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Comment Except power companies want efficiency... (Score 1) 558

So the energy company dude pays some engineer handsomly to toss is a little extra waste. That ineffcient algorithm is now silently generating $5million/year in *free* revenue.

No, because power usage = needing to build infrastructure. They want everyone to be as energy-efficient, because then they don't have to build power plants and upgrade lines as much.

Power companies practically throw CFLs and energy-efficient appliances at people and are constantly putting energy-conservation tips in their mailings, etc. Utilities in general are more than happy to pay for a home energy audit; my parent's gas company did a whole-house leak test and gave us all sorts of insulating widgets, paid for insulating our attic, etc. There are rebates on more efficient furnaces and water heaters, too.

Seriously - I recently found out that our power company at work gives out 10-year zero-interest loans to businesses if the new equipment provides energy savings.

Power companies should band together and offer to pay for Microsoft to have a huge team of software engineers auditing code and working on energy use and optimizing Windows and the Microsoft compilers. The payback would be incredible. Power companies could do the same thing tomorrow for Linux and BSD if they wanted.

Comment I'm seeing this more on the biography side (Score 4, Interesting) 166

Some of the paid PR I've seen recently has been on biographies of living persons, especially rich ones. Lots of happy talk about their charitable work and affiliations gets put in. Stuff about their career failures, lawsuits, and criminal history gets taken out. This is tougher to fight, because Wikipedia has a "biography of living persons" policy which discourages negative comments for anything short of a felony conviction. (Even after a felony conviction, sometimes.)

On the product and business side, though, pushing back against paid editing usually works.

Comment Re:Pardon my ignorance but... (Score 2) 273

The USB-IF has long had a VID/PID process for hobbyists.

*snip*

The letter sent wasnt a "screw you and your OSS tendencies", it was more of a "no, you cannot transfer PIDs like you want to; please cease pursuing that plan":

Arguably claiming "A two thousand dollar fee for your unique VID" combined with "hobbyist" is pretty dishonest at best.
The fact of the matter is, before Arachnid Labs requested a VID for this purpose the policy DID allow transfers and sub-allocations!

Very few hobbyists have that type of money to purchase one VID nor has need of all 65535 PIDs contained within.
I would also venture a guess that of the subset of hobbyists that can afford it, it is a smaller percentage wanting and willing.

Worse, the usb.org used to have two methods to obtain VIDs.
You can either become a member, which includes VIDs with your yearly dues (plus justification for blocks after the first), or you could out right purchase a VID.

If you purchased a VID, it was completely and totally up to the VID holder how to allocate and manage PIDs. This is the policy they just recently changed, and seemingly right after the hobbyist community started discussing this very project earlier this year.
Perhaps it really is just "bad timing", but I too am pretty full of cynicism and thus don't believe that to be the case.

If it was nothing more than usb.org enforcing their own policy, this issue would be nothing more than a "doh!" moment. The problem is their policy said one thing, they were asked to use a VID this way, they went and updated their policy right that second and responded with the newly ink-still-wet policy with nothing more than "that isn't allowed - see, the policy says so!"

If you are going to have a policy in the first place - you best damn well live by it or accept when people call out the lies.
If you can't live by your own policy, then what is the point of even making one in the first place?

Comment Re:They do have the ability to release code silent (Score 2) 488

The tipping point for the Court comes from evidence that the defendants Ã" in their own words Ã" are hackers. By labeling themselves this way, they have essentially announced that they have the necessary computer skills and intent to simultaneously release the code publicly and conceal their role in that act.

Sounds reasonable.

Does it? Remember that time you used wd-40 and duct tape to fix that little problem with your homes front door?
Implementing a fix in a manor not intended by the original manufacturer is the definition of hacking, thus you sir are a hacker.

Please do elaborate further how it sounds reasonable that you have sacrificed all of your constitutionally protected rights simply because you used a roll of duct tape?

Even if you personally are willing to give up all your constitutionally protected rights for using duct tape, I seriously question how and even IF your choice should in anyway apply to me.
I realize the both of us have already broken 4 federal laws - assuming you haven't yet gone outside today either - but none the less I see no argument why that should become yet another federal crime, simply because I have a roll of duct tape in the house.

The final bit of irony regarding your point of view, is that possession or use of duct tape requires NO computer skills what so ever, let alone the specific computer skills of "turning computer on" or "writing code" to release publicly or privately.

Can you elaborate further on these inconsistencies between your point of view and reality?

Government

Would-Be Tesla Owners Jump Through Hoops To Skirt Wacky Texas Rules 470

cartechboy writes "Texas is known for having the nation's most draconian anti-Tesla rules, based on intense and cash-rich lobbying and political donations by Texas car dealers. What's amazing is what would-be Tesla owners still have to do to get their hands on--and maintain--a Tesla Model S. How do you buy a car the laws try to stop you from owning? By jumping through wacky hoops, it turns out. Tesla store staff, for example, can't tell visitors how much a Model S costs. They can't give test drives, and they can't discuss financing options. Tesla service centers are banned from showing the company logo — or advertising that they do Tesla warranty work or service at all. So how have 1,000 Model S cars been sold? That would be sheer persistence."

Comment Re:This NSA crap is much too much, and ungentleman (Score 1) 361

That's fine. It's still much better than if he hasn't won them over.

The referendum will prove it and will also help make things clearer for the defenders. Their consciences will be clearer when wiping out entire cities if most people in the attacking country want a war. If the whole country votes for war then they shouldn't complain if they get war.

Plus with my way at least the leader has proved he believes the war is worth risking his _own_ life for. If he's not willing to risk his own life for it then why should others risk their own lives to kill OTHER people for his idea?

Comment Re:This NSA crap is much too much, and ungentleman (Score 1) 361

The solution is if everyone had crypto whether they used it or not and things were set up so that you can't tell whether they used it or not. See also: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/148440
Or even better if everyone was using crypto (full disk crypto, vpns etc), but you can't tell whether they were using additional crypto- extra container file lying around by default).

Then if those in power are still going to torture people even though there actually isn't anything (extra) to decrypt/unlock, your country is so screwed up you could be tortured for hundreds of other reasons anyway.

Comment Re:This NSA crap is much too much, and ungentleman (Score 5, Insightful) 361

Fighting against your own government/leaders who are enemies of your country, is not the same as fighting against your country. It's still fighting for your country.

To me it is more patriotic than killing people in some other country.

If more people around the world did that sort of thing there would be much less need to kill people of other countries.

That said I'm not a big fan of patriotism. Seems to cause more harm than good.

Comment Re:Siri doesn't have free will (Score 2) 401

To those who say they have no free will: "If you have no free will then you are a machine. Beware, it is easier to justify discarding/destroying/retask a machine that no longer 'meets the specifications'".

As for the question we don't even have proof that the physicist's definition of free will is correct, much less the OPs. The physicist is assuming free will = not knowing the final decision. But that's ridiculous! He hasn't even explained Consciousness - which is the "knowing" phenomena of how "we know we know". If there's no "you" observing yourself, there's no "you" deciding what happens next, thus there's no free will - since there's no Entity to _will_ anything in the first place whether free or not!

If he can figure out how the "knowing"/Consciousness phenomena works than he is in a better position to decide whether something has free will or not. Otherwise he's being silly and talking about stuff that he should do more thinking about first.

We think we have free will because we are self aware. Not because we don't know what we will ultimately decide to do. Sometimes we know exactly what we will decide to do next and yet our sense of "free will" does not go away. If I put you in a cage, you still believe you have free will, you just don't have the freedom to exercise your free will. That cage could be physical or metaphorical (e.g. limited choices).
Facebook

Facebook Lets Beheading Clips Return To Its Site 277

another random user sends this quote from the BBC: "Facebook is allowing videos showing people being decapitated to be posted and shared on its site once again. The social network had placed a temporary ban on the material in May following complaints that the clips could cause long-term psychological damage. The U.S. firm now believes its users should be free to watch and condemn, but not celebrate, such videos. One suicide prevention charity criticized the move. 'It only takes seconds of exposure to such graphic material to leave a permanent trace — particularly in a young person's mind,' said Dr. Arthur Cassidy, a former psychologist who runs a branch of the Yellow Ribbon Program in Northern Ireland. 'The more graphic and colorful the material is, the more psychologically destructive it becomes.' Decapitation videos are available elsewhere on the net — including on Google's YouTube — but critics have raised concern that Facebook's news feeds and other sharing functions mean it is particularly adept at spreading such material."

Comment Yes, again (Score 1) 401

rather than putting up a strawman completely unrelated to anything the author actually claims.

The author addresses many of the same issues I addressed:

  • "Moreover, the number of relatively short programs that can run for arbitrarily long times before halting is in some sense small. Indeed, Aaronson argues, proofs of uncomputability on its own are often less relevant to real-world behavior than issues of computational complexity" - This is part of why formal undecidability is a minor problem in the real world.
  • "The uncomputability of the decision making process doesn't mean that all decisions are unpredictable, but some must always be." That's a property of many algorithms - there's are pathological cases that reach undecidability, but they may not come up that often. This is related to the class of algorithms that are NP-hard for the worst case or the absolutely optimal solution, but only P-hard for most cases or a near-optimal solution. The traveling salesman problem is such a problem. So is linear programming.
  • "There is a subtlety here in that computational universality requires that you be able to add new memory to the computer or smart phone when it needs more -- for the moment let's assume that additional memory is at hand." -- This is the escape hatch for the finite state problem. With infinite memory, you can get undecidability from a deterministic system. Without infinite memory, you can't.
  • "That is, any general technique for deciding what deciders decide has to sometimes take longer than the deciders themselves." That's his big result, on page 9. All it shows is that the worst case takes longer. It's like the proof that, for all lossless compression algorithms, there must exist some input for which the compressed version is longer than the uncompressed version.

It's quite possible to get into a philosophical tangle in this area, but it's not productive to do so.

Upon the whole, I am inclined to think that the far greater part, if not all, of those difficulties which have hitherto amused philosophers, and blocked up the way to knowledge, are entirely owing to our selves. That we have first raised a dust, and then complain, we cannot see. -- Bishop Berkeley

Comment Experimental aircraft (Score 3, Informative) 201

In the US, the regulations on "experimental" aircraft are quite lenient. The main limitation is that you can't operate an experimental aircraft in a densely populated area or major airway without special permission. Permission is usually granted after successful flight tests.

The main place for testing unusual civilian aircraft and rockets in the US is Mojave Air and Space Port. They're authorized as both a launch site and an airport. SpaceShip One, the Voyager, and the EZ-Rocket first flew there. There's plenty of room over the desert in case things go wrong.

"You want to test a rocket engine? This is a place where you can do that." - Mojave Air and Space Port Board of Directors

Comment Oh, not again. (Score 3, Informative) 401

Again, someone ran into the halting problem and thought they could say something profound about it. Worse, they got tangled up with "free will", which is theology, not physics or compute science.

A deterministic machine with finite memory must either repeat a state or halt. The halting problem applies only to infinite-memory machines. A halting problem for a finite program can be made very hard, even arbitrarily hard, but not infinitely hard.

As a practical matter, there's a widely used program that tries to solve the halting problem by formal means - the Microsoft Static Driver Verifier. Every signed driver for Windows 7 and later has been through that verifier, which attempts to formally prove that the driver will not infinitely loop, break the system memory model with a bad pointer, or incorrectly call a driver-level API. In other words, it is trying to prove that the driver won't screw up the rest of the OS kernel. This is a real proof of correctness system in widespread use.

The verifier reports Pass, Fail, or Inconclusive. Inconclusive is reported if the verifier runs out of time or memory space. That's usually an indication that the driver's logic is a mess. If you're getting close to undecidability in a device driver, it's not a good thing.

Comment Re:And no one at experian will ever be charged. (Score 1) 390

Ah, but they do own it. See, when you signed that loan agreement, or contracted for utilities, or had that background check for that job, you signed an agreement that your Social Security Number could be given to a "third party" for the fulfillment of the credit or background check, and that the third party could then use it according to its own policies. Those policies you never saw but agreed to anyway likely remove all restriction on what can be done with your SSN.

Yes, but that same agreement stated I sign away rights to your daughter as well ;}
In both cases, I can't sign away rights to things I personally do not own. That covers both my SSN as well as your daughter.

SSN's belong solely to the social security administration, and do not belong to the person the number is issued for. It says as much on the back of my SSN card.

If I do somehow have the right to sign away things I don't own, then under the same argument, why is it not legal to sign away your daughter to my friend?

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