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Comment: Re:Am I the only person... (Score 1) 603

by Dr_Barnowl (#46754517) Attached to: IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

I think the development of the law should be tracked using Git. Amendments are pull requests, and only permissible with a commit signed by the creator.

Instead of tacking amendments to the end of bills as they do now, just patch them directly - make the law simpler. And keep a full audit trail of the whole thing. No more sneaky little amendments by congressional aides like Mitch Glazier (search for "pisher" in the text..)

Comment: Re:This will not end well (Score 1) 193

Our new whitelisting software slows down one of our export processes from 2 minutes to around 14, because it hashes all the files it reads and outputs and eats CPU doing it.

So it goes from something people will run multiple times an hour, to something that people will seriously think twice about doing. All the productivity gains of rewriting the software and taking some pains to make it multithreaded erased because it has got to the point where the IT department won't trust your computer to do anything other than what they sign off on. A guaranteed job for them maintaining the whitelist, everyone else's job slowed down.

Comment: Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (Score 1) 192

by Dr_Barnowl (#46628603) Attached to: Supreme Court Skeptical of Computer-Based Patents

If software patents were taken to their literal full extent, I'd lose my job anyway, because it's impossible to create any substantial piece of software without infringing multiple patents.

Developing new software would become so expensive - what with the cost of having a patent lawyer stand over your shoulder demanding explanations of everything you implemented, and the cost of licensing anything I infringed, or re-implementing things to infringe something else cheaper to license - that the market for my skills would shrink considerably.

Happily I live in a country that is so far in the grey area as to whether it recognises the validity of software patents, and I work for a government agency that has decided to license it's output with a BSD-style license (presumably so the corporate chums of the political bosses can make as much money as they'd like from our taxpayer-funded work...)

Comment: Fuck boy racers (Score 4, Insightful) 262

by Dr_Barnowl (#46596247) Attached to: Prototype Volvo Flywheel Tech Uses Car's Wasted Brake Energy

People who don't leave adequate braking distance and accelerate as hard as possible are the reason most of the traffic jams on my morning route occur. A single light touch on the brakes gets magnified into a ripple of progressively more urgent braking until you have traffic that grinds to a stop - no obstruction required. A few large gaps help to absorb this kind of thing and would keep the traffic flowing, but the few people who seem to think that tailgating people at beyond the speed limit until they give way and let the guy overtake you - so he can do the same thing to the next guy in the fast lane going the same speed - is acceptable make everyone else so paranoid that they are missing out on a particular piece of road that hardly anyone is willing to leave any space.

If everyone drove with a little more room, then the traffic wouldn't jam up so much, and paradoxically, people would get to their destination faster. The tailgaters are just spoiling their own driving party.

Comment: Re: Disable player chat (Score 1) 704

by Dr_Barnowl (#46551505) Attached to: Getting Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia Out of Gaming

Flip it around ; the implication is that women aren't expected to pay because they aren't able to, because they are either incapable of earning money, or not entitled to hold their own finances.

"Other people are expected to support me" IS insulting. Women who exploit their feminine wiles to get guys to pay for stuff ; well, there's another less charitable name for that kind of behaviour. "Gigolo" is probably more reviled than "whore" because of the implication that men should be the breadwinner - and that men depending on the resources of women is somehow worse than vice-versa.

I do sometimes treat my date, but only once I've had the conversation - my opinion is that remuneration is so out of whack with your actual working effort these days that I don't feel guilty about being well paid OR paying for dinner because I can afford it more than some of the women I date. But it's important, especially in the region I live where standing on your own two feet is a matter of pride, that you don't insult someone when doing so.

Comment: Re: Ridiculous. (Score 1) 914

They think that the relatives of the victims have some twisted sense of justice that requires the murderer to suffer during his execution. It's vengeful and distinctly anti-Christian, even if the inhabitants of the USA typically like to paint themselves as good Christians.

I'd rather people weren't executed at all, but if you have to do it, at least do it in line with your constitutional and religious values, people.

Comment: Re: Ridiculous. (Score 5, Informative) 914

An ex-politician did the research for a BBC documentary - there is a simple, easy method of execution, used to humanely kill pigs in abattoirs, it's cheap, quick and requires no exotic chemicals. Asphyxia with nitrogen.

He asked several people involved in administering the death penalty if they would consider it, and to a man, they all refused to condone the notion. Because the victim feels a few moments of euphoria before they go.

They *want* the pain and suffering, despite the prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment" in the Constitution. The protocols are explicitly designed to be inhumane, and there is a tacit agreement amongst all those involved that they should stay that way.

Comment: Re:Not only video but also sound (Score 1) 295

still I cannot explain why on Windows in a virtual machine (Linux as host) the sound is better than in Linux itself.

I suspect the Linux builds of Skype don't have all the good audio codecs they've added to the Windows build, Skype now being a Microsoft product. The audio quality is total ass.

Comment: Re:Bitcoin is a service (Score 1) 704

by Dr_Barnowl (#46397703) Attached to: Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

Bitcoin is a service, not a commodity.

It's a big transaction log. When you spend them, you provide the service of signing your transaction with a private key that the network agrees controls the pool of coins from which are spending. You are exchanging this service for the goods and services the recipient of that transaction agreed to provide you with (hopefully).

In the end the only value of a wallet is the ability to provide this service. That's why when a wallet is destroyed those coins it controlled are lost to the network forever.

"Real" currencies are essentially also this kind of service, since we moved off the gold standard. The only value fiat currency has is what someone will agree to give you in exchange for providing the service of telling your bank to move some numbers to their account (whether you do this electronically, or indirectly through cash).

The main differential is that Bitcoin is founded on the mutual trust of all participants, whereas fiat currencies are founded almost entirely on confidence in a few entities - the government, and the banks. Bitcoin probably wins on that count.

The difficulty here is that there is no way to repudiate transactions after the fact - unlike with a bank, there is no "Undo". But this is also a feature. To provide an ability to do this would require a central body to have key escrow of your wallet keys, which would completely undermine the whole network AND be a rich target for exactly this sort of theft.

The problem is that people don't understand Bitcoin. Trusting a web-wallet is an entirely different proposition to trusting a bank, but they are used to thinking about it as if it was a bank.

Comment: Re:Flexcoin was not an "Exchange" (Score 1) 704

by Dr_Barnowl (#46397533) Attached to: Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

Why people *ever* used them is beyond comprehension.

You don't even need a server online to *accept* bitcoin transactions, because they occur in the transaction log, so if you pay for hosted mining, or accept payments for cookies, or whatever, you can do it entirely safely just by directing coins to a wallet that has no online keys. You can even check balances without the private key ; wallet balances are public like everything else in the transaciton log.

You only need access to the keys in a wallet to *spend* Bitcoin. So you keep the key in dead storage unless you need to spend.

If you really need a convenient way to spend, keep a "current account" wallet which you recharge from your "deposit account" wallet. Then even if your phone / exchange wallet / usb stick is stolen, you only get a small balance stolen.

Comment: Re:Who is doing this? (Score 1) 704

by Dr_Barnowl (#46397499) Attached to: Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

It's not the number of coins that's the problem ; they are divisible to a large number of decimal places, enough to cover most projected future needs.

The main problem is the capacity of the network as currently implemented to handle transactions, which can't scale : straight from the horses mouth

Comment: Re:Sinking ship (Score 1) 704

by Dr_Barnowl (#46397425) Attached to: Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

There aren't any coins to move. The coins are just an idea. Bitcoin is a large distributed transaction log.

Now, you could make it illegal to exchange Bitcoin transaction services for fiat currency, but that won't stop people still using them as a proxy for value. And I imagine it would be hard to do in a way that actually has legal teeth, but doesn't outlaw all forms of banking (which is mostly providing transaction services these days...)

Comment: Re:From the FAQ (Score 1) 704

by Dr_Barnowl (#46397389) Attached to: Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

They provide a service - they hold crypto keys for you and generate transactions signed by those keys.

Now those keys were stolen, but they are of intangible value. Just because certain parties will honour those transactions and exchange the service of providing them for official government scrip, doesn't mean they are worth anything.

Comment: Re:Indeed. But how can they be "stolen"? (Score 1) 704

by Dr_Barnowl (#46397343) Attached to: Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

Bitcoin is a big distributed transaction log. The record of where all the coins are is public, and verified constantly by clients participating in the network ; each client has a full copy of the transaction log.

Your wallet doesn't store the coins. It stores crypto keys. The coins are all out there - the transaction log says who they belong to, and the private key in your wallet lets you create new transactions to move them around.

When coins are created, the network attests that the coins belong to your wallet by signing the transaction that creates those coins.

To spend those coins requires a transaction record signed by the private key belonging to that wallet. The transaction basically says

"Hey, I'm and I'm transferring coins to " [Signed, wallet-1234]

The network verifies that the signature is correct and adds its own attestation that it is so.

So what happened here was the thieves broke into the server, and accessed private keys that were available to the server, and used them to generate transactions moving the coins they controlled to new wallets (presumably controlled by the thieves).

Tinfoil hat says that it could very well be an inside job (as could MtGox).

Comment: Re:Search Software (Score 1) 531

by Dr_Barnowl (#46386257) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Software Can You Not Live Without?

I've tried most of the diff / merge tools available but I keep coming back to Beyond Compare ; it's one of the few pieces of commercial productivity software on my machines (both Windows and Linux).

There are a couple of features (like kdiff3's "alignment hint file" feature) that I wish it would adopt, but otherwise it knocks most of the others, freeware and FOSS, into a cocked hat.

Do not use the blue keys on this terminal.