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Comment Passing Parameters with Side Effects (Score 3, Interesting) 169 169

I had a bug once where red and blue values were swapping places across thousands of pixels that took quite a while to hunt down once. It turns out there was a function doSomething called with parameters (pixel[i++],pixel[i++],pixel[i++]) while doing transformations. The compiled code pushed the third parameter onto the stack first, so it was using the red value from the array in the blue spot and vise-versa across the entire image.

Comment Not Tested by SAT (Score 1) 107 107

I would not expect computers and/or computer science to improve the performance of students in SAT Mathematics, AP Calculus, and AP Statistics.

We use computers so we dont have to remember all that crap. The computer does the math.

I would expect it to improve reading, reading comprehension, written language skills, and logical thinking. That is what the student is learning!

Logical thinking in particular is the most likely area for improvement. It would also give good foundation skills for editing, but not good enough on their own.

You might see an improvement on LSAT scores. The SAT just doesn't test that stuff well.

Also, keep in mind that intro Comp Sci on its own is very hit-and-miss in college, and there's no reason it wouldn't be in high school.

Comment International relations - Don't work that way. (Score 1) 421 421

Whatever point you were trying to make there, especially that Russians need to stop being assholes, doesn't work when everything you've based it on involves the US being even bigger assholes.

Actually, that's not true. International relations works by allowing everyone to be assholes while pretending that they're awesome. The idea is countries make agreements that say one thing (usually a compromise of some kind) while claiming to their politically important classes that the agreement is good because it's another thing. The classic example I think of is the Security Council's authorization for the second Iraq war, which was designed to legally allow the US go to war with Iraq while still letting France claim that they had never meant it to authorize the war with Iraq. It's really about marketing, spin, and convincingly lying in a way which will appease (or in which you can leverage the perceived need to appease) your hard-liners.

Comment Re:Classified Data (Score 1) 221 221

We can be fairly sure that the NSA has some serial dedicated hardware for cracking common encryption systems like AES. They will still be reliant on things like dictionary attacks because brute-forcing the entire keyspace is impractical (unless they have quantum computers).

How should we react to that? Well, obviously we need a good password that can resist dictionary attacks. Beyond that, unless you are a big enough perceived threat to warrant time on an expensive computer you probably don't have to worry too much. They certainly won't be using it to help out the FBI, risking its existence coming to light.

Maybe. Based on the documentaries that have been made, it's pretty clear that the NSA used their phone-metadata-recording to help the FBI locate the Boston Bomber, despite the risk that it would become public. (Which is did shortly thereafter but for other reasons--i.e. Snowden).

The FBI does domestic counterterror. The NSA is the big bad in terms of not seeing the inherent bad and threat to democracy in snooping on everyone's communications, sure, but they're still trying to be good guys and so they'll share information sometimes when they see a good result from doing so.

Comment Classified Data (Score 4, Interesting) 221 221

What would the existence of an exascale supercomputer mean for today's popular encryption/hashing algorithms?


My first thought was the new addition will be tasked by the NSA/FiveEyes to break encryption for intercepted communications.

Why are you assuming they don't already have one doing that, and this is just a public version?

There is a lot of highly secured government data infrastructure out there that I hear about even though not inquiring. The cable in Virginia that gets cut by a backhoe accidentally and guys in a black van show up ten minutes later. The contract for a government data center inside a faraday cage. The government likely already has much more computing power available than we know about.

Comment Tiny, tiny hands. (Score 1) 687 687

It's convenient. You might be typing with one hand, for example. Please don't take the caps lock away from me because you want everything to be popular.

There are two shift keys. Unless you have tiny, tiny hands, you can reach one of them with one hand that also reaches the key you want to shift. It's not even terrible hard--much easier, for example, than a one-octave split on a piano.

Comment Cable System (Score 2) 142 142

Acceptable margin of error for the identified height detection methods, whereas you could use simpler height detection methods if you were closer to the ground.

As to complex ideas, I fully expect there are lots of legitimate challenges to my proposal that may make it unworkable or that may challenge existing assumptions. That's fine; that's why we propose ideas. So other smart people can tear them down and propose *better* ideas. Or can have their assumptions challenged, like asking questions about how we tell how high off the ground something is.

There is no way it makes sense to let private drones go over Manhattan and not be mostly bound to roads, for example. Medium-sized cities likewise might be able to accommodate a drone infrastructure bound to roads but should probably not be dealing with drones in free-flight. Of course, you might also be able to have drones hook into a cable system once they reach a certain area...

Comment 15-25 (Score 3, Interesting) 142 142

100 feet of buffer is inadequate. How the hell do you measure your AGL when you're flying? You either use a radar altimeter ($25K installed on an airplane worth $20K) or you use the baro altimeter, which has an acceptable calibration error, plus the local altimeter setting (atmospheric pressure) which has an error band, and there's error because you're not right over the reporting station. 1000' is the minimum instrument separation. Bezos just wants to steal a band of airspace. I say give him 0' to 10' AGL, just like a UPS truck.

No, but how bout you give him 20-30' so long as he stays over a road, and limit windspeed and weather conditions he can operate in? Sink a billion or so into detecting wires and other obstacles over roadways. Now you've got a second level road and he's flying higher than vehicles but lower than aerial vehicles. It's inefficient compared to full use of airspace but still faster than regular traffic.

Comment Not the best summary... (Score 3, Interesting) 195 195

The idea is that if you vaccinate people but they still get the disease and don't get it as badly, they might not die as quickly, or might not die.

So if they get sick but don't die, the disease has longer to spread.

So I suppose if you're an Anti-vaxxer it's a great argument for why only you should get vaccinated for highly virulent diseases, but you should just let everyone else die faster.

Comment Private Laws (Score 1) 292 292

Also, the Court will probably want the law to be accessible, so they'll likely find some logic to rule against the state.

Pretty much every state in the country has annotated laws that are owned by a private company under some kind of agreement with the state. The private company puts some money into indexing them, may have an el cheapo version available online, and charges very mysterious pricing for commercial use that varies by who your sales rep is and how big you are and the like. Physical copies may also be available.

In New York, for example, McKinney's costs about $10,500 for a physical copy: http://legalsolutions.thomsonr...

You can go to a library that has it, of course, but it's pretty ridiculous in today's day and age that you need to go to a library to get access to a law.

It's kind of like the building code--basically a group of experts is involved so the state lets them copyright the laws and sell them rather than having the state *pay* them for their work and make the result free.

Comment Customers Let Them (Score 1) 117 117

And yet any time someone suggestes stronger regulation the entire IT community comes out up in arms and shouts "free market".

The greatest strength of the IT industry is that it's essentially unregulated allowing it to be nimble and to take risks.

The greatest weakness of the IT industry is that it's essentially unregulated allowing companies to shit all over thier customers.

They are able to do that because customers let them. If you want to use app X, you give app X access to way more information than app X needs, because consumers fundamentally don't care enough that apps compete on the basis of privacy.

There's a little difference in the enterprise space, of course. But on the consumer side, people just don't care.

Comment Re:Why is the President a Target? (Score 1) 169 169

Look, I can understand a few scattered crazies who would like to assassinate the president. But when thousands of people, groups, regions, countries, religions all over the world want to take him out, some serious self-contemplation is in order.

They don't. There are not thousands of countries, nor (probably) religions. Thousands of people want to kill you--or at least would kill you, which isn't quite the same thing--if you give the order to bomb them. The US bombs groups, generally ones that do things that suck, and then those people encourage their friends to want to kill the US.

That doesn't mean US drone policy couldn't use a hard look--it could--but just because thousands of people want to kill you doesn't mean you are in need of serious contemplation. Thousands of people wanted to kill pretty much every head of state in history whose country was involved in a way.

Gosh that takes me back... or is it forward? That's the trouble with time travel, you never can tell." -- Doctor Who, "Androids of Tara"