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Comment: Re:The problem is always the client (Score 1) 93

by MobyDisk (#48434569) Attached to: WhatsApp To Offer End-to-End Encryption


I worked for a company that had secure online backup software, and these kinds of things are exactly what they did. The original software really honestly didn't have the key. They even sent it to an escrow service whose contract said they could never ever give us the key. But later, features were added to the system: The server could transcode mp3 files and stream them to your phone - how could it decrypt the mp3 files to transcode them for streaming, if they didn't have the key? And the install.exe had the secret key embedded in it, because customers didn't like having to type it themselves. And the web site would give you your files inside a password-protected ZIP. The password on the ZIP file was the key. How could it decrypt the file, then ZIP it up, then set the password on the ZIP file if the server didn't know the key?

Comment: Micropayments are finally here, YouTube is next (Score 4, Informative) 284

by MobyDisk (#48434373) Attached to: Google Launches Service To Replace Web Ads With Subscriptions

This could turn into a real micropayment system.

About 7 years ago I (incorrectly) predicted that ISPs could bootstrap micropayment systems by allowing users to put money into an account with their ISP. When the user visits a site with ads, the site could "bill" the customer via the ISP anonymously, transparently to the user, and cheaply. The payment system would essentially live in the ISP's HTTP proxy server.

The Google model sounds like a variation of that, with Google collecting the money and distributing the micropayments to the web site via the ad network.

A similar ad-free subscription-oriented option will be available for YouTube soon. I am surprised to see this announcement without it connecting to that one.

Comment: Re:With a RTG, it couldn't have got to the comet. (Score 1) 493

by MobyDisk (#48426635) Attached to: What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

The lander doesn't need to operate continuously!

So instead of powering the lander directly with a big 20kg 32-watt RTG, how about a much much smaller RTG that slowly recharges the battery over a period of days or weeks? Replace the solar panels with perhaps a 2kg 2-watt RTG. (Yes, I made-up those numbers for illustration purposes). That would allow a 32-watt lander to wake for ~10 hours every week.

Comment: Note to HotHardware (Score 4, Insightful) 222

by MobyDisk (#48419191) Attached to: Three-Way Comparison Shows PCs Slaying Consoles In Dragon Age Inquisition

When creating comparison images, use PNG not JPG. One of the images compares the texture detail on the face, but the "more detailed" PC image just shows more JPEG artifacts. That indirectly shows there was probably detail there, but you can't really see it. If you do JPEG it, use the ridiculously high settings.

Comment: The "researchers" cheated (Score 1) 317

The "researchers" did not prove anything to do with what the article claims. What the article really proved is that it is impossible for a robot to make an ethical decision, if that ethical decision is based on analyzing source code.

They created a scenario where the "robot" must determine if a computer program was written correctly or not. An ethical decision hinges on that. If the program is written correctly, it must do one thing, and if the program is written maliciously then it must do another. Then they point out that the halting problem makes it impossible to guarantee that the computer program was written correctly or not. And since the computer program involves a life-or-death decision, therefore, robots can't make life-or-death decisions.

Using that logic, I can prove that a robot can't do anything. Let's try it: I will prove that a robot car cannot decide if it is safe to make a left turn or not at an intersection. I do this by imagining a scenario where the software for the traffic light might be written incorrectly. So my robot car must first analyze the software for the traffic light, determine if it is written correctly, then only make the left turn if the traffic light software is correct. Since the halting problem shows that it is impossible to create a general purpose robot car that can analyze the source code to all other pieces of software, it cannot be guaranteed to make the right decision about the intersection in this case. Ergo, robot cars are impossible and we should not make them.

Actually, all I proved is that a robot can't decide if it is safe to make a left turn if that decision is based on analyzing the source code to the traffic light.

P.S. Yes, I simplified of what the halting problem says. It doesn't say the robot absolutely can't analyze the software. It says that it may not be able to analyze the software, because the software may never end, and the robot can't determine that. I didn't want to go into that subtle difference in my TLDR analysis.

Comment: Nothing to do with freedom of speech of 1st amendm (Score 2) 137

by MobyDisk (#48410271) Attached to: Court Rules Google's Search Results Qualify As Free Speech

While I agree with the ruling, I don't see how the first amendment applies. It states that "Congress shall make no law..." but since this was a civil case, and did not involve congress, how does the first amendment apply? Google should win the case simple because Google can do whatever they want in their search results. It is as simple as that. Applying the term "free speech" or "first amendment" to a computer generated algorithm seems like a slippery slope to me.

  I just read the ruling: the case was dismissed because "the claims asserted against it arise from constitutionally protected activity..." so nothing to get excited about here...

Comment: Wasn't this announced back in August? (Score 1) 525

by MobyDisk (#48371653) Attached to: Microsoft To Open Source<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.NET and Take It Cross-Platform

The open-source x-platform server announcement was revealed on Scott Hanselman's blog in August 2014. But oddly, the permalink now points to this new announcement. Is there some conspiracy to pretend this wasn't already announced?

Google cache of the August announcement

Comment: Don't blame the ISPs for STARTTLS (Score 1) 245

by MobyDisk (#48365471) Attached to: ISPs Removing Their Customers' Email Encryption

1) Because SSL/TLS was so poorly supported for years, many email clients default to using security only if the server supports it. Email software should simply drop support for unencrypted SMTP, or report a big warning if the server doesn't support it. We would not tolerate such a proxy for the web, so we should not tolerate it for email either.
2) A recent Slashdot discussion revealed that the STARTTLS stripping was due to misconfigured proxy servers. I think this is a rehash of the same incident.

Comment: Bike cannon (Score 3, Insightful) 51

by MobyDisk (#48360441) Attached to: 333 Km/h Rocket-Powered Bicycle Sets New Speed Record

So if I shoot a bike out of a cannon can I win the record for fastest bike? How about if I strap it to an airplane?

Shame on the author of the article though. This is a truly awesome creation. But focusing on the "record breaking" aspect taints the accomplishment. It shifts the discussion from "hey, look at this cool thing!! Awesome!!!!!" to "That's cheating!"

Comment: The summary is wrong (Score 1) 127

by MobyDisk (#48360309) Attached to: Gridlock In Action: Retailers Demand New Regulations To Protect Consumers

The summary claims that the retailers would bear the brunt of the legislation. The opposite is true. The letter is written by retailers, asking for increased regulation of cloud providers and banks. The letter is specifically calls out Apple and J.P. Morgan as the causes of recent data breaches. It complains that the retailers are responsible for notifying their customers of breaches, but they aren't the only link in the chain.

In order to get a loan you must first prove you don't need it.