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Comment by davidnelson on How do I "test it"? · 2012-01-24T21:44:40.862Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Ideally you should also point a room fan at the inside of the computer after you take off a panel. Some systems, especially small form factor PCs and rack mount servers, actually need the case in order to be properly cooled. Removing a panel means that e.g. an exhaust fan no longer forces air across passively cooled components near the intake.

Comment by davidnelson on The True Rejection Challenge · 2011-06-26T00:43:58.323Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Taking evening walks while listening to audiobooks seems to deal with all of those issues, assuming you aren't like one of my friends who can't stand audiobooks. Audiobooks aren't free, but if you take 3 30 minute walks a week it will take you months to get through a single book.

Comment by davidnelson on Computer security story · 2011-02-19T18:41:01.952Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If he had stored the paper in his wallet rather than on the laptop, I would have said the he handled the situation very well. For most people, the physical security afforded by their wallet is more than sufficient to safely store passwords. HBGary Federal would certainly have been better off if Aaron Barr and Ted Vera had used better passwords but written them down.

Telling people to never write down their passwords probably does more harm than good. Many people have too many passwords that change too often to legitimately expect them to be able to memorize them all. And when they do write them down, they have never been told that their wallet is a safer place to store them than under their keyboard.

Comment by davidnelson on That Magical Click · 2010-01-21T21:27:24.703Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I would be more inclined to take ErrantX seriously if he said what company he works for, so I could do some investigation. You would think that if they regularly do this sort of thing, they wouldn't mind a link. The "expensive" prices he quotes actually seem really low. DriveSavers charges more than $1000 to recover data off of a failed hard drive, and they don't claim to be able to recover overwritten data. Given all of that, I tend to think he is either mistaken (he does say it isn't really his field), or is lying.

Comment by davidnelson on That Magical Click · 2010-01-21T07:03:38.145Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

and with molecular nanotechnology you could go through the whole vitrified brain atom by atom and do the same sort of information-theoretical tricks that people do to recover hard drive information after "erasure" by any means less extreme than a blowtorch...

As far as I know, the idea that there are organizations capable of reading overwritten data off of a hard drive is an urban legend. See http://www.nber.org/sys-admin/overwritten-data-gutmann.html

Comment by davidnelson on Silver Chairs, Paternalism, and Akrasia · 2009-04-10T08:22:44.782Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Heroin/opiates are a bad example. Addicts with a steady supply or chronic pain patients are able to go years without skipping a day. I can't track it down right now, but I read a study a few years ago from some European county where they decided to try just giving a group of addicts all the heroin they wanted. The majority used every day, held down jobs, stayed out jail, and were relatively healthy. Of course government spending money to give addicts drugs was an outrage., so the program got shut down early.

Hallucinogens would be a better example, there would be no way to function in society if you were constantly on one.

Comment by davidnelson on Off-Topic Discussion Thread: April 2009 · 2009-04-05T07:02:08.248Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I have the same problem with finding it much harder to concentrate while reading an actual book as opposed to forum posts etc. I used to have a huge attention span for books of any sort when I was younger, so I wonder if being used to the short content you tend to find on the internet is the issue.

My trick is to go somewhere away from my house to read. Weather permitting, I walk to a park bench about 10 minutes from where I live. It makes it much easier to focus when I know I can't check my email or reddit almost instantly. Although it is annoying when I want to, say, look up the definition of a word.

Comment by davidnelson on You Only Live Twice · 2009-01-03T04:20:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you want to securely erase a hard drive, it's not as easy as writing it over with zeroes. Sure, an "erased" hard drive like this won't boot up your computer if you just plug it in again. But if the drive falls into the hands of a specialist with a scanning tunneling microscope, they can tell the difference between "this was a 0, overwritten by a 0" and "this was a 1, overwritten by a 0".

As far as I know this has never been confirmed. See http://www.nber.org/sys-admin/overwritten-data-gutmann.html for more details.