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Comment Re:Works for me (Score 1) 117

And in the meantime it is sending bog-knows-what to who-knows-what. I think I'll pass....

I didn't pass, I checked. I had my router log the packets from my TV for a couple of weeks, then fired up Wireshark to look at who it was talking to and what it was sending. Result? On a daily basis it sends a tiny request to the manufacturer, which I suspect is checking for firmware updates. Other than that, it appears to connect to Netflix when I watch Netflix, my DLNA server when I watch stuff from it, YouTube when I watch that, etc. That's it.

It also occurs to me... if you're worried about a information being sent who knows where, why are you not worried about your Roku, etc.? How do you know what it's sending? Why is a Smart TV riskier than any of the other network-connected media-playing devices you might hook to it?

Comment Re:What purpose does registration serve? (Score 1) 188

Hunting and fishing licenses are also to ensure the proper level/age/gender of animals, or at least close to it, is hunted, for conservation, etc. purposes

No, no they are not. Licenses don't do that. The only thing licenses do is make sure that someone has spent money. Only enforcement does that. Enforcement already happens; they have wardens out all year making sure that people aren't poaching. I live in major hunting country, so there's lots of them here.

For most big game, there's also a tag attached to the license, which much be attached to the game animal when taken. Tags do serve (with enforcement) to ensure that the right number, age and gender of animals are taken. Other game species have daily limits, but those could be enforced without any sort of specific licensing. Of course, the license fees generally pay for the enforcement, so licenses do help manage hunting for conservation. License fees generally pay for lots of other conservation measures as well.

Comment Re:Except they used regular SMS (Score 1) 291

No, you don't do engineering. You do software design, because you are not liable for the integrity of what you make.

People just started calling it engineering to feel special, but it's pretty distinct, and dishonest of you to call yourself such.

So, liability defines engineering, it has nothing to do with applying science to build things. Okay, whatever you say.

Comment Stackoverflow didn't invent buckethead programming (Score 1) 166

The process of copying and pasting an incompletely or not at all understood solution isn't in any way new. Back in the early 90s one of my colleagues coined the term I've used ever since for this and related programming anti-methods: buckethead programming. The metaphor is of programming with a bucket over your head so you can't see what you're doing but instead just stagger in random directions until you accidentally bump into something that appears to work... at which point you leave it and stagger your way through the next obstacle that arises.

I suppose you can argue that stackoverflow has made buckethead programming easier or more accessible, but people were grabbing random snippets of code from existing codebases, or from magazine articles, or blog articles, etc., long before it existed. If it weren't for stackoverflow concentrating such knowledge in one place, we'd be lamenting Google's role in enabling crappy programmers to find solutions they don't understand.

Comment Re:The Answer: (Score 1) 163

We could just hitch a ride on a comet that is flying close by both planets to avoid fuel costs and size of spacecraft limitations :)

At what relative velocity would you like your spacecraft to land on the comet? I know that you are joking, but I've heard this idea proposed seriously more than once. This comment is for those people.

See... we just need a big net and a very large bungee cord...

Comment Re:Next step is the book. (Score 1) 302

What difference does book format make? Books full of child pornography are already illegal, for example. What makes you think 3D printed weapons would be any different, or generate a different reaction when banned?

It highlights the freedom of speech and press questions. It worked reasonably well with encryption a couple of decades ago. Of course, the encryption debate has come roaring back recently, but that doesn't mean the book idea didn't work, or that it can't work again.

The child pornography argument is something of a red herring sitting as it does right at the intersection of the most deep-seated, cross-ideology hot buttons there are.

Comment Re: Still legal? (Score 1) 20

Is it possible to make a secure product? Absolutely.

Stop right there. This statement is false, at least with respect to systems of significant complexity. This is completely obvious when you realize that software security defects are just bugs. You'll never have perfectly secure software until you have perfect software.

Unless we want to dramatically reduce the complexity (and hence capabilities) of the systems we use, to a point where we can produce formally-verifiable security and correctness proofs, there will always be vulnerabilities. If you accept your software to be orders of magnitude less functional and also orders of magnitude more expensive, then you might be get perfect security.

In the real world, settle in for a continual cat and mouse game. There will always be vulnerabilities, so the best we can do is design defense in depth with lots of firewalls so that hopefully one vulnerability won't be easy to chain into a full exploit, and to try to stay ahead of the bad guys for when the defensive measures break down. The second point is actually not unrealistic if the "bad guys" in question are criminals. While it may be slightly less lucrative to be a white hat security researcher, it's much safer and it's still a pretty good life, especially with the growing prominence of vulnerability reward programs. If the "bad guys" in question are nation states, however, forget it. They can and do hire people who are every bit as good as the public researchers, and their employees also have good, safe lives.

So, your cynical assumption that secure products cannot be allowed so that TLAs have access is wrong... but the true reasons that completely secure products are infeasible still do mean that TLAs will have access.

Comment Re:Except they used regular SMS (Score 1) 291

You are not an engineer. You are a software developer. Stop diluting the term because you want to be more than you are.

Bah. I'm not a certified professional engineer. But neither are most of the mechanical engineers, civil engineers, structural engineers, etc. The only difference between those engineering disciplines and software engineering is that the latter hasn't yet matured to the degree that PE certifications make sense.

But there is absolutely no doubt that what I do is engineering, even if I don't have to be certified, or to get a certified PE to sign off on it.

Comment Re:Eagerly looking forward to this technology (Score 1) 154

With self driving cars, we still have to maintain enough cars to meet peak demand. Therefore there are going to be many cars that spend most of their time idle. It will be less than current levels but not by much (a good estimate will be it will reduce by the average number of cars parked during peak hours).

True, we still have to meet peak demand, but I disagree that it won't be much less than current levels. For multiple reasons.

First, once we get the human-operated vehicles off the highway, we can greatly increase highway speeds. Tightly-packed "trains" of automated vehicles can cruise along at, say, 100 mph. Automated vehicles, particularly with radio frequency communications for coordination, will also not be subject to the typical rush-hour slowdowns; as density increases human drivers have to slow down, especially to manage entrance and exit ramps. Automated vehicles in constant communication with surrounding vehicles wouldn't need that. This means that a vehicle that currently makes a single journey during rush hour may make two or three, exploiting the small amount of spread in arrival times that does exist.

During the interim period when highways are shared with human-operated vehicles, we can still get some of the same effect by partitioning of automated-only lanes, separated with barriers and moving at much higher speeds. This is only feasible where there are already at least three, and preferably four, lanes of traffic, but many heavily-commuted corridors meet that requirement.

Second, and even before removing human-operated vehicles from the highway, self-driving cars make mass transit much more effective and accessible in sub-urban areas. Some regions have large parking lots near transit stations in an attempt to facilitate the personal vehicle to mass-transit transition, but that's expensive (for the transit system) and not always feasible. Given self-driving cars, self-driving buses and systems that know the actual location of the buses, it will be a simple matter to have a car pick you up and drive you to the bus stop (or, even better, train stop), arriving scant minutes before the transit vehicle.

Self-driving vehicles also facilitate smaller, more independent, transit vehicles. Rather than building a system around 40-seat buses, you can build it around 10-seat vans. When you have to pay a human driver, going bigger is far more efficient. Without a driver, smaller vehicles are still more expensive than big ones on a passenger-mile basis, but only if both are running full. Given how often buses are mostly empty, a larger fleet of smaller vehicles will be more cost-effective, and with automated routing and automated electronic interaction with future passengers can be much more efficient. Consider the opportunities for efficiency if passengers' personal digital assistants (e.g. Google Now) notify the system when and where the passenger is intending to board the van.

Third, right now the cost of vehicle transit is mostly independent of the time of day. It costs a little more to drive to work during rush hour because traffic results in higher fuel costs, but not much, and people don't think about it at all. But I expect that rush-hour transit in automated car service vehicles will be subject to "surge" pricing, because the level of peak demand translates directly into the single highest cost for such a service: vehicles that sit idle much of the day. Of course, the surge pricing will still be lower than current personally-owned-vehicle transportation costs, but because it will be so visible and easily measurable I expect it will provide a stronger incentive for employers to allow their employees to stagger their arrival times, spreading the surge and reducing peak usage.

On that last point, it's worth noting that most employers of highly-paid employees already allow them considerable latitude in arrival times, and many employees take advantage of that flexibility to reduce the time cost of commuting. Lower-paid employees tend to be required to punch the clock, and their time is considered less valuable, so employers are less receptive to complaints about transit times... but might be more receptive to complaints about transit surge pricing.

You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements. -- Norman Douglas