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Comment: Re:BS (Score 2) 237

by swillden (#46765907) Attached to: San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained

But so were San-Francisco _advantages_. Yes, I read TFA. And simply turning everything over to an invisible middle finger of market will only make it all worse.

Actually, studies comparing areas with rent control to areas without, controlling for other factors, indicate that rent controls cause lower housing supplies and higher rents. The market actually does a pretty good job -- certainly far better than planning commissions achieve.

Comment: Re:Pedantic Man to the rescue! (Score 1) 395

by swillden (#46765849) Attached to: How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion?

You missed his point completely. The point was that many production systems weren't running the new version. Of the 2/3 of web servers that use OpenSSL, it's likely that only half were running a newer OpenSSL. So it's not "every SSL session was (potentially) compromised", it's "about a third of SSL sessions were (potentially) compromised".

That's bad. Really, really bad. But it's not as bad as if OpenSSL really were a monoculture.

Comment: Re:Another thing (Score 1) 131

by swillden (#46761683) Attached to: U.S. Biomedical Research 'Unsustainable' Prominent Researchers Warn

I do think the west, especially the US, is likely headed for a period of slower growth than we're accustomed to, or perhaps worse, stagnation or decline. This is because globalization (which many think is a dirty word, but I think is fantastic) is spreading the wealth over more of the human race.

This may seem to contradict the other current trend of concentration of capital, but historically they've gone hand in hand.

Not just historically, but currently. Inequality within nations is increasing, but inequality between nations is shrinking:

Indeed. Sorry I was a little unclear; I mixed two things together there. One is the global equalization, which is going to cause some pain in the wealthy world. Another is the concentration of wealth within nations, particularly (but not only) the wealthy nations. The latter is something that has happened during each technological revolution and the resulting creation of new industries. The captains and leaders of those new industries get insanely wealthy, then over time competitive market forces push margins down and the benefit of the new productivity gets spread to the people.

Both of these things are going on at once, of course.

Comment: Re:It was a "joke" back then (Score 1) 263

I don't think that argument went away, it just changed. The core of the concern about silver was that the proposed bimetallic standard overvalued it, meaning that 50% of the value of silver coins would be fiat, not market, value. The issue only "went away" because we opted (for better or worse) to go 100% fiat. So we eliminated the debate by making the problem anti-silverites were declaiming (if it is a problem) infinitely worse.

Comment: Re:Author is stupid? (Score 1) 263

If you can go back over the output of thousands of creative writers and cherrypick the predictions that vaguely resemble what we have today, of course you can find lots of matches. However, you will find even more failures. Even the successes you mention aren't really all that close... for example the "Star Trek tablet": yes, Star Trek portrayed tablet devices with electronic display screens which accepted stylus input, but look at how different -- and inferior! -- those are to what we have.

As far as I can tell in Star Trek the tablets were used only as a slightly-improved version of the clipboard. The yeoman would bring one over to the captain for him to look at and sign off on some forms, for example. Why? Why not just display the information on the captain's own tablet? And why are the tablets only used for display and entry of text? Why does Spock have to walk over to his station to pull up readings on the unknown being's energy emissions, rather than just flicking it onto his tablet, or the captain's? Our tablets are general-purpose display and input devices -- with audio and video I/O -- and powerful network-connected computers in their own right. They're also full of sensors: GPS, magnetic compass, barometric altimeter, gyro, accelerometer, camera, not to mention all of the radios. They look more like the Star Trek tricorder rather than the tablet.

Really, the only thing Star Trek tablets have in common with today's tablet computers is the form factor... and even that isn't all that similar, since they were over an inch thick and had much smaller screens relative to their area. Further, the form factor is an extremely obvious one, since clipboards have been around since the late 19th century, and people have likely been using something similar to tally on for millennia.

Comment: Re:It was a "joke" back then (Score 1) 263

I don't think we'll see displays above ~1000 DPI. Yes, manufacturers will have to find something to convince people to buy new devices, but there are limits beyond which it just doesn't make sense. Marketing will push us some distance past those limits, but the farther past them you go, the harder it gets to sell the idea that it matters when it clearly doesn't.

Comment: Re:It was a "joke" back then (Score 2) 263

The popular dystopian vision of the mid 19th century was that our cities would become knee-deep in horseshit by the early 20th century.

Which was a pretty reasonable projection, given that the cities were all ankle deep in horse manure in the mid 19th century. It was a huge problem. It's a great example, though, of how the apparently-insurmountable problems that we face in the near future are often not just addressed by new technology, but completely obsoleted, made irrelevant because the underlying solutions to other problems change. In the 19th century the problem appeared to be how to collect and transport kilotons of manure daily. But the real problem was how to provide transportation without horses.

Our current problem set includes the pollution generated by the solution to the horse manure problem. Perhaps the solution is how to make cars that collect, rather than emit, all their pollution, or to make cars that merely emit substantially less, or to make electric or hydrogen-powered cars that don't emit anything (moving the emissions, perhaps), to reduce the amount of travel we do (e.g. telecommuting), or perhaps something entirely different which none of us can even envision (FYI, my prognostication is that it'll bit of each of the above, but I'm probably wrong).

Comment: Google also gives different answers (Score 3, Informative) 235

by swillden (#46756667) Attached to: Is Crimea In Russia? Internet Companies Have Different Answers

Google Maps shows Crimea as part of Russia to users from Russia, and part of Ukraine to the rest of the world.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/04/12/302337754/google-maps-displays-crimean-border-differently-in-russia-u-s

This is nothing new. As the article above mentions the name of the Arabian Gulf also changes depending on where you are, and mentions that there are many more cases. I believe Taiwan may be another. This approach is clearly a compromise, and like all compromises, makes no one really happy.

Comment: Re:Another thing (Score 2) 131

by swillden (#46755535) Attached to: U.S. Biomedical Research 'Unsustainable' Prominent Researchers Warn

10 billion. Hans Rosling makes a compelling case from the numbers that the world population will peak at 10 billion, then slowly decline, because we've already passed "peak child" the year in which the largest number of children were born, that number is now gradually declining. Population will continue to increase for a while because the older cohorts are currently much smaller than the younger cohorts, so as the younger cohorts age into the older categories, we'll have a "filling out" of the age distribution.

However, I don't think there's any reason to assume that we're going to stagnate. We're also on the cusp of a set of new technologies which will make the human race dramatically wealthier, because we've barely scratched the surface of the potential of information technology and automation.

The only fundamental limitation to our growth is energy production and delivery. We're heading towards a day when we can no longer rely on our current primary energy source, fossil fuels, perhaps because we'll exhaust the easily-reached reserves, and perhaps because we'll decide that they're too difficult to use without excessive environmental impact. But we're also rapidly improving our ability to capture solar energy, in its various forms. For that matter, we've successfully performed net-positive controlled fusion; perhaps we'll learn to harness that.

I do think the west, especially the US, is likely headed for a period of slower growth than we're accustomed to, or perhaps worse, stagnation or decline. This is because globalization (which many think is a dirty word, but I think is fantastic) is spreading the wealth over more of the human race.

This may seem to contradict the other current trend of concentration of capital, but historically they've gone hand in hand. During the initial expansion phase massive fortunes are created as the masses reap the benefits of the new capabilities in their personal lives, but the bulk of the financial gain goes to a relative few. Then, as technology matures the productivity gains spread; the fortunes don't disappear, but new fortunes are created at a slower rate and the wealth gap closes, because competition drives out the massive profit margins leaving the wealth in the hands of more people.

For that matter, I'm far from convinced there isn't another technological revolution on the horizon, and another after that, and so on. It's tempting to believe that the knowledge we've achieved so far is nearing the limit, but very bright people of generations and centuries past have believed the same thing... and they've all been not just wrong, but stupefyingly wrong. In fact, there seems to be a strong correlation between the number of very smart people who are convinced that all that's left to discover is making what we already know more precise and the closeness of the next earth-shattering discovery.

Indeed, we have powerful reasons right now to believe that we're on the cusp of yet another revolution in our understanding of physics. We currently have two thoroughly-elaborated and extensively supported models of the structure of reality... and they're mutually contradictory. Relevant to the current article, our understanding of biology is advancing at a breakneck pace, as we move from understanding only gross biological processes to elaborating the detailed chemical processes and, even more important, how they're described, defined and implemented by genetic material. Informatics is crucial to that effort.

I can't think of a single field of research in which we aren't currently learning orders of magnitude faster than ever before, and which hasn't recently seen, or appears to be in a position to soon find, revolutionary new understanding. In that context how can we not expect additional technological revolutions? But even without new fundamental science, I think it's clear that we've barely scratched the surface of what information technology can do for us. There's plenty of growth ahead, and the population problem appears to solve itself neatly.

Which isn't to say there aren't challenges coming. There are, and we can even see what some of them are. But this post is already long enough.

Comment: Re:Negligence (Score 1) 62

by swillden (#46753167) Attached to: Heartbleed Disclosure Timeline Revealed

And I would be surprised if Google and other major corps aren't monitoring criminal forums where these exploits are sold.

I think you would be surprised. I also think that the process one would have to go through to get vetted and get access to those forums probably requires actions that a major corp wouldn't take. FWIW, I work in security at Google and have never heard of any sort of monitoring of criminal forums.

Comment: Re:Negligence (Score 1) 62

by swillden (#46753131) Attached to: Heartbleed Disclosure Timeline Revealed

I think that Google just might agree that it is at least in their best interest to have a significant vulnerability in OpenSSL be fixed.

Of course, but it's even more in their interest to make sure their own systems are fixed before they take any action which could result in the information spreading to potential attackers. Of course, attackers may already have had it, but if so that's water under the bridge. If not, the moment you disclose it to anyone you've increased dramatically the odds that someone who might want to exploit you will hear of it, even if you're just telling the dev team. For that matter, even disclosing it internally is a risk, so you'd want to keep that as tight as possible as well. I work in security at Google and didn't hear about Heartbleed until it was publicly disclosed.

Given the severity of the damage that could be caused by Heartbleed once information about it is widely disclosed, particularly given how trivial the exploit code is to write, Google would (IMNSHO) have been foolish to disclose it to the OpenSSL team before getting all of its key systems patched.

(Disclaimer: I work for Google but don't speak for Google. The above represents only my personal opinions.)

The "cutting edge" is getting rather dull. -- Andy Purshottam

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