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Comment: Re:Barracuda (Score 1) 52

by Jerf (#35199532) Attached to: The Joys of Running a Bug Bounty Program

I was the team lead on that product for a long time. It's based on a standard XMPP server. Use any standard XMPP client you like, if your administrator lets you install it. (If not, well... I can't really solve that problem.) The shipped client has deliberately been simplified for non-power users, as a result of a lot of feedback from such people. For example, XMPP's resource handling confuses most people, so it has been hard-coded in the client. If you're a power user you should definitely use Pidgin or Trillian or something.

Comment: Re:Soon, no more call centers (Score 2) 220

by Jerf (#34873764) Attached to: <em>Jeopardy</em>-Playing Supercomputer Beats Humans

You misunderstand in two ways. First, I wasn't hypothesizing. I was actually going from an earlier article about how the machine works. Second, this is a real computer, not a magical computer. It is doing something very hard and it takes many seconds to process a question and come up with an answer. When I say it is possible for a human to flat-out beat the computer, I mean that Alex can read the question, the lights can flash to let a human buzz in, and a human can have the correct answer ready while the computer is still churning away and doesn't even have a hypothesis ready. In fact the human is faster than even that implies because typically a Jeopardy contestant, especially at the championship skill level, already has the answer long before Alex has stopped speaking and now the competition is about who can buzz in correctly; Alex is reading for the benefit of the folks at home.

This computer is state of the art, and consequently and quite expectedly, it is barely capable of playing Jeopardy, basically. Next year, of course, for the same money you could build a machine 50% better for the same price, and next year, 50% better again for the same price, and so on... but this year it's just barely able to compete.

Comment: Re:Soon, no more call centers (Score 1) 220

by Jerf (#34868376) Attached to: <em>Jeopardy</em>-Playing Supercomputer Beats Humans

Based on the previous articles, if the machine had to do either of the things you're talking about, it would simply lose. It is basically just fast enough to compete at Jeopardy and to have a chance it needs the advantage of having text fed to it and having a couple of seconds to chew on it before it can answer. And it is still possible for even normal humans to flat-out beat it to the punch on some questions.

Comment: Re:Counter-DMCA notice (Score 1) 494

by Jerf (#34454666) Attached to: Avoiding DMCA Woes As an Indy Game Developer?

BAD IDEA. Check out the Chilling Effects link: "I understand that I am declaring the above under penalty of perjury, meaning that if I am not telling the truth I may be commiting a crime." Given the analysis posted elsewhere that this really is an infringement, this is a great way to get yourself in a shitload of trouble. Right now, the game will be removed and that will probably be the end of it; filing a counter-infringement notice is asking Namco to come down on you much, much harder. It isn't like asking Namco to come down on you harder, it is an open invitation.

Only counter-file if the DMCA is actually being abused in the legal sense!

Comment: Re:Cheaper would be.... (Score 1) 439

by Jerf (#33514084) Attached to: School Swaps Math Textbooks For iPads

You want them to be useful for the other tasks, though. The revolution in education will not come from simply digitizing the old ways of educating, it will come from using computers to do things you couldn't do without them. Kindles won't permit that.

In fact, the studious inability for the education world to realize this and act on it is a significant part of the reason why they disgust me so.

Comment: Re:Waste (Score 1) 553

by Jerf (#33493726) Attached to: Ryanair's CEO Suggests Eliminating Co-Pilots

That's a terrible example. An automated plane probably wouldn't have made that error, since it occurred via a combination of human miscommunications. An automated plane would probably have noticed the fuel problem at takeoff. Only the presence of a human as a critical component of the loop allowed that error to occur.

Yes, of course computers will cause other errors, but the question isn't whether the computers will be perfect but whether they will be better. Same for the question of when computers will be driving cars; it isn't a question of when they will be perfect, because they aren't going up against perfect competition. It's a question of when they are better drivers.

Comment: Re:Hypocrisy Isn't Free (Score 3, Insightful) 671

by Jerf (#33270038) Attached to: Controversy Arises Over Taliban Option In <em>Medal of Honor</em>

No, we don't stone teenage girls to death, ... don't bury homosexuals, we just kill them, ... don't beat people for listening to certain kinds of music.

No, in fact we do not do any of those things. We in fact condemn those things and tend to prosecute and imprison the individuals who do those things. Just about the only way we could show our disagreement more strongly is to execute the individuals, but better than even odds says you'd consider that barbaric to, which leaves we with not much more we can do to show our displeasure.

When the Taliban stone girls to death or actually, factually publicly execute gay people by burying them alive, they do so as the ruling government in question. If there is a "we" there, if there is in fact a broad public consent that this sort of stuff is OK, that's what it looks like.

I utterly reject any suggestion that there is moral equivalence between the US and the Taliban, and say it says more about the person doing the equating's inability or refusal to see evil than about the US. The US isn't perfect, what a shocker, but the idea that we would publicly execute someone, or deeply weave honor killings into our culture, or engage in widespread female genital mutilation, is just absurd.

(Besides, if we are morally equal no matter what we do than there's no great argument to get any better. You hate X for bruising someone, you hate X exactly equally for going on a mass murder rampage, you've not given X any particular reason to care what you think. Moral equivocation as a technique for trying to get the US to behave better is profoundly, deeply flawed, because it is based on entirely sacrificing the very idea that there is a "better" to be.)

Comment: Re:Room Temperature in UK, maybe not in India? (Score 1) 264

by Jerf (#33052910) Attached to: Possible Room Temperature Superconductor Achieved

This website's HTML is dubious, but it has a chart and discussion of ground temperature despite the focus on Virginia. Ground temperature tends to be fairly steady about thirty feet below the surface. I don't know what soil temperature would be in India but I suspect it would still be below 100 degrees at that point.

Of course this story is quite likely not true or useful, as other have pointed out. But if we ever do develop room-temperature superconductors, expect them to be buried. Even here in Michigan we'd be running a real risk if we left a ~100 degree superconductor above ground (it only takes one day, even just one second of your superconductor not being a superconductor to ruin your day, and preventively shutting the grid down ruins your day too), but bury it and it'll never warm up. In fact as you get close to "room temperature" you get to the point where every degree is a couple hundred miles further south you can bury the superconductor without having to refrigerate it at all.

Comment: Re:It's being done in the US too (Score 1) 193

by Jerf (#32907774) Attached to: New Chinese Rule Requires Real Names Online

So it's not really nothing new, but it is just an another "china and communism is bad"-story when pretty much the same is done in the US.

Yes, that "requiring real names on WoW forums" really sank like a trace, didn't it? I barely heard about it. You can tell how nobody cares when that happens in the US, because, like, there would have been a big stink about it or something.

No, wait...

Comment: Re:How about less compression? (Score 2, Informative) 204

by Jerf (#32861074) Attached to: YouTube Adds 'Leanback,' Support For 4K Video

What that basically means is that your 1080P video was overcompressed and did not actually contain "1080P"-worth of information. The 4K video is probably overcompressed and doesn't contain "4K" worth of information either, but it had more than the 1080P video. (In fact there's a decent chance the 4K video is simply about 1080P's worth done right.) You shouldn't be able to tell.

Variable bit rate encodings means that resolution is pretty much a fiction, as others have pointed out in this discussion.

This is one of the reasons that BluRay won't quite die as fast as some people say. While it is technically possible to stream a BluRay-quality video, we're a ways away from it being practical on the large scale yet, and we're even further away from it being so dirt cheap that big corporations finally decide that they might as well not compress the video to death. (I've certainly streamed some video from Netflix I'd call "better than SD", but definitely not "BluRay quality".) Until then, streams can label themselves as "1080P" all they like, but without the bits it's just equivalent to a lower resolution video upsampled. There's different levels of "pixel quality".

In other news, a DVD can have a better quality than a streamed putatively-HD video, because the DVD may have less resoultion, but (like BluRay) it's full of high-quality pixels where the HD-stream may just consist of impressionistic blobs when you really look at it. Bits matter.

Comment: Re:Known to the state of California... (Score 1) 256

by Jerf (#32804904) Attached to: California To Drop State Rock Over Asbestos Concerns

I used to joke it was just a matter of time before the entire state of California was labeled "California contains substances known by the State of California to cause cancer." I guess it's not a joke anymore. It may not have happened yet, but this certainly takes the humor out of it; now it's merely a rational prediction.

Comment: Re:Sounds familiar. (Score 5, Informative) 571

by Jerf (#32757944) Attached to: Mom Arrested After Son Makes Dry Ice "Bombs"

I hate to say this, but: this. It isn't conservatives, it isn't liberals, it isn't even anything that would be today recognized as "progressive", because all political philosophies have shifted so far in the past hundred+ years as to be unrecognizable.

What it is is a hundred-year-old meme program still running in an environment that falsifies every underlying assumption the program is built on, and until we flush it out of our system, we're not going to have any radically different results.

I strongly recommend The Underground History of American Education. You do not have to agree with the author's prescription to understand and agree with the diagnosis, which I find well-researched.

Comment: Re:We own it (Score 1) 431

by Jerf (#32661324) Attached to: Court Takes Away Some of the Public Domain

The argument is not that international treaties override the Constitution. The argument is that the way in which this promotes Progress of Science and Useful Arts is that getting sanctioned by international organizations for failing to live up to treaty obligations will inhibit the progress of science and useful arts, and therefore this falls under Congressional power. The international treaty is not "overriding" the Constitution, the international treaties are triggering Constitutional powers granted to Congress, which is quite a different thing.

If you want to convince people that their positions are wrong, you really need to understand the actual positions of your opponents, not how you want to caricature them. Opponents which, I would say again, do not include me. I'd just as soon tell the international treaties to take a hike and think international organizations are pretty toothless on the whole anyhow. The fact that your counterarguments aren't even convincing me should be taken as a sign.

Comment: Re:We own it (Score 1) 431

by Jerf (#32660004) Attached to: Court Takes Away Some of the Public Domain

Read the actual court decision. There is in fact a public benefit cited here, which is the public benefit of being in conformance with international treaties and not being sanctioned as a result of not being in conformance with international treaties.

Again, I feel I should point out I'm not necessarily endorsing this, merely trying to make you aware of it. The brief is quite a bit longer and more substantiative than the Slashdot summary.

Comment: Re:We own it (Score 1) 431

by Jerf (#32656906) Attached to: Court Takes Away Some of the Public Domain

The clawback of culture that we in common own in the public domain into private monopoly without compensation for our loss is theft.

I agree.

It is a theft from each of us.

Indeed.

It is a theft from all of us.

Woo yeah!

It is theft on a grand scale.

Preach it!

It's unconstitutional.

Alas, that doesn't follow. The Constitution explicitly provides for the establishment of Copyright law, and while we can profitably argue about the meaning of the term "limited" (and I agree with the Slashthink that that shouldn't be 95 years), it doesn't mean that any of what you described is "unconstitutional".

Unconstitutional, contrary to popular belief, is not a synonym for "I don't like it". It means that it actually violates the text of the Constitution, optionally "as interpreted by the Supreme Court" though I am open to people reading the document and disagree with the Supremes, as long as you understand that you are in disagreement. Constitutionally-mandated "theft" is still Constitutional. Some people see the income tax as "theft", with some arguments I at least sympathize with, but you really can't call it unconstitutional, even if you don't like it. Constitutionally-mandated violations of logic or physics, as applicable, are also still Constitutional.

Not only is UNIX dead, it's starting to smell really bad. -- Rob Pike

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