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Comment The key to understanding this system (Score 1) 104 that the whole password cannot be decrypted in an automated way, because even though a computer program would quickly guess the short password (SP), the fact that the strong key (SK) is stored as a CAPTCHA prevents the computer program from obtaining it, even with the correct SP.

The point is not (as some seem to believe) to help the user memorize a longer password by storing part of it for him. This approach actually wouldn't introduce any added security, as you still have a single point of failure (the memorized short password).

Comment Ubuntu on a Touchscreen Netbook (Score 1) 317

I dual boot Windows 7 HP and Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) on an Asus Eee PC T101MT. It's got a resistive touch screen that is not well supported by vendors, nor by Microsoft. While Windows7 does respect the 1024 pressure levels the screen can read, inking is extremely slow as compared to that in Ubuntu, and the pressure levels don't translate to Photoshop or the GIMP. The only programs that seem to recognize the pressure levels are Windows Journal and OneNote, neither of which is intended as an artist's tool. By contrast, Ubuntu has very fast smooth inking, and a wonderful paint program with full support for the pressure levels (MyPaint). Considering that I purchased this netbook for the explicit purpose of being able to paint as well as take notes and read books, etc., Ubuntu saved the day for me.

At this point in time I've got everything working spectacularly on this thing- from painting with pressure levels to reading Kindle books, multitouch to two-finger scrolling, media keys to Wiimote as gamepad, handwritten notes to DropBox, Skype to Arduino development, even handwriting recognition and an OSK. You name it, I've got it going on this thing, all thanks to Ubuntu. I am quite willing to say that, although almost every other computer I've ever had has in some way (usually proprietary hardware-related) ran better with Windows and in some way better on Linux, Ubuntu far outshines Windows on my T101MT in every way.


Submission + - Common Flaws Found in Most Agile Literature (

Daniel Markham writes: "Agile and XP software development techniques are taking the programming world by storm. But are the ideas really new or interesting? Here an Agile Coach takes Agile and XP authors to task on common flaws found in their material.

"...I love agile with a little "a" But I have a confession to make: as much as I love the concepts in Agile and XP, the literature out there sucks. Here are the common faults that drive me nuts...""

Comment Re:Iroquois Confederacy (Score 1) 289

You do realize you made absolutely no point whatsoever, don't you? I mean, it's not even worth taking apart.

Franklin was a doddering old man when the DOI was signed. He played very little role in the AOC. Jefferson was a believer in natural law (from Locke.) Native Americans would have absolutely interested him, but not for the reasons you suppose. Check out Hobbes sometime.

I don't know which is worse -- your argument, or your lack of critical thinking skills in defending yourself. Quoting a bunch of biased articles? Mentioning how contemporary the Iroquois were to the founders? Mentioning some of the paralells? It's just not a defense of your ideas. It's a bunch of anecdotes and innuendo strown together. I could use these same techniques to show that Barbary Pirates founded the United States Marine Corps, or that Sam Brown was responsible for reconstruction. You can't write the words you've written and expect to persuade. Surely you know that, right? It's very simple: give me a quote from the AOC claiming Iroquois heritage, a quote from the authors of the AOC claiming inspiration, any direct reference supporting your claim. It's like you have no idea the true heritage of the things you're talking about, and instead cling to a bunch of loosely assembled pieces of stories. The real story is pretty cool too, you know.

Comment The Wikiproject for Webcomics (Score 5, Interesting) 720

Once upon a time, I was a big part of the Webcomics Wikiproject on Wikipedia.

Like other Wikiprojects, we worked together to establish a consistent framework of notability requirements for webcomics; we culled out freshly-minted vanity cruft; we welcomed and nurtured new articles; we maintained lists of deserving webcomics which did not yet have articles; the works. Most importantly, we had a process, carefully arrived at through discussion and consensus (involving some of the premier names in webcomics study and criticism, I might add), under which everyone could operate reasonably.

It worked.

I myself ran some entries through the AfD (VfD then, but still) process because they didn't fit (one that I recall was a webcomic with four pages, two of which were single-image "splash" pages); on those occasions, I took the trouble to carefully explain the community criteria involved, and encourage the overly enthusiastic contributors to keep working on their comic, and to stick around and contribute more to Wikipedia in the meantime.

For comics which did fit the inclusion criteria, I would go to the comic's forum, where inevitably someone would have just posted a "Hey, I just created an article about [xxxx] on Wikipedia!" message, and I would welcome them to Wikipedia, explain the process involved and why their webcomic was suitable for inclusion, explain how to get started editing, and how to avoid the standard eager-puppy newbie editing mistakes.

Like I said, we had a mutually-agreed upon framework in place; while not perfect, it succeeded in keeping WP free of vanity cruft, and, at the same time, kept contentious disagreements to a minimum.

And then I took a little vacation.

At the same time, a couple of the other major contributors took a break; as a result, there weren't enough people minding the store when two people, who had no real knowledge of webcomics, swept in and started tossing articles to the VfD buzz saw, right and left. Never mind the established process; never mind the carefully-negotiated group consensus -- they simply swept in, substituted their notions of notability for those of dozens of previous contributors to Wikipedia, and eviscerated the webcomics field.

After which, of course, most of the people who cared about webcomics simply gave up on Wikipedia. Some of their efforts moved over to the GFDL Comixpedia, but its user base, obviously, lacks the scale of Wikipedia's. Mostly, the folks who had devoted so many hours to webcomics articles simply found themselves deflated by the whole experience. In my case, it more or less chased me away from Wikipedia for a couple of years; and even now, I'm very careful about which articles I work on; I only have just so much time and attention I can spend, and I cannot afford to play guardian angel to every article I work on, to make sure that someone doesn't just delete it.

Since the dawn of the Great Webcomics Purge, Wikipedia's history with webcomics articles has been one long string of increasingly absurd "Oh my Gawd -- can you believe they {deleted, tried to delete} that?" moments. Time and again, articles have been proposed for deletion which would normally have served knowledgeable webcomics experts as reductio ad absurdam examples of articles which could never possibly be proposed for deletion.


Submission + - Imaginary Worlds. Real Money (

DanielMarkham writes: "What employs 100,000 people all over the world and has more than 30 million users? Virtual Worlds. You might curse those dudes who buy WoW gold online, but think about this: there's over $1.5 Billion dollars in virtual goods that will be sold this year. Here's a tour of all the recent news and comments regarding the new virtual goods economy, including predictions of how big it's going to get (try $50 Billion within five years). Also is an explanation as to why those Chinese Gold Farmers aren't going anywhere anytime soon."

Submission + - GCC: Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition ( 1

Daniel Markham writes: "I know Global Climate Change is a hot topic on /., and I don't have a desire to feed fuel to the fire, but it occurs to me that there is a significant viewpoint that has been overlooked: that the politics of GCC are much more important than the the reality of GCC.

As I point out over on my blog, the argument that the average citizen is not qualified to judge the science has some unusual qualities, whether it's true or not. Hasn't there been many cases in the past where the average citizen was deemed unqualified to form his own opinion?

Let's assume that GCC is real and deadly. Taking the word of scientific consensus, we change massive parts of our global economy to meet the threat and, sure enough, nothing bad happens.

Aside from the fact that, due to human nature, many will argue it was never going to happen anyway, what have we accomplished? Yes, we have saved millions of lives. We have avoided massive numbers of refugees and the destruction of coastal cities. But we have also, for the first time, let a new group of people decide by consensus what the policy should be for the rest of the population. Are we sure we want to do this?

It's a question I haven't seen addressed anywhere else. Sure — there has been a lot of hand-waving around the entire debate, but nobody has just asked point blank if scientists should make policy decisions based on information the average Joe couldn't understand

We've went through a time in our history where groups of clergy ran a great part of western civilization. While I know that it's popular to demonize them today, at the time they were the smartest people the world had to offer. They made decisions mostly on what they thought to be a higher cause. And significantly, there was consensus.

Things didn't work out too well for folks that disagreed in those days. They were called heretics, amoral. They were told to get with the program. They were not accepted by society. Dissent was not tolerated. What we found was that even though the church was created to take care of spiritual needs, once it got into politics it became just another political player, jockeying for power and playing hardball with the rest of the rulers.

So — what's the call? Is it better to suffer and have a free choice over your own destiny, or to be saved and safe, only to lose your choice to people who know more than you?"

The Internet

Submission + - Sticking a fork in Web 2.0 (

DanielMarkham writes: "John Dvorak has an interesting post on PC Magazine regarding a coming bubble in Web 2.0

While many prognosticators have made predictions about a burst bubble about to appear, and the end of Web 2.0, nobody has made a plea for the small-time developers to think before they leap into this arena. After all, the true losers of a Web 2.0 bubble, if there is one, will be the mom-and-pop internet shops working on a shoestring.

Daniel Markham, a technology strategist, takes apart the finances behind the Web 2.0 world. While everybody knows you can start a web business with a quarter and a smile, most technologists have no idea what's involved actually making the thing work. Markham goes through the numbers, pulling information from a lot of VC blogs where most technical types don't go.

Some of his conclusions are biting:

People are tired of ads. They hate them on TV, they hate them on the web. They're tired of those stupid customer loyalty cards that every business has nowadays. They're not stupid: they know those cards help the businesses a lot more than they do the consumers. And they're going to get tired of digging, moderating, boinking, slapping, skirting, poking, winking, and whatever other synonyms websites can come up with to try to get folks to participate. Right now, there's a headlong push to get people involved in these Web 2.0 sites, but for every true convert, there are a hundred folks that just drop by to see what everybody else is doing. They're there because of habit, not because of bells and whistles.

Aside from the boom-or-bust articles, which are rather predictable, is there a greater social damage that will occur by busting lots of little guys, instead of investors with deep pockets?"


Submission + - My Favorite Moon: Iapetus (

Daniel Markham writes: "Saturn's moons are some of the strangest moons in the solar system. Out of all of this weirdness, Iapetus strikes me as one of the strangest. It's got an odd mix of colors, is oddly shaped, and has the big freaking wall or ridgeline running down the middle of it. Makes it look like a moon with a screw top.

Since some of the original Cassini pictures were released a couple of years ago, there's been a lot of speculation about Iapetus because of the wierdness of the images coming back. Some are calling it The Great Wall of Iapetus

Now comes news that the mystery of the Great Wall might have been solved. Scientists at JPL are saying that Iapetus might be one of the oldest moons in the solar system, and because of radioactive decay, the moon could have shrunk, forming the ridgeline.

The jury is still out, however. One thing is for certain: the more public speculation and involvement in the story, the more interest there is in NASA and the Cassini mission. Cassini is tasked with another close fly-by of walnut-shaped, Pac-Man-looking Iapetus in September. Let's hope for something that keeps the public interested."

The Media

Submission + - Christopher Hitchens vs Bush Adviser on God (

Danie Markham writes: "In the Washington Post on Saturday, Christopher Hitchens and Michael Gerson go at it over the existence of God. Gerson's title is "What Atheists Can't Answer". Hitchens puts up a great counter-attack with "An Atheist Responds"

I've tried to jazz up the conflict a bit and take apart each argument and analyze them. Aside from the shameful attempt at publicizing my blog, is there anything to be learned from comparing the two arguments? Specifically, are certain arguments so old as to be useless in the discussion about God's existence (the presence of evil, religious people do bad things, I believe just because, etc).

Hitchens and many atheists seem to feel mankind as a species has evolved to the point that we need to give up silly superstitious beliefs and walk with full vision into our future. Relgious folk such as Gerson seem to feel that such talk is hardly new, is hardly more evolved, and lacks substance. Has the argument evolved? Granted, simple superstitions such as Gods causing eclipses and thunder storms have long since passed for most humans, but many educated and intelligent people believe in something outside their own cosmos. Is the evolution of God into more obscure parts of our science a sign that God is almost dead? Or are we beginning to realize that the concept of God is simply a concept of anything outside our understanding — something that will always remain outside our reach? It's the weekend, and it's time for some Epistemology Smackdown for Nerds. I've got twenty bucks on Hitch!"


Submission + - Sixty Years of UFO Sightings -- Any Conclusions? (

DanielMarkham writes: "Sixty years ago this month a salesman flying a light plane in the Pacific Northwest spotted what he called "flying saucers". The name stuck, and over the next six decades the world went through all kinds of gyrations as we tried to come to grips with just whatever the heck is going on up there.

So aside from making lots of money for various "In Search Of" and "Unsolved Mysteries" shows, what progress, if any, have we made on the issue? The usual quote from skeptics is "where's the physical evidence?", but we have many simultaneous sighting and radar contacts on record. True believers insist on a governmental cover-up of massive proportions, which, to put it mildly, seems highly improbable.

Are there some conclusions we can reach? Is sixty years of sightings enough to reach any kind of conclusions at all?"


Submission + - Should IT Workers be Workaholics? Or Europeans? (

Daniel Markham writes: "Several new stories broke this week, from the report that IT workers in Europe mostly don't think their jobs depend on performance to the report that says a third of all Americans don't take all of their vacation time. The number of workaholics chapters is growing in the states — these are 12-step programs for people who work too much.

IT, especially in America, is famous for long hours and little sleep. Isn't this the way it's supposed to be? Or should be be taking a month off every year like the Europeans do? Is IT like working in a union shop making widgets waiting for the weekend, or is it more like being a doctor?


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