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Comment Re:Use computers instead? (Score 1) 217

As someone who has studied the subject, I can tell you that software-based "pseudo-" random number generators aren't really good enough for competition use, and making a true random number generator that actually generates bits of equal probability is somewhat difficult (it's been done but requires a lot of know-how). There are some very interesting designs. The other major problem is that as a user it's very difficult to validate that the device will work correctly. Sure you can do lots of tests, but it's a software based device, so it could be programmed to change odds at a later time, or change odds based on how you hold it, etc. I wouldn't trust one for the same reason I don't trust electronic voting machines: it's too easy to tamper with them and hide the evidence.

Comment Re:it took 2 1/2 years... (Score 1) 190

for this to get "noticed"?

so much for open standards and open source software... 'its safe. you can look at the code yourself"... it took two and a half fucking years for someone to do just that.. and just to find an easter egg, not an embedded and obscured vulnerability.

No, it didn't take 2.5 years to get noticed. Look at the comments on the final commit, it was noticed and commented on by another team member the same day it went in.

The public didn't notice, but I'm sure many people involved in the project did... the commit wasn't in any way obscured. It just wasn't interesting enough for anyone else to notice.

Comment What is metadata? (Score 2) 85

NSLs are restricted to allowing collection only of "non-content information", or metadata. But what does that mean? In the case of telephone calls, it's pretty clear. With web history, though, it's much less clear, because a list of URLs is a list not only of which servers you connected to, but in most cases also what information you retrieved. The URL doesn't contain the information itself, but it's trivial for someone else to retrieve it and find out what you read.

Cell location information is another debatable case. While in some sense it is metadata if we consider the content to be what you talk about on the phone, the data you send/receive, etc., it's also tantamount to having a tracking device on almost everyone. Courts have ruled that GPS tracking without a warrant is unconstitutional, and it really seems that this is the same thing. The precision is lower, but it's still pretty darned good.

As for purchases, it would seem that information about what you bought and how much you paid for it would constitute "content", while the times and locations of the transactions would be metadata.

IP addresses of people you corresponded with... that seems like pure metadata, and is unsurprising to me.

Comment Re:Is this really as typical as it seems? (Score 1) 119

At a previous company we were making kiosks for securing some rather high value items. The storage lockers and the kiosk used an off-the-shelf Bluetooth board to communicate. My boss defined the communication spec, and part of it was that the kiosk had to use a hard coded password to the lockers in order to "authenticate." I had several arguments with him about how this wasn't really secure, and I proposed other ways to do it. Eventually he got annoyed (nobody likes being told they might be wrong). He told me in his best "bosses voice": "it's good enough." So we did it that way. That's how this shit happens. There were other security problems, like the fact that it was hooked to the customer's office network over their WiFi (with a WEP password), and included a built-in webserver for web reports, only used HTTP (not SSL). Even if the web interface used a password (can't remember) it likely sent it across in the clear.

Comment Re:Violence! (Score 3, Insightful) 510

It was a war. Shit happens.

No, it wasn't a war. It was a series of heavy-handed, ultra-violent overreactions to minor incidents which themselves were responses to systematic oppression. Military action often does kill civilians, the so-called "collateral damage", but herding groups of unarmed women and children into a building and then deliberately shelling that building to kill them all is not collateral damage; the unarmed civilians were the target.

If you want to understand what's really going on in Israel, I highly recommend you read "Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel", by Max Blumenthal. It's a hard book to read, not because Blumenthal isn't a good writer but because the truth is so horrible. And if you doubt that it is the truth, check the included citations.

Comment Re:Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence (Score 1) 203

What you seem to be missing is that War is a macro-aggressive, acute failure of society. Microaggression is a stealthy, sinister, chronic failure of society that is far more widespread and far more damaging to the long-term health of humanity than is an acute War that has a beginning and an end.

Others have addressed the first major flaw in this argument, which is that killing people is worse than being mean to them.

But there's another flaw, which is your apparent belief that microaggression is something new. It is definitely not. People have always been nasty to each other, and we're significantly less nasty to each other today than ever before. The notion of microaggression is perhaps the best proof: previous generations didn't even bother thinking about microaggression, because it was just normal. Today, we recognize this subtle form of personal attack and work to expose it and thereby reduce it.

You should read the first few chapters of Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature", in which he documents historical evidence of the ways in which people were nasty to each other. He focuses mostly on physical nastiness, violence, but lots of other sorts of nastiness are covered in passing, or obviously implied. Society is much, much better than it used to be. Empathy for strangers is normal today. It wasn't always.

Comment Re:Things are looking up (Score 1) 203

In 1914, there was no entertainment as you imagine.

So radio, films, plays, books, and concerts didn't exist?

Note the correction of the year. 1940 was obviously a typo, the discussion was about 1914.

Radio was demonstrated but not used commercially in 1914. No, films didn't exist. Plays and concerts did, but high-quality productions were pretty much limited to major cities. Books, yes.

books were expensive and rare, etc.

Poppycock, etc.

I have difficulty believing anyone could be so completely ignorant of history. But apparently you are.

Compared to today, yes, books were expensive and rare. Most everything was dramatically more expensive than it is today, in terms of what a person with the median income could afford, and that included books. In 1914 most homes had a small number of books, far fewer than today. But the typical person also had far less leisure time.

Comment Re:Honestly ... (Score 3, Informative) 65

It's a lost cause. Our school sends home permission slips to allow the teachers to post pictures and videos of our kids on the school website at least once a year, sometimes more. I always say 'no' and my wife respects this, but she gets annoyed with me. She thinks I'm paranoid, and I told her I'm not paranoid, I'm just trying to make a point to the school, and in a way that's fairly painless for us.

Then one day she signed a permission for a video to be posted without consulting me. I was a bit upset, and she started saying that "it was password protected with a different password for each class." I got her to login to see our classes videos and pictures, and I could see at the top that once you were past the login page, it didn't seem like there was any session or anything. I showed her how I could take the URL for that picture and post it into another browser and it let me in without asking for a password. She still didn't quite get it or believe me. The URL was in the form of a GET request, with a picture ID number in the URL. I just started modifying the URL and typing in other numbers. Not every one was a hit, but I started bringing up pictures of kids in other classes. I said, "how can I see these if you've only entered the password for our daughter's class?" That finally seemed to prove my point, that the school (and whoever their web portal supplier was) just wasn't competent at making this secure, if I could get past their security in a few minutes. Unfortunately I can't really report that to the school or anything because I would just end up with police at my door.

Comment Re:anti-business liberal scoring points (Score 1) 372

If they are publicly traded and their principal business is not risk, then they are required to be by law.


I'm fairly certain there is no such law. What publicly-traded businesses are required to do is to do what they say they'll do in their articles of incorporation and their prospectus. For most, these documents state that their focus is to generate a responsible return on investment (language varies, but that's what it boils down to). However, it is perfectly acceptable for them to include other goals, and even to prioritize those goals over making money.

Were SpaceX to go public, they could specify that their primary goal is to get to Mars, for example, rather than to make money. That would probably lower their valuation, but there would be nothing at all illegal about it.

Comment Re:yet more engineer bashing (Score 1) 495

The real question is not are engineers 9 times more likely to be terrorists. The real question is are they 9 times more likely to hold extremist beliefs, or just 9 times more likely to act on them because to engineers the point is to solve problems.

I suspect it's some of both. It seems to me that engineers do tend to be more passionate about their interests (whatever those may be) than the average person. And they think in terms of how to solve problems.

The clothes have no emperor. -- C.A.R. Hoare, commenting on ADA.