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Comment Likely not criminals. (Score 5, Insightful) 101

Lots of comments here about the foolishness of paying off criminals. Indeed. But in fact I tip my hat to ProtonMail for their clever strategy for illuminating the likely identity of their attackers. The thing is, when you pay off blackmailers they typically don't then carry through with the initial threat because that's bad business. They may make further demands based on their new knowledge of you being an easy mark, but to carry out the initially threatened action after being paid simply sends the message to you and other potential targets that paying is a waste of money because the threat will be carried out anyway. The profile of the target (encrypted email service) alone combined with analysis of the second attack as having the hallmarks of a state actor would suggest a three-letter agency. The fact that they got hit after paying just clinches it.

Comment Re:Sharks don't kill very many people (Score 2) 49

Although the U.S. has more historically documented shark attacks in total, Australia is some way out in front when it comes to fatal shark attack: Over the last few years there have been around 3 fatal attacks per year in Australian coastal waters. Not a great many, but more than "every other year". When it comes to numbers per head of population, it's not even close! We like to swim and surf, and share our waters with relatively large numbers of potentially dangerous sharks (as well as box jellyfish, and crocodiles...)

Comment Obligatory car analogy (Score 1) 150

You have asked "What is the best car I could buy? Also, should I build it myself or get one from the showroom?"

As many other posts here suggest, the first question is kind of meaningless without knowing what you want to do with said car. Is it for trips around town? To carry 7 kids? A lean mean street-fightin' machine?

As for the second question, if your budget is $50k, then I suggest neither. You cannot (should not try to) build a general-purpose HPC solution and its infrastructure for that kind of money. If your use-case is not heavily dependent on high-bandwidth data transfer then definitely consider AWS/Google compute/Azure. If you have a very specialized use-case, perhaps a single compute job that was trivially parallelizable with little or no I/O, you could probably put something together for $50k and run it under a desk. But general-purpose HPC is not just a bunch of server units. A high-speed switch between your compute nodes alone could cost that much. A very basic chassis from Dell suitable as a compute node costs around $5k. Stuff it full of memory, 2 or 4 xeons, GPUs if you need them, fast local scratch disk, redundant 10GB network connects... again, you're looking well north of $25k per unit. Not to mention, as others have, you need a climate-controlled room with abundant, reliable and redundant power to put the thing in.

Comment Dell Latitude (Score 1) 385

Lots of comments about Linux on XPS series; I've had up-and-down experiences with hardware build quality with those but what I can solidly recommend is the Dell Latitude series - currently E6540 or the 7000. They're a bit pricey but like the Thinkpad and HP ProBook these are business-oriented machines with great warranty support, and upgradeable parts. And Linux runs just great on them - I write this on a slightly older 6440 with Fedora 21 on it; never had any issues even though Fedora is a relatively "pure" distro that doesn't come with proprietary drivers. I would also recommend Fedora as good mainstream distro for work in the sciences - all the packages you would want to run on a laptop (R/scipy etc) are available as rpms:

Comment Re:Java (Score 1) 407

Java 7 introduced the Closeable interface and try-with-resources statement to give the programmer every incentive to Do The Right Thing in cases like these, and every good Java programmer I know uses them (see for topical example of an SSH client implementing Closeable). True, anyone can code badly but that's not the language's fault and in this case I would hardly say that sloppy mentality is encouraged. A poster above noted that C++98 != C++14. By the same token, Java 1.8 != Java 1.2

Comment Misleading headline (Score 5, Insightful) 402

That's not an article about the high tech warfare behind the Israel-Hamas conflict. It's an article about the alleged use of some pretty run-of-the-mill technology by one side (Hamas) with no reference to the actual sophisticated technology used by the other side (Israel). If the article in itself isn't necessarily so, the phrasing of the headline and the summary here is an attempt to portray this conflict as something other than the massively one-sided affair that it actually is. It's a whitewash pure and simple. I wish both sides would just stop killing each other but seriously, "cloud-based launching software"? So Hamas can launch unguided rockets without having to stand next to them. Sounds pretty nasty compared to sophisticated air defence, MBTs, total air superiority and massed artillery.

Submission + - Imparting malware resistance with a randomizing compiler

wheelbarrio writes: From an Economist article — inspired by the natural resistance offered to pathogens by genetically diverse host populations, Dr Michael Franz at UCI suggests that common software be similarly hardened against attack by generating a unique executable for each install. It sounds like a cute idea, although the article doesn't provide examples of what kinds of diversity are possible whilst maintaining the program logic, nor what kind of attacks would be prevented with this approach.

Submission + - The Most Feasible Way to Colonize Space May Be to Print Humans on Other Planets

Jason Koebler writes: Adam Steltzner, the lead engineer on the NASA JPL's Curiosity rover mission, believes that to send humans to distant planets, we may need to do one of two things: look for ways to game space-time—traveling through wormholes and whatnot—or rethink the fundamental idea of "ourselves."
"Our best bet for space exploration could be printing humans, organically, on another planet," said Steltzner.

Submission + - DISH Becomes World's Largest Company to Accept Bitcoin (

Raystonn writes: US satellite service provider DISH Network has announced that it will start accepting Bitcoin payments later this year from its more than 14 million pay-TV subscribers. This will make it the largest company to accept Bitcoin to date.

Submission + - Google discriminates in favour of Asian employees - or what? 2

Bruce66423 writes:
The Guardian — a left wing newspaper — has a headline to this article that focuses on the absence of women and especially blacks. But given the 30% Asian headcount, it's dubious this is a function of discrimination against blacks, but that's how the left likes to portray it.

It's easy when you know how to spot the biases...

The best way to avoid responsibility is to say, "I've got responsibilities."