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Comment who throws the first stone (Score 1) 371

The story shows that who throws the first stone can later be hunted down by the same forces which have been evoked. The resume and previous statements of the twitter author have been checked and dissected by journalists and it does not look pretty. The episode also shows that humour can be tough to understand and that there are many flavours. Outside the UK, some seem to have a hard time parsing British humour. And it can take time to appreciate it. A lot of the Monty Python skits need time to be assimilated. Even so not always politically correct, the jokes are not meant to be offensive. The worst are hypocrites, condemning things which were intended to be funny, but who have have a questionable moral code themselves.

Comment whatever govs can do, crooks will do better (Score 3, Interesting) 134

It is in the interest of anybody to help in providing the best possible encryption because "Whatever govs can do, crooks will do better". It not only helps the industry or privacy. It also protects itself as it is likely that such mandatory back doors will be technically outdated and hacked quickly after put in place. Weak Encryption has decided the fate of Mary Queen, the deciphering of the Zimmerman telegram a hundred ago played a role in the outcome of WWI and weaknesses in the use of the enigma cryptology was important in WW2. Since then, technology has exploded and become more important everywhere. Any government proposing to weaken its own communication infrastructure by mandatory crippling their own industries will be in a disadvantage. The dream is of course that high up, secure systems are going to be used. As they will not have been well tested, they are likely to be hacked even faster than a device for the masses with a backdoor which has withstood standard attacks and gone through peer review by hackers. And if some really sweet military grade encryption will remain to be safe, it will be a goldmine for a company selling devices with such additions abroad.

Comment bravo for the promotion (Score 1) 538

The naivity of some politicians is unbelievable. In that case one could have hardly made a better job in promoting the material. The call for a removal from the book must have multiplied its distribution. Its not only a complete lack of understanding how digital material is distributed today, it also shows a total lack of insight how media work. Its naive and even could be considered borderline stupid.

Comment different from Cornsweet (Score 1) 420

There is big difference between the Tom Cornsweet illusion which is also addressed in the XKCD Also this explanation While both are well done, they miss an important point. The Cornsweet paradox works for everybody. Universally. The dress paradox not. For most people (75 percent in one poll), the paradox does not work. (I myself find it hard to believe that some see initially a blue dress). But it seems that different brains work differently. This is why the phenomenon must be interesting for psychologists.

Comment HD size (Score 1) 70

Looks nice, a bit like the air. Finally also with decent screen resolution. Harddrive size is a bit on the lower side. Applications get fatter. Can not wait for an air with 1T HD size. "Webstorage" as bundled with that machine is not a solution. In recent weeks, maybe due to weather, bandwidth has decreased considerably and in some coffeeshops, broken or slow internet. This requires to have things locally. Broadband infrastructure in the US is not expected to become better soon (even if the Feb 26 vote should go through at FCC).

Comment naysyers are needed (Score 1) 233

Just by definition, the ability to have vision, to dare something, which nobody has done, to inspire fulfilling a dream and possibly fail is is something which is not for everybody. Every entrepreneur, artist or scientist, explorer or adventurer trying to do something which nobody else has done yet, bears risks with possibly fatal or ruining consequences. Maybe, the negative and critical comments (as of them are here) provide are helpful and even needed to select the right people and even motivate them to do such extraordinary things. The word "extraordinary" already tells it. Early settlers establishing new life in "new worlds" were always considered crazy by the majority, operations might have been called a "scam". Many of them died early, many did not arrive. Tragic would be, if we would start to forbid things. One can imagine a time, when more risky sport activity like mountain biking, skydiving or climbing a mountain would be forbidden, because it is too risky. The question is whether we would become happier in such a locked down world. Back to Mars One: it would be a fantastic thing so see humans live permanently on an other planet. But it would only be really fun if there are enough nay sayers who proclaim it to be impossible or idiotic.

Comment keep it simple (Score 4, Informative) 193

all I need for a windows manager is extreme stability, low footprint, a slick way to organize menues, the ability to configure and independence of as many other components as possible. No gimmicks like fullscreen modus if a window is moved to the bottom. Light weight windows managers fullfill all this already nicely. I still use blackbox and have essentially not changed my setup since 15 years. Its all I ever need. fluxbox, xfce are very similar and would work for me too. Nice to have one text file .blackboxmenu which gives the menu and one file .blackboxrc which controls the features. There is nothing to learn about it except that right clicking anywhere on the desktop produces the menu. Also nice, the finder in OSX can be configured so that the workflow is essentially identical on both platforms (the doc is the essential difference). But its important for the workflow to not lose fractions of seconds here and there due to poor or `clever' interface design or when moving from one operating system to an other.The problem of designing a good user interface on the desktop is solved and its based on KISS. On the phone it took longer.

Comment data mining (Score 1) 421

there should be an app which constantly reports statistics how much app information is transmitted to third parties. An other good app would be able to store of old versions of apps. My previously favorate note taking app penultimate recently got swallowed by evernote. The old version still allowed emailing the notes and keeping the notes private, now everything goes through the evernote servers. It was even no more possible to the old notes without going through the evernote servers.

Comment checking for errors is crucial (Score 1) 226

What will be important when doing optimization is that no errors are introduced. Having errors in basic mathematical routines can break things at unpredictable places. The worst errors are the ones which deal with exceptional cases which are rarely hit upon. We worked once on integer factorization algorithms [We programmed Morrison-Brillard and quadratic Sieve methods, and everything in the group had been written from scratch, even the large integer libraries were written from the ground up in Pascal by a relatively large group of programmers, not using a single line of code from the outside as probably custom in any military setup.] Suddenly, our factorization algorithms did not work any more reliably. Debugging took some time but we could pinpoint it to parts where square roots were used. Indeed, the square root routine in rings of integers had been optimized by the group working on fundamental routines. It was quickly fixed, but I can only imagine a rare error in an important library of GCC. In the current case, it looks however as if the engineer knows what he is doing. Especially implementing the squaring function separately is smart and I'm surprised that this had not been done already. When dealing with integer arithmetic like taking powers a^b modulo some number, it is well known to be best first to compute powers a,a^2,(a^2)^2 by successively taking square roots, then write b in binary form and cobbling together the power a^b as a product of the precomputation which is of course the reason why taking powers is cheap in integer arithmetic and important in cryptology like RSA. So, it is important to be able to square quickly.

Comment speed is good (Score 4, Interesting) 194

having on the server side fast and efficient code is nice but there are a plethora of webserver technologies out there and they can interact with virtually any programming language in the background having various technologies working together and having them developed indpendently has lots of advantages. Why bake everything together? Having sepearte entities (server, authoring language, scripting languages, databases) allows more flexibility. Efficiency and simplicity is nice but one can also overdo it. I learned real programming in Pascal, but Wirth soon started to develop the more efficient Modula, then Oberon flavors. Pascal started to stall. Oberon was great, everything, the compiler, operating system, everything fitted on one floppy. From the application and developer point of view it is a disaster to know that the shelf life of a programming language is only a few years, until the developer loses interest finds a better way to rewite the entire thing. This is especially the case for creative guys like Wirth. At one point, (oberon I) he even thought it would be nicer to have no FOR loop, as FOR loops leads to bad programs. Well, he had to reintroduce it in Oberon II. Academic elegance and theory not always goes parallel with the real world.

Comment richter scale needed (Score 1) 64

Giving names is often part of propaganda. This is common in politics. No surprise that this happens in industries where lots of money is. Giving catchy names to vulnerabilities certainly was effective to raise awareness but once the storm is over people care even less or become immune. Especially if propaganda is evident, it does not work any more. Heartbleed was serious, but totally over hyped by the media, with poodle it worked less, with shellshock it was already pathetic Its best to keep being informed by trusted sources like Cert. What would be nice to know is a scale analogue to a Richter scale in earthquakes with a well defined gauge, taking into account how much damage the bug or malware has created, how many systems were affected in total, taking into account also a relative number.

Comment deja vue? (Score 1) 745

Hmm. A Deja vue. A glitch in the matrix? Seriously,such ideas are already a cliche. It had already been subject to fascinating contemplations in Hofstadters book of 1981. And progress in virtual reality and computer games since then have only amplified that the idea of a simulation would be hard to detect.

Comment reason why calculators still exist (Score 1) 340

Of course, calculators are technically long obsolete. It is exactly their limitations is the reason why they are still around because they produce controlled limits on what the device could do, for example not access the web. With smartphone or tablet already, there is less control for the teacher. There are now apps like "myscript calculator" where one can handwrite formulas onto the screen and it evaluates it. The article still has a point. With calculators, one could still experiment. I had hacked my TI 59 so that it featured a joy stick and use it to control the lights of my room. Also not well known was that it was possible to reprogram the basic functions on the calculator like allocate the sin button to something else. Presumabely this made it cheaper for TI to sell specialized versions of their calculators but the backdoor key combination to allow such mods had not been documented anywhere. (here are pictures of my highschool machine:

Comment BYOD is doomed for tests (Score 1) 55

I believe, BYOD is doomed from the beginning, thats why graphing calculators (dinosaurs in comparison with modern smart phones) are still around: because of their limitations they can still be used for tests. Many questions for systems running on students hardware? How is the live system booted: DVD, memorystick? How does that work on a tablet? The biggest weakness is that the system is booted in a subsystem of an other OS. If the system interacts with a server, how do you prevent other internet access? How do you prevent other programs to be run? One major weakness for math testing systems accessed from a browser is that students can "google" or "alpha" the answer. Many system run the clock on the students system so that if the student runs a virtual machine and stops it, the clock stops. For testing systems with BYOD, there is always also the danger that the test leaks. Even with a completely locked down system, it is difficult to prevent that a student boots the OS in a virtual machine and have free range and post the test on the web. It needs only one student to do so. A test examinator can not see the difference (without considerable effort) whether the machine has booted up in a virtual machine or not. Ie only safe way to make a safe and accountable testing system is to make it on paper.

Statistics means never having to say you're certain.