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Comment: Re:Hi cold fjord! (Score 1) 76

Funny. Not three quarters of a century ago, it was the big marxist-judaist conspiracy that was going to bring the world to its knees with war and strife. Today it's the marxist-islamist conspiracy.

My money is still going to be on the nationalists again when it comes to the reason for war. Then again, once the bombs fall it doesn't really matter anymore who is right.

Only who is left.

Comment: Re:Wireless security (Score 1) 44

by Opportunist (#47794263) Attached to: Wi-Fi Router Attack Only Requires a Single PIN Guess

I take it a step further, I buy appliances with exactly the feature set that I need. I admit it gets harder and harder. The usual dialogue in the store:

"I want to buy a $device without $feature"
"Sir, we'd have $device here, you can disable $feature in it"
"Where? I don't see the switch to turn it off."
"You can disable it in the configuration"
"So... I can turn it off in the config and anyone who can get into the configuration page of the device can turn it back on?"
"Umm... yeah, but you'd be the only one who can"
"Says who?"
"You need a password to access it"
"Want to bet that I do?"

Chances are that I have an exploit for the device in question ready. It's kinda scary what amount of information you can get as part of a CERT. There is virtually no router/ap in existence that is actually bulletproof (and no, price is BY NO STRETCH any way to measure security here), with no exploits and no leaks that allow an attacker access to some, or maybe even all, of its functions.

At the same time, featuritis creeps into our appliances. Everything needs to have all sort of "features", whether they make any sense or whether they don't. I can see where that comes from, on one hand it doesn't really cost anything extra to give the router UPnP capability, on the other hand it's something you can write on the feature card. And that card is what the clueless home user takes to pick his router. "This one has 5 features, that other one has 7, they cost the same, I take the one with 7 features". Does he need them? Heck, he doesn't even know what those features are!

It's ok if the device has a hardware switch that turns such features off. Of course only if that "turn off" really means that the switch enables and disables the power flow to the key component for the feature, not that this switch sends a signal to the CPU that the user wants to disable something. That's easy to ignore.

But of course, that would cost a few cents. So you won't find it on too many devices...

Comment: Not detecting potholes? (Score 2) 229

by Animats (#47792119) Attached to: Hidden Obstacles For Google's Self-Driving Cars

Google isn't detecting potholes? Back in 1985, we had that on our DARPA Grand Challenge vehicle. The LIDAR on top of the vehicle was generating a ground profile. This was for off-road driving, where that's essential. I'd assumed Google was doing that; they have a Velodyne laser scanner that provides enough information.

In traffic, sometimes you can't see a pothole because it's obscured by a vehicle ahead, but if the vehicle ahead doesn't change speed, direction, or attitude, it's probably safe to proceed over the ground it just covered. On high speed roads, you can't see distant potholes clearly because the angle is unfavorable, but if the road ahead looks like the near road, and the near road profiles OK with the LIDAR, the far road is probably good. That's what the Stanford team used to out-drive their LIDAR range. (We didn't do that and were limited to 17MPH).

Fixed road components should be handleable. People, bicycles, and animals are tough.

Comment: Re:Send in the drones! (Score 1) 811

by Opportunist (#47791045) Attached to: Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

If you do that, you're just giving Russia the justification they needed to turn that kinda-sorta-cold-but-lukewarm war into a full out one.

The problem when calling bluff is that the other one can do it too. Do you thing you will get the necessary popular support for a war against Russia over some country most people never heard of? You still need some kind of Pearl Harbor to convince the people that this war needs to be fought. And after the 9/11 ruse, I think being convincing could be a tad bit difficult.

Comment: Talking to "different" people is bad for you (Score 3, Informative) 72

by Animats (#47787707) Attached to: Study: Social Networks Have Negative Effect On Individual Welfare

This is fascinating. It's not the classic "people don't have social lives in the real world because they are on line too much" argument. The authors argue that following people who are "different" from you is bad for you. They write:

"Compared to face-to-face interactions, online networks allow users to silently observe the opinions and behaviors of an immensely wider share of their fellow citizens. The psychological literature has shown that most people tend to overestimate the extent to which their beliefs or opinions are typical of those of others. There is a tendency for people to assume that their own opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are âoenormalâ and that others also think the same way that they do. This cognitive bias leads to the perception of a consensus that does not exist, or a 'false consensus' (Gamba, 2013)."

"The more people used Facebook at one time point, the worse they felt afterwards; the more they used Facebook over two weeks, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time. The effects found by the authors were not moderated by the size of people's Facebook networks, their perceived supportiveness, motivation for using Facebook, gender, loneliness, self-esteem, or depression, thus suggesting the existence of a direct link between SNSs' use and subjective well-being."

This is a new result, and needs confirmation. Are homogeneous societies happier ones? Should that be replicated on line? Should efforts be made in Facebook to keep people from having "different" friends?

SCCS, the source motel! Programs check in and never check out! -- Ken Thompson

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