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Comment: Re:Progenitors? (Score 1) 686

by rsclient (#47221995) Attached to: Aliens and the Fermi Paradox

What's the probabilitiy...
It's easily possible to idly speculate on answers:
Probability of life starting? On Earth, life started up pretty much right away. If it was unlikely, it's more likely to have started later, not earlier.

Probability of life becoming complex: low (ish). Out of roughly 5 billion years, 4 billion were spent on one-celled organisms

Probability of sentience: out of a metric buttload of species, we know of exactly one species with both sentience and high technology. That kind of indicates that's it's not so much a survival trait :-)

Comment: Re:Basic programming principles what? (Score 1, Offtopic) 127

by rsclient (#47160327) Attached to: GnuTLS Flaw Leaves Many Linux Users Open To Attacks

Actually, most of the comments I've seen about the OpenSSL code are immature, and show a lack of appreciation for the changes in the industry.

Like, remember that if-isupper-then-tolower code? Well, back in the day, tolower on most platforms would just bit-bang in a '1' bit. That will convert A to a, but also converts at-sign to back-tick. In "modern" toolchains, this doesn't happen any more; tolower is expected to handle all chars, and work correctly.

But -- as a developer, can you prove that every system that you're running on has a proper implementation of tolower? It's easy for me; I only work with one version of Visual Studio, and I can quickly prove that tolower work.

I've done code that works on multiple platforms. It used to be really, really gnarly: everything platform was always just a little bit different. And you get code that looks just like what I've seen in the snarky comments.

Comment: Re:The Science is settled! (Score 1) 330

From TFA (2007): "Gore said that Arctic ice could be gone entirely in 34 years, and he made it seem like a really precise prediction"

OK, it's been 6 or 7 years since then. Would you say the artic ice is substantially less, substantially more, or about the same from then?

Hint: data at

Eyeballing the data, there's a ton of noise but there is a decent trend in there. And the data in the last 7 years doesn't look like it is violation of that trend, or the prediction voiced by Mr. Gore.

Comment: Re:The Science is settled! (Score 1) 330

WTF? Are you mad? Or drunk? The whole point of a model is to predict the future. And they can, and do, make predictions. And over time, we can see if the predictions worked.

And your biggest issue is that the model conserved energy? You do know that in the middle of a time-step, things get wonky, right? And that the modelers know this, and therefore apply some brainpower to make it work?

The early models of galaxy collision (per the Toomre brothers) were astonishingly low-res, and yet they captured some pretty subtle effects. And guess what? They had to apply fix-ups on each time-step, too!

Climate researchers have certainly put some real thought into geo-engineering. The neatest simulation was, "what happens if we try geo-engineering, and have to stop". Result: everything goes to heck, and in a hurry.

Comment: Re:Not a market back then (Score 1) 272

by rsclient (#46771933) Attached to: Nokia Had a Production-Ready Web Tablet 13 Years Ago

I've used some of the earlier "internet tablets" (e.g., the Nokia N800) and PDA. Early machines had real issues with being powerful enough to actually work well -- something my low-end phone still struggles with.

(Not to mention the terrible, terrible connection managers. For one particularly horrid PDA, I spent more time trying to get on the internet than actually using the internet)

Comment: Re:see where your taxes go (Score 1) 322

by rsclient (#46738149) Attached to: IRS Misses XP Deadline, Pays Microsoft Millions For Patches

That's a pretty strong accusation. Other than, "I don't know anything about this government department, so I'll throw around a random accusation", do you have any actual evidence?

For example, how well do they handle paperwork compared to a typical insurance company? Personally, I find the IRS documents more straightforward and less confusing.

How do they compare in cost to a typical payroll processor like ADP? They have about the same scale; according to because ADP is private and the IRS is public, ADP should have radically lower costs. Do they?

In short, just because they are big, that doesn't make them "inefficient".

Comment: Re:Tip from a programmer (Score 1) 78

by rsclient (#46625559) Attached to: FTC Settles With Sites Over SSL Lies

OK, I'm a little late to the party here. The issue with the apps isn't that "SSL is insecure" or that "SSH is better". The problem is: most security APIs require multiple levels of APIs to work correctly, where each level is hard to get right, and easy to get wrong.

Worse, a substantial number of apps will turn off one level or another "for debugging" and then not turn them back on for their release version.

Comment: Re:Not pro-business? (Score 1) 917

by rsclient (#46340899) Attached to: Apple Urges Arizona Governor To Veto Anti-Gay Legislation

Some of the earliest (European) laws are about the duty of hotels to serve all comers. If you're a country, and you want people to travel to market towns to buy and sell, it turns out that you have to make laws requiring that hotels treat everyone uniformly; that traders can go to a town knowing (with high confidence) that they will be able to eat and sleep.
In some places, there were additional requirements that hotels be able to feed and care for a herd of animals, too.
This is also why hotels are required to safes: traders have to know that their goods are secure, especially from the people most able to steal it (the hotel workers)

Comment: Re:Fireworks in 3...2...1... (Score 1) 1251

Ummm-- nonsense? Lots of people have one person, above all others, that they cherish. And for most of life, it doesn't really matter that this is the case (but like, for most of life, my hobby doesn't actually much matter to other people). But sometimes, that one person I cherish really does have extra power. Who gets to visit me in the hospital (answer: the one I cherish does!) Who gets my kids if I die (answer: the one I cherish does) Who gets my stuff if I don't have a will? (answer: the one I cherish does).

And hey, isn't it handy that there's a super-simple, cheap way to tell who I cherish: it's the person holding the marriage certificate! So an entire mass of horrible, messy, expensive problems becomes simple and clear.

Oh, and it also turns out that there's a nasty problem with the way that humans procreate: it's really long term, only one gender can do a bunch of the hard work. And often people who cherish each other have a commitment that one will do more of the looking after kids and the other more of the earning money. And because it's two people that work like one unit, it makes sense to fiddle the tax codes a bit so that it's more or less fair. (Like everything in tax code, there's always corner cases)

Comment: Re:Oh noooos! (Score 1) 509

by rsclient (#45590195) Attached to: The Brains of Men and Women Are 'Wired Differently'

You're not trying very hard to find any counter-evidence, are you? The fact that other STEM fields are experiencing increasing balance, and our is increasingly unbalanced doesn't register for you? The many personal anecdotes are not in your site?

Worse, you don't see the increasing evidence that men and women are much, much more alike than non-alike? That both sides are fully capable of essentially all tasks that the other can do?

In ever so many fields, over the last hundred years, men have declared that only men can do job A, B, or C; it's been clearly proven wrong in basically all cases. Is our field so very different? History would say no: we are like cooking (once a male prerogative), telephone operator, surgeon, and CEO.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.