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Comment: Re:Actually one of my beefs (Score 1) 293

by ntropia (#46095419) Attached to: Why Does Facebook Need To Read My Text Messages?
It is true that users don't bother much with the granularity of permissions, but it doesn't mean they shouldn't know the reason a given permission is required in the first place.
F-Droid tries to address this, for example. For each permission, there is a short explanation that the developer (I presume) has to write on why it is required.
Not perfect, but it's better than Google Play, in my opinion.

Comment: "Good evening Mr. Gates,I'll be your server today" (Score 1) 324

by ntropia (#45969827) Attached to: NYT: NSA Put 100,000 Radio Pathway "Backdoors" In PCs
It's clearly old stuff from few years ago, but it's insightful to see the different software requirements and specifications.
For example, the NIGHTSTAND Wireless Exploitation/Injection Tool has a

standalone tool currently runnuing on a x86 laptop loaded with Linux Fedora Core 3

while exploitable targets include:

Win2k, WinXP, WinXPSP1, WinXPSP2 running Internet Explorer versions 5.0-6.0

The GINSU software application to control the hardware implant BULLDOZER or the software one KONGUR:

supports any desktop PC system that contains at least one PCI connector (for BULLDOZER installation) and Microsoft Windows 9x, 2000, 2003, XP, or Vista.[...] If KONGUR is removed from the system as a result of an operating system upgrade or reinstall, GINSU can be set to trigger one the next reboot of the system to restore the software implant.

So after all, Microsoft is not really helping them, if they have to protect themselves from system updates :)

Comment: Re:Whats so special about water? (Score 1) 57

by ntropia (#45111317) Attached to: Hubble Finds Sign That Habitable Planets Could Exist Beyond Solar System
Nothing absolutely special about the two, but definitely special in combination.
Let's say that water and rocks are very good ingredients on their own, assuming we're interested in variations of 'chemically based' life:

- water has interesting physical properties (you mentioned most of them), but one of them is its dielectric constant, very important for facilitating catalytic conditions (self-replicating molecules?)

- these physical properties allows it to solubilize minerals and a fair range of organic molecules at the same time, useful for catalyzing chemical reactions.

- it is somehow reactive either in reversible ways (hydrogen bonds) or by directly participating in chemical reactions (i.e. oxydation of energetic molecules = generating chemical energy)

- rocks could catalyze the spontaneous formation of chemical precursors or building blocks of life...well, as we know it? yes, but it means it happened at least once.

Now, the important key is obviously the catalysis, i.e. making chemical reactions easier and quicker. Doing that in a low-energy context (i.e. the temperatures found on modern or archaic Earth), makes it much easier for randomly created molecules to survive long enough to have a chance to self replicate.

Comment: No matter what (Score 1) 342

by ntropia (#43510507) Attached to: Disney Announces "One <em>Star Wars</em> Movie Per Year" Plan
When I read this I thought about a bunch of friends of mine that are going to watch whatever they'll release.
They're smart & educated (in the trivial, scientific meaning), but when another movie will be out, they'll take out their wallets so fast that the friction with their trousers will set them on fire.

These are the same people that feel happy when Amazon is so kind to make them a personal, tailored[*], just-'cause-it's-you offer for buying all the Star Trek movies in blueray for just something-ninetynine.

Any speculation about the quality of the movies, the subject and so on is futile, to some extent: there's so much inertia behind the franchise that we are debating about that +/- 3% of fluctuation around the monolitic huge number of people that will watch it.

No matter what.

[*] ...on their movie history on Amazon Instant

Comment: Re:Why not use encryption? (Score 1) 146

by ntropia (#42848003) Attached to: How a Chinese Hacker Tried To Blackmail Me
I'm not convinced, and re-compiling the kernel seems like an extreme example to me.
The point would be that users who don't know how the FFT works shouldn't be able to use Instagram (oh, boy, if I wish so...).
The reality is that people use tons of complex algorithms every day without knowing it not because they are easy, but because they've been made easy for them and/or implemented in a transparent manner. Pretty much none of Gmail users even know what HTTPS stands for, but everybody started using it when Google decided it was going to be on by default.
My point is that even if PGP is more complex of HTTPS, it could be made easier and much more transparent than it is now.

Comment: Re:"actually playable" (Score 3, Interesting) 93

by ntropia (#42817973) Attached to: Linux-Friendly Mini PC Fast Enough For Steam Games
I still feel a bit of sore, so I'll chip in the discussion.
Few months ago I read several good reviews about the Zboxes as HTPC, so I bought one, together with 4Gb of RAM and a 160Gb SSD. The GPU was a ION and no, there were no chances to have a decent XBMC experience nor playing 720i videos (1080p? don't even think about it) without having very unpleasant "hiccups" here and there in the playback. Forget about any online streaming with more than 360p resolution (average YouTube videos were enough to put the thing on its knees). No, desktop effects were not on the way (i.e. barebone XFCE). It shouldn't have been a surprise, since it was sporting a crappy Atom D525 processor 1.8GHz, and I blame myself for having bought the positive reviews despite the terrible hardware specs.
After two frustrating weeks of tweaking trying to squeeze more juice out of it (Xorg.conf, VDPAU, Nvidia drivers...), I've sent it back and with pretty much the same amount of money, I've tried one of the cheap solutions I've found on the XBCM forum.
I got a i3@3.1GHz machine that's able to run smoothly Black Mesa, SteelStorm and TF2.
The box slashvertized here has a Celeron 847 instead of the Atom, but CPU performances are equally poor, so don't even think about games (or at least nothing more complex than Gchess).

The rather trivial moral of the story is that if you want a powerful machine you should buy one, and not waste your time with toy computers.
Be wise with your money and never look back.

"I'm not a god, I was misquoted." -- Lister, Red Dwarf