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Comment Add-on good, default preference bad (Score 1) 350

I fully agree that functionality that can be provided by add-ons need not be provided by the core program. In fact, this level of extensibility is a great selling point for Firefox.

The problem is what to do with those who set the preference in the past and have yet to install an add-on. I think it would have been better to take the "paranoid" default (deny all), making sure they have at least as much security as they had before. I find it hard to believe that there are many users who were regularly approving each cookie separately but couldn't dealt with the breakage caused by a temporary "deny all" default.

Comment Why was this allowed? (Score 2) 169

As far as I understand, at common law you can go by whatever identity you like as long as it's not for fraudulent purposes. Legally changing your name, on the other hand, requires going in front of a judge and providing some justification. In particular, this change is done for the purpose of gaming the ballot and gaining an unfair advantage, and the judge shouldn't have allowed it.

Has Canada changed this tradition?

Comment No permissions enforced at runtime? (Score 1) 67

This article seems to imply that Apple's primary security model is to first verify the apps and then give them at runtime unlimited access to the system, trusting them to only do the things they promised. This seems odd, especially compared with Android, where apps are limited at runtime to whatever capabilities they were granted by the user.

This issue could be trivially solved by enforcing permissions at runtime.

Comment Re:"Policy not to acknowledge" quote is offensive (Score 5, Informative) 133

What about male computers?

Because the computers were all female. There was rampant sexism at the time – in particular in that women could be computers but not research staff (with Ms. Johnson an apparent exception). But there are better ways of highlighting this sexism (of which Ms. Johnson was a victim) than by unreasonably rewriting quotes from the article

Comment "Policy not to acknowledge" quote is offensive (Score 5, Interesting) 133

The article says "The practice in 1960 would have been not to list the female Computers as formal co-authors". The blurb above replaces "Computers" with "contributors", painting a false and offensive picture.

Today in many fields it is common to only include as authors of a paper those who have had creative scientific input. A common example is research assistants who collate data, or technical staff who build lab equipment, but the example of someone who did a numerical computation for the author is not uncommon. Most "computers" simply did the computations, which was certainly an important contribution to the research, but not necessarily the kind of contribution that makes one an author of a paper.

Comment Re:Note careful terminology by Google (Score 1) 157

Analog computers are computers, of course -- they just aren't Turing machines. In TCS, "computer" is not the name of any model of computation -- unlike "Turing machine", "register machine", "pushdown automaton" and "quantum computer". So the word "computer" retains its everyday meaning.

On the other hand, you wouldn't call a device with a stack a "pushdown automaton" unless it actually was a pushdown automaton, right? Similarly, I wouldn't call something a "quantum computer" unless it really corresponds to that model of computation. I agree that this creates a void in the terminology, but this is where things stand now.

Comment Re:Proof that D-Wave is actually a Quantum Process (Score 5, Informative) 157

So is this finally proof that D-Wave has actually produced a real working quantum processor and isn't just pulling the wool over everyone's eyes?

This finally proves that, in some applications, D-Wave's machine offers considerable speedup over alternatives. It also confirms that D-Wave's machine uses quantum effects to speed up computation, but this point was never in dispute.

However, the term "quantum computer" has a very specific meaning (just like "Turing machine" has a specific meaning), and D-Wave's machine isn't a quantum computer. They use that label, pretending that they mean the literal reading but hoping you get confused and think of the technical one.

Comment Note careful terminology by Google (Score 4, Informative) 157

Despite being a computing device that relies on quantum effects, D-Wave's machine is not a "quantum computer" as that term is defined by computer scientists.

Commendably, Google's blog post calls the device a "quantum annealer", rejecting D-Wave's self-label of "quantum computer" which is a misleading marketing ploy. Perhaps if D-Wave's device had come before theoretical CS researcher defined their computational model, the term "quantum computer" would have taken a different meaning, but as things stand the meaning of "quantum computer" was fixed well before D-Wave was founded.

Comment Not so simple (Score 3, Informative) 223

Of course with the developer tools built into browsers these days, it only takes a few clicks to delete the nag layer and get to the underlying content. I wonder how they count me in their statistics?

It used to be easy to read the content off the html – no developer tools needed! Today, many websites are constructed to not serve the underlying content until the you've been served the ad.

By the way, I don't think there's anything wrong with what Springer is doing. Readers can pay cash, or pay by viewing ads. They can also choose not to read.

Comment Re:Economic calculations (Score 1) 369

Climate change requires coordinated action from all (or most) major countries. If the US went ahead with Keystone, then politicians or bureaucrats in other countries would say, why should we stick out our necks on this. The USA isn't making any sacrifices and they're the worst (or in top 2) polluter.

Well, your argument assumes disapproving Keystone XL has both negative climate effect and positive economic benefits, so that disapproving it would have been a "sacrifice". In fact, Obama is arguing that it would have had no economic upside, and that the main gain is the "leadership", disclaiming any reliance on direct environmental benefits. I agree that this jives with Obama's idea of what "sacrifice" and "leadership" mean, but it's not how the rest of the world uses those terms.

Comment Economic calculations (Score 4, Interesting) 369

It's notable that Obama is making a political calculation (wanting to retain "leadership" relating to climate change, the pipeline not increasing "energy security") rather than an economic or environmental one.

Reading his statement on the matter, his economic justifications are irrelevant ("the pipeline wouldn't create jobs or lower gas prices for Americans"): since it's not proposed that the US government pay for the pipeline, these issues are only relevant against costs -- and he doesn't discuss any costs! He isn't citing the direct environmental damage of digging the pipeline and creating associated infrastructure (roads, power cables, pumping stations etc). He isn't citing the risk of leaks.

I was wondering if Obama would claim climate risks since that would have required him to quantify his estimate of the accuracy of the models used to predict the climate effects of the pipeline. But naturally he didn't claim risks to the climate -- only risks to US leadership on climate issues. That's a fair reason to make national-level decisions, but is not a win for the environment.

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