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Comment: Re:One of the big boys (Score 2) 79

These sorts of discussions are nothing new. Debates about how to handle modern cryptography have been running since its invention. The police are judged exclusively by their ability to catch criminals. They are not judged on how eloquently they argue for civil rights. Plus, they are exposed to the pointy end of criminal behaviour and its impact on people every single day, so of course they tend to get frustrated when they can't stop it. They are rarely if ever exposed to the pointy end of government abuses of power, partly because it's often them or their colleagues in the national security state doing it.

All the above has been true ever since the modern concept of a police force was created back in Victorian England. The police ask for more powers so they can catch more criminals. The job of the politicians who can give them that power is to weigh the costs and benefits, and try to ascertain the mood of their voters. Sometimes they say yes and other times they say no.

So just because in Australia the police are asking for more powers does not imply anything is wrong or unusual. The real thing to pay attention to is the final outcome.

The real reason these sorts of discussions cause widespread concern, especially on sites like Slashdot, is not the inherent push/pull compromise-based process of making and enforcing law, but rather trust in the whole process has broken down to such an extent that nobody believes the outcomes will be fair or properly enforced.

Comment: Re:Real users? (Score 1) 106

by IamTheRealMike (#46831011) Attached to: WhatsApp Is Well On Its Way To A Billion Users

I am routinely spammed by fake accounts on Facebook. It happened twice in the last week alone. So far I have never received any spam on WhatsApp, probably because they do phone verification for every user, so a spammer would need to control lots of phone numbers, which is possible but not trivial.

Literally everyone I know uses WhatsApp. Just because it didn't take off in the USA doesn't mean these numbers are wrong. It's pretty rapidly replaced SMS as the global mobile messaging standard. Half a billion users sounds about right to me. If you say there's about a billion people online (very rough), subtract a few hundred million for the USA, and WhatsApp is getting close to but hasn't yet saturated the international market, then half a billion is about where I'd expect them to be.

Comment: Re:Not really true (Score 1) 106

by IamTheRealMike (#46831003) Attached to: WhatsApp Is Well On Its Way To A Billion Users

Facebook do not "farm out" people's private data. Go sign up to be an advertiser and try to obtain people's private data. You can't.

As to the second thing - wat? Do you expect any company that's the target of a class action lawsuit to simply not defend it? Also what's up with this "class action lawsuit brought by its userbase" nonsense? I'm a Facebook user and I never brought a class action suit against anyone. I think you mean, "class action lawsuit brought by lawyers who claim to represent Facebook users".

+ - One Phone to rule them all

Submitted by Qbertino
Qbertino (265505) writes "The Oneplus One, brazingly subtitled "2014 Flagship Killer", is a mobile phone specifically designed to go head-to-head with and beat the flagship products of existing behemoths in the industry and apparently also caters to the opinion leading crowd, i.e. us. It sports a quadcore 2.5 Ghz Snapdragon CPU, 3GB of RAM with a Sysclock of 1.8Ghz and 32GB (299$) / 64GB (349$) of storage, a replacable battery, a 6-lens 13 Megapixel sony camera and a 5 megapixel webcam for videochat. It runs CyanogenMod 11S based off Android 4.4 KitKat. Specs, especially when compared to pricing, blow the lid off current expectations and definitely raise the bar for next gen phones. Three concluding words: I want one."

Comment: Re:um (Score 5, Informative) 286

by thesandtiger (#46822623) Attached to: 'The Door Problem' of Game Design

This article isn't for actual software engineers, but "idea guys" who think making games is easy and don't actually understand what goes into real game design.

I know a ton of people like that - they have an idea for some awesome next level stuff, but it's only a very vague idea with a few neat things in there, without any of the actual work that is needed to turn it into a game design, let alone a spec, let alone a game. Seriously, everyone I know who is a gamer and not an engineer is constantly babbling about how games should do X or Y or Z or whatever, but when you ask them questions about how any of it would actually work, they wave their hands and say it isn't important because the IDEA that they took a whole 30 seconds coming up with and articulating is somehow the hard part.

The idea is the easy part - I can toss out hundreds of ideas for games that would be amazing. Turning that amazing idea into anything resembling a useful thing is another kettle of fish entirely.

Comment: Re:Not that impressive! (Score 2) 94

by mrvan (#46821461) Attached to: The $5,600 Tablet

I would guess that there is a big difference between "guaranteed to survive a 1.2m drop onto concrete" or even "99% chance of surviving the drop" (which is probably what they offer) and the anecdotal "I dropped shit from longer distances and they were fine".

My S3 was seriously damaged by a much smaller drop. You can be lucky or unlucky with such devices. Military doesn't like that :)

Comment: Re:re; You Should? (Score 4, Interesting) 550

by mrvan (#46821073) Attached to: The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science

I'm a scientist, but not in astrophysics or a (remotely) related discipline.

At some deep level, I "doubt" the big bang theory because it seems to me that it is not something that can really ever be tested, simulated, experimented with, so we have n=1 observational data at best, and building causal theories on n=1 observational data is tricky; and on another level I "doubt" the theory because I don't know the literature or even really understand the phenomenon and I have no clue what the scientific evidence for and against it are. "They" say that it is the currently accepted theory, but what does that even mean? Why would I not doubt it?

All that said, I don't believe that the theory is false, I just accept that "other scientists" know what they are doing so as a body they are probably right if they accept a model. But I don't like accepting things on authority, I like understanding why something would be the case, and I don't have that understanding for big bang theory.

[at least with other "grand theories" like tectonics or evolution I have some understanding of the process involved and the evidence that lead the scientific community to accept it (e.g. the magnetism 'bar code' for tectonics) and it can be observed somewhat in real life (the functioning of current species, the shape of continents. And let's not even talk about flat earth, young earth, intelligent design and other complete hogwash]

Comment: Re:Sucky Surgeon (Score 1) 56

by quantumghost (#46819255) Attached to: Closing Surgical Incisions With a Paintbrush and Nanoparticles

FWIW, silica nanoparticles have a GRAS certificate from the FDA and can be used in food products. Also, silica is chemically pretty stable at our body temperature and the only thing it can do is adsorb water.

Enteral (oral/GI administration) ingestion of a chemical is radically different then parenteral administration (through the skin or means other than through the GI tract). There are drugs that are safe one way, and deadly the other, and vice-versa. The human body is very fickle in that regards. Silica is very dangerous if inhaled.

In fact, I'm surprised that it even had the effect of binding the tissue together (maybe provided a porous network for the blood to come in through by capillary forces and coagulate? Your guess is probably better than mine).

It may initiate a wild, but localize inflammatory reaction. A concern then would be is it really _limited_? Widespread inflammation can be deadly.

That being said, the toxicity needs to be evaluated, but we can be optimistic.


The particles used in the experiment were super fine (only 50 nm in diameter) and synthesized using wet chemistry. Sigma Aldrich sells the LUDOX TM-50 that was used in the experiment readily in dispersion form at 28.30 EUR/L. This looks pretty scalable. If somewhat larger silica particles also exhibit the desired effects (i.e. if the glue effect is due to the high specific surface area, rather than the small particle size), then fumed silica can also be used which can be produced by the ton. The high temperatures of silica synthesis will also guarantee that the environment is pretty sterile (at least in the reactor, the engineers will "only" have to make sure that it stays that way until packaging, but it should be viable).

My problem is not with sterility. My problem is that most industrial chemical processes use heavy metals and other toxic substances as catalysts or intermediates....or that the intermediate steps that are difficult to eliminate may be toxic. This is why a pharmaceutical plant is vastly different from an industrial plant. The tolerance level is _much_ lower for pharmaceuticals. I tried looking up their analysis of LUDOX, but couldn't find it, the MSDS sheet did not list any minor components, but did list the silica as "chemically produced". I think you get my point.

Comment: Naturally. Software is doing 80% of the brainwork. (Score 1) 306

by Qbertino (#46815973) Attached to: In the US, Rich Now Work Longer Hours Than the Poor


We're fast moving into a post-scarcity economy with practially finished software doing all the work nowadays, running on hardware that has a cost approaching near-zero as we speak. A computer that can be bought for 20 hours of work at a fast-food joint today is the size of a book, can run on solar power and has enough processing power to do all the billing and taxes for an entire city. What's left to do for suits beside sitting in parlaments and passing stupid laws or selling the customers we service bloated shit that no one can operate with the sole purpose of producing more pointless work and billable hours?

Social contacts, knowledge and information are increasing in value, simple manual work beyond a certain threshold is decreasing in value, repetetive "knowledgework" is bascially disappearing entirely, unless required due to bad human planing (hence IT experts jobs are becoming increasingly tedious and boring).

That's all basically a Good thing(TM) I'd say. The problem is getting there will be a pain and yield the one or other new great depression along the way.

I personally rather would have a cheap all-in-one computer sitting in the corner of my room doing all the work for me my clients while I cook for friends, dance tango all night, sleep late and help the occasional customer update their content on a Joomla installation for 50$ and hour because they couldn't be bothered clickling their way through that luxurious web interface than build yet another Web CMS or hassling with other stuff that can be done orders of magnitudes cheaper by computers or service providers. Point in case:I recently set up the entire IT infrastructure for a client using only Google Drive, GMail and Squarespace in roughly 7 hours, 3 of which were taking photos and talking strategy and workflow. Even with potential downtime of the Intarweb and/or Google, that environment is orders of magnitude more productive than any MS PC, with all her shit automatically backed up and available from any PC around the world hooked to the internet. I don't expect her to get back to me until she wants to update her portfolio in a year or two and needs some handholding when clicking through squarespaces gallery options. Which I will gladly provide and ask 35 Euros per hour for.

With "knowledgeworkers" being put out of business by Google, Huawei and Co., no wonder they're working longer hours than the guy at the filling-station down the street. He's actually doing something usefull - until Teslas battery replacing robots come that is.

Our job as IT and software people is to make ourselves superflous. And we're getting good at it.

My 2 cents.

Comment: Re:How does that sit with you, Snowden? (Score 4, Insightful) 144

by IamTheRealMike (#46815465) Attached to: VK CEO Fired, Says Company Under Kremlin Control

OTOH, power in the West is rotated between two different bands of crooks (or at least two factions of the same band of crooks).

I think if the Snowden affair has taught us anything, it's that real power in the west is not held by politicians but rather the executive branch (US) and civil service (UK). The bureaucrats appear to be able to do whatever they like, then repeatedly lie about it (USA) or simply refuse to turn up at all (UK) and politicians let them get away with it. What's more, the bureaucracy is now routinely blacklisting and even assassinating people based on no kind of formal process whatsoever, with no democratic oversight, and the people doing it are career government employees who are certainly not elected and in many cases their identities are themselves secret.

For background, in my former job I worked on one of the systems at Google that was compromised by GCHQ (they wrote wire sniffers to decode the login traffic). The root cause of this failure was the incorrect idea that western governments are "good" and the nasty Chinese/Russians/Iranians are "bad" thus internal encryption was only worth the cost when traffic transited wires controlled by "bad guys". But it turned out that they're all bad and the degree of badness appears limited only by their budget, so now Google all wire traffic all the time.

So please get out of this idea that the west is better than Russia. Democracy in the anglosphere has become so weak that lots of people simply refuse to vote at all, or are (at best) single issue voters for things like immigration. Anything national security related is uncontrollable by voting at this point.

Comment: Re:How does that sit with you, Snowden? (Score 2) 144

by IamTheRealMike (#46815315) Attached to: VK CEO Fired, Says Company Under Kremlin Control

Why? In the USA Facebook and Google+ are both run by people who could be described as "oligarchs" with strong ties to the White House.

By the way, if you believe this story is true then you should also believe that Putin's answer to Snowden was correct, given that it says:

Earlier this month, Durov claimed that Russia's intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), had pressured him to hand over personal data on VK users involved in anti-government protests in Ukraine. Durov said he refused to do so, though he's gradually ceded control of the company in recent months and has long butted heads with government authorities. Experts have speculated that the Kremlin is looking to tighten its grip over VK and other social networks in the same way it controls print and TV media. Many Russians used VK to organize widespread anti-Putin demonstrations in 2011 and 2012, when thousands took to the streets to protest allegedly rigged elections

i.e. they are/were not able to simply access that data in the same way the USA and UK were slurping internal Google/Facebook db replication traffic right off the wire. In which case Putin's assertion that the FSB doesn't monitor "millions of users" might be correct, though of course the rationale given is highly suspect.

Comment: Re:One word: FUD (Score 1) 270

Some places may require hand pumping into trucks and tanks. Fortunately, we know how to do that.

Really. You're going to hand-pump fuel for hundreds of thousands of trucks, trains, and aircraft feeding hundreds of millions of people? That will effectively shut down transportation, at least at the pace it's needed to feed cities full of people who keep nothing beyond their next couple of meals' worth of food in stores, let alone in their own kitchens.

For some foods. not every food must be refrigerated.

Right. We only refrigerate meats, fruits, vegetables, dairy, bread, medicines, that sort of thing.

what lack? trucks and planes will continue to operate.

So you're saying that trucks and planes that have had ignition and control systems destroyed by an EMP can continue to operate? How does that work, exactly?

Evidence shows that in a disaster that only happens when the alternative is starving.

Which is what starts happening within short days of food shortages. Witness food/water drop-offs in New Orleans getting violently mobbed, with people throwing shots at helicopters.

IT's only fragile to maintain the high level of efficiency we know have.

And because the entire chain is rigged around JIT, the high level of efficiency is the only way it can work. It would take weeks or months to alter that, and that presumes that everything that goes into production behind the scenes can be ramped UP in the middle of a situation where logistics are compromised.

Most survivalist types are clueless in an actual emergency.

Only the ones you're cherry picking. Are "survivalist types" that bother to keep a couple weeks of food and water around more, or less clueless than their neighbors who do not?

That's an interesting narrative of events

Which is what - your lame way of wishing away the fact that it didn't happen? That thousands of people were wandering to places like the dome in NO without so much as a gallon of water for their kids? Is my "interesting narrative" interesting because it lines up with photos of lots full of school busses parked under water? What's your point?

transportation would be chaotic for a couple days, tops.

We're not talking about a passing snow storm, here. We're talking about weeks of no electricity and lots damaged infrastructure. Your couple of days estimate is ridiculous on the face of it.

To understand a program you must become both the machine and the program.