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Comment Re:Real nerd news. Reminds me of me. (Score 1) 215

Perfectly even distribution is one factor. However, a more important factor was that you had improbable streaks that fit with the statistical model.

If you ask a human to simulate flipping a coin a hundred times, their biggest problem is not distribution but the inability to put in a streaks of 7 or more of the same face.

The one time I went to vegas to try gambling, the roulette wheel got 13 reds in a row. By the time it finally spun black, there was a large crowd observing it even tho it was a low stakes table ($1000 I think). I read later that statistically it happens multiple times a day in vegas every day.

Comment I use the salt water test (Score 1) 215

It's kinda entertaining.

you make up a strong brine. You put the dice into the brine. with a few taps you can tell if a dice is strongly unfair because it will keep floating back to the same number or edge when tapped down into the water.

Plus it makes cool salt crystals as it dries.

I have an unfair d20. But it's odd. On multiple occasions it's rolled four 20's in a roll. Very improbably. Yet some evening's it rolls no 20s. When I salt test it, it consistently floats to the edge between 10 and 12 so it's definitely unfair but it's still streaky.

Comment Re:Great idea! (Score 1) 318

There are no "providers of secure email", by definition, if it's running on someone else's hardware, it's not secure.

There's already an easy encrypted mail plugin for Thunderbird - Enigmail - for all three platforms that uses GPG. The only hard part is key management, and with public key servers available, even that's not as hard as it was - exchange keys, verify the signatures on a phone call, and get mailing.

Comment This Is The Authoring Tool, Not The Plugin (Score 5, Informative) 118

They're renaming the authoring tool, which is currently known as Flash Professional CC. It appears that the Flash Player will remain just that.

This makes perfect sense, as Flash Professional CC is increasingly being used to generate media that targets HTML5, not Flash, as output. Renaming Flash Professional CC to Animate CC eliminates the whole need to do the song and dance of "we're talking about Flash the authoring environment, not Flash the plugin" to non-technical audiences.

Comment TIL: The FBI learned how to increase system noise (Score 2) 85

The result of this strategy, of course, is a small population of ever more skilled people who can hide illegal activities via encryption, message splitting, or other methods, while making the noise (i.e. banal, legal activity) more voluminous, easy to get, expensive to process, and meaningless.

Comment Re:Things are looking up (Score 1) 203

The point of "early" 1914 was that by "mid" 1914 we had a horrific world war going on with massacres, huge numbers of death, and not long after that a worldwide plague that killed tens of millions of people.

Things are fine now... in "late" 2015. By "late" 2016, things could go all to hell and we could have billions dead. Things are 'so far so good".


On the food intolerance--
400% increase.

We process food differently- we sneak gluten into everything (mostly to save a few cents). People who get diarhea, who bleed, who lose villie, and who die from this must be the most incredible hypochodriacs ever. I have one friend who's entire skin (inside and out) peels when she gets exposed to the low levels in grain based vodka.


It gets cheaper all the time to work with diseases. A well designed disease which had a high infection rate but a slower mortality period would spread widely before it started killing people.

Low probably but catastrophic results.

The automation thing is different. Over half the population literally won't be able to work as well as a machine. Lots of luddites died homeless of exposure (and were killed when they turned violent when they lost hope of fair treatment). Picture that on a much larger scale. As in over 50% of the world's population being unable to trade labor for food and shelter.


On the fruit and vegetable thing... we have artificial estrogens causing young girls to start their periods at 9 and meanwhile male fertility has dropped by 95% in the last 100 years almost entirely due to environmental toxins. Likewise, many of the fruits would be unrecognizable as they are mostly cellulose to make it easier to ship them and to extend their shelf life. "real" fruits and vegetables are prohibitively expensive for most. Many people survive on a diet of empty calories since they can't afford the real stuff.


A financial panic is going to have a larger impact because the amount of world resources impacted will be larger. The number of people affected will be an order of magnitude greater. Recovering will take much longer than previously. It's 'good until if fails and then it's really bad". Things are much more brittle than they used to be. It's cheaper until you get a crisis and then you have no food on the shelves for a week (and no gasoline to leave the area) and no option to obtain food.

We really are sort of riding the chaotic wave these days. It is better in many ways- but it's much more brittle than it used to be. Redundancy has been removed from the system. It's like appliances. My A/C is 32 years old. A capacitor went out two years ago. The repairman said, "This is 20 years old. The new one I put in, will not last over 5 years. Also, if you get a new A/C unit, it won't last over 10 years. Probably 7."

Comment Thorium has been the answer for a long time... (Score 1) 355

Instead, of course, we're giving welfare to fusion research, which is going nowhere instead of funding and developing a proven technology we had working in the 60s.

Is it a perfect solution? No. It's just simpler, cheaper, safer and more sustainable than any other power engineering solution out there if your goal is to continue to run a global industrial society at its current scale.

Comment Re:Things are looking up (Score 2) 203

Things were great in early 1914 too.

* We've lost privacy.
* We've lost 12 minutes per hour of our entertainment to advertising.
* The quality of fruits and vegetables are down for most people.
* There's a growing set of food intolerance diseases- most likely due to issues with the food.
* If we have another widespread war- it's going to be fast and horrific compared earlier wars.
* If we have another financial panic get thru- it's going to be worse than the great depression.
* If a terrorist group gets hold of increasingly cheap bioweapons, it could end human civilization.
* If automation proceeds as expected- our current economic system breaks down as over half the population loses the ability to trade their time and labor for products.

A lot of plates are spinning. We might pull it off. Or things could fall apart astonishingly fast.

We could have had a war break out with Russia just last week via Turkey. And we would have been pulled into it by treaties- just as happened in world war one.

Generally- I agree we are doing better- but things are much more "brittle" than they used to be. We've reduced redundancy and if things go badly over a large area, it will impact ability to get food and power to a lot more people.

So... as the guy falling past the 6th floor window said.... "So far so good!"

Artificial intelligence has the same relation to intelligence as artificial flowers have to flowers. -- David Parnas