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Comment: Re:Quite possibly the stupidest vulnerability ever (Score 2) 116

by JesseMcDonald (#48629551) Attached to: Grinch Vulnerability Could Put a Hole In Your Linux Stocking

Please; this had nothing to do with systemd. It's about PackageKit, which has been around for quite a bit longer. The problem is with the part of their PackageKit configuration which apparently allows administrators to install software without authenticating first. It's rather like putting the line

%wheel ALL = (root) NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/yum

in your sudoers file. PolicyKit can also be configured to require authentication for each action, it just wasn't set up that way on their system. There's nothing wrong with identifying the members of the "wheel" group as administrators, but the policies should be configured such that administrators need to authenticate prior to installing new software. (This seems to be the default on CentOS 6.4; I have no idea what they were running. "pkcon install" does not work by default here without authentication, even for a member of the "wheel" group.)

Comment: Re:Good, let them. (Score 1) 378

by JesseMcDonald (#48622101) Attached to: Sony Leaks Reveal Hollywood Is Trying To Break DNS

They can very easily block anything that is not in plain text.

You can put whatever data you want inside a "plain text" message. Even under wartime conditions where all messages in and out are reviewed by actual humans, people still manage to get secrets through—and that approach doesn't scale. Any automated Internet censorship system (short of shutting down the Internet entirely) would leak like a sieve.

Comment: Re:The issue was raised before. (Score 1) 655

by JesseMcDonald (#48619297) Attached to: Economists Say Newest AI Technology Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates

You can, however, mine iron more efficiently if you have plenty of information at hand regarding the locations of the richest deposits, the latest mining techniques, and the state of the futures markets. The same goes for crops—better information regarding the health of your fields, meteorological forecasts, market conditions, and the latest agricultural developments all make for higher yields, and that's before you even consider the information-heavy R&D required for modern GMO crops.

Rapid worldwide information networks take the guesswork out of the economy, so that you don't spend months mining iron ore or growing crops only to discover when you finally deliver your finished product to market half a world away that the demand lies elsewhere. Producers can find out about changes in supply and demand as they occur and adjust their investments accordingly. That alone is a major development in its own right.

Comment: Re:Time for modern analog formats (Score 1) 433

by JesseMcDonald (#48604365) Attached to: Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

What is the guarantee your digital format will be readable after 100 years?

Provided there's still anyone who cares about the data after 100 years, I'd say the odds of it surviving completely intact are fairly good, especially if you use the space recovered through digital compression to store error-correcting codes. It's unlikely that we'd forget how to decode popular formats like MP3, FLAC or JPEG in such a short time, absent a global catastrophe of sufficient order to drive the entire human race back into the stone age.

I'll admit that analogue still images do have digital beat in one area, ease of access. For all its faults, at least film doesn't need a complicated decoder; just shine some light on it (or through it). Of course, that only works because you're not operating anywhere near the limits of your storage medium. How many analog images do you think you can fit in 15x11mm? My comparatively cheap 32GB micro-SD card can hold around 3,000 8MP raws (~10MB each), which is pushing the limits of consumer optics. With reasonable compression you could easily double that. At that scale I think you'd need a bit more than just a magnifying glass to see the individual images.

My response was really to this line, however:

But, we could do things with equally modern analog technology that would blow digital out of the water.

Any "modern analog technology" can be exploited for the storage of digital data, and thus benefits digital at least as much as analog. Analog is never going to "blow digital out of the water". It has its niche areas, like archival film for ease of access, and loses to digital everywhere else regardless of the recording technology.

Comment: Re:Time for modern analog formats (Score 1) 433

by JesseMcDonald (#48602249) Attached to: Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

You could use those same materials to store digital versions of the media far more compactly, with equivalent quality. Even lossless audio compression (FLAC) would reduce the amount of material required by 40-50%; the benefits are greater for video, much less something like a hologram. (Yes, you can store holograms digitally.)

Raw signals contain a lot of redundancy. Any real-world signal can be converted losslessly between analog and digital; a prime advantage of the digital representation is that it can be processed to remove that redundancy. Also, near-ideal filters can be implemented much more easily as DSP programs than as networks of analog components.

Comment: Re:No (Score 2) 1049

Non-action can never count as causing harm. The villains in this story are the diseases, not the unvaccinated. It's great that you want to fight diseases, but if your particular method of fighting disease requires others to undergo a medical procedure, that has to be their choice. You need to persuade them to cooperate; they've done nothing to justify the use of force against them.

Of course, this is all tied up with the taxation and mandatory education requirements (which, needless to say, are immoral to start with regardless of the vaccination issue). By accepting tax subsidies and requiring attendance the public schools have forfeited any right they might have otherwise had to turn anyone away. Their mandate is to provide education, not enforce vaccination.

Comment: Re:freedom 2 b a moron (Score 1) 1049

Ergo, if you don't want to vaccinate your child you're free to do that, but be prepared to pay for private education.

The problem for the most part isn't the need to pay for a private education, it's that you are made to pay for both. You're still forced to pay for a public education even though your kids aren't eligible to attend. Without those taxes, the cost of attending a private school would be far less onerous. It's not like the private schools are that much more expensive to run; they just aren't subsidized the way the public schools are.

Education should be treated as just another cost of raising a child, to be paid for by the parents, no different keeping the child fed and clothed and under shelter. In cases of genuine hardship—as opposed to negligent planning—the parent can apply for charitable assistance, which may come with strings attached, such as vaccination and parental participation.

Comment: Re:They will either change their mind (Score 1) 183

by JesseMcDonald (#48575053) Attached to: Google News To Shut Down In Spain On December 16th

Why bother making the fee compulsory if you're going to allow people to just turn around and charge a fee of $0?

There's a simple answer to that: charge any publisher who wants to be relisted the mandatory compensation amount, plus 10%. Let the publishers pay their own subsidy.

Comment: Re:As an IT Manager (Score 1) 545

by JesseMcDonald (#48535173) Attached to: Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

On one hand, people should get paid for putting in extra hours.

No, and that misconception is part of the problem. People should get paid more for accomplishing more, regardless of how much time they spend on it. I'm no fan of long work weeks, but that just means that expectations ought to be set based on what an average employee can accomplish in 35-40 hours rather an 50-60. If you happen to be less productive than the average employee you can either put in more time or settle for a lower salary.

However, that's more or less how it already works for salaried positions. If most employees were already putting in 45-50 hours when you signed up, then you should have considered that when negotiating your salary. It's wrong to look at it as if you'd agreed to 40 hours and were later forced to work extra "for free". Even if the policy changed after you were already working there, you can always renegotiate. (And if that isn't an option due to competition for your job, it's a sign that you're already getting a relatively good deal which other candidates would be glad to accept.)

Comment: Re:Why only FBI? (Score 2) 109

by JesseMcDonald (#48531097) Attached to: Ron Wyden Introduces Bill To Ban FBI 'Backdoors' In Tech Products

If they have a warrant, they'll have no problem with a consumer device. "We have a warrant. Decrypt your phone or we arrest you". This is similiar to "We have a search warrant. Tell your guards to step aside, and open your safe for us. Or we arrest you."

The warrant means that you have to stand aside while they perform the indicated search or seizure. It doesn't mean you have to help them. (You might choose to open the safe rather than see it destroyed when they're going to get into it one way or the other. That doesn't really apply to encrypted data.) If they want your assistance in gathering information then they need a subpoena, not a warrant, and that comes with a different set of restrictions and penalties for non-compliance.

Comment: Re:delusional libertarian (Score 1) 602

by JesseMcDonald (#48518917) Attached to: UK Announces 'Google Tax'

That position wasn't libertarian in the slightest. You can tell because it claimed that there was a (non-zero) "fair share" of taxes. Libertarian means the Non-Aggression Principle, which leaves no room for taxation.

As for your proposal... you do realize that you've described a flat income tax, right? It would significantly reduce taxes on the "1%ers", who currently pay much more more in taxes, proportionally, than they receive in income. That would certainly be a nice first step.

Comment: Re:Why tax profits, why not income? (Score 1) 602

by JesseMcDonald (#48518873) Attached to: UK Announces 'Google Tax'

That's a $50 profit (ignoring expenses related to producing that hour of labor such as the cost of an office).

You're ignoring far more than just the cost of an office. Useful labor isn't produced ex nihilo. What about the cost of having you available at that time and place, properly educated and prepared to perform the task? That's a huge cost, even amortized across all 100,000 or so of your lifetime working hours, and you can't deduct any of it. At a minimum there should be a depreciation schedule for the cost of raising a child to an employable age, including the cost of the college education required for most jobs, on top of the $10-30k or so of basic annual living expenses.

Or we could just set the standard deduction at the median income, somewhere around $50k. That's probably a reasonable approximation for what an average employee's time is worth.

Comment: Re:Great (Score 1) 602

by JesseMcDonald (#48518697) Attached to: UK Announces 'Google Tax'

People don't give up their natural rights when they form a corporation, but that does not mean that the corporation has all those same rights.

The corporation per se is an artificial construct and as such has no natural rights (or for that matter, ability to exercise them). But people acting in the name of the corporation retain all the same rights which they have when acting for themselves. What they can each do individually, they can also do collectively. They don't lose rights just because they happen to be coordinated.

Comment: Re:Great (Score 1) 602

by JesseMcDonald (#48518607) Attached to: UK Announces 'Google Tax'

We then expect everyone to pay their fair share into said pot given that they are sharing said resources.

The problem with that line is that you're not giving anyone a choice—you choose to make the service available to everyone, and then turn around and use said availability as circular justification for taking the money. It's not reasonable to charge someone for a service when there was never any mutual agreement on the terms, even if they clearly benefited from it. If you want to recover your costs, negotiate first, then provide the service.

Comment: Re:Why not abolish corporate taxes entirely? (Score 1) 602

by JesseMcDonald (#48518417) Attached to: UK Announces 'Google Tax'

And this is why corporations make short-term decisions. The person making the decision gets his bonus today. The shareholders get their dividends today. The consequences (if any) come for the shareholders 5 years from today.

And this is why those whose decisions have a significant, long-term effect on the value of the company get their bonuses in the form of stock options dated 5-10 years from now rather than cash. If they make short-sighted decisions that come back to haunt the company later, their bonuses (often a significant part of their overall compensation) become worthless.

This is also why investors should carefully consider a company's history and policies and whether there might be any skeletons lurking in the its closets before purchasing shares.

Physician: One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well. -- Ambrose Bierce