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Comment: Re:At least he included warrants (Score 5, Insightful) 260 260

Ha ha, did you think he meant warrants? No, no, no... just like every other effort to chip away at freedom and privacy, it comes dressed in the noblest of promises. But once the necessary powers are secured, the promises can be gradually (if not immediately) infringed upon.

Comment: Re: No (Score 4, Insightful) 483 483

How often do your friends immediately email the Wi-Fi password you just gave them to their entire contact list? The correct answer (unless you have really shitty friends) is never. Now all of your friends will do this by default, unless they are technically literate enough to disable the option. (And even if your friends are literate enough, your roommate/boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse's friends won't be.) It's very aggravating that Microsoft has chosen to so promiscuously share the secrets its users have entrusted to the OS. A Wi-Fi password that might have previously been shared with a handful of friends is now automatically spread to a network of hundreds, and exposed to possible interception by enterprise, underground, and state-sponsored hackers. One really has to question the legality of this feature, unless the wording is very clear and the user opts-in every time.

Comment: Re:What is the point? (Score 1) 141 141

What do we get from sending a meat robot to mars, other than the sort of daredevil glory?

You're point is well-taken: robotic missions make a lot more sense than manned ones.

However, I'd like to point out that glory is worth something too. It can inspire a generation of individuals to invest themselves in STEM, for instance. It can encourage people to look to the future, instead of staying mired in the past (and aren't a lot of us guilty of that?). Glory can re-frame how we see ourselves, our species, our capabilities and priorities. Symbolic acts have tremendous potency, and history can swing upon such fulcrums.

Comment: Re:I feel like Rip van Winkle (Score 2) 48 48

I'll extend your answer with the "big picture" view: Docker (and it's Google-backed competitor, Rocket) provide isolation that's stronger than the traditional process model but weaker (and less resource-intensive) than the VM model.

It also introduces yet another packaging system (called "images") that has its own public repository of contributions that you (and any other malware author) can contribute to. For developers, the appeal is being able to bundle up an OS (sans kernel, operationally speaking) with their app and all of its dependencies into one file they push back up to this public repository (or a private one like without having to document an installation procedure for sys-admins. For sys-admins, the pipe dream is to push workloads around to whatever machines have the capacity without delving into the mess of individual apps. Of course, this requires a whole extra layer of additional tooling that doesn't come for free. :O

All that said... don't use it for security. It's not the same as a dedicated VM.

Comment: Re:What about spy satellites? (Score 2) 59 59

Don't ask me how I know this, but a major scandal with the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) is about to erupt: apparently they've been forgetting to push the "turbo" button before handing the keyhole sats off to NASA for launch. As a result, America's espionage capability is hamstrung by an artificially constrained clock speed. :O

Comment: Re:Turn off in Windows? (Score 1) 85 85

One idea I've been toying with is a framework-level network tap that allows you to divert a copy of every bit that your phone sends or receives, via network, Wifi, bluetooth, NFC or USB, for your perusal and examination. Since most apps use the framework APIs for SSL, it should be possible to snarf this data before it's encrypted, too.

Good luck. I captured all the traffic that a nexus 7 sends during initial setup, and it was immense. Numerous hosts, protocols, you name it. A few hundred megabytes total. Very hard to make heads or tails of (especially given the encrypted content).

Comment: Re:Here's a FAQ for slashdotters (Score 2) 126 126

4) Isn' t this unsafe or a new attack vector? No, it relies on the same browser security model as Javascript, so It's as dangerous as having Javascript enabled. Read up on how PNACL works for material on why this is not unsafe.

Except you're bypassing the compiler now and potentially accessing a larger portion of the sandbox attack surface than before.

Comment: Re: This was always going to happen (Score 3, Interesting) 288 288

Actually, Ayn Rand's own admirers were calling themselves "The Collective" in her own lifetime. It may have been intended as a tongue-in-cheek thing, but the cultivation of dogma and ideology was (and is still) very real.

Comment: Re:C and family = optimal (Score 1) 173 173

If you want fast applications, write them in C or one of the C family (C++, Objective C).... There's yet to be a single language that can compete with that language group for speed, capability and power of the resulting code.

A lot of the speed is due to hardware, operating systems, and compilers all converging on C and C++ at a critical juncture in computing history. They've had the benefit of shitloads of academic and industry research into optimization (of which other languages have only recently started to benefit in the past decade as JVM, LLVM, and V8 started receiving lots of attention). That's not to poo-poo the speed advantage--C is definitely the gold standard there--just to contextualize it from a language design standpoint. In 20/30 years it could easily be the case that Go, D, or some ML/Haskell variant is the fastest due to compilers being able to better reason about how programs in those languages behave.

Comment: Re:why? (Score 1) 196 196

Baloney... the story was NOT in the public eye (proof) and it wasn't headed that way. Despite very clear warnings from previous whistleblowers, everybody had their head in the sand. Snowden provided concrete, compelling evidence that forced the issue of NSA domestic spying into the US political dialog.

And yeah... he could have stayed anonymous if he'd wanted to be kidnapped and hauled off to a black site. Putting his name and face to the news gave the story credibility and staying power. Snowden is the man to thank for the 82% concern about NSA surveillance and the ~60% support for weakening the Patriot Act. True, it's not enough to put an end to their shenanigans and restore reverence for human rights and due process, but it's definitely a setback for the NSA.

Comment: Re:Vote with your feet (Score 1) 351 351

how much money do you need to develop a web browser?) and moved on.

Less than Jimmy Wales needs to run a wiki, at least.

Mozilla's budget is at least 10x that of Wikipedia, you just notice the latter more because of their non-profit campaigns each December.

Comment: Re:The loans are not the only university scandal (Score 1) 1032 1032

What he found, by studying his own students, is that the plug-and-chuggers can ace their rote memorization exams, and yet still completely fail conceptual questions in the same exact domain/topic.

Many people cram their way thru intro-level courses, if not whole degrees. It's very undesirable, but it's not a "scandal" per se. It's simply an ongoing reality that educators, such as the ones you reference, struggle and experiment with.

A much bigger problem, IMO, is the bureaucratization of education. In higher-ed, you've seen it in the form of increasing administration-to-faculty ratios ("chief diversity officer", anyone?). In lower-ed, you see the obsession with trying to formalize, test, measure, and customize every aspect of a student's experience, at the expense of actual, you know, teaching. Perverse economic incentives then tempt teachers to forge scores and and teach-to-test, thus encouraging rote memorization and avoiding deep conceptual development. Sure, your suggested battery of tests may sound like a fine idea in isolation, but when you pile it on top of everyone else's fine ideas and impose it from afar, you end up distorting and smothering the education process.

Unfortunately, that lower-ed scientific management philosophy is creeping into higher-ed, and it'll be a major part of what kills off quality, affordable education in America.

The computing field is always in need of new cliches. -- Alan Perlis