* Posts by Wily Veteran

17 posts • joined 3 Mar 2015

NSA may kill off mass phone spying program Snowden exposed, says Congressional staffer

Wily Veteran

They don't have to collect it themselves

What with Google, Facebook, Microsoft, et. al. slurping data like crazy and the data brokers doing all the correlation, the NSA doesn't have to spend the money and effort doing it themselves, they can just buy the data on the open market. Likely, that's cheaper than what they were spending on their own efforts. If buying it doesn't work, a FISA warrant or just plain hacking will get it.

Don't rage against the machine – wage against the master, says McAfee amid AI havoc fear hype

Wily Veteran

Moral Compass

As "Gil Grissom" on the TV series, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" remarked, "A moral compass can only point the right direction but can't make you go there. Without a conscience, it's useless." (slightly paraphrased since I cannot remember the exact wording).

It's not enough to know what is right and what is wrong, one has to take right action to do the right thing.

Crooks swipe plutonium, cesium from US govt nuke wranglers' car. And yes, it's still missing

Wily Veteran


Inciting terror does not require creating an actual risk. Just say either "radiation" or "dirty bomb" and people get extremely nervous. Have something go boom and spread a small amount of something that will register on survey meters and you can create a major panic, even if there is no actual danger. You don't even have to tickle the survey meters, just tell the hyper-competitive media that smoke bomb you just set off in the public park contains stolen plutonium and watch the breathless coverage incite a major panic. The whole idea behind terrorism is to generate fear, not cause major damage.

Apple fanbois ride to the aid of iGiant in patent spat with Qualcomm

Wily Veteran
Black Helicopters


Why do I smell Astroturf? Maybe it's just my nose.

MongoDB turns on, tunes in, drops ACID and goes mobile

Wily Veteran

Everything old is new again.

Processing on the front end? Where have I heard of that before? Business logic on the local machine using data from a remote. Sounds an awful lot like good ol' Client-Server computing to me.

Everything old is new again.

Google Pixel 2 XL: Like paying Apple-tier prices then saying, hey, please help yourself to my data

Wily Veteran
Big Brother

Once *somebody* slurps data, *anybody* can get it via hacking (criminal or state-sponsored), sufficient cash, or legal compulsion (National Security Letters anyone?).

Even if Google is on the side of the angels and only uses what it has slurped for benign purposes, they still have it and someone with nefarious purposes can get it if they have the tools and try hard enough. That is the problem.

Wily Veteran

Just Pixel?

How much of that truly-invasive slurping is Pixel-specific? How much is attributable to Oreo? Are older versions of Android just as screwed by Google Play Services or are they a bit better?

Noise from blast of gas destroys Digiplex data depot disk drives

Wily Veteran

Re: Safe for personnel?

Supposedly, Halon was heavier than air and would not build to a dangerous concentration at the height of a human's head until enough time had elapsed to allow the operators to initiate an orderly shutdown before they evacuated. Supposedly. That's what we were told in the 70's anyway.

Auto auto fleets to dodge British potholes in future

Wily Veteran


Don't know about the UK, but here in Michigan pothole dodging while avoiding other vehicles also dodging potholes is the state sport and expecting them to be repaired after reporting them is the state joke.

Somehow, I'm haunted by a vision of autonomous cars dodging potholes that strongly resembles a demolition derby or the Dodge-Em ride at the carnival.

Firefox 57: Good news? It's nippy. Bad news? It'll also trash your add-ons

Wily Veteran


Waterfox (so far) seems to be the answer, at least for me. It keeps the more useful improvements Firefox makes, removes the Mozilla telemetry, and will support existing extensions as long as feasibly possible. Pale Moon is so far behind, it doesn't seem like a reasonable alternative and the pace of development seems to be on a geologic timescale, at least it isn't a reasonable alternative for me.

Just a happy Waterfox *user* who has nothing at all to do with any project and hates Google with a passion.

YMMV of course

Phone crypto shut FBI out of 7,000 devices, complains chief g-man

Wily Veteran

Let them have the password

OK, so I'm a terrorist/pedophile/drug dealer/critic of the current administration with a normal (or higher) IQ who wants to get into the US and commit a dastardly deed. Months before I leave, I purchase a second phone and a micro SD card. I use that second phone (but never put the micro SD card in it) in a normal, boring way using separate social media accounts. My phone has pictures of my family, buds, and I doing normal, boring things and records the normal, boring social media participation.

I put all my terrorist plot materials and child porn in an encrypted file on the micro SD card then encrypt the whole card and I conceal it somewhere in my baggage or, if I think my baggage will be searched so thoroughly it might be found, swallow it and get it out of my shit later. Alternatively. I would send it to an associate/sympathizer, perhaps via multiple third parties. I then take only this second phone with the dull, boring stuff on it and go to the US. I cheerfully give the phone to the border cop who finds nothing of interest on it and waves me through. I then get the micro SD card from my "friend" and do the dastardly deed after which I immediately wipe the phone.

If sending a micro SD card is too likely to be caught, I simply take my dull, boring second phone with me, install Telegram, Signal, or such from the app store /after/ I'm in the country, and retrieve the encrypted file through that, (or SFTP it from the server at Terrorists R Us), do the dastardly deed, and immediately wipe the phone.

For a domestic miscreant, follow a similar pattern and access the damning data in the cloud using end-to-end encryption then immediately wipe the phone.

For bonus points, replace the deviant data with something that looks plausible but leads the LEOs on a wild goose chase.

Any would-be miscreant who is stupid enough to have the real contraband data on their phone when they enter the country or might get caught in-country qualifies for the Dumb Criminal of the Month award and is fair game for the LEOs.

There are probably race conditions in the scenario or corner cases where this might not work, but the point is that a truly-determined criminal will be prepared enough to find an alternate way of getting at their incriminating data other than leaving it on their phone.

Boffins' satcomms rig uses earthly LEDs to talk to orbiting PV panels

Wily Veteran

Re: Signal to noise ?

Ham radio operators have been operating digital transmissions at (sometimes below) the noise floor for years albeit mostly at slower speeds. Various modulation and encoding schemes allow differing combinations of SNR requirements and data rates. What these guys are doing sounds like some variation and improvement on MFSK-16, DominoEX, Olivia or similar. Those date from the early 2000's and there are likely newer modes with even more capability, I just haven't kept up.

Google, propaganda, and the new New Man

Wily Veteran

Brave New World

Take away the 1936 version of cloning in Aldous Huxley's chilling novel, and you have a society very much like the one he described: overseen by those who are "born to lead" (or dub themselves among them), unlimited sex divorced from reproduction, an ethos of finding calm and respite in pharmaceuticals, destruction of traditional societal structures, strict conditioning of those in the lower levels to enjoy their position and not seek anything except material goods and sex, enforced obsolescence to keep the factories humming, &c. &c. &c.

More, in his 1960's essays "Beyond Brave New World," Huxley discusses how his Brave New World could actually come about and the methods he discusses sound chillingly famiiliar.

It's happening! Official retro Thinkpad lappy spotted in the wild

Wily Veteran


I recently went through the agony of deciding whether to replace my aged ThinkPad T400 with a new laptop or simply replace the worn keyboard with the erratic spacebare and pop in an SSD (even though it has only SATAII interface). I decided keeping the relatively nice keyboard (no chiclets), 1440x900 display, and more than sufficient performance for what I do these days (writing novels with LibreOffice Writer, not code these days though I've spent 50+ years doing the latter) for $150 in easily-done repairs/upgrades beat the crap out of spending $800+ for something that, although newer and having a FHD screen). The Core2 Duo P8600 is plenty fast enough, Linux Mint 18.2 gains performance over Win 7 on a second SSD in the Slim Bay, lets me play casual HOPA games on the Win7 disc, and works just great for the casual web browsing I do. 802n may not be the fastest WiFi around but since my broadband connection is much slower anyway, who cares how fast the last link in the network chain is? A 3rd-party battery gives me 6+hours of battery life too. So it's not fashionably slim and light, WGAF?

I also have an old Dell C840 with a P4M and a very fine 1600x1200 large screen. Yes, it's slow, but it runs Libre Office writer very smoothly (once loaded) and is limited as much by a broken memory slot that only lets me use 512MB as by its speed.

If I could have the C840's screen on my ThinkPad, I'd be in hog heaven.

Sick of Chrome vs Firefox? Check out these 3 NEW browsers

Wily Veteran

Re: Crapware

I went to mozilla.com so unless there was a hijack or typosquatter somewhere it came from mozilla. I do not use Google for anything and I've been using FF on dozens of machines since it was Netscape so I would hardly need to do a search to find it.

Wily Veteran

Re: Crapware

Looks like I got hijacked. A fresh download is free and clear of crapware. Sorry, Mozilla, my bad.

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