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Doctor Who To Teach Kids To Code

LainTouko Re:Sigh (164 comments)

Doctor Who actually has equal numbers of male and female viewers, or at least it did the last time I checked.

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

LainTouko Re: The UK Cobol Climate Is Very Different (270 comments)

So when the poor fail to cross an additional hurdle of saving for something which shouldn't be necessary whilst not having enough money to feed themselves properly, which the wealthy don't need to worry about, or simply refuse to go through such unpleasantness in order to obeise themselves in front of the systems which oppress them, you accuse them of lacking self-discipline, and use that as an excuse to deny opportunity from them and keep participating in their oppression.

A perfect example of why suit culture is not just unpleasant, but is actively evil, and anyone ethical should help resist it.

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

LainTouko Re:The UK Cobol Climate Is Very Different (270 comments)

I think the real key is that developers (in common with a few other groups of people like mathematicians) cannot get away with waffling and convincing some person that they're probably right about things. They have to actually get things precisely correct, or their code won't compile or will produce warnings etc. So ideas which depend on illusions, like suits being linked to professionalism, have a far harder time surviving in their culture, because everyone is in the habit of making sure things are right.

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

LainTouko Re:The UK Cobol Climate Is Very Different (270 comments)

One problem with it is that the bizarre notion that a suit is "professional" is a tool of social exclusion, and anyone wearing one where it's expected will support the notion, and hence help to exclude people who aren't interested in them or can't afford them.

Also simply just having to abandon my own personal culture and yield to a hateful culture where we judge people by arbitrary qualities of the clothing they wear is an awful feeling, and if I could do this willingly, I wouldn't be so good at demanding correctness elsewhere, and hence writing disciplined and secure code. You want to be able to be yourself at a place you'll be spending a significant proportion of your life. The suits game is wrong on multiple levels, and utterly rejecting it is part of my being.

about 2 months ago
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The FBI Is Infecting Tor Users With Malware With Drive-By Downloads

LainTouko Re:Mostly harmless (182 comments)

Would you be able to answer the same question about your own personal porn preferences? I know I wouldn't be able to answer it about mine.

about 4 months ago
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How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

LainTouko Universal (391 comments)

I'm slightly surprised this is seen to be so universal. Obviously, there will be plenty of guys here who love doing stuff with hardware and will want to make as much as possible themselves. But I'm basically interested in software. (The hardware already does basically what I want it to, but I want to do all sorts of things with software which nobody has written yet, or at least, not in the way I want.) And while I've added drives and memory, I'd rather leave the main and initial build to a professional. I'm sure I could do it myself, and spend less money by doing so, but as an amateur, I'd end up with an amateurish job, and worry that I'd make some subtle error around cooling or power connections or whatever which would render the result unreliable or shorten its lifespan. Plus I value my time, and it would be a means to an end, rather than a joy.

about 4 months ago
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Suddenly Visible: Illicit Drugs As Part of Silicon Valley Culture

LainTouko Re:The only good thing (511 comments)

Actually, heroin would be safer than alcohol or tobacco if it wasn't for prohibition. Long term use of tobacco, or overuse of alcohol significantly increases your chance of dying from various things. Long term use of heroin doesn't actually do very much. It's the unreliable doses, sky-high costs, substances it's cut with and injection hazards which make heroin so dangerous under prohibition. None of these would be a problem if it was legal.

about 4 months ago
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Suddenly Visible: Illicit Drugs As Part of Silicon Valley Culture

LainTouko Re:The only good thing (511 comments)

How about the entirely unnecessary, bigoted coercion and force used against them by society to incarcerate them, which they wouldn't have to suffer if they were addicted to something mainstream, i.e. alcohol or tobacco?

Having your life ruined merely for being different is something which should attract sympathy from anyone.

about 4 months ago
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What qualifications should the 'driver' of a fully autonomous car need?

LainTouko Re:The human is just a passenger (301 comments)

Well, someone has to have insurance. The reason passengers obviously don't have to have insurance at the moment is because they can rely on the driver having it. (Or at least they should be able to.) If we eliminate drivers from the equation, we don't eliminate the need for insurance, it just becomes less obvious who should be responsible.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Can We Create a Culture of Secure Behavior?

LainTouko Do you want to? (169 comments)

The first question is not actually how you can create such a culture, but whether it's actually a good thing in the first place. You seriously need to evaluate this. One of the primary means of being secure is not trusting others. But trusting others is an incredibly useful tool to get things done, and it may be worth taking the security hit. Stand on a crowded railway platform, and you're trusting so many people, each of whom could push you off and kill you so easily, without even thinking about it. Without trust, society itself would be impossible.

So for example, if everyone believed they were immune to the security risk of terrorism, this would very obviously be such a good thing for society. There have been security economic analyses done of various security measures recommended by security guys, thinking their users to be fools who just wouldn't listen, which established that the users who ignored them were actually completely right, that the cost of implementing these measures was hundreds of times greater than the benefit of preventing the attacks they were effective against.

A security professional who thinks doing things securely must always be a priority just because that's his field, instead of taking the time to gain a more holistic understanding of the situation, deserves to be ignored.

about 7 months ago
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Jewish School Removes Evolution Questions From Exams

LainTouko Re:FYI (431 comments)

There might be some extra sexism, we don't have enough information to tell. The question being whether the people who have made this decision would have made the same decision if they were teaching boys. We can only guess at this.

about 9 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Manage Your Passwords?

LainTouko Make your own (445 comments)

I've just constructed my own simple password manager. Attach a short ident for each password to a strong master password, and then SHA512 and base64, truncate the result as necessary. Can be easily reconstructed wherever you want.

about 9 months ago
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I'd rather be spied on by ...

LainTouko Obviously, none of those (324 comments)

The two main criteria for choosing someone to spy on you would be that they are as close to powerless to affect you as possible, and don't share information with anyone more able to exert power on you. Some tiny country I know little about but the name and approximate location is probably going to be the best answer.

1 year,14 days
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Why There Shouldn't Be a Chess World Champion

LainTouko Re:Related question re: Women's Chess (284 comments)

Judit Polgar was one of eight players who participated in what FIDE called the "World Chess Championship 2005". Now, the FIDE world championship during the era when the champion wasn't participating was of course a joke, but the winner of that tournament, Topalov, challenged the world champion Kramnik for the title on the basis of his win. This makes the FIDE "World Chess Championship 2005" a de-facto candidates tournament, and hence, the eight participants, including Judit, world championship candidates. Players who were candidates to challenge for the world title.

1 year,20 days
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Why There Shouldn't Be a Chess World Champion

LainTouko Re:Related question re: Women's Chess (284 comments)

And moreover, since Judit Polgar was capable of becoming a world championship candidate, it's proven that women can compete with men at the top.

The problem is that chess, or at least, serious chess seems to be an almost exclusively male pastime, for reasons I can only guess at. This leads to there being very few women in the top ranks of the game, simply because there are very few women at all ranks of the game, which creates the perception that they can't compete. So people organise separate tournaments for girls because that's what you do in sport. And so girls learning chess only have a tiny pool of other people to practice against, so they don't get the broad range of experience that the boys do, and they imagine becoming women's world champion rather than world champion so they don't get the ambition boys do, and so the regular stream of Judit Polgars which we need to break this idea is suppressed.

Segregation is a disaster for women's chess, but it creates a self-propagating vicious circle. It is its own explanation.

1 year,21 days
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Why There Shouldn't Be a Chess World Champion

LainTouko Different sorts of 'best' (284 comments)

I think the problem the author has is that he wants to believe that there is a singular notion of "best chess player". In reality, there are multiple notions of the best chess player. Ratings measure more the ability to stay consistent throughout your career and never let your form dip, tournament wins measure more your ability to take points off weaker players and shift our mindset rapidly to deal with the next style which comes along... and the world championship measures more your ability to present an impregnable wall of defensive ability and be unbeatable.

These are all very valuable things to have, and wanting to take one of them away just because your mind isn't flexible enough to cope with them all existing simultaneously is selfish.

1 year,21 days
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Ask Slashdot: Can We Still Trust FIPS?

LainTouko Re:a much better question (138 comments)

What do you have against AES? The US government doesn't pick bad algorithms for itself to use as a matter of principle or anything, suspicion is only really warranted on algorithms which contain data which claims or appears to be random, but could have been specially chosen to have some property. (If you want people to trust your magic numbers, you generate them by doing something like taking the hash of the square root of 2.) The difference between AES and Twofish is that AES got more positive comments from around the world during the AES selection process, and fewer negative comments. Twofish is still a well-respected algorithm which will protect your data, but AES is generally regarded as slightly superior, and this is why NIST recommend it.

There's no need for a replacement for Dual_EC_DRBG, because it was only one of several recommended choices, and was both slow and suspicious, so nobody was using it anyway. Hash-based PRNGs seem to be faring best at the moment, though something which everyone can call good is still yet to really emerge.

The main crypto algorithm which is both trusted and now under suspicion is ECDSA/ECDH, where people have tended to use curves recommended by NIST, which have data in which we can't verify the generation of. It's not clear just how dangerous this is, whether this data could actually hold any malicious secrets or not, but it can certainly be solved just by generating our own curves, or using curves from organisations we trust more.

about a year ago
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Should the U.S. bomb Syria?

LainTouko Re:Damned if you do, damned if you don't (659 comments)

There is a key difference between Libya and Syria, beyond the geopolitical considerations of Syria being a big part of the Israel-Arab enmity. Libya ended up being a struggle between nearly all the people of the country and a bunch of foreign mercenaries, nobody really supported the previous government. Syria is just a standard civil war.

about a year ago
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NSA Foils Much Internet Encryption

LainTouko Re:Suprising why? (607 comments)

Without knowing the details, this sounds perfectly reasonable. Going to 256-bit symmetric keys is future-proofing. Nobody can break 128-bit encryption now, but in thirty years time, it's quite possible that someone could. (In particular, quantum computing could effectively halve symmetric key lengths, in addition to its better known effect of killing all the practical asymmetric crypto we've got right now.) So if the military didn't want their messages to be readable in even 30 years time, they would be advised to use 256-bit, whereas if a guy who decrypts a message which is part of some banking protocol 20 years after it was sent couldn't do much with the information because everything has already happened, it would be an unnecessary move for the banks.

about a year ago
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What's your favorite medium for Sci-Fi?

LainTouko Re:Television, if done right (322 comments)

We are imaginative animals; we produce pictures, sounds, smells, tastes and the sense of touch in our minds. When you read a book, you live it without the limits and limitations imposed by cinematic arts.

Imagining sensory input is pretty much irrelevant to the goals of storytelling. It's a means to an end. The end of storytelling is to convey feelings, and ideas which are linked to feelings. (If plain ideas are what you want to convey, you're better off with non-fiction, so as not to risk being misunderstood.) The real advantage that prose has is the ability to directly describe what people are thinking, and to a certain extent, the ideas which are in play without it seeming forced and unnatural. Their sensory input is just really something to have thoughts and feelings about, it's very much secondary.

But because sight is so powerful, the advantages of cinema are quite overwhelming, when deployed properly. It's far more than "showing what things look like". I'm not an expert so I can't go into much convincing detail, but the art of cinema is all about communicating with things like space, colour, geometry, motion etc. Things like if you have two people separated by a vertical line in the background, it feels quite different to if they are separated by a slanted line in the background, and again different if they're overlapping one another instead. Since it's only about a century old, and it's such a powerful and abstract form of communication, we're still beginners at making it, really. But we're getting better and better, and if you find the best modern examples and gain the skills necessary to fully process the visual language, nothing else compares.

The whole idea of thinking about 'limitations' is really the wrong way round. It's better to think of different media as toolboxes for conveying stuff. Prose is a pretty good toolbox, it's been around for a long time and we know how to use it pretty much to its maximum extent. Cinema is an incomprehensibly vast toolbox, with almost limitless potential, that we're still playing with. It's very easy to mess up, but as we learn to get it right, it can do incredible things which couldn't be dreamed of without it.

about a year ago

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