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Comment Re: Nonsense (Score 1) 364

For example, centralised servers have far more chance of being run by renewables than your home computer. Google for example, is tending to do stuff like build their servers near hydroelectric plants or where there's wind farms or solar available.

So outsourcing your needs CAN actually be a good thing; and if everyone did it, it's a net positive.

No, it's a net negative Building your server farm near hydroelectric plants doesn't reduce the amount of fossil fuels burned. It increases them. The entire electrical grid is connected. If Google's server farm weren't there, the hydroelectric power would be transmitted to fill a need somewhere else. All Google does by locating their servers there is cause someone else to use fossil fuel power instead of hydroelectric power.

Put another way, certain power plants produce as much power as they can (wind, solar, to some extent hydro and nuclear). Other plants scale their production so that total generation matches demand - coal for day/night variability in demand (they're shut down overnight), gas for instantaneous variability in demand. If you add a server farm on the demand side, it doesn't matter which power plants are nearest to it. The net effect is that additional gas and coal must be burned to handle the added power demand.

The only way to add a server farm and reduce fossil fuel consumption is to build additional non-fossil electrical generation capacity along with it.

Comment Re:One time pad (Score 1) 124

You still haven't answered the question to the problem at hand.

How do you securely exchange a one time pad in the first place, if all of your communications are being monitored?

That is the one and only thing public key crypto does. Nothing secret needs exchanged, and the only thing needing exchanged is perfectly fine to be public knowledge as it doesn't let an attacker do anything.
(Well, it would let the attacker send you an encrypted message that only you can read - but that's not a risk, that's precisely how encryption should work)

Comment Re:Compiler optimizer bugs (Score 2) 267

Yeah, I spent two weeks trying to track down an instant blue-screen bug in a 3D simulation. Running it in a debugger didn't help - it would still blue-screen, though it did allow me to narrow it down to an innocuous-looking piece of code. I went over it with a fine-toothed comb and couldn't find anything wrong with it.

After two weeks, a co-worker was assigned a task similar to mine. She asked for my code so she wouldn't have to start from scratch. I gave it to her with the warning that it was blue-screening and I couldn't figure out why. A half hour later she called to say the code worked just fine on her computer. I couldn't believe it and trotted over to her office to see for myself. It did indeed run on her computer exactly like it was supposed to. I copied her compiled executable to my computer, ran it, and it blue-screened.

Armed with that knowledge, I began testing by eliminating different parts of my computer. The breakthrough came when I disabled hardware 3D acceleration and ran it in software emulation, and it ran just fine. The culprit was a hardware bug in the nvidia 3D video card. (This was when 3dfx was king. My company had tried to save some money and bought me a discount video card made by some company nobody had ever heard of.)

Lesson: Sometimes it's not your fault. If you've looked over your code and can't figure out why it's crashing, try running it on another computer.

Comment Re:Android users missing the point (Score 1) 70

Apple is pushing for user privacy. This means that the voicemail would be transcribed by Siri on *your* phone. Nobody else would have access to it to store it or scrape it or learn from it. Not in "the cloud".

Erm... When you ask Siri a question, your voice gets recorded, the file gets sent over the Internet to Apple's servers, which do the voice recognition, and send the equivalent text back to your phone so it can act on it. It very much happens in "the cloud." Just like Android's voice recognition. (Which by the way predates Siri by about a year - I was using it for sending texts and doing web searches before Apple ever announced Siri. Google just didn't come up with the "brilliant" idea of anthropomorphizing it and and giving it a name.)

Anyway, this feature has been on Sprint phones since 2011, when they integrated Google Voice with your Sprint account (your Sprint phone number is your Google Voice number). They tried to sell it as a value-added feature at first, letting you try it for free for a month, charging a monthly fee if you wanted to continue to use it. But with Voice's integration into Hangouts last year, it seems to have become free. I'm getting it and I'm not paying anything for it.

I'm actually surprised at how accurate it is, though it obviously has problems with proper nouns, and when peoplespeaksofasttheirwordsslurtogether. On your computer, it's been available since 2009 with Google Voice (arguably Google made it to collect a varied sample of real-world speech to improve their speech recognition algorithms, not to showcase how good their voice recognition algorithms were.)

Comment Re:One time pad (Score 1) 124

Why can't Alice and Bob agree that they will use the text of the first article posted on Slashdot after noon Central Standard Time each day that they have a message to send as their one time pad? In that way avoid the issue of having to transfer the pad between themselves in advance and they have a new text available daily.

How is Alice supposed to inform Bob of this scheme in the first place?

If I am intercepting their communications, I will know of their scheme and have the same access to Slashdot at noon CST to obtain their daily key just as well as they can.

If Alice and Bob do have some "magic" method to communicate this scheme, then why should they bother with the encryption scheme in the first place? Just use the "magic" method they would have used for all their communications since it clearly must be secure, right?

Comment Re:Very loose interp. of the 2A ? (Score 2) 210

So... for a long time, various encryption algos were considered weapons and subject to ITAR controls. The same is starting up again now.

So... if code can be a weapon, a (very) loose interpretation of the 2nd Amendment and some Castle Doctrine would already allow someone to hack back ...

Even that very loose interpretation doesn't quite fit.

The second amendment after all only says we the people may posses weaponry, it isn't a blanket licence to shoot at just anyone willy nilly, let alone a license to kill someone.

At least so far it is still not illegal to simply own an exploit or its source code, which is a more fair comparison.

One might argue that it should/is legal to counter-hack a system, but to keep the comparison, only so long as they are the one that attacked you first.

The moment you attack some poor smuck infected with malware doing the attackers bidding, it is no different than pulling your legal to own and have firearm and shooting the mailman that brought the ransom note to your door.
That is murder far and clear even with the second amendment and castle laws.

Most attacks these days are carried out through such proxy systems, be they n00b level windows malware, or zero day exploits against a fully patched and updated system (which I don't think anyone can possibly blame the systems owner for), and should be just as illegal to attack them as to counter attack them.

Our fear is that won't be the case. Many innocents are at risk with this plan.

Not to mention, all a black hat hacker has to do is form a corporation, then wait for the inevitable botnet scans and "counter hack" all those infected zombies.
Now this law just made legal any hacking done by those with unsavory intentions. Yeay?

It's bad enough on the Internet these days, but this certainly will not make a climate I wish to be involved with at all.

Comment Why solar? (Score 3, Insightful) 504

Solar is currently the most expensive renewable by far. I know the dream is to power everything in your house with solar panels on the roof, but the technology just isn't there yet (at least without tremendous expense).

The latest complete electrical production stats (2013) put renewables at 12.8%. 6.6% of that is hydro, 4.1% is wind, 1% is burning wood (yes it's a renewable), 0.5% is "other biomass" - mostly natural gas captured from landfills, 0.4% is geothermal, and only 0.22% is solar (thermal and photovoltaic). Solar isn't last because of some grand conspiracy. It's last because it's the most expensive.

Why would you want to put the most expensive technology on the fast track for widescale adoption? Because it taps into the wishes and dreams of those who don't know better? The whole point of being an elected official is that your sole job is to learn this stuff so you can make better decisions about it than the voters who elected you who don't have the time (or sometimes the capability) to learn this stuff. A more well-reasoned approach would be to encourage wider adoption of wind (hydro is pretty much tapped out in the U.S., and wind is just a hair's breadth more expensive than coal), while continuing subsidies into solar R&D. Encouraging wide-scale adoption of PV solar at current levels of technology and cost is wasteful and foolish when better alternatives exist.

Comment Re:Smart (Score 1) 285

"Furthermore, why all the hate over the credits? Tesla collects government incentives, Oil and gas companies collect government incentives, other automobile manufacturers collect government incentives."

So, your argument is that multiple wrongs make it right? Incentives are driven by special interests with inequitable influence. Let the people decide in a free market.

The amount collected in fuel taxes far, far exceeds the government incentives the oil companies receive. About $41 billion in 2012 vs about $5 billion/yr. So you can think of the oil companies subsidies as a fraction of the collected taxes apportioned to encouraging R&D into new oil production/consumption technologies which the government thinks will help in the long-term.

Comment Re:Smart (Score 1) 285

Income (minus expenses) is the first derivative of wealth. So while there is some correlation between income and wealth, basing your tax rates on wealth creates all sorts of unfair incongruities. Take two people who earn $40k/yr. One scrimps and saves for 10 years and amasses $200k in wealth he uses to buy a house. The other blows his paycheck on parties and booze and amasses zero wealth. If you base your tax rate on wealth, the person who saved his money so he could do something useful with it long-term gets charged a higher tax rate.

Even if you're a tax-and-spend liberal, you do not want to be making this sort of fundamental math error.

Comment Re:Smart (Score 1) 285

Nice assertion. I'll counter with one of my own: Battery swapping has negligible effect on the ability of EVs to compete with ICEVs for consumer travel. The only case where it's of use is in long-distance, non-stop travel, which is a miniscule percentage of road miles and which can in most cases be done with a rental vehicle.

You're thinking too rationally. People aren't rational. They buy a car and think that the miles they put on it are "free" (except for the cost of gas). I try to explain to them the required maintenance and depreciation they put on the car from a long trip means the rental may in fact be cheaper, and their eyes glaze over. I completely agree with your idea of using rental cars for long trips. But unless you can convince people that driving their own paid-for car incurs a cost beyond just the gas they use, the range on EVs is going to continue to be an impediment.

As long as the people in the car need to refuel every few hours, all you need is enough range to go as far as the people can, and a sufficiently-fast recharge time that by the time the people eat the car is ready to go again.

What's needed for EVs to compete isn't battery swapping, it's lower prices for vehicles with adequate range. The Model S has the range required, now.

No it doesn't. A 30 min supercharge only gives you a 50% charge, which is about 140 miles, which is a bit over 2 hours at highway speeds. Nobody I know stops to eat every 2.5 hours while on a long trip. (And no, solar won't help. People vastly overestimate the energy density of solar. Even if you covered the car with PV cells and drove under the mid-day sun, the solar energy you harvest would only extend the range about 5-8 minutes further for each supercharge. On average, the solar would only push the car about an extra mile between supercharges.)

Comment Re:exactly this. (Score 1) 276

There was never any room for Plus. instead of recognizing a subset of users who enjoy social media and offering a better product, Plus focused on offering the same product.

That's probably the best way to summarize it. Aside from shoving it down the throats of Youtubers and Gmailers who didn't want it, my biggest problem with it was that they dumbed it down to Facebook-levels. There's a Picasa plugin for Lightroom which makes it (relatively) easy to sync my DSLR photo database with my online photos on Picasaweb (Google gives you free storage for photos up to 2048x2048 resolution, so I just downsample my web photos to fit on a 1080p monitor).

When I first tried G+ and learned about circles, I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Not only would I be able to mirror my photos online, I'd able to selectively choose who got to view them via what circle I put them in. When I actually tried using it though, all the album management tools and a lot of other options which were on Picasaweb were gone. G+ Photos was basically Picasa stripped of nearly all the features except those those for using it to view pictures in a web browser - they dumbed it down to Facebook levels.

Eventually I learned I could still access the old Picasa tools (and my albums) by going directly to, but none of the half dozen people I met who also used to manage their online photos with Picasa but had gotten slurped into G+ knew the site was still available. They'd just been living with the limited options in Google Photos or had switched to something else. So Google tried to put together different products to make G+, but to make it "competitive" with Facebook they stripped many of the features which made people use those products in the first place.

Comment Re:Pointless article (Score 2) 50

I guess it means:

a) We rent existing but empty channels/fibers from providers (otherwise 5M would be impossible)

b) We dont connect it to the internet; although they sadly dont mention if they have a private internet (not news) or if they use another protocol to avoid the negative side effects of TCP/IP (little news, unless they show the numbers)

c) If I assume they are talking about 10 to 100 Gbit per second, then it would not be so fast) as far as I understand, single channels in fibers go up to 40GBit/s

Comment Re:Not going to happen (Score 1) 451

We have an existing and quite inexpensive container ship network. Is this rail project going to be cheaper than that?

Container ships are cheaper than rail. Their disadvantage is the labor-intensive step of loading and unloading the containers to/from the ship. For a couple hour trip across the English Channel, the loading/unloading cost is disproportionately large compared to the transport cost of the ship, so it makes economic sense to replace it with a tunnel or bridge.

But for cargo across the Pacific, the loading/unloading cost is roughly on par with the fuel cost. So based on the link, even if you doubled the cost per mile, container ships would still be price-competitive with rail. So there's no economic benefit to be gained by shipping goods from China to the U.S. by rail over a Russia-Alaska bridge. Add in the cost to build the bridge and it'll actually be more expensive than container ship. The only advantages you'll get are reduced transport time (from about a month to a week), and the ability to send containers directly by rail to more destinations than just port cities.

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer