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Comment: Not so specialized anymore (Score 1) 355

by js_sebastian (#46773929) Attached to: Kids Can Swipe a Screen But Can't Use LEGOs

Those same pieces can be used to build what ever you can imagine.

No so easily nowadays. Lego comes with huge numbers of very specialized pieces which are taylor made for that particular model. You can get the basic bricks but most Lego today is aimed at building one model and then playing with it rather than getting a pile of bricks and letting your imagination run wild.

Not quite true. This was a trend at lego some years back, back when the company was in a bit of a slump. More recently, they try to limit the number of new custom pieces designed for each set. Quite apart from re-play and creative value, each new part requires an expensive and costly to maintain custom mold (we're talking some 100k euros if I recall correctly). In a documentary I saw, the lego designer was saying that for the police station she was developing she was not using any custom parts (that were not already in use in past sets) so she was able to instead add a custom police-dog figure.

Comment: Lego is high tech (Score 1) 355

by js_sebastian (#46773843) Attached to: Kids Can Swipe a Screen But Can't Use LEGOs

It also fails to acknowledge that LEGO is itself technology -- relatively modern, high technology in the grand scheme of humanity

It actually is... saw a documentaries on their factories and design process, it's pretty high tech. Designer scults a model out of clay, 3-D scans it, refines it on the computer. Then they build a custom metal piece into which plastic will be poured to create the pieces (don't know how that part works but each one costs some 100k) and have machines that pump out large numbers of pieces with fairly demanding tolerances (so the pieces will hold together tightly but not jam), which go into conveyor belts that automatically sort the right number and type of pieces into the different sets, etc...

Comment: Re:No problem (Score 1) 423

by js_sebastian (#46597709) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Preparing For Windows XP EOL?

It's not stupid. It's quite common for specialised equipment to rely on drivers written for a particular OS. We have a 3 year old transmission dynamometer that cost us $180,000 that is controlled by redundant commodity x86 hardware running XP. There is no need to keep the OS up to date as it serves only one purpose.

Stupid lusers these days think all "PCs" are to be connected to the Internet and used for browsing file sharing sites.

Before you pay 180k for a piece of hardware, you should require either one of (a) a support contract that commits them to developing drivers for the foreseed lifetime of said hardware or (b) an open source driver and specification that allows you to develop the driver yourself. A combination of the two is also possible, where the source code and spec is held in escrow, and you have access to it only if they go under or breach their support contract.

Comment: Re:Teach the fundamentals (Score 1) 246

Precisely. When I was at UCSC, the students were agitating for a course in ... [wait for it] ... VAX Assembler.

The department (quite rightly) ignored our plea.

lol the wisdom of history! I think you have now earned the right to include "get off my lawn kids" in your slashdot sig without losing karma.

Comment: Re:Really? (Score 1) 125

by js_sebastian (#46155079) Attached to: Asus Announces Small Form Factor 'Chromebox' PCs

I'd just like a standard PC in that form factor. The only real "full" PC I've seen that might be decent would be Apple's Mac Mini, especially in the video department.

Something that size with 128GB SSD, decent CPU, decent GPU, and 8-16 GB of RAM would be a nice change, and since it would mount on the monitor (if it followed the VESA standard), it would be completely out of the way.

..and I would want mine to be fanless, with no spinning of any kind involved to make noise in my living room. And for that, I'm more than willing to sacrifice some performance.

I recently solved this with a box from fit-PC, bought diskless and fitted with a 128GB SSD. But the asus offering would have been interesting if I did not yet have a fanless living room box, particularly given the price (so long as I can swap in a reasonably sized SSD, and boot it into my choice of linux distro, of course).

Comment: Re:This is more of authentication than encryption. (Score 5, Informative) 106

by js_sebastian (#46102733) Attached to: Building Deception Into Encryption Software

TFA was murky, but generating bogus data? If one is brute forcing a data blob, how can it make stuff up?

Actually, it wasn't murky. That it cannot work for arbitrary data types is spelled out towards the end. This is for data of which the encryption system knows the data type well enough to fake it, and the encryption system has to be built to target the specific data type. The examples given are credit card numbers or passwords.

For instance imagine a password manager that, for every decryption attempt with a wrong master password, returns a different set of bogus but plausible passwords. How would a brute force attack automatically determine which one is the "real" set of passwords of the user, even if it can guess the right password?

Comment: Re:the old college time table does not work for al (Score 1) 122

by js_sebastian (#45844861) Attached to: Are High MOOC Failure Rates a Bug Or a Feature?

The college time table does not work that well for people who are working.

Exactly. But a good thing of MOOC is that you don't have to stick to the time table: you can take your time and spend several terms before finishing a class if you have other priorities, especially if you don't care about certificates.

I signed up for a class on ancient greek literature (not exactly my field) on edx last june, when the class was about to end. I continued it in the following term, but did not quite manage to finish it and will do the last few lessons this month. For me this is a success because I had a good time and learned some interesting stuff, and will eventually get to the end of the material, but in terms of MOOC statistics I have failed to complete the class twice already.

Comment: does it have to be PHP? (Score 0, Offtopic) 227

by js_sebastian (#45214139) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do You Choose Frameworks That Will Survive?
Maybe one reaosn PHP framworks come and go is how broken the underlieing language actually is and just how much a framework needs to do to compensate for that, leading almost to a new language that therefore needs a very big community to even survive.

For comparison of how simple a framework can be when the underlieing language is sane, just look at python flask. Not that i'm saying that's the solution to your particualr problem.

Comment: Re:So... no separation between system and userspac (Score 1) 335

by js_sebastian (#44879473) Attached to: New Operating System Seeks To Replace Linux In the Cloud

How the hell are you running a remotely exploitable email server? Since this OS is designed to only run one program there is nothing else to exploit.

Hmm email server has to handle... emails, duh! Emails are untrusted data coming from untrusted sources, and your mail server is doing complex processing of those emails. So, yes, it is potentially remotely exploitable.

Comment: Re:It was a myth (Score 1) 986

by js_sebastian (#44648169) Attached to: Joining Lavabit Et Al, Groklaw Shuts Down Because of NSA Dragnet

The cultural differences between US states exist, but they are NOTHING compared to the cultural differences between european states. Why? because these states don't have centuries of independent histories and different languages and literatures and tradition.

Many of our states are roughly equivalent in size to your countries and I'd argue each has it's own unique culture. Texas, for example, is vastly different from Maryland. And that's in many ways: accent, racial composition (+ level of racism), foods, culture, hobbies, government, etc, etc. -- Florida has alot of Cuban influence -- New Mexico/California has alot of Mexican influence. And so on.

Sure, US states are big compared to european countries, some of them even in term of population (california, at 39 or so millions is comparable to a mid-sized european country). But the cultural diversity that you are talking about to me seems more comparable to the regional diversity within european countries such as italy, the UK or spain, which have mutually incomprehensible dialects/languages, completely different regional cuisines, and in some cases even some level of legal autonomy (spain, germany, UK) somewhat comparable to what US states enjoy.

Americans are very mobile: they move from one state to another to study, work, marry, etc

Says who? Most people never relocate after their first job/marriage. They at best would experience two states, their birth state and their death state. Over 50% never leave the state they grew up in:

I don't consider that "highly mobile" --

This is fairly obvious to anyone who knows a little about both continents, but if you want a citation, how about this one: (from 2008).

In the for- mer EU15, only about 0.1% of the working age popu- lation changes its country of residence in a given year. Conversely, in the US, about 3% of the working age population moves to a different state every year,

So by this measure, americans are 20 times more mobile inter-state than europeans are inter-country.

unless they're in the army where they get shuffled around alot from base to base. And that's why language differences don't matter much -- because no one really knows anything outside of their home state anyways.

It's interesting that you mention the army. The policy in italy back when there was the draft was to send people to different parts of the country for military service, to help spread a common italian language and culture, because a lot of people never even traveled outside their region, let alone move there to live and work. That, together with national TV, is what has brought some level of linguistic and cultural unification to Italy in recent decades.

Comment: Re:Indiegogo v. Kickstarter (Score 1) 125

by js_sebastian (#44647941) Attached to: Ubuntu Edge Draws Nearly $13M, But Falls Short of Indiegogo Goal

As one commenter said:

Actually it does matter a great deal. A key difference is what happens to the money if the project is not funded to the goal level. On kickstarter if the project misses its goal, no money changes hands. On indiegogo campaigns can be set up as "Flexible Funding" and the hosts get whatever is pledged (minus 9% for fees).

Sure, but this particular indiegogo campaign was fixed funding, so everyone is now getting their money back.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 2) 125

by js_sebastian (#44647875) Attached to: Ubuntu Edge Draws Nearly $13M, But Falls Short of Indiegogo Goal

Good graphics cards are big. Most people don't need them, true, but PC gaming is still very much alive - Diablo 3 has sold about 15 million copies. That's about a half _billion_ dollars right there, for one game.

Sure, your converged phone won't replace a gaming rig for hardcore gamers, but not everyone games, and not everyone who does does so on the PC.

People have been predicting the death of the desktop for decades, whether due to consoles, laptops, mobiles, whatever. It's never going to happen while good graphics cards and processors need a lot of cooling, and therefore are big.

Who's talking about death of the desktop? Desktop is useful for some people. But again, not everyone games on the PC, strange as it may seem to you. With 16GB of ram on my laptop, I could easily do all my development work on my laptop, once attached to a bigger screen and keyboard.

The only reason laptops haven't taken over from desktops is that you can't make a laptop do what a desktop does for a similar price, and in some cases not at all. Good luck getting similar performance from a phone.

Newsflash: laptops HAVE taken over desktops, in the sense that more laptops are sold than desktops, by about a factor 2 in 2012, and that's excluding netbooks. Why? because performance is good enough for most people. Because the price differential is not quite as big as it used to be, and is worth it for many people in exchange for the portability. Tablets and netbooks are each also moving a comparable number of units to desktops. Again, they're good enough for many uses for many people.

Give it another couple iternations in performance, storage and battery improvements, and phones will be good enough for most people too, and will just need a bigger screen and keyboard to be usable for running most desktop applications, except for high-GPU users like games, photoshop, etc.

The only thing cheaper than hardware is talk.