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Comment: Re: Oh boy, another infection vector (Score 1) 213

by Kjella (#48265061) Attached to: Windows 10 Gets a Package Manager For the Command Line

It hardly matters at all, since if you added the repository you probably set it up to prefer at least one package from there. So unless you got a very fancy SELinux setup all the attacker has to do is bump the version number of that package and his malware installation script will run as root and be able to change any file at will.

Comment: Re:Haleluja ... (Score 1) 579

by Kjella (#48262881) Attached to: Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

How convenient, he's only infallible on things that can't be proven.

Well duh the pope can't dictate reality. But the pope's interpretation of the Bible is like the Supreme Court's interpretation of the constitution, it is the ultimate authority and binding for the whole Catholic Church. He can amend it too, as long as it doesn't contradict the scripture. And he's also the executive leader, not much separation of powers there. Basically, papal infallibility means his word defines the church's doctrine by divine authority. The addendum is of course that anyone who contradicts the Pope is a heretic, which is why Catholics and Protestants were battling it out - they believed in the same book but didn't recognize the Pope as supreme dictator.

Comment: Re:And that's what's wrong today (Score 1) 287

by Kjella (#48255867) Attached to: We Are All Confident Idiots

And sometimes I can't help but wonder if knowing too much is actually keeping people from climbing the corporate ladder. It seems, the less you know, the higher your chance that you'll end up at the C-Level.

Well yes, it's the people who found out they could delegate the job to others. Perhaps more importantly, it's the people who wanted to delegate the job to others. If you want to give them credit, maybe they're the ones who realized they weren't the best man for those nitty-gritty details and didn't want to take a deep dive into it. Engineers want to pick it apart and find out how it works, managers want to stack them and build a tower. I clearly prefer being a technical expert, if I'm "leading" someone it's because I'm teaching them and training them. I don't want to be the cat herder of people who know more than me, I'd get way too interested in doing their job instead of mine.

Comment: Re:Why would I use it? (Score 1) 627

by Kjella (#48253429) Attached to: Why CurrentC Will Beat Out Apple Pay

Wow, you really seem to think that putting a few big companies (Visa, MasterCard, American Express etc.) between lots of stores and lots of customers is to your advantage. They're playing you like a fiddle and they're playing you so well you think you're playing them. They add 3% to all prices, give you a 0.5% kickback and you're so happy for the money you "saved" that you act as their pro bono salesman too.

Here in Norway we pretty much all use BankAxept for domestic transactions, costs are ~1.5 US cents/transaction since it's not like they're physically carrying it from one bank to the other, amount doesn't matter. Fraud is extremely low since it's chip+PIN only - there's a backup solution if the merchant is offline, but it's the vendor taking the risk in that case so the incentive is for them to fix it and find more reliable or redundant methods. In most cases thieves prefer using the credit card part (BankAxept/VISA is very common) since that doesn't require a PIN and takes much longer before the illicit charges are noticed, unless they're pick-pocketing you after reading the PIN over your shoulder and cashing what they can from the nearest ATM.

There are absolutely no "services" of any kind included, basically it just withdraws from your account and puts it in the merchant's account without the need for cash in between. If they want to run a "loyalty program", let them because you know they have to inflate the prices to offer kickbacks. I buy where I get things the cheapest, plain and simple.

Comment: Re:AI is not human intelligence (Score 1) 581

by Kjella (#48243425) Attached to: Elon Musk Warns Against Unleashing Artificial Intelligence "Demon"

An AI won't in any meaningful way be programmed by humans, any more than you "chemically program" your children through DNA. Through emulating synapses making new connections or a reproduction-like system through fork/modify/simulate/replace it will eventually wire up its own thought processes and define its own problem-solving strategies. A few hours with National Geographic will teach it that killing your enemies is a possible strategy. After that, all you need is for someone to give it a task that would be easier if we weren't there in the first place. Like for example you make EcoAI and tell it to "protect the environment" and initially it comes up with green tech but eventually decides we're the root cause for the environment being fucked up in the first place. Our extinction might be just an unplanned side effect of an otherwise noble goal.

Comment: Re:Not really true AI we should be worried about. (Score 1) 581

by Kjella (#48242709) Attached to: Elon Musk Warns Against Unleashing Artificial Intelligence "Demon"

If you make it too low, they will be unable to survive.

"Unable to survive" is just silly hyperbole. For example my grandmother was one of nine siblings, all growing up on a farm long before you had tractors, electricity or running water and all the modern comforts that go with it. They weren't rich but they survived, like most actually have for most of history. Now I'm not saying that I want to live like it's 1914 instead of 2014, just that a "non-extravagant" life style today is usually a fairly easy one. I expect you still want your running hot and cold water, shower, flush toilet, refrigerator, freezer, stove, microwave, washing machine, dishwasher, TV, computer, cell phone, car and enough money in your account to stroll down to the grocery store and buy a TV dinner, it's not really the slum hut standard you're asking for. That might be a lot harder because large parts of the working world population aren't there today.

About 200 years ago 90% of the population here in Norway worked in agriculture, today it's less than 2%. Granted there's a bit more to it than that but I wager that if we went just for basic survival less than 5% of the population could manage to keep the other 95% from starving, freezing or otherwise lacking basic utilities as long as you don't expect heart surgery or anything like that. That's not how it works though, the expected social standard keeps rising. That's actually the most common complaint I hear from less well off in this country, that they get "caught" at not affording expensive clothes or toys or hobbies for their kids or fancy activities or vacations. I can understand that it's embarrassing, but it still sounds like a first world problem if that's the worst of it.

Comment: Re:Curious economics of private spaceflight (Score 2) 60

by Kjella (#48237573) Attached to: SpaceX Capsule Returns To Earth With Lab Results

This is always my argument about suborbital travel. It is not seriously faster than Concorde was, and Concorde was so hideously expensive to operate that even the elite could not keep it going.

That's something of a misrepresentation, the elite never lacked the money and the rich have only gotten richer so it was more that they wouldn't than that they couldn't. Improved communication lowered the demand to send bigwigs between Europe and the US, I imagine the ~2*4 hours saved on a business trip was a key selling feature for the Concorde. That's fast but video conferencing is even faster. As for leisure travel I think the standard has gone up, travelling first class on a subsonic plane can be quite luxurious so the rich are not in that big a hurry to make the trip as short as possible.

Comment: Re:Good luck with that (Score 5, Informative) 307

by Kjella (#48236485) Attached to: US Army May Relax Physical Requirements To Recruit Cyber Warriors

What do you mean by "risk aversion"? I'm genuinely curious.

I can't speak for the grandparent but generally in de facto non-profit monopolies - there's nobody else competing to be the US army for example - there's very little risk in not pushing boundaries. Projects might run over time and over budget but at the end of the day the politicians have to fund the army next year too and you don't get the fat bonuses like when your software makes money for the company. Obvious flops on the other hand might require scapegoats and if you make your superiors look bad, well they're likely to be a step or two up in seniority for the rest of your career in the same "company". That will permeate the entire environment making any kind of change hard, nobody wants to be the one signing off on anything without a drawn out change process.

Here in Norway the craziest example at the moment is the police. In 2005 our politicians made fairly big changes to the penal code, which would go into effect when the police systems were able to handle it. Well, now it's 2014 and it's still not in effect. But what can you do, not fund the police? No matter how much the schedules slip and it goes over budget we have to keep throwing money at them. If they were a commercial company they'd be out of business long ago. Sometimes I wonder if it would be cheaper if we awarded two companies the contract to write the same module with a bonus to the winner, just to get the competition.

Comment: Re:Curious economics of private spaceflight (Score 1) 60

by Kjella (#48234389) Attached to: SpaceX Capsule Returns To Earth With Lab Results

Um, looking at the list of SpaceX customers there's MDA Corp, SES, Thaicom, Orbcomm, AsiaSat with several others planned in the future so there seems to be quite a bit of private satellite business. I guess it's less newsworthy than replacing the Shuttle as we've been launching satellites for decades, but it's there. There's not much else though as the costs are too high and outside LEO/GEO/polar satellite it's all just one-off missions so far.

What I'm hoping for is that SpaceX will eventually use their "reusable" tech into making a rocket-powered lander for Mars so they can offer a standard "Earth to Mars surface" delivery system. That could enable a lot of other cool ventures, private and public.

Comment: Re:Stockdale Paradox (Score 1) 157

by Kjella (#48231985) Attached to: The Problem With Positive Thinking

This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end - which you can never afford to lose - with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."

Or to put it another way, the most irrational thought is the evolutionary winner. If you think you're going to die, why fight the inevitable? If you rationally think you'll win, your spirit will be broken when you don't. But if you believe against any rational hope that you'll survive, you'll fight any odds because youl think you'll beat them. It doesn't matter that they're wrong most of the time, all the ones who survive think they were destined to survive.

Comment: Re:Why so high? (Score 1) 222

by Kjella (#48229563) Attached to: Passwords: Too Much and Not Enough

You can do a lot tighter security with a three-level design unless you very deliberately design the sanity checking into the database logic. For example say you're designing a online bank client, it may in theory show every transaction of every account as every user may in theory be logged in at some point. But if you've logged in as user X and rooted the web server and can query any view or call any procedure that returns data from any other user than X then you have a huge security problem.

In theory I guess you can solve it through the login procedure giving you a session ID, that session ID is used as input to every procedure and everything is validated in SQL on the database server on every procedure before returning any data, but it sounds inconvenient. Not to mention you'd like a little more to happen than just not return data, you'd want some pretty big red lights to go off if user A starts querying on B's account numbers.

That and a lot more lockdown since you know exactly what requests the web server should be sending to the middleware server, you control both sides of the communication, you don't have to deal with all the formatting and navigation and whatnot and got a fairly limited core that you can do security review on. Sounds like good defense in depth to me.

Comment: Re: Did they make money on Surface? (Score 3, Interesting) 117

No, that's not a correct statement. The indirect costs may not be specifically for a specific Surface unit, but the Surface division does have indirect costs that are specifically its own costs. This means that there are, indeed, indirect costs that are specifically Surface's. The Surface factory pays rent, taxes, electricity and utility. These are all indirect costs, and they are all specifically for Surface.

And parts of the general overhead should also reasonably be allocated to that line, if you run a Surface ad that should probably be specific indirect cost but if you have a stand at a conference promoting all your products then a fraction of that cost should probably be considered Surface marketing costs. All companies do some form of internal cost assignment that is more detailed than what the official accounting practices gives you but since they're easy to manipulate they won't show them to investors as you could easily be sued over giving a false impression of the profitability of one particular product or service.

What's worse when it comes to investment decisions is that even if the costs are properly allocated - a very big topic in itself, particular for example what costs employee time, equipment time, equipment wear, storage or use of consumables instead of direct expenses - is that cutting one product line won't necessarily cut the allocated costs. A textbook example is a chicken farm where you sell chickens breasts, legs and wings. Even if you find out the wings aren't profitable through the cost allocation, it's pretty hard to make chickens with no wings so dropping the product wouldn't actually cut the costs, just force a re-allocation.

Another fun part of this is the impact dropping some products or services can have on others, for example say you run a grocery store and find that selling milk is really making you no money all, in fact you're losing a bit. But if you tried to cut milk from the store, you'd find a lot of customers start shopping elsewhere. It's amazing how many companies have fallen into this trap by cutting auxiliary non-profitable products only to find they were necessary to make the profitable sales. Or in other areas like public transportation, if they cut the off-hour lines people buy a car and use that instead of the bus altogether.

It's not all bean counting 101, like in tech there actually are complex interrelations in business too. Most of it isn't rocket science but if you use too simplistic models it might fall flat on its face in reality. The GAAP figures they publish for the stock market are not made for detail, they're made for being correct and comparable which highly limit their depth because they don't want to give companies the degrees of freedom to manipulate the numbers. Trying to accurately say how a small product is really doing in a big company's books is actually very, very hard.

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350