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Comment: Bitcoin's use (Score 1, Redundant) 42

by DrYak (#49343263) Attached to: UK Setting Itself Up To Be More Friendly To Bitcoin Startups

I'm still struggling to see what the benefit for me would be? I have little need for making anonymous payments,

Anonymity isn't what crypto currencies provide. In fact, far from the opposite: Their whole structure is based on publicly broadcasting every transaction, that then everyone in the network store in its local copy of the common ledger (= into the blockchain). At best your can call it "pseudonymous" (wallets are identified by a base32 hash. it's not obvious at first look which real person is behind a wallet, just like the username on a forum doesn't immediately looks tied to an identity).

The main argument for bitcoin is decentralisation: because everyone has a copy of the blockchain, every one can verify that a transaction is legit and did indeed happen. There is no need for a central authority. Things are kept in balance by the whole network, no single entity can take control. (Unless they control 51% of all mining hash power).

Another peculiarity which stems from the above is that you aren't bound to any specific company. As long as both ends of a transaction support the bitcoin protocole, they can do whatever transaction suits them.
(you could be using a web-based coin payment processor like coinbase, i could be using a wallet running locally on my machine like bitcoin.org's own, and we can still exchange BTCs)

international transfers are reasonably fast, cheap and convenient these days. {...} for local purchases iDeal (the Dutch banks' online payment solution) is better,

Well, we are both in Europe, so thanks to SEPA we already have reasonably fast and cheap transfers, that can work between any participating banks (I don't need to be at the same bank as you, or even in the same country. Because your dutch and my swiss bank are both participating in SEPA, we can send each other funds).

But that's not the case everywhere else.

Also, even if they are relatively fast, they still take between 24 and 72 inside the same country, and a few days up to a week for international payment. That makes it still usable for ordering goods around, for example.

One of the small advantage of bitcoin protocol is that it works much faster: between a few minutes up to half an hour at worst. Between any end-point wherever on the world as long as both support the protocol. That makes it usable for buying services.
It gives the easy and quick possibilities of cash transaction (here's your 5EUR note).
- but without the limitation of needing physical present (I can't send a 5EUR note over e-mail)
- and without relying necessarily on a third party or the same 3rd party.

One benefit is not having to give online merchants my full credit card details {...} and for international orders I can almost always use PayPal for that.

Yet still, these are form of payment where there is one single company in charge or supervising everything (most credit cards issued by banks will rely on the VISA or MasterCard companies). When paying an online merchant through a credit card, you need to have a credit card at the same company (e.g.: MasterCard) and that company is going to charge you both for the transaction.
Also, the company can decide to stop receiving payments (see Visa and MasterCard deciding to stop processing donations to WikiLeaks).

Same with PayPal: a single company, requires that both ends of the transaction use paypal.
Is known for making troubles and locking account on a very regular base.
And very often, you need to give your credit cards info to paypal anyway, in order to be able to add funds to your paypal account.

One of the reason bitcoin gained some traction, is to work around the blocking of funds by Paypal and credit card companies.

That's not the case, neither with SEPA as you mentioned in Europe, nor with bitcoins.
I could by exchanging my BTCs with CHFs face-to-face by meeting people (like localbitcoins) and sending them using a wallet running on my laptop. You could be storing them on your wallet of a big exchange platform (like BTC-e) and convert them back to euros there. Or one of us could be using a payment processor like coinbase, or whatever.

Beats mucking around with out of date block chains and/or crooked exchanges (though some people would put Paypal in that category).

Well atleast, unlike paypal, you can choose your poison.

Comment: Author vs. content (Score 5, Interesting) 515

by DrYak (#49328819) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

This even stupider, because the original "Bechdel Test" is about the *content* of the movie.

i.e.: the Alien movie discussed in Bechdel's comics happens to have been written and directed by guys. But none the less, it depicted strong female caracters, who actually have motivations, goals, etc. of their own.
the female *characters* of the movie aren't passive decorations, they are not only here to observe (or obsess about) the guys, they have a life of they own, their actions are here to move the plot forward.

counter exemple: you can probably find tons of romantic film or novels, written by author which happen to be female, but completely fail the test as their female protagonists are more or less only here for the sole purpose of falling in love with male caracters.

This "Programmer's test" is stupid because it only considers the *author* of code.
An author should be judged solely based on the quality of the work produced, no matter what sets of reproductive organs the author happens to be equipped with.
What should be judged in theory, is the depiction of gender role in the produced work. As code is sexless, there is no point in that. It doesn't depict roles or creates models for future generation, in merely gives instruction to hardware.

Comment: Dell (Score 3, Informative) 385

by DrYak (#49288491) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research?

As a postdoc and starting faculty member I used to have a Dell and it was blazingly fast but required a huge amount of tweaking to get power management and shutdown working (and ultimately these never really worked well at all).

If you want to use a Dell, I would advise to pick one from the "Business" line of products (Lattitude), instead of the "End-User" line (Precision).
Although they sometime don't have the latest bells and whistles, they tend to be much more supported, both hardware-wise (easier to find replacement parts later on) and software-wise (easier to get Linux running reliably on them).

I have a Latitude E6510.

Comment: Wireless Data transfers (Score 1) 184

by DrYak (#49254159) Attached to: Why Apple Won't Adopt a Wireless Charging Standard

if "Wireless charging has hit the mainstream 1-2 years ago" like the thread above is saying, wireless exchange of data even more so.

Beaming single files (contacts infos, sending some piece of data, etc) over IrDA was all th craze back then when the first PDA emerged (PDA: you rememmber, those pocket computer with a touch screen that where here ago long ago before Apple 'rediscovered' the form factor).

Then bluetooth started gaining traction and its OBEX feature was even more popular (the standard to sync your contacts list between your feature-phone and your PDA) in addition to other data exchange (sync over Bluetooth between a PC and a PDA) or for connection sharing (phone acting as a modem as DUN - i.e. PPP over Bluetooth serial. That was back before hour ISPs in the US decided that "thetering" was yet another thing that could get charged extra)

So by the time wireless charging started to appear a couple of weeks ago, wireless data was long established (case in point: Palm's webos-powered Pre was among the first to bring wireless charging into mainstream.. That was also a phone without any SD card, instead heavily net-oriented and constantly syncing over 3G or WiFi to the cloud. Later, the HP Pre3 even got a dual-band N, just to make this even more easy and transparent).

Thus, removing the stupid lightning-whatever cable annd keeping sync? Problem solved since long time ago.
In fact, go to your local store and have a look: most of the small speakers for phones and tablets operate over Bluetooth any way. That helps them circumvent the fact that some constructors use non-staandard connectors (like Apple, specially since they also ask for royalties). Only half of them will feature an actual iphone dock.

Comment: In contrast to DockPort (Score 4, Interesting) 392

by DrYak (#49225137) Attached to: Does USB Type C Herald the End of Apple's Proprietary Connectors?

Still, you can contrast with DockPort, which is a *VESA* standard.

Like Thunderbolt, it does enable an additional flux of data for peripherals and docks, but unlike ThunderBolt, it uses USB3.0 instead of PCIe for the peripherals.
(Also meaning that it will be more easy to use with portable devices, which tend to already have USB support built-in, but not necessarily a PCIe bus).

Also DockPort introduce high power availability for charging portable devices (again an advantage for portable device).

Now with TFA's anouncement, that means that even further does the two grow closer.
You can imagin USB-C to DisplayPort cable for portable devices using this (just like MHL standart enabled using micro-USB to HDMI cables).
Except that it also delivers power to charge the device (and doesn't rely on a 3rd different protocol like MHL).

Comment: Differences (Score 1) 112

by DrYak (#49198797) Attached to: Self-Driving Cars Will Be In 30 US Cities By the End of Next Year

How would an accident by a self-driving car be any different than one controlled by a human but caused by a mechanical malfunction?

Human with failing car:

  • Adaptability: Living being are known to be highly adaptable and creative. There's a chance that, encountering an unexpected event, the human driver will react and manage to save the day by pulling some weird manoeuvre and avoid causing any casualty. That's different from an AI where an engineer must be sure to have taken into account every possible situation, and also be sure that the car will fail safely/take correct actions even in the course of an unplanned event. Bascially you need to engineer the adaptability that comes for free with a real flesh driver
  • Liability: at least there's a clear first line of responsibility with a car: the driver - the one responsible for the car. Then it's up to the driver to decide to sue the car manufacturer or the car dealer if it seems that it's more a car defect than a piloting error / failure to properly maintain. Whereas with a truely autonomous car (with no steering wheel) you can bet that there is going to be huge legal mess about whom to blame

With cars you get:

  • Cold blood: a computer will always follow it's programming, no matter what. Whereas a human being might panic and freak out instead of act accordingly and might cause more damage/casualties due to innapropriate reaction (e.g: a person less used of slippery roads can panic and be unable to stop the car on icy roads and lose control of the car), a car will stick to the plan. If the engineer has correctly planned ahead and has correctly provided a safe failing strategy, in the event of danger the car will follow the plan and manage to keep the damages low (e.g., although not an autonomous car: in the rare few accident involving a critical battery failure, the on board computer has given a warning well in advance and the driver has been able to pull the car to the side, exit and be at a safe distance well before it burst into flame. Similarily, if an autonomous car senses something really problematic, it might be able to pull out to the side, stop in a safe spot, and eventually call for help).
  • Concentration: Not directly incident-related, but preventing them. A human has a limited concentration span. More and more stupid useless things are competing for the small mental capabilities that our brain can provide (people texting on their smartphone is a common cited exemple here on /. There has even a crowd funding project to create a voice- and gesture-controller HUD for cars which among other advertised twitter connectivity). With machine, it's just easy to throw more dedicated computing power for each task that needs attention. A semi-autonomous car with adaptive cruise control (like lots of high-end car nowadays) will always be watching ahead, no matter what. A driver will probably glance quickly in the side mirror before doing a manouvre. A car's blinds spot system is constantly looking back/using sonnar all the time. etc.
    To go back to the mechanical failure: a driver might be too distracted to notice early since of imminent failure and it might be too late to react. A car's computer will always be controlling tire pressure. An collision avoidance system will always notice when the truck in front is losing a big heavy object and will to an emergency breaking on time
  • upgradeability: when an incident happens (or even better, when a human managed to successfully avoid an incident), it's possible to analyse it, and create an upgrade that will better handle similar situation in the future. Such upgrades can potentially even be made available instantly over-the-air to current owner of similar cars (Tesla is known to propose such uploads).

Comment: CF card (Score 1) 466

by DrYak (#49170429) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Old PC File Transfer Problem

PCMCIA memory card might do it, if you could find one (or more) spare?

Finding a real genuine PCMCIA memory card might be hard.
But they are directly compatible with CF card.

So using a dumb CF card to 16bit pc card adapter gives a way to copy the data out of the old machine.
Then putting the CF card into any USB card reader (or in a pinch, a CF card to IDE adatper, as long as you pay attention to PIO vs UDMA) will help copying the data into a modern machine.

Comment: Cryptography (Score 1) 253

by DrYak (#49137423) Attached to: Will Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis Support Cryptocurrency In Greece?

For the record, a Cryptocurrency isn't called so because it's hidden (indeed it's not).

It's called so because is relies a lot on *Cryptography*: digital signature, public keys, message authentication, etc. All these are necessary for the distributed nature of cryptocurrencies to work reliably.

As for "state controler Fedcoin": Sorry, no. It doesn't work that way. The whole point of cryptocoins is to be distributed accross the network, so that there isn't a signle entity that has single hand control over everything else. That's *why* they rely on a transaction ledger (Blockchain) distributed accross the whole network. State control is impossible this way.

Comment: Linux hybrid driver (Score 1) 114

by DrYak (#49126597) Attached to: AMD Unveils Carrizo APU With Excavator Core Architecture

For the record, AMD is also moving toward a hybrid stack for the Linux drivers:
- the same opensource kernel driver is used every where.
- the only difference is that either you run the official catalyst OpenGL implementation from AMD on top of it. Ot the opensource Mesa Gallium3D tracker.
- same goes for video (either a VA-API implemented by catalyst, or the various Gallium video state tracker).

So except for the 3D and Video, everything else is opensource and work is shared.
From the development point of view, AMD hardware is faring very well. GP doesn't need to be afraid.

Comment: Advantages of phone (Score 3, Interesting) 186

by DrYak (#49116447) Attached to: Google Teams Up With 3 Wireless Carriers To Combat Apple Pay

I have no idea why I'd want to use my phone instead of a card.

There is also some potential increase of security:

Unlike (nearly) every card(*), the phone is a device that has its own display and input interface.
Meaning that you don't need to trust the payment terminal(**).
- No risk of skimmer trying to read you PIN: you're typing it into your own phone, not on the terminal which could have been hacked/modded.
- You can trust the amount displayed (again, you are reading your own phone's screen, so even if the terminal is hacked to display a lower sum and actually bill a higher sum, you'll notive the discrepancies).

Also, the phone has connectivity, which allows out-of-band confirmation for the transaction (***).

Thus, the device is protected against fraud that could menace a classical card.
- hacked terminals showing bogus transaction amounts, or trying to record your PIN.
- hackers trying to relay a transaction (small amount are "tap/swap only": no signature neither PIN asked. It's possible to use a powerful antena pointed at a wireless credit card to remotely use it and relay communication to a terminal).

Saddly, the phones have their own problems:
- they eat batteries like candy (even wireless credit card transaction are remotely powered by the terminal. Whereas a dead phone is dead and can't be used for paying).
- again, they are conencted. Which means that they could be compromised themselves. (Specially since people tend to install tons of crap).

-----

(*): I've seen banks issuing cards used for e-banking that have a build-in screen and keypad. Similar devices are in theory possible on a credit card.

(**): lots of e-banking card reader do exactly that: you can check on the screen what you are asked to sign.

(***): That's a security feature that's also offered by combining classical credit cards and separate connected device. I can be asked to confirm by SMS / by voice call when the bank detects unusual traffic on my credit card.

Comment: BeOS into PalmOS (Score 1) 755

by DrYak (#49093465) Attached to: Removing Libsystemd0 From a Live-running Debian System

BeOS. Well I say major in terms of technical achievement, not market share sadly.

BeOS was able to play an MP3 while browsing the web and chatting on IRC and still burn a CD without making a coaster

Which was, by the way, the motivation for Palm buying BeOS: for their technology, to use it as a way - for exemple - to play MP3 in the background of very low-power machines that were not even designed for multitasking.
And thus some of the multimedia component made it into PalmOS 5.x

Saddly, Palm themselve didn't manage to stay successful.

Comment: Good enough for me (Score 2) 77

by DrYak (#49073581) Attached to: OpenStreetMap.org Gets Routing

This website will never be as good as GoogleMaps. It'll never happen. {...} when it comes to actually getting me from point a to point b efficiently and safely I simply want something that works.

In my experience, the quality of maps available on OpenStreetMap is good enough (and sometime even better, they have better bike- and hike- trails, whereas Google concentrate all their efforts in making their maps the best ever for cars).

Navit provides a decent enough routing capability (and comes with extra data, like speed limitations, speed cameras, etc.)

So even if it's not Google-level quality (except for the hike & bike exception mentionned above), it's good enough for me to get around.

Of course, depending on where you live, "your mileage may vary". Here around (central europe), other netizent spend great effort fixing OSM and it has good quality data. (sometime better/more up to date than the paid-for GSM maps of our family car).
Some other place might be better (places that Google doesn't even care covering) or worse (region with less community involved in OSM).

So in other words, for me: I bothered to have a look at OSM, and already works at getting me from point a to point b. (Thanks to the fact that all my a and b points tend to lay in region with online communities paying attention to OSM) (even more when the path between a and b is non-car. Then OSM rocks).

Comment: And in-kernel JPEG, too ?! (Score 1) 755

by DrYak (#49073493) Attached to: Removing Libsystemd0 From a Live-running Debian System

Because that's exactly where it should be. {...} Stupid, but initially the whole whole rationale behind PulseAudio according to Poettering was to make mixing work and no software mixing code would be accepted in the kernel, which is odd, because no one had ever tried.

Hey, while you're at it, why not including also a JPEG decompression in kernel? That's useful for Webcams! And throw H264 while you're at it! That's gonna be great! except... not.

Such a hackish idea was actually done with some newer USB webcam drivers in V4L. Once resolution increased to 640x480 and above, USB webcam, in order to circumvent the limited bandwitdh on USB 1x, started compressing frame as JPEG in hardware and streaming the compressed stream to the PC.
Back then, the only way to get useful output out of V4L (designed to provide raw images like on older cams) was to embed a whole fricking JPEG decompressor inside the kernel driver (that's what the spca5xx driver did back then).
The thing wasn't the most stable thing ever. The jpeg decompressor wasn't very resilient and fault tolerant. If USB transmission got corrupted, the decompressor could barf. That barfing happenned while in kernel space.

Luckily, V4L2 was later introduced, which also handle compressed stream, and nowadays all the peculiarities are hidden behind a user-land framework like gstreamer (which handles the dirty low-level interraction behind the scene. Including compressed streams, including non-USB webcams like firewire, etc.)

Same goes for sound:
mixing is a rather high-level task which should be kept out of the kernel into a separate userland daemon, because that's the sane solution.

You DON'T try implementing rsync in kernel space. Only block devies and filesystem. Higher level stuff goes into userland software.
You ONLY implement in-kernel webserver as a proof of concept or for some corner cases. Apache and the like remain separate stacks.

Thus:
You keep video decompression and sound mixing out of the kernel too.

Comment: Depends where you live (Score 1) 216

by DrYak (#49064861) Attached to: Valve Censoring Torrent References In Steam Chat

It's a honeypot: go there, have your IP logged, after some months when you don't expected you're sued. And if they decided they want to make an example, your life is over.

Depends in which jurisdiction you happen to live. In the US, yes maybe.
In other countries depends. It might range from:
- laughing of and throw the **AA's letter in the bin
- to "Sorry guy, but I actually paid the necessary tax in my country" (Russia has a centralised - and very cheap - copyright tax, left over from the soviet era. In France, there's jurisprudence that the "blank media tax" imposed on most sold blank media is supposed to pay back for anything that you download and store there. Etc.)

Comment: Trust your comm channels? End-to-end crypto (Score 0) 216

by DrYak (#49064849) Attached to: Valve Censoring Torrent References In Steam Chat

it's valves site after all so why not?

And yes, they could do it. (I doubt they'll do it any time soon in practice. But in theory that's entirely possible for them to implement. A la Facebook: "This list of friends are also checking/following[*] this page" - [*] meaning that you once clicked by mistake on the link and now this incident will be used as a tool to pull as many of your friends as possible).

Want to trust your communication channels ? Then you MUST use end-to-end encryption, a la OTR. The only way to transmit your messages in a completely tamper proof way. The only way to be able to trust the source of the message.

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen

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