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Comment: Re:It is a dumb idea (Score 1) 347

by Kirth Gersen (#28747097) Attached to: Consumers May Find Smart Appliances a Dumb Idea

Steveha said:

If you publish a schedule of prices, and I can save money by modifying my behavior, I'll do it.

My idea is that the power company is allowed to adjust its schedule of prices on the fly. So if the aggregate demand is within the output of a nice clean cheap generating station, the rate is low. If it has to bring a dirty generating station on line, or buy watts from a neighboring country, it raises the rate. And if it's heading for a brownout, it raises the rate stupendously.

And each consumer has a box which connects to the power company, perhaps by AM radio, or perhaps by SMS, that tells him what the current rate is. Maybe it connects to his TV or something; anyway, he gets the chance to say "holy mackerel, I'd better turn off the hot tub". Or he can buy his own super-duper box which controls stuff automatically when he's out. Or he can say "this week I need air conditioning more than that new camera I wanted".

At the end of the year, the power company publishes its data, and if the power company has charged more than the regulatory agency has previously allowed, it gives consumers some sort of refund.

So nothing in the consumer's house is under the direct control of the power company or anybody except the consumer, and no information about his usage leaks out except the level of usage. And the power company has much better options in brownout season.

Comment: Re:Let's Start With an Apology (Score 2, Interesting) 122

by Kirth Gersen (#28658819) Attached to: Bletchley Park WWII Staff Finally Recognized

BadAnalogyGuy:

If you want to say he should be apologized to more than any other persecuted gay person because he was somehow more useful to the government than the others, that also doesn't make any sense.

It makes sense to me. Here's another analogy: have you heard of the recent case where a Moslem woman was suing some guy in a German court, the guy starts stabbing her, her husband wades in to stop him, then a guard shows up and shoots the husband? Don't you think the husband deserves more of an apology than the usual innocent bystander gets?

And trust me, I believe persecuted gay guys and shot innocent bystanders both deserve *big* apologies.

Comment: Re:Sounds friendly... (Score 1) 95

by Kirth Gersen (#28605543) Attached to: Google Will Star In New Dow Jones News Model

The book (Flat Earth News) linked to by the parent is indeed worth reading. It argues that media owners have tried to drive down costs by eliminating actual journalism, and that they have been largely successful in driving more principled competitors out of business.

I think it is too late to reverse this trend.

We will wind up with "news" sites which simply make available press releases. This is essentially what almost every media outlet is doing now, except that it also reproduces AP and Reuters. AP and Reuters, and France-Presse, and all the others, will vanish as their revenue stream dries up (assuming it doesn't come mostly from intelligence agencies).

The only "value add" which such news sites can offer is selecting interesting press releases and indexing them, which Google News can do now.

Of course, with today's perspective we might wonder exactly how much real journalism was *ever* done.

Comment: Licensing for Windows AD server (Score 1) 149

by Kirth Gersen (#28231271) Attached to: Directory Service Implementation From Scratch?

The OP mentioned that "we are primarily a Linux shop, there are a handful of Windows systems that will be on a Windows Active Directory domain".

Does every machine that authenticates to an AD server need a Windows client licence? Or every user? Does the AD server need an additional client or user licence?

I haven't bought client licences for years -- it was back in NT4 days -- but as I recall they were pricey and hard to get. And nobody was prepared to go on the record about how to calculate how many I needed. (Although several people said things that were vague and inconsistent and then stopped returning calls.) Maybe that has changed.

Comment: Re:Haven't these people learned? (Score 1) 580

by Kirth Gersen (#27886795) Attached to: German Gov To Ban Paintballing After Shooting

pipinguy:

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. ... Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

Gosh, the sheepdog looks an *awful lot* like the wolf these days. And sometimes you see him chatting to the wolf, and they both look at you and laugh. Can't quite make out what they're saying, though. Can't quite.

Comment: Re:Unclean? (Score 1) 369

by Kirth Gersen (#27860785) Attached to: Unclean Military Hard Drives Sold On eBay

This issue has come up before. My conclusion was that a single pass might indeed be insufficent and it was hard to say how many would be enough.

Why would an attack method which would recover very small fractions of the data from the disk be valuable to the attacker? One suggestion I thought was plausible was this: with sufficiently advanced techniques some good data may be retrieved (for instance, a drive may mark a failing sector as bad and never allow it to be accessed again by normal means, but it may occasionally be readable by drive-specific utilities).

This acts as known plaintext and may reduce the time needed to break encryption (of a separate data source which was fully available to the attackers because it was believed to be safe) from several universes to a few days.

Btw, this known-plaintext idea makes me think it's probably a bad idea to encrypt a system disk which also contains data.

Comment: Re:What an irresponsible move! (Score 1) 898

by Kirth Gersen (#27742953) Attached to: Air Force One Flyby Causes Brief Panic In NYC

Why is there no "irresponsible speculation" about this? Do we really believe that there was any notification whatsoever of this incredibly threatening operation in advance? Isn't it much more likely that something extremely weird happened -- let's say, the pilot who realized he'd carried cartons of weaponized virus to Mexico in the President's diplomatic baggage was trying to escape a team of US Army assassins and was trying desperately to attract attention after his radio was jammed -- and the PTB are just lying about it?

Comment: Re:when I overstep the law (Score 3, Insightful) 164

by Kirth Gersen (#27624983) Attached to: NSA Overstepped the Law On Wiretaps

If they knowingly broke the law, then they should be prepared to face the consequences.

We keep hearing of scenarios like you've captured a terrorist who's planted a nuke in Manhattan, but you can't torture him because of some stupid rules.

I think if something like that ever *did* happen, someone who really wanted to go ahead and torture the guy would take the risk of a few years in prison. And if he *wasn't* prepared to take that risk, then maybe he wasn't really so sure the victim had really planted a nuke, either.

Comment: Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (Score 1) 304

by Kirth Gersen (#27624939) Attached to: Predator C Avenger Makes First Flights

Decision to fire a weapon, or to be more precise the ORDER to go 'weapons hot' will remain the same as it is today, from the chain of command.

If a human receives that order, he has the option of disobeying it. Indeed, I believe that US forces are still taught that it is their *duty* to do so under some circumstances.

Comment: Uses for GPS in cabs (Score 1) 302

by Kirth Gersen (#27595583) Attached to: NYC Wants Ideas For "Taxi Technology 2.0"

I'd like not just a GPS display, but a printout. Ideally showing the route on the map, a text list of streets and turns, date and time of start and stop, itemized charges including tip and change, driver full name and car plate number, name and address of cab company.

It would cut out a lot of scams. Or maybe, when you're in your hotel room and you're looking at the printout and comparing it to the map, you say "Oh... huh. That's why it looked like he was taking a long route".

Comment: Re: NYC has a soft spot for cute small robots (Score 1) 197

by Kirth Gersen (#27554689) Attached to: "Tweenbots" Test NYC Pedestrian-Robot Relations

Adding a note to my previous comment:

I happened to notice a story in the London Independent today which refers to this process, whereby antagonists evolve to live together:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/new-bird-flu-cases-suggest-the-danger-of-pandemic-is-rising-1667526.html/

Comment: Re: NYC has a soft spot for cute small robots (Score 1) 197

by Kirth Gersen (#27547349) Attached to: "Tweenbots" Test NYC Pedestrian-Robot Relations

Skynet noticed this and developed the Cameron model to look cute instead of scary. (Similarly Dick's "Second Variety".)

However, as this process continues -- assuming both sides survive -- the newer models start liking the *human* environment more and more, because that's what they've evolved for. Eventually their loyalties become compromised. Human loyalties too.

The same process happens with human infections. Syphilis arrived in Europe as a ghastly fast-burning killer like E-Bola. Within a few centuries it has adapted to having only a marginal effect on human reproduction. A few centuries from now, assuming it hasn't been eliminated or filtered out on upload or whatever, syphilis will be just another of the thousands of nondescript bugs which live on peaceably in humans which we pay no attention to.

Comment: Blurring the line between cellphones and landlines (Score 1) 101

by Kirth Gersen (#27486945) Attached to: T-Mobile To Launch Android Tablet

I'd like to see a cellphone that you could plug into a wired jack.

That would often let you make calls more cheaply and reliably. It would presumably use a lot less battery power, and you might be able to charge the phone off the phoneline. And you would have all your stored contacts, messages and whatnot in the phone, so you wouldn't have to rekey anything.

It would probably need some sort of "locale" support, so that you could use different prefixes when dialling via the cell network or via the landline network, but that's doable.

I don't know if the wired network supports SMS, but it would be very handy.

Conceivably 3-way calling would be possible too.

Them as has, gets.

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