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Comment: Re:American Revolution (Score 3, Insightful) 1388

by photon317 (#42536327) Attached to: Smart Guns To Stop Mass Killings

B) The majority of the US armed forces side with the government. Civvies armed with handguns, shotguns and rifles with little to no training or experience take on professionally trained and armed troops, armoured vehicles, helicopters, jets and ships. Civvies most likely get massacred (good luck taking on that MBT or Apache gunship with your AR15): armed civillians ultimately pointless.

I'd like to point you at the difficulties out Armed Forces have had dominating unruly indigenous populations in the Middle East lately, when all the locals have are crappy beat decades-old AK-47 and home-made IEDs. With the weapons and training that a large fraction of the population has access to in the US, suppressing a rebellion here would be nearly impossible, even for the US Armed Forces. There's always the "glass parking lot" option, but they wouldn't mass-bomb the US any more than they do overseas, for the same reasons: the government loses all shreds of credibility on a number of fronts if it starts bombing citizens in mass numbers.

Comment: Not Causation! (Score 1, Redundant) 627

by photon317 (#42509771) Attached to: America's Real Criminal Element: Lead

The correlations mentioned have *many* likely tertiary connections that lead to conclusions other than the stated hypothesis. The removal of lead contamination and/or leaded gasoline from an area is probably highly likely to coincide with other general improvements to local conditions. Living standards probably went up at the same time: education levels, income levels, stress reduction, etc. The un-leading of the area was just one normal facet of improving overall living conditions, and it's likely the net of all of the improvements that reduces violent crime rate.

Comment: Re:wrong-headed approach (Score 1) 141

by photon317 (#42467307) Attached to: Why "We The People" Should Use Random Sample Voting

I agree with your general sentiment (that government isn't about serving only the the majority - the needs of smaller subgroups should be valued as well).

However, the *Federal* government should, for the most part, only be concerning itself with large-scale issues in the whole nation's interest. While some of those issues might be valid and come from a small subgroup of concerned citizens spread across the map, you don't want to devolve things to a state where small localized groups (e.g. 44,0000 people in a farming town in North Dakota) can bring what should be localized issues to national attention where they distract from real national-level work. We have State, County/Parish, and City/Town levels of government for dealing with localized issues.

Comment: Pointless (Score 1) 1013

by photon317 (#42349265) Attached to: Using Technology To Make Guns Safer

Look, I think it's stupid to apply a bunch of technology (e.g. biometric authorization) to a gun in the first place, on the ground that guns are meant to be simple, reliable mechanical devices when you need them to *save* lives. That biometric auth will fail orders of magnitude more often than the gun itself in legitimate use situations, either due to actual electronics failure, loss of power, or because it can't get a clear print due to the mud/dirt/blood on the user's hands in a time of need.

But, that whole argument aside, the reason it's pointless is this: any such requirement that's being required by law (or pushed by the lawsuit environment) will necessarily have to exempt/grandfather existing weapons. If you think it's hard to pass a normal gun law in this country, realize that they almost always have grandfather clauses, and it would be completely impossible to pass a law without one. Then take stock of the existing weapons in private hands in this country, some of which are *very* old technology. These things don't fall apart and get replaced every 5 years. Some of these guns were built in the early 1900s and they'll still be used long after I'm dead. Basically you can't achieve any reasonable coverage rate with these devices in any reasonable amount of time, and thus it's pointless from a pragmatic perspective.

Comment: Re:You misread the GPL. (Score 2) 371

Actually, no, that's not quite right. You can't resell his binary without his permission. The way it works is:

1) He doesn't have to give the original source or his modified source to anyone by default, and he can charge whatever he wants for his binaries built from modified source.
2) He *does* have to make either the complete modified source or patches against otherwise-available baseline GPL source available to everyone who buys his binary. He can charge a very minimal fee for access to this source (e.g. pay me the cost to mail a floppy), but not much. Under the same terms, he must also provide source to an involved third party of the purchaser if requested, but that's kind of a minor side-point.
3) When he provides said source code to a purchaser, the purchaser receives it under the terms of the GPL and is therefore free to do *whatever they want* with it that the GPL allows for, including posting it on the internet for everyone else on the planet to download for free (again under the terms of the GPL), if they feel like it.

However that binary you paid for is under the seller's copyright, and you need his permission and must comply with his terms if you want to redistribute it. This should be a minor non-issue anyways though, since you can rebuild your own binary on your own terms from the source he was obligated to provide you.

Australia

+ - Amazon to launch Sydney data centre->

Submitted by schliz
schliz (994115) writes "Amazon Web Services will unveil its first Australian data centres on Tuesday, ending more than a year of speculation. The move is expected to address enterprises' data soverignty and latency concerns, although local cloud providers argue that data held by US company Amazon would still be subject to the Patriot Act."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Don't trust hardware you don't own. (Score 5, Interesting) 73

by photon317 (#41891765) Attached to: Attack Steals Crypto Key From Co-Located Virtual Machines

I don't think reasonable people expect hypervisors to be bulletproof. Security is a sliding scale though, and for many purposes the security level offered by a responsible cloud provider is good enough for what they're hosting there. If my bank hosted their critical system in AWS, I'd freak out. If Pandora hosts systems there to stream music to me? I could care less. If Pandora puts their billing system there that has my credit card number? Ok, I start to care a little more, but the risk is manageable if they're being careful about the design, and ultimately if someone rips their whole CC database, my CC company or I will notice the fraud activity quickly and issue me a new card. Life goes on.

Why do companies want to use virtualized infrastructure in the first place? Because it offloads work that's not directly relevant to their business. Let me quote directly from Bruce Perens' recent Ask Slashdot responses:

There is no point in having your own programmers write anything that is not a customer-visible business differentiator for your company if you can get it from the Open Source community. A “business differentiator” in this case means something that makes your company look better than a competitor, to the customer directly. Too much “glue code”, and “infrastructure” is written by organizations that have no real need to do so if they would adopt Open Source. The message that is driving them to do so is the huge stack of cash being made by the companies that do use us.

He was talking about it making sense for companies to build on top of OSS lower-layers. The same applies to the cloud infrastructure stuff. For most businesses, infrastructure is not a differentiator anymore. Why have company employees concerned with managing network switches, racks, cooling systems, datacenter fire protection codes and systems, insurance, servers? Or calling vendors and leading them in the building to replace failed drives and RAM modules, or even giving a crap about hardware at all?

If my company's purpose in life is to deliver, e.g., some social iPhone app and a backend network service that supports it, I have no differentiating interest in that level of infrastructure. I still need an IT department, but it can be a small one focused on using that cloud infrastructure correctly (e.g. security, configuration management, etc). When you can shift off that whole layer of complexity to a large-scale specialist, you've reduced the total complexity your company has to manage directly. Focus on the areas that matter, not the common ground. Did your company design, engineer, and build its own kitchen appliances for the company breakroom? Didn't think so...

Comment: Doesn't mean much (Score 1) 255

by photon317 (#41761109) Attached to: Huawei Offers 'Complete and Unrestricted' Source Code Access

All sufficiently complex software has security holes. Huawei's software undoubtedly has several. By simply employing their own "Red Team" to actively look for exploits in their normally-produced source code, but then always leaving 2-3 good remote exploits unpatched, they guarantee themselves a non-obvious backdoor. As development continues and new flaws are uncovered, they can bugfix some of the older witheld flaws, trading them for new ones.

If the code were open-source, at least the outside world would be on a level playing field with them, but when it's proprietary they have the advantage by a landslide (since the rest of the world has the additional burden of reverse engineering and/or fuzzing the equipment to find what they can grep code for). Providing just Australia one-shot access to review the source doesn't really change the situation much.

Comment: Re:Name Your Poison (Score 2) 698

by photon317 (#41627797) Attached to: US Election's Only VP Debate Tonight: Weigh In With Your Reactions

That this analysis is modded insightful is just sad. Are you seriously touting the virtues of Saddam's Iraq over GWB and US Foreign Policy. We might have a lot of internal disagreement within the US (and the wider Western world) about whether GWB was a good president and whether taking action in Iraq was appropriate at that point in history, but trying to make a case that GWB was more harmful than Saddam is quite the extremist stretch of the imagination. Read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Saddam_Hussein's_Iraq

Comment: Re:Crack on demand (Score 1) 113

Maybe some people have standards and would rather participate in Google's process instead of feed black-market attackers for profit? Or if you want to continue to be cynical, you could say that the name recognition and possible future effects on a career are better this way than the black market route, and that's worth more than the $60K.

Comment: Stop focusing on growth and scaling so much (Score 5, Insightful) 480

by photon317 (#41479781) Attached to: What Should Start-Ups Do With the Brilliant Jerk?

There's a need for and room for a certain number of large-scale companies in this country and in the world. There's also a need for and room for countless smaller and medium-sized companies. They're all integral parts of a functioning society and economy. Most small/medium companies will never be big and shouldn't be. When you fully understand business scaling, you realize that both in theory and practice it's *impossible* to scale a company without changing the product or service being delivered to your consumer.

Think about the quality difference between say, Famous Restaurant Chain and that long-running Small Family-Owned Restaurant near you that makes incredible-tasting food. If you think the difference between the two is that the big tasteless one always sucked at making food but had a brilliant business guy at the reigns, and the small one, while tasty, simply lacks the business sense to scale up their operations and make real money on their talent, you've completely misunderstood how businesses scale.

Most of those famous large-chain restaurants and fast-food joints actually started out as a single family-owned restaurant that was doing very well financially because customers loved the place. They genuinely loved the food, the service and price. The low-quality form they exist in today is the direct result of scaling; there's simply no other way to do it. Quality of the goods and services *always* falls when you scale up, but you make more money. Many of those successful small family restaurants that stay that way are constantly under pressure from peers and partners to expand and are perfectly capable of handling the business process of expansion, but they relentlessly resist because they don't want to ruin a good thing.

At a small scale, each employee really matters. You do need some people who are brilliant at their respective jobs to be successful. Moving from there to the large scale is all about commoditization. It's about building a self-sustaining organization that delivers a consistent product or service regardless of which employees come and go over time. It means trading out the special people that make great things for the ability to turn out consistently mediocre things cheaply using random sets of mediocre employees. It's a hard transition to make, and it's a constant process as you grow rather than a one-time thing. If you want to grow, you have to hire people that can work with that process. People that can take themselves out of the picture personally. People who can instead design and operate an ever-expanding system where employees are just cogs in a machine which always runs smoothly even if some of the cogs are a little warped and misshapen, and even if there's a regular pace of cogs just leaving the machine and randomly-different ones replacing them sometime later.

So if you're a businessperson, or business owner, or investor, this sort of scaling and growth is what excites you. You're not excited by making the best fajitas this side of the Mississippi, you're not excited by making the best firewall software man has ever seen, etc. You're excited by creating systems out of human cogs that scale up infinitely and keep giving back ever-increasing monetary rewards. But so many business people in the world want to scale their small-to-medium company into the next behemoth and most of them will fail. Scaling is hard, and there's only so much room, and your already-larger competitors already have a big leg up on you. Most of them shouldn't even try to scale. It's perfectly ok to stick to your smaller size, not frustrate everyone with scaling attempts, and simply keep re-investing profits into making it the best damn small company anyone ever did business with.

The "brilliant jerk" isn't necessarily the problem. Maybe he's perfect for that small company, and the problem is your unnatural desire to scale things at the cost of quality, destroying a beautiful and functional small cog in the economy by trying to make it too big.

There is no royal road to geometry. -- Euclid

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