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Comment: Re:Never forget where you came from (Score 1) 278

by jmcbain (#46797465) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?
I actually do have almost 200 hours in community service, but almost all between high school and grad school. I volunteered at hospitals, homeless shelters, and habitat for humanity. Since becoming a professional, though, I have little time for that now. What's most disturbing is that I've now become more libertarian, i.e. disgusted that I have to pay so much tax for socialist services after having spent the entirety of my 20s in CS degree programs.

Comment: Never forget where you came from (Score 3, Interesting) 278

by jmcbain (#46796485) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

I finished my CS PhD about 10 years ago at a top-20 US university. My first year I was not paid, but after I hooked onto an advisor later, I received an RA or TA position for $23k/year, and in my last few years, I received a fellowship for about $40k/year.

That first year was horrible. I recall eating spaghetti and ketchup, and I distinctly remember having to ask one of my rich friends for a $500 loan just to pay my rent one month. That was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life, and it really shaped my financial planning. Now, 10 years later, although I'm making well over $150k/year, I keep my expenses very low like I'm still a grad student, and I always have at least 6 months' expenses in short-term accounts.

Comment: Re:what he actually wants to configure is applicat (Score 1) 187

by causality (#46794427) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: User-Friendly Firewall For a Brand-New Linux User?
I know this is an old thread ... but I really don't like Pulseaudio.

I never installed it on my Gentoo system. On my Mint systems, removing Pulseaudio is one of my first post-installation steps.

If I want to play sound over a network I export a read-only filesystem containing my media to the machines on my LAN (Samba does this nicely). Then I can play video and anything else over the network too, in a transparent way. I've never seen a single benefit of running Pulseaudio but I have seen lots of difficult-to-resolve problems. It's just useless bloat to me. I have a much better time using straight ALSA.

Comment: Re:Militia, then vs now (Score 1) 1574

by shutdown -p now (#46793873) Attached to: Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

in Australia the gun ban has 90% popular support

And in Afghanistan, the idea that a person renouncing Islam should be put to death, or that it is okay to marry girls at age 9, also enjoys 90% popular support. So what?

"There had been 11 gun massacres in the decade preceding 1996, but there have been no mass shootings since. "

Yet murder rate did not change significantly - it kept going down at the same rate as before the last ban.

(which is because those massacres are a statistically insignificant event, basically)

documented that after the laws were changed, the risk of an Australian being killed by a gun fell by more than 50 percent.

Yet again, one of those bullshit "by a gun" statistics. Who cares about a subset of murders where guns specifically are used? What matters is the overall murder rate regardless of tools. That did not show any correlation to gun bans.

Australia’s gun homicide rate, 0.13 per 100,000 people, according to, is a tiny fraction of that of the United States (3.6 per 100,000 people).

Another pointless "gun ..." stat.

BTW, it's true that Australia (and most other First World countries) has an overall lower homicide rate, and generally violent crime rate. But that has to do with the different approach to healthcare and other forms of welfare in US, which results in significantly higher income inequality, stratification, high poverty rates and low social mobility - which translates to more crime. Guns don't really play any role in this, as is evident when looking at crime rates within US - they correlate strongly with poverty, and not at all with lax/strict gun laws.

It should be noted that our gun homicide rates were already in decline, but the gun laws accelerated that slide."

Another pointless "gun ..." stat. As noted before, the overall homicide rate was going down before the bans, and kept going down after them at the same rate - i.e. the decline was caused by other factors. It should be noted that this is a trend that is observed in all Western countries, including US, and in the latter said decline does not correlate with gun law changes (like AWB).

In a 2010 paper, economists Andrew Leigh and Christine Neill found that the law change had led to a 65 percent decline in the rate of firearm suicides. Firearm homicides fell by 59 percent.

Another pointless "gun ..." stat. The overall suicide rate did not change, people just used different methods (hangings in particular spiked as firearm suicides dropped).

The US is an exceptionally dangerous place to live - to be at more risk, you have to go to countries in complete anarchy or at war.

This is an utterly stupid statement. You are much more likely to be shot in my home country - Russia - that despite it not being even remotely "in complete anarchy or war" - and despite the much more stringent gun laws, which are only marginally more liberal than Australian ones. Heck, US has lower homicide rates than a good half of Europe.

Then, of course, the rate varies wildly within US from state to state, so much so that the average is meaningless. In my state of residence, it's the same as in Finland and Norway, and it's not some kind of rural depopulated place.

Comment: Underlying assumptions are false (Score 1) 232

by jd (#46793425) Attached to: Bug Bounties Don't Help If Bugs Never Run Out

Ok, the envelope game. You can rework it to say the second envelope contains the next vulnerability in the queue of vulnerabilities. An empty queue is just as valid as a non-empty one, so if there are no further flaws then the envelope is empty. That way, all states are handled identically. What you REALLY want to do though is add a third envelope, also next item inquire, from QA. You do NOT know which envelope contains the most valuable prize but unless two bugs are found simultaneously (in which case you have bigger problems than game theory), you absolutely know two of the envelopes contain nothing remotely as valuable as the third. If no bugs are known at the time, or no more exist - essentially the same thing as you can't prove completeness and correctness at the same time, then the thousand dollars is the valuable one.

Monty Hall knows what is in two of the envelopes, but not what is in the third. Assuming simultaneous bug finds can be ignored, he can guess. Whichever envelope you choose, he will pick the least valuable envelope and show you that it is empty. Should you stick with your original choice or switch envelopes?

Clearly, this outcome will differ from the scenario in the original field manual. Unless you understand why it is different in outcome, you cannot evaluate a bounty program.

Now, onto the example of the car automotive software. Let us say that locating bugs is in constant time for the same effort. Sending the software architect on a one-way trip to Siberia is definitely step one. Proper encapsulation and modularization is utterly fundamental. Constant time means the First Law of Coding has been broken, a worse misdeed than breaking the First Law of Time and the First Law of Robotics on a first date. You simply can't produce enough similar bugs any other way.

It also means the architect broke the Second Law of Coding - ringfence vulnerable code and validate all inputs to it. By specifically isolating dangerous code in this way, a method widely used, you make misbehaviour essentially impossible. The dodgy code may be there but it can't get data outside the range for which it is safe.

Finally, it means the programmers failed to read the CERT Secure Coding guidelines, failed to test (unit and integrated!) correctly, likely didn't bother with static checkers, failed to enable compiler warning flags and basically failed to think. Thoughtlessness qualifies them for the Pitcairn Islands. One way.

With the Pitcairns now overrun by unemployed automotive software engineers, society there will collapse and Thunderdome v1.0a will be built! With a patchset to be released, fixing bugs in harnesses and weapons, in coming months.

Comment: Re:Why do these people always have something to hi (Score 1) 330

Not so. For example here is the privacy statement from a well-known university:

Privacy of Information
Information stored on a computer system or sent electronically over a network is the property of the individual who created it. Examination, collection, or dissemination of that information without authorization from the owner is a violation of the ownerâ(TM)s rights to control his or her own property. Systems administrators, however, may gain access to usersâ(TM) data or programs when it is necessary to maintain or prevent damage to systems or to ensure compliance with other University rules.

Comment: Re:All publicly funded research needs public relea (Score 0) 330

OK with which part? Trying to repress work of scientists for political ends or trying to preserve their work for future study?

One is the despicable work of slimeballs trying to supress scientific inquiry or just simply punish people who have ideas they don't like, and the other is the work of archivists and libraries.

Clearly we have the former going right now. Fortunately the courts came to the right conclusion.

Ma Bell is a mean mother!