* Posts by tom dial

1017 posts • joined 16 Jan 2011

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Windows and OS X are malware, claims Richard Stallman

tom dial
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I can speak with reasonable knowledge only about US government and politics, but the mechanism here, and I strongly suspect nearly everywhere else, is something like this: Those with much to gain or lose over an issue make it a point to convey their perspective and wishes to those who manage the legal environment; those who are indifferent to the outcome, or stand to gain or lose little, do not. The legislators are beset by large numbers of such supplicants and have schedules chock full of meetings and other more or less obligatory activities. They do not normally have the time for more than superficial thought about the consequences, and their information about issues is biased strongly in favor of the views put forward by those with a big stake, and know implicitly that their vote will not greatly affect their reelection prospects.

The horrid copyright regime we have, that appears to be built into and extended by the TPP, TTIP, and similar agreements, is one example of a great many. It differs from the basic model only in that the proposed laws are being made by the executive branch in the form of treaties. The President's insistence on a straight up or down vote is simply an attempt to make sure the thing doesn't fall apart during the necessary legislative approval process.

Another example is the management of national security law and practice, where until recently the information givers have been aided by the substantially justifiable requirement for secrecy. This unfortunately also enabled companies with a substantial potential stake to finesse the issue and not push objections they might have had. Now that it is more in the open, they are beginning to behave normally and present their commercially motivated views publicly, and through lobbyists to senators and representatives.

An up and coming example is the concern for "infrastructure", presently focused on the railroads after the recent serious accident in New Jersey.

It is not obvious how to correct this fundamental problem, which probably is about equally prevalent everywhere and under all types of regime, although the details will differ.

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NSA bulk phone records slurp to end when law lapses next month – report

tom dial
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Re: They'll still be doing it

They won't: Verizon and the other carriers almost certainly would out them if they were able to get a court order for the phone records, but no court, including the FISC, would issue one after the law expires..

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The telephone metadata included cell phones; Revelation One, as I recall it, was the FISC order to Verizon for business cell phone records.

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tom dial
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Re: Problem is already solved.

That assumes something quite unlikely, that GCHQ has physical access to US telephone metadata, or the ability to compel its delivery to them. The Section 215 metadata program that looks like being terminated is implemented by court orders that compel carriers to deliver call records to the government. It is not a "slurp" in anything like the sense of, say, the XKEYSCORE program, which will continue to be entirely lawful (under US law).

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tom dial
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Re: Nobody says they're violating the law

Correct as to fact, I think, and certainly defensible as to the conclusion. The only thing I would add is that a government executive or legislator desiring reelection normally will be quite concerned about the possibility of being seen as partly responsible for bad events like terrorist attacks. In particular, they would worry about being blamed if it should appear after the fact (but before the next election) that it could have been prevented but for intelligence information missed, due to failure to obtain or insufficient funding or staffing to analyze. As happened in the US after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The more recent uproar over signals surveillance should give them pause to consider other aspects of policy and law, and may lead to a better balance overall, but it will not entirely suppress the concern that they should be seen to be in favor of public safety.

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tom dial
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Re: Who is really stupid enough to believe this?

While the activities described (in very general terms) may have violated US law, it might also be that it was not. Government agencies may sometimes do lawfully, in international affairs, things forbidden to private sector companies. CIA collection from South African agents of information is unlikely to have violated any US laws, and supplying arms design information and arms for purposes approved by the President might be illegal or not, depending on the details of the arrangements under which it occurred.

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Re: Unfortunately

The documents Edward Snowden caused to be released, additional documents the government later declassified and released, and Executive Order 12333 all generally support a claim that the NSA as an agency and its employees care about and attempt, largely successfully, to follow the law as it exists. That is not to say there are not lapses sucha typographical error that resulted in collection of Washington DC calls in place of Egyptian calls, or cases of individual military or civilian employees targeting spouses or dates. It also is not to say that the agency did not seek, and sometimes obtain, expansive interpretations of the law to support what its management saw as its proper mission, or that they did not seek changes to the law to expand their legal authority. Most of the activities reported, however, are consistent with US law as it is, however much it may differ from what some of us think it ought to be, and were known of in some detail and approved by two executive departments and a properly constituted court. I suspect much the same is true, with differences due to law and customs, of the activities of GCHQ, CSEC, DSD, and GCSB.

It is quite reasonable to believe the laws should be changed, and to advocate for that, but it is not reasonable to believe, based on what we know, that the NSA, and probably the other Five Eyes agencies systematically violate existing laws.

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tom dial
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Re: Softening us up, surely

Not clearly a "sneaky trick" although many of those now outraged by the current data collections will be in a great hurry to restore them after a future terrorist attack on US soil.

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tom dial
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So the President did not ask for an extension. This might well indicate that the telephone metadata database was not thought all that important and was not used extensively - as the documents Snowden released illegally and those the government later declassified and released actually show. It kind of looks at present as if the sundowned parts of the ill-begotten USA PATRIOT act will expire on schedule, possibly to be replaced later by modified versions.

However, if there is another significant terrorist attack in the US the NSA, CIA, FBI and possibly others will be blamed for not detecting and preventing it. And we surely can expect calls for increased surveillance and condemnation of those who failed to vote to continue the extensive data collection will accompany the ensuing panic, as it did in 2001.

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What are cellphone networks blabbing about you to the Feds? A US senator wants to know

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"[Sen. Markey] is also asking carriers to disclose when they first handed over encryption keys to government agencies, allowing the g-men to decrypt subscribers' private phone calls."

Has he not heard of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), passed in 1994? He should see 47 USC 1002 and related material, then consider whether it is necessary for the carriers to turn over encryption keys that they may have. This question is a bit like asking someone whether he still beats his wife.

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tom dial
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Re: Faraday cages?

http://disklabs.com/products/faraday-bags

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Andreessen tips spare change into sensor startup Samsara

tom dial
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What could possibly go wrong?

Samsara "wants to combine 'plug-and-play sensors, wireless connectivity, and rich cloud-hosted software, all tightly-integrated for simple deployment'”.

The article notes earlier that sensors are pretty much commodity items, but would need configuring. I will be sticking to those, or at least ones that don't need to be connected to anything not on my premises in order to work.

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Man sues Uber for a BEEELLION dollars over alleged theft of concept

tom dial
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Sanity check

1. Halpern created the Uber business model and founded Celluride in 2003, some four years before the iPhone was released.

2. In 2006, after three years doing nothing (?) with the idea, he let it slip to Trevor Kalanick.

3. In 2009 Kalanick and Garrett Camp started Uber, Halpern having spent another three years doing nothing significant with "his" idea.

Halpern's suit probably is due for a quick and unfortunate end unless he has signed documents from Kalnick acknowledging his precedence. If he is lucky, his lawyer hired on for a contingent fee and the risk of court censure for wasting a judge's time.

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tom dial
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Re: Just another patent troll

Too lazy to search out and read the complaint, and don't want to wast the time to watch the Youtube flic. Is there a patent here (the article didn't say so) or is Halpern simply an idiot who found a lawyer to take on a contingent fee lawsuit figuring that 40% of a $1B with a probability of approximately zero might be worth a few hours and a filing fee to get a mention or two in the press?

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Legal eagles want dirt on Google's 'right to be forgotten' decisions

tom dial
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This type of request might incline Google and other search engine operators rarely mentioned to rething their policies and change them to something along the lines of "we accept and act upon legal orders from courts with appropriate jurisdiction to delist specific URLs from presentation in those jurisdictions."

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'Right to be forgotten' festers as ICO and Google come to blows

tom dial
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Re: Is this the correct approach?

If a "Right To Be Forgotten" were implemented this correct way, the judges, legislators, and ultimately the bureaucrats charged to enforce the rules would be seen to be the censorious meddlers they actually are.

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Home routers co-opted into self-sustaining DDoS botnet

tom dial
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If you failed to follow the manufacturer's advice about changing the default password, it is not the manufacturer's fault.

If you turned it on with external or wifi admin access enabled, irrespective of whether you changed the password, it is not the manufacturer's fault unless they shipped it with those options, and then only if they failed to provide reasonable password changing advice.

If the manufacturer shipped with external/wifi administration enabled, and failed to provide clear (US eighth grade level) instructions for changing the default password and administrative configuration, there probably is a reasonable case.

The last time I did it, installing alternative firmware is a seriously nontrivial operation for most home consumers.

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tom dial
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Re: Class action?

Why should the guilt or innocence of a manufacturer ride on the choice of target by criminals who subvert routers made by the manufacturer? Is it not more that the manufacturer may be guilty if there are unpatched vulnerabilities in their equipment, or not, if the vulnerability arose from ISP or user failure to set a proper password?

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Lies, damn lies and election polls: Why GE2015 pundits fluffed the numbers so badly

tom dial
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Extremely careful and much costlier pollsters (mostly academic) ask each respondent a number of questions, some and occasionally all of them different from "for whom do you plan to vote?" From the answers, and a theoretical model they then use to make predictions (although the primary goal is to improve the behavioral model and better understand the sources of voting and other political behavior. Along with this they also use a process (somewhat disrespectfully called "farmerizing" when I was in graduate school long ago) to word the questions for clear comprehension by those with no more than about an eighth grade (US) education level. Polls like that are less likely to be gamed (we thought at the time) and might be more likely to give valid predictions The procedure also may allow them to detect and better discount responses that are untrue or ambiguous. It has been noted, however, that projecting the outcome based solely on responses of a sample to the main question is not much less accurate (if it actually is), especially if adjusted based on even quite simple demographic models.

However, with legislatures selected from single member districts with a plurality requirement for election, a national sample is very likely to be inadequate in some cases, including what seems to have occurred in the UK last week, where a narrowly based regional party - the SNP - did major damage to a national party - Labor - that depended a lot on the region. In such circumstances, polling organizations probably would do better by using district polls to project the outcome in each district, and combine those results to project the national legislature composition. This article and others I have seen do not suggest that they did this, perhaps because of the associated cost.

Single member plurality-win districts have a strong tendency to suppress national parties such as the Liberal Democrats and UKIP with relatively small memberships, while allowing strong regional parties like the SNP and sometimes relatively strong national parties like the Conservatives or Labor to elect disproportionate numbers. That may be good or bad, and depend on ones party allegiance and the details.

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EU geo-blocking: Ansip's crusade liable to disappear through 'unjustifiable' loophole

tom dial
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Re: Laws shmaws

Local fast food joints are, well, local. Usually they are franchises and probably can set prices however they want, possibly within limits. That would be true as well for stores owned by a national corporation. WE generally do not have prices set by governments, although overly aggressive price competition sometimes will draw the attention of antitrust agents (or be pointed out to them by aggrieved competitors.) Price differentials between states for national vendors probably is not illegal, but would not sell very well. Any such differential normally would be expressed in the sometimes exorbitant shipping and handling fees.

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Ericsson to Apple: Cough up for licences or stop selling iPhones, iPads and Watches

tom dial
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Re: It it to do with the selling price I bet

"Apple could just be being arrogant in their stance, or Ericsson could be being greedy."

Of the first, we can be fairly confident. I do not know about the second.

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Snowden scandal latest: NSA, GCHQ lingo-spies replaced by unstoppable RHINEHART robots

tom dial
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After reading the Intercept article and all of the documents referenced at the end I conclude that we should not be surprised, that the program as hyped in the documents from ~2006 may not have met its objectives all that well. GCHQ's commentary from ~2009 suggests that it was not a stunning success at that time, and the budget of 8 government employees with an average grade of GS-12 (mid-level technical/managerial) and a total annual budget of < $30 million over the period from 2011 - 2013 suggests an ongoing moderate size research undertaking, not a major operational program to suck in all the world's voice and text traffic, analyze it, and search it automatically to identify the unruly among us for further watching and correction..

This Intercept article, like most of them dealing with signals intelligence agencies, has a great deal of innuendo and statements about potential for misuse and nothing in the way of evidence that the spies are doing anything other with the technology, whatever its state and degree of deployment, than what we should expect of them. It certainly is possible that the technology described, if developed to a degree of operational effectiveness that the documents presented fail rather badly to support, could be used against us, but in democratic regimes like those of the US, UK, other Five Eyes, and most European countries, the evidence for that risk is between nonexistent and small.

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tom dial
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Re: "near-infinite budget" NSA funded 8 FTEs at an average grade of about GS-12, and an unknown number of contractor personnel (probably in the neighborhood of 15 to no more than 20), with a total expenditure of uncer $30 million per year. That is to say, it was a fairly small program for a major DoD agency. That probably was R&D only, and evidently did not include any significant equipment purchase for deployment.

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Why OH WHY is economics so bleedin' awful, then?

tom dial
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Re: Greg Mankiw

The downvote supports my hunch that fact-statements that happen to be true tend to receive them.

In fact, for Harvard's introductory course Economics 10:

a) the first half is microeconomics, and

b) the second half is macroeconomics, AND has the first half (or instructor permission) as a prerequisite.

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US Congress promises death to patent trolls in bipartisan law scribbling

tom dial
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Re: peer review?

The obtuseness of patent filings militates against this, as does the implied requirement that those skilled in various particular arts regularly review the patents filed in their area of expertise. I have seen recommendations against that, the arguments being that it is wasteful of possibly productive time and that evidence that you consulted patent filings might be used adversely if you ever were accused of infringement. "Willful" violations, I believe, can lead to enhanced punishment.

The correct solution is for the USPTO to do its work properly in the first place, although I have seen arguments by academics that patents are intrinsically bad (and not limited to those on software).

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WHY can't Silicon Valley create breakable non-breakable encryption, cry US politicians

tom dial
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Re: asymmetric-key decryption

Thanks for the reference.

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tom dial
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Re: Remember when the DVD encryption key got leaked?

As this suggests, key distribution and control is one of the hard problems in cryptographic system design. A master key or a set of individual device keys for a crypto system would be an extremely high value target that a wide variety of baddies would spend large amounts of time, money, and effort to obtain. Assuming a lack of scruples, they would use cyber attacks, bribery, extortion, and all other methods that criminals and spies use to obtain secrets. It is likely that eventually some of the data would be compromised.

Given the undeniable skills available to agencies like the NSA and in the private sector, it is quite likely that they could produce a system that would be secure far longer than the lifetime of any device that exists or is contemplated. It also is possible that a key management system could be devised that provides oversight and security against compromise that reasonably can be expected to extend beyond the expected life of current and proposed devices and includes reasonable precautions against misuse of escrowed key information by those who would, under proper supervision, be authorized to collect and decrypt communication and data.

The real problems are political, and are quite difficult to solve under democratic regimes where the electorate is variably ignorant, indifferent, and politically inert; where the tiny fraction of politically active extremists of all persuasions get highly disproportionate publicity and attention.

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tom dial
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Re: But what about...

As I recall it the Clipper and Capstone chip had a better key management system, in which the key information shared with public agencies was encrypted with a key unique to the device. The device key was split and the pieces distributed to different escrow agencies, to be reassembled and used based on issue of a search warrant.

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tom dial
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Re: Rubbish

It is worth noting (credit Schneier for this as well) that various types of key escrow systems have a place as well. Reasonable use cases potentially include businesses where business related email and documents encrypted by individuals must be retrievable in the event of the employee's death, resignation, or retirement.

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tom dial
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Re: Ummm, say what now?

Children probably will die, facilitated by encryption that law enforcement officials cannot decrypt, although the number will be quite small. More common will be exploitation in the form of kiddie porn, similarly facilitated. The fact that nearly everyone given a choice probably will prefer to use encryption that the authorities cannot break should not blind us to the fact that this will lead to occasional bad outcomes. Like most choices, this one involves competing values, costs, and benefits. The fundamental problem with what the law enforcement people say they want is that the costs, actual but mostly potential, are far too high and the benefits are both far too low and far too easy to circumvent.

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tom dial
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Re: asymmetric-key decryption

Citation, please, along with definition of "long term"?

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tom dial
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Re: The Republican half.

Conservatives, so called, are not alone in having an ideology that tells them how the world works. The Liberals have the same degree of knowledge, but with different content.

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tom dial
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Re: Rubbish

Key escrow systems are not new, and Schneier discussed them in some detail in "Applied Cryptography". Indeed, they were implemented (rather badly) in the Clipper and Capstone chips. Schneier also pointed out the various reasons that having such things, even if well implemented, was a bad idea. Many or most of those reasons are mentioned in the other comments. And then, as now, there was about zero inclination to use them except among the less thoughtful law enforcement officials.

So it *can* be done, but it *should not* because it (still) is a very bad idea.

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tom dial
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Re: COINTELPRO

I don't think Jane Fonda qualifies as "brown", let alone the Communist party, the great majority of whose members were equally white. J. Edgar Hoover and the numerous presidents for whom he worked, both Democratic and Republican, were largely equal opportunity snoopers.

Not that the COINTELPRO program has anything to do with the topic at hand.

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REVEALED: The 19 firms whose complaints form EU's antitrust case against Google

tom dial
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Re: A question

As far as I can determine, no statement has been made that any of the complainants in this matter have executed any transaction at all with Google. If so, they probably do not qualify as "trading parties" and it is not clear why Article 102 Section (c) would apply at all. Because internet search is not a market in the customary sense of a place or arrangement for exchanging goods and services that are in limited supply, there also are difficulties with the other three sections of Article 102, as referenced.

As to whether Google distorts competition by elevating placement of its customers' links, the answer, I think, is "no", since anyone seeking elevated search placement presumably can purchase similar placement at a similar price, and possibly from another search provider for a lower price.

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tom dial
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I have found Yelp restaurant reviews so useless that I avoid them actively. Their mention here set me to looking for a capability to establish a site blacklist. IE makes it fairly easy, but there are third party plugins for Firefox and Chrome that claim to add white/black lists.

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tom dial
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Re: A question

Once again: Google's principal business is selling advertising; it makes the advertising content available at no cost to those who use google.com, with general web search as the inducement. This basic business model is much like that of the print advertising sellers who mail me flyers a couple of times a week. It is not clear why they should have a legal requirement to display a link to any of the complainants' sites at all unless they are paid to do so.

Where Google also doubtless has a dominant position is the selling of internet-delivered advertising, and it is there that the EU might look for anticompetitive practices such as predatory or extortionate pricing, or levying of exclusive dealing requirements. I say "might" as there seem to be no significant claims of such behavior, although Microsoft (Bing) and Yahoo!, which have a similar business model, might want to explore the question.

Special purpose search facilities such as Nextag or the various news aggregators probably are doomed in most cases to fail before any of the general purpose search services: they mostly are not of general interest or the links they curate will be shown directly in the general search results. Services aimed at a narrow community of professionals or specialists likely will be successful within their target group, but are likely to be found in google and other general search engine results one or more pages down from the top, depending on their degree of specialization.

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tom dial
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Re: @LDS - A question

Fewer, and unless you built it from pieces or bought it from a local shop that did so, you wound up paying for Windows anyhow.

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tom dial
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Re: A question

@LDS: I didn't see that much of a problem with MS providing IE other than their mendacity in claiming web browsing to be an inherent part of the OS. I had more heartburn about their use of undocumented system calls to promote Word/Office over entirely fit-for-purpose products like Word Perfect. In the end, though their more strategic view and the Office product suite probably would have overcome Word Perfect even without that. Most galling, however, was issue of Windows 3.11, the sole purpose of which appeared to be to break OS/2 for Windows installations, of which I had one.

@Trizone: Is Google engaging in price discrimination? Surely not in the case of search, for which they are, in effect, charging their paying customers and paying for the costs of delivery out of the revenue stream they derive from that. Are they, on the other hand, engaged in exclusive dealing? "In competition law, exclusive dealing refers to an arrangement whereby a retailer or wholesaler is 'tied' to purchase from a supplier on the understanding that no other distributor will be appointed or receive supplies in a given area." (from Wikipedia). Since search involves neither a buyer nor a seller, it does not seem to be relevant here.

Searching "eu anti-monopoly laws" as suggested is not overly productive. The most suggestive thing there appears to be the Wikipedia entry containing "A refusal to supply a facility essential for all businesses attempting to compete can constitute an abuse." Yet it is not clear that Google has refused to supply such a facility despite the fact that it arguably presents its own possibly similar links ahead of those from others who decline to purchase increased ranking; indeed, it does supply such a facility, and at no cost, although not the degree of exposure that the complainants would like. Although I am not a lawyer and claim no special knowledge of the matter, Volumes I and III of the "EU Competition Law Rules Applicable to Antitrust Enforcement" also do not in any obvious way provide an indication that Google's normal business practices in respect of search operation would be unlawful.

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tom dial
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A question

Google's placement of links to its owned services presumably is limited by contracts between it and those who pay it to carry their ads, and disputes between Google and its advertisers about link placement could be settled in civil courts without involving various government agencies.

Why should Google not be entitled to display links for its own services ahead of those to the services of any other vendors who do not purchase improved placement from them if they wish to do so? To put it differently, what is the legal theory according to which the complainants or any others who do not use Google's advertising service should be allowed to invoke government power to obtain preferential or even neutral search result placement with respect to any services that Google might offer?

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Debian ships new 'Jessie' release with systemd AND sysvinit

tom dial
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Re: How to get rid of systemd and ban it

Thank you for the link. I have bookmarked it.

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tom dial
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Re: "needrestart"??

Needrestart will notify that a new kernel is available and will only be installed by rebooting. As its main function, however, it will notify of individual services that need to be restarted in order to load new libraries or other executable parts (without reboot of the system as a whole). In many cases, though, it is as easy, and with systemd, almost as fast, to reboot the system.

Perhaps the wish for anonymity is masking the joke icon.

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Today, the US govt must explain why its rules on shutting down whole cell networks are a secret

tom dial
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The MTPAS as described in the linked page says very little about access to any network by the general public. Instead, it describes various sorts of privileged access to networks for law enforcement and civil emergency responders, and states quite explicitly that most other users will lose their ability to originate calls, although it does not seem to specify the conditions for public cell phone restrictions as much as who, based on their judgment, will cause the restrictions to be put in place. Not lacking in utility, but quite far from what EPIC is demanding from the US DHS.

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tom dial
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Whether DHS can order a shutdown, and whether the conditions under which it might decide to do that are public, it remains unclear whether there is any requirement other than a cell service's commercial interest and agreements to support even having underground cell repeaters, let alone operating them at any particular times; or whether BART, as a regional quasi-independent government agency, might not have its own rules different from those of the DHS.

Aside from that, of course, it is rare for law enforcement agency incident response plans to be public information, and while I always thought creation of DHS to be ill-conceived and unwarranted, they would not differ in this respect from the BART or San Francisco police, or the California Highway Patrol. And I think we should expect that in future, and irrespective of the announced policy of any law enforcement agency, a riot could well occasion similar service interruptions. Officials may think it preferable to ask forgiveness after the fact than permission before. A lot would depend on the circumstances and judgment of those accountable for maintaining order and public safety, as perhaps it ought.

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Welcome, stranger: Inside Microsoft's command line shell

tom dial
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ZCPR

As someone else mentioned, MS seems finally to have approached the state of 1975 Unix (or maybe 1983, with Korn shell). I have to add ZCPR for Z80 based 8 bit systems. If I recall correctly, it had a passable imitation of the Unix shell, common utilities, and I think pipes, subject to the limitations of an 8 bit CPU, 64K memory, and lack of multitasking. I saw nothing better until I started playing with Minix 1 as part of a grad school class, and then found a used copy of IBM Xenix 1.0 at an amateur radio flea market. The last saved me a lot of time when learning to handle C pointers and references without the need to reboot at every mistake.

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tom dial
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Re: paths

Not US DoD administrators, and never, ever, for those with privilege.

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tom dial
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If I recall correctly, Unix specifications at the time did not require that pipes be implemented in any particular way, and the Microsoft way would have been suitable, although less than ideal. What really counted, though, was that the operating system provided for such things, and pretty much the entire set of standard utilities used stdin and stdout and allowed the shell to connect them fairly arbitrarily using pipes.

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We'll buy patents for cash, says Google – just don't feed the trolls

tom dial
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While I would prefer they donate such patents as they buy to the Open Invention Network, of which they (and IBM) are among the chief members, or even the public, Google do not seem to have been notable misusers of the patents they developed or purchased. Certainly they are preferable to every NPE and many companies that are not.

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Watch out for the products that have snuck in behind your back

tom dial
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iThings have a more significant role in ShIT than other devices

My guess is that the probability is approximately 1.0.

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tom dial
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The problem in my last organization was not unauthorized applications so much as out of bounds use of authorized ones. The government agency was responsible for operating and coordinating a large number of accounting systems and producing consolidated reports from disparate and somewhat noncongruent data. The core accounting systems were mainframe based, using CICS, DB2, and COBOL in some instances. The remainder lived on a variety of Unix systems, some with web front ends.

The tools were Excel, Access, and FTP, wielded by far too clever accountants. They would download files, load them into their spreadsheets and databases, reconcile inconsistencies, and upload changes. Once they worked it out by hand, they wrote .bat files to semiautomate it to a reasonable degree. We in IT usually found out about one of these little atrocities several months to a year or so after the "developer" retired or moved on to another job and a change of fiscal year or to one of the feeder systems broke it. By the time the situation was properly noticed there were better than 500 such "systems."

After a number of such emergencies the agency director established a team (outside of IT) tasked to restore order and come up with a Plan to consolidate them and bring order to the house. That team, headed by a new hire, did a quick analysis, decided (a) the IT staff was too hidebound for the task, and (b) that it would need a large amount of money to hire consultants and purchase new tools in order to correct matters properly.

I retired about a year later, by which time little progress had been made, and when I visited last summer, about another year and a half on the situation was still mostly unchanged, except that the development money had been "burned" and the ashes had been turned over to the IT staff for completion, paid for from the system operations and maintenance budget.

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