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Comment: TLS 1.2 Long Overdue (Score 2) 167

I breathed a sigh of relief upon reading this headline.

The latest TLS version Firefox supported until now has been broken in principle--and increasingly in practice--since almost a year ago

Here's Matthew Green, JHU cryptography engineering professor/researcher, with a full account: http://blog.cryptographyengineering.com/2013/03/attack-of-week-rc4-is-kind-of-broken-in.html

Comment: Re:Replace pre-albegra (Score 1) 387

by SerenelyHotPest (#46135997) Attached to: Should Everybody Learn To Code?

As an enthusiastic Haskeller, I think the correspondence between elementary algebra and Haskell is weak at best. Haskell would shoot way over the heads of most people taking early algebra. Applicative functors? Monads? Eta reduction? I don't see any analogs in early algebra. It would frankly reek a bit of new mathematics.

Haskell might have strong utility in teaching the theoretical end of computer science, but I don't think it's developmentally appropriate for middle schoolers or high schoolers. It would interest one kid in a hundred and turn everyone else off of computer science.

Comment: This Again? (Score 1) 387

by SerenelyHotPest (#46135965) Attached to: Should Everybody Learn To Code?

I cannot for the life of me understand the reason(s) behind the cris de coeur that we should be teaching all school children / all unemployed / as many as possible computer programming. It's as strange as trying to teach everyone differential/integral calculus with the knowledge that it will provide a foundation for many STEM jobs, or demanding that everyone learn Greek and Latin because it will open doors to a classically styled education. Despite the merits of each, each is time-consuming and specialized enough that in most cases, it won't be worth the time. Seriously: knowing the history of mathematics will be far more useful to most people than learning Weierstrass substitution (assuming, falsely, that everyone could learn Weierstrass substitution).

Rather than regurgitate the already well-articulated objections of others (read through 3+ rated comments), I'd like to offer that the only useful way I can imagine computer programming being incorporated into a K-12 curriculum is by showing how it can be used to trivially automate useful work and arrive at results in other domains, but I'd again say that the time needed to do so could be better applied to other things.

Does the industry simply want to drive down wages that badly? There must be some recognition on their part that they'll never turn software creation into a dime-a-dozen job--at least not on the scale they'd like.

Oh, and for the last time: computer programming != computer science, irrespective of what interest groups have told you. I know because I've done (some of) both.

Comment: It's Okay When We Do It (Score 5, Insightful) 116

Per this, I feel comfortable saying cry me a river.

The outrage over foreign spying--in particular Chinese backdoors--on the part of the American intelligence community is really a form of the same thing: it's okay when we do it, but as soon as anyone else does the same thing to us, it's a gross affront to our privacy and the relationship we have with the spying party and possibly an act of war. I realize intelligence agencies are trained to think this way, but is it really so terribly difficult to grasp that if you don't want it done to yourself, it's probably a sign you shouldn't be doing it to others?

Comment: Re:Not from Facebook (Score 1) 194

People aren't getting their news from Facebook yet, but don't worry; in two decades, all news will originate in, propagate throughout, and develop solely on Facebook. Facebook will be the new geopolitical sphere. For all intents and purposes, that "real world" thing won't exist anymore.

Comment: Re:US news media are a joke (Score 1) 194

I think the title could be broadened to say, "News Media Are--And Always Have Been--A Joke".

The news media have always existed to serve political ends either overtly or covertly. The slack of the American mainstream news has largely been picked up by independent news outlets, which have their own political agendas. If I were to guess from the title of your post, you get a lot of your news through BBC/Al Jazeera/RT. Are you really convinced any of those organizations is impartial? I grant their coverage of certain kinds of news you care about may be more objective than their mainstream American counterparts, but if your current events knowledge comes solely from them and Slashdot, I'd put forward that your impressions of some things are very one-sided.

I'm not saying you're wrong to look for non-American coverage of news--far from it. I've observed that my own perceptions of world events become problematic when I confine myself to learning about the world through one channel of information. This would certainly explain the state of American politics.

Comment: Re:Tech industry hypocrisy (Score 1) 81

by SerenelyHotPest (#45181605) Attached to: Teachers Get 1 Week To Test Tech Giants' <em>Hour of Code</em>

I have mod points but will not be modding you down, though I hope I can show that your case is misguided and unsound.

You're not wrong in saying that there are sociopaths--or at least very empathy deficient people--in Silicon Valley. Friends of mine work with business magnates in that area, I know for a fact that they're are. I'm not convinced, however, that there are a higher proportion of sociopaths in information technology or software engineering than in, say, law or petroleum engineering. The way you've tried to fit the information technology push into some broad, overarching conspiracy to convert America's young people into thoughtless worker drones makes no sense.

Consider the following: If an outsourced workforce, otherwise competitive with American labor, is prepared to work harder for less money, why hire expensive students trying to pay off student loans at all? For that matter, why encourage them to seek an expensive computer science education at Cornell or Rice or Carnegie Mellon, especially considering that such an education is likely to make them less effective drones if they have any exposure to political history in school? How does being saddled with debt for a technical education make you more likely to seek a disposable job (one you could be trained to do at a technical college in two years for a few thousand dollars) or less likely to start a competing company?

If this campaign is self-interested, and I have every reason to think that it is, I see two possible motives: one, they aren't able to find enough skilled people to fill the positions they have anywhere, and in certain pockets of their industry, this may well be the case; two, they recognize that a stagnant economy is unlikely to support growth in their own ventures and want more people starting innovative businesses to fuel a cycle of economic growth. In either case, I fail to see how, at least for the foreseeable future, this isn't in the interest of the young people being involved. I remember having corporate propaganda funneled into my head through public schooling on a biweekly basis (with which parents seemed perfectly fine, I might add), and I can honestly say that this would easily be the most welcome and constructive supplemental material for the year.

As a young person, I often hear thoughtful parents complaining about the influence of corporations skewing the public school system as a whole towards the creation of worker bees, but a minority of even them seem interested in doing anything about it that takes meaningful work or commitment. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you're a parent (and you may well be): what are you doing to ensure your children are being taught to think critically, recognize and self-protect against the sociopathic (to use your word) behavior of their employers and develop scarce skills that will make them good citizens and globally competitive workers/entrepreneurs? If you could easily and thoroughly answer this question, then congratulations, you'd have very little to worry about! Otherwise, I'd offer that you were blaming people you know to be self-interested for behaving predictably and doing little to prevent it.

Comment: Re:Python, or ... (Score 1) 465

by SerenelyHotPest (#45160267) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Language To Learn For Scientific Computing?

If you have extra free time and want to learn how to program well? I'd learn something like Smalltalk (for OOP concepts) and/or Haskell (functional programming). Scientists are often lousy programmers because they often do not learn programming properly, and/or the language allows them to get away with bad programming (I know, every language allows bad programmers to write bad code, but some make it easier than others).

This is extremely well-intentioned advice and very correct in big-picture terms but not at all appropriate for cold-starting the ability to read and write simple programs for numerical scientific work. If the OP intends to become a programmer specializing in scientific computing and must manage a substantial code-base, this will prove good advice to take as some tertiary measure; if his/her goal is to become proficient enough to write a few hundred lines of code for a cross-component patch in some specific scientific context, it's frankly a waste of time--and I say this as an apologist for learning both Smalltalk and Haskell (along with possibly Scheme) if you intend to call yourself a computer programmer and/or especially a computer scientist. I don't deny understanding several paradigms of programming is invaluable for any programmer; I'm just saying that if you treat your time as precious and programming as one small part of what you do, this isn't the best use of your time.

Comment: Re:Misdirection (Score 5, Interesting) 610

I think it's easy to show that Julian Assange is a prima donna, but I hesitate to describe Edward Snowden as one. He isn't crying for more attention or more political power; he just wants to make sure he's safe from targeting of political adversaries. He hasn't offered a lot of commentary besides explaining his reasons. Whether he is or not, though, I don't think it matters all that much. What can be shown--and does matter--is that the media interested in maintaining the status quo wants to make the revelations about Edward Snowden. Turn it into identity politics and relatively few people will care about the underlying issues, then you can destroy Edward Snowden's credibility and cast the issue as irrelevant.

Comment: Implement a Police State w/out Really Trying (Score 1) 610

All governments know that the best way to roll out an oppressive measure is to talk about it endlessly as "purely hypothetical", purchase support (not necessarily with money, mind you; soft political is more than sufficient in many cases) for it in popular media to condition people to accept it. Eventually, you slowly implement it, outright denying the most egregious parts of it and amorphously implying that this is how things will be from now on--or at least in the near future; times have changed and eventually this will be the new normal. Ostracize anyone complaining about it or pointing it out by attacking their character, ridiculing them, or really any kind of ad hominem that doesn't address the underlying points being made. The human tribal identity heuristics will eventually cause most normal people to associate dissent with lunacy. If the system of oppression in question, or revelation of its true nature, is embarrassing, you can use this to mark people opposed to it as destructive or unpatriotic. If you have an economic system and entertainment complex that pressures people away from putting in the time to organizing politically, through a combination of longer hours and the looming threat of unemployment, say, they're then unlikely to actually demand changes (the Occupy Wall Street model, whether you agree with its goals or not, does not represent a serious demand for changes. Rather, it embodies a sink on political frustration. You just tweak the direction the oppositional movement takes until they degrade themselves in the eyes of the public or tire themselves out--so much better than political attrition because they match their own energy reserves dithering rather than sapping yours). The news media can be another Occupy Wall Street: Joe H. Typical can get frustrated and scream at his TV and feel like he's doing something before drinking himself into docility and deciding that there isn't really anything sane he could do to show just how unacceptable whatever-it-is is. That's the press's job, after all. This is assuming Joe H. Typical still watches the news; I wouldn't put it past him to be reading several news sources not owned by the friendly neighborhood media oligopoly. Now the best thing about this entire political structure is it actually demands relatively little management; all you need to do is tip things far enough in your favor that the system becomes self-reinforcing. The intervention needed is minute compared with the leverage it provides.

I think the NSA revelations are were outrageous enough at just the right time that there's serious potential for change, but notice how effective the campaign of psychological warfare has been. The thing about institutions is they have a ton of political momentum; changing them quickly is hard and often dangerous. This is what today's NSA's powerful apologists understand. Americans distrust their government, of course, but I don't think they appreciate how carefully tuned the net political force is, both in the US and in other countries. If they did, they might be scared and not simply uneasy in some vague, inarticulate sense.

+ - Yasser Arafat's clothing confirmed to be contaminated with Polonium. ->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Scientific analysis has now confirmed that former Fatah leader and PLO/PNA head Yasser Arafat's clothing was contaminated with Polonium. The radioactivity was measured in megabecquerels, suggesting a gigabecquerel dose prior to death. No autopsy was performed on Arafat's body prior to burial at the request of his widow, and this seems to be the next logical step in the investigation into what is perhaps now confirmed to be an assassination.

Polonium, an extremely rare radioactive element, was implicated in the poisoning death of former FSB agent and Russian dissident/exile Alexander Litvinenko(wikipedia.org) who was killed in the UK after alleged cooperation with MI6 intelligence."

Link to Original Source

+ - Finland's Algorithm-Driven Public Bus->

Submitted by Daniel_Stuckey
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "Where's the Uber-like interactivity, the bus that comes to you after a tap on the iPhone?

In Finland, actually. The Kutsuplus is Helsinki's groundbreaking mass transit hybrid program that lets riders choose their own routes, pay for fares on their phones, and summon their own buses. It's a pretty interesting concept. With a ten minute lead time, you summon a Kutsuplus bus to a stop using the official app, just as you'd call a livery cab on Uber. Each minibus in the fleet seats at least nine people, and there's room for baby carriages and bikes.

You can call your own private Kutsuplus, but if you share the ride, you share the costs—it's about half the price of a cab fare, and a dollar or two more expensive than old school bus transit. You can then pick your own stop, also using the app."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:hire foreigners is about low costs h1b (Score 1) 745

by SerenelyHotPest (#45078951) Attached to: US Adults Score Poorly On Worldwide Test

Probably. Hell, producing more homegrown STEM talent is, in significant part, about lowering wages/curtailing benefits/forcing longer hours out of STEM people by making them more replaceable. That ought to show 'em.

Foreign universities do cost considerably less, but notice how few of them appear in listings of top schools. There is a huge infrastructure of high-end post-high school education in the US. It just isn't accessible to most people.

Comment: Re:Odd for the country of Intel, Apple and Google (Score 1) 745

by SerenelyHotPest (#45078107) Attached to: US Adults Score Poorly On Worldwide Test

I would attribute that to a combination of a relatively small elite in American society who have actually prepared their children extremely well (which is closely related to the fact that America has some of the best universities and liberal arts colleges in the world but such an education is inaccessible to many of its people), "self-starters" in the genuine sense who acquired the skills they needed by hacking the American educational system, and the fact that the US is coasting on momentum acquired when it had one of the best educational systems in the world. Many of the technologies you've described were created by people who either were exposed to the upper-echelon programs I mentioned or worked for people who were.

Disclosure: several of my friends were educated at old eastern seaboard college preparatory schools and would probably out-perform the mean scores for all the other countries, but as the US mean scores suggest, they aren't typical of American students. Interestingly, many of those schools now have to turn away tons of international applicants just to keep their classes balanced because foreign families recognize something these kids' parents also recognize: education really matters and is worth a large portion of a family's income.

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