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Comment: Re:overrated, anyway (Score 5, Insightful) 732

by szquirrel (#45350109) Attached to: Movie Review: <em>Ender's Game</em>

I'm serious here. Did anyone feel any compassion for the people that Ender killed? No. They were cardboard cutouts of evil that existed solely so that Ender could overcome them as part of his character development. But not KNOW that he had killed them. Because Ender has to be innocent.

Yes, and the innocent boy wipes out an entire sentient species. Meanwhile his psychotic, megalomaniac brother brings about world peace but only as a means to seizing supreme world power for himself.

It's not about survival or teen nerd wish fulfillment, it's about how our much our intentions matter as compared to our actions.

Comment: Fantasy Football too (Score 2) 331

by szquirrel (#44758729) Attached to: Users Revolt Over Yahoo Groups Update

There's a similar though smaller revolt going on over the changes to Yahoo's Fantasy Football. The nasty thing about the Fantasy Football changes is that they didn't roll them out until two weeks before the start of the season, after lots of people had already paid as much as $250 to join pro leagues.

Yahoo went so far as to post an announcement to every league that they won't be going back to the original format (but they really appreciate your comments!).

Comment: Re:A better question (Score 2) 320

by szquirrel (#42934601) Attached to: Why Hasn't 3D Taken Off For the Web?

Why? For e-commerce. Especially for products that are made to order, anything that cuts down on return rates ("this isn't what I thought I saw on the website") is worth putting some money into. I'm working on exactly this sort of project right now and we finally made the decision to cut 3D because support is so patchy.

End user support isn't the whole problem though. You also need 3D models with enough detail to look smooth but small enough to deliver over the web. If you can even get 3D models for a product they're usually the designer's CAD files which are huge and not easily converted to a format used by a gaming-type 3D engine.

Displays

+ - NC State Almost Doubles Light Efficiency For Pico Projectors->

Submitted by szquirrel
szquirrel (140575) writes "Researchers from North Carolina State University sponsored by ImageOptix Corporation have developed new a polarization conversion system that makes LED-lit projectors much more efficient. Unlike an ordinary polarizing filter, which wastes more than 50% of the light passing through it, the new system splits, aligns, and recombines the polarized beams to use 90% of the original unpolarized light. Tiny projectors could shine twice as bright or twice as long with much less cooling and the system is even small enough to embed in a smartphone or tablet."
Link to Original Source

+ - SPAM: Visit This Great Site

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Things such as decoration suggestions, different types of
celebration party favors that you can add for a cheap value and many more suggestions about zebra print party supplies."

Link to Original Source
Education

Why Johnny Can't Code and How That Can Change 527

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-your-learn-on dept.
snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister discusses why schools are having a hard time engaging young minds in computer science — and what the Scalable Game Design program in Colorado is doing to try to change that. 'Repenning's program avoids this disheartening cycle in three important ways. First, it deemphasizes programming while still encouraging students to develop the logical thinking skills they'll need for more advanced studies. Second, it engages students by encouraging them to be creative and solve their own problems, rather than just repeating exercises dictated by their instructor. Third, and perhaps most important, students are rewarded for their efforts with an actual, concrete result they can relate to: a game.'"

Comment: Here's what's affected (Score 1) 130

by szquirrel (#36510518) Attached to: 13-Year-Old Password Security Bug Fixed

The impact of this is actually pretty wide. Crypt_blowfish has been gaining popularity as a hashing algorithm in PHP thanks to Openwall's PHPass framework. Four years ago most PHP projects that I know were still using MD5 or SHA1 to hash passwords. Today those MD5 and SHA1 hashes can be brute-force cracked by free software running on a $200 GPU in a matter of days if not hours. So even a buggy version of Blowfish is still better by far.

So yeah, it's a wide-ranging bug but not a world breaking one. For starters it only affects passwords that use 8-bit characters, so passwords typed by anyone using a US-English keyboard still produce the same hashes as the correct Blowfish implementation.

For passwords of length n*4-1 (3, 7, 11, 15, ...), 8-bit characters in certain positions will result in some characters being ignored by the hash function. This makes it possible (though still not easy) to produce a collision, i.e. multiple different passwords that result in the same hash.

It's bad, but I want to stress that using even a buggy crypt_blowfish for password hashing is still a quantum leap over the single-hashed MD5 or SHA1 that you were seeing literally everywhere in the PHP world just a few years ago.

Comment: Re:crypt_blowfish (Score 2) 130

by szquirrel (#36510334) Attached to: 13-Year-Old Password Security Bug Fixed

Anyone care to speculate on the likelyhood of widespread blowfish use by public sites?

Wide. Many major PHP projects have been moving toward Openwall's PHPass algorithm that uses Blowfish as its preferred hashing algorithm. Note that even with this bug it's still better than the unsalted MD5 or SHA1 hashes that most projects were using previously. Today any of those old hashes can be brute-force cracked by a $200 GPU in about a day.

Comment: Please don't block on Acid3 (Score 1) 481

by szquirrel (#34927168) Attached to: Firefox 4, A Huge Pile of Bugs

Let me fix that for you:

As a side note, it's unlikely that Firefox 4 final will pass the Acid3 test, despite this being a very popular demand amongst silly people who don't understand web development.

The Acid tests are demos, not unit tests of HTML compliance. I would rather see real progress in areas where FF is truly weak (like, say, the crappy SVG renderer) than worry about those last three pips on Acid3.

Comment: Re:also he may be a liar (Score 2, Interesting) 542

by szquirrel (#34241868) Attached to: Shadow Scholar Details Student Cheating

Except that his story isn't that hard to believe. I can remember busting out 20-page papers overnight when I was in college and I'm not a particularly fast writer. It's easy to imagine that someone with enough practice and motivation could churn out papers like this for a living.

Today I code web applications and I recognize the process he describes. He has essentially built a research paper "framework" that lets him quickly build products that fit a baseline set of requirements. In fact it sounds like he rarely even has to come up with a true finished product, essentially building one proof-of-concept after another. It's amazing how fast you can work when you honestly don't care about the details.

How many code geeks will spends hours and days and weeks over meaningless bullshit projects just because they can? This guy does the same thing with words and he found a way to get paid for it.

Comment: Re:No science? (Score 4, Insightful) 542

by szquirrel (#34241684) Attached to: Shadow Scholar Details Student Cheating

The writer of TFA clearly specializes in writing. He/she probably has a good academic prose style, and good research skills, along with a jstor subscription or nearby university library. Quite possibly, he did a liberal arts or social science degree, which gave him the necessary practice; but found the job market unexciting with those credentials.

Go back and read TFA. I'm saying this not to be an asshole but because it's genuinely fascinating.

The author states that:

* He went to college to be a writer and found out that there's more than one way to get paid for what you write.

* He uses mainly Wikipedia (for background), Amazon for the free pages, and Google Academics for the abstracts. Everything else he spins from educated guesswork and outright bullshit with lots and lots of filler.

* He doesn't edit his work at all, this helps him work faster and heads off requests for him to "dumb it down".

* His clients often thank him for making typos (presumably because it looks more authentic that way).

He's not producing high quality work for top honors, he's producing "good enough" work for the sake of graduating at all. It may pay to get A's but C's get degrees, etc.

I've said for years that not everybody needs a college degree. I would guess (I would hope) that this guy is helping along the raft of mediocre graduates who won't ever really use their degree except as resume fodder. Unfortunately this just devalues college degrees even more so that employers keep on requiring degrees for jobs that don't really need special training.

He's right about one thing, blame the colleges that are more interested in collecting tuition fees than in producing actual, competent scholars.

Image

Justice Department Seeks Ebonics Experts 487 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the my-mama-no-raise-no-dummies-I-dug-her-rap dept.
In addition to helping decipher their Lil Wayne albums, the Justice Department is seeking Ebonics experts to help monitor, translate and transcribe wire tapped conversations. The DEA wants to fill nine full time positions. From the article: "A maximum of nine Ebonics experts will work with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Atlanta field division, where the linguists, after obtaining a 'DEA Sensitive' security clearance, will help investigators decipher the results of 'telephonic monitoring of court ordered nonconsensual intercepts, consensual listening devices, and other media.'”

Comment: Re:Confusing symbols (Score 1) 1268

by szquirrel (#33240428) Attached to: US Students Struggle With Understanding of the 'Equal' Sign

(TFA doesn't say if there were directions, like "Solve for the missing quantity in parentheses" or something like that.) I bet more people would have understood if they used something like x. Maybe they were trying to avoid "scary" variables for middle schoolers, but that's actually exactly when I remember learning what they were--if not, the year before.

Proper directions make all the difference.

When I was a kid math classes weren't on different tracks until middle school. Near the end of sixth grade I was given a test to see if I could handle the highest track which taught algebra. But of course, I had never seen algebra before so the test itself had to explain some basic concepts. Which it did. In surprisingly clear and simple language that had me solving for "x" in minutes. Each page introduced a new algebraic concept and I was eating it up.

The test was designed to be more work than a kid could finish in the time limit but I got pretty damn far. The irony is that I spent the next year in a basic algebra class that taught me very little I hadn't already learned from that tracking test.

I wish I still had that test. Whoever wrote it deserved a medal.

It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster. - Voltaire

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