Tuesday, February 09, 2016

I'm laughing my ass off at the birther nonsense

Back in 2008 when all the Barack Obama birther nonsense started I told people, be careful because this will come back and bite us in the ass someday.  It has.  Probably everybody knows that Ted Crus was born in Canada to one American parent and one *shudder* Cuban immigrant Canadian parent.  Under the law that makes him a Natural Born American Citizen - UNLESS you are some sort of rabid dumbshit like pyromancer67 in the comments of this thread.  In that case he is a Cuban (not even a Canadian but a Cuban).  

Same crap that they pulled on Obama (who I despise, so don't look at this as some sort of back handed defense of him).

Here's the thing - I can't stand Ted Cruz (actually I can't stand any of the current Presidential candidates from any party) but this is a bullshit argument against him.  I find him unlikable, reeking with an air of dishonesty, and small minded in his policies.  I think he would diminish American even more than the current jackass because he has even less vision and more ego.  But all that said, the guy is an American citizen so fight him the issues and not xenophobia or racism, which is exactly what this is - why else do you think Trump, the main pusher of the not-a-citizen narrative is drawing so much of the White Supremicist vote.

Governments aren't the privacy problem, ad companies are:

source via Lesley Carhart ( @hacks4pancakes )

NEW YORK -- Ask one of the foremost cryptographers of the modern generation what the biggest privacy issue is today and you might expect something like backdoored encryption or government spying.


"The adblocker dispute is going to become one of the fundamental battles on privacy," said Callas. "It's going to be a lot of fun to watch."
 Interesting article, and I agree that private corporations are the real threat to privacy not the government.  In the wake of the Snowden revelations I maintained, and still do, that it is very hard for me to get upset about the government having phone metadata, when companies like Verizon have openly sold that data in the past.

I am a cell phone user, I am a facebook user, google user etc.  The thing is that I realize that once I use those services and give up that data, it no longer belongs to me.  Just like allowing someone to take a picture of me gives them a little piece of my soul, every time I use one of those services I give up another little piece of my privacy.

No amount of legislation, transparency, corporate good intention will ever change that.  It's a physical law of the universe.

I think the author completely misunderstands  why people use ad-blocker though.  I don't know a single person (I know Pauline Kael effect) who actually uses ad-blocking software because they are worried about their privacy.  Maybe they are happy with that as a side benefit, but it's not the primary purpose.

No, they use ad-blocker because they are tired of being pounded by overly intrusive autoplaying ads.

Look, I understand companies have to make a profit.  I am willing to support that.  Full page screen over ads that disappear after a few seconds, no problem,  In line ads, no problem.  Small polls that have to be answered in order to proceed to an article, again no problem.  Start running flash ads that autoplay and then repeat, or worse popunders that start autoplaying something and yeah, no-script and ad-blocker get deployed.  At that point the ad company fired the first shot and every single executive should be sent to Gitmo and waterboarded with 5 day old septic tank leakage.

Anyway the point of all this was that the guy is right - if you are concerned about privacy, it is the corpoarte actors who should really be concerning you.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Of course the government wants to use flawed data - What I am reading 2/5/2016

LA Times - BMI Mislabels 54 Million Americans as 'overweight' or 'obese' study says -

They found that nearly half (47.4 percent) of overweight people and 29 percent of obese people were, from a metabolic standpoint, quite healthy. On the flip side, more than 30 percent of individuals with “normal” weights were metabolically unhealthy.
That would be a pretty big deal, especially since the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently proposed rules that would allow employers to penalize employees for up to 30 percent of their health insurance costs if they don’t meet 24 health criteria — which include meeting a specific BMI. If body mass index doesn’t accurately reflect health, then those with high BMIs potentially could be overcharged for no reason.
(I rearranged the paragraph order to emphasize the point of the article)

I think we all know why the employers want this, being able to force 30% of health care costs back on employees would be a huge cost savings.  I think the government wants it so because they believe it will make employers more open to Obamacare.

Hacker News - Someone Hijacks Botnet Network & Replaces Malware with an Antivirus -

The title says it all.  This was actually the plotline of one of the stories in Stealing the Network: How to Own the Box.

Little Bird - 62% of the people Donald Trump RTed this week follow multiple White Supremacist accounts -

Again the title kind of says it all, but as the article notes Trump doesn't really have any control over who his followers support otherwise and most of the retweets came after a tweet saying something nice about Trump.  So probably kind a a bullshit statistic I think - although maybe they should consider what message is being sent that attracts White Supremacists.

Network Computing - 8 New Network Standards You Need to Know -

I particularly liked the IPDS standard (Internet Porn Delivery Service)  it really sums up what the internet is all about.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

How many have you read? The top 20 lied about books

  1. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll – No.
  2. 1984 - George Orwell – Yes, multiple times
  3. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy - JRR Tolkien – Yes, twice.  Torturous both times.
  4. War And Peace - Leo Tolstoy – Started about 5 years ago never finished
  5. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy – No.
  6. The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle - partially
  7. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee – Yes, multiple times
  8. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens – No.
  9. Crime And Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky – No.
  10. Pride And Prejudice - Jane Austen – No.
  11. Bleak House - Charles Dickens – No.
  12. Harry Potter (series) - JK Rowling – Yes.
  13. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens – Yes.
  14. The Diary Of Anne Frank - Anne Frank – Maybe an abridged version in school so I am saying partial.
  15. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens – No.
  16. Fifty Shades trilogy - EL James – No.
  17. And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie – No.
  18. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald – Yes.
  19. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller – Yes.
  20. The Catcher In The Rye - JD Salinger – Yes, easily one of the most overrated books I ever read.

Why Ivy League Schools Are Different In Two Pictures


I don't think I really need to say more, there is a marked difference, but one more set of lists to illustrate:

Computer Science - All Institutions

Computer Science - Ivy League

Computer Science - Ivy League + Stanford

Not a huge amount of overlap.  It really gets interesting when you compare Stanford with bot All Institutions and just the Ivy League though.  Stanford is without doubt one of the big guns in the computer science world and it has very little crossover with the other two groups.

I think it's pretty obvious where you attend school can make a huge impact on the worldview you bring into the workforce and society in general.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

This looks like it may be worthwhile

Only time for one thing this morning

The Verge - Watch the first trailer for Amazon's sci-fi satire Creative Control -

The film, directed by Benjamin Dickinson, explores the life-changing aspects of a new pair of AR glasses called Augmenta. The glasses, in the words of one hyper-hip executive, aim to put "a magical layer" on top of reality. That magical layer serves, inevitably, to alienate the protagonist from the rest of his life. Creative Control shows his experience for the nightmare that it is, and the fact that the film is shot in black and white only accentuates the anxiety that comes with embracing this new technology.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Yahoo's being sued for reverse discrimination - Firing males to promote females

SAN FRANCISCO — One of Marissa Mayer’s signature policies as chief executive of Yahoo has been the quarterly performance review, in which every employee at the company is ranked on a scale of 1 to 5. The ratings have been used to fire hundreds of employees since Ms. Mayer joined the company in mid-2012.
Now, as Ms. Mayer prepares to announce a streamlining plan on Tuesday that is likely to involve even more job cuts, one former manager who lost his job is challenging the entire system as discriminatory and a violation of federal and California laws governing mass layoffs.
In his complaint, Anderson says that between 2012 and 2015, Yahoo reduced its work force by more than 30 percent to fewer than 11,000 employees. That constitutes a mass-layoff, which requires 60-day notice under state and federal law, he says.
Anderson also says his supervisors, in particular Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Savitt, favored female workers. When Savitt began at Yahoo, top managers in the "Media Org" were less than 20 percent female, the complaint states. Three years later, they were more than 80 percent female.
The complaint, filed in federal court in the Northern District of California, alleges gender discrimination and "termination in violation of public policy."

Apparently on the advice of a management consulting firm, Yahoo implemented stack ranking, and then allegedly started using it to manipulate the work force so that they could increase diversity.  Two Three mistakes here:

1.  Trusting a management consultant about anything.  If someone has an MBA and they tell you the sky is blue I would break out the color wheel and double check.  MBA have been the death of American industry.  (IMO of course, if any of my imaginary readers are MBAs I am sure you are lovely people who don't actually kick babies and eat dogs and your mothers probably actually do love you)

2.  Using stack rankings.  As far as I know these are a widely discredited technique and it's disturbing that someone as smart Marrisa Mayer is alleged to be (far, far smarter than me to be sure) is still using them.

3.  (allegedly) Blatantly disregarding employment law, although this is a Silicon Valley wide phenomenon,  Let's just assume that a diverse work force is always better than one that isn't and therefore their efforts to promote diversity are warranted (and I advocate promoting qualified minorities into positions that have traditionally been denied to them for some reason, and by qualified I mean that stripped of all identifying information and presented with just a list of skills, accomplishments, and qualifications the candidates would be on the same professional level)  That doesn't matter because employment law forbids making decisions like that based on race, gemder religion etc.  If the allegations are true, they broke the law.

Actually this really boils down to one error.  They listened to the management consultants.

Marissa Mayer is supposed to announce announce some restructuring plans today.  If I were here my plans would consist of two steps:

1.  Fire every single MBA in the company
2.  Put the engineers in charge for 12 months and let them come up with some cool shit.

I know people say that the age of the internet portal is over but if that's so why is Yahoo still one of the most visited pages on the web?  Update it.  Integrate Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and whatever else.  Make it useful again.  That would go a long ways towards fixing shit.

Maybe this one time CSI Cyber isn't completely full of it AND DHS screws the pooch again EINSTEIN is apparently useless - what I am reading 2/2/2016

Tom's Hardware - As you know I watch CSI Cyber ever week. Mainly so I have an excuse to get mad and yell at the TV, and usually it deserves it, but this week I saw a lot of people ridiculing the show for its "airborne computer virus" plot line.  Essentially malware is being passed from unsecured wireless access points to other unsecured wireless access points and then on to cell phones.  But wait you say I know I heard something like this at one time - Well Yes you did, in this article.  Now I am not going to try and defend CSI Cyber on the  technical accuracy or plausibility of their stories, and I definitely am not going to try and defend them on on casting, acting, etc. but in this one specific instance they did not just pull something completely out of there ass.  They took a reported vulnerability and carried it to a somewhat logical (although probably unlikely) conclusion, and they even got the disease analogy right.  


Despite having spent $1.2bn in 2014 and $5.7bn in total, however, the system still only monitors certain types of network packets – and that does not include web traffic or cloud services.
How bad is it in reality? The GAO tested the system by trying to exploit 489 known vulnerabilities in Adobe Acrobat, Flash, Internet Explorer, Java and Microsoft Office. Of them, just 29, or six per cent, were picked up by the scanners and stopped – allowing the rest to reach potentially vulnerable devices. So, six per cent coverage of known security holes for $6bn. Money well spent.

Remember all that business class stuff about core competencies.  Apparently DHS doesn't. Isn't it time we did away with DHS and returned the child agencies to their original homes and some adult (or at least adolescent supervision). 

With the global economy looking increasingly fragile, Japan is now taking a more aggressive step by cutting interest rates below zero on Friday.
The policy — which means banks are essentially paying for the privilege of parking their money — represents a last resort for a country that has struggled through a quarter-century of weak growth. In theory, negative rates will push banks to lend more to companies, which would then spend and hire.