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Comment Re:Reasons why I don't like the Internet of Things (Score 1) 92

I'm a fan of home automation (a hobby of mine that's increasingly turning into a business). I, and many fellow HA enthusiasts, are firm proponents of the LAN of Things, or even a Separate Network - Controlled By a Hub That is Only Allowed To Connect To the Internet Under Strict Conditions - Of Things. There are plenty of useful ways to automate your home (no, nothing essential or life-changing, but sometimes very convenient), but very little of that requires data to leave the house. And when it does, it should only happen on your own terms. And cameras? The ones around my house have their power cut off externally when we're home, and show a light when they are on (a separate dumb LED on the same power supply). No use taking any chances there.

Comment Re:This is why ISIS wins (Score 1) 468

Seems to me most mission planners would avoid going near borders of countries they do not have an alliance with, or at the very least announce their missions up front to their more-or-less-allies (something Russia often neglects to do, and other nations active in the region have already complained about that). And Turkey is fast ceasing to be a civilized nation. This incident has all the rancid stink of a pissing contest gone wrong.

Comment Re:Wait, they shipped the private key? (Score 1) 60

I've actually seen this before with OpenVPN setups. The standard setup procedure has you generate the keys and certificates on the server, but doesn't make clear which files are the private keys and which are public. One of the guides now carefully points out which files you're supposed to keep secret. But I've seen several OpenVPN setups where someone didn't know better and just installed the client, then copied all the config files (all the certificates and keys) from the server to the client.

Explaining it in the documentation isn't enough. The code which generates the keys should explicitly put the private and public keys in different directories whose names say whether they need to be kept on the server, put on the client, or copied to a USB flash drive and locked in a safe. Right now everything is just dumped into the current directory under the assumption that the person generating the keys knows which key is for what. You shouldn't assume everyone who will use the software will know how the software works.

Comment Re:I have an idea (Score 1) 468

The U.S. bases in Japan are there because the peace treaty ending WWII says Japan cannot have an external military, and instead the U.S. will provide for its national defense. Frankly I think it's time to revise those treaties and have Japan pay for its own defense (which would drive China nuts), but until that's done the U.S. bases in Japan have to stay.

The U.S. bases in Germany are there because both are NATO countries. The original objective of NATO was to repel a Soviet invasion, so having U.S. troops on the ground in place was necessary. This is probably due for revision as well, given the unlikelihood of a foreign invasion of Western Europe.

The U.S. bases in South Korea are there because there was no peace treaty ending that war, only a cease fire. Technically we're still at war with North Korea. Anyhow, the U.S. forces aren't there as an occupying force nor to provide stability. If you ask any of the troops there, they know exactly why they are there. They call themselves speed bumps. Their job in a North Korean attack is to die, so the U.S. has a reason to join the hostilities on South Korea's side. Their purpose is deterrence.

All three countries are more than stable enough to not need a U.S. military presence anymore, and have been stable enough for at least two decades (South Korea being the most recent to transition from a military to a civilian government). Unfortunately, we abandoned Iraq before it was self-sustainably stable.

Comment Not the first full recovery from space (Score 1) 105

SpaceShip One touched space and all elements were recovered and flew to space again.

BO's demonstration is more publicity than practical rocketry. It doesn't look like the aerodynamic elements of BO's current rocket are suitable for recovery after orbital injection, just after a straight up-down space tourism flight with no potential for orbit, just like SpaceShip One (and Two). They can't put an object in space and have it stay in orbit. They can just take dudes up for a short and expensive view and a little time in zero gee.

It's going to be real history when SpaceX recovers the first stage after an orbital injection, in that it will completely change the economics of getting to space and staying there.

Comment Re:I have an idea (Score 4, Interesting) 468

What's the line then? There are millions of conflicts around the world that we can 'get involved with'. Saudi Arabia likes to behead and crucify people, should we 'get involved' with them? What is the number of wars and death it takes to make everyone do exactly what we want them to do?

The conflict in Iraq is special because the U.S. precipitated it. I was against invading Iraq, but once we did it I was absolutely committed to staying there until it was stable. While Saddam Hussein was a monster, like most monsters his grip on power provided a good deal of stability. Removing him also removed that stability, so we had a moral duty to stay there until a comparable level of stability was restored. Unfortunately, a majority of the U.S. just wanted out quickly regardless of stability and the consequences, and elected a President who promised just that and delivered. What we're seeing now with ISIS is the consequence of shirking our responsibility to fix what we broke, and not withdrawing from Iraq until it could provide its own stability.

Did you know ISIS was born of intervention policies from the U.S. government? The reason why they are even around is because we are involved.

Did you know U.S. inteventionist policies were born from Muslim acts against the U.S.? You've probably heard the opening line of the Marine Corps anthem:

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli...

The Montezuma part makes sense. The U.S. fought several wars with Mexico, so of course the Marines would be involved. But Tripoli? That's way over in Libya (that's Africa for those weak in geography). What the hell were U.S. Marines doing there?

Funny you should ask. Way back in 1800 when the U.S. was a freshly minted nation, it ran into a problem. Prior to the revolution, the U.S. was a British colony, and thus fell under British protection. When the U.S. gained independence, it lost that protection. The Muslim Barbary States decided to take advantage of the situation and began capturing U.S. merchant ships and holding the crews for ransom. Their thinking was that since these people weren't Muslim, it was ok to kidnap them and extort a ransom.

The fledgling U.S. had its own domestic problems and didn't want to meddle with things going on in other countries. But it didn't have a navy which could deal with the situation, and attempts to negotiate a treaty with France to protect U.S. vessels fell through. So for the first few years, the U.S. just paid the ransom. Of course paying criminals just encourages them, and it became open season on U.S. flagged vessels. Eventually the payments became exorbitant, and the U.S. recommissioned a navy. President Thomas Jefferson (y'know, the guy who wrote famous things like, "We hold these truths to be self evident - that all men are created equal") launched a military operation to Africa to end the kidnappings and free the hostages.

That is how the U.S. Marines ended up in Tripoli. That is how U.S. meddling with foreign nations began. Because a bunch of Muslims decided to take advantage of a fledgling non-Muslim nation by kidnapping its citizens and demanding ransom for their freedom. So if you want to play the blame game, the first incident, the precipitating act which began over two centuries of animosity, was actually committed by Muslims against the U.S.

Comment Re:This is why ISIS wins (Score 5, Insightful) 468

Those parties are not really fighting amongst themselves; but they do have different interests in Syria. While their common goal is to fight IS, they each want to use this conflict as an opportunity to back their own horse in this race. Russia bombs the "moderate" rebels opposing Assad, while the rest likes to support those rebels. Meanwhile, Turkey bombs the Kurds.

By the way, Russia has a long history of violating the airspace of other nations. I'm surprised there hasn't been such an incident earlier.

Comment Lose the obsession with thinness (Score 5, Interesting) 477

I'd rather have a thicker laptop which could work off battery from when I wake up to when I go to sleep (~16 hours - both work and evening relaxation use), and charge overnight. A thicker phone which only needs to be charged every 2-3 days, instead of every night. A thicker tablet that can last a week or two on a charge instead of a few days.

My phone (Nexus 5) was so thin compared to my previous (Galaxy S with a slide-out keyboard) that I dropped it more times in my first week owning it than I had dropped the old phone in 3 years. I ended up getting a case for it, not to protect it but to make it thicker so I wouldn't drop it so much. I don't need nor want it to be any thinner. Do something useful with that extra space - like pack in a bigger battery. (I'm happy to report though that with the Marshmallow update, the phone easily lasts 36-48 hours on a charge. Many days it still has over 70% charge left by the time I go to sleep. Maybe we'll manage to get back to the days when you only had to charge your phone every 3-4 days.)

Comment Re:Worse than clickbait ! (Score 2) 383

I don't know what's scarier, ISIS itself, or the fact that international intelligence agencies are so clearly inept that they're actually incapable of stopping any sort of terror attacks. If they actually DID manage to stop terror attacks, they would be trumpeting their victories loudly and on the front page of every newspaper and every news website this side of the GMT line. The fact that they haven't is pretty much proof positive that in fact they haven't managed to do a damn thing.

Actually, no. The very nature of their job is that if they're successful, absolutely nothing happens. Consequently, the only evidence they have that an attack was thwarted are some written plans, drawings scrawled on a napkin, or chemicals that could be used to make a bomb. They can't even be sure that they really did stop a terror attack, or if they just caught some raving lunatic with delusions of executing a terror attack. And they can't crow about it until many years later, because doing so could tip off related terrorist cells that they're close to being captured.

In 1995, Philippine police stumbled upon a terrorist plot to assassinate the pope, bomb airliners, and fly one into CIA headquarters. The plot was discovered when the terrorists accidentally set fire to their apartment while preparing bombs. It hit the world news briefly, with most of the news services describing it as a plot to blow up airliners and fly them into buildings. My friends and I discussed it briefly. We concluded it was the Philippine police/intelligence exaggerating to try to make it look like they stopped something huge from happening. (1) If it was a real terrorist plot, why were they bragging to the international press about having thwarted it? Shouldn't they be keeping quiet while they used the intelligence they'd gathered to catch co-conspirators before they even realized their plot had been foiled? (2) While we knew there were wackos out there who had no qualms about bombing an airliner and killing everyone aboard it, the part about flying them into buildings was just too far-fetched. We had a psychologically barrier preventing us from conceiving of someone going beyond merely killing those people, to actually using them as part of a weapon to kill more people. Nobody could be so callous and disrespectful of human life, right? (3) It would require the perpetrator(s) to die aboard the plane as well. The whole point of using a bomb was that you didn't have to be aboard the plane when it went off. So that seemed unlikely as well.

Then 6 years later, 9/11 happened.

Anyhow, this is a big part of the problem with intelligence (and safety engineering for that matter). If you succeed, nothing happens and nobody hears about what you did. If you fail, you get blamed and it gets replayed on the news over and over. In light of a success being when nothing happens, how do you determine how effective your anti-terrorist ops are? What is an appropriate, measured response to the threat? Those in the intelligence and security community like to interpret nothing happening as an indicator of the great job they're doing, and why their (illegal) monitoring needs to be allowed to continue. Those opposed like to interpret nothing happening as an indicator that nothing would've happened if all those intelligence and security measures hadn't existed. Because the primary evidence is the lack of evidence, it can be interpreted to support both viewpoints.

Comment Re:Wouldn't this lead to Natural Selection? (Score 3, Insightful) 166

On the flip side, programmers may receive better answers on SO than the ones they had come up with themselves, and gain new insights in programming patterns, use of SDKs, etc. That sort of learning and sharing of knowledge is encouraged and facilitated in other fields for good reason, and I've learned a good many things that way myself. As long as the answer explains or shows how to solve the problem instead of actually solving it completely. Post text or pseudocode rather than complete working code fragments. Same way you teach your kid how to fix a punctured bicycle tyre: don't fix it for him, but let him fix it under your guidance.

Comment Re:Smells like FUD (Score 1) 106

It also is much harder to figure out the specific person who carries the hacked pacemaker. With normal ransomware, you don't have to know anything about the person who owns the hacked computer, since the same computer is delivering the ransom note. It does make a lot more sense to hold a city, a hospital, or the manufacturer to ransom.

Comment Re:Something Positive (Score 1) 420

The Timothy Zahn books from the Star Wars universe have actually been quite good. They're gone further with the old characters, introduced fascinating new characters, and told much broader stories. I don't believe they're considered "Star Wars canon", but parts of them have certainly shown up in the games. The Thrawn trilogy, itself, included _wonderful_ exploration of other racess' personalities and how individuals are much more difficult to predict than large groups of their native races. It also explored why "clones" might be a limited or difficult resource to handle in a universe with "The Force".

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus