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Comment Re:Remind me why this is needed? (Score 2) 550

I think you are missing his point here.

A critical element for any just set of laws is that the people who are subject to them get fair warning of what those laws are. When the law grows so enormous that even the law makers and the law arguers cannot possibly know and understand them all, it is no longer a system of justice and demands reform.

Comment Re:Futility of certain laws (Score 1) 550

"The only rational explanation is that they don't exist. It's pure fiction"

Eh, not *pure* fiction.

But Al Qaeda certainly appear to have "shot their load" and exhausted their capabilities to carry out sophisticated long range attacks in 2001 and done virtually nothing concrete since. Instead you have the rise of local "affiliates" focused on local issues. The groups in Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Mali come to mind specifically. All are formidable in their own territory, but none seem likely to have the capability or even the will to pull off sophisticated attacks very far outside their own homelands.

But the more worrisome aspect is to what a large degree they appear to be the creation of US policy that supposedly is aimed at improving, not eroding, our security. It's been understood for years that the drone strikes in Yemen are the major recruitment tool for AQ there, yet the strikes continue relentlessly.

Comment Re:Might actually be the case (Score 1) 372

Chess is of course a slightly different situation.

The chess algorithm cannot literally be 'smarter' than the people that wrote it (they are perfectly capable of doing the same thing it does) but a computer can still execute that algorithm faster - it can do calculations that would take the human days to accomplish in seconds. In time to actually use those calculations to choose a move.

Similarly, a compiler can produce reasonably optimised output MUCH faster than a human programmer. Never denied it.

Comment Re:Might actually be the case (Score 3, Insightful) 372

"The compilers, for the most part, are smarter than people at optimizing code."

No, they emphatically are not. No computer algorithm is any smarter than the people that wrote it (in fact it's always going to be dumber.) If the compiler is better than YOU are at optimizing code, that may well be true and understandable - presumably optimising assembler is not your specialty, after all.

But a competent assembler specialist (someone in the same league, skillwise, with the guys that write the compiler) will beat the hell out of any compiler ever made. There just is no question. He knows every technique the compiler knows, but he is better equipped to know when and where to use them.

Compilers serve many valid purposes. They allow less skilled programmers to still produce a usable product. They allow more skilled programmers to produce a usable product more quickly. They facilitate portability. Plenty of good reasons for them to exist and be used. But beating a competent human at optimisation tasks is not one of them.

"Java has the added advantage that it uses Just-In-Time compiling, so there's a lot of cases where Java, or .Net or any other language that uses an intermediate byte-code and actually outperform C."

I know a lot of people think this, but it's nonsense, as a moments reflection should make clear.

I have no doubt that a poor coder might find JIT improves the performance of his code, but that really doesnt justify the assertion. You would need to show that JIT can actually beat a well written C program, and it wont. It cannot. Absolute worst case, if he has to, the C coder could simply implement a VM and JIT in his program and achieve the same results - and that is a tie. C cannot possibly lose that comparison, the worst it could possibly do is tie.

Comment Re:Assembly == SLOW ; JAVA == FAST! (Score 1) 372

"Yeah, outside a few rather narrow cases, modern CPUs have just gotten too complicated to write efficient assembly for."

You say this as if there were some other way. But when you code in a higher level language, the compiler mechanically translates what you wrote into assembly before handing it off to the assembler to actually generate the object anyway. Compilers have certainly seen a lot of improvement but compiler generated assembler code still tends to be awful, and a good assembler programmer will always be able to beat it if given a chance.

I suspect what has really happened is simply that employers are heavily biased towards cheap and quick, and assembler isnt optimal there. And that in turn has resulted in fewer people learning assembler, making it even harder and more expensive to do things that way, sort of a vicious circle.

Comment Re:The machine says, "You're a liar!" (Score 1) 303

The machine is more of a convincer here than anything else. Yes, the investigator may well notice something on his charts that gives him a clue where to push. Other times he will do the opposite, pushing randomly to see what gives a reaction. But the greatest value of the machine is the pure intimidation factor. People in this day and age believe in machines. You tell them that machine is a 'lie detector' which will tell you when they are lying and it could just be a rock with a couple LEDs mounted it would still work on those who believe it will work. If they dont believe they can lie anymore they wont be able to, simple as that.

It's a useful tool for an interrogator and I can completely understand why they want to use them. On the other hand the potential for false positives is immense, and the whole thing is closer to voodoo than science, so it's also completely understandable that they arent admissible in court. If the feds are relying on these things for their security clearances I fear it's a bad idea for both reasons - false positives and false negatives. A well prepared liar will normally beat this and go right through - a good person who is not lying, but simply upset and stressed out by the process might well 'fail' as well.

I can see why they want to shut down people that teach others how to defend themselves against these things, but again I think it's counterproductive and misguided. Real threats, foreign agents, are going to have access to this knowledge no matter what. Why should they be given an advantage in federal hiring over good loyal american citizens?

Comment Re:And the latest- Death Panels in Oregon (Score 1) 42

"Not with the insurance system; you are never the bus driver there, you are always at the whim of the insurance industry."

You are right. Now ask the critical question, why?

Why do we have a system in this country where people cannot pay for their own health care and are at the mercy of these insurance companies?

Research back to the early 40s and you will find that, under wage controls, employers were forced to find creative ways to compete for labour. Someone came up with the idea of 'free' health insurance as an untaxed benefit, and the government went along with it. THAT is where the train went off the rails, and what we have now is the result - not of a free market of any kind, but of well-intentioned but poorly considered meddling.

Comment Re:All the other OS, too. (Score 2) 352

" I don't understand why the baseband would have to deal with anything else, and why it would be the master processor and not just a blackbox "device" that the main OS sees and communicates with, in a properly isolated fashion."

Because it is simpler/faster/easier/cheaper to simply give the baseband DMA, and once that is done any notion that the ARM chip is truly a 'master processor' is gone with the wind.

It's not, it's the games and graphics coprocessor. It does not have control of the system and could not be trusted even if every single line of code executing on it were mathematically proven.

Comment Re:hey, GCHQ employees (Score 1) 335

"Russia's KGB has done things worse then our CIA, and nobody went back and convicted those guys."

Actually quite a few KGB agents have been caught and convicted and rotted in prison. Not all, or even nearly all, no, but certainly enough to prove your statement wrong. The US has caught a number of them over the years, but even much smaller and less powerful states such as Estonia have done it too.

Sovereign immunity is some real bullshit, but it does NOT apply here. Sovereign immunity is what is cited to prevent individuals from suing the federal government in the federal court system. It does not in any way shape or form prohibit a sovereign state from charging, arresting, convicting, and punishing those who commit criminal acts on their soil. Even your link says nothing of the sort - if you had researched the case that is referring to you would have known that it involved civil suits against a successor government directly for the acts of a former regime. It may be a flawed judgement but it doesnt matter - even taking it at face value it simply doesnt apply.

We arent talking about civil suits against regimes. We are talking about criminal charges against criminal actors. If you had actually read the judgement you would have noticed e.g. paragraph 87 specifically explains that foreclosing the former does not rule out the latter:

"The Court does not consider that the United Kingdom judgment in Pinochet (No. 3) ([2000] 1 AC 147; ILR, Vol. 119, p. 136) is relevant, notwithstanding the reliance placed on that judgment by the Italian Court of Cassation in Ferrini. Pinochet concerned the immunity of a former Head of State from the criminal jurisdiction of another State, not the immunity of the State itself in proceedings designed to establish its liability to damages."

Comment Re:hey, GCHQ employees (Score 1) 335

Eh, you might find the Italians alone have convicted more than one of them.

While they have a de facto immunity based on the unwillingness of the US Government to obey any law, and the military superiority associated with a military budget no one else comes close to. Operations like that are often clearly illegal and in some cases there is even an obligation to prosecute. But in the real world it is rarely pursued because there is no practical way to enforce a judgement, and courts are well aware that pronouncing judgements they cannot enforce just tends to make them look weaker.

But any student of history would tell you this is a very dangerous course for the US Government to be taking. It's hard to see much upside to it to begin with, and the downside is really a national poison. We have already poisoned our relations with friendly nations all around the world, and it appears to be our policy to simply continue doing so. One day, and we can argue over how long, but one day inevitably we wont be the hyperpower anymore, we wont be able to get away with this, and worse yet, the other players, some of whom will be in really good positions to mess with us... they are ALL going to hate our guts.

This is just viciously poor strategy.

Comment Re:Rootkit vs. CRIT (Score 1) 103

You are right, and it's a colander instead of a nearly seaworthy boat that just needs some holes patched because of 'nimble' development practices and several decades of constantly reinventing the wheel and selling it over and over again with a little more gee-whiz each time.

If you want a secure computer you need a conservative stack, free from the ground up, with security designed in from day one, and an emphasis on mathematically correct code rather than features. Otherwise, you are trying to bail a colander.

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