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Comment Re:The big advantage of XOR (Score 5, Funny) 277

And what data structure do you have lying around at encryption time that's as long as the plaintext?

That's right, the plaintext. Use that as your one time pad. It saves you the headache of generating high-quality randomness if you just XOR the plaintext with itself.

The resulting ciphertext is not only theoretically unbreakable without the key, it is also highly compressible for economical transmission.

Comment "Empire of the Rising Scum" (Score 5, Insightful) 167

From a 1990 essay comes the insight
"The ability to get ahead in an organization is simply another talent, like the ability to play chess, paint pictures, do coronary bypass operations or pick pockets. There are some people who are extraordinarily good at manipulating- organizations to serve their own ends. The Russians, who have suffered under such people for centuries, have a name for them-- apparatchiks. It was an observer of apparatchiks who coined the maxim, 'The scum rises to the top.' "

http://bobshea.net/empire_of_t...

It is as insightful in its own way as "The Mythical Man-Month".

Comment Would there be a detectable EM pulse? (Score 1) 203

Poul Anderson pointed out in a 1967 story that a supernova could have devastating electromagnetic pulse effects.

Since then, we've found that supernova explosions are asymmetrical. There is plasma moving at very high speeds near a new neutron star's magnetic field and not in a neat way where the effects cancel out.

How far away would you have to be in order not to have all your electronics fried?

Comment Hewlett Packard, a generation ago (Score 2) 254

When the company was still run ethically, the ethics included opening the engineering department to women, not just on paper but in real life.

The word spread. Women in engineering schools knew where to apply when they graduated. HP had a larger pool of bright people to choose from, people who were shying away from their competitors.

There's more to being open than sticking the phrase "Equal Opportunity Employer" on the recruiting ads. Get it right, though, and it's sound business.

Comment Re:Gallium? (Score 2) 260

That's the thing, gallium is not that exotic and has recreational uses. Casting equipment?! A staggering range of uses for thousands of years.

BTW "stabilize" is in the metallurgical sense. If the open literature is correct, and I hope it is full of booby traps for bomb makers, plutonium is less of a nightmare to put into controlled shapes if alloyed with gallium.

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen

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