* Posts by Compression Artifact

57 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Feb 2015


Firefox 89: Can this redesign stem browser's decline?

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Re: Stop fiddling with my browser!

"For now you can go to about:config, search for 'proton' and set all to false."

I'm not sure what the other proton options do; but I just changed browser.proton.enabled to false and this made the browser usable again. Firefox 89's new low contrast theme was straining my eyes.

Google reCAPTCHA service under the microscope: Questions raised over privacy promises, cookie use

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reCAPTCHA in government website

There's a place in the Colorado Secretary of State's website where users who have just entered private information into a form have to solve a Google reCAPTCHA to submit it. Private information for the government and Google are two things that do not go well together.

Blockchain study finds 0.00% success rate and vendors don't call back when asked for evidence

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Blockchain tutorials

Can anyone provide a link to a tutorial that explains what blockchain is, that doesn't read like a parody of techno-gibberish or marketing hype?

When I asked this question on another forum a few months ago, I only got one response. The article they referred me to was 95% nonsense. The other 5% was a vague admission that it may have scalability problems.

Mozilla changes Firefox policy from ‘do not track’ to ‘will not track’

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Bank depends on "cross site tracking"

Yesterday I noticed that the link on my bank's website to view recent statements was broken. I called their customer service to ask if the site was out of order. They said the link now requires "cross site tracking" to be enabled or it won't work. This used to work properly; and there's an alternate link elsewhere on their site that does work properly, which suggests that only some of their web developers are screwed up. I chewed them out.

Sen. Ron Wyden: Adobe Flash is doomed, why is Uncle Sam still using it?

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For the last year or more, the only Flash I ever see on the internet is the animated weather radar at radar.weather.gov. An animated gif would do the job just fine.

Google Chrome: HTTPS or bust. Insecure HTTP D-Day is tomorrow, folks

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I just spoke with tech support at the web host I use for my personal site, which is just a couple of trivial HTML pages I upload with an FTP client. They said they only support https at their grade of service that is two price tiers more expensive than anyone would use for a personal site. The additional ongoing cost would be over $300 per year. I think I'll pass on it.

US websites block netizens in Europe: Why are they ghosting EU? It's not you, it's GDPR

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I live in the U.S. and have received three of these GDPR emails. Two were from online stores in Germany that I sometimes use. The third was from someone who falsely claimed to be the host for one of my websites and wanted me to "click here." I did not do so.

Facebook admits it does track non-users, for their own good

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My current set of privacy/security extensions (for Firefox) is:


uBlock Origin

Cookie Autodelete

And 3rd party cookies are disabled in the privacy options.

I tried adding Privacy Badger to the set. After a week, it had not found a single thing to block. The set listed above apparently left it with nothing to do.

Best thing about a smart toilet? You can take your mobile in without polluting it

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The only feature I've ever wanted in a smart toilet is an anemometer. When the wind blows, the roof vents act like pitot tubes and suck some of the water out of the toilets. It should be a simple matter to measure the air pressure in the sewer line and calibrate it to wind speed.

Facebook's inflection point: Now everyone knows this greedy mass surveillance operation for what it is

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Staying off Facebook isn't enough

Go to a typical website (e.g., http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ushome). Look under the hood and count the number of times the string "facebook" occurs in the HTML source code (86 for the example just mentioned). NoScript and uBlock Origin clean things up nicely.

Knock, knock. Whois there? Get ready for anonymized email addresses after domain privacy shake-up

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"I'm for it because I found out first hand what happens when you don't apply privacy, my block list on phone and email are huge and still rising, this is after over 12 months."

I normally apply privacy in all the domains I manage; but a couple years ago, my details were exposed for a couple of weeks during a registrar changeover. During that time, I was getting about one spam per day from entities all over the world (including a sporting goods store in Australia) claiming they were my new hosting service, and that I should "log on here" and check out the cool new dashboard.

Trump buries H-1B visa applicants in paperwork

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"Companies advertise "IT" jobs at below the going rate. ... No applicants."

At the last company I worked for before I retired, one of the tricks they used was to require 10 years of experience at a job that most people would consider entry-level. No takers. Anyone who has been in that position for 10 years without getting promoted out of it is someone you wouldn't want anyway.

A related trick was to require more years of experience in some technology (Java, in this case) than the time the technology had been in existence. Having no takers, they would then fill the building with H-1Bs with no experience at all and bring in a team of consultants to give them basic training in programming.

Facebook told to stop stalking Belgians or face fines of €250k – a day

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Re: Industry Standard, like that is a good thing

The one good thing about spyware being done in an industry-standard way is that it makes it easier for crap-blocking browser extensions to recognize it and get rid of it.

We already give up our privacy to use phones, why not with cars too?

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AI Back-Seat Drivers and Driving Examiners

What I foresee is not self-driving cars, but cars with built-in back-seat drivers and driving examiners. Such a vehicle would have all the sensors and artificial intelligence of a self-driving car, but without the actuators for making the vehicle autonomous. The AI would continuously compare its opinion of what you should be doing with what you are actually doing. Whenever there is a significant discrepancy, the following would happen:

1. It would speak a message to you criticizing your driving.

2. Your insurance premium would be automatically increased.

3. The authorities would be notified. Points would be charged against your driver's license and fines would be deducted from your bank account in real time.

This would be about a popular as red-light cams and automated speed traps; but if you opt out, the vehicle's ignition will be remotely disabled. (My insurance company is already charging 15% extra to opt out of surveillance.)

It gets worse: Microsoft’s Spectre-fixer wrecks some AMD PCs

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Re: Exactly which AMD processors are getting hosed?

It's now a day later, the morning of Patch Tuesday; and I see that Windows Update is no longer offering me KB4056894. Looks like it got recalled:


As of right now, Windows Update is showing me no "important" updates.

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Exactly which AMD processors are getting hosed?

"KB4056892 is not your friend if you run an Athlon"

I have an AMD Phenom II X4 945 processor that's about 10-12 years old. The Windows update that Microsoft is offering me is KB4056894. I'm wondering if this processor is Athlon-related and whether this update is safe.

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

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Basilisk just released

The Pale Moon developers put out the first public release of Basilisk (basilisk-browser.org) a couple days ago. I used it all day yesterday with no problems. It runs all of my desired extensions, including the HTML Validator (users.skynet.be/mgueury/mozilla), which I haven't been able to run on Pale Moon or Waterfox. Basilisk will be in beta/experimental mode for some time; so while I'm exercising it I'm using Pale Moon and Waterfox as backups.

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Re: Waterfox

The Pale Moon people are working on something called Basilisk (see basilisk-browser.org), which apparently has become available (beta-version) in the last few days; so I'm going to check it out. Whether this is intended to replace Pale Moon is not entirely clear. I read something from them last week that implied that their intent is that the Basilisk UI will be frozen and developments and advancements will be mostly under-the-hood, particularly in the realm of extensions.

On the site cited, they say: "Basilisk as an application is primarily a vessel for development of the XUL platform it builds upon, and additionally a potential replacement for Firefox to retain the use of Firefox Extensions."

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Re: Supporting legacy addons is not the real problem here

"pip25 - have to agree with you. I've stuck with Firefox for ages because of a couple of add-ons that aren't available anywhere else. Once they're gone I'll dump Firefox and look for something else. I'm off to play with Pale Moon (HT) and spend the rest of the afternoon seeing what else is out there."

From my point of view, I browse the internet with NoScript; and the browser is merely something that it plugs into. Whether that browser is Firefox, Waterfox, Pale Moon or whatever is no big deal to me.

I've been testing several supposed alternatives to NoScript in the Chrome Catalog and so far have rejected them all; so for now I'm using both Waterfox and Pale Moon.

Boffins: We can identify you by your typing, and we're gonna sell the tech to biz, govt – yay!

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Re: A few comments...

Back in the early '90s, in the age of Internet Bubble 1.0, we at least had some useful concepts in mind, like computer-aided design and The Golden Age of Engineering. But with computer science degenerating into an arms race between the hi-tech industry and the public, I'm now glad I've retired from the industry.

What's that, Equifax? Most people expect to be notified of a breach within hours?

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"I'll be sending the bill for my freezes at the other companies to equifax as well as a bill for the time it took for me to do it since it was considerable as the web sites and automated phone systems of both transunion and equifax fell over multiple times for me."

I hope you have more luck with this than I did trying to get Anthem to reimburse me for what I spent on postage and return-receipt certified mail to freeze my credit files after their breach was announced.

I can only take some cruel pleasure in the knowledge that what Anthem spent on the salaries of the bureaucrats for the time and effort it took to reject my claim was probably at least an order of magnitude more than the reimbursement I wanted.

Revealed: The naughty tricks used by web ads to bypass blockers

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Re: Bandwidth

"At work I'm forced to use IE or Chrome without such filters and I'm constantly aghast at the time web pages take to load because of all the extra fetches and the crap distractions all around the content once they do."

At a place where I used to work, I think I was the only employee who blocked active content. At one point in time, management got concerned about the machines employees were using picking up spyware and they tested all the machines in the building with Lavasoft. When they got around to my machine, the technician said it was the first one that tested clean.

Anthem to shell out $115m in largest-ever data theft settlement

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The morning after the breach I spent about $20 on postage (certified mail, return receipt) ordering the credit reporting agencies to freeze my credit reports. Anthem refused to reimburse me. Maybe I can file another claim now and get a buck or two.

Banking websites are 'littered with trackers' ogling your credit risk

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Tip of the iceberg

"By comparison, HSBC had only two and JPMorgan Chase had nine. Other figures include TD Bank (20), BNY Mellon (14), US Bank (9), Bank of America (6), Citibank (6), Capital One (6) and Wells Fargo (5)."

I have charge accounts at two of these banks; and they're doing a lot more than just hiding trackers that fly under most customers' radar.

Recently, both of them have started nagging me (as a new phase in the account log-on process) to tell them my current income "so they can update their records." Neither actually requires it, as I can work around this by closing the browser and re-starting the logon. One of them openly admits this is purely for marketing reasons so they can present me with advertisements tailored to my income level; and I assume the other is the same.

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Re: I think we need to know...

"Translation: If you just let us track everything you do, we will stop annoying you with those pesky pop-ups."

That's not the worst of it. The pop-up is advertising some security software that the bank would like its customers to install. A quick web search turned up lots of bad reviews of it from people who say it wrecked their machines when they installed it.

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Re: I think we need to know...

"What about all the 3rd party scripts that are reversed proxied, so they will be coming from your banks domain are you going to block them as well?"

I find that, in practice, most websites I visit don't get this cute. Most bludgeon you with garbage from a massive array of obvious third-party domains. E.g., when I visit the website of a local TV station, NoScript takes out its meat axe and chops out eleven domains (and all the actual content I want to read is still there). This leaves uBlock Origin with very little to do; but it still finds three (non-script) objects on its blacklists and takes care of them. While NoScript might not defend against the kind of thing you mention, this sounds like something that uBlock Origin could potentially deal with, if there's a recognizable pattern to it.

I very rarely see websites with massive quantities of JavaScript coming from just the primary domain; and usually it's something like an amateur WordPress site that I would block completely anyway.

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Re: I think we need to know...

I use both NoScript and uBlock Origin. NoScript seems to get first crack at things and when I go to my bank's website, it blocks tracking crap from four domains before uBlock Origin gets to see them. If I use a browser with only uBlock Origin, then it blocks all four because they appear on the blacklists that it uses.

There is one additional domain that interferes with the logon process with an annoying popup ad for some crapware. I reported it to the bank's IT department as a possible infection on their site. They said that the popup will go away if I 1) reconfigure my browsers to never delete cookies and 2) let the popup run once. I prefer to just let NoScript block the domain it's coming from.

It's not just your browser: Your machine can be fingerprinted easily

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Re: Mine doesn't give that data.

This reminds me of when I visited the website of one of the major antivirus products many years ago. In order to frighten people into buying their product, they offered a link to click on which would then give you a printout of all the information they could dig out of your machine. I clicked on it. What came back was a page stating that they couldn't find out anything because I had JavaScript disabled. The page suggested that I enable scripting so that they could do their thing. I left.

Like it or not, here are ALL your October Microsoft patches

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Is wheel-spinning replacing nagware as the new Windows 10 incentive?

As the WIndows 10 nagware is being phased out, the time Windows 7 update spends in 0% completed mode is ramping up. In the previous three updates it's gone from 5 hours to about 9 hours to just over 20 hours. I'm guessing that this month it'll be a couple of days.

A web search shows that thousands of people are complaining. There are several proposed workarounds, some of which I know don't work and some of which look dangerous.

Webpages, Word files, print servers menacing Windows PCs – yup, it's Patch Tuesday

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"Still checking..."

On my Windows 7 machine, the previous three monthly updates spent 1/2 hour, 3 hours and 5 hours in the "checking for updates" mode apparently doing nothing, before getting on with it. The wait time seems to be going up exponentially rather than just linearly.

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Chana masala

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Chaat masala hummus

Since hummus is basically pureed and spiced chick peas and since I make my own, I decided to try making a chaat masala hummus; and it turned out great. I use 20 grams of chaat masala with a one pound can of chick peas. The other ingredients are the standard stuff (lemon juice, sesame seed paste, garlic, etc.)

ID theft alert biz LifeLock coughs up $96m to FTC in false ad claim deal

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"The proposed FTC settlement does not require us to change our current products, services, or business and information security practices, including in particular, our current marketing and advertising practices," LifeLock said in a statement.

Whenever they break for commercials on the local news/talk radio, the advertizers go to work pounding on the listeners like sledge hammers; and the hyperventilating, over-the-top, hard sell LifeLock ads are still about the most obnoxious of the bunch.

It's 2015, and someone can pwn Windows PCs by inserting a USB stick

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After 15 minutes spinning its wheels in "checking for updates" mode apparently doing nothing I was starting to get a little concerned, since this was an all-time record. But after another 15 minutes it finally got on with it.

Sick of politicians robo-calling you? Bin your landline, says the FCC

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Time for some public reaming

A couple of election cycles ago, I was forced to abandon my land line because I was being hammered by multiple political robo-calls per day from my own party. These were in addition to the usual crap from Heather from Account Services, etc. These calls did not contain useful announcements like upcoming townhall meetings. They were reminders that the other party sucks big succulent donkey balls (which I already know) and requests for campaign contributions.

So far I've only had one political robo-call to my cell phone--during dinner no less. Instead of complaining to the FCC, I 1) phoned the candidate's campaign manager and reamed him and 2) reamed him again on Twitter for pestering me with dinnertime robo-calls. If all recipients of such calls would take these actions, it might have some effect.

Biologists gasp at lemur's improbably colossal bollocks

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Re: Tanuki.

"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_raccoon_dog - and of course look at the pictures."

And check out the song lyrics in Section 4.2.

Hear it performed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKPiHwlct7k

BUZZKILL. Honeybees are dying in DROVES - and here's a reason why

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"Bees" vs. "honeybees"

Last night, coincidentally, I attended a talk on pollinators by our local agricultural entomologist. Two of his points were that 1) many if not most honeybee-decline alarmists don't know what they're talking about and are just ideologues going for newspaper headlines and 2) a common mistake is equating "bee" and "honeybee." In America, the latter is actually a non-native invader and the importance of native bees to both agriculture and native plants is not often appreciated.

Read more here:


UK safety app keeping lorries on the right side of cyclists

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Re: How about an app for safe cyclists?

"How does that work though?"

Read more here:


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How about an app for safe cyclists?

The basic rule for safe positioning on the roadway for a cyclist is: "on straightaways, position yourself according to your speed, and when approaching intersections, position yourself according to your destination."

A corollary, which is one of the most important rules of safe cycling, is "never go straight through an intersection positioned such that it is possible for same-direction traffic to turn in front of you." Cyclists who ignore this rule tend to get hit. It's the laws of physics.

If you have bike lanes that guide unsuspecting cyclists into situations like this where they are betting against the laws of nature, then it sounds like what's needed is an app for bicyclists that would guide them to routes without intersections with such lanes.

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The "confused wildlife" style

I observe three styles of cycling in my community:

1. "Vehicular" style cyclists understand that cyclists are safest when they are treated as vehicles, not pedestrians riding toys. They avoid accidents by obeying traffic laws, appearing on the roadway only in places where vehicles are expected to be and doing things vehicles are expected to do.

2. "Pedestrian" style cyclists believe they can go anywhere pedestrians can go (while mounted) and do anything pedestrians do (including the cycling equivalent of jaywalking).

3. "Confused wildlife" style cyclists behave like deer who have wandered onto the roadway. They can unexpectedly appear on the roadway anywhere doing anything--especially in intersections.

In my community, the ratio is about 15% vehicular-style, 50% pedestrian-style and 35% confused-wildlife style. When I am driving in my car and see a cyclist, I avoid accidents with them by assuming they are incompetent--i.e., followers of either the pedestrian or confused wildlife styles.

And whether they are dressed like hobos or decked out in spandex has no correlation to their level of competence as a cyclist.

Mono Magic: Photography, Breaking Bad style

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I have a Pocket Kodak No. 1 that looks just like the one pictured, except that it has an f/7.9 lens. The patent dates inside the camera range from 1913-1921. Both mine and the one pictured are the "Autographic" model, which has a slot with a movable slide on the back so the photographer can write on the back side of the (pressure sensitive) film with a stylus. The stylus is stowed in a holder next to the lens. This is the long knurled silver thing you can see in the picture.

I found in it in my grandparents' attic back around 1980 and they gave it to me to play around with. After having it restored with a new bellows, I discovered that it took better pictures than my 35mm SLR--just because of the bigger (2-1/4 x 3-1/4) film format. This is how I got into large format photography.

What I'm waiting for now are digital backs for 2-1/4 x 3-1/4 and 4x5 view cameras that have as much resolution as film and cost less than a car.

Google and Obama: You’re too close for comfort

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The problem will continue as long as no one cares. It is difficult to find members of the public at either end of the political spectrum who are concerned enough about internet security and privacy to 1) take meaningful precautions themselves or 2) as voters, make this a campaign issue to be championed by either party.

As the article points out, hi-tech privacy invaders are seeing little opposition from the current administration. And people I know on the Right who go ballistic over government surveillance use their Facebook pages and (often-hacked) Google and Yahoo accounts to complain about it. Their attitude is that as long as their privacy is being invaded by private enterprise and not government, it's OK.

Redmond's Patch Tuesday to kill off the Windows FREAK show

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Two things I noticed after applying Tuesday's patches:

1. The default media player got switched from VLC to Windows Media Player.

2. The privacy settings in Windows Media Player got reversed--from no-phone-home mode to wide-open mode.

FTC to DirecTV: No more lies! Tell viewers what you really charge

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I once heard a theory that the louder and more raucous the radio commercial, the lower the intelligence of its intended audience.

The loudest commercial that the local news radio station is running nowadays (screaming announcer, drums pounding, etc.) is for a local dish installer.

US watchdog: Anthem snubbed our security audits before and after enormous hack attack

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Anthem has told me personally and announced publicly that any unexpected phone calls received from someone claiming to be Anthem are fake.

I got one of these calls about five hours ago and hung up on them. I did a web search on the phone number that appeared in the caller ID. It was that of some unrelated business--probably spoofed. I've been getting these occasionally over the last year. This one was a different style and had a human on the other end instead of a robot. And the earlier calls were not as obviously spoofed.

I, ROBOT ~ YOU, MORON. How else will automated news work?

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Re: To inform or to entertain?

It's not just the news. I've seen a lot of one-hour science documentaries that are just animated computer graphics infotainment with actual content that could be explained in about two minutes.

FCC says cities should be free to run decent ISPs. And Republicans can't stand it

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Multiple competing sewer systems

Everything in the article looks like it was written about what's going on in my county. We're trying to get some non-smokestack industries to move into town; but we have some of the lamest internet infrastructure in the state and this is being cited as a reason they won't come here. We have the traditional duopoly of crappy phone + crappy cable. The county commissioners have been raking the cable company over the coals for its outages and the city council is running a ballot proposition for municipal broadband.

Telecommunication and power utilities here are buried; and running multiple competing broadband services would run into some of the same absurdities as multiple competing sewer systems. (Other analogies between internet infrastructure and sewer systems can also be made; but that's another discussion.) This and the failure of the private-sector duopoly are provoking the government to step in.

The other side of the argument is that the city has a track record of trying to run operations that compete with local businesses for no apparent reason--with results that do not inspire confidence. The city and county both have increasingly fancy websites that don't work; and there is obvious concern that whoever is running them will be involved in the proposed municipal broadband.

P0wned plug-in puts a million WordPress sites at risk of attack

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Re: Fundamental problems

"Basic Wordpress is quite neat, but seriously dangerous in the hands of amateurs (i.e. 99% of Wordpress users)."

Something I'm seeing more and more of is friends who have no concept of email security (and have a track record of falling for social engineering attacks) going on to new adventures like making amateur websites using free website builders. I always approach these with "shields up." When I go to these sites and NoScript blocks everything, I then have to explain to them what "whitelisting" means and why I'm not going to do it.

In two cases, their websites were being flagged by Google as "possibly compromised" and they couldn't figure out why. When I checked them out (again, with "shields up"), I saw that they had been hit with the "WordPress Pharma Hack"--not to mention one site having a virus in some of the crap that NoScript was blocking. One site was later rebuilt from scratch using a different builder; the other was taken down and never replaced.

Net neutrality victory: FCC approves 'open internet' rules in 3-2 vote

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Re: um ... thanks, Verizon?

"Still, not much will change for me, personally, unless my city decides to build it's own fiber network to compete with Verizon DSL and TWC."

Something like this ballot proposition we'll be voting on this coming April 7 (copied in its all-caps glory from the sample ballot)?



What provoked this is the current choice between slow copper DSL vs. fast but unreliable cable. Since no one understands what's going on, discussion has been minimal.

Britain needs more tech immigrants, quango tells UK.gov

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"Don't forget that - in an employer's eyes - on the very day that you turn forty your skills become obsolete ..."

At one company I used to work for, their maximum age of retention was 39.5, since age 40.0 is when age discrimination laws kick in. Seeing what was coming, when I reached the age of about 39.3, I found another company that valued people based on experience rather than recentness of degree and bailed.

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Re: The race to the bottom...

"How are we going to increase the number of senior developers if we tell the junior ones that their future roles are going to be taken from them by people conveniently being parachuted in from abroad?"

I have nephews and a niece who are all in college majoring in physics and related fields. My career recommendation to them is to make sure you're your own boss. If there's anyone above you on the corporate food chain, they will be scouring the world for a cheaper replacement for you.