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* Posts by dan1980

2929 posts • joined 5 Aug 2013

Infamous Silicon Valley 'sex party' exactly as exciting as it sounds

dan1980
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It seems that, with tech new always harping on the 'bro culture' angle, people are primed to believe these stories.

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Boffins closer to solving what causes weird radio bursts from space

dan1980
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Re: Alien? Unlikely

". . . or a byproduct of some conflict (like nuclear explosions but raised to the nth power) but the fact that they repeat, apparently from a similar source, would argue against either of those being likely."

As I understand it (imperfectly - corrections always welcome), while each burst likely comes from a region of around 100 km - based on the very short duration - they each originate from a different 100 km region and the pinpointing is really just that those bursts all come from a 4,400 ly region of the galaxy.

There are 45 stars within 15 ly of us on Earth (sphere of 30 ly diameter) so, using the principle of mediocrity, we can estimate some 140m stars within a sphere of diameter 4400 ly.

Thus, it seems perfectly possible that these bursts could represent an alien civilisation at war over a large area. Or, perhaps, destroying worlds for a hyper-space bypass. Perhaps they are destroying stars using a method and technology that somehow funnels the blast in a particular direction - to avoid damaging themselves - which might explain the odd polarisation.

Well, it's unlikely because the particular area is a stellar nursery so there are better explanations but my point is that the apparently restricted area of the emissions is not, in itself, a counter argument to it being aliens destroying stuff.

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1 in 5 STEM bros whinge they can't catch a break in tech world they run

dan1980
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@Ken Hagan

No, I was the best applicant.

I never said that no other applicant might not have, if given a chance, been equally-good (or better) after some years; I said that I was the best applicant. Which means that I fulfilled the criteria completely, aced my interview and completed my practical tests more completely than any other applicant.

That's not to say no one else could do my job better - there are scores who could - just that I was the best applicant at that time, within the window they set (an admittedly short one).

Your statement may be broadly correct but - and this is my whole point - it is a disservice to assume that a broadly accurate statement applies in every instance.

For the record, I was not interviewed by 'HR'; I was interviewed and tested by the lead engineer so one of your key assumptions is utterly incorrect.

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dan1980
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Re: The smug, dismissive way this article is written kinda proves their point

@EpicDyo

"Equality of opportunity should be the aim, not equality of outcome."

Exactly.

Unfortunately, this is impossible to measure while a raw percent, measured at the end, is easy. The problem comes when the latter is used to draw conclusions about the former.

Things like quotas - however softly applied* - are an attempt to fix a stated problem at the very end of the chain, without addressing any of the contributing factors up to that point.

It might be seen as a pragmatic, necessary response to what is seen to be an urgent problem but fixing something at the end rarely leads to the best outcomes.

Think of something like racial inequalities.

Yes, you can enforce a quota on hiring or implement special programs for advancement in a company but that doesn't address some of the bigger issues or problems. For that, you have to look at the whole structure of society - the services (like schools) available in certain neighborhoods; the financial assistance and safety nets - like health care - provided; even things like the judicial system, which is structured in such a way that poorer people are disproportionately impacted, which flows on to families, including the ability to support children who are in their formative years of schooling which will impact their performance and opportunities later in life.

You also have to acknowledge that, quite frankly, things take time.

If you say you want to address the issue of lack of women - or a particular racial group - in upper management, you have to accept that to be qualified for a promotion to that level, you should have good experience at middle levels of management which in turn requires experience at lower levels of management - the corporate ladder and all that.

Well, climbing that ladder takes time and so fixing any inequalities only starts the process and time - and continued monitoring - is then required to allow the full effects. You have to address the number of the targeted group at the beginning of the pipeline before you start dictating the output.

* - And coverage like this is a soft form of quota: verbally punishing companies for not achieving whatever arbitrary measure has been decided from afar.

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dan1980
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Re: Why stop there?

@Jonathan Schwatrz

"Indeed, the Wikipedia article on El Reg seems awfully light on any female names . . ."

But that's Wikipedia - you know you can't trust a single thing that comes from anywhere near there. Just ask Andrew O.

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dan1980
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Re: Welcome to the 21st

Bob Dole (tm)

You were kidding but many people actually think that things will eventually 'work out'. They may, but that's not the issue - the issue is the disruption while it happens.

And there will be disruption so we shouldn't just ignore that the cost of that disruption has a face.

It's like the changes away from manufacturing jobs where you have politicians proudly boasting of the new 'high tech' jobs in the 'information economy' they are creating. Great, and the world will, in the end, likely be better for it. BUT, those wonderful, new, modern, 'high value' jobs are not going to the thousands of people now struggling day-to-day because the can't find work in the industry they've devoted decades to.

I'm not suggesting there is - or is about to be - masses of unemployed young males displaced by women in the workplace, just pointing out that employment changes always disadvantage some people and those people who suffer are usually not to blame for whatever situation led to the change - they are just ordinary people trying to get on with their ordinary lives.

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dan1980
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@spacecadet66

Most people who complain about unfair treatment aren't as good as they thing they are.

In the current climate, when there is a story about a female tech applicant claiming unfair treatment, it is presented as irrefutable evidence of discrimination - the claim is assumed to be true because everyone knows that tech as a whole is strongly populated by males so it's just 'common sense' that women are discriminated against at every level and every position in every tech company. All tech companies are the same, don't you know - we're all 'bros'.

When there is a report of a male (especially a while male) claiming unfair treatment, it is presented as evidence of 'whinging' - he is told to 'check his privilege'.

Thus the wave moves and so men who can't get a job in tech are told it's their own fault and women are told it's the fault of some chest bumping cabal of bros.

Look no further than the entire tone of this article, where a man's complaint is ridiculed and it is ASSUMED that a broad trend means he, specifically, couldn't have been discriminated against (and he is thus a 'whinge[r]') while a female's assertion is not only presented unchallenged, the author takes it upon himself to reinforce it.

These broad-brush assumptions have to stop.

If someone claims they, specifically, were treated unfairly in a specific workplace in a specific instance when applying for a specific position then that specific claim shouldn't be either assumed to be self-evidently accurate or inaccurate based solely on the gender of the complainant.

That males in general may be less likely to be discriminated against in the tech sector doesn't mean that a specific male being discriminated against isn't every bit as large an offence as any specific woman being discriminated against. The assertion that so many other men are on the receiving end of unearned benefits does matters not one bit because none of those benefits conferred to other males helps with the rent money or puts food on the table for someone discriminated against.

Instead, that man is told that it's his own fault - it must be - he is lumped with the responsibility to take the blame and pay penance for his entire gender. Even if you believe there was discrimination, it's less important because turn-around is fair play, right and - poor man - he's just getting a taste of what women have had to deal with for decades.

Except that these specific people haven't done anything wrong in the first place - they weren't the ones on the other side of the table knocking back women for jobs because of their looks; they weren't the ones making advances and innuendo; they weren't the ones denigrating and making crude jokes. They just studied hard, worked hard and wanted a job or a promotion. They weren't 'bros' and they didn't strut around high-fiving and suggesting people 'check out the tits on that one' and their claims shouldn't be ridiculed because they share genitalia with the ones who were in those positions, acting that way. They don't 'run' the 'tech world'.

It makes me depressed - literally, medication-taking, psychiatrist-seeing, body-harming, sleep-losing depressed - to have this non-stop weight of guilt shoveled upon me just because I was born a certain way and have decided to try and make my career in the tech world. I don't need it and I haven't done anything to warrant it.

I am in my position because I was the best applicant at the time. Don't imply that I got my job because I was born with a penis. Don't imply that when I interview candidates I am biased towards those also born with penises and against those who weren't. You don't know me and no trend or average or set of numbers gives you any right to make assumptions about me just because I am a member of some group I had no choice in joining.

I work hard and I am dedicated. I treat everyone well and try, as best I can, to get on with my life without interfering with anyone else. I am kind, I am thoughtful, I am helpful, I am considerate and I genuinely believe that, while the world at large is unaffected by my existence, I make the lives of those around me better - a little bit easier, a little bit happier, a little bit more pleasant, a little bit weirder, perhaps but hopefully more interesting for that. I am not perfect and at times I make those lives more full of worry, more stressed, more annoyed, more sad and more difficult but I am a good person and I know that the people around me know that and appreciate that.

But I am not a big person and I have no desire to be. I am not a CEO or a leader or a pioneer or a great thinker or a role model or a crusader or an entrepreneur. I won't break new ground or do great deeds and, with no children, 60 years from now, few will remember me and none will miss me. I am a small fish who keeps to myself and I am happy not to make large waves.

I am not responsible for what other people do just because we share a gender and the trials of my life are not less significant because others of that gender are wealthy or favoured.

Sorry, that was a rant, but I am deadly (word used with consideration) serious when I say that this burden of guilt lumped on me depresses me immensely.

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If Australian animals don't poison you or eat you, they'll BURN DOWN YOUR HOUSE

dan1980
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Re: But how do they spread fires?

Picking up burning/smoldering twigs, I imagine.

While they aren't right up there with the size and leg strength of some birds, they are medium-sized raptors so grabbing and carrying things with their talons is kind of their bag. (Though I understand the Black Kite is more a scavenger.)

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US senators rail against effort to sneak through creepy mass spying bill

dan1980
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I simple don't understand why the rules should allow tacking one (or more) distinct, unrelated items onto a bill.

I can see why, from the standpoint from expedience, it could help move things along in the limited time available but that benefit cannot out-weigh the IMMENSE potential for abuse.

This ability is used, time and again, everywhere it is allowed, to push through legislation that otherwise could not pass on its own. And, if a piece of legislation can't pass on its own, tacking it onto another bill like this is a deliberate attempt to circumvent democracy.

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5 reasons why America's Ctrl-Z on net neutrality rules is a GOOD thing

dan1980
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Re: @Bob Dole ... WTF? Well put

@AC

"Some of us are old enough to know of the time before the internet. That understood that the 'net was a cluster of privately owned networks who connected to one another through peering agreements.

Maybe so but then then things evolved; grew.

The simple fact of the matter is that, like telephone poles, Internet coax and fibre is placed on public land and the right to do this is given based on the central place that Internet services inhabit in modern life.

Train lines were once 'clusters of privately-owned' networks and then, once they became more than that, the Interstate Commerce Commission was specifically created to regulate the new networks that had become essential for, well, interstate commerce.

This exactly parallels the creation of the the FCC, which is unsurprising because the latter was modeled on the success of the former and so carries a near identical purpose: to regulate the (then) new communications networks.

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dan1980
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Re: "What goes through someone's head when they do that?"

@John Smith

He's a lawyer.

To clarify, I didn't mean to imply that lawyers are inherently untrustworthy, money-obsessed folk. At least no more than anyone else.

What I really meant to imply was that, perhaps, the necessity of putting your personal feelings, scruples and (in some cases) dignity and shame aside in order to do what your client wants enables you to become so desensitised to that compromise that you can reach a point where you stand up - not just before a jury of your peers but an entire country of them - and repeat a party-line that you know to be a false and that has publicly been shown to be false by everyone qualified to know.

That background must also, presumably, admirably condition you to be able to hear a direct, unambiguous question and respond with carefully-worded irrelevancies or to impugn those who question you as misinformed while still, deliberately, refusing to answer.

To be able to do that day in and day out with such ease must take a level of practice that I am glad I have not had the occasion to acquire.

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dan1980
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Re: @dan1980

@Charles9

Think that's far fetched? Remember the Gilded Age when railroads owned mines and timber plots.

Regulation of that industry was the template from which the FCC was created when it came time to deal with the phone companies.

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dan1980
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Re: @dan1980

@Bombastic Bob

Just to expand on this, there ARE privately owned toll roads in Southern CA in the L.A. area. The price varies based on time of day and usage. This way, travelling on the toll road is "buying time" to avoid traffic, which is why you'd want to pay extra to use it. Charging MORE when traffic on the 'free' road is heavy is just good business, because it forms a basis upon which the traffic will be truly limited to a sane level on the toll road [making it ALWAYS a good alternative, not a traffic jam that you PAY EXTRA for].

What the analogy fails to cover is that, when it comes to the Internet, there are no alternatives: it's all toll roads. At best, you may have a choice between two competing roads, but there is no equivalent alternative of the 'free' road for Internet access.

That is why the analogy of different lanes on the road is by far the better one.

That said, the even more apt comparison is the one that the whole sticky issue arises from: the telephone service. In short, the FCC was created for the express purpose of regulating the then esssential telephone service so as to facilitate its role in fair interstate commerce. This was done along the same lines as the previous regulation of the rail lines, which were being abused to favour the owning states. (By charging out-of-state groups more to use the lines when passing through than their local groups were being charged to use the same lines.)

The point is that, like telephone services and train services before them, the Internet infrastructure is an essential utility upon which a great deal of trade is predicated upon and without which the economy would suffer greatly. The FCC's function, as it relates to Internet providers, is no different than it was when it dealt with phones: to ensure that the privately-owned, critical communications infrastructure of commerce is regulated in such a way as to provide fair and equal access.

Their express remit is to regulate the profit-seeking, 'capitalist' goals of these providers to ensure that those commercial interests are not allowed to run unchecked and thereby create advantages and disadvantages amongst the users of this essential infrastructure.

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dan1980
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Re: @dan1980

@AC

Yes, it does - 1980.

First up, my question/comment is the same whether 'net neutrality' - or this decision to end it - is ultimately a good thing or a bad thing. What I am chiefly referring to is the outright, provable lies about broadband speeds and investments told by Pai and repeated even after this was shown to be incorrect.

As I said in a previous post: whatever the ultimate benefits or downsides of reversing the net neutrality ruling, it is clear that Pai's professed reasons for doing so are not the actual reasons.

But second, you analogy just doesn't work.

On a road, the main reason to charge more for, e.g. a truck is that a truck, by it's physical nature, degrades the road more and thus requires more maintenance. That's why many toll roads charge less for a motorbike than a car - less wear on the road. A truck also takes up more space than a bike.

What you should understand is that NOTHING in net neutrality prevents ISPs from charging based on the volume of data downloaded/uploaded by a subscriber, which is the equivalent, in your analogy, of the number of axles. Or, perhaps, more simply, the weight of the vehicle.

The point of net neutrality is not to say that you can't charge more for a truck than you can for a car (i.e charge by the number of wheels/packets) but that you can't charge more per wheel or per unit of weight when the truck belongs to company X or is carrying company Y's widgets in the trailer. You don't get to set a lower speed limit, either.

THAT is what net neutrality is about.

It says that, if your network is transporting 100Mb of data, you can't treat that 100Mb any differently than any other 100Mb of data - it doesn't matter whose truck it is, what depot it came out of, what it is hauling or who the end recipient is - 100Mb is 100Mb and you don't get to prioritise company A's cargo of frozen corn over Company B's cargo of toasters.

You can charge by weight (total data transmitted) but you can't charge two amounts for the same weight. You can, I believe, have peak and off peak rates but, again, you can't go charging more or less (or allowing higher or lower speeds) based on the specific cargo.

Slowing the whole road down (rate limiting) is also okay but, again, you can't just slow down all the traffic from one supplier while allowing the another supplier to go at full speed, nor can you apply a 'peak' charge to one but not another.

You can't, in other words, slow down (rate-limit) all the lanes except one but then charge a premium surcharge for traffic on this new, miraculous, 'fast lane'.

(Sorry for any typos - have to dash.)

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dan1980
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I really wonder about people like Pai.

What upbringing - what values instilled as a child - leads someone to be able to stand up in front of the entire nation and make provably false claims - to lie - to them in order to sell out their interests to corporate money and political masters.

What goes through someone's head when they do that?

What preparations must one make in order to keep that smarmy face and cock-sure tone when you not only know you are selling out the people you are supposed to be protecting, but you also know that they know you are doing at and know you are lying about it?

Is it too much to hope that he looses sleep over this?

I suppose that's why so many politicians and people like Pai come from legal backgrounds.

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Funnily enough, no, IT admins who trash biz machines can't claim they had permission

dan1980
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Re: I've, umm... done most of that stuff

@DNTP

Well, wasn't that the whole thrust of his argument: that he actually had authority to perform each discrete action he did?

It's actually an interesting (to me) defence because it shines a light on the difference between the implied authority required for the tasks you need to perform and the implied responsibilities demanded by the outcomes you are hired to achieve.

Common sense dictates that of course what this person did was utterly wrong and that he should be punished but common sense and the law are not always in step so I was very interested to see how this turned out.

One concern I have, however, is the flip side of this - what if a sysadmin is fired and accused of destroying company property when they delete old backups that they believe are unnecessary in order to make space for new backups?

Again, common sense dictates that is not the same but how is that argued if such a case went to court.

Still, I just can't get in the mind of someone who would do something like this. Completely innocent people were likely severely impacted. This chap was annoyed that a reduction in IT staff would mean more work for him - did he feel sorry about all the extra stress and work and difficulties he was causing everyone else in the company?

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What network neutrality madness has happened today? Take a big breath

dan1980
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Whatever anyone feels about net neutrality, it is clear that this particular push is based on dogma and not any kind of analysis of the benefits to subscribers and the general public.

If your main, public arguments are demonstrably false and you keep repeating them despite being shown to be in error then it is clear that, whatever your reasons for the policy, they are rather different from what you are willing to admit.

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Developers, developers, developers: How 'serverless' crowd dropped ops like it's hot

dan1980
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Re: ...and is it a good idea?

Yep.

Had an issue where a developer just stuck with the: "these are the settings that work for us" line and just wouldn't troubleshoot their application to figure out what perms were actually required.

Just code as though the applications have full access to absolutely everything and things will work themselves out. Permissions, after all, are far too 'OPsy' and just slow down application development.

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Netflix silent about ridicule as it discusses punters' viewing habits

dan1980
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Re: "To the 53 people who've watched.... Who hurt you?"

To all who are commenting that this figure is likely either made up or gathered from anonymised data or general logs, that's missing the point.

First, Netflix absolutely does log everything you watch, when you watch it and from which device. So that data is there whether it was used for this particular stunt or not.

Second, how they came by the data is less relevant than how they treat it. It is clear that, like Uber, they do not treat this data as private and sensitive and something they should be serious about protecting. It's the way it was used that is indicative of their (Netflix's) attitude - for an 'amusing' advertisement for themselves.

It's not just saying: these were the most watched movies this week or some other broad statistic, it's specifically talking about habits of particular subscribers.

Whether it was in jest or not or using personally-identifiable logging or not is not the issue - it's that they treat the personal viewing habits of individuals as just so much data to exploit.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not surprised in the slightest, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't concern people. The public is all too ready to normalise this type of attitude towards our data and I fear that we are already too far gone down that road to ever return to a place where our sensitive, personally-identifiable information is respected by default.

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dan1980
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Re: 'because its 'amusing' or just because Netflix can!'

Sadly, your stance means nothing because you are in the minority. (As I am.)

Services that abuse our data are more popular than ever and show no sign of slowing. Services and products previous available for purchase and consumption anonymously are fast moving into 'connected' and 'cloud-based' systems and the options available to those few objectors are drying up.

Even where products are available 'offline', you can sometimes need to give up your privacy. Look at video games on PC. Yes, you can still go and buy a game off the shelf using a stack of crumpled notes but, when you go to install it, you need to go and sign up for Steam (or an equivalent service) anyway.

How long before movies bought from the local store need your player to connect to the Internet to register the movie to your account before you can watch it?

There's nothing inherently wrong with being connected but the all-you-can-slurp buffet that lobbying has created puts everyone at risk.

It's difficult to explain this to ordinary people who love Netflix and Facebook and their smart phones and Uber trips and, even if they understood, they wouldn't care because they like the convenience and features and don't feel they will ever actually be impacted by any of the negatives.

People need to consider what would happen if, 5 years from now, every bit of information collected on them by these services was broadcast. Every movie and TV show they ever watched and from where. Every trip they took. Every post and tweet and snap. Every game they played, when and for how long. Even vast portions of their browser and search history and, better still, their every move, tracked by the undefeatable GPS service reporting back to Apple or Google.

Everything time-stamped and geo-tagged.

It is all there - collected, stored, exchanged and collated. And it's just waiting to be abused, leaked and stolen.

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Damian Green: Not only my workstation – mystery pr0n all over Parliamentary PCs

dan1980
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Re: Poor excuse for a politician

@unwarranted triumphalism

"I suppose you think his sickening perversions should be tolerated. In my day we had ways of dealing with his kind."

For me, I think personal revulsion (whether right or wrong) shouldn't overwhelm skepticism and the presumption of innocence*. Your way of 'dealing with his kind' sounds a bit like a kangaroo court to me.

There is enough in this case that is just plain odd and suspect to warrant holding off judgement and I think a little healthy caution is a good thing before bounding (like . . . what's that animal?) to a conclusion.

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Massive US military social media spying archive left wide open in AWS S3 buckets

dan1980
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Re: YABCSP

@Oliver Jones

"Not really a cloud problem - just the inevitable result of trying to hire the cheapest sysadmin money can buy."

Yes and no. I think the problem is two-fold but both related to the 'cloud'. First, you have the notion that the cloud is cheap, cheap, cheap and quick, quick, quick. The second is the feeling of outsourcing to 'the cloud'.

The two concepts work together with the result that people using the cloud may have a tendency to view it all as someone else's problem - the outsourcing and cheap prices means that you just don't have to be as rigorous as you might with in-house solutions.

Not in all cases, by any means but it's a pervasive theme - it's a trap that is apparently easy for people to fall into and the marketing and reporting of cloud-based services bolster that.

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Tesla reveals a less-long-legged truck, but a bigger reservation price

dan1980
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Re: Electricity vs Petrol/Diesel prices

The turn-around time will also factor in to calculations so an equally (if not more) important part is really the charging that Tesla is claiming - 400mi worth of charge in 30 mins.

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Permissionless data slurping: Why Google's latest bombshell matters

dan1980
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@Doctor Syntax

Exactly.

It's exploitation by a huge, extremely lucrative corporation. Identified as such, there can be no surprise that this happens, is (generally) poorly regulated and that there is little real penalty or political will to change anything.

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Uber slapped with $9m fine for letting dodgy drivers pick up punters

dan1980
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Re: Land of the free

@AC

"Curiously, there's no obvious link between low crime rates and the penal system being reformist or punitive, or even policing levels. Probably the three lowest crime countries in the world are Singapore, Switzerland. and Bharain, which have a spread from the nasty punitive police state of Bahrain, through to liberal, lightly policed Switzerland."

It could be that a liberal country like Switzerland, where quality of life and democratic freedoms are amongst the highest in the world, doesn't need heavy, punitive policing while Bahrain, an authoritarian regime and one of the less awesome places to be born, does need a strict and harsh penal system to keep the rate that low.

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dan1980
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Yay disruption!

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Giza geezers' muon-geyser visor reveals Great Pyramid's hidden void surpriser

dan1980
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Re: Do not disturb

@Big John

Or a simple f%$k up. So yeah, possibly a few dead engineers and workers there . . .

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Fine, OK, no backdoors, says Deputy AG. Just keep PLAINTEXT copies of everyone's messages

dan1980
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Re: Lots of criminals in here

Whether you've got something to hide or not really revolves around a big question: "from whom?"

There is information about me that I am happy for the government to have; it is necessary and I think it helps keep everything working well. They need to know my financial and employment details to asses my tax obligations, for example.

Likewise my doctor knowing my medical information. It is to my benefit that he knows my medical history (though I strongly believe this should be 100% in the patient's control, should they wish it) and I am likely to get a more accurate diagnosis and more relevant, effective care if I provide it.

That doesn't mean, however, that I am happy to have any of that information stored in plaintext and (more) vulnerable to being stolen because, while I don't want to "hide" it from the those who need it, I most certainly want to "hide" it from spammers and scammers and identity thieves.

That said, there is PLENTY I want to "hide" from the government because it is, quite simply, absolutely none of their business and I shouldn't have to justify my right to privacy.

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dan1980
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Absolutely.

They (all of them) know that there has been - at least this time - enough of a stigma built up around the concept of a 'back door' and at least some education on the utility, necessity and ubiquity of encryption for day-to-day processes.

Thus, they are reframing the conversation by focusing on discussion of obtaining information legally authorised via a valid warrant. No 'snooping' you see? Nothing nefarious or clandestine. Nothing to abuse or worry about: just familiar, uncontroversial warrants to help catch pedos and terrorists and murders and drug barons and rapists.

The public knows warrants - those are the things the trustworthy officers and agents on The Bill or CSI arrive with in the denouement when the forces of good triumph over the villain.

That's all our governments want: to allow those always upright exemplars of civil service to enforce the law and protect us. But the tech companies don't care about protecting us, you see; they are trying to protect the terrorists and the paedophiles instead!

Those men and women in blue know who the bad people are and they know what they've done but Apple and Microsoft and the rest won't let them bring the dangerous criminals to justice.

Our politicians have learnt their lesson. They avoid talking about the process of getting the data they want and instead plead the case of the data itself, claiming agnosticism about the technical issues.

They are doing an end-run around all the complaints and consequences.

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dan1980
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@veti

That's the problem - he is OF COURSE talking about (and specifically about) hosting companies and ISPs and also mobile vendors and developers.

That has always been the focus: the data transmitted, hosted and controlled by these third parties. It's never been about the data stored on a random person's home laptop or a corporation's e-mail server.

Accessing that data requires the authorities to actually approach the owner of the data because the owner controls where and how it is stored.

Accessing data a user stores in Dropbox or Gmail is different, however, in that this data may, in theory, be accessed remotely without the knowledge of the subject. It can be collected en masse and sifted for relevance post hoc.

THIS is what they want and has more in common with 'tapping a phone' than executing a search warrant. With a search warrant, the authorities have to actually go and obtain the data (or at least the hardware) physically while tapping a phone allows them to eavesdrop - to spy on - the target unknown.

What these agencies are asking for is actually even MORE than tapping a phone because the stored data and communications of the digital world are frequently historic and so one can sift through for previous wrong-doings.

Will this help them catch criminals and threats? Quite possibly. Is it proportionate? I don't believe so. It's open to MASSIVE abuse, MASSIVE oversteps and puts EVERYONE - man woman and child - at significant risk due to the inevitability of weaknesses in process, technology and execution, not to mention the weakness inherent in those in charge of it all.

If the justification is that it will make everyone a bit safer from the terropedos then why stop there? Install cameras and microphones in everyone's houses and cars and offices, all fed back to the government.

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dan1980
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"I simply maintain that companies should retain the capability to provide the government unencrypted copies of communications and data stored on devices, when a court orders them to do so."

So what does this really mean?

For the moment, let's ignore companies and individuals storing their own information on their own equipment and focus on what these proposals are focussed on: online 'cloud' providers and mobile device/software vendors which store and transmit data on behalf of end users.

The upshot is that Rosenstein's proposal would prevent such companies from offering real 'zero knowledge' encryption either in transit or at rest.

Rosenstein (and the rest of the mob around the world) know full well that asking companies to store the plaintext copies is unacceptable and I am sure they know why that is the case. This is not a serious proposal: it is simply a doubling-down on their stance: they demand access to plaintext so if the providers won't agree to facilitate decryption, they must store data in such a way that it doesn't require decryption.

It is not a clueless attempt at a compromise: it is an ultimatum.

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Submarine builder admits dismembering journalist's body

dan1980
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@Alister

Yes, he is to be presumed innocent unless and until found guilty but he is no longer to be presumed to be trust-worthy and that means that the defence he provides is of low value.

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Australia's IoT security rating might work, if done right

dan1980
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Australia's IoT security rating might work, if done right ...

Ahh, so it won't work.

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Congress battles Silicon Valley over upcoming US sex trafficking law

dan1980
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Re: Nothing will change until this is changed ...

@The Nazz

'And as for free speech, and other amendment "rights", if it's not acceptable to falsely shout "Fire" in a cinema . . . .'

Setting aside the rest of your comment - which I admit I don't fully understand - the above statement is just not correct.

Well, it depends on what you mean by 'acceptable', of course. If you mean that to do so is stupid and irresponsible and therefore not acceptable socially then sure. But if you mean that it is not acceptable legally then you are misinformed - at least so far as the US Constitution is concerned. (The situation is different elsewhere but this story is about the US.)

The simple fact is that yelling 'FIRE!' in a crowded theatre most assuredly is protected speech. Moreover, much speech that is far more inflammatory is also protected.

Indeed, the only speech that is excluded from the protections of the First Ammendement is such speech as is both intended and likely to cause imminent criminal action.

How that fits into your argument is another matter - I just wanted to clear up this point as it is repeated far too often.

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dan1980
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". . . would make an exception to the blanket protection given to online platforms over what their users get up to.

You CAN'T just carve out a single exception because that's not how a blanket protection works - it's all or nothing.

The protection exists because the platforms can't be expected to monitor and police the actions of the users. If you make an 'exception' then what you are really doing is saying that the platforms MUST monitor and police the actions and content of the users and once this is being done, the entire justification for the 'blanket protection' disintegrates.

If a platform must have monitoring in place to detect content and communications that are involved in sex trafficking, then why can't that be used to detect and police communications involved in drug dealing? Or copyright infringement? Or libel?

Take an analogy such as, say, a car hire company.

Car hire companies are, obviously, not held responsible if someone hires one of their cars and uses it in a sex trafficking operation because, beyond asking for agreement to standard terms, they don't concern themselves with what the car is used for.

This proposed law is not meaningfully different than expecting a car hire company to identify just such a situation. They would need to implement more technology to do so - such as cameras and microphones in all vehicles - but the end result is the same: you now have a situation where the service provider is expected to monitor and know how their service is being used and to police whichever actions they are told to.

Or what about hotels - should they be forced to monitor what occurs inside their rooms to prevent sex trafficking?

Saying that this would reduce instances of the targeted crime and lead to prosecutions is well and good but the question is: which freedoms and protections are you willing to destroy to achieve that end?

Again, the very basis of the 'blanket protection' is that the platform providers don't - and can't be reasonably expected to - monitor and identify the activity of users. Once that is gone, how can the protection remain?

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Apple's 'shoddy' Beats headphones get slammed in lawsuit

dan1980
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@Boohoo4u

I've been thinking about the 'false advertising' side of this and I feel that charging such a high price for such a cheaply-made product is a form of false advertising. (Not necessarily in the legal sense, of course, which is really all that matters to Apple.)

One can talk about fashion and perhaps use the argument that Apple sells fashion items and so slapping a funky styling and a prestige logo on a cheaply made set of headphones and charging hundreds of dollars for it is clearly not unique.

The big difference between (say) a $200 t-shirt and these $200 headphones is that, when buying a $200 cotton t-shirt, you are not under any misconception that the item is made from some different material than the $20 shirt in the next store. And, if you are under that misconception, a quick glance at the tag will disabuse you of that. You have likely bought, owned and worn hundreds of t-shirts and similar items of clothing made from the same material and have a pool of experience and knowledge about how such a shirt will perform. You will also likely have a fair idea of the construction as, even if you have never seen a commodity t-shirt being made, you can intuit the process well enough.

A set of headphones is rather different; 99% of consumers do not understand how they actually work or how they are made or even what components are involved. Thus, they do not know why one pair might cost more than another. Also unlike t-shirts, there are large differences in actual, measurable performance beyond simple longevity and comfort - the latter of which can be subjective.

It is possible that a person buying a pair of headphones may have owned many other sets but the vast majority will be buying their first, second or maybe third set of headphones. Thus, not only will these people likely have little to no intellectual understanding of how headphones work, or what components are involved, they also have little in the way of personal experience.

Is that legally relevant?

Probably not, but I think it should be - at least in theory, if not specifically in this instance as $200 is actually not that expensive for a set of headphones. Generally, however, I think it should be recognised that the PRICE of an item carries an implication of the quality of that item, to a certain extent.

After all, if a $20 set of headphones were rubbish then everyone would be quick to point out that 'you get what you pay for' and would agree that no reasonable person would expect good quality at that price. Pricing a pair of headphones at $200 therefore sends a message that this pair is rather a lot better (not 10x, of course) than the $20 pair and it should not be considered unreasonable for an average consumer* - the target market - to say that such a message was conveyed to them by the manufacturer who gave the product that price.

The disclaimer is that I do not think there's a legal case unless Apple are refusing to give refunds. Even then, it's probably not going anywhere. My point is the price of an item forms part of the information being provided about the item and should be a consideration when deciding if the product has been accurately or inaccurately represented.

Again, that isn't the way it works, just the way I'd like it to work.

* - As above, I believe that the average consumer for a pair of headphones like this is not one who should be expected to be aware of how headphones are constructed or have a rich experience of audio reproduction to draw on.

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Facebook ran $100k of deliberately divisive Russian ads ahead of 2016 US election

dan1980
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Re: Where's the substance?

@Adam 52

"Some people bought adverts to affect the election. Either that's ok or it isn't, doesn't really matter who they are unless there are rules about limited spend or nationality."

That's the thing: it is illegal for foreign nations to do this.

No one (sane) expects that you can haul the Russian government into court for this but that is not the main issue. The main issue is whether US citizens assisted them in these activities - or even whether they knew because that is also a crime.

If, say, Jared Kushner and his fellows knew of these activities and provided targeting information to assist with the efforts then that is, legally, a big deal.

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dan1980
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Re: Just when you thought...

The real problem, for me, is Facebook's previous blanket denials that such a thing could ever have taken place.

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A furious think-tank boss, Google, and an academic 'fired' for criticizing ads giant

dan1980
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Re: Hmm

@Mark 110

"If normal practice was to run things through approval before publishing and he swerved it in this case then he is rightfully sacked."

Okay, but if seeking approval prior to publishing is required (rather than just a courtesy) then one can infer that Lynn was in the practice of doing this simply due to the fact that this didn't happen earlier.

Which raises the question: why did he (Lynn) deviate from past practice in this one specific instance? The clear answer is that he believed that, had he sought approval from Slaughter, there was a strong chance that he would have had to censor his piece.

Whether that censorship would have happened or not is up for debate but it is clear that Lynn was sufficiently convinced that it would - so convinced that he was willing to risk his job.

The other question that comes up is: why was the response so absolute from Slaughter? She claims that she wouldn't have censored the piece, which implies that the content was not inaccurate, misleading or in breach of their guidelines. So why terminate the relationship over a single* lapse in procedure?

Take a hypothetical parallel - a company employee commenting publicly via social media. Let's say a company is celebrating 5 years in business and a social media drone posts a tweet or whatever saying how proud the team are to be celebrating their 5th anniversary of selling high-quality widgets but, crucially, that drone doesn't get the required approval of the marketing manager before posting.

A response is needed, surely, to re-enforce that all staff must have public statements approved but nothing in the post would have violated any content rules and certainly would have been approved.

In such a situation, is it reasonable to fire someone for that?

Bringing it back to this case, the real test would be what the consequences would have been had Lynn done the same thing (in not seeking approval) but had published a piece that was supportive of Google and their interests.

For Slaughter to be believed, it must be shown that Lynn would have been let go in that situation, too.

* - One can strongly infer that this was an isolated incident and not a pattern as Slaughter would certainly have mentioned this history, painting it as the proverbial last straw. Had that been the case.

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Sonos will deny updates to those who snub rewritten privacy terms

dan1980
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"The most immediate consequence of nonownership is the long list of substantive rights we lose," they wrote. "The prohibitions found in most EULAs and enforced by most DRM contrast starkly with the default rules of private property. You can't resell a product you don't own. You can't lend it, give it away, or donate it. You can't read, watch, or listen on unapproved devices. You can't modify or repair the devices you use."

But, of course, obtaining a copy of such 'digital goods' without paying is entirely analogous to stealing a (limited) physical item.

(Not specific here to Sonos as they sell physical items.)

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To truly stay anonymous online, make sure your writing is as dull as the dullest conference call you can imagine

dan1980
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If this process is - or can be - automated, then I think we are missing the bigger picture: improving online posts.

After all, surely abysmal prose can be identifiable as well so to provide useful obfuscation any such tool must be able move a piece of text towards 'average' from either direction.

Going further, could such technology be packaged as a browser plug-in, enabling the viewer to translate Youtube comments into passable English on the fly?

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dan1980
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Re: Clever

Not to mention the assertion that one would not realise they were being carried to a tomb.

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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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