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Comment: Re:Paper ballots are perfect (Score 1) 127

by treczoks (#48472909) Attached to: Voting Machines Malfunction: 5,000 Votes Not Counted In Kansas County

Because we know that there have never been any missing votes or other irregularities with paper ballots.

Most incidents and irregularities with paper votes are quite small-scale, and usually they can be resolved by re-examining the ballot paper. There might be some clearly invalid votes, but that is expected, either becasue the voter intended to do this or was incapable to cast a correct vote. Yes, with a good manipulation skill one can cast two votes into the ballot box insetad of one. But as the vote relies on a physical medium, manipulations are quite difficult, especially if you want to mass-shift an election. Dropping a thousand votes into a ballot box while fixing the voters list to account for them without anybody present taking offence (or even notice) is HARD. And this is just one voting station. One of the ideas behind electronic voting systems is that you can drop in or change a thousand votes without an election official noticing this.

There might be disputes over paper ballots, but there are and will increasingly be dispuded (and undisputed!) mistakes on electronic ballots on a much larger scale.

Comment: Re:open-source voting machines. (Score 1) 127

by treczoks (#48472877) Attached to: Voting Machines Malfunction: 5,000 Votes Not Counted In Kansas County

I've read the stuff from David Chaum, and it is bullshit. Sorry to be so harsh, but you'll lose secrecy if you want verifyability - this is part of his method, and he even states this so. So even in a perfect world, this would not work. It might give you a verifyable vote, but not a democratic one when compromizing a key factor. Sorry, David, but you'll need a spoonful of reality.

Comment: Electronic Voting is a BAD Idea (Score 3, Interesting) 127

by treczoks (#48472853) Attached to: Voting Machines Malfunction: 5,000 Votes Not Counted In Kansas County

Many years ago our company was asked if we could develop electronic voting systems for elections (we do, in fact we invented electronic voting systems decades ago for conferences and audience interactions, so we basically were a logical choice). The customer intended to buy a complete electronic voting infrastructure for a whole country, so this was very tempting. I was tasked to research into this topic, and have examined this very thoroughly from every angle possible.

My conclusion: There is no, absolutely NO way to get the level of democratic voting quality from electronic ballot systems that is comparable to classic paper ballots. The risks are immense, the gain neglectable.

The electronic system is in no way verifyable by the average voter or voting administrator. Anybody can look into a ballot box before the vote starts and see that it is empty, people can watch over the whole thing to verify that everybody casts only one vote, and wittnesses and recounts can see that every vote from the box is counted for the right candidate. But nobody can do this in an electronic voting system. Yes, they can click on a button and the system tells them "0 votes in ballot box", but they cannot verify this. The voters cann press "A", and the machine tells you that your vote was cast for "A", thankyouverymuch, but internally it could just drop the vote or count it for "B" or "C". Nobody could check this. At the end, the machine would display some numbers for A, B, and C, and you have to believe them.

And this is just the logic part of the problem. On top of that there is the question of technical reliability and user errors. There have been voting systems with touchscreens that needed to be calibrated before use, and there have been several cases where mis-calibration led to votes being cast for the wrong candidate/party (just as an example, whoever knows a technical system will know thousand ways it could fail). How does the system cope with a power loss during voting? Has the vote you just cast been counted or not? And what about the ease of vote? You and I can cope with "press candidate button, verify choice, press submit button", but an astonishing number of people can not (anyone who ever did tech support will not be that surprised).

All the key requirements to a democratic vote cannot be established simultaneously with an electronic voting system: Verifyability, integrity, secrecy. Yes, you can do a lot in the realm of integrity (like they do in Vegas for the one-armed bandits), but the stakes are way higher and so is the temptation to fix the game in a way that will go undetected even by the toughest inspection (and you cannout tough-inspect every electronic ballot box after every election!). And if you want a really reliable system, you will loose the secrecy factor. If you want secrecy, the verifyability and integrity will go down the drain. It is in fact worse than the business classic "Iron Triangle" (Fast, Good, Cheap, pick any two), it is more or less a "pick one". And for a true democratic vote, you will need all three.

The only advantages that an electronic ballot system can give are the results seconds after the closing of the ballot station and no problematic votes where people have to decide whether a vote is valid or not. Thats why the politicians LOVE electronic voting - it gives them nice results in time for the evening news. But do you really want to sell away the integrity of the last democratic instrument left for the citizens for saving a few man-hours in each ballot station? And I'd rather wait for the morning paper with the final results from a paper-based, democratically obtained election result than seeing grinning polititians congratulating themselves in the evening news, claiming their win from a quite doubtful, error- and manipulation-prone process.

In the end, I had a long and intense talk with our company founder and CEO and could convince him that electronic voting is a bad idea for democracy, and he communicated this very result to the customer. And as the customers intention was to have a democratially sound election system, he agreed.

Comment: When are we going to get this right? (Score 0) 388

by treczoks (#48315931) Attached to: Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches

Well, definitely not before we stop voting electronically. It is simply impossible for an electronic voting system to fulfil all criteria of a democratic votoing process.

I once was tasked with designing a good, democratic voting system. I've analysed the problem in depth and my conclusion was that an electronic election that is up to democratic standards is not possible at all. I managed to convince our CEO and the project was scrapped.

In no way an average person can verify the integrity of an electronic voting process. Maybe a few handful of people could, if they would get access to the source code and complete build environment, but it is a tedious process, and errors will be missed. Complete mathematical verification of a system is hard even without having a graphical user interface. And even if the code is correct, errors, user failures of election officials as well as voters, and fraud will happen. And between the werification of a sample machine in a lab and being able to verify that any machine in the field has not been tampered with is an unsurmountable gap. Keep in mind - this is just the implementation site of things. The logical part is a REAL mess. Anonymity, accountability, verifyability kick each others in the you-know-what regardless from where you start - a lot of requirements are simply mutually exclusive when implemented electronically that, on the other hand, are easy and inherent in a paper ballot.

America spends billions on political advertising, but they want to save a few man-hours per polling station every other year while endangering the democratic principles of the election process while opening the door wider than ever before for errors and fraud. And the electronic fraud is harder to spot, verify and correct than any attempt on fixing a paper ballot. Every idiot can spot an urn that is already half filled when the poll starts. Try do this reliable on an electronic vorting system.

Comment: Re:"repeatable independently verifiable reproducti (Score 1) 350

by treczoks (#48175211) Attached to: The Physics of Why Cold Fusion Isn't Real

> A working implementation needs to be patented.
And he tried that. The patent was refused because people said it was physically impossible. So he has to rely on trade secrets.

If the naysayers weren't so adamant about this being impossible, there would be a patent. And a patent is supposed to contain sufficient information to replicate and validate a technology. Everybody with sufficient knowledge and cash could easily proof or disproof the claims.

Who would be harmed by awarding Rossi a patent on what he claimed? If it is a fake, he would own a patent on something that does not work. If anybody falls for that, tough luck, but there are always people who buy bridges from someone.

If Rossi has something real, sticking with the trade secret is a smart move, regardless of the naysayers claims.

Comment: One common observation (Score 1) 986

Now I've read the report and I've read the (nearly all completely negative) high-scoring posts. What strikes me is that almost anyone complaining obvously hasn't read and understood the report. Some quite obviously only read a few pages, if any, and most complainers and fraud-callers haven't made it to the appendix. Applying knee-jerk reactions to potential findings is not a proven and accepted scientific method.

Some claim that this would be an "energy from nothing"-machine - nobody said that. The scientists in the report stated in the report that the change in the isotopic distribution was more than enough to account for the surplus energy.

Some claim that they should have used DC, or that there must have been hidden wires somewhere. This claim came up after the first report, and in this second report the scientists took this possibility into account (measuring whether there is a DC offset anywhere). To me it looks like this and the double measurements they undertook are more than sufficient to give confidentiality into the data provided.

Some claim that the output heat should have been measured in a calometric bomb. But so far, in the tests about this kind of device (and similar ones from other sources - yes, there is not only a Mr. Rossi in this field), they "only" measured infrared and calculated radiation and convection energy. So if several different groups who have the one or other level of expertise in calorimetric measurements use IR instead of the calorimetric bomb, might it be that they had a reason to do this (and no, I'm mot saying that they are into the supposed "fraud"). The calorimetric bomb has its limits, and, beyond these limits, you have to rely on different, proven methods, which they did.

Some claim that it couldn't have happened because no radiation was found, as current theories require radiation to be present. Just like people once claimed that the sun could only burn for 5000 years, as there was absolutely no way for any reaction being able to provide that much power (they considered the suns' mass to be made up of burning coal). It took humanity some years to find out about that "nucelar power" thing that couldn't be explaind by the old theories.

Some claim that he only did that to trick investors to pay money for it. But he already HAS a large investor backing him, there is no need for more. And I doubt that the invester would hant to share him or his invention.

And no, this is NOT the same as Pons/Fleischman. Anyone claiming this is doing bullshit big time as he has not understand (or even read) a single page on the topic. Pons/Fleischman was about energy surplus while doing electrolysis of (heavy) water with palladium cathodes, and failed to reproduce because some key factors were incompletely presented. Mr. Rossis Ni/Cu reactor is something entirely different. Putting it in the same cathegory of "its fraud because we fail to understand it, and we don't want to understand it because it must be fraud" is not really a good scientific approach.

So, please keep the whole thing rational. If you think that this is all fraud, just show where the scientists in this experiment made mistakes. So far, all I've seen is quarterback-level reasoning along the lines of "I don't understand thingy, thingy is wrong". Get your acts together, act like engineers and scientists, or just shut up.

Comment: Easy check of support quality (Score 1) 253

by treczoks (#47091023) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Tech Customers Forced Into Supporting Each Other?

I consider those forums an advantage. Before I purchase a product, I can look into the forums and see whether there is trouble ahead or not.
I see if the product has its issues or not, and I see if support is active or passive - something I can hardly check with traditional support options where first class support is always promised in bright colors, but not always delivered (no more Canon products in my house, thankyouverymuch!).
Sometimes there are even highly dedicated people from the community who enjoy helping people for fun. I don't know whether that asian guy in the SiLabs forums is still around, but he gave good and well.thought advice even for complicated problems. In the end, I go such a forum to have a problem solved. If the support comes from an official source or from another customer (if he has proven trustworthy, of course) does not always matter.

Having a good suupport is crucial for tech business, whether companies realize this or not. Last year I bought a stack of GPU cards for a project from ASUS, had trouble, needed support and support failed, I returned them and bought the Gigabyte version (with the same chip). That was a los for one company and win for another directly related to the quality of support.

Comment: Long compile turnovers are still here! (Score 1) 230

by treczoks (#46897349) Attached to: One-a-Day-Compiles: Good Enough For Government Work In 1983

If you have a big project running on an FPGA, you still might get compile times that might sound surreal to CPU programmers. On a CPU each source module can be compiled seperately and only the last step - the linking - ties them together. In hardware description languages, on the other hand, the "compilation" of a single source module into the net is only a small first step. everything after that has to take all modules into account. A simple change in one module might lead to a felt eternity of compilation (like in: starting on friday, looking for results on monday). Luckily, most basic errors are caught in the first compilation step. But the hairy ones will just make the system attempt longer and longer untill it eventually gives up.

tl;dr With FPGAs, overnight compiling is no stranger even today.

Comment: The users shitstorm (Score 1) 448

by treczoks (#46745231) Attached to: Commenters To Dropbox CEO: Houston, We Have a Problem

is not about Mrs. Rice potential influence on Dropbox' privacy guidelines and rules. It is about rewarding people like her with a nice-paying, cosy job despite the fact that she stands for almost everything the customers of the company despise. Nominating her for the board is a kick in the balls for the users.

Whenever the US government wants to F*ck with Dropbox users privacy, they will do it, regardless of constitutional rights or who is in the board of directors.

Comment: Testing is not always representative (Score 1) 431

by treczoks (#46745079) Attached to: Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

So you were only eleven pupils on one teacher. Well, you could not get into a more unrealistic test group. In my times, we were 42 in a class, in my childrens classes there are 24 resp. 26 pupils. There are studies that show that 12-14 children are the upper bound for a teacher to really take into account everyone in the class.

When it comes to grading, being half a grade better does not mean anything a) if the grading is adapted to the learning method used and b) in a language class, anyway. Of course, if a teacher is a proponent of a new method, there are many ways to assure that the new method turns up either better or worse results, depending on what you want to prove.

And on reading "Robinson Crusoe" - this was probably a childrens edition, because the normal, complete text makes even a literate adults head spin.

Comment: Different Language - Different Approach (Score 1) 431

by treczoks (#46745037) Attached to: Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

You can't apply such a method to any language. I don't know about Finnish, in German it is bad enough. In English it would be a catastrophy. The more simple the transliteration rules for a language are, the better.
And: The more you are exposed to books, the better, if you got taught by this method. For those with a lower household literacy, this might break a childs education at a very early and basic point. In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons for school is to make the road to education level for all kids, to at least give them a reasonable chance regardless of their social background. A method that relies to a large extend on the intelectual capabilities of the family instead of the school to teach one of the most basic skills is unfair and bound to widen the gap between social classes.

Comment: Example out of a newspaper article (Score 1) 431

by treczoks (#46744973) Attached to: Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

Some time ago there was an article in a nationwide german paper, where a father (jounalist) was totally shocked upon his childs literacy level. His offspring was at the end of grade four and wrote him a card for fathers day:

Text as written by the child: "Liba Fata ales gute zum Fatatak ich hab dich lib"
Gramatically correct text: "Lieber Vater, alles Gute zum Vatertag. Ich habe Dich lieb."
Translated:"Dear father, all the best for fathers' day. I love you"

Yes, the writing can be understood. It is not German, though. It might be Internet-German or Texting-German or whatever. It is like writing "wooster soos" instead of "worchestershire sauce".

In addition to this horrible teaching mess there is the bad influence from TV shows and from texting. I read an essay by a sixth-grader on the net, who added "lol" in his text where he thougt he made a pun, like the artificial laughters in those mediocre Disney-sitcoms.

All we can do as parents is to fix the educational potholes the school leaves in our childrens by field-testing obviously stupit methods.

Comment: What a stupid concept (Score 1) 431

by treczoks (#46744883) Attached to: Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

I'm from Germany and I have children in school, so I've got some first-hand experience whith this sh*t.

My daughter (approaching 11, grade 5) was taught this "Writing by Reading" stuff in the first years of primary school. The basic idea is that the kids a) basically spell as they hear it and b) refine/correct it by being exposed to correctly written texts. For a child that is an avid reader like my daughter (50-100 pages a day), with a mother that is a teacher for german and english (highschool level), this only was a minor problem. But her BFF avoids books like the plague, and therefor has loads of problems with writing. Most teachers at the local primary schooö frown upon this newfangled method (at least the ones with deaceds of experience) and try to teach ther pupuls correct writing, circumventing or stretching the new teaching rules.

Luckily, my son (8 3/4, grade 3) got more conservative teachers and so his spelling is OK.

Basically, this method was obviously invented by some people who took their own household literacy levels as the standard. We could deal with it, as we are a household of bibliolaters (~10000 real books in the living room alone, more in the studio and the attic, and the kids already have hundreds of books on their own), but in an average household (five books national average, at least one of them a cook book and one a religious book), this method is bound to fail.

The invention of this method is in a straight line with similar decisions on the german language - we had a bunch of grammar and vocabulary reforms, created by some couldheaded people in their ivory tower, clearly disconnected from reality. Now we have this bound-to-fail paedagogic method. Lets see what they cook up next.

PS: Writing as you hear it at least is way easier in German than it would be in English. Although there are lots of exceptions to the rules, there is a basic synchronity in the german language between the written and spoken word. In comparison with english, where the linguistic sources of gaelic/celtic, french, frisian/german and scandinavian origin clash, this is kids play. But German grammar sucks at other places to make the playing field more than level again.

"You're a creature of the night, Michael. Wait'll Mom hears about this." -- from the movie "The Lost Boys"