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Comment Helios - encrypted, verifiable & private (Score 1) 258

There's an algorithm (or two) that leverages multi-step encryption to facilitate two (seemingly exclusive) properties.

  1. Each voter can use a receipt code to ensure that their vote was counted, and counted correctly.
  2. No one can determine which vote came from which voter (unless perhaps if they steal all 5 encryption keys).

The algorithm, developed by Dr. Andrew Neff, was first implemented by a company called VoteHere.

Now it is available for testing and vetting via an implementation at

FWIW I've posted about this system almost a dozen times over the past decade.

Comment it's a trick question because you will learn both (Score 1) 211

Both are incredibly well-designed languages with some tricky parts but a lot of smooth sailing.

Swift seems to be solid enough that it's ready for most use cases - or perhaps closer to a quarter or a third of what you need to do every world-class app out there.

If you focus your next few months on Swift you'll be fine. There are lots of good examples, courses, lessons, blogs, and clever people who can answer questions.

However you will find yourself missing out on a lot of easy wins - particularly in cases where you read some Objective-C code and want to know how to translate it into Swift for your projects.

Objective-C is easy enough to learn - if you are going to be mostly just reading it. If you are writing it, of course, there are some tough things.

Either way you absolutely cannot go wrong and you will end up knowing both very well within a year.

Comment Barbie was actually both real and responsible (Score 1) 561

I read the book via the Gizmodo blog post. I understood the critiques that they leveled at each page. At the same time I felt that a lot of the plot twists were open to interpretation. The most basic example is that her collaborators were boys. Is she supposed to only work with women? Of course not.

The virus and its aftermath are another example where they felt it was showing how inept she was but I felt otherwise. People get viruses. She did a good job at figuring out how it was spreading and acting quickly to repair all of the hard drives that had been exposed. In real life, most of the time, when you have something like that to resolve, are you going to ask a man for help? Sure, most of the time you are. This is a good lesson to teach Barbie's readers. Do it right away. Don't be "ashamed about who got the virus". This shame is only on the part of Gizmodo. Barbie didn't overreact.

The last point I'll touch on is when Barbie began her project as a designer but then ended up claiming "I guess I am an engineer". This could be painful for professionals, both men and women, to digest. However, for many young women, computer engineering is reasonably intimidating - for some reason they often think of it as something that is hard for them. Perhaps awkward sexual attitudes from male programmers are part of the struggle. Perhaps everyone is a little awkward. But for Barbie's readers, they get a little shot in the arm of "I can do this". It doesn't matter if she had to write a lot of code on the preceding page of the book. What matters is that she is encouraging people to think that they can do that if they choose to!

I'm not saying the book couldn't have been better. But I felt that the attention to details in the plot was good. Always having her thumb drive, for example - that's a great habit! Designing something before you start coding - sure! The programming team could have been half men and half women, yes. Of course. Barbie could have saved the day by doing research instead of asking for help (although that's not really good advice when you get a virus). There may also be things that I missed that will end up amounting to poor role modeling for young women. But on the whole I think there's some good stuff in here and I hope that it doesn't all get lost in the backlash.

Comment Re:Cost vs. Benefits (Score 1) 477

Repairs are indeed possible with the new computers. As for upgrades, consider that Mac laptops have excellent resale value and a great set of tools for migrating your data to another Mac.

So rather than performing an upgrade (and I'm not saying that upgrading RAM was onerous, but yeah, it sometimes was), you can get a new machine and resell your current one. Let's say you're now out $600.

If you can't accomplish $600 worth of productivity and fun by using a Retina Mac instead of a PC, keep in mind that you're also saving your eyes from strain by using the Retina display.

I know Slashdot commenters won't appreciate this advice, but I think it's worth mentioning that the high resale value is an alternative to buying an upgradable machine.

Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 150

The equipment that made the e-book possible is not free of costs, just like the equipment that made the paper book. In fact it might even cost more. Just because there are no molecules in the e-book doesn't mean it was less costly to produce than the paper version. Nor does the price have to mirror the cost - the price also reflects the value, which for an e-book is potentially greater than the same book printed on paper and shipped to your door.

Amazon operates at a loss by selling e-books for $10. That essentially meant that no smaller companies could compete since they most likely did not have the luxury of selling e-books at a loss. Apple was trying to move things in a pro-competitive direction.

You may or may not be correct that what they did was illegal. But your implication that they were trying to pad an already-profitable margin is, to my understanding, mistaken. This I find to be an important detail of the case, particularly so because e-books are potentially an important part of healing our economy and culture. This suit has strengthened Amazon's position to the point where a monopoly is not out of the question. That is the scary part.

Comment Rails class in Brooklyn (Score 0, Troll) 164

Today is the last day to register for my beginner's Ruby and Rails class at 3rd Ward. It's five Tuesday nights from 7-10 beginning on April 3.

It's very aggressively priced, at $295 for 15 instruction hours.

The focus of the class is on practical techniques for getting started with Rails and making the best use of your time and the newest, best tools. No computing experience is necessary. The instruction will focus on OSX, but a certain level of support for other OSes is available.

Comment Re:What we do/don't need in Calculus. (Score 1) 1153

I can't agree at all with this premise that we don't need to know advanced math. Knowledge of how things move, change, and interact is of practical use all the time. And, being able to understand data and make predictions are important no matter what your job is.

I feel that saying that the usefulness of math is overrated is akin to saying that toilets are overrated. Sure, we got by just fine without them, but in a modern society with a large population, this is a crucially important ingredient for progress.

Understanding gradients is a good example here - it gives you a much more realistic perspective on everything from good real estate deals to good social skills. Gradients are invisible but you can see them everywhere if you have a solid understanding of math. Sure, teaching people how to take tests is overrated, but this is not an indictment of math, no way.

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