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The Dominant Life Form In the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots

Khopesh Are biological self-reproducing robots ... robots? (319 comments)

Who is to say that we'd even be able to conceive these "robots" as anything but another form of life? They'd have to tell us that they were manufactured, and given the required self-sufficiency of space travel, said "manufacture" would probably be rather akin to what we call "reproduction." All of these lines are blurred when talking about sufficiently advanced technology and science.

13 hours ago
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NASA Gets 2% Boost To Science Budget

Khopesh Neil deGrasse Tyson wants NASA to have a 2x budget (121 comments)

Neil deGrasse Tyson's video pleas We Stopped Dreaming and its follow-up A New Perspective proposed we increase NASA spending to 1% of the US Federal Budget (current spending: 0.5%) suggests we could go to Mars and innovate the way we did in the 70s, so there's a long way to go (a 2% boost leaves us 98% shy of Tyson's goal).

NASA is already trying to plan a manned mission to Mars or an asteroid in the future. It would be nice if they were funded for it.

about two weeks ago
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AdNauseam Browser Extension Quietly Clicks On Blocked Ads

Khopesh Re:Isn't that click fraud? (285 comments)

There are plenty of existing issues with abusive click fraud.

For example, Fraud from bots represents a loss of $6 billion in digital advertising @Reuters says

Almost one-fourth of video ads and 11 percent of display ads are viewed by fake consumers created by cyber crime networks seeking to take a chunk of the billions of dollars spent on digital advertising

I think getting "clicks" from actual targeted customers is a non-problem in the face of all this other fraud. When it comes to security research (my field), more information pretty much always leads to better verdicts. It's therefore quite reasonable that you want to crawl an extra step deep in order to vet a page you're on. This isn't even unprecedented; think of the browser link prefetching, which anticipates where you'll click and downloads content ahead of time.

about two weeks ago
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Obama's Immigration Order To Give Tech Industry Some, Leave 'Em Wanting More

Khopesh Re:Tax tech industry immigrants' salaries to fund (186 comments)

our educational system is still probably the best at producing software engineers

First, the tech industry is not just software engineers.

Second, while the current US educational system is very good at producing people who can drive good design, it's not so great at producing people who can implement it. The raw technical chops, especially with respect to understanding of advanced mathematics, is a rarity here in the US compared to (e.g.) much of the EU.

about a month ago
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Obama's Immigration Order To Give Tech Industry Some, Leave 'Em Wanting More

Khopesh Tax tech industry immigrants' salaries to fund Edu (186 comments)

This has been proposed before, but perhaps not strongly enough or from an important enough source, which is too bad because it solves practically all of our worries.

The premise is simple: the tech industry doesn't have enough good workers because our education system is not well suited to producing the necessary skill sets. Therefore, allow qualified talent to come in and fill that gap. Tax employers based on their salaries (for this to work, salaries must be lower rather than having the same salaries with extra deductions). The collected taxes would be directed to improve our educational systems (K-12 as well as public universities) so that this problem goes away. In time, it won't be worthwhile for an employer to consider this type of talent acquisition because qualified US citizens would be more readily available and would cost less (due to not requiring this proposed tax).

(Sorry if I got some of that terminology wrong; I'm not in HR nor do I deal with immigration paperwork.)

about a month ago
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Toyota Names Upcoming Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car

Khopesh Re:Hm, Prius="Before" vs Mirai="Future" (194 comments)

You cant find a citation because it isn't true.

Nissan sells 5,000,000 cars per year and made US$3 billion in profit last FY. Nissan makes good cars that sell well, pretty much the antithesis of American car corporations, so they're quite safe.

Yes, you are currently correct, but I'm talking about before the Leaf was released.

The story was that they had invested all of their research into batteries and then made a major play to be the first to market for plug-ins (be they electric vehicles or hybrids). The Leaf uses their advanced batteries and serves as a demonstration of a very basic electric car (the Leaf started as merely a Versa converted to be an EV). With the Leaf's success, Nissan is on its way to having the same kind of dominance in hybrid/electric car batteries that Toyota has in regenerative braking (which is leased by many competitors).

about a month ago
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Interviews: Warren Ellis Answers Your Questions

Khopesh Cookbooks?! (15 comments)

Warren, in the event you're reading the comments (and at a threshold low enough to see this...),

Can you speak more to why you listed so many cookbooks? I can understand René Redzepi's Work In Progress because, as Amazon notes, "it includes a personal journal written by René himself over a full year in which he explores creativity, innovation, and the meaning and challenges of success," but are all of the books on cuisine in the same light? Or are you an avid amateur chef? You've definitely given me something to seek out the next time I go to Iceland.

about a month ago
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Toyota Names Upcoming Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car

Khopesh Hm, Prius="Before" vs Mirai="Future" (194 comments)

"Prius" is Latin for "before" while "Mirai" is Japanese for "Future." Kind of sets a bold statement; an old language for hybrids and a new language (Japanese roughly dates back to the 8th century) for the purported future of cars ... which still has yet to be determined.

Contrast this with Nissan, another Japanese automobile manufacturer, which has invested so deeply into battery technology that if the Leaf were to fail, it's quite likely that they'd become a battery company. (A while back, I read (or watched?) a really compelling article/documentary on Nissan's battery research. It concluded that Nissan was gambling so heavily on both its own future with the Leaf and the future of automobiles as being electric that the company would likely stop making cars if the Leaf were to fail. Sorry I can't find a good citation to that.)

The presumption that Hydrogen Fuel Cells will be the "next" car fuel (after either gas or after electric) is still quite a strong one. I've seen it painted (iirc, by the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?) as something the oil companies latched onto because it competed with electric cars (which are ready now) and because hydrogen fuel cell cars are still quite a distant future prospect.

about a month ago
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How Baidu Tracked the Largest Seasonal Migration of People On Earth

Khopesh That is NOT a peer reviewed paper (48 comments)

From the linked paper, it was rejected:

Rejected by Science after in-depth review

This paper has not been peer reviewed. Read with that in mind (peer review is academic currency).

(That said, it doesn't get much more prestigious than Science. It's merely too early to bring this to bear. Perhaps it will eventually get accepted, reviewed, and then published. Only at that point can it be considered good research.)

about a month ago
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Interviews: Ask Warren Ellis a Question

Khopesh What would you write if your editors allowed it? (58 comments)

When writing within a popular series (e.g. X-Men or Hellblazer), there are certain hard limits in what liberties you can take. As a mundane example, you can't kill characters without planning out a large arc that builds up to it and/or quickly bringing them back, all with editorial approval from up on high.

What would you write within a popular series if only you could get permission to do it?

about a month and a half ago
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Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

Khopesh Re:...like dash cams. (455 comments)

This works.

Dashcam video clears NJ man:

The tale of the police dashcam video has now helped clear a Bloomfield, New Jersey man who faced a multitude of criminal charges, including eluding police and assault.

about 4 months ago
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Linux Sucks (Video)

Khopesh Re:Basic misunderstandings and self-contradictions (293 comments)

The point is we need people like him to remind us that certain things suck and need to be replaced (cough, X11, cough) otherwise we ae stuck with old badly architected technology for decades.

It's hard to find somebody that says X11 doesn't suck. I am definitely not that person.

My point was that he says forking sucks, he gave an example where (unbeknownst to him?) forking was certainly the best option, then he went on to talk about how forked Linux distributions have made the world a better place. He seems to conclude that forking is great and that he "loves" it.

(Also, I misspelled his name. Sorry, Bryan. I guess my post had room for improvement ... meaning it sucked.)

about 7 months ago
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Linux Sucks (Video)

Khopesh Basic misunderstandings and self-contradictions (293 comments)

OpenSSL doesn't listen to bug reports. They don't even accept offered patches to known bugs. It's this spirit of non-cooperation that caused the forking into LibreSSL. See the 30 day prospectus (/. coverage) from the LibreSSL project lead, which details all of the problems. Brian even says forking is ultimately a benefit, and that he "loves that they're doing it."

It seems to be that his definition of "sucks" is "has room for improvement" ... Everything has room for improvement, so apparently everything sucks.

about 7 months ago
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Canonical Halts Ubuntu For Android Development

Khopesh Please change the name of this /. article (1 comments)

"Canonical Halts Ubuntu For Android Development" implies that they are halting Ubuntu in order to develop on Android, which is the opposite of the truth.

This article, if promoted, should be named "Canonical Halts Development of Ubuntu For Android"

about 8 months ago
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Firefox 29: Redesign

Khopesh Re:did you checked the video? (688 comments)

But part of me wonders if I'm missing the point, if they're so intent on breaking it then might I as well just move browsers now? If I'm having to rely on addons to make a browser work then am I not just sat precariously one step away from Mozilla deciding that addon is unacceptable and cancelling it anyway?

It appears the FF devs have forgotten that their main advantage over Chrome is addons. I have so many addons, with icons to control them in the status bar (addons bar) that the new FF gave me about an inch of locationbar to see URLs. Thanks guys. I reverted this by using the dev version of Status-4-Evar. The GP's mention of Classic Theme Restorer is interesting, but I worry about its compatibility with Tab Mix Plus and other addons, as well as to your point of perhaps trying the new look & feel.

about 8 months ago
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The Mammoth Cometh: Revive & Restore Tackles De-Extinction

Khopesh Bring back undomesticated food (168 comments)

The core tenant behind the increasingly popular paleo diet is that food has been over-domesticated, favoring things like size, portability, and crop yield rather than health. Taste is often also low on the priority list (though higher than health). Wild plants like dandelion greens and ramps are significantly healthier than our domesticated cabbages for example.

The same goes for meat. Wild game meat is far healthier than meat from a factory farm. It's often tastier as well, though the farmed stuff tends to be fattier (and fat equals flavor). I'd love to try the meat of an ancestor of the cow that pre-dates its domestication. (It should also be eating and excersizing similar to the way it would in the wild rather than eating corn and living in tight quarters.)

about 10 months ago
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Why We Need To Teach Hacking In High School

Khopesh Re:I don't think so (124 comments)

Times have changed - when I did my computer science degree, most of the students were at the geeky end of the spectrum and were there because that's what they were really into. Compare to the present-day cross section of computer science students: most of them are there because computers are seen as a good career. The extra-curricular interest is giving way to people who just want a job.

I disagree. People like you and me merely congregated together and ignored the others. (Also, you went to school in Wales. Different world.) My above statement was about "my most IT-savvy freshman colleagues," which is to say under a dozen total (and I was friends with all of them). I'd say about 75% of my freshman peers in CS declared the major for its salaries and/or a passion for video games. I imagine today's breakdown is roughly the same, more due to the fact that most freshmen are blank slates than any measure of incoming freshman tech savviness (which brings us back on topic...).

I even chose CS over History and other things I was roughly equally interested in because it better mapped to a better career. (Also because my grades were stronger in CS and advanced math, but that had more to do with my odds of acceptance.) I had lots of classmates who were horrible at math but had chosen the program for the money it represented. Most of them failed out and migrated to the business program (which was less academically rigid at that school at that time; these days, they'd fail there too).

about 10 months ago
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Why We Need To Teach Hacking In High School

Khopesh Re:I don't think so (124 comments)

When I went off to college, many of my most IT-savvy freshman colleagues were versed in networks and system administration because they had run the computer labs of their high schools. Some of them had been caught cracking or otherwise mucking about in ways that the school staff lacked the ability to revert and been forced to clean up after themselves, others saw messes and volunteered to help out. They got paid and had responsibilities. From this new perspective, they learned the "damage" students could deal and then had the hands-on task of cleaning it up. I wish I had had that opportunity.

In this sort of environment, especially given the ubiquity of virtual machines and virtual networks, a well-facilitated capture the flag (CTF) event should be easy enough to facilitate. Even without virtualization (or even any lab at all), any school could reach out to a local hacker group and ask them to host a CTF event. The cost of scrounging up a bunch of computers and networking equipment for a one-shot event should be decently low given the spare parts in your typical hacker group or Linux users group. Maybe the school or city could even provide a budget for the event.

about 10 months ago

Submissions

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SSL Nightmare

Khopesh Khopesh writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Khopesh writes "Yesterday, Jacob Appelbaum wrote in depth about Certificate Authority compromises, discussing some very recent additions to Firefox and Chrome regarding blacklisted SSL certificates. It turns out that certificate revocation does not work, and that's becoming a major problem: Comodo, one of the world's largest certificate issuing authorities, just announced that it
issued fraudulent certificates to major sites, including Google, Yahoo, Skype, and others. Sadly, Comodo's site is refusing to serve their own account. Here is the Google cache of Comodo's compromise announcement."

Link to Original Source
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Feds Still Spy On Citizens

Khopesh Khopesh writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Khopesh (112447) writes "Too often, we've seen U.S. Intelligence agencies whose actions are cloaked in secrecy until someone uncovers governmental abuse that places innocent people under surveillance or on watchlists. It's truly scary to ponder how much more stays hidden. NetworkWorld recently got the chance to interview FBI Agent-turned ACLU Councel Mike German to get a thorough perspective from an insider who was fed up enough with those policies to quit his 16-year career and pick up as Policy Counsel on National Security, Immigration and Privacy for the ACLU. DailyTech has a nice overview of the story."
Link to Original Source
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Compromised .giv, .mil, .edu sites for sale

Khopesh Khopesh writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Khopesh (112447) writes "Imperva blogged today about the sale of compromised .gov, .mil, and .edu sites, illustrating that cyber-criminals are getting bolder. Krebs on Security has an unredacted view of the site list. Perhaps the biggest threat is yet to come; if an industrious criminal can break into top government and military sites, so too can government-backed teams, proving that GhostNet and Stuxnet are just the beginning..."
Link to Original Source
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Space.com & other TopTenREVIEWS sites compromi

Khopesh Khopesh writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Khopesh (112447) writes "This doesn't appear to be listed anywhere yet, but it just came in via email from Stephen O'Brien at the US Secret Service. There is not yet any recognition on any of those sites either. Quoting that email:

The Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force has been made aware of the following websites, which are redirecting users to a site hosting malicious code. This code can be used to exploit your computer and allow a user unauthorized access to your private information. Specifically, the exploits are targeting Adobe PDF files and Java applications.

Please use caution if browsing any of these sites:

Space.com
Livescience.com
Toptenreviews.com
Newsarama.com

Please contact the ECTF at 718-840-1220 if you have any further information or questions regarding this notice."
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Best Visualizations of 2010

Khopesh Khopesh writes  |  about 4 years ago

Khopesh (112447) writes "We're overrun by a plethora of data in this Information Age. Presenting this data has always been a difficult task. Google is seen as a leader here, having formed itself around the very idea of distilling and presenting information. In the last year or so, we have begun to see other presentations of data in beautifully designed graphical representations. FlowingData, a blog devoted to this sort of thing, has assembled a list of the 10 Best Data Visualizations of the year. Another blog on this front is Information is Beautiful. Even Facebook's devs are in on the action with a map of friend networks that looks almost identical to NASA's Earth at Night map — but without overlaying atop a base image."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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A two dimensional political compass

Khopesh Khopesh writes  |  more than 6 years ago

The problem with a one-dimensional compass is that in the world of liberal vs conservative (an economic scale), there is an awfully large overlap between the extremes; Greens and Libertarians have a LOT in common. The only explanation is that there is another metric. Enter the social scale, weighing personal freedoms of the individual (the lowercase-l "libertarianism" or "personal") against the united power of government ("authoritarianism" or perhaps "statism"). Greens are personal liberals, Libertarians are personal conservatives. This two-dimensional compass was pioneered by David Nolan (a Libertarian Party member) and is formally called a Nolan Chart in his name.

I've done a lot of toying with this concept lately. There are three main implementations: the quick-and-dirty World's Smallest Political Quiz, which heavily favors the US Libertarian Party (it was written by Nolan and his advocates), derivate project VoteMatch, which tries to remove that favoritism and further matches your scores to prominent politicians, and The Political Compass, which is less biased and has more clear labels.

World's Smallest Political Quiz

This mapping uses two dimensions, economic (liberal vs conservative) and social ("populist" vs "libertarian"). I dislike both of the terms used on the social scale, and the fact that the scale ignores the fact that each pairing should result in a pairing of the labels. This is one of the key criticisms noted in the WikiPedia article.

Putting the dimensions together with one's score results in a nicely rendered mapping with only one label despite that each label refers to only one of the axes. For example, you might score low on both scales, which would label you "populist" despite that you are also liberal (perhaps even more so!). Worse, the term "libertarian" has two meanings; the (capital-L) Libertarian Party (US) is right-leaning in its nature, even though the term "libertarian" really only indicates a social leaning. This makes it a bad label for this test. I advocate for "personal" instead. I'd call the other direction (low on the social scale) "nationalist" instead (other tests call it "authoritarian" or "statist").

The bias of this test is clear; they've manipulated the test so that it favors higher scores on both scales, and they also utilize the psychological instrument of "higher is better" to put (capital-L) Libertarians at the "top."

VoteMatch

I found two incarnations of this test, both of which appear to be maintained by ontheissues.org. One of them crashes for me, so I linked the other. Please note that the linked speakout version reverses question 14, which should be "decrease overall taxation of the wealthy."

This test suffers the same labeling problem of The World's Smallest Political Quiz, which will hopefully be fixed along with the aforementioned bug. The main merit of this site is that it allows you to compare your results with the computed results of various politicians, giving detailed explanations of each issue, boiling right down to the politicians' voting and campaigning records. This is a hell of a merit, and kudos to this team.

Note: more than the others, this test is mostly only applicable to present-day politics in the United States. (Since the "politics" category isn't available to journals, I chose "United States" ... other options were "government" and "editorial" ... but all of my journals will be pretty much editorials.)

The Political Compass

This test differs from the above in that the scale is flipped vertically and rotated 45 clockwise. It is properly labeled. The only issues I have with it are the positioning of Mike Gravel on the US Primaries 2008 page, which is clearly biased by his new political party (Libertarian) rather than his platform or history, and more seriously, question 2 on page 4 of the quiz is ambiguous and should state "it is preferable to have a one-party state because it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system" rather than "a significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids ..." since the latter has an ambiguous eye of the beholder (it is certainly an advantage to that single party, but the quiz wants it framed more universally).

Because of its proper labeling, the final paragraph of WikiPedia's criticism section does not apply. Its axes aren't biased to favor the Libertarian Party, either (if "higher is better," then it favors Neo-cons). However, I still think the term "libertarian" is misleading, and I'd prefer the social scale to compare "personal" to "nationalist." The explanation bit has some fine print that uses even better labels, though they're too verbose for category titles: "voluntary regional collectivism" (personal/libertarian) vs "state-imposed collectivism" (nationalist/authoritarian).

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