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posted by martyb on Monday July 21 2014, @01:34AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Fake-Your-Way-To-The-Top dept.

Businessweek brings us news of How to Get Ahead by Speaking Vaguely. Projecting power is incredibly simple: just communicate in abstractions. Details convey weakness.

In one of the seven experiments, participants read quotes from a politician who described an earthquake as killing 120 and injuring 400; later, when he simply said it was a national tragedy, subjects thought he was a better leader.

An author of the study, Cheryl J. Wakslak (University of Southern California), cautions however against meaningless business jargon — words such as "ideaate" and "deliverables" that some workers resort to when trying to seem impressive. "Being completely vague will just make you sound stupid," she explains. "Bulls———is best when it has a kernel of truth in it."

The report was published this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and the full report is available at Using Abstract Language Signals Power (pdf)

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  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @01:36AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @01:36AM (#71656)

    deez nuts! vote me up! i's in da house, bro

    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @02:35AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @02:35AM (#71679)

      aw, snap! not vague enough

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Ethanol-fueled on Monday July 21 2014, @02:00AM

    by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Monday July 21 2014, @02:00AM (#71661) Homepage

    "Bullshit is best when it has a kernel of truth in it."

    And Hunter S. Thompson understood this well, because his tales were true enough to be credible and embellished enough to be entertaining. When you have a style and command of language that is as awesome as Hunter's then you can be chatty and specific about everything and not come off as a tongue-fluffing blowhard, and your audience really learns from you. It goes without saying that he stood on the shoulders of giants, having read a lot of fucking books, and having been a sportswriter he understood well how to make even the most dry subjects entertaining.

    Lots of people here and on the other site talked shit about sports, like how they're for dumb meatheads, but sportswriters in particular are almost always fun to read. Sports are fun to play, but sports articles would be boring as fuck if they were written like those in the Business section with only the most vague information. If you enjoy reading any mens' magazine, even you could read ESPN magazine all the way through -- especially since a good number of those articles are about sports science.

    The article is business-centric but I work for a fast-paced technology company with a lot of physical labor involved and I don't have the time to be held hostage to somebody's boring chatty bullshit in the hallway. Being excessively chatty where I work indicates one or both of two things: You're needy and/or overcompensating. Even the women don't chat unless they sit together where they work. And without fail, there's this asshole in the company gym who always goes when I go and gets really chatty, and it pisses me the fuck off. Now I know why Swedish men have a reputation for being effeminate. It's not just "hi," it's "what did you do this weekend," and then if I throw him a bone it only leads to more questions. Jesus fuck, I'm in there to get sweaty and trying to count reps inside my head, which is enough of a pain in the ass without some needy twinkie trying to be my best fwiend.

    The irony that I'm chatty here is not lost, and in fact I just may be a goddamn hypocrite in that regard -- but at least you can see the name on my post and ignore it, or foe me and bury it under your comment threshold.

    • (Score: 1) by EQ on Monday July 21 2014, @02:23AM

      by EQ (1716) on Monday July 21 2014, @02:23AM (#71672)

      So you work at Ericsson? Sounds like it...

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by Bytram on Monday July 21 2014, @02:52AM

      by Bytram (4043) on Monday July 21 2014, @02:52AM (#71685) Journal

      td;dc (Too Detailed; Didn't Convince)



    • (Score: 0, Troll) by moondoctor on Monday July 21 2014, @03:00AM

      by moondoctor (2963) on Monday July 21 2014, @03:00AM (#71690)

      uhhh... nice story, but not sure how it relates to detail-lacking communication conveying power.

      in this context, i don't give a fuck about your gym bullshit, or your chatty co-workers. if the article had been about irritating chatty co-workers your comment only points out the obvious and still isn't particularly relevant.

      also; take your misogynist bullshit and go away.

      p.s. this is about interpersonal communication and power, not journalism.

      (yes, i know, don't feed the trolls. sorry couldn't help myself!)

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @04:42AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @04:42AM (#71712)

        > not sure how it relates to detail-lacking communication conveying power.

        It is a demonstration of how giving you all kinds of details can make you think someone is a total moron.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @02:06AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @02:06AM (#71664)

    It is all about letting the audience fill in the blanks with whatever is most satisfying to them. If you don't give specifics then you can be all things to everyone. Fill in the details and for everything you pin down there are a hundred things you've eliminated. Catfishing works the same way -- the catfish is just a "skeleton" on which the catfishee projects all of their hopes and desires.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday July 21 2014, @02:58AM

      by c0lo (156) on Monday July 21 2014, @02:58AM (#71687) Journal
      What's catfishing?
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @03:03AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @03:03AM (#71692)

      ,,,and both bad when you get the wrong number.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by umafuckitt on Monday July 21 2014, @07:49AM

      by umafuckitt (20) on Monday July 21 2014, @07:49AM (#71736)

      Indeed it is. That's how Obama got elected the first time and why everyone was then so disappointed with him. People interpreted "change" however it suited them, and it meant different things to different people. Don't get me wrong, I wanted it all to work out, it's just that it was obvious from the high and vague rhetoric that everyone was going to be very disappointed when reality hit.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by aristarchus on Monday July 21 2014, @09:09AM

        by aristarchus (2645) on Monday July 21 2014, @09:09AM (#71757) Journal

        Except, when you are talking about an administration as dis-functional and yes, evil as the Bush II, change may be vague, but any change is still an improvement! Nowhere to go but towards more and better and less Cheney! So this is a bad example. What did you have in mind? See, sometimes vagueness just means you have know idea what you are talking about, or that you are a war criminal.

        • (Score: 0, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @10:34AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @10:34AM (#71770)

          you're actually under the impression that Obama changed things for the better?!

          wow, just wow

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Thexalon on Monday July 21 2014, @01:07PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Monday July 21 2014, @01:07PM (#71798)

        To be fair, look at who Obama had to beat, and it becomes extremely clear why he won:
        - Hillary Clinton: A known tool of the same bankers that caused most of the problems that Obama ended up dealing with.
        - John Edwards: Cheated on his wife, and got caught. In the US, this typically disqualifies you from being elected local dogcatcher, much less president.
        - Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, Bill Richardson: For the most part, the reaction of the general public was "Who?"
        - John McCain: As his first actual decision, chooses obviously idiotic Sarah Palin as his running mate.

        Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by GWRedDragon on Monday July 21 2014, @02:13AM

    by GWRedDragon (3504) on Monday July 21 2014, @02:13AM (#71668)

    It gets really annoying trying to talk to people who use this technique. You'll be helpfully coming up with details, and they'll be talking past you in generalities.

    Yet another victim of the growing substance-is-for-suckers business culture, I suppose. As for me, I'd rather talk specifics. The people I respect are the ones that are clear and to the point. Nothing is more aggravating than to ask a specific question and get a generality nonanswer.

    [Insert witty message here]
    • (Score: 2, Informative) by moondoctor on Monday July 21 2014, @03:09AM

      by moondoctor (2963) on Monday July 21 2014, @03:09AM (#71695)

      "Nothing is more aggravating than to ask a specific question and get a generality nonanswer."

      bingo! by becoming aggravated (even just a touch in the back of your mind) this person has extracted some power from you, put you off-center, and is now in a better position to manipulate.

      this is not new. fundamental part of how humans deal with each other.

      • (Score: 2) by tibman on Monday July 21 2014, @04:44AM

        by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 21 2014, @04:44AM (#71713)

        I usually wave them off with a hand and ignore them. What use are they if they don't know and pretend to? None. I'd rather hear someone say they don't know, that is informative. Politics is typically what those kinds of people resort to. Which is not an AB relationship. This is like the difference between strategy and tactics. Both are useful but specific problems are solved with tactics, not strategy.

        SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
      • (Score: 1) by Tom on Monday July 21 2014, @07:12AM

        by Tom (4259) <reversethis-{gro.airumel} {ta} {mot}> on Monday July 21 2014, @07:12AM (#71731) Homepage

        That exactly is a major problem in most companies today, and in politics in general. The people who are best at playing office politics get ahead, not the people who actually contribute some value to the company. In doing so, they promote their parasite culture over actual productive work. In middle management, productive work is already on the endangered species list.

        Might & Fealty [], my political sandbox game
        • (Score: 1) by GWRedDragon on Monday July 21 2014, @03:07PM

          by GWRedDragon (3504) on Monday July 21 2014, @03:07PM (#71834)

          The real issue is not that people play politics, that has always been the case. What has changed is that the culture values 'doers' less. So instead of having to act in the shadows and pretend to be doers, the politicians can be upfront about it. As the cycle continues, the people who do real work are increasingly seen as suckers or faceless machines.

          [Insert witty message here]
        • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Monday July 21 2014, @04:59PM

          by Thexalon (636) on Monday July 21 2014, @04:59PM (#71879)

          This phenomenon is not hard to explain:

          When you are the boss, one of your most important jobs is to evaluate the work of your subordinates, so that you can make correct decisions about who gets promoted, who gets fired, who gets a raise while remaining in the same post, and so forth. If the boss knows how to do the jobs of the subordinates at least reasonably competently, then s/he has a good sense of the quality of the subordinates, and the result is that this evaluation process is pretty good, and the group that the boss is managing will in fact promote quality and punish incompetence. If the boss doesn't know how to do the jobs of the subordinates, by contrast, then s/he has no good way of knowing who's good and who isn't, and will therefor make their decision based on who seems to be talking the best game.

          Most executives nowadays never did the job of their subordinates, and often don't know how even if they were called upon to do so. Those executives are the ones that are most likely to be hoodwinked. And if you're a less-than-great subordinate, talking vaguely is a useful way to confuse your boss while looking like you know what you're talking about.

          As an aside, to "doers" who are getting shafted, I'd recommend spending some time learning public speaking and writing. That way, on those rare occasions when you are called upon to talk to high muckety-mucks about what you're doing, you will be able to impress them and explain things in ways they can understand. At the very least, describe what you are doing in terms of its effect on users: You aren't "reconfiguring the backup system for automatic failover", you are "ensuring we could recover and get back to work immediately if there were a serious problem". You aren't "adjusting the CSS on the order page", you are "working with the marketing department to make our website more attractive to potential customers".

          Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @12:44PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @12:44PM (#71792)

        ...and is now in a better position to manipulate.

        That's bullshit. Unless you mean "manipulate in favor of the competitor", at which point we're talking about foul play rather than marketing tactics, I assure you that someone I'm annoyed at is in no way in a better position to manipulate me. As tibmann said, I'll mostly just ignore them from that point on.

    • (Score: 2) by LoRdTAW on Monday July 21 2014, @04:18PM

      by LoRdTAW (3755) on Monday July 21 2014, @04:18PM (#71865) Journal

      Man a while back my boss wanted to take on a large project to retrofit some of our machines with some fancy new tech. So he meets this guy at his condo board meeting and the guy comes in to talk about the project. He pulls in with his Maserati and we sit in the office to talk about the project.

      Long story short, two hours were wasted listening to this twit prattle on about the same thing said ten different ways. Each time was more vague than the last. Not once did he discuss details. If you tried to discuss details he would simply say "don't worry about the details, my engineers will handle them". Most of what he was talking about his own business, projects, risk management and mitigation, and some other nonsense. Afterward I was a bit flabbergasted that we discussed the project we call him in for. At most we spoke about it for 5 to 10 minutes. my boss thought he was insightful until I flat out said the guy seemed nice but was full of hot air, nothing was actually discussed. He nodded and I never saw the guy again.

      After that I learned that to become powerful: the less you say the better of you are. But figure out how to say less while speaking more. That is why engineers get paid diddly, we like details because is what we live for. Management thrives on trying to the other guy into giving them money. It's all just a game.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by frojack on Monday July 21 2014, @02:13AM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 21 2014, @02:13AM (#71669) Journal

    Thinking back over my past bosses, I've always come away with a better opinion of, and worked harder for those bosses who told me what needed to be done, not how to do it. (Even when they did indeed know how to do it).

    The guy who shows up with a 20 bullit power point display often thinks he/she knows more than they actually do, or more than the actual do-ers know.

    Micromanagement works best only where the cogs mesh, the rest of the machine will take care of itself.

    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 1) by anubi on Monday July 21 2014, @04:17AM

      by anubi (2828) on Monday July 21 2014, @04:17AM (#71708) Journal

      I think they must teach them this kind of stuff in those closed-door business seminars. It seems like every time I have been working in a company and the "management team" goes into these seminars, they come out talking all sorts of gibberish and its really hard to tell exactly what it is we are supposed to do. Some phrase like "We will direct manpower efforts toward synergistic accomplishment of the goal of maximizing deliverable content" doesn't say anything to me. I am likely far more concerned with a little part on a PCB running too hot and know this will lead to a failure. This article documents many of the exact words and "business phrases" they start using... phrases that are extremely illusory in nature. They sound powerful but convey no information. Think of that phrase all the lawyer-trolls on TV use... "call me, and get the benefits you deserve". Now just what did the guy say? Used a lot of words.. and said nothing!

      When they start talking that way, I lose respect for them, as they start sounding like a guy you met outside a bar that's had a bit too much to drink. I am sure you know the type... you may want to be helpful, but you could talk to one of them for two hours and still not be able to find out how to get the guy home.

      Disclaimer.. I am INTP.

      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Magic Oddball on Monday July 21 2014, @10:47AM

        by Magic Oddball (3847) on Monday July 21 2014, @10:47AM (#71775) Journal

        Disclaimer.. I am INTP.

        In case you were unaware, the Meyers-Briggs has absolutely no empirical or scientific basis [] -- it was made up by a couple of women with no science background with the help of a bank HR manager. Essentially, they reduced Carl Jung's complex theories (which are now disregarded as unscientific & inaccurate) to crude binaries, contradicting both his statement that people's minds don't work that way and pretty much all of the data obtained on personality traits since then. (It's not even a good way to categorize people's personalities, according to the data.)

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @12:57PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @12:57PM (#71794)

          Hmm. You sound rather INTJ to me.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @01:36PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @01:36PM (#71804)

            Honey, we're all INTJ here.

        • (Score: 1) by Arik on Monday July 21 2014, @01:48PM

          by Arik (4543) on Monday July 21 2014, @01:48PM (#71808) Journal
          Several of the criticisms in the article you cite appear to be perfectly valid, and rather conclusive.

          It's a shame the author (and you as well) for some reason need to put weight instead on irrelevancies about Carl Jung and the *shock* unaccredited *horror* women who invented the test.

          The link between Jungs theories and the tests are tenuous at best. If the test worked empirically, no one should care which historical figures theories happened to be in vogue when it was initially developed. And if it worked, we would be praising these women for managing so well in a hostile environment rather than sniping about their lack of the correct diploma and genitalia.

          But it does not work, at least, not for the purpose it is marketed towards.
          If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
  • (Score: 0, Offtopic) by Horse With Stripes on Monday July 21 2014, @02:29AM

    by Horse With Stripes (577) on Monday July 21 2014, @02:29AM (#71675)

    Sure 120 deaths and 400 injured in an earthquake isn't good, but it's a little more than a average day of motor vehicle deaths in the US. Maybe if the numbers they used would have been higher then they would have gotten a higher "leadership" assessment?

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by forkazoo on Monday July 21 2014, @02:59AM

      by forkazoo (2561) on Monday July 21 2014, @02:59AM (#71688)

      The exact numbers are sort of beside the point. Most people want stirring emotional rhetoric from politicians. Look at any national campaign in the US, and you'll clearly see that having any sort of actual policy objectives hurts a candidate in the polls. The issue is never so much exactly what the carbon tax rate should be. It's that "Find creative new ways to further the American dream in a way that keeps the environment clean for our children" is what people want to hear.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by moondoctor on Monday July 21 2014, @03:18AM

        by moondoctor (2963) on Monday July 21 2014, @03:18AM (#71697)

        i agree completely about the exact numbers being irrelevant.

        "Look at any national campaign in the US, and you'll clearly see that having any sort of actual policy objectives hurts a candidate in the polls"

        speaks loudly to the issue of voters choosing a candidate they 'like' (feel is more powerful?) over choosing how they would prefer to see the country be managed.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @04:23AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @04:23AM (#71709)

          > speaks loudly to the issue of voters choosing a candidate they 'like' (feel is more powerful?)
          > over choosing how they would prefer to see the country be managed.

          I don't think it is all that revealing.

          Fundamentally the voters must leave it up to the experts. Very few normal people have the time or expertise to make a meaningful judgment of policies. They look for someone who appears to feel the way they do and expect them to take care of the details. Even if the candidates do make specific policy commitments, the vast majority of voters will only understand them through the interpretation of pundits who typically have their own partisan agendas. Might as well just leave the pundits out of the loop.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @06:28AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @06:28AM (#71724)

        I wonder what would have happened if the "leader" had both appealed to emotion and worked in specific details: "We mourn today the tragic loss of a hundred and twenty Erehwonians, and we give our hearts and our support to the four hundred whose lives and bodies have been wounded by this disaster, but whose spirits remain unbroken."

      • (Score: 2) by zsau on Tuesday July 22 2014, @11:56PM

        by zsau (2642) on Tuesday July 22 2014, @11:56PM (#72546)

        The American Dream is for us and our children and our children's children. We can't do anything that would hurt the American Dream and destroy our children's chances of dreaming the same dream and seeing it come true. The American Dream is at great risk today. If we do nothing, the American Dream will be taken away from our children and the terrorists will win. We must do something. We must have a long term vision for the future. We must hold firm to what we've got today, to what our parents and our grandparents have fought and won for us.

        Vote for me. The other candidate(s) have not said what they will do. Their speeches have been absolutely devoid of any proposals because they do not have the wherewithal to do the hard work that is necessary to protect the American Dream. They intend to sell it to the highest bidder and subject us to an international government because the are corrupt and traitors.

        No-one else but me can save your home and your hope. And I'm not even an American citizen.

        • (Score: 1) by forkazoo on Wednesday July 23 2014, @05:14AM

          by forkazoo (2561) on Wednesday July 23 2014, @05:14AM (#72640)

          Shut up and take my money!

  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @02:35AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @02:35AM (#71677)

    Microsoft Kinect Spy System


    "So you just got the Kinect/Xbox360 gaming system and you're having fun, hanging out in your underwear, plopped down in your favorite lounge chair, and playing games with your buddies. Yeah, it's great to have a microphone and camera in your game system so you can "Kinect" to your pals while you play, but did you read that Terms of Service Agreement that came with your Kinect thingy? No? Here, let me point out an important part of that service agreement.

            If you accept the agreement, you "expressly authorize and consent to us accessing or disclosing information about you, including the content of your communications, in order to: (a) comply with the law or respond to lawful requests or legal process; (b) protect the rights or property of Microsoft, our partners, or our customers, including the enforcement of our agreements or policies governing your use of the Service; or (c) act on a good faith belief that such access or disclosure is necessary to protect the personal safety of Microsoft employees, customers, or the public."

    Did you catch that? Here, let me print the important part in really big letters.

    "If you accept the agreement, you expressly authorize and consent to us accessing or disclosing information about you, including the content of your communications… on a good faith belief that such access or disclosure is necessary to protect the personal safety of Microsoft employees, customers, or the public."

    OK, is that clear enough for ya? When you use the Kinect system, you agree to allow Microsoft (and any branch of law enforcement or government they care to share information with) to use your Kinect system to spy on you. Maybe run that facial recognition software to check you out, listen to your conversations, and keep track of who you are communicating with.

    I know this is probably old news to some, but I thought I would mention it because it pertains to almost all of these home game systems that are interactive. You have to remember, the camera and microphone contained in your game system have the ability to be hacked by anyone the game company gives that ability to, and that includes government snoops and law enforcement agents.

    Hey, it's MICROSOFT. What did you expect?

    And the same concerns apply to all interactive game systems. Just something to think about if you're having a "Naked Wii party" or doing something illegal while you're gaming with your buddies. Or maybe you say something suspicious and it triggers the DHS software to start tracking your every word. Hey, this is not paranoia. It's spelled out for you, right there in that Service Agreement. Read it! Here's one more part of the agreement you should be aware of.

            "You should not expect any level of privacy concerning your use of the live communication features (for example, voice chat, video and communications in live-hosted gameplay sessions) offered through the Service."

    Did you catch it that time? YOU SHOULD NOT EXPECT ANY LEVEL OF PRIVACY concerning your voice chat and video features on your Kinect box."


    "Listen up, you ignorant sheep. Your government is spending more money than ever to spy on its own citizens. That's YOU, my friend. And if you're one of these people who say, "Well I ain't ever done nothing wrong so why should I worry about it?' - you are dead wrong. Our civil liberties are being taken away faster than you can spit. The NSA is working away on its new "First Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative Data Center' to keep track of every last one of us. This thing will be the size of 17 football stadiums. One million square feet, all to be filled with more technology and data storage than you could imagine. And 30,000 spy drones are set to be launched over America which can each stay aloft for about 28 hours, traveling 300 miles per hour. WHY? Why do we want these things in our skies?

    The military is now taking a keen interest in the Microsoft Kinect Spy System, the fastest selling electronic device in history. Conveniently self-installed in over 18 million homes, this seemingly innocent game system, armed with facial recognition programming and real-time recording of both sound and video, will be used by our own government to spy on and record us in our own homes.

    And it doesn't stop there. Other game systems such as Nintendo's WWII are also being turned into government-controlled spy systems. WHY?

    That's the real question. WHY?!!! Why is our own government spending billions and billions of dollars to spy on its own people? To keep us safe? Do you really believe that?"

    Microsoft's Kinect System is Watching You
    Published on Apr 5, 2012 by TheAlexJonesChannel: []


    Big Brother alert: Microsoft wants to know how many friends you've got in your living room

    - []

    By Mic Wright Gadgets Last updated: November 9th, 2012

    - []

    "One of Microsoft's latest patent applications[1] is a humdinger. It proposes to turn the Kinect camera into a snitch for movie studios, reporting back just how many friends you've got in your living room and what they're watching. Think that sounds alarmist? Here's what it actually says: "The users consuming the content on a display device are monitored so that if the number of user-views licensed is exceeded, remedial action may be taken." It's that blatant – a system to spy on private viewing habits.

    If put into practice, Microsoft's plan could mean that the film you're watching suddenly stops playing if it detects that you've got more people squashed on to the sofa than the licence allows. You'd then be prompted to buy a more expensive licence to keep watching. It's as if Big Brother had built 1984's Telescreen not to monitor the population but to ensure no one was pirating the Two Minutes Hate.

    In all likelihood, Microsoft will struggle to actually apply this patent in the real world. While copyright holders would be delighted, customers would be turned off by such a draconian system. But that's what's interesting about this application and patent applications in general: they often reveal what companies would do if they could get away with it. The black and white drawings and blandly technical language can cover immoral, scary and downright evil ideas.

    There was an even more striking example from Apple earlier this year[2]. In September, it was granted a patent for "Apparatus and methods for enforcement of policies upon a wireless device", i.e. a system allowing companies or governments to remotely disable mobile phones and tablets in a particular area.

    While Apple mentions benign examples such as preventing phone calls from disturbing concerts or ensuring devices are switched off on planes, it also states: "Covert police or government operations may require complete "blackout" conditions." That's exactly the kind of feature certain governments would love to use to suppress pictures and videos. The patent Apple put its stamp on is a handy form of censorship regardless of whether it will ever apply it.

    Last year, Google's chairman, Eric Schmidt, said that the company would hold off from creating a facial recognition service because it would be "crossing the creepy line". Still, Google has filed for and been granted extensive patents in the area and, as its Project Glass augmented reality goggles move forward, who knows when the "creepy line" will shift?"

    [1] []

    [2] []

    (C) Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2012


    "People are aware that Windows has bad security but they are underestimating the problem because they are thinking about third parties. What about security against Microsoft? Every non-free program is a 'just trust me program'. 'Trust me, we're a big corporation. Big corporations would never mistreat anybody, would we?' Of course they would! They do all the time, that's what they are known for. So basically you mustn't trust a non free programme."

    "There are three kinds: those that spy on the user, those that restrict the user, and back doors. Windows has all three. Microsoft can install software changes without asking permission. Flash Player has malicious features, as do most mobile phones."

    "Digital handcuffs are the most common malicious features. They restrict what you can do with the data in your own computer. Apple certainly has the digital handcuffs that are the tightest in history. The i-things, well, people found two spy features and Apple says it removed them and there might be more""


    Richard Stallman: 'Apple has tightest digital handcuffs in history'


    Nobody Seems To Notice and Nobody Seems To Care - Government & Stealth Malware

    In Response To Slashdot Article: Former Pentagon Analyst: China Has Backdoors To 80% of Telecoms 87

    How many rootkits does the US[2] use officially or unofficially?

    How much of the free but proprietary software in the US spies on you?

    Which software would that be?

    Visit any of the top freeware sites in the US, count the number of thousands or millions of downloads of free but proprietary software, much of it works, again on a proprietary Operating System, with files stored or in transit.

    How many free but proprietary programs have you downloaded and scanned entire hard drives, flash drives, and other media? Do you realize you are giving these types of proprietary programs complete access to all of your computer's files on the basis of faith alone?

    If you are an atheist, the comparison is that you believe in code you cannot see to detect and contain malware on the basis of faith! So you do believe in something invisible to you, don't you?

    I'm now going to touch on a subject most anti-malware, commercial or free, developers will DELETE on most of their forums or mailing lists:

    APT malware infecting and remaining in BIOS, on PCI and AGP devices, in firmware, your router (many routers are forced to place backdoors in their firmware for their government) your NIC, and many other devices.

    Where are the commercial or free anti-malware organizations and individual's products which hash and compare in the cloud and scan for malware for these vectors? If you post on mailing lists or forums of most anti-malware organizations about this threat, one of the following actions will apply: your post will be deleted and/or moved to a hard to find or 'deleted/junk posts' forum section, someone or a team of individuals will mock you in various forms 'tin foil hat', 'conspiracy nut', and my favorite, 'where is the proof of these infections?' One only needs to search Google for these threats and they will open your malware world view to a much larger arena of malware on devices not scanned/supported by the scanners from these freeware sites. This point assumed you're using the proprietary Microsoft Windows OS. Now, let's move on to Linux.

    The rootkit scanners for Linux are few and poor. If you're lucky, you'll know how to use chkrootkit (but you can use strings and other tools for analysis) and show the strings of binaries on your installation, but the results are dependent on your capability of deciphering the output and performing further analysis with various tools or in an environment such as Remnux Linux. None of these free scanners scan the earlier mentioned areas of your PC, either! Nor do they detect many of the hundreds of trojans and rootkits easily available on popular websites and the dark/deep web.

    Compromised defenders of Linux will look down their nose at you (unless they are into reverse engineering malware/bad binaries, Google for this and Linux and begin a valuable education!) and respond with a similar tone, if they don't call you a noob or point to verifying/downloading packages in a signed repo/original/secure source or checking hashes, they will jump to conspiracy type labels, ignore you, lock and/or shuffle the thread, or otherwise lead you astray from learning how to examine bad binaries. The world of Linux is funny in this way, and I've been a part of it for many years. The majority of Linux users, like the Windows users, will go out of their way to lead you and say anything other than pointing you to information readily available on detailed binary file analysis.

    Don't let them get you down, the information is plenty and out there, some from some well known publishers of Linux/Unix books. Search, learn, and share the information on detecting and picking through bad binaries. But this still will not touch the void of the APT malware described above which will survive any wipe of r/w media. I'm convinced, on both *nix and Windows, these pieces of APT malware are government in origin. Maybe not from the US, but most of the 'curious' malware I've come across in poisoned binaries, were written by someone with a good knowledge in English, some, I found, functioned similar to the now well known Flame malware. From my experience, either many forum/mailing list mods and malware developers/defenders are 'on the take', compromised themselves, and/or working for a government entity.

    Search enough, and you'll arrive at some lone individuals who cry out their system is compromised and nothing in their attempts can shake it of some 'strange infection'. These posts receive the same behavior as I said above, but often they are lone posts which receive no answer at all, AT ALL! While other posts are quickly and kindly replied to and the 'strange infection' posts are left to age and end up in a lost pile of old threads.

    If you're persistent, the usual challenge is to, "prove it or STFU" and if the thread is not attacked or locked/shuffled and you're lucky to reference some actual data, they will usually attack or ridicule you and further drive the discussion away from actual proof of APT infections.

    The market is ripe for an ambitious company or individual to begin demanding companies and organizations who release firmware and design hardware to release signed and hashed packages and pour this information into the cloud, so everyone's BIOS is checked, all firmware on routers, NICs, and other devices are checked, and malware identified and knowledge reported and shared openly.

    But even this will do nothing to stop backdoored firmware (often on commercial routers and other networked devices of real importance for government use - which again opens the possibility of hackers discovering these backdoors) people continue to use instead of refusing to buy hardware with proprietary firmware/software.

    Many people will say, "the only safe computer is the one disconnected from any network, wireless, wired, LAN, internet, intranet" but I have seen and you can search yourself for and read about satellite, RF, temperature, TEMPEST (is it illegal in your part of the world to SHIELD your system against some of these APT attacks, especially TEMPEST? And no, it's not simply a CRT issue), power line and many other attacks which can and do strike computers which have no active network connection, some which have never had any network connection. Some individuals have complained they receive APT attacks throughout their disconnected systems and they are ridiculed and labeled as a nutter. The information exists, some people have gone so far as to scream from the rooftops online about it, but they are nutters who must have some serious problems and this technology with our systems could not be possible.

    I believe most modern computer hardware is more powerful than many of us imagine, and a lot of these systems swept from above via satellite and other attacks. Some exploits take advantage of packet radio and some of your proprietary hardware. Some exploits piggyback and unless you really know what you're doing, and even then... you won't notice it.

    Back to the Windows users, a lot of them will dismiss any strange activity to, "that's just Windows!" and ignore it or format again and again only to see the same APT infected activity continue. Using older versions of sysinternals, I've observed very bizarre behavior on a few non networked systems, a mysterious chat program running which doesn't exist on the system, all communication methods monitored (bluetooth, your hard/software modems, and more), disk mirroring software running[1], scans running on different but specific file types, command line versions of popular Windows freeware installed on the system rather than the use of the graphical component, and more.

    [1] In one anonymous post on pastebin, claiming to be from an intel org, it blasted the group Anonymous, with a bunch of threats and information, including that their systems are all mirrored in some remote location anyway.

    [2] Or other government, US used in this case due to the article source and speculation vs. China. This is not to defend China, which is one messed up hell hole on several levels and we all need to push for human rights and freedom for China's people. For other, freer countries, however, the concentration camps exist but you wouldn't notice them, they originate from media, mostly your TV, and you don't even know it. As George Carlin railed about "Our Owners", "nobody seems to notice and nobody seems to care".

    [3] []

    Try this yourself on a wide variety of internet forums and mailing lists, push for malware scanners to scan more than files, but firmware/BIOS. See what happens, I can guarantee it won't be pleasant, especially with APT cases.

    So scan away, or blissfully ignore it, but we need more people like RMS[3] in the world. Such individuals tend to be eccentric but their words ring true and clear about electronics and freedom.

    I believe we're mostly pwned, whether we would like to admit it or not, blind and pwned, yet fiercely holding to misinformation, often due to lack of self discovery and education, and "nobody seems to notice and nobody seems to care".

    (Remotely Attacking Network Cards) []

    (Persistent BIOS Infection) []

    (BIOS --> Vbootkit code(from CD,PXE etc.) --> MBR --> NT Boot sector --> Windows Boot manager --> Windows Loader --> Vista Kernel) []

    (The ROMOS project) []

    Secure boot is Microsoft's attempt to maintain computer OS market share as their influences is being stripped away by the likes of Google (Android) and Apple (iOS). With HTML5 on the way, we will have WEB based applications that rival desktop versions, and run on ANY device. The OS is just a layer to get to where the real work gets done, information exchange.

    AND the worst part is, secure boot doesn't actually fix the problem it pretends it solves. It can't. This is the whole DRM of DVD's and BluRay all over again. Look at how well that is working out.

    DRM is broken by design."

    "Richard Stallman has finally spoken out on this subject. He notes that 'if the user doesn't control the keys, then it's a kind of shackle, and that would be true no matter what system it is.' He says, 'Microsoft demands that ARM computers sold for Windows 8 be set up so that the user cannot change the keys; in other words, turn it into restricted boot.' Stallman adds that 'this is not a security feature. This is abuse of the users. I think it ought to be illegal.'""

    I'm concerned about new rootkits which target PCI devices, such as the graphics card and the optical drives, also, BIOS. Where are the malware scanners which scan PCI devices and BIOS for mismatches? All firmware, BIOS and on PCI devices should be checksummed and saved to match with others in the cloud, and archived when the computer is first used, backing up signed firmware.

    When do you recall seeing signed router firmware upgrades with any type of checksum to check against? Same for PCI devices and optical drives and BIOS.

    Some have begun with BIOS security: []

    Some BIOS has write protection in its configuration, a lot of newer computers don't.


    CIA Head: We Will Spy On Americans Through Electrical Appliances
    Global information surveillance grid being constructed; willing Americans embrace gadgets used to spy on them []


    Comparing the unique pattern of the frequencies on an audio recording with a database that has been logging these changes for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year provides a digital watermark: a date and time stamp on the recording.
    Philip Harrison, from JP French Associates, another forensic audio laboratory that has been logging the hum for several years, says: "Even if [the hum] is picked up at a very low level that you cannot hear, we can extract this information." It is a technique known as Electric Network Frequency (ENF) analysis, and it is helping forensic scientists to separate genuine, unedited recordings from those that have been tampered with."
    - []
    - []


    "I'd worry about a Tempest virus that polled a personal computer's
    CD-ROM drive to pulse the motor as a signalling method:

    * Modern high-speed CD-ROM drive motors are both acoustically and
    electrically noisy, giving you two attack methods for the price of one;

    * Laptop computer users without CRTs, and the PC users that can afford
    large LCD screens instead of CRTs, often have CD-ROM drives;

    * Users are getting quite used to sitting patiently while their
    CD-ROM drives grind away for no visibly obvious reason (but
    that's quite enough about the widespread installs of software from
    Microsoft CD-ROMs that prompted Kuhn's investigation in the first place.)" []


    "I'd worry about a Tempest virus that polled a personal computer' personal computer' CD-ROM drive"

    Yes and the hard drive and in some PC's the cooling fans as well are under CPU control.

    You can also do it with PC's where the CPU does not control the fan, but the hardware has a simple thermal sensor to control it's speed. You do this by simply having a process that uses power expensive instructions in tight loops, thus raising the CPU temprature (it's one of the side channels I was considering a long time ago when thinking about how the temp inside the case changed various things including the CPU clock XTAL frequency).

    The change in sound side channel is one of the first identified problems with Quantum Key Distribution. Basicaly the bod who came up with the idea whilst first testing the idea could tell the state of "Alice's polarizer" simply by the amount of noise it made...

    The CD-ROM motor idea I'd heard befor but could not remember where till I followed your link.

    Dr Lloyd Wood has worked with the UK's Surrey Uni, the European Space Agency and Americas NASA and one or two other places as part of his work for Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. He has been involved with CLEO (Cisco router in Low Earth Orbit) and other work on what's being called "The Space Internet".

    Of interest is his work on Delay and Disruption Tolerant Networks (DTN). It's not been said "publicaly" as far as I'm aware but the work has aspects that are important to anonymity networks such as TOR.

    You can read more on Dr Wood's DTN work etc at,

    Lloyd Wood - Delay-Tolerant Networking work []

    The UK occupies an odd position in the "Space Race" it is the only nation who having put a satellite into space then stopped further space rocket development (the Black Knight launch platform was considerably safer and more economic than the then US and CCCP systems). The UK has however continued in the Space Game and is perhaps the leading designers of payloads for scientific and industrial satellites (it probably is on military sats as well but nobody who knows for sure is telling ;-)

    Clive Robinson
    Schneier on Security: Information-Age Law Enforcement Techniques []


    Schneier has covered it before: power line fluctuations (differences on the wire in keys pressed).

    There's thermal attacks against cpus and temp, also:

    ENF (google it)

    A treat (ENF Collector in Java):

    sourceforge dot net fwdslash projects fwdslash nfienfcollector

    No single antimalware scanner exists which offers the ability to scan (mostly proprietary) firmware on AGP/PCI devices (sound cards, graphics cards, usb novelty devices excluding thumb drives), BIOS/CMOS.

    If you boot into ultimate boot cd you can use an archane text interface to dump BIOS/CMOS and examine/checksum.

    The real attacks which survive disk formats and wipes target your PCI devices and any firmware which may be altered/overwritten with something special. It is not enough to scan your hard drive(s) and thumb drives, the real dangers with teeth infect your hardware devices.

    When is the last time you:

    Audited your sound card for malware?
    Audited your graphics card for malware?
    Audited your network card for malware?

    Google for:

    * AGP and PCI rootkit(s)
    * Network card rootkit(s)
    * BIOS/CMOS rootkit(s)

    Our modern PC hardware is capable of much more than many can imagine.

    Do you:

            Know your router's firmware may easily be replaced on a hacker's whim?
            Shield all cables against leakage and attacks
            Still use an old CRT monitor and beg for TEMPEST attacks?
            Use TEMPEST resistant fonts in all of your applications including your OS?
            Know whether or not your wired keyboard has keypresses encrypted as they pass to your PC from the keyboard?
            Use your PC on the grid and expose yourself to possible keypress attacks?
            Know your network card is VERY exploitable when plugged into the net and attacked by a hard core blackhat or any vicious geek with the know how?
            Sarch out informative papers on these subjects and educate your friends and family about these attacks?
            Contact antimalware companies and urge them to protect against many or all these attacks?

    Do you trust your neighbors? Are they all really stupid when it comes to computing or is there a geek or two without a conscience looking to exploit these areas?

    The overlooked threat are the potential civilian rogues stationed around you, especially in large apartment blocks who feed on unsecured wifi to do their dirty work.

    With the recent news of Russian spies, whether or not this news was real or a psyop, educate yourself on the present threats which all antimalware scanners fail to protect against and remove any smug mask you may wear, be it Linux or OpenBSD, or the proprietary Windows and Mac OS you feel are properly secured and not vulnerable to any outside attacks because you either don't need an antivirus scanner (all are inept to serious attacks) or use one or several (many being proprietary mystery machines sending data to and from your machine for many reasons, one is to share your information with a group or set database to help aid in threats), the threats often come in mysterious ways.

    Maybe the ancients had it right: stone tablets and their own unique language(s) rooted in symbolism.


    'Disconnect your PC from the internet and don't add anything you didn't create yourself. It worked for the NOC list machine in Mission Impossible'

    The room/structure was likely heavily shielded, whereas most civvies don't shield their house and computer rooms. There is more than meets the eye to modern hardware.


    network card rootkits and trojans
    pci rootkits
    packet radio
    xmit 'fm fingerprinting' software
    'specific emitter identification'

    how many malware scanners scan bios/cmos and pci/agp cards for malware? zero, even the rootkit scanners. have you checksummed/dumped your bios/cmos and firmware for all your pci/agp devices and usb devices, esp vanity usb devices in and outside the realm of common usb devices (thumbdrives, external hdds, printers),

    Unless your computer room is shielded properly, the computers may still be attacked and used, I've personally inspected computers with no network connection running mysterious code in the background which task manager for windows and the eqiv for *nix does not find, and this didn't find it all.

    Inspect your windows boot partition in *nix with hexdump and look for proxy packages mentioned along with command line burning programs and other oddities. Computers are more vulnerable than most would expect.

    You can bet all of the malware scanners today, unless they are developed by some lone indy coder in a remote country, employ whitelisting of certain malware and none of them scan HARDWARE devices apart from the common usb devices.

    Your network cards, sound cards, cd/dvd drives, graphics cards, all are capable of carrying malware to survive disk formatting/wiping.

    Boot from a Linux live cd and use hexdump to examine your windows (and *nix) boot sectors to potentially discover interesting modifications by an unknown party.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @04:01AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @04:01AM (#71703)

    Isn't this what professional bullshitters do? Is this something we really need more of?

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by meisterister on Monday July 21 2014, @04:10AM

    by meisterister (949) on Monday July 21 2014, @04:10AM (#71704) Journal

    Upon creating industry-leading documentation division through a gut-feeling forward-thinking utilization of our exceptional eye-brain synergy, we brought to the table a competitive, value-add, cloud-based communicative synergy to provide valuable insight into industry-wide discussions.

    (May or may not have been) Posted from my K6-2, Athlon XP, or Pentium I/II/III.
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by gringer on Monday July 21 2014, @05:35AM

    by gringer (962) on Monday July 21 2014, @05:35AM (#71720)

    I agree with the general tone of this article, but feel like there are errors on a few points. In particular, the method of presentation is lacking in a few areas, the grammar used is pitched at an inappropriate level for the expected reader, and the use of numbers (instead of words) alters the way in which the article is interpreted.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Tom on Monday July 21 2014, @07:19AM

    by Tom (4259) <reversethis-{gro.airumel} {ta} {mot}> on Monday July 21 2014, @07:19AM (#71732) Homepage

    IMHO the results are highly context-dependent. In politics, this probably works. In a meeting about something unimportant (i.e. most of them), ditto.

    But if you have a situation and something needs to be done, specific wins over vague any day. When your house is burning, you'll punch the guy who says "extinguishing the flames appears to be an appropriate course of action" in the face, while you'll remember fondly the guy who correctly told you exactly where the fire hose is.

    Try the politicians speech in the military, good luck. Or in any operations, really. "I need 3 tanks, 5 miles east of this point" and "kill the webserver process and increase the memory limit to 2GB" are the kind of info you want when you need results, not feel-good speeches. It's part of the eternal divide between PHBs and geeks.

    Sadly, management is largely political, and in most companies is the primary career path, so we get all these vague assholes talking nonsense and playing unintentional bullshit bingo all day.

    Might & Fealty [], my political sandbox game
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @03:10PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @03:10PM (#71836)

      Provided ability, increasing the score of the post I'm currently replying to seems like an appropriate action.

      Translation: Mod parent up!

    • (Score: 2) by tathra on Monday July 21 2014, @06:24PM

      by tathra (3367) on Monday July 21 2014, @06:24PM (#71924)

      Try the politicians speech in the military, good luck. Or in any operations, really. "I need 3 tanks, 5 miles east of this point" and "kill the webserver process and increase the memory limit to 2GB" are the kind of info you want when you need results, not feel-good speeches.

      no, in the military we prefer not to be micromanaged. rather than, "move the tanks down this route as a blockade, fire 5 mortar shots at exactly this grid coordinate, and start the assault right after," we'd rather get orders like "take this objective" because it allows junior leadership a chance to grow and mature and also there's nobody to blame but ourselves if we fail, so morale towards command stays higher. micromanagement is a terrible leadership style.

      really the trick is to be just specific enough to accomplish the task at hand, no more, no less.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @12:12PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @12:12PM (#71789)

    If you vote for me your wildest dreams will come true.

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @03:12PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @03:12PM (#71839)

      Ah, than you for the warning! ;-)

    • (Score: 1) by PapayaSF on Tuesday July 22 2014, @02:11AM

      by PapayaSF (1183) on Tuesday July 22 2014, @02:11AM (#72107)

      Hope and Change!

  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday July 21 2014, @02:40PM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday July 21 2014, @02:40PM (#71821) Journal

    "How to Beat the Hell Out of Psychopaths Who Play Power Games."

    It might not be a bad idea to screen for psychopaths before they can hold office or positions of authority. As a society we can work with reasonable people we disagree with sometimes, but as a species we cannot tolerate psychopaths with power anymore.

    Washington DC delenda est.