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Comment Re:Hello from the NSA (Score 1) 188

It's military and government infrastructure and it turns out that a lot of government infrastructure runs on commodity hardware and software (actually, so does a lot of military stuff). This means that they end up auditing a lot of proprietary and open source code that's widely deployed. This is why Heartbleed was so embarrassing for them: OpenSSL was explicitly on the list of 'critical infrastructure' software that they're meant to be securing.

Comment Re:Monetenizing user data (Score 1) 107

At least on iOS it's just a usability regression. You can go to settings and remove the permission to access location data at all and as long as you toggle it back before you book a ride. I think recent Android versions are the same, but on older ones it's a choice of privacy violations or uninstalling the app.

Comment Re:The sexism is the straw the broke the camel's b (Score 3, Interesting) 107

You have to wonder a bit whether a boycott would actually help. Uber is currently cheap because they're using VC money to subsidise every ride and making a loss to build up market share. Is it better to use them and cost the company money, or not use them and help ensure that competitors stay in business?

Comment Re:Shocking! (Score 1) 464

One of the reasons that we teach sorting and searching algorithms is that a huge number of complex domain-specific algorithms include a step that is either searching, pre-sorting, or both. If you don't understand these steps well then you won't have the tools to do a good job at the more complex parts of algorithm design.

Comment Re:People still use AIM? (Score 1) 98

I don't know what Google are saying officially, but in practice Hangouts is deprecated - that is, Google are trying to push people towards alternative products - Allo, Duo, and Messages.

Which is a shame, I rather like it and like the (current) concept of it being a one stop shop for SMS messages, IMs, and transcribed voicemails.

Comment Re:Change is dangerous (Score 1) 132

It's not that clear cut. Take the SGI example. You sell graphical workstations for $10+K, with a $2-3K mark up on each one. You launch a range of graphics accelerator boards for $500-1000. All of your customers switch to buying commodity workstations from someone else with one of your boards inside. You're now probably not making enough on unit sales to cover your R&D costs and the company goes under. The gamble is that not only will your customers buy these boards, an order of magnitude more people will buy them and you can then use this money to find the $100 version that you can sell to another order of magnitude of customers.

The real danger for SGI was that someone else would start with the $100 board (which was nowhere near competitive with the performance of an SGI machine) and sell it with low margins to enough people (who would never think of buying an SGI machine) that they could then afford to develop the $500-1000 board that would kill the graphical workstation market.

Comment Re:Hello from the NSA (Score 1) 188

The NSA is evil. Its employees are not doing important work: they are evil.

The NSA is a huge organisation with a dual mission. They are tasked with protecting critical infrastructure and being able to attack other people's critical infrastructure. These are fundamentally contradictory (you find a zero-day vulnerability in something like OpenSSL: mission 1 requires that you disclose it and get it fixed ASAP to protect your infrastructure, mission 2 requires that you keep is secret so that you can use it to attack everyone else) and as such they're largely isolated into different parts of the organisation. Even if you completely disapprove of mission 2, arguing that mission 1 is not important work and is inherently evil makes you seem like an idiot.

Comment Re:No reason to fear. (Score 1) 188

When the FBI used a court order to compel Apple to decrypt the San Bernadino shooter's iPhone, Trump encouraged people to boycott Apple if they wouldn't decrypt the phones. This was when Apple was leading a charge to resist court-ordered decryption.

Apple did not resist court-ordered decryption. They cooperated with the FBI even without a warrant to decrypt a single phone, they only objected when the FBI failed to follow their instructions correctly, locked the phone even more, and demanded the ability to decrypt any iPhone without oversight.

Comment Re: All my friends in NSA are looking (Score 3, Insightful) 188

I fail to see how nsa has EVER 'kept us safe'. and due to their being untouchable and above the law, we'll NEVER KNOW, either.

Then NSA is a dual-mission agency. They do SIGINT, but they are also tasked with ensuring the security of critical infrastructure. Some of this involves designing crypto protocols, some auditing nominally secure systems, and so on (for example, writing SELinux). It's entirely possible to be working entirely on this kind of thing. You're probably making the world a better place, even if the net contribution of your entire organisation might not be.

Comment Re:Yeah, sure. My father had great ideas. (Score 1) 132

Remember this was when electricity was primarily for lighting and many people had has fridges and ovens and no washing machine. If you're hot, you use a fan, so everyone knew that fans were for cooling (air conditioning wasn't really a thing). His manager didn't think that it would be possible to persuade people that fans just moved air, they didn't cool it.

Comment Re:People still use AIM? (Score 1) 98

I like Hangouts too.

The initial concerns with Hangouts were that it was tied to Google Plus, that Google Plus had that stupid real names policy, and that it was a replacement for Google Chat, which was phased out so nobody could use it any more. Once the Google Plus related issues were fixed, there wasn't really a reason to want to use Google Chat over Hangouts, so it became quite a good system.

The major issue with Hangouts is that Google doesn't want it any more, so we're being pushed to use alternatives, yet again.

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