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Comment: Re:This will blow your mind really... (Score 1) 175

by dkf (#46819241) Attached to: The Ethical Dilemmas Today's Programmers Face

Was the mechanism to prevent a number from coming up part of the official requirements, with a list of blocked numbers that is subject to audit and a trail including which officer gave the order to put a particular block in? If so, "deep cover" is plausible. If it's just something on the quiet though, it smells far worse.

Comment: Re:Surprised? (Score 1) 144

by dkf (#46819119) Attached to: VK CEO Fired, Says Company Under Kremlin Control

The Soviet Union got in the habit of centralised plan/command economies due to the civil wars that happened immediately after the (second) revolution in 1917. It is arguably not clear therefore that such mechanisms are the way that communism must be. (I wouldn't count the majority of other communist states that existed in Europe in the 20th century at all, as the political/economic system there was mostly about being Russian vassals. The real exception there is Yugoslavia, and that was a timebomb after the death of Tito.)

A more serious criticism against communism is that it is excessively idealistic and fails to account for high-functioning psychopaths (you know, the CEO/oligarch types) sufficiently well. Which isn't to say that capitalism is hugely better, either, but at least there it tries to lay a path open so that what benefits them can benefit everyone else too. Relying on appeals to someone's better nature though, that truly won't work.

Comment: Re:Who watches the watchers (Score 1) 240

by dkf (#46801577) Attached to: Google and Facebook: Unelected Superpowers?

The United States Federal Government was obstinately set up to minimize the aforementioned trend, but several big mistakes (Reynolds v. Sims and the 17th Amendment top the list) along the way and 200 years of mission creep have undermined most of the protections put in place.

You're claiming that Reynolds v. Sims was a bad decision? Without it, you could have stunning levels of effective disenfranchisement; all the party in power would need to do is to allocate all the strongholds of their opponents to as few seats as they could get away with (preferably one!) and split the remaining ones among the areas that they dominate, rapidly leading to an effective, perpetual one party state with no hope of ever changing it.

Any functioning representative democracy has to have something similar in place to limit the levels of unfairness. It might not stop shenanigans, but it limits things quite a lot. If you want to argue against it, please explain on what grounds you believe it to be a problem, and why what you would replace it with would not be worse.

Comment: Re:Texas needs water, not oil (Score 1) 199

by dkf (#46799327) Attached to: Obama Delays Decision On Keystone Pipeline Yet Again

Why can't we have a pipeline that brings fresh water, instead of oil?

Just make it illegal to use water for fracking and agriculture while there's a drought on and you'll have plenty of water for people to drink. Oh, you really want the water to support those industries? Let industry pay for what it costs to get it if they rely on it so much.

Comment: Re:Governance could be a problem... (Score 2) 70

The technology sufficient to divert an asteroid, especially with limited warning(which precludes some of the subtler 'attach an ion drive or give it a slow shove with a laser' type schemes), is probably pretty punchy, possibly 'basically an ICBM but better at escaping earth's gravity well' punchy.

Not if you detect it far enough out. If you've got plenty of time, even a small force (e.g., from laser ablation) is quite enough to divert an asteroid well away from the Earth; it's amazing what a small force applied over a long time can do, especially if you've got negligible friction.

Comment: Re:This does not seem to be news (Score 2) 80

by dkf (#46798325) Attached to: Preventative Treatment For Heartbleed On Healthcare.gov

Like everyone else they don't know if anything was taken. And frankly, Heatbleed is probably the least of the security issues Healthcare.gov has... I'd be way more worried about backbend systems, and then it doesn't matter what your password is.

As I understand it, the majority of the implementation of healthcare.gov is Java. Java's SSL implementation doesn't have the heartbleed bug at all (and implementing this bug would actually take a lot more work than doing it right). If there's a problem, it's most likely in a front-end load balancer; I don't know if you'd see a lot of user credentials in that case, as the damage wouldn't be in systems that handle client authentication.

The database(s) might be affected too, but you probably can't reach them from a normal system; the heavily firewalled approach is a favorite of Big Software Contractors and is actually right in this case. I suppose if they were affected, processing the update to them (carefully as you don't want to lose data!) would count as preventative treatment while still properly supporting the assertion that no real damage was done.

Comment: Re:Not a problem for MGP (Score 1) 397

by dkf (#46796435) Attached to: Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

The same ethyl alcohol is used for vodka, gin, rum, scotch, bourbon, brandy, tequila, Canadian whiskies, and liqueurs. MGP also sells some ethyl alcohol for fuel use, although for them it's a sideline, not their main business.

What a lot of brands I'd never heard of. Some of them have names that are confusingly similar to ones I've encountered, but not one is actually a known brand to me.

But at least some of the things are aged properly in the time between the bottle being filled and it leaving the plant. I mean, it's gotta be all of a few minutes!

Comment: Re:It is not the timelyness, it is the format. (Score 1) 105

by dkf (#46794031) Attached to: Minerva CEO Details His High-Tech Plan To Disrupt Universities

Lecturing is an ineffective way to teach because most people cannot pay attention to and retain a traditional lecture.

That's why students are told to take notes. That's why students are told to study outside lectures; tutorials and — where appropriate for the course — practical sessions in labs reinforce the lecture. You don't learn by just listening to someone, but it is part of how you learn.

Comment: Re:Not that good (Score 1) 188

by dkf (#46790175) Attached to: Heartbleed Sparks 'Responsible' Disclosure Debate

A site-license of almost any software will be a negliegable part of your operating budget.

It depends on what the software is. Some things are genuinely expensive, enough that while maybe a Fortune 500 can handle it, the many smaller companies out there tend to swoon at the prices charged. (These pieces of software tend to be in areas without major OSS competition.)

Comment: Re:So much nonsense in terms (Score 1) 256

by dkf (#46785851) Attached to: Criminals Using Drones To Find Cannabis Farms and Steal Crops

But a 400W LED fixture would produce nearly the same heat overall [as 400W HPS lights].

Well yes. Duh. All those watts have got to go somewhere, and that's virtually all going to be heat eventually. What matters is how much light you get for that power. And LEDs and HPS are fairly similar (enough that the details of exactly what you're doing and how they were manufactured matter; the luminosities per unit power are similar, according to Wikipedia).

Passwords are implemented as a result of insecurity.

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