* Posts by Tom 13

7611 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

FBI has its fingers deep in NSA surveillance pie, declassified report shows

Tom 13

Huh? What mean 'um "previously thought"?

The FBI handles internal spying investigations, the NSA gather comms, and the CIA handles external stuff? Why wouldn't they have had access to NSA data on spies?

Dot-word domains 'a shakedown, designed to get money out of people'

Tom 13

Re: Well, what the heck where they expecting...

No, cluster.fuck.shirley.

But never cluster-fuck.shirley. There isn't enough mind bleach in the world if you accidentally wind up there.

SpaceX drone hovership ROCKET LANDER BURN: Musk to try again

Tom 13

Re: "floating barge"

I find the whole barge concept ludicrous. I get that it was the only way Musk could get permission, but it is still ludicrous.

Since the final landing plan is for a niece flat piece of land, which is a heck of a lot less problematic than a barge, these attempts should also be on land. We're not actually worried about it blowing up in flight, only the actual landing. So a niece piece of desert, like say where we landed the shuttles, seem far more appropriate.

Tom 13

Re: if it's that big

That's not what we learned when the telegraph systems were burned out in the 19th century.

Tom 13

Re: says that it is.

How massive something is depends on who you ask. For example, a trucker wouldn't think anything of an extra 10Kg load unless he was already riding his limits, a submarine engineer would give it a few minutes though and probably be more concerned about what the actual 10Kg of material was, but a rocket scientist will think long and hard about whether or not it is needed, even if its fuel.

Google v Oracle: US Supreme Court turns to Obama in Java copyright war

Tom 13

Re: under the impression that US law is precedent based

That's only when Progressive agree with established law. If they don't, look for a "precedent setting decision".

Tom 13

Re: it would clearly be daft

Right then. Given our current administration copyright protection for API's it is then. [icon accordingly]

This is the one area of IP law that is in such serious need of legislative remedy it isn't funny.

The lifetime of a book is clearly at least as long as an author. So I don't have any problems with that part of IP law. The lifetime of a movie is arguably that long, but also arguably shorter. I'm willing to grant that copyright protection. Same with songs.

The lifetime of a cross-cut saw or a drill press is obviously not as long as a person. I can see the need to recoup research costs and reward it, but 17 years looks about right to me. We can tweak it some if you'd like, but it will probably wind up at 17 +/- 10 years. Same thing for drug research.

The lifetime of code is a whole other story. Nobody is really using MS DOS 1.0 anymore. In fact, if you said you were coding something for a real application instead of pleasure, you'd be laughed out of the room. I see 7 years as about the real lifetime of code. That ought to be the limit of IP protection for it. Call it a software patent or a software copyright or some other new term, but code should receive an initial payback period of about 7 years to the user, after that, it's in the public domain. Not OS, public domain. Period. If you want to wrangle on +/- 3 years I'm willing to hear you out. But certainly nowhere near the book length copyright it gets today.

Tom 13

Re: Java was open sourced

Yes and no. And that's always been the problem with Java, it wasn't a clean OS release like Linus did with Linux.

Sun released the language as OS, but not the engine, which remained under Sun's control. There are still potentially proprietary API's in the engine. And that's been the real center of this fight. Because Sun didn't release and Oracle never will, Google built what the claim is a "clean room" engine for Android. Oracle cried foul and let slip the dogs of law.

Tom 13

Re: IBM never released a product based upon it.

That would only be relevant if SQL were under patent. The API protection would be under copyright. Which means IBM could charge enough to own Oracle. Assuming of course they wanted to be dicks as big as Larry.

Tom 13

Re: So by making it an ANSI standard that surely makes it free to use?


I guess you missed that whole RAMBUS broo-ha-ha a few years back. All the yelling and screaming was precisely because they maneuvered IP into the standard without putting it under FRAND.

It's 4K-ing big right now, but it's NOT going to save TV

Tom 13

Re: changing market

Ours gets fair usage. I usually get home around 7:30 and turn it on. Roomie is up until 11 or midnight and it rarely gets turned off until he's headed to bed. Weekend may be most of the day or not at all depending on what we are doing. Granted it tends to be more dvr, netflix of DVD/blueray collection, but I still count dvr as tv.

Tom 13

Re: The 4K elephant in the room

Oh, it's deader than that. Flat sizes might be an issue in Blighty, not so much in the US.

I've got a room plenty big enough for a 4K tv. And the roomie wants me to do something about the video system in the room. It's not our main viewing area, it is downstairs where the treadmill is. With the treadmill on, the sound is too low even at max volume. The set is the first LCD tv I ever bought, pre-dating HDMI. At the moment it is connected to a Blueray, the cable box, a VHS player (hardly used but we have it so it's connected), and a Wii. Three of the four are designed for HDMI connections, so the setups are a a kludge. The only proper one is the cable box using the 5-color rgb-type connectors.

The first thing I probably ought to do before working on a sound system is replace the tv. I expect most of the problem is from one of the kludge connections getting wonky on either the left or the right sound output. If I do replace that tv, 4K will not be anywhere on my priority list. It needs to be:

1. Affordable

2. 1080 dpi

3. Have sufficient HDMI connections for my expected needs, plus inputs for the VHS.

4. Smart would be a bonus, not a must (I already have a Netflix subscription, could be fed from Wii, but from the tv would be easier for roomie).

The only way I'm buying a 4K tv is if it has all that stuff and is cheaper than a 1080 because it's a floor model or some such.

DAMN YOU! Microsoft blasts Google over zero-day blabgasm

Tom 13

Re: Sorry, but Google were uttely wrong.

When giants fight, the ants are crushed beneath their feet.

I'd agree with MS 100% and Google 0% if I were sure MS had the patch in the pipeline and aren't simply blowing smoke. I'm 80% there, but not 100%.

Tax Systems: The good, the bad and the completely toot toot ding-dong loopy

Tom 13

Re: only honest system would be personal income tax ONLY.

Nope. Even that doesn't work. I was too young to remember the guys name, but back in the 1970's the Today Show had on some guy from New York City. He earned like a $1 a year as CEO of his company so he paid no income tax. He lived in a penthouse suite his business rented for him because he was constantly entertaining clients. He had a limo with a driver paid for by the business because he was always going to business meetings. He threw lavish holiday parties paid for by his business because he invited clients to the parties. In fact he lived exactly like all the other millionaires who paid 70% or 90% income tax rates. But he never paid a dime. He was explaining how easy it was and that he didn't understand why more people didn't do it.

Tom 13

RE: changing things are the ones that should not be allowed

I don't have direct experience with things on your side of the pond, but on this side they definitely need changing. You don't have to have an IQ above an icebox temperature to know that 100,000 pages of regulation is so much that no one can know what it's all about. And that's probably under-estimating the current tax codes, regulations, judicial rulings, and resulting interpretations of it.

Could government make all the revenue it needs by taxing everything sold at retail at a rate of 13%? Even shoes, clothing, and housing? I don't know. But I'd sure like to try. Granted, the big problem there is defining exactly what "at retail" is in such a way that clever people couldn't avoid it. And that's sort of how we would up at 100,000 pages in the first place.

Tom 13

Re: there are a number of privatised healthcare systems around the world

There are NO privatized healthcare systems anywhere in the world. Because we've all decided that healthcare is too important to be denied solely because some individual can't pay. So we make the hospital treat them. Then the hospital has to tax its customers to cover the cost. So it doesn't matter how private or social the insurance is, it's still been socialized.

We'd all be better off if healthcare were more private and less social. You guys ran this experiment a couple hundred years ago. It was called the Massachusetts Bay Colony and it failed miserably. Half the colonists were dead before the remaining colonists threw out this commie crap and privatized it. Then it became a roaring success.

Tom 13

Re: Uniformity of land use

Once you've said that because all of society benefits from improving the economic efficiency of the people at large, yes the little old lady living alone in the family mansion has to move if she can't keep up with the increased taxes. This is the dilemma for anyone advocating for greater economic efficiency without regard to property rights. It's why all the great conservative thinkers proceed from property rights first in determining the proper limits of government. When you replace property rights with some amorphous right of the people at large, anything can happen, and usually does. Yeah, we all focus on the antisemitism and death Hitler caused. But we ignore that he got there by promising greater economic fairness to THE PEOPLE of Germany.

Tom 13

Re: moving to a 13% flat rate income tax actually raised revenue collected.

Why not? Maybe not 13%, but every time real, long term tax rates have been reduced the government has gotten more money. Most of the time they've stupidly spent two or three times as much as the increase in revenue, but that doesn't negate the fact that the actual revenue collected has gone up.

Tom 13

Re: shares had to be kept for a minimum of x months

I believe it was called the Great Financial collapse of 2007, from which all economies in the world are still suffering.

Because that's exactly what caused the collapse. Too much in long term assets without the ability to make short term payments. The more flexibility you have in buying and selling, the more you transmit price information by frequent trading, the more transparent the markets become. Can some people abuse it? Sure. But some people can abuse anything, including breathing too much oxygen. That doesn't mean you hobble the mechanism.

Tom 13

Re: first problem the UK will have is figuring out what is a need

Yep. Given most people can't tell the difference, when you put a bunch of them together and a majority has to agree you are expecting the impossible.

It's no different on my side of the pond and I expect pretty much the world over. Of course it doesn't help that as time goes on things that were once wants becomes needs. In some cases, such as indoor plumbing I'm inclined to agree. Others I'm willing to grant like a telephone line. Most, the latest iGizmo or Drone thingie, not so much. And of course once you throw in "doing it for the children" all bets are off.

Tom 13

Re: value of my house changes every year.

Many districts assess house value once every 10 years. Some have caps on how much taxes can go up regardless of how much the value of the house goes up (my landlord lives in one such area and expects his property taxes to go up by the cap each year because of the outrageous affect DC has on housing prices). Some have homestead exemptions for retired people (pensioners).

Yes, some districts make taxes non-linear. It's something progressives love regardless of its drawbacks.

Nope, most value inspections can be done from the outside. Plus, you have to apply for building permits, so they'll know when you're making significant upgrades to your house.

Tom 13

Re: while they are vast and really not very crowded.

This is all very relative. People living in NYC feel every bit as crowded as those living in London, and for approximately the same reasons. You want to be within a certain traveling distance to get to work, so prices go up, and population density goes up. Out West where the population is sparse, much of that is because the land is locked up in national parks and therefore not really available for housing.

Sure you can move to France. Granted it takes a bit more work than someone from NYC moving to Jonestown, PA, but you CAN do it.

Most folks in the US don't live in trailer parks. Trailer parks attract tornadoes. That's bad for cash flow and health.

Tom 13

Re: helluva lot more transactions going on

You seem to have completely missed his point. That may be true NOW, but it won't be if your rules go into effect. Figure on keeping 1 in 10 not losing 1 in 10.

Tom 13

Re: that requires longer platforms


Why does the entire length of the train have to be on the platform? Why not simply have longer trains and change the doors at which people will be loading and unloading? I've never understood this.

Granted I'm not in the UK, and here in the US commuter trains are what passes for passenger trains in Europe, but when we pull into certain stations, the conductors announce which doors will be used for loading and unloading. Most stations they open two sets of doors, a couple they only open one.

Tom 13

Re: government's budget to popular vote for approval.

I don't see that you'd get much change even if it were put up for popular vote. The voters select the people passing the taxes now. Their as likely to fall for the same lies on the tax vote as they are on the representative election votes.

Tom 13

Re: convinced that the value of a criminal justice system is higher

I'm not. Granted, I'm a 'Merkin so its a bit different over here. OTOH, we adopted most of the bits that have led to this problem from you Brits*, so it seems likely to apply to you as well.

I'd concur with the sentiment that it ought to be. So that gets more into the question of exact governance, which is admittedly outside the scope of this article.

*No I don't mean the bits we kept in 1776 like common law and how the rights initially granted in the Magna Carte evolved over time.

Tom 13

Re: conversation about what benefits I actually get?

No. This exactly the point where discussions about taxes go awry. Phrased the way you did, it becomes a power struggle to see who can shaft the other guy the most often and most deeply.

The accurate question is "what benefits does society get, after taking into account moral hazard?" Granted, you're not going to get a whole lot of agreement about this, but it is what is essential. So as a rule of thumb, I'd say you practical definition is 70% of the people agree it is an appropriate expenditure for government to undertake. I'd prefer 90%, but realize that even 70% is a difficult number to achieve. What we most certainly do NOT want is for it to be 33% or less, which seems to be the experimentally determined percentages these days.

When the US lets go of the keys to the internet, what about our protocols?

Tom 13

Re: One of the problems

YES they CAN make money. They aren't allowed to make PROFITS. Hence the name: non-Profit. The way this works is that elected officers and board members can't be paid except reimbursements as necessary to attend meetings. They are allowed to hire people to perform work for the corporation.

The monies they make must be used for the purpose for which the non-profit corporation was incorporated.

And as someone who has been a member of a US IRS chartered non-profit, and been the one responsible for seeing the necessary reports were generated: yes there is oversight. Quite a bit of it actually. First you have to incorporate (lawyers) as a not-for profit. Then you apply for your federal non-profit status (lawyers and accounts, plus IRS review [TEA Party aren't the only groups of which they take a dim view]), plus any state non-profit statuses you might need. Yes, paying the lawyers and accountants eats a lot of money.

Now as is the case anywhere, when you're best friends with a few Senators and Congresscritters, you can get away with things that would make Al Capone blush.

Top senator blasts US Homeland Security for leaving cyber-drawbridge down

Tom 13

Re: Bureaucratic ultra-pork lovers in "can't perform" moment. Film at 11.

Not W's fault. He wanted to keep it separate, but Dems wanted it all pulled together in one huge fustercluck. At that point he was still trying to play nice and accepted the proposal, but he certainly wasn't the one pushing it.

FBI boss: Sony hack was DEFINITELY North Korea, haters gonna hate

Tom 13

Re: The reason the Ferguson "witnesses" were allowed

If you're going to confront racism, don't pussyfoot around about it.

The reason the "witnesses" were allowed to present their "evidence" is that if they weren't there would have been an all out race riot in Ferguson with the biggots in the WH supporting the burners and looters.

It's time we stopped kowtowing to racists of any kind.

Cyber crims put feet up for Chrimbo: 2014's seasonal retail breaches fell

Tom 13

Your headline is self-contradictory

And given events that took place in 2014, does not pass the smell test.

All of the major breaches of 2014 had been ongoing for at least 6 months before disclosure. So it will be July before we can even begin to assert that seasonal breaches fell at the end of 2014.

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

Tom 13

Re: Booting a laptop, even to a full desktop, proves nothing,

It does when it's followed by an Earth Shattering Ka-a-boom!

Unfortunately, at that point it's probably meaningless to the security git, the bomber git, and all the poor gits in the immediate vicinity.

Tom 13

Re: Meh

My roommate has an interesting observation about this little exercise:

"You do realize that if I WERE actually a suicide bomber and the laptop was a bomb, you would have just ordered me to detonate it here, right?"

Since he made this observation none of the guards have since asked anyone to turn on largish electronic devices at the gate. But then he works somewhere that such things are a serious security concern as opposed to the Kabuki theater they are at airports.

About 4King time: Panasonic finally reveals voice-control Firefox OS TVs

Tom 13

Why does this article make me feel

like the CEOs don't get that jumping the 4th shark is no better than jumping the first?

I like Firefox and all. I like my large screen 1080 tv. I don't really see the need for 4K. And I really don't see the need to marry a piece of software that is updated at least monthly to something that should last me a good 20 years with a minimum service life of 10 years.

Healthcare: Look anywhere you like for answers, just not the US

Tom 13

Re: Surely it would have been far less than $7000 a year out of their pocket?

No, it wouldn't. That $7000/yr is via the most efficient means known. If it went through the politicians it would at at least another 20% for the federal staff to manage it, plus another 10% for the lobbyists arguing all sides of the legislation. And the side effects?

Oh wait that's right we just did this and we still don't know what all the side effects will be. What we do know is most people's cost of insurance has gone up at least 10% and in many cases doubled while not insuring a single extra person. Oh sure they note all the people they've signed up, but not all the people who've lost insurance because of it.

There are a lot of correctable problems with US healthcare.

1. Because it involves health and everyone puts the value of health at infinity the cost of malpractice lawsuits is way too high. Yes, truly guilty should be punished, but malpractice suits ain't doing that. That's just another insurance racket on top of the medical one.

2. There is not interstate competition. Tim noted Vermont which is the worst case, but other states have similar issues.

3. Insurance being tied to your job as a result of FDR's socialist policies. Yes, I said it. And 0bamacare didn't correct that.

4. Lastly, and yes I know this will stick in British craws, but here it is: the US is the leading country in researching diseases, finding cures, and supporting everybody else's health care systems. Sure it only cost 10 cents to manufacture the drug, but it costs billions to develop it, plus all the failed trials that lead to the one that worked. So forcing pharmaceutical companies to lower prices because NHS or whatever other agency is buying in bulk doesn't equitably spread the cost of finding the cure.

Tom 13

Re: across the NHS is a good idea

Are you sure?

There are some assumptions that go into that which I'm not sure are true. I understand there was recently a huge program to redo medical billing codes. I'm not sure if it was limited to the US, or if this was a coordinated worldwide effort. The new system is so complex it includes a code for a surfer suffering an acid burn in the ocean (okay, I hope I'm making that up but I'm told it is possible such a code exists). The new system was intended to correct a problem with the current system where unlike injuries were being thrown into the same vague billing code and throwing off calculations for what it should cost to fix a condition, (for example: broken arm, simple fracture with no complications). The end result is something that takes at least a year to learn and is actually likely to create more miscoding because they've increased the code complexity by 5 orders of magnitude. I expect this is but one of the problems you'd have in creating a system for 10 million people let alone the numbers you need for the UK or the US.

Even your simplifying suggestion is likely to run amok as soon as you get outside the initial small group suggested. While all groups will need some similar data, most data needed by one group will be different from another. Yes, I know, that's what databases are supposed to do. But much of what they have dealt with is probably actually fairly simple compared to medical information. Which means the best approximation you'll manage is to be able to standardize within a group and then have some sort of universal data exchange to send it to another group.

I've been told one of the Intel QC gurus was once asked if he stayed up nights worrying about how to test the billions of gates on their CPUs. He answered, "No, I worry about testing the exponentially greater combinations in which they can be triggered." I expect his issues were small compared to a universal record system for healthcare.

Tom 13

Re: broken down into smaller and more efficient units?

You've already cited the counter-example: Vermont

Cops think Mt Gox meltdown was an 'INSIDE JOB' – report

Tom 13

I've never understood how people

can visit an illegal gambling site and not expect to get taken. (Granted, even visiting a legal gambling site is an invitation to be taken, but at least it usually has some parameters established for the maximum they can take from you.)

Now, before you go off on a BitCoin is legal rant, please note that is quite beside the point here. Mt. Gox were known to be engaged in shady dealings. Such dealings are normally in an accepted currency. So it's not so much the currency as those other dealings which are the problem.

Google unveils Windows 8.1 zero-day vuln – complete with exploit code

Tom 13

Re: Turn it round and ask yourself

As has been pointed out previously, Google don't directly patch handsets. They release updated code and the vendors of the handsets are then responsible for updating them. This is for the very good reason that the vendors customize the source code for their particular hardware implementation. Sucks if you're with a slow handset vendor, but it is what it is. MS have no such claim to make with Windows.

Tom 13

Re: Releasing it generally, is a PR move.

Truthfully, so is releasing the vulnerability at 90 days. I see no point in half measures at that point.

Tom 13

Re: "Aggressive disclosure policy"

Unfortunately, even if you're Google, you need the proof of concept to prove the vulnerability is a real threat.

Tom 13

Re: Good on them for releasing information about the vulnerability

You're working on the assumption of a reasonable recipient of the vulnerability report. Once you're past the 90 day time limit, that's an assumption which can be discarded. Without the proof of concept code in the wild, you're subject to a PR war where the vendor claims the vulnerability isn't as bad as the reporter claims because the reporter is using the report to hawk their own wares. Yes, it's a nasty sort of war where there are only losers. The only way to win is not to play the game, in this case, not let the bug age for 90 days before addressing the issue.

Tom 13

Re: Policy Update recommendation

During that 90 days, MS had 3 patch updates.

No, 90 days is sufficient time. At the very least, MS ought to have an announced mitigation in place if the underlying issue is too complex to address in 90 days. In fact, I'd be inclined to argue that the mitigation needs to be announced within 30 days with a project plan in place to address the actual bug. In the case of well established reporting agencies, that project plan probably ought to be shared with the reporting agency so they have some level of assurance the bug IS being addressed.

Whew, US cellcos... Better find a new revenue stream, QUICK

Tom 13

Re: you eventually have to plunk down for more infrastructure

A smart business man would have been plunking down more for infrastructure when the times were good, not waited until times were bad to panic.

Tom 13

Sprint's problems are definitely of their own making

I can't speak to the rest of the industry, but I expect it is the same there as well.

Instead of following the age old dictum of "under-promise, over-deliver" they reversed it, over-promising and under-delivering. About 3 years ago I bought an smart phone I liked on their network. It was sold to me as a 4G phone and I was paying extra to use it as a wifi hotspot to connect my laptop. My intention was to use it on my 30-40 minute train ridge to and from work. Given that I have a train available for my commute, I'm in a high density area of the country, not the rural parts that usually grab the spotlight for bad service. But the best I could manage was a 3G connection, and even that was exceptionally prone to dropped signals and loss of signal during the commute. Which made it completely unsuited for its primary purpose. I waited for a while assuming that as an early adopter the situation would improve over time. It didn't. One day as I was looking at my bills and my debt I decided I wasn't getting $100/month value from my smart phone. So I canceled the contract. I now use a Trac Phone and pay for only the calls I make. My service at the moment is good until November with 1000+ minutes available to me. I might at some point upgrade the Trac dumb phone to a smart phone. But there's no way in hell I'm ever going back to Sprint.

UFOs in the '50s skies? CIA admits: 'IT WAS US'

Tom 13

Obligatiory Swamp Gas posting


Want to have your server pwned? Easy: Run PHP

Tom 13

Re: that would be the definition of good.

I'm not a professional programmer, just a help desk jockey. Back in the day I learned some BASIC. I like it for the reasons outlined for PHP (which I've never used).

I've never heard a professional programmer describe BASIC as "good".

It seems to me that to be a good language, beyond being easy to understand and performing the tasks required for your objectives, it has to have enough structure under it to prevent common mistakes. You can argue that's more of a compiler problem than a language problem, but some languages invite problems that others don't. For example, I've always been told BASIC is one that invited unnecessary problems because of its GOTO statements and how it leads to spaghetti code.

SpaceX six days from historic rocket landing attempt

Tom 13

Re: Never heard the expression "glass half empty", did you..

Half empty, half full...

Why is nobody ever wonder what's IN the glass? I mean, is water is is it actually strychnine?

Tom 13

Re: In world where news is mostly Celebs..

If you had left it at the first sentence you would have gotten an up vote.

Really, govt tech profit cash grab is a PRIZE-WINNING idea?

Tom 13

Re: Ran out of time to edit my last post..

If Warren Buffett were really worried about the little people, or really thought he should be taxed more, he'd pay his taxes promptly, not continue a ten decade old lawsuit to avoid paying taxes because by continuing the lawsuit he's continuing to make profits on money properly owed to the government:


Hypocrites cannot be cited as single authorities on moral issues.

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