* Posts by T. F. M. Reader

420 posts • joined 19 Dec 2012

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Anti-gay Indiana starts backtracking on hated law after tech pressure

T. F. M. Reader
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Much ado?

I had to look up the Elane Photography vs. Willock case to justify my El Reg handle. Seems that NM has a law on its books prohibiting refusing service on the grounds of the customer's sexual orientation. The (lesbian) couple in question were, apparently, politely refused, had no problem finding another photographer at a cheaper price, and happily tied the knot. And then they still sued...

I wonder what would happen if the photographers just said they were fully booked and could not provide the service. I suspect they would be sued anyway. Frankly, I think I mind Indiana laws much less than a law that allows that.

I am not sure where the line is drawn. On the one hand, allowing businesses to refuse regular service to people of colour or Jews or Muslims or LGBT is out of the question in this day and age. On the other hand, somehow I don't see a Jew suing a Christian butcher for not providing kosher meat - that would not be grounds for a religious discrimination accusations, would it? And I have a bit of a trouble trying to distinguish between a steak going through a particular process and a wedding cake baked in a particular shape or form. A kosher steak would be a bigger "burden" practically, but where is the line? The "burden" in the law is not about practicalities, anyway, and there is nothing in the Christian religion that specifically prohibits kosher food, is there? And I can see how a devout Christian might consider providing a traditional cake for a non-traditional wedding as actively participating in a rite that is inconsistent with his beliefs. Point is, should this - and kosher food, too - be considered a specialized service and should the rules be a bit different?

The "we don't like your attitude so we won't do business with you" position of Apple et al. seems a reasonable approach (compared to "let's sue the hell out of all these Christian fundamentalists!" that is so often the alternative nowadays). On the other hand, at least from a distance Indiana does not seem to say "LGBT folks are not welcome here." They say, "do come, but please respect everybody." It's not like an Apple employee on a business trip to Indiana has to fill out a questionnaire on what one does in the bedroom before sitting down for a restaurant meal.

A gedankenexperiment: Let's say Indiana affirmed the right of individual shops and restaurants to not serve kosher food (possibly as a result of a lawsuit), and Jewish-owned businesses, starting with Facebook for visibility, said they would boycott the state. What would the pubic opinion be? [Come to think of it, the public might well misinterpret the measure as a ban on kosher products and all hell might break loose.]

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Europe could be drowned in 'worthless pop culture' thanks to EU copyright plans

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@Vimes: "And Polish film goers will lose interest in Polish films if they're available elsewhere in Europe? Really?How does that one work?

I suspect the perceived threat is that Polish film goers will lose interest in Polish films if Poland is swamped in cheap, unencumbered by copyrights or license fees, films from the rest of Europe. It's the usual "must protect the local producers" argument.

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PayPal settles over WMD sanction-breaking transaction claims

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Re: That much huh?

Sounds like Amazon purchases... Oh, books on nuclear physics? I see...

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Wall Street tips fedora to Red Hat: Sales up, profit flat, everybody dance

T. F. M. Reader
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"Profit growth was flat, however"

What does that mean, exactly? That the profit grew by 1.1% again, like last year? This would not warrant the "however" part, would it?

Did you intend to write "profit remained flat year on year"? That would be "profit growth was zero" (or, rather, 1.1% = $180M/$178M).

Coat, please, and that hat that looks like it belongs to a pedant. Yes, the red one, thank you.

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Spookception: US spied on Israel spying on US-Iran nuke talks

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I am sure everyone spies

I don't even mind it, as long as the spying is for a country's security and/or political (von Clausewitz, etc.) needs and not mass surveillance of the country's own citizens or of foreigners. There are at least 7 parties to the Iran nuclear talks, and all of them are legitimate targets for spy agencies everywhere, including Israelis, Saudis, Turks, you name it.

In this case something on the surface smells inconsistent. If I recall correctly, Obama promised, on numerous occasions, that Israel would be continuously and thoroughly updated on the ongoing Iran nuclear talks (I can't be a***d to Google the precise quotes, but it was quite unequivocal). By alleging that the Israelis obtained information about the talks that they should not have had, aren't the Americans admitting that the President has broken his very public promise?

Yes, yes, realpolitik, yada-yada. We are all adults here. Not so sure about the White House though - they seem to behave like little kids sometimes. Diplomatically, it seems a serious blunder on their part. Someone else called it a tantrum, and, frankly, it does look like it. But maybe they are not concerned - someone may notice, so what? Just like spying...

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Hey, Woz. You've got $150m. You're kicking back in Australia. What's on your mind? Killer AI

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To quote Woz,

"...eventually they'll think faster than us..."

They are faster already, but they don't really think. Of course, if masses of... ahem... average voters[*] stop thinking altogether and start relying on the machines to do stuff the latter were never designed to do, on the basis of the machines being (perceived to be) good enough and very fast indeed at simple tasks... Wait, that will redefine the very notion of thinking and make Woz right... OMG, we may be DOOMED!

[*] With a nod to one of Britain's great leaders...

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Hello? Police? Yes, I'm a car and my idiot driver's crashed me

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Re: Exactly what problem does this solve?

@martinusher: In our part of the US people come off the road and are lost for literally days before being found.

The issue is not whether or not there are scenarios where automatic emergency calls are useful. The problem is that existence of such scenarios does not warrant forcing every car owner in the EU to pay for what should be an optional add-on.

I, for one, am highly unlikely to drive around your part of the US or on remote UK roads, in lousy weather, at night, on a regular basis, in my car. If offered such a feature as an option I will probably decline. The extra cost plus the possibility of abuse far outweighs its potential usefulness to me. But the proposed legislation will force me to have this feature - and pay for it - even though I really don't want it and am suspicious or its real purposes. Forgive me if the adult in me finds this kind of nanny-state regulation intrusive and offensive.

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T. F. M. Reader
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Re: @Vimes - how to disable it...

> Or if viable, isolate the antenna...

And then die because you crashed at night, in heavy rain, in the middle of nowhere, and none noticed until three days latter.

With all due respect to your emergency services experience, the decision of whether or not to take that risk should be made by the car owner, not by an EU bureaucrat.

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@The Crow From Below

The American GPS satellites do not know where you are. You seem to not know the difference between GPS receivers and GPS trackers.

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My self-driving cars may lead to human driver ban, says Tesla's Musk

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Re: Am I the only one...

...to actually enjoy driving enough to dislike mandatory AI-driven cars for that reason only?

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T. F. M. Reader
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City centres

Forget about city centre traffic - it's relatively easy. I'd like to see an AI trying to find a parking spot in a city centre - in traffic. How will it navigate without a specified destination?

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Watching porn makes men BETTER in bed, say trick-cyclists

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From the department of bleedin' obvious...

... men who are easily excited by "vanilla" pron watch more of it.

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Timeout, Time Lords: ICANN says there is only one kind of doctor

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johnsmith.phd

looks quite natural, actually, and does not give the impression that your office is in Moldova...

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Bulk interception is NOT mass surveillance, says parliamentary committee

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Re: Revolutionary Thoughts from Sensible Questions

@YAAC; "It also encourages ordinary people to think..."

...about the possible consequences of saying this or that, to censor themselves, and to generally conform and toe the "party line". The holy grail of a totalitarian state.

"It's a good thing," you say?

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Clinton defence of personal email server fails to placate critics

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@Bill Cumming: "All the law required at that time was that all work related emails were logged onto the official system..."

So all that was required of her was to never forget to Bcc: clinton@foggybottom.gov on non-personal emails sent? Did I get it right? And a set of procmail rules (or other filters) to forward every non-personal mail received, of course. Separate accounts seem much easier to set up, frankly.

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T. F. M. Reader
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Her defence seems to be that it was convenient to use a single device rather than separate devices for official and personal emails. Why separate accounts could not be used on a single device? Any particular security considerations would also apply to running official business through one's personal account, I imagine. Frankly, it sounds like a "get off my back already" bullshit response from an arrogant powerful politician.

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Nothing says 'Taliban' quite like net neutrality, eh, EU Digi Commish?

T. F. M. Reader
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A clear need for a crash course in QoS

Someone needs to explain to the Commish that of all things YouTube and games should not be "slowed down" as they are sensitive to latency and jitter. Uploading and downloading EU (or any government's) forms and documents, however, will not suffer noticeably if throttling is applied.

As for emergency calls over a mesh of loosely connected "best effort" networks...

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A gold MacBook with just ONE USB port? Apple, you're DRUNK

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Just like the MacBook Air

IIRC the first release of MacBook Air, a.k.a. "the finest personal computer ever made", was famous for fitting into an envelope and for not having effective cooling for that very reason. When it got too hot the CPU throttled itself down, which resulted in the machine craaaaawling if forced to do anything more strenuous than email. By now people have learned to cool thin things (and make cooler CPUs) and to convince others that email is all you need (just review some comments here).

I agree with rpc27 - the Air genealogy is pretty obvious. I suspect the thinking is: the "target audience" will buy it anyway, we'll add stuff to MkII depending on what they complain about the loudest, we'll call the improvements "magical and revolutionary", and they'll upgrade.

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T. F. M. Reader
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Re: 1 USB port? Seriously?

@Hellcat: don't forget that watching legally bought DVDs or pictures taken with DSLRs are activities from which Apple do not get a cut to increase shareholder value.

Cynical? Moi?

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BACK OFF, spooks: UK legal hacking code should be 'resisted at all costs' says lawyer

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Re: What I find most worrying...

@Joe 48: "with man in the middle you'd need the encryption keys"

Not really. The keys are generated per session, and exchanged between the parties based on the trust in signed certificates. Suppose you try to connect to Google through your ISP. I am GCHQ and I convince or force or trick the ISP (and maybe a CA or two) to do my bidding. As a result you get a fake certificate over the SSL connection that says I am Google and is verified to a fare-thee-well. You trust the certificate and exchange keys for the session with me, thinking I am Google. I exchange keys with Google who think I am you. The session is encrypted between you and me and between me and Google, but not end to end.

This does not necessarily mean I can install a trojan on your Linux virtual machine.

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UK Supreme Court waves through indiscriminate police surveillance

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@durandal: "<...> the police will issue a letter on behalf of the victim that basically says that any further contact is unwanted, and removing any doubt on that matter."

Can they do this to telemarketers?

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Canadian bloke refuses to hand over phone password, gets cuffed

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Re: Okay, so they ask to see my laptop.

@Stuart Longland: "kindly define what YOU mean by ON"

Eh, "kindly define what YOU ARE ON"?

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IBM System x biz sales: The numbers are out... and they're not pretty

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Re: nobody ever got fired for buying Lenovo

To me it actually sounds more like "people can get fired for selling IBM"...

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Google's 'encrypted-by-default' Android is NOT encrypting by default

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Headline a bit misleading?

The way I read it this does not mean that after an "attitude readjustment" from NSA or advertisers or both Lollipop devices will not have full disk encryption enabled out of the box. Most probably will, while some, presumably cheaper ones, may leave the setting off.

So between 4.4 and 5.0 Google realized that since their model, as far as I understand it, allows basically anyone to make an Android device, then with all their power they cannot really force all device manufacturers to include HW encryption accelerator. This makes the use of SHOULD quite proper under RC2119 (they refer to it). To quote the latter:

SHOULD: This word, or the adjective "RECOMMENDED", mean that there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore a particular item, but the full implications must be understood and carefully weighed before choosing a different course.

Paranoid as I am, this does not sound like "the BASTARDS are selling me out to NSA/advertisers AGAIN!" They are, of course, but disk encryption is probably irrelevant for that purpose. All it protects you from is someone who gets hold of your device and tries to read the disk bypassing the screen lock. Or something.

Apple can afford to use RFC2119 MUST in their internal requirements documents.

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Would you trust 'spyproof' mobes made in Putin's Russia?

T. F. M. Reader
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So they own all the circuitry...

Why would they build anything but a GPS receiver into a supposedly secure phone then? A receiver should be enough for navigation, and I can only associate transmitting location data with a threat to privacy - what am I missing?

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MEGA PATENT DUMP! Ericsson, Smartflash blitz Apple: iPhone, iPad menaced by sales block

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Conspiracy theories...

Regardless of the merits of the complaints I am saddened, but not surprised (to paraphrase a QOTW about trolls), that a patent dispute between Ericsson and Apple has something to do with East Texas. Does either company even have a presence there? I can't help thinking that lawyers for manufacturing and non-manufacturing entities alike habitually collude to convince their employers/clients to slug it out in Texas, and even the manufacturers don't mind much since we, the consumers, pay the costs, anyway.

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Tim Cook chills the spines of swingers worldwide

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My car - and the key fob remote - is ~7.5 years old and I have not changed the battery yet. My watch also has a battery. I think I changed it once a few years ago. Not bloody likely that I'll be in a hurry to settle for a 1 day battery life in a combo.

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Why does the NSA's boss care so much about backdoors when he can just steal all our encryption keys?

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I'd say the post scriptum answer to the headline's question is quite incomplete. NSA want backdoors that will allow them to break into our computer and see if there is anything of interest there that has never been sent over the network. Decrypting your comms is just one part of the job.

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How good a techie are you? Objective about yourself and your skills?

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Trevor,

You don't say if there is any particular point in the CIPS ethics code that you cannot agree with. If there isn't, go forth and sign it. If all that bothers you is that your ethics (as manifested by competency) will be assessed by someone else who sees things differently, and that this will somehow make you "unethical", in my mind it is not an issue.

Allow me to elaborate. First, background disclosure, to help you decide whether to ignore the rest. I have some advanced degrees and I've taught at universities in addition to my day industry jobs. I am very comfortable with calculus among other fields. I code quite a bit when required (and it usually is), and I rather loathe Java. I tend to do lots of IT and DevOps stuff in addition to my real job simply because there is no one else around (e.g., in the startup I am with now) who can do it as well as I do, but I am not a provider of IT services as you are. I may agree or disagree with what you write on occasion, but do carry on - I will be awaiting your future columns (Drew - good call...).

I generally avoid being a member of organizations or societies, but I have been in the past, and I carefully checked the by-laws and ethical codes every time. Some companies I worked for (the really big ones) have ethical codes, professional conduct codes, etc. I had to sign those, too. I always made a point studying them. I must say I was quite impressed by both the apparent intent and the specific formulations and I never thought, "I shouldn't really sign this, but I will, to stay employed."

1. To answer your main question: Being a member of a professional organization will not really make you any different, nor will it make you a better or worse techie than you are. It does not define you. It may be a (perfectly ethical) tool in making your sales pitch more attractive to prospective clients, but it will not mean that you'll do your job any differently. It will be up to you to add to the professional society's credit - consider it an incentive.

2. Subscribing to an ethical code does not mean you cannot make any professional mistake from that moment on. I've never seen an ethics code that says, "making mistakes is unethical." If you "forget" to point out to a customer that designing a wirelessly controlled pacemaker or insulin pump with insufficient security (or pre-installing a certificate hijacker on a laptop, for that matter) will expose the end user to real danger just because you are afraid the contract will go to someone else, then it's a question of ethics. Generally speaking, it is about recognizing a conflict of interest. Is there anything that you would have done differently if circumstances were different? If at any point you recognize that something should not be done and do it anyway - that is when your ethics should be questioned. Offering your services while recognizing you cannot do the job is included - the term "competency" seems related.

3. By all means get a degree if you feel it'll be beneficial, either as a sales pitch aid or as a step to personal fulfilment or - hopefully - both. A degree will not, by itself, change you. Nor will it make you a better techie in any narrow, specific sense. A (good) university is not a vocational school, its job is not to add a specific set of skills to your repertoire. It may make you a better, more methodical learner and it may help you approach completely new problems with no known solutions more effectively (especially if we are talking about a master's degree). Again, it will be up to you to add to the university's reputation.

4. Most importantly to remember in moments of self-doubt: you are not, repeat NOT responsible for any expectations others may have of you. You cannot be. This includes your technology skills, your writing skills, everything. This includes the simpletons who think that if you have a university diploma or some membership card you will provide a better service. This includes any expectations that someone may have that you will never, ever, screw up. Your personal or professional ethics does not mean infallibility.

Best of luck.

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'NSA, GCHQ-ransacked' SIM maker Gemalto takes a $500m stock hit

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Re: Fundamental misunderstanding of telecoms

@king_tut: I think the issue here is that if you've got the keys for damn near all the SIMs in the world then you can, in principle at least, eavesdrop on cellular conversations everywhere, not just in your own country where you may have either a quiet understanding with carriers or a secret blanket warrant. You don't need permission from a foreign cell company or authorities that may not be completely accommodating, nor do you need to sneak inside the carrier's network to get to unencrypted comms. Capturing the signal from the wireless leg will be enough - you can decrypt it at your leisure and without much effort. You say as much, of course, but I would not limit the utility of the method to really unfriendly locations as you do. Therein lies a problem...

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EU ministers hold Big Meeting on Big Data. But how will they get you to hand it over?

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Re: I, for one, do not wish to be transparent

@WonkoTheSane: I, for one, do not wish to be transparent

(because that would be... ew!)

I, for one, do not want to be transparent because basic physics says I will necessarily have to be blind then. In more sense than one, it seems...

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Hackers break the bank to the tune of $300 MEEELLION

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Re: Malware?

Maybe those banks are relying too much on Windows?

To an extent, insofar as the initial attack vector was, allegedly, phishing emails read by clerks who were, probably, using Windows. The actual malware (at least initial stages) could be assembly-based, so your question could be phrased as "Maybe those banks are relying too much on $(uname -m)?"

I'm amazed that daily reconciliation didn't catch up with this.

Reconciliation wouldn't. The operations were disguised as transactions, so your money would be wired to another bank and the two banks would reconcile without a hitch. Note the following tidbit from the article: "criminals [...] sought out employees charged with administering cash transfer and ATMs" - apparently it all started and/or ended with cash. Started with fake cash transactions, ended with real ones?

Having said that, and not knowing any details, I assume there were both serious security shortcomings (beyond careless employees who click on juicy links and attachments on the same computer that handles their customers' money) and procedural/accounting gaps involved.

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ATTENTION SETI scientists! It's TOO LATE: ALIENS will ATTACK in 2049

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...any intelligent life resident on Gliese 581c is liable to have superhuman strength as the planet's surface gravity seems likely to be several times as strong as that of Earth

Actually, the Gliese 581c residents are likely to be small and light, since supporting a human-size (or larger) body on a planet with strong gravity would be exceedingly difficult.

So being swallowed by a small dog will be a quite likely outcome of their invasion.

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You'll NEVER guess who has bought I Taught Taylor Swift How To Give Head dot-com

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I am curious: did the same company handle Barbra Streisand's internet affairs at one time?

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California mulls law to protect your e-privates from warrant-free cops

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What about personal data left on a park bench?

It is not clear to me from the article whether personal data synced to Apple or Google[*] or whatever will be similarly protected under the proposed law. If not, either the law won't mean much or criminals will stop syncing - and, as if on cue, anyone who does not sync will be immediately suspect and obtaining a warrant won't be a problem ("He obviously has something to hide, Your Honor...").

[*] Both Californian companies.

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Google gets my data, I get search and email and that. Help help, I'm being REPRESSED!

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Imperfect information in a 'mutually beneficial' deal

This is a staple of any economics manual when compound interest is discussed. Manhattan was bought for what was worth ~$24 in 1626. Assume you sold it and invested for 389 years at 5% annual interest on average (that's less than the estimated performance of stock markets since then). You'd be just shy of 126 billion dollars today. This may be twice the total real estate value of Manhattan today or more (I think I saw an estimate of $47 billion a few years ago - too lazy to check). Still looks a bad deal?

Maybe Tim will give a better estimate over a weekend or on a Wednesday?

P.S. Given that the Indian tribe that closed that deal didn't "own" Manhattan nor was even settled on it, they got themselves a really great deal...

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T. F. M. Reader
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Voluntary?

In my mind the problem is that the "transaction" is not voluntary. Assume I value my privacy more than what Google's services are worth to me. So I decide to never use GMail and to stick to DuckDuckGo or something else for searches. However, I believe Google are still perfectly capable of building a rather detailed profile of me because every time I send an email to someone who uses GMail - and that includes a lot of companies and other organizations today, hell, even my employer - information about me gets into Google's vaults. Every website I visit that uses some of Google services - Analytics and such - contributes, too. So I decide that I might as well use Google search since it makes so little difference

The actual price of avoiding Google's data slurping is becoming a virtual digital recluse, pissing off one's friends, acquaintances, business associates, customers, etc. by asking whether they use GMail or whether their web side uses Google Analytics and saying you will never communicate unless they switch... Hmm... Basically, not an option.

"One cannot live in society and be free from society."[*] Essentially, we are all forced to give our data to Google unless we really go to a fringe. This does not make it a "voluntary transaction". The price of non-compliance is so high that it looks more like blackmail of the "wouldn't it be a shame if something happened to your communications and professional and social connections?" kind.

[*] The quote is from one V.I.Lenin - an expert on freedom... eh, I meant, on coercion. Treated as a neutral observation the statement rings true. Remembering that it served to justify all sorts of ugly things is worthwhile.

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Who's come to fix your broadband? It may be a Fed in disguise. Without a search warrant

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Not enough details

Was the original ruse qualified as an "undercover operation" and was the problem that when they requested a warrant they didn't tell the judge that the suspicion arose as a result of the said "undercover operation"?

I suppose I could possibly understand the logic behind all this if undercover operations in general don't require a priori validation from a judge. it also seems relevant that they did it with full co-operation of the property's owner (the hotel), and, in fact, on the owner's request. It stands to reason that the hotel may have something to say about (and maybe bear some responsibility for) activities in their rooms/villas. It is not clear to me how much suspicion the guests caused and what information was passed to the Feds before they decided to look around.

The relevant bit is how sweeping or limited the ruling is: whether, in the judge's view, the situation would be different if, say, someone's neighbours alerted the Feds that some heavy-duty computer equipment was delivered to a residential property. If not, I'd consider that a problem. But this is not clear from the article.

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Polish chap builds computer into a mouse

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How is the keyboard connected? It will be a must for me, and the guys in the video type happily. No mention of Bluetooth, so I assume there will be a cable to one of the USB ports? A mouse with two cables in different directions? Possible, but seems unwieldy, and requires a surface.

I think I'd prefer a keyboard with a built-in trackball, like the one I am typing on right now. Does not require a surface, and if graphics can be done wirelessly (should be OK for office/dev/IT) with an HDMI option for movies and stuff, and for cases where wireless co-operation from big screens is not forthcoming...

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Microsoft wants LAMP for wireless mobe charger

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This changes everything!!!

I find it most convenient to charge my phone at night. I also use the phone as an alarm clock on occasion, so leaving it in another room with lights on is not an option. Am I expected to change my habits?

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Facebook is MORE IMPORTANT to humanity than PORTUGAL

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Cynical exploitation of broken window fallacy

company's impact on the global economy "enabled" the creation of 4.5 million jobs in 2014.

I smell a hidden assumption that were it not for FB those 4.5 million people would not do anything productive at all. The real value of FB, accepting the 4.5 million FB-related jobs as an axiom, is the difference between the value generated by all these men and women doing FB-related stuff and the most valuable of realistic alternative. At this point I am not sure this difference would be positive.

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Security? Don't bother until it's needed says RFC

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Re: Not the right way to do this

TLS which can be easily MITM'd is still better than no TLS

I am not sure. I think I'd prefer to know I am communicating in clear text than to be lulled into a false sense of privacy.

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Stop viewing Facebook at work says Facebook at work on Facebook at Work

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Perfect for corporate communications, HR, etc.

No one will be able to "dislike" them, eh?

Side benefit for managers: an automatic, algorithmic annual review for everyone?

Side benefit for Zuck: new FB@Home users (soz, people) as employees retire?

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Don't use Charlie Hebdo to justify Big Brother data-slurp – Data protection MEP

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Re: Without even a hint of irony

@YAAC: "Saying we should bomb $MiddleEasternCountry in retaliation and somebody feels like killing $EthnicGroup would seem rather similar."

I would argue that they would not, unless the policy is to bomb a country specifically and solely for being different from yours. If one's country is attacked or seriously threatened by another country (militarily - a terrorist attack by one's own citizens or foreigners does not count, at least as long as it was not meaningfully supported by a foreign government, in which case it may arguably be considered a military act) I would argue that waging a war is a option that should be on the table around which the decision-makers gather. It should not be considered lightly, but it should not be ruled out a priori, either.

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Re: Saying we should bomb $MiddleEasternCountry in retaliatiopn

@sabroni: including threatening other people

That seems exactly the threshold to me.

I think one cannot be prosecuted for being an Anti-Semite, an Islamophob, a racist in general, or a Catholic-hater, not even for expressing one's views, deplorable and unpalatable as they may be, in the town square, or even for acting on them. If one does not wish to, say, employ Jews, Muslims, Catholics, blacks (NB: in general, not just African-Americans - is there a generic PC term?), or bicycle-riders, or if one never enters a kosher or halal shop, the rest of us may decide to never speak to the bigot, never give him any business, and/or cross the street when he walks on a pavement, but I don't think it should be a criminal offence in itself. Large portions of the society may feel offended, but offending someone should not be a crime. Almost any non-trivial statement is likely to offend someone. "Bacon is delicious" will probably offend people in certain neighbourhoods, but you should not be beaten up for blurting it out. You should be allowed to like pork, despise Mohammed, think that a black person should never be allowed to become the president of your country, and be offended that so many people won't speak to you because of the views you hold.

The moment one says "I support killing|beating up|mutilating|torturing|(use your ingenuity here) Jews|Muslims|Catholics|blacks|BMW driver|people who mock the Prophet|people who disagree with me", especially if one is a public figure, the situation changes.

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Preserve the concinnity of English, caterwauls American university

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: There... completed the assignment and used them all.

@Charlie Clark: "Philistine is more than vaguely racist."

Actually, at worst it is vaguely Biblical, as evidenced by the Origin section of http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/philistine. ;-)

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Saudi Arabia to flog man 1,000 times for insulting religion on Facebook

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Religion of Peace?

When a Muslim tells you Islam is a religion of peace, it’s a blatant lie

Actually, no, though it is easy to perceive it as a lie, because we are biased by a certain notion of "peace". Consider a different definition of "peace". To a Muslim[*] peace will be established when the whole world becomes Dar-al-Islam (the Domain of Islam), and Dar-al-Harb (the Domain of War, i.e., all the countries that are not ruled by Islamic law - the term should be self-explanatory) ceases to exist. Thus, a terrorist that lashes an atheist for a FB post, or kills a few journalists, or blows up a bus or a restaurant full of Christians or Jews (believers or not) brings the world closer to peace, according to his definition of what "peace" is. Too bad if it is different from what you or I think. It is not "extremism", either, but rather a central tenet of Islam[**], called "jihad". It is the normal path to expansion of the religion's influence (NB: predates the Crusades, let alone Luther and Calvin - accused in this forum of inventing religious wars - by a few hundred years, too).

[*] Well, only if he takes some of the central teachings of his religion really seriously.

[**] Let's not forget that most people don't really choose religion, they are born into a certain environment/tradition/ethnicity, etc. Luckily, in our society we can both point out facts and express opinions, even unfavourable, of religions, ours as well as those of others, but we should never forget that adhering to a faith does not make a person bad or unworthy just because you find certain elements of that faith objectionable. Everybody takes from religion the bits that suit him (sometimes nothing) and ignores (and conveniently forgets) the bits that don't, and it is that, rather than formal self-identification, that should matter when you look at a person (and it is not all that matters).

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Ex-Microsoft Bug Bounty dev forced to decrypt laptop for Paris airport official

T. F. M. Reader
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@Lee D

My former employer, an independent school, blocked all employees taking workplace devices with them when they travelled to France.

I don't think it is limited to France in any aspect. More like, the French do it, too. And probably your average French doesn't realize it (since it is unlikely they do it to many of their own citizens when they come home from a foreign trip).

Ironically, I once met a French guy who had been asked to boot his laptop when he had arrived at a foreign airport. He played French, saying it was his laptop, they had no right, Liberte, Egalite, etc. Full body search followed. Even then his reaction was, "I will never go to THAT COUNTRY again!" I tried to convince him the situation was not geography-specific, not sure I succeeded.

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T. F. M. Reader
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@dan1980

Asking her to actually log in, however, was a first for her and not something she had seen before.

She used to work for Microsoft though, didn't she? I am curious because I used to work for another huge multinational computer company (say, 10 years ago) and I used to travel internationally with a company laptop with sensitive data on it, including code, presentations, plans, etc. The disk was fully encrypted, it wouldn't even boot without a password.

The official company guidelines were, if you are stopped at any border, airport, etc., and are asked to boot your laptop and supply your passport - comply without arguing. If they want to take your laptop - surrender it without delay. No corporate data on your laptop is precious enough to make the hassle of getting you out of trouble worthwhile.

I would naively assume Microsoft would have similar guidelines. Maybe she didn't get the memo?

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Apple's 16GB iPhones are a big fat lie, claims iOS 8 storage hog lawsuit

T. F. M. Reader
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What? No lawsuit about RAM?

I think they should sue everybody because operating systems also tend to take a bit of the advertised RAM...

Ridiculous as the lawsuit is, I noticed that, e.g., Samsung have a footnote to the specs on their website (UK, at least): "User memory is less than the total memory due to storage of the operating system and software used to operate the phones features. Actual user memory will vary depending on the mobile phone operator and may change after software upgrades are performed." Seems fair.

The Apple iPhone6 spec (https://www.apple.com/iphone-6/specs) does not have a similar footnote, but it does have another curious one: "1GB = 1 billion bytes; actual formatted capacity less." I am not sure what it means, except that maybe they don't operate in powers of 2 (and thus 16GB is a bit less than what I would expect) and they don't use the full 16GB storage (not sure if "formatted capacity less" only means some filesystem overhead).

With all the hype that iStuff is somehow "magical and revolutionary" I am not surprised that some non-technical users may have expectations...

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