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Comment: Re:Bugs in Win 7 UI (Score 1) 496

by jonadab (#49156083) Attached to: Users Decry New Icon Look In Windows 10
At least they've improved the performance of using .zip files in Windows Explorer. Back when they first introduced that, it was *awful*. If the zipfile contained more than a couple of dozen files, copying them out took an amazingly long time. (It's still not as fast as some other software that works with .zip files, e.g. info-zip; but it's way more reasonable now than it used to be. It's no longer bad enough to drive me to put the .zip file on a USB 2.0 flash drive and hand-carry it to a Linux box to unzip it and hand-carry the contents back and copy them from the USB 2.0 flash drive to the Windows computer -- at one time, this was actually significantly faster than using Explorer's zipfile support, if the zipfile had a lot of small files in it.)

Comment: You mean like in Ohio? (Score 1) 421

by jonadab (#49153525) Attached to: What If We Lost the Sky?
> You'd get whiter skies. People wouldn't have blue skies anymore.

I grew up in northeastern Ohio. I always assumed the notion of the sky being "blue" was a cultural symbolic thing, like how they teach you to draw yellow lines radiating from the sun to represent the sunlight coming from it, or the black lines you draw behind a moving object to show the motion.

When I was in seventh grade we moved to western Michigan. The first day, I got out my camera and took photographs of the sky being *actually* blue (well, sky blue), because I didn't think anyone would believe me, or understand that I was being literal, if I just told them about it.

Comment: Re:I use GnuPG (Score 1) 302

by jfengel (#49130281) Attached to: Moxie Marlinspike: GPG Has Run Its Course

Ultimately, it comes down to the question "why do you care who Andy Canfield is?" Are they planning to exchange money for goods or services? Write you a mash note? Collect on a debt?

As you say, "Andy Canfield" is kind of a red herring there. It's really the operational/instrumental definition of "is there some connection between this key and some object or information I want?" I'm not sure there really is any meaningful way to do that in the general case. It needs to be reconsidered as an array of different questions about why we care about identity in the first place.

Right now a lot of the notions of identity are really badly defined. "Identity theft" happens because lending institutions are legally allowed to connect your physical body (which can be punished in a variety of ways) to various intangible measures of identity with extremely thin degrees of proof. That may be the worst possible case.

Comment: Re:I've posted this 1312 times (Score 1) 146

by jfengel (#49129985) Attached to: Firefox 36 Arrives With Full HTTP/2 Support, New Design For Android Tablets

Unfortunately, I've found that increasing numbers of sites require those cross-site scripting just to render themselves. It's not uncommon for a site to require enabling literally dozens of other sites. It can be hard to tell which of those are content, which are navigation, which are ads, and which are tracking. At least some are starting to detect when you're selectively disabling the ad servers and metrics sites, and refusing to render at all.

In general, I'd prefer to avoid those sites entirely. I do understand their need to foist off ads on me, which is why I haven't run with AdBlock. I just want to disable antisocial behavior like animations, which make the content hard to read. But I can think of a few sites which have useful content that require me to let more things through NoScript than I'm really comfortable with.

Comment: Re:Please tell me this is satire (Score 1) 318

by jfengel (#49129543) Attached to: Use Astrology To Save Britain's Health System, Says MP

Ultimately, his idiot opinion on astrology doesn't really matter, since he's not going to make much headway against hundreds of other MPs. In the US, a well-place committee member can make his personal biases and idiosyncracies matters of law. I don't know if this guy has similar power; he is on the Health Committee and Sci-Tech committee but I don't think he has a lot of pull there.

My bigger concern, though, is in the constellations. Not of stars, but of beliefs. Poor reasoning in one area doesn't have to mean he reasons poorly in every area, but I've found that certain kinds of stupidities tend to cluster together. If he's just a guy with a stupid idea about the stars, even a well-placed guy, there's only so much harm he can do, and his constituents can be forgiven for electing him despite a foible. But it would not surprise me to discover that he buys into other conspiracy theories and applies similar poor reasoning to other areas. If that's the case, yeah, I blame his constituents.

Comment: Re:disclosure (Score 1) 441

by jfengel (#49114601) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests

In this case, he's not being published in reputable journals. He's had some letters published, which are not subject to peer review. The few times he's gotten his papers into major journals, they've been savaged, and they don't publish him any more. His work is relegated to minor journals and letters.

The peer review process does provide a strong bar against junk science, but not all peer review is the same. Researchers in the field know it, but when the goal is to appeal to the public, it's easy to gloss over the differences. Even other scientists rarely know which are the reputable and high-impact journals outside of their own field.

Comment: Re:Too Much or Too Little? Economically? (Score 1) 303

by jfengel (#49113311) Attached to: Pandora Pays Artists $0.001 Per Stream, Thinks This Is "Very Fair"

Music is further made odd by the amount of money being spent to create demand. There's an enormous amount of marketing and advertising. Although there is some interest in the "long tail" of music, most of what people are willing to pay for comes from a well-oiled machine that has focus-grouped and promoted the bejeezus out of it.

That costs a lot of money, and it's aimed at getting people to take part of their overall budget and put it into music that could otherwise be spent on many different alternative goods: different entertainment, food, materials, education, retirement, etc. They're also vying for a limited factor of people's time budget: while songs can be done in parallel to other things, there's only so much attention, and they can listen to only so many songs.

A lot of factors enter into the economic model, and it goes far beyond just "supply and demand" even before you get the thumb on the scale of artificially-produced (and highly imperfect) scarcity.

Comment: Re:Obvious prior art (Score 1) 126

by jfengel (#49088487) Attached to: Patent Troll Wins $15.7M From Samsung By Claiming To Own Bluetooth

Code can, in theory, be made largely unhackable. The more features it has, the harder it will be, and there's always the five-dollar-wrench hack, but nothing in theory prevents people from securing the code.

The law is always going to be hackable. Any significant law is always going to be far more complicated than code. It's dealing with people, not computers, who have far more different modes of operation.

The law will always end up relying on a certain amount of goodwill from the people. We'd love to have the law say, "Look, just don't be an asshole," but defining "asshole" turns out to be tricky, and there will always be somebody willing to be just-asshole-enough to be legal.

Worse... the law is retroactive: if you break it, the courts do something. Computer security prevents you from doing the illegal thing. That inherent delay creates inherent injustice. The delay also costs money. We've seen time and time again that it's been cheaper for companies to pay the extortion than to defend against it.

So I think that yes, they are evil, and not merely hackers taking advantage of a broken system. Even the best possible system is imperfect. We rely on human beings to engage in a certain amount of decorum, if only for the game-theoretic reason that too much incivility results in a breakdown and they lose.

Frequently, the patent trolls are breaking the law themselves, and counting on the delay to get away with it. That's pretty directly evil. And taking advantage of ambiguities in a system that must inherently be ambiguous, I'd say that's equally evil.

Simply calling them "evil" doesn't really accomplish anything, of course. But it doesn't make them smart. The system is easily hacked. Anybody could do what they do. They're more akin to script kiddies than hackers.

Comment: Re: Or how about no jobs? (Score 1) 307

by cpt kangarooski (#49074223) Attached to: The Software Revolution

If you're going to go around reading Wikipedia pages, you may as well finish reading them before citing them.

Here's what the very same Wikipedia page says, one paragraph after the one you quoted:

The ARPANET incorporated distributed computation (and frequent re-computation) of routing tables. This was a major contribution to the good survivability that the ARPANET had, in the face of significant destruction - even by a nuclear attack. Such auto-routing was technically quite challenging to construct at the time. The fact that it was incorporated into the early ARPANET made many believe that this had been a design goal.

The ARPANET was in fact designed to survive subordinate-network losses, but the principal reason was that the switching nodes and network links were unreliable, even without any nuclear attacks. About the resource scarcity that spurred the creation of the ARPANET, Charles Herzfeld, ARPA Director (1965â"1967), said:

The ARPANET was not started to create a Command and Control System that would survive a nuclear attack, as many now claim. To build such a system was, clearly, a major military need, but it was not ARPA's mission to do this; in fact, we would have been severely criticized had we tried.

Which agrees nicely with what I said in my earlier comment.

You then went on to say:

Also nobody was talking about WHY DARPA funded it.But it's good to know in your universe that's the only place with money.

No, they weren't the only place with money. But ARPA was founded in 1958, and it wasn't until 1973 that they were required to only spend money on defense-related projects. Before that, they had a habit of giving money to all sorts of interesting projects. JCR Licklider, an obscure, yet tremendously important person in computing history, wanted to build computer networks and was a higher-up at ARPA in the 60's. His successor was Ivan Sutherland, who should need no introduction, and Sutherland brought in Bob Taylor, who finally got a network funded and built. Since you like Wikipedia, here's a passage from Taylor's entry:

Among the computer projects that ARPA supported was time-sharing, in which many users could work at terminals to share a single large computer. Users could work interactively instead of using punched cards or punched tape in a batch processing style. Taylor's office in the Pentagon had a terminal connected to time-sharing at MIT, a terminal connected to the Berkeley Timesharing System at the University of California at Berkeley, and a third terminal to the System Development Corporation in Santa Monica, California. He noticed each system developed a community of users, but was isolated from the other communities.

Taylor hoped to build a computer network to connect the ARPA-sponsored projects together, if nothing else to let him communicate to all of them through one terminal.

When ARPA got out of the business of spending money on interesting work, the National Science Foundation was supposed to pick up the slack, but this never happened. While I can understand how some people might cast aspersions on projects that used military funding, even if they're not meant for military applications, the money spends well enough.

Comment: Re: Or how about no jobs? (Score 1) 307

by cpt kangarooski (#49071971) Attached to: The Software Revolution

The initial internet was meant to be a military communication system that could operate when large numbers of links were destroyed.

No it wasn't; that's just an urban legend. The ARPAnet was a way of allowing researchers to share resources. Thus, a user in San Francisco could use a computer in Los Angeles, and wouldn't even need a new, dedicated terminal to do it. Its resilience has more to do with the poor state of telecommunications at the time demanding it, and certain design features that allowed for a useful combination of efficiency and flexibility.

As for why it was funded by DARPA, that was where there was money.

Comment: Re:domination (Score 1) 271

by jfengel (#49049543) Attached to: Peak Google: The Company's Time At the Top May Be Nearing Its End

And that's precisely why YouTube is the go-to place even for a lot of copyrighted content: they're willing to play ball with the copyright holders (and arguably, roll over and play dead). That gives them access to a broad array of copyrighted content (like music videos) while ensuring that some revenue ends up in the hands of the copyright holder (if not the artist) by keeping out the copies.

Other sources will always be patchy; YouTube will be the go-to source. Even for material they don't wish to host on YouTube, many people will go searching there for it first, and they can provide an advertisement (such as a trailer) that links them to their own preferred site to buy/rent the content.

Others can try to break into that game by playing nice with the big studios, which heavily promote their own content and that drives a lot of eyeballs. But most people don't want to distinguish between that and the cat videos; it's all just entertainment. So unless that player is willing to put in an enormous effort duplicating YouTube's work, it's going to be a tough game to get started in.

"Consequences, Schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich." -- "Ali Baba Bunny" [1957, Chuck Jones]