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Comment: Not seeing the problem (Score 4, Insightful) 841

by bradley13 (#49609513) Attached to: Two Gunman Killed Outside "Draw the Prophet" Event In Texas

Organizing a deliberately provocative event is a clear statement of support for free speech. A clear statement that allowing potentially offensive speech is essential to a free society. Other reactions to Charlie Hebdo - how we have to tread carefully and avoid offense - are utterly wrong.

Terrorists are barbarians, and are a direct threat to civilization. Apparently, the Texan reaction to barbarism is "bring it on".

More power to Texas. I hope other places find the courage to hold similar events.

Comment: US CAs are a risk... (Score 1) 317

by bradley13 (#49594343) Attached to: Mozilla Begins To Move Towards HTTPS-Only Web

Um, you write: "[CA] could issue a bogus certificate in your name whether you work with them or not" and also "Your CA being in the US isn't a risk".

That's kind of a contradiction. Ok, so where my CA is located isn't the issue, but given "National Security Letters" and all, I'd say allowing any CA in the US to issue certificates is a risk, at least for non-US domains.

Comment: Can we please fix certificates and CAs first? (Score 5, Insightful) 317

by bradley13 (#49593923) Attached to: Mozilla Begins To Move Towards HTTPS-Only Web

HTTPS is all well and good, but the certificate situation is just a mess. Currently, essentially any CA can issue a certificate for any website anywhere. That means that every time you surf, you are placing your trust in literally hundreds of CAs.

Meanwhile, self-signed certificates bring up horrendous warnings, or are simply refused. The chance of verifying a self-signed certificate (for example, getting the fingerprint via another channel) are a lot better than the chance of verifying that some random CA hasn't been bribed or pressured.

Can we please fix this mess, along the way to making HTTPS standard?

Comment: Subsidy for big publishers? Political games? (Score 1) 126

by bradley13 (#49592183) Attached to: Obama Announces e-Book Scheme For Low-Income Communities

Pardon my cynicism, but...does this make any sense at all? Or is it just about a subsidy for big publishers, plus some stupid political games?

Provide ebooks? The problem this is supposed to solve, according to Obama, is "low-income children lag below their grade level in reading skills and lack books at home". There's a reason for that, and it isn't lack of access to books. It's parents who don't read and don't encourage reading.

And how are they going to read those ebooks? Why...on the upgraded "Internet services for schools and libraries". You know, if you can get those kids to a library, be it a public library or a school library, you could just let them read some of the books that are already there. The thing is: you aren't going to get them into the library, because - see above - they are being raised in families and in an urban culture that doesn't value reading.

Fix the urban culture problem. Get the parents to care about their kids education. Everything else is noise.

Comment: Isn't this a free-speech issue? (Score 1) 216

by bradley13 (#49575735) Attached to: How Google Searches Are Promoting Genocide Denial

Isn't this a free-speech issue? Or, even more fundamentally, freedom of opinion?

There are people in the Southern US who refer to the American Civil War "the War of Northern Aggression". From their point of view, that's what it was - slavery was just the excuse. It's not a widely held opinion, but it's theirs to hold.

Russian history books present a very different view of WWII and the aftermath, as compared to Western history books.

If the Turkish government and people believe that what happened does not qualify as a genocide, that is entirely their right. I do not understand the pressure to acknowledge the events of 100 years ago. It's like the XKCD cartoon: someone in the world is wrong! It's history, it's past, and a formal acknowledgement by today's government isn't going to change what happened.

Ok, so someone educate me: what am I missing here?

Comment: Re:Fast track (Score 5, Interesting) 353

by bradley13 (#49571365) Attached to: University Overrules Professor Who Failed Entire Management Class

"If the professor was at all smart, he would have identified the worst offenders built a solid case for them and crucified them before an expulsion board to send a message to the rest of the students, and any one taking his class in the coming semesters, that he isn't to be 'fucked with'."

Exactly this.

It sounds like Prof. Horwitz did just about everything wrong. He wasn't objective, he didn't grade students individually, and he blind-sided the school administration.

You do get crappy classes once in a while. I had a class a couple of years ago - it's a class that I teach every semester - but this particular group of students was just special. The social leader of the class hated the subject. He convinced most of the rest of the class to follow his lead: skipping lectures, or coming to class only to surf or game, not doing assignments, etc.. He was a total pain in the a**, and most of the class followed his lead.

Fine. You buckle down and teach. You focus on the students who aren't being idiots. At the end of the course, you write a final exam of exactly average difficulty, make extra sure that the questions are clear, and that the grading criteria will stand up to a formal review process. You warn the administration of what is coming. Then, you fail everyone who deserves to fail, based on absolutely objective criteria. In my case, it was 3/4 of the class.
Importantly, those students who resisted the peer pressure - they did just fine on the exam.

Comment: Reality: small companies will pay up... (Score 1) 52

by bradley13 (#49571007) Attached to: TeslaCrypt Isn't All That Cryptic

"The option of "pay ransom" is really a sign that you've failed yourself (and your customers, if you're a business). You can't stop data exposure, but to have to pay to get your data back, that's just stupidity on your part."

The victims of ransomware are companies too small to have a full-up IT department. Since lots of /.ers are in the US, look at the stats on company size. The vast majority of companies have fewer than 10 employees. Those are the companies where the IT was probably set up by a friend or neighbor.

It's all well and good to say that you should have a full backup tested and ready to go, but only larger companies actually do. At best, what a small company has is a hard-disk that some employee takes home on the weekend, which is supposed to contain a backup of all critical files. Most won't have anything beyond a local file synchronization, which the ransomware may be able to overwrite.

Most small businesses run on a shoestring: they can't afford to pay an IT person to run a professional network for their 3 PCs and 2 laptops. Heck, one company I am currently working has one employee using their workgroup server as their normal PC. Win-XP with full administrative rights. That's how they saved money when they started six or seven years ago, and only now - when the hardware is end-of-life - is it finally going to change.

If there is an offsite backup, it will be days or possibly weeks old. It's certain that no one has ever actually wiped down the server and tried a full restore; they don't really know if the backup is complete (or even readable). Some critical file somewhere won't have been backed up, or they won't be able to find all the license keys, or... Figure it will take days, maybe even a couple of weeks to get the company running again. Lost time, lost business, plus the lost data (since the backup won't be current), plus paying consulting fees for an expert to do all of the work.

Likely as not, the company will pay the ransom and hope for the best.

Comment: Would this be published? (Score 3, Insightful) 634

by bradley13 (#49568903) Attached to: How To Increase the Number of Female Engineers

Would this be published?

Ralph Jones writes in an op-ed piece in the YN Times that he looks with despair at estimates that only about 14 percent of teachers in elementary school are men. But there may be a solution to the disparity that is much simpler than targeted recruitment efforts. "An experience here at the university, where I teach, suggests that if the content of the work itself is made more objective and scientific, men will enroll in droves," writes Jones. "That applies not only to elementary school but also to more traditional, equally female-dominated fields like nursing and kindergarten."

"It is not just about gender equity - it is about doing better teaching for us all."

Comment: Crappy, sensationalist reporting. (Score 5, Informative) 89

TFS refers to TFA which refers to another TFA, and all of them are pathetically written. Here's a link at CMU discussing the competition. This is the second link in TFS, but it's not clear that all of the other links in the first paragraph are just trash.

In any case, a couple of points and/or musings:

  • 1500 hands per day, 6 days per week, for two weeks running. I only play at a hobby level, but...isn't that a whopping lot to expect of the human players? Any serious players out there who can comment?
  • One of the pros expects fewer "mind games". But mind games are part of the game - if this is a decent AI, shouldn't he be in for more mind games?
  • The hands are "prepared". On the one hand, this bothers me, because we must assume that the researchers do not (even subconsciously) select hands that their AI can win. On the other hand, the reason for the preparation (only discussed in the CMU article - all of the "journalists" failed to understand this point) is so that they can play duplicate, in support of better scientific results.

As a final note: may I please encourage submitters and/or our illustrious editors to not fluff up submissions with links to crappy articles that miss most of the important points? Just the source link would have been enough - it's a good article with real information written in actual English.

Comment: Indeed... (Score 1) 153

by bradley13 (#49499797) Attached to: Twitter Moves Non-US Accounts To Ireland, and Away From the NSA

The article says, without a hint of irony: "EU citizens will feel that their data is not protected under US law". Well, of course not. US law should have absolutely no meaning for anyone outside the US. Why would an EU citizen expect US law to have any relevance at all?

What's missing from this picture is EU law. Ireland needs to stand up on its hind legs and enforce EU law. My understanding is that any data transfer to the US is forbidden, unless there is a confirming judgement from an EU court. Just like Kim Dotcom: The US wants all sorts of things, but it's the New Zealand courts that have jurisdiction.

If Ireland wants to keep all of this data center business, it had better find the courage to enforce EU law...

Comment: Nothing to do with the subject, but...overreach? (Score 1) 78

by bradley13 (#49480297) Attached to: GAO Warns FAA of Hacking Threat To Airliners

AFAIK, the GAO was originally supposed to "investigate, at the seat of government or elsewhere, all matters relating to the receipt, disbursement, and application of public funds". In this, they usually do a pretty decent job, and even remain reasonably apolitical. Of course, you can't build an empire while restricted to your original task.

Clearly, it's a logical extension: from accounting expertise to the evaluation of cyber-security in avionics computers. /sarc

Seriously, there really needs to be a mechanism to close down and reboot an agency from scratch every 10 or 20 years. Clear out the deadwood and refocus the agency on its actual mission.

Comment: Cherry-picked correlations (Score 5, Interesting) 148

Yet another call for racial discrimination, based on nothing much. I skimmed the paper, and looked particularly at the results sections. The authors cherry-pick the positive correlations, and ignore the negative ones.

It happens that they have a weak positive correlation for black students taught by black teachers, but the correlation for hispanics is universally negative and for asians the correlation is negative everywhere except math. Somehow, the authors forgot to mention the negative correlations in their abstract, and TFA certainly doesn't pick up on them.

Overall, the number of positive and negative correlations is very nearly equal, which leads to the suspicion that the paper represents a careful analysis of random noise.

Comment: Um...obvious? (Score 5, Insightful) 291

Ok, what am I missing? I mean, this seems obvious.

Being stoned, just like being drunk, has kind of an obvious affect on your current cognitive abilities. For both drugs, you are looking a a time-frame of hours where you cannot study or work effectively. TFA even notes that the magnitude of the effect on grades is similar.

If you drink alcohol or smoke pot on nights when you need to be studying, your grades are going to suffer. If you restrict yourself to times when you really don't have any obligations, then there won't be a problem. Young adults being, well, young adults, they may not always have the necessary self-awareness and self-discipline - hence, their grade may suffer while they are learning this life lesson.

Make sure people are aware of the effects of the drugs. Encourage self-control and self-discipline. Prohibition is, and has always been, a non-solution.

Comment: Switzerland sleazy for providing due process? (Score 1) 312

by bradley13 (#49431735) Attached to: Google, Apple and Microsoft Squirm As Global Tax Schemes Scrutinized

"if we can bring sleazy amoral switzerland to heel, we can do this"

As a Swiss, I would just like to say that the story looks rather different from this side. You are presumably in the US, and have the US media's version of events. This is the wrong thread to go into many details, but let's just take a couple of highlights:

- The US likes to apply American law to citizens and companies in other countries. With sufficient political pressure, and sometimes outright extortion, it sometimes even succeeds.

- There is no particular reason why Swiss banks should provide their customer information to the US government (FATCA), though this is what they have been forced to do - quite literally via extortion. Interestingly, the Swiss government asked "so can this be bilateral - your American banks provide equivalent information to Switzerland on Swiss citizens?" The answer was basically laughter, with the explanation that doing so would be far too burdensome for US banks.

Finally, there is an almost global acceptance of something that is really odd, if only you step back and take a fresh look. Your personal finances are a private matter: you don't want your neighbor looking at your bank statement, or you employer, or indeed really anyone. So why, exactly, does the government have the right to know every detail of your financial life? In Switzerland, the government does not have insight into your personal finances and your entire personal life, and it cannot confiscate your money without a court decision.

By Swiss law, if the government wants private information about you, it must show evidence of wrongdoing and get a warrant. If it wants to take your property, it must win a court decision. Why is Switzerland "sleazy" and "amoral" for providing people with privacy and due process? Yes, our banks are now being forced to remove these protections from foreign citizens. Why is this a good thing?

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents