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Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 105

by grcumb (#46797325) Attached to: Google's New Camera App Simulates Shallow Depth of Field

lenses that can achieve a narrower field of focus are the more expensive ones, so there is established artistic value.

I'm not really taking issue with your conclusion, but a decent quality 50mm lens (widely known as a portrait lens because of its shallow depth of field) can be got new for about $200. And I got a beautiful 1984-vintage 105mm prime lens for $250 a few years back. It's an exception to the rule, yes, but sometimes the glass is less expensive than the camera body. That said, if you've got good lenses, they can make up for a lot of shortcomings in the camera body.

My own feeling about algorithms such as this is that they'd be better off chasing the ideal of perfect focus for everything - or better yet, for pseudo-3D renderings - those would be more desirable goals, IMO. I suppose it's possible to get the same effect as really good glass, but something tells me the laws of physics (well, optics) will always win over computed logic.

Comment: Re:CouchBase (Score 2) 272

by grcumb (#46703499) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Which NoSQL Database For New Project?

CouchBase/CouchDB is probably the easiest and most available one out there. It's particularly well suited for app backends too, as both the backend and mobile apps can talk to the same database, in theory eliminating the need for the backend to handle data syncing.

Those are good reasons, and it's also true that CouchDB will use a lot less resource overhead than a full-bore RDBMS under load. Depending on the use case, it might also prove decidedly easier to scale.

But the place where NoSQL really shines is storing amorphous or heterogeneous data. Because you have no constraints about what goes into a given record, you can record more or less name/value pairs at your whim. As with Perl, though, freedom comes at the cost of potential disorder.

But honestly, with the tiny amount of detail provided, it seems like it's really six of one and half a dozen of the other. If it's just call data being recorded, and the same call data every time, it won't make a huge difference if you use a full-blown RDBMS or a NoSQL database. Either one has its costs (individual PUTs and POSTs in CouchDB for example, can be expensive, whereas queuing and write contention might cause headaches at extreme scales in PostGres or Oracle).

Both an RDBMS and a NoSQL database will deal with replication fairly well, though my personal inclination is to prefer the simplicity of replication in CouchDB right up until the noise level gets out of hand.

Comment: Re:Snowden has jumped the shark (Score 5, Interesting) 230

by grcumb (#46700385) Attached to: Snowden: NSA Spied On Human Rights Workers

And French intelligence bombed the Rainbow Warrior.

To their detriment. It's telling that the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior was the event that triggered so much outrage among Pacific island nations that the practice of atmospheric testing was finally stopped. It also wounded relations between New Zealand and France for over a decade, and resulted in a long period of Labour (i.e. left wing) rule. The Tahitian independence movement also made hay from the event.

It was, in short, a complete fiasco for the French intelligence service, and for the government of France, an unmitigated failure.

If for no other reason than realpolitik, governments need to learn to tread more lightly when it comes to abrogating the freedoms that make their societies as peaceful and prosperous as they are.

Precisely what is so surprising about the NSA spying on political radicals?

When you call Amnesty International politically radical, you debase the discussion. Amnesty uses non-violent tactics - mostly media relations - to shame governments into releasing political prisoners. If agitating against the imprisonment of your political opponents is radical to you, then perhaps you should revise your opinion on freedom and human rights.

Comment: Re:Go after em Nate (Score 5, Insightful) 335

by grcumb (#46539555) Attached to: Nate Silver's New Site Stirs Climate Controversy

Its sad to see these scientists cry fowl, controversy, and blasphemy at dissenters . Isn't science supposed to have opposing views, with fact-based research on multiple view points using the "scientific method" for cross-checking each-others work?

First off: Let's leave the chickens out of this, shall we?

Second: No, it's not sad at all. This is exactly the kind of debate we want - one where people disagree about specific and detailed issues, and respond to one another on points of fact. Yes, it's heated and the antagonism is distressful to some, but the plain fact is that this is real, healthy debate.

I don't see propaganda, mis- and disinformation from 'high priests'; I see a bunch of pencil-liner geeks getting furious with one another over data. And I like it.

The only thing that saddens me in all this is that people think disagreement is equivalent to enmity these days.

Comment: Re:So is it 10,000 or 25,000? (Score 2, Informative) 220

by grcumb (#46521533) Attached to: Malware Attack Infected 25,000 Linux/UNIX Servers

Read, or don't read the article, your choice. But the level of sophistication will blow your mind.

No, no it really won't.

That article read like the opening page of a third-rate techno-thriller. Once you get past the alarmist dross, you see that people are busy pwning servers just as they always have. Only today - shock, horror - there are more servers around, and some of them are really badly maintained.

25,000 servers is a pretty useful resource for someone with malice in mind. And admittedly, it takes a certain amount of cleverness to amass that many. So yes, these guys aren't completely useless. But in the larger scheme of things, that number represents the lowest of the low-hanging fruit in the Linux ecosystem, and it's sufficient unto the day to know that if you (or your sysadmin) have half a clue, you'll likely not be bothered by this threat.


Comment: Re:Old thinking. (Score 1) 281

by grcumb (#46502083) Attached to: Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It

'The economic return to higher education over a lifetime produces significant compound greater earnings.'

That has been true in the past.

Not exactly. You know what was true in the past? That a good education made you a better person.

Now, I won't deny for a second that there were numerous social and economic factors in getting the 'right' education from the 'right' schools. It's true that being a 'gentleman' was inextricably tied up with class, economic status and the clannishness of the privileged. But it was still about being the right sort of person rather than a more-or-less necessary precursor to employment. The cost in those days was primarily to keep the riff-raff out, rather than any reflection of economic realities (conditions in some British colleges, for example, were abominable).

In spite of all the hypocrisy and all the cant, a liberal education was designed to improve the person. It had little or nothing to do with employment, except inasmuch as employers at the time wanted 'improved' people for a number of lines of work.

Full Disclosure: It's easy for me to talk. I was one of the last people through a system that actually did focus on a decent general education, at a level of government funding that allowed me to finish 4 years of a double major with only $10,000 in debt, payable at a pittance a month over a ten-year term. I'm an arts major who's also a CTO, by the way.

Comment: Re:and how do they track users across muilt units? (Score 5, Funny) 43

by grcumb (#46425893) Attached to: Stanford Team Tries For Better Wi-Fi In Crowded Buildings

also what about stuff like file shearing...

Well, typically, you start by grabbing the file by its strings, give 'em a twist and get it on its back. Then you lift the tail[*] such that all the loose bits run off onto the floor as you make your first pass. Some prefer Occam's Razor when shearing data, but I find Hanlon's Razor works, too.

[*] I find that tail -n 100 is enough to get a decent grip, but it really depends on the size of the RAM....

Comment: Re:Open source (Score 1) 88

by grcumb (#46415273) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Reviewing 3rd Party Libraries?

Easy: use open source libraries.

Yep, like GnuTLS, or Apple's SSL implementation. You know there won't be any bugs in those, or if there are they'll be very quickly fixed and not sit there unnoticed for years.

I remember back in 2008, when the Debian OpenSSL package was found to have a gaping hole in it. I was fascinated at the fact that it had been able to lie their, dormant, until it was discovered and immediately fixed. By rights, the damage should have been widespread.

Back then, I wrote:

My hypothesis – sorry, my speculation is this: People at every stage of the production process and everywhere else in the system trusted that the others were doing their job competently. This includes crackers and others with a vested interest in compromising the code.

So, perversely, yeah: The fact that the GnuTLS hole remained unnoticed for yonks is -weirdly- an argument for using open source libraries. Notwithstanding the fact that the vulnerability remained unpatched for years, it appears to have remained pretty much unexploited for the same period of time.

When processes are perceived to be robust, by black hat and white hat alike, then the mere presence of trust in the system makes them more trust-able. (I won't say trustworthy, because hindsight shows us that they're not.)

Comment: Re:Joy of joys! (Score 2) 109

by grcumb (#46365181) Attached to: Tor Is Building an Anonymous Instant Messenger

Now I'll be able to communicate with some random, anonymous Internet person.

Yeah, first thing I thought was chats like this:



SPARTACUS12: U rite?

SPARTACUS19982: Wait, who said that?

SPARTACUS4x9: Said what?


SPARTACUS19982: That!


SPARTACUS19982: Yeah, what!

SPARTACUS12: Wait - which what?

SPARTACUS4x9: Dude, being Spartacus is starting to suck, ya know..?

SPARTACUS4x9: I mean, I don't even know who I am any more...


Comment: Re:See you on the other side, Egon (Score 5, Interesting) 136

by grcumb (#46329099) Attached to: Harold Ramis Dies At 69

I concur. An inspirational nerd.

I sympathise, but as an old Canadian geezer, I always felt that by the time the US audience finally heard about them, the SCTV alumni had already done their best work. That troupe - and their cheezy, low-budget show - formed my sense of humour more than anything else. Dave Thomas, Harold Ramis, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara... all of them went on to make memorable comedy in the US. I think Joe Flaherty was the only one who didn't make a big splash. (Which is America's loss, not his.)

But there was a time when all of them were callow, reckless youths with nothing to lose by making asses of themselves week after week on a second-rate Toronto-based network that was so small (it had only 13 stations at the start) it too had nothing to lose.

Back in junior high school, my week was centred around that blessed moment when the Indian-head test pattern would appear and the announcer would say, 'Don't touch that dial. Don't touch that one either. And stop touching yourself.' I still remember the intonation....

(... I never did stop touching myself, but that's another story.)

Comment: Re:Long-term loss (Score 1) 520

by grcumb (#46319773) Attached to: Netflix Blinks, Will Pay Comcast For Network Access

Bandwidth and latency are neither free or infinite.

Nobody said it was. The issue here is that Comcast subscribers are not getting what they paid for, unless NetFlix pays again for the bandwidth. This is bandwidth for which NetFlix has already paid, and for which Comcast has already been paid by its customers.

Your argument is the same as saying that if you pay for a bridge with your taxes, you should be able to drive a fully loaded hauling truck (type Caterpillar 797F) on it. But guess what ? The bridge has not been designed to handle that load, it has been designed for lighter load (car, 40' truck, etc.).

You're dead wrong on this count. Comcast is arguing (speciously) that traffic to and from a particular destination doesn't deserve the same service as traffic to and from other destinations - unless the destination pays an additional toll. The fact that this is a popular destination is only relevant inasmuch as this increases Comcast's ability to extort payment for something which has already been paid for.

This is straight-up anti-competitive behaviour. If the US telecommunications regulatory environment made any sense at all, Comcast would be slapped down hard for doing this.

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow