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Comment: Re:Probably a bad idea, but... (Score 1) 123

by mrxak (#47940417) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

I would personally love to see them tell the queen to stick it, but unfortunately even if the Scottish vote to be independent of the UK, they'll still have a monarch.

Whether they eventually choose to ditch the old leech is an entirely different issue, though I personally hope they'll be emboldened by a Yes vote today and end up with a nice constitutional republic.

Comment: Re:A better solution (Score 1) 123

by mrxak (#47937659) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

That's not actually that clear. The UK is a member of NATO, for example, not Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. If Scotland leaves the UK, it's no longer part of NATO.

Of course, the day after the vote, Scotland doesn't just become a separate country. It's going to be quite some time before Scotland actually becomes independent. The intervening months/years will give Scotland time to form alliances and establish its own separate defenses.

Comment: Re:Probably a bad idea, but... (Score 1) 123

by mrxak (#47937591) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

It would be a disaster short-term, mainly because of hurt feelings on both sides getting in the way of logical business and political decisions. Medium-term, it'll be more a disaster for the remaining UK than Scotland. Long-term, I think everyone will muddle through and figure out how to make things work. Scotland and the UK will not be as strong on the international stage separated from each other than they were together, but that was the trend all throughout Europe anyway, wasn't it?

Certainly Scotland will have some growing pains, and need to figure out how to actually govern themselves, and see what they can actually afford to do. The UK will likely need to cut back quite a bit on the government they have, but their government is likely to swing Tory anyway. The UK may very well drop out of the EU without the Scotland vote, and Scotland is by no means guaranteed to be admitted into the EU, by themselves.

I cannot speak to internal Scottish politics or corruption post-independence, but I don't imagine these young kids who voted for independence will be that forgiving of such things in the wake of all this.

Comment: Re:No vote likely best long term result (Score 1) 123

by mrxak (#47937431) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

Well unfortunately, these last-minute promises to Scotland to bribe them into staying with the union seem to many to be too little, too late. After so many problems for so many years, why should Scotland believe these new promises? They've been promised things before, and the fact this vote is now so close is proof those other promises haven't been delivered on.

If the vote does end up going No, there's still going to be a lot of serious repercussions, and I would expect another vote in another 5-10 years that goes Yes.

Pretty much everyone involved has made this bed, and now they're gonna have to sleep in it. I think long-term an independent Scotland will be just fine. A UK without Scotland may not be in great shape, though.

Certainly we're in for some interesting times, regardless of what happens today.

Comment: Re:Probably a bad idea, but... (Score 1) 123

by mrxak (#47937367) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

Unfortunately many voting Yes today in Scotland are doing so with the understanding that they can still use the same currency (controlled by others) as they do now, and that is far from certain, and you and I would both argue it's far from desirable. The future is far less certain than many Scots think, if they do win their independence today. I wouldn't discourage these people from voting Yes, despite their idealism, but there does seem to be a lot of politicians saying "don't worry about it." Reality is a bit more complicated.

Anyway, fascinating times we live in. I expect the economic situation to get very, very messy short term, and the political situation on the British Isles will get really screwy for a good long while. Democracy is a messy, imperfect thing, but I think the Scots are better off having it than not. Their screw-ups will at least be their own, instead of London's.

Comment: Probably a bad idea, but... (Score 3, Insightful) 123

by mrxak (#47936251) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

Scotland's independence, if it happens, is probably a bad idea. It'll cause all manner of short-term problems, and the long-term repercussions are hard to predict worldwide.

That said, I'm strongly in favor, for a simple reason. The Scottish people, like people everywhere, have the right to self-governance. Right now they don't have that, and even if they destroy their country in the process of gaining independence, they'll at least be free to choose their own destiny.

Comment: Re:ugh (Score 1) 316

by mrxak (#47764173) Attached to: Seagate Ships First 8 Terabyte Hard Drive

Man, those deathstars. My first ever harddrive failure was an IBM deathstar. I still remember that awful sound it used to make, in the days leading up to the end. I only lost a little data, though, and I've had pretty good luck since with hard drives. A few failures here and there over the decades, but not more than a few. I tend to upgrade to new drives before they get too old.

Comment: Re:All good until someone simulates biometrics... (Score 2) 383

by mrxak (#47650433) Attached to: DARPA Wants To Kill the Password

With physical keys, a lot of people forget about securing their keys. They leave them out where they can be photographed, for example, or quickly imprinted, or even just compared to another key with all the bite codes on it so the numbers can be noted.

Same goes for locks. A lot of people don't secure their locks, either, which leaves an attacker plenty of opportunity to bypass. Even an area with security which will detect an attempt to pick a lock or force it open, is still vulnerable. You see a guy go up to a door, stick a key in the lock like he belongs there, then suddenly he "forgets" something and walks away without opening the door. You might not think twice about it in a busy office building, but that guy just got pin imprints and will be back every day to do the same thing again, or send in somebody else, until one day an attacker walks up with a manufactured key that opens the lock and goes right in.

"Something you have" like physical keys aren't that great if you don't secure them. You need to make sure that the only people who have that something are authorized to have it, and you need to restrict hardware access to the lock. It's a tricky proposition in the best of cases. Biometrics are even worse than most cases, because at least a lock on an office door can be changed if a key is lost. You can't change your biometrics. Furthermore, we're talking about digital systems here, when biometrics are inherently analog. Your analog finger, eye, or whatever is being taken in as a precise yet inaccurate digital signal, some probability function is determining if you're "close enough", and then a computer chip says you're okay. It's like having a lock where if you jiggle different keys in it, the tumbler will still turn. To put it in computer terms, it's like taking a float in as input, truncating the decimal, and using it as an integer in your finely-tuned algorithm. There's all kinds of floats out there that will get you the integer you need to make your algorithm work the way you want it to. It's no longer "something you have", it's "something that's kinda like what you have".

"Something you know" like a combination or a password, has always been more secure. It uses math instead of the physical world and its inherent weaknesses. There's too many combinations to reasonably guess it in the amount of time you have, and you're forced to exploit some vulnerability in the locking mechanism to get in, like using a blow torch to melt the locking bolt, or exploit some vulnerability in the user of the lock, like he was stupid and used his birthdate as the combination, or wrote it down. Passwords, and combinations, are digital, instead of analog, which means there's exactly one password or combination that will work, instead of an infinite number of "close enoughs".

You still need security with your lock and key, whether your key is something you know or something you have, but at least with digital, changeable keys, you have the power of discrete math on your side, and if you do lose lock or key security, you can go ahead and change your key.

And if I've piqued anyone's interest in security of physical locks and physical keys, I highly recommend the books by pen-tester Deviant Ollam, specifically Keys to the Kingdom which covers a number of attacks most people never consider when they're securing their offices, server rooms, etc. Practical Lock Picking is good too, if you want to learn how locks are defeated by, surprise, picking them (bumping, shimming, and bypassing too).

Comment: Re:Beards and suspenders. (Score 1) 637

by mrxak (#47616767) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: "Real" Computer Scientists vs. Modern Curriculum?

I too am surprised people are talking about CS majors as not getting a background in assembly and C or C-based languages. At my school, only ten years ago (shit, I'm getting old), assembly was a second year class, and actually the second class you took in the department if you were coming in with an APCS credit. Yeah, there was Java, but it was just the language they used to introduce new students to computer science, and all that was left behind after the first few classes, and more serious languages came very shortly after people got the basics of OO programming. By your third year classes you were expected to be able to pick up any language at any time, no problem, and you certainly had the background to do so. All the language concepts had already been learned, it was just a matter of picking up syntax or libraries as needed, in the context of whatever CS theory you were learning in a given class.

So is Asker just at a bad school, or has computer science education really changed?

Asynchronous inputs are at the root of our race problems. -- D. Winker and F. Prosser

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