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Comment: Re:Randomness is not an objective thing (Score 1) 189

by Odinlake (#37961950) Attached to: Exploiting Network Captures For Truer Randomness
I believe you are missing the more important point (most of you in this thread). 'Random' is usually used as short for 'uniformely random' and would ultimately mean that any sequence of draws has an a priori equal probability to any other sequence of the same fixed length. Pseudo random generators do not have this property for long strings and most external events can't be guaranteed to have this property. The generators can be pretty good however, something that is often meassured by Spectral Tests (somewhat empirically). So when researchers talk about pseudo-randomness vs. true randomness, it is usually not so much about whether someone could predict the numbers as about whether long sequences have a truly uniform distribution.

In particular, simple classical PRNGs with internal states of 32 bits may have a cycle of about 2^31 numbers, i.e. the 2^31+1'st number you draw will always be the same as the first. Apparently the PRNG of theoretical choice today, the Mersenne Twister has a cycle of 2^19937-1.

Comment: Re:St. Reagan (Score 1) 788

by Odinlake (#36993276) Attached to: Re: the debt deal reached Sunday night ...

Google it yourself, or look at an image like this: http://moneystockstycoons.com/financial-rankings/united-states-debt/

I've heard this idea before, and believed it. However looking at the link you post I can't see what you suggest at all... Looking at the picture (I'm very uninformed about US economic history) I'd say anything before Reagan looks relatively unrelated to the colour. Actually the only thing I see is that the shift from Carter to Reagan started to bring the debt up, and Clinton apparently tried fairly hard to hold back but Bush II did not. So there are perhaps three recent observations that seem to support your suggestion, the rest is just nonsense and obfuscation. Why is Eisenhower left out of your list?

I'm not right-wing at all, but I do believe in clarity and not trying to confuse issues.

Comment: Re:Female greek mythological figures (Score 1) 722

by Odinlake (#36508982) Attached to: I Name My Servers After:

For a while it was the Muses (Terpsichore, Thalia, Melpomene, etc.). Ran out of those and used the Fates (Ariadne, Atropos, Klotho). Now it's on to others in the pantheon (Pandora, Psyche, Hestia...).

If I have to name a windows server I'll probably start on the Furies. :)

I normally go with old Norse mythological creatures and Gods; similar theme.

Comment: Re:Better to eliminate them altogether (Score 1) 274

by Odinlake (#36396134) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Reducing Software Patent Life-Spans?

Yes there is. If you can knock on it, it's hardware, and can be patented. If you can't, it's software, and you can copyright it. Why is this hard?

"It can be seen" = we'll try to twist this until the fact becomes hidden. "It can be seen" != "is true".

Because I can formulated my bubble-sort patent like so: "A machine, that you can knock on, that represents integers as [10 pages to explain] and sorts them by doing [10 more pages to explain]". As soon as you program your computer to do bubble sort it becomes exactly the machine I just described, and you are infringing on my patent.

Comment: Re:Better to eliminate them altogether (Score 1) 274

by Odinlake (#36395876) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Reducing Software Patent Life-Spans?

We shouldn't be able to patent software for the same reason we can't patent mathematics. Copyright protection is sufficient and suitable for software.

That's oversimplifying. A piece of software can be seen as a component of a physical machine - which it in fact is whenever it would be used in practice (electrons arranged so-and-so in transistors etc.). There is no clear boundary between software and hardware because pretty much any interesting piece of hardware you look at today has some amount of software built in to it.

Comment: Re:This doesn't solve the problem (Score 2) 274

by Odinlake (#36395836) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Reducing Software Patent Life-Spans?

Would reducing the software patent lifetime to 5 years or even less be the thing to do?

I think that would solve the problem, say, in the same way that we could stop obesity by poisoning all refined sugars with arsenic.

Better to just abolish them altogether then.

I've filed two (fairly insignificant) software patents for my employer. Of course this is one way they fund their research and can afford having smart people (and some others like me) sitting around and coming up with fancy stuff. The process isn't inherently bad (imho). The problem both with patents in general but with software patents in particular is that it's so difficult to distinguish between good and bad patents. One thing I think is really bad is that it is so easy to patent the obvious solution to a problem that just hasn't been considered until now because (e.g.) some necessary technology hasn't been around. But how can we make a rule to disallow patenting of the obvious? 10 years from now anything could seem "obvious". Another "bad" thing is too general patents. But a flip side of that coin is that if your patent isn't general enough, someone might fine a tiny little thing to change and thereby circumvent it with hardly any effort at all.

So all in all I would probably be for abolishing software patents or at least making them far more restrictive until it becomes clearer how they can be well used. But this isn't because they are inherently bad, but because we haven't figured out how to define good boundaries yet. Within specific fields I think it might well be possible to have useful software patents.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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