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Comment Re:"Pocket dialed"? (Score 1) 179 179

"Pocket dialing" is when the NSA causes your phone to remotely and silently dial-in to their recording number so they can eavesdrop on everything you're saying. The courts just affirmed that this was legal, which is kind of pointless since the NSA has been repeatedly shown to be above the law anyway.

Comment Re:Dur (Score 1) 112 112

Security experts care about confidentiality and integrity. Normal users care about availability. Film at 11.

Except it didn't work out that way. Non-experts:
1) Use AV -- grinding your system to a halt doesn't help availability
3) Change passwords frequently - Not being able to forget the password you just reset for the 3rd time in as many weeks to doesn't help availability
4) Visit only websites they know - Can't get content because I don't trust that website != availability
5) Don't share personal info - Can't use this feature because I won't give them my info != availability

Experts who use a password manager, rarely change their strong, unique passwords and don't worry about the info they give away or websites they visit have a much more seamless and 'available' web experience.

Comment Re:Long term solutions? (Score 2) 53 53

Actually, that solution would work well. The hackers would be the only ones left with true internet access that could get to any host in the world. They'd then sell that access to the public. And once we're their customers, they'd be more reluctant to harm our computers since that would mean we'd use less of the service they're selling. We'd just have to make sure all those independent networks were insecure enough that lots of hackers could break in to all of them, thereby fostering competition and keeping the price reasonable.

Comment Re:Reasons to be skeptical (Score 1) 235 235

For the S.H. engineers reading the thread, I just thought of another thing I need it to do (instantly and for free of course. I'm not paying for your app)

I want to be able to say "give me a list of up to 5 single-family homes for sale in the city I'm currently in that are among the lowest-priced 10 or so homes in the three categories of price per total square foot, price per finished square foot and price per above-grade finished square foot that also have at least 1800 sqft, 4 beds and 2 or more 3/4 or bigger bathrooms, are in the matriculation area of a good middle school and cost around $350k or less.". Then, when it gives me the list, I want it to explain to me:

* Where the heck did you get that data. County records? How do you know they're accurate? Did any of the properties make the cut because of a data-entry error? How do you know there aren't properties excluded from the list because they've been updated (i.e. the basement was finished) but that never made it into whatever source you got your records from. Acceptable answers would include "I screen-scraped 27 websites, including, zillow, trulia, realtor.com, remax.com, .com, the county assessor's website, etc.). I aggregated the data and identified and corrected or excluded probable incorrect data based on the most common data point among all my data sources, text provided by the seller/listing agent and asking prices that are high or low compared to similar houses on the market, taking into account sales history for each property, that might indicate inaccurate data."

* What makes the middle school a "good" middle school. "greatschools.com said so" isn't good enough. "70% of students made greater than the state average gains on last year's 8th grade state test in both reading and math" would be somewhat acceptable. But what I really want is that plus a summary of forum posts and such from parents and former students and teachers what make a good case for a school that everyone agrees is pretty good.

Actually, if it could do stuff like that, I would pay for it. Quite a lot, actually. I'd also welcome our AI overloards.

Comment Re:Reasons to be skeptical (Score 1) 235 235

The nested ("capital of the country in which the space needle...") and serialized (??? and ???) queries are somewhat impressive and a good next step in AI. But to really be impressive, it needs to go further. For example, when he asked about the mortgage payment, it should have volunteered the information that the mortgage payment it calculated was principal an interest only, but that you'd typically also have to pay escrow for taxes and insurance. And it should have estimated a value for those based on current location. And it should have automatically estimated an interest rate (telling you that it did so, of course) based on current market rates and, if you're logged on, your credit score. That's the difference between a human and a computer. If you ask a knowledgeable person such questions, (s)he volunteers other info you didn't even know you needed to know. And if even if it could do that, could it also pick up on the sort of non-verbal queues that would tell it when to stop? Granted, some humans can't do that. And most of us are generally uncomfortable dealing with such people, which is hard on both parties.

And what happens if I ask what the average air speed velocity of an unladen swallow is? Does it get the cultural reference and tell me about Monty Python? That's the kind of thing that would show true deeper understanding.

Comment Re:Controversial because? (Score 1) 284 284

Doing "something" just for the sake of doing something is in no way good. The education system is broken, but I'd rather my kids breeze their way through a far-too-easy education system than fight to stay afloat in a stupid one that teach useless and sometimes outright wrong things. At least in the former case they can spend all the free time they have from not doing homework and test prep to play with legos, robotics kits, computers and doing other things that will actually prepare them to survive in the 21st century economy. If the school system is crappy, I'd much rather it just stay out of the way than have a bunch of incompetent idiots frustrate everyone with their useless attempt to fix things.

Comment Younger developers ARE better. Sort of. (Score 3, Interesting) 429 429

I'm 36, so I worry about this. But I think younger developers really are better because technology changes so quickly and they've had more free time recently. When I was in college, I'd stay up until 3 AM "hacking". I got really good at all the latest stuff. Now I work 40+ a week on what is now older technology (because if it's working, don't "fix" it). I have a family and house and all sorts of other time sucks that mean I simply can't "hack" until 3 AM on a regular basis. Some of my experience means I'll make better decisions than the wet-behind-the-ears crowd. And it also means I can probably learn new technology faster, despite my less-squishy grey matter. But even at a faster clip, the huge advantage in time a college kid smart enough to not need to study much has means he or she will simply be better at the latest technology than I can possibly hope to be. And the quick turnover in technology means the value of my knowledge is falling quickly while the value of the young guys knowledge is on the rise. He or she will get a job and a family and be in the same boat soon enough. But the claim that my "experience" is somehow universal and timeless is simply a load of crap. In technology, experience is an ever-fleeting thing.

That's why the guys who jump ship every few years do so well. They jump not just for higher salaries, but for the opportunity to learn the latest technology on the job before their existing knowledge becomes so completely useless that they can't get a new job.

To an employer, they have their best employees jumping ship frequently and see the just-out-of-school kids with a working knowledge of the technology they're moving towards. You can almost not blame them for crying about a broken labor market. Almost.

But employers know all this. Since technology changes quickly, they HAVE to train someone -- either their existing (read "expensive") employees have to learn new technology or some new hire (read "cheap") who knows the new technology has to learn the deeper engineering things that one gains only through experience. Since they're going to have to pay someone to learn something either way, who can blame them for choosing the cheaper option. Sometimes us old dogs would have done it better and cheaper, but its a risk and we all usually take the less risky option.

I'm not sure I have a solution to all this, but we need some system that encourages those of us with experience to help the young guys learn the timeless things and also gives us free time to learn the ever-changing things. Maybe an apprentice system like they have in Germany or something.

What's NOT the solution is importing cheap, disposable labor from overseas and then shipping them back home when their expertise is no longer the latest and greatest. That does nothing but help the rich get richer at the expense of both US and foreign workers.

Comment Re:You don't even understand how banks work... (Score 1) 72 72

PositiveMoney has it all wrong. The video says "if we all paid off our debt, the current economic system would collapse". But if we all paid off our debt and stopped working because we didn't need to anymore, then the real economy (i.e. the thing that actually produces food, clothes, houses, cars, computer, electricity, clean water, etc.) really would also collapse because there would be no one doing the work to create all that stuff.

There is a big issue of inequality of both income and wealth distribution. But debt itself isn't the problem. Think about Zimbabwe where the government printed money and handed it out to the poor. Everyone paid off their debts. But the currency is worthless because inflation was 1000%. No one bothered working because the money they got from selling it would be worthless before they could spend it. There was no point in doing anything for which you didn't receive some immediate benefit. The concept of savings simply ceased to exist. (Hoarding, however, was very much still alive.)

Debt, in fact, is the biggest and best backstop a currency has. Debt is the promise that the people who owe money in that currency will work for you in the future. Stuff is still relatively plentiful, but labor, especially skilled labor, is very dear indeed. And debt means a currency is backed by that labor. That's a big part of why the dollar reigns supreme.

Comment Re:Best deals? (Score 1) 72 72

Before the most recent crash, the financial sector of the US economy represented 40% of GDP one year (and I doubt the UK was too far off from that). Clearly a ridiculous figure. While most of that was probably fees on stock trading and the like, some part of that was consumer financial services.

And besides, banks are a good place to start to modernize because they're already heavily regulated so consumers have more of a chance of pushing what's good for us. But once we prove the possibility and utility of digital fiances, imagine that instead of a piece of paper, you get a digital receipt for everything you buy. Imagine XML or JSON that specifies not just a total, but each line item, the quantity, the discount, the amount, and each tax it;s subject to. And imagine all that data being automatically and instantly received integrated into your personal financial app. You could know exactly how much ($ and %) you spend on gas, kids clothes, cheese, state taxes, local taxes, etc. You could get a history of your spending and see trends. All without any data entry.

Now imagine you and millions of others choose to share that data anonymously with some server somewhere. And imagine an app that, by knowing exactly how much and where other people have paid for things in the last few minutes, could tell you the cheapest way to buy everything on your grocery list. Willing to drive up to 10 miles? It has an even better deal. Willing to go to up to 3 stores? You can get it cheaper still! Want it delivered? Companies have already bid on it and there's a price for that too.

I don't object to either private companies or the government collecting data on everything we buy, everywhere we go and everyone we associate with. I object to them not sharing that data with me in a useful format. I can make way better use of it than big business or big government ever could. But if consumers and citizens actually had such data, real competition would mean both big business and government would be in a heap of trouble.

Comment Bad news (Score 1) 216 216

This will have two results:

1) Reduce labor/soldier costs the elite pay to suppress the rest of us, since now they can hire the dumbest of the dumb and still expect them to kill anyone who opposes them. They're easier to brainwash, too, so they're more reliable.

2) The terrorists will now more easily bankrupt the U.S. since each shot fired will now cost $$$.

Comment Re:Hooray for druggies! (Score 1, Interesting) 409 409

I have to agree with the supreme court on principal and we really do have to stand up for our rights lest we loose them. But I would have though the cops had a responsibility to do the search if they suspected an additional crime was being committed. Possibly they were suspicious only due to Mr. Rodriguez's skin color or last name, which clearly shouldn't be permitted. But it they have any other reasonable suspicion that he had drugs why shouldn't they be allowed to investigate. Especially if it's a 7-8 minute process. An hour is unreasonable, but come on, a quick, non-disruptive check seems reasonable.

Comment Re:What's the problem? (Score 1) 208 208

Your false assumption is that doctors, chemists and physicists get things right with any greater frequency. It's not that social scientists are misusing statistics but that a large number of scientists is most disciplines simply do a poor job of quantifying things. It's a little more obvious when it happens in social science, but accurate measurement is hard or often impossible, so bad proxy measures a pervasive feature of most scientific disciplines. That's one of may reasons why most "experts" usually get it wrong.

Comment Clear expectations, trust me to do them, feedback (Score 1) 261 261

I need only three things.

1) Tell me what you want done, when you want it done, and listen when I tell you what's actually realistic.

2) Trust me to do what I say I will do. Don't pay any attention to when I show up, when I leave, if I show up to meetings and if I'm paying attention to you or to my laptop when I do bother attending. Pay attention only to my results.

3) Give me feedback when I ask for it. In step 1, I'll tell you when iteration 1 will be done ready. Take a look at it when I present it to you. Give me feedback so iteration 2 will be more like what you really want. If you don't the final product will be what I want, not you want. You'll be stuck with something useless (to you) and I'll have padded my resume with all the latest skills so getting that next job that pays more will be a breeze.

Who the heck cares about coffee and ping-pong and any of that other crap.

Comment Re:Racketeering (Score 1) 201 201

Repealing it would just let the real mobsters loose. The problem is a constitution that lets law enforcement pick and choose who they want to pick on.

Congress passes horrible, broad laws that the vast majority of us would strongly object to. But law enforcement mostly ignores them...except when they need to pressure someone into something. Then they can throw the book at you. Who care that lots of other people are technically breaking the same laws you're accused of. You're in their cross-hairs so the letter of the law now applies to you and you alone. And the rest of us don't care because we mostly don't even know about it.

Sure, honest and competent law enforcement offices can sometimes use this to convict a real bad guy (as is ALWAYS the case on TV). But dishonest or incompetent law enforcement use it be themselves become worse than the gangsters. Even otherwise honest and well-intention police and DAs are pressured by their superiors to get convictions. They may not be convinced by the evidence, but their boss needs something for his campaign posters so they have to get convictions or find new jobs. Law enforcement is hard. Getting anything a scientifically-minded person would actually consider proof is probably impossible in a whole lot of cases. But somehow are jails are still overflowing.

What we need is a constitutional amendment that invalidates any law for which the accused can show an inconsistent pattern of enforcement. "But everyone else does it" should be a valid defense. Congress would then have to figure out how to actually enforce and fund any law they pass. We'd all quickly become painfully aware of laws we don't like. And we could then vote out the jerks who passed them.

The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch someone else doing it wrong, without commenting. -- T.H. White

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