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Comment: Re:Tech angle? (Score 1) 876

by Rich0 (#48640975) Attached to: Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

I think there should be boundary conditions to prevent excessive predation on consumers in situations where choices are limited. The libertarian million dollar ticket for the last chopper seat out is akin to war profiteering, and society often turns upon people who exploit such situations.

If the ticket for the last helicopter out didn't cost $1M, would there even be a last helicopter out? Do we punish anybody who owns a helicopter if they don't volunteer it for disaster relief? No. So, why should we punish somebody who charges an extremely high price for its use? It sounds noble to have laws that make it illegal to sell your own organs, but the result is that we end up with shortages, which is the result anytime you have price controls.

An overly simplistic model with no cap has led to some people in Uber's new market hearing of them for the first time in a very negative context - that algorithm clearly sucks and has done damage.

Whether it sucks depends on your goals. If you are the head of Uber and your goal is to make as much money as possible, then the algorithm sucks because the average idiot customer will turn on you over something like this. If you are the head of Uber and your goal is to be a humanitarian and get as many people out of harm's way as possible, then the algorithm worked great, because the high rates would have maximized the number of drivers turning out to help people in distress.

Yes, I'm serious. I realize it completely runs counter to "common sense" but what passes for common sense these days amounts to killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

Comment: Re:North Korea has proved something. (Score 2) 220

by Rich0 (#48634217) Attached to: Hackers' Shutdown of 'The Interview' Confirms Coding Is a Superpower

Like how Iran hacked and downed a military drone in their territory?

Sure, if you buy it. Just think about what it would take to actually do what they claimed - perform a controlled landing of an enemy drone controlled by encrypted satellite connection. I could buy jamming or maybe even gps spoofing (though military gps units can authenticate gps signals). I could buy some kind of EMP attack that disabled it. A controlled landing implies fairly complete access over the drone.

Comment: Re:And yet again terrorism wins (Score 1) 229

by Rich0 (#48632543) Attached to: "Team America" Gets Post-Hack Yanking At Alamo Drafthouse, Too

You are forgetting the implications of tort law.

Even if a physical attack is very unlikely, the costs of the lawsuits which would occurs afterwards would make proceeding a rather risky thing either way.

Don't believe me? The lawsuit against the theater which didn't prevent the Aurora theater shooting continues:

I was thinking about this the other day. I tend to wonder if it would make sense to completely immunize companies from lawsuits over failure to provide adequate steps to prevent a terrorist and state-sponsored attacks as long as they comply with any direct government instructions and regulations. Victims of these attacks would be compensated by the government, which would be responsible for providing security.

The alternative is nonsense like this.

Companies should only be required to provide security to the extent that it is required by law. By all means pass laws like "you must have a state-certified security guard for every 300 people present on your property" or something like that, and then big venues would have to comply.

If Canada dropped 100 paratroopers on a hockey game and they proceeded to shoot up the place, would it make sense to hold the stadium responsible for failing to repel the attack? I don't see how terrorist attacks are any different, or how having warning makes a difference either. That just allows any nation to basically shut down operations in any other nation by making an idle threat. If the US threatened to bomb the next Olympics and did so, would it make sense to make any store in Rio de Janeiro liable if they stayed open?

If North Korea wants to threaten moviegoers they can publicize their threats themselves, and receive international condemnation in the process. If they just make semi-anonymous threats to the studio the studio should be under no obligation to publicize them, and face no liability if they choose to not do so. Moviegoers could then decide whether to stay away from the movies or not. This would actually deter attacks since the warning would probably have move of the desired effect than an actual bombing, but being forced to publicize the warning since nobody else would do it for them would hurt them. If they just sent a private warning that nobody heard and then bombed a theater, it would completely enrage the public and could very well lead to war.

If the original hack was state-sponsored (which I'm not convinced is the case, but I don't have access to the data), it will be interest to see what the response is. I saw some calling for a response of hacking the computers that were used in the attack, which would be completely pointless. First, being military in nature they're going to be very difficult to target at all, and they're almost certainly going to be backed up with the important stuff off-grid. Besides, the US has had no issues with mounting offensive cyber-war in the past, so to whatever extent that they can penetrate KP systems they're probably already doing it. KP is already under just about every sanction imaginable.

It seems like the only avenues of escalation would be along the lines of:
1. Ask China nicely to punish them.
2. Try to force China to punish them (likely via economic measures).
3. Ask the world (including China) to cooperate in some kind of firewall for nations that don't take hacking seriously. I could see this being some kind of treaty - signatories would grant/receive unfettered access to each other's networks. Non-signatures would be firewalled off (maybe force everything through an http+smtp proxy or the like). This would make network access a little more like other forms of border control.
4. Ask the UN's blessing on some kind of military action. (This obviously requires Chinese cooperation, but might be a way for them to save face - they would not actively support punishing North Korea, but they would not vote against it and would merely uphold their international duties in abiding by the decision.)
5. Take unilateral military action, such as a naval blockade. This might also be a way to allow the Chinese to save face - they could publicly decry the action but privately give pre-assurance to the US that they would not challenge the blockade. A naval blockade without private assurance from major powers that they would not run the blockade would be a diplomatic nightmare. The US probably has the power to enforce it at least for the short term, but a war with China isn't something that anybody actually wants, and it would be a very possible outcome if the Chinese challenged the blockade and were fired upon. Plus, sinking merchant ships isn't as fashionable today as it used to be.

I don't really see any other options open to the US that are likely to have any meaningful effect on North Korea, or a deterrent effect on anybody else. Option #3 above is more of a long-term solution that could be pursued independently of responding to this attack, but certainly playing the victim card could help make it happen. It actually could work as a deterrent as well as a preventative measure. You could block any VPN or encrypted traffic over the firewall (maybe with the exception of sanctioned news sites and such to allow access to dissidents), which basically makes it very difficult for companies to do business with those countries. I do recognize that getting repressive countries onto the internet has global security benefits as well, so this isn't an obviously-great solution.

Comment: Re:Tech angle? (Score 1) 876

by Rich0 (#48630975) Attached to: Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

I am not an economist, but I do appreciate it in general.

Free markets are very efficient at setting prices and balancing supply and demand.

Now, electrical utilities are about the opposite of a free market, at least as far as the last mile goes. Generation is arguably a somewhat-free market, but there are some issues with completely deregulating it. It could work on the basis of average rates, or on spot rates if actual consumers were the ones making the choice to buy electricity at spot rates (ie you program your rate to not pay above a certain rate, and if the rate goes about that your house just blacks out) - honestly, I don't think it would be worth the hassle in that case. The CA market was just a really dumb design - it allowed the generators to play games and bound the grid authority to play along. The big issue with generator choice (IMHO) is that it tends to drive everything to 99.999% utilization, which means that when anything goes wrong you have a huge grid collapse. Without some kind of system to prevent it free markets tend to drive races to the bottom.

In the case of Uber though there is a ton of demand and only so much supply. When you have a supply/demand mismatch your only real choices are auction or lottery. Most people seem to prefer the lottery (though they don't realize that this is what shortages really are), but an auction tends to be more efficient economically. A lottery gives the same opportunity to a man who needs to catch a plane out of town and a guy who wants to go sit in the park. An auction lets the guy who is desperate to catch a plane pay a bit more and be guaranteed a ride, while the guy who just wants to go sit in the park decides to watch TV for an hour and then try again. On the whole both end up happier than they would have had the one guy missed his plane (loses $300) and the other guy gone to the park (saves $10 because the cab price didn't go up).

There are lots of cases where general intution tends to be wrong. Another pet peeve of mine is the way almost all businesses run queues. Anybody who knows anything about queues knows that there is really only one way to do it right, and that is single queue, multiple tellers. People almost never self-organize into these systems, and I actually heard people complain when in a theater such a line happened to self-associate (people in the back of the line complained to a manager that everybody wasn't forming individual lines).

I'm far from a proponent of deregulation of natural monopolies, but I think that many cases that people consider "gouging" really do make the overall economy more efficient (as in it delivers the most value to everybody).

Comment: Re:Long story short (ad-less) (Score 1) 173

by Rich0 (#48621169) Attached to: Backblaze's 6 TB Hard Drive Face-Off

And that is exactly why I'm not using an SSD right now for many games. The SSD prices are getting to the point where you might be able to get 2-3 large ones on a reasonably-priced SSD, which is probably good enough. I don't tend to randomly switch between large games - I tend to play them for stretches so moving them around is more practical.

128-256GB SSDs aren't horribly priced. That is where a gamer would probably want to be right now (assuming they don't just want to blow hundreds of dollars on storage). For pure desktop use you could easily get by with a 64GB SSD or maybe even 32GB.

Comment: Re:Long story short (ad-less) (Score 1) 173

by Rich0 (#48619843) Attached to: Backblaze's 6 TB Hard Drive Face-Off

Do the maths.

That's why I was wondering if it made sense to drop to 5400RPM. Most of the stuff that needs performance is small, and would benefit from being on a cheap, small, SSD. Most of the stuff that is big doesn't involve a lot of random seeks, and that would benefit from being on a big, slow, cheap HD.

Comment: Re:Tech angle? (Score 1) 876

by Rich0 (#48619731) Attached to: Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

I don't get why people are so opposed to auctions

I'm discussing an auction that was handled so badly that the PR folks had to give full refunds to clean up the mess.
I don't know what motive you have to try to apply it to all auctions.

Ok, I don't get why people were so opposed to this specific auction. I'd say that it was handled just fine. The only reason that PR had to hand out refunds is that 95% of everybody else disagrees with me. I'd say that this is because most people are dumb. :)

Comment: Re: might not be as good as you think (Score 1) 173

by Rich0 (#48619711) Attached to: The GPLv2 Goes To Court

"Well, it is one way to eliminate compiler bugs. By definition the compiler doesn't have any."

Yes, *a* compiler can be considered to be bug free per definition. But then, two different compilers will render two different outputs. What's the good one then?

The one that is correct by definition, of course. I'd say that this is a pretty lousy standard to use, but it is a standard.

Comment: Re:Long story short (ad-less) (Score 1) 173

by Rich0 (#48618851) Attached to: Backblaze's 6 TB Hard Drive Face-Off

- Energy Use – The Seagate drives were 7200 rpm and used slightly more electricity than the Western Digital drives which were 5400 rpm. This small difference adds up when you place 45 drives in a Storage Pod and then stack 10 Storage Pods in a cabinet.

This makes me wonder if I really should still be buying 7200RPM drives. For the longest time I'd never consider anything else, and for a single-drive desktop I'd still stick with it. However, for systems with OS on SSD and large media on HD I should probably think about dropping to 5400RPM and saving money/power and gaining reliability.

On Windows I need to think about SSDs and gaming. I really don't want to buy a huge SSD - so I should probably consider installing everything to a large HD and then just moving data to SSD when it is in use. I just don't know how well-supported that is in Windows. I think it has the equivalent of a symbolic link.

Comment: Re:A 10,000ft tether? (Score 1) 176

by Rich0 (#48618773) Attached to: Army To Launch Spy Blimp Over Maryland

Technically considered aerostats, since they are tethered to mooring stations, these lighter-than-air vehicles will hover at a height of 10,000 feet

What do you make a 10,000ft tether out of, and what are the dangers? Presumably it's going to limit air traffic in the area, and will the angle and direction of the tether will vary depending on wind strength and direction?

What would happen if the tension provided by the balloon's lift was removed, for whatever reason?

Presumably the answer includes a high-tension cable strung across all 8 or whatever lanes of I-95 at the height of the barriers that run along the side of the road (about windshield height I imagine). What could go wrong?

Comment: Re:What is the problem here? (Score 1) 137

by Rich0 (#48611379) Attached to: Microsoft Gets Industry Support Against US Search Of Data In Ireland

The problem is that the US courts ruled that US law does apply in Ireland because Microsoft has a presence in both countries.

And you think that somehow the ruling of a US court absolves Microsoft from Irish law?

Not at all, but these statements are not contradictory:
1. US law requires MS to divulge data A, and MS will be punished if they don't divulge it.
2. Irish law requires MS to not divulge data A, and MS will be punished if they do divulge it.

Comment: Re:A different kind of justice for multinationals (Score 1) 137

by Rich0 (#48611359) Attached to: Microsoft Gets Industry Support Against US Search Of Data In Ireland

I'm not arguing that you are "wrong" merely that your argument omits the crucial element of property ownership in play.

Property ownership of a legal corporate entity doesn't mean that the parent entity can compel the owned entity to break the law.

I don't want to quibble over wording, but strictly speaking that isn't true, depending on your definition of "compel." I can compel you to give me everything you own by pointing a gun at somebody you care about and telling you that if you don't send me your money I'll shoot them. It certainly isn't legal, but it IS compulsion. Or at least, I think most people would say that it is.

So, in a sense the US CAN compel MS to make its Irish subsidiary break Irish law, in the sense that practically speaking it has the power to do so. It sucks to be MS in such a case.

This court case is about getting the US government to restrain itself so that it isn't compelling people to break privacy laws.

Countries compel people to break laws all the time, simply because national interests are not always aligned. If country A is at war with country B and captures a spy, do you think country A really cares that country B's laws prevent the spy from divulging their plans? They're going to interrogate that spy and get them to spill their guts all the same, perhaps offering them amnesty if they are sufficiently cooperative.

Comment: Re:First amendment? (Score 1) 250

by Rich0 (#48610823) Attached to: Sony Demands Press Destroy Leaked Documents

" unless the owning party wishes it distributed or is under criminal investigation" .. those are conditions, not absolutes. Therefore, it's not a real dichotomy.

You said either A or B when A and B are not the only possibilities. That is what a false dichotomy is.

For example, an option might be that privacy law doesn't apply to evidence that a crime was committed, even if no crime is formally under investigation, and that determination can be made by any private citizen (and presumably upheld in court if there is a dispute).

Whether you agree with it or not, that IS an option.

"No job too big; no fee too big!" -- Dr. Peter Venkman, "Ghost-busters"