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Comment: Re:Execute the fastest way possible (Score 1) 533

Whilte it originally was introduced in order to execute painlessly, following basically your logic, it has since turned out that this is not true and the Guillotine is actually a fairly cruel execution method.

It is great for market-square entertainment, though. Maybe that's what you're really after?

Comment: interesting (Score 1) 56

by Tom (#49509515) Attached to: Computer Beats Humans At Arimaa

Actually much more interesting than I thought at first glance.

The game is designed intentionally with computational complexity in mind. It failed. The rules (WP has them, or a dozen other sites) are mostly designed to increase the search space. For example, instead of the fixed setup in chess, you get basically the same pieces, but you can put them into your 2 rows in any way you want. I'm too lazy to calculate the initial starting positions, but thanks to the Internet, someone else did it and came up with ~10^15. That makes an opening library practically impossible.

However, I'm a hobby game designer, so I look at rules with slightly different eyes. The complexity of the game is largely artificial. Brilliant minds will, like in a badly designed crypto-cipher, find tons of places where the complexity can, for the practical purpose of actually playing and winning a game, be reduced dramatically. Remember that in theory chess has 20 valid opening moves for white. The vast majority of them you will never seen in any real game.

I'm also bothered by the fact that complexity is reached by the addition of rules, instead of the subtraction. Go is a perfect example for how you can reach complexity with very simple rulesets. When building games, especially board games, you generally strive to keep the ruleset as simple as possible and check every rule for whether or not it adds anything worthwhile to the gameplay or not. For a simple, conventional style 2-player board game, the ruleset is overly complex IMHO. Maybe that's why I never heard about this game before - it doesn't actually appeal to many human players, except those interested in not being beaten by a computer.

Comment: new rules (Score 1) 206

by Tom (#49509455) Attached to: Whoah, Small Spender! Steam Sets Limits For Users Who Spend Less Than $5

New at Steam: We replace people who don't give a fuck with people who really don't give a fuck.

No, don't get me wrong, it's a step in the right direction. But the step itself begs questions. In general, the great firewall is the first cent - people who spend nothing at all and people who spend something, no matter how much. If you don't believe me, try charging 10 cents or something ridiculously small for any free web service you offer, and you'll find your user numbers drop through the floor.

I don't think there's a measurable difference between $5 and $4 or $3 -- the number is entirely arbitrary. A psychological barrier would be $10 (the two digits, the reason almost nothing in any shop in the world costs $10, it will always be $9.99 or $9.95).

Comment: Re:Long View (Score 1) 479

by Tom (#49491483) Attached to: Seattle CEO Cuts $1 Million Salary To $70K, Raises Employee Salaries

Compensation has been commensurate to your skills for hundreds of years.

Your argument smells.

Yes, more skilled people in general earn more. But (and in the words of Ben Goldacre: It's a big but) there are exactly two issues with this in our modern hypercapitalism, and they are related:

a) A class of very low skilled workers has moved to the top of the food chain and takes a massive part of the total wages for itself

b) The general level of pay is staggeringly low. If you compare the wealth of your western nations to the wealth of the average individuals within, you should be frightened. Most western countries can spend a few billions here and there without so much as shrugging. As nations, we have more, much much much more money available than ever in history. The most lavish spending of any king in history pales compared to everyday infrastructure, science or military projects of today. As people, we are richer than the average middle ages peasant, but in comparison to our nations wealth, we have less.

Comment: Re: For work I use really bad passwords (Score 1) 136

by Tom (#49481065) Attached to: Cracking Passwords With Statistics

Then another site I used got hacked. And at that point I decided I was better off using a password manager and using different passwords for each site.

Yeah, that sucks.

I use a password manager as well, mostly because I'm lazy typing. It gives me the added benefit that if one of the sites gets hacked, I can check the PW manager to see where else I use the same PW.

You can use different passwords, if you like. I don't do it because it would mean that when I find myself without my PW manager, I'd be fucked. And it happens quite often that I do.

Comment: Re: For work I use really bad passwords (Score 1) 136

by Tom (#49481055) Attached to: Cracking Passwords With Statistics

The problem there is that all it takes is one crap site and an attacker can check all of your "reset answers" (pet's name / mom's name / etc) to see if they can be used for an attack.

These bullshit "security questions" are actually the weakest link. I don't use them. If the site enforces it, I fill them with noise.

Think about what the minimum information an attacker would need to access your bank account (either login or social engineering) and then look at how many sites have that information.

Depends on your bank. Mine doesn't let me log in with username or password or any such crap. Also, every bank worth its money these days will use 2-factor authentication, or send a TAN by SMS or something like that. More and more banks will also send you SMS to inform you about every transaction made, so you can stop any abuse immediately.

Banks are among the few who actually take security seriously. They're not perfect, not by far, but they are still among the only commercial entities to use one-time-passwords (those TAN lists) and were among the very first to use 2-factor authentication.

So, to answer your question: What do you need to access my bank account? Nothing you would find on any of the forums, games sites or even my Amazon or iTunes account.

Comment: Re: For work I use really bad passwords (Score 1) 136

by Tom (#49481025) Attached to: Cracking Passwords With Statistics

Changing passwords doesn't make them magically more secure.

What do you hope to accomplish? If you have a good reason to change, change. If you don't, you change for prophylaxis, to stop someone who may have been using your account for something. But if you didn't even notice, what's the damage? And if he's a pro, he's also changed the password reset email address, at least on sites that don't send a notice to the old address.

You're doing a lot of effort for - what? If you can't answer that question, don't do it.

Comment: Re:math (Score 1) 136

by Tom (#49480945) Attached to: Cracking Passwords With Statistics

No, it wouldn't help.

The problem is techies thinking in techie terms. What would help is get a normal user into the room and give him an actual voice in the matter, when the policy is decided. You know, not John from the call center, but Frank the philosophy doctor who's now head of product management.

Comment: Re:The assumption is wrong. (Score 3, Informative) 136

by Tom (#49476351) Attached to: Cracking Passwords With Statistics

The point of password complexity requirements has nothing to do with security. It's about the check box some auditor or lawyer needs to check. People assume it leads to security, but only because they see it in a vacuum.

That's consultant bullshit. The legal requirements are nowhere near this specific. It's only consultants that turn them into this nightmare of nonsense. I've worked in IT Compliance (SOX) for years. As long as you can describe why your password policy is good, it doesn't matter what it actually is. The problem is too many people don't invest the time to think a bit and simply take a so-called "best practice" and apply it. In way too many cases without reading to the end and realizing that this "best practice" was published in 1998 and may be a little outdated.

Comment: Re:subjects are stupid (Score 1) 136

by Tom (#49476345) Attached to: Cracking Passwords With Statistics

Still waiting for an article (actually, the posts so far also seem devoid) about pass-acronyms. "mhallifwwas" will pwn any brute force, any attack table (well, not any more) and it's a fscking nursery rhyme.

You can wait a long time, because there are too few computer scientists on the intersection of poetry, linguistic analysis and computer security to make that happen. You would need a good estimate of likely sentences used for input and that requires skills far outside the computing sphere.

A statistical analysis will likely reduce the set of probably letter combinations somewhat, but probably not by more than one or two orders of magnitude. An analysis of word-beginning distribution of letters will gain you more. Taking all that into account, my best gut feeling is that you'll end up somewhere in the area of 10^10 in complexity for an 8-character output. Better than passwords (which I've repeatedly estimated at around 10^7) but still not so great and probably much less than you'd expect.

Also, taking into account psychology and the fact that a fairly small set of phrases is much more popular than all the others combined, and that many users will choose a popular phrase instead of a personal one, you would also end up with the "password"-as-my-password problem in that a lot of accounts would have phrases from a list of maybe 1000 popular ones.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling