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Comment: Confusing things together (Score 4, Informative) 194

by Dan East (#47507099) Attached to: A New Form of Online Tracking: Canvas Fingerprinting

The research paper discusses two entirely different things: Canvas fingerprinting, and "Evercookies & Respawning", which are two entirely different things. Canvas fingerprinting is just another method of trying to determine which browser the user is running, by looking at differences in the way the canvas renders text and the like. "fingerprinting doesn’t work well on mobile" because of the homogeneous nature of mobile devices - 90% of iOS devices are running version 7.1, for example, so they are all using the same web browser version and rendering code, thus they are going to draw canvas fingerprints exactly the same. Nothing in the research article says anything about canvas fingerprinting being used to track people.

Now the other topic "Evercookies & Respawning" is about tracking users. That is using multiple storage vectors to try and keep users from deleting cookies. For example, using tiny hidden Flash apps which have their own caching, actual cookies, HTML5 persistent storage, embedding unique identifiers directly in the HTML so when the cached page is pulled up the identifier is once again active.

So at this point canvas fingerprinting isn't about tracking, but browser identification. The leap to "A New Form of Online Tracking: Canvas Fingerprinting", as described in the Pro Publica article:

A new, extremely persistent type of online tracking is shadowing visitors to thousands of top websites, from to

First documented in a forthcoming paper by researchers at Princeton University and KU Leuven University in Belgium, this type of tracking, called canvas fingerprinting, works by instructing the visitor’s Web browser to draw a hidden image. Because each computer draws the image slightly differently, the images can be used to assign each user’s device a number that uniquely identifies it.

Well that's completely wrong - the bold text should read "this type of tracking, called Evercookies & Respawning". The persistent tracking has nothing to do with the canvas fingerprinting. It's mainly due to Flash (which also explains why it too is ineffective on mobile devices).

Comment: Re:Wait for it... (Score 2) 752

by Dan East (#47478657) Attached to: Malaysian Passenger Plane Reportedly Shot Down Over Ukraine

Actually, the FAA told US airlines not to fly over Crimea, because in April Russia claimed they controlled air traffic over that airspace. The FAA told US planes not to fly there because it was a convoluted, disputed mess which could lead to accidents. It had nothing to do with risk of being shot down, and that area does not (or did not until today at least) cover the area over Ukraine where this flight was shot down. That flight path would not have been restricted by the FAA.

Comment: Re:What is life? What is a virus? (Score 1) 158

by Dan East (#47428925) Attached to: Hints of Life's Start Found In a Giant Virus

Everything is a continuum. Humans divide the continuum up using acts of selective attention

Your generalization is quite wrong. Humans classify organisms based on the evidence in front of them. Can you show me this continuum between a platypus and some other animal? How does that fit into the "everything is a continuum" that you speak of?

"Species" do not have particularly crisp boundaries in the general case:

Uh, they most certainly have extremely crisp boundaries. Species are classified by the ability of two organisms to breed with one another. There isn't any "crisper" boundary than that. Once two lineages are different enough, it is no longer possible for them to reproduce sexually with one another. That is a quantum leap, a boolean yes or no situation (at least in 99.9% of the cases). Humans have nothing to do with defining that boundary. It is merely what we have observed and appropriately classified.

Comment: Re:Rotation (Score 5, Interesting) 79

by Dan East (#47421891) Attached to: Study: Why the Moon's Far Side Looks So Different

But really, did the earth stay hot enough for "a few million years" - hot enough to affect the locked side of the moon more than the other?

The moon has no atmosphere, thus radiation from the earth cannot affect the far side of the moon at all. So obviously, even to this day, the earth still affects "the locked side of the moon more than the other". The question is simply how much. The moon and earth were both molten after the collision, so it was not a matter of the earth being hot enough to melt the moon, but merely the earth imparting energy to prolong the cooling of the near side. No matter what, the near side must have cooled slower than the far side - it's a straightforward matter of thermodynamics. One side of the moon was receiving energy from the earth while the other side was not. The near side didn't need to stay so hot it was incandescent, but merely "softer" so that small impacts would heal more on the near side than the far side, and the duration only needed to be long enough to result in some degree of visible difference, which is what we still see today.

The whole thing sounds plausible to me.

Comment: Pascal (Score 3, Interesting) 415

by Dan East (#47410073) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

Wait!!! What happened to Pascal?!?!? On a more serious note, Pascal was the premier teaching language back in the day, but it really wasn't used much in the real world. It was a stepping stone for learning C, which is where the real power was at and what "real" applications were developed in. I believe there is less disconnect today between the popular learning languages and what is actually utilized in the real world.

Comment: Re:So....far more than guns (Score 4, Insightful) 454

by Dan East (#47333511) Attached to: CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking

For example: for the first year after purchasing your first handgun, that's the single most likely cause of death in your life, approaching almost 50% of deaths.

...which indicates that the gun was bought specifically for that purpose in those 50% of handgun suicide deaths. It wasn't the other way around - people didn't die because they happened to have bought a handgun, which is the way you phrased it. They wanted to die, so they bought a handgun. I've owned my handgun for over 20 years, and I've not wanted to die, hence I'm not dead by it.

Comment: Appalachians (Score 4, Insightful) 501

I live in the Appalachian mountains. As I watch weather radar, observing weather systems come at us from the west, I've seen dozens if not hundreds of times over the years where very powerful, well-defined weather systems (individual cells as well as frontal systems) totally disintegrate as they cross over from flat regions of North Carolina and Tennessee into Virginia, because they hit a literal 1,000 foot wall of mountains. Tornadoes are extremely rare here. A few years ago we had small one that messed up a couple sheds and the canopy over a gas station, and that was the first in decades. So I do believe this physicist is onto something that would be effective. Whether or not it's practical or acceptable to construct such a thing is another question.

Comment: C#? (Score 5, Interesting) 254

by Dan East (#47285605) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Way to Learn C# For Game Programming?

Why C#? Develop your game in C++ using OpenGL ES for rendering. Your code will compile as-is for iOS, Android, Windows, OSX, and others. You will only need a couple hundred lines of native code (java for Android, Objective C for iOS, etc) to handle events and pass execution into your C++ code. My game engine runs on all the above platforms and 99.9% of my code is shared across all of them.

Also, these days many, many developers simply use an existing game engine and only bother with the high level code specific to their game. Mundane stuff like the low level rendering, Audio APIs (which unlike OpenGL ES, differ quite a bit from one platform to another), physics, etc, is ground that's been treaded several thousand times nowadays, and most game developers leave that stuff to the experts in the various fields to handle the nitty gritty. Optimization of those routines is usually where the "expert" part comes into play.

I work with a game designer / artist who implements all the high level game stuff in Lua, and my engine takes care of all the aforementioned "boring" stuff, freeing him up to actually develop games, and not worry about crap like polygon tessellation algorithms and tons of other very boring stuff that would just be a waste of his time.

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.