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Comment: Re:We've gone beyond bad science (Score 1) 703

Confidence bands/intervals don't make statements about the probability of certain outcomes. They make statements about the interval itself. At best 95% of the bands calculated will include the "true value". No, this is not a nitpick.

Mod up. There is quite a difference between being 95% certain of a particular outcome and a particular outcome being within a 95% confidence interval. When rolling a D20 a 10 is within the 95% confidence interval [2-20] but rolling a 10 sure as hell isn't 95% likely.

A credible interval (sometimes called a Baysian confidence interval) predicts how likely it is that the true value lies within the interval.

Comment: "Whitelisted" binaries are the ones 0-days target. (Score 1) 195

by DamnStupidElf (#46203511) Attached to: Is Whitelisting the Answer To the Rise In Data Breaches?
So, sure, whitelisting might prevent your uses from running unapproved browsers at work, but it will not secure a computer system against actual attackers. Not to mention that a good chunk of would-be whitelisted binaries actually have embedded language environments (macros, javascript, shell/batch scripts, java, vbscript, etc.) that would also need to be added to the whitelisting framework.

Comment: Re:Fuck religion. (Score 1) 903

by DamnStupidElf (#45849341) Attached to: US Justice Blocks Implementation of ACA Contraceptive Mandate

Assuming we as a society believe that widely adopted health insurance is good, then is it better to have it supplied directly by the government or better to allow wider choice provided by a more free but still highly regulated open market?

It makes sense to let the government compete with commercial insurance via Medicare/Medicaid (in the U.S.). I've heard claims that the overhead of administering those programs is lower than for commercial insurance, but I don't know if it's cheaper than employer self-insurance, and Medicare reimbursement is currently heavily discounted when it pays providers, with Medicaid reimbursement varying by state as far as I know. The ability to opt into Medicare/Medicaid for an additional fee might work. Something else that might make more sense would be to enforce up-front pricing for medical services since at this point it's very difficult to get accurate estimates and of course that also breaks the free market. Health care is generally an infrequent expense without much choice in where it's delivered, however, so it does make some sense for market forces to come from insurance providers who have better pricing information instead of healthcare consumers. Making that kind of meta-pricing available to consumers when they purchase insurance would probably help, a sort of TCO for the insurance.

Comment: Re:Fuck religion. (Score 1) 903

by DamnStupidElf (#45849113) Attached to: US Justice Blocks Implementation of ACA Contraceptive Mandate

The idea that employers have a right to impose their religious beliefs on their employees should make anyone who actually believes in freedom of religion puke.

It's slightly more nuanced than that. If you run an insurance company you have to be responsible for the pharmacy formulary (deciding which drugs will be covered under the insurance plan) and the list of covered medical services and procedures (ER visits, well-checks, mammograms, abortions, caesarian sections, chiropracty, heart surgery, plastic surgery, gender re-assignment, etc.) that will be covered. Suppose you have a moral or financial objection to plastic surgery, which isn't too uncommon for insurance companies. Most insurance companies will not cover elective cosmetic procedures unless it's to treat an injury. This is an ethical/moral decision on the part of the insurance company; they believe that enhanced physical appearance is not important enough to the insured to cover fully. It's a very similar argument that a few insurance providers use to not cover contraceptives and abortion, and in general they should be free to cover whatever they feel is appropriate and the market should decide which insurance companies prosper.

The first problem occurs when restrictive insurance providers also force their employees to use the insurance they sell, which effectively happens any time an organization opts for medical self-insurance. The second problem is when the government requires all insurance providers to provide a basic level of service and forces entities to cover medical procedures or drugs that they don't think are morally acceptable. Both problems are infringements on free choice and the free market, but the latter is definitely closer to what the civil rights act prohibited, e.g. a correction of attitudes and beliefs that are just wrong and harmful.

I think pretty much every employer would prefer not to be involved in health care. It is a stupid system. But the reason that it was necessary is that insurance does not work when the insurer knows the individual risks. The individual insurance market began to collapse in the 1980s.

It's actually surprising that employers don't do the same screening that individual insurance carriers do and refuse to hire high-risk employees, since that would greatly lower the cost of self-insurance. Maybe the ADA prevents it? The closest example I can think of are campus smoking bans which effectively fire or cure employee smokers. Maybe campus fatty bans are next.

I agree with you that some sort of mandate is necessary so that everyone can be insured, but I am not enough of an expert to know what makes sense to mandate. Mandating that every medical procedure and drug including cosmetic surgery and off-label experimental use must be covered would be going too far, and mandating only that insurance had to pay for one clinic visit a year and up to $10,000 per ICU stay would be too limited. Driving some insurance companies out of business because they can't comply with the mandate is probably the lesser harm, but it is definitely a harm if employers/employees have to pay more for equivalent insurance elsewhere. For one thing, there are presumably people who want to buy insurance that matches their ethical standards and if the buyer and seller of the insurance aren't harming anyone else I don't think it's right to interfere. Clearly, only if an employee can freely choose the insurance they want is a requirement for the preceding to be true. It would be too easy for employers to make employees a deal they couldn't refuse otherwise.

The only way to get the ACA passed though was if people who already had insurance were assured that they wouldn't lose it. Many people have subsidized insurance built into their employment package and would lose substantially if that happened. Which is why the ACA has big tax penalties for employers who drop coverage and requires the coverage to meet certain minimum standards.

Perhaps if the tax loophole was changed so that employers could only pay the subsidized insurance cost directly to employees for use in purchasing their own insurance, there would be an incentive to make insurance marketable while getting employers out of directly providing healthcare. I haven't read the ACA directly, so perhaps that's the ultimate goal with the individual mandate.

Comment: Re:Fuck religion. (Score 1) 903

by DamnStupidElf (#45839727) Attached to: US Justice Blocks Implementation of ACA Contraceptive Mandate

Sorry, but you missed the point. Religion A says that pill X is against their religion. Insurance company is a Religion A organization, but government says that Insurance company cannot refuse to give pill X regardless of what they believe. In short, the government has decided that you must provide a service you believe is immoral.

The immorality was in coercing employers to provide insurance in the first place. In a sane world employers would pay their employees a larger salary and employees would purchase insurance, or the government would provide medical coverage directly. The ridiculous tax loopholes that give employers an incentive to provide insurance as a "benefit" led directly to the crazy individual mandate we have now, where no one is in a good position.

Comment: Re:BTRFS filesystem (Score 1) 321

by DamnStupidElf (#45678457) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Practical Bitrot Detection For Backups?

Yes, but earlier systems, which the OP was suggesting could be used for this purpose, lacks that functionality. Also, please reset your sarcasm detector, it appears to be out of alignment -- a functional detector would have pinged on "Raid 9 Million(tm)".

Apparently ReFS will have data and metadata checksums which combined with storage spaces could detect and correct bit rot if implemented properly. While I have no idea if the OP researched the actual capabilities of ReFS, with checksums it is possible to detect bit rot without parity, and correct it with an extra (good) copy. Sarcasm is fun, but only if it's accurate. You might argue that checksums are just a form of parity and maybe I'd agree with you since apparently the error-correction codes for RAID-6 are generally referred to as parity despite actually being linear error-correction codes. But the sense I got from your comment was that you didn't believe it was possible to prevent bit rot with just two copies of checksummed data, or by storing a single copy with an error-correcting code.

Correct, and those that are aren't immune to human stupidity. No filesystem can save you from a guy who decides to pour beer into the storage array, or who goes to move a directory and misclicks sending it to the trash. Disaster recovery is not a simple matter of choosing the right filesystem and then patting yourself on the back. It requires careful planning and consideration... None of which the majority of the people on this thread seem to be capable of. At least you seem to have some grasp of the underlying technology.

Most of your other points were spot-on. Relying on single storage systems that aren't geographically distributed is just asking for trouble. Not keeping administratively separate backups or immutable version history (read-only snapshots, revision control, etc.) is also a quick way to lose your data. I don't think there are any foolproof solutions you can get at the moment. Replicated git repos are close, but there was that KDE fiasco with git not explicitly checking the cryptographic hashes during all of its operations and allowing bitrot to be replicated to other repositories. Dumb. I have never been a fan of the Linus/Linux philosophy of trusting the hardware to provide 0 bit errors per yottabyte. It's just not realistic. Of course that means that the next step will be implementing lock-step (or at least consistency-point comparison) processing in software to work around CPU/RAM errors...

Comment: Re:BTRFS filesystem (Score 1) 321

by DamnStupidElf (#45655945) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Practical Bitrot Detection For Backups?

Without parity checking, you simply aren't addressing bit rot. Period. It could be Raid 9 Million(tm) and if all it's doing is copying the data, and not comparing it, bit rot will still proceed apace, silently eating your data. But let's say you're a good administrator that has enabled parity. Great! But there's still a problem: parity cannot restore data that has become corrupted due to bit rot -- it is a detection-only mechanism.

This is incorrect for Reed-Solomon based RAID (levels 6 and higher such as RAID Z3). RAID6 can correct bit rot on a single disk and in general for t parity disks, floor(t/2) random errors per RS code can be corrected. All the RS-based RAID systems I've seen essentially store the RS code across devices using a GF(2^8) code, meaning that up to an entire byte could be corrupted by bit rot at a given logical address across all the stripes and still be corrected. All the details are on Wikipedia. Not all RAID-6+ implementations actually check the parity when reading, and I have no idea how many can solve the error locator polynomial for each RS code to actually identify and correct bit rot in multiple locations in different codes versus just dealing with known bulk errors (e.g. failed disks).

Now that I've explained all the ways that you're wrong, let me say that bit rot is probably not the cause of the OPs problems. Infact, USB devices are well-known for corrupting filesystems because of spontanious disconnects, power loss events, etc., and this is simply what can be expected in a typical residential environment. Even a RAID configuration in a residential environment isn't invulnerable to the "write hole" problem -- where data is partially committed to disk, but then the array suffers a power loss event.

Any proper file system will have a large enough transaction/intent log that can be replayed to correct partial data/metadata writes due to power failure and the RAID write hole, etc.. Most file systems in use are not proper, of course, but at least a few are available.

Comment: Re:Blockchain (Score 1) 287

by DamnStupidElf (#45577705) Attached to: RMS Calls For "Truly Anonymous" Payment Alternative To Bitcoin
The problem is double-spending. You have to check the whole blockchain to make sure an address hasn't already spent the coins it's trying to give you. I had thought of adding explicit back-references to the last block/transaction that an address is referenced in so that you only have to backtrack to specific blocks to find a trustworthy balance for an address, but it would be a major protocol change and old addresses from before the change would still need the full ~13GB of blockchain. You'd also have to trust the metadata a bit more; it's easy to check all transactions, but trusting that clients and miners have properly verified the back-references without being lazy is more dangerous.

Comment: Re:a skeptic says "wow bitcoin is serious ". Hope (Score 1) 167

by DamnStupidElf (#45505607) Attached to: 195K Bitcoin Transaction

The seller has a choice; post a stable price in bitcoins or post a (constantly adjusted) realistic price in bitcoins.

And it's basically a no-brainer; set the prices in dollars or other local currency and do real-time conversion to bitcoin prices using the recent exchange history. It's almost certainly going to be converted to another currency at that exchange fairly quickly anyway. Bitcoin will be a payment method and not a stable currency for, in my guess, quite a long time to come. If not because of the speculation but because of its tiny market cap compared to global markets. As such, bitcoin will never become useless until its market cap is smaller than the smallest purchase one might want to make, or if all the exchanges die. In fact, the lack of exchanges would tend to stabilize the currency value so it could still be used to send a few dollars worth of value across the Internet.

Comment: Re:Um, this isn't as amazing as some might think.. (Score 4, Interesting) 167

by DamnStupidElf (#45505579) Attached to: 195K Bitcoin Transaction
Financial markets like MtGox could easily maintain fractional reserves because many account-holders don't withdraw their entire balance of bitcoins every night. There is plenty of opportunity for the exchange to do whatever they want with a portion of the deposits. In essence "mtgox bitcoins" are already a fiat currency that are payable in real bitcoins upon request. They just haven't started paying out at less than 1 bitcoin per mtgox bitcoin yet, like half of the other bitcoin exchanges/banks/whatever have when they got hacked.

Comment: Re:Oh, the irony... (Score 1) 226

Why would the Rods from God [popsci.com] project require a manned platform? Especially an international crew that would be likely to discover the device and report it back to their own respective countries?

To give the rods a heave out of the tube perhaps? I'm not sure how many of you have personally de-orbited anything from LEO, but you can't just "drop" things on the Earth from up there.

Comment: Re:Two big sources (Score 2) 926

by DamnStupidElf (#45384527) Attached to: Where Does America's Fear Come From?

The ONE THING? So nobody is free unless they have the right to a gun? So nobody in any other country, who doesn't have a gun-carrying laws possiby be free?

That's obvious. If you are restricted from possessing a small, machined piece of steel then you are not very free. Guns are inert without ammunition and yet it is the rare government that actually makes this critical distinction. Possessing harmful or dangerous chemicals is the real problem; more specifically possessing dangerous potential energy is what society unfortunately has need to regulate because of people's harmful intentions and simple incompetence. Unfortunately for gun-control advocates, addressing the real danger would logically require giving up gasoline, natural gas, and other volatile fuels, or implementing heavy-handed restrictions such as only allowing trained, licensed professionals to dispense gasoline into vehicles with fines or jail time for the irresponsible nuts who dared to open the gas cap or do mechanic work on the fuel system without authorization.

And, of course, the typical response is "Oh, but gasoline is NECESSARY! It's USEFUL!" but it ultimately kills far, far more people when it's mixed with self-driven vehicles than ammunition fired from a gun. So which is it; do you advocate the freedom to drive yourself around instead of being forced to walk or use mass transit or do you advocate serfdom so that you can feel safe from guns that have less of a chance of killing you than your car does? For that matter, statistically twinkies and big macs will kill you with a much higher success rate than guns. Banning personal vehicles or unhealthy food or dangerous sports or mountain climbing (have you seen the death rate for climbing Mt. Everest?) would only require people to give up portions of their lifestyle which is no more than gun-control advocates ask of gun/ammunition owners. Wouldn't it be better to give up just some of your personal freedom for just a little more safety and security?

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