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Snowden: NSA Working On Autonomous Cyberwarfare Bot

LateArthurDent Re:Snowden's comments at odds with his actions (194 comments)

You think its right and normal that the NSA can spy on 7 billion souls? You re ok with that? Disgusting, you really dont belong here.

To be fair, I also think it's right and normal for foreign intelligent agencies to try spying on Americans. It's our counter-intelligence job to prevent it.

The NSA should be sure as hell trying to spy on every single non-American out there. It's their counter-intelligence job to limit it.

about a week ago

Snowden: NSA Working On Autonomous Cyberwarfare Bot

LateArthurDent Re:Snowden's comments at odds with his actions (194 comments)

That seems amazingly charitable, considering he should really get a presidential pardon and be welcomed back as the heroic guy who did the right thing to expose law breaking and billions of constitutional violations.

If the only thing he did was expose the illegal spying being done on Americans, I'd agree with that. But he indiscriminately takes everything he can get his hands on and reveals perfectly legal programs, like this one. "Identifying and blocking foreign threats" is the NSA's job, and why wouldn't that include cyber attacks? What justification does he have for revealing this?

I think we should specifically pardon him for for the relevant whistleblowing, to encourage other people in those positions to do the right thing. But we should sure as hell prosecute him for everything else he's leaked.

about a week ago

Why the "NASA Tested Space Drive" Is Bad Science

LateArthurDent Re:BLINDED BY SCIENCE !! (315 comments)

Any 2nd year physics student should be able to laugh this garbage right off a lab bench without even running an experiment.

Any good science student should be aware that our understanding of physics changes over time. Clearly this device is unlikely because it requires a change to the "laws" of physics.

The article explains why any good scientist should be able to laugh this off based on the reported experimental results.

The problem is that the article is saying this is bad science, when it's really bad science reporting

NASA did the right thing. They tested something, they got weird results, they published it. The article points out the results were no different than the null control, and that's true, so clearly the supposed design of the drive is bullshit. What the article doesn't point out is that the interesting part is that neither of them should have shown any thrust. So something is going on that the experimenters don't understand, and they've published the results to find out why. Is it a measurement / equipment / methodology error? Probably, actually. But if you can't find the error yourself, you publish the results you get, and let your peers help you. Papers will be published criticizing their methodology if there are problems with it, or proposing reasons for why the measurements look like they do. It's a long shot, but maybe there is some effect actually happening which we don't understand, and papers will be published with possible theories.

That's not bad science. It's the definition of good science. It's bad science to imply that you should ever not publish the results you get. And it's bad science reporting to look at what NASA published and incorrectly translate it to the public as, "NASA proves impossible drive"

about two weeks ago

Expensive Hotels Really Do Have Faster Wi-Fi

LateArthurDent Re:How much is due to Congestion (72 comments)

If WIFI is free, everyone will use it, clogging up the pipes. If there's a charge, less people will be on, making more BW available for those who shell out the cash. I also hope that the hotels that charge use the money to miantain the infrastructure, but that's wishful thinking on my part.

On the other hand, I used to pick hotels based on my free WiFi experience. So if you charged for WiFi, I'm not paying for a room at your place. If two different places have free WiFi, but I had a flaky connection in one hotel,and an ok connection in another, that's the deciding factor. All other concerns were secondary.

Of course, I would also have considered the case where the $10 a day a hotel would charge for WiFi would make up the difference in room cost, but it always turns out that expensive hotels charge for WiFi and cheap hotels don't, so that never came up.

These days I don't care, because 4G.

about two weeks ago

Apple Says Many Users 'Bought an Android Phone By Mistake'

LateArthurDent Re:It true !!!! (711 comments)

alternate browser: chrome and opera are available for iPhone, and probably ffx too ( i never checked). you can put the browser on your dock and take the safari browser off your dock. the only limitation is you can't change the default browser for which program is used when opening links in an email, etc. but otherwise do what you want.

Nope. All third-party browsers in iOS must use the iOS webkit framework. So yes, you can get "chrome" for iOS, but really it's just a Safari skin. Case in point, you can't use chrome extensions on it.

about 3 months ago

The Energy Saved By Ditching DVDs Could Power 200,000 Homes

LateArthurDent Re:It's the energy cost of the drive (339 comments)

That 50% assumption is stupid. You can't stream the food items or other things you buy while you're at that store. So you need to go to the store anyway, DVD or not.

I agree completely. If you're going to make the trip for any item, plus dvd, the only fair comparison is the extra energy used to carry the weight of the dvd around as a percentage of the other items you bought. Which would, of course, be negligible.

about 3 months ago

SEC Chair On HFT: 'The Markets Are Not Rigged'

LateArthurDent Re:So how fast does real world value change? (303 comments)

If you accept that the market system is a way of determining the value of securities, then what does HFT mean? How is it possible for real world value to change over the course of milliseconds?

Well, first, real-world price is the price at which people are willing to buy and sell the good. So, if there are trades happening over the course of milliseconds, then you should expect that price to change over the course of milliseconds. There isn't anything unusual about that. For example, if you want to buy oranges, and I say that I will sell you oranges for $1.00, the price is $1.00 to you if you want to buy oranges. If somebody else says they'll sell oranges to you at $0.80 instead, then you'll buy from them instead of me, and the price just fell $0.20. How long did it take the price to fall $0.20? However long it took the other guy to make the $0.80 sell offer. That could have been a month after I made my $1.00 offer, or it could have been 0.2 ms after I made my $1.00 offer. Clearly, if he wants people to buy his oranges instead of mine, it's in his benefit to make his offer as quickly as possible, because after you buy oranges from me, you won't want to buy any more oranges. So if he waits a month, he may have nobody buying at that price.

Conversely, if I offer to sell you 5 oranges at $1.00 and they immediately sell at that price, I'm going to offer my next 5 oranges at $1.20. How fast did the price rise $1.20? How fast did I make my next offer? I could continue selling oranges at $1.00 for a month, but if people are buying a ton of them, and I think I can sell all my oranges for more money, it's in my advantage to up the price as quickly as possible. So, milliseconds after your order went through, I could decide to sell the next batch at $1.20.

There's absolutely nothing nefarious about millisecond trades and price changes, if that's all that's going on. The only difference from "real world phenomena" is that the brokers have algorithms to increase or decrease the share price automatically based on the supply and demand it sees. In a very high trade volume situation, that time matters. If you're faster than your competitor, people are buying and selling *from you* because your prices are always better, closer to the optimal given the supply and demand for the stocks. That's how you make money being faster.

Second, HFT helps you get the "real world value" because the way you get a "real world value" is through iteration. When I decide to sell you oranges at $1.00, that's not the real-world value of oranges. That's a guess I made at the price, assuming there would be exactly enough demand for oranges at $1.00 as I have the ability to supply it. If people are willing to buy it at a higher price, I'll find that higher price faster the quicker I can perform trades and vary my price, and the more trades that I can make. Same if people are only willing to buy it at a lower price. It's no different than, say, if I want to find the square root of a number via the Babylonian Method. If I have a computer running at a low clock frequency, each iteration might take a second. If I have a computer running at a high clock frequency, each iteration might take a microsecond. They both get to the same answer, but a higher clock frequency gets you that answer faster. Again, nothing nefarious about that, and it means that at any one point a human looks at the price of stocks, it's a value that most accurately reflects that equilibrium price between buyers and sellers, because all the iterations are happening very fast.

What *is* somewhat nefarious is that apparently some trading houses are noticing you just bought all the oranges they were selling at a particular price. Then they assumed that you're likely trying to buy oranges from your competitors as well, for a similar price, at the same time. So, because they have a faster connection to the other trading house, they start buying oranges from competitors before your request to buy gets there. When your request to buy arrives, they tell you, "we're no longer selling at any oranges at that price." So the original place just bought up YOUR cheap oranges, and they get to sell it at a slight profit margin. It's not exactly front running, because that would be if your broker, once you've placed an order to buy oranges, instead of buying at your behest, goes out and buys himself a bunch of oranges, then sells them to you at a higher price. He knew what the demand was going to be, because you told him, and he caused the price to go up as a result. In this case, the trading house is buying up more oranges, but they don't *know* that you've placed on order elsewhere. They're making an assumption and taking a risk, based on some algorithm that predicts that type of stuff with some probability. That said, I will agree that's ethically iffy, because they are acting on knowledge nobody else will have for the next few milliseconds, and trading while they have that advantage.

about 4 months ago

Scientists/Actress Say They Were 'Tricked' Into Geocentric Universe Movie

LateArthurDent Re:Something which I do not understand (642 comments)

Cosmologists say that when we look in the sky and all the stars and planets, we can see them escaping us. This explains that the universe is expanding. But if we can observe the same thing from every side of Earth, wouldn't it mean that we are in the center?

It's a good question. Try this video

about 4 months ago

Woman Attacked In San Francisco Bar For Wearing Google Glass

LateArthurDent Re:LED (921 comments)

just stop pointing your camera at me. I don't care if it's showing a red light or not. She was being obnoxious, and wouldn't stop when asked.

You don't have the right to have someone not point a camera at you. You can leave, and cover your face, but you can't really force them to stop. You can politely tell them that it makes you uncomfortable, but if they want to be assholes about it, there's no law against being an asshole. There's definitely a law against you assaulting said asshole and/or stealing their property.

about 6 months ago

Woman Attacked In San Francisco Bar For Wearing Google Glass

LateArthurDent Re:what will it take for general acceptance (921 comments)

Filming is what you do to other people

Oh? What exactly are you doing to other people when you film them? Stealing their soul?

If you're not touching somebody, you're not assaulting them. If you're not following them as they try to leave you, you're not harassing them. Filming somebody is not doing anything to them anymore than loudly talking about them to somebody else, so that they can hear. They're peripherally involved, they might be annoyed by it, but they don't have any right to stop you.

about 6 months ago

Woman Attacked In San Francisco Bar For Wearing Google Glass

LateArthurDent Re:what will it take for general acceptance (921 comments)

Sure they have. And sometimes they get attacked. Happens all the time. But since it is not google glass, it doesn't make it to slashdot. People don't like to be recorded without their permission. It doesn't matter if it is google glass. This article attempts to make it sound like google glass users are a group that is discriminated against. That is not the case.

I don't know what bar you go to, but I've never seen that, ever. In fact, if the bar has live music, I've never been to one without at least 20% of people recording.

about 6 months ago

Woman Attacked In San Francisco Bar For Wearing Google Glass

LateArthurDent Re:Take pictures, press charges. (921 comments)

Apparently there is, even if the law doesn't currently recognise it. Maybe that law is out of date and should be changed.

I don't think so, but let's say you're right. The trick is that recognizing such an expectation of privacy cannot mean that you just ban cameras you're uncomfortable with. You have to ban security cameras. You have to ban reporters who are covering a story. You have to ban people taking selfies at bars and other locations where it's not possible to ensure someone who didn't consent will show up in the background.

If the majority of people in a jurisdiction are willing to go with that, then yeah, the law should be changed. I think they're not. I think the first time you take your phone out to take a picture of something cool you've seen and other people tell you that you can't do that, you're going to throw a fit. People don't really think they have an expectation of privacy at those locations, they just feel uncomfortable when they see a camera next to them because it makes it obvious that they have no expectation of privacy, and they don't like to be reminded of that. They like to pretend they're not ending up on the background of tons of pictures, or being laughed at by the police who is reviewing security tapes because someone's wallet was stolen at the same time you were at the bar getting slapped for the stupid line you tried to use.

about 6 months ago

Woman Attacked In San Francisco Bar For Wearing Google Glass

LateArthurDent Re:No, not those who don't understand... (921 comments)

Holding the camera up pointing at the room with the screen towards you would be offensive whether or not you were filming.

No. In a public location, bringing a high quality video camera out, setting up on a tripod, and pointing it at straight at you is perfectly acceptable. It's a public location, you have no privacy. You are within your rights to leave, to cover your face, to turn your back to the camera. You can't attack the owner of said camera, or take the camera away.

At the bar you own, or at your house, or at any private property in which the owner doesn't want the device on, you absolutely have the right to kick anybody out who doesn't follow the rules. But somebody is perfectly within their rights to stand in the public street and point a camera at your house window. The only legal recourse you have is to close the blinds.

This obviously depends on the jurisdiction in your area, and whatnot. However, for a lot of the US, that happens to be true. And it's the way it should be.

about 6 months ago

Why P-values Cannot Tell You If a Hypothesis Is Correct

LateArthurDent Re:To quote one of my professors... (124 comments)

Exactly. However, that's not a difficult problem to solve. What the Nature article fails to address is the real problem: it's not easy to publish papers that do nothing but confirm the findings of another paper.

The article talks about how a researcher had his dreams of being published dashed once he failed to achieve a similar p-value upon attempting to reproduce his own research. This is bullshit. Journals should be selective, yes. They should be selective in terms of whether experiments have been run with proper methodology, and whether the study supports the conclusions made by the author. They shouldn't be selective based on p-value. For proper science to occur, not only should said researcher have been able to publish his first low p-value study, he should have been able to publish his second high p-value study. Other researchers at different institutions should attempt to reproduce the work and publish their positive or negative findings. Only once dozens of said studies are performed can we actually start to draw a conclusion: if only 1 in 20 experiments show a p-value below 0.05, well that doesn't actually disprove the null-hypothesis, it's evidence for it.

Even if the 5% chance of a paper being bullshit was an upper bound, that would still be a really plausible scenario. Replicating experiments are a fundamental part of science, but journals are only interested in unique experiments yielding positive results with low p-values. Either that or negative results replicating a particularly important paper that everyone takes for granted. Ideally, while grad students are still new and learning the ropes, their research should consist of replicating others' research and publishing the result, whatever it may be. It's the perfect job to get them started before they've had the chance to do significant research of their own, and it's incredibly valuable to the community at large.

about 6 months ago

Stephen Hawking: 'There Are No Black Holes'

LateArthurDent Re:But it is horribly wrong anyway. (458 comments)

Yet, if you put those same satellites in orbit around a black hole, GR math will fail in similar manner...Additionally, GR doesn't properly account for even gravity at super scales.

Is that right? I was under the impression GR is supposed to work fine orbiting a black hole, and that you only ran into problems once you got close to the singularity, because at that point it's dealing with small scales. Simultaneously, quantum mechanics is unlikely to work there either, because it's dealing with very large gravity in small scales. Basically, the singularity is the point where you run outside the scope where either theory works correctly: GR works well with gravity at large scales, but works poorly at small scales, and quantum mechanics works well at small scales, but doesn't work well when gravity is a significant factor (therefore the need for the development of a quantum gravity theory).

I'm not a physicist though, so I'd be glad to be corrected if my understanding is incorrect.

about 7 months ago

A Data Scientist Visits The Magic Kingdom, Sans Privacy

LateArthurDent Re:Decaf at Starbucks? (124 comments)

Plus I kind of think that doing risky behaviour *should* increase your premiums (and reduce everyone else's of course).

I never understood that argument. You guys argue that people who have insurance should pay their premiums in proportion to how likely they are to use it. You consider that the fairest possible payment system. However, if you take that to its logical conclusion, you should only charge people who actually end up using it. So you should go ahead and eliminate insurance altogether, and you have the fairest model possible: only people who get into car accidents pay the costs, only people who get sick pay medical costs, only people who get robbed suffer their losses.

The entire point of insurance is to make the payment unfair in order to diminish the payment by spreading the risk among everyone. You agree to pay something, even though you hope to never have to cash in on the insurance, so that if you do have to cash in, everybody else who doesn't need to cash in subsidizes you, and you pay less. You do this for peace of mind. What you should want isn't to pay commensurate to your risk, you should want everybody to pay equal rates, which will result in the lowest possible premium for everyone. If you determine that premium is too high for your risk level, that should mean you think your risk level is low enough to go without insurance.

about 7 months ago

Bennett Haselton: Google+ To Gmail Controversy Missing the Point

LateArthurDent Re:Bennett Haselton? (244 comments)

If you want to know who he is, just look him up on Google+

Better yet, look him up on Google+ and send him an email. After all, he states that this linking of Google+ and Gmail won't cause an increase of unsolicited email.

That's going to inconvenience him about as much as spam mail in the spam folder, considering all the e-mail people send is going to be automatically filed away to the social folder. Your post ended up proving his point that people don't actually understand how the feature work.

I was somewhat pissed off that Google made accepting those e-mails the default in the google+ settings, but I can see why some people would turn it on. In any case, anyone can turn it off.

about 7 months ago

EV Owner Arrested Over 5 Cents Worth of Electricity From School's Outlet

LateArthurDent Re:Math is math (1010 comments)

1kw is meaningless, without a time period.
It's a unit of power, not energy.

Right. Which is why 1kW / hr doesn't make any sense. Power is a rate, watts is equivalent to Joules per second. So 1 kW / hour is an acceleration in the draw of energy, or 0.278 J / s^2.

They also didn't mean 1 kW * hr for their energy, because the rest of the sentence specified that "1 kW / hr" was $0.10 and he parked for less than 30 minutes. So yeah, clearly they meant just 1kW, and the time period is 30 minutes. Or 0.5 kW * hr for the energy.

about 9 months ago

Is the Porsche Carrera GT Too Dangerous?

LateArthurDent Re:Wrong subject (961 comments)

Serious question: what exactly are the consequences of expressing gun control sentiment on a bumper sticker "unsafely"? Does it stop at harassment, bullying, slashing your tires and keying the car? Or will some go so far as to take actual shots at your car?

I live in the South. The consequences are going to have people talk to you about how your position is unwise. Which I believe would happen quite often. You may increase your risk of getting keyed, but the only people who would do that are the people who randomly key cars anyway, they just found what they're deeming a justification this time.

The GP was making a joke. Of the same type you'd hear from a friend who is a fan of a different football team you are saying that you won't be safe at his house during the game.

about 9 months ago


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