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Archive for October, 2011


Hasan M. Elahi writes in the NY Times about his run-in with the FBI several months after September 11th, 2001. They’d received an erroneous report that he had explosives and had fled the country, so they were surprised when he showed up at an airport and was flagged by watch-list software. Elahi chose not to fight the investigation, and provided the FBI with enough detail about his life to convince them that he was a lawful citizen. But then, he kept going, providing more and more information about his life, documenting his every move and making it available online. His experience has been that providing too much information affords almost the same privacy blanket as too little. Quoting:
“On my Web site, I compiled various databases that show the airports I’ve been in, food I’ve eaten at home, food I’ve eaten on the road, random hotel beds I’ve slept in, various parking lots off Interstate 80 that I parked in, empty train stations I saw, as well as very specific information like photos of the tacos I ate in Mexico City between July 5 and 7, and the toilets I used. … A lot of work is required to thread together the thousands of available points of information. By putting everything about me out there, I am simultaneously telling everything and nothing about my life. Despite the barrage of information about me that is publicly available, I live a surprisingly private and anonymous life.”

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mikejuk writes “Today we celebrate Dennis Ritchie Day, an idea proposed by Tim O’Reilly. Ritchie, who died earlier this month, made contributions to computing that are so deeply woven into the fabric that they impact us all. We now have to remark on the elephant in the room. If Dennis Ritchie hadn’t died just after Steve Jobs, there would probably have been no suggestion of a day to mark his achievements. We have to admit that it is largely a response to the perhaps over-reaction to Steve Jobs which highlighted the inequality in the public recognition of the people who really make their world work.”

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destinyland writes “An Ohio Emergency Management Agency staged a mock zombie attack using more than 225 volunteers dressed as zombies at an Ohio college. ‘Organizers hoped the theme would attract more volunteers than previous simulations of industrial accidents or train crashes,’ the AP reports, quoting a spokesman for the agency as saying that ‘People got zombie fever here in Delaware.’ The exercise included decontamination procedures for hazardous materials, and was inspired by an ’emergency preparedness’ post on the CDC web site citing the popular fascination with zombies. Now, ‘Dozens of agencies have embraced the idea,’ the AP reports, ‘spreading the message that if you’re prepared for a zombie attack, you’re prepared for just about anything.'”

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jfruhlinger writes “Apple’s North Carolina data center will, it appears, be turning greener: the company is building a dedicated solar farm to power it. That would be a welcome turnaround for proponents of green energy, as Apple was lured to North Carolina in part by the promise of cheap electricity from coal-fired plants.”

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wiredmikey writes “Microsoft has dismissed a lawsuit against a company it contended a month ago was at the heart of the now-defunct Kelihos bonnet. In September, Microsoft named Dominique Piatti and his company dotFree Group SRO as controllers of the botnet. The move marked the first time Microsoft had named a defendant in one of its botnet-related civil suits. ‘Since the Kelihos takedown, we have been in talks with Mr. Piatti and dotFree Group s.r.o. and, after reviewing the evidence voluntarily provided by Mr. Piatti, we believe that neither he nor his business were involved in controlling the subdomains used to host the Kelihos botnet,’ blogged Richard Domingues Boscovich, Senior Attorney for Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit. ‘Rather, the controllers of the Kelihos botnet leveraged the subdomain services offered by Mr. Piatti’s cz.cc domain.’ In regards to Kelihos, Boscovich said Microsoft is continuing its legal fight against the 22 ‘John Does’ listed as co-defendants in the lawsuit.”

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RedEaredSlider writes “Fish in the Hudson River and the harbor in New Bedford, Mass., have evolved resistance to PCBs. In the Hudson, a species of tomcod has evolved a way for a very specific protein to simply not bind to PCBs, nearly eliminating the toxicity. In New Bedford, the Atlantic killifish has proteins that bind to the toxin (just as they do in mammals) but the fish aren’t affected despite high levels of PCBs in their cells. Why the killifish survive is a mystery.”

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Bocaj writes “I recently spec’d out a large project for our company that included software from Red Hat. It came back from the CIO with everything approved except I have to use CentOS. Why? Because ‘it’s free Red Hat.’ Personally I really like the CentOS project because it puts enterprise class software in the hands of people who might not otherwise afford it. We are not those people. We have money. In fact, I questioned the decision by asking why the CIO was willing to spend money on another very similar project and not this one. The answer was ‘because there is no free alternative.’ I know this has come up before and I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but this is still a very persistent issue. Our CIO is convinced that technical support for any product is worthless. He’s willing to spend money on ‘one-time’ software purchases, but nothing that is an annual subscription. There is data to support that the Red Hat subscription is cheaper that many other up-front paid software products but not CentOS. The only thing it lacks is support, which the CIO doesn’t want. Help?”

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