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Comment More of a desk reference than a novel... (Score 1) 262

As many above have pointed out, there is little reason to read the entire series "like a novel" from cover to cover, in addition to the fact that yeah, it would take a while to WORK through it like a textbook as opposed to read through it quickly to see what is there. And yeah, there are better books now in profusion on many of the topics covered, although AFAIK there is no book or book series that is as encyclopedic on the subjects he covers.

However, many people will find some of the sections very useful. I personally found "Seminumerical Algorithms" useful indeed when learning about random number generators and testing random number generators. It isn't the last word, and it certainly isn't the latest word as we move into a 64 bit world and beyond, but it is an excellent starting point. In other parts of the series there are other gems or nuggets well worth studying or reading, even if you move on to actual research papers or better books afterwards.

To sum up, it is a useful thing to own if you are doing a lot of very widely spread code development and need to acquire literacy quickly in subjects it covers, even if you are going to end up looking for an O'Reilly text on some of those subjects to get a more modern perspective. Those OR books are probably going to reference, rewrite, and augment Knuth.

Note well that I'm an Old Guy (tm) and actually did write a lot of code in Fortran once in the long ago before abandoning it for C and Unix and beyond. TAOCP was one of the ONLY really good encyclopedic references for people who were NOT CPS majors and who needed to learn about algorithms of one sort or another or some aspect of coding covered in one of the many CPS courses they never took. They (I) didn't need a course with the best textbook of the day -- we needed to get started. Once started, we knew how to learn and go beyond the start. 1.5 cubic feet of shelf space wasn't too high a price to be able to learn something about everything or anything to get started.

Comment IQ and attention to detail are different things. (Score 1) 123

"How hard is to remember to unload your weapon before packing it?" I guess there's no I.Q. check for firearms purchases, maybe there should be.

IQ and attention to detail are different things.

Also: Even the best-trained, most reliable, gun user can have a lapse when in a hurry, as in when packing for a flight.

That's why firearms training stresses redundancy, with rules like "A gun is loaded as soon as you put it down and look away". Or "Don't point (even an "unloaded") gun at anything you don't want to destroy."

The phenomenon is referred to as "a visit from the Ammo Fairy". That entity is similar to the Tooth Fairy, but instead of leaving a coin under you pillow it leaves a round in your chamber. B-)

Comment I have read much of it, as I would an encyclopedia (Score 2) 262

My wife and I each had a copy of the first three volumes when we married. Yes, there are female computer nerds. B-)

I first encountered it when assigned one of the volumes as a text back in 1971. Of course the class didn't consist of learning EVERYTHING in the volume. B-)

I use it from time to time - mainly as a reference book. Most recently this spring, when I needed a reference on a data structure (circular linked lists) for a paper. I've found it useful often when doing professional computer programming and hardware design (for instance, where the hardware has to support some software algorithm efficiently, or efficient algorithms in driver software allow hardware simplification).

I don't try to read it straight through. But when I need a algorithm for some job and it's not immediately obvious which is best, the first place I check is Knuth. He usually has a clear description of some darned good wheel that was already invented decades ago, analyzed to a fare-thee-well.

I only see him about once a year. He's still a sharp cookie.

Comment They let the ban on propagandizing citizens expire (Score 4, Informative) 279

Three and a half years ago the US government, under the Obama administration, let the ban on propagandizing US citizens expire - and immediately began writing and spreading "fake news".

From an FP article dated July 14, 2013:

U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans

For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. governmentâ(TM)s mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts.

So the only thing new here is US citizens noticed one of the government's renewed, official, domestic propaganda operations.

Comment Re:Security is an illusion (Score 1) 153

There's just too much volume to track all the content everywhere.

There are 350 million people in the USA, more or less. Including kids not of age to use computers. One computer, just one, operates at billions of instructions per second (when the code is written in anything efficient, like c.) The NSA has a newish huge data center located on the main trunks.

You do the math. If you still think they can't sieve that amount of data effectively, why then, good on you for your optimism. :)

Comment Re:Trump Derangement Syndrome (Score 1) 567

Trump is assumed by some to have won based on (anticipated) EC votes. However, three facts:

1 - The EC hasn't voted yet.

2 - The EC does not have to vote for Trump.

3 - Clinton got (a lot) more votes from, you know, the people.

Trump may well end up to be president. But he isn't the president yet; he isn't even the president-elect yet.

Comment FTC, not FCC, is the correct agency. (Score 2) 191

Most of the harm from ISP misbehavior is the manifestation of one of two perverse-incentive situations:
  - integration of an ISP into a content-provider megacorp, leading to penalization of competitors or other perceived threats to the larger content-providing component.
  - an under-competitive market situation (monopoly, duopoly, other under-four-competitors) situation, allowing ISPs to provide less than they promised or less than what is expected of "internet service" without a "vote with their feet" option for customers.

Both of these are not internet-technology issues and both are things the FCC handles poorly, and which are outside its mandate. They're better handled by such agencies as the FTC and DOJ, under antitrust and consumer fraud models, than by the FCC.

With respect to the content-provider/ISP vertical integration issue: Trump has already come out opposing the ATT/ Time-Warner merger. Additionally, the mainstream media's pile-on against his campaign has left him with no love for the "content providers". I'd be willing to bet that he'd be all for antitrust action to split up the other ISP ("content transport") / news reporting ("content generation") partnerships under the rubric of "breaking up anticompetitive vertical integration". B-)

Comment Re:Well then... (Score 1) 586

Why didn't they start this years ago when Obama extended and expanded the Patriot Act?

Probably because:
  - Servers in the US have First Amendment protection
  - Servers in other countries have whatever protection - or restrictions - the other countries have.

In particular:
  - Moving certain data (such as encryption software) from the US to other countries may violate US export laws. (Backing up a server in the US to a server outside the US is more clearly an export than serving in the US something that was downloaded in the US.)
  - Storing certain data - such as personal information, NAZI propaganda, or criticism of various governments - may be illegal in various countries.

So setting up a backup in some other country was probably perceived as more risk than leaving the data solely in the US under Obama, while the perceived risk to the data under Trump may be enough to move the volunteers to take on the extra trouble .

(If Brewster hasn't commented on this by then, I'll try to remember to ask him the next time I see him. But that's probably most of a year away...)

Comment Warrants not required (Score 1) 153

They are not allowed to hack my computer even IF THEY HAVE A WARRANT, because no warrant can be granted for a computer on foreign soil.

I think what our courts would (eventually) say is that the constitution doesn't protect anyone, or anything, outside of the USA itself, and so no warrant is required in the first place.

That's pretty much the entire basis our CIA was built upon.

I'm not saying this is a good outlook; but I am saying it is the outlook.

Comment Security is an illusion (Score 1) 153

I have canceled more things than I've submitted for that exact reason.

They could have read it right off your keyboard anyway. By far the easiest place to monitor communications is at the unencrypted endpoints. If you don't want anyone to know what you're thinking, don't say it, don't enter it into a computer in any form, and don't write it down. That'll protect you. For at least a little while longer, anyway.

"Two people can keep a secret -- if one of them is dead."

Comment Then again, there are the facts (Score 1) 226

The Inquisition killed about 3,000 people over the course of 350 years.

"The inquisition" comprises a combined series of undertakings beginning with Pope Lucius III's instigation in 1184 CE and terminating in 1834 CE - a span of about 650 years. The Spanish Inquisition was one chapter of this, but by no means can be reasonably considered an isolated or peak event.

Perhaps you'll find this of interest.

Historically speaking, Christianity, between the inquisitions, the crusades, the pograms, blood libel, and just general oppression of various and sundry kinds, has a great deal of theism-based violence to answer for.

Comment Re:Congress has passed a law... (Score 1) 154

If the Republicans want to rubber stamp a clown cabinet, so be it. Should be a fun four years.

Cabinet is just some of the President's direct reports. No big deal. He can just wait until the next Senate recess and make recess appointments. Meanwhile, he can talk to anybody he wants WITHOUT a confirmation, and if congress leaves open a cabinet post with special powers, he can just wield them directly, himself, until it's filled. That means he can either rubber-stamp the UNofficial advisor's advice, or substitute his own decisions. That's more power for him than even having the Senate confirm a puppet (who might turn out to be Pinnochio and go his own way on something).

What IS a big deal is appointment of federal judges, federal appellate judges, and Supreme Court justices. The Ds applied the "nuclear option" to the first two, so expect the Rs to follow suit - and extend it to the third if the Ds get in the way.

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