* Posts by tom dial

1482 posts • joined 16 Jan 2011

NASCAR team red-flagged by ransomware attack

tom dial
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Re: Perspective..

With an appropriate backup scheme it is hard to see them losing more than a day's worth of data.

"[W]e would lose years' worth of work, millions of dollars" reeks of slackness. Criminal act, for sure, yet so easily mitigated down to relative insignificance.

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US Senate strikes down open-access FBI hacking warrant by just one honest vote

tom dial
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Re: Due process in the US of A

The second amendment has roots in the English Bill of Rights (1689) among other things. Analogues also were present in the state constitutions of New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, where controlling restless slaves would not have been a major issue, and also in the Articles of Confederation and in the Northwest Ordinance that governed settling the area that now includes Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota and prohibited slavery throughout the territory. Georgia, which permitted slavery at the time, had no constitutional provision that allowed keeping and bearing arms, although as in all of the states, customary and common law (adopted almost entire from England) certainly would have allowed it.

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tom dial
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Roughly 3 US households in 10 have one or more guns. That's a large enough number to qualify as reasonably normal, or at least not seriously abnormal. The average number of guns per owning household is somewhat nearer 3 than 2, which is not overwhelmingly large. Still, that is a lot of guns compared to all other countries, and based on death and injury statistics, in need of a bit of regulation.

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tom dial
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Re: They're now using Orlando as an excuse? Really?

There is a significant contradiction between the implicit notion that the government should not be able to bypass tight procedures, involving some type of judicial review, in order to conduct a search, yet should be able, based only on hearsay and with no judicial review whatever, to abridge the explicit constitutional right to own firearms.

According to the FBI's public information, you cannot find out if you are listed in the Terrorist Screening Database, and although there is a link for "Redress Procedures," it refers to a page of bureaucratese jargon that inspires little confidence in the existence of real redress. Use of such material to deny any right is seriously problematic, and its use without review independent of those who assemble and maintain it fails miserably, in the same way as national security letters, to meet a reasonable standard of due process, as the fifth amendment requires. The history of the DHS No Fly List suggests that although it doubtless is considerably smaller (at a bit over 100,000) it is no better.

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Linux on PS3 white flag

tom dial
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I look forward to receiving my $55; hopefully possession of the machine will provide me enough documentation. I might even dust off the old PS3 and install a more recent Linux if I can find one.

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Non-US encryption is 'theoretical,' claims CIA chief in backdoor debate

tom dial
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Re: @Voland "getting funds ... nearly impossible"

I suggest that there is another possibility: If the US were to make such a requirement stick (I think the last version of Burr-Feinstein that I saw is pretty unlikely to pass), it is likely enough that it would be followed by similar legislation in quite a few other countries, with China and Russia in the mix but not necessarily the first.

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tom dial
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Re: Hog wash.

A reference, please, to a source as to breaking of AES or RSA with high bit length. Strong claims require strong evidence.

Not that either of these algorithms really is "US Gov't stuff."

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Dad of student slain in Paris terror massacre sues Google, Twitter, Facebook for their 'material support' of ISIS

tom dial
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Saddam Hussain was 65 or so when the US invaded Iraq and nearly 70 when found and executed. He was unlikely to live too much longer even if undisturbed by the US invasion, and it is likely that there would have been a succession struggle after his death, during which it is likely that Iraq would have been dismembered or fallen into civil war. The outcome would have been different, but it is not obvious it would have been better. Something like the disintegration of Yugoslavia after Tito's death seems in the ball park.

That is not to say that the US invasion was the right thing to do; it was not. However, the Iraq's inherent instability, which goes back to the end of the First World War probably would have led to internal war, however much the invasion hastened it, and it might well have been worse.

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tom dial
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Re: Some points to consider.

Lobbyists may affect laws going forward, but have little or nothing to do with the operation of a court.

In the US, because of the first amendment to the Constitution, the limits on speech, understood in its most general sense, are very narrowly circumscribed. Some, and I include myself, think of this as a feature, not a defect. Most of the spew of the crazies is not and cannot effectively be made unlawful despite the fact it is hurtful or in terrible taste and its authors are worthy of condemnation and extensive public shaming, which the Internet provides for as easily and extensively, or more, as it does for the nastiness.

Google, Twitter, Facebook, and others, as private entities, are not bound by the First Amendment and can do as they think appropriate within very wide limits (within the US) when it comes to anything remotely like political (or commercial) "speech."

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tom dial
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Re: What a wanker

Although we did not, in the somewhat distant past "random individuals with mental illness reading the output of those organisations on the Net and, as a result, going out and killing people" we did have "random individuals with mental illness" (for some reasonable understanding of mental illness) "going out and killing people." One need go no further than Wikipedia to see that rather clearly.

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Buggy vote-counting software borks Australian election

tom dial
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Re: WTF?

In the US the system is full of holes and vulnerabilities. The reason fraud rarely is caught is that it is not often an issue (because most elections are not very close) and therefore is not much looked for. In addition, checking for the types of voting fraud mentioned is quite difficult. As another poster mentioned, there is no easy way to connect deaths and voter registration lists. Although some states, maybe most, share voter lists in an attempt to identify multiple jurisdiction registrations, that undertaking is afflicted with the difficult problem of name comparison that banks and S&Ls worked through several decades ago. For example, there may or may not be duplicates among A D Smith, Albert D Smith, Albert Donald Smith, A Donald Smith, A David Smith, Arthur David Smith (and quite a few other possible variations), and it would be a substantial effort as well to read death notices and be certain of removing registrations of those, and only those, who are deceased. Photo IDs, which are available at no direct cost in all or nearly all states that require them, partly address the issue.

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tom dial
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Re: We want the Neville Shute Voting System

Actually, it would not do that. The political machines of old depended heavily on making sure the government ran decently, Chicago being the last major example. As late as the early 1960s under the Daley machine it was arguably the best run large city in the US. At that time, and earlier, the streets were maintained, the garbage collected, and if you had a problem that the city government you could call the Alderman's office and stand a reasonable chance of getting the problem solved. At that time, too, it was customary for the machine's precinct workers to hand out $2 per voter with the instruction to go vote - the recipient knew which candidate to vote for.

There was graft, to be sure, in things like minimum-show jobs, various forms of self enrichment among the higher ranked members of the political class, and contracts where the low bidder had information that the others did not. As long as it didn't get out of hand and the essential city government functions were maintained it was tolerable.

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tom dial
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Re: WTF?

Multiple voting across jurisdictions would be a problem of possible significance mostly in presidential elections, and to a smaller degree in state wide elections such as those for governer or US senator. The most likely offenders would be students who, due to great indignation some years past, were allowed to register and vote at their college or university while retaining their voting status at their former (and often summer) residence. I thought about doing that about 50 years ago, but decided against it. Since then it has become a bit more difficult as states have coordinated comparison of their voting lists

The Australian system does not seem notably more vulnerable to fraud, but does seem to depend on the voters trusting the election administrators rather more than is usual in the US.

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Russian government hackers spent a year in our servers, admits DNC

tom dial
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Re: Hillary's mail server

Until a denial is issued, we may assume for convenience that Clinton and the DNC hired their admins from the same applicant pool and got similar skill levels.

Once a denial is issued, we can evaluate it for credibility.

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Linux devs open up universal Ubuntu Snap packages to other distros

tom dial
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Before retiring, one of my least favorite activities was sorting through the security issues from old, decrepit, and buggy versions of Java that vendors had bundled with their application. They typically promised to support only the version they bundled, and as we were a US DoD agency, we were required to have support for niceties like security issues. This was not a problem until a vendor's favorite java became an unsupported product, at which point we had to start writing POA&M or Acceptance of Risk documents about the Java that Sun or Oracle no longer supported. Sometimes we had four or five versions, of which two or three no longer had support. That left us in a bind: replacing the unsupported Java gave us an unsupported Java application. Explaining that to the CIO was not pleasant, who was extremely averse to signing an Acceptance of Risk.

Snap appears to be a codification into open source of this noxious practice.

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Supreme Court okays troll toll increase

tom dial
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Re: Judge not...

The Seagate test was imposed on trial judges by the Court of Appeals for the Federal District. The last time I checked that court was staffed by judges; the Supreme Court, for reasons they described in their decision, reversed the CAFC.

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Orlando shootings bring Facebook's safety check to US soil

tom dial
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Re: Terrorist Attack?

The "Kneejerk" reaction seems to have been based quite solidly on a statement Omar Mateen gave, at about the time he began shooting, to "law enforcement officials about further carnage, [in which he] claimed allegiance to the Islamic State and praised the Boston Marathon bombers" (reported in the New York Times). It is not unreasonably called terrorism given the apparent ideological/political connection.

That said, there has been for years an unfortunate tendency to use the term "terrorism" in ways so vague as to make it useless in defining or describing anything.

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Chinese space station 'out of control', will do best firework impression

tom dial
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Re: Typical problem when you don't have all the data

Quite interestingly, the first paragraph of this post suggests strongly, although implicitly, that intellectual property and the various laws and behaviors that protect it generally act to retard progress. The Chinese, by their industry and use of knowledge and techniques some of which doubtless are claimed by someone as intellectual property, have enriched us all. Their consideration for the environment may be less than desirable, but that also was, and is, common in both developed and developing areas.

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Sysadmin 'fesses up to wrecking his former employer's IT systems

tom dial
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The federal government and some state governments have standard ways to determine sentencing of those convicted (or who confessed). Other state governments, in particular California, do not have uniform sentencing standards, leading to greater variability and occasional public outrage over sentences considered either too long or too short.

Paul Cassell, a former federal judge, wrote on this in the context of the Stanford case a few days ago in the Volokh Conspiracy blog. He noted that under federal law (on federal/non-state territory) Turner's conviction could have carried a life sentence, and federal sentencing guidelines are for 97 - 121 months imprisonment. He also links to a Washington Post article reporting that the average state sentence for a rape is 11 years

It may be the real lesson in this is that there is not a US system of justice, over 50 of them: 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, various territories, federal, and military. There may be more. States are largely sovereign and likely to show a considerable range for any offense.

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Oooooklahoma! Where the cops can stop and empty your bank cards – on just a hunch

tom dial
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Re: wait....... what?

"[H]ow removing funds is better than just freezing accounts"

A bank is quite unlikely to freeze an account without a proper court order to do so and possibly concurrence of their internal legal office. Lots more paperwork, and much lower success probability than simple confiscation. And the skimmer is useful too, because the card contents don't become available automatically as does seized cash.

The immediate seizure process is so obviously in conflict with the fourth, fifth, and occasionally sixth amendments that it seems incomprehensible that it was not suppressed shortly after enactment.

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Feinstein-Burr's bonkers backdoor crypto law is dead in the water

tom dial
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Re: dead in the water

In the past, courts have made irrelevant or improper orders, including warrants. There is no reason to think there won't be more issued in the future. Courts, being staffed by people, all imperfect, sometimes will make mistakes or be carried away by some enthusiasm and do things they should not. For that reason there are appellate courts, and the recipient of a court order normally would enter an appeal if he or she thought it invalid. As Apple did in the recent case of Syed Farook's county supplied iPhone.

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tom dial
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National Security Letters are, and have been, abominations. Police, with possible exceptions for exigent circumstances similar to what they have for searches, should be required to obtain permission for metadata acquisition through a formally independent judicial process, as they do for telephone metadata or a pen register under Smith v Maryland.

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tom dial
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Re: dead in the water

In general it would be ordinary courts of first jurisdiction issuing search warrants, not the FISC, which has as it primary purpose oversight of foreign intelligence operations. The search warrant for Syed Farook's iPhone, as an example, was issued by a federal magistrate judge in California. The several hundred warrants the Manhattan DA would like help executing were issued by New York state courts and probably none relates to national security matters.

Feinstein and Burr's draft was flawed, but the intent behind it was in no way inherently inconsistent with the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

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tom dial
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Re: *cough*

It is not at all obvious that a requirement that a producer assist with search warrant execution, or even actually providing such assistance, would render its products unsalable. It seems likely that the producer least able to give effective assistance would experience increased demand, although I suspect that in many places, including the US, the difference would not be large.

The presumption that such a requirement would apply only in the US also is suspect. Law enforcement officials elsewhere certainly would like to be able to access smart phone and similar computer stored data. Indeed, there is no obvious reason to think such requirements are not already in place somewhere.

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tom dial
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Re: dead in the water

The courts would decide relevance and propriety, as they have done for the last 225 years in the US and longer than that, I think, in Britain. As they would in the case of the related search warrant.

A company might try for compensation of indirect costs. I do not think it likely they would succeed, but admit the possibility that I am mistaken in that.

Nothing very novel is involved here.

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tom dial
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Re: dead in the water

For now. All the government really needs is a law that requires companies to assist in executing relevant and proper court orders to the extent they can, with compensation for the direct cost of doing so. Depending on the outcome of pending appeals around use of the All Writs Act, they might not need even that.

There is absolutely no constitutional issue here, and any mention of either mass or other surveillance in this connection is misdirection.

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US computer-science classes churn out cut-n-paste slackers – and yes, that's a bad thing

tom dial
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Re: Been that way fror a long time in the US of A

The repetitious denigration of COBOL is both unwarranted and counterproductive. It is unwarranted because for many purposes (see the 'B' in the acronym) it is a perfectly good language, if more than a bit wordy, for representing and solving the problems in its domain. It is counterproductive because it is (or was the last time I saw any reports) still in use for a good deal of core financial and other data processing in the US and probably numerous other countries. The cost to reimplement such systems is enormous, and COBOL, like FORTRAN, is likely to remain widely used for quite a while going forward. Discouraging students from learning it, or removing from the CS curriculum, does not serve the students or their prospective future employers well. Competent programmers certainly can learn a new language at need, but prior knowledge cannot help but be beneficial all around.

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tom dial
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Re: walshk@byteform.com

My son, a system development supervisor, has said for years that all too many programmers lack a basic understanding of what the machine they are writing to is doing under the covers. I made the same observation during a stint in a developer technical support position about 25 years back. While for many purposes that is unimportant that lack can bite rather hard when an application fails to perform well enough and the customers are angry that they cannot do their work.

And here the general concepts ("big picture knowledge") do not help all that much. What is most useful is detailed knowledge of what the computer is doing, how (for example) a file is organized and what has to happen between the request for a record and its delivery to the program for processing, and maybe most useful, what can be done to adjust the operating system environment, the program, or both, to eliminate bottlenecks and delays.

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Rats revive phones-and-cancer scares

tom dial
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Re: Replication

Hopefully with samples a bit bigger. In general, the findings, so called, in this study seem to be generally in line with with what one would expect in random trials.

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Feds raid dental flaws dad

tom dial
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Re: SSAN Only

On the face of the CFAA text (18 USC 1030) the restriction to SSAN only does not seem correct. However, the act appears not to apply in the case of an anonymous FTP server, as such things effectively authorize anyone to search and retrieve data within the limits otherwise set by the server's security environment.

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tom dial
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Lack of a password is not an invitation for access.any more than is a port left open due to accidental firewall misconception.

That said, if the circumstances are as reported, Mr. Shafer should have a reasonable basis to sue based on unreasonableness of the search, and the federal agent who put his or her name on the affidavit seeking the search warrant* (and any supervisors who signed off on it) should be disciplined firmly, at least to the extend of losing a chunk of pay, as should whoever authorized a raid in the early morning. The issuing judge might have authorized speedy action to prevent destruction of evidence, but it is quite unlikely that the circumstances would warrant starting a surprise search before normal rising time or Shafer's reported (in Daily Dot) detention in handcuffs.

Warrants may sometimes be obtained fraudulently or through error. Judges generally are not in position to determine independently the truth of an affidavit and must rely on the honesty of the applicant and those who support the warrant application. None of them are likely to be pleased if a warrant is overturned after the fact because a search was determined later to have been objectively unreasonable and any evidence collected during the search is disallowed, along with other evidence to which it guided the way. That is not, of course a very satisfactory solution for those who, like Shafer, are on the receiving end, but may be the best possible given that criminal justice is administered by imperfect people with incomplete knowledge and sometimes impure motives.

And at the back of it all is the CFAA, which came out of the starting gate in need of major revision and has not improved with age.

* This assumes there was a warrant; if there wasn't, the government's (and agents') difficulties would properly be quite a bit larger.

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Surface Book nightmare: Microsoft won't fix 'Sleep of Death' bug

tom dial
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Suggestions

If paid with a credit card, the card issuer might have provisions you can use to put pressure on Microsoft that they cannot ignore easily, like pulling back and returning your money to you. The one I use most often offers such a additional protection plan, although I never have had occasion to try it.

I do not know about California, but small claims courts in many states are suitable for claims at least as large as the machine cost. They generally do not require a lawyer, and sometimes are ignored by defendants (leading to a default judgment for the plaintiff), and their orders are quite enforceable.

From the description in the article, their refusal to refund based on the POS POS terminal system probably is rubbish and they probably know it. A letter from a lawyer pointing this out in some detail might move them to action.

As a (minor) Microsoft shareholder, I think they should make good on things like this without a lot of fuss. As nearly always is true in cases like this, failure to do so promptly and cheerfully will cost them more in the end, both money and good will.

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The Schmidt's hit by the fan: Alphabet investor sues Google bigwigs over EU antitrust ruckus

tom dial
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@Ivan4:

My first question after seeing the headline on this article was "who is this plaintiff's lawyer billing."

Another alternative is that he is a lawyer, and hopes to promote this to class action status, and with that win a few pennies for each shareholder (including himself) and collect a truckload of money for himself as the lead attorney for the class.

That said, this suit might be a tad premature inasmuch as the alleged losses are, as yet, entirely hypothetical.

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Hillary Clinton broke law with private email server – top US govt watchdog

tom dial
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This has nothing to do with Benghazi. It is, however, the subject of an active FBI investigation with no publicly announced ETA. Guccifer, who claims to have hacked the system, and Brian Pagliano, Secretary Clnton's personal IT advisor (as his full time State Department job) and part time personal SA (his moonlighting job) have been turned and are cooperating in the investigation.

The conservative Congressmen have not, as yet, made much of this; it is the work of the Attorney General, the FBI director, and the State Deparment inspector general, all of whom were appointed by President Obama.

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tom dial
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Re: Bah!

Having a personal email server and using it for official government duties might legal if it is fully compliant with (in this case) Department of State FAM regulations, FIPS requirements, and FISMA (2002). The equipment might have to be owned and operated by the government, although it is possible for a privately owned and maintained system to be fully compliant in technical respects; but there would be serious accountability issues with private ownership and operation, and it would take a CIO or CISO much braver than the one at State to certify one.

Hillary Clinton's personal email server was not certified and accredited for its purpose, and therefor did not (and would not today) comply with State Department and government wide IT regulations, or the law.

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tom dial
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Re: So it begins...

In looking at the text of the IG report I found no statement that laws were not broken. There were many statements, however, that State Department instructions ('rules") were not followed, and in particular, that they were not followed in respect of Secretary Clinton's use of a personally owned email system that was not certified and accredited. That fairly clearly violated the Federal Information Security Management Act (2002) as well as the applicable Federal Information Processing Standards written to implement it, both of which dominate any State Department instructions.

The departmental rules in State Department Foreign Affairs Manual derive from the laws that govern the executive branch in general and the State Department in particular. When the Department or its employees violate such a regulation they very often have violated an underlying law as well. That probably is for the Attorney General to say, rather than the Department IG, and may explain lack of specific statements about violation of laws.

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tom dial
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Re: Rules are for little people

This should not go unchallenged.

First, the report is from the State Department Inspector General, an appointee of the current President, a Democrat. It is not done by the Congress and is not by any stretch a Republican smear.

Second, contrary to the assertion, the FBI started an investigation some time back, based on an earlier referral by the State Department IG and others. That investigation is a work in progress without an announced completion date. Both the FBI Director and his manager, the US Attorney General, were appointed by the current President.

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French authorities raid Google's Paris HQ over tax allegations

tom dial
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Re: SOP

A private person in France who tries to comply with the letter of French law while minimizing tax liability would end up with a big fine and possibly jail time?

And here I thought for years that France was a country of laws, where both government and citizens largely complied.

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Catz: Google's Android hurt Oracle's Java business

tom dial
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Re: Time for Google to pay up...

If only they would. I tried to upvote twice, but it doesn't work and I'm too lazy to create more logins just for that.

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EU mulls €3bn fine for Google

tom dial
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Re: Bonkers

Fining Google any amount of money insufficient to put them out of business will fail to cure the alleged stupidity of those who equate it with the Internet.

In the meantime they are, to a first approximation, an advertising delivery company and use general search to attract people to see the ads they are paid to deliver. They have a clear interest in providing good general search results so their users come back repeatedly. There is no major barrier to entering the online advertising or search provider business, but there is a substantial barrier to succeeding at it, probably because it is difficult (as Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo and others show daily) to provide search results as good as Google does. Google, because of its popularity* with search users, may be able to game users to promote its own services unjustifiably, but probably cannot do it too much or too long if those services are noticeably inferior to the comparable ones of other providers.

* Despite its common use, "dominance" really is not quite the appropriate word because Google has, in fact, no way to control those who search other than user habit and search result quality.

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tom dial
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Google usage for search seems to be quite a bit North of 90% in the most populous parts of Europe, and slightly above 70% in the US. There probably is a reason for that, but it is not that other substantially similar services are unavailable or more costly. My hypothesis, based on fairly unsophisticated sampling and analysis every month or two, is that Google's results are just a bit better than those of Bing,Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo. They are not a lot better, and I gave DuckDuckGo a more extended trial last year as default search engine but switched back to Google after about three weeks; the results were not quite as good as I had hoped.

So Google has a monopoly of search, certainly in Europe and arguably in the US, in a market in which they were not the first competitor and in which consumer choice is as completely free as possible, given that none of the commonly used search portals charges users.

Google makes money in large part by selling advertising and displaying the ads to its users, as do others. Its customers are those who pay it for advertising placement, not those who use it for search, even when they are looking for something to buy. They charge their advertisers a fee, and presumably have fairly specific contractual obligations to their customers, the advertisers. They do not, as far as I know, have a contractual or other obligation to those who use their search facilities, but they do have a moderately strong self interest in providing search results that meet the perceived needs or requirements of those users, since failing to do so will cost them search share and consequently reduce the the rates they can charge advertisers, and their profits.

Why, exactly, should they not place the links for products and services they offer immediately beneath those of their paying customers, and above those for every single other vendor of comparable products or services?

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tom dial
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Re: Bonkers

Yet the original poster stated that his search, on both PC and Android, returned results for Microsoft products ahead of their own. I can't vouch for the correctness of that report, but my experience, using Chromium, a sort of Google product, showed LibreOffice, Apache OpenOffice, and Microsoft Office as the first three non-paid items. Somewhat later came a couple of results for something called WPS Office, and a bit later FreeOffice, another one for WPS Office Free, and finally Google Office, the 11th (non-ad) item on the first page, at the very bottom. On Android (Verizon) I got returns for Microsoft Office, Apache OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and WPS Office 2016 Personal Edition before Google Office. All the sponsored returns in both cases were for various Microsoft Office products.

Here in the Western US, at least, Google seem to (1) honor their commitments to those who pay for their advertising service and (2) not rank their commercial offering in the office software category above their competitors'. This probably is not because they are under pressure not to do so, as they are not under significant pressure here in that respect.

Two reports are not a statistically useful sample, but their consistency suggests that Google, in at least one area where they compete, may be operating honestly.

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ZFS comes to Debian, thanks to licensing workaround

tom dial
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The claim on the GPL side, though, is that the reciprocity requirement provides greater total utility to the population of all software developers and users (as opposed to only those who develop and use the particular software) than other licenses, whether open source or not. It is not implausible.

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tom dial
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Re: Free is Free

"Contributions" if made public "can be used in both great open source projects AND amazing closed source ones." That "if made public" is a significant difference. Apple (for example) might have developed major improvements to the BSD kernel that they do not release publicly, as the BSD licenses allow. Those improvements are unlikely to be used in "great" or, indeed, any open source projects.

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tom dial
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I did not claim that GPL is the only appropriate open source license, or that it is the best for all purposes. I do consider non-GPL open source software to be subject to exploitation in ways that GPL licensed software is not. Indeed, I consider that to be entirely obvious, and it is confirmed from time to time by closed-source advocates, maybe most famously by Steve Ballmer's description of it as a "cancer."

Any author, of course, has the liberty to use any license, or none, for his or her software products. Those who choose a version of the GPL have taken a position that extensions of their work must be licensed in the same way if published at all.

I do not see it as a major problem, and the Debian Project approach seems a reasonable way to handle the issue of GPL vs non-GPL incompatibility, as it was for the proprietary Nvidia, AMD, and WiFi drivers I and many others use. The only evident defect is that it will be difficult to set a system up that is entirely on ZFS; yet /boot hardly needs that, and / certainly needs it less than general storage for application data and user login file systems. I would not be at all surprised, however, to read in the not distant future that the installer had been taught to download and compile ZFS to enable its use for the entire system.

The first order evidence from Linux vs the various BSD kernels certainly suggests as a plausible hypothesis that the GPL is the superior license in practice. The claim that the GPL "causes tremendous problems in situations like this" is a major overstatement for which there is little real evidence, if any. The GPL folks had a rather public, but still internal, discussion about it and the starchiest of the major producers settled the issue for themselves in a way that seems fairly reasonable and workable. And the world will move on, an increasing part of it on Linux with ZFS.

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tom dial
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You are entitled to your opinion, as I am to mine.

The problem with non-GPL licensed software seems to me to be that it eliminates the requirement for reciprocity that the GPL licences embody. There are enough of us who, because we make no contributions other than minor ones for our own use, only take. Red Hat's suggests rather emphatically that the GPL, although not the only viable license model, is quite a decent one.

That ZFS is covered by an incompatible open source license should not be a greater impediment than the even more restrictive licensing of Nvidia drivers and a good deal of WiFi chip drivers. I look forward to installing the package that will download and compile it from source.

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Google kneecaps payday loan ads

tom dial
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The alternative for some, perhaps quite a few, legal payday loan business customers is to patronize the local "Juice Man". In the not always good old days in Chicago their customary rate was $6 for $5 per week, a simple interest rate of 1040% that will turn a $100 borrow into a million dollar debt in under a year in the unlikely event the lender will allow rollover. These old fashioned neighborhood lenders had effective, if more than a bit brutal, ways to collect their payments and make examples of those who could not repay on time. We may want to be a bit careful about what we ask for, as there sometimes are unintended and quite undesirable consequences.

On the other hand, most payday lenders operate from neighborhood offices and likely are well enough known to their clientele that they have little need to advertise using Google or any other service. It may be the Google is doing this in an attempt to generate a bit of favorable publicity among the relatively clueless.

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Congress calls for change to NSA spying law

tom dial
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The pertinent part of the fourteenth amendment, only part of which is quoted, reads

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

It is primarily or exclusively a restriction of action by states, not the federal government.

The legal constraints on "spying" on persons within US jurisdiction apply to those who are citizens (anywhere) or are present legally in the US, whether as immigrants or visitors. It would be interesting to see whether an illegal alien could win a case on a claim of surveillance unconstitutional under the fourteenth amendment, say by arguing successfully that evidence collected could not be used in a trial. The fourth amendment, which also covers "people" without reference to citizenship, probably would be a better choice, although law enforcement officials probably obtain warrants as a standard practice in nearly all cases anyhow.

Signals intelligence is a bit weird, because it is not always possible to ascertain the communicants' citizenship or location, and also because capturing the communications that are wanted will very often necessitate capturing and discarding a much larger volume of communications that are not wanted. That is true for capture of radio transmissions (which still continues) and it is true for capture of internet data communication. It is a matter of opinion to what degree the mechanically necessary capturing and discarding constitutes surveillance, as it also is a matter of opinion whether even maintaining a database of all domestic telephone metadata constitutes surveillance of all. It might actually matter whether it is looked at and if so what legal process stands in the way.

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tom dial
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"This program does not just target terrorists. It targets anyone with foreign intelligence value. It could be a completely innocent businessman or anyone else out of the country who has that information."

Well, of course. The purpose of foreign intelligence agencies is to conduct foreign intelligence activities. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was passed in 1978, close to forty years ago and more than twenty years before September 11, 2001. The purpose, in part, was to codify the limits to acceptable foreign intelligence activities. The legal limitations enacted in the FISA, and the laterFISA Amendments Act, were aimed primarily at restricting impact of foreign intelligence activities on US citizens and US legal residents while permitting, as the laws of other nations do, much less restraint on activities that target those who are neither citizens nor legal residents. Terrorism as a significant international concern arose considerably later and represents only a part, probably a small part, of the activity of US foreign intelligence agencies; that that probably is true of most other nations' foreign intelligence agencies as well.

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The 'new' Microsoft? I still wouldn't touch them with a barge pole

tom dial
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Re: The lock in Question

My recollection is that with both HP and Sun (later Oracle) we had unlimited support, paid for on an annual subscription for both hardware and software. We cheaped out and bought only 0800-1700 local time, though, and there was a per-incident charge for after hours and weekends. I think the 24x7 support rates were about double, and over about 15 years the question came up only once, so we won on the deal. Calling them off hours would have violated the Anti-Deficiency Act, and we thought things through carefully and fixed the problem ourselves, the alternative being to wait until morning and take a hit for customer down time.

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