* Posts by Tom 13

7611 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Washout 2012 summer, melty Greenland 'nothing to do with Arctic ice or warm oceans'

Tom 13

@John Hughes

It's out there. Try doing an Amazon search on the word and seeing what titles pop up. Same group who push AGW, just a different committee within their organizational table. Their general operating principle is that people are the source of all these problems and the world would be better off without them. Or at least without the ones who don't support the group's political agendas.

Tom 13

Re: What politician is ever going to endorse a policy that produces fewer voters?

Apparently most of them in China. But don't let a few ugly facts get in the way of a good rant.

House bill: 'Hey NASA, that asteroid retrieval plan? Fuggedaboutit'

Tom 13

Re: They threw out all the technical schematics of the Saturn V etc

No they didn't. They just couldn't find them for a while. If you've ever seen a government inventory control system you'd understand how it happens. About 5 years back they found them again. But even at that, we'd be better off engineering a new system. An orbital station from which Moon missions are launched would be better for long term planetary exploration anyway. Build the transit vehicles and engines in orbit, then gather fuel from either the Moon or asteroids. Less gravity tax getting it there that way.

Tom 13

Re: In the last 100+ years? What?

Well, we've got Maoism and the Great Leap Forward.


Oh, you mean beneficial advancements. Well, in that case no.

Icahn doubles down on Dell offer with $14 per share buyback scheme

Tom 13

Re: I feel Mr Dell has the company at heart

I'm a cynic so I'd say his pride rather than the company. But for consumers and workers at the plant, it works out the same way. If Ichahn gets his way they both get super shafted. Dell will almost certainly have to shaft some of them, but not nearly as many.

Tom 13

Re: What a bullshitter

In fairness, while 35c is chump change on only 1 share, if you own 72 bazillion shares, that's a couple tens of bazillion dollars (25.2 million to be exact based on the numbers in this story).

Google mounts legal challenge to surveillance gag orders

Tom 13

Re: You can't make the constitutional illegal

Sure you can. And SCOTUS has been voting that way all too frequently since FDR.

What Google couldn't do was challenge it until the political waters were favorable to getting SCOTUS to vote the way they want it to because of public opinion.

Fifty, fired and fretful: Three chaps stare down CAREER MORTALITY

Tom 13

Re: HR

Not at the last place that riffed me. If you could have hung a generator of that spinning door it probably would have lit up the entire East Coast. We had fewer mail clerks come through the office.

NSA PRISM snoop-gate: Won't someone think of the children, wails Apple

Tom 13

Re: What ever happend to that trusty "We can neither confirm or deny [x]"?

Well, it turns out they can neither confirm nor deny that they can confirm or deny [x]. And from there it looked dangerously close to becoming an infinitely recursive algorithm with the potential to unleash a data black hole at the surface of the Earth so the whole concept was abandoned.

Tom 13

Re: Local Vs Foreign

You have to parse these statements as carefully as a prosecutor who has Bill Clinton on the witness stand.

Trying to do that I these are the available facts:

*PRISM isn't the actual data collection, it's a tool used to analyze data in already collected data. The media seem to be including data collection in the term, although that's like a whole different program.

*From a US-centric perspective, it's legal for the NSA to collect data on any non-US citizen even if it is ungentlemanly.

*There is a lot of data about you that can be legally collected and included in such a database prior to The Patriot Act becoming law.

*The Patriot Act allows the NSA to examine that data to look for terrorists.

*There is a law (not sure which one, could be The Patriot Act but probably something prior to that) which prevents anyone who responds to a warrant issued by the FISMA courts from publicly discussing the warrant. This includes even how many warrants have been issued to it.

*It is legal for law enforcement, even absent The Patriot Act, to request user information if they have probable cause resulting from an ongoing investigation.

So applying that, I expect the companies issuing press releases are trying to walk a very fine line. I suspect they are releasing the total number of inquiries they receive. But they are only talking about the issues for the NON-FISMA requests because that's all they are allowed to talk about. I also expect the NSA has live taps to gather the information they are currently allowed by law to gather.

But part of the problem comes from one of those Personally Identifiable Information (PII) protection courses the government makes employees take every year: A first name of Julia is not PII. That Julia is an Eskimo is not PII. That Julia lives in Port Saint Lucy, Florida in not PII. That Julia is an accountant is not PII. But it is entirely possible that Julia is an Eskimo accountant who lives in Port Saint Lucy, Florida is PII. And the NSA has each of those non-PII pieces of information and the means to connect them. Of course, none of this is a problem if you trust the government. So do you trust the government?

Tom 13

Re: know of an occasion where temporary power handed to the state was handed back?

Civil War, suspension of habeus corpus. Or if you prefer the even larger issue at the heart of the whole damn thing: the abolition of slavery which was about to become law through the democratic process.

World War II, internment of Japanese Americans. Took a while, but reparations were even paid for that one.

Tom 13

Re: to get a law passed classifying what I do as terrorism

They won't pass a law. Maybe it'll be a secret Executive Order, but more likely a National Security finding. And that's assuming they want to keep it official. They can always just ignore the law like they did with the IRS scandal, or outright lie to Congress the way Holder did with the James Rosen warrant. (Or if he didn't lie to Congress, lie to a judge; but either way he lied to someone who requires truthful statements in order to properly perform their official function.)

Tom 13

Re: MS also forewarns the NSA about zero-day exploits

how very, very odd. I think you have this backwards: the NSA tells MS when they have a zero day exploit that is putting the government at risk.

And you of all people to make that mistake.

Tom 13

Come on Zuck! You have a reputation for being a better bald faced liar than this:

...simply give the government much less data than it has requested.

Nobody simply gives the government much less data than it requested. That's the quickest way to time in the pokey (big, small, or GITMO) there is. You have to have valid legal grounds to not provide the information when Big Sister comes knocking. Those valid legal grounds ought to be the 4th Amendment, but apparently that isn't working at the moment.

When to say those three little words: 'I am quitting'

Tom 13

Re: "protecting management from the staff"

Not quite. It's to be able to turn on a dime from that to protecting the staff and back again. All while following the dictates from the trolls in accounting to protect the bottom line. If it was only "protecting management from staff" it would be possible to determine a probably logical strategy and be able to work with or around it. When it's a constantly changing job description, that is quite impossible.

Tom 13

Re: feel free to read it in the dole queue.

I suspect that phrase sums up more problems on either side of the pond than many would believe possible.

Japan proposes NSA-style agency and new snooping laws

Tom 13

Re: Don't you guys read the news over there?!

Of course they have! If they hadn't they wouldn't be trying to implement this revolutionary new western idea.

Confidence in US Congress sinks to lowest level ever recorded

Tom 13

Re: So why the %$#@! do we keep re-electing the same politicians?

There are many contributing factors: gerrymandering, lobbyists, campaign finance reform, ringers, and so on. But if I had to pick the one that has done the most damage to the body politic, it would be a super-majority of the Press selling out their souls for a bowl of porridge.

Instead of reporting the facts and letting the people choose, they want to dictate the outcomes of the political battles. So they shape the terrain on which debates happen to at least tilt the odds in their favor if they can't outright name the winners and losers. Perhaps not as much in the UK as in the US, they are happy to report on any unsubstantiated smear against some politicians while heading facts about others. And if they can't win outright, they poison the well for everyone.

Don't believe me? Look at this article. Look at the author of it. Look at his previous articles. He's a committed progressive from the People's Republic of San Francisco. Yet he speaks as if he is representing the unrepresented majority of the US. Oh, yes he's learned the art of the dark arts well and couches it in "objective" terms, sites what other people are saying, and never makes a "personal" statement. But where is the balance? Where are the dissenters who disagree with study? Are there none? And look at the comments in response. I count maybe one positive comment from a poster about a politician. Remember that poison well I mentioned? Does a well get more poisoned than the venom which has been spewed on these pages?

In the US, if you want to fix it, it is actually pretty straight forward. Pick a party. Call them up. See if they have a precinct chairman/captain for where you live. If they don't volunteer to take the position. Chances are good you'll just get the job because about 2/3 of them are empty. Then go out and talk to your neighbors about who ought to be elected in the next contest. Help organize debates, and in the process change them to focus on the issues you want to have covered. And, when the party meets to make decisions, you'll get to vote. A vote that really counts, because you will be representing 500-2500* people in setting that platform. Including just maybe, who is on the ballot. If the position is already filled, volunteer to help him, or see if they would like you to take on a nearby precinct. It won't be easy. You'll actually have to work with a bunch of other precinct chairmen to advance what you want done. But the process is simple. But I don't think any of you will. You know why? Remember that poison I mentioned? How many of you won't do it because that would mean becoming just another sleazeball at the trough? If the Republic is dead, it's because Journalism killed it.

Microsoft botnet smackdown 'caused collateral damage, failed to kill target'

Tom 13

Re: is installed because the user installed it.

No, most of it is the result of MS obscuring the way things work because it makes it easier for the uneducated user to do things. And those critical patches that are going out are frequently for privilege escalation issues.

ACLs won't fix crap when vendors release software that requires administrative privileges to run. While it is true that right now Adobe is the lead culprit on that front with their CS suites, MS isn't far behind with their crap like .Net Studio.

Tom 13


I still think the short old one is better:

Abort, Retry, Fail?

Who's to be the next Dr Who? Sherlock beats Maurice - says you

Tom 13

Re: Time warp ..

I'm not sure he's a past doctor, although I get why most people would assume that. I do think he's a future doctor. The idea that a previous incarnation wouldn't know about future incarnations is done away with by any of the multiple Doctor episodes. We also know from Trial of a Timelord that he has/will cross his time stream. Possibly he did so in the past hence the current incarnation knows what he will become. Maybe Hurt is what he turns into after the Valeyard.

But I do see the point that he could be the incarnation that locked the Timelords into the loop with the Daleks. We'll have to wait for the penny to drop.

I told you I'd be back: Arnie set for another career revival

Tom 13

Hollywood producers clearly have way, way too much money.

Only one of those three movies sounds like it should have made it past reading of the title and that's the King Conan movie.

Which reminds me: Terminator may have be his best role, but Conan the Barbarian clearly launched his career.

Scientists investigate 'dark lightning' threat to aircraft passengers

Tom 13

Re: Different levels of phenomenology (and theory) altogether.

Why is it that whenever I see or hear the word "phenomenology" I hear a dialogue starting with "Bomb, you are not to explode" and ending with "Let there be light"?

Tom 13

Re: ISS?

"You fail physics forever."

And no re-sit.

In fact, we don't even want you in the building (not classroom, building) where we teach it. No sense taking even the smallest chance it is contagious.

Ex-Palm CEO Rubinstein wishes HP sale never happened

Tom 13

Re: When was the last thing they *didn't* screw up?

Probably the HP 5Si. Which is also sad given the mess their current printers are.

Of course they've always made mistakes. They made what the called an integrator for data analysis with gas and HPLC chromatography equipment. Their little machine was one of the best on the market. I worked for a company that wanted to pull raw data out of it and manipulate it on a PC instead of just on the integrator HP had be churning out for years. Our programmers got to work on it but hit a roadblock trying to unpack the raw data (technically it wasn't encrypted but it may as well have been). Without HP's assistance we couldn't turn the stored files into usable information. HP was interested and signed a mutually beneficial deal to help us develop the software (and they made other contributions that were as big as the project continued). Turns out part of the reason they were as interested as they were in our project is that when they designed and built their machine way back when, they hadn't purchased the source code for one of the roms in the system and for whatever reason could no longer purchase the source code. They could continue manufacturing the machine indefinitely based on their masters for the ROM, but they'd never be able to update it. So our idea was the easiest way for them to get back to working with the raw data. The big difference between then and now is that then they didn't insist on doubling down on stupid and never working on smart.

Tom 13

Re: HP

And the worst part about that is this came to be true only in the last 10-15 years. When I started in computers way back in the stone ages* of personal computing they were one of the companies who delivered real value, especially in the scientific research areas.

*As the document specialist, I was once graced with running the PC in the company with the largest hard drive: a whopping 40MB which couldn't be accessed as a single partition because DOS didn't support partitions that large.

So, Windows 8.1 to give PC sales a shot in arm? BZZZZT, wrong answer

Tom 13

Re: why have server OSes got worse since Netware stopped?

My money would be on:

for the same reason browser innovation crashed after MS killed Netscape and before Firefox took off.

Tom 13

Re: +1 avoiding an upgrade

Anecdotes may be anecdotal, but if you get enough of them, they become data.

NSA: 'Dozens of attacks' prevented by snooping

Tom 13

Re: @bitmap animal

Actually there is. One that's not very pleasant, but very real. The information is compartmentalized and for operational purposes, they don't need to know how many they've stopped, only an estimate on how degraded they are keeping the enemy. So even though you know a bunch of attacks have been stopped, you don't have that number at hand. And given the red tape monster, getting the connectors in place to pull those numbers into one location in just one week is moving at a pretty good clip.

Young blokes blinded by video-game addiction: THE FACTS

Tom 13

@Don JEfe 13-Jun 11:35 GMT

That was true until about 10 years ago. These days they tend to start the pilot training in the simulator and only let them fly the real thing after they reach a certain skill level. They claim the end product has similar skill levels. I expect the old way was probably better, but the new way is cheaper, but I could see the simulator as a weed out course so only those who are promising spend time in the more expensive part of the training.

Tom 13

Re: Jeremy Clarkson tried this on Top Gear

I could have told him that without them having to go all that expense. I've played video race car games and I drive a car. Not on a track, just on the highways. But then he does make considerably more money than I do, so I suppose more power to him.

STEVE JOBS hits back at ebook ruckus FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

Tom 13

Re: So

Because unless you're a pig-headed anti-corporate shill you'll see it isn't about conspiring to set prices.

The email actually sent expresses a legitimate business concern that Amazon was in a position to use it's monopoly position in the market to squash Apple's foray into the market. The draft email could be seen as price fixing, or it could be the legitimate concern expressed in the actual email but badly worded.

The real scandal here is the DoJ presenting a known DRAFT email as one which was actually sent. I believe if it was a witness who made that statement they would be hauled up on PERJURY charges.

Tom 13

Re: Puzzled

Because those settlements say no such thing. They say they've reached an out of court settlement in which the publishers do not admit guilt. It's only freetards like yourself who insist the settlements say something they don't.

KEEP CALM and Carry On: PRISM itself is not a big deal

Tom 13

Re: You're not as special as you think you are.

The only thing clear here is that the NSA is gathering data on just about everybody. After that everything is guesswork and surmise, starting with whether or not you believe Snowden is telling any truths followed immediately by whether or not the document he released is true. Even if we assume both of those are true that still doesn't get you to highly targeted on the raw data collection. It's possible PRISM is just the analysis of specific data that was gathered under another program name. That leaves you with a factual number for PRISM that hides a much larger program elsewhere. It gets you off the hook for lying to your own people (in this case own people = NSA agents). It also fits with the sort of compartmentalization I'd expect in a spy agency.

I know I'm not that special. Yes there are things I don't want you to know about me, even if you are a close friend. I think all of them are legal. I don't believe I've broken any laws in the sense of a law that is on the books and 75%+ of the people think ought to be on the books. For practical purposes, I'm sure the program has stopped some terrorist attacks. Likewise shutting it down will likely cost some lives. I'm also quite certain the program has a huge potential for abuse. And at this point that potential for abuse has me at the point where I think it should be shutdown.

My major point of difference with the people who are insisting it be shut without asking any further questions is that I'm willing to listen to arguments to allow it to continue; albeit with a better understanding of what 4th amendment protections are in place and how it is that I know I can trust those protections to be obeyed. For as fuzzy as how the protections might be implemented are, the even bigger issue is that in light of the IRS scandal and the funny business with tapping James Rosen's and AP's phones the trust issue is even fuzzier.

Tom 13

Re: Prism Logo

Guess you missed this article:


Tom 13

Re: Including those Americans who live in the 51st state.

Guess you missed it: The Big 0 announced during his first campaign that there are 56 states.

Tom 13

Re: The scary thing...

The scariest weasel words are the ones you don't think of as weasel words. Last night on Fox one of the panelists noted he's had conversations with spooks and in their parlance "collect information" is different than "gather information." One implies that somewhere in their database the information exists but no human being has examined it. The other means someone is actively examining the information.

Crusading lawmen want more details on Apple's iOS 7 'Activation Lock'

Tom 13

Re: At least they're making an effort...

Not sure how effective it will be. I imagine the way this works is the perp sells it to a buddy who sells it to another buddy before it hits the final buddy who sells it on the street. It reduces everybody's risk, and only the last or second last guy has to be able to reset the phone. Yeah, it may mean a bit more upfront investment, but since he's moving more merchandise, it's worth it to him.

Remember, criminals aren't necessarily stupid, just lazy and im- or a- moral.

Tom 13

Re: the RPISM options

The ACLU, EFF and many others say "No!":


Mozilla, ACLU, others join fight against NSA domestic spying

Tom 13

Re: The ACLU is involved now.

So you too noticed that the included list reads like a who's who of Liberal Fascism.

What did the Lehman Brothers implosion look like to a techie?

Tom 13

Re: if it was it wouldnt have failed!

That depends on what exactly you mean by "a going concern". At the time all this was happening I was reading some blog articles from a fellow who was calling these events about two to four weeks before they actually happened based on his readings of the papers and knowledge generally about the sorts of programs used in US trading operations. What brought down Lehman was a cash crunch. Their long term assets were good. Maybe not as profitable as they thought they were going to be, but still profitable over a 3 to 5 year time frame, certainly over a 10 year frame barring of course the collapse of the entire US banking system. But they needed an immediate injection of liquidity in the 30-day time frame with a possible 90-180 day longer term need to get back to a working cash flow.

Yes, there was a risk associated with it. And in bygone days of real capitalism, somebody would have smelled an opportunity and taken it. But in this day of whimpy no-risk investment mania that can't happen.

Tom 13

Re: Shorting the stock of the company you're contracted to.

Just be careful if you're in the US. That could constitute insider trading. Or stock manipulation.

Tom 13

Re: Think the last one explains the other two

Yep. I suspect that if Bears Stearns had been allowed to collapse we might have avoided a lot of other problems downstream. Then again, the problem may have already been too big to avoid by the time Bears Stearns was on the ropes.

Whoever recently showed us the secret documents: Do get in touch

Tom 13
Black Helicopters

Re: How will you communicate back?

I'm guessing steganography. The original contact contain instructions on how to embed the information. Broadcasting the message alleviates the point to point connection that makes it easier to isolate the leaker. The next step is to check the mailbox by Lewis's favorite pub for stray chalk marks.

Tom 13

Re: it wasnt me but can i just say:

Just remember to flush.

How NSA spooks spaffed my DAD'S DATA ALL OVER THE WEB

Tom 13

Re: NSA have no sense of humor

If you've got references, that's the one the author of this post can use to go after them on!

Technically the copies the NSA has aren't copyrighted and aren't published, they are secret. So their use of the logo while ill advised, can slip through on a hyper-technicality. That is, until they actually assert a copyright over it. Once they've done that it's game, set, and match to the original copyright holder.

Patch Tuesday: And EVERY version of IE needs fixing AGAIN

Tom 13

@AC 12-Jun-2013 12:05 GMT

Good point. I'll make that D) and rerank their order as B, D, A, C.

Tom 13

Re: I thought some of those versions were *complete* re-writes from the ground up.

You forgot C) which actually even more troublesome than A) and B) although in order of probability from high to low it is probably B, A, C:

The rewrite introduced a whole new set of vulnerabilities.

NSA PRISM deepthroat VANISHES as pole-dance lover cries into keyboard

Tom 13

Re: The Scales of Justice...and the balancing act they all dance to.

Maybe, maybe not. This is a rare instance in which although I come down more on one side than the other, I COULD argue either side.

Here's the thing that bothers me: he ran. If you're a whistleblower in this age, you don't run. You blow the whistle and then you start your national press tour. If they arrest you, make sure it's in front of rolling tv cameras. Then you make your case to the American people, and stand trial defending what you did. If what you did was truly patriotic, I think you'll win in at least the court of public opinion. So even if you lose in the legal court, there are limits on the penalties they can impose.

What leads me more to the black helicopter belief on this one is the dislogic of it all: leak to The Guardian then run to Hong Kong? For a US centric story? About an intelligence gathering behemoth that can't be avoided? I just can't square the circle on this one.

Tom 13

@Pet Peeve

When the ACLU sued to find out if certain people were on lists, SCOTUS dodged the central question by saying the plaintiffs had no evidence whatsoever that they were on such lists and therefore they could not show standing to sue. This potentially removes some of those litigation obstacles.

Confirming the extent of the surveillance does certainly help enemies in assessing and planning attacks against the US. Hence the need for secrecy. But secrecy is also where scandal breads. And given the already existing crop of scandals in the US at the moment...

And it is a scandal. There is an expectation under the 4th amendment to certain privacy rights. It is arguable that those privacy rights have been breached. It is also arguable they haven't. But the biggest problem of all is that given the other scandals, there is no trust that the information isn't being abused. If there were no AP and IRS scandals, this wouldn't be in the news, even if it is news.

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