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Comment: Re:Subtle attack against C/C++ (Score 1, Insightful) 175

by HiThere (#46761259) Attached to: The Security of Popular Programming Languages

C++ (and do a lesser extent C) lose support because of their extremely poor support for utf8. And the absurd part of it is that they could easily do a good job. Utf8 is just a byte array with various routines to interpret the code. Glibc does a reasonable job for a C library...not ideal, but reasonable.

All the array needs is a way to address a chunk by character # rather than by byte #, a way to copy of a character or a slice of chars, and a way to determine the general character classification of any character. Also a few methods: first(), last(), hasnext(), hasprior(), next() and prior(). And these all "sort of" exist, except getting the general character classification. (Do note that these functions need to operate on utf-8 characters rather than on bytes.) But several different ways of doing this are already known. Vala, e.g., handles it without difficulty, and is able to emit C code (using Glibc libraries).

So it's not a programming difficulty that's holding things up. It's the standards bodies...or, perhaps, some members of them.

But I've looked at C++11, and it is not a satisfactory answer. Vala has a good answer. D (Digital Mars D) has a different good answer. Even Python3 has a pretty good answer. (I don't like that in Python you can't determine memory allocation within the string.) Also Racket, etc. But C++ doesn't.

Comment: Re:Wonder how Ada 2012 would fare... (Score 2) 175

by HiThere (#46761109) Attached to: The Security of Popular Programming Languages

It's hardly a solved problem. There are approaches that can be made to work, but that's not the same thing. The current approaches are all clumsy, and often that's a charitable description. It's usually doable. Saying anything beyond that is fulsom praise.

OTOH, because different languages have different basic derived structures, it's often not clear exactly what the best approach would be, even when one is considering things carefully. For one purpose the best I've been able to come up with is marshalling everything into a byte array, and then separating it back out. Doable, but hardly what I'd call "a solved problem". Probably an insoluble problem because the different languages map the same concept differently internally. So you need to deal with it on a special case by special case basis.

Comment: Re:Wonder how Ada 2012 would fare... (Score 1) 175

by HiThere (#46761033) Attached to: The Security of Popular Programming Languages

Perhaps you need to define what you mean by "more general purpose". I tend to consider C the most general purpose of languages, because it *isn't* specialized to some task. It's true that , e.g., FoxPro was better at interfacing to the FoxPro database, but that's NOT being general purpose, that's being special purpose.

OTOH (to get back on thread) I don't consider C a very secure language BECAUSE it is lacking in specializations. This means you need to keep creating, e.g., hash tables from scratch, and every time you do it you are likely to introduce an error.

Ada is in an in-between state. It's very secure against some types of errors. The facility for defining specific types is a particular instance. If one defines a meters type, then one cannot store an inches type into it...unless one uses a numeric literal, because one needs to allow instances to be created from numeric litrals. OTOH, this very security introduces verbosity, and verbosity is a common entry point for errors. (I used the meters/inches example because of the nortorious example of the space probe where that was misused. Ada did NOT save the day. And the reason that it didn't was because doing things properly would have been too verbose.)

In principle, every "Turing complete" language is as general purpose as every other. Practical considerations are the distinction between them. If you're doing database programming, then you are less likely to make mistakes if you use a language that contains extensions specialized to make database use easier. (I barely count embedded SQL, because while SQL is reasonably great for manipulaitng databases, it's lousy at interfacing to programming languages. Everything either needs to be converted into a string, or a blob, and blobs are clumsy to handle.) But note that these "databse extensions" are specializations away from "general purpose".

Comment: Re:So Obama canceled stem cell research? (Score 1) 86

by HiThere (#46696053) Attached to: Stem-Cell Research Funding Institute Is Shuttered

No, that was McCain and Palin. If people has seen a better choice they might have gone with it.

FWIW, I may have voted for Obama, I can't recall, but if so it was only as the lesser of two evils. He probably was that. This isn't much as praise, but it's the best I've got in stock.

Comment: Re:Different views on a free market (Score 1) 223

by HiThere (#46695755) Attached to: Why There Are So Few ISP Start-Ups In the U.S.

You don't need a specific law for it to be regulation of the market. Yes, it's fraud. But if you want an unregulated market, you want one in which fraud is permissible.

P.S.: Adam Smith appeared to believe that a free market implied that there would be sufficiently good information about rival goods to enable a potential customer to evaluate which was better, and probably even whether any of them were desireable. This, however, can only be (partially) achieved in a regulated market.

Please Note: That can you bought which say it contains 3 servings and 0 grams of sodium per serving may well contian more sodium that some heart patients could safely consume. And it may be more common for one person to consume the entire can at one time than for it to be divied into 3 separate servings (for either separate people or separate episodes of consumption).

Comment: Re:Different views on a free market (Score 1) 223

by HiThere (#46690157) Attached to: Why There Are So Few ISP Start-Ups In the U.S.

Actually, a free market would be an unregulated market, were such a thing to exist. This doesn't make it desireable, and, in fact, no such thing has ever existed. The closest that I can think of are various blackmarkets, where all sorts of competition are allowed, including killing off the competition. Those are still officially regulated, but in practice are frequently only minimally regulated. (Killing off you competitors will often lead to a serious investigation by the police.)

N.B.: All laws against deceptive marketing or mislabeling of what you are vending are infringements on the free market, as are any regulations against killing your custiomers.

The really amazing thing is that people think a free market is desireable. This is because they are usually only considering certain degrees of freedom. (Which ones tend to vary in an unexpressed way between individual proponents.)

HOWEVER: Once you accept that the market will not be free, you run smack up against "Who will watch the watchmen?". Regulatory capture is so frequent that to ignore it is foolish, but no currently used approach has proven effective in the long term.

Comment: Re:For God's Sake, Internet is a LUXURY not a UTIL (Score 1) 223

by HiThere (#46687381) Attached to: Why There Are So Few ISP Start-Ups In the U.S.

You missed on education. Cuirrently at least some schools require that the students have internet access to get assignments. Possibly for other reasons, I don't have a kid in school now, but a friend does, and here daughter is required to get her school assignments over the internet. Actually over the javascript web. I didn't ask whether Flash was required.

Comment: Re:Easy fix: regulate the courts (Score 0) 163

by HiThere (#46678205) Attached to: It's Time To Plug the Loopholes In Pipeline Regulation

You are making assumptions about their goals.

The US legal system derives from the British which, since the Magna Charta, has been about ensuring that nobody who is powerful enough to overthrow the government wouldn't lose more than they would gain by doing so. So the courts attempt to provide a veneer of justice while actually finding in favor of those with the most power, including wealth as a form of power. They don't always do that, but that's always the way to bet. The problem is you don't always know all the players.

Please note: I believe that the Civil Rights movement was fostered by the Dixiecrats repeatedly flouting the desires of the Democratic party, and voting with the Republicans. That's not the way it looked on the ground, and there were easy justifications based around equity, and popular mores, but those had been ignored for nearly a century. OTOH, another factor was a bulge in the population in the early 20's, when people tend to act more idealistically and without fully counting costs. So it's not all for one reason.

Comment: Re:Abolish marriage solves the problem. (Score 1) 562

by HiThere (#46678039) Attached to: Was Eich a Threat To Mozilla's $1B Google "Trust Fund"?

Well, passing the Turing test may be further away than I suggested, after all, many people have failed the Turing test.

The thing about corporations is that the same people can be the corporate officers of more than one corporation...and if I understand correctly, a corporation is enough of a person to be one of those officers. So the AI could go "sponsor shopping".

Given our conservative legislative system, I don't see AIs being given personhood through special legislation within the current century, but getting it by being a corporation seems already possible. And If I've got my legal theories correct (dubious) once you get three AIs, they can elect each other to be their own corporate officers, so you have something vaguely resembling a "bottom-up family" where you CAN choose your relatives.

Comment: Re:I don't think people care (Score 1) 469

by HiThere (#46677947) Attached to: It's Time To Bring Pseudoscience Into the Science Classroom

But if I'm reading my history correctly, the distinction between existing in the mind and existing in the physical world was not as clear when the term was created. Ghost and geist (as in zeitgeist) are clearly from the same root, and probably originally meant the same thing. Casper, etc., is NOT the traditional meaning of ghost, but merely a perversion created by Hollywood.

"Regardless of the legal speed limit, your Buick must be operated at speeds faster than 85 MPH (140kph)." -- 1987 Buick Grand National owners manual.