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Comment: Re:was bit by this (Score 1) 299

by jirka (#42329265) Attached to: Gmail Drops Support for Connecting To Pop3 Servers With Self -Signed Certs

Ahhh exactly the example of a perfectionist. The same person who's probably willing to pay via credit card at a supermarket. Typical paranoia. Either everything or nothing. When it's snowing outside I'll put on whatever clothes I have, even though they are not designed exactly for the weather. Yes I might be a little cold after a while, but oh well. You on the other hand will either not go outside at all or run around naked, because if you dont have everything designed for exactly the right conditions, you might as well not put on any clothing at all.

Look, there are two thing, encryption and authentication. Don't conflate the two. Encrypted connection is for protecting against different things than authenticated connection. Saying that you can't have one without the other is stupid. There's no reason to ever send anything cleartext. Yes, it might be better to authenticate, but it is not all that difficult to obtain a certificate for a domain if you can control the domain for a bit, which is exactly what you need to impersonate a site that google would be connecting to. The thing is as long as you have any certificate given for that domain, then you're Bob.

Authentication and Encryption are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.

Also this is google we are talking about. They FOR YEARS could not cobble a two factor or one time password authentication together. So I won't take any lecturing about how concerned they are about security.

BTW, google has been using quite a bit of software I wrote, for free, even android apparently used a bit of my software as my website pops up in their license files. I don't feel at all bad for them giving something to me for free. Plus it's not free. They are not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts (you did notice those ads in gmail did you not?). They are making quite a bit of money. Enough to not pay taxes on lot of it and make lots of people angry.

Comment: Re:was bit by this (Score 1) 299

by jirka (#42329019) Attached to: Gmail Drops Support for Connecting To Pop3 Servers With Self -Signed Certs

If you only do these things once a year at most you forget how everything works. The documentation is terrible. So if you understand how to set everything up and what all the acronyms are. I am a mathematician and I understand the mathematics of public key crypto really well. I don't know the little pointless details. Yes onc eyou know what to do and what to get and where to install it etc... yes it's not that much busy work. But rereading all the documentation every year (yeah understanding what e.g. "CSR" is, is pointless unless you do it often).

It's not just startssl, it is the combination of badly written documentation starting with the pop3 server, through the doc on startssl. The problem with these docs is that they only explain anything once you know exactly what to do. At which point they are useless as well.

Plus the startssl website kept freezing. It's an incredibly badly designed UI. very intolerant of pressing the wrong thing for example.

You know, I'm not as smart as your regular user I guess. I only have a phd. Dropped out of school after that.

Comment: was bit by this (Score 1) 299

by jirka (#42324173) Attached to: Gmail Drops Support for Connecting To Pop3 Servers With Self -Signed Certs

Yeah, apparently no security is better then some security according to google.

Got certificate from startssl, but it's a pain. Couple of hours of totally pointless work.

Another example where perfection is the enemy of good. This is my gripe with most computer security people. One of the reasons why encryption is not as widely deployed as it should be is this attitutude that "it must only be perfect".

Comment: Combination of tools (Score 1) 254

by jirka (#42294511) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Replacing a TI-84 With Software On a Linux Box?

I think a combination of tools might be the answer. I use maxima (wxmaxima frontent) when I need a cas. I use my own software Genius when I need to compute something numerically, and I often use it for in-class demonstrations (I often end up implementing whatever it is I need at some particular point). I can't remember when I last used octave, but that also sometimes happens when tehre's something genius can't do. I tried to make the interface to genius friendly, though of course there's always plenty of room for improvement. Generally it's a "command line" type interface, but I think it can do some pretty graphs. Too friendly tools generally end up being not very flexible. So it is worth it to spend a bit of time learning the less friendly ones.

By the way, I am getting ready to make a new genius release this weekend, I have just one more thing to do on my list before a release.

Comment: Re:long division? (Score 1) 1010

by jirka (#40825953) Attached to: Political Science Prof Asks: Is Algebra Necessary?

Your trolling powers are good; a good one with the "30 page thesis on Hilbert" that 1) nobody would assign in a class that's not math history, and not even then because nobody wants to grade a bunch of horribly written 30-page papers 2) completely avoiding the topic of studytime that the original post was about as if all the classes you took had 30 page papers on Hilbert to write.

I give that a C for effort and conclude that you never actually went for a Masters in math. What you wrote sounds like a bad extrapolation of a non-math undergrad, possibly out of school for some time, about what masters study in math would look like. Just from your comments I assume you are a disgruntled student who spends (wastes?) a lot of time on slashdot and tries to blame everything on others. Or perhaps you just like trolling.

BTW, see my comment about "insightful" above.

Comment: Re:long division? (Score 1) 1010

by jirka (#40812559) Attached to: Political Science Prof Asks: Is Algebra Necessary?

"YOU WORK FOR ME" (even capitalized to add volume) really tells me what kind of a student you are. You are exactly the kind of student who spends about 15 minutes out of my office hours every week complaining about random nonsense that has nothing to do with the material (e.g. why was this worth 5 points and not 3 points) wasting time that other students could use to actually ask useful questions and learn in the class. Yes, everything is somebody elses fault, and the professor goes out of his way to make your life miserable. Because it is his (or her) only reason for living. He (or she) spent half their life with very little pay for lots of work studying and perparing for a job where he could finally annoy you in particular.

BTW, you have just blown quite a bit of time reading slashdot, and responding, though I dare say not insightfully. Perhaps time better spent studying.

PS: Apparently in 1960s students had no real lives.

Comment: long division? (Score 2) 1010

by jirka (#40811579) Attached to: Political Science Prof Asks: Is Algebra Necessary?

He thinks algebra is bad but thinks all kids should learn something so fundamentally nonuseful as long division? (Yes I know it's useful once you get to polynomial division, but that's algebra ... It's often not even taught in calculus where it becomes useful to integrate rational functions.)

I teach at the university level, and from time to time I teach non-math majors, and I don't think the problem is that algebra is too hard. It is that the amount of effort students put into studying has gone significantly down. See:

On average, students now spend 15 hours studying per week compared to 24 in 1960. The problem is not algebra, it is facebook, iphone, internet in general, grade inflation, and role models nowdays being those that made a lot of money with no effort compared to astronauts in the 1960s.

I had my wife visit one of my calculus classes once and she sat in the back row. There was about half the class present (normal if you don't require attendance in a large lecture). Half of the remaining half was playing with their iphones and ipads or whatnot (no, not taking notes on them). And that was a calculus class where majority were engineers, students who are generally more interested in math. I know how pre-calculus can run and it can be depressing that no matter how hard you try to make the subject interesting (and approachable) you have at most one or two people in a class who pay attention and do what one would consider "well". Then due to grade inflation, most of the students pass anyway without getting much out of the class.

I had to take all sorts of classes as an undergrad (including political science) and I enjoyed every one of them. I had to work more in some than in others, though of course liberal arts classes were usually easiest to get an A without an effort. It's easy to get an A in art class for example, without having a shred of artistic talent. I found almost all these classes were doable with just going to class, doing homework and no extra studying. Comparing grades of different subjects is total nonsense. Would we improve the situation if we just gave everyone an A in math?

In summary, I don't think that anyone capable of being good in any field taught in a university can't pass an algebra class given a bit of effort. If it is not important to you to put in the effort, then your own field is not very important to you either. Why would it be an advantage to have an unmotivated person like that graduate?

Comment: just a moment ... (Score 1) 663

by jirka (#40459987) Attached to: Are Open-Source Desktops Losing Competitiveness?

Compete with what? Did anyone notice that about 1/4 or 1/3 of all computer users still use XP? So XP is still "competitive", whatever that means. Large part of the remaining users will run whatever is installed on the computer they buy regardless of how "modern" the UI is. Most people are using the computer to do something else than play around with their desktop. Just because a few geeks apparently can't work without wobbly windows and new window decorations every week, doesn't mean that the rest of humanity cares about those things too.

Everybody is always switching over to the mac for the past 10 years or so. One would think that over that time period, somebody would have actually switched over.

BTW, does anyone else feel like "modern" is such a stupid concept? Modern doesn't mean good. Modern doesn't mean better. It simply means different from before. I don't want a "modern" desktop. I want one that works well enough so that I can happily totally ignore it and get on with whatever I actually want to do.

Comment: Re:NSA (Score 1) 416

by jirka (#40189913) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do With a Math Degree?

That's the persistent bullshit about NSA. No, a mathematician in the top of his/her field is at a research-one university (secrecy is never a good way to attract good scientists). NSA has lots of people at all levels, from BA to PhD.

Actually I'd much more recommend one of the government labs than NSA itself if you want to go for a government job. At NSA you'll probably need to have too much clearance for comfort.

There are lots of industry jobs where they'll be delighted you have a bachelors in math.

Comment: Re:Does this matter anyway? (Score 1) 396

by jirka (#38196182) Attached to: Linux Mint 12 Released Today

Well, that's unique IPs based over a long time. I would assume most active desktop users probably run within one or two of the latest versions. So it is certainly not 35 mil. Not to mention that I probably count as about 5 or 10 of their users given all the places I've run yum at on my laptop.

Anyway, who cares. It is on the order of 10s of millions, and that was my point.

Comment: Re:Does this matter anyway? (Score 1) 396

by jirka (#38186264) Attached to: Linux Mint 12 Released Today

I could be a bit out of date (yeah I am getting older ...)

If I'm reading the statistics correctly ( then about 14 million US households had computers in 1989. Given Ubuntu says they have 20 mil users and fedora seems to have about 4-5 mil based on their yum stats, I guess opensuse about the same, and debian and mint also takes some. Some of those are servers, but I assume there is a lot fewer servers than desktops in general, and I bet most ubuntu computers are desktops (I wouldn't be so sure). I guess it would be then conservative to say 14 mil linux desktops or the same number as us households in '89 (a bit more than 20 years ago and only counting US).

Anyway, my point was that if it is 10 to 20 million, that is a lot. Just because percentage-wise it is not everyone, it doesn't mean that it is insignificant.

If you give a whole bunch of money to a charity and save a hundred thousand people from starvation, you'd just save 1% of those that die every year. But would you consider it insignificant?

For whatever reason, when talking about software and technology people always talk about percentage of the market, rather than any absolute numbers. In other contexts people often take the absolute numbers.

If we discover an alien race in another galaxy that we have no way of contacting uses linux and has 100 times more people, will suddenly Mac and Windows become insignificant?

Comment: Re:Does this matter anyway? (Score 5, Insightful) 396

by jirka (#38178144) Attached to: Linux Mint 12 Released Today

Well, there's probably more people using Linux on the desktop now than there were people using computers 20 years ago. 1-2 percent is a LOT of people (millions). If I publish a piece of software and millions of people use it, I'd say it is successful. Who cares about what percentage of the entire market it is. In absolute terms, there is an assload of desktop users.

"Free markets select for winning solutions." -- Eric S. Raymond