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Comment: Re: Home of the brave? (Score 1) 532

by briester (#48626959) Attached to: Top Five Theaters Won't Show "The Interview" Sony Cancels Release

I love statistics in these situations, but they undermine you if they're the wrong ones. (I agree with your point though.)

You can't meaningfully say "you are more likely to die of domestic trouble than terrorists" in a general sense just before you go tempt them in a specific way.

The relevant statistic would be the number of theaters showing the film, divided by the number of theaters these people could reasonably attack, times the historical liklihood that similar threats are carried out, times a coefficient (either positive or negative) of local police effectivness (where they try to help or hinder the terrorists.)

Compare THAT to the liklihood of dieing to domestic troubles in the day immediately following a significant emotional event, selecting only from those sampled who have received actual threats from their loved one.

Comment: Math fear (Score 1) 115

by briester (#48489907) Attached to: FAA Report Says Near Collisions With Drones On the Rise

That the FAA is made up of pilots is why they should NOT be making policy calls. Flying is scary, exhilarating, complex... Nobody learns to fly because they're just looking for any ol' job. Its an emotionally charged activity and people pursue it because they're the sort who's motivated by those sorts of emotions.

So when one of these people is asked about dangers, they aren't going to look at statistics, or make a single calculation. They're going to answer off the top of their head that "there is a non-zero chance." And its technically true - probability does get arbitrarily close to zero without ever getting there. But they're still wrong.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A...

When you think about something scary, and you're later asked about the probability of that thing occurring, you will always always always overestimate the likelihood. That is how brains work. You can't get around it. Pilots think about scary airborne accidents more often than most people, and so they will defend the FAA to the death. They don't actually KNOW that they're only doing so to justify their emotional knee-jerk reaction, but they are. These are super intelligent and competent people. Piloting is HARD. They're smart and have spent their lives making solid rational educated decisions. So imagine how embarrassed they would be to admit that they never actually looked at how difficult it is for two things to collide in a three dimensional environment. They won't do that. The more rational and intelligent argument they hear against this nonsense, the harder they'll stick to their fear-guns.

P.S. The FAA is lieing. There have never been any near-collisions. Drumming up a fear response is just standard policy. All agencies do it. Don't think that because humans have a hard time lieing to one another in person that a large group of humans will also have a hard time lieing to other large groups. It doesn't work that way. The American government in particular lies as a matter of course, about nearly everything. I'm not being paranoid or anything - all the people who make up the system really do mean well. We just have to acknowledge the nature of large organizations with no accountability, diffusion of responsibility, and strong motivation to cover-one's-ass.

Comment: Re:How do they define a close call? (Score 1) 115

by briester (#48489857) Attached to: FAA Report Says Near Collisions With Drones On the Rise

They deserve neither because regulation can't work. Nobody here is "all for letting idiot kids shine lasers into cockpits." That's retarded and you know it. Why did you type it?

Lets hold the "does this make a lick of sense" argument for a second. How often do you go to your lawyer and ask about government regulation of new toys you buy? Websites you visit? Do you even HAVE a lawyer? No. Most people reading this do not.

So you go buy your drone and start flying it around. So hypothetically, some cop is going to look up, see a drone, and think to himself, "self, this comfortable seated position is just too lazy. I should really look up the make and model of that drone, then scan a two mile radius around it for radio signals consistent with its design. When I find the source of the signal, I'll call up my buddy to come triangulate it with me. When we pinpoint the source, I'm going to walk on up and say 'sir, did you clear this flight with air traffic control?'"

What then? Huh? What then?

You look the cop in the eye and say "yes. Yes I did."

In other news, this XKCD shows some great math for calculating the odds of collision with objects LARGER than you are, when the atmosphere is completely saturated. Tl;dr: even if it RAINED drones, most flights would miss all of them without trying to dodge. I know that pilots will say otherwise. That's because the mental image of their fiery death is very accessible to them, and that makes it irrationally overstated. Math says this isn't an issue and never will be.

Comment: Ideal situation =/= codified law of alwaysness (Score 1) 81

by briester (#48047417) Attached to: Xen Cloud Fix Shows the Right Way To Patch Open-Source Flaws

So this situation really was handled with aplomb. However, saying that we "should" handle things this way is about as dangerous as saying we "should" shout out the details of every vulnerability we find. Keeping things internal prevents the community from stepping up. I doubt that all the folks who have dealt with heartbleed were involved in SSL beforehand. But they were helpful because they knew they were needed, and their ignorance would have hurt us badly. On the other hand, shouting everything out feels like a dumb thing to do. So instead of some off-the-cuff polarizing question like "shouldn't we always handle things this way for EVERZ" is precisely the wrong response. Its actually the very wrongest.

Discretion, intuition, and rapid initiative. That is how we "should" handle these things. The specifics are case by case.

Comment: Ounce of prevention better than a pound of cure (Score 1) 123

I work in a kitchen, where this sort of behavior would result in a forced closure and heavy fines. If I throw a few hundred pounds of chicken in an oven, I clean the surface I prepped them on. I do NOT wait until a disaster whips the stuff around and covers the whole kitchen with salmonella. While the contaminants are localized, they're easy to clean up. When disaster spreads them around, cleanup becomes nearly impossible.

In the mining context, we can't be leaving giant holes covered with contaminants just waiting for a storm! We know that a storm will come eventually. So we shouldn't fine companies for their failure after a disaster, we should send inspectors during normal operation to make sure they're meeting standards that will prevent disaster.

We need to do this because fining companies after a disaster will encourage them to minimize the financial effect of disaster, which may or may not involve behaviors that would prevent it in the first place. If the disaster rate is low enough, it could encourage them to set aside a fine-fund and make zero allowance for prevention. But if we penalize them for failure to prevent disaster in the first place, we'll be encouraging the behaviors we want to see.

Its a classic 'be careful what you wish for' problem.

Comment: MORE strangness? (Score 1) 144

by briester (#47571687) Attached to: More Quantum Strangeness: Particles Separated From Their Properties
First: when we have established a universal law, and something obeys that law, it is not strange. Two: when you assert that something flies against intuition, you'd better ask some gradeschool kids first. Mine called the author an idiot. (They're 8 and 10.) Three: if someone's experiment results in the observation of a well known, well documented, scientifically named phenomenon, (superposition,) it is rude to call it "more." Or "new." Just rude.

+ - DARPA seeks the Holy Grail of search engines->

Submitted by coondoggie
coondoggie (973519) writes "The scientists at DARPA say the current methods of searching the Internet for all manner of information just won't cut it in the future. Today the agency announced a program that would aim to totally revamp Internet search and "revolutionize the discovery, organization and presentation of search results."Specifically, the goal of DARPA's Memex program is to develop software that will enable domain-specific indexing of public web content and domain-specific search capabilities. According to the agency the technologies developed in the program will also provide the mechanisms for content discovery, information extraction, information retrieval, user collaboration, and other areas needed to address distributed aggregation, analysis, and presentation of web content."
Link to Original Source

Comment: 'We' - 1984 was a ripoff of it. (Score 1) 140

A russian woman wrote a work called 'We' about the changes that science (including political) was making to society. 1984 is a pretty unabashed ripoff of the book, and since you're studying the effects of tech, copyright issues are at the forefront. Making that read uniquely suited to the modern dialogue. Anyway, We can feel dry before you realise what the author is doing, which is another good reason for students to read it. The voice is mathematical to the point of lunacy, so statements like 'we fired the engine test precisely on time. We'll need to replace 20 engineers,' feel matter-of-course. And to me that did a wonderful job of communicating the dehumanization wrought by industry.

Comment: Keystone bounties... in MY ecosystem? (Score 1) 124

by briester (#43453617) Attached to: New Bird Shaped Drone Shown at Security and Defense Trade Show
In every single fantasy novel I've read, in which the antagonist demi-god was clairvoyant through an avian medium (usually ravens or crows because the dark one is so totally goth) there was an outstanding bounty on the vile critters. Imagine if the dark eye was a keystone species? There aren't many birds in the desert, for example, and those falcons and hawks are usually *absolutely necessary* for the ecosystem.

Comment: What themes will be dealt with? (Score 2) 100

by briester (#40211005) Attached to: Ask the <em>Space Command</em> Team About All Things Sci-Fi
What is the premise of your story? What universal human themes will you deal with? What questions are you asking about life, the universe, and everything? And how is the setting 'in spaaaace!' going to help you ask these questions? I've read that some notable sci-fi writers are providing inspiration for the show, so I'd love to hear what sort of message your show will ultimately turn that inspiration into.

Comment: Take away 'what you know' and your pass is secure. (Score 1) 487

by briester (#40058433) Attached to: Your Passwords Don't Suck &mdash; It's Your Policies
So we have passwords because we need to meet the security criteria 'what you know,' because its impossible for the server to know 'what you are' or 'what you have.'

Well, that doesn't mean you can't rely on biometrics or physical keys as passwords... It just means the server doesn't KNOW you're using one of those methods.

The easiest is to visit password card and print off a password card. This is your new PHYSICAL INTERNET KEY!

It generates a string of completely random letters, numbers, and symbols. These are in a grid, so you don't have to remember your whole password - just where your password begins. This defeats the number one security flaw: laziness. Eventually everyone gets lazy. So getting in the habit of *secure laziness,* like using a password card, prevents stupid passwords like 110v3k1tt3ns.

The importance of the password card is in the dictionary. Yeah, yeah, its hard to guess a 4-8 word sentence of random words. But its easy to compile a list of known passwords and use them for all future brute-forces. Every successful brute-force makes *every single subsequent attack* easier. The only way to combat that fact is with truly random passwords using every possible character-set, and never ever using the same password for more than one thing.

Using a password card allows you to have one single 'key' to get into every secure location, without ever re-using a password. Its easy for you, difficult for hackers.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984

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