Worried about webcam snooping? Just use duct tape, Switch readers suggest

December 22, 2013

We're grateful for our readers, and we're even more grateful for those who take the time to read thoughtful comments. Every weekend, we highlight some of the smartest or funniest responses we got in the previous week.

This week we reported that Harvard was able to identify a suspect in Monday's bomb scare by checking logs to see who had been using Tor at the time of the threat. But Darren Dupre argues the suspect, Eldo Kim, might have beaten the rap if he'd kept his mouth shut:

First off, I want to make it clear that I don't condone what he did and I expressly condemn it.

With that said, him having been identified as a Tor user in of itself does not prove he sent the bomb threat. It just merely identifies him as someone who could have.

However, the information they have does not show that someone at Harvard sent the bomb threat, so it could have well just have been somebody on the other side of the world pulling a cruel prank. Anyone running Tor could have done it. That is hundreds of thousands of potential suspects.

Had Kim decided not to clear his conscience, he could have got away with the crime, and it's not likely that even a search of his laptop would have come up with anything unless he saved his bomb threat into a text file on his computer and/or left the browser window open.

This week we reported that it was possible to activate the built-in camera on some MacBooks without triggering the warning light. A number of readers said they've responded by putting tape, a Post-it note, or a Band-aid over the cameras on their laptops. Reader Otherwise snarks: "Never forget there are five forces in the Universe. They are the Strong Force, the Weak Force, Electromagnetism, Gravity, and Duct Tape."

Brian Fung wrote about the 100th anniversary of the Kingsbury Commitment, a deal that gave the Wilson administration's blessing to AT&T's telephone monopoly. Reader vdev argues that AT&T's successors should be required to provide the same high quality of service the original monopoly committed to providing a century ago:

The local phone company, whichever it is, has a government-provided exclusivity for local service. And has had for many, many years. It is neither ethical nor moral to enjoy that for so long and then sharply say "so long" to the ongoing responsibilities that accompany the monopoly.

I have no fight with the efforts of AT&T, Verizon and others to move beyond copper - they can provide service however they wish. But the service provided must meet the standards required. Users should not care HOW the service is provided, only that the QUALITY is appropriate. It doesn't matter whether the service is copper, fibre, cable or even avian carrier (RFC 1149) -- if the service quality is appropriate then it shouldn't matter to the users.

But customers MUST have access to the full range of services. If that means that Verizon, having installed FiOS and removed the copper, has to provide competitors with access then so be it. If Verizon did not want that to happen then it should not have pulled the copper (which it did NOT do where I live - it's still in place if a future owner doesn't want FiOS).

Andrea Peterson wrote about a take-down campaign by the academic publisher Elsevier. Reader Michigoose describes the dilemma faced by some journals:

I'm a member of a small scientific society that publishes a journal which happens to be the top journal in our field. We've been looking into going Open Access for years in order to make the manuscripts publicly available, but are constantly told that that will negatively affect our journal's Impact Factor, which will cause authors to take their best articles to other journals . . . because they can't get funding without publishing in journals with the highest Impact Factors.

But MichaelPTaylor disagrees:

I don't know who has been telling you this, but they are misinformed. Numerous analyses have shown that open-access papers are cited more often than those behind paywalls: in some cases the citation advantage has been as much as 600%. Swan (2010) surveyed 31 of these studies, and helpfully tabulate the results. I calculated that the average citation advantage was 176% -- that is, open-access articles were cited 2.76 times as often as non-open. Other things being equal, transitioning your society's journal to open access will increase its impact factor, maybe dramatically.

SECTION: {section=business/technology, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, moderationrequired=false, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, comments_period=14, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=2, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, includepause=true, display_ugc_photos=false, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, moderationrequired=false, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, comments_period=14, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=2, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, includepause=true, display_ugc_photos=false, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=business/technology, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, moderationrequired=false, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, comments_period=14, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=2, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, includepause=true, display_ugc_photos=false, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, moderationrequired=false, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, comments_period=14, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=2, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, includepause=true, display_ugc_photos=false, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments
Most Read Business
Next Story
Timothy B. Lee · December 22, 2013