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Comment Re:Why air gaps? (Score 2) 171

If you're talking about things that happen with p < 10^-5 you can can't test to any kind of reasonable confidence level. Engineers have to use the collective experience of the profession as a whole as a guide, in addition to actual testing.

Since phone design is interdisciplinary -- involving marketing, industrial design and engineering -- engineers will just have to push back when the designers and marketers try to take that half millimeter away. This case will be a touchstone for future generations of EEs, the way the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is for civil engineers and Therac-25 is for software engineers.

Comment Re:Dangerous (Score 1) 336

I'm pretty sure I'd see features like independently powered exit row lighting, emergency exits, inflatable slides/rafts, life vests etc.

In design and engineering you can't make things failure-proof, but you can plan for certain failure-modes. Yeah, if you lose a wing at 10,000 feet or do a nose dive at Mach 2 into the ground nobody is going to survive. But there is plenty of design that goes into an airplane that is aimed at very rare situations like the loss of all engines.

Comment Re:Unfortunately no and I have a reason (Score 1) 355

The Abelson and Sussman textbook, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, uses LISP (actually Scheme). There are quite a few LISP fanatics who passionately feel it is still the best programming language made, citing such reasons as the simplicity of writing an interpreter for it. However, that textbook is pretty difficult. The authors didn't appreciate how hard recursion can be for many students to understand, and LISP and functional programming in general uses recursion so heavily it's the proverbial hammer for every nail of a programming problem.

Well, that's what you get when you beta test your textbook with MIT students. But that said, CLRS is no picnic for people who aren't very good at math, either.

Comment More of a desk reference than a novel... (Score 1) 355

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 Re:Analyzing a car purchase over 1 year? (Score 1) 36

True. And the cost/arrest concept is broken too. Would the arrests have been made anyway? Could they have been made another way?

When people have a tool they use it, whether it is the use-case that was supposed to justify the purchase -- and that can be a good thing (because the widget is earning its keep) or a bad thing (using a tool that's overkill, to expensive to operate, or counterproductive). The real question is what did they specifically buy this for? If the cost justification was that it was going to allow them to make x arrests per year, it's probably a failure. If the cost justification is some other kind of scenario that doesn't necessarily happen every year (e.g. the Beltway Sniper), then the question is whether they're using this thing reasonably.

Comment Re:Stop using cars at all. (Score 1) 238

Which precisely describes the opposite of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens.

Nobody is saying you ought to be forced to take the streetcar from Mayberry to Petticoat Junction. From Monmarte to the Bastile -- transit makes more sense than driving, especially if you factor in time for parking.

Comment For the Bank of Russia it's not even pocket change (Score 3, Insightful) 78

It's just numbers on a spreadsheet. The Bank of Russia is Russia's central bank and there is literally no amount of money you can steal from a central bank that will harm it. That's because they're the people who issue the fiat in "fiat currency".

The harm is to the economy as a whole, in the form of inflation. In this case we're talking about the release of thirty one million spurious extra bucks into a two trillion dollar economy. Just a tiny bit of inflation, diluted to homeopathic concentrations and applied to everyone who uses rubles.

Of course the bank has to pursue this because it undermines confidence in the system, but this is as close to a victimless crime as any illegal way of obtaining thirty-one million dollars can be.

Comment I find this kind of depressing. (Score 1) 235

I'm all for things that go boom. I love weird, clever little gadgets. I admire a clever and subtle subversion of a system, even when I don't condone its use.

But geez; this thing is not exactly elegant. It uses a fairly basic circuit to exploit the completely unsurprising fact that the interface isn't designed to handle high voltages.

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