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Comment: Re:Flip the switch (Score 1) 221

by swb (#47767601) Attached to: Fermilab Begins Testing Holographic Universe Theory

It wasn't about the metaphysics, because of course, he's kind of right. Although if you listen to someone who is an actual philosophy professor with a background in metaphysics and epistemology they make pretty convincing arguments against this kind of thinking.

What bothered me was the kind of smarmy, know-it-all attitude he had.

Ironically (or not) the comment I made was based on a story I had heard told about the philosopher George Berkeley's "immaterialism". This theory denies the existence of material substance and instead contends that familiar objects like tables and chairs are only ideas in the minds of perceivers, and as a result cannot exist without being perceived.

He had arrived in the rain someplace and couldn't enter because a door or gate was locked and he pounded on the door to be let in. A competing philosopher whose name I don't remember was slow in opening it and let Berkeley continue to pound on the door in the rain.

Berkeley became angry at being left in the rain and became agitated. The philosopher with whom he disagreed with yelled out "George! Calm down! Just stop perceiving the door and you'll be able to walk right in."

Comment: Stability improvements? (Score 1) 105

I understand why 64 bit can improve performance on x86 platforms because the 64-bit transition also rolled in other improvements like more registers.

I understand why 64 bit can improve the performance of security mitigations by making guessed addresses more likely to result in a controlled crash rather than arbitrary memory scribbling.

I cannot think of any reason why switching to 64 bit builds should halve the crash rate, unless this is just a side effect of 64 bit hardware being newer and less crappy overall. Can anyone else explain this to me?

Comment: Re:Flip the switch (Score 1) 221

by swb (#47764655) Attached to: Fermilab Begins Testing Holographic Universe Theory

I was riding the bus home from the University about 20 years ago and this guy in front of me was going on and on to this girl sitting next to him, sprouting some Philosophy 101 nonsense about how "How do I know you're real, and not just a figment of my imagination?"

After about 15 minutes of this I couldn't take it anymore and I looked at the girl and said "Go ahead and punch this guy in the nose, and then ask him whether he still wonders whether you're a figment of your imagination."

Comment: What's the max bandwidth of coax cable? (Score 2) 312

by swb (#47761579) Attached to: Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps"

And in most areas, how "full" is the coax line between my house and the fiber node? Ie, how much of the usable coax bandwidth has been allocated to cable channels, on-demand viewing, phone service, alarm monitoring, and Internet access?

Has switching from NTSC analog to all those HD channels (even though they are compressed, etc) been a net gain in usable bandwidth on the coax or just a wash?

I always just wonder if Comcast isn't just trying to keep that coax cable capable of handing TV and Internet by various means of suppressing bandwidth consumption on Internet usage.

The suck for Comcast is when that coax cable "runs out" of bandwidth and there's no room to cram yet another HD sports channel on. A project to migrate from coax to fiber would be a total nightmare for them.

I'm not trying to defend or justify anything they do, I'm sure it's at least half oriented towards nickle and diming and profiting off of manufactured scarcity but coax cable shared by many dwellings seems like a major bottleneck that will eventually have to be addressed and it will not be cheap.

Comment: Re:You had a VM w/ VLAN; TechCentral took a big ri (Score 1) 243

by swb (#47761513) Attached to: TechCentral Scams Call Center Scammers

Yeah, I never got to the installation phase of anything because as you say I began to worry about what MIGHT get installed as this VM can get to my production network. They are on separate subnets but not for security reasons; I run this VM for connecting to client systems when they want VPN software installed, which is why it has its own unique public IP. A dumb subnet scanner wouldn't hurt, but something smart might.

I am tempted to spin up a special VM on a totally isolated VLAN with connectivity to anything but a dedicated firewall which would pick up a NAT address from the cable modem (and thus not compromise any of my statics, I think it gets NAT'd to my static range gateway address). I'd probably skip the snapshot and just set the disk to independent/non persistent so changes would be long-term impossible between boots.

It's still not perfect, there are potential security risks in the hypervisor, but a patched ESXi 5.5 doesn't scare me like an OS hosted hypervisor would.

What they did was crazy -- access to a live PC on their internal network? What do you bet there were cached admin credentials on it from cloning or initial setup, too.

Comment: Surprised at how abusive they can get (Score 4, Interesting) 243

by swb (#47758931) Attached to: TechCentral Scams Call Center Scammers

I took a call from one of these guys.

I happened to have a VM I use for testing up and running and I snapshotted it and figured I'd follow along with him just to see what he wanted done. This VM is on its own VLAN and behind its own firewall and public IP, but I kind of got cold feet about creds that could be on the machine or connectivity to my production LAN so I stopped before anything got installed (and I reverted to the snapshot, too).

Anyway, after I quit playing along I started to gently question who he said he was and the guy became really abusive and threatening, like he was going to save up for a plane ticket to fly to the US and beat me up or something if I didn't keep going. I was really kind of surprised at how far he took it.

At that point I figured dishing it out was fine, so I went full-on nasty with him and again I was surprised at his willingness to keep it up, especially considering I was pretty harsh.

Comment: Why hasn't it happened already? (Score 4, Insightful) 233

by swb (#47756275) Attached to: California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

iPhones have had the ability to be remote wiped for a long time. Yet I have not heard of a pandemic of hacker-led mass bricking of iPhones. Dirty hipsters and their iPhones have been at the center of a lot of protests yet we haven't heard of mass iPhone shutdowns by the police in response to demonstrations.

I think government/law enforcement already have the powers they physically need to fuck with cell phones. Between Stingray devices and the ability to present national security letters to carriers or service providers, if they wanted to they could get IMEIs blacklisted or get someone like Apple to brick a specific phone.

I think this just finally cuts off the ability of the cell carriers to encourage and profit from theft by activating stolen phones. Maybe if we treated AT&T stores like pawn shops and told them it was loss of their licenses and jail time for trafficking in stolen property if they activated stolen phones the kill switches wouldn't be necessary, but because corporate profits and lobbying we don't.

Comment: No different than emission standards (Score 2) 233

by swb (#47756185) Attached to: California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

California is basically a nation-state unto itself. It is so large and relatively wealthy that when it sets standards, it often sets them for the entire nation and occasionally the world.

IIRC, auto emissions controls were one of those things California began to mandate. Not selling cars in California wasn't an option, so automakers began basically making cars that met their standards and sold them everywhere because the economies of scale made it make sense to do so.

Comment: Re:Not Net Neutrality (Score 1) 492

by swb (#47756111) Attached to: Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

At the end of the day there are some markets in need of regulation and it seems pretty obvious that residential internet access is one of those markets that tends toward a monopoly due to the cost and size of the delivery network.

The monopolists who control it will use it to maximize their profit, as we have seen. They have a disincentive to invest in infrastructure.

What that regulation looks like is what's important. The FCC's current path is too focused on minutiae without focusing on the structural problem behind the need for regulation.

I think municipal high speed fiber is a great way to address this and is very similar to the municipal road network. High investment cost, low marginal return over time. It's not a market anyone wants to enter; while UPS would love to own the roadways, it's only profitable if they can use them to exclude competition and charge high prices.

A municipal fiber network eliminates the structural monopoly and done right (IMHO, anyway) it doesn't provide ANY service anymore than having a street in front of my house provides me with transportation services.

A municipal network would be basically a data center operation and the local fiber network. Service from the network would require content providers operating on this network, whether they be bare-bones IP connectivity or some kind of full-suite provider like Comcast who could provide video and IP.

I think "unfair competition" would come from a municipal network that also provided IP connectivity or services on this, and I don't doubt there would be some people who would claim this is a legitimate government function, needed to close some rich/poor gap by providing a consumer subsidy. I think that would be a mistake because it would really hinder innovation.

Comment: Re:Not Net Neutrality (Score 1) 492

by swb (#47755189) Attached to: Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

I'm not sure how Marxism as an economic theory would have much of an opinion of net neutrality considering Marxism's primary economic calculus is based around the labor theory of value. Passing packets is, for all intents and purposes, totally automated and involves no labor and no surplus value.

Really the debate seems to be more around monopoly capitalism. Most broadband providers are monopolists and want use their monopoly power to enhance profits. They want to constrain data consumption to limit their capital outlay on network infrastructure. This creates scarcity that allows them to charge higher prices.

The FCC's regulation on this has been ham-handed and seems to head in the wrong direction as it wants to "fine tune" Internet access through minutia.

I think classifying the Internet is a public utility isn't really what's been advocated -- it's more along the lines of a municipal fiber network that generally eliminates the local monopoly enjoyed by most broadband providers and the artificial scarcity it creates.

The purpose of the municipal network is more akin to roads; the local network isn't designed to provide anything other than layer 2 connectivity, The city may provide roads but they don't provide actual transportation, and the better municipal broadband concepts seem to be built around open access to the network by providers who then provide services like Internet access.

The Kochs would probably argue that these systems would ultimately end up providing basic Internet access as part of the connection fee, in effect putting the government in competition with private industry. This in itself isn't an unreasonable argument but it's easily dealt with by simply prohibiting a municipal network from providing services beyond local connectivity. Koch capitalists don't have an easy solution to the monopoly problem of existing broadband delivery.

Comment: Re:Touch/button interaction? (Score 1) 75

by swb (#47751099) Attached to: Apple CarPlay Rollout Delayed By Some Carmakers

Maybe it should be all voice anyway, but I find that even with a quality headset (of any type, wired, wireless) I find that in the car voice commands work poorly due to ambient noise.

Plus, a car is filled with tactile controls that are all real easy to operate while you're driving (climate controls, cruise control, windows, etc).

Complex touch controls would be a mistake (I don't want triple-tap and drag on an iPad when I'm sitting on the couch, let alone in a car) but my concern would an oversimple display-only technology is that some UI controls just wouldn't be available, which is I suppose why Apple is doing "CarPlay" modes for apps to begin with.

Comment: lol (Score 1) 779

by IamTheRealMike (#47750827) Attached to: Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

I don't use Linux anymore and couldn't care less about systemd - if it helps drag desktop Linux further out of the UNIX stone age then I'm all for it - but this article is the most pathetic attempt to seem neutral I've encountered all day.

It indicates that no matter how reasonable a change may seem, if enough established and learned folks disagree with the change, then perhaps it bears further inspection before going to production. Clearly, that hasn't happened with systemd.

The "established, learned old guard" are the main reason Linux has gained a reputation for being hard to use. They're the reason that basic things like hardware drivers constantly break and the only reliable way to get the latest version of an app is to compile the source code. If the old guard are upset about systemd, that probably means it's a good thing.

Comment: Re:Storm in a teacup (Score 2) 74

If you remember a little device from 2007 called iPhone - it introduced a "novel" idea: Let's find out where we are based on the nearby cell towers

Minor correction. This technique was not introduced by the iPhone. Google Maps was doing this on Nokia/SonyEricsson J2ME candybar phones for years beforehand. When Apple licensed Google Maps they got access to the same technology. As far as I know Google invented this, although it's one of those ideas that's obvious enough to anyone who explores the problem that I'm not sure "invent" is a useful word to deploy.

Science is to computer science as hydrodynamics is to plumbing.