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Comment: Re:Nobody cares (Score 2) 85

by bigpat (#48460563) Attached to: Revisiting Open Source Social Networking Alternatives
They don't care except for when it affects their user experience. Too many inline ads in Facebook for instance would be something that eventually people could get sick of and make them start looking around. Facebook being such a dominant and established presence and being under pressure to make money means they could certainly piss off their users with too many ads. Look at what happened to all the search engine companies before Google came along. All of a sudden a clean interface with real search results and fewer ads. Same thing could happen to Facebook if it becomes a tool for making money instead of a tool for its users to communicate with other people.

Comment: Re:cross compatability (Score 1) 85

by bigpat (#48460469) Attached to: Revisiting Open Source Social Networking Alternatives
I think not migrating your contact lists will be a key feature of a switch to some other platform. At some point a fresh start with just your current friends and contacts might be in order and it would be easier to start on a new platform than to try to weed them out on Facebook with the potential for hurt feelings.

Comment: Re:Amazon Elastic Cloud? (Score 1) 246

by bigpat (#48429667) Attached to: Does Being First Still Matter In America?

I think the answer is yes they do need a pretty constant level of computer power, since you want as much lead time on extreme weather events. But maybe it would be more cost effective to buy the computing time from a cloud provider. The NWS question is a bit different than the question of having the fastest supercomputer, since the linked article from Cliff Mass talks about NWS needing 20-30 petaflops of computer power which is basically the equivalent of the largest supercomputer the US already has:

"My back-of-the envelope-calculation is that the National Weather Service needs a minimum of 20-30 petaflops of computer power to provide the American people with state-of-the science weather prediction that would improve the life of everyone in important ways."

So about equal to the "Titan" supercomputer or the "Sequoia" from the top 500 list:

Comment: Re:About time for a Free baseband processor (Score 1) 202

by bigpat (#48385733) Attached to: Department of Justice Harvests Cell Phone Data Using Planes
The well regulated militia clause has a very clear dual meaning. One meaning is that the militias need weapons, but the other is that in order to regulate the militias the people need weapons. Otherwise, the militias would have all the power in society and be unstoppable, unregulated.

Comment: Re:Maybe he thinks libertarians made a difference (Score 1) 127

by bigpat (#48379729) Attached to: Senate May Vote On NSA Reform As Soon As Next Week

The USA FREEDOM Act is just the Patriot Act done over to escape judicial review. Block the bill and the unconstitutional Patriot Act provisions can finally be left to expire.

This new push is driven by the need to renew the expiring Patriot Act provisions that enable the NSA and others to claim that the wholesale spying on the American people is somehow legal and constitutional. They hope by adding some meaningless restraints and preventing future Snowden type leaks that they can stall efforts in the courts to block the current programs because they will claim that Congress has addressed the excesses with new law. And then we and the courts will be left again in the dark because of secrecy. They will claim reform when it is really business as usual and our Liberty is further eroded with every upgrade in technology.

One of the lynch pins of this fraudulent law is that everyone will eventually call certain numbers, so a "hop limitation" on mass surveillance is not a real limitation. All you have to do is figure that terrorists also have to call the phone company to set up service, or call dominos to order pizza just like everyone else and then you will realize that you are less than 3 "hops" away from being connected to a terrorist suspect and therefore every record in the US is still left as fair game. 3 hops connect just about everyone to everyone else if you have the computing power to do it and they do or will soon enough.

Comment: Re:Wrong analogy (Score 1) 138

by bigpat (#48372905) Attached to: Google's Lease of NASA Airfield Criticized By Consumer Group

A. partition off the few buildings they want preserved as a museum and sell/lease the remainder of the 1000 acres in a public auction, or B. give it to the same guys that some have accused you of giving preferential treatment in what seems to be a sweetheart deal (995 acres in Silicon Valley is pretty pricey).

Really another museum to our past while we turn our future into a Mall? That is your plan A!?

You forgot the part of option B that really matters... maintain an operational airfield and flight facilities that may be of unique and great value in the future. More valuable (to some) than yet another condo development with a golf courses or some such. Sometimes divvying something up that has more value when kept whole just to appease everyone isn't always the way to go.

Keeping the airfield and facilities whole means that the US gets to keep a fairly unique facility in tact and in fact restored by private dollars. This evokes a different response because this actually seems like a good outcome. If it was NASA and Google conspiring to convert an airfield into something else so they could maximize private profits for a short term gain and long term mediocrity, something more like your "plan A" which would see a national asset squandered, then sure I'd be pissed. But beyond the private jet thing, it really does sound like Google will be doing some R&D there and the US gets to keep and restore a facility which would be hard to imagine being built from scratch except maybe once in a hundred years.

Comment: Re:Why not strong passwords? (Score 1) 321

The best solution is to have a complex unique default password for each device and just print it on the back of the device. Sure, that means the company could keep a centralized list of all the passwords which could then get hacked or an invited guest could flip it over and then be able to access your cameras. But that seems a reasonable risk and trade off between security and usability.

Comment: Re:I'm not a scientist... (Score 1) 99

by bigpat (#48328227) Attached to: French Health Watchdog: 3D Viewing May Damage Eyesight In Children

Isn't that how normal vision works anyway?

Yes, but there is a difference between displaying a 3D image on a screen and having depth perception in the real world. In the real world your eyes changes focus to switch between near and far objects. With a fixed screen you end up being some fixed focus distance away from the screen and your eyes won't need to change focus looking at different parts of the screen which are displaying 3D objects that are meant to be a different distances away from the viewer. Even though your brain is registering something as being nearer or farther away depending where you look on the screen. A 3d screen is not the same as looking through a window at a real 3D world.

So for example you have two objects on the 3D screen and one is perceptually further away than the other in 3D space, but if it is already in focus, then you don't have to change your eye focus to focus on the further away object. That is a bit of a difference between the way perception of distance to an object is supposed to work together with the way your eye changes focus.

Comment: Re:To what Standard? (Score 2) 170

by bigpat (#48320403) Attached to: NSA Director Says Agency Shares Most, But Not All, Bugs It Finds

it's a cost benefit. what's the risk to the american public from a vulnerability versus the gain from exploiting it. money money money vs security security security

Assume foreign intelligence knows what you know and the only advantage might be that you know it first.

I don't think working with the developers to fix vulnerabilities is about money while keeping secrets is about security. It is about weighing the risk to national security in leaving American IT infrastructure and individuals vulnerable to exploits versus your own ability to exploit the vulnerabilities for foreign intelligence gathering. The problem is that there will be a bias in the analysis which will always make us more vulnerable overall by favoring intelligence gathering over our own security. The NSA can deflect blame for attacks by foreign intelligence agencies, terrorists and criminal gangs (especially attacks on industry and individuals), but if they come up short on intelligence then Congress will question their budget.

The policy simply needs to be a bit more without exception to be effective at protecting American infrastructure to counter the bias towards intelligence gathering

Comment: Re:To what Standard? (Score 1) 170

by bigpat (#48319911) Attached to: NSA Director Says Agency Shares Most, But Not All, Bugs It Finds

I think it is great that the NSA has an incentive to find exploits for intelligence gathering purposes. The incentive is then problematic for the greater good of national security because there is a perverse incentive to not fix the security vulnerabilities so the NSA can continue to exploit them. If we were talking about vulnerabilities that only affected foreign systems that would be one thing, but we are often talking about vulnerabilities in key US IT infrastructure that is potentially going unfixed.

Comment: Re:Now we get to hear (Score 1) 353

by bigpat (#48313421) Attached to: Online Payment Firm Stripe Boots 3D Gun Designer Cody Wilson's Companies

Note also that Hitler and the Nazis came to power democratically. So there wasn't a moral majority who would have resisted had they only had weapons.

Democracy is more than just having an election. But like I said, the early rise of the Nazis was in part because of their thuggery. I agree that once they were in power it wasn't like a bunch of people with guns were going to stop them.

Comment: Re:Now we get to hear (Score 1) 353

by bigpat (#48310615) Attached to: Online Payment Firm Stripe Boots 3D Gun Designer Cody Wilson's Companies

History is filled with examples and counter-examples, but to me the best historical example that gun restrictions can lead to a large scale rise in tyranny is that after World War I the German government was prohibited from having heavy weapons by treaty, so they in turn decided that they didn't want a civilian population as well armed as the government and began taking away people's right to own weapons. This in turn left the civilian population vulnerable to the type of thuggery that the Nazi party used in order to intimidate people at the local level. By the time the Nazi's rose to power it was too late and millions of people died, but it seems there was a crucial period where a well armed civilian population could have made a difference in preventing the rise of the Nazi party. Individuals didn't have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you can protect yourself from a gang of local thugs and criminals and the local thugs knew that a few guys with sticks and bricks can intimidate a community, especially in cities. At some point thuggery just reaches a critical political mass if it isn't nipped in the bud.

My concern isn't that the people have sufficient arms to over throw a government, might doesn't make right regardless of the motivation, my concern is that people are so disarmed that any group of thugs and organized criminals can intimidate an entire community and use that local power to seize control of government power themselves. Once thugs are in power and control the government then it is likely too late for a disorganized and oppressed population to do anything about it without outside help regardless of the right to own weapons.

We see this local effect of thuggery time and time again especially in cities, but also in some towns, where politicians come to power with the backing of organized crime. That kind of thuggery trickles up.

Comment: Re:Who cares? (Score 1) 31

by bigpat (#48301657) Attached to: How Google Can Get the Flu Right

250,000-500,000 people a year die from the flu, more than 50,000 in the US (that's more than both traffic accidents and gun deaths combined). It's not something to fuck around with.

There are many different viruses and bacteria (including Ebola) that have flu-like symptoms and based on the summary of methodology for these CDC numbers I don't believe the CDC is doing enough regular randomized testing with controls to determine how many of those flu deaths are actually "the flu" or something else with "flu-like symptoms".

There should be two types of randomized testing. First general monitoring, where the CDC pays doctors to perform blind tests on patients with certain symptoms. The tests need to be blind because testing for a specific disease will bias the results... meaning doctors will see it as a test of their diagnostic skills to get it right if you hand them a test for the flu or something else specific. Rather what we should be after is a sense of what percentage of people showing up with a cough of any kind or other symptoms have certain viruses or bacteria. Just a blind test with a direction, give to someone with a cough of any severity. Or give to someone with a fever, headache etc.

The other thing would be for people who are in hospital or who die and had any flu-like symptoms to receive such randomized testing in order to gather enough data to get a specific breakdown on the cause of death beyond just flu-like symptoms. Otherwise if you just did the randomized testing of people showing up to the doctor's office and not those who are seriously ill or die, then you would mistakenly project the percentage of deaths as the percentages of illnesses circulating at the time, when we really want to know which of the viruses and bacteria are contributing to more deaths.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]