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Comment: Re:Randomness can't come from a computer program (Score 1) 64 64

by Bruce Perens (#50004185) Attached to: NIST Updates Random Number Generation Guidelines

Most of us do have a need to transmit messages privately. Do you not make any online purchases?

Yes, but those have to use public-key encryption. I am sure of my one-time-pad encryption because it's just exclusive-OR with the data, and I am sure that my diode noise is really random and there is no way for anyone else to predict or duplicate it. I can not extend the same degree of surety to public-key encryption. The software is complex, the math is hard to understand, and it all depends on the assumption that some algorithms are difficult to reverse - which might not be true.

Comment: Re:Bad RNG will make your crypto predictable (Score 2) 64 64

by Bruce Perens (#50000917) Attached to: NIST Updates Random Number Generation Guidelines

The problem with FM static is that you could start receiving a station, and if you don't happen to realize you are now getting low-entropy data, that's a problem.

There are many well-characterized forms of electronic noise: thermal noise, shot noise, avalanche noise, flicker noise, all of these are easy to produce with parts that cost a few dollars.

Comment: Randomness can't come from a computer program (Score 2, Interesting) 64 64

by Bruce Perens (#50000905) Attached to: NIST Updates Random Number Generation Guidelines

True randomness comes from quantum mechanical phenomena. Linux /dev/random is chaotic, yes, enough to seed a software "R"NG. But we can do better and devices to do so are cheap these days.

I wouldn't trust anything but diode noise for randomness. If I had a need to transmit messages privately, I'd only trust a one-time pad.

Comment: Re:I'm spending 60% of my monthly income on rent (Score 1) 937 937

by Bruce Perens (#49992299) Attached to: The Vicious Circle That Is Sending Rents Spiraling Higher

Communism has been tried on a large scale - see Mao's Great Leap Forward.

Nope. That was a totalitarian socialist program pushing a collectivism that didn't work. Communism is a post-scarcity society and obviously scarcity was the thing Mao produced best.

Robotics

Making a Birdhouse is Like 'Hello World' for a Versatile Factory Robot (2 Videos) 23 23

Posted by Roblimo
from the do-robot-birdhouse-builders-keep-robot-cats-as-pets? dept.
Many millions of American students have been called on to construct a wooden birdhouse as part of a middle- or high-school shop class. To make a birdhouse from wood and nails may not requite advanced carpentry, but it does take eye-hand coordination, object recognition, the ability to lift constituent pieces, and to grasp and wield tools -- and each of those can be broken down further into smaller tasks and skills of the kind that we as humans don't generally have to think about. ("Rotate wrist slightly to account for board angle.") For robots, it's another story: like the computers that run them, robots generally only do what they're told. Industrial robots can do some complex tasks, but they're expensive and complex to program.

Benjamin Cohen is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Pennsylvania working under adviser Maxim Likhachev with a real-world, cheap way to make robots to accomplish a multi-step project with minimal human intervention, which he calls "autonomous robotic assembly." Project Birdhouse -- part of his Ph.D. work, along with teammates Mike Phillips and Ellis Ranter -- is Cohen's effort to create a sort of "Hello, World" for robots. With a combination of a research-platform robot base, off-the-shelf parts, like a nail gun (read: "One not built for robot use"), and software to squeeze greater accuracy out of the system as a whole, he and his colleagues have come up with a robot that can grab a selection of parts, align them properly, and assemble them with nails into a functional birdhouse. QR codes let the robot give the robot a sort of recipe to follow, and the system is smart enough to squawk if it doesn't have the right parts to complete the task. (Check out more video with the robot in action, and a great many photos, sketches, and diagrams illustrating the project's evolution.)

NOTE: We split today's video in half, with both halves running right here, today. This way, if you watch the first video and and want to learn more, you can move on to the second one. And the transcript not only covers both videos, but has "bonus" material that isn't in either one.

Comment: Re:What's the score now? (Score 1) 77 77

by Bruce Perens (#49986431) Attached to: NVIDIA Begins Supplying Open-Source Register Header Files

I didn't actually work on GPUs very much at Pixar, the image computer I worked on was the grandfather of the SIMD image processing instructions on modern CPUs. What would become a GPU later on was a very expensive box from Silicon Graphics, I had one that cost at least a quarter Million dollars.

Comment: Re:What's the score now? (Score 5, Interesting) 77 77

by Bruce Perens (#49983451) Attached to: NVIDIA Begins Supplying Open-Source Register Header Files

If they actually told us how to program their microengines, something good might come of it. But they'll probably just BSD-license a list of numbers, as others have.

I liked writing bit-slice microcode at Pixar. I really could get every last bit of power out of the hardware.

Comment: Re:I'm spending 60% of my monthly income on rent (Score 4, Insightful) 937 937

by Bruce Perens (#49983313) Attached to: The Vicious Circle That Is Sending Rents Spiraling Higher

Maybe you should learn what communism is before calling anyone "commiefriend". (Which I have to say, is really repulsive. It's sort of like picking your nose over the internet.) I think you are discussing the difference between lasiez-faire ecomomics and regulated markets. Communism is a very great difference in scale from that. And it's never been tried on a national scale just as "free market" has never been tried because there are always economic biases that make it impossible. What there has been so far is socialism.

Comment: Re:I'm spending 60% of my monthly income on rent (Score 1) 937 937

by Bruce Perens (#49983269) Attached to: The Vicious Circle That Is Sending Rents Spiraling Higher

I think you're missing the fundamental economic issue that drives all of this. It's the provision of essentially infinite amounts of credit. This is done by government, not banks. Essentially all home loans come from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, banks and finance companies are really just front-ends for them and sell their loans to the government once financed.

Given infinite credit, any scarce but necessary resource is going to be bid to absurd values.

It is by no means being a hippie to assert that government should not distort the market for credit, and to expect that urban and suburban land values would return to more realistic rates once the distortion was removed. Too bad that lots of people have already invested in unrealistic land values. They would have to lose.

Comment: What's the score now? (Score 4, Interesting) 77 77

by Bruce Perens (#49983223) Attached to: NVIDIA Begins Supplying Open-Source Register Header Files

We have nVidia helping but not making their own Open Source driver. Intel, after a long period of Open Drivers, said it would require BLOBs for future graphical interfaces. AMD helps with Open Drivers more than nVidia so far but doesn't support them.

The perversity of nature is nowhere better demonstrated by the fact that, when exposed to the same atmosphere, bread becomes hard while crackers become soft.

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