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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

Daniel_Staal Re:We need a *social* change (630 comments)

'Busy' and 'constructive use of time' are separate concepts. If you just want people to busy to rebel, making them work on non-constructive projects is ideal: You'll never run out, and they'll never be done.

3 days ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

Daniel_Staal Re:We need a *social* change (630 comments)

Or that that being employed makes people feel their time is being used in any way constructively.

3 days ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

Daniel_Staal Re:It boils down to energy storage costs (630 comments)

The second is a fair point: the main problem with coal and other fossil fuels is the external cost exported to society at large. (CO2 and other emissions.) If you could factor in that cost - and make the generators pay it - the cost of electricity from fossil fuels would go way up. (And, if they can afford to pay it - actually clean up their emissions to the point where they aren't harmful to the environment - then we don't actually have a problem with fossil fuels, except for the limited supply.)

3 days ago
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Will Lyft and Uber's Shared-Ride Service Hurt Public Transit?

Daniel_Staal Re:Not Sharing (237 comments)

Actually, at this point it's exactly a share taxi. I wonder when Americans will realize they've just re-invented a form of semi-formal public transport that's common in undeveloped countries without real public transport.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Unblock Email From My Comcast-Hosted Server?

Daniel_Staal Re:Speaking as a Comcast victim (405 comments)

Ditto; just tested to be sure - my email from my self-hosted domains gets through just fine. This is not a 'Comcast is blocked' problem. This is a 'submitter's IP address is blocked' problem.

about two weeks ago
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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

Daniel_Staal Re:Hope it's better than the movies (242 comments)

I actually think the 'I Robot' movie is anti-Asimov. One of the reasons the 'I Robot' stories are so famous is because Asimov treated robots as machines: They generally work as designed, but break or have flaws in their design that need to be fixed, and can be. They are complex machines, so they have complex flaws, but the flaws are the same types of flaws that you have in other complex machines, and the robots do not become monsters because of those flaws. Robot stories before him (and many after him, and nearly all in Hollywood...) tend to either treat robots as monsters, just waiting to get lose from their creators, or gods, able to fix all problems. The movie 'I Robot' is a prime example of the 'monster' archetype.

(People tend to bring up a couple of later stories he wrote when I bring up this argument - stories where his robots do start to evolve into fitting the god archetype. But: 1 - it's 'evolve', they were machines that were being perfected, not instant fixes, and 2 - they were later stories, where Asimov was subverting expectations about his own writing.)

about two weeks ago
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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

Daniel_Staal Re:Yes! (242 comments)

Depends on which books, and where in his career he was. He got fairly blatant around mid-career, although rarely actually explicit. When they say 'Foundation Series' it's open to interpretation on which books are likely meant - The original three were early in his career, and didn't really have much sex in them. The later two (mid-career) at the end have sex as a major plot driver/enabler, and the two prequels (end-career) feature it without making it a huge point. So it depends somewhat on where they start. I'm betting they'll start with the prequels - they have a strong central character, and can lead into the rest without much issue even after he dies. (And a fair amount of sex if they want it.)

The other point I'd be worried about is violence - the Foundation Series is about the fall of an empire and the rise of a new one, but actual fighting doesn't occur often. There are several places where it looks like it's about to, but then the forces of history make it unnecessary. (Or the populace gets mind-controlled, in one case...) It'd be very tempting for a director of a drama series to ramp up the violence, but it would change a large part of the point of the stories.

Oh, and in response to a couple levels up: They didn't use robots for sex in the stories. They didn't use robots for anything, in fact. There was a complete ban on higher-level AIs and on humanoid machines, to the level of taboo. (Although there were a few characters who where extremely humanoid robots in the prequels and sequels - and were basically the reason for the bans.)

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Useful Are DMARC and DKIM?

Daniel_Staal Re:Please consider both sides... (139 comments)

Setting up SPF correctly for your domain does have the side-effect of stopping a lot of bounceback spam (where they forge your address and send it to someone else, so you get the rejection), and can be useful for that reason alone.

But yeah, incoming mail it's not really a big discriminator. Worth looking at slightly, but not really all that useful. (Which means in general it's just more work you'll need to do to set up an email server, which doesn't have much benefit.)

about a month ago
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It's Time To Revive Hypercard

Daniel_Staal Re:For the rest of us (299 comments)

I used both BASIC and HyperCard - they were dramatically different approaches. If you want a modern BASIC, try Perl or Python or Ruby or - you get the picture. There are dozens of suitable replacements; simple direct languages that can write a short command-line program easily.

And you show the result to the average user out there and they won't even think it's a program. If you want a GUI - like everything out there today - you'll have to work on a major lift, some complex API that takes months to master, and days even for an experienced programmer to learn.

HyperCard could get you a simple GUI-based program in minutes, that even a beginner could do. You could actually get quite a ways without writing a single line of 'code' - though you still needed to think about the structure of how you moved through the application. It could even be argued that you can teach that structural thought easier to certain types of learners, as you get a more dramatic and visual result.

But the largest thing for a beginner that HyperCard could offer was a feeling of accomplishment: In a few minutes you had what 'felt' like a real application, with a GUI and everything. It doesn't look like a cliff to get to the point of writing a program that they can show off to their friends - even if it's a simple program.

There are roles for both, but to get someone interested in programming, I think HyperCard is probably better. Once you have that pull out the major arcania of complex API's and huge libraries.

about a month ago
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Password Security: Why the Horse Battery Staple Is Not Correct

Daniel_Staal Re:Many passwords just don't matter. (549 comments)

I just had an excellent counter-argument today: Work uses one password to log into their benefits site and into the handheld scanner used on the floor. The handheld scanner has a keyboard of less than 20 keys - numbers are easy, letters are hard, capital letters are really hard, and special characters are impossible. And there's no other input.

My login to my benefits is now controlled by the password I can type into what's basically a telephone keypad. Because that's where I need to type it a couple of times a day.

about a month and a half ago
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Liking Analog Meters Doesn't Make You a Luddite (Video)

Daniel_Staal Re:Analog displays are better in some situations. (155 comments)

Because the average human being can actually read it better off of a changing analog-style dial than they can understand a bare number. It has to do with us being well developed at judging distances for throwing and jumping. (And an analog dial allows you to read both off of one instrument.)

about a month and a half ago
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Liking Analog Meters Doesn't Make You a Luddite (Video)

Daniel_Staal Re:Analog displays are better in some situations. (155 comments)

The other place analog (or analog-style) gauges shine is when the rate of change is more important than the value. Speedometers and tachometers are good examples: You usually care more if you are speeding up, slowing down, or keeping the same speed than whether you are going 65 or 66mph.

about a month and a half ago
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Flurry of Scans Hint That Bash Vulnerability Could Already Be In the Wild

Daniel_Staal Re:I disabled CGI in Apache (318 comments)

Depends on what PHP is doing. If it makes a call to system(), anywhere... No, you are not. (Assuming you have bash as /bin/sh - the BSD's don't, and some Linux distros don't.)

If it stays entirely within PHP, then you are. But that'd be a lot of work to double check - You need to check every line of code you run, and the php interpreter itself to see where it calls out.

about 2 months ago
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Apple's "Warrant Canary" Has Died

Daniel_Staal Re:Not completely gone (236 comments)

From the Ars story on the article: Apparently there's some newish law that would keep them from commenting specifically on Section 215 - If they want to do aggregate disclosure they have to group it with disclosures under another law. (Section 702 - which we know they have received orders under, since it was in the Snowden files.) (They also have the option of doing non-aggregate disclosures, but they couldn't do it immediately.)

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Remote Support For Disconnected, Computer-Illiterate Relatives

Daniel_Staal Re:Dial up can still access gmail (334 comments)

Assuming POP/IMAP and SMTP aren't blocked - which is even more likely to be the case than that the Gmail page is blocked.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Remote Support For Disconnected, Computer-Illiterate Relatives

Daniel_Staal Re:Dial up can still access gmail (334 comments)

Or use Gmail with an email client and IMAP.

Might work, but doesn't solve any of this guy's problems.

And, an ISP that blocks email?

Sure. If the Internet service is that bad, I’m guessing it's some developing country that's nationalized the Internet. Therefore, they want you using their servers and services, because half the point is to make spying on you easier. Not particularly uncommon... (Often they'll only block it if it's encrypted or something like that.)

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Remote Support For Disconnected, Computer-Illiterate Relatives

Daniel_Staal Re:Sorry (334 comments)

Actually, an iPad sounds like exactly what he's looking for: Locked-down, with specific functions accessible. There's even some provisions for remote maintenance by authorized personnel. (He'd have to get OS X server and configure things first, I think, but it should be possible.) Main problem is dealing with connecting it to a dial-up link.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Remote Support For Disconnected, Computer-Illiterate Relatives

Daniel_Staal Re:Dial up can still access gmail (334 comments)

You are making the assumption that Gmail isn't blocked, and that the users in question would be open to changing their email addresses.

Also, webmail over dialup has the distinct disadvantage of requiring you to be online to read your email. This ties up your phone line, and may cost money. Batch-download is normally a better solution over intermittent links: Connect to get your email, disconnect, read it, write replies, connect to send. Total time online: usually less than a minute.

about 2 months ago
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College Students: Want To Earn More? Take a COBOL Class

Daniel_Staal Re:COBOL: Why the hate? (270 comments)

1: It's wordy. Larry Wall's famous statement on it is: 'I knew I’d hate COBOL the moment I saw they’d used “perform” instead of “do”.'
2: It's Crufty. Lots and lots of odd corner cases that are there because it made sense in the 70's, as well as decisions that used to be standard: All variables have to be declared at the start of the program, for instance. (With strong typing.)
3: It's finicky. The position (not the indentation) on the line matters, you have to declare things like your input and output formats formally (and separate from where you use them), etc.

COBOL is an excellent example of design-by-committee and then 'accumulate features as needed'. It's object-oriented features are a great example: Bolted on as an obvious afterthought, at a weird angle from the rest of the language, but yes it can be used. It all works, and you can write programs in it, but it's like being forced to write a bad instruction manual.

What it can do that other languages can't, mostly, is run on Big Iron with legacy code from before I was born. It has some decent features for financial markets (decimal numerics are supported natively, for instance), but mostly it's that it's been in banks and big institutions for decades and it's cheaper (and less risky) to hire someone to support it than to hire teams to rewrite their entire codebase. It works, and has been working, basically forever in computer terms. My mom learned COBOL in college, on punchcards. The language hasn't changed all that much since then. (For good and bad.) It's unlikely ever to be 'cool', but it's also unlikely to go away anytime soon.

about 2 months ago
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US Scientists Predict Long Battle Against Ebola

Daniel_Staal Re:+-2000 deaths? (119 comments)

Possibly. But the short-term social disruption would not be something I'd like to witness.

And since the 'short-term' in this case is probably 'a generation or two', I'd have to be a witness. (Or dead.)

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Most web programming languages vunerable to denial

Daniel_Staal Daniel_Staal writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Daniel_Staal writes "Ars Technica is reporting: "Researchers have shown how a flaw that is common to most popular Web programming languages can be used to launch denial-of-service attacks by exploiting hash tables. Announced publicly on Wednesday at the Chaos Communication Congress event in Germany, the flaw affects a long list of technologies, including PHP, ASP.NET, Java, Python, Ruby, Apache Tomcat, Apache Geronimo, Jetty, and Glassfish, as well as Google's open source JavaScript engine V8. The vendors and developers behind these technologies are working to close the vulnerability, with Microsoft warning of "imminent public release of exploit code" for what is known as a hash collision attack."

OCert advisory here."

Link to Original Source
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Network Solutions stands by policy.

Daniel_Staal Daniel_Staal writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Daniel_Staal writes "Apparently Network Solutions believes nothing is wrong with it's policy on registering domains: After review, they have decided to stand by their policy, and continue to register every domain checked. Why? To save us from scammers: "We would be perfectly happy to end this process if ICANN or the registries would do something to protect small businesses or other small users." Apparently the point is to register them before the scammers have a chance to, and not to make money for Network Solutions: "We are not trying to make a bunch of money off of this.""
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Daniel_Staal Daniel_Staal writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Daniel_Staal writes "My sister will be traveling abroad next year on a one-year study program. She has indicated to the tech guy in the family (me) that she would like something she would be less likely to mind loosing as her computer than her current iBook when she does. Any suggestions on a sub-laptop computing device?

Her requirements are fairly straighforward, but contain a couple of oddities. Basically she wants to be able to keep in contact with people, and do her homework. For that she needs email, VoIP (Skype, for preference), web browsing and MS Office or compatable. The kicker is that her homework will be in Arabic, while her email/web will be in English. (Or, at least mostly.) She wants a keyboard; she'd probably be ok with 3/4 size keys, but I'd have to convince her. VoIP is not a deal-breaker, just a strong request.

So, what small size/cost factor portables do you know that have good Arabic support and can be used for basic web access? My current thought is a HP Jornada, but I'm not sure what to compare it to. (And I'm not sure about Arabic support.)"

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