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Comment: Re:How about someone who groks the math, comment? (Score 4, Informative) 196

by hweimer (#48636003) Attached to: Quantum Physics Just Got Less Complicated

I just had a brief look at the published version of the paper. Unless you work on fundamental aspects of quantum information theory, the actual implication is that some old debate that took place back in the 90s has been resolved. As others have already pointed out, the relationship between uncertainty relations and wave-particle duality intuitively makes sense, but actually coming up with a mathematical proof that the two concepts are equivalent to each other is certainly a non-trivial amount of work. However, this paper does not significantly change our understanding of quantum physics, nor does it allow us to magically find an efficient way to simulate quantum physics on classical computers. It will also not change the way quantum physics is usually taught, as wave-particle duality basically plays no role there (and uncertainty relations are mostly a side remark).

Also, notice that the paper has been published in Nature Communications. Usually, this means that the paper was rejected by Nature Physics (or any other of the "Nature Something" journals), so the authors sent it there instead (BTDT). So we probably have at least an editor (and maybe some referees) who thought that the paper was not as sexy as the press release seems to imply.

Comment: Re:Nethack needs an upgrade (Score 1) 186

by hweimer (#48562811) Attached to: NetHack: Still One of the Greatest Games Ever Written

Nethack needs full multi-user, and an overhaul on the generated story (what there is of it), so that the core process can be daemonized, and users attaching to the system can play against each other.

There's a fork called NetHack 4 that is pretty much identical to vanilla as far as gameplay is concernced, but provides a client-server architecture. While I don't think that NetHack can ever be turned into a massive online game with thousands of players meeting each other, small scale PvP or co-op mode might be doable and actually fun.

Comment: Re:Yeesh (Score 2) 584

by hweimer (#48521239) Attached to: Programmer Father Asks: What Gets Little Girls Interested In Science?

I'm all for removing artificial barriers, but once they are down we're gonna have to accept that maybe girls really do want to be princesses

That's the naturalistic fallacy right there. Little kids really want all sorts of things (like lots of candy, for instance), but this doesn't mean that it's a good idea to let them have their way. If the parents believe that their kid shows a behavior that could lead to a disadvantage later in life, then they have to take action. It's called parenting, by the way.

Comment: Re:we ARE different (Score 1) 355

by hweimer (#48507909) Attached to: James Watson's Nobel Prize Goes On Auction This Week

It tells me that IQ scores are related to other things besides genetics. Of course children who are educated, raised in a stimulating environment, and have years of practice at critical thinking are going to do better at these tests.

Sure, but that runs against the racists' "blacks are genetically stupid" claim.

Comment: Re:we ARE different (Score 3, Insightful) 355

by hweimer (#48506011) Attached to: James Watson's Nobel Prize Goes On Auction This Week

That Africans have, on average, lower IQs, is a scientific fact

Which only tells you that IQ tests do not measure intelligence. Some people have even reported average scores for sub-Saharan countries that would qualify as mentally retarded in the Western world. This clearly does not make sense as the same group of people tends to do just fine when being raised in a first world country.

Comment: Re:Not a very exciting name (Score 1) 150

by hweimer (#48197047) Attached to: 'Microsoft Lumia' Will Replace the Nokia Brand

There is marketing research that shows that people remember words with hard consonants better. So a word like "Nokia" or "Kodak", is in some ways a measurably better brand than a word like "Lumia".

If you only care about people rembering your brand name (and not about the associations that come with it), then "Ebola" would be even better.

Comment: Re:AWS losing $2 billion a year? (Score 1) 150

by hweimer (#48149589) Attached to: If Your Cloud Vendor Goes Out of Business, Are You Ready?

Given the new information, then it doesn't matter. AWS is running at some sort of loss, but the question is why are they running at a loss.

Everyone is running cloud services at a huge loss because prices have been driven down so much that it is simply impossible to run a profitable cloud service. Of course, the companies are doing that to drive their competitors out of the market and profit afterwards by using a combination of price hikes and vendor lock-in effects.

Comment: Re:I have an idea (Score 1) 174

by hweimer (#48033983) Attached to: Apple Fixes Shellshock In OS X

I just tried and successfully passed the variable "_BASH_FUNC_thingy" with the value "my_attack" through my apache web server to a CGI script using a url entered into a browser.

No, you get something like QUERY_STRING="_BASH_FUNC_thingy=my_attack", which is harmless because function definitions inside QUERY_STRING are not being evaluated after the last update.

Comment: Re:I have an idea (Score 2) 174

by hweimer (#48029033) Attached to: Apple Fixes Shellshock In OS X

Unless of course the malefactors know this and stick BASH_FUNC_ in front of their exploit strings.

This won't work because an attacker will only be able to manipulate the content of some environment variable, but not its name. And being able to manipulate arbitrary environment variables has always been equivalent to being able to execute arbitrary code. Think LD_PRELOAD or IFS, for example.

Comment: Re:I have an idea (Score 1) 174

by hweimer (#48026527) Attached to: Apple Fixes Shellshock In OS X

How about releasing a version of bash that has function passing disabled.

People are using this feature and taking it away will break stuff. The latest update (not sure whether Apple already ships it) stores all function definitions with a prefix of BASH_FUNC_, and function definitions are disabled for all variables not starting with the prefix. This allows to retain the feature, but prevents the execution of malicious code at the same time.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming

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