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Comment Re:Doesn't make sense (Score 1) 397

AFAICT, the phone was temporarily incapacitated until a trusted sensor was detected, and the issue is that no trusted sensor was ever installed, so the phone was useless.

Where do you read that the the phone can be repaired? The article says multiple times that it couldn't be repaired, e.g., "When pressed for more information about the error, few, if any Apple employees could offer an explanation. There was no part they would replace, no software fix, and no way to access the phone’s memory. The fix was a new iPhone."

Temporary incapacitating is at least not totally evil, but that's not what the article is saying. It could be that the bricking was temporary, but if the Apple folks refuse to fix it, then it's effectively bricked.

If your only experience with upgrades that make things worse is with Apple, then you have used pretty much nothing but Apple stuff, and have no basis for comparison. Lots of upgrades from all over have made things worse on my systems over the decades, so I check out each incoming upgrade to see if I really want it. On my iPhones, when I decide not to install an update, I touch the spot on the nag screen that says I'll never upgrade, and everything is fine after that.

No, Apples SW upgrades aren't the only ones that degrade systems. However, at least for my systems, the Windows and Linux upgrades aren't even close to the damage that the iOS upgrades have done to the iPad.

Comment Doesn't make sense (Score 1) 397

This sounds like pure greed and malice to me. Why not temporarily incapacitate the phone until a trusted sensor is detected? That provides both security and value to the user (i.e., doesn't have to pay Apple to buy a new phone). Isn't bricking the phone similar to HP bricking an inkjet printer upon sensing a non-HP ink cartridge? Not even HP was that evil.

But this is at least consistent on Apple's part. I have an iPad 2 that consistently gets worse with every iOS "upgrade", to the point of frequent multi-second lags as well as hangs that require reboots. All this supposedly in the name of helping the user, but actually truly in the name of increasing Apple revenue.

Comment Re:Ha! (Score 5, Interesting) 543

Silicon Valley tech companies that hire H-1Bs won't care much. Very few of their H-1B employees make less than $110K anyway. If the definition of "wage" includes not just base salary but also bonus (actual awarded amount) and stock (actual value, not some notional future value), then it's likely that all of their H-1B employees already meet this requirement.

Here are the numbers for 2015:

Rank H1B Visa Sponsor Number of LCA * Average Salary
1 Infosys 23,816 $76,794
2 Tata Consultancy Services 14,096 $67,673
3 Wipro 8,365 $69,936

I suppose that these workers might have received some significant additional compensation above their salary, but my guess is that the probability is pretty close to zero.

These top three companies received 46,277 visas, which is over half of the total visa issued. Their average salaries are way below $110k.

If the speculation that companies above abuse H1B visas by importing low-wage earners is true, then the $110k wage limit would eliminate those visa uses. Of course, that assumes that the changes forces companies to actually pay that much. I can easily think of many ways to circumvent the $110k limit, including paying that amount and deducting most of it back (a la indentured servitude).

But the key point is that the abuse is predicated on saving money for the ultimate users of the companies' services. Kill off the financial incentive, and the problem completely disappears.

There is actually a reasonable case for some companies to need something like an H1B. There are actually quite a few US companies that pay decent H1B wages. Instituting a minimum financial threshold allows separation of these arguably more legitimate cases from the arguably job killing cases.

13 Google 3,059 $125,596
18 Amazon 1,600 $113,163
19 Qualcomm Technologies 1,585 $111,816
21 Apple 1,464 $133,593
24 Oracle America 1,073 $119,506
40 Facebook 780 $133,535
50 Ebay 664 $121,691
55 Yahoo! 619 $132,752
59 Paypal 576 $124,616
63 VM Ware 535 $121,203
70 Cisco Systems 494 $121,899
74 Salesforce.Com 483 $124,063
96 Linkedin 382 $139,634

Comment Re:What else would he do with the money? (Score 1) 260

So you DON'T think giving people access to the Internet is useful, but you DO think that Carnegie building 2500 libraries was useful? The Internet is the BIGGEST LIBRARY HUMANITY HAS EVER BUILT. Access to silly cat photos aside, how can you really like one of these things and not other?

I think that internet and library access in the US is useful. I think that the internet and library access in areas struggling with basic life necessities (such as war, denial of political rights, food, water, shelter, sanitation, literacy, infant mortality, employment, etc.) are not only not useful but divert resources and attention from true priorities.

Comment Re:Helium (Score 1) 145

The MTTF makes a big difference to large installations. (I don't know what MTFB is besides a typo in the article -- Mean Time to Fail Badly, perhaps? In any case, MTTF is the better measure of hard drives as they're pretty much not worth repairing, as MTBF would measure.)

We have one installation that operates 60,000 hard drives that spin a total of 24*60000 = 1,440,000 hours per day. A MTTF of 2.5 million hours means I can expect one of these drives to fail every other day. While that would be much better than our current rate of 12 failures per day, and would save us a lot of money on maintenance contracts, it doesn't mean the drives are impervious to failure. It just means that their failures are less expensive than our current drives.

I also have a hard time believing any disk manufacturer's claims for longevity, because we often prove them wrong. We bought a handful of "enterprise class" drives for a dozen workstations that claimed a 1.2 million hour MTTF. We had 8 out of 24 drives fail within 50,000 hours (5 years), for an actual MTTF of less than 150,000 hours (the failures happened after burn-in but before the 5 year mark, which is when the machines were replaced.) Claims of 2.5 million hours MTTF just don't ring true.

MTBF is what the spec sheet says, but AFR (annualized failure rate) is what the manufacturers pay attention to. A MTBF of 2.5 million hours translates to 0.35% AFR, which is pretty low. However, looking at Backblaze's studies shows that there are drive models that get pretty close to the 1 to 2 million hours MTBF equivalent of AFR. Of course, there's a difference between manufacturers, and this WD drive is actually a HGST drive, and HGST drives tend to be more reliable. There are also differences between models and failure rates reflecting early-life failures versus the "bottom of the bathtub" behavior.

Comment Re:Typical of those poorly trained... (Score 1) 226

But there's something weird going on here. The first officer apparently pulled his stick all the way back and made the plane climb at a rate of more than 10,000 ft/min before it stalled. That's a pretty insane maneuver and I can't find a rational explanation for it no matter what his training was. It's not an "inappropriate response" but rather a completely unprovoked action for no good reason whatsoever.

Apparently pilot-to-pilot communication might have been a problem. From a CNN article:

[The Malasian accident investigator] also said the cockpit voice recorder showed confusing instructions from the captain to the co-pilot who was manning the controls at the time.

"The most interesting part that could be heard from the CVR is that whenever the plane went up, the captain said 'pull down.' ... To go down, the captain has to say 'push,' while to go up, the captain has to say 'pull' in reference to moving the side stick handle."

Comment Re:Reporting bias (Score 1) 226

The plane can't get into that situation while the computer is in control

I'm not a pilot, so this might be a stupid question, but if the pilots had known that the autopilot had been turned off, could they have turned it back on in time to stabilize the plane? Or would the pilots not have bothered with re-enabling the autopilot, even if they had know that it had been turned off?

If there is a plan configuration that is abnormal for a particular situation, such as disabling auto-pilot in mid-flight, couldn't the plane be designed to blare some signal in the cockpit so that the pilots are aware of the situation?

Comment What else would he do with the money? (Score 4, Insightful) 260

There's some truth to the premise of the movie "Brewster's Millions". After a certain point, spending money is not easy to do. If Zuckerberg is keeping half a billion to support his family, the other $45 billion won't make any difference to him. He can still live more extravagantly than most other multi-millionaires.

By giving away what is basically his surplus, he gains positive publicity and maybe a bit of personal satisfaction. That's probably worth more to him than keeping the money in the bank. It wouldn't even affect his Forbes ranking since he has already said that he will still effectively control the donated Facebook stock.

But I don't begrudge him his notion of philanthropy anymore than I begrudge the NBA stars their philanthropic foundations. They all get their publicity, tax benefits, etc. It's their money, so they get to decide what to do with it. The one criticism that I have is that I don't think much of Zuckerberg's priorities. Curing a widespread third-world disease like malaria a la Bill Gates is an impactful thing. Increasing internet access is not even a first-world problem and will do not much for people who worry about basic necessities. The one philanthropist that I really admire is Andrew Carnegie, who used his gifts to build over 2500 libraries in the world, many of which are still operating after a hundred years.

Comment Re:Why would Disney do this? (Score 1) 262

So why try to save a few bucks outsourcing? I don't get it, the money saved is literally insignificant to them.

Because the sole reason for corporations to exist is to maximize profits for the owners. There is no such thing as 'insignificant' when it comes to profit and greed.

Because the decision makers only benefit from an increase in the profits. The bulk of the decision makers' compensation is dependent on a rise in the stock price, and the stock price depends on increased profits. Stable or slowly increasing profits are not sufficient.

Comment Re: Religion (Score 2) 519

Actually, this is a good example of the strength of a true democracy and even a civil society

I think it's an illustration about how California's initiative system is broken. It should be easy to stop an initiative that is clearly unconstitutional, but instead much time and money is wasted by letting them linger. Californians will even vote in unconstitutional initiatives and then act surprised when courts strike them down. Bad initiatives should get caught sooner.

I'm definitely not arguing that California's system is great, but in this case, it's pretty good. If you're arguing that it should be easy to stop really, really bad proposals without wasting too much time and money, then this is the poster child case for that. The only real money spent on this was the $200 paid by the guy who thought of the idea. The guy also has to foot the bill to gather 365,880 signatures. The article opines that 365,880 is a low threshold, but I would argue that this guy not only wouldn't find more than a handful of people willing to sign such a crazy proposal, he probably won't even bother trying. Thus, the process with minimal cost to the state has struck down a really bad idea while preserving freedom of political thought by not allowing any single individual to decide what should or should not be proposed. This is the way it should be.

Comment Re: Religion (Score 3, Insightful) 519

California proposal to legalize killing gays hard to stop

Actually, this is a good example of the strength of a true democracy and even a civil society. The title of the article is quite misleading. The California attorney general cannot prevent the proposal writer from proceeding to the signature gathering stage. That's good, i.e., that ideas, even the crazy ones, can be stomped out by a single person. At that point, no one (including those that are anti-gay) will sign his petition, and it will die. This is exactly how the system should work.

We can only dream that such a scenario would be possible in ISIS or even most moderate Muslim countries.

Comment Re:Quicker (Score 1) 488

At least with Daesh, you're better off as a Christian or Jew, where you can get away with surrendering and paying taxes, than as a "moderate Muslim", where you're likely to be declared an apostate and murdered.

I don't know the relative likelihood of death based on religious identification, but I'm skeptical that the Islamic State would be so "gracious" towards Christians and Jews. There are at least reports of Christians killed for the sin of being Christian.

This is perhaps one area where ISIS has succeeded -- in convincing some outsiders of the relative beneficence of the self-proclaimed caliphate.

Comment Re:Quicker (Score 1) 488

FTFY. Not-so-fun fact: If you are killed by an Islamist terrorist, you are eight times more likely to be Muslim than non-Muslim.

Islamist terrorists tend to kill mostly Muslims in Muslim countries and mostly Westerners in Western countries. There are more Muslim casualties because most of the killings occur in Muslim countries.

Should Westerners be afraid of risks that are relatively lower? Well, it depends on what you're comparing to. The per capita risk for Westerners is lower compared to the risk for a different country but is higher compared to the risk in the past. For Westerners who never had an intention of traveling to those different countries, only the second risk comparison is pertinent.

Comment Re:Self encrypting hard drives are WORSE! (Score 2) 73

Self encrypting hard drives require trusting the code in the drive to be correct. While there are places people are willing to trust proprietary code, this should not be one of them. Proprietary code creates a "break once, own anywhere" setup, in the one place where that is the most ludicrous thing.

True, you have to trust the closed source firmware to do the right thing. This is hard to get around.

Who has the keys? Does the manufacturer have the keys?

Keys are generated by the device, so the manufacturer doesn't know the keys.

Then we have another problem- even IF the key is properly maintained, and even IF the manufacturer doesn't have a cabinet full of keys, how did they generate those keys? How is their random number generator? Remember, it's going to be just ONE target for an attacker here, since the keys all have a common source, so any mistakes are much more likely to be discovered, and much more likely to function.

In generating random keys, a mechanical HDD (not sure about SSDs) is perhaps ideal for generating randomness (there are patents on this). It can quickly generate true random keys without worrying about seeding entropy to generate pseudo-random keys.

Comment Re:If... (Score 1) 363

However, if you read the article, you'll see that the authors of the department-assigned text are the chair and vice-chair of the department. Which is largely unethical in my opinion. (But don't get me started on ethics and the textbook industry...)

Having the textbook authors mandate purchase of their book is blatantly unethical. So, the authors attempted to shield their lack of ethics by recusing themselves from the textbook selection process. However, the members of the selection committee are still fully cognizant that they are deciding whether to take money away from their bosses. So, despite the recusal, the situation is still unethical, just in a more hidden way.

This situation has parallels to the issue of sexual consent between superiors and subordinates. Due to the ability of the superiors to retaliate, subordinates are assumed to lack the ability to freely give consent in any situation. Such is the case with the textbook committee. Because there is no way to remove the threat of retaliation, they are effectively unable to freely voice their opinions.

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