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Comment Re:Morons (Score 3, Interesting) 233

If the increase in sales to people who would have pirated the game is greater than the number of people who give up because it's too hard to use then they will indeed make them some money. Given the 90%+ piracy rates these sorts of games see, they'd need to lose a hell of a lot of users to bad DRM if it's actually effective at stopping piracy. That said, last I saw this DRM was already broken by somebody building a server emulator. It seems there wasn't any kind of crypto on the challenge/response protocol, which is a rather bizarre mistake to make.

Comment Re:Who is this guy? (Score 3, Informative) 182

Joel Spolski is a guy who runs a software company, and he used to be a program manager on Excel. However that's not why people give a shit about what he thinks. People read (past tense) his articles because they were pretty good, and explained stuff lots of people in the software business need to know but often don't. For instance if somebody doesn't understand Unicode, I often point them to his article explaining it .... because he did a pretty good job.

The real question is, who is Marc Garcia and why does the article submitter think we should care? In fairness, he says the "updated list" is just his personal opinion rather than something generally applicable, which is good because pretty much every software company I know would fail at least one or two of the points on there, including Google.

Comment Re:Our advise is to place your funds somewhere saf (Score 5, Interesting) 467

Yes, this is total crap. Just more evidence that the banking system is more corrupt than anyone ever imagined. I mean Visa and MasterCard were content to deal with the Canadian Pharmacy operation for a DECADE and now suddenly the financial institutions are ganging up on WikiLeaks of all things?

Remember guys. If you want to do something about this, your best bet is to support BitCoin, a peer to peer currency with a small but rapidly growing economy. A BitCoin is worth roughly 25 cents on the exchanges. The production BitCoin network needs your CPU or GPU time to grow stronger, so mosey on over and grab the distribution. It's MIT/X11 licensed.

Comment Re:Bradley Manning (Score 5, Insightful) 312

Does anyone in the USA actually believe the constitution has power anymore? I mean, I regularly see Americans argue from the position of "You can't do that, it's unconstitutional" yet the right to not be imprisoned without charges and a trial is the only right that is included in the original text, sans amendments.

If Manning ends up in a Guantanamo type limbo nobody will be surprised. Very sad. Especially given how unreliable a witness Lamo is. If Lamo is the only thing they have on Manning then a good defence lawyer could make great progress with his case.

Comment Re:Doomed (Score 1) 987

That's just one of 1000's of items that were released that are not crimes, are not important for the American people to know

Not important for the American people ... but what about everyone else? BTW CNN found that slightly less than half of all Brits think the rape thing is a holding charge whilst the US secretly indicts Assange ....

Comment Mass Effect (Score 2) 283

The first Mass Effect was the business, story wise. Deeply thought out, self consistent world, interesting characters, a shadowy nemesis and a basically solid beginning, middle and end. Everything Hollywood needs to make a great movie.

But Mass Effect 2, though technically speaking a better game, definitely fared worse on the plot. The plot in ME2 suffered heavily from being wrapped around a fairly trivial design doc and didn't really have any beginning as such. Basically: hero dies, is rescued by an enigmatic terrorist leader with access to incredible resources, who tells him to recruit the most badass characters in the galaxy to fight an alien menace. 90% of the game involves this "recruitment". It's a race against the clock but nobody demonstrates any sense of urgency at all. There's never a "well, he'll do, let's get going!" to be heard. Once you have some arbitrary number of characters you jump through a wormhole, fight some baddies and blow up a space station. Fin.

There's some other stuff in there that advances the plot of the trilogy as a whole, but it's pretty weak.

Basically, if the author of TFA is hoping that Mass Effect will become a successful video game/movie crossover franchise, he'd better hope they only try and do it to the first game.

Comment Re:Bitwhat? (Score 3, Informative) 565

BitCoin is a little complicated to understand the internals of. See the discussion of it further up the thread for what it's doing and why it needs to burn so much CPU time. The thing to understand is that BitCoin eliminates the need for banks to mediate currency transactions on the internet (or at all), and it does so by forming a public, never ending story of money flows in the economy. That story (called the block chain) is extended by having public nodes perform large computations, the fact that coins are generated as a side effect of this process is basically a reward for donating CPU time to the system.

Comment Re:Electronic currency (Score 1) 565

That's not quite correct. The proof of work must continue for as long as BitCoins is in use. There is another proof of work that's used for "mining" coins and eventually that will stop, but for transactions to take place securely there must be lots of CPU power being burned - enough combined power to prevent a big botnet herder taking over the network.

Comment Re:Electronic currency (Score 3, Interesting) 565

BitCoin is conceptually simple to use, not much different to what we do today. The headache inducing part is the implementation :-)

But if you want to spend some BitCoins it's actually not that hard. You just fire up the software, select who you want to send coins to (eg from the programs built in address book), how much you want to send and hit go. If the receivers P2P node is online at the time you can also include a message. If it's not, you can still send the money but without a message.

And that's it. That's all it takes. Receiving coins is likewise easy - you just fire up the software, let it synchronize with the network and now you have the coins that were sent to you.

There is one (big) catch. By the very definition of what BitCoin is, all transactions are public. It seems the latest versions attempt to obfuscate the size of the transactions, and there is a discussion in the linked page of how to go further - but nonetheless, the fact that an address you control transacted with somebody is a matter of public record. This is very different to today, where financial transactions are assumed to be secret unless otherwise published.

Ripple is much harder to understand and that's why I doubt it'll ever go anywhere. It's an excellent intellectual exercise but in a series of debates with Ryan I had back in 2008 (?) he admitted that a lot of the justifications for Ripple were post-hoc, and the fractional reserve did not have many of the flaws often cited.

Comment Re:Electronic currency (Score 5, Interesting) 565

You are thinking of a project called "Ripple" by Ryan Fugger. It is another P2P currency system, except not quite the same as BitCoin. I looked into some of these alternative currency systems some time back - they tend to be academically interesting but have weak justifications.

BitCoin is a variant of a system called HashCash. The basic insight behind hash based coins are that they are portable proofs of work, and thus easily checkable as being scarce. Any attempt to create electronic coins needs scarcity so that's a useful property.

Briefly, to create a hash coin you find some data that when run through SHA1 or whatever results in a hash with some easily checkable property. BitCoin uses "N leading digits are all zeros" where N varies over time. The nice thing about this is that the only way to find this data is brute force, so finding them represents real "work" in the sense of burned electricity and CPU time costs. It might seem arbitrary but it's really no less stupid than digging shiny metal out of the ground then putting it in a central bank.

Hash coins are not, by themselves, enough to create an electronic currency. They distribute and decentralize the minting process, but obviously to "spend" such a coin you need to transfer it in such a way that you lose it and the other person now has it. Some systems use a centralized registry to do this. I forget the name but one researcher was using a trusted computing/TPM style approach to that, so the registry could prove its trustworthyness to the participants remotely.

BitCoin attempts to decentralize the movement of coins as well via some clever cryptographic tricks. Essentially, to transfer a coin from A to B, the transaction is broadcast and incorporated into a constantly moving proof of work chain. The chain becomes a difficult to forge or tamper with public record of all transactions that have occurred.

So BitCoin can be seen as fundamentally the same idea as metal coins, but transferred into the digital realm and entirely decentralized - no banks required.

Ripple is a very different beast. Ripple networks are also P2P and decentralized but that's where the similarities end. In Ripple, if I do work for you, say I mow your lawn, the fact that you owe me a debt is marked in our Ripple accounts ... and that's it. Now let's say I go to the grocery store and want to buy some food. My debt to the grocery store is recorded in our accounts. I can run up as much debt to the grocery store as they will allow. Finally, the owner of the grocery store goes to your shop and gets a haircut. The owner of the store now has a debt marked to you.

We now have a debt cycle .... you owe me, I owe the grocer and the grocer owes you. Ripple seeks out and destroys this circular debt, thus resetting the system to zero. In a Ripple network, the ideal state of an account is empty: you owe nothing and nobody owes you. The system attempts to trend towards that state.

If Ryan were to read this description he would undoubtably say it was inaccurate, as Ripples design is much more focussed on finding paths of debt.... for instance, if I don't know you why should I merely accept that you owe me $50 for mowing your lawn, when I might not ever get that back? So Ripple attempts to find social connections between people and locate a path of credit lines that can make the transaction possible, eg, maybe you know Bob and I also know Bob, Bob trusts you and I trust Bob thus Bob is willing to automatically back your debt.

Comment Re:Google security... (Score 1) 410

As noted by the AC, that's not quite correct. Many Google services have their own cookies. Stealing one of them isn't necessarily enough to access the other services. For instance stealing a cookie that wasn't over HTTPS won't let you change your Google password, not will it let you access Gmail. So not quite as bad as it seems.

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