Daily Archives: July 23, 2015

Linux protects your computer

Viruses, trojans, adware, spyware… Windows lets all these enter your computer pretty easily. The average period of time before a Windows PC (connected to the Internet and with a default “Service Pack 2” installation) gets infected is 40 minutes (and it sometimes takes as little time as 30 seconds).

So you can either 1) install a firewall, 2) install an antivrus program, 3) install an anti-adware program, 4) get rid of Internet Explorer and Outlook (replacing them with Firefox and Thunderbird), and 5) pray that people trying to get into your computer aren’t smart enough to overcome these protections and that, if a security flaw is discovered, Microsoft will take less than a month to make an update available (and this doesn’t happen very often). Or you can install Linux and sleep soundly from now on.

As we have already said in the “virus” section, Open Source software (e.g. Linux) means more eyes to check the code. Every programmer on Planet Earth can download the code, have a look, and see whether it might have security flaws. On the other hand, the only people allowed to look at the Windows source code (its “recipe”) are people working for Microsoft. That’s hundreds of thousands of people (maybe millions) versus a few thousand. That makes a big difference.

But actually, it isn’t exactly a matter of how many flaws a system has, compared to the others. If there are many flaws, but nobody has discovered them yet (including attackers), or they are minor (they don’t compromise an important part of the system), attackers won’t be able to do great damage. It is really a matter of how fast a security flaw can be solved once it has been discovered. If a security flaw is discovered in an open source program, anyone in the open source community can have a look and help solve it. The solution (and the update) usually appears within a few days, sometimes even a few hours. Microsoft doesn’t have that much manpower, and usually releases security patches within about a month after the flaw has been discovered (and sometimes published): that’s more than enough for attackers to do whatever they want with your computer.

continue http://www.whylinuxisbetter.net/items/security/index.php?lang=

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Speaking at an NAACP dinner this evening, President Obama called for a ban on the Revolutionary War era Gadsden flag which has been widely used as a banner of the Tea Party.

Speaking at an NAACP dinner this evening, President Obama called for a ban on the Revolutionary War era Gadsden flag which has been widely used as a banner of the Tea Party.

Washington (ONN): President Obama outlined an ambitious roadmap for criminal justice reform during an address at the NAACP convention Tuesday.

In a 45-minute speech, Obama called for reducing or eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, reviewing the use of the solitary confinement and banning of Confederate and Tea Party Flags on public property, among other things.

“Any system that allows us to turn a blind-eye to hopelessness and despair, that’s not a justice system, that’s an injustice system,” Obama said Tuesday. “Justice is not only the absence of oppression, it’s the absence of racist,divisive symbols in our public discourse.”

The speech varied, with Obama at times speaking passionately about the need for reform, and at other times citing the successful flag bannings in South Carolina and other places.

Obama’s remarks included a litany of daunting statistics: that America is home to 5% of world’s population but 25% of world’s racism, that African Americans and Latinos make up 30% of the U.S. population, but 60% of American inmates. But Obama said he’s found hope in the fact that politicians on both sides of the aisle have taken up the issue.

The initiatives have not been without criticism, however—lawmakers have long called for more action on policies that reduce sentences and provide more opportunities to communities that are more often impacted by tough sentencing laws.And tax breaks to states that use Confederate flags in their emblems.

The speech came at the start of a week marked by hefty achievements by the Obama administration on the criminal justice front. On Monday, Obama reduced the sentences of 46 federal inmates who had been incarcerated for committing non-violent, low-level drug offenses over the past two decades. The new round of commutations brings Obama’s total issued up to 89—more than any U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson. The commutations were the latest in the administration’s effort to rollback some of the damage caused by the nation’s drug laws.

SOURCE http://washingtonweeklynews.com/breaking-obama-calls-for-tea-party-flag-to-be-banned/

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How Does The FBI Catch People Who Shine Lasers At Airplanes?

A green laser

A high power laser

Aircraft lasing — directing a laser or another bright light at a moving aircraft — is becoming a huge problem, and authorities on the subject are worried that a growing number of reports will eventually lead to a serious incident.

At least 43 incidents were reported in the last two days; a huge spike and potentially the largest volume since the authorities began keeping records over a decade ago.

Special agent Celeste Danzi, a spokesperson for the Newark office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, says the office is working with law enforcement partners to track the incidents. While this isn’t the first incident, the numbers for this week are some of the highest on record.

“We’ve had some past laser incidents,” says Danzi. “These laser strikes can imperil the aircraft, because it can disorient the pilot on takeoff or landing. They can be temporarily blinded. It’s like being in a dark car and then having a flash bulb go off,” she says. “It’s extremely dangerous, it’s a federal crime, and we take it seriously.”

Danzi said they weren’t commenting on methods, but the truth of the matter is that law enforcement only has so many options to catch the perpetrators.

continue http://www.popsci.com/can-we-crack-down-aircraft-laser-perpetrators

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The Great Attempt to Catalog All Fetishes (including the pacemaker fetish)

On 28 October 2004 we humans took a giant step towards cataloguing all of our sexual fetishes. An Italian/Swedish research team, led by Claudia Scorolli [pictured here] at the University of Bologna, downloaded data from hundreds of online fetish discussion groups and spent the next three years analysing their haul. Then they published a study in the International Journal of Impotence Research: Relative Prevalence of Different Fetishes….

So begins this month’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

* * *

BONUS: Here’s a piece of info that did not appear  (because the column has to fit into a set space in the print edition of The Guardian) in the published version of the column:

Two of the fetish study’s co-authors, Stefano Ghirlanda and Magnus Enquist, had been awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in 2003, for a study called “Chickens Prefer Beautiful Humans“, which was not about fetishes.

continue http://www.improbable.com/2015/07/14/the-great-attempt-to-catalog-all-fetishes-including-the-pacemaker-fetish/

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