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Comment Re:It's not aliens (Score 1) 126

Those are a lot of assumptions. Does "alive" mean the same thing? Do they have individuals who breed and are born and die? Or are they some kind of hive mind that's essentially immortal, even though parts of it may wear out and have to be replaced? Does a hive mind need to communicate in the same way that we do? Obviously, to have an advanced technological civilization, they would have to understand math and other things we call science, although those things could possibly be much more intuitive to them, if "intuitive" has any meaning here.

An argument I have been trying to use to shake Christian fundamentalists out of their madness is to talk about what Jesus would be like in an alien civilization.

Now may people just think of Jesus as a social genius who was born at a time when the Roman empire had taken over and enabled broader travel and communication, and much of the mysticism around him was filled in later by his followers. Also, Jesus may really be a composite of multiple people of that time.

But let's pretend Jesus was God. Surely aliens would be sinful and need to be saved and all that. (In this scenario, "original sin" is something that evolves naturally in creatures that develop the ability to imagine non-immediate events and can make conscious choices that we would consider unethical.) On earth, death has been a big deal to humans, so martyrdom for Jesus isn't especially necessary for atonement (because God could have chosen any means he wanted). Rather, it's just fabulous marketing. What better way to spread a religion than to teach a bunch of disruptive ideas and then get gruesomely killed by the Romans?

So in an alien society, the "sacrifice" of their incarnation of Jesus would be entirely different. For instance, let's say that we have a hive mind creature that can temporarily split off individuals (or how else would they be able to explore their planet broadly and go into space?), and as a result of that need to do this unnatural splitting off, they have developed communication strategies. But let's say that staying disconnected from the hive for a long time is detrimental to that individual in some horrific ways. So an example of a personal sacrifice here, in a world where death doesn't mean much, might be for an individual to live out a disconnected life and utilize these invented communications methods to teach his message.

I'm not sure if the argument will work, because most fundamentalists just deny that aliens could exist.

Comment Re:It's not aliens (Score 1) 126

We may be more advanced technologically than hunter-gatherers. But we’re the same species, so we have evolutionary common ground and we’re more or less in the same range and style of intelligence. An alien civilization would have nothing in common with us at all. If they came to visit us, there’s no reason why they should necessarily even perceive us as having intelligence.

Comment Re:if true, expect deaths and stories about them (Score 2) 34

I'd expect public outcry to be over more mundane issues, like noise, privacy, and operator trespass. Imagine living near a celeb and having to deal with the paparazzi flying drones. Or professional photographers flying drones over residential tourist attractions, like Lombard Street in SF. It would get incredibly annoying very quickly.

Comment Re:Different protections for different threats, en (Score 5, Informative) 193

If he did -nothing- about security, that would be true. That's not likely the case. More likely, he's using protective strategies that are appropriate for his environment and the threats most prevalent in that environment. The most common threats for Linux machines aren't viruses. Viruses specifically are more of a Windows thing. Not that there are no threats that affect Linux, they are -different- threats.

Just because Linux doesn't have as many viruses for it, doesn't mean it's immune to viruses. In fact, Linux probably a very popular carrier for viruses - Linux host gets broken in (usually via a PHP exploit) and some files are dropped onto it and files modified so whenever a Windows host accesses it, it obtains the payload and gets infected.

Linux may not be harmed by it, but it certainly is an active participant in the propagation of viruses. Mostly because the malware authors want to target users, and 90% of them run Windows. But they can't target Windows servers, because 75% of the servers out there run Linux. So they will exploit those Linux-running servers to plant some WIndows malware on there so the Linux host distributes the Windows malware to everyone.

Linux is a carrier, and perhaps having an anti-virus may be handy if nothing more than to ensure that you're not being part of the problem and serving up stuff that infects other users. The best part is, these scanners need not be intrusive since the host can be assumed to be free of malware, so you're really just looking for bad files.

Same thing on MacOS - there's no reason to have a antivirus scanner other than to make sure you're not serving up infected files, or to alert you in case you get an email that won't infect you, but may infect someone else if you forward it on or something.

Google, for example, scans emails and documents for viruses and other malware, not because they can infect Google, but to prevent spread.

Comment Re:Who are the main characters based on (Score 4, Informative) 75

I started watching Halt and Catch Fire, but it never really held my interest. I don't think that I made it past the 5th episode. The portends to be based on 1980's experiences, but I can't think of anyone with whom they could base the main characters off of.

They didn't. It's based on real events that did happen, but like Silicon Valley, it features a set of characters who are basically living through the home computing boom of the 80s. There are some real life similarities, but I think they were done to tell more interesting side stories that happened for real that people may not know about,

Season 1 was about developing an IBM PC clone and basically delves into the design and coding of the most important part, the BIOS. They also explore side threads like a friendly computer that greets you and all that, bookending with the discovery of the Macintosh demo and its graphics.

Season 2 was developing an online service, timesharing systems, and worms (a recount of the Morris worm).

Season 3 is just developing, and it's too early to tell what stores it may tell.

It's less about real life 1980s, and more about a bunch of people doing tech stuff during the 1980s, completely independently of what happened. Sometimes they tell an interesting story like Senaris (Morris worm), which given how limited internet connectivity was in the 1980s, most people blew right past, but here it is retold (a programming bug caused it to spread over and over again).

Take it more for the nostalgia of what the 80s were like in the tech industry and less about real history. And enjoy it - Season 1 didn't get great ratings, but AMC felt it had potential and gave it a season 2. Season 2 had terrible ratings and for some reason or other, AMC renewed it. Chances are, though, Season 3 is it. (Let's say Walking Dead is penthouse. Halt and Catch Fire is somewhere in sub-basement level 10, only accessible via ladder from a dark corner of the underground parking lot because that's where someone decided to put a storage rack.

Comment Amazing they get so much right! (Score 3, Interesting) 108

I realize Melbourne, Australia is a big deal, and it seems like with a city that large, Microsoft and Apple and others could afford to hire one person whose job is to make sure they get stuff right.

But at the same time I find it amazing that they don’t have more mistakes. The navicable roads across the whole world are vast, and living in an imperfect world, there’s alway going to be some probability and degree or error in everything we do. Getting Melbourne’s location wrong because Microsoft may have copied Wikipedia is funny. But when it comes down to it, for all the things they could have wrong, this mistake constitutes a SINGLE BIT error. Yeah, it’s a super big deal bit, but in terms of raw information content, you have to be surprised that they don’t suffer from single-bit errors all the time in less significant but noticable ways.

Also, given what we all SHOULD know about science, we should understand that every model of anything is going to be correct only within certain statistical bounds. Yes, that the universe was smaller in the past and has to have been dense enough to have undergone a phase change (cf. CMB), so the big bang as a whole is essentially settled. However, there are details we don’t have filled in yet, so whenever someone comes out with some new alternative to inflation, we look at it with a critical eye. We should be doing the same when it comes to these electronic gadgets we use. There are many different failure modes. When we become so trusting and dependent on them that we can’t recover from their failure, then we’ve got a problem. They’re never going to be perfect. Moreover, different services will implement different algorithms that will give us different results. When navigating somewhere, you need to use your brain to decide which route is best, not just trust what the routing algorithm says. Moreover, local knowledge always trumps an algorithm whose knowledge of traffic patterns and back roads is extremely limited.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say I’m a little to the east of Binghamton University on Vestal Parkway. If I ask either Google or Apple Maps where the nearest gas station is, they BOTH give me a location on the opposite (north) side of the river in Johnson City. Why? Because they use cartesian distance. As the crow flies, that gas station is the closest, but to get there, I would have to back-track to the west to 201, take it north to Riverside Drive, and then back-track to the east. Either that or try to drive across the river. A much FASTER gas station to get to from there (although with only a slightly shorter total driving distance) is actually in Binghamton, to the east, on the same (south) side of the river, where there are no turns or traffic lights in the way. In other words, these routing algorithms are stupid about rivers and other common traffic phenomena. And of course none of these have a way to consider the fact that I actually live in Vestal and am likely to want find a gas station between where I am and my house. Sure, they’ll list multiple gas stations, and I can choose the right one, but this is an example of needing to use my brain to make the decision, rather than relying blindly on software.

Comment Re:Oh yawn... (Score 1) 236

Their source is closed and yours is open. They make changes and you make changes. You can't see their changes, but they can definitely see your changes. If they may a certain change first, and they see you make a subsequent change that looks remarkably similar to their changes, they can take you to court for possibly stealing their code.

"Their source is closed". Let's change it to "Their source is incompatible with BSD".

Because you know what? "Open Source GPL" is just as guilty of "closing off" BSD code as closed-source is.

It's just everyone who's a fan of the GPL doesn't want you know about it. Even RMS always digs at BSD as "close source theft! closed source theft!" without a thought that "open source GPL lockout!" applies just as well in digs at BSD code. So yes, GPL "openness" can be just as guilty of "locking up" BSD code as a company like Microsoft or Apple can. But you'll never hear a GPL fanboy admit that, because the whole "evilness" of BSD is locking up, and that only happens in the closed source world, right? Of course, it also ruins the whole "open source" and "free source" concept when the very license that is supposed to provide it (GPL), exploits the very thing it's against (locking up source code).

In short,anyone claiming BSD sucks over GPL because of locking up code is a hypocrite, because GPL locks up BSD code just as well as closed-source licenses do.

As for GPL enforcement, well, it's the same as when a company enforces copyright on someone who downloaded songs, movies, TV, or software. You can't really be "for" GPL enforcement and "against" movie/music/tv/software copyright enforcement, because they're actually one and the same. You can't enforce the GPL without copyright, and you can't really be for prosecuting GPL offenders without having all other IP vendors (and groups like the RIAA and MPAA) also prosecuting copyright offenses. Perhaps that's why Linus hates GPL enforcement, because put another way, it's like the music/movie/software industry suing people as well. It's the same concept - if you don't accept the GPL, you accept default all rights reserved copyright, so a GPL violation is a copyright violation, or piracy. But so is download music you don't own, movies you don't own, software (non-free) you don't own, etc.

Comment Re: Stop it with the SJW crap!!! (Score 1) 692

What's truly amazing is that AGW is apparently now somehow related to social justice, in the minds of some people.

Although I guess that's the expected end result of increasingly paranoid conspiracy theories that are needed to explain all the things that do not work as they want.

Comment Refusal will be grounds for Interrogation (Score 2) 218

Do they really think that if some ISIS guy flies in, he's going to fill out the customs form honestly and say "Yep, my Twitter handle is @jihad4lyfe!"

No, they probably think that he will refuse to give them a handle and then they will use this as grounds to detain him for interrogation. The problem is that some of us don't use Facebook, Twitter etc. and so I don't have an account to give them - other than a dummy Facebook account which is entirely devoid of any personal information and that I only created because our local airport used to insist on Facebook to access the free WiFi. However I expect this will look like I created a dummy account to hide my real account from them.

I'm beginning to wonder whether the US government's long term plan is to make travelling to the US such a horrible experience for us foreigners that identifying the terrorists will be easy because they will be the only ones insane enough to try.

Comment A few obvious corrections (Score 1) 53

First, DES is 56 bit (near enough 60). Triple DES as per first mode (the authorised standard) is 168 bits. The article fails to distinguish, implying the authors are just a little bit naff. 3DES seems to be quite safe, as long as not used in DES emulation mode. And who the hell emulates a mode that was broken in the 80s?

Second, Blowfish was replaced by TwoFish, ThreeFish and Speck. Skein, an entrant to the DES3 challenge, makes use of ThreeFish.

Third, the Wikipedia page states it has been known for a long time that weak keys are bad. This particular attack, though, is a birthday attack. You can find all the ciphers vulnerable or free that you should be using. Anything not on the list is something you are solely responsible for.

http://csrc.nist.gov/archive/a...

In other words, this information is about as useful as telling up that Model T Fords weren't good at cornering at highway speeds. Below are some links, I can't be buggered to HTML-ify them.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik...
http://www.skein-hash.info/
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik...
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik...

I do not trust most encryption software these days, but that's because programmers these days are sloppy and arrogant.

Comment Re:Really (Score 1) 560

"So I'm afraid I must repeat (and I take no pleasure in saying this, believe me) your only three options this election are Trump, Clinton, or throwing your vote away."

If you vote for someone you believe in, your vote is never thrown away. They may not win, but people will see how much support they get, and that can lead to more support next time. You are right though, that FPTP is a poor system. It's particularly poor when it comes to electing presidents because (as far as I understand it), it is not possible for two candidates to combine their votes in any way, unlike parties which can combine their votes and form a coalition. The upshot of this is that people like Bernie Sanders won't risk standing as an independent for risk of splitting the left wing vote. You could have a system where candidates can pledge to transfer their votes to another candidate in the event they fail to secure enough votes themselves. It could bring an end to the endless oscillation between Republican and Democrat presidents.

Comment Re:We need this (Score 1) 239

Any battery developed by Dyson will no doubt be massively overpriced like their other products. Even if he were able to double the energy density of batteries, it seems likely you would be able to buy several of the conventional batteries for the same price.

Besides which, it looks like there is already quite a breakthrough happening right now. http://news.mit.edu/2016/lithi...

Comment Re:I'm getting old. (Score 1) 145

Sure, SATA is getting old quickly and starts to become the bottleneck,

No, SATA IS the bottleneck.

If you read specs and they all say 540MB/sec, that's the SATA3 limit. And benchmarks of practically every SATA SSD has it pegged at 540MB/sec.

Its why Apple pioneered PCIe for storage, and brought everyone a 1GB/sec SSD read and 750MB/sec write at the beginning. Nowadays a NVMe PCIe SSD can easily do 1.5GB/sec reads and 1GB/sec writes, while the top end can do 2.5GB/sec reads and 1.5GB/sec writes.

The other reason is SATA isn't really adept at SSDs - we emulate it well, but SATA was never designed for that kind of drive. And of course, the latest NVMe SSDs are bootable (NVMe is actually the interface type - while the physical layer is PCIe, NVMe is the controller interface hanging off the PCIe bus).

SATA will still be around - bulk storage is still cheaper with spinning rust.

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