* Posts by DougS

12863 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Bixby bailout: Samsungers bailing on lame-duck assistant

DougS Silver badge

Yes, I've seen no indication that any of the Android OEMs are anything but complete shit as far as writing software. They only do it to try to differentiate their products, if they just ran clean Android it would quickly be a race to the bottom on hardware specs & price, and the Chinese would beat up Samsung, LG, Moto etc. and steal their lunch money.

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Re: But...

Why would Samsung's Bixby strategy be based on what Apple does or does not do? On the software side they compete with Google only, not Apple.

Tech industry thumps Trump's rump over decision to leave Paris climate agreement

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Not as bad as it appears

It looks like Trump pulled out in a half-hearted way to placate his base, but the timeline for pulling out that extends until the day after the next election seems to indicate his daughter was more successful in talking him out of it than Rush and his other cronies would have liked. If he was really pulling out of Paris, it would have been effective immediately, not 3 1/2 years from now.

Since compliance is voluntary he could have stayed in it, but not taken any measures to actually go along with it, so leaving it is more symbolic than meaningful. He was going to loosen restrictions on use of coal etc. regardless of Paris, because it doesn't impose any binding terms to prevent that. So if he stayed in it, people might have been happy, but it wouldn't have changed anything.

If he wasn't under increasing pressure from the investigations about his Russian ties, I think he might have decided differently. Keeping his base happy is more important than ever - they are the only thing keeping a lot of congressmen fearful about speaking out against him. If the base turned against him, that fear would go away.

It is ironic that he thinks doing this is showing America's independence, but really to the rest of the world it looks like America is relinquishing its leadership role and decreasing America's prestige and importance.

Social media vetting for US visas go live

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@AC - company email addresses

You miss the point of this. They want to pass all this info to the NSA to use as input to compare with all the data they've captured over the years. If your email shows up in a cc: linked to a terrorist, or or that sort of thing, you get denied. That's why they want the list of spouses, children, etc. so they can compare with known/suspected terrorists.

As for the travel log, they're really going to be looking at places like Iraq or suspiciously long visits to jumping off points to ISIS like Turkey. If you forget some or decide it is too long to list and just provide highlights, I doubt they care. They probably know whether you've been to Canada and when, but if you leave that off it isn't like that would be a sole reason for denial.

This is all nonsense to create the illusion of security. Real terrorists who plan on doing harm aren't going to list a nine month stay in "Turkey" last year, or list their spouse the dead suicide bomber, or give out their real Twitter account where they cheer every car bomb. If the government is able to figure out those things even when they aren't listed, then it wasn't necessary to make people list it in the first place, was it?

Silk Road boss Ross Ulbricht denied bid for new trial

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Maybe so, that's untested law. But like I said, I don't think anyone will want to go there. If Trump is impeached and leaves office, Pence will pardon him, but even if he didn't I don't think there'd be an appetite even among democrats (aside from the voices on the fringe, like Maxine Waters) to push for him to face criminal charges. Sets a precedent that neither party will want to establish.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Sure, that activity is illegal

Even if Trump got impeached or otherwise didn't finish out his term, he won't face any criminal charges. The president can't be tried in a court of law, only by the Senate after being impeached by the House.

I suppose if he broke the law before he took office theoretically he could be prosecuted, but as with Hillary breaking the law it isn't something the powers that be are likely to pursue unless it is totally unrelated to becoming/being president - even then pretty much anyone who reaches that level will have done some things wrong. "Jailing your opponent / former office holder" is the sort of thing banana republics do, so I think that's a line no one wants to cross.

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If you haven't learned by now that life isn't fair and sometimes the guilty go unpunished, I guess you never will.

Elon to dump Trump over climate bump

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Re: Coal stocks fell today

In theory, a steel plant could use the carbon captured from firing its furnaces with natural gas. I don't know how difficult it would be to do that, but if this technology was developed it would have multiple benefits: it would not only eliminate the CO2 emissions that are captured, but eliminate the need for coal to be mined and shipped to the steel plant in the first place (natural gas transport is much cheaper, since it is done via pipelines)

Obviously capturing the CO2 isn't free, but it only needs to be cheaper than the cost of mining and shipping coal. If you charge in some form for CO2 emissions (cap & trade or whatever) it increases the chances the numbers work out in favor of doing this.

As a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder reducing the need for those mile long trains carrying coal cross country might cost me a little (for those who don't know, one of Buffett's major holdings is rail transport) but that's fine - that's why you diversify.

DougS Silver badge

@bombastic bob

So I take you would like to make it illegal for US companies to outsource work to other countries, to prevent the loss of American jobs? And you are prepared to personally compensate companies against the savings you would be denying them?

That's no different than your proposal I pay for the coal miners who lose their jobs as the result of a global backlash against Trump's coal buddies.

I expect some tortured logic where you claim that banning outsourcing is wrong because it interferes with business, but other countries deciding not to import coal from the US and costing jobs in a dying industry is something we can't stand for - maybe you'll want to threaten them with America's military might to force them to keep buying our coal?

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@Naselus - raising corporate tax rate is different

Since such changes can't be made via executive order, they tend to be longer-lasting than the guy who occupies the white house and signs it. Maybe once a decade you get a couple years where one party has the house, senate and presidency, but there are no guarantees (it was 30 years for the republicans after Nixon)

A 1% increase isn't going to matter, but a large enough increase or other very anti-business laws would cause some companies to at least consider relocating. As with any other business decision, they'd do a financial analysis of the two cases and compare, and see what the expected payback is (though obviously there'd be a lot of guesswork involved, especially if there was a backlash against their products in the US as a result) If they thought it could pay back in five years, they'd strongly consider it. If they thought it would take 20, it is not worth it.

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Coal stocks fell today

There are rumors of a global backlash against the coal industry that is seen as behind Trump's views. It would be great to see US coal output drop due to no country being willing to import our coal, I wonder what excuse he'd give for that? Probably blame it on the media/democrats, like everything else.

DougS Silver badge

Re: What we need now is

Companies aren't going to make moves like that based on a four year occupant of the white house. If they feel that strongly about it, they'll just help fund someone to take him down in 2020.

Samsung's Bixby assistant fails English, gets held back a month

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Re: Reinventing it all

Because they need to differentiate themselves from the rest. If all Android phones ran generic Android with the same software features, people would base their choices on price and hardware specs, and the Chinese companies would have 100% Android market share.

The reason they want their own messenger, voice assistant etc. is obvious. Google is making all the money from Android, the OEMs want a share of that post-sale revenue.

Security company finds unsecured bucket of US military images on AWS

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How was this not encrypted?

One would hope that a requirement for ANY information to be sitting on a third party cloud provider's servers is military grade encryption. Even if the bucket was secured, Amazon employees would have access to it, as would anyone who hacked Amazon's security. If it is encrypted, then whether it is secured or not, hacked or not, it is kept safe.

Hopefully the person(s) at BAH responsible for placing this data on Amazon are fired and banned from ever getting a security clearance again. Misconfiguration could be excused as everyone makes mistakes, but storing sensitive info on a public service unencrypted shouldn't be.

Microsoft founder Paul Allen reveals world's biggest-ever plane

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Re: Elon Musk has five sons...

Obviously he's not going to tell anyone when he buys a remote volcanic island in the South Pacific Ocean. A secret base isn't secret if you tweet out "just bought a remote volcanic island in the South Pacific Ocean that will be perfect for my secret base".

So I think we can assume he owns at least one such island, based on the fact he hasn't tweeted about it.

No H-1B visas? No problem, we'll offshore says Tech Mahindra

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H1Bs have an easy fix no one talks about

Raise the salary cap. A lot. If it was say $150K, and adjusted to the cost of living for the area the worker would be based in (i.e. it would be even more in SF or NYC) you'd see it work as intended. It would cost a lot to pay an H1B, so they'd only be used for jobs requiring special skills that US workers don't have, or where the demand for US workers greatly exceeds the supply.

Then they wouldn't need a cap, or a lottery, because the number of applications would be determined by the market, rather than how much money you could save bringing in cheap workers from overseas.

Senators want FBI to vet FCC's 'cyberattack' claims

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Re: In my humble opinion

All robo commenting should be prevented to the extent possible, and if not prevented basically ignored. Any comments that are basically form letters with your name inserted should be given almost no weight, because going to some web site where you can enter your email address and click a button to file a form letter with your name attached isn't exactly showing you attach much importance to the issue - and it is really easy to use someone else's email address or a script with thousands of email addresses you created on gmail for personal astroturfing.

WannaCrypt: Pwnage is a fact of life but cleanup could and should be way easier

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I disagree. If you want to use file versioning as a defense against malware related issues, you can't allow Administrator to delete old versions, otherwise malware just encrypts all the files and deletes the old versions.

I think you should set the various policies controlling how many versions there are / how far back they go / how much storage they can consume at install time, and only change them via group policy or that special in-person boot mode. If Administrator has rights to delete old versions - or force old versions to be deleted by making too many changes - they are only useful for "oops I didn't mean to delete that" backups, not "crap, I got hacked" backups.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Time Machine

The problem is that it is something that can be controlled from the OS. File system versioning should be at a lower level that's set at install time, and only be changeable via group policy or a special boot like safe mode that has to be done in person.

It should be impossible for even Administrator to delete or change old versions of files. Then ransomware is impossible, as you can just roll back to the last version before the infection.

DougS Silver badge

So long as your data is encrypted with a key you control, using software they don't control (i.e. no black box driver to sync your filesystem to their cloud) it doesn't matter who controls the cloud your data lives on.

Boffins play with the world's most powerful X‑ray gun to shoot molecules

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Let's start a war on prions so we can make use of it!

German court says 'Nein' on Facebook profile access request

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Re: a solution

I wouldn't be shocked if Facebook doesn't do a quick text analysis of whatsapp messages on each end. All the better to sling condom or diaper ads in your face if they know you are talking about pregnancy.

BT considers scrapping 'gold-plated' pensions in bid to plug £14bn deficit

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@Halfmad - "never be allowed to run in deficit"

You don't understand how it works if you think that. They have a pot of money invested and assumptions about the average return on those investments, but you can't get the exact same return every year only make an average return over time even if you are conservative in your estimates. So in the down years, they will be in deficit. It is impossible to avoid running at a deficit some years.

If your expectations about average return are too optimistic, then you will have a deficit that increases over time. Perhaps that's what happened with BT - though probably they underestimated how long their retirees would live and are paying out more than they calculated back when those people were working and paying in.

Lexmark patent racket busted by Supremes

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If only lasers were always better

The problem I have with lasers is if you print thicker paper, especially cardstock, the paper curls so badly you have to waste all sorts of time bending them back the other way to make them flat, and you can never get them perfectly flat. The only thing I haven't tried is ironing them.

Inkjets don't have the heat of the fuser, so they don't suffer this problem. There are some that have a pretty reasonable cost per page compared with laser, especially if you aren't printing thousands of pages a month.

DougS Silver badge

What about other measures?

If there's a chip in it that knows when the ink runs low and will refuse to operate if ink levels rise, and can't be counterfeited because it communicates with the printer in some way that's copyrighted by Lexmark, would that still be allowed?

The ruling sounds rather narrow in that it only bans attempts to use patents to control post-sale use, but there are other technical means at their disposal, so I don't think this will do anything more than pause the battle while Lexmark works around the ruling.

Much-hyped Ara Blackphone LeEco Essential handset introduced

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Re: Love the advertising around the titanium case

A soft metal is better for a phone case, because if it didn't give it would absorb less of the shock of being dropped on a corner and the screen would be even MORE likely to break.

I have a feeling that's the real reason Apple never ended up using liquid metal for phones. It is supposed to be extremely tough, so the screens would be a lot more likely to break since the metal wouldn't absorb much of the impact force, but instead transmit it to the glass. Wouldn't be surprised if they tested it and found screens breaking with every drop, and decided against it - unless they can figure a way to hide some rubber bumpers around the screen...

I'd rather have a dent in the corner from being dropped on concrete, than a flawless case and a broken screen. I dropped an iPhone 5 (stainless steel instead of aluminum, but the same applies) onto concrete on its corner and it got a noticeable dent and scuff/scratch marks on that corner, but the screen was still perfect! Which is a good thing, because I managed to do that the day after I got it!

DougS Silver badge

Love the advertising around the titanium case

Claiming that because it is tougher than aluminum you don't need a case! WTF!! As if anyone who uses a case on their aluminum phone is doing so to protect the metal from damage!

This will be a niche product, but at that price they should make enough to turn a profit unless it completely flops. It was obviously never about competing with Apple and Samsung, despite the press hype trying to make it sound like that was the target.

Cisco cuts 250 jobs in San Jose, has 850 more pink slips to hand out

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That he probably does have a lot to do with!

It is still amazing to me that we try to solve the illegal immigration problem by enforcing it on the immigrants. If they'd gone after those who employ them with heavy penalties for knowingly employing someone not legally authorized to work in the US, there wouldn't be 11 million of them in the US now. But no one wants to go after the farmers, when they are the true cause of the problem!

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Since Trump takes credit for job creation/saving he had nothing to do with, it is only fair to give him the blame for job losses he had nothing to do with!

Nest leaves competition in the dust with new smart camera

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Re: Ermmmm

Or you could keep your doors and windows locked. Almost all burglaries where I live (college town) are where the place wasn't locked. Few criminals are able to pick locks - at least not if you have decent ones - and fewer still are willing to break glass and tear through a screen, or kick down a door. If you live in places where that's a concern, then I guess you need bars on your windows and a barred gate over your front door to live in your own prison.

Uber fires robo car exec for insubordination

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Re: Follow the money

If being fired caused him to lose some unvested dollars, you can expect a lawsuit soon claiming he was terminated to prevent him from fully vesting.

Millimetre wave.. omigerd it's going nowherrr.. Apple, you say?

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Re: I live in a vacuum!

Rain reflects radar, but not all of it. That's how they can tell the various intensities. Consider satellite TV - it has to be raining pretty hard to attenuate the signal enough to lose signal. The signal at the dish is on the order of -90 db, because a single satellite is broadcasting a signal that's spread over the entire US or all of Europe. Obviously a beamforming antenna broadcasting a tight (as tight as they can make it, at least) beam from a few km will be broadcast with enough power that it is received at far higher power than a satellite downlink. So it would take a lot more rain to block the signal.

mm wave is at 28 to 39 GHz which is higher frequency than the 12-20 GHz used for satellite TV, so it is affected more by rain, but the increased power should more than compensate for it. It won't be weather proof, but I think you'd need some pretty extreme downpours far in excess of what knocks out satellite TV from a perfectly aligned dish before rain should be a problem.

I'll take the sandtrooper in white: Meet the rebel scum making Star Wars armour sets for a living

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Re: Skinnytroopers

Stormtroopers were 17 year old female volleyball players. Who knew?

Bitcoin exchange Coinbase crashes after Asian buying frenzy

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That's how it is everywhere, there's a minimum dollar limit before forms have to be submitted on your behalf to the IRS, to reduce the paperwork burden for small amounts. You are still liable for taxes even if you make only a penny of profit, but it is more difficult for the IRS to find out (unless you are audited, and for whatever reason they put you in the "stick a microscope up his ass" category)

DougS Silver badge

They are taxable events at any level in the US. It is taxed as a commodity just like gold. They probably don't have much of a way to track bitcoin transactions, but as soon as you exchange them for something else, they are only limited by their ability to track that 'something else' (i.e. dollars or other currencies very bad, gold, art or other commodities held overseas potentially bad, overseas hookers and blow no problem)

DougS Silver badge

Re: "Legal tender"?

But Bitcoin just a commodity, based on people being willing to accept it. Just like gold and so forth. There is no magic that makes it better than fiat currency, unless that fiat currency happens to be in hyperinflation (which is never something that just sneaks up on you)

It has such wild swings in value that it would be stupid to sit on it as if it was "kept under a mattress" because even though sitting on it for the past year would have been great, sitting on it another year has a good chance of proving disastrous. There's nothing like the "negative inflation" of having your stash lose half its value, which Bitcoin is probably not that unlikely to do given how much it is gone up in such a short time.

Just wait for the next time a Bitcoin exchange is hacked, or the next major malware is one that grubs around PCs looking for wallets to empty. Having my money in a bank is an advantage in my book, because if the bank is robbed or someone gets access to my bank account I don't lose everything - in fact I don't lose anything at all. With Bitcoin, you are dependent on the security of the exchange you use, and Microsoft's or Apple's or Redhat's ability to secure the OS of the PC you use. I'm sure Reg readers feel they are immune to such things, but while you may be better able to keep your bitcoins secure than the average person, you still stand a much greater chance of losing everything than you do if you keep your money in a bank.

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Of course its a bubble

Doubling in price over such a short timeframe is not realistic.

It is also not something a "currency" should do, especially when the correction inevitably comes and it goes the other way. If I had any I'd sell it all right now and take profits. Even if it has more to rise, timing the top before the bottom drops out it and crashes is pure luck.

Twice-crashed HPE SANs at Oz Tax Office built for speed, not strength, and turned off error reporting

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OK I accept that the 'call home' functionality was apparently broken so the drive failures would pile up, but who was responsible for administrating this array? Doesn't it show alerts in the GUI if even one drive has failed, let alone twelve???

I wonder if the GUI has some little red triangle to indicate a fault condition, but the fault condition for "drive failure" looks the same as something stupid like "AC voltage dip < 220 volts" or whatever so there's ALWAYS a fault/warning indicator which is why the drive faults were (apparently) ignored?

Google can't spare 113 seconds of revenue to compile data on its gender pay gap

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They're probably spending more for their lawyers to argue against it

Than it would cost to actually do it.

Andy Rubin teases next week's launch of Essential phone

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Re: Bulge looks like a camera to me...

Guess the only question is whether that ridiculous thing is always there, or that is one of those magnetic add ons. One would hope/assume the latter.

I expect lots of hype about how this is the "next big thing" in phones, and how Apple and Samsung are now hopelessly behind and must play catch up, just like the last couple times modular phones were introduced and failed miserably!

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Re: Satphone?

Might be, but it is such a niche that's understandable if true. You can't make a sat phone mass market because there isn't enough satellite capacity, and the target market shrinks every year.

DougS Silver badge

Maybe that's a camera protuberance?

Either a much larger lens than other phones have, or it is round for capturing 360* all at once? Either way, the market has spoken loud and clear for at least 15 years that people don't want stuff sticking out of their phones. People complain about 1mm camera lens bumps, few will tolerate that ugly nub - other than maybe as a gimmick for compulsive selfie takers who might like a better lens and/or 360* FOV.

The 'phone designed for custom add ons' trick has been tried several times before, and always failed. I see no reason why this should succeed. Especially since this will either be running a proprietary OS and fail for that reason, or will run Android + "secret sauce" which is a market where people generally reject proprietary extensions, be they hardware or software.

British prime minister slams Facebook and pals for votes

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What schools should be teaching

It is a good thing schools have "got away from" teaching values. That's something that should be up to the parents, or people the parents choose. It is unfortunate that some people want values taught in schools - because they only want schools to teach the "values" they subscribe to! Parents with certain religious beliefs don't want their kids to be taught about birth control, other parents don't want their kids to be taught abstinence is the only choice.

Some parents want kids to be taught it is OK if they are gay, others don't want the concept even mentioned and would send their kids away to be "re-educated" Pence-style if are. Schools can try to manage with permission slips and multiple classes, but there will always be something new around the corner to add another 'category' of kids that have to be treated differently to accede to their parent's wishes, so it is any wonder administrators would prefer to just wash their hands of the whole thing?

It would be nice if schools taught better critical thinking skills, too many people are too easily fooled by "fake news" and find conspiracy theories more believable than the truth so long as they fall in line with their preconceived notions. Unfortunately teaching critical thinking means kids may start to question what their parents have taught them at home, something guaranteed to get parents fired up to complain to the school board!

So is it really any wonder that schools (this is true in the US, but I'm guessing probably in the UK as well) are basically teaching kids to parrot back a bunch of facts, along with methods to solve canned sets of problems. They leave them totally unable to cope with how to learn on their own - how to research and separate fact from fantasy - as well as solving novel problems they haven't previously encountered and been taught a series a steps to handle.

Your job might be automated within 120 years, AI experts reckon

DougS Silver badge

The Jetsons had a solution

I hadn't thought about the Jetsons since I was a kid, but I heard yesterday that it was coming to the big screen, and they had a link for the title sequence which I hadn't seen in forever. At the end, George sits down at his desk and puts his feet up.

I haven't seen it since I was a kid, but I remember the joke was that all he did was push a button. Not sure if it was just on/off or a little more involved, but basically he had a really cushy job where he did almost nothing but had a big office with his own desk and made enough money to buy the flying car, house in the sky, and robot maid which is all anyone could ask for in the 22nd century I guess.

Maybe instead of worrying about people being replaced, we just need a law that people need to push buttons to turn these AIs on - and off. That will not only keep them gainfully employed, but also help prevent the rise of Skynet, thanks to the 'off' button!

The revolution will not be televised: How Lucas modernised audio in film

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THX certification isn't just for theatres

A guy I knew back in the 90s built a custom home with a custom home theater designed with the help of a supercomputer at Stanford (where he had moved from) and paid to have it THX certified. Why, I have no idea, but he was a radiologist who was also a PhD in computer science doing pioneering work in medical imaging, so he could afford it.

'President Zuck' fundraiser opens for business

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I'm CEO, bitch

Hardly a disqualifier, compare to Trump's antics during the campaign.

However, we are finding out what a disaster it is having someone in office who has zero political experience. Zuck may be much less an autocrat than Trump, but someone who says we should "get over" wanting privacy will never have my vote!

'Do not tell Elon': Ex-SpaceX man claims firm cut corners on NASA part tests

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Re: Don't be their 'rogue engineer'

Making copies of such emails to take with you after you quit / are fired could be used against you, if they contain anything the company could possibly consider confidential or proprietary - even a code name or (at the time) future product.

DougS Silver badge

There's a lot to be learned from what James Comey (reportedly) did with keeping detailed notes for every interaction with Trump (and of course anyone else) he deemed questionable. Contemporaneous notes are going to be given a lot more weight in court than stuff that's only written down after you are fired.

Simply sending an email to yourself would be good enough for this - it would be in the system and thereby open to discovery and proving when it was written. If you are concerned the company may "lose" such emails, you could bcc: those containing non-confidential information to a personal account so they can't claim they "lost" all the emails you sent to yourself because you could prove some of them exist.

I have never been in this situation, but if I ever did think I might be needing to prove what I did at work in court down the road, due to being asked to do something questionable or seeing others doing questionable things, I'm going to make sure I take detailed notes that are preserved somewhere in the company's systems for discovery. Heck if nothing else just create a weirdly named folder deep in some dusty old Sharepoint or fileserver, and drop encrypted files there...all kinds of places you could hide that stuff and tell your lawyer about when the time came.

Tech firms send Congress checklist of surveillance reforms

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The irony is so thick here!

I guess Google, Amazon et al don't want competition in collecting data on US citizens from the government...

I'm not sure why they are even wading in on this. While I agree 100% that the government has no business building/using such a database, these tech companies have no dog in this fight. They are up to their necks in shit, so calling out the government for being waist deep in shit isn't helping.

Apple (who interestingly was not among the list of companies signing it) has the right idea - just try to lock everything down so the government can't find anything to add to their database from their customer's use of Apple products. The government is going to do what its going to do, irrespective of what Silicon Valley wants. In the current political climate, having all these tech companies weigh in probably makes it less likely for otherwise libertarian-leaning republicans to support their view, since they contribute significantly more to democrats than they do republicans.

TRUMP SCANDAL! No, not that one. Or that one. Or that one. Or that one.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Ha Ha

"Attempted" hacks happen to everyone. I see a bunch of hits at my desktop's SSH port every day.

The consequences if Trump were successfully hacked would be a lot worse than if I was successfully hacked, of course, especially if they were able to find something to hold over his head. Of course, that may have already happened, and might explain his love for Putin and all things Russia!

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