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Open Source

+ - Is MacOSX Gatekeeper meant to secure your computer, or Apple's business model? 1

Submitted by
thbb
thbb writes "Included in the recent release of Mountain Lion, Gatekeeper is a security feature that forbids users to run applications which have not been signed with an Apple-issued certificate. Pros and the cons have been widely debated, only abstractly so far. More informed reactions are coming, including from challenged independent developers, ranging from the apologetic to the outraged.

In effect, Gatekeeper's user-experience can raise interrogations on its ultimate motive. For instance, when a downloaded application is blocked, no mean of circumvention is suggested. The user is led to believe their action is just wrong. Still, power users will soon know about the left+click+Open one-time override, leaving the security argument somewhat lame. Clearly this feature is a boon for Apple to draw its users towards its store.

Even more controversial is the notion that one must be registered with Apple (and therefore pay, no matter how modestly) to sign their applications so as to make them unobtrusively available. If the mechanism was to spread to other platforms, how could Open Source cope?

Is Gatekeeper compatible with the ideology of Free Software?"
Encryption

+ - Sudoku Inspired Algorithm used for Encrypting Images->

Submitted by hypnosec
hypnosec (2231454) writes "Sudoku puzzles, solved the world over by millions of users every day, have managed to grab attention of mathematicians allowing them to use the underlying mathematics as a means for scrambling or encrypting images. Yue Wu at Tufts University in Medford along with a couple of friends has used Sudoku’s 9x9 grid to formulate a completely new type of matrix mathematics. For readers who are not so mathematics savvy, a matrix is a rectangular array of numbers wherein each element can uniquely identified by its row and column number – in other words, its grid reference. As Sudoku is the reference for new technique, according to Wu and co it is possible to identify elements in an array such that each of the elements contains a digit from 1 to 9 and that it satisfies the rules of Sudoku. This means that each element can now be identified by a row reference, a column reference and a digit. According to the team there are a total of six different ways of representing each element according to Wu. Through the use of simple mathematical functions [PDF], the co-ordinates in one system can be converted to that of the other. When we consider encryption, these simple conversion functions are the key to scrambling images. So, how to go about it? One can start with an image made up of 9x9 pixels. Next, superimpose a Sudoku solution onto this grid such that each of the pixels can now be represented by the new coordinate systems. Now using any one of the conversion functions swap the position of pixels. This will effectively scramble the image."
Link to Original Source

Comment: US centric view of the world (Score 4, Informative) 135

by thbb (#33036282) Attached to: EU Launches Antitrust Investigation Against IBM

You're talking about US law.

This a EU investigation, and its legal grounding is different. Among others: tying your hardware to your software *is* illegal in EU, as it constitutes a bundled sale. Also, monopolies and oligopoles are under tight surveillance, and the EU can fine them if their margins reach beyond a certain threshold. There are full teams of statisticians who study sales numbers of telcos in EU, and determine what is a "fair" margin they are entitled to make.

This is what we call a "market-driven social economy", where we have managed to insert some of the good ideas of socialism while still relying on the market to allow some form of competition between tightly controlled corporations.

Comment: Douglas Adams foresaw the consequences... (Score 1) 69

by thbb (#32533434) Attached to: German Researchers Show Off a Gesture-Based Interface

The machine was rather difficult to operate. For years, radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then, as the technology became more sophisticated, the controls were made touch sensitive ... now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure of course, but meant you had to stay infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same programme.

D. Adams, The hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy. Ch. 12.

BTW, a envisionment of natal in 1993, with datagloves: Charade, remote control of objects using free hand gestures published in Communications of the ACM. (Here for ps version)

Comment: Douglas Adam foresaw it (Score 1) 156

by thbb (#32370662) Attached to: Project Natal Pricing and Release Date Revealed

The machine was rather difficult to operate. For years, radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then, as the technology became more sophisticated, the controls were made touch sensitive ... now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure of course, but meant you had to stay infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same programme.

D. Adams, The hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy. Ch. 12.

Is this what project natal will give us?
BTW, a envisionment of natal in 1993, with datagloves: Charade, remote control of objects using free hand gestures published in Communications of the ACM.

Comment: Re:CPS (Score 3, Insightful) 419

by thbb (#31800906) Attached to: Chicago Mayor Calls For "Brainiac High"

How is this "Insightful"? The USA are really doomed if its educated population actually believes this shit.

And how exactly, do you want to increase "parental responsibility"?

You want to set up a mandatory adult "schooling" education program? With what funds and who do you put in charge of creating this program, which would, admitedly, be a world premiere?

Or perhaps, you have the idea of sanctioning the parents when their children don't do their homework or don't attend school? This has been tried: it merely results in even more children dropping out of schools and even poorer education. Notwithstanding the creation of ghettoized populations cut back from any chances of ever raising out of poverty and poor education.

Even though it's costly, pouring more money at schools, providing teachers with the means to do their job well is the only method that has a track record of actually raising the education levels.

Yes, maybe the CPS' bureaucracy is choking the attempts of the few remaining dedicated teachers to do their job properly. In any case, I doubt it is much worse than the US Army bureaucracy, which is completely sold to the military industry.

Throwing more money in the school system provides the ability to hire more talents (at the management and operational levels), motivate the education personnel and, ultimately, raise the education levels globally. As for the details, let the teachers and their administration, who are in daily contact with the population they have to deal with, decide how it's better done.

Comment: Re:Social frameworks better than bullshit placebo (Score 1) 507

by thbb (#31252242) Attached to: NHS Should Stop Funding Homeopathy, Says Parliamentary Committee

> WHAT FUCKING MEDICAL SCHOOL IS TEACHING HOMEOPATHY?! I

In France, Spain, Italy, Brasil and perhaps a few other countries, you can not call yourself homeopath if you're not a certified general practionner with an additional specialization, complete with a university diploma.

As for encouraging doctors/nurses to take more interest in their patients: If they're any good, conventional doctors/nurses certainly have a lot of interest in the well being of their patient. That still does not equip them with the proper interviewing techniques to keep the needed level of attention.

There are more urgent issues in healthcare than eliminating homeopathy and greater scandals in medecine than correcting a fringe of innocuous homeopathy believers.

The collusion between big laboratories, World Health Organisation and western governments on the orchestration of the AH1N1 flu vaccination campaign, and various other "big medecine" abuses are far more detrimental (and costly) to public healthcare.

Comment: Re:Homeopathy is more effective than Placebo (Score 1) 507

by thbb (#31251216) Attached to: NHS Should Stop Funding Homeopathy, Says Parliamentary Committee

Your hypotheses 1) is exactly the way it works if you keep the present system in place, where homeopathy is a specialization incorporated in the classical medecine curriculum. Homeopaths are classical, certified doctors. They know their limits and will always redirect to a specialist patients who need specific care. It turns out their screening is more efficient, and therefore their contribution to public healthcare is better than the regular practionners. At least that's part of the explanation given by the studies.

I know these views quite controversed. There are strong political fights in France between the Academy of Medecine, made of famous professors who have found cures for cancers or alike, who despise the non-scientific nature of homeopathy, and the public health authorities, who casually observe "hey, there's this whole population segment, the homeopathy believers, who have very low healthcare costs while being in better shape overall. We may not know why, but we surely want to keep it that way."

Ultimately, the Academy of Medicine will most likely prevail. I'm not sure this is for the better.

Comment: Re:Homeopathy is more effective than Placebo (Score 1) 507

by thbb (#31249926) Attached to: NHS Should Stop Funding Homeopathy, Says Parliamentary Committee

"you might assume"!?! . Sorry, it's not me assuming this. I report the conclusions of serious longitudinal public health studies, and they definitely watched for various kinds of possible biases before reaching these conclusions.

By the way, these conclusions have shaped much of the western public health policies lately, as most western countries keep homeopathy inside the public healthcare system.

The point the studies made is that it's easier for an homeopath to detect and enquire about subtle changes in the patient's physiology, because of the arcane classification of patient's physiological characteristics. All it costs is long conversations with your (homeopath) doctor that a regular doctor won't want to bother with when diagnosing a cold or the flu.

Medicine is not a Science, it's an Art, because the notion of "good health" is not objectifiable. Noone can produce a satisfying measure of "health".

While clearly evidence-based medicine and science have played and will continue to play a central role in improving our health and our life, there's more to medecine than just mechanistic interpretations of how the mind and body work.

Comment: Homeopathy is more effective than Placebo (Score 1) 507

by thbb (#31249068) Attached to: NHS Should Stop Funding Homeopathy, Says Parliamentary Committee

About 10 years ago, I read a very nice sequence of papers in La Recherche (the French equivalent of "Scientific American").

The conclusions were very instructive:
- there is no evidence of any kind of effect of homeopathic medicines by themselves
- however, even after accounting sample biases, there was mild evidence that people followed by homeopaths were in better health overall, and this at a fraction of the cost of "scientific" medicine.

The papers suggested that to propose a homeopathic cure, the doctor has to take the time to inquire a lot about the patient's medical history, their mood and minor health issues (do you have gases? how often? ...). As a result, the homeopath has a much more complete picture of the patient's symptoms. In most benign illnesses, traditional medicine is of very limited usefullness anyhow, not much more effective than placebo indeed, and most conditions cure themselves alone.

But when a serious condition occurs (early signs of cancers, hormonal imbalances...), the homeopath is much more inclined to detect the change and prescribe additional examinations, thus playing a major preventive role.

Adding to this that the actual costs of homeopathic cures is ridiculously low, the conclusion from La Recherche was that, even though the scientific basis for homeopathy was wrong, from a public health perspective, it was better to keep the system as is, keep teaching homeopathy in medical schools and refund homepathic cures.

Counting in octal is just like counting in decimal--if you don't use your thumbs. -- Tom Lehrer

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