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Comment: This is a good thing (Score 5, Insightful) 392

Targeted surveillance is exactly what *should* be used, because it can self-regulate. There is a cost associated with each target, so there must also be a benefit otherwise it won't be done. So widespread strong crypto sounds perfect: it takes surveillance/intelligence ops back to the physical world where you pay per target and not per system of mass surveillance. And think of all the emissions saved at the datacenters!

Comment: My shortlist (Score 1) 598

by Alkonaut (#45068509) Attached to: What Are the Genuinely Useful Ideas In Programming?
  • - Structured programming.
  • - Programming paradigms and their differences and benefits (functional/procedural/declarative/imperative/object oriented), how to choose language/paradigm depending on problem, and useful patterns and strategies for each.
  • - Type systems (weak/strong/dynamic/strict). Drawbacks and benefits
  • - Basic development methodology (version control, testing, error handling, debugging, ALM, documentation).
  • - "Data structures and algorithms" i.e. basic discrete math, complexity theory, data structures and their algorithms.
  • - Some low level knowledge: basic understanding of how a computer works, how memory/cache/file systems and OS:es work. What's two's complement? What's epsilon for IEEE 32 bit floats?
  • - Basic computer security, encryption and hashing.

I think databases, "The unix philosophy" etc. are more controversial and should not be on the essential shortlist.

Comment: Re:databases (Score 1) 598

by Alkonaut (#45068463) Attached to: What Are the Genuinely Useful Ideas In Programming?
If you work on games, desktop applications, web frontend etc. the database is by no means essential. I have programmed for many years, mostly heavy desktop applications, without having to use relational databases (of course there is *data* but usually structured in binary, text or xml). I can see your point about structures and pointers being somewhat analogous to tables and relations *but* unless you are converting a DBA into a developer, wouldn't most developers see it the other way around? That is, when they see a relational db table for the first time (having coded for a while) they see the similarity to a struct or object?

Comment: Re: Approachable download for the way! (Score 1) 176

by Alkonaut (#44817147) Attached to: How To Turn Your Pile of Code Into an Open Source Project
I think "tarball" makes very few people enthusiastic. Most people run windows (honestly people who know what "tarball" is are a rounding error) and prefer a zip or installer for applications, and a zip or package (nuget/npm/gem/etc) for source. When running Linux I don't care whether I get a git repo url or a tgz, they are about equally cumbersome.

Comment: Re:Amusing (Score 2) 355

by Alkonaut (#44685145) Attached to: Break Microsoft Up
People think of microsoft as making Windows, Office while failing with mobile and games. But you need to look a bit wider to see the whole picture. They have moved in on servers, making Windows Server quite a large player where mainframe systems used to rule. They have successfully moved in (through aquisitions) on the business system area, taking a large chunk out of the revenue of companies like SAP/Oracle. If you include Business systems, Databases, Servers etc. you will see that not only are they either enjoying there monopoly OR failing, they are actually quite successful in areas where they never had a monopoly.

Comment: Re:Sure it's a loopy idea (Score 1) 385

by Alkonaut (#44652041) Attached to: Transport Expert Insists 'Don't Dismiss Wacky Hyperloop'
Leaving more often is convenient, but to calculate the cost per passenger journey you still need to look at the total cost of all the trips over the lifespan of the system. The convenience of fast and regular departures may be what lures people from the roads to the hyperloop (that wouldn't otherwise have taken the train), which is a good point. But still: one order of magnitude cheaper than HST is no big deal if the total passenger throughput is an order of magnitude lower!

Comment: Re:Sure it's a loopy idea (Score 1) 385

by Alkonaut (#44582355) Attached to: Transport Expert Insists 'Don't Dismiss Wacky Hyperloop'
You do two things: 1) don't go into the actual city centers and 2) follow the corridor of an existing highway. But (and this is a big but) if you don't go into the city centers you lose a lot of the convenience of the small scale travel, and the idea becomes less competitive compared to air travel. High speed trains cost ten times more but transport ten times the amount of passengers. So the only way the hyperloop is a better idea is if you don't need the volumes that the high speed trains will give you.

Comment: Just get a bag (Score 4, Insightful) 296

by Alkonaut (#44562865) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is There a Good Device Holster?
Just get a bag. Backpack or sling-type bag, depending on preference. Don't use belt pouches or anything like that. Ever. It doesn't make you look like a geek or hipster, it makes you look like an idiot. It's like having a bluetooth phone thing on your ear. Sure if you can strap a thing to your body under a jacket like a gun holster that is probably a good thing, it won't attract pickpockets and you won't have to carry a bag. But then you can't take yuor jacket off without looking like an idiot.

Comment: Even record companies have got this by now (Score 1) 443

by Alkonaut (#44550427) Attached to: Despite Global Release, Breaking Bad Heavily Pirated
I expect to watch movie releases and TV shows at my discretion, without commercials. I expect it to always be possible because of the "analog hole", the question is only whether it will always be more convenient. I'm ready to pay for it if tre price is right. Only spotify have so far been able to reach the cost/convenience treshold by offering all the music I need at a fixed cost. The only way to stop pirating of TV/movies would be the same thing: A stupidly simple interface, available on everyone's TV (i.e. has to be on all TV's, consoles, devices) and with everything you want to watch within a few clicks. Dealing with cable companies and TV channel packages is analogous to signing up on a 12 month listening deal with a record company. A record company that only has half the artists you like. Its a business model that is dead in the water.

Comment: Re:No it isn't. - Whitelists (Score 1) 70

by Alkonaut (#43820655) Attached to: Scanner Identifies Malware Strains, Could Be Future of AV
Groups with large resources (such as governments) can always exploit. They can either find a vulnerability that they can exploit without being detected by blacklists, or they can exploit the whitelist system. Whitelists, would not get rid of stuxnet-type attacks, but it would probably get rid of the 99% of attacks that are driving botnets around the world and so on.

Comment: Re:oh i see (Score 1) 782

by Alkonaut (#43784901) Attached to: Microsoft Unveils Xbox One
First of all they will probably sell it at zero or negative margin in the beginning meaning it may be a decent "gaming PC" for the money. Second, it has some hardware and software features that a PC doesn't, so it can probably squeeze out a bit more performance from the same dollar, than a computer running a desktop OS does. Developers also have a fixed hardware target so they can cut corners and do optimizations that aren't possible in PC games. Lastly, even though it has been theoretically possible to e.g. play a game of FIFA with 3 friends on a PC on your big screen TV, it is just so much simpler to do so on a console.

Comment: Re:Really? in 2013/4 (Score 1) 782

by Alkonaut (#43784781) Attached to: Microsoft Unveils Xbox One
You could have had a dual titan graphics card and 32Gb of ram of course. But the price point is fixed, so you can't. For a the cost of the 500Gb mechanical you can get a, what, 64GB solid state? A (low) cap on installed games feels like a larger problem than load times. The new box will come in several iterations over the coming years, and solid state will be one of the first things that will be added. Also, it is probably user replaceable if you are adventurous. I don't see it as a big problem. That said, we haven't seen the price tag yet, so the 500GB mechanical better mean that it is priced the same as the 360 was at launch then.

There is one way to find out if a man is honest -- ask him. If he says "Yes" you know he is crooked. -- Groucho Marx