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US Encryption Ban Would Only Send the Market Overseas ( 143

Patrick O'Neill writes: As U.S. legislatures posture toward legally mandating backdoored encryption, a new Harvard study suggests that a ban would push the market overseas because most encryption products come from over non-U.S. tech companies. "Cryptography is very much a worldwide academic discipline, as evidenced by the quantity and quality of research papers and academic conferences from countries other than the U.S.," the researchers wrote.

Comment how about other third-party tracking? (Score 5, Interesting) 82

Knowing nothing about French law, is there anything Facebook-specific that led to this ruling? Is there a reason it wouldn't apply to other third-party tracking? For example Doubleclick and those kinds of networks track me across the web even if I've never signed up for an account with them or otherwise accepted their ToS.

Comment Re: Too late (Score 1) 423

Meanwhile, the venture capitalists have realized they can play all these sides in the culture wars just fine. Startup run by a brogrammer? Startup run by a social-justice activist? VC doesn't care either way, probably has both kinds in their portfolio.


Hearthstone Cheats and Tools Spiked With Malware ( 41

itwbennett writes: Cheating at the online card game Hearthstone (which is based on Blizzard's World of Warcraft) can get you banned from the game, but now it also puts you at risk of 'financial losses and system ruin,' writes CSO's Steve Ragan. Symantec is warning Hearthstone players about add-on tools and cheat scripts that are spiked with malware. 'In one example, Hearth Buddy, a tool that allows bots to play the game instead of a human player (which is supposed to help with rank earnings and gold earning) compromises the entire system,' says Ragan. 'Another example, are the dust and gold hacking tools (Hearthstone Hack Tool), which install malware that targets Bitcoin wallets.'

Comment more specifically, a clustering algorithm (Score 2) 50

I guess anything but trivial clustering algorithms are "machine learning", but rather than "using machine learning" it'd be more straightforward to describe them as having "applied a clustering algorithm" to see if calls can be grouped into, well, different clusters. That is an idea that's been floating around biology now and then, with a lot of work on clustering bird calls especially.

Comment Re:can't the state do something about this? (Score 1) 219

It depends on the state and how they structure the sector, but they often have more leverage over utility companies than they would over a normal company. Utility companies typically have contracts with the state or with the state's utility districts, which at least in principle they could attach various requirements to.

Comment Re:Surge protectors *must* be voltage specific (Score 1) 137

Obviously you do not have the EE understanding required. A 220V surge protector is typically designed to clamp at around 500V. From rectified 110V AC that gives you a 350V relative spike into the capacitors. From rectified 220V it is only 190V. A 110V surge protector is typically designed to clamp at around 330V. That is an 180V spike. If you cannot see that a 350V spike may be a bit more destructive than an 190V/180V one, and that in particular, the components in the device may only be dimensioned for a 200V spike or so as that is what to expect with surge protection done correctly, then you have no business being in this discussion. If you have to ask where these numbers come from, the same applies.

Incidentally, this is only one of the problems with a wrongly dimensioned surge protector. And yes, the surge voltage is relevant, as it influences dU/dt and the surge current. In actual fact, there is a surge model behind this and the surge voltage is only one factor. Also, surge protection devices do not do a perfect clamping, and have maximum ratings. If they are exceeded, the surge protector may short out, fail or even start to burn if not fitted with a thermal fuse. Incidentally, there is a maximum of surges a surge protector can clamp, depending on the surges and its ratings. After that, it needs replacement.

Why do incompetent morons always feel they are qualified to comment on advanced engineering they really do not understand? The Dunning-Kruger effect is strong on Slashdot.

Comment "Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years" (Score 1) 158

"Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years" by Peter Norvig ( is still an excellent discussion on how long it will take to learn programming to a degree that is actually adequate to do professional-level work.

In addition, I expect that most people will never get beyond "fair", even with this amount of training and experience, just as most people will not become much better than "fair" at any other task, unless they have some real talent/potential/gift/deal-with-the-devil/etc. whether it be cooking, mathematics, or playing the harp. That is not to discourage people. "Fair" would be a huge improvements over the skill-level of many of the people that write software today. "Fair" is level on which you can depend on people to get regular stuff right and to know what is beyond their skills ans ask for help.

Of course, "fair" is also the level where the expected salary needs to be very reasonable (say, at least enough for a 4 people family to live in modest comfort off it) in order to make people go though the long process of becoming good at it. In particular the latter is lacking today.

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