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Comment Re:Somewhat hyped (Score 1) 48

It's hard to say without doing all the implementation work, but the paper does say that the algo is "...general enough to describe both local polynomial and Gaussian process approximations..." and there is a section called "Local Gaussian process surrogates". So, they do in fact incorporate this in the larger framework of their algo.

In fact, they claim "...that the accuracy is nearly identical for all the cases, but the approximate chains use fewer evaluations of the true model, reducing costs by more than an order of magnitude for quadratic or Gaussian process approximations (Figure 10b)."

Indeed, though that quote is simply pointing out that the relative performance of their algorithm is at its best with its mode set to local Gaussian approximations.

Comment Biased summary (Score 3, Insightful) 121

...confirmed their own questionable behavior...

I am a US citizen as frustrated about unauthorized domestic surveillance as anyone. But this summary goes too far. Finding, keeping and using vulnerabilities is exactly what the NSA is supposed to do, and there is nothing questionable about that behavior.
If the submitter wants the government to have a group that finds and discloses vulnerabilities as part of its remit, then make a case for creating such a group. Don't saddle the NSA with the job.

Comment Re:It's the Ownership Stupid (Score 1) 200

For what it's worth, the open-source crowd has made it pretty easy to strip DRM from the books you buy. Barnes and Noble has gotten slightly tougher of late (as in, you are out of luck if you have no Nook or Android reader), so I just went through the DRM stripping exercise with all the ePubs I had bought from BN, and switched to Amazon.

Comment Re:In favor (Score 1) 278

it has some leaked aspects that I think are truly terrible, such as the intellectual freedom troubles

This is why "trade" agreements are reviled by default these days. They have a couple of chapters regarding trade and a dozen chapters dedicated to screwing country's national laws.

While I agree with you that it's a valid reason to revile trade agreements by default, I perceive the revulsion to be comprised of more protectionist, beggar-thy-neighbor sentiment, mixed with ugly patriotism. See "Squiddie" above, the guy who thinks doubling (!) the daily wages of benighted bastards in a poor country isn't worth the risks to American workers.

Start making trade agreements about trade again and people will start respecting them again.

Not as optimistic on that score as you are. Cheers.

Comment In favor (Score 2) 278

I'm in favor of TPP, and of trade agreements generally. Consider the case of NAFTA, as an example that is less broad in scope and yet similarly reviled. We can now look at it in a bit of an historical perspective.

The populist arguments against NAFTA have generally been that it "enriches corporations, at the expense of American jobs". While it eased Canadian-US trade somewhat, the most visible effect of NAFTA was that US-Mexican trade was eased to the point that hundreds of maquiladoras (manufacturing facilities) sprung up close to the US border. Among other changes, Mexico has now become a top-10 exporter of automobiles.

The maquiladoras have enhanced the lives of many millions of Mexicans. Meanwhile, it had a mixed effect on the USA, in particular pressuring hundreds of thousands of US autoworkers. Benefits to the US were much more diffuse than the lost autoworker jobs, leading many people to conclude those benefits were negligible. That's a common policy-maker's problem, where a special-interest group (here, US autoworkers) holds policy or public opinion hostage to its interests because the incremental advantage of good policy is, while larger in aggregate, thinly spread among a large constituency. It's quite recognizable in, for example, the activities of the sugar lobby on influencing congressional lawmakers.

Such lobbies, by the way, are a big reason trade agreements must be negotiated privately, keeping details hidden from the public. Otherwise, special interest groups end up completely destroying the process while negotiations are underway. Remember, sugar tariffs are very good for the sugar lobby.

While I appreciate patriotism, I personally feel that we should be trying to make life better for humanity in general, rather than greedily holding onto wealth in the USA. Taking at face value the Wharton study quoted above, the USA was able to enrich Mexicans at zero cost to itself. From that point of view, similar trade agreements are nearly a moral imperative!

Coming back to TPP, it has some leaked aspects that I think are truly terrible, such as the intellectual freedom troubles. Those criticisms I consider reasonable, and I can appreciate why that would cause an informed and intelligent person to oppose the TPP. On the other hand, a kind of knee-jerk hatred to trade agreements in general appears to drive much of the opposition, and I think of those anti-trade arguments as having no moral standing, just like the ones put forth by the sugar lobby.

On balance, then, I think the benefits to human happiness worldwide from even an agreement with flawed and overly-broad terms will outweigh the serious problems, but I can see how intellectual freedom considerations might make you feel otherwise.

Comment More interesting password set (Score 1) 146

Once the cracked passwords have been published (presumably by somebody other than Cynosure) they will be analyzed by many of the same people who looked at the LinkedIn passwords and other such databases.

It's going to be interesting to find out

  • What rules people are using for choosing passwords, 3 years after well-publicized hacks
  • Whether the Ashley Madison passwords are in general more secure
  • Which website had the more secure password, for users with accounts on both and differing passwords

Comment Re:Boo hoo (Score 1) 247

a lot of the software that the NSA (or more likely, NSA subcontractors) develop are developed for a very limited and specialized audience

...and they give it to the users free of charge, with complimentary installation and tech support. ;-)

(I agree completely with your post, BTW)

All Finagle Laws may be bypassed by learning the simple art of doing without thinking.