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Comment: Re:Absolutely - it is filthy (Score 1) 153

by Chalnoth (#47490839) Attached to: Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

Electrolysis is energetically very expensive. We don't have huge amounts of electrical power to spare for such wasteful pursuits. I doubt we ever will.

My naive expectation is that fifty years from now, we'll have transitioned most of our energy over to wind and solar power, with primarily algae-based biofuels making up for situations where we need to store energy (e.g. long-distance transportation). I'm a bit skeptical that nuclear will really take off. It'd be nice if the engineering challenges for breeder reactors were overcome, but I'm not sure they will be.

Comment: Carbon impact is misleading (Score 4, Informative) 153

by Chalnoth (#47489557) Attached to: Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

The issue is that the dominant technology for producing hydrogen is steam reforming, which emits carbon monoxide and/or carbon dioxide as byproducts. This means that hydrogen fuel cells are most definitely not "carbon free" in any reasonable sense.

Perhaps at some point in the future it will become more common to generate hydrogen through some other means that doesn't produce CO/CO2, but we're definitely not there yet. So I'm not really sure that this technology is any better than electric vehicles. (which face a similar problem, but effective technologies to produce the electricity are already cost-competitive and on the rise as a result).

Comment: Re:Dumb dumb dumb advice... (Score 1) 278

by Chalnoth (#47475145) Attached to: Selectively Reusing Bad Passwords Is Not a Bad Idea, Researchers Say

At some level, security boils down to trust. At least, it does today. You have to ensure that your password manager is controlled by an organization that you trust: one that has very strict security safeguards. I do think that LastPass meets this requirement, though you're welcome to investigate yourself.

That said, in a few years we might not be so concerned about this sort of thing. We might be using secure keys instead of passwords, such as the keys that Google is working on.

Comment: Re:Simpler approach... (Score 1) 278

by Chalnoth (#47470825) Attached to: Selectively Reusing Bad Passwords Is Not a Bad Idea, Researchers Say

If you use a password generator, it doesn't have the weaknesses you mention. It really is 5000^4 entropy. Which is about as good as an 8-character randomized password from a generator that uses 64 characters. And if you're going to consider longer passwords or using more special characters, then you should compare that against simply adding more words.

You can obviously vary the number of common words used to increase or decrease the strength of the password. The point is that random word combinations are likely going to be easier to remember.

That said, a potentially even better method is supported by LastPass's generator: generate a pronounceable password of arbitrary length. I like to use this generator for passwords that I have to enter manually.

Comment: Re:Dumb dumb dumb advice... (Score 1) 278

by Chalnoth (#47470747) Attached to: Selectively Reusing Bad Passwords Is Not a Bad Idea, Researchers Say

Except password managers are far, far easier to use than remembering the passwords for a bajillion sites. The answer to the problem of password reuse is to lower the bar to make use of a password manager at the browser level. That means having encrypted cloud storage of passwords combined with an extremely easy-to-use password generator.

I do think that Lastpass gets about 90% there, but still has some hurdles for casual users (you have to install a plugin, and some of the password generator options can be a little confusing for casual users).

Comment: Re:The Internet is meant to be anonymous (Score 1) 237

by Chalnoth (#47470007) Attached to: Pseudonyms Now Allowed On Google+

It's easy to say that when you're not at risk for harassment. Internet can and does spill over into real life, and many people in marginalized groups or politically-oppressive areas do not feel safe posting under their real names.

Implementing a real name policy, therefore, has the effect of silencing many voices of women, minorities, and people in politically-oppressive regimes.

I don't believe for a moment that it has a significant impact on trollish behavior.

Comment: Re:Sensationalist summary (Score 1) 435

by Chalnoth (#47263859) Attached to: Yahoo's Diversity Record Is Almost As Bad As Google's

Never mind that there is a pervasive cultural tendency to disregard a woman's accomplishments and focus solely on her looks.

And no, this has nothing whatsoever to do with "political correctness". This is simply being fair. You didn't have to mention appearance, or age. You could have just said, "There's quite a lot of women employed by the IT company I work for." But no, you had to slip in that extra dig about their appearance, and you then have the gall to claim that it isn't demeaning to those women to derail any discussion of their accomplishments for an attempted discussion about their looks instead.

Comment: Bad Statistics (Score 1) 377

by Chalnoth (#47254599) Attached to: Are US Hybrid Sales Peaking Already?

This article is just an exercise in crappy statistical thinking. The source of the claim is linked in the article here. A cursory glance at the graph demonstrates that aside from two weird years (2009 and 2014), hybrid sales have indeed been keeping pace with the number of hybrid models. When the entire premise of your conclusion depends completely upon the endpoints of your graph, your conclusion is probably crap.

My interpretation of the graph essentially boils down to, "No reason to believe that hybrids have 'peaked' just yet. We'll know more in a couple of years. But there's absolutely no reason to panic right now."

Comment: Re:How is that stranger? (Score 1) 136

by Chalnoth (#47232369) Attached to: The Profoundly Weird, Gender-Specific Roots of the Turing Test
Nope. Almost all of the difference between men's brains and women's brains appears to be culturally-produced, and has little to nothing to do with, "optimal reproductive strategies." I'm pretty sure that no purported difference in brain structure or behavior between men and women has held up under scrutiny. I'm sure there are some differences that are not dependent upon culture (else we wouldn't have transgender people and everybody would be bisexual), but those differences are so small as to be unmeasurable in practice (so far).

Comment: Re:How is this a good idea? (Score 2) 249

by Chalnoth (#47217241) Attached to: New Permission System Could Make Android Much Less Secure

The problem with moving in that direction is that this moves Android in the direction of TOS agreements: nobody bothers to read TOS because they're too long and take too much time to read.

Sure, it's true that grouping permissions reduces how fine-grained the information is, but it also lowers the cognitive burden, making it more likely that people will actually pay attention to the permissions that an app has. Users should naturally assume that an app that has SMS permissions may, at some point, send SMS messages, and should therefore be wary about installing such apps.

Optimization hinders evolution.