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Comment: Or even more... (Score 1) 112

by gwolf (#49263357) Attached to: Scientific Study Finds There Are Too Many Scientific Studies

Having so many publishing venues available right now, with (thankfully) every day more of them available under open access licensing schemes, we can get to much more research in our field.

That, however, means that when I start reading on a subject related to my area of study, there are too many documents fighting for my attention. And I will undoubtedly miss many among them, just because of sheer probability.

Of course, the same will happen to my published works: They will no longer be _so_ unique, they will also depend on my luck for you to read them.

Comment: Re:And? (Score 1) 60

If your family has had a mezcal for 4 generations, it just means they don't drink alcohol, or have it really well hidden. Maybe they have had a temazcal (similar to a sauna, but with far more associated rituals to it) ;-)

Universidad Politécnico does not exist, in fact. There is a long-standing rivalry between "la universidad" (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and "el poli" (Instituto Politécnico Nacional). Nowadays, I teach at UNAM and am a student at IPN :-)

Huichol is spoken in the West. Náhuatl is the dominant indigenous language in the center of the country, the different types of Mayan in the East. But there are over 60 distinct indigenous languages throughout the country.

Comment: Oh! (Score 4, Interesting) 81

by gwolf (#49115429) Attached to: Ancient and Modern People Followed Same Mathematical Rule To Build Cities

Just like... Mexico City!

I am Mexican, living in Mexico City. My wife is an Argentinian, from a mid-sized province capital. She often finds it laughable how this city lacks any logic. Of course, until it becomes clear that most quirks come from agricultural, old villages that got slurped into the Blob. Then its shape is explainable... Not that it makes much sense, of course.

Comment: Re:Latest update (Score 2) 222

by gwolf (#48998343) Attached to: GPG Programmer Werner Koch Is Running Out of Money

Holy Hell, I hope you mistyped something!

It is 2015. If you've got a single password (your private key) with root access to that many machines, something is terribly wrong over at Debian.

Others have replied, but I think I should do so as well: Yes, we don't use a PGP key to log in to thousands of machines, but we use it to validate package uploads that enter the archive. If I sign+upload a malicious binary package, it's just a matter of time until it reaches users.

Of course, there are some caveats: First, I must convince users to use my package. This is, my malicious code should not go in a very uninteresting package, it would go to one that I know that has many users. But, second, it should not attract too much attention, as others would likely find my backdoor. Say, if I wanted to reach maximum number of machines, I could update an "Essential" package, such as base-files. But first, the package is not mine (so my friend Santiago, the package maintainer, would jump at the unexpected upload). And it does not get updates often, so others would probably debdiff it and uncover my betrayal. And third, that would make my malicious package enter the unstable distribution. Were I looking for a real foothold on a large amount of computers, I'd have to wait probably around two years until it reaches a stable release.

That's why I said "thousands" and not "millions" :-)

Comment: Re:Latest update (Score 4, Insightful) 222

by gwolf (#48995215) Attached to: GPG Programmer Werner Koch Is Running Out of Money

Interesting thing you mention. Well, our migration was prompted by some theoretical advances; if you look at our slides at DebConf14 you will see some references to papers presented at the EuroCrypt 2012 conference talking about the relative strengths of different keys.

I don't contest that Zimmerman and Koch know how to communicate securely and what it takes, but maybe we are talking about a different threat model. One thing is identity assurance just for the sake of identity assurance, but in Debian we use it as a core infrastructural part: Get hold of my GPG key, and you have potential root access to thousands of computers. Of course, there are human checks in place, and it's quite unlikely you'd get away with yours... But it's possible.

Comment: Depends on the target user... (Score 1) 175

by gwolf (#48989219) Attached to: Greg KH Favors Rolling Release Distros

I am absolutely not surprised by this: A well-known kernel hacker has enough systemwide understanding for the ocassional glitch to become obvious. He also uses most probably a very specific subset of programs for his day-to-day activities — I (a very far cry from his skill levels) haven't changed my main tools in over ten years. I mean, a tiling window manager, Emacs, a browser... Specific little tools can vary, but they won't jeopardize my system's overall behaviour — This means, it won't mean me spending time head-scratching to keep working.

Now, a developer is a far cry from a systems administrator. A sysadmin values stability over all things. I don't want a random upgrade to become a lost hour understanding the new configuration format of foobard.

And of course, casual users... If my wife desktop had changed from GNOME 2 to GNOME 3 without me preparing her, I'm sure she would not have appreciated it.

Comment: Your post is obsolete by now. (Score 1) 175

by gwolf (#48946813) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do I Engage 5th-8th Graders In Computing?

America is swamped already by illegal migrants. Some of them started arriving in the XVII-XVIII century. We failed to protect the borders of our great, glorious nation — And yes, they overthrew us and reducted us. Nowadays, the USA is flooded with all those dirty white do-no-goodies. They walk and drive around what used to be our forests and plains, as if they were the lords of the land. And they now don't want to allow any further migration After teaching us that migration was just a natural phenomenon, after telling us that Europe is overcrowded and they needed to pursuit the Great American Dream... They want to deny that same dream to newer migrants...

Comment: Re:Marketable? (Score 1) 175

by gwolf (#48946783) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do I Engage 5th-8th Graders In Computing?

YES. YES, completely with you.

Language and literature are not directly marketable. Highschool-level algebra is not directly marketable. Biology, physics and chemistry are not directly marketable. Same goes for geography, phylosophy, history, and basically every other subject we learnt at high school.

Still, it would be absolutely foolish to get rid of all that.

We don't send kids to school to make them marketable — We send them to get a general culture, to get a baseline of education in all major areas of knowledge. And, of course, I will argue over and over that nowadays the basic workings of a computer are as central to understanding our world as algebra.

So, yes, forget about marketability. Think about getting enoug foundations to understand the world and society they will have to develop in.

Comment: Learn from what blind people show us (Score 4, Informative) 79

by gwolf (#48946703) Attached to: How Blind Programmers Write Code

Back in 2009, I was at the Debian Conference (DebConf) in Cáceres, Spain. We had the presence of two blind Debian Developers, Sam Hartman and Mario Lang, both of which have continued to attend the conference at later editions, and are today very active project members.

They gave this talk on how they use their computer — Completely different ways, both very interesting to appreciate:

Accessibility and Debian (OGV video)

Comment: Re:Saddest line ever (Score 1) 141

by gwolf (#48913843) Attached to: Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

I don't live in a communist state (I live in Mexico), but you will find some of the line you quote applying here — Sadly, every time less. The national government is the sole owner of strategic areas, such as petroleum, electricity generation and distribution, water extraction and distribution. some other areas, such as mining, are operated by concessions: The State is the sole owner, but specific companies can bid for the right to exploit it for a given amount of time.

And yes, the current trend in government goes quite against this. Our last decades' governments have excluded or dilluted many areas from this monopolic aspects.

You will find, however, this line is not clearly defined among different countries. There are many countries in Europe and Latin America where the areas I mention are under different government-owned and/or government-operated schemes. And the ideologic moments do shift from time to time: Ten years ago, Bolivia was privatising everything. That even led to what they called the "war for water", a revolution that outed a president. Today, they are again nationalizing resources. And while still a strongly underdeveloped country, they are faring much better and much stabler than in their past many decades.

Comment: Re:outsider question: why the USA embargo on Cuba? (Score 1) 141

by gwolf (#48913787) Attached to: Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

You are no historian, right :)
1. The revolution got to the power in 1959, not in 1953.
2. The businesses were expropiated, not stolen (that means, their owners were offered an indemnization... Maybe they didn't find it to be enough, but it was determined by the authorities to be the right value).
3. The US wasn't quite peaceful on its attack on the Cuban way. There was a large-scale invasion (Playa Girón / Bay of Pigs), and many paramilitary operations.
4. If you measure something one way, it should be measurable the other way around. Please go ask people in every country that has been militarily intervened by the USA in the last 50 years how were they restituted for stolen or destroyed property.

Comment: Don't believe everything you read... (Score 3, Interesting) 141

by gwolf (#48913765) Attached to: Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

Cubans *do* have access to Internet. I (Mexican) have been there several times. In 1998, I became a close friend with a Cuban university teacher, and in 2000 I travelled to Cuba with tens of Linux and Free Software books, hundreds of CDs with distros of the day. I was quite in close contact with the Linux user groups in Santiago and La Habana, and less so but still met some people from Pinar del Río and Baracoa.
My friend later moved to Spain. Yes, he didn't go out the most legal way there is — But he kept in touch with his family. I kept in touch with his family as well (Internet access is not restricted to the university). His mother and his sister both travelled to Spain to visit him, and went back to Cuba.
I went again to Cuba in 2010; I stayed at the Universidad de las Ciencias Informáticas, ~10Km from the capital. The university is in a decomissioned soviet naval base; it is a huge university city, with hundreds of student dorm apartments. Every apartment has a computer connected to Internet. They do have strict quotas, but they all have network access.
The embargo, as you mention really harms Cuba. The country is clearly among the materially poorest I have visited. Hopefully things will now improve. No, it's not (only?) a communist regime that has kept them from developing.

Comment: Re:Popcorn time! (Score 1) 376

by gwolf (#48892321) Attached to: Behind the MOOC Harassment Charges That Stunned MIT

It is tricky, yes. I also have a friend in a similar situation, as well as an uncle.

There is a clear line (to me) on this: If the student is enrolled with the teacher then they start developing a relationship, it's wrong. It's a conflict of interests, the teacher cannot judge the student on the same grounds as other people in the group. Where I teach, that would be grounds for contractual job termination.

As soon as the grades are set, I find no objection. If it's just a random student in the same school as the teacher, if it's a consenting relationship between two independent adults with no power hierarchy between them, it is OK.

Of course, *after* having been sentimentaly involved (successfully or not), a student should not seek to be part of a teacher's group. It's not always possible to avoid it (i.e. only teacher for a mandatory subject), but it's very recommended.

"I may kid around about drugs, but really, I take them seriously." - Doctor Graper

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