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Comment Current value of Bitcoin (Score 4, Insightful) 275

I'd strongly recommend that they start selling enough now to pay off their hardware and debts in the first couple of months. Maybe gamble on keeping half the take for future appreciation, but if they're mining it this fast they ought to nail down their initial stake quickly in case the Bitcoin ecosystem colllapses.

Comment US Science has been Military-Dominated for Decades (Score 1) 279

Sure, the Feds also put a good bit of money into medicine and basic research and even social sciences, but the largest driver of US scientific research and development over the last five or more decades has been the military, either directly or indirectly (e.g. research into computers not only drives military use of computers, aircraft builders (for the military) and NASA (for the missile programs) funded a lot of computer and mathematical research.) We've gotten some useful spinoffs from it (like the internet and GPS and Tang freezedried orange juice), but it's taken a lot of scientists away from doing medical research, energy efficiency, or other things that should have been higher social priorities. Some of that airplane development has been dual-use, since a 747 to haul passengers is a lot like a military cargo plane or an older slower bomber, but a lot of it has diverted people and money that could have been making the world a better place into the military.

Comment Re:Tax revenue increased from $600B to $1T (Score 1) 279

Bush 2 didn't "keep tax cuts in place" - he significantly cut taxes on the richest 20%, and the Congressional Republicans have made keeping those cuts in place one of their highest priorities even under Obama and the 2008 supermajority. That means that when the debts Bush ran up come due, the middle class will have a much larger share of the spending than they would have had.

Comment Re:Social Security is Going to Gobble Everything (Score 1) 279

(As a Baby Boomer myself, I'll preface this with the obligatory "Fuck you, get off my lawn, my generation spent our lives paying taxes for our parents' generation's Social Security and more taxes paying for their wars". Now that that's over with, I've got a more serious point to make.)

There's a significant demographic change between the Boomers' Parents' Generation, who generally had 4 kids, and the Boomers and later generations who've mostly had 2 or fewer, which means that the population's getting a lot older on average, and as the boomers retire (which they're starting to), there'll be a lot more retired non-working people than workers, even after the levels of immigration that are politically likely in the US, Japan, and Europe. That doesn't just affect Social Security and Medicare:

  • - Pensions, for those of us who had that kind of job, are paid for by some combination of profits invested by the companies we worked for. There's less profit being made by fewer workers.
  • - Stocks and bonds owned by retired people (or their pension funds) - fewer workers per investor, so they'll be making less profit on investment capital.
  • - Interest on savings - fewer workers paying mortgages or loans per dollar of savings, so interest rates will be lower.
  • - other effects like that.

Some of that will be balanced by Boomers not being able to afford to retire, or retiring later. But have no fear, the Democrats say that the Social Security Trust Fund will have plenty of money until 2036, when the middle of the Boomers turn 80, too old to go back to work at Walmart, as long as the government is fiscally responsible from now until then.

Another big problem with medical care is that the Boomer generation had a lot of doctors, who are starting to retire, and at least in the US, medical schools haven't had the capacity to crank out enough graduates to replace them. (Should have been one of Obama's first priorities, since it's a really-long-lead-time change to build up medical school capacities.) And the improving economies in India and China mean that while they are starting to train more doctors, they're also starting to be able to afford to hire them in-country for people who haven't had real medical care before, instead of having them all come here to make money.

So yeah, dude, we're all doomed.

Comment IP address AND the power switch (Score 1) 114

You've got to set an IP address somehow. Typing a MAC address into your DHCP server isn't a cool way to do it, and you need an address that you know from the outside, not just an address the device can use to talk to servers it already knows about.

The equipment I've been using recently added a front-panel LCD/pushbutton mechanism that lets you set the IP address; previous versions of the hardware required you to either log in with an RS232 console that got a shell prompt or else use a VGA monitor and keyboard (and stupidly, the default on some versions of it required you to use the VGA/keyboard to tell the device to use the serial console.)

And while almost all the rest of the administration gets done using a web GUI, the system (which ran a custom Linux) didn't have an X server, so you typically needed to bring a VGA monitor and keyboard AND a laptop; the current versions let you do a bit more from CLI, so that's slightly less annoying.

But if you want to reimage the box (which you have to do for major version upgrades), ALMOST all of the steps can be done via the serial console. Except for the one step in the middle, where the box remembers its IP address settings but forgets that you were using a serial console instead of VGA, so you still need to have a technician onsite with a VGA, instead of being able to use a modem.

Comment "Out of Print" may still be in electronic form (Score 1) 77

Lots of books are out of print that were printed since the publishing industry went to digital production systems. That fiction book that's more than a year old and wasn't selling well? It's not coming out on dead trees again, but they've got it in Word. Older books may be in older formats, but even if they're proprietary formats, extracting the text (for books without pictures) isn't that hard.

It's a problem with publishing rights and contracts and publishers' predictions about profitability.

And even with books that require scanning, Dover Books did surprisingly good business for years selling fuzzy images of out-of-copyright books; these days it wouldn't be too hard to OCR and reimage most of them, but alternatively bits are cheap enough these days that they could be available in image formats instead of OCR.

Comment Harald Bluetooth, he dead (Score 1) 452

Bluetooth is dead - Netcraft\\\\\\\
I've seen his tomb - he's buried in Roskilde Cathedral. It's about 30km west of Copenhagen, but you can get there with the Copenhagen city transit pass, and don't need to burn a trip on your railpass. Good museum of Viking ships there, which they'd found sunk in the harbor.

Comment My cats know when I'm up to something. (Score 2) 62

Sure, they're nowhere near as smart as elephants, but my cats generally know when I'm up to something, whether that's something that could be used to talk me into giving them treats, or something that might get them locked up into the bathroom and maybe shoved in a box and taken to the vet. One of my cats is better at figuring out treats, and usually pretty dumb about being herded somewhere, while the other one's better at figuring out potential bad stuff, but most cats have at least some clue.

Comment Snowden revealed metadata about NSA (Score 1) 116

Metadata about you is unimportant and can be obtained by an NSA/FBI/DEA/police/dog-catcher letter saying "please".

Metadata about the NSA is CLASSIFIED NATIONAL SECURITY NOFORN BURN-BEFORE-READING SOURCES AND METHODS that COULD TELL TERRORISTS HOW TO KILL YOUR MAMA and needs to be protected from anybody untrusted, like you, or journalists, or the American public, or the Congresscritters that set their budget.

It's really not that hard, citizen!

Comment Blog cred, and easier than Arduino (Score 2) 70

RPi already comes with an ethernet port on it, and you don't have to bitbang USB like you would for the standard Arduinos (though there are libraries like V-USB that'll do that for you), and the CPU's a lot faster so you don't have to optimize crypto libraries yourself.) And you can easily attach a keyboard to it for inputting passphrases instead of using the PC, which is critical for doing the security right.

This is an application where you don't need a lot of speed - if it takes a second to cough up a password, that's fine, so you don't need a $3 hardware crypto chip to go with the $1 ARM CPU, though of course you certainly could make a much cheaper piece of ARM hardware if you wanted.

Comment Words are MUCH less secure than random chars (Score 2) 70

English words average between 1-2 bits per character. 10 random characters may be good for 80 bits if you can really use 2^8 values, or maybe 65 bits if you're only choosing randomly over 92 values per character, but if you choose actual words for your password, it's a lot less. The OED has about 200K words (~18 bits), so you get maybe 20-24 bits depending on word endings, l33t-spellings, capitalization variants, combinations of short words, etc.

128 bits is theoretically sort of secure today, as long as it's used in ways that aren't susceptible to birthday attacks (probably not an issue here), and as long as there's enough real entropy used to generate those bits. Even that's a realistic problem here - are you going to remember a passphrase that has 8-10 random words from the OED? Or are you going to have to keep them written on a yellow sticky note in your office, or dogear the pages in your dictionary that have words highlighted in 7 different colors so you know what order they're in?

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