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Comment Re:Missed the Boat? (Score 1) 255

The "once someone is paid, they stay paid" is a feature of BTC. It would be nice if there were an escrow mechanism with a time limit so if Alice sells a vend a goat machine to Bob, Bob puts the BTC in escrow, until Charlie vets that the vend a goat machine made it to Bob's place and is usable, then allows the transaction to proceed, or before a time limit, interrupts the transaction and has the money sent back to Bob if instead of a vend a goat machine, it were just a box of cinderblocks. This will help against one of the more common auction frauds, and it protects the seller (the currency goes into escrow before the product is shipped), and the buyer (the escrow agent validates that they actually got what was in the package.)

Of course, this isn't perfect... the Bob the Buyer can pull the vending machine out, place some stones, then allege fraud to Charlie so Charlie nixes the transaction... but that goes from common auction fraud which is an everday happening, to actual felony larceny. Escrow does raise the bar though, and given a high enough value transaction, it might be Charlie has his people waiting with Bob for the package to actively validate that all shipped as it should have.

There is another downside... Charlie's reputation. This was discussed back in the 90s on the cypherpunks list, that if the value of Charlie's reputation was less than what the transaction was, he could collude with either Alice or Bob to fuck over the other party. It might sully Charlie's doings in the future, but if the transaction was valuable enough, hosing one party might just be worth it to the escrow agent, as they could go find another biz after that.

Comment Re:Good idea, but not ready for primetime (Score 1) 255

Right now, we are seeing version 1.0 and version 1.1 of cryptocurrencies.

I can see a version 2.0 of a cryptocurrency coming out, with some features to help:

1: Escrow. It would be nice if a third party, Charlie, could be part of the transaction, and Alice and Bob's transaction it wouldn't be completed until Charlie gives the OK. If Charlie doesn't give the OK, Bob doesn't get the currency... eventually after a selected timeout, the coins wind up back with Alice. Or, it could be configured the other way, where Bob gets his coins if Charlie doesn't step in and say "no" after a period of time. Of course, there can be collusion between Charlie and either Alice or Bob to fuck over the other party, but having the -option- for an escrow service so both parties are happy would go far in making a currency usable for trades.

2: Auditing. The ability for a party to tag their own expenses with their own ID for something, so they can in the future run through the blockchain, and find all occurances of that ID. It would be equal to the "For:" line on a checkbook.

3: Refunds. The ability for both parties to reverse a transaction, on the premise of the item in question being returned. This will go a long way in proving ownership of something if it gets questioned.

4: Disabling spending of currency for a period of time. This adds a "timelock" value, so if the currency owner is going to be gone for six months, even if someone has access to the wallet, the coins can't be spent. Of course, once the time expires, it becomes a race between the legit owner and anyone else who has access to the wallet's private key, but it is a way to ensure coins are not going to be gone while someone is on a trip. Of course, this value should be limited to a fairly period of time (6-12 months), so coins are not tossed out of the economy permanently.

5: Similar to #4, but disabling spending of coins for a period of time... but allow them to be re-enabled if another wallet or private key gives the go-ahead. This way, one can have one wallet that coins go in, set a time lock, but still have an offline wallet that can re-enable use of the coins should the need arise.

6: A way to mark part of the transaction as sales tax (with the receiver agreeing on that), so the sender is showing that the 110 units they are paying, 100 are for the product, the rest are going for taxes like a VAT or the like. Similar to #2, but covering the tax angle. In case of audit, it would be easy to just show the blockchain and that the receiver acknowledged that the tax was properly paid.

7: A way to preen the blockchain after a period of time, say seven years of older transactions, but still keep the crystallographic integrity of the entire thing. This way, eventually, the blockchain size will tend to stabilize as soon as old transactions get expired.

I'm sure there are other ways, but adding some cryptographic tricks (like escrow and moving coins out of play for a period of time) will definitely add to currency security.

Comment Re:So Let Me Get This Straight (Score 2) 227

The Telnet server required an Expect script to use... and yes, you -can- do stuff that way... but it is a relative PITA compared to ssh, Python libraries, and Ansible. As the parent said, sending unencrypted passwords through a link (yes, one -could- do tunnels, but that is another bunch of hoops) was possible... but with SSH (especially with RSA authentication), it is far, far easier.

Comment Re:So Let Me Get This Straight (Score 2) 227

SQL server is a database server, and some applications require it... but at least there are others, and one doesn't have to run their business on it. There are alternatives, from MySQL/MariaDB to Oracle, and the nice thing about Oracle is that there are no license keys to manage, so if there is a disaster, getting your RAC cluster back operable isn't dependent on licensing/activation.

This isn't to say SQL server is bad, but if one wants to move from Windows, there are RDBMS products which are just as good available. If you like NoSQL, but still want ACID... there is always MarkLogic.

Comment Re: Turd (Score 2) 227

This. I'd love the ability to provision a Windows box, toss a SSH key on it and have it ready to be managed via Ansible.

On the development side, being able to Vagrant up a Windows box as easily as I do other boxes would be nice, and make life a -lot- easier when it comes to testing. If I need to create a Windows box to make sure a certain set of Registry settings works, it would be nice to create a base box, boot it, have Vagrant provision it, and have it ready to go. Then, when I want to prove my stuff works to another developer, I point them to the repository with my Vagrantfile and provisioning scripts.

Vagrant is a wonderful tool for testing in the UNIX environment. It (pretty much) guarantees that I will have the exact same environment for testing as the developer, and if their code works in a Vagrant box, it will work in mine. I'd love to have the same ease of use on the Windows side. The closest I can come to this is a WIM image and a directory full of MSI files.

Comment Wonder when "open source" will hit vehicles (Score 5, Insightful) 279

I'm sort of reminded of the early 1990s, pre-Linux, where if one wanted an OS to run on their computer, be it a UNIX flavor, DOS, or OS/2, it cost, and wasn't cheap. It makes me wonder if there would be a niche for a company that produced farm equipment to charge a tad more, as they are not using the cheapest stuff from China, but circuits would be diagrammed, parts would be available, and the equipment would be designed from the ground up for serviceability. Unlike phones and tablets where shaving off a few fractions of a millimeter is critical, a 1950s-era tractor does the job just as well as a modern one.

Of course, there is reliability. A closed source, locked-down ECU might allow something to run for a longer time between servicings, at the cost of more expensive upkeep (since parts only come from the maker.) Would customers mind dealing with a more frequent maintenance cycle, in return for the fact that parts would be cheaper and easy to get ahold of 10-20 years from now, or is the mindset of "use it until it breaks, pitch it, replace it, repeat" too firmly ingrained in the mind of consumers?

It may take some time before this happens. I'm just waiting for "consolization" of cars, where vehicles come with the same engines across the board, but you have to pay license fees to enable the turbos, unlock all horsepower, use the BlueTooth functionality on the audio head... and none of those licenses will transfer with the vehicle, which guarentees that car makers make a significant, tidy sum when a vehicle is sold. Similar with farm equipment. Want to use the PTO? That is a licensed feature and even though the transmission supports it, the TCM won't enable it unless the manufacturer gets $2000 for a license key. Want to use a combine attachment? Another $2000, and it is only good for this harvest season, but you can pay $5000 to have it enabled for five seasons.

How hot will the water get before the frog jumps out?

Comment Re: FUD (Score 3, Informative) 357

This is a common misconception. That a thing is nutritionally substantially equivalent does not imply it is cannot be patented. The Gale Gala apple, to give one example of many, is patented. It is a bud sport (a somatic spontaneous mutant arising from a bud growth) of the standard Gala apple which is commercially propagated and cultivated. It can be patented because it is a unique thing, however, it does not fall outside the range of any standard apple nutrition variation, nor I might add does it anyone require it be so labeled. In fact, there are lots of patented conventionally bred crops; plant patents are nothing new. The last peach you ate might have been one of the patented Flamin Fury peaches, or maybe the last time you consumed sunflower it came from a patented Clearfield sunflower, or perhaps your last. Neither the apple, peach, nor sunflowers I mentioned are genetically engineered.

Comment Re: FUD (Score 4, Interesting) 357

The problem with labeling GE crops is that GE crops are not substantially different from any other crops, so not justified, and beyond that, it's deceptive. You don't see any other crop improvement technique market for singling out, just one, and you want to label it, not tell people the exact details, not tell people the hows or the whys, not correct any misconceptions, and give no context about the generalities of crop genetics that are prerequisite to understanding the topic. I call that a lie of omission.

You label an Arctic apple that has PPO gene silencing, but not label applesauce made with a Gravenstein apples, which are triploids with an entire extra set of chromosomes. You label a Rainbow papaya genetically engineered with the PRSV-CP gene, but not a Pusa Nanha papaya produced with radiation induced mutagenesis. A tomato with the Ph-3 gene for late blight resistance bred in from a wild species goes unlabeled, but a potato with GE late blight resistance is. Corn bred for higher levels of maisin as a defense against insects is unlabeled, but you must label genetically engineered insect resistant Bt corn, even though it has been shown to have lower levels of carcinogenic mycotoxins.

Do you see my problem here? This is basically the 'evolution is just a theory' label thing all over again. Yes, labeling things that are GE as such is technically true, but unless you are also giving the whole story (which a simple label absolutely does not give), it is also deceptive and just a way to make GE crops look bad when there is no science to support the anti-GE movement's stance.

Comment Re:return to reality, please (Score 1) 357

Now, having said that, I am perfectly sympathetic to wanting to eat "natural" vegetables without any GMO or herbicides involved in their production.

Even then, natural is defined by how new it is anymore. Lots of crops have been altered in all sorts of ways that people don't know about, either by selecting of somatic cell line mutants (like certain apples), inducing mutations (like red grapefruit), breeding with wild related species, sometimes with create difficulty (like late blight resistant tomatoes), chemically altering the chromosome count (like seedless watermelons), ect. And of course, conventional section which has turned a wild mustard into cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi (those are all the same species, Brassica oleracea). I don't think that fits any reasonable definition of natural, and yet, because people do not know about it and it has been going on for a long time, you can have 'natural' triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye which was sterile until its chromosome count was doubled chemically). People's views on this topic are very...well, they're something. I mean, if you want to pay extra for it that's your call, although I really hate the marketers who are playing to people's fears on this one and laughing all the way to the bank about it.

Comment Re:GMO itself isn't the problem. Its how its used (Score 2) 357

This article is going to further cloud the issue and I fear its going to give Monsanto and its ilk free reign to continue their abuse of the local seed supply.

And how, exactly, are they doing that? What your are implying is not true at all. Farmers are free to buy whatever seed they liked, or save their own.

The issue has never been about GMO itself,

The opposition to genetic engineering started with the first one on the market, the Flavr Savr tomato, which had better shelf life due to a silenced polygalacturonase gene. This continued onto Bt corn, which is insect resistant and the Rainbow papaya, which was disease resistant, and now on to things like the low acrylamide Innate potato and non-browning Arctic apples, and even extends to things like vitamin A enriched Golden Rice. The only thing those have in common is the fact that they are all GE. Saying the GMO controversy is not about genetic engineering itself is disingenuous at best.

its when you use it to introduce resistance to toxic chemicals that you start to have a real problem.

First off, if true, explain why there is no controversy over conventionally bred crops like the Clearfield wheat and sunflower lines that to do the same thing? Yep, that's right, conventional breeding is used to do exactly what you just mentioned, and nobody cares or makes a fuss, probably because of how few people are really aware of any basic aspects of agriculture. Second, explain your alternative weed control method. The reason farmers do this is because, before, you'd have to have a certain number of pre- and post- emergent herbicides, a god number of which are worse than glyphosate (the main but not only one GE crops are resistant to, there's also the Liberty system which uses glufosinate) possibly combined with soil-eroding tillage, to control weeds. Now you've got a simpler system, with less toxic herbicides, and somehow that's a bad thing. Okay, fair enough, what do you suggest as a superior alternative to control weed control, baring in mind that weed control is not optional?

That resistance not only allows to overuse of toxic chemicals (to the point of saturating the local environment), you also introduce a form of addiction where the farmer becomes dependent on the chemical. This addiction dooms the farmer to a form of indentured servitude and will eventually result in their exiting the market due to unsustainability.

That's very wrong. Like I said, the herbicide resistance systems are not about brute forcing things. You've got a plant producing a bacterial form of the enzyme inhibited by the herbicide (in glyphosate's case; glufosinate and glufosinate resistance have a different mode of action). This does not imply you get to 'douse' things in it; that's a bullshit anti-GE talking point. And if you do the EPA will be up your ass soon enough if you get caught. And it certainly doesn't stop a farmer from switching to another system the next year; in fact, switching is encouraged as it mitigates the emergence of herbicide tolerant weeds.

Your view is very common, and it is easy to see why it is a common view, but it is very wrong and very disconnected from actual agriculture.

Comment Re:Absolutely not advertising (Score 1) 92

Android also had this problem. A few years ago, there was AirPush, which eventually forced Google into putting in a mechanism to disable apps from making notifications due to the spam.

I just wonder how long it will be until the advertising bubble bursts, especially if the economy tanks and people are not spending money on gewgaws. Even with apps gathering "god mode" data, there is a limit on how much stuff that can be slurped down and sold. Especially with both malvertising becoming a constant issue , and the general pushback against ads that demand interaction for 30 seconds, demand someone take a survey, demand access to FB and E-mail, and if on a phone, demand an app be downloaded, or any/all of the above. Since stock prices are based on "growth" not actual earnings, when a market hits saturation, it hits the wall, hard. Just like companies did in the first era.

What will companies like Whatsapp do after that? Join the list of dead companies on the successor of Charge for their product to end users? Even Google is pushing their way to get territory that isn't ad related so they survive if that bubble pops. People will say that the Internet will grind to a halt without ads that require full screen access... but the Internet existed for decades without that. The economy may move from ads to clearinghouses, but the Internet won't disappear because AdChoices isn't getting their telemetry data from an ever expanding pool each quarter.

Comment Re:Telegram (Score 2) 92

The EFF is one party which gets my respect. Signal looks interesting. It reminds me of the old standby app on Android, called TextSecure, which not just was a decent app for texting, but stashed the messages somewhere encrypted, as a secondary layer of protection. I wish the iOS version had a PIN or the ability to use the fingerprint scanner, just for additional security for messages on the app.

Personally, my ideal app would be one that piggybacks of of existing protocols, but uses OpenPGP for its endpoint encryption. This way, it provides a standard for adding keys, it would be compatible with a ton of existing code, OpenPGP is a known, secure quantity with decades of debugging behind it, and it would make having to worry about transport encryption less of an issue. Messages could be stored with a NNTP-like protocol (where one server would store, forward, then expire when the server's disk space hit a high water mark), or a more direct protocol could be used. Since there are so many transport protocols to choose from, separating the endpoint encryption from the protocol would allow for a lot of flexibility.

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