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Comment ...or the difference may be totally insignificant. (Score 1) 470

The marginal increase in the probability of an someone being a terrorist given that you know he's an engineer may be startling in relative terms, but in absolute terms it's insignificant.

Estimates of total active membership in terror groups worldwide is under 200,000, but let's assume there's even million active terrorists just for the sake of having round numbers and not having to quibble over where to put the decimal point. There are seven billion people in the world, so the rate of terrorist participation in the general population is 14 thousandths of a percent; let's call that p(T), and call the probability that someone is a terrorist given that they're an engineer p(T|E). Let's look at the absolute marginal difference being an engineer makes, i.e.:P(T|E) - P(T)

i. p(T) = 0.0001428
i. p(T|E) = 9 * P(T) = 0.001286
iii. P(T|E) - P(T) = 0.001143

So being an engineer increases your chance of being a terrorist by at most about 1/10 of 1% under wildly pessimistic assumptions. In fact the marginal difference is really more like 1/50 of 1%. Now it's interesting that the rates of terrorism are so much larger among engineers than other people, but it has little practical significance and being an engineer myself that's what I'm most concerned with. If you were designing a surveillance program and were picking out groups that need keeping tabs on, 1/10 % is a grasping-at-straws number

Comment Wrong way around (Score 5, Insightful) 647

The questioner has it the wrong way around.

The systemd team didn't create those dependencies, the DE maintainers did. All of these DEs ran just fine without systemd and they still could if someone was interested in doing so. In fact given the maturity of the old interfaces, and the code already existing in previous releases it should be much easier to maintain say, KDE or Gnome, without systemd that it is for the team trying to add it in. There is nothing stopping people from forking the existing code and running their own project, we have seen this happen in the open-source world dozens of times. If there is a lot of demand for systemd less distros, the community will make them.

The question isn't "Will You Be Able To Run a Modern Desktop Environment In 2016 Without Systemd?". The question is "Where are all the systemd-free projects?".

Linus said talk is cheap show me the code. So where is it? For all the complaining, flamewars, and cries of fleeing to *BSD you would expect systemd-free projects to be springing up left and right. So where are they? If Red Hat is making such a huge mistake switching to systemd, then surely their competitors at SUSE, Cannonical, and Mandriva will capitalize on that mistake in the name of profits no? It isn't surprising that seemingly everyone is adopting systemd. systemd is solving problems and implementing feature that people want. That is easy to explain.

What is remarkable here is the massive disconnect between the amount of outcry about systemd and the amount of code being written to avoid it.

Comment Re:I'd be wary of Musk, too (Score 5, Insightful) 101

He seems really good at using government subsidies to make money for himself.

Well, that's the point isn't it? To jumpstart private industry? You can't do that without the profit motive.

Tesla paid it's 450 million 2009 loan back with interest in four years and went from the brink of bankruptcy to a market cap of 29 billion dollars. Sounds like a success story to me.

Comment Re:Wait, they shipped the private key? (Score 1) 65

But what possible use is publishing your private key?

Perhaps, it is to be able to deny responsibility for bad software later, but that's a little too far-fetched...

Well, we're not talking about publishing THE private key to anything Dell cares about. We're talking about publishing A private key that Dell can use to do things on the client's machine that undermine the security model. Why? Well there's lots of potential ways to create revenue or cut costs that way. For example Lenovo did it so they could inject ads into web pages that were supposedly cryptographically protected from tampering.

Comment Re:Wait, they shipped the private key? (Score 1) 65

So, the happy owners of the affected laptops can now issue certificates and/or sign drivers, which will be accepted as genuine by other owners of Dell hardware?

Seriously? If so, that's just too dumb to be malicious...

It's not too dumb to be willful negligence -- defined in legal dictionaries as "Intentional performance of an unreasonable act in disregard of a known risk..."

Having the know-how to do such a thing necessarily entails knowledge of why its a bad idea. So either an engineer acted in breech of professional ethics, or managers rode roughshod over the engineers' objections.

Comment Re:High level? (Score 5, Insightful) 91

Speaking as someone who learned C in 1980, C was originally thought of as a low-level language -- a suitable replacement in most cases for assembly language that, while abstracting underlying details like the CPU instruction set and registers, remained relatively small and "close to the hardware". Then later 80s I was asked to take over a course on C, and when I looked at the course description I was surprised to see it described as a "high level language". I asked the person who wrote the description what he meant by "high level language", and he really had no idea. He said he meant it was "powerful", which of course is just as vague when comparing any two Turing equivalent languages.

Of course "high level" vs. "low level" is relative. C is "high level" in comparison to assembly, or "B", in which the only datatype was a computer word. On the other hand C "low level" in comparison to most other languages that hide away the details of the hardware like instruction set and registers and such. So it depends on what you're comparing to; but in general I think people who describe C as "low level" know more about what they're talking about than those who call it a "high level" language.

The important thing isn't whether C is "high" or "low" level; it is what makes C work, which is largely about what was left out. It didn't have all the bells and whistles of something like PL/1, which made the language easy to implement, even on a tiny 8 bit microcomputer, and easy to learn, in the form of a slim, almost pamphlet-like book (The C Programming Language, 1st edition was 228 paperback-sized pages long).

Even so, C has become very slightly more "higher level" over the years. The original K&R C was more weakly typed than the later ANSI C. Particularly when you were dealing with pointers, the declared type of a pointer in K&R C was more of a mnemonic aid to the programmer than anything else.

Comment Re:Everyone has to learn about it. (Score 2) 191

What would be nice is if they learned about it before they develop habitual patterns for using a language/platform.

The problem is that people who teach n00bs want to give them the success experience of updating a database early on, before they've learned about prepared statements and (the much broader topic) of checking user input. If they'd just stop that then over the course of years the problem would become much smaller.

Comment Re:Greed rules in Corporate America (Score 5, Insightful) 117

Of course Corporate America is supposed to rule America. What do you think the word "capital" in "Capitalism" means? Rule of those with capital., i.e. rule of the rich.

Funny, I thought capitalism was an economic system in which capital goods are owned by private individuals or corporations and in which decisions about pricing, production and distribution of the output of those capital goods is determined by the owners in a free market. Note that this does not preclude myriad forms of government regulation.

The only surprise is how "capitalism" has been marketed to Americans such that generations of them defend the rule of the rich as some utopia or ideal.

Well it's hardly surprising that private interests have rebranded regulation in the public interest by the boogey-man term "socialism", but I expect we are seeing early signs that this is starting to backfire. Americans in my generation associate "socialism" with the Soviet Union -- as a kind of "Communism lite". Millennials are increasingly apt to associate the word with the kind of "Nordic model" social democracy practiced in hellholes like Denmark and Sweden [note irony].

Chemist who falls in acid will be tripping for weeks.