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Comment Re:The HELL they can't! (Score 3, Interesting) 74

Being in the industry, the reason I was given was (1) the electrolyte is very expensive right now and (2) investors need a demonstration of return. The flow devices scale much better than Lithium batteries, store more energy, and can discharge over longer periods of time. This makes them eligible for capacity markets, but we are coincidentally in a period of over-supply in the energy markets, so capacity clearing prices are not supporting their cost of entry. Secondly, as a storage device, they need to arbitrage the energy prices, charge at low prices and discharge at high prices.

Comment Re:We don't need "backdoors" (Score 1) 259

Put simply, there exist plenty of systems and techniques that don't depend on a third-party who could possibly grant access to secure communications. These systems aren't going to disappear. Why would terrorists or other criminals use a system that could be monitored by authorities when secure alternatives exist? Why would ordinary people?

That's a really easy answer -- terrorists use these simple platforms for the same reason normal people do: because they're easy to use. Obviously a lot of our techniques and capabilities have been laid bare, but people use things like WhatsApp, iMessage, and Telegram because they're easy. It's the same reason that ordinary people -- and terrorists -- don't use Ello instead of Facebook, or ProtonMail instead of Gmail. And when people switch to more complicated, non-turnkey encryption solutions -- no matter how "simple" the more savvy may think them -- they make mistakes that can render their communications security measures vulnerable to defeat.

I'm not saying that the vendors and cloud providers ALWAYS can provide assistance; but sometimes they can, given a particular target (device, email address, etc.), and they can do so in a way that comports with the rule of law in free society, doesn't require creating backdoors in encryption, and doesn't require "weakening" their products. And of course, it would be good if we were able to leverage certain things against legitimate foreign intelligence targets without the entire world knowing exactly what we are doing, so our enemies know exactly how to avoid it. Secrecy is required for the successful conduct of intelligence operations, even in free societies.

Comment Re:We don't need "backdoors" (Score 1) 259

Sure. One hypothetical example:

The communication has to be decrypted somewhere; the endpoint(s) can be exploited in various ways. That can be done now. US vendors could, in theory, be at least a partial aid in that process on a device-by-device basis, within clear and specific legal authorities, without doing anything like key escrow, wholesale weakening of encryption, or similar with regard to software or devices themselves.

The point is that when US adversaries use systems and services physically located in the US, designed and operated by US companies, there are many things that could be discussed depending on the precise system, service, software, or device. Pretending that there is absolutely nothing that can be done, and it's either unbreakable, universal encryption for all, or nothing, is a false choice.

To sit here and pretend that it's some kind of "people's victory" when a technical system renders itself effectively impenetrable to the legitimate legal, judicial, and intelligence processes of even democratic governments operating under the rule of law in free civil society is curious indeed.

Comment Re:Clickbait title? (Score 1) 168

Minecraft doesn't have any built-in API hooks in the core executable; the entire modding community is built around people who have reversed-engineered the Java to insert hooks for tools like Forge, etc. The modding community has been begging for a clear API for years, but Notch didn't see the value in it.

Having the application coded in Java immediately gives you the cross-platform functionality in the desktop world, but it's a killer for the console world. The XBox version is basically incompatible with the entire modding community, and their feature set is behind the vanilla desktop. Additionally, most modded minecraft launchers (Java) are limited to 2GB of RAM, when 64-bit systems can easily go beyond this. This is purely a limitation of using Java.

Moving the code base to .Net would unify the desktop and console worlds, would unify the modding community, and would do nothing but improve quality for players. Almost all mods are built core 1.7.10, when the vanilla version is already up at 1.8. It's insanely difficult to keep mods up to date, to the point that many popular ones simply say they won't support the 1.8 branch. Most mods are hacks upon hacks, relying on "ore dictionaries" and the like to unify identifiers so one mod doesn't step on another mod's space.

The pre-requisite for all of this is getting a functional .Net framework out on the Mac and Linux, which Microsoft has already committed to do.

Comment We don't need "backdoors" (Score 3, Informative) 259

And the NYT has a new and extensive story that absolutely "mentions" crypto.

We don't need "backdoors". What we need is a clear acknowledgment that what increasingly exists essentially amounts to a virtual fortress impenetrable by the legal mechanisms of free society, that many of those systems are developed and employed by US companies, and that US adversaries use those systems against the US and our allies, and for a discussion to start from that point.

The US has a clear and compelling interest in strong encryption, and especially in protecting US encryption systems used by our government, our citizens, and people around the world from defeat. But the assumption that the only alternatives are either universal strong encryption, or wholesale and deliberate weakening of encryption systems and/or "backdoors", is a false dichotomy.

Comment No Thanks. (Score 1) 40

If I want to play Pen and Paper D&D, I'll do it the old fashioned way... Yeah I understand people move, etc. roll20 is for that.

If I'm going to go out and buy an occulus rift, you better be damned sure when I put the goggles on:

I'm going to be crawling through a beautiful dungeon, disabling traps, plundering chests and kicking the shit out of orcs / kobolds / goblins and all manner of monsters!
I'll be going into taverns and getting into bar fights with surly dwarfs!

I'll be riding a dragon, blasting pirate galleons in defense of my king!

What I won't be doing is sitting there playing table top D&D on a virtual table... That's just stupid.

Comment Re: Thanks anti-nuke extremists! (Score 2) 148

That's what we feel too. When wind units are allowed to bid negative offers, because their operations costs are offset by government-funded renewable energy credits, it distorts the market to the point that traditional generation cannot compete. This is why the "expiration" of the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit was such a big deal, in that everyone had to "break ground" by 12/31/2014, which is why there is a flood of windpower energy this year. You cannot build transmission this fast.

Comment Re: Thanks anti-nuke extremists! (Score 3, Insightful) 148

As someone who works in the wholesale power industry, the problem is more complex.

We are in a unique period of overcapacity, as new technologies are displacing the old. Nuclear capital costs of new construction are astronomical, which is why in the deregulated open markets of the USA, new construction is natural gas powered and government backed wind. The wind is being build in areas of the country (Illinois) that were historically heavy industry (pre existing ehv transmission), but with factory load moving overseas, the Midwest has more generation than demand. The energy is being bottled due to lack of transmission investment, which is leading to negative wholesale pricing. That's great for consumers, terrible for base load nuclear. New nuclear is being built at an existing site in a regulated southern state, where the costs can be passed on to consumers in the rate base.

Comment Nicely done, connecting to NSA (Score 1) 139

Guess what people the NSA isn't going after with something as close-held as the linked exploit?

"Hackers, Activists, and Journos"

I know that doesn't really seem to matter to people, and that it's easier to cherry-pick contextless, misunderstood, fringe examples that are believed to prove some "point", or isolated examples of outright abuse and extrapolating, without any proof whatever, that to mean it is obviously systemic and widespread, instead of realizing that NSA's chief mission, as a foreign intelligence agency, is foreign signals intelligence collection, and that US adversaries use the same phones, laptops, networks, systems, devices, services, and providers as you.

And, stunningly, we still develop ways to actually target and collect against them.

Mind-bending, I know.

Comment Re:Yes but it could have been *any* reflected Stat (Score 4, Insightful) 47

This post only demonstrates your misunderstanding of things (by talking about "home routers", for example, in this context). And yes, attribution in cyber is hard -- that's one of the most-discussed, fundamental problems of cyber.

You can also go down the Princess Bride-esque rabbit hole of saying that China knows that some people -- like yourself -- will make arguments that "it could be the US or UK making it look like it's China", and thus conduct an attack, or that we know that they know that we know that, and therefore the US did it, etc.

At some point, you have to apply Occam's Razor and ask: who benefits? And the most obvious, direct, and clear beneficiary of this kind of interference is China. Not the US, not the UK, not some imagined Western Illuminati cabal with China being innocent victims; no: China.

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig