* Posts by Mike 16

538 posts • joined 17 Jun 2009

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Tech giants flash Russia their code blueprints in exchange for access

Mike 16
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The real question

is one I asked (well, submitted on a card) at a talk given by Bill Gates. (it did not "make the cut" to be actually asked). He had mentioned giving Windows Source to the Chinese government, and I wanted to know if they had in turn ever submitted any bug reports. What's better than having _one_ TLA hoarding vulns? How about seven or more?

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Florida Man to be fined $1.25 per robocall... all 96 million of them

Mike 16
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Politcal robocalls

Being a yank (well, living in Yankistan) I don't know about Canadian law, but in the U.S. there are exceptions to robocalling and "Do Not Call" violations. Chief among them are "calls from politicians". You wouldn't want to miss out on the latest saga of how your brave representatives are perpetually fighting for your welfare, would you?

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Not Apr 1: Google stops scanning your Gmail to sling targeted ads at you

Mike 16
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Gmail, or Gmail?

That is, "gmail the email service" or "gmail the ad-slinging, perpetually obstructive web interface"?

Got my gmail.com email address back when it was "invite only", just to bring a little stability to an email life that was plagued by ISP buyouts and mass email changes. Contrary to opinions expressed above, I understood exactly what they were doing to "target" the ads, and the "labels" concepts was really helpful.

I want to make clear, that gmail has never been my only email. Just my only "casual" email, with other far less public accounts on servers I control for "serious" email.

Anyway, I found the ads frequently humorous, even charming. Who wouldn't get a chuckle about seeing ads for kilt rental and bagpipe lessons displayed next to a thread on functional programming?

As the IMAP interface approached useful, and the web interface started to feel more like being a tester for Aperture Science ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBfIyeb8kc4 ), the writing was on the wall. I only go to the web interface when I need to do a search that the IMAP interface can't handle, and I log out as soon as possible, as being logged into any google property wakes up the unblinking eye. Maybe enough users are like me that the ad-decorated web service just doesn't get enough use to justify the bad karma.

As for "$5/month for an email address" (claimed above), would that be in Zimbabwe? An $8/month shared host at a number of places (even GoDaddy, for masochists) comes with some number (>10) email accounts, and has for years. OK, maybe $10/month to cover the amortized domain registration so I cannot be forcefully denied an unchanging email address for infrequent correspondents, but divided among all the family and friends also using that email server.

Worry more about the search engines you use (my primary is DuckDuckGo, but I miss Blekko and hope they are being fed well in IBM's dungeons), and the "Like" trackers on darn near every site.

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PC rebooted every time user flushed the toilet

Mike 16
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Re: Not a PC but...

Hardcore nerds might appreciate

http://www.windytan.com/2013/01/the-gsm-buzz.html

That "warning of incoming call" is a consequence of the combination of the GSM standard and electronics that were not designed to assume such a RF-noisy source would normally be present.

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Facebook gives itself mission to 'bring the world closer' by getting people off Facebook

Mike 16
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You want to be closer to those around you?

Try commuting on public transport.

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Let's go live to the 3rd circle of Hell – and see what Comcast and Charter are screwing up

Mike 16
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Re: It's sad

My only reason to doubt that Comcast did this is that it's a little hard to imagine the average Comcast contractor knowing which end of a shovel to pick up.

But yeah, the worst that happens to them is a fine totaling about 16 milliseconds of profit.

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Microsoft PatchGuard flaw could let hackers plant rootkits on x64 Windows 10 boxen

Mike 16
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Re: Um....

"...vulnerability' which required you to remove the laptop's case..."

So, you are not planning on traveling with your laptop (in checked baggage) for the foreseeable future?

The only way to be "safe" from targeted attacks is to be as innocuous as possible. The only way to be safe from "shotgun" attacks is to adopt an Amish lifestyle.

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Google, Mozilla both say they sped up the web today. One by blocking ads. One with ads

Mike 16
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Re: Targeted ads

What makes a viewer sure that an irritating ad is actually from the (apparent) sponsor? Maybe that Shredded Wheat ad was actually placed by a corn-flakes company. This sort of thing has been common in election advertising (at least in the U.S.) for a decade or more (midnight or dinnertime robo-calls "from" the buyer's opponent)

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When corporate signage goes BAD

Mike 16
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Done on purpose

in San Jose, California around Christmas, for many years. The lighted letters spelling San Jose Steel were blanked selectively to become NOEL (No diacritics on either, of course). Of course, the SF Bay area doesn't do nearly as much steel anymore. IIRC, all the steel for the rebuild of the Oakland bridge came from China.

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Tails OS hits version 3.0, matches Debian's pace but bins 32-bit systems

Mike 16
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So, what's the intersection

between "old enough to not have a BIOS or hardware backdoor" and "new enough to run TAILS"?

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You know this net neutrality thing? Well, people really love it

Mike 16
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Re: Don't expect any change

In many states, any potential competitor will be either outlawed outright (e.g. municipal or co-op ISPs) or made to jump through so many hoops that it would be cheaper to hand deliver each datagram on a gold platter.

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I fought Ohm's Law and the law won: Drone crash takes out power to Silicon Valley homes

Mike 16
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My brain coughed up Tom Wolfe, or maybe Andy Warhol. Although, if he was wearing a white suit, Alec Guinness should be in the running, for the surname alone.

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Mike 16
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Re: Taking the war home...

OTOH, IIRC, Texas has an independent power grid, because Texas.

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Infosec guru Schneier: Govts WILL intervene to regulate Internet of Sh!t

Mike 16
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Re: simple (in theory)

Liability would at _best_ be a full-employment act for lawyers (Hmmm, may keep them busy enough to cut down on some of their usual mischief). Getting a judgment would be the first (and only marginally useful) step.

It's especially hard to get blood from a turnip when you cannot find the turnip, or the farmer.

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Boffins get routers spilling secrets through their LEDs

Mike 16
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Re: Ah, hacking the PA system, that brings back memories

At least two memories for me.

1) In a certain Telco office, some of the frame-men had a small speaker "tapping" the leased-line from a radio station studio to their transmitter. Music while you work, what could possibly go wrong? Then one day someone had a minor industrial accident and expressed their pain/anger verbally and forcefully. Every speaker is a microphone, especially when there is nothing but a transformer between it and the line. The "not ready for FCC" outburst was broadcast, and it was a race between the crew disconnecting and hiding evidence and the supervisors commanding that the culprits be found, under pressure from a major corporation.

2) At one job, we had an "advanced computer-controlled" phone system, with some quirks. One was that in some circumstances, a conversation could be "conferenced" to a paging number. One amusing instance had the whole engineering building listening in to a purchasing agent "negotiating" a kickback. We reported the issue to the phone vendor, but were told it was impossible. Our favorite bug-hunter figured out the exact sequence needed to trigger it, and next time he was waiting for his girlfriend (who happened to work for said phone vendor), to come out for lunch, he connected Dial a Prayer to their paging system from a lobby phone. An update that fixed the problem came out a bit later.

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Silicon Graphics' IRIX and Magic Desktop return as Linux desktop

Mike 16
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Nostalgia

My first website (in-company only, for specs and discussion of future architecture) was served by Xitami, ported to IRIX and running on my Indy ("It's an Indigo, without the GO"). Quite nice in retrospect, although SGI (for obvious reasons) tried very hard to be Sun-compatible, yet still mostly POSIX. When a bunch of us took a long lunch to see Jurassic Park, the line that got the second biggest laugh was "This is Unix, I know this", as if "knowing" a vanilla Unix was much help. (The biggest laugh was for the lawyer in the john, of course, with a bronze for "objects in the mirror"...)

I sometimes regret not taking advantage of the opportunity to buy that Indy, being retired, for something like $200. And many years later, I found out that my boss's boss (3 or 4 companies on) was one of the designers of that GUI. Nice person, too.

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Your emotionally absent pic-snapping partner's going to look you in the eye again

Mike 16
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Teal (the colour) is named for Teal (the bird), at least according to Duck Duck Go, who should know, being family.

As for Coral, I recall several Coral IBM System 360s. Back before Marketing came up with "System 370" and wondered what engineering meant by calling them "System 10"

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German robo-pastor preaches the GNU Testament

Mike 16
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Re: Insert coin, receive blessing.

IIRC, one of the first vending machines was a coin-operated holy-water dispenser:

https://www.arcade-history.com/?n=holy-water-vending-machine&page=detail&id=17048

So maybe during my long career in vending, I should have lit candles to St. Heron. He also designed quite a few mechanical amusements (another big part of my life)

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Mike 16
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No Protestant saints?

So, why is the local Episcopal church named St. Andrews?

That's a serious question, BTW.

I'll agree that _some_ Protestant churches disavow saints, but not all Protestants sects are the same.

Any good source of a "feature checklist" for, say, the top 50 denominations?

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Seminal game 'Colossal Cave Adventure' released onto GitLab

Mike 16
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Random wandering

The version that most impressed me was a cassette-loaded version for the Atari personal computers, which used compression to fit "in core" :-), perhaps as low as 16K.

My own professional development was aided by my work on a mad scheme to adapt the PDP-11 version to run on a 6502, by studying the RT-11 linker and the FORTRAN runtime library. The RT-11 FORTRAN compiler used threaded code, so it was not _entirely_ mad to link the "object" file with a native-6502 replica of the PDP-11 runtime. My manager got wind of it and forecefully expressed his opinion of this use of my time, although the knowledge of compiler and linker internals gained was "relevant to business".

Then a friend who knew of this endeavor asked if I could help porting to COBOL for the Data General "Eagle", as their (engineering) management was distressed that the productivity in the "engineering" side of the house was lagging that in the "business" side, for some reason. That project was even more quickly squashed when _his_ manager got wind of it. SIgh.

Now, if someone wants to contribute a restorable IBM 1407 to the Computer History Museum, maybe my next attempt should be 1401 assembly.

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DARPA orders spaceplane capable of 10 launches in 10 days

Mike 16
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Let's just hope

they don't re-use the solid rocket tech of the shuttles. Orrin Hatch is, after all, still quite powerful in the Senate.

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Chinese e-tailer beats Amazon to the skies with one-ton delivery drones

Mike 16
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Re: Don't worry

What about the rest of the catalog?

http://www.acme.com/catalog/acme.html

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Supreme Court closes court-shopping loophole for patent trolls

Mike 16
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Re: Let the down votes begin - US 4489303 A

Thanks for checking that out. I try to avoid reading patent-ese, as I hardly recognize my own patents when the professional drafters are done with them. Anyway, Atari at least was using optical "switches" when I got there (1976) and hall devices by the late 1970s, so, yeah, probably should not have been granted if the gist was "replace pot with Hall device". There are nuances of design in doing so, and some of _them_ might be patentable, so it's not a slam dunk. E.G. using Hall devices as switches in pinball games can lead to abuse by punters with magnets in a carefully placed cigarette pack. Optical is a bit easier to "secure", albeit more prone to dust bunnies.

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Proposed PATCH Act forces US snoops to quit hoarding code exploits

Mike 16
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Can I submit a patch?

I mean "amendment"? As much as I hate the practice of adding thoroughly unrelated amendments to laws, I would find a certain poetic justice in also outlawing "vital security updates" that include unannounced side-effects like resetting the default browser, overriding my opt-out of having all my files sent to their cloudy backup, or ticking the "just automatically update from now on, I don't want to be bothered for approval ever again" box . That would go a long way toward making people a little less afraid of "updates" when the vendor does issue them, after the spooks admit telling the vendors about them

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Australia considers joining laptops-on-planes ban

Mike 16
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Is there a betting pool

for when the first "loss of aircraft and all souls aboard" due to fire in the hold? Or are we expecting that since the majority of the laptops will be stolen before takeoff, the remaining risk is negligible?

(A friend had a one-of-a-kind prototype stolen from checked baggage. Never recovered, although the case it had been packed in was found in the "TSA Employees only" coffee room)

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Have a go with this WW2 German Lorenz cipher machine – in your browser

Mike 16
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Strange Bedfellows

I am reminded that the first time I saw images of the Lorenz machine, I was struck by the resemblance (that is, identical appearance) of the "range selectors" to those on Teletype(tm) machines of the roughly 1928-1960 era. Later I found out that Teletype had an arrangement with Kleinschmidt to manufacture in Europe, and that factory presumably did some work for "competitors" during the recent unpleasantness.

OTOH, a friend who worked in sorting U.S. Navy goods for disposal as surplus, after the end of hostilities, ran across boxes of power resistors manufactured by Siemens and having a "received and inspected" stamp of 1944 or so. "Business is Business".

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T-Mobile USA sued by parents after their baby dies amid 911 meltdown

Mike 16
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Dunno about Texas

But in CA, it is not unusual to call 911 and get no answer. Last time I did this (after being struck by a hit-run driver), I was in a dense urban area, with clear line of sight to many buildings sporting cell towers, so maybe the cellular network is not the only issue?

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HPE bows to inevitable: Integrity servers get latest Itanium engine and container off-ramp

Mike 16
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I still kinda yearn

for an Itanium pizza-box running VMS. But then, my only Itanium experience was installing Linux (SUSE, IIRC) on a Bull server as part of my "stuff generally needing doing" at a startup.

One of those cute 90Mhz Alpha boxes (well, mini Burg-Kalifas) would help scratch that itch, though. If only I can shovel out some space currently occupied by my "laptop museum" (TRS80-Model 100 to PowerBookG4)

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The radio environment is noisy – so use the noise as a carrier for signals

Mike 16
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Re: issues

@techmind - Most folks (at least those who might be "customers") are already carrying a much more expensive, sophisticated, and power-hungry receiver around with them, their phone.

Of course, Disney might have a re-think when they realize that this also allows GCHQ to horn in on the data they collect on your kids. Non-exclusivity lowers the value.

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Infinidat claims it can beat any all-flash array, uses innocent pooches to appear convincing

Mike 16
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Dogs may be innocent

But I'm not so sure about the squirrel, ferrets, and kittens.

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Swamp-draining Trump pushes ex-AT&T lobbyist to oversee AT&T mega-merger

Mike 16
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Swamp Draining

Look, it turns out that swamp draining is harder than it looks (kinda like healthcare reform), so as a stopgap he just brought in enough alligators that you can walk from K street to the Casa Blanca without getting your wingtips soiled. Just don't drop the envelopes, because rumor has it that _some_ folks won't take _really_ dirty money.

That or he liked the "Chicken in every pot" slogan and decided to go for "A fox in every henhouse". Hey, either way, chickens fulfill their manifest destiny.

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Alert: If you're running SquirrelMail, Sendmail... why? And oh yeah, remote code vuln found

Mike 16
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Re: "The bug is a classic failure to sanitize user input,"

There are probably several such libraries. Where do you think these bugs live?

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NASA agent faces heat for 'degrading' moon rock sting during which grandmother wet herself

Mike 16
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Legality

Perhaps a visit to

http://loweringthebar.net/2011/06/feds-seize-alleged-moon-rock.html

will help clear things up. Especially the part that explains that _having_ a moon rock is not in fact illegal, although _stealing_ one is, as is fraudulently claiming to have one for sale when in fact you have just come back from the beach. OTOH, SCOTUS ruled a while back that lying is perfectly OK for officers of te law, unless they do it under oath, in court, with a judge that cares.

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Boffins fabricate the 'most complex bendy microprocessor yet'

Mike 16
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2D?

OK, that's a pretty slim stackup, about half the number of layers of the 5 micron NMOS I learned on, but any more than one layer is not strictly 2D.

Also, I'm more than a little amused that folks are making transistors out of something I first knew as "high class grease".

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Tor loses a node in Russia after activist's arrest in Moscow

Mike 16
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Re: Tor exit node?

Problem is that "plausible deniability" in a dictatorship (or wannabe dictatorship) simply does not work. If are tried by a jury, good luck on the possibility of explaining IP, let alone TOR, to them. If you are tried by a judge, who was appointed by the very regime that is pissed off at you, don't even bother trying to explain. If you were arrested you must be guilty. And of course in many cases you just disappear.

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DTMF replay phreaked out the Dallas tornado alarm, say researchers

Mike 16
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Pedant Freak Alert

Draper (Captain Crunch) used SF (Single Frequency, specifically 2600 Hz, although I knew at least one trunk that used 2400), via the famed Whistle. MF was used on some trunks _after_ the SF signal enabled it, but there were SF-only signalling systems up to at least the mid 1970s.

"Whistling" either the original MF or the consumer followon DTMF ("TouchTone") would require quite some skill. Perhaps worthy of some amateur entertainment contest: "Listen, he can whistle all four parts of this tune at once, with one mouth!"

As for guessing the RF frequency band, one could estimate the length of the antenna elements...

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Verizon's bogus bills tanked my credit score, claims sueball slinger

Mike 16
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Not the original

But props for the props in this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHgUN_95UAw

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Radio hackers set off Dallas emergency sirens at midnight as a prank

Mike 16
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Perhaps they also changed the password

something a little less guessable than admin,admin

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Machine vs. machine battle has begun to de-fraud the internet of lies

Mike 16
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Once the machinery is in place and humming

We will of course need someone to manage it. Perhaps Ms. May will decide to leave behind the strife and angst of her current position and agree to lead the newly formed Ministry of Truth. (for those in the U.S. substitute Bannon)

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Boffins give 'D.TRUMP' an AI injection

Mike 16
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Group understanding

Back in the mid to late 1960s, the college I attended offered a service to any profs who used optical mark sense multiple choice tests. In addition to simply grading the test sheets, our IBM 1231 could also punch the raw data (via an attached 029 keypunch), and we could run an analysis of what questions were frequently missed, and, interestingly, what questions were missed by students who otherwise missed few or no questions. The idea was to identify poorly worded questions.

IIRC, only a handful (<10) of profs availed themselves of this (free) service. You can lead a horse...

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Alabama joins anti-web-smut crusade with mandatory opt-out filters

Mike 16
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Any sale?

So, the "space clam" iBook I bought from the thrift store (supporting social services for seniors), for $40, needs a filter? I'll let Apple know so they can get right on it. How about that WAP-enabled (original) Razr my brother-in-law gave me? Is he guilty of something, or am I?

Of course, I don't live in AL, or intend to, but these things have a sort of momentum.

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Bloke whose drone was blasted out of sky by angry dad loses another court battle for compo

Mike 16
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Cricket bats

many do, at least in the SF Bay area, one place cricket is actually played. And then there are all the items that look a lot like bats with Greek letters on them in fraternity houses all over the U.S. (for "ceremonial" purposes)

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Pure Silicon Valley: Medium asks $5 a month for absolutely nothing

Mike 16
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Patreon

The major difference is that people actually choose to use Patreon as a way to reward creators of content that they know from experience they are likely to enjoy. It's like tipping the staff at your favorite restaurant. A subscription Medium is more like "give us money and we'll send a random food truck of our choice around to your block, maybe, someday"

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Yet another job menaced by AI! Uh, wait, it says here... Dance Dance Revolution designers

Mike 16
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Break into a sweat?

Even spectators break into a sweat with the variant Dance Dance Immolation:

http://www.interpretivearson.com/projects/ddi/

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US Senate votes to let broadband ISPs sell your browser histories

Mike 16
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Half a brain, and...

the ability to keep up in the arms-race that will arise between people hoping to avoid their ISP's DNS treachery and well-heeled and technically savvy ISPs devising ever more devious ways to keep MITMing them. On Comcast's budget, the can afford to suborn pretty much every CA on the planet, as just one example. Sure, sign up for a VPN, but also take a couple courses in network security so you can understand the articles about how to defeat the latest attack. You can read them via what you might think is myrandomvpnservice.com, and is actually served by Comcast, like their speedtest proxies.

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Carnegie-Mellon Uni emits 'don't be stupid' list for C++ developers

Mike 16
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Re: Pascal is the future!

Oddly, the most "amusing" errors of the "buffer overflow" sort I encountered were in systems coded in PASCAL. Of course, the "overflows" were in parts of the system that were not main memory, but the disk. Yes, the OS code was written in PASCAL, and apparently the authors had so ingrained in them that "the language will keep me from doing anything stupid" that their filesystem code did not bother to check their own metadata, and so blithely wrote outside the "limits" of the filesystem that they were building. There is no Silver Bullet.

I suspect this is related to the observation by insurance companies that drivers of cars with anti-skid braking systems tended to drive more aggressively, with sometimes fatal result.

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Startup offers $10,000 to Silicon Valley techies … who will leave Bay Area

Mike 16
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Re: except

I'm curious why you think that manufacturing is the only possible use of things like oscilloscopes, or the need to be in the physical presence of some equipment. Contrary to popular opinion, one does not simply write VHDL, push a button, and have a completely debugged board with the new chip magically appear. Also a bit difficult to faithfully emulate a 40Gbps link over Comcast's best offering. My previous employer used a contract manufacturer in the Bay Area (about a 20 minute drive from our design office), but of course had multiple copies of the systems in our own office. When we were acquired, the new owner insisted that we shift to their favored contract manufacturer. Now that 20 minute drive to diagnose issues on the line would be a flight to Malaysia. Alternatively, perhaps they could have allowed a remote desktop session over the factory's dialup internet connection?

Having a duplicate setup in our offices was vital. It would not have fit in my home office.

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FBI, NSA top brass: We've seen jack squat to back up Trump's claims of Obama wiretaps

Mike 16
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Maybe worthless, but not valueless.

Where there's muck, there's brass.

One enterprising group created a twitterbot to use sentiment analysis of Trumptweets to its benefit,

shorting stocks of firms that received disdain from POTUS. All for the Puppies, of course.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/01/31/trump-and-dump-when-potus-tweets-and-stocks-fall-this-animal-charity-benefits/

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Google deploys flamethrower on Android ad-fraud apps

Mike 16
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Precision targeting?

And "legitimate advertising business"? OK, I use gmail (for my "bulk" email), so it would be OK for Google to slap some ads on their web interface to keep the lights on. Of course, their web interface has gotten so horrid over the years that I stick to their (almost) IMAP interface. Sorry, Sergei.

As for precision targeting, I still shake my head remembering when they started slapping up ads for kilt rental and bagpipe lessons next to a thread on functional programming (which _might_ have mentioned Haskell, but had not by that point mentioned Glasgow)

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Most of 2016's holes had fixes the day we knew about 'em. Did we patch? Did we @£$%

Mike 16
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Why do we patch, or not?

Offer a starving man a moose-turd pie, and watch him hesitate. The typical "update", even (especially?) a "security critical" one is as likely to contain corporate or state malware as it is to actually fix something. To be fair, sometimes they do actually fix something, typically something a competitor (Google/Apple/MSFT/FSB) was using...

In an ideal world, "Security fixes" would be exactly, and only, that. No software equivalent of the "Omnibus puppies and motherhood (and indefinite pretrial detention and unlimited expense accounts for MPs) act". In the real world, modern software is so full of bizarre dependencies that it is entirely plausible that deprecating a particular encryption suite will break the ability to display cat videos in other than 4:3 aspect ratio, or some such.

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