* Posts by Kevin McMurtrie

983 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

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Surveillance, interrogation and threats: Behind the Nest witch-hunt

Kevin McMurtrie
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Get right up to the creepy line but not cross it

Google collects everything about you so maybe you want to know about about Google.

It's an amazing place to be - excellent free food everywhere, bikes, pools, parties, and discounted everything. It's socially close to a Utopia. Now about the job part - It's one of the worst places to work. Google has many tens of thousands of employees so the odds are against you having anything interesting to do. It's average pay, expectations of long hours, on-call rotation, and endless bureaucracy. Those who can't code will try to look useful by trash-talking everyone else's project. Your boring project, which is probably just moving protobufs around in a horribly crippled Go/C++/Java that builds like you're on an ancient mainframe, is going to get blocked by people pretending like they're saving the company from your extra whitespace. Then reviewers will argue among themselves - Your change is too big, your change is too small, undo what the other reviewer told you to do. Time for more meetings. Build system is slow. Custom IDE is crashing again... Maybe you get 300 lines of code checked in after a week of work. Your suggestions to improve team productivity are met with a lecture of Google's sacred ways.

Google employees fall into pretty much three categories. First are blissfully ignorant masses that were pulled from graduation before experiencing the real world. They translate protobufs, hunt for bugs, and sleep in their cars until they burn out. Second are frustrated and angry employees waiting for more of their stock options to Nest, I mean vest, before leaving. Their day is one hour of productivity and another 9 hours of passionate hatred. Third is a handful of visionaries who have been given special bureaucratic exemptions to get work done. None of these three categories are very productive. That's why you need over many tens of thousands of people to accomplish anything.

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Kevin McMurtrie
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For whatever defense argument Google is preparing, it's not going to work. Google's memegen has about 60000 more viewers than anyone's Facebook account.

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Linux's NFV crew: Operators keen to ditch clunky networks, be 'cool' like, er, Facebook

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: I must be getting old

The way I read it: Marketing is going to solve old wiring performance problems by adopting more modern methodology buzzwords. I'm confident that this new plan will work as well as Facebook and G+.

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Google enlists Microsoft VoIP partner to unseat Office 365+Skype

Kevin McMurtrie
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Wait, what?

Why all the bundling and integration if it's using plain WebRTC and SIP? This is what makes Project Fi a bit odd - a very simple form of personal communication being re-imagined by a large data collection and advertising agency so that it now requires special hardware and software.

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

Kevin McMurtrie
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Paris Hilton

The world is flat so non-US corporations are at risk of falling over the edge. I stood on a ladder today and checked: it's true.

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Apple and Android wearables: What iceberg? It’s full steam ahead!

Kevin McMurtrie
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World's Largest Metaphor Hits Ice-Berg

There's just enough room on your wrist to display the current time. That's why watches go there. It seems obvious that, regardless of application features, watches will remain a failure as long as they're visually driven with no almost visual area. This all seems like a huge waste of money unless somebody is working on top-secret technologies for projection or effective non-visual interaction.

(Credit to The Onion for the Titanic headline)

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Spam King sent down for 30 months

Kevin McMurtrie
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So 1990

E-mail spam is mostly a solved problem. The nice thing about TCP/IP is that the other end of the connection is known and you can maintain blacklists of spam-friendly networks. All that remains are compromised computers that rapidly come and go. Since mail is not quite real-time, an SMTP server can refuse to accept messages that are flagged by analysis. Newer mail servers don't have the messy bounce or greymail issues of post-processing.

Telephone spam is a different problem. A call receiver knows absolutely nothing about the caller. Gimmicks like Nomorobo were long ago defeated by using a random (or trusted) local phone number as the Caller ID. I don't hear stories of telcos getting huge fines for supporting illegal telemarketers so keeping Caller ID broken is all profit for them.

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Google doesn’t care who makes Android phones. Or who it pisses off

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

gPhone

Honestly, Google's phones suck. The amount of shovelware and spyware on them makes you feel nostalgic for the old days of carrier shovelware. There's no external storage and the phone is pretty much a brick without constant high speed cellular service and a nearby charger. Anyone OK with all of those limitations would have purchased a superior iPhone.

Variety is Android's life. It dies a little bit every time Google tries to lock it down and restrict it.

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Don't go chasing waterfalls, please stick... Hang on. They're back

Kevin McMurtrie
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MVP

Agile assumes that the next minimum viable product is not far away. Sometimes that's not possible and you need big plans, big schedules, and very clear long-term goals. If your project manager is stuck on any one methodology, you're doomed to fail.

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Wi-Fi hack disables Mitsubishi Outlander's theft alarm – white hats

Kevin McMurtrie
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Could be worse

Give me WiFi any day. VW's Car-Net is Verizon cellular and can't be disabled without taking the dashboard apart. It costs $18/month if you somehow find a use for it.

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Redmond adds malware, phish warnings to Bing

Kevin McMurtrie
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Such amazing tech

Too bad Microsoft can't use it to stop the flood of Benin phishing spams relayed through Outlook.com.

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Farewell, Fadell: Nest CEO Tony quits IoT biz

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

But... the billions and billions of customers

Nest made people realize that thermostats don't have to be complex. Anyone can replace the cryptic commercial programmable unit in your home with a thermostat that's one tap away from doing what you want. That begs the question of why anyone needs a device as complicated as a Nest. $20 buys a digital thermostat with up/down/heat/cool/fan/off buttons and a simple setup menu. Better still, the $20 thermostat isn't chatting about your activities over the Internet or bricking itself on software upgrades.

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

Kevin McMurtrie
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Visited Maker Faire

The recent Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA, US was sad. Computer board makers dumped a bunch of kits into schools and the outcome was too often mapping the arrow keys on a laptop to a pair of motors on a toy and calling it a robot. It seemed to miss the point. Dreams of building something innovative were probably crushed by watching a big ugly mess of wires on wheels twitch and short out.

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

Kevin McMurtrie
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Trollface

Still copying Apple

MacOS X has been doing this for years. I don't know why it took MS so long to catch up.

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US nuke arsenal runs on 1970s IBM 'puter waving 8-inch floppies

Kevin McMurtrie
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Well, sort of. It's impossible to hack remotely because it knows nothing of the Internet, WiFi, cell networking. On the other hand, most old computers have a console or debugger switch that will let you inspect and change memory. The programs are simple enough to be hijacked by keyboard entry. Program wants a password? Break, inspect the subroutine's entry point, alter a register, advance the program counter, and resume.

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Sky! Blue!, Oceans! Wet!, Yahoo! Overvalued!

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: Let the Bidding begin!

Good point. Yahoo would probably be worth far more if it was converted to high density housing. They might even get local and state subsidies for creating housing that's a 15 minute walk to tens of thousands of jobs.

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World goes SIM-free, leaving Sony and HTC trailing behind

Kevin McMurtrie
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Thumb Up

frequent, monthly or fortnightly updates

"That bug is fixed when you buy our new phone," say all the cell manufacturers about to go out of business.

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Boffins achieve 'breakthrough' in random number generation

Kevin McMurtrie
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Since this has been done for as long I've known code, we should also presume that a new "high-quality" press release can be generated by combining two "low-quality" research projects.

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China's new rules may break the internet warns US government

Kevin McMurtrie
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Mushroom

554 Invalid recipient

I welcome China's move to verify online users. In fact, APNIC should kick off this event by reclaiming all Chinese network addresses with falsified or inoperative ownership records. Root name servers should remove accreditation from all Chinese domain registrars with a recent history of allowing bulk registrations from unverified sources. Well done, China.

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Bots half all web traffic

Kevin McMurtrie
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Paris Hilton

Bots streaming videos from torrents to look for pirated content.

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Valley VC Peter Thiel becomes an official Trump delegate

Kevin McMurtrie
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Location

He picked an odd location for a mansion too. If it's not in the center of a traffic jam, it's only because howling wet winds have driven everyone away.

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IT glitch causes 'nationwide' Post Office outage

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: kind of vague

It wouldn't be news if it was the US. Mail is skipped up to 2 days a week for rotating outages caused by people rage quitting.

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Nvidia, Samsung pump brakes in car-crash GPU patent rip-off race

Kevin McMurtrie
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Ah, pumping the brakes. I like that as a metaphor for an exceptionally ungraceful recovery. I recall seeing so many people skid wildly out of control pre-ABS because they heard that they should pump the brakes during a hard stop. There were more instructions for the technique but TLDR.

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Pop goes the weasel! Large Hadron Collider blown up by critter chomping 66kV cable

Kevin McMurtrie
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A beech marten

They knew exactly what kind of an animal chewed through the 66kV line. It's amazing what those scientists can deduce from nothing more than smashed particles.

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Germans stick traffic lights in pavements for addicts who can't take their eyes off phones

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: Darwin award??

The Darwin award might be deserved for some recipients but the tram operator delivering it is going to feel like shit anyways.

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Google Loon balloon crash lands in Chile

Kevin McMurtrie
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Childcatcher

Something for farmers to look forward to

Obviously these things can't come crashing down anywhere. Crashing near a city might mean a high speed impact with a vehicle. The fines for dropping anything onto nationally protected land tend to be steep. Shifting sand dunes would crush it. Water moves. It seems that Google has chosen farmland as their target. Hopefully the UV-burned balloon isn't too toxic.

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Pro who killed Apple's Power Mac found... masquerading as a coffee table

Kevin McMurtrie
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Typing on one

I occasionally try out a new Mac and expect it to be blazing fast compared to the old Mac Pro 1,1 running 10.6.8 and anchoring my computer desk to the floor. The new ones are faster, but not in a way satisfying for how much time has elapsed and how much money they cost.

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The web is DOOM'd: Average page now as big as id's DOS classic

Kevin McMurtrie
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Vulture weight

400KB with an aggressive ad blocker. Over 2MB and a 10 second load time otherwise

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Adobe scrambles to untangle itself from QuickTime after Apple throws it over a cliff

Kevin McMurtrie
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News flash

Apple abandoned QuickTime some time around 2009 when it became clear that its infinitely complex innards would be impossible to upgrade. QuickTime X, the promised modernization, stalled as soon as it could play H.264/AAC with moderate quality. Support for AVCHD files was eventually added but without the performance upgrades needed for its high bitrates.

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Idiot millennials are saving credit card PINs on their mobile phones

Kevin McMurtrie
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In other news

Millennials are getting mugged for not realizing that when a survey asks if your PIN is on your phone, you should always say "No."

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Bay Area man forced out of his $400 box home

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

Why I don't stop in SF

Grand theft and vandalism investigations are nothing more than asking the victim to fill out an online crime statistics form but a large piece of furniture gets the authorities leaping into action.

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Google cloud TITSUP

Kevin McMurtrie
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Pooping in your Nest

Were they using Revolv automation in the datacenter?

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Picture this: An exabyte of cat pix in the space of a sugar cube of DNA

Kevin McMurtrie
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Terminator

This is all fine until

Until your documents get a virus. A real virus.

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Want a job in security? Lock down US military's supermarkets

Kevin McMurtrie
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Team?

Shouldn't this be an integral part of all IT systems? What would a team do? Tell people who can't maintain security to do things that they won't understand?

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Cash-strapped Sprint to raise $2.2bn by flogging off its network hardware

Kevin McMurtrie
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Devil

Lease?

Wouldn't a reverse mortgage be simpler?

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Ever wondered what the worst TV show in the world would be? Apple just commissioned it

Kevin McMurtrie
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WTF?

I can hardly wait for Apple TV shows to branch out into other careers: iPhone assembly, QA regression testing, IT developer support, digital signal analysis, PCB layout, and more! Hopefully they don't fluff it up with a bunch of personal drama subplots. I just want to come home from work, turn on the TV, and stare at somebody sitting at a desk.

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Google spews critical Android patch as millions of gadgets hit by Linux kernel bug

Kevin McMurtrie
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Paris Hilton

"can only be done with the help of manufacturers and carriers"

Luckily, there's a vulnerability that can be used as a workaround.

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Something useful from Cupertino?! Apple sees the light – finally

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: Meh

I don't know about iLandfill, but Chinese landfill phones have red LEDs for tuning white balance without losing dynamic range in the LCD panel. Oddly, the feature is usually hidden in US ROMs.

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Yahoo! parties! like! it's! 1999! with! retro! billboard! revival!

Kevin McMurtrie
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Mother restores profits with this one weird trick

It must work. It's displayed 10 times on the homepage.

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Apps that 'listen in' to your mobile get slapped by US watchdog

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: What Frequency is used?

18000 to 19950 Hz

https://github.com/MAVProxyUser/SilverPushUnmasked/commit/bc1dde934c0be02cfce72b7ea68d4a147ddd308d

This dumb scheme seems extremely unlikely to work. That audio range is a mess of distortion, echoes, dead zones, and frequency substitution during compression.

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IEEE delivers Ethernet-for-cars standard

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: It's not weight they are optimising for

CAN Bus is too slow for cameras, audio, and various analog sensors. The analog stuff is especially bulky because it needs to be kept separate from other noisy wires.

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AT&T: Three-quarters of our network is going virtual, and we're open-sourcing the tools

Kevin McMurtrie
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A win for everyone

This is what the providers of 1Mbps Internet services around the world have been waiting for.

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Rocky times for startups: Mutual funds devalue and VCs turn off money hose

Kevin McMurtrie
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Tonight we're going to party like... Hey, my free music disruptor is offline.

I'm all for startups. They revolutionize technology, advance human civilization, and free us from lazy old monopolies. I'm just sick of every idiot claiming they are the revolution and nobody challenging the claim. Investors buy it then sell at a profit to a bigger sucker. Repeat as long as it looks like the game will keep playing.

Well-funded companies that can never produce are what causes the insane prices around here. Spending money to do nothing ruins the value of money and it hurts the handful of startups that have crafted solid business plans.

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First working Apple Mac ransomware infects Transmission BitTorrent app downloads

Kevin McMurtrie
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Well, it's good to know that my 10.6.8 computers, long ago abandoned by Apple, are now too old for modern Malware. I couldn't upgrade Transmission because of system requirements.

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How the FBI will lose its iPhone fight, thanks to 'West Coast Law'

Kevin McMurtrie
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Actually, West Coast protecting itself

The West Coast doesn't like breaking encryption because doing so would destroy the tech sector overnight. The doors would close and engineers would pack their bags to move to another country. Using encryption correctly, or at least pretending to, is required for everything. Forget about stalking. Forget about bank accounts being drained overnight. Criminal hacking would get real - guns and rockets kind of real - when there's an backdoor key to find out what is in any shipping container, who is in any car, and who is on any plane. US software wouldn't even be usable in the US.

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Irate IT distributors chase Amazon over unpaid bills

Kevin McMurtrie
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See it on Amazon, buy it in store

It used to be that you'd "look at it in the store then buy it on Amazon." I find myself doing the reverse now. Physical and online stores are rapidly catching up to Amazon's efficiency, making Amazon the useless middleman taking a cut of the money. Distributors aren't going to put up with as much crap as Amazon hopes they will. They have other options.

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What if China went all GitHub on your website? Grab this coding tool

Kevin McMurtrie
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Boffin

Digital signatures

SSL is a heavyweight solution with a very noticeable performance loss. A much better solution for public web sites would be stronger standards for digital signatures. Static content can have a signature pre-computed and placed into an HTTP header. Dynamic and streaming content can have signatures in HTTP chunk attributes. The overhead for doing this is almost nothing, it's safe for proxies and edge caches, and it serves the purpose of preventing content alteration.

I think the real problem is that this is so simple that there's no money in it. Assuming that there's already a certificate validation system for HTTPS, adding digital signatures to HTTP would only add about 100 lines of code to the client and server.

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IRS: Er, those 100,000 tax records illegally accessed? Make that over 700,000

Kevin McMurtrie
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700000 IRS tax records

This was electronic? No trucks and forklifts involved? I'm actually impressed that the IRS managed to digitize something. Now I'm wondering if it takes them three years to find a mistake so that they can add three years of penalties.

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LaCie bigs up 5big array: Desktop hot storage box gets fatter drives

Kevin McMurtrie
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That warranty

I bought one of the original 5-big drives and one drive soon failed. I was shocked to find that there's no warranty replacement for individual drives. You send the entire RAID back and they give you an entirely new RAID. That wasn't the solid uptime I was hoping to get from a RAID-5 configuration.

I guess it's still better than Drobo showing all lights green while it's losing everything to I/O errors. (maybe Drobo just fixed this bug)

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Let's talk over Wi-Fi, says Oracle to folks who don't know Skype exists

Kevin McMurtrie
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RIP Skype

Skype's primary feature is streaming ads to desktop computers. Its secondary feature may be seizing credits when calling a foreign number. That it still sometimes provides communications is just a glitch of some legacy code.

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