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Comment: Competitive Disadvantage (Score 1) 71

by Archtech (#49736185) Attached to: 'Logjam' Vulnerability Threatens Encrypted Connections

How long before legislators and the White House understand that this kind of restrictive export law simply handicaps US researchers and corporations? Competitors from other nations such as India and Russia get a significant advantage over their opposite numbers in the, er, Land of the Free.

Comment: Privacy concerns? (Score 1) 827

by Archtech (#49736105) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

After a quick scan of the comments, I didn't notice any mention of the privacy aspects. A tax on gasoline or other fuels is non-intrusive and barely noticeable: the cost of fuel is just that much higher. But to tax drivers by distance (also perhaps factoring in the weight and nature of their vehicles) requires the state to find out how far they have travelled, which probably requires either a "spy in the car" or detection and tracking of all vehicles on the roads.

From a civil liberties point of view, I would think the fuel tax is a far better solution. (Of course those who thrive on building civil service empires, and those who profit from selling government big computer systems, may disagree).

Comment: Passive voice alert! (Score 5, Insightful) 525

"It's a well-kept secret, but 95 per cent of the climate models ... have been found ... to be in error."

Ha ha ha. He used the notorious passive voice: "have been found". I wonder why?


1. Does not specify who did the finding.
2. Provides no link to any actual information.

Comment: We invented the damn things! (Score 1) 553

by Archtech (#49619321) Attached to: Recruiters Use 'Digital Native' As Code For 'No Old Folks'

Has it occurred to any of those witlings that people who are now "old folk" invented the computer, the network, the operating system, the Internet, and - marginally - the Web? (Sorry TBL!) Moreover, they are more likely to understand how those things work than younger people who simply take them for granted.

Comment: Re:I'm shocked, I tell you! (Score 5, Interesting) 173

Lord Acton hit the nail on the head. 128 years ago he wrote that, ""Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Unfortunately, no one has ever devised a way of running societies without giving power to certain individuals. With a very small number of honourable exceptions (which prove the rule), that power has corrupted them. We see it around us almost every day, and the people who rise to control entire nation states display the corruption due to power in singularly pure and concentrated form.

The technicians working in the FBI labs had a very limited form of power, but within that particular domain their sway was almost unchallenged. What expert would dispute the word of the mighty FBI, what lawyer would challenge it, what judge or jury would not be impressed by it? And the technicians' bosses had more power, which was assuredly focused on the important task of getting convictions. I rather doubt that any lab technician at the FBI ever got much career advancement out of frequently discrediting prosecution evidence. Every bureaucratic organization measures itself according to a limited set of drastically oversimplified metrics, and conviction rate is an important metric for any law-enforcement organization. The higher up the tree you go, the greater the desire for more convictions, and the less the concern for whether they are justified or not.

"One of the many reasons for the bewildering and tragic character of human existence is the fact that social organization is at once necessary and fatal. Men are forever creating such organizations for their own convenience and forever finding themselves the victims of their home-made monsters".
- Aldous Huxley

Comment: Anyone mention Ada yet? (Score 1) 232

by Archtech (#49378603) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

No, thought not. IMHO a classic - almost, in fact, the canonical - example of boring technology that's good because it's boring. Look at all the criticisms of Ada, and you will find that most of them boil down to, "It's not so much fun and doesn't make me feel so good". But that depends on what makes you feel good. As many qualified people have remarked, if you are flying in an airliner you really want the avionics to be written in Ada, not C++ or Ruby or Python. Why? Because you're a lot more likely to survive. Almost unbelievably, it boils down to a matter of professional pride. What gives you a warm feeling - coding something marvellously clever that you yourself won't understand in three weeks, or creating something that works reliably and does exactly the job it was meant to do? One is an amateur attitude, the other is a professional attitude.

Comment: You have got to be joking (Score 1) 158

by Archtech (#49362417) Attached to: UK Licensing Site Requires MSIE Emulation, But Won't Work With MSIE

"How can a government department concerned with security not get this sort of thing right?"

Very funny.

When did a government department of any kind ever get anything right? Especially when it concerns computers. Triply when it concerns security. See for example:

etc., etc. passim.

The truth of the matter is that politicians and civil servants tend to be highly non-technical, and very much focused on high-sounding (but misleading) talk. This is the exact opposite of the attitude you need to accomplish anything with computers. But they are also very arrogant, and committed to the belief that - since they don't understand computers - programming and the like must be extremely easy.

Comment: The Emperor Julian (Score 1) 191

by Archtech (#49318909) Attached to: Your favorite Julian?

(known to the Christian churches as "The Apostate" because he tried to restore the official religion of Greece and Rome for the previous thousand years).

Educated, cultured, humane, civilized: along with Marcus Aurelius, a living proof that near-absolute power does not always have to corrupt absolutely. Sadly, he was murdered by Christians to prove that their religion (which mandates peace, forgiveness, and non-violence) was better than his.

Programmers used to batch environments may find it hard to live without giant listings; we would find it hard to use them. -- D.M. Ritchie