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Comment: Re:Transparency (Score 3, Funny) 97

by epine (#49759203) Attached to: Researchers Devise Voting System That Seems Secure, But Is Hard To Use

If I wanted ritual in my life, I would have become a priest and pursued my career with extreme political ambition so I could vote for the freaking pope.

I guess you've never read an article in your life about mobilizing the voters who are too lazy (or metabolically downtrodden from their Cheetos and Coke diets) to physically show up at a polling station?

Paper is a physical token. Reliably obtaining exactly one unambiguous, untamperable physical token with confidentiality from each adult member of society—the vast majority of which are collected on the same day—hasn't exactly proven to be an easy problem, especially when broadened to include public trust—that every voter understands and believes the process to have all of these properties (to at least a substantial degree).

Electronic voting vastly reduces the complexity on the collection side, but then the tamperability problem looms supreme, but this could almost be solved with enough crypto cleverness, except that the public trust story then requires a tiny bit of numeracy beyond grade six math.

Ritual, however, is accessible to a four-year old.

The same four-year olds who are unfortunately not yet equipped with fully functioning batshit detectors.

I don't want to abolish ritual. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.

Comment: self-interest bullshit configurator (Score 1) 616

by epine (#49711527) Attached to: Editor-in-Chief of the Next Web: Adblockers Are Immoral

This is the same asshole who buys a pretty little property out in the countryside, and then after a year or two launches a farm practices complaint to shut down the neighbouring farms (which have only been there for two hundred years) because they smell like farms.

Then he shows up in town council explaining that only sociopaths raise farm animals.

What an incredible self-interest bullshit configurator this man possesses.

Get the fuck off my moral lawn.

Comment: garbage under, garbage above (Score 1) 386

by epine (#49676943) Attached to: Criticizing the Rust Language, and Why C/C++ Will Never Die

It's a statement of fact, and everyone - including you and me - is terrible at programming.

Simply not true, unless you believe that non-terrible code requires God himself to reach down and personally touch type.

I heard a bit of CBC episode recently, where a breathing consultant by the name of James Chambers argues that humans are terrible at breathing, and that with proper training (this takes about a year), we're almost competent (and then flowers bloom everywhere in an orchestral swell).

Breathe In, Breathe Out

One thing I will say is that a programmer is only as good as the API he or she programs against. In the spirit of Bill Maher, I hereby announce a New Rule: Garbage under, garbage above.

Most of the programmers with legendary reputations for writing correct systems have worked at (or fairly close to) the bare metal (or some POSIX-ratified virtual bare metal with extra starch).

Humans actually suck at just about everything. Programming is not especially special (modulo rampant innumeracy). All the greats in any discipline recognize and work within their personal limitations.

It's not constructive to become so bitter that you give up, or delegate the hard work to a tool that can only take you so far (perhaps less far than you wish to go).

Just the other day I listened to this Econtalk episode from six months back: Joshua Angrist on Econometrics and Causation

For the entire episode, Russ Roberts is trying to play the same pessimism card, effectively implying that humans suck at everything.

Joshua Angrist is having none of it. He directly refutes the posture of excessive pessimism time and again. It's a joy to hear Russ taking one on the chin for a change.

Now we just need an enterprising academic to self-subscribe to a personal mission to save us all from ourselves to come along and wrap up the whole of econometrics into a protective cocoon inside of which many of the basic errors simply can not be made.

Brave new world? Or cult of pessimism?

In my corner of the world, hard-baked optimists don't write unthinking rants anchored on assertions prefaced with "statement of fact". Wits on dial tone predicts no good thing.

Comment: Re:I'd like to see the environmental nightmare die (Score 1) 369

by epine (#49646517) Attached to: Keurig Stock Drops, Says It Was Wrong About DRM Coffee Pods

I actually waste less coffee, coffee filters, etc.. now that I own a keurig and I like that I can make a single cup of coffee in the morning without any waste.

I had the same feeling when I switched to single cup pour-over, without the blasted machine or the blasted machine politics.

Somehow, I always manage to find three minutes of work to be done in the kitchen while I pace three or four slugs of hot water. Must be some weird corollary to Murphy's law. Or maybe my cookware is telepathic.

Comment: Re:AT&T Autopay - Ha! (Score 1) 234

So, there was no billing error here. The guy actually had his modem making long-distance calls for inordinate amounts of time. Doesn't seem like an AT&T error. Though it definitely sucks for the old man/woman!

No billing error? The entire billing system sucks balls at the largest possible frame.

There should be a legislative directive that all such usage-based billing plans provide an option for the end user to set hard spending caps, which are automatically enforced by the service provider.

Show me a corporation that doesn't—at least attempt—to enact hard spending caps enforced by automatic systems wherever and whenever possible. Heads roll in the gutters when a corporation loses $100 million because some trading desk manages to go rogue with respect to set trading limits. (By the Finnish system of traffic fines, a $100 million loss for AT&T is about on par with some old geezer tabbed for $25,000.)

End users are, of course, purposefully disadvantaged to have to police their own usage by manual vigilance, because everyone knows this is a lucrative fail mode for AT&T's revenue piracy service.

That this whole thing sucks balls right down to the bag root is the least possible diagnosis.

Comment: Ubuntu's sins of commission (Score 2) 177

by epine (#49583087) Attached to: When Enthusiasm For Free Software Turns Ugly

Canonical earned their black eye in spades by giving no advance guidance to their dual-head power users while knowingly ruining the dual head experience in the service of a reconceived user interface which might or might not be all for the best in the long run.

It was their blasted refusal to honestly inform their dual head power users that the dual head power user experience would be unavailable in Ubuntu for several releases so that we could plan accordingly that caused me to set the Canonical bit in my bozo register.

Comment: discussion way too premature (Score 3, Interesting) 58

by epine (#49507643) Attached to: Computer Beats Humans At Arimaa

This is the most substantive bit I was able to find, a forum post by David Jian Wu from eariler today:

Thanks for the questions!

I can't even find a discussion of the winning games by someone who knows the game and its strategic evolution.

Interesting, but at present there's nothing much to discuss here.

Comment: new age germophobes (Score 2) 186

by epine (#49487179) Attached to: How Many Hoaxes Are On Wikipedia? No One Knows

This is the same old elitist bullshit being smuggled out through the back door.

Fundamentally, there are a lot of people out there who don't want Wikipedia to be part of the answer. Whatever standard Wikipedia achieves, the bar is raised at least a hook higher.

I was brought up with "Gerry Germ". This is how insanity was introduced into my grade three class back in the 1970s.

Some of my unfortunate classmates probably grew up to become the adults who try to spray the entire world with 99.9% germicidal carcinogens. Aside from the shocking innumeracy (readily vaccinated in just five inquisitive minutes wielding your dad's miraculous eight-digit calculator, during which one discovers the small difference between zero point zero repeating and 0.001 as multiplicands), there are about six other layers of illiteracy here. We have subsequently learned that our own bodies are outnumbered 10 to 1 (if you count cells) or 100 to 1 (if you count genes) by our personal Gerry Germ symbiotes.

Nevertheless, we continue to hold wacky beliefs about our standards of personal hygiene, and absolutely ludicrous beliefs about what we ingest or acquire from the external environment. Yet somehow we live.

The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of information we encounter in daily living has never been up to to the germ-free standards of my grade three Gerry Germ indoctrination.

Common sense is the human ability to walk past something yummy that's being lying on the sidewalk for an hour that you just stepping on, and not licking it off the bottom of your shoe.

Yet with information about the world, the idea is that the ignorant and uniformed are just going to stick any piece of information into their mouth that they pass by, so all information in the world needs to be currated by food-safety professionals (aka all the authors dripping with expertise and credentials who might have succeeded in authoring Nupedia before the heat-death of the local universe).

Fundamentally the reason that this cloaked nonsense in Wikipedia is lying there undetected is that it's almost entirely immaterial. If a person holds a transient belief in the Australian god Poopoocaca, how much does that affect this year's RRSP contribution level? About 0.00000001 times as much as the five minutes with dad's expensive 8-digit calculator they unfortunately bypassed as a young child.

And you know what? The lunacies these people believe make 99.9% of the content on Wikipedia look like an oasis of sanity by comparison.

Wikipedia needs to bump that up to 99.99% exactly as badly as the germicidal soap in my bathroom needs to bump itself up to a 99.99% bacterial kill rate. As if the human condition is nothing but 1000 lb sand-dampened power supplies with a -100 dB bullshit noise floor at 60 Hz.

Now if I can just find an industrial-strength soap (so far recognized as safe) to rid me tout sweet of all the preening assholes from which this elitist crap originates in the first place, I might start clicking the "buy" button.

Comment: bow tie and nice NIST endorsement (Score 1) 212

Key fragments? Can we have that with a bow tie and a nice NIST endorsement?

When you break your word, you break something that can not be mended.

Even if you wear the regal black cloak of the Central Malfeasance Agency, when you're found out, it can and will be held against you.

Ho hum. This is clipper chip redux.

In 1997, a group of leading cryptographers published a paper, "The Risks of Key Recovery, Key Escrow, and Trusted Third-Party Encryption," analyzing the architectural vulnerabilities of implementing key escrow systems in general, including but not limited to the Clipper Chip Skipjack protocol. The technical flaws described in this paper were instrumental in the demise of the Clipper chip as a public policy option.
The U.S. government continued to press for key escrow by offering incentives to manufacturers, allowing more relaxed export controls if key escrow were part of cryptographic software that was exported.

Cooperation requires either trust or truncheons. No worries for the NSA. It'll soon enough be classified as a state-secret crime against humanity to bleat when beaten, if it isn't already.

Comment: proto conlang bowling shoe (Score 1) 626

The layout of paths will seem right and comfortable only when it is compatible with the process of walking. And the process of walking is far more subtle than one might imagine.

More at 120 Paths and Goals.

This is basically the famous "make the buildings first, then add the paths later" meme, as told by the architect Christopher Alexander.

A human language must comfortably accommodate the natural cognitive arcs of the human thought process. Ideally, it should fit habits of thought as comfortably as a hand fits a well oiled leather baseball glove, one that your forefather gave to his son (or your foremother gave to her daughter), stretching in an unbroken chain all the way back to human prehistory.

What we need, then, is a good proto conlang that we can throw into a cultural stew pot to steep for a thousand years, accommodating to the human mind however it will. If by then it still seems rough, throw it back into the pot for another thousand years.

The figure of merit, therefore, for a proto conlang is that it accommodates its future evolution gracefully, blooming like a rose quite unexpectedly, making everyone blush (2000 years from now) over how we ever got along without it.

Instead, what most people busy themselves inventing is a proto conlang bowling shoe, a neat (but sweaty) communal object which fits anyone who happens to drop by to drop some pins, with no possibly confusion about which foot goes into which shoe, or how the lacing pattern goes if one the laces should happen to break—pouring over in their righteous zeal the following menu (among others) to divine the one true ineluctable escape from all things arbitrary:

43 Different Ways To Lace Shoes

What English already does: Riding Boot Lacing

This method is for riding boots (motorbike or equestrian) whose sides are joined at the top and loosen near the ankle. The laces zig-zag from both ends and are tied in the middle.

English knows from feet on the ground where the pressure goes.

What weedy conlingers tend to moot: Hidden Knot Lacing

By hiding the knot underneath, the result is an uninterrupted series of straight "bars" that looks particularly distinctive on dress shoes or sneakers alike.

Conglingers know from eyes in the face that irregular knots and loose ends of human cognition are better spoked than spoken.

Comment: $25 million for two characters (one broKen) (Score 1) 92

by epine (#49435207) Attached to: AT&T Call Centers Sold Mobile Customer Information To Criminals

Apple imposes a $50 million fine for leaks, GT Advanced reveals

Perhaps LG is now facing more of the same, for leaking two whole characters: "8K".

What I'm hoping is that LG pushes back, and when it goes to court LG successfully argues they didn't tip any technical parameters about a forthcoming Apple product, because "K" doesn't mean 1000, and "K" doesn't mean 1024, and in fact doesn't mean any number at all, contrary to what the Apple marketing people apparently think.

HEAD CRASH!! FILES LOST!! Details at 11.