* Posts by Dan

47 publicly visible posts • joined 17 Jun 2007

Boston dorm computer raid ruled illegal


Cops harras student, steal computers.

Seriously, the crimes alleged are "Sending two emails" "Downloading music"."Gaining access to the grading systems" and "Securing information on computers so that it cannot be retrieved" The judge here rightly threw out the first and last as not illegal, then says that the 'informant' did not provide reliable information regarding the other two.

Interesting note: The cops apparently haven't broken the encryption on any of the computers, since they were not done examining them. Maybe they should consider hiring a recently graduated compsci major for in-house forensic computer work?

Oh, and the warrant was apparently for "objects capable of storing digital data in any form", which is why the camera, laptop, cd's, and probably anything else with a battery or power cord was seized.

If they can break the law, why can't we?

IT Angle

Legalize morality?

"Legal academics have long debated the point at which it is "right" to disobey the law."

Unfortunately, legal academics don't have an answer. Moral philosophers, however, do: It is not immoral just because it is against the law. Laws are there to benefit the populace, and coercing people to follow the law is a practical matter that is theoretically decided in some community consensual manner.

The fact that the people and the police have any dissonance means that the government no longer has the consent of the governed. The current system will stay in power only until the people realize that there is a choice, then there will be a period of anarchy and/or polyarchy. You would do well to ensure that the system that emerges fixes the problems of the old, and to realize early on that both hereditary royalty and parliamentary representation are OPTIONS for methods of being governed, but they are not required or exclusive of other methods.

I suggest smaller governments, each about the size of a utility grid. Any infrastructure that would cross borders should be funded only by the city-states that want it. Mandatory national databases? Bugger them up the arse with a sledgehammer. Do the people of The British Isles want a standing military? Let each jurisdiction decide how much they want to pay for it, what they want it to do, and if they can tolerate the conditions the other jurisdictions will impose upon it.

Linux group, Microsoft form unholy alliance against US lawyers


Even simpler:

The software works as designed. It's -designed- to behave that way when your hardware appears to be in that state. Maybe you should look into why your RAM contained data that looked like an exception, or why your video card stopped responding...

Or for the entire OS/device driver issues, where it is common for a device driver to use undocumented, unsupported features (spoken "Bugs"). When the features are removed/fixed in a later SP, the device driver no longer works. Who do you blame for that? The person who wrote the driver that worked until you changed the underlying architecture, or the person who -fixed- the memory leak in the underlying architecture? For that matter, once you and your lawyer have looked into the problem enough to prove who is to blame, you can just fix it.

Flames for to burn the evil empire of lawyers.

Wolfram Alpha - a new kind of Fail


They must be using Pentiums!

Searching for "Distance from the Earth to the moon in meters" http://www39.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=Distance+from+the+Earth+to+the+moon+in+meters

Yielded this gem:

Comparison as distance:

~~ 1.001 x mean Moon-Earth distance ( 3.844x10^8 m )

Or, in other words, the distance from the Earth to the Moon, measured in meters, is roughly a tenth of a percent larger than the distance from the Earth to the Moon...


ContactPoint goes live despite security fears


Magic database!

"...ministerial assurances on security provisions that will accompany the roll-out of the directory system."

"... social workers, police, schools and health officials will have access to data held on the ContactPoint database."

So, is the database secure, or does world+dog+cat have -official- access to it?


No way to download information?

Also: No case history in the database? A list of names and addresses, with no context? (Oh, except... that children who have been abused will have their contact information blanked out...)

So, in addition to not being secure, it won't be useful? I can write the flowchart for a program which pulls the data out of whatever "Secure" program is being used to view the data, and output to file or remote host. So, "Cannot be downloaded" either means "Can be downloaded" or "System does not work at all".

Actually, the second seems rather likely.

In other news: Garbage in, Garbage out. The database, in addition to being trash, is garbage.

Big brother is watching you, but he thinks I'm a 90-year old pensioner single mother of 10.

Court upholds 'hacking' charge against smut-surfing worker



Assume: The computer had internet access. He was permitted to use the computer. Therefore, he was permitted to use the computer to access the internet, send and receive packets.

Once a packet leaves his employer's network, it cannot violate any access limits set by his employer. Therefore, sending packets to AdultFriendFinder.com is not hacking his work computer any more than sending packets to the DNS lookup server.

Therefore: He was not permitted to use the computer to access the internet. If we assume that it was configured for automatic updates, he was not permitted to log on, since that would cause packets to be sent and received outside the company network. Therefore, he was not permitted to use the computer AT ALL. That's the only logical cause of the courts' decisions.

And they found 700+ photos in "Routine maintenance"? Either he was VERY careless, or "Routine maintenance" is a euphemism for "Spying on internet histories and user activities".

2060: Humvee-sized, bulletproof meat-eating spiders attack



All you people who want to use unsportsmanlike weapons to hunt these spiders sicken me. Anyone who needs more than a Bowie knife and a cap-and-ball revolver doesn't deserve to hunt anything with more than two drumsticks.

Exam bosses target faster cheat takedowns


Good luck with the takedowns.

I foresee TPB making a new category: Exams.

Or better yet, Let them steal the exam for you: Just post every question that could be on the exam on a UK ISP. The questions that get taken down are the ones on the exam.

Hackers demand $10m ransom for Virginia medical data


Seriously, guys?

Do you think that anyone, anywhere, will pay more than $1 for some stranger's medical records.

My opening bid is $4, plus actual shipping charges.

Pirate Bay judge and pro-copyright lobbyist accused of bias


Is it over yet?

From the * I Ass.'s view, the worst thing that could happen would be TPB's crew shutting up and quietly going to jail. No publicity, no more furor, and leave the server running. If someone can come up with a truly anonymous way to maintain the server, perhaps from a Chinese proxy server, then the entire farce can continue.

Also, doesn't the prosecution have to prove that a crime was committed under -Swedish- law?

Has there been any illegal transfer actually facilitated by their site?

So far that has been presumed to be true, but is it a crime in Sweden to help a Yank to transmit a number to a Brit at an address relayed through Sweden? Is it a crime in Sweden for a Swede to help a Yank evade US taxes?

Put another way, would Sweden take a Chinese demand for extradition of everyone who assisted Chinese citizens in their exercise of free speech?

One third of workers open to bribes for data theft


Interesting offer...

I have five hundred quid in small bills if you tell me the root password for your work system.

Something which could never be traced to you, with a cash offer? Of course, it would probably take a few tries to get a real password, and you might trip a few alarms if you hit someone honest first.

But I bet there's a lot of money to be made from just one companies network.

Google should punt content thief ad payments to rights owners



Once a company signs up to this service, it becomes licensed use and not stealing. Better to file suit against the infringers, then get the banking details from the ad networks for to seize their valuable assets.

Tree huggers will confuse shoppers, says Amazon


Wildcards in trademarks?!?

So, now Amazon.com has laid claim to the trademark 'Amaz??', or are they asserting claim to 'Amaz*'?

How does this apply to E*Trade, Who now own claim to everything starting with E and ending in 'trade'? What about /., who have a very valid claim to any directory structure directly containing them, including the TLD?

Conspiracy theories aplenty as Amazon delists gay books


Obviously not accidental, nor inflicted by a third party.

Since the PORN is not hidden as 'adult' material, the delisting is not due to an 'adult' filter.

Since the world has retailiated against the presumed radical Christian instigator, every version of the Bible has been tagged with 'Adult, Hate, Hate Crimes, Genocide, Gay, Gay Porn' several thousand times. Yet they still show up in searches and rankings. Therefore, it is not an automatic response to users tagging books with 'adult' tags.

Since the "Gay bashing" books^H^H^H^H^H works of hate of are not excluded, even though they have a particular synonym for 'happy' in their title, it wasn't due to a filter culling everything with 'gay' in the title or synopsis.

Unless I see a more complete list of works that have been delisted, and it supports the theory of incompetence, I have to conclude that this is a malicious attack against gays. Incompetence is not a credible cause at this point.

First they delisted the gays, and I DID speak up, because I am not a gay.

-With profound respect for the intentions of the original author.

Pirate Bay guilty verdict: Now what?

Black Helicopters


"Google, which has many pros and many cons associated with it, will cooperate if we ask them."

Well, have you asked them? They have not removed all results. I can find a pointer to just about any {foo} by searching for "{foo} torrent".

Since you have not asked them, why have you prosecuted TPB? One difference is that TPB folks have a nationality, religion, and race, while Google, being a company, does not.

The RIAA and MPAA's treatment of piracy facilitators is therefore based on nationality, religion, and/or race. Proof: Two groups, TPB co-founders and Google, have both performed substantially identical acts. The group of nationality, religion, and race has been repeatedly harassed, and has now been prosecuted. The other has not.

I'm not on the side of pirates, I'm on the side against the RI Ass. of A.

Pirate Bay loses trial: defendants face prison time, hefty fines


@ Lee Jackson

Go with the right analogy. TPB is the photographer's guide that taught your neighbor how to take pictures of your landscaping. When he hung the pictures of YOUR hard work in his house without paying you, you claimed damages equal to what you spent on the landscaping. From the publisher of the photographer's guide.


From the TPB web press release:


They are concerned about the judgment, but everybody knew that the losing party would appeal anyway. Both parties expect the case to go to the highest court in Sweden.

The judgment calls into question the legality of Google Search, and of YouTube.

Functionally, there are only two difference between TPB and Google Search: TPB only indexes material at the explicit request of the hosts, while Google indexes material proactively; TPB does not copy or host anything except the links, while Google Search copies and makes material available from their own Cache.

Quotes, paraphrased, pulled out of the live stream:

"Don't use laws to shape behavior, let the laws match the behavior"

"The higher up you go in Swedish Courts, the fairer judgment you get. Nobody believes that this is a fair judgment."

"It will take another 4 or five years before final judgment comes."

"Prosecution's lawyers refused to deny allegations that they were running a political trial"

I missed a good bit due to technical issues. Full thing should be available at


Storage firm hopes to cut IP litigation costs with escrow discovery



So, the people who are reviewing the source code would not have access to networking, their own computer, or paper and pencil to take notes? They would be reduced to coming in to view the evidence, then leaving to write notes, repeat?

How is releasing the information one headful at a time less damaging than releasing it freely? Or is this a dodge to 'technically' comply with the court order, without giving the opposing part a chance to actually review the information in a meaningful way?

How gov scapegoats systems for man-made errors


Databases and proper treatment...

If the same developer made the software that handles the database and the software that handles the mail merge, shame on them! Do one thing well. One thing! Allow the user to export the data/reports in a variety of types, and let professional mail merge software handle the letters.

If the user made an export of the form: While Attendance<n, export(Name_Student, Attendance, Name_Parent_Custodial, Address_Parent_Custodial), shame on the user for (in order) not (a) Checking the results. (b) Accepting responsibility for the error. or (c) Considering the deceased flag in the query.

Yes, the lack of technical skill is the LEAST important thing here- The user knew his or her level of skill, and should have run a common sense check against the results.

The system is still in error, and more than a software patch is needed.

Subsidized netbook model could sweep away 20 years of PC history


Fact-Checking FAIL

Back in 1980s and 90s you could either buy an Apple Mac from Apple or a Windows machine from everyone else.

Interesting, then, that I was running PRODOS, MS-DOS, and DR-DOS during that period, and only the school system was running Macintosh. (Mostly, even they were running PRODOS well into the 1990s.)

Student sentenced for F-ucked up grade hack


So many security flaws...

I can grant that the keyloggers would be enough to get in and change the grades. But a simple audit should have shown all the changed grades, and reversed the changes. detection + 30 minutes, the damage should have been reversed.

Then they fall for the keyloggers again. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Having gotten the passwords, the group... uses them? Wrong course of action. Use a good Russian proxy, and change the grades of someone you don't know. Adjust them up by one letter. That person will get the blame, or the intrusion will remain undetected.

If the intrusion remains undetected, then the passwords will still stay the same, and you can make some other changes as well.

Dungeons & Dragons slays its digital distribution

Paris Hilton

Yeah, right.

They shifted their target market to people who play MMORPGs, then complain when their userbase has the technical savvy to share the books?

The .pdf files are useless for gameplay- they are clunky and very difficult to use at the table. That's the same reason that the last version sold, even after the rules were published in every online format available. (ex. d20srd.org).

Face it, Wizards. You got greedy, you made too many books required for regular gameplay, and in doing so, you scared off even your loyal customers. Do what Microsoft did and release D&D 7.

Paris, because she can roleplay without any rules. Her safeword is .pdf

'Big Brother' - the price of self-driving cars


I'm going to offer 'defective' models.

My transmitters will randomly change their serial number or vehicle make/model/owner on every startup. As well, they will inaccurately report position by 0-30 meters each startup, slowly improving their accuracy to meet standards within the first minute.

I figure every privacy nut out there will buy one, even if they just put in in their handbag, or on thier bike, or hide it on the bus. Let's make the signal/noise ratio a favorable one for privacy, shall we?

Lies, damned lies and inflation statistics


@ AC 29th March 2009 11:52 GMT

I love the way you made up actual numbers that are an order of magnitude different from the easy to find real numbers. Even given the US/UK million/billion/trillion mismatch, you're quite a hoot.

Actual total estimate of bailout costs: ~$1 trillion US. That's $1*10^12.

Your assertion: $12 trillion,

Error factor: 11

Typical acceptable error factors: 0-3

(Yes, the fact that I just needed engineering notation to make the numbers clear is itself an indictment)

However you put it, the money lost to bad loans has ALREADY left the economy. (It is debatable if the value of the real property never got as high as the price, or if the value rose and then sharply fell. Either way, value was expended and removed.) Now, the US has a similar total total domestic value to what it had about 10 years ago, and ~7% LESS money.

If you think having 7% less money isn't a big issue, then I ask: is 7% ADDITIONAL unemployment a big issue? Would a 7% pay cut be a big issue? How badly would across-the-board deflation of 7% hit a small business, given that their loans are fixed rate, and the inventory they have has a fixed dollar cost? (Prices CAN'T go down right away; a 7% drop in retail price means a ~14% drop in unit profit before fixed expenses (at x2 markup, typical for a small retailer). If fixed expenses (~50% of total expenses) also go down by 7%, then your typical small retailer has their bottom line drop by about 11.5% of their revenue. If their total margins were that high to begin with, they wouldn't be a small business for long.

Numbers example:

Wholesale unit cost: $10

Retail unit price: $20

Fixed expenses (lease, payroll, loan payments, etc): $6000/month

Sales: 700/month.

sales X marginal profit = $7000/month, - fixed expenses = $1000/month for the owner to live on.

Drop the price by 7%, to $18.60/ unit. Now you have $6,020/month from sales, -$6000/month expenses, the owner gets $20 a month.

In an ideal economy, the wholesale price would rapidly drop, as would the fixed expenses, however nobody can afford to drop their prices first: The wholesaler has a similar problem, shift raw materials for wholesale price and wholesale price for retail price, and the labor can't get less expensive before everyone's goods get less expensive.

The voting public would never go for government-run corporations, so the only way to control the economy is to keep the available money equal to the available value.

Put differently, if the money supply is kept constant, as by a gold standard or similar gimmick, then eventually a few tycoons will have -all- the money, and nobody else will have any. (If one consistently earns more than one spends, one's money will always go up. Eventually, it must reach the point where there is no money one doesn't have. Therefore, it is impossible for one to spend less than all the money one makes. Since long-term saving is IMPOSSIBLE, investments or large business loans don't happen, and the economy stalls from the top.

Fiat currency, released in the form of deficit spending, allows the money supply to remain equal to the total value of goods and services provided. The current issue is that the supply is poorly controlled. Also note that in cases of massive reduction of value -without- an associated reduction in money would require that money be removed- I.E. taxed from the public and NOT spent, ever. This could occur if a trillion dollars of -uninsured- consumer goods were to catch fire and be burned, bankrupting the owner(s) and the owner(s) lender(s) but the money that would have bought those goods is still in the market. (If they were insured, then the insurance company loses money roughly equal to the lost value. If the owner(s) can withstand the loss, they have lost the money. If the lender(s) withstand the loss, then they provide the money. However, if the lender(s) cannot float the damage, then EVERYONE pays. A total of a trillion dollars needs to be thrown away. (How about we (on paper) give it to the banks, allowing the previous economy to resume, and mandate additional fire protections?)

Wait, that's what the issue is about?

How the Feds shook hands with an internet pedophile


They're not really letting him go...

After final hearings and sentencing, once the plea agreement is final, they are going to give his computer back to him, unchanged. Then they will immediately arrest him for possession of child pornography. The plea agreement doesn't protect him from crimes committed after the deal was made, right?

Let him think he got off, wait until he starts to get off again, then bust the door down and jerk him off to jail.

Mines the one with the child pedo flyer in the pocket.

US gambling capital bans iPhone card counter


Rich got it right...

There are plenty of jurisdictions where using a device to count cards is not illegal, but will get you thrown out. This app is obviously designed for those places.

Note that if you just count cards and raise your bet when the odds favor you, will will get kicked out before you make ANY profit- The dealer is also counting the cards; While he doesn't change his strategy because of it, he knows when the count is good.

Verizon awarded $33.15m against cybersquatter


Follow the money... @ Gerrit

"That teenage boy at at a Western Union" can be made to give up what he did with the cash trail real easy. Take the judgment, and take his parent's house, car, and all of their possessions. Unless he can prove that he is not the person that they just won against in court. This is shaping up to make Verizon the new RIAA.

Frankly, they don't even have proof that the same person was behind each of these domains, and they still need to prove service of the proper process. Good luck doing that in China.

'I don't blame pilot', says San Diego jet crash father


Single-engine failure...

"all military pilots train for a single-engine failure, although it's a rare event"

Technically true, although it would be far more accurate to say that all pilots train for single-engine failure, even those who are only rated for single-engine aircraft. Lose an engine? Fly to the nearest airport that can land you- and a proper preflight means that you always know exactly where that is.

The pilot ejected, said the article. What of the navigator?

Vodafone says termination rate clampdown would hit the poor



So... Who pays for the cellular tower, network, and other mobile phone hardware, maintenance, etc., and in what proportion? Pass that cost on to mobile users, in the form of charging them based on their bandwidth usage, adjusted for demand where possible.

That, by the way, IS the US model- Customers either pay per minute that they are on the phone, or pay a premium not to pay per minute. Yes, there are options available, starting at about 50£ ($100) per month. Add to that your data plan (anywhere from cost per kilobit to an additional 10£ (20$) per month), and your messaging add-on (from .05£ ($0.10) per message to another 10£ (20$) per month), as well as fees, taxes, fees, assesments, fees, charges, and fees, and you end up paying dearly in order to not pay for anything.

As to the 'termination fee', which I assume is a per-call payment, by and to whom is it paid, and for what reason? Surely not from the telco who owns any of the infrastructure being used to someone who does not?!? I would assume that all the costs of expanding and maintaining the switched telephone network would be born by the owning telecomm companies, and recouped from their customers in whatever manner mutually agreed. Forgive a poor American for not knowing what kind of idiocy goes on on the other side of the pond. I've got enough idiocy on mine.

(And apolo(u)gies for all the parentheticals (especially the nested ones(even the ones needed for translation))).

Pentagon rattles sabre at Google's Street View


Pay peanuts, get monkeys...

The average gate gaurd is bottom rung, and gets paid (according to the latest charts) $1347-$1789 (£669-£888) per MONTH.


They normally work 8-12 hour ROTATING shifts, (Seven days 0000-1200, two days off, seven days 1200-2400, two days off, seven days 0800-2000, two days off, then four more days 0800-2000, four days off is an actual schedule for a military school.)

The military does not pay overtime. Ever. For any reason.

FTC and DoJ will fight for the right to rule on YaMicrohoosoft!


Microsoft! merger! confuses! Reg! hacks!

Just throw random! bangs around in any article! that mentions Microsoft! or the old Yahoo!

Heathrow 777 crash flattens servers

Paris Hilton

"Crash" and "landing"

Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.

Any landing you can't take off from again is a crash landing.

There is, therefore, such a thing as a good crash landing.

And the VAST majority of aircraft today are NOT fly-by-wire; the controls are directly mechanically linked to the control surfaces. The vast majority of aircraft are also not commercial aircraft.

Hilton, because she knows about direct mechanical linkages.

Polish teen derails tram after hacking train network



>>(very smart == savantism == autism)

Since we've already shown that hacking the system was no great feat, that line doesn't apply. However, autistic people do things like watch the trams and try to figure out how they work, and playing with them "like their own toy set" is entirely consistent with the condition. If he was indifferent to other people (not concerned that they might be injured or angry that they were delayed), then he is pretty much a dead ringer for autism.

MS to bundle 'broken' random number tool in Vista SP1


@James Hunter

Use demographics instead!


UN mandates stability control in trucks - cars to follow



I thought that only the security council of the UN could make 'binding resolutions' or 'mandate' anything? Since when does my non-elected non-governmental agency get to require anything of me?

Mine's the trenchcoat with the .45 in the right pocket.

Disability law can protect alcoholic workers


@Armchair experts

Why is everyone trying to confuse the point? Alcholism doesn't have any symptoms that would affect a job. Being drunk does. Employers have a responsibility to keep their workers from being drunk on the job. It doesn't matter if they are alcoholic or not; They are not allowed to come in to work drunk.

With that said, there is a huge difference between coming in to work with a BAC around .2 and smelling strongly of beer, and actually being drunk. I have an alchololic coworker who I have never seen drunk, despite the fact that he goes through more in a 15 minute break than I can in an entire evening.

Experts cast runes on Google phone security


The scary thing is...

amanfrom mars is making more sense in this discussion than anyone else.

Half of computer users are Wi-Fi thieves


If more than half of us are stealing...

Does that mean that each person who is running his own wireless network has, on average, more than one person stealing from him? Or are there some wireless networks that do not have non-stealing users?

BitTorrent site Demonoid.com downed by Canadian record industry



Why did The Register break another one of its great traditions? Surely it should be the Canadain Recording Industry Ass.


16,000 namesakes cry foul over US terror watch list

Black Helicopters

@First they came

First they came for the enemy combatants.

And I didn't speak up, because I was not an enemy combatant.

MIT student walks into airport wearing circuit board and wires



Was this, in fact, a work of art which she had been wearing all day, and intended to wear for the rest of the day, or just one which she wore to the airport to cause trouble?

That should be the distiction that determines wether this is a case of tweaking the airport security, or the airport security being tweakers.

Planting trees will not save the planet: official


50% more CO2?

Al Gore told me that unless we did something CO2 levels would rise to several hundred times their current level by this coming Sunday- Shouldn't we be testing tress at that level?

Sprint boots 1,000 phone customers for talking too much


Hear, Hear

Finally... Having spent time as a Sprint/Nextel customer care rep, where I had to deal with callers cursing both at the company and at me, personally; callers trying to commit various forms of fraud; and callers who were, apparently, disgruntled ex-technicians because they would order repetitive changes which would often crash the database.

When customer care agents are able to recognize by name and voice individual customers over a months-long period, then those customers are a problem, and are no longer profitable to Sprint. Cutting costs in customer service does not always mean giving jobs to India- I applaud Sprint/Nextel for finally doing something that might be interperted as caring about their customer service.

Whiteboards could damage kids and teachers' eyesight


re: re: Common sense?

>Even 'arc eye' caused by welders can take hours before you realise damage is done, and by jimminy

>does that hurt at that point.

Arc eye might not hurt for hours, but you know instantly that you just looked at a chunk of plasma brighter than the sun. Anyone smart enough to not look at the sun will know that eye damage is imminent;

Also, according to college level textbooks (Weld 107, Welding Technical Orientation, 2006, C. Hobson) arc eye rarely causes permanent damage- If the light from these projectors is not causing sunburn, it is less intense and, logically, should not be doing as much damage.

iPhone contract charges unveiled


"Unlimited" data

I can only speak with experience as to Nextel (now Sprint, but not really) data pricing - and thier unlimited data plans allow for any amount of traffic, at a fairly reasonable price ($10-$20/month additional, and include varying amounts of text or MMS messages, neither of which are SMS messages)

The alternative is a $0.015/kb charge. The value was set in the early days of wireless data... it doesn't seem like much, until you realize that it is $15.36/MB, and some of the early adopters of the smartphones were using them to browse graphics-intensive websites daily.

Exams, contracts, and nuclear research: stupid, stupid, stupid


Not enough information: Mineshafts

Relevant questions:

Does the cart start at the top, or the bottom of the shaft? Are there already people in the cart?

Irrelevant question:

From what location(s) is the cart controlled? (If an operator is needed IN the cart to bring it back down, then only 9 people can be evacuated per trip, except on the last trip. For the specific case given, it makes no difference. A proper question would have 37 people in the mine, which would require 4 trips ( 10-1+10-1+10-1+10=37) to evacuate everyone.)

(apologized for the long, (nested) parentehticals)