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Comment: Re:Bad example, interesting points. (Score 1) 240

by Simon Brooke (#48140211) Attached to: Fighting the Culture of 'Worse Is Better'

Clojure is designed to be be compatible - not backwards compatible, but intercalling compatible, with Java. The consequence is that a Clojure program can crash out of stack when it still has masses of heap. Why? Well, the JVM was designed for small embedded devices which would run small programs, which weren't expected to do a lot of recursion; and were low power with limited memory so allocating stack as a vector was seen as an efficiency win. The fact that most of the time we don't run Java on small embedded low power limited memory systems is beside the point: Java is designed to work in those circumstances, and therefore it allocates stack as a vector of fixed (limited) size. When it hits the top of that stack it's stuck, and falls over hard.

Clojure doesn't need to be like that. Even running on the JVM, it would be possible to implement a separate Clojure spaghetti stack in heap space. But the design decision was to make Java interoperability easy at the expense of limiting recursion depth. Similarly Clojure does not automatically fail over from storing integers as java Integers to storing them as bignums, as many much older Lisps are able to do. It easily could have, but it doesn't. Again, I think this is for interoperability with Java; otherwise it looks like a really odd decision.

Easy Java interop is not a bad thing. It's a good thing. It allows access to a wealth of pre-existing Java libraries. But it's a choice, and one should not blind oneself to the fact that other choices could have been made - and would have had significant merits.

Comment: Re:as the birds go (Score 1) 608

by Simon Brooke (#48138751) Attached to: Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

No. Birds can perch safely on high voltage wires - and you'll frequently see them do so. The reason is obvious. They aren't connected to the ground; there's no potential difference across their bodies. High voltage wires - provided wires carrying different phases are further apart than the wingspan of the bird - pose no threat to birds.

Comment: Re:Don't complain... (Score 1) 212

by Simon Brooke (#47991909) Attached to: Australian Senate Introduces Laws To Allow Total Internet Surveillance

I would say the world is going more lefty, with governments consolidating their power bases and censoring/silencing criticism. It's the left that wants to grow the size of government and have it spy on/manipulate as much of peoples' lives as it can.

The left-right axis is orthogonal to the authoritarian-libertarian axis. There are as many right-wing authoritarians as left wing authoritarians, as many left wing libertarians as right wing libertarians.

Comment: Re:Australia voted... for a kick in the nuts. (Score 4, Insightful) 212

by Simon Brooke (#47991871) Attached to: Australian Senate Introduces Laws To Allow Total Internet Surveillance

The actual libertarians call themselves either anarchists or communists. The 'libertarians' in the US are conservatives. They believe in laws such as property laws which protect the rich against the poor, but no laws which protect the poor against the rich.

Comment: The same public key can map to many private keys (Score 2) 76

by Simon Brooke (#47962839) Attached to: Researchers Propose a Revocable Identity-Based Encryption Scheme

Private key and public key are factors in a two factor mathematical relationship.

So there can potentially be many (possibly infinitely many, I haven't tried to prove this) valid private keys for any given public key.

So I can see that, given the public key, I can see that there could be potentially many private keys. I see how you could brute force selecting a private key that matched your public key, and I can see that, depending how the brute-forcing is done, it would not be determinate that an attacker also trying to brute force a private key from the same public key would not come up with the same private key.

What I can't see is how, if you have a message which unlocks with the public key, how you can tell whether it was locked with the 'authentic' private key or with an attackers' inauthentic private key.


Comment: Re:Actually, it does ! (Score 4, Insightful) 375

We've actually paid more tax per head, and received less back per head, than England for every one of the last 110 years, which is as far back as the available data goes. So it's long before the discovery of oil.

However, that's not the point. The United Kingdom has, through imperialism and military adventurism, very reasonably made itself the second most hated nation on the planet. I'm tired of being embarrassed to travel on a UK passport. I'm tired of paying taxes to bomb other people's countries. I'm tired of my country providing bases for the US to set up its torture centres. I'm tired of my country supporting every two-bit dictator who will buy weapons.

We can do better than this - and we will.

Comment: Political background (Score 4, Insightful) 151

by Simon Brooke (#47447527) Attached to: Scotland Could Become Home To Britain's First Spaceport

Relax, everyone. This is a non-story; it isn't going to happen, and no-one seriously expects it to.

We're having a referendum in September on whether to separate from the UK and become an independent nation. The UK government has woken up - very late - to the realisation that it's quite likely to lose, and consequently will also lose its only nuclear submarine base, 90% of its oil revenue, and probably its permanent seat on the UN security council. Consequently they're panicking and offering us all sorts of unlikely bribes. The spaceport won't happen because

  1. If we vote 'yes', it's not going to be an urgent priority of the Scottish government;
  2. if we vote 'no', this and all the other promised bribes will be quietly forgotten.

So relax. The fact that there's no money and no commercial use for it, and that we're too far from the equator, doesn't matter; no-one seriously intends to build it. It's a media stunt, pure and simple. It isn't going to happen.

Comment: Personal Hub (Score 4, Interesting) 56

by Simon Brooke (#47422709) Attached to: The Future of Wearables: Standalone, Unobtrusive, and Everywhere

Probably the future of wearables is the personal hub.

The problem with wearables is that a radio capable of sustaining a connection to the outside world - be it 4g or wifi - needs a fair bit of power and consequently quite a lot of battery. So devices have to be fairly chunky, or else have to be recharged more often than you'd like. But your bluetooth mouse probably goes months on one charge - mine certainly does. So the solutions is to have a device mounted discreetly on your belt or in your handbag, or carried in a pocket, which just acts as a personal hub/firewall, doing backhaul for your wearables. It doesn't need a screen. It doesn't need apps. But once it's paired with your wearables, you can use a device which has no backhaul capability to make phone calls or to access any service on the Internet.

This is an extension of how Google Glass or your Pebble watch already uses your smartphone. The smartphone acts as a personal hub. But if the display you actually use is the one on your Glass or the one on your Pebble, you don't need the big, fragile, power-hungry screen on your smartphone any more; so the personal hub can be cheaper and much more durable than any smartphone.

Once you've got that concept, there are other services that a personal hub can supply to your wearables, for example storage.

Comment: Re:Modern Day Anti-Evolutionists (Score 3, Insightful) 497

by Simon Brooke (#47414851) Attached to: Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann

Ain't going to happen, sadly. As the temperate zone moves closer to the world's poles, and the regions we're currently growing cereal crops on become progressively more arid, there is simply less area of land (square miles or kilometres or however you want to measure it) on which crops can be grown - and that's ignoring the costs of clearing and draining that land, and all the effects of ecocide.

At the same time as this is happening, of course, all our critical infrastructure will become unusable unless we make huge new investments in flood walls. For example, I work for a major international bank, which, obviously, has its critical data infrastructure replicated in seven cities across the globe. Only one problem: in six of those seven cities, our data centres are within ten metres of current sea level. Most major financial centres are old port cities, and all old port cities are on the coast. So over the next fifty years we have to either all relocate our trading infrastructure, or else abandon it. What I expect will happen is that we'll delay and dawdle until it's too late, and then our whole civilisation will collapse under the combined pressures of hunger, refugees, and rising water levels.

We're already past the point where there's any hope of the planet being able to support even half its current population in 100 years time. The real policy question is how we now radically reduce the population without war, pestilence, famine and death.

Comment: Re:Text adventure game (Score 1) 100

by Simon Brooke (#47323865) Attached to: Building the Infinite Digital Universe of <em>No Man's Sky</em>

Yeah i think it has 8 galaxies with 256 star systems in each all in 64K

Errr.... no. The BBC Micro had 32K, but in the mode Elite ran in the screen was eating about 20K of that. So it had 8 galaxies with 256 star systems in each - each with names, systems of governance, markets, et cetera - about twenty different ship types, and the physics and rendering engines - all in less than 14K.

I still think that's awesome. And, while I'm very impressed with what I've seen of No Man's Sky, the procedural universe of Elite Dangerous looks even more spectacular.

Full disclosure - I spent most of my final year of university playing Elite.

Comment: Re:So what? (Score 1) 193

by Simon Brooke (#47307993) Attached to: First Phone Out of Microsoft-Nokia -- and It's an Android

If Windows Phone were a good platform, or even an average sort of platform, why would Microsoft (who get it for free) sell a phone with anything else installed?

I've (personally) never used Windows Phone, so I don't have an opinion; but their choice of Android for this device is hardly a ringing endorsement of their in-house technology.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.