlands/,

https://electrek.co/2016/09/07/tesla-driver-dies-burning-model-s-hitting-tree-tesla-investigation/,

and especially

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2016/09/mystery-surrounds-tesla-car-crash-which-killed-one-man/

It seem plausible that the tesla's crash speed was considerably greater than the maximum speed attainable by a Prius or similar car.

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tom dial
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Re: If this wasn't a Tesla, it wouldn't be a story

Bursting into flames is fairly common among automobiles that crash into solid objects at speeds that, in this case, appear likely to be over 100 mi/hr - irrespective of their energy source. This is news notable only because it is a Tesla and the attendant possibility the driver was going at such a speed "no hands."

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FBI Clinton email dossier

tom dial
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I've been out of touch with federal data security standards for a few years, but as of 2011, BleachBit would not have met the standard for handling disks containing Sensitive but Uncalssified data such as Social Security Number, let alone disks that ever had held any data with a secret or higher classification. The agency for which I worked handled no data classified higher than SBU, but the disposal requirement was degaussing followed by physical destruction (the agency had a shredder for the purpose. This despite the hefty additional charge for failure to return dead disks to the vendor, which we mitigated by purchasing new disks at retail to hand the CE instead of the failed disk. I an fairly sure the standard has not been relaxed.

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tom dial
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Also heavily implicated are both Security and IT staff at State. The FBI report makes it quite clear that they knew pretty well what was going on and did nothing to stop it and forcefully discouraged those who questioned it (described more fully in the State IG report a few months back). It also makes clear the general sloppiness at State, and to a somewhat smaller degree at some other government agencies, in handling classified material. The DoD component that employed me for a number of years handled only sensitive-but-unclassified data (Personally Identifiable Information) yet was far better by about 2004 than State five full years later, both in technical protection and employee behavior. They clearly could use a good purge, although if, as many suppose, Clinton is elected President we might expect to see distribution of performance awards instead.

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tom dial
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Re: FBI records

My cursory and as yet incomplete read of the FBI report has it that (a) she (through her minion) applied for the clintonemail.com domain about the time the Senate was interviewing her for the position, and (b) she did, in fact, change her email address to use the new domain very shortly after confirmation to the position. Couple that with the fact that there aren't a lot of email addresses that would be cooler than, e. g., secretary@state.gov, "cool address," "used for a while and don't want to give it up,'" or "didn't want to change email addresses" simply won't do.

Add the fact that the servers were seriously non-compliant with longstanding federal law, and with FIPS and State Department standards; apparently were quite insecure in their configuration; and were known within the first two years to hackers and probably foreign intelligence services, and you get quite a mess.

i put it down to a sense of personal entitlement, combined with a disturbing casualness about following established laws and rules, that we should be very leery of in choosing a President, even if, should she be elected, she chooses "president@whitehouse.gov" for her email address.

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Google breaks heart, White Knight falls off horse

tom dial
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It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble, but what you know that ain't so. (Attributed, probably wrongly, to Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain).

For various reasons, US internet service may be poor in places, but arguably does not rate that badly. US average connect speed (12.6 Mbit/sec) ranks about 14, roughly midway between Germany and Denmark; peak speed (,57.3 Mbit/sec) ranks about 16; and for connections better than 15 Mbits/second (24%) the rank is about 15 (full confession: based on Akamai reports for the third quarter of 2015 as reported by Wikipedia). That puts the US generally in the same group as much of Europe + Canada, and well ahead (for example) of Australia, New Zealand, and France. It could be better, and in many places is, but certainly does not qualify as "dismal" (or even abysmal) as it is.

The state of internet service in the US also is not a result of market failure. In many areas, possibly most, it results from lack of or severe restriction of the potential market, as Google's entry into several areas has shown by inducing existing providers like Comcast and at&t to improve service and reduce prices in some combination.

My own experience, first with Cox and lately with Comcast, has been of increasing speed over time (measured courtesy of ookla) at nearly constant price over a period of about ten years. The outlier was at&t, which failed to match Cox (as promised) albeit at a lower price. This, of course, is to be expected as a result of normal equipment replacement where the new equipment is inherently better than what is replaced due to general technology improvement.

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Baltimore cops: We flew high-res camera planes to film your every move

tom dial
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Re: Michael Brown

Michael Brown did not commit an armed robbery.

I do not know what police patrol practices are in "every other country." In the US, use of two officer patrol cars fell into disuse beginning around 50 years ago because an increased number of cars with one officer each provides much better coverage at constant cost or similar coverage at reduced cost. The rules of engagement do not prohibit an officer from making a stop, but officers normally will report they are doing so (as I believe officer Wilson did in the Michael Brown incident) and nearby officers will converge on the scene.

Before routine use of patrol cars, foot patrol often was done by solitary officers, but those were different times.

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tom dial
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Re: Michael Brown

Michael Brown was not shot "while" or "for" running away after committing a crime. He was shot after assaulting a police officer who had stopped him while he was running away. When shot, he was advancing toward the officer.

The officer involved probably made a tactical procedural error during the stop, in putting himself in a position of some disadvantage in opposition to a larger and considerably heavier opponent, but Michael Brown made larger errors in assaulting and later advancing on an armed police officer.

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Larry Page snuffs out ‘too expensive’ Google Fiber project

tom dial
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Re: Who in their right mind ...

Nearly everyone in the southeastern suburbs of Salt Lake City, for one example. My present alternatives include Comcast (high price, pretty good speed) and CenturyLink (lower price, max available speed "up to" 20 Mbits/sec). Goole have started turning on fiber in SLC proper, but never got around to stating plans for the suburbs.

As an aside, there was a multicity consortium, UTOPIA, which pretty much stalled 5 or more years ago before reaching many of its potential customers. So much for government doing the job.

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French, German ministers demand new encryption backdoor law

tom dial
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Re: Why bother?

You cannot (realistically) ban mathematics. If you are an effective national government, however, you probably have the power, and possibly the authority, to regulate the legal use of cryptographic systems, and to fine, jail, or otherwise punish those under your jurisdiction who decline to follow the laws. That goes quite a bit beyond "make difficult."

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tom dial
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1. Real evidence of actual abuse by governments is pretty thin in most countries with regimes that are generally regarded as liberal democratic (small l and small d) unless having the capability to abuse is taken to be equivalent to abuse itself. Indeed, that probably is true even under most regimes commonly thought of as oppressive, although the range of behaviors such governments ignore may be quite limited.

2. Security of such data clearly is a risk, but one that admits mitigation. Various key escrow arrangements that have been suggested included provisions intended to reduce the risk and increase the difficulty and cost of escrow database compromise. Risk never is zero, and all one reasonably can require is that it be quantifiable and small enough.

3, 4. There is no real basis to argue that key escrow would make encryption more difficult or less convenient, as collection, indexing, and storage necessarily would be automated. It could present additional points of failure (or not) depending on whether failure to escrow would cause failure of the basic communication. Communication for commercial transactions may not be an important issue, as for legal trade it often will be possible to obtain the details from at least one of the participants by a suitable court order.

5. The obvious answer would be to provide the escrowed key, as national laws may require, to the government of the originator and recipients. In many or most cases, that would be at most one, since most communications do not cross national boundaries. That obviously would present issues, but for most people and organizations they would not necessarily be overly serious. Those who wish to shield activities from any of the governments demanding escrowed keys would have the most reason for concern, followed by those with reason for concern about security of one of the repositories against criminals or competitors. Increasing the number of repositories clearly would increase risk of control loss, however.

6. The customary government approach to refusal to participate would be criminalization, with a combination of detection procedures and penalties sufficient to discourage it.

The point of the original post was not to argue for key escrow, which has very little to recommend it, but to note that it would not be less private than plain text communication and might not add a great deal of risk, for most people, most of the time, compared to encrypted communication without escrow. Other approaches to law enforcement access include enforcing backdoored encryption systems, probably a much worse choice, and judicial warrants demanding delivery of the decrypted message by the originator or a recipient, depending on details of jurisdiction and treaty arrangements, with punishment for noncompliance.

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tom dial
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Re: Fight them at every turn!

In the US, the USPS has collected metadata for all first class mail for over a decade, following the anthrax letters that killed a few. That metadata, to be sure, is not nearly as reliable as communication data, since only the destination address information is functional.

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tom dial
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I call BS on the often stated "It's maths, stupid" and "It's magical thinking" themes.

Encryption, in today's customary usage, certainly is based on mathematics, but that is largely beside the point. A completely trivial key escrow system in which a communication metadata and session and key are deposited with a government custodian is more secure than communication in the clear despite being subject to the same kinds of vulnerabilities, and clearly would meet the stated need of law enforcement authorities. Nothing about this represents magical thinking, and it does not depend on a weak encryption system. Volume is a potential problem, but there is good reason to think that national signals intelligence agencies have developed effective ways to deal with it.

The fundamental problem is one of lack of trust combined with arguably excessive government authority, or at least power. Many people believe that law enforcement officers and agencies spy on nearly everyone without any particular reason, and do not trust them. And in most countries there is evidence of some government misbehavior. However, such misbehavior is not new and almost certainly would not be made simpler or easier by even a trivial or badly designed key escrow system. In most countries, too, those who are law enforcement targets are likely to be surveilled, and if important enough, prosecuted, sometimes irrespective of guilt. The number of laws on the books offers plenty of options for prosecutors. Use of encryption that the authorities cannot break, if legal, might delay the outcome but would do little to prevent it; and if illegal it could be a useful substitute charge leading to an easy conviction.

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Das ist empörend: Microsoft slams umlaut for email depth charge

tom dial
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Re: You think _that's_ bad?

The maximum - and minimum - stored password size should be the fixed length output size of whatever cryptographic hash function is used on the salted concatenation of user name and password.

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tom dial
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Re: Microsoft or Americans?

Many of those in New York City and adjacent parts of Southern New England tend to forget there is a world west of the Adirondacks, or regard such parts as may possibly exist as probably uncivilized.

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tom dial
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Re: English is wonderful

There are rather a lot of people on the US West coast of Japanese or Chinese ancestry or origin, and not a few of them likely enough are employed by Microsoft.

Somehow, it does not seem this should have happened.

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Four in five Android devices inherit Linux snooping flaw

tom dial
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Re: At this point, not a 'snooping' flaw

It might also be worth observing that the flaw described in CVE-2016-5696 was introduced to correct or mitigate a previously existing, and perhaps much more serious, vulnerability.

Also worth noting is that the probability that any large piece of software contains no errors is operationally equal to zero. This vulnerability, like large numbers of earlier ones, will be mitigated or eliminated, and others will be found, and some of them will have been introduced in the correction process.

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Password strength meters promote piss-poor paswords

tom dial
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Re: Passwords need to be rethought

The requirement to change passwords periodically (every 60 days when I left government service) has less to do with crackability and much to do with limiting exposure time if either user passwords or the hashed password file is compromised.

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Microsoft has open-sourced PowerShell for Linux, Macs. Repeat, Microsoft has open-sourced PowerShell

tom dial
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Re: Why is ssh built in?

As an additional note on the clunky A:, B: and the like, I seem to recall that an intermediate version of MS-DOS (3.2, I think) had a built-in command, join, that enabled the user to do the rough equivalent of the Unix mount command, with the same beneficial result of being able to treat all the disk resources as a single directory tree. MS lost me when they removed it, and a number of other useful items, in the standard part of the next version and made it a $60 or so additional utilities package

I switched right then to Xenix, which I picked up used at an amateur radio swap meet, and never after paid more than the minimum necessary attention to MS operating systems. I did note that Windows hid the clunkiness rather effectively, and disks grew quite rapidly, so that for many it made little difference.

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Google had Obama's ear during antitrust probe

tom dial
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Re: Meh

at&t probably is in a formally competitive market almost everywhere it does business. It is either the phone company (e. g., in most of Ohio) or a late comer trying with less than perfect success to compete with the local cable franchise for both data and telephone service. Cox, where I used to live in Ohio, had an exclusive local franchise (which at&t tried to break up) that provided faster data service at every speed they both offered (at&t was unable to compete at the highest available rates).

Comcast, for the present, is the incumbent in my area southeast of Salt Lake City, but has a competitor (CenturyLink), which definitely is less expensive, at an advertised price of $20 a month for up to 12 Mb/s; Comcast's rate starts at $30 for up to 10 megabits, and may be losing a few customers over this. But Comcast also offers other capacities up to 250 megabits at $70 a month, which I typically measure. My "up to 150 Mb/s" service often yields better than that and typically measures around 130 Mb/s at the inside of the router attached to the modem. For all the whining about Comcast's poor service, here, I can say only that the service has not been quite as reliable as Cox's was in Ohio, but the unscheduled down time over three years certainly has been under 0.05%.

So Comcast, here at least, is not quite a monopoly, but we certainly are looking forward to the benefits of competition from Google, which has started its build out not too far away.

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Oracle campaigns for third Android Java infringement trial

tom dial
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Re: Google are switching to OpenJDK...

Would the OpenJDK API not be essentially identical to that of Oracle's JDK? I don't do Java programming and don't know the answer, but it seems possibly relevant. If the API is the same (or near enough) could Oracle reasonably claim infringement by Google without also claiming infringement by everyone else using OpenJDK? Or would the fact that they have not (and maybe because of licensing cannot) claim infringement by OpenJDK developers and maintainers invalidate any claims they might be making?

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VeraCrypt security audit: Four PGP-encoded emails VANISH

tom dial
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Those who don't know the email metadata are in the clear are a danger to themselves and others, and should be kept under tight supervision in any security context.

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Judges put FCC back in its box: No, you can't override state laws, not even for city broadband

tom dial
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Re: So, only the constitution is valid?

Many state constitutions are rubbish. This is especially true, I suspect, in states like California where they can be amended with relative ease by ballot initiative. Compared with these, the US Constitution, with fewer than 4,400 words to describe the basic structure and functions of the government and the authority of the main parts, is an elegantly concise work of art.

As an aside, the original US Constitution made no explicit mention of slavery. The closest things to that were Article I, Section II, paragraph 3, the three fifths rule that allocated representatives based partly on "all other Persons," a category comprised of slaves; Article I, Section IX, paragraph 1, prohibiting Congressional action to end the slave trade before 1808, and Article IV, Section II, paragraph 3, requiring a "Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another" to "be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due," a clear, although implicit, reference to slaves. Looking back, one may consider these compromises contemptible, but the existence of the Union arguably depended on them.

On the other hand, the original Constitution said exactly nothing about the qualifications of electors, that being left to the states, and nothing about the qualifications for federal elective office beyond age, citizenship, time of residence in the US (president and vice-president) or state from which elected (senators and representatives). Women and black persons (who were property owners) were electors in the state of New Jersey from 1776 until 1807 and therefore eligible for election to the US House of Representatives. It would have been unconventional to elect a woman (or black) to office, perhaps to the point of being unthinkable, but the US Constitution did not prohibit it.

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tom dial
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Re: Reg said that States cannot be pushed around by a federal regulator...

"This is about direct-to-consumer Wi-Fi." That does not seem to be true. The court decision contains only one reference to Wi-Fi, that the city of Wilson, NC "provides free Wi-Fi to its entire downtown area" in addition to the fiber optic Greenlight infrastructure that neighboring areas wanted it to extend, forming the basis for the issue at hand. That issue, reduced to the minimum, was whether or not the FCC, absent a clear statement in statutory law, had the authority to override Tennessee and North Carolina state laws in the case at hand. The court said that it does not, and issued a decision that the FCC order must be reversed.

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tom dial
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Re: Reg said that States cannot be pushed around by a federal regulator...

I think the assertion that the "Feds gave the ISP's regional monopolies and huge subsidies to build the infractructure" is essentially incorrect and should be backed up with pointers to relevant sources. Most or all of the franchises, which in practice often became local monopolies or oligopolies, were granted by local governments, initially for delivery of cable TV. To the extent they now provide communication services they usually are regulated by state utility commissions. In fact, the cable companies became the superior competition for the telephone company monopoly, as those of us who started with 300 baud acoustic modems will remember, and as far as I know did it without significant public subsidies in densely populated areas.

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Linux security backfires: Flaw lets hackers inject malware into downloads, disrupt Tor users, etc

tom dial
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Re: This is not trivial to exploit

It is a protocol flaw, yes, but because Linux implements the protocol, it also is a Linux vulnerability. The two things are not mutually exclusive.

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Power cut crashes Delta's worldwide flight update systems

tom dial
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Re: IBM offers mainframe in the cloud today

zSeries run Linux just fine (native), and while power is available will run with substantial component failures, although with some performance degradation, and many of the failures can be corrected without a reboot.

They also will run briskly at 100% CPU utilisation as long as the paging rate is kept reasonable.

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tom dial
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Re: Single point of failure

I remember about 15 years back having my terminal screen wink out while working on a system a thousand or so miles distant at a US military data center. Not coincidentally, others nearby working on various other systems there had the same experience at the same time, and ensuing discussions with the SA revealed that all power to the main computer building had dropped because a contractor (WHO HAD BEEN TOLD) severed the cables from the oubuilding containing the substation, the redundant UPSs, and the backup generators. Power was restored around 6 hours later.

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Don't want to vote for Clinton or Trump? How about this woman who says Wi-Fi melts kids' brains?

tom dial
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Re: The one thing all the media, and this one too, won't be telling you...

Empirically, most voters are quite ignorant about both the structure and operation of the government and current or recent past political issues. Many of them, for instance, cannot name their US Representative or Senators, and even more cannot name their state legislators or elected local government officials. While political ignorance is common among those who state a party preference, it is more so among those who do not. Informed independents are uncommon.

That might be good this cycle because, lacking political party ties and much in the way of knowledge, they may be more easily persuaded by arguments for a minor party candidate. It is as likely, or more, to be bad, however, because their lack of knowledge leaves them with an inadequate basis to judge the competing claims of the several candidates, a situation in which most people are likely to make a conventional choice.

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tom dial
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Re: #FeelTheJohnson

The old notion of tidy "left" and "right" classifications never were very accurate. For instance, on a number of issues, Sanders came across as a fairly hard nationalist - quite "right", while the Libertarian party (and candidate) support for LGBTQ rights and loosening on recreational drug use ("left") is a bit at odds with their rejection of foreign adventurism ("right"). The Democratic party, with Clinton, covers a broad spectrum as well. Trump is Trump, and it is nearly pointless to try to categorize him or his beliefs and policy positions, but down-ticket, the Republicans, like the Democrats, cover a range that is modified significantly by their perceptions of voter leanings in their state or electoral district, where they must compete with other relatively local candidates to gain a plurality or, in some cases, a majority, of the vote. Within such districts, the ideological spread between the major party candidates very often is quite small, and much smaller than the spread between candidates of the same party in districts a thousand or two thousand miles apart.

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tom dial
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Re: @ AC

Gerrymandering affects single member electoral districts for the state legislatures and the US House of Representatives. Only 5 of the 538 electors are chosen from Congressional districts; gerrymandering is a non-issue.

First past the post has its good and bad points, but where there are at most two parties between them receive roughly nine votes of every ten, as has been true in most of the US for most of its history, it is relatively inconsequential except to those who aspire to replace one of them. And in some places where there is or was only one effective party, it was and is common to have runoffs between the two high vote getters.

Media bias certainly is a potential problem, but could be mitigated some by including Johnson in the debates along with Clinton and Trump (and Stein, too, if she could get enough poll notice).

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tom dial
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Re: Known risks with quantifiable outcomes

There is uncertainty, to be sure, but it seems extremely unlikely that Jill Stein will draw enough votes to matter unless she can find a vice presidential nominee of Bill Clinton's caliber. Johnson/Weld is a different matter, however, and are likely, especially if they manage to get into the debates, to draw both Democratic and Republican votes, although substantially more from Trump than from Clinton.

Utah will be an interesting state to study, as the Democrats went quite heavily for Sanders and do not much like Clinton, while the Republicans went quite solidly for Cruz and have a rather strong distaste for Trump. I do not think either VP candidate will change that much. I suspect the bordering areas of Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona and Nevada are rather similar, although they are less likely to affect the electoral college breakdown.

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tom dial
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Re: The one thing all the media, and this one too, won't be telling you...

Indeed, most five or six year old children in families with even the least degree of political awareness know whether they are Democrat or Republican (a few know that they are Libertarian, Socialist, or something else). The degree of change from that point is not zero, but it is quite low, almost certainly less than 20%. This is a very strange election cycle, however, and I suspect there are upwards of thirty or forty per cent. who, like me, are looking at the main alternatives, concluding that neither of them is a good match, and casting an eye in other directions. My own 6yo position was solid Republican, full of the implicitly transmitted knowledge that Harry Truman was the spawn of the devil, and although many years of education and observation convinced me that Truman ranked well among presidents (both earlier and later), I remained well within the Republican fold, with Libertarian tendencies - until now. I was prepared to vote for Bernie Sanders, had the Democrats nominated him, as a candidate of integrity and basic honesty who would be likely to engage politically with the Congress and accept the compromises necessary in a pluralistic, and political, system. I did not fear that he would, like the current president, decline to engage in political negotiation with the Congress and attempt to impose change by executive order when that non-engagement failed. As it is now, I expect to vote for Johnson and Weld who, like Sanders, are experienced political actors who seem likely to approach governing with a bit of honesty and willingness to be political.

It is true even after the excessive growth of executive power, that there are significant constraints on the president's freedom of action and power to direct things, that the policy inertia of the many government departments and agencies greatly mitigates the damage (or possibly good) even a President Trump or a President Clinton could do. But that is not to say, quite, that lack of greatness is all down to personal failings any more than great success all is a matter of individual merit and industry. Few can, by personal effort alone, lift themselves more than a notch or three, although many decades of experience confirm that government action alone is even less beneficial except to the agents who manage and deliver the benefits.

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Fun fact of the day: Network routers are illegal in Japan

tom dial
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Joke

"Violates the law, but seems not illegal" - plainly the answer to a Hillary Clinton prayer.

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VC vampire: Peter Thiel wants to live forever

tom dial
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Not "Time Enough for Love," I think, but "Methuselah's Children," the first Lazarus Long story.

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Zero-day hole can pwn millions of LastPass users, all that's needed is a malicious site

tom dial
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My Keepass password database is available on a usb key on the keychain that carries my house key. There is a risk associated with that, but but there are risks associated with any security system or protocol. If the keypass database is encrypted securely with secure methods, the risk is extremely low.

It costs in convenience, in that the database and the passwords within are unusable on systems that do not have the keepass program installed. I consider that reasonable because I probably do not trust those machines anyhow, as I do not trust The Cloud, crusty old codger that I am.

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Illinois StingRay crackdown

tom dial
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Re: What is happening in the USA

According to the article, the action was taken in this case by the legislature and governor of Illinois, as is proper. It had nothing to do with a US or state court. That said, a federal or state court, if presented with a case, might well find that using a stingray to track an individual requires a warrant or other court order. Similar things have happened in the past, as with Riley v California, where a judge found that searching a cell phone incident to arrest normally is to be considered a fourth amendment search requiring a warrant.

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