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Comment: Why is encryption not standard? (Score 1) 89

by Thagg (#48467113) Attached to: New Snowden Docs Show GCHQ Paid Telcos For Cable Taps

It's astonishing that all communication is not encrypted. If you are sharing information over a common carrier, you should expect that somebody is going to be grabbing and examining the bytes.

So, somehow, it is just not the norm to encrypt communication. One reason might be that during the eighties and nineties as the internet was going wide, ITAR and patents on systems like RSA made people and companies nervous and unwilling to go there; that was definitely a missed opportunity.

Perhaps another problem is that there's no money to be made in encryption; and there are real (small, but real) costs in establishing it.

Still, though...

Why is there no encrypted "WhatsApp"? It would not be hard, it would be trivial to deliver through Google Play, and there would be a immediate market. If the connections were truly peer-to-peer, the infrastructure to support it would be almost zero.

How has the world convinced people not to encrypt all communication?

Comment: "Get a great job..." (Score 1) 180

by rnturn (#48459869) Attached to: Cameron Accuses Internet Companies Of Giving Terrorists Safe Haven

"...reading every comment ever made on all of the Internet fora and passing along potential terrierist threats to the government!"

Exactly how does the idjit Cameron think an ISP is supposed to do this? Doesn't your vaunted government capture of everything that transpires on the Internet work any more?

Comment: Re:Not news (Score 5, Informative) 134

I think the point of the story is that Duncan has never shown any curiosity once he got out of college. His degree is in Sociology and not Education so I think there are some valid questions as to his qualifications. I think it's rather telling that he doesn't even know what's been done in the past in the field in which he's employed. You have to wonder just that the heck he does all day. He's never done anything in education other than be an administrator. And he's never been much good at doing that. Chicago's pubic schools were a mess when he started running them and they were a mess when he left. Actual educators can't stand the guy.

BTW, PLATO was hardly a "niche" system and it was certainly never considered "irrelevant" by anyone who knows what the heck they're talking about. I first encountered it while on a two week high school trip (JETS) to UofI but didn't have as much time to access it as I would have liked. There were PLATO terminals in many colleges back in the '70s; I know there was at least a couple of them where I did my undergraduate work. The PLATO terminals were heavily used and getting time on them required signing up for a time slot well in advance. It's may be "cool" nowadays to consider the PLATO system "niche" but people need to remember that the world of computing and computer-aided education didn't begin with the Internet. PLATO was in use while Duncan was going to college at Harvard; maybe they just didn't have a terminal in the Sociology Department.

Comment: Re:two bounces (Score 1) 223

by Thagg (#48386331) Attached to: Comet Probe Philae To Deploy Drill As Battery Life Wanes

1) There is/was a significant risk that drilling would push Philae off the comet again. Still, it's a risk worth taking; without the solar recharging ESA has only until Saturday before the batteries run out.
2) The challenge is that either the lander is on its side, so the solar panels can't see the sun; or that the lander is up against a wall blocking the sun most of the time. They are considering possible ways of reorienting Philae; but it doesn't seem too likely. Also, without the harpoons or ice screws, it's likely that Philae will be pushed into space by gasses escaping the comet as it gets closer to the sun; so the extra sunlight is a double-edged sword.

Comment: Re:two bounces (Score 1) 223

by Thagg (#48386009) Attached to: Comet Probe Philae To Deploy Drill As Battery Life Wanes

It is fascinating that you can see stars and the comet surface at the same time; it shows how far from the sun they are. In no pictures from the moon can you see any stars.

Right now the spacecraft is about 3x as far from the sun as the moon is from the sun, so the sun is only 1/9th as bright there. I suppose the cameras might have a bit more dynamic range than the film cameras of the late 60's. The comet nucleus might also be quite dark, but the moon is very dark as well (about 10% albedo.)

Comment: two bounces (Score 5, Interesting) 223

by Thagg (#48385527) Attached to: Comet Probe Philae To Deploy Drill As Battery Life Wanes

Philae bounced twice, the first bounce was about two hours, the second one 7 minutes. If the gravity on the comet is 1/200,000th that on earth (a reasonable estimate, it varies around the comet because it's *way* not round) then the first bounce was about 1,000 feet off the surface, but the second one was only about three feet. Seven minutes to fly up and down three feet; that's almost impossible to imagine.

Comment: Re:should be banned or regulated (Score 1) 237

by Thagg (#48385103) Attached to: Will Lyft and Uber's Shared-Ride Service Hurt Public Transit?

In a city like NYC or perhaps London, I agree that the number of daily rides is a pie that will be subdivided differently. In a town like Los Angeles or even San Francisco; not so much. The number of Uber rides in LA will exceed the pre-Uber number of taxi rides soon, if it hasn't already -- it's a real game changer. Many more people are taking Uber rather than taxis, yes -- but even more people are taking Uber than used to drive.

In LA, the taxi service will suffer; but also (and maybe more so) the rental car business. It's cheaper to UberX around the city (especially if you use mass transit when you can) than renting a car; and more convenient too because you don't have to worry about parking.

Comment: Exactly the opposite! Enhances Public Transport! (Score 1) 237

by Thagg (#48385043) Attached to: Will Lyft and Uber's Shared-Ride Service Hurt Public Transit?

I use Uber in Los Angeles; as many people do.

Los Angeles has very limited subway service. It exists, it's pretty quick, but it doesn't go too many places. So, I use Uber to get to and from the subway stops closest to where I want to go; and use the train for the bulk of the transport.

Now, if I was going with a group of people instead of by myself, I'd Uber the whole way; the subway charges per person and Uber per car. But for traveling by yourself; Uber and mass transit is a great combo.

Comment: Re:I don't mind driving (Score 1) 307

by bughunter (#48378961) Attached to: I'm most interested in robots that will...

And the entire time my stomach would be churning from me worrying about all the additional failure modes offered by such an arrangement. Even with humans handling the luggage, about a third of my recent family trips (necessarily involving two checked items per person) have seen one or more bags get lost or delayed.

I'm not a luddite, but I'm not an early adopter either. Until the bugs are worked out of a robotic valet-slash-chauffeur, I'll still be most relaxed when I can just put a carry-on in the overhead bin.

Comment: Re:Pleasure (Score 1) 307

by bughunter (#48370291) Attached to: I'm most interested in robots that will...

You know, sex robots have been a prominent trope in SF and geekdom practically since the word was coined, but the idea doesn't do anything for me.

I require the other participant to express honest desire, act on it, and receive real pleasure. I prefer a photo or video recording of such behavior over a machine, or even a real person who's just faking it.

I dunno, maybe that makes me weird or something...

Comment: Had that happen to me. (Score 2) 170

by rnturn (#48367823) Attached to: What Happens When Nobody Proofreads an Academic Paper
In a previous life, I had put a humorous phrase -- a reference to ``Real Programming'' -- in a technical report that was support to be submitted to a government agency that we were working for under contract. None of the others who reviewed the report noticed it -- maybe they were too busy that day and didn't pay as much attention as they normally did. They'd typically spot any questionable grammar that I might have used and I was sure someone would catch it and send it back to me to change. Nobody did, though, and I was lucky enough to get it back and delete the phrase before the report went went out the door. Learned a valuable lessen about trusting proofreaders that day: Don't.

You can't take damsel here now.