iThings have a more significant role in ShIT than other devices
My guess is that the probability is approximately 1.0.
969 posts • joined 16 Jan 2011
My guess is that the probability is approximately 1.0.
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.
Thanks. The third one listed, "Clare", should get royalties and a credit if she wants, from "New Tricks".
Yes. Civil forfeiture is an abomination. I do not understand how it has not been thrown out as incompatible with "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" in the fifth amendment.
Apparently the police charge the money with having participated in a crime. The money of course, has no civil rights and is forfeited to the government, which forwards part of it (I ghink 20%) to the Department of Justice as something like a tax.
Punishment, perhaps, for those who, beyond all reason, don't trust the banking system, or who, in some cases, actually have engaged in the criminal activity that produced the money. The trouble even with the latter is that the authorities don't have to do the sometimes hard work of actually collecting evidence and proving a case to a jury.
I saw that on Netflix in an English police procedural. Was there a real case? (Serious question, not a snarky reply.)
This seems so obvious that it is too bad the judge probably cannot issue punishment for wasting the court's time. If they had a reasonable suspicion, and decent fact to back it up, they probably could have gotten a judge to issue a warrant to tap Phua's internet service and maybe obtain enough information to get a further warrant for a physical search. Even if the connection were encrypted, agent use of the betting service (if there really was one), together with metadata analysis, probably could have given them enough.
On the other hand, maybe we should take a very skeptical look at the laws that make gambling online illegal.
This has the appearance of an amateur operation and should reflect badly in the performance appraisals of the agents and on up the approval chain. We may faintly hope.
I find it interesting to put side by side the notion that Google Glass was a privacy invader (it was) and current wild enthusiasm in the US to have every police officer wear a camera that records every encounter, many of which would be far more embarrassing than anything Glass wearers would be likely to snatch. In addition, of course, nearly everyone now carries a smart phone with a camera able at short notice to make an HD recording of anything interesting.
It seems a lot depends on context, both of the discussion and of the circumstances in which privacy might be thought invaded.
Probably the bill should be passed and signed; it seems to carry the possibility of limiting some damage, even though it comes years too late. I am quite skeptical, however, that it will effectively keep ambitious and enthusiastic prosecutors under adequate control.
Me: Google are being accused of artificially increasing the rankings of their own services ..": Why should they not, as long as that doesn't conflict with the agreements they have with their paying customers?
Jim: No reason at all, so long as Google is open about the conflict of interest, and makes this clear on the search page.
Me: Which conflict of interest would that be? I do not know of any basis to think Google (also Yahoo, Bing, or any other search portal) has a duty to explain the order in which it presents general search results. Placement of paid advertisements are a different matter, one presumably controlled by contracts.
"Google are being accused of artificially increasing the rankings of their own services ..": Why should they not, as long as that doesn't conflict with the agreements they have with their paying customers?
Dear AC who posted "the customer of Google is the companies that pay for ads and also, although not a paying customer, the company that ranks in their search engine":
Please explain with some degree of precision exactly why a "company that ranks in their search engine" but has not purchased ad space is in any way Google's customer. Exactly why should Google (or Bing or Yahoo, for that matter) not display whatever they wish, in whatever order they wish, as long as they honor the contracts they have with their paying customers. What law requires them to give away services for which they provide the facilities and for which they normally charge a fee? That they do so to a degree of their choosing is part of their business model and increases the value of their services to the paying customers, but it certainly is not obvious that they should be required to do so.
Maybe the only legal obligation Google has is the contractual one with its advertising customers to display the ads, modified by the legal requirement to drop links to some sites based on copyright infringement claims and (in Europe, at least) to exclude links to those claiming a right to be forgotten.
What would be the legal source of a claim that Google should not display the "organic" results in whatever order it chooses as long as it sticks by its contracts with advertisers?
I was told once that the robot calling devices are programmed to connect to an agent the second time the callee says "hello". While I do not know whether that is true, I have found that saying "hello" only one time appears nearly always to be effective in preventing the call from being connected to an agent.
It might be useful if someone with actual technical knowledge of these systems provided truth.
Supplying search results is not a business. It is, rather, a business tactic that Google uses to enable it to sell things like advertisements and links to sellers of things.
"Naval Architecture in the Industrial Age" (no underscores) - second item from www.google.co.uk, and also www.bing.co.uk
I always thought of iTunes as malware in slight disguise, at least as provided for Windows.
Yep. Just checked it for "Lenovo laptop", an item for which I never have searched. Foundem returned a panel showing 19 items,
- 6 various monitors (e. g., ThinkPad T2220),
- 5 or more batteries (e. g., Thinkpad T400)
Those that actually linked to lists with a lot of apparent duplication for comparison of a single Lenovo laptop model.
Search of google.co.uk for the same argument returned, in order, Lenovo's site, webuy.com, which did not appear especially useful, and a computer retailer in Sandy UT, USA, about 7 miles from my house. All three were clearly identified as ads. The search results included, in order, two Lenovo direct sales outlets for the UK, Currys, and John Lewis.
A search for "Laptops" was worse, if possible for Foundem, which returned a great panel allowing me to compare price for any one of more than a hundred specific make/model devices, most of which actually appeared likely to be laptops. The couple I looked at had a lot of duplicates (easy to spot because of the default presentation order). Google.co.uk, on the other hand, returned, after the ads, links to sellers that in many cases appear to provide information to guide choice of make and model based on such things as intended use.
Summary: Foundem is pretty much rubbish unless you already have decided upon a specific make and model, in which case your shopping quite likely is finished anyhow, although some will consult a comparison site to try to shave a few pennies from the cost.
As I thought, it is fairly clear that Foundem's complaint, and probably others, is little more than classical rent seeking that ought to be disregarded if not punished. Such sites may have a place, but probably never will be more than secondary or tertiary sources of shopping information in their present form.
Akamai, for 2014, reports the following average d/l speeds in megabits/second:
New Zealand 7.0
As another post noted, much of the US (also Canada and Australia) is quite sparsely populated, and many of those who live there also are quite distant from backbone interconnects, both of which would semi-independently degrade connectivity or increase its cost.
Speeds in urban areas can be much higher, of course, and are on the rise, partly goaded by Google's introduction of fiber in some cities.
Have an upvote. Worth noting, though, is that the Democrats are no different from the Republicans anything but distancing themselves from (most of) President Obama's policies, which the latter did before his first election.
I do not understand the thinking of those who register downvotes for this.
Tried at&t Uverse once. It gave about 12-15 mbit, less than the 20 - 25 I was getting from Cox. Switched back at the end of the trial period, and Cox was very nice about repairing the gratuitous damage that at&t installer did to MY premise cabling.
The question, to which I have not yet seen an answer, concerned the basis for any assertion that they are REQUIRED to return results for which they have not been paid. They surely can do that if they wish, and they do so, arguably as enticement to people to use them. But we may choose, and often do, to do things for various reasons that we are not required to do. And so, perhaps, may Google.
The theory that they have entered into a contract to return general search results of some quality is, I think, incorrect. A contract generally requires a mutual agreement and a consideration, often expressed in terms of money. For search engine operation there is neither. The contract argument seems more nearly correct for other services, such as gmail, where a user's acceptance of the Terms of Service signals a mutual agreement even though there is no explicit consideration.
"If you get no responses from a search other than those for which a sponsor has paid ..." the search engine is worth roughly the same as Foundem. That is why Google and other general purpose search engines return links for which nobody has paid them do, in fact, return a great many such links. Those unpaid links attract users who can be shown the ads and other paid links.
The question was not whether it was in Google's interest to return links to sites that had not paid for that, but why they would reasonably be required to do so - what legal theory would support such a requirement.
The question of why to use Google rather than Amazon to shop for something is, in fact, a vexing one for Google. I rarely do so, having found Amazon or eBay to be generally much more efficient for the purpose. That attitude, if it becomes widespread, eventually will degrade the price that Google, other search engines, and possibly Facebook, can command from vendors for the ads they sell.
I found a similar result until I selected the option to stop discarding duplicates. The initial count seems to contain a lot of duplicates, as does Bing, although its number is about 85% lower.
Google, as well as Bing, Yahoo, and others must return links for those who pay them for advertising exposure as a matter of contract. By assumption, they all choose to return additional links found by their webcrawlers (or someone else's) to induce people to use their service to display the ads and links they have contracted for.
Why is it reasonable require Google, Bing, or Yahoo to return even one link for which someone has not paid a fee?
"... evidence of Google blacklisting services more popular than theirs ..."
Please identify one such site, along with the corresponding Google site or service.
The "problem", for Foundem, is that you do not receive a nondescript page with a block for each distinct brand of left handed underpants which, if you click it, leads to a price comparison page containing large numbers of duplicates, each one showing a vendor and price for the specific brand of left handed underwear. If you want to get a list of various vendors for various brands of something, it is better to use Google, or probably DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, or Bing (in some order)
The Foundem site, for "tablets", returns in order two graphics tablets, followed by Acai, Dishwasher, Spirulina, Cleansing Herb, Tomato Lycopene, and Dishwash tablets before a Techair Neoprene Universal Tablet Sleeve.
To be fair, it also shows a link for "Sony TABLETS" with a price range of 35 -525 GBP; following the link provides a list, extending for 6 pages, of 89 links for Xperia charging docks, all identical. The other three at least zero in on the most likely item, tablet computers. DuckDuckGo arguably is the best of the lot as it provides a link to information about tablets in general as well as places to buy one.
But the implicit point was that we have multiprogramming operating systems partly to isolate tasks from each other and from the kernel to prevent spread of corruption from errors. By putting the probably avoidable error in kernel mode code when it was not functionally necessary, Microsoft committed an additional error. Other posters have noted that Apache has errors, as does IIS. However, Apache does not run as a privileged user, and its errors there will not, as will CVE-2015-1635 in unpatched IIS I if I understand correctly, allow *your least favorite sigint agency or criminal enterprise* to install malicious software of its choice into your operating system.
Putting the erroneous code in the kernel was a mistake.
My observation from a distance of this and several other monitors, special masters, and the like suggests that these positions generally are quasi-political plums and tend to result in billing junior associate and ordinary admin expenses at top-tier legal rates, often while accomplishing little. The high billing rate, however, may be fully justified in the court's view because it makes the day to day whining (mostly) someone else's problem.
And 20 or 30 other sigint agencies (at least).
I have been unable the think of a single device inside my house that both (a) requires more than an analog control connected to its target by wires and (b) requires that I be able to exercise control of it from outside the house.
All those "free" services are delivered at no charge to those who use them, and those users are free to use them or not. Those who use them presumably consider them to provide value. Although most of them probably are unaware of the privacy implications of the data that Google* retain, it is not clear that most people are very concerned about it despite the considerable efforts of those who are to convince them.
It also is unclear that Google's use of the data "to make the Advertising and skew of search results so much more effective" either harms the search users or goes beyond providing the contracted service to their real customers, those who pay them to deliver advertising. This whole complaint area reeks of 1950s pop psychology as exemplified by Vance Packard. If Google skews the results so as to be unsatisfactory to search users they eventually will lose market share to those, if any, who skew the results less (or less visibly).
*"Yahoo" or "Bing" could be substituted for "Google" from here with no significant change; they are merely less successful than Google.
When you access a site that includes Google Analytics, is it you, or the site, that is using them/
While both points have some merit, they somewhat miss a more important one. Under US law, and I believe also the law of most English speaking nations, a citizen may disclose information to law enforcement personnel or agencies, but ordinarily is under no obligation to do so much beyond personal identification. In the US, at least, that right also extends to foreigners who are legally in the country. We require that agents of the government provide a presumptively disinterested court with a good reason before compelling disclosure of information, and maintain the polite fiction that even individuals caught while committing criminal acts are innocent until a jury has considered the evidence and returned a verdict of guilty. It doesn't always work out well - the laws don't always make sense, there are too many of them, prosecutors overcharge to force plea bargains, and so on - but in many respects does an acceptable job.
You are free, if you wish, to reveal your communications by declining to encrypt them (knowing that they will be accessibly by many more than government agencies). I, on the other hand, am free (and wish to remain so) to encrypt whatever I wish and decide if the situation arises whether to unencrypt for someone, not necessarily an agent of my government, who wishes access, or to refuse and accept whatever the consequences might be.
Another point is that universal data collection and analysis, as in John Poindexter's "Total Information Awareness" plan, was thought creepy at the time and its successors are very unlikely ever to succeed in the aim of providing advance warning of low probability terrorist attacks. At best, having a pile of searchable communication data may allow identification and capture of those responsible for a completed attack or crime, and access to a significant part of the data stream may allow tracking those thought likely on other grounds to be criminals or terrorists. For domestic criminals or terrorists the norm should be search based on a warrant.
The security of financial transactions and cat pictures are inseparable. Law enforcement officials do not have a much greater problem with good encryption, in reality, than they have with physical mail and opaque envelopes. The fact that they can obtain court orders that allow them to open and examine the mail still does not give them access to the contents if it is encrypted or encoded.
As others doubtless have mentioned, if communications are to be secure from criminals they will, necessarily, be secure as well from governments. The "master key" proposed by some would be a target of enormous value to a great many people, some of them quite nasty and willing to go to great expense and effort to obtain it, even if split. If it exists, the probability and costs of compromise are unacceptable.
Probably not effective in Iceland, and very unlikely to pass the US Congress. They can propose what they want but are very unlikely to succeed in suppressing cryptography in the US. I can't judge about the UK, where general surveillance seems to be a bit more advanced. However, there seems to be little indication in either country that existing government surveillance activities are connected to interference with civil liberties. It might be pertinent to examine countries where cryptography already is regulated by the government.
In the US a good deal of the money that funds university conducted research is from grants issued by government (mostly federal) agencies. I suggest requiring patents granted as a result of such research be required to be licensed in the US under a patent analogue of the GPL. That might disappoint the universities and those who create companies based on the taxpayer funded research, but might abort future abominations like Myriad Genetics, which sold BRCA tests for ~$3K that other companies would have offered profitably for a tenth of that or less.
... that the children should be unsupervised in their use of TV and the internet?
I haven't watched any of these apparent atrocities and do notI plan to. We didn't allow our children unfettered access to TV, and they do not alllow our granddaughter much access to it and plan to exercise control over her internet access. And neither we nor they object to the "no" word when it is an appropriate response to whiny requests for shiny things. It is not clear that government rules established based on agitation by professional worriers actually will benefit those children whose parents do not supervise them properly.
Correct, I think. The underlying question may be whether the country is big enough and open enough to allow an FLDS caterer to refuse to cater a mixed-marriage wedding (other than, perhaps, in the Short Creek area where all caterers might be FLDS members).
Interestingly, the state of Utah, where (regular) LDS members are a very substantial majority of the voting population, seems to have threaded this needle with a rights + religious freedom law that has been noticed little, but is supported by the LDS church, Republicans, and Democrats, as well, it appears, as the LGBT community.
The Indiana (and Arkansas) RFRAs did not as originally passed, and do not as amended, authorize anyone to discriminate on any basis against anyone else. Nor did either of them lean toward or away from any religion or set of doctrines. They were equally applicable to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and others. While they certainly were passed largely on the initiative and with support of Christians, that mainly is because Christians far outnumber adherents to other religious doctrines; it is quite likely that they would have been supported by members of a number of others.
Citing the Bible, apart from the fact that it has enough contradictions to "prove" nearly anything, may be relevant to the particular establishment and comment, but is not relevant to those who do not accept it as authoritative and of reduced relevance to those, Muslims for instance, or Mormons, whose scriptures have been expanded to include additional guidance.
@Mike Bell: Good point, and thanks for the references. FWIW I seem to be quite trackable, with browsers that supply 66+ (Chrome) to 70+ bits (Firefox) in various categories, the most significant of which seem to be the fonts and plugins.
For the US DNC application see
It has been available for over a decade. Telemarketers who call numbers on the list, or who do not subscribe to the list and call numbers either on the list or not are subject to a fine that can go as high as $16,000 per call made.
The meaning of the DNT signal is ambiguous if Microsoft makes it the default: it may mean that the user or whoever set up the system consciously selected that, or it may mean the PC was set up using the Microsoft default. If the default (for all browsers) is to not set the DNT switch, it is an unambiguous signal when it is present.
I also had a knee-jerk reaction that no tracking should be the default, but see the point of the recommended default, especially as it is only a request and gives web sites a slightly plausible excuse to ignore it.
I never bothered to enable it because my browsing activity is pretty innocuous and I don't care too much one way or the other about tracking. AdBlock+ seems to deal reasonably with ads, including the 3 it is blocking now.
Those who believe that the NSA can trap and replace everything related to the TrueCrypt audit (or anything else) might as well give it up and abandon the internet entirely, as they need to conclude that the NSA is in full control of it.
The fact that you and anyone you can switch to DuckDuckGo or another search portal with little effort proves that we do not need government intervention to resolve this problem. Google has the monopoly because it is widely perceived to produce good search results and relatively few people care enough about its alleged misbehavior to take relatively easy action to avoid it. If that were to change, Google's monopoly would evaporate fairly quickly.
I never have seen claims that other portals like DuckDuckGo, Bing, or Yahoo produce superior results to Google's, only that they come very close. As long as that is the case I would not expect Google's usage to decline without government intervention that would reduce the aggregate utility of web search to users.
My recollection from study of the (US) National Electric Code is that fuses and breakers are there mainly to protect the upstream equipment. They would cut off the HV flow when (and only when) the current through blown meters, arcing wall sockets, and the like exceeded the capacity of the HV distribution line. The mains breaker of fuse at a house, usually on the house side of the meter, would similarly protect the service drop from excessive current flow within the house.
At the 5 - 15 kv or higher voltages being mentioned it might make little difference how the meter is coupled to the power line, and at the current capabilities of the distribution lines it might be a bit difficult to protect the meter irrespective of whether it is magnetic or electronic.
"[T]his creates a contradiction between contract, company code (something every large company has) and local law."
That does not appear to be correct. The law, as stated, limits what Indiana governments may do, but lays no requirement on any company. It is entirely consistent with a business rule that the company treats all actual and prospective customers the same and provides equal employment opportunity, however defined. The full text can be found at
It is not easy to see how it would conflict with reasonable company policies, although a company might reasonably consider holding back expanding in (or into) Indiana if they think it would be a hostile place for their employees.
The examples were not "straw men", but rather responses to the immediately previous AC comment (maybe yours) in which they were offered as what appeared to be intended to represent absurd consequences of the law. I intended the expansion to suggest a bit about how the law might actually work in practice, as opposed to the uninformed opinions of those who seem not to have read and thought about the Constitution, the applicable amendments, the legal environment in which the law in question will operate, and finally, the law itself.
A clear majority of the comments appear to be made based on emotional reaction and an unanalyzed and somewhat restricted and somewhat absolutist moral position. It is important to be mindful of the fact that democratic regimes tend to get into trouble when various groups, however identified, can reasonably think they are being subjected to demands with which they cannot comply or some degree of punishment for things they cannot change. While that certainly applies to blacks, who cannot become unblack, and gays or lesbians, who cannot change their innate characteristics, it also applies to sincerely religious people who believe some types of behavior to be sinful. It is appropriate in a highly diverse democratic republic to be equally considerate of all and to avoid as much as reasonably possible coopting of the government by one group to enforce its rights upon others.
The degree to which an enterprise would allow individual employees to discriminate based on sexual orientation would depend on company policy, as limited by the law. Indiana's new law does not change that. In fact, it changes almost nothing beyond giving those who choose to discriminate for religious reasons a legal defense and recourse they may not previously have had available. In particular, it does not legalize discrimination going forward that before was illegal.
For example, a public school teacher's refusal to teach evolution may be a violation of Indiana law. If so, and if the teacher is punished she may offer the defense that it "substantially burdens" her exercise of religion. The school board, in turn, may argue that teaching evolution fulfills the "compelling government interest" of properly educating the students and that requiring the teacher to provide the instruction is "the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest". The outcome would depend on whether there is a compelling government interest and whether, if so, requiring the particular teacher to provide the instruction against her religious belief is the least restrictive way to fulfill it (as against, say, reassignment to a different position).
Again, corporal punishment in schools is covered most places by laws, and states could be expected to argue that forbidding it - compelling teachers and administrators to spare the rod - furthers the compelling government interest of ensuring child safety in schools. It is likely that laws restricting corporal punishment contained such a statement when drafted.
What you say appears correct, but is overridden by the fact that federal civil rights law supersedes Indiana law in the matter of discrimination against black people and women. I am not, however, a lawyer.
Of course! The Right Way to ensure Right Thinking always has been, and is, to suppress Wrong Thinking.