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Comment See why China needs censorship? (Score 1) 141

For any doubters among you, this is why China really needs the untiring services of its patriotic censors.

With one message an unauthorised non-party member held up the entirety of the Chinese scientific leadership to ridicule! One can only suspect that his motives are thoroughly un-patriottic, aimed at fomenting dissent, perhaps even sedition, unrest, and a dispute of the Mandate of Heaven currently held by the Communist Party.

We must support China's censors and help them to monitor private communications more closely. Slip-throughs like this must be avoided!

Comment What I miss here ... (Score 0) 63

What I miss in this thread is are excited posts from Angry White Men or Libertarians telling us that this is Yet Another Example of "Da Gubbamint" stifling private anterprise and a ploy to promote Big Government.

What happend to those good folks?

Busy? Distracted? Overslept? Tired? Despirited? Think they're all right? Should we worry?

Comment Really? (Score 1) 541

And there was me thinking that Systemd enjoyed acceptance among many distro maintainers and end-users (me for example).

I'm not a kernel programmer and I don't particularly care about whether functionality is spread across binaries or integrated. I want it to "just work" on my desktop and server machine with minimum fuss. I have more than enough to do when the underlying system "just works" without being bogged down by sysadmin details. Ok?

Plus I'm persuaded by the automatic filesystem cleanup this wrapper does for USB sticks, which I happen to use on a regular basis.

As a matter of fact, I think that each and every commenter who howls about systemd being the work of the devil should sit a (modest) examination in kernel programming and a basic one in system administration. Those who fail to obtain at least 70% marks should have all their slashdot posts and comments on the subject wiped.

Call it a professional deformation: in my workplace I (and most of my colleagues) like to shut up people who don't know what the hick they're talking about. Our time is too precious to allow it to be wasted in that way. We're truly authoritarian and fascist in that respect, and we've obtained excellent results with, and broad support for, that policy for over 15 years.

Comment Goto: Knuth (Score 1) 674

@jomegat

I agree. Just look at Donald Knuth's algorithms and see how "while structured" they are. Well ... they aren't.

I thoroughly understand the need to keep vast wodges of code structured, modular, and (if possible) even while-structured. But when it comes to the core algorithms (numerical or non-numerical) buried deep in library routines, CSC dogmatism should (and usually does) go out of the window.

Comment It's not just the fact checking (Score 1) 330

The problem with news outlets isn't just the fact-checking. Although I agree with you it's important. I'd be willing to pay for stories carrying the label: "this story has been fact-checked and all reported statements either check out as true or have been marked as unconfirmed". Unfortunately It's also the selection and filtering of news.

Compare for example the stories on Fox news with those CNN for a day. I do that once in a while and I get the distinct impression they're reporting on different worlds.

Fox News for example reports everything that might possible be used to call global warming into question (and omits everything that supports it), and goes on and on and on about Mrs. Clinton's emails. And stubbornly try to pin blame on her for the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi. They've put it firmly into their minds that it's their job to spin those affairs out, keep them alive (at least until the elections), and milk them for all they're worth. Fact-checking Mrs. Clinton seems to be limited to one main subject: emails. Fox News commenting on Mrs. Clinton seems to focus on emails. Did I mention that Fox News seems to be particularly interested in her emails?

When it comes to Mr. Trump, Fox News steadfastily refuses to fact-check or to criticise him (well ... I can understand that: look what he did to Megyn Kelly and how he boycotted Fox News). No critical comment on Mr. Trump's allegations that Mrs. Clinton "plans to abolish the second amendment". No comment on his claims of seeing "secret footage" of cash-for-prisoners deals. No comment on his allegations that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton "founded ISIS". Even less (if possible) critical review of Mr. Trump's allegations that Mr. Obama is a "weak president" as far as ISIS is concerned. No comment on his mean-spirited dissing of the Khan's. No comment on his brinkmanship-like ramblings about leaving Nato (great move now that Russia is re-emerging as an aggressive power and EU countries are getting worried) and leaving Japan to fend for itself.

Then CNN. Lots of different topics being covered every day. But each time Mr. Trump ventilates some blatant, glaring untruth or a snide insinuation it's reported on CNN. Is that bias? Could be. It would be mine if I had to report. Does Mrs. Clinton come off scot-free? I shouldn't think so. The development of her email story is duly reported.

As a matter of fact, continued exposure to Fox News can be harmful to one's mental health. See e.g. http://www.thebrainwashingofmy... .

For a victim in an advanced state of over-exposure, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

Comment One or two suggestions ... (Score 1) 426

@Peragrin

Perhaps one or two suggestions might be useful:

Use https://startpage.com/ instead of Google. They say (and as far as I'm aware truthfully) that they don't store your search history and don't sell what your IP address searched for.

Install an ad-blocker (search for it). Any ad-blocker is better than none at all.

Use NoScript (just search for it) in your browser. Reason: most websites log what you searched for on their site, link that to your IP address, datamine and sell the results. Nothing you can do about that, but websites can run scripts in your browser that make the process easier for them and more intrusive. This way a site has to obtain your permission to run a script. There is a nuisance factor for yourself too because some sites won't display content without running scripts. Then you can decide on a case by case basis if you want to allow it.

Nothing's perfect, but even a leaky umbrella is better than none at all.

Comment The takeway of all this ... (Score 1) 242

The takeway is simple.

If you're going to join a protest demonstration, make sure you've shaved, shine your shoes, comb your hair, cover up your more offensive tattoos, wear presentable clothes (if at all possible wear a tie). Comport yourself with quiet dignity throughout the demonstration. Also make sure any slogans you hold are correctly spelled.

It could swing the jury your way at trial years later when the footage is produced in court as part of examination of your character.

Comment As long as it's optional ... (Score 1) 119

As long as it's optional, not in the way, and impossible to activate by accident I don't have a particular problem with it.

Personally I think it's a terrible idea. What's shown when I enter an URL should be between whoever designed the website and me. If a site is down, or a page is missing, I want to know about it.

The last thing I need is a bunch of programmers dreaming up ways to divert me from the real website to whatever is their idea of what I should be seeing. A typical example of a group of coders not knowing what to do with their time and messing with the basic functionality of their application, if you ask me.

So: great to see that you're having fun Mozilla programmers, but make sure to implement this an an optional feature and keep it out of my way unless I explicitly activate it. Otherwise I'll be looking for a new browser. Fair warning.

Comment Growing pains of a new technology (Score 3, Interesting) 117

I'm happy to hear that yet another piece of "alternative", "stick-it-to-The-Man" payment infrastructure has been burgled. Really.

It injects a much needed note of caution and realism into the dream of technologically focused, realism-challenged (and therefore irresponsible) amateur social engineers.

You see, a large part of the appeal of bitcoin comes from its aura of "under the radar", "the authorities need never find out" financial transactions.

This holds an attraction for several groups, of which two are problematic: outright criminals and their "lets-dodge-the-system" libertarian cousins.

I believe that outright criminals like the possibility of doing financial transactions without giving out your real name. Think "dark net" transactions involving in cybercrime services, malware, botnet control, stolen data, stolen credentials, drugs, weapons, etc. Think suppliers in "Silk Road" transactions.

I think that "lets-dodge-the-system" libertarians, who often figure as end-users of illegal goods and services are attracted to the possibility of doing "under the radar" financial transactions for the same reason: their real name can be kept undisclosed. In part they're happy to purchase illegal goods, in part they're ideologically motivated (as in "we need to grow alternative economy that's outside "government" or "system" control because all government is bad and "the system" is designed to screw us over").

For the first group (criminals) I believe it serves as a useful deterrent, or at least a risk and a complication.

For the second group it serves as a salutary reminder that their fellow citizens are at least as reprehensible as "the government" and just as capable of screwing them over as any "institution". After all, the institutions we have have evolved over several centuries, if not millennia, to strike a balance between freedom, safeguards, responsibility, accountability and free-for-all banditry. Something that starry-eyed, technology fixated "bash-the-system" enthusiasts will only appreciate if hammered home by personal or close-to-personal experience.

Where and how new technologies like bitcoin should fit into our society remains to be seen (and experimentally determined). However, our existing institutions have very real merits and safeguards that have evolved because of human nature itself. Such safeguards (which we all too often take for granted) are lacking from new technological developments and are just as important as the basic functionality. A reminder of which can only be positive.

Comment Somebody didn't read the reference material ... (Score 1) 285

@Anonymous Coward

I know this is Slashdot, where actually reading background articles can get you disqualified.

However, it so happens that even a cursory glance at the articles you linked to show that, although there is reason for concern, your claim is heavy on hyperbole and light on justification.

If researchers use patched versions of their statistical packages, and don't fall prey to the error described in the Scientific American article you linked to, their results should be Ok.

Researcher can usually improve the validity of their results by consulting with a proper statistician before they rush off to publish, but that holds in many more areas of science.

Comment What's the problem? (Score 1) 195

Am I supposed to be shocked? Those terms don't strike me as particularly unreasonable.

I mean ... raising children is a chore and costs a lot of money. Think of it as free board and tuition for the first brat so that you can safely experiment a little on the first and get it right with the second and the third. I call that a public service!

In addition ... the NSA has all my data already and just in case ... why would I want object to them collecting more on me? That would be un-patriottic, no?

In addition I'm not doing anything on the site that would upset my employer.

So err ... where's the problem? I find the honesty of the TOS rather refreshing actually.

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