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Comment Re:excuses (Score 2) 470

Nothing wrong with your math.

Your knowledge of human physiology, on the other hand....

Sure, for some people it's that simple. For others its like telling an alcoholic to just stop drinking, or a smoker to just stop smoking, or a meth addict to just stop taking the stuff.

Yeah, some people, maybe most, can do that. Some people can even shoot heroin without getting addicted to it. Probably most people could lose weight if they were just willing to focus on it. (I'm down 55-60 lb from my peak, from technically obese to normal. Halfway into that a friend asked me how. I told her "just stay hungry".) Some can't, not without causing severe damage in other ways.

And a few years ago, doctors were saying you don't have ulcers because of bacteria in your gut, you have them from eating acidic/spicy food.

Comment Re:so before Sandy Point, they were idiots? (Score 1) 528

The primary purpose of a gun is to kill something.

BZZT! Wrong But thanks for playing.

The primary purpose of a gun is to propel a small piece of metal at high speed in a specific direction. Anything beyond that depends on the mental state (or lack thereof) of whomever is using the tool.

I've fired hundreds if not thousands of rounds through a dozens of different guns. Never killed anything with one yet. Apparently I'm not using them very efficiently. I've made a lot of holes in paper and other targets, though. More relevantly, I've deterred some unpleasant outcomes by just standing there with a gun*.

Guns for defense are like nukes: if you have to use them, they've failed at their job (ie deterrence), but you've got to have them for them to do that job.

(* "Gun" here in the generic sense, including (much to my old drill sergeant's disgust, I'm sure) rifles.)

Comment Re:so before Sandy Point, they were idiots? (Score 1) 528

Because it's far easier to kill more people with a gun than with a knife.

That's not really true, except in the context of "bringing a knife to a gunfight".

Yeah, a knife-wielder is going to have a tougher time of it if someone else out there has a gun. If you've denied the victims the opportunity to arm themselves with stand-off weapons, a knife wielder can wreak merry havoc.

Knives can kill quickly -- the human body has too many soft spots, and a knife can cause far more damage than the average pistol round. (Yeah, there's special purpose or large caliber ammo, but .22s or FMJ 9mm or equivalent in general leaves less tissue damage than a stab/slash wound with a large knife.)

The 9/11 terrorists killed three thousand people with a handful of boxcutters, not even proper knives.

Comment Re:The non-encrypted file isn't the main problem h (Score 1) 123

The central database itself does not need to encrypted

Yeah it does.

(doing so just means the decryption key has to be there, making the encryption pointless)

No it doesn't. The decryption key has to be somewhere, sure, but it can (and should) be provided along with the query extracting the information. Put the keys in the middleware layer (which should reside on a whole different set of servers), not in the DB.

Comment Re:The whole system is to blame. (Score 1) 123

You and the IRS are pretty much the only people that need your SSN.

But since the IRS needs it, then pretty much everyone with whom you engage in significant financial activity (employers, banks, credit co.s, insurance ...) also needs it, because the IRS requires them to report their activity with you. If you really don't like your SSN being used for this purpose, you are of course free to apply to the IRS for a taxpayer ID number (TIN). So technically the IRS doesn't need it either (if you're self- or unemployed).

I get a huge chuckle out of folks who have to comply with HIPAA (like your doctor, pharmacist, etc) using not your SSN as an ID, but your birthday. I wonder how many John Smiths are born on a given day.

Comment Re:What primary key for person? (Score 1) 123

The Canadian SIN also has a checksum digit, like credit card numbers, bar codes and ISBNs, but notably unlike US SSNs, which do not. Not necessarily a huge anti-fraud advantage (if you know the algorithm you can create a number with a valid check digit) but certainly proof against random data entry errors.

Although in some cases not having the latter may be seen as an advantage. (Somebody wants to use your SSN as a db key with no legal reason for it being your real SSN, you could just transpose a couple of digits instead of giving them your real one. It'll look like a data entry error. Warning, this may be illegal in some cases.)

Comment Re:Apple bashing (Score 1) 452

I've had a GPS system insist for a good ten miles of driving that I "turn around when possible" because I wasn't going the way it wanted me to. It wanted me to take the state highway when the county road I was on was actually a better route.

Eventually as I got closer to my destination it gave up and recalculated the route I was actually taking.

Comment Re:Apple bashing (Score 1) 452

Nope. In my experience GPS systems will pick a fair route, but nothing like an optimal route. They tend to want to stick to Interstates, and get confused as hell if you take a shortcut that you know is better.
"Turn around when possible". No, sorry bitch, we're going this way.

I used to develop GIS and mapping systems, I know the limitations. If you know the area or are good at reading maps, you're often better off ignoring the GPS -- or telling it several times to calculate a different route.

They are helpful when they know the route you want to take. I once had to make a trip in heavy, icy fog over a route I knew very well -- but could hardly see the sides of the highway let alone the exits. The GPS was like having a HUD that could see through fog. (Very, very light traffic, and I could see their lights.)

Comment Re:No surprise there (Score 1, Informative) 263

You're still wrong.

Here's a message encrypted with a (very short) one-time pad: 03 02 05 06.

Here's one one-time pad:
01 - add, 02 - retreat, 03 - flee, 04 - foo, 05 - at, 06 - once, 07 - rats
and here's another:
01 - zebra, 02 - attack, 03 - start, 04 - frobozz, 05 - at, 06 - midnight, 07 - gun
or a third:
01 - innumerate, 02 - tired, 03 - who's, 05 - and, 06 - juvenile, 07 - now

Depending on which one-time pad you use, you get either: "flee all is lost" or "start attack at midnight". I'll let you figure out the third.

Not very helpful, is it? The number of possible one-time pads for a given set of N words is N! (N factorial) (could actually be higher if you allow repetitions in the pad, which you should for common words). A common practice is to use a (specific edition of a) book as your pad, with page/line/word number as key. How many books, now?

Sure, maybe there's only one (out of all the millions of possible editions of books) that renders comprehensible sentences. But if the codemakers are half-intelligent they can confound that, too, by scrambling the order of the words in the cleartext in a pre-arranged way.

Comment Re:Skipping TV ads? (Score 2) 686

Haven't the makers of certain DVR units been successfully sued or otherwise forced to stop providing devices that automatically skip ads in DVR'd content?

Sued yes, successfully no.

The latest is Dish's "Auto-Hop" feature which -- the day after it was aired -- programs ad skips into stuff recorded as part of their Hopper's "Prime-Time-Anytime" feature (which records all prime time shows on the big four using only one tuner). Of course FOX and everyone else filed suit at the first mention of it, even before all the details were out. The suit is till pending but based on preliminary motions it's probable the judge doesn't think they (FOX, et al) will succeed.

The more-savvy advertisers are getting together with TV content providers to do more product placement anyway. (Although that doesn't work for all products/services.)

Comment Re:It's also a small country (Score 1) 377

smart enough to employ simple countermeasures.

I always got a chuckle out of that. Because what are "simple countermeasures" on paper turn out to be "complex and expensive R & D programs" when you try to implement them on your thousand-plus ICBM inventory.

My favorite was "just spin the booster" as a counter to laser interception. Now, consider that Soviet ICBM technology of the time relied on liquid-fueled boosters. Consider the dynamics problems of spinning a liquid-containing cylinder which is also accelerating upwards at eight or ten gees (while attempting to drain said cylinders to fuel the engines). The lasers wouldn't have to hit them, they'd destroy themselves.

(Ditto for "just add shielding" -- which means adding weight, aerodynamic drag, and changing the center of mass, which means rewriting your flight control software, lowering your payload, and risking catastrophic disassembly if the shielding comes loose.)

Comment ballistic == unguided (Score 2) 377

Now, maybe the guy meant intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), or even intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) -- the stuff Israel is shooting down seems shorter range -- but ballistic and unguided are essentially equivalent. You could have a non-ballistic unguided missile (an unguided cruise missile, say) but that's worse than useless (it could loop around and come back at you). But a ballistic missile -- once past the boost phase -- is, like something thrown by a trebuchet, guided only by gravity and air drag.

And of course the further away it launches from, the more time you have to figure out what it's doing.

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