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Comment: Re:Easiest way... (Score 1) 264

by meustrus (#48434291) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?
I was going to say that they do have accessibility options for font size and other things, but the configuration now is more limited than I remember. I can only assume their solution now is to lean on their Retina displays operating at a non-ideal resolution to make the entire interface larger with fewer artifacts than at non-Retina resolutions.

Comment: Re:Easiest way... if you have money to burn (Score 1) 264

by meustrus (#48434229) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?

"Averages about $1200", and "You could get"? Every single machine I see over $1200 is an old Mac Pro; current models are over $3000 as they use server-type processors and ECC memory. And you "could get" a five year old 2.66Ghz quad core Mac Pro from that link at $739, which is...less than two thirds of $1200. Or a three year old 2.5Ghz quad core iMac at $799.

If the price still puts you off, you don't have to buy into that market. But don't complain that these things keep their value; in most products (like cars), that means it was a solid, reliable product, unlike certain computers I've bought that died after only a year. I dare you to find non-Macs from 5 years ago that sell anywhere near $799 now.

Comment: Re:Easiest way... if you have money to burn (Score 1) 264

by meustrus (#48434139) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?

The Mac chiclet keyboard is vastly superior (in my opinion) to most other laptop or OEM-supplied keyboards. There are many better keyboards, but not that the computer manufacturer will give you with the machine. The trackpad on laptops used to be several orders of magnitude better than anything available on a laptop, but Windows laptops (especially those certified for Windows 8) have been copying it for a while now so the difference is probably negligible. As for a mouse, you can buy a three button wired mouse for $5 if you really don't like the option of a touch-enabled "Magic Mouse", a trackpad, or the "Apple Mouse" that I think has middle button support (but maybe only if you use a third party configuration tool?) for its 360-degree scroll ball.

I don't blame you for having higher standards, but unless you're buying a gaming computer anything else you could buy comes with cheaper, crappier stuff than Apple's "style over usability" keyboard and mouse. The way I see it you'd be spending extra money either way unless you just use your existing keyboard and mouse, which you'd have to do anyway for the Mac Mini (which is your only Mac option under $899).

Comment: Seriously Flawed (Score 1) 317

First let's say that the explanation in the article makes some pretty weird alterations to the trolley problem to come to its conclusion. So first we have the problem that the trolley problem is not an adequate measure of whether a robot can "correctly decide to kill humans". From there it goes through some weird permutations until there is a decidedly "correct" solution to the trolley problem: a computer program designed by a known villain is about to be installed on a switch that could make a decision to injure maintenance workers. And since another computer program cannot determine whether the first program will ever halt, it cannot always make the right decision.

The flaw is right there in the summary:

One curious corollary is that if the human brain is a Turing machine, then humans can never decide this issue either, a point that the authors deliberately steer well clear of.

In what way could anybody always prove that a piece of computer software is safe and correct? Let's assume that the hardware is safe and an expert in machine code is available to make the determination. Could that expert ever make the right choice? Of course. But could the expert always make the right choice? The Halting Problem doesn't state that a program can never determine if a program will halt. It only states that a program cannot always determine if any program will halt. A machine could use exactly the same methods available to us humans (recognizing certain design patterns, certain known logical structures with known outcomes) to usually make the right choice, but could not always know what the right choice is. The disconnect that might make one think a computer is somehow less capable of making this decision is in believing that a human being can make a better determination. A human can't. If the program is written in a strange or obscure manner, the human can't know what will happen either. And that's where we encounter the halting problem: you can't always know for sure without running the program, and if the program never halts (or never makes a bad judgement), that's not proof positive that it doesn't halt (or is safe).

Ultimately the real "flaw" is the way this result has been picked up. The headline "Halting Problem Proves That Lethal Robots Cannot Correctly Decide To Kill Humans" is a lot more sensational than the title of the paper, "Logical Limitations to Machine Ethics / with Consequences to Lethal Autonomous Weapons". The Medium headline and article claim that this paper "proves" something about the capabilities of "lethal robots", when all it really does is prove limitations of machine ethics. It isn't really about lethal weapons; based on this result, an algorithm cannot always make the morally correct choice, regardless of whether or not that choice involve killing. And the reason? Because sometimes, making the morally correct choice requires information that is provably impossible to always obtain.

Comment: Re:Beware the T E R R O R I S T S !! (Score 1) 428

by meustrus (#48417745) Attached to: Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power

ISIS hates everyone and is a threat to everyone. Why should America have to lead the charge? Because we're the only ones willing to? ISIS is a graver threat to European countries who are content to keep their hands clean. ISIS is an even graver threat to other Middle Eastern countries like Turkey and Iran, whose agendas are different from our own and whose actions may provoke us against them so they aren't going to want to make themselves a target. You see? America being the first to act in every military situation makes everyone else back off. And before you say "America, fuck yeah!" remember who is leading our country. Do you want Obama to be the only person in the world capable of waging war on every single threat that comes along? What about the next president? And the one after that? Even if you like every single president this country is ever going to have, that is simply too much responsibility to weigh on one person's shoulders. Our Congress won't even exercise its Constitutional mandate to decide when our country goes to war.

If we are ever going to advance as a society, we need to get past this "world superpower" phase. America must not be in the business of policing the entire world. It is extremely costly and it makes us a target. Why do you think ISIS is beheading Americans? They desperately want us to lead a unilateral attack, because they know that if they can goad us to strike alone then no one else will join us. They will be able to recruit even more people to fight demon America, the nation that fancies itself a greater power than God. And don't make the mistake of thinking that this is a purely military conflict. This is ideological. This is cultural. This will not end until those that would aid ISIS know that it isn't just their greatest nemesis American that is fighting them. The whole world must be arrayed against them. They must fear that the forces against them are assembled not by their enemies, but by God himself.

Comment: Re:So basically (Score 5, Insightful) 428

by meustrus (#48417481) Attached to: Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power
If the entire government became Libertarian today, it would take less than 10 years for corporations to take total control of governance and we'd have just as much (or probably more) squashing of individual liberties, but no longer any accountability to voters. There are many powerful players in society and I'm not one of them. Does it make me a crony capitalist or a welfare queen when I decide I'd rather the power go to those I can vote out of office than those I can't?

Comment: Re:Not a security risk, but a fake risk (Score 1) 178

by meustrus (#48413959) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Non-USB Flash Direct From China Safe?

Hey, don't accuse me of hijacking the discussion. I wasn't the one who asked if an SD card bought from unreliable sources could install malware without autorun:

Does anybody know if there are any known firmware issues with SD or other non-USB flash cards that could effectively allow a foreign seller/distributor to place malicious software on my Android phone or laptop simply on insertion of the device with autoplay turned off?

That was the OP, not me. I just wanted to praise queazocotal for actually answering the OP's question.

Comment: Re:Not a security risk, but a fake risk (Score 1) 178

by meustrus (#48404823) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Non-USB Flash Direct From China Safe?

There's a big difference between "it will lose the data you put on it" and "it will infect your computer and destroy the data you put everywhere". If I wanted to conduct secure transactions with my bank over the internet, it doesn't really matter (much) if my computer is running off of an unreliable hard drive. It might crash in the middle, but I probably won't lose money over it. But if the hard drive infected the operating system, the infection could undermine the security of my transactions and drain my bank account. When we apply that logic to a piece of removable storage instead of the main system drive, an unreliable flash drive or SD card won't crash your computer (unless you're using it for memory paging), but an insecure one could still drain my bank account.

I won't say that everyone knows the risks of faulty storage coming from east Asia. But the OP has chimed in in reply saying that he understands the risks and bought it anyway. So would everyone please stop saying the same damn thing over and over again and take a look at what is really the much more interesting question of whether SD cards are a meaningful attack vector with autorun disabled?

Comment: Re:Not a security risk, but a fake risk (Score 1) 178

by meustrus (#48391909) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Non-USB Flash Direct From China Safe?
Mod parent up! This is the only informative on-topic comment I've seen on the entire page so far! Why is that if someone asks "is it safe", everyone wants to chime in and instead "it isn't real"? That is an answer to a different question than the question that was asked.

Comment: Re:Desparate Microsoft pulls a "Sun Microsystems" (Score 1) 525

by meustrus (#48369493) Attached to: Microsoft To Open Source<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.NET and Take It Cross-Platform

Once software is open source, the open source version can never be closed again. If Microsoft made .Net 4.5 open source and closed the source again in .Net 5, 4.5 would still be completely open because open source licenses would permit existing licensees to redistribute the software under their own license terms. That's assuming they use a real open source license, of course, but if they try to manufacture a revokable open source license then the EFF's lawyers will know, it will be another story on Slashdot, and they will gain absolutely nothing.

But then I suppose that "supported" is different from "legally available". But any open source project can pull support, and most don't have great support to begin with, so it's a moot point.

Comment: Because Academic Integrity is Instinctual (Score 1) 320

by meustrus (#48368453) Attached to: Duke: No Mercy For CS 201 Cheaters Who Don't Turn Selves In By Wednesday

[T]here is a fine line between collaboration and cheating in computer science

No Mercy

All introductory CS students are born with an intuitive and always-correct understanding of when they cross the "fine line"! They have all been subject to rigorous academic standards for plagiarism, right? So they all know exactly what is expected of them on day 1 of their life in college!

Comment: Re:no dimocrats (Score 1) 551

by meustrus (#48311683) Attached to: In this year's US mid-term elections ...

I don't believe in hateful divisions along lines of gender, race, heritage, education level, ... {insert wedge issue}, ... and I don't believe in a "class" system.

Does that mean you deny that hateful divisions and classes even exist? Because as much as most people would like that to be true, it really, really isn't. That does still leave a wide open question as to how the government should deal with it, if at all.

If government stays out of racism/sexism/etc. issues, then people will pretty much stay the same. There are of course other ways to fight it, and maybe they would work better. But plenty of people just distrust black people, and everybody has an opinion on the role of men and women in society. You can't deny that different people are treated differently for often stupid reasons. But you are entitled to your opinion on what government can/should do about it.

If government stays out of class issues, that allows people to become striated by income and allow the wealthy to become very wealthy and cement their family as part of a permanent ruling class. This is just a natural fact of humanity; some people work harder, some people are really lucky, and a rare few are both, and power corrupts a person's character to maintain their power at all costs. A class system is inevitable without distributing power differently (such as in a democracy) and using that power to redistribute the wealth. But that doesn't mean a democratic government should. It is not reasonable to deny what would happen if the government just didn't do anything, or even worse acted to help the wealthy gain more wealth. However, you are entitled to your opinion on what government can/should do.

The open questions are: what is the ideal society to work towards; what is our government's role in reaching that goal, and; how effective is our government in doing so. The first question is about as difficult to answer as asking what is the meaning of life. The other two can be answered with research, but politics is in the way of actually doing science on our own government (because everybody has something to hide). Unfortunately, that means our attempts to reach our personal ideal society are subject to politics.

Democrats and Republicans all have their own answers to these questions, and individual politicians usually have their own little twists as well. But there are more than two answers. Even worse, our political system has tended towards favoring the very wealthy. Explain to me why both Democrats and Republicans favor billions of dollars in subsidies for oil companies and bailing out huge banks that took stupid risks with money that wasn't theirs. Explain to me why Democrats and Republicans all want to spend tax money to favor one role or another for women in society. Explain to me why Democrats and Republicans support huge wasteful spending on the procurement hell of our military, despite it already the largest and most advanced in the world.

You sound like a Tea Party type to me. I respect that. But your enemy is not liberals. Your enemy is Democrats and Republicans. Don't let yourself be manipulated into supporting the rich assholes that want to use your tax dollars to enrich themselves. Don't support those who will themselves be manipulated. Unfortunately, the only way to solve our problems is to get involved; no matter who is elected, you send them to Washington and they become Washington people. When it comes down to it, we shouldn't be voting for people who agree with our own poorly considered opinions on the best way to do things. We should be voting for people that share our goals and are smart enough to get them done without falling prey to the lobbyists.

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer