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Comment Somebody sold India a LOT of hardware (Score 1) 93

India is going to find out that iris scanning suffers from all of the same issues as any other biometric scanning device. ALL of them have to turn the scan into a digital representation, which is then used to authenticate or verify identity. The weak point int he process is between the device and the computer. Since that digital representation can be copied and replicated, it is no more secure than any other identification system. It's actually less secure, because it's considered the user name AND password. Any biometric system really needs a second factor, a password, to go with it.

Comment DNA reading techniques require massive redundancy (Score 1) 42

Today's DNA reading techniques begin with PCR, a process that multiplies small amounts of DNA so that millions of copies are made. These copies are needed to be accurately read by the equipment, in order to distinguish between "good" copies and noise. Getting the results amounts to statistical analysis of the number of A, T, C, or G results read at a certain location; a "call" can be made only if a high enough percentage of the results agree.

The bit density claims are massively overstated, and reading the data would not be trivial!

Comment DNA degrades after just a few years (Score 2) 42

I work for a DNA lab. After about 10 years, DNA samples that have been sent to us are basically unusable because they degrade over time. Sure, it might be possible to still read some strands of the remaining DNA, but significant percentages are lost. DNA archaeologists don't mind, because they are looking for whatever fragments they can still read. But if they required most of the DNA to be readable after long periods of time, they would be out of luck.

Comment Re:Why "smart" IDs are a bad idea (Score 1) 135

Oh how well I know! I'm old enough to have used punch cards. In a sense, it's like the Y2K problem. It's a legacy technique that had a purpose in the beginning, and was never corrected when it became obvious that there was a real cost. The biggest difference is that the "smart key" problem is still in wide use in NEW applications today, while the Y2K problem has largely been obliterated.

Comment Re:Why "smart" IDs are a bad idea (Score 1) 135

The greater sin here was that they were using a live system for testing

I don't know about that. There are many situations where it is impossible, or infeasible, to reproduce an entire production environment with test equipment. For example, if you are writing software to use a credit card processor, you have no choice but to connect with the "real" credit card processor to do your testing, since you don't have access to the processor's system. Sure the processor might have a test environment for you to use, but there are bugs that don't show up in a test environment, only in production.

Still, you're right about not needing "testing" IDs, a separate field that indicates a test transaction is always better.

Comment Why "smart" IDs are a bad idea (Score 4, Insightful) 135

This is a perfect illustration of why "smart" IDs are a bad idea. Any time you encode attributes (like "this is a test transaction") into an ID (like a range of bank branch IDs) you are asking for trouble. Everybody does it, but it's usually just plain lazy and careless. DON'T! Add an attribute that marks the transaction as a test transaction! Then anybody who sees it will instantly know the difference.

Comment Because Sling TV not all there yet (Score 1) 24

I used Sling TV last fall to watch NFL games. The Roku version of their software was buggy, crashed occasionally, and wasn't optimized enough to run well on the Roku 2. Worst of all, they tried to fill the commercial breaks with ESPN's own frat-boy commercials for itself. They would repeat the very same commercial two or three times, or cut one off half way through to start playing another one, then return the the second half of the first commercial. I'd rather watch the REAL commercials than the incessant, poorly executed fake commercials.

So I'd give Sling TV a D on implementation. If YouTube can do a better job, I'll definitely switch!

Comment Re:Only useful if real-world bugs are included (Score 1) 73

How else do you propose to prove that a tool can catch a bug of a particular type

I'd analyze commits to actual living systems, looking for fixes made to correct bugs that were found "in the wild." I'd then test the system against the previous version of the code in which the bugs weren't yet fixed, and see if the system could catch them.

By "casual observer," I was assuming that the observer would be proficient in programming.

Comment Only useful if real-world bugs are included (Score 1) 73

Artificially introduced bugs are too predictable and contrived. "I'll introduce a buffer overrun error here." Fine. But unless the algorithm can also find real-world buffer overruns, it's not worth much. In real world bugs, the bug is often not obvious to a casual observer, as it would be with an artificially introduced bug.

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