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Comment: Re:Pay attention class... (Score 3, Interesting) 136

by Zygamorph (#33969206) Attached to: Canada Says Google Wi-Fi Sniffing Collected Personal Data

If I remember correctly Google said they would keep the data until the Canadian authorities had stated they had finished examining it to determine what laws were breached. Once the evidence had been evaluated and they get authorization, they will delete it. Basically they are saying they won't delete evidence of a possible wrong doing until the appropriate authorities say it is OK. This means that they have to hold on to the data collected in each country until they get permission from that country's authorities. Sounds like and administrative nightmare.

Its also a perfect example of how the laws don't reflect how the technology was designed to work. WAPs are designed to handle two situations:

  1. I want to share with everybody, a.k.a "Open WAP"; and
  2. I want to share with only a select few, a.k.a. "Encrypted or closed WAP".

From the technology design point of view if you run across an open WAP then you "know" they want to share. If its closed then you know they don't. I agree that it gets very grey when you knowingly start to collect user ids and passwords. If its an automated download of everything that is available, sort of like a wget, then you can argue the stuff should have been secured.

The laws try to protect the group of people who are too lazy to learn how and why you should secure a WAP as well as your data. The problem is how to differentiate between those open WAPs that people want to share from those where people don't.

Idle

2012 Mayan Calendar 'Doomsday' Date Might Be Wrong 144

Posted by samzenpus
from the 60-day-reprieve dept.
astroengine writes "A UC Santa Barbara associate professor is disputing the accuracy of the mesoamerican 'Long Count' calendar after highlighting several astronomical flaws in a correlation factor used to synchronize the ancient Mayan calendar with our modern Gregorian calendar. If proven to be correct, Gerardo Aldana may have nudged the infamous December 21, 2012 'End of the World' date out by at least 60 days. Unfortunately, even if the apocalypse is rescheduled, doomsday theorists will unlikely take note."

Comment: Re:Who revealed it (Score 1) 747

by Zygamorph (#33575310) Attached to: HDCP Master Key Revealed

All public key encryption systems practically require both parties to have both public and private keys. Its true that you could send a "secret" message by using a public key and only someone with the matching private key could decrypt it. The problem is that in that scenario the receiver can't authenticate who the sender is. The way around this is to first encrypt the message with the sender's private key and then with the receiver's private key. Only someone with the receiver's private key can decrypt the outer "envelope" of the message and get the message still encrypted with the sender's private key. They then use the sender's public key to get the clear text. The receiver therefore "knows" that only the sender could have sent the message. Its generally used as part of a digital signature for the message.

Since public encryption/decryption is computationally intensive most systems use a private key system to encrypt the message and a public key system to encrypt the one time use private key.

Lookup symmetric and asymmetric cryptographic systems for more info.

Graphics

Wolfenstein Gets Ray Traced 184

Posted by Soulskill
from the ach-mein-framen dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After showcasing Quake Wars: Ray Traced a few years ago, Intel is now showing their latest graphics research project using Wolfenstein game content. The new and cool special effects are actually displayed on a laptop using a cloud-based gaming approach with servers that have an Intel Knights Ferry card (many-core) inside. Their blog post has a video and screenshots."

Comment: You can't stop Darwin (Score 1) 930

by Zygamorph (#32901644) Attached to: Toyota Sudden Acceleration Is Driver Error

You can't stop evolution, you can only have some ( albeit small) effect on the conditions that the population is adapting to. The more "dumb proof" you make products the more the environment favours "dumbness". In effect the "dumb" population has a competitive advantage and we therefore are selecting for dumbness.

Reminds me of an idea I heard of several years ago. During the middle ages, the first son was the designated heir, the brightest of the left-over sons and daughters were sent to join various religious organizations that practised celibacy. In effect the church was dumbing down the population while selecting its own members from the brightest of what was left.

Comment: Best Laid Plans (Score 1) 250

by Zygamorph (#32205066) Attached to: Car Hits Utility Pole, Takes Out EC2 Datacenter

Reminds me of a company I worked for. They had a data centre divided into 5 zones, each zone had a UPS. Each zone was connected to the neighbouring zone with a transfer switch and each UPS could handle 2 zones until the diesel generators kicked in. Each year for 5 years management decided that the cost of the downtime to do annual maintenance was too high so it wasn't done. Outside power finally goes away and 4 of the five zones stay up. The investigation determined that the battery ( natch the power is out) powered transfer switches on both neighbouring zones failed because the battery failed. Turns out putting in new batteries was part of the annual maintenance check list and they had a shelf life of 4+ years.

How about the company with the diesel generator that has 5 hours of fuel. They test it for 1 hour every year. On year 5 the power goes out and the generator runs for one hour before running out of fuel. Seems the test procedure didn't include refuelling the generator.

The point is that even with what you think is the best of planning and testing some time stuff happens.

Comment: I Beg to Differ (Score 1) 663

by Zygamorph (#32193814) Attached to: Exam Board Deletes C and PHP From CompSci A-Levels

I'll deny it it just to show it can be done.

There are tens of millions of lines of code in a variety languages that help run the world that were written and are maintained by hard working programmers who have never used C. There is also a lot of code that is written in C. It depends on where and what you are talking about.

The reality of the situation is that in industry there are a large number of camps. Some have huge repositories of code that is probably older than the OP that is mission critical and is still chugging along very well thank you very much. There are other places where the latest and greatest objected oriented, web based language invented at a University is the vogue. You have everything in between.

Saying one particular language is that basis of computing displays a very limited knowledge of the wide breadth and depth of computing both in industry and academia.

Now back to the original topic. What language(s) to use to teach beginning computing.

There are two basic methods. One is to teach the nitty gritty machine level first and then move up to higher and higher levels of abstraction. I.E. Bits, Nibbles, Bytes et al. The second is to start at a higher level of abstraction, teach the higher level concepts, such as iterative loops, without getting bogged down with the minutiae of what's under the hood. With the second method you can get more specific if you need to.

I would argue that most people will get bored with method 1 and have no real need for it. Method two does require selecting the level of abstraction you want to start at, you tailor the selection to the group you are trying to teach. People who argue C are simply picking a lower level of abstraction than people who argue for Java, either can be "right" or "wrong" depending on the people in the class and the objectives of the class.

I also think that a good grounding in computational theory and the study of algorithms is a good idea. If you know why a bubble sort on a 1 million entry list is a bad idea then it doesn't really matter what language you decide to not implement it in :-)

Crime

Killer Convicted, Using Dog DNA Database 97

Posted by timothy
from the what-about-concealed-dog-licenses? dept.
lee1 writes "It turns out that the UK has a DNA database — for dogs. And this database was recently used to apprehend a South London gang member who used his dog to catch a 16-year-old rival and hold him while he stabbed him to death. The dog was also accidentally stabbed, and left blood at the scene. The creation of human DNA databases has led to widespread debates on privacy; but what about the collation of DNA from dogs or other animals?"
Australia

Nintendo Wins Lawsuit Over R4 Mod Chip Piracy 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the sorry-about-your-luck dept.
schliz writes "The Federal Court has ordered an Australian distributor to pay Nintendo over half a million dollars for selling the R4 mod chip, which allows users to circumvent technology protection measures in Nintendo's DS consoles. The distributor, RSJ IT Solutions, has been ordered to cease selling the chip through its gadgetgear.com.au site and any other sites it controls, as well as paying Nintendo $520,000 in damages."
Games

Ubisoft's Constant Net Connection DRM Confirmed 631

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-getting-flamed-by-the-entire-internet dept.
A few weeks ago we discussed news of Ubisoft's DRM plans for future games, which reportedly went so far as to require a constant net connection, terminating your game if you get disconnected for any reason. Well, it's here; upon playing review copies of the PC version of Assassin's Creed 2 and Settlers VII, PCGamer found the DRM just as annoying as you might expect. Quoting: "If you get disconnected while playing, you're booted out of the game. All your progress since the last checkpoint or savegame is lost, and your only options are to quit to Windows or wait until you're reconnected. The game first starts the Ubisoft Game Launcher, which checks for updates. If you try to launch the game when you're not online, you hit an error message right away. So I tried a different test: start the game while online, play a little, then unplug my net cable. This is the same as what happens if your net connection drops momentarily, your router is rebooted, or the game loses its connection to Ubisoft's 'Master servers.' The game stopped, and I was dumped back to a menu screen — all my progress since it last autosaved was lost."

Comment: Lets See (Score 1) 127

by Zygamorph (#30472192) Attached to: FASTRA II Puts 13 GPUs In a Desktop Supercomputer

Mobo Manufacturer

Lets see, I can help these guys develop a new use for my line of wonky mobo's, get favourable mention all over the world on places like slashdot and reap the benefit of every geek with excess cash and a yen for a super computer or I can stand back and maybe they find someone else who has a "better" board or they develop their own.

Hmm lets think on this one

Games

Review Scores the "Least Important Factor" When Buying Games 169

Posted by Soulskill
from the arbitrary-numbers-are-arbitrary dept.
A recent report from a games industry analyst suggests that among a number of factors leading to the purchase of a video game — such as price, graphics and word of mouth — the game's aggregated review score is the least important measure. Analyst Doug Creutz said, "We believe that while Metacritic scores may be correlated to game quality and word of mouth, and thus somewhat predictive of title performance, they are unlikely in and of themselves to drive or undermine the success of a game. We note this, in part, because of persistent rumors that some game developers have been jawboning game reviewers into giving their games higher critical review scores. We believe the publishers are better served by spending their time on the development process than by 'grade-grubbing' after the fact."

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