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Comment: Re:What I find unbelievable... (Score 1) 118

by BCGlorfindel (#49184035) Attached to: New Zealand Spied On Nearly Two Dozen Pacific Countries

Is the general attitude of the public simply not giving a shit. This is currently front page news in the New Zealand Herald but it'll quickly be gone and forgotten, and nothing will change.

What is the deal with the general public's apathy when it comes to NSA/GCQH/GCSB/etc ?

Are we really at the point where it's too late to do anything about this and just admit defeat?

When was the point where it wasn't already too late? I think any of us still breathing must honestly answer that time was prior to our birth. If we ask our ancestors the same, they'd answer the same. If we asked them to ask theirs...

Comment: Re:Better idea (Score 1) 557

by BCGlorfindel (#49174029) Attached to: Why We Should Stop Hiding File-Name Extensions

distinction without a difference: there still has to be some sort of indication both to the OS and to the User what a file is and how to handle it.

Whether this is accomplished via Icons, File Name Extensions, Tags, or any other sort of mechanism
is ultimately irrelevant as they all accomplishes the same thing.

And they all still require the user (and the OS) to be at least somewhat intelligent.
The only way to remove this basic requirement is to remove the User, which rather defeats the purpose.

The mechanism of indicating this to the user is NOT irrelevant. A 3 character extension, with a vast legacy of possible permutations that all mean executable of some fashion is BAD. The OS may need that detail of distinction between types of executables, the user does not. Training a user that the icon that looks like 'this' means it's a program and that it means you better trust it because it can do anything you can do if malicious is world's easier than, here is a, mostly, complete list of file extensions that you should be as cautious with.

Comment: Re:Better idea (Score 1) 557

by BCGlorfindel (#49172313) Attached to: Why We Should Stop Hiding File-Name Extensions

Fair enough--maybe it it is a matter of the UI not implementing the icons for file types well enough.

However, my impression is this: if a user isn't able to parse the file extension type, how are they going to parse anything about the filename? Or conversely, if they are able to use the filename at all, they should be able to understand a file extension type. The extra layer of meaning in the suffix as opposed to the stem is trivial.

I'll admit that some users might not be able to understand it--maybe even a sizable chunk--but then would it make any difference to have visual indicators of the filetype? Are you arguing that the filename should be completely obscured from the user and the whole file should be identified visually rather than textually?

My sense is that for users who use the filename extension, it matters a lot, and for users who wouldn't, it's lost on them regardless of what you do.

Anyway, it's one of my pet peeves--losing the filename extension. It leads to many, many, many more problems than security. It also leads to people not understanding filetypes in general. For example, if I ask someone for something in text format as opposed to .docx format, or pdf instead of .docx, I think a lot of users have no clue what I'm even talking about, because they're so used to "just saving the file." Teaching users about data formats is the same way--many of them have no idea that different filetypes exist, and I don't think it's because they don't understand, it's that the whole concept has been obscured away from them.

I'm arguing to simplify the training of users. Let's not have to train people that a movie they downloaded is NOT in fact a movie because the file name ends with .exe. That's because we then also have to train them that it could also be a virus if it ends in .com, or in .bat, and on. So we start at the other end and say, well if it ends in .mpg or .mp4 it's legitimately a movie, or .avi and on and on.

Windows already puts a little curly arrow on top of the icon for any file that is a shortcut. Simply do the same for executable files, and for media files, and so on. That way training users is simpler. An executable icon looks like this, if you see that, be careful. Much easier to train users than requiring they memorize a lengthy archaic list of possible 3 character meanings.

Comment: Re:Better idea (Score 1) 557

by BCGlorfindel (#49172231) Attached to: Why We Should Stop Hiding File-Name Extensions

Wait...TWO icons in one? How the fuck are users going to parse that? A picture and a gear - does that mean it automatically opens the file? A picture and a hamburger? A picture and a small bird? A document and two lines with a dot between them?

Users will screw things up no matter how you do it because there is no common language for executable, text file, picture, slide, pdf, rich text, etc. And with the propensity for UI designers to change the look of icons just to be "new and hip" with every other OS release (ex: settings icons), the users will never "catch up" before accidentally "executing" what they think is a picture file.

The same way windows already does. Ever notice the shortcut icon ontop of icons? MS already is doing exactly what I'm saying, just that they've only applied it for a the singular file type of shortcuts. Extend this to all file types...

Comment: Re:Better idea (Score 1) 557

by BCGlorfindel (#49171701) Attached to: Why We Should Stop Hiding File-Name Extensions

The reason this doesn't work is that executables have their own icons, thus can pretend to be an image, document, etc. This is the same reason why we had to move the secure connection web symbol because malicious (or stupid) sites used a lock symbol as their favicon tricking users.

Which is why my recommendation was and is to change that. Have a secondary OS assigned mini-icon in the upper right showing what the OS identifies the file type as.

Comment: Better idea (Score 3, Insightful) 557

by BCGlorfindel (#49171551) Attached to: Why We Should Stop Hiding File-Name Extensions

Instead of insisting that modern OS design carry forward an old and archaic standard set of digits describing the type of file, show users visual information about the file type/associations in way that is meaningful to them. If it is an executable file, don't make users parse that .exe is short for that, and in many cases .com and .bat can kinda work the same way. Give users a visual identifier that lets them know clicking this file will lead to this action. A web icon for anything that'll attempt to open itself from a browser, a document icon for something that will open in a document viewer, and so on.

Insisting on showing people a 3 character code that 99% of them are entirely ignorant of solves nothing.

Comment: Re:The Real Lie - faking statistics (Score 2) 393

by BCGlorfindel (#49140711) Attached to: Lawmakers Seek Information On Funding For Climate Change Critics

The old appeal to authority. Nice. Well, Dyson is a physicist and mathematician, so his opinion on this matters exactly the same as yours - not a jot.

You're doing a great job of discrediting yourself - no one else needs to even bother.

You are grossly overstepping in your zeal to disprove your opponent. Unless of course you really do think physics and math aren't relevant to computer modelling of... statistical estimates for changes in radiation absorption based on multiple variables. You know, the very heart and soul most important component of the greenhouse effect.

Dyson's opinions as portrayed in the linked article include:
Question: ...was that article substantially accurate about your views?
He had his agenda. Obviously he wanted to write a piece about global warming and I was just the instrument for that, and I am not so much interested in global warming. He portrayed me as sort of obsessed with the subject, which I am definitely not. To me it is a very small part of my life. I don’t claim to be an expert. I never did.

Later he makes his position on various items known:

I was involved in climate studies seriously about 30 years ago. That’s how I got interested. There was an outfit called the Institute for Energy Analysis at Oak Ridge. I visited Oak Ridge many times, and worked with those people, and I thought they were excellent. And the beauty of it was that it was multi-disciplinary. There were experts not just on hydrodynamics of the atmosphere, which of course is important, but also experts on vegetation, on soil, on trees, and so it was sort of half biological and half physics. And I felt that was a very good balance.

After describing the work at Oak Ridge and a general assessment by everyone about the interconnectedness of the climate across disciplines:

It’s a problem of very complicated ecology, and to isolate the atmosphere and the ocean just as a hydrodynamics problem makes no sense.

Thirty years ago, there was a sort of a political split between the Oak Ridge community, which included biology, and people who were doing these fluid dynamics models, which don’t include biology. They got the lion’s share of money and attention. And since then, this group of pure modeling experts has become dominant. I got out of the field then. I didn’t like the way it was going. It left me with a bad taste.

What’s wrong with the models. I mean, I haven’t examined them in detail, (but) I know roughly what’s in them. And the basic problem is that in the case of climate, very small structures, like clouds, dominate. And you cannot model them in any realistic way. They are far too small and too diverse.

So they say, ‘We represent cloudiness by a parameter,’ but I call it a fudge factor. So then you have a formula, which tells you if you have so much cloudiness and so much humidity, and so much temperature, and so much pressure, what will be the result... But if you are using it for a different climate, when you have twice as much carbon dioxide, there is no guarantee that that’s right. There is no way to test it.

Dyson doesn't seem particularly overstepping his knowledge. He doesn't seem to be 'denying' things. He's just putting forward some pretty reasonable skepticism. Notably, the IPCC repeatedly observes as well that the impact of clouds is the single biggest unknown in current modelling, largely because it's so very, very hard to model accurately.

Comment: Re: Inquisition (Score 1) 393

by BCGlorfindel (#49139879) Attached to: Lawmakers Seek Information On Funding For Climate Change Critics

Same as we did on the "lead in gasoline isn't harmful", "asbestos is safe to breathe" and "smoking tobacco doesn't cause cancer" instances, yes.

Industry runs the same playbook over and over, and reasonable people counter it the same way each time...

Make rats breath asbestos for 10 years, witness proof it's a problem.
Make rats breath tobacco smoke for 10 years, witness proof it's a problem.

With climate, what's the equivalent metric to make the degree of danger clear?

We have instrumental temperature records that are only about 100 years old. Those records show clear and steady warming.
We have records showing CO2 increasing drastically over that same time frame. We have easy and clear physics to show that CO2 traps radiation and contributes to warming.
The consensus though tapers off hard after these basic facts. The overwhelming majority of the remaining evidence is computer models of processes that act over centuries and millenia. How much confidence and weight should our policy decisions place on modelling of long term processes, when we lack really good long term data to even calibrate against?

My point isn't we should be filled with doubt and uncertainty, but merely to observe that claiming climate change is as scientifically proven to be deadly as smoking is just, false. You shouldn't be doing it, as the science doesn't support it, which if I recall is the entire basis of the concern and complaint in the first place.

Comment: Consensus OR Science (Score 1) 393

by BCGlorfindel (#49139079) Attached to: Lawmakers Seek Information On Funding For Climate Change Critics

I'm afraid this is just a sad statement on society. People are either unable or unwilling to rely upon the scientific method, evidence and testable, provable facts. Instead an appeal to experts and human authority are still the order of the day. We are all taught in modern education about the dark ages when secret religious texts were a central source of wisdom, and only a select few well educated scholars were deemed worthy of accurately interpreting those texts. We are taught about how terrible the impact of human corruption was on that time.

Fast forward to today though, and we now have advanced to holding scientific journals as a central source of wisdom, and only a select few well educated scholars are deemed worthy of accurately interpreting them. Is nobody else disturbed by how little difference we have made between the priesthood of old and the scientific consensus today?

Comment: Re:The Liars (Score 2) 393

by BCGlorfindel (#49137847) Attached to: Lawmakers Seek Information On Funding For Climate Change Critics

The problem is the politicization of science. When the majority look for truth, and base their assessment foremost upon the credentials of men with the title of scientist rather than the evidence and results produced by science, we have already failed. We have done little more than replace religious texts that are only to be read and interpreted by scholars, with scientific journals that are only to be read and interpreted by scholars.

The entire point and improvement that the scientific method is to bring is removing the reliance on authority and corruptible humans and replacing it with subjective, testable and provable evidence instead.

Comment: Re:Why Not? (Score 1) 320

by BCGlorfindel (#49127287) Attached to: Use Astrology To Save Britain's Health System, Says MP

They borrowed it from Republican Mitt Romney who referenced Republican Newt Gingrich.

Which makes sense when one considers the voodoo Republicans have with trickle down economics (witness the wonderful state Kansas is in) or that swallowing a small camera can somehow lead to being able to perform a gynecological exam.

Well the trickle down isn't voodoo, it's just that, a trickle. Only a small benefit making it down to the lower layers. If you take a second to count America as symbolic of trickle down capitalism and the USSR as symbolic of socialism then in practice capitalism has left the lower end better off than socialism. Of course those are terribly flawed analogies, but there is more to the notion of trickle down economics than 'voodoo'. The one thing capitalism undeniably has in it's favour is that it 'works' when the metric is economic growth, and without economic growth, everyone is sharing pieces from a smaller pie.

Comment: Re:There is no legitimate reason to show it. (Score 1) 645

by BCGlorfindel (#49042057) Attached to: Does Showing a Horrific Video Serve a Legitimate Journalistic Purpose?

I suspect I can be far more stupid than you can imagine. For a start, I can't find anything in your response that addresses my questions...

Your first question regarding the Dresden and Tokyo firebombings in WW2:

The calculus here seems to be that the indiscriminate killing of civilians is justified if it, ultimately, saves lives by shortening the war. Is that right?

Your second question immediately follows as:

So, if the 9/11 attacks had saved some number of lives, would they have been justified?

You can forgive me if I 'failed' to answer what was clearly put forward as a rhetorical question. I DID however very directly respond to them. Your underlying premise supposes that the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo not be compared against the costs of abandoning Europe to the Nazi's or a land invasion of Japan, but instead be judged in a vacuum of killing people is bad. You then setup the notion that when considering the morality of the 9/11 attacks we consider, what, the cost in lives of an Al Qaida landing on the beaches of Florida?

I'm not sure what "moral equivalence" means.

I thought my context had been clear.
You ask us to consider the actions taken during the waging of WW2 in the context of Allies and Axis powers being morally equivalent. Considered in a sense where the Allies cause for waging war was no more moral than that of the Axis.
You ask us to consider the actions taken in Al Qaida's jihad in the context of Al Qaida and Infidels as being Considered in a sense where Al Qaida's cause for waging war is no less moral than the defenses raised by the rest of us.

You then pretend to be looking for complexity...

is there a more sophisticated way to decide than "my side is good...

The reality is that our world is far more complex than you are willing to accept from the outset. The reality is that there are men and powers in our world that WILL wage wars of conquest solely and only for their own benefit and no amount of good nature and moral superiority will slow them. The reality is that when those men and powers are not confronted with force and violence they simply kill more people and take more for themselves. In a situation like WW2, it needs to be understood that the Nazi party was demonstrably 'evil'. That coexisting with them was unpalatable. So far that, fighting back was morally a 'good' thing. More complex still, fighting back meant, yes, fire bombings of places like Dresden. I am GLAD the allies won, and I can hardly state with any confidence that if they'd been more gentle in their prosecution of the war that they would have triumphed.

As for you, how about providing your own answer to any of your questions. If you're given control of allied forces, do you wage war against the Nazis in Europe? Do you fight hard, or do you risk losing by being soft handed in your campaign?

You act like you are seeking complexity, but failing to try and answer some of the most difficulty questions of war you are in reality hiding from that complexity you pretend to be seeking.

Comment: Re:Literally? (Score 1) 645

by BCGlorfindel (#49033713) Attached to: Does Showing a Horrific Video Serve a Legitimate Journalistic Purpose?

That's a good summary, but you left out the part where the US was supporting Saddam Hussein through that whole period, playing the "offshore balancer" between Saddam, Friend of America, against Iran, Designated Enemy of America.

I was comparing living conditions and the atrocities suffered by the Iraqi people. I didn't class American approval/disapproval as a noteworthy concern to them.

Also omitted is mention that life for most people in Iraq was better in 1990 than at any time since then.

Maybe you skimmed my summary too quickly then. The worst of the abuses to and genocide of the Iraq's Shia majority took place after 1990.

People in Iraq were harmed by Saddam Hussein, definitely. People in Iraq were also harmed by the US-supported sanctions and by the US invasion and its consequences.

I think it's most enlightening to hear your belief that the sanctions on Iraq were the fault and blame of America, rather than Saddam's steadfast refusal to abide by his obligations to allow inspections of the WMD programs dismantled in the first Gulf war. You remember, when Saddam attempted to reduce the number of UN member states by 1.

You seem to be labouring under a mistaken belief that condemning Saddam and observing the extent of his atrocities is in anyway a defense of American policy and action. It is not, but when discussing the state of Iraq today, it is a hugely important consideration and failure to recognize the extent of those decades of brutality and the impact on its people makes assessing the country impossible. It just makes it easier to say America bad, if you prefer a good/bad check mark for your assessments...

Comment: Carbon emission reduction (Score 1) 309

by BCGlorfindel (#49021503) Attached to: The IPCC's Shifting Position On Nuclear Energy

As I means of shortening discussions and ruling out having stupid ones it's easy to follow a simple rule. If anyone is urging a reduction in CO2 emissions, but is NOT pushing hard for more nuclear power, they aren't really interested in a solution and can be ignored.

Disappointing that the IPCC is flirting with failing such a basic litmus test.

Comment: Re:There is no legitimate reason to show it. (Score 1) 645

"My side" in the WWII didn't invade France.

But the US did invade Afghanistan and Iraq. So where does the logic lead us?

Yes,. the bombings of Dresden and Tokyo were horrible, but if the purpose was demoralization of failing military powers to bring the two theaters to a faster conclusion, then so be it.

The calculus here seems to be that the indiscriminate killing of civilians is justified if it, ultimately, saves lives by shortening the war. Is that right? So, if the 9/11 attacks had saved some number of lives, would they have been justified? Can morality be determined only in hindsight? Or is the winning side always right?

If you are stupid and idiotic enough to accept the premise that Al Qaida and the US are morally equivalent actors in some Islamic holy war then you have a point. If the Nazi's were morally equivalent to the allies, then you have a point.

If you accept either of those premises though, you are an idiot, a fool, or a deliberately malicious and hateful person. Your entire POV and argument is based upon an assumption that both parties in any war are morally equal.

Documentation is the castor oil of programming. Managers know it must be good because the programmers hate it so much.