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Comment: This is not about cryptography (Score 3, Insightful) 103

by davide marney (#48541953) Attached to: Neglecting the Lessons of Cypherpunk History

The author says that "cryptography is underhanded", but you will look in vain to find any technical meaning of that phrase anywhere in the article. What he really means is that the major corporations (Google, Apple, et al.) are underhanded because they are working with state spies to cripple algorithms and put in back doors, etc.

But trying to cripple cryptography this is something we already are aware of, and there are ways to shore up the technology to make it much, much harder for government to spy on us in bulk. Even using weak, crippled cryptography forces the spies to expend computing resources. Cryptography is all about raising the cost of spying, when dealing with government, not with preventing spying.

Comment: Re:Vapor voting on its way out (Score 1) 401

by davide marney (#48300227) Attached to: US Midterm Elections Discussion

You do know that ballots "filled in by hand" are actually counted by machines, yes? No one literally counts ballots by hand, the error rate is over the top. Imagine 100 people counting 10,000 ballots: how many of them would you expect will come up with the exact same answer? And, if they don't agree, how will you tell which ones were counted correctly? The answer is, you'd look for a way to remove humans from the equation, because humans are notoriously bad at repetitive tasks. You will use a machine to do the counting. Every time.

The question you really should be asking yourself is, which is more error-prone? Optically scanning a hand-written ballot and counting the votes, or reading a touchscreen. Occam's Razor alone should convince you that the system with the fewer number of moving parts and chances for errors is the more reliable.

Comment: Re:The metaphysics of evolution are a different st (Score 1) 669

by davide marney (#48260259) Attached to: Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

Hm, are you really sure about this? The tagline of evolution isn't, "survival of those who just happend to be here, in no particular order, and for no particular reason", but "survival of the fittest." "Fitness" is properly a design principle, I would argue; it is an optimization (selection) with a purpose (survival). Adding millions of years and hundreds of genetic mutations to the equation doesn't change any of that.

Even your statement that "very likely you'll see increased complexity over time" betrays (if that's not too strong a word) a hidden assumption of progress. Why very likely? If truly random, why not equally unlikely?

Comment: The metaphysics of evolution are a different story (Score 1, Interesting) 669

by davide marney (#48259469) Attached to: Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

Behind the theory of classic evolution lies a metaphysical explanation for the universe: that life "progresses", from simple to complex, from the more fundamental to the more sublime, from problem to solution. The metaphysics of evolution is very much rooted in the philosophy of positivism and progressivism. It is anti-religious not in the sense that it is against the idea of a God, necessarily, but in the sense that the concept of a God is not needed to explain the natural world. God is irrelevant.

One does not hear debate on the metaphysics of evolution very often, and that is a shame. The philosophy of Progressivism, to me, seems more like wishful thinking, than a real explanation of why things are the they way they are. Is progress absolute? Certainly any objective evaluation of history, with its long record of extinctions, would seem to argue otherwise.

Regarding the Bible's metaphysics, however, there is absolutely nothing in common between progressivism and traditional Christian teaching. The very first chapter of the very first book lays it all on the line: God said, "Let there be light. And there was light..." and so on, for 65 more books. The doctrine of the Bible is that "in Him we live and move and have our being." This couldn't be more orthogonal to the doctrine of positivism.

So, while the Pope may rightly observe that a changing creation is still a creation, I'm not sure that really gets to the heart of the matter, which is a metaphysical argument about origins.

Comment: The "Great Man" theory of how progress is made (Score 1) 150

by davide marney (#48202719) Attached to: Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas?

Asimov's advice for how to run effective bull sessions for creative geniuses is based on the assumption that progress is made by a few "great men" who can see and imagine things that all others miss. This theory is not exactly politically correct these days, to say the least. Modern history books are full of attempts to find and highlight what I might call the "Forgotten Man" of history, the story of ordinary people who represent an entire class of people who collectively brought about change.

Personally, I subscribe to a combination of the two ideas. Masses of people lived for tens of thousands of years in exactly the same manner as their ancestors until someone came along with a genuinely new idea that was then adopted and perfected by mass experimentation and use. So: great men for the original ideas, but forgotten men for productizing them.

Comment: Re:The factors, condensed (Score 2) 447

by davide marney (#48129877) Attached to: Statisticians Uncover What Makes For a Stable Marriage

4. Taking marriage vows seriously. A vow is a promise, a promise you make primarily to yourself but of course also to your spouse and your children (if any). Life has ups and downs. When things get really rough, you will have to depend on the promise you made to keep you in the marriage until you can get to the other side.

That said, it is possible for your partner to make it impossible for you to keep your vow, by breaking the relationship itself. If someone is unfaithful and abandons the relationship, for example, or if your partner dies, no amount of trying on your part can repair that. In that case, I would say as there is no vow that can be kept, there is no vow at all.

Comment: Confluence is heads and shoulders above the rest (Score 1) 97

I've been involved in many, many projects to share internal knowledge over the years. I had pretty much given up all hope on wiki technology until I got to the latest versions of Confluence, which strikes an excellent balance between flexibility, simplicity, and automation.

Doing the task you outlined (create multiple playlists of media files) could be done in a variety of ways: Create a "File List" page and upload your content, then create separate pages linking to them; create a page and attach the multimedia files, then use the Multimedia Widget to automatically create a gallery of them to playback; or, host the files on a shared disk and link to them from Confluence.

Comment: Even high-quality downloads have a positive impact (Score 5, Insightful) 214

by davide marney (#47449213) Attached to: Economist: File Sharing's Impact On Movies Is Modest At Most

The paper goes into some detail regarding the latest X-Men movie, where there were 7million downloads of a pre-production work copy of the movie, and, with heavy news coverage, it could be assumed that everyone seeing the movie would know it could have been downloaded for free. Even there, the small, positive bump in revenue was found. That's the smoking gun, IMHO.

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