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1  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: how to take a very long screenshot on: July 02, 2015, 04:08:06 PM
The system Tree command might be useful:

2  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Reader's Corner - The amazing Internet Archive on: June 28, 2015, 11:07:57 PM
The website has been transformed/overhauled.
Now there are even more good reasons for being a member/user of the Internet Archive, including:

- but be aware of the Internet Archive's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Copyright Policy

(These links have been added to/inserted in the opening post.)
3  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Be prepared against ransomware viruses.. on: June 27, 2015, 06:59:31 PM
In the DOS OS, I recall using an excellent file manager/explorer called Lotus Magellan. From memory, one of the functions it had which I tried out but rarely used was to calculate and record the CRC (Cyclic Redundancy Check) value for important files that you wanted to preserve. You could then periodically run a check to see whether the CRC value had changed (i.e., if the file contents had been changed).

In a modern OS, in the case of a virus that encrypts a file but leaves the file name/extension unchanged, you could have a report that tells you when specified data filenames/types have the CRC (or other checksum) changed.
In the case of a virus that encrypts a file and changes the filename/extension, you could have a report that tells you when the old file name/extension is changed or if it "disappears" (i.e., is renamed in some way or deleted).

Some kind of monitor/logging/warning like that seems like it might be useful for data file security. I don't know whether that is a common practice though. For example, the OS can object strongly if specific system file types are touched in any way, so it might be happening at a system-file level.
4  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Be prepared against ransomware viruses.. on: June 27, 2015, 06:39:03 PM
@mouser: Are you able to answer this? It would be interesting to know what defences the virus had got through.
@mouser: What virus and/or malware protection did your relative have on his/her PC?
5  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: IsoBuster Pro - Mini-Review. UPDATE: v3.6 released (2015-06-19) on: June 27, 2015, 07:21:18 AM
UPDATE: 2015-06-28 0008hrs: IsoBuster v3.6 released (2015-06-19).

Release notes: (Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
IsoBuster 3.6 Released!       June 19, 2015

IsoBuster 3.6 was released today and it features a ton of new functionality, improvements and has some important bug fixes as well. IsoBuster 3.6 is a great update again and if you're running a 3.x version you should definitely (and freely) upgrade to this new version! If you have a 1.x or 2.x license you can still upgrade with a nice discount!

Here's a list of all the goodies:

Changes / New:
    Support for the Linux EXT file system
    Support for Rimage mastered CD/DVD discs with manifest file
    Support for Nintendo GameCube file system
    Support for GEMDOS / Atari - ST FAT12-16 variant
    Support for High Sierra on CD-ROM (the predecessor to ISO9660)
    Implemented internal device caching, especially used during File System recognition. Many file systems start from similar addresses.
     Caching avoids having to re-read blocks for every file-system that is checked
    Detect if the Nintendo Wii file system is present and show an icon for it (*)
    Detect if the Linux RomFS file system is present and show an icon for it (*)
    Detect if the Unix/Linux JFS file system is present and show an icon for it (*)
    Detect if the Unix/Linux ZFS file system is present and show an icon for it (*)
    Detect if the Unix/Linux Minix file system is present and show an icon for it (*)
    Detect if the Linux BtrFS file system is present and show an icon for it (*)
    Detect if the Linux SquashFS file system is present and show an icon for it (*)
    Detect if the Linux CramFS file system is present and show an icon for it (*)
    Detect if the Linux BeFS (BFS) file system is present and show an icon for it (*)
    Detect if the Microsoft ReFS file system is present and show an icon for it (*)
    New and much faster way to find deleted files and folders in an NTFS file system

(*) Full exploration of this file system is not implemented but now an investigator can see if it is present

    Extra tests to make sure a child folder doesn't have subfolders that are a parent folder, creating circular links, in buggy or
     recovered file systems
    Added a 'Paranoid mode' when creating managing IBP/IBQ image files, to make sure all data is flushed to the destination
     without system caching, and structures are updated regularly
    Allow to complete a managed image file from media of which the layout doesn't fully match, but the risk is manageable [Professional]
    Allow to complete a managed image file from another non-managed image file [Professional]
    Improved speed when updating the IBP managed image file
    Added various extraction type switches via the command line: /ET: A, IBP, WAV, RAW, R2U, RUN, DLL
    Added new file system switches via the command line: /EF: see the various newly implemented file systems
    Added Pinnacle Studio mastered DVDs to the IFO/VOB recognition sequence ("PCLE UDFLib")
    Added ability (via right mouse click) to see the properties-window-text as text in a memo field (for easy copy and paste)
    Support for underscores in function names in the libewf.dll, so that Borland bcc32 built dlls can be used as well
    Always display FileName:StreamName, with or without [ADS] appended, for NTFS Alternate Data Streams
    Removed registration dialog nag when doing a surface scan on BD media
    Improvements in the Extract From-To functionality, dialog and warnings
    Make sure testing for encrypted partitions only happens once, not every time the visual node is created (e.g. when switching
     devices in GUI)
    Do not read extra blocks to test for partition encryption if there are enough cached blocks
    Updated the 'Agent' string when doing an online query, to check for a new version, to be more compatible with modern servers
     and systems
    Reverse the order of AVDP parsing, LBA 512 first rather than 256 first, in case of a CeQuadrat made UDF disc, to deal with
     CeQuadrat UDF bugs
    Get the proper volume name for CeQuadrat made UDF CD-R discs
    After an image file has been made, save its filename to the recently opened image files, so that it can be opened immediately
     from the recent image files' list
    Improved .GI image file interpretation, specifically improvements in finding the header size
    Show files and folders with the System property in another color
    Show special files, file entries that are not used in the classical way by Unix/Linux file systems, in another color
    Show Windows overlay icons and add the shortcut overlay icon to EXT symbolic link files
    Added checkbox to options to uncheck using CD-Text in filenames, when audio tracks are extracted
    The file-exists dialog now also allows to auto-rename a file, instead of over-writing or ignoring the file (non-Windows file systems
     allow duplicate but caps-sensitive names in the same folder)
    New dialog to auto-rename filenames that are illegal in Windows but OK in other non-Windows file systems
    Auto-rename folders, during extraction, when they contain illegal Windows-filename characters or a Windows-reserved file/folder name.
    Show Endianess in UFS, XFS, ISO and SquashFS and other File System properties
    Improvements in drag&drop functionality and the use of the temporary folder. Better clean-up afterwards
    Possibility to always get the RETRY SELECT ABORT error dialog (instead of RETRY OMIT ABORT) on file extraction
    Various improvements, changes and re-writes in the core code / engine, as this is a living project and to deal with the ever=growing
     new functionality
    Various GUI improvements

    Fixed GUI issue that caused incorrect values to be displayed in certain error messages
    Fixed possible hang when EWF image files are loaded
    Fixed that sometimes the sanitizing part after finding missing files and folders on a FAT volume could take 'forever', due to
     bad FAT records
    Fixed data-corruption issue, introduced in 3.5, while extracting files with more than 10 extents (fragments would be extracted
     in the wrong order)
    Fixed it so that when an IBP/IBQ is made twice in a row from the same media (without a refresh) the bitmap is still fully written
     out to the IBP
    Avoid exception error on bad IBP without (enough) bitmap data (rare test case)
    Fixed extraction of named streams of an NTFS folder (not file)

Download IsoBuster 3.6 here.

Please tell people about it, like it in facebook, share it via facebook or via twitter, post it on forums etc. Stuff like that is really appreciated. Start with clicking the "Recommend" button below if you're on Facebook.

Peter Van Hove,
Founder and CEO
6  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Be prepared against ransomware viruses.. on: June 27, 2015, 07:05:52 AM
@mouser: What virus and/or malware protection did your relative have on his/her PC?
7  Other Software / DC Gamer Club / Re: Microsoft Tinker robot puzzle game - download for free on: June 24, 2015, 12:59:41 PM
The game is really good on Vista Ultimate!

On Win 8.1-64 PRO, however...


8  Other Software / DC Gamer Club / Microsoft Tinker robot puzzle game - download for free on: June 24, 2015, 06:33:52 AM
I stumbled upon this today whilst searching for something unrelated. It looked interesting, so I downloaded the game. I checked and it is/was already included in the Vista Ultimate Plus installation that I have configured on an old laptop.

Download the Freeware from Softpedia - Tinker
 - where it says:
Editor's Review
Tinker is one of the most memorable titles you can play. It’s a great looking puzzle game in which the main character is a tiny robot who you must guide through a large number of scenarios that require a good dose of brainpower to complete.

An example of excellent game design in all aspects
Tinker is charming from the first second you lay eyes on it. Even as a grownup you can’t hold back a smile when seeing the little guy and that smile gets a bit bigger when you see how he gently slaps switches and does his victory dance.

However, not all the creativity went into the visual design of the game. Along with smiles, Tinker also causes a decent amount of frowning, you know, the kind that takes over your face when you have no idea how to solve the puzzle that’s in front of you. Expect plenty of that because Tinker is quite terrific brain-tease.

Play 60 levels that define the notion of a great puzzle game
In terms of gameplay, the mechanics are easy to understand. In each level you are placed on a rectangular surface with a checkerboard pattern and you share that space with the puzzle components. There is good deal of those and they range from simple ice blocks to magnets, you have mirrors to work with, teleportation pads, magnets, lasers and a whole lot more.

Tinker supplies 60 levels and each one is unique in how it looks and how it’s solved. You will always have to deal with different mechanics and interactions between the objects, switches and everything else. Often enough, you might just take a moment to enjoy the creativity that went into creating each puzzle.

If you haven’t played it by now, don’t waste any more time
For puzzle game fans and not only, Tinker is a perfect example of how you can create something that’s excellent in every way. It’s not the best, but it’s definitely one of the best experiences you will have with a game of this sort.

Tinker was reviewed by Alexandru Chirila

This is different to the old (2009) discussion thread on DCF about Tinker being available for free online play: Microsoft is giving away Tinker for free

Interesting link: Tinker: how to play

My 5 y/o son likes Tinker - the game character is a cute little robot - but it's nevertheless a puzzle game that becomes increasingly difficult to solve as you go up each level.
I think this game is going to drive me batty.


9  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage. on: June 21, 2015, 10:18:39 PM
This Slashdot item made me wonder "Why is this news?":
Two Years After Snowden Leaks, Encryption Tools Are Gaining Users
Patrick O'Neill writes:
It's not just DuckDuckGo — since the first Snowden articles were published in June 2013, the global public has increasingly adopted privacy tools that use technology like strong encryption to protect themselves from eavesdroppers as they surf the Web and use their phones. The Tor network has doubled in size, Tails has tripled in users, PGP has double the daily adoption rate, Off The Record messaging is more popular than ever before, and SecureDrop is used in some of the world's top newsrooms.

...and then today, I read this rather interesting post from Lauren Weinstein's Blog:
Lauren Weinstein's Blog: Falling Into the Encryption Trap
(Extracts below copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
...But in some of the attitudes I see being expressed now about "forced" encryption regimes -- even browsers blocking out fully-informed users who would choose to forgo secure connections in critical situations -- there's a sense of what I might call "crypto-fascism" of a kind. ...
...Yes, we want to encourage encryption -- strong encryption -- on the Net whenever possible and practicable. Yes, we want to pressure sites to fix misconfigured servers and not purposely use weak crypto.

But NO, we must not permit technologists (including me) to deploy Web browsers (that together represent a primary means of accessing the Internet), that on a "security policy" basis alone prevent users from accessing legal sites that are not specifically configured to always require strongly encrypted connections, when those users are informed of the risks and have specifically chosen to proceed.

Anything less is arrogantly treating all users like children incapable of taking the responsibility for their own decisions.

And that would be a terrible precedent indeed for the future of the Internet.

This thought had struck me a few months back, in the form of: "If everybody is obliged to have, or is persuaded that it is a "Good Thing" and that they need to have highly secure and encrypted communications, then this could effectively be a de facto way of censoring sites deemed officially as being "undesirable" or "risky", and before we knew it we would have embraced the Corporate State's control of our Internet freedoms.

I had dismissed this idea as being too paranoid and unlikely, but now I'm not so sure.
So, the first supposed "news" quote - Two Years After Snowden Leaks, Encryption Tools Are Gaining Users - could just be part of a steady drip, drip of propaganda that may become a torrent...
This could mean that we're likely to be forcefully and fully censored and have our communications spied upon by the proprietary gatekeepers - by an "iron fist in a velvet glove" approach - whether we want it or not.

I'm sure it'll all be in our best interests.
10  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: good Videos [short films] here :) on: June 21, 2015, 08:05:41 PM
@4wd: Did you manage to get that site's content via bittorent? If so, then how?

Reason I ask is that I couldn't get fullscreen display from that TVNZ OnDemand site - on any browser - and put it down to WFN (Windows File Notofoer) having stuffed up the MS Firewall, or something - per separate thread.

However, having now fixed that (reset all Firewall settings to standard and uninstalled/reinstalled IE11 via Windows Features | Turn Windows features On or Off), I am still unable to view in fullscreen on that particular website.
11  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: good Videos [short films] here :) on: June 21, 2015, 05:04:46 AM
...but video didint work

Sorry, I forgot to mention that the TVNZ OnDemand link seems to work best. Try different browsers as well.
I'll alter the link in my previous post. Had difficulty getting it to play in full screen.
12  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: good Videos [short films] here :) - "This is not my life" (TVNZ SF series) on: June 20, 2015, 08:04:42 PM
My rating:    Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup
My Recommendation: A worthwhile watch for SF fans.
IMDB: This Is Not My Life
Alec Ross awakes one morning to find that he doesn't know who or where he is and doesn't recognize his wife or children.

On Friday night, my wife - knowing that I ike SF and that I wouldn't usually watch TV - mentioned there was a SciFi film on TV called "This is not my life". I did a query on IMDB on it, and learned that it was in fact a New Zealand-made TV serial. Reviewers gave it an excellent rating, which surprised me as, from experience, NZ TV can usually be pretty mediocre. With a population of only about 4.5M it's probably not surprising.

I checked the TVNZ website to see what episode it was and saw that it seemed to be a rerun and that TVNZ now had a site for watching serials online: TVNZ OnDemand -

EDIT 2015-06-21 2207hrs:] also try TVNZ OnDemand -

The service is free to anyone wanting to sign up - though I am not sure whether it will necessarily permit overseas access on the same basis - i.e., overseas viewers may need to access it via VPN.

So, I signed up and decided to tentatively watch episode 1. There were 13 episodes altogether, each about 45mins long - so that would be (13 x 3)/4=9¾hrs approx., all up. I wouldn't want to invest my cognitive surplus in it if it was mediocre. I figured that I could find out if it was any good, by starting at Ep.1, and if it was, then I could work through successive episodes one-by-one, as time permitted.
So, I started to watch Ep.1 - and I was hooked.
I ended up staying up all night and watching the lot, totally immersed and wearing my Logitech G930  headset. Very enjoyable.   Kiss

Summary: Good story which hung together and had a clever and novel theme; good plot with lots of twists and turns (enabled by the theme); good acting; well produced. Not necessarily the best SF TV serial I'd ever seen, but pretty darn good.
13  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Windows Firewall Control - Mini Review on: June 20, 2015, 03:38:56 PM
...and you have done (part of?) a service towards us in general!

Well, that was the general idea. I had been responsible for earlier making a comment about WFN in this thread, but did not mention any problems with it, as I had experienced none, at the time. It was when I took a look at the next/latest Alpha release that I got a shock and thought I had better alert readers to that.
In much the same vein, I alerted readers to the evident potential lack of permanence in so-called "security" in the Tresorit Terms & Conditions of Service, for users of the "FREE" version.
However, the two cases probably need to be distinguished by their differences:
(a) the WFN episode would appear to be "mistake" - maybe (say) "bad" programming, or similar.
(b) the Tresorit episode would seem to be attributable to apparently deliberate and arguably sharp practice in the wording and warnings in the Ts&Cs, and which certainly misled me - and have probably misled other users for all we know.
14  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Internet freedoms restrained - US-sponsored stifling/censoring of speech on: June 20, 2015, 02:54:30 PM
^^ Perhaps equally astonishing (to me, at any rate) is this apparent US-sponsored stifling/censoring of free speech on the Internet:
How Government Stifled Reason's Free Speech
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Yes, the feds can compel magazines and websites to cough up user information about obviously non-threatening trolls, while barring them from even acknowledging it.
Nick Gillespie & Matt Welch|Jun. 19, 2015 5:08 pm
 5495    417    128   
For the past two weeks, Reason, a magazine dedicated to "Free Minds and Free Markets," has been barred by an order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York from speaking publicly about a grand jury subpoena that court sent to

The subpoena demanded the records of six people who left hyperbolic comments at the website about the federal judge who oversaw the controversial conviction of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht. Shortly after the subpoena was issued, the government issued a gag order prohibiting Reason not only from discussing the matter but even acknowledging the existence of the subpoena or the gag order itself. As a wide variety of media outlets have noted, such actions on the part of the government are not only fundamentally misguided and misdirected, they have a tangible chilling effect on free expression by commenters and publications alike.

Yesterday, after preparing an extensive legal brief, Reason asked the US Attorney's Office to join with it in asking that the gag order - now moot and clearly an unconstitutional prior restraint - be lifted. This morning, the US Attorney's Office asked the Court to vacate the order, which it did. We are free to tell the story for the first time.

On May 31, Nick Gillespie published a post at's Hit & Run blog discussing Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht's "haunting sentencing letter" to District Court Judge Katherine Forrest, and the judge's harsh response. Gillespie noted that Forrest "more than threw the book" at Ulbricht by giving him a life sentence, which was a punishment "beyond even what prosecutors...asked for."

In the comments section of the post, six readers published reactions that drew the investigative ire of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. In a federal grand jury subpoena dated June 2, the U.S. District Court commanded to turn over "any and all identifying information" we had about the individuals posting those comments.

This is the first time has received such a subpoena from any arm of government.

From press accounts of similar actions at other news publications and social media sites, we know that it is increasingly common for the federal government to demand user information from publications and websites while also stifling their speech rights with gag orders and letters requesting "voluntary" confidentiality. Exactly how common is anyone's guess; we are currently investigating just how widespread the practice may be.

The federal government's command for information—and request for silence—ironically came just days after the Supreme Court, in Elonis v. United States, strongly limited the scope of what counts as a true "threat" online. In that case, the Court voided the conviction of Anthony Elonis, who had published on Facebook rap lyrics depicting violence against his estranged wife and as a result been sentenced to 44 months in prison for making threats. The Court ruled that context needs to be taken into account when evaluating the true nature of the threatening actions being described. "Federal criminal liability," the justices wrote, "generally does not turn solely on the results of an act without considering the defendant’s mental state."

Unfortunately, that precedent is mostly irrelevant in our case. In America, grand juries have almost limitless ability to investigate whatever they want, regardless of whether that investigation has any chance of producing a constitutionally permissible conviction. Grand juries are widely regarded as playthings of ambitious prosecutors, who famously are able to indict "ham sandwiches"—at least, as long as those sandwiches aren't police officers accused of brutality.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara subpoenaed all of the identifying information we had about the authors of such comments as, "Its (sic) judges like these that should be taken out back and shot." And, "Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly. Especially if you feed them in feet first." This last comment is a well-known Internet reference to the Coen brothers' movie Fargo. 

The subpoena also covered such obviously harmless comments as: "I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman," and "I'd prefer a hellish place on Earth be reserved for her as well."

The comments are hyperbolic, in questionable taste–and fully within the norms of Internet commentary.

It's worth stressing that, under established legal precedent, (like any other website) is generally not legally responsible for reader comments posted at our site. Still, the chilling effect on Reason and our commenters is tangible. It takes time, money and resources to challenge, or even simply to comply with, such intrusive demands.

The original subpoena, received late on Tuesday, June 2, did not come with a gag order. However, it came with a letter from Bharara and Assistant U.S. Attorney Niketh Velamoor requesting that we refrain from informing any other parties about the subpoena so as to "preserve the confidentiality of the investigation," and that we notify his office in advance if we intended to do so, even though it also said that we were under "no obligation" to keep the subpoena confidential.

We had three options: We could 1) abide quietly with the subpoena, 2) attempt to quash it, and/or 3) alert the commenters named in the subpoena.

Option 1, quietly abiding, was a non-starter for us.

As for Option 2, our chances of prevailing in that sort of legal challenge—given the extremely wide-ranging authority of federal grand juries, and the precedents set in cases such as In re Grand Jury Subpoena No. 11116275, 846 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2012), involving an anonymous poster on Twitter—was in practical effect, virtually nil. 

In the Twitter case, an anonymous poster moved to quash a grand jury subpoena to Twitter that arose from online postings of a sexual nature about then-congresswoman Michele Bachmann. In that case, Twitter received the subpoena and notified the anonymous poster about it, letting him know that the company would comply with the subpoena unless he filed a motion to quash. The court denied his motion, holding that the poster's First Amendment right to comment anonymously must yield to the government's "compelling interest" in knowing his identity.

So we decided, against the government's request but well within our legal rights, to choose Option 3: notify and share the full subpoena with the six targeted commenters so that they would have a chance to assert their First Amendment rights to anonymity and defend themselves legally against the order.

At about 10:30 am ET on Thursday, June 4, our attorney Gayle Sproul (of Levine, Sullivan, Koch, & Schulz) called Velamoor to discuss the subpoena. The call did not go well. Sproul asked Velamoor to consider scaling back the scope of the subpoena by omitting the more benign commenters. Velamoor said simply, "No." Then Sproul informed him that we would be notifying our commenters about the subpoena to give them the chance to defend their rights to remain anonymous, and that we would not comply with the subpoena as it related to any commenters who moved to quash the subpoena before our compliance deadline. Sproul explained to him that there is case law firmly establishing that these commenters have the right to speak anonymously, and that we would withhold the information of anyone fighting the subpoena. Velamoor disputed that any such free speech rights exist. He asked that we delay notifying the commenters so he could get a court order prohibiting us from disclosing the subpoena to them. We refused. Sproul pointed out that we were perfectly within our rights to share the subpoena given the law and the wording of his own letter. Velamoor then suggested that Reason was "coming close" to interfering with the grand jury investigation. The call ended abruptly.

Immediately following that conversation (at about 11:00 am ET on June 4), Reason Publisher Mike Alissi sent the subpoena to the six email addresses associated with the user accounts for the comments identified in the subpoena. The email stated:

I am unhappy to report that Reason has received the attached grand jury subpoena from the US District Court/Southern District of New York demanding that we provide all identifying information that we have for several commenters who posted comments in a recent thread about the Silk Road case.  I am writing you because your email address is associated with one or more of the comments at issue.

Please be aware that we must provide the information that is being demanded by June 9 at 10 am eastern.   Please let us know no later than Monday, June 8 at 5 pm eastern if you have filed any motion(s) with the Court opposing the grand jury subpoena. Our attorney has notified the US Attorney's Office that we are notifying you about this subpoena.

Later that day, at approximately 5:35 pm ET, Velamoor sent Reason a gag order he had later secured blocking us from discussing the subpoena or the order itself with anyone outside of Reason, other than our attorney.

The gag order was accompanied by this email:

Mr. Alissi,

Regarding this subpoena, I spoke to someone who said she was an attorney representing Reason in connection with this subpoena.  The attorney indicated that Reason intended to notify the individuals referenced therein about the subpoena.  The attorney further refused to provide me any time to take steps to protect the confidentiality of the investigation.

I have obtained the attached Court Order prohibiting Reason from notifying any third party about the subpoena.

Please forward the Order to the attorney and any other individuals who should be aware of it.

Thank you

Niketh V. Velamoor
Assistant United States Attorney
Southern District of New York
One Saint Andrew's Plaza
New York, NY  10007

(Sproul had identified herself and provided contact information to him.)

Since receipt of the gag order on June 4, and until this moment, Reason has not spoken with any outside parties about the subpoena or the gag order. We originally intended to publish the subpoena as part of a story about it after the reply deadline; unfortunately, the gag order put those plans on ice.

Having already suggested that Reason might have interfered with a grand jury investigation, Velamoor contacted Sproul on the afternoon of Friday, June 5, in response to a letter from her explaining the commenters' constitutional rights and laying out the timeline of Reason's notification to them. Velamoor told her that he now had "preliminary information" suggesting that Reason was in violation of the court order. Sproul said we were not and asked for further information. Velamoor refused to give any specifics, saying simply that he was "looking into it further."

So as of this point in the saga, Reason had been subpoenaed, we had been vaguely—and falsely—accused by a United States Attorney's office of actions verging on obstruction of justice and contempt of court, and we were now told that we were being investigated further.

None of the six commenters informed us that they would be filing motions to oppose the U.S. Attorney's subpoena. Therefore we complied with the subpoena on the deadline of June 9.

Providing the subpoena to the commenters before the gag order was issued is what presumably enabled it to become public. That has had the effect of bringing to light what these compulsory grabs for information look like, launching a wide number of conversations about a grand jury process in which the government can target individuals, platforms, and publications for data about users.

(For a relatively comprehensive list of coverage of the matter go to this post at the legal blog Popehat, which published the first article on the subpoena and its implications.)

Reason's experience needs to be understood in a larger context. Especially since the 9/11 attacks, there has been a mounting conflict between the values of free speech and constitutional due process, with government making increasing demands–often under threat of punishment–for all sorts of information from innocent citizens. Coupled with the rise of a secretive and pervasive surveillance state, this tension means that Americans have no way of knowing just how unfree their speech really is.

While it is impossible to fully ascertain the frequency of information requests from local, state, and federal law enforcement, there is every reason to believe websites are subjected to thousands of demands each year. It is also not clear how other websites interpret the type of letter requesting "voluntary" confidentiality that Reason received. How often is that letter sent along with subpoenas? And how often does it achieve its intended effect of securing silence? In other words, does it have the same effect as a gag order?

In 2013, for instance, Mother Jones reported that Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft have between them received "tens of thousands of requests for user data from the US government annually," covering hundreds of thousands of accounts. Using corporate transparency reports, the magazine estimated that the companies complied with the demands between 72 percent and 89 percent of the time, and that it's impossible to know how many of those requests were filled without the affected users ever knowing their information had been targeted.

Also confusing the discussion about these orders is that different categories of cases have different rules and procedures, with some granting more power to targets than others. "Unlike grand jury subpoenas, subpoenas for commenter information in civil cases and in public criminal prosecutions are easier for websites to deflect. The information sought there may be truly tangential and the parties may be willing to negotiate," Sproul told Reason. "But, as in this case, when a grand jury subpoena targets specific information that it contends is necessary to an investigation and can demonstrate the link, any fight is going to be a seriously uphill battle."

Regardless of the legal details, the growing government demand for user data and our own experience with court-enforced silence on a self-evidently ridiculous investigation raise important questions about free speech and the abuse of power.

Reason's unmoderated comment space is rare among comparable publications and has, over the years, developed into a forum that is by turns exciting, intellectually advanced, outlandish, cringe-inducing, and more foul-mouthed than any locker room this side of the Crab Nebula. It is something to be celebrated as a voluntary community that can be engaged or ignored as the spirit moves you (we say that as writers whose work and physical shortcomings rarely escape unscathed from any thread). However trollish many of our commenters can be, they have created a sphere of free speech that delivers on one of the great promises of the Internet, which is unbridled expression, dialogue, and argument.

We took risks by creating an autonomous zone in which our readers are left to their own devices. Some of the risk is reputational—how many other serious outlets allow anonymous commenters to run riot as we do? Some of the risk is legal, as in the current situation.

One further note about anonymity in our comment threads. Commenting on our site requires registration using a working email address (which is hidden from public view unless a commenter chooses to have it displayed). We also log IP addresses. We do both of these things in order to fight spammers and trolls–people who have shown enormous determination in their efforts to disrupt the discussion.

Our commenters are generally a tech-savvy bunch. It is likely that those who have a desire for a very high degree of anonymity are taking control of that themselves, using anonymous email addresses and tools to prevent us from logging IPs connected to them.

But is not the dark web. Many of our regular commenters voluntarily display either personal website information or their email addresses. In fact, three of the six commenters subject to this very subpoena voluntarily displayed public links to personal blogs at Blogger as part of their comments, one of which further links to a Google+ page. Raising the question: How can the government view these so-called "threats" as so nefarious when people posted them in such a non-anonymous fashion?

Due in part to the government's secrecy and possible gag orders or requests for "voluntary" confidentiality, we don't know whether Google or other media outlets have been subpoenaed in this particular case. Judge Forrest's sentencing and comments in the Silk Road trial have drawn widespread criticism in corners of the Internet that value privacy and oppose the ruinous drug war. The potential number of critical comments subject to the District Court's low bar for investigative compulsion is enormous. Now multiply that number by the number of controversial court cases, and you could quickly get to the point where federal courts were doing nothing but investigating online trolls. Surely there are more pressing tasks, ones that don't involve suppressing the speech of journalistic outlets known to be critical of government overreach.

Reason's guiding principle over 47 years has been to expand the legal and cultural space for free expression, as the bedrock value behind human flourishing. As libertarians who believe in "Free Minds and Free Markets," Reason takes seriously an obligation to our audience and to our critics not simply to hold on to what we've got but to increase the rights of everyone to speak openly and without figurative or literal prior restraint.

To live in a world where every stray, overheated Internet comment—however trollish and stupid it may be—can be interpreted as an actionable threat to be investigated by a federal grand jury is to live in a world where the government is telling the public and media to just shut up already. As we gather and publish more information on just how often this sort of thing happens, we pledge to always be on the side of more speech rather than less.

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of and Reason TV and the co-author of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, just out in paperback.
Follow Nick Gillespie on Twitter

Matt Welch is editor in chief of Reason magazine and co-author with Nick Gillespie of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America.
Follow Matt Welch on Twitter
15  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: silly humor - post 'em here! [warning some NSFW and adult content] on: June 19, 2015, 09:59:57 PM
Made me larf:

16  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Firefox Extensions: Your favorite or most useful on: June 19, 2015, 09:37:38 PM
Seems as though getlocalload is something of a damp squib. Doesn't even install, though it says it has. Oh dear, what a pity, never mind.
17  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Windows Firewall Control - Mini Review on: June 19, 2015, 07:25:24 AM
@4wd: I think it could be an easy mistake to make. I was concerned to make the difference clear as well, but evidently did not do a good enough job!    ohmy

I made an edit to my post above, to emphasis the difference between WFC and WFN, and that the problem described was with WFN.
18  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Firefox Extensions: getlocalload - great idea. on: June 19, 2015, 05:44:10 AM
@panzer: Thankyou - what a great idea. I had not known this technology ( was available. Let's see how it works in practice now...
19 Software / Clipboard Help+Spell / Re: Request: Modify Format/Case, order of rules, etc. on: June 19, 2015, 05:16:40 AM
Unwitting humour? I liked this exchange - a LOL moment for me:
...What cryptic alien language is this though?

.pl is perl smiley

@kunkel321's question was spot-on:
PERL...In 1998, it was also referred to as the "duct tape that holds the Internet together", in reference to both its ubiquitous use as a glue language and its perceived inelegance. - Wikipedia.

But yet there are those amongst us who work magic by speaking a secret alien language, unknown to uninitiated, later generations.
20  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Windows Firewall Control - Mini Review (problems with WFN) on: June 16, 2015, 12:04:22 PM
EDIT 2015-06-20 0018hrs: This is not a comment about WFC (Windows Firewall Control) but about WFN (Windows Firewall Notifier). The two are not the same sort of thing.

I made a comment in this thread that included reference to WFN (Windows Firewall Notifier): Re: Windows Firewall Control - Mini Review, where I wrote:
4. Windows Firewall Notifier: Not a firewall control per se, but a useful notification tool. Probably a bit complicated to use for many users (more options/decisions to take). In use is annoying as heck and does not seem to be very intuitive. Uninstalls relatively easily via brute force.

I tried the latest version of WFN out yesterday, had some significant problems and thought I should post a comment here as a follow-up warning from my earlier comment, and just to close the loop.

My notes:
I'd suggest people be very careful with this one. Potentially nothing but trouble unless you use a sandbox, just-in-case. Otherwise, it could be a real time bandit to get things fixed afterwards.

When WFN started up, a veritable nightmare instantly ensued.
The laptop simply froze. After a long delay I was able to get Task Manager to start and display the processes in operation, so that I could see what was going on (OS is Win8.1-64 PRO). The Task Manager display showed that WFN had gone mad - the display was awash with notifier.exe instances, which were being spawned at a helluva rate and all the instances were hogging CPU and memory. The laptop was fully occupied with WFN processes. I pressed the OFF switch.
On rebooting the laptop, WFN proceeded to start up and repeat the spawning of notifier.exe. The laptop was unusable.
To fix things was time-consuming. I took out the hard drive and inserted it into a portable USB carrier. Using another laptop, I then ran the virus and Malwarebytes checkers on that drive (since the behaviour of WFN seemed to mimic the behaviour of a hijack virus).
No virus/malware was detected, so I expunged the WFN directory and reinstalled the drive back into it's laptop and rebooted. The laptop functioned, but anything that was using the Firewall would no longer work.
On inspection, I saw that several of the Windows Defender Firewall rules had been trashed/scrambled. I spent a couple of hours tediously manually checking, rebuilding and testing all the incoming/outgoing rules. I still can't get MS OneNote to sync to OneDrive. Yet the firewall rules look OK, now, so I must be making a mistake somewhere. Sheesh.

What's the explanation? I figured that WFN maybe could have been a deliberate virus mimic, or possibly a stupid prank by the author, perhaps in aggrieved retaliation for the criticisms of some users that he referred to in annoyed fashion. He says: "Before you go on and start whining about issues, this is an ALPHA version, meaning it's NOT finished yet and is only there because I don't want you to wait any longer before being able to give it a try.".
I have no idea why people might do that - i.e., if it were (say) a prank - but I certainly I didn't see that I or any other programmer would release an Alpha version in such a dodgy and inelegant state. Entirely my own fault, really. I mean, the author does call it an Alpha version, and for good reason, apparently.
We can all learn from this. If I ever decide to try WFN out again, I'll not take any risks, but will use a sandbox, and I recommend others do likewise, rather than just avoid the software. I'm sure it will be improved. It looked like it should be pretty good/useful - by design, at any rate - and that map idea, for example, is rather innovative. I'd like to get to use it and try it out.
Once bitten, twice shy though.
21  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Firefox Extensions: Config Descriptions on: June 16, 2015, 06:07:58 AM
This is a handy utility if you like tinkering in the about:config to try and understand what the various config items do.
Config Descriptions essentially provides you with a view of whatever minimum documentation there may be in the code.
From the extension notes: https://addons.mozilla.or...fig-descriptions/?src=api

Config Descriptions
Shows source comments for advanced application preferences in about:config

The about:config page in Firefox and other Mozilla software lists a litany of default and stored preferences, some better managed through options dialogs, the rest hidden for advanced users. Tinkering with the settings in here generally requires you to look up what they are online. Mozilla does, however, have its own documentation for many of its preferences in source comments in the default preferences files. This addon lets you see them in about:config.

This extension provides a quick way to view the information about preferences that is already shipped with your browser. For more detail and information about other preferences without source comments, you'll still need to look them up online:
22  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: MBAM scans freeze computer on: June 14, 2015, 12:32:25 AM
...Tried to download MBAM but do not have the option to run and it will not save or save as.
I guess I'll see what Tech Support has to offer.

That could actually indicate there may be a potentially serious problem with your PC system. MBAM Tech Support probably won't be able to help you with that. Nothing at the MBAM download site should prevent you from being able to "Save/Save As".
The problem thus seems to be that either something could be inhibiting/disabling your browser from the "Save/Save As" functionality, or, possibly you are unaware of how to use that functionality.

If you are operating the PC as a member of an Administrator status group, and IF something is inhibiting the "Save/Save As" functionality, then, from experience of fixing friends' virus-infected PCs, that would typically be symptomatic of a hijack virus. If you have one of those, then it is likely that there will be other symptoms - e.g., quite a lot of other functionality will be inhibited/disabled also.

So, two areas of questions:
  • 1. Virus-checker:
    What anti-virus package do you have on your PC?
    In its settings, are there any programs "whitelisted" (listed as not to be scanned)?
    Is it's version and virus signature file  up-to-date?
    Does it seem to run and update itself and its virus signature files properly?
    Has it been running all the time?
    Has it been switched OFF or disabled for any period of time?
    What was the date and overall result of its last scan?
    Can you make it start a fresh full scan, without any whitelisted programs, and does that scan complete properly and without any errors?
    On completion of the scan, in the settings, are there any programs "whitelisted" (listed as not to be scanned)?

  • 2. MBAM:
    Which version did you have - FREE or PRO/Premium?
    In its settings, are there any programs "whitelisted" (listed as not to be scanned)?
    How did you get your initial version of MBAM installed, and do you still have that installer file?
    Can you reinstall that version and does it seem to run and update itself and its virus signature files properly?
    Can you make it start a fresh full scan, without any whitelisted programs, and does that scan complete properly and without any errors?
    On completion of the scan, in the settings, are there any programs "whitelisted" (listed as not to be scanned)?

Two possibilities occur to me:
(a) You do not understand how to use the "Save/Save As" functionality.
(b) Your PC has a virus.

Assuming (a) is not the case, then going through the questions above should help to eliminate (b) as a possibility.

Trying to address/resolve the apparent problem before identifying the facts as above could be an academic exercise at best.
23  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: MBAM scans freeze computer on: June 12, 2015, 12:32:21 PM
@crabby3: Let us know if it gets fixed and how, please!
24  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: [Infographics] WWII deaths compared w. others on: June 11, 2015, 01:10:51 PM
@tomos: Thanks for posting that. I hadn't seen it before. One of the most informative and objective statistical reviews of WW2 v. the other wars that I have ever seen. Shocking impact.
25  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: MBAM scans freeze computer on: June 11, 2015, 11:46:56 AM
@crabby3: I thought what you wrote looked familiar, so I did a DuckGo search on "PC freezes began after installing MBAM v2.1.6.1022". Got lots of hits.
Found this one relevant - a forum post on MWB from 2009:
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Freezing Issues Redux - Page 2 - Malwarebytes News - Malwarebytes Forum
Posted 30 May 2009 - 03:50 AM
Basic procedures to correct freezing issues often due to other Security Software
If these procedures do not correct the problem please create a new post seeking further assistance

    Uninstall Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware using Add/Remove programs in the control panel.
    Restart your computer (very important).
    Download and run this utility.
    It will ask to restart your computer (please allow it to).
    After the computer restarts, install the latest version from here
    Note: If you're using a PAID version of Malwareybtes, you will need to reactivate the program using the license you were sent via e-mail.

BEFORE registering and starting the Protection Module, locate the Exclusion List for your Anti-Virus. Probably under an advanced menu in the program.
Add the following folders, sub-folders if you can, at a minimum add the files to the exclusion to be safe.

    C:\Program Files\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
    C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Malwarebytes\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
    C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Malwarebytes\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware\rules.ref
    C:\Program Files\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware\mbam.exe
    C:\Program Files\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware\mbamgui.exe
    C:\Program Files\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware\mbamservice.exe

This is pretty much as per my separate post of 2015-01-30: FIXED: Malwarebytes permanently running at high (approx. 27%) CPU utilisation.

Looks like once MBAM gets messed up, the "best practice" solution recommended by the developers is to expunge all traces of it and then install the latest version from scratch.
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