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Comment: Re:More science questions (Score 1) 656

by sfarmstrong (#29052615) Attached to: Parents Baffled By Science Questions

And if you don't explain the Rayleigh effect properly (as you did) you actually don't explain why the sky is blue. In other words, your answer isn't explanatory/informative much because you "explained" the explanandum by introducing another one.

But why does the Rayleigh effect work? How is it that particles of matter can diffuse electromagnetic radiation? Indeed, the modern parent is essentially useless without an accurate version of the Grand Unified Theory, as well as the philosophical and theological foundations to establish, to an acceptable standard of proof, the existence of the universe.

Comment: Re:Sound Methods? (Score 1) 324

by sfarmstrong (#28868457) Attached to: Dye Used In Blue M&Ms Can Lessen Spinal Injury

It's imperfect, but I don't see another way, unless you're willing to abrogate moral responsibility to the pronouncements of an imaginary deity, which really means "a bunch of guys who wrote moral pronouncements and then claimed they came from god". I happen to prefer the consensus method to the imaginary deity method.

Slashdot forums: Diverting ethical questions into off-topic anti-religion screeds since 1997.

More to the point, your perspective is limited. There are many, many conceptions of morality and ethics that don't devolve into "because God said so" or "because the majority says so."

Comment: Re:56 bit DES? (Score 1) 43

by sfarmstrong (#28675293) Attached to: New Elliptic Curve Cryptography Record

A meet-in-the-middle attack still works on 3DES, but it can only strip off one layer of DES. Thus, 3DES has 112 bits of security (56*2).

Quoting from the grandparent:

3DES runs the second round backwards, which enables the "meet in the middle" attacks.

I have no idea whether that "second round backwards" thing is true, but this has nothing to do with why 3DES is vulnerable to meet-in-the-middle attacks. Meet-in-the-middle attacks work on any plaintext that's encrypted multiple times with the same cipher but different keys. If you encrypted with AES-128 twice, that ciphertext would also be vulnerable to a meet-in-the-middle attack. (Though the space cost would be see high that such an attack would be even more impossible than an AES-128 bruteforce already is.)

Comment: Re:BILLY MAYS HERE... (Score 1) 523

by sfarmstrong (#28610549) Attached to: <em>Don't Copy That Floppy!</em> Gets a Sequel

Exactly. Moreover, it's misleading to call all those activities "unlawful." Just because you do something that gives someone a legal remedy against you, doesn't make it wrong. Sometimes, it's actually a good thing when a party breaches a legal obligation. For example, see efficient breach theory.

Mind you, I don't think breach of copyright is analogous to an efficient breach, because infringement usually means the rights-holder gets no compensation. It's a complicated question.

At any rate, "illegal" doesn't have an inherent meaning. There are only breaches of obligations, and consequences ensuing from those breaches.

Comment: Re:Making my point with humor (Score 1) 849

by sfarmstrong (#28483239) Attached to: Nielsen Recommends Not Masking Passwords

That's because knowing the number of characters in a password greatly eases the password guessing.

Not actually true. If you have a password alphabet of size k, then the possibility space in an n-character password is k times greater than the possibility space for an (n-1)-character password, k*k times greater than for an (n-2)-character password, etc. Brute-forcing all the possible passwords of length 1 to (n-1) is a trivial amount of work compared to brute-forcing all the passwords of length n.

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If you're brute-forcing a password, knowing the length doesn't "greatly ease" your guessing - it spares you some insignificant preliminary work. What it does help you do is spot passwords that are weak enough to brute-force, but an enforced minimum password length will prevent this from happening. Basically, there's a reason that the Unix-style login isn't more widely used.

Comment: Re:Bravo! (Score 1) 674

by sfarmstrong (#28251033) Attached to: Pirate Party Wins At Least One European Parliament Seat

But if you want some examples, Michelangello produced some nice forms of art. How? By finding someone wanting to pay him for that. But, hey, maybe you don't think that example to be representative since Michelangello didn't produce music. So be it. J.S. Bach, maybe you heard about him, made a live out of composing and playing music. How was that possible? Well, by finding someone wanting to pay him for that. What would have happened if nobody wanted to pay Bach? He simply would have find another way to earn for a living. If distributing media is a bussiness no more, just find a different bussiness.

That doesn't really work today, though. Two problems:

First, Michelangello and Bach lived in an age where wealth was heavily concentrated in the nobility and the clergy, two groups who were very interested in commissioning artistic works. Nobody has that kind of wealth nowadays; Gates and the Waltons aren't nearly as wealthy, proportionately, as the wealthiest people back then.

Second, that only works for certain types of works. Do you know any billionaires who would commission new video games, comic books, or Hollywood blockbusters?

Intellectual property creates artificial scarcity, yes, but it also creates a viable market for information. The ability to control licensing means that rights-holders can force their audience to pay for the value of their content. This gives content producers a strong incentive to create value for their audience.

As simply as that. Really.

It's possible that a no-copyright commission-based model could work, if audiences/readers/players/etc felt obligated to tip the content producers generously for producing a work. But it's not nearly as simple as you suggest. I'm not totally convinced that it would be better than a copyright system. Certain works would be under-produced - especially high-budget works and works that people might enjoy, but feel ashamed to sponsor. Also, the amount of money going into content-production would almost certainly be less than now - most likely, what people are forced to pay under copyright is often more than what they would pay without compulsion.

Comment: Promises? [Citation needed] (Score 1) 130

by sfarmstrong (#28224151) Attached to: Valve Explains Quick <em>Left 4 Dead</em> Sequel
The most serious complaint seems to be that "significant content for L4D1 was promised," and L4D2 means that L4D won't get the promised content. Does anybody know where these promises are coming from? I don't remember reading anything about that. If this is just some fans griping because TF2 got significant post-release content and L4D didn't, I don't really see the problem. TF2 launched with three or four maps; L4D had 20.

Entropy isn't what it used to be.

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