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Comment Re:Cheating at Tournaments (Score 1) 36

Some of those people are cheating - some of them are not. If the spot that you were creeping towards is popular then people will blind fire at it anyway. There many be far more cases when the person blind firing doesn't hit anything - but nobody will see those (unless they happen to be spectating them). The only cases that people see are the rare occasions that it works - and without any way to determine the sample size it looks like clairvoyance (or cheating).

It's the same effect as the stock scam: pick 1024 people and tell 512 that a stock will go up on a day, and the other 512 that it will go down. Drop anyone that gets a false predication and repeat ten times until some sucker thinks that you have a gift for picking stocks.

Comment Re:Basic Physics (Score 1) 58

Or, perhaps, your own understanding of physics is bullshit because, well. Physics is bullshit. And this is why physics hasn't accomplished anything significant since the atom bomb. It's mental masturbation.

Well here's some things physicists have done after the bomb that I thought of off the top of my head: Lasers (and laser-related stuff like laser spectroscopy), Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Holograms, atomic clocks, high temperature superconductors, tunnel diode, scanning tunneling electron microscope, atomic force microscope, stochastic resonance, charged coupled devices... All kinds of stuff that maybe isn't as high profile as the atomic bomb, but are essential to things you take for granted, like flash memory and liquid crystal displays in your electronics or the Hall effect sensors in your anti-lock brakes.

In any case, leaving aside the obvious hooey , if physics were mental masturbation then anyone could do it. It's the fact that so few can do it that makes so many people see it as a pointless and trivial exercise.

Comment Re:ECC (Score 1) 170

Your ECC RAM won't matter much if the cosmic ray hits the CPU registers. Or a cell in a block of your flash storage.

Also, your ECC RAM won't matter much if you get run over by a truck. So what? ECC RAM will help if there is a bitflip in your ECC RAM, that's what it's for and that's what the benefit is. It's not going to solve world hunger either, and nobody ever suggested that it would.

Comment Re:vGPU seems cool (Score 5, Informative) 60

My understanding is that it is more extensive: PCI(mostly 'e' these days) passthrough allows you to assign a physical device to a VM; but the device can't be shared: if a given piece of hardware is being passed through to one of the guests, none of the other guests or the host OS can use it.

This 'virtual GPU' stuff is supposed to make allocating GPU resources between VMs closer to how it is with CPU time or memory, where all the guests and the host can't exceed the capabilities of the machine they are running on; but they can all have access, with relatively modest overhead, to the same device.

I don't know if things work as pleasantly as desired yet; but in principle it should be a lot more convenient than full device passthrough. Especially in cases where you might be interested in the GPU for its computational capabilities, video transcoder, etc.

Comment That's an issue. One reason for the difference (Score 1) 142

I agree it's an issue. The difference in penalties may be too great in many instances. There are of course a couple of reasons sentences are, and should be, different.

Keeping closest to the viewpoint you brought up, many things are dangerous. Heck, MOST things involve some risk. Consequences should fit the actual risk. Suppose I shoot off some fireworks in the middle of some soccer fields, full of short green, moist grass (which doesn't burn). Another person shoots off fireworks in their apartment complex. We've both committed the offense of shooting off fireworks within city limits. One of us was a much greater danger than the other. One method of measuring the actual danger posed is that my action did not in fact burn even a blade of grass, his action burned down an apartment building - with people in it. You can tell that his action truly could have killed people if it truly did kill people. Since my action actually did no harm, probably it wasn't really that dangerous.

If my brother has two or three drinks, you probably would never know it by having a conversation with him. Yet, his BAC is probably over 0.08%. My wife is the opposite. Three drinks and she'd probably wreck before she got out of the parking lot. The blood test doesn't measure the risk. What DOES demonstrate the degree of actual danger is if my wife actually plows through a crowd of people. Both drove over the limit - one drove without so much as running a red light, the other ran into people. Clearly, one is more of a danger to society than the other.

You mentioned murder vs attempted murder specifically. Buying a butcher knife with the intent to use it on someone is attempted murder (one can argue whether it *should* be, but it is). Someone who does that is a danger to society. Someone who actually stabs people to death, successfully, is clearly a greater danger.

Secondly, crime and punishment isn't all about the criminal, it's also about the victims (or potential victims). If somebody got plastered and ran over your child, after having been warned about the danger via a previous DWI charge, you'd probably want to kill the motherfucker who ran over your kid. As a society, we don't want parents, spouses, etc acting as judge, jury, and executioner, taking vengeance on the criminal - so we offer a better way. Victims can (hopefully) see justice done without taking justice into their own hands. If someone drives drunk and does *not* hurt anyone, you probably don't have the same urge to kill the motherfucker - society can see justice done with a lighter sentence if noone is harmed.

You might say "we shouldn't want justice, you shouldn't want to kill the motherfucker who ran over your kid." Perhaps so, perhaps not, but it's how we are. We can't "should" that away.

Comment Re:Why not blame the manufacturer? (Score 1) 170

If you think that finding a vendor that doesn't keep cutting battery life/SD card slots/headphone jacks/basic safeguards against electrical fire in order to make it thinner, cheaper, or both is hard; just try to find one that ensures sufficient borated polyethylene(with something else to sop up the resulting gamma rays) or other neutron shielding into their products.

There probably are some, making bits for nuclear reactors and industrial, scientific, and medical users of neutron sources; but it's a niche.

Comment Re:LibreOffice? (Score 5, Informative) 93

You can definitely embed Windows Metafile images in LibreOffice on Windows; but I'm not entirely sure if that is enough to make it vulnerable. WMF is dangerous because it is basically a package of GDI function calls, which might be good for efficiency or compactness; but has led to a number of creative and executable things being shoehorned in(as in this case; and repeatedly over the years).

However, there are several image handling libraries that can render or convert WMF images without access to GDI; so in those cases GDI bugs wouldn't be a problem(though you probably have other things to worry about).

This Libreoffice VCL documentation suggests that LibreOffice uses its own VCL WMF filters; but I sure wouldn't bet anything remotely important on that without testing it first; or knowing rather more about how LibreOffice is put together.

Comment Re: Why not blame the manufacturer? (Score 4, Informative) 170

ECC memory doesn't do anything to help when the bits that get flipped are in the CPU. Or anywhere else that isn't a RAM chip.

Except that the RAM has hundreds or thousands of times as many bits as a CPU, and Flash may have millions of times as many, and dynamic ram has smaller feature size, and is more susceptible to SEUs. So correcting RAM and Flash helps because that is where 99.9% of the problem is.

Even within the CPU, most transistors are used to implement cache, and cache can also be scrubbed (although not with just software).

Comment Re: Ways around this (Score 1) 432

The next step would be to deny entry for people with wiped phones.

Perhaps -- and then the countermeasure would be to modify the procedure so that instead of placing a recognizably "vanilla" OS on your phone, it would replace your OS with an image that contains only some of your favorite innocuous data and apps that you don't mind Customs poking around in.

And the cat-and-mouse game continues...

Comment Re: "Of course it can," says government (Score 1) 170

What we're actually talking about is cosmic rays, which are matter particles (mostly protons), not any kind of electromagnetic radiation. Those generally slam into something in the atmosphere, producing showers of secondary particles. Occasionally some of these make it to the ground. The article mentions neutrons, but these seem to be mostly muons.

Of course Bruce Perens, to whom you replied, was talking about the radio waves from HAARP, which was mentioned by the OP.

Comment Two options (Score 1) 64

> If you're finding things wrong during QA at the end of an agile sprint, there's something seriously wrong

Suppose QA is blended into your four and a half days of planning, research, development, and testing. Somehow (magic?) you're testing the changes you've not yet finished against everyone else's unfinished changes. Obviously you're not testing how your changes work with the other guy's changes before you've decided how to write either change. So that gives you max maybe 7 hours integration testing and validation, spread throughout the last two days of the week. Do you *really* think a a couple hours of each (at the most) can replace several weeks of each? Really? If so, maybe you're the reason we catalog 100 vulnerabilities in other people's software *per day*.

With Scrum and Agile generally you have two options:

A) Knowingly trade faster development at the cost of quality assurance.

B) Unknowingly trade faster development at the cost of quality assurance.

Those are the choices. Do you have any idea what "release early" means? It means release before it's thoroughly tested, in the case of Scrum specifically, it generally means nobody has ever tested it at all - nobody other than (maybe) the developer has tried out the feature to see if it works correctly, and integrates correctly with everything else. Paying customers do alpha testing. (And no, automated unit tests (while useful) in no way replace beta testing, alpha testing, and validation. So you get speedy development but at a cost. Again your two choices are:

A) Knowingly trade faster development at the cost of quality assurance.

B) Unknowingly trade faster development at the cost of quality assurance.

You can either know what you're giving up, or not know. But nothing is free, there is a definite cost. If you think thorough testing is for chumps, perhaps you're the guy who wrote "goto fail".

Comment Re:Why not blame the manufacturer? (Score 2) 170

Probably b'cos there is nothing that manufacturers can do about cosmic rays

Except that is not true. Electronic devices can be made more resistant to cosmic rays and other radiation. The easiest way to do so is to use depleted boron instead of "normal" boron as a semiconductor dopant. Boron-10 has a very high neutron absorption cross section while Boron-11 has a very small cross section. Use boron that has been "depleted" of the B10 isotope, and you cut way down on your neutron induced SEUs.

Another obvious countermeasure is to use ECC memory, and memory scrubbing.

The problem is not that there is nothing that manufacturers can do, but that consumers aren't willing to pay the extra cost. Would you be willing to pay an extra $100 for your phone if it meant one fewer reboot every decade or so?

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