* Posts by dan1980

2886 posts • joined 5 Aug 2013

G20 calls for 'lawful and non-arbitrary access to available information' to fight terror

dan1980
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The governments of the 'free' world want access to all communication occurring over the Internet

For this discussion, it really doesn't matter why they want this access or under what circumstances (e.g. whether directly or indirectly; whether with or without a warrant).

What matters is that they are asserting that such access can be achieved while maintaining the security of the communication being accessed and that is just a not truthful claim.

The tech industry has been pointing this out ad nauseam but our governments are, privately, undeterred. The reason they are undeterred is because they don't seem to care if they cripple encryption because they want access to this data more and view any detriment to public security and privacy as a lesser concern.

Our governments know (they must) that it isn't possible to provide this ad hoc, on demand 'illumination' without fundamentally weakening encryption as a whole so they are attempting to legislate their desired end-result, leaving the 'tech industry' to make it work.

The problem is that - as everyone should know - it can't work they way the governments are assuring us it will and the tech providers will have to cripple encryption to give the governments what they are demanding.

The tech industry will be forced to break encryption to fulfill the legal requirements the governments impose and the governments will then wash their hands of any responsibility - claiming that the decision to weaken encryption was all on the companies.

* - It really doesn't matter for this conversation.

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Microsoft drops Office 365 for biz. Now it's just Microsoft 365. Word

dan1980
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I don't think Windows 10 as a whole will be subscription only. Instead, I think that certain features will.

And this is the big issue with FORCED updates. Recall a recent update which removed the group-policy for disabling the Windows Store from Win 10 Pro, relegating it to the Enterprise version, which requires an extra license.

This license will now be available via subscription.

Cue the removal of more and more features from perpetual-license versions, no doubt, perhaps even culminating with the only perpetual-license version being the home edition, with all Pro/Enterprise functionality requiring a subscription.

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LHC finds a new and very charming particle: the Xicc++ baryon

dan1980
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Re: "are there any 2 or 3 quark particles that are not predicted?"

@Daedalus

"Since all quarks have a charge that is a multiple of 1/3, any three-quark particle has a whole number charge."

You mention the necessity of mesons having one quark and one anti-quark but skip that baryons are the opposite: they must have ONLY quarks or ONLY anti-quarks.

For example, if you start with a strange (-1/3) and an anti-charm (-2/3), you have -1 charge but no third quark or anti-quark you can add will leave the resulting 3-quark particle with a whole charge.

NOW, it is my understanding that the requirement of a whole charge is not what governs the combination of quarks but is instead 'merely' a result of some deeper rule. But that is a layman's understanding and when words like 'gauge' and 'symmetry' and 'iso-spin' and 'group' get thrown around, Dan is sorely out of his depth.

Of course, when you come to the charge of an electron being exactly (so far as is known) the same as that of a proton, things get profounding amazing and I am in awe of this wonderful universe (and those unravelling its secrets). But even then, if there is some 'grand unified theory' then there are real connections between the forces at play and so this is all, perhaps, to be expected.

Hence using the result of whole charges as a rule for me : )

The question I suppose at the heart of my earlier question is: do these underlying rules of combination preclude any combinations that would otherwise create a particle with a whole charge multiple?

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dan1980
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". . . observation of a particle comprising the two charm quarks and one up quark – something the researchers say is predicted by the standard model . . ."

Provided the constituents add to a whole charge, are there any 2 or 3 quark particles that are not predicted?

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Oz government wants its own definition of what 'backdoor' means

dan1980
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Standard fare - just recall all the verbal gymnastics from Brandis (et al) about what 'metadata' is and, specifically, attempting (not) to answer the simple question of whether a URL will be collected.

Just bluster through it all and keep pressing on in the background because - on issues like these - both sides are united in wanted more snooping on and control over the populace.

There's no battle for them to win because there's no real political opposition.

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Five-eyes nations want comms providers to bust crypto for them

dan1980
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Re: Breaking News: Water is wet

@Meph

I'm having genuine trouble believing that the leaders of multiple countries are thick enough to think that stamping their collective feet like petulant children is going to miraculously solve this problem for them.

Depends on what the 'problem' is. So far as our governments and their agencies are concerned, the 'problem' is not having on-demand access to any and all communication. I.e. - their problem is encryption.

They are smart enough, however, to know that demanding consumer software abandon encryption wholesale is not going to fly. They are also observant enough to know that the term 'backdoor' now carries a load of negative press (and rightly so), forcing them to use language that avoids - so far as is possible - any comparison or connection with a 'backdoor'.

They have been fought and, on these points, been beaten by the tech companies in the public mind. So what are they doing? Saying that they aren't going to dictate how the tech world runs itself and how they make their software - they will just insist on an outcome that they can frame in the most positive and reasonable light available to them: the ability to obtain information pursuant to a valid, legal warrant.

I believe that our governments understand that what they want isn't possible without either a backdoor or the complete removal of encryption and they don't care, so long as they can pass the buck.

For them, the problem is the existence of strong encryption - not how to access (strongly) encrypted data without weakening encryption; they couldn't care less about that.

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dan1980
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As I said in response to a previous story, our Governments are like transport companies setting impossible timetables for truck drivers and then claiming not to be responsible for their drivers speeding or taking dangerous stimulants to stay awake.

They are dictating an end result that REQUIRES certain processes and then disclaiming responsibility for those same processes.

"We're aren't asking for cows to be killed, we are just saying that you need to bring us a steak when we ask."

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Virus (cough, cough, Petya) goes postal at FedEx, shares halted

dan1980
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Re: If Only "Professional" IT Staff Updated Their Computer OS Software

Yes, everyone seems to expect agility, stability and security all at once. On the cheap, of course.

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Oz government says UK's backdoor will be its not-a-backdoor model

dan1980
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Re: Electric string

@0laf

Maybe.

It's always possible (some would say likely) that the politicians are clueless but I suspect there are many the world over who at least accept that securely crackable encryption is just not possible yet still push for this type of legislation.

When they say they are not asking for a 'backdoor', that makes me believe they do accept the impossibility of having such a thing and keeping encryption secure.

What they are doing instead is calling for the end result while wishing to claim ignorance or disinterest in how that end is achieved. I am sure that most know that what they are asking for is only possible by implementing 'back doors' - they are just trying to avoid the blame for that by making it the 'tech community's' problem.

They will say that they 'never insisted on or even asked for a backdoor' and that building them was entirely the choice and decision of the tech companies so they, and not the government, are to blame for their existence. The government, after all, only wanted access to communication as directed by a legal warrant - and that's totally reasonable, right?

It's like directing truck drivers to drive across the country in an unfeasible time-frame and then claiming that they never told the drivers to speed or or take dangerous stimulants to stay awake.

They are trying to insist on a result that can only be accomplished by taking certain actions while wishing to absolve themselves of responsibility for the consequences of those actions.

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dan1980
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Meh

Re: Mal and Geo

@Winkypop

I don't think they're "out of their depths".

I think they, like many politicians and nearly all senior law enforcement the world over, are strongly inclined towards state surveillance and general monitoring of the population.

The 'problem' for those folks in Australia is that we have not had any big attacks - indeed barely any attacks at all. Thus, there is no catalyst that can be leveraged; no public outrage or fear to exploit.

What they are doing in the absence of a direct catalyst is laying the ground work by trying to piggy-back off that of other countries - like the UK.

That won't necessarily get such measures over the edge right away but it primes the pump so that as soon as there is a hint of anything similar here, they come out swinging and urging.

The arguments will focus on the most extreme edge cases of violence and predation but the measures implemented will be broad in scope and unrestricted in application.

These powers will be used - regardless of whether the original catalyst and cause exists or not - and, once granted, the police and governments will resist any and all attempts to have powers they now view as their right curtailed.

So, business as usual then.

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dan1980
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Yes folks - this is what it apparently looks like to be brave and strong in the face of terrorism; to tell those who wish us ill that we won't change for them and that they can't beat us.

Thanks Malcolm and George - it's nice to know that you are out there protecting our freedoms and showing the world just how unafraid we are.

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Ex-NSA bod sues US govt for 'illegally spying' on Americans: We drill into 'explosive' 'lawsuit'

dan1980
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I am reminded of Close Encounters of the Third Kind when Richard Dreyfuss's character (Roy) joins a group of folk questioning the authorities about the strange events witnessed and reported.

In a nice bit of acting, you can see Dreyfuss's face drop and his fervour get replaced with disappointment and resignation as one of his fellow petitioners explains how he "saw bigfoot once".

The message matters, but the messenger can sometimes matter just as much.

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Senator blows a fuse as US spies continue lying over spying program

dan1980
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. . . or, more succinctly:

"Hey, NSA! Nothing to hide; nothing to fear, right?"

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dan1980
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As noted in the article, the take away is that this program must be collecting a whole load of data on a heap of US citizens.

If the program was operating as it should, within the limits specified and in the spirit of the authorisation, then the agencies have nothing to worry about and the program can be re-authorised because it's doing what it's supposed to within the boundaries proscribed.

If that is the case then the response from the NSA will show that and all nothing will be in jeopardy.

If, on the other hand, these powers are being abused then an accurate report, as requested, will show that and then the powers are in jeopardy.

In other words, extraordinary powers have been given and those powers come with the responsibility to use them as directed. If you abuse that then you should expect to have the powers removed or severely limited.

To the NSA et al: if these powers are really that essential for national security, why are you risking them by abusing them? Your abuses put the American people at risk!

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Cuffed: Govt contractor 'used work PC to leak' evidence of Russia's US election hacking

dan1980
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@Adam 52

I acknowledge your point but I did take that into consideration. The question I asked myself was: 'what new information has been revealed'? The answer was: 'not much'.

What was revealed was that Russia was actively trying to meddle in the election but were not successful in actually 'hacking' voting machines or changing votes directly. We already new this.

So what about the fact that it shows statements by Trump that there was no Russian meddling in the election to be false? Well, we already knew that too because every relevant agency in the US (and in several other countries) have come out and said, unequivocally that it did happen and yet Trump still maintains it didn't. We already know that he either doesn't trust the intelligence community on this matter or accepts the truth privately and lies about it publicly for his own ends.

The new information is that there were unsuccessful attempts that, were they successful, may have allowed the Russian government to influence the election more directly, but that whatever occurred does not change the agency's previous stance about the Russian influence in the election. They do not view this as changing the nature or severity of what they already know to have occurred.

And Trump does not care one way or the other because he continues to deny it all.

On the flip side, it is possible - though unlikely - that this leak has actually harmed an investigation trying to tie such attempts concretely to the Russian government rather than, as Putin suggests, 'patriotic Russians'. In other words, I think there was little - if any - gain for the public to offset the negative consequences to the contractor herself and the (small) potential complication of any related investigations.

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dan1980
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@Tom Dial

You are correct but I think there is a real difference not only in the volume but in the immediacy, with leaks coming out right from the start and no honeymoon period whatsoever. There is also a difference in what is being leaked, with some items leaked seemingly small and not overly consequential.

I think this last part is important because it speaks to a deep distrust in the honesty of this administration even when it comes to the smallest things. I mean, Trump lies uncontrollably about everything and his aides support him completely while almost all of his party make excuses, obfuscate, lie, avoid and ignore it.

There is just no honesty from the administration and no accountability from Congress so of course there is no faith in the government!

Of course, Obama was not at all immune and his administration saw the two largest leaks in recent times, courtesy of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. But these, I feel, are of a different sort because, first, the practices exposed were bipartisan and occurred across multiple administrations and second, concealing them was at least connected with national security.

To be clear, I don't think national security in any way justifies wantonly inhumane behaviour or the infringement of essential freedoms and liberties, BUT, it is a simple fact that a non-insignificant portion of the US population supported the measures that were exposed by Snowden and Manning.

I doubt any American citizen supports foreign meddling in the election process or having members of the administration working on behalf of foreign interests.

Thus, I think that the increase in the volume of leaks is related to a decrease in the trust in this Administration and in the Congress's willingness to even acknowledge the problems or do anything about it.

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dan1980
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I am pro-transparency and I believe that leaking can, in some instances, be in the best interests of the country as the country is not the government; it is the people. Too often our elected officials and the security services misunderstand that.

Leaks can undermine the faith in the government - the faith that they are employing trustworthy people who take their oaths seriously and have good judgement. BUT, that is only part of the story.

The truth is that people are leaking because they don't have faith in the government. These people are not malicious - they believe that the government will abuse its power and either misuse information or not act on it.

The former president and his team made the same call - they feared that the information that had been gathered would, under the Trump administration, be destroyed. They made a decision that drastic measures were required to protect this information and its value to the country.

Secrecy is important for these agencies and for the government. It is just a fact that it is in the best interests of the people for their governments to occasionally operate in secrecy and keep certain information hidden from the public.

The point is that the government and its agencies are granted this extraordinary power* solely so that they may use it for the good of the people. Patriots are supporters of their country; not its current government and when that government is acting in a way that benefits itself rather than its people, it is the responsibility of patriots to hold them to account.

All governments have leaks because all governments occasionally operate for their own benefit rather than that of the people. The more faith people have in their governments operating as they should, the fewer leaks you will see.

To the specific issue, I think this was a silly thing to leak at the moment and I think the person who did it was misguided in the extreme. That Russian interests tried to hack into these companies is not, in my opinion, an overly salient piece of information and not one that I can see benefiting the American people by its revelation. But the same measure, I don't believe withholding this information harms the American people.

If the NSA had strong evidence that the Russians succeeded in these attempts and were able to actually directly tamper with the voting process then that is VERY important but, still not enough on its own to warrant leaking the information to the media.

Why?

Because I believe the threshhold for such a drastic action should be the combination of important information that directly impacts the people AND the belief (or, better yet - evidence) that the government/agency is not acting on that information in the best interests of the people.

That this people risked her job and her freedom to release something like this is evidence of either incredible naivety or a deep distrust of the government.

I suspect both; I think that there is a pervasive feeling (not unwarranted) that our governments in general and the current US Trump Administration + GOP Congress in particular are dishonest as a matter of course and are fundamentally unable to be trusted to operate in the best interests of the people. I think that this is the base from which this leak springs and the naivety of the contractor produced some rather poor judgement. She saw something about Russia and the elections and that was it.

I feel sorry for this young lady but she works in a very serious environment with serious consequences and bad judgement is not a catch-all excuse.

* - And it is high time that these people appreciate that this power - to affect the lives of millions without needing to justify or even inform them - IS extraordinary. It should never be considered to be just a given that governments and their agencies aren't answerable to the people.

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Uber bros pull out wallet, $32.5m later the 'Safe Rides' row is over

dan1980
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Re: The goal is safety

@DNTP

"So part of the settlement is that Uber has to start doing effective background checks, right?"

I would think not, considering:

"[Uber] will stop using the term "Safe Rides Fee" to describe the surcharge it passes on to customers for the cost of running background checks on drivers."

If I understand that correctly, Uber can simple collect the surcharge and change nothing except the name. Which seems the likely course of action for them. Maybe they change some part of the checks or who does them but any such changes would more than likely be cosmetic.

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Event horizons around black holes do exist, say astroboffins

dan1980
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Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

@Bazza

"It's remarkable how well both relativity and quantum mechanics describe the world around us."

As i understand it*, the modern theories of the fundamental forces (excl. gravity) are a synthesis of quantum mechanics and (special) relativity. In other words, the Standard Model arises when one takes quantum behaviour and constrains that with relativity.

At least that's a lay-person's interpretation of an exceedingly complex subject.

* - Imperfectly at the very best.

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US laptops-on-planes ban may extend to flights from ALL nations

dan1980
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Re: Work time

@Ole Juul

"Not being able to do that will add an hour or two to the time spend working, either before or after the flight."

And, as you have to send your laptop off with your checked baggage before you got through security screening, you won't be able to get that work done while waiting for your plane either!

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Microsoft court victory prompts call for data-grabbing regime

dan1980
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"The fact they didn't suggests to me that it might not have been fully legal in the first place."

. . . or that this was a problem that didn't exist used as atest case to attempt to set a precedent which, if they were unsuccessful, would be a catalyst for exactly what they are doing trying to do now.

The point is that they insist that what they are doing and want to do is right so having a court tell them they are wrong only sees them claim the courts are now wrong and need to be, effectively, circumvented by new powers.

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dan1980
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"In short, we want it both ways. We want a legal regime that both bypasses and respects privacy barriers, as the situation demands."

The problem with that is in who gets to decide which situations 'demand' which course of action and how.

And that's always the problem with these types of heavy-handed grabs - it's always about the government wanting to be able to deny rights and ignore due process at will, with only their say so as justification.

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UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election

dan1980
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@AC

There is another dimension to this, which is the rhetoric or blaming the overseas tech companies and thereby attempting to frame this as big, rich, multinational corporations fighting against the UK. They are trying to instill an 'us-vs-them' mentality, with the absurdity that 'us' is the UK people and the UK government and 'them' is the easily-hated power of 'big tech'.

In fact, the opposite is far closer to the truth - it's the government vs the people with the tech industry, taking a stance that is for the good of people.

Sure, most of these big tech companies are doing it for selfish reasons because they are worried about losing business but that's fine by me - that's how the free market is supposed to look: companies that offer services people want make a profit and prosper while those who don't lose money and fail.

The reason is, really, beside the point - in opposing the government, it's the tech companies taking a stance that protects the people overall and in the long term.

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FCC revised net neutrality rules reveal cable company control of process

dan1980
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"In some cases, it is embarrassingly transparent."

Well, it would be embarrassing for anyone with a sense of shame but, as has been proven time and again, politicians are not amongst that number.

Does this man* look like he has any shame:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBYWFAKl1bQ

No, politicians - the successful ones - are a special breed and are almost defined by their shamelessness.

* - Sure, he isn't part of the FCC but you get the point. Possibly.

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Republicans' net neutrality attack written by… you guessed it, the cable lobby

dan1980
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"But the fact that their own briefing documents are being written by a special interest group is extraordinary even for Washington, DC."

Really?

Haven't there been instances of entire bills being written by lobby groups?

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Proposed PATCH Act forces US snoops to quit hoarding code exploits

dan1980
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For any politicians (the world over) who oppose this - on the grounds that to enact this law would cripple law enforcement agencies and remove necessary tools - I would ask a simple question: what happens if software gets released WITHOUT any relevant, exploitable bugs?

Surely that is an aspiration, no?

If the US agencies RELY on software being buggy then does that mean they are useless without such (unwitting) external assistance?

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Virtual reality upstart UploadVR allegedly had in-house 'kink room,' drugs, rampant sexism

dan1980
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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Is there are a new sheriff in town?

Okay, yeah, there was some intolerant stuff but why remove that wonderful alt-right, arm-chair philosopher bingo board? (The one with Marxist rabbits and so forth.)

I figured someone was just using amanfrommars' world-famous Word Salad recipe.

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dan1980
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Re: Sour grapes

@Chairman of the Bored

You are correct - 'fighting fire with fire' can indeed curtail such behaviour.

BUT, no part of this is made okay by the victim not loudly, openly ridiculing the offenders. Their behaviour cannot be made blameless simply because it was not challenged and an employees right to respect shouldn't depend on their ability and/or willingness to hit back.

An employee does not need to somehow earn the right to work free of harassment and sexual advances.

I know that's not what you're saying - this comment is more an addendum to your own to point out something I feel is important to note: it is the COMPANY's RESPONSIBILITY to provide a harassment-free workplace, not the employee's responsibility to fight for it.

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dan1980
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Re: Sour grapes

@Adam 52

"Would anyone complain about being moved so that a husband and wife could have privacy?"

In what context?

If someone at work, whom I am friendly with - whom I see socially - invited me to a party at their house and a guest (whether my colleague or not) asked me to move to another room so that there could be some privacy for a bit of naked fun them so be it. If it made me feel uncomfortable that that was occurring or that it was the general mood of the party then I might leave.

But that was NOT the context. This was an official company event which employees were expected to attend. The event in question was described as 'mandatory', which means that it was an event at which the company is almost certainly legally responsible for the employees in attendance. If one of the employee at that party tripped and hurt themselves, the company would be responsible for costs and could even be sued. That might sound beside the point but it highlights that this situation was, by any relevant sense, a work event.

"You know what; I'm a pacifist so I don't work in the military, I'm a liberal so I don't work for Rupert Murdoch. If you're sexually repressed then don't work for a sexually liberal company."

The first part follows because the military's function is to project and use force - or the threat of force. The second part follows because Murdoch's companies - at least the TV and print organisations - function is to promote a partisan political view, to a partisan base, for profit.

The last part does not follow because, in this instance, the function of the company ("UploadVR") is to "[bring] virtual reality technology to the consumer masses".

If the company was involved in producing pornography or sex aids or running BDSM clubs or escort agencies then yes, someone who is 'sexually repressed' shouldn't apply. BUT EVEN THEN, those are businesses that have a responsibility to their employees and it is unacceptable for the owner of a porn studio to make overt sexual advances towards to, say, an accountant. That employee's job is to perform the standard functions of an accountant and no part of that role depends on the sexual attitudes or proclivities of the staff member.

The employee in question applied for and took a job at a VR startup.

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dan1980
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Re: Sounds like a fun place to work !

@AC (the 'rabbit' one)'

Irrelevant.

Ignoring whether what you say has any merit or not (for my money, not) this is about behaviour in the here and now, by people living in the here and now, affecting people living in the here and now. To suggest that the women negatively impacted by this would be happier if society was restructured is not of much use.

In fact, it's worse. Much worse.

You are asserting what people should want, effectively saying that those of us who believe women and men are equal and can play equal roles in society are wrong. You are saying that women will be happier if they don't seek equality with men and, instead, let me be the ordained leaders and women the humble homemakers. You are saying that this reprehensible behaviour is the fault, not of those people, but of the problematic arrangement of the society they are forced to live in.

The people who engaged in this conduct did so in the society we have right now and, in that society, that conduct is unacceptable. WANTING to live in a backwards, patriarchal society is not an excuse for acting as though you are.

You're blaming the victim.

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dan1980
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Re: Sounds like a fun place to work !

@AC

What. The. Fuck?

Everyone should 'buy in' to what, exactly? To sexism? To harassment? To actions and comments that have no place is a modern work place?

Office culture is one thing, and it can be important in the overall productivity of the company and enjoyment that comes from working there. Telling jokes, going out drinking after work, casual clothes - sure. But open sexism and harassment is not the type of culture anyone should ever be expect to 'buy in' too.

Honestly, This article reads like a parody from The Onion - that's how over the top this behaviour is. It's like a hyperbolic caricature of Silicon Valley start-ups.

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Australia considers joining laptops-on-planes ban

dan1980
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Re: Now showing

@Winkypop

Yes, I expected the down-votes.

I am all for being (highly) skeptical and anyone familiar with my posting on this site would know that I strongly favour freedom over security and am extremely critical of - as you rightly call it - "security theatre".

BUT, the simple truth is that there are threats to our safety and some of those threats require security responses to mitigate. The questions we have to ask are, first: how credible are the threats and, second: what measures are suitable to combat them.

As citizens, we should be skeptical and critical of alleged threats and proposed security responses but that doesn't mean that every such threat and response is false and merely 'security theatre'.

One thing I feed into the equation when I attempt to evaluate issues like this is how popular the move would be. In this instance, the new regulations are getting large amounts of negative coverage in the US and UK and they are - understandably - unpopular with passengers.

This is an unpopular move that will cause real disruptions so I feel that, if it is a distraction, it's a poorly chosen one.

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dan1980
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Re: Now showing

@Winkypop

While I agree with you that Malcolm is indeed in need of some news to distract the media, that doesn't necessarily mean that this is 'security theater'.

Real threats must be taken seriously and the recent fall-out in the US over Trump's reported disclosure of top secret information about these threats* shows that the intel upon which these bans are based is more than idle speculation.

To date, it is generally believed that laptop-based bombs would likely be found it they went through the more sophisticated screening procedures at major airports but one must ask the question: why now? When a laptop bomb has already been used over a year ago what has changed?

Given the penchant for knee-jerk 'doing something' reactions in the US and UK, I am inclined to believe that there really is a strong intel basis for the bans they have implemented as the delay between a proven attack and this response indicates that they didn't just jump as soon as there was a visible potential threat.

But that penchant for 'security theater' also means their credibility is lacking. But, again, the delay and targeted nature of the current bans for the US and UK makes me more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. This time.

* - Even if that disclosure was warranted - Russians are, after all, also being targeted by IS terrorists.

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Oz MP flies crypto-kite, wants backdoors without backdoors

dan1980
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Of course you are correct.

But that is really my point - trying to prove they are wrong is impossible because they will ignore evidence or move the goal-posts or pretend that black is white and white is black.

That's why it's important to ask them, point-blank, what information would change their mind.

Of course, you'll probably get an evasion or an answer like: "we are open to all possibilities" or "well, I don't believe that is the case" and so on, but people (interviewers, etc...) really need to push the question: what testimony would convince you that the solution you are after doesn't exist?

In a way - not to start a war here - it's like those who say "where's the evidence" when it comes to man-made climate change. The problem is debating such folk is that they dismiss whatever evidence IS put forward, accepting only that which works for them. They, like these politicians, must be nailed down: tell us what would change your mind.

If the answer is 'nothing' then they should have the strength of their conviction and just bloody well say so.

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dan1980
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The question that needs to be asked of these politicians/law-enforcement bods is:

"If it was shown to be impossible to provide law enforcement access to defeat encryption without also rendering it vulnerable to malicious actors, would you drop your proposal?"

If the answer is 'yes' then the follow-up question is:

"What evidence - what testimony - would you believe?"

In other words: what is the the criteria for proving you are wrong and changing your mind? Because that's the thing we need to get at with these people. If they can't tell us what information would convince them they are wrong then it's likely that they actually don't care and their position is immovable.

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Try not to scream: Ads are coming to Amazon's Alexa – and VR goggles

dan1980
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Re: Credibility gap

'Advertisers seem unable to see the difference between "we can" and " we should".'

I disagree. I believe advertisers are very cognizant of the difference; they just use rather different criteria for 'we should' than you might.

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Senate committee wants all drones registered

dan1980
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There is an issue that cheap, beginner-usable drones coupled with cheap, high-definition cameras and cheap, high-capacity storage.

It's just not really a big 'danger' - it's a potential invasion of privacy. That - to me - is the real problem with drones. Unsurprising then that the government doesn't address that.

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Microsoft is on the edge: Windows, Office? Naah. Let's talk about cloud, AI

dan1980
Silver badge

'He mused about a software-based personal assistant to illustrate his point. "Your personal digital assistant, by definition, will be available on all your devices," he said, to make the case that the centralized computing model, client and server, has become outmoded. Data and devices are dispersed.'

With the disclaimer that I may be tripping up on semantics, how is that not also a 'client and server' model?

I mean, the personal assistant on your smart phone sure as hell won't be talking directly - as a 'peer' - to your computer or to your home 'hub'. No, each device will be talking back to the 'cloud', to the point where two devices you own, sat right beside each other and on the same logical network segment, may not be able to communicate with each other if the back-end cloud service is down.

Some services go even further, storing the configuration settings in on the (cloud) server, such that your client is just a pane of glass - an application that displays settings store elsewhere and allows you to update them - that's almost a terminal.

Think about a 'smart home' system of the type advertised so frequently in big box brochures. Many of those REQUIRE Internet connectivity for anything but the simplest of tasks. All the devices you own must send requests and commands and inputs to the cloud servers which are then relayed back to the output devices - you ask the server to perform actions on your behalf.

The fact that the back-end is huge and, potentially, geographically distributed really doesn't change the fact that, so far as the interaction and roles go, your devices are all 'clients' and the cloud system is the 'server'.

Or have I misunderstood?

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Productivity Commish changes mind on control over personal info

dan1980
Silver badge

The way our government (and many others) view people is that we - all we do - are resources to serve the almighty Economy.

That's all that matters to them. If some self-interested industry group with easy access to our supposed representatives can put forward an assertion that removing privacy will yield some benefit to the great Economy then that is all the justification they need.

Privacy and rights are just not valuable to them because those notions don't benefit the economy and that is their one metric. And, as they place no value on our privacy, they have no qualms about exchanging it for even the flimsiest proposal. What's there to lose, right?

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Facebook is abusive. It's time to divorce it

dan1980
Silver badge

@DropBear

"I'm still a realist - I do use Steam when I have no choice . . ."

But you do have a choice - don't support games that invade your privacy - whether directly or indirectly (through a 'client').

I mean no disrespect to you, because you are not unique in this and you are FULLY entitled to your choices, but it's precisely this attitude that has lead to the issue. If you use Steam at all then you are endorsing that behaviour and contributing to the environment in which it flourishes.

And that's your choice, and one you are welcome to make, but the consequences are apparent.

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dan1980
Silver badge
Unhappy

The biggest problem (I believe) is not that Facebook monitors and monetises people; it's that those people don't seem to care.

That's a bigger problem because, were Facebook to be wiped from the Earth tomorrow, people would still be signing up for all manner of loyalty cards and downloading numerous 'apps' to perform even the simplest task.

This tacit acceptance (if not outright approval) of corporations collecting information and profiling people leads to this becoming the norm for everyone such that certain services become reliant on that acceptance to the point where those of us who do not agree to that collection and monetisation find ourselves on the outer.

One great example is Uber. A core part of their business model requires them to operate via smartphones in order to skirt the definition of a taxi (in many locations) but that use of an 'app' that tracks your comings and going - even when not using the service, apparently - brings with it an invasion of privacy. It also means that this is transport that cannot even be used by someone without a smartphone and all that goes with that.

But it's not just everyday folk, it's us techs and nerds as well. I was, previously, a gamer. I still am, but I find myself in a situation where PC gaming is nearly entirely closed off for me because I refuse to be tracked online. Unfortunately, nearly every game released on PC requires persistent or periodic monitoring of you and your computer through the likes of Steam or Origin or whatever garbage Ubisoft uses.

I refuse and so I don't game on my PC, but it's the broad willingness by the gaming public to trade away their privacy for convenience that has brought us to this point.

The world of services and products is rapidly becoming dependent on connectivity and acceptance of platforms that, whether justified or not, insist upon the destruction of your privacy as a term of service.

There is much that I know I miss out on due to my stance on this - I just wish more people were willing do this too, though it's really already too late. We let this happen and the clock won't get wound back, whether everyone leaves Facebook or not.

Sadly.

25
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KickassTorrents kicked out again, this time by Australia

dan1980
Silver badge

Re: Oh my god

@Paul Crawford

Exactly. Like most people here, I am a tech and can get around much of this with little effort. But I don't think that tech people are the biggest problem for 'pirating' content. Tech people understand copyright and torrenting are aware of the legal cases - through sites like this. If we want do it, we know how and measures like this won't stop us.

There will always be people who want to access content illegally and will do what's needed to get it. I feel that the bigger problem is the broader public acceptance of accessing content this way and this is largely due to easy access. If you are not tech savvy and don't follow news like this and jump onto Google and search for some movie, you'll find a place to download it quickly and easily and for free.

I think DNS blocking is actually the right response because, as Paul says, it's low impact and avoids collateral damage while erecting barriers to complicate access for a large majority of people.

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iPhone lawyers literally compare Apples with Pears in trademark war

dan1980
Silver badge

Part of this is also the need to actually defend your trademarks. As cited by several people above with the precedent of Raspberry and Blackberry, etc, it's clear that not trying to enforce your trademarks makes enforcing them later more difficult.

I suspect Apple didn't really expect to win and didn't care if it did - it just defended its trademark in order to keep its strength and to set a strong precedent for the future.

And, if you're an Apple lawyer* then it behooves you to defend that trademark to the very best of your ability.

Not that this isn't somewhat thuggish behaviour, just that it's not legally unwarranted.

* - I am reminded of Disaster Area 'research accountants'?

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eBay threatens to block Australians from using offshore sellers

dan1980
Silver badge

Re: Netflix tax

Netflix et al should pay the tax. Charging tax on small imports is ridiculous. I don't but things online from overseas - at least almost never - so it wouldn't really affect me but it's just objectively a silly idea and, as the author rightly identifies, it's just to be seen to be doing something.

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Drupal sci-fi sex scandal deepens: Now devs spank Dries over Gor bloke's banishment

dan1980
Silver badge

Re: It's interesting that some higly disturbed people...

@AC

You are conflating private sexual fantasies with active "sexual exploitation". In doing so, you are making two assumptions: first, that this person was actively engaging in practices as per the books, and second, that those practices amount to "sexual exploitation".

Exploitation of other human beings is bad and so if this person was actively exploiting others sexually, then that is problematic. But what evidence do you have that that is what was going on?

It seems to me that your views do not allow for someone to be in a submissive sexual role without them also being exploited. It's like the ridiculous Gail Dines who asserts that all porn - in and of itself - is violence against women. In her anti-porn world, she can't see how any woman could ever willingly be involved in pornography and enjoy it.

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Troll it your way: Burger King ad tries to hijack Google Home gadgets

dan1980
Silver badge

Re: Computer Misuse Act?

Actually, I think this is a public service - just the Alexa dollhouse story.

People need to realise the inherent vulnerability of having devices in your home always listening for interesting words.

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Official science we knew all along: Facebook makes you sad :-(

dan1980
Silver badge

@AC

"The greatest strength of the internet was removing all physical (and social) distance separating people who share the same interests."

Yes and no.

Yes, in that people who may otherwise have been pressured to conform to the current norms find strength in numbers, realising they are not alone.

No, in that that same effect can lead to people choosing to only associate (or at least strongly preference) those groups, neglecting the social interactions available to them in the 'real world'. It might be quaint thinking, but I believe that, to be a well-rounded person socially, you should be able to communicate with people on a range of different subjects and be able to find some common ground with most people. If all you do is communicate within the confines of a few niche interests then you are going to find that isolating.

Or not.

Having deep conversations about niche subjects with like-minded folk can be very rewarding (and sometimes infuriating!) but if that's all you do then it strikes me as not all that dissimilar to parents who home-school their children because they want to ensure their children aren't exposed to any contradictory ideas. In both cases, it's a deliberate shutting off of the rest of the world.

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dan1980
Silver badge

The study suggests that interactions with your close friends, in person, make you happier than interactions with a much broader group of acquaintances semi-anonymously. But that comparison has far too many variables to be overly useful.

Talking with your close friends, you are likely to have common ground and you understand which of your friends like what and chose to talk with them about those areas of mutual interest, increasing the satisfaction of the response. Posting about some issue to everyone you know is unlikely to meet quite so favourable a response.

If I e-mail a niche joke or reference to a few friends who share my sense of humour and frame of reference, it's going to get a better reception from that targeted group than it would if it were broadcast to everyone I knew. I don't tell the same jokes to my partner as I do to one of my colleagues and indeed I tell different jokes and make different references with different colleagues. Some of those references will go over well with some friends.

I think the real problem is not that people are interacting on Facebook so much as the confusion of Facebook 'friends' and real friends. With your real, close friends, you aren't striving for approval and affection.

It's the difference between going to the pub with a couple of mates and going to a friend's wedding, where you know a few of the people really well, some of them by name and the rest by association, but wanting a similar level of approval from the latter group as from the former.

I suppose the question is - does interacting with a group of close friends on Facebook make you unhappy? I wouldn't think so.

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MyHealthRecord slammed in privacy uproar

dan1980
Silver badge

@Halcin

"So it's the needs of a few being used to dictate the requirements for the majority."

No and yes.

First, there is no technical reason why you can't allow each person their own control over this. There's no reason why you can't allow people with such conditions to opt-in to allowing carte blanch on their medical history and keep the default more restrictive.

That said, there are bad reasons to do this - simplicity and increased (though forced) buy-in. The government WANT the most information included and the most information shared so giving people options is counterproductive to their aims.

There are really good reasons for having your medical history easily available to all who need it, but there are privacy concerns and security risks that go along with that. It should be up to the individual to decide if the trade-off is worth it.

No amount of benefit to some people is sufficient reason to treat everyone the same when there is no technical need to do so, because me protecting my own information does not negatively impact those people.

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