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Are You Ready For the Digital Afterlife?

bradbury Re:Misdirected efforts (108 comments)

Please allow me to point out some flaws in your argument.

First, comparison of the world-wide birth rates vs. death rates is not useful because it does not take into account the rates relative to the level of societal education and development. In "Western" countries the population growth rate is close to zero or even negative. So your argument only has a basis (population-growth) in countries which do not have access to birth control or countries where women do not have rights or means to prevent conception.

Second, your argument fails to take into account technology development. The question could be rephrased as "What is the carrying capacity of the earth?" which could further be rephrased as as "What is the carrying capacity of a robust molecular nanotechnology enhanced earth?". Your argument only has merit if all people continue to reproduce at world-wide rates and if nanotechnology fails to develop. Assertions that I would claim you cannot make.

Now if you become informed about the real limits to a greater extent and wish to discuss them, then I would be happy to engage in such a discussion.

Robert

1. Q1 to bring to the discussion: "What is the hypsithermal limit of the Earth and why is it significant?" [2]
2. Bonus points: How does one escape the hypsithermal limits of the Earth?"

more than 3 years ago
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Are You Ready For the Digital Afterlife?

bradbury Misdirected efforts (108 comments)

If only a little bit more effort went into preserving actual lives then a little less effort would need to go into preserving remnants.

Most individuals alive today living in developed countries can have an indefinite lifespan (if they want to).

That is what cryonic suspension and nanotechnology (to reanimate frozen individuals) or nanotechnology (in the form of nanorobots) to prevent death by various causes are all about.

While preserving the information is useful. One can only hope that the same effort directed towards preventing the death in the first place or immediately upon death will result in better systems and a cultural perspective for not letting people die.

more than 3 years ago
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Why Published Research Findings Are Often False

bradbury Its the Blue People (453 comments)

Anyone familiar with the concept of "reality on demand" knows that it is constructed on a need-by-need basis by the Blue People. Now the Blue People are not 100% reliable. Sometimes they forget to put back key pieces of reality. This is the source of the problem of failure to reproduce results. The reproduction is being attempted in a reality which is simply too different.

Two possible solutions come to mind. Only conduct experiments where one never has to leave the room. Or maybe find a good lawyer who can negotiate a higher quality level contract with the Blue People.

more than 2 years ago
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A Real World HTML 5 Benchmark

bradbury Re:But, but, but, (163 comments)

The point primarily was -- the distribution of simple information, which was what IMO the web was intended to do, does *not* require HTML5, nor Javascript. Indeed Google's Gmail points out that one can produce very functional apps without resorting to Javascript. If even some small amount of effort were put into maps.google.com or mapquest I'm sure those would work just as well without Javascript too.

Yet I have *yet* to see a benchmark which measures the simple functions which are those needed for 95+% of what I happen to use the web for.

more than 3 years ago
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A Real World HTML 5 Benchmark

bradbury But, but, but, (163 comments)

What if I don't need either HTML5 or Javascript? Simple old HTML worked *fine* for a decade to do what it was designed for -- display information (and allow simple forms entry, e.g. electronic transactions). It did *NOT* require HTML5 nor Javascript. Those are applications for people who want to use *my* computer resources for *their* purposes [3].

It is reasonable to point out that Google has scanned 7 million books, PubMed/Medline has 21+ million records, and Wikipedia has 3+ million articles in English. All of that is information which does *not* require HTML5 or Javascript to distribute [1]. So *why* should I be concerned with HTML5 or Javascript which I try to avoid as much as possible?

Why not provide benchmarks for the time it takes to restore complex sessions? Or the browser that can display sessions in minimal memory (so I can still use them on my 5+ y.o. HP Pavilion which only has 384 MB of main memory)? Or the browser that can successfully display the main pages of the 50 top newspapers in the U.S. in the shortest amount of CPU time (or memory usage)?

Rise up masses of the WWW and tell the browser developers and reviewers [2] that "We don't need no stinken benchmarks for features we don't use or want".

If you are a robust benchmark developer then add Dillo to the list browsers that you are benchmarking.

[4].

1. With the exception of NCBI PubMed/Medline who have been "seduced" by the Javascript genie and will no longer return PubMed Queries (something they did very successfully for ~15 years) without Javascript being enabled.
2. ... and web page developers -- who don't seem to appreciate the concept expressed in Dragnet -- "Just the facts ma'am". And I don't need HTML5 or Javascript to get them.
3. It could be argued that the only HTML5 that the majority of people have any interest in are those elements which allow them to use their computer as a TV. But I've already got a TV which behaves perfectly well as a TV! And of course the only thing Javascript is helpful for is filling out the two letter state codes in on-line purchasing forms for those who are typing and/or memory handicapped. Though the Javascript programmers are seldom clever enough to know when to select MA over ME.
4. And does anyone ever notice that /. works just *fine* without enabling Javascript?

more than 3 years ago
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New Tech Promises Cheap Gene Sequencing In Minutes

bradbury Fact checking please! (121 comments)

According to [1] the cost of sequencing Watson's genome in 2007 was $2 million, not $1 million! Costs of the "original" genome sequences are often misquoted as well as $3 billion when that was the cost of the entire HGP which included the yeast genomes, the mouse genome and the development of a lot of technology that enable the sequencing of larger genomes. For an estimate of the actual cost of sequencing the original genomes (circa 2001-2003) a better source of information is the total amount of capital Celera raised from the late 1990s through 2003. Alternatively one could go through the NIH NHCGR budgets for the late 90's thru 2003 and separate out the grants actually awarded to the primary genome sequencing centers related to human genome sequencing. I believe the "common" number quoted for the first human genome is around $1 billion (~30% of the cost of the entire HGP), but I suspect that Celera never raised that much money so the real 1st & 2nd genome costs were probably less.

But it is clear that in the last 7 years the cost of sequencing a genome has declined by more than 5 orders of magnitude and that another order of magnitude will bring personal genome sequencing into budget realm (~$500) of individuals living in developed countries. However the fly in the ointment here is that there is currently little capability and will be little capability for some time [2] for using this information in medical settings to improve health care or reduce sickness, disease and aging.

Most people think that just because one sees reports on CNN that one can diagnose predispositions for breast or colon cancer that we are on the verge of curing all diseases. Not! The only way we will solve the primary problem driving our health care costs (aging) is by recognizing that the genome architecture is fundamentally flawed and the only way to solve the problem is to design a new more robust and reliable genomes. This can be done now. It could probably even have been started a decade ago [3]. Sure it will not be simple -- but neither was learning how to build automobiles or airplanes or rockets. But it is time that people start about transcending the current human OS just as Chromium OS will likely trump Windows and Linux and they in turn trumped VMS, UNIX, MVS, etc.

1. http://www.technologyreview.com/biotech/18809/
2. Scientists have not even begun to think about the "systems biology of specific human genomes" (vs. the systems biology of the "generic" human genome) and except for exceptional cases where defective genes have been directly tied to diseases in OMIM the information required is lacking and will only slowly accumulate through long term correlation studies. The only "short-cut" is to do full scale molecular dynamics simulations of all of the atoms in single eukaryotic cells (and then tissues, organs and bodies) and our largest supercomputers are still many orders of magnitude away from having that capability.
3. There will be people who claim designing a cellular OS is impossible until we completely understand how it works. I would argue that writing a program that prints "Hello World" seems difficult to people who don't understand programming or computers but is pretty simple to people who have been taught basic computer skills without the requirement of having to know assembly language or do arithmetic in binary numbers. There is also the problem that in designing cellular operating systems one is playing "God" -- so you will not see politicians touching this "third rail". Thus the demand and support has to come from private individuals or foundations who recognize that this is simply the logical and "right" thing to do.

more than 3 years ago
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Look Forward To Per-Service, Per-Page Fees

bradbury Re:Shaking in my boots... (400 comments)

Creating "rights" on the fly are we?

Back in the days when one purchased a physical wire, e.g. T1 or ISDN connection one paid for the wire and the electronics required to support it. Then you got a ISP to interface the connect the wire to the NET. Then you took up hardware problems with the hardware provider and bandwidth problems with the ISP. Now it seems that *some* people are starting to view a cell phone as an extension of the NET and network neutrality guidelines should apply.

The "I've purchased the right to communicate data at a certain speed" was incorporated into the decision to purchase a T1 or ISDN connection. The "network neutrality" aspect applied to whether the ISP filtered or prioritized the data in some way.

Lets ignore the "filtering" aspect, since at least Verizon was doing this for years (though they may have discontinued it given recent rulings). The prioritizing of packets is a bandwidth/QOS problem which is a little more critical when talking about cell phone service vs. ISP data centers. When the bandwidth requirements go up with cell phones you have to add equipment to existing cells and/or make the cell phone "cells" smaller (add more equipment) so there are costs associated with this (more than just adding a few racks in an ISP data center). Now why should I as a non-/occasional cell phone user be forced to subsidize those who want reliable Netflix "on-demand" during peak metro travel times?

The *old* cell phone system (delivering voice) worked fine for me. People who want to use cell phone technology for network access (at rates beyond what old analog modems would provide) should be paying for it -- and shouldn't be screaming "network neutrality" when providers start coming up with ways to pay for the increased capacity required. Or would you prefer to scream about the "no service" situation that would arise when the airwaves become saturated with Netflix and YouTube videos on demand -- if the providers simply maintained the status quo?

more than 3 years ago
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Look Forward To Per-Service, Per-Page Fees

bradbury Re:Shaking in my boots... (400 comments)

Reasonable points. But I'm old enough to remember those 20 or so years I lived before the WWW became popular or the 15 or so I've survived only using a cell phone for very brief periods. And guess what -- I still managed to do a lot of communicating using personal email and mailing lists and kept myself entertained using videocassettes and/or cable subscriptions.

You aren't doing that much different from what I have done over the years -- you are just using different tools. I too was once a fan of a GB is a GB but that ignores the peak demand issues that tend to impact users of certain applications such as Netflix, Youtube, etc. An executive at AT&T said something to the effect of "We keep adding bandwidth but they (the users) keep consuming it all." [1] And that is the core of the problem. Providers built in capacity using old models of data demands and the users (you, not me) have changed your demands. And I have a problem with why I should be expected to pay for the needs of some who argue "I want my data and I want it now" when I do not have that need.

To coin an old phrase, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." And the "few" in this case are mostly in the 10-30 y.o. age group and aren't going to become the "many" for quite a number of years (or ever if we solve the problem of aging so older adults can live indefinitely).

Still searching for a cell phone plan where the minutes I buy (or the GB I purchase with minimal QOS guarantees) last forever with no contract (and I *own* the phone and can use it anywhere).

1. This was around the time that iPhone apps started taking off.

more than 3 years ago
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Look Forward To Per-Service, Per-Page Fees

bradbury Re:Shaking in my boots... (400 comments)

Briefly, a MB is not a MB when it is a MB delivered at 2AM vs. 8-9AM or 5-6PM. When you make that argument you are requesting that people who could generally care less about rate of delivery (e.g. myself) should subsidize the cost of building a network to allow metro riders to watch Netflix on their way to/from work. The problem is that the providers did not expect the apps that can eat bandwidth to develop as quickly as they did, nor that there would be the demand for them that there is. We are still in an adjustment period while they adjust pricing to match demand.

See my other comments for further perspective.

more than 3 years ago
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Look Forward To Per-Service, Per-Page Fees

bradbury Re:Shaking in my boots... (400 comments)

Your argument is for data quantity neutrality. It skirts around the peak-time usage problems that drive up the cost of the network. If everyone wants to watch Netflix from 8-9 AM on the subway going to work and from 5-6 PM coming home from work then the provider has to build in excess capacity to support those time periods and provide "reliable" service.

The problem is that GB's *are* not all equal depending on what time they are used or whether one wants 1GB / hour or 1GB every 2 minutes. There are precedents for peak vs. off-peak pricing in both the electric power and telphone (e.g. late night calls), though many living in the modern cell phone era may not recall that.

The real problem lies in the fact that the user thinks all GB are equal while the provider does not. One way to coerce the public back into a "awareness" of data use model [1] is to charge users for access to those sources which require "real time" performance even during peak periods. Otherwise such users are shifting the costs of the network from what they have paid onto my checkbook which could care less about peak period bandwidth performance [2].

1. Rather than the current "I want my data and I want it now" perception which seems to prevail.
2. I will fairly frequently download GB of Linux distributions and/or Genome information. It takes hours over a DSL connection and even many minutes over a Cable connection. And the ftp logs will show me how the rate varies from time to time. As long as I get the data within a day or so I'm a happy camper.

more than 3 years ago
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Look Forward To Per-Service, Per-Page Fees

bradbury Shaking in my boots... (400 comments)

OMG, I'm scared to death that they are going to start charging me for this stuff. But, but, but, wait a minute, I only look at my Facebook page once every couple of weeks, certainly don't use it as a twitter substitute (which I also don't use). I only rarely look at a YouTube Video and am unlikely to download NetFlix videos over the net until they support Linux. And then there is the fact that I've only got a Net10/LG NTLG300GB cell phone without one of those fancy displays that is on an expired usage contract [1].

So as far as I can tell, the only "newsworthy" aspect of this is that the evil phone companies are attempting to tax (cough extort) money from those wealthy enough to own (or have a contract) that supports a "fancy phone" habit and/or those who have nothing better to do than waste time updating their Facebook pages or watching NetFlix on their phone [2].

God, I hope that some liberal congressperson gets wind of this and arm twists the FCC to stop this evil corporate activity which would apparently discriminate against those in the 10-20 y.o age group.

My net. This appears to be a "lottery"-like tax on those who don't have better things to do with their time/money. YMMV.

1. Means I have to go down to Walmart or BestBuy and buy some minutes to reactivate it.
2. Because surveys have found that most "engineers" (aka those who have better things to do with the time like actually build something) view Facebook as a complete waste of time and the only Netflix videos they are interested in watching would be the new update to Tron to see if it lives up all the money being spent advertising it.

more than 3 years ago
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Google Quietly Posts Big JavaScript Engine Update

bradbury The world does not live by Javascript alone (120 comments)

Now if they could just address some *real* world issues. Like large session restores (dozens of windows/tabs) or browsers that don't eat CPU time when they are idle (all windows minimized and/or inactive). There are many users who view Javascript as inherently evil and think the Web would be better off without it. Its *my* PC and should only be running open source code which many eyes have looked at (not true for a majority of Javascript loose in the wild).

Until they get the session restore and CPU issues right the browser IS NOT GREEN. The people benchmarking browsers or reviewing browsers need to think a bit more outside of the box that seems to consist only of "How fast does Javascript run?" or "How many of the HTML 5 tests does it complete?"

For example, "What is the minimum memory that a browser requires for a specific set of sites?", "What is the system load, e.g. processes, file handles, disk I/O's, etc., to load a specific set of sites?", "How does the browser perform when one exceeds RAM memory? (is the current Window/tab responsive?)", "What is the largest HTML document I can load and how long does it take?", "How long does it take to complete loading a complex diversified page, e.g. one which loads sub-elements from 50-100 other sites?"

The stress and performance testing of browsers seems confined to a box whose dimensions are typically measured in angstroms!

more than 3 years ago
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Making Airport Scanners Less Objectionable

bradbury Active scanning is a form of assult (681 comments)

The real problem that isn't being addressed by turning body scan images into funhouse images is that if one is using active scanning that involves either X-rays or THz radio frequencies is that it is effectively a form of assault (leaving completely aside any "illegal search" arguments).

X-rays break chemical bonds. Breaking bonds in water (much of the human body) creates hydroxyl radicals which attack DNA. Some of these attacks explicitly create or contribute to the creation of DNA double strand breaks. Repair of DNA double strand breaks corrupts the genome [1]. THz wave have recently been found to create DNA "bubbles" which will contribute to the formation of DNA double strand breaks [2].

So there is no way that these "active" searches can be done without causing damage to the individual being "searched". The only "searches" likely to be non- or minimally-hazardous are metal detectors which use magnetism or chemical sniffers which would detect the presence of hazardous materials. One might also be able to develop a non-hazardous scan based on NMR technology but I don't think we are going to see such scanners soon at airports.

1. The WRN and DCLRE1C (Artemis) genes are key actors in DSB repair and have exonuclease activity. They will chew up DNA bases in order to create strand ends which can be effectively be ligated (sewn together). This in turn produces indels (insertions & deletions) which have played a role in evolution (as seen by the hundreds of thousands of indels being found in individual human genomes) as well as in individuals where they contribute to the formation of cancer [3] and/or aging [4].
2. Bubbles (strand separation) in DNA increases the distance between single-strand breaks on opposite strands which allows the DNA to "melt" effectively producing a DNA double strand break.
3. Studies of cancer genomes have found that indels may be involved in 15-25% of cancers which have currently been sequenced.
4. Misrepaired double strand breaks accumulate over time and gradually corrupt the genome -- so if they don't occur in cancer genes they end up producing a dysfunctional genome and a generally accelerating decline in cell function.

more than 3 years ago
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TSA Pats Down 3-Year-Old

bradbury Re: THz scanning (1135 comments)

Actually I spoke to soon. Some recent investigations suggest that THz RF scanners may damage the DNA by "unzipping" it (which can increase the probability of DNA double strand breaks as well as other kinds of damage) [1].

So it looks like neither the AIT scanners which use back-scatter X-rays, nor the THz scanners are completely without risk of damaging the individual going through them.

I agree with Dthief that high-tech noses detecting chemical odors may be a better way to go for non-invasive, non-damaging scanning.

1. http://tinyurl.com/2fgf9f5

more than 3 years ago
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TSA Pats Down 3-Year-Old

bradbury Re:What's the deal with the rush of TSA stories re (1135 comments)

What isn't clear to most people that any X-ray process, in contrast to magnetic metal detectors or THz RF scanners, *will* damage your DNA [1,2].

The medical community (and presumably the TSA) would like to convince you that X-ray doses are low enough that they are harmless. But IMO there is no "safe" dose. Just greater or lesser degrees of actual physical damage.

1. The photons of X-rays and to a lesser extent short wave UV rays have sufficient energy to break atomic bonds. Breaking the atomic bonds in water can produce hydroxyl radicals which then attack DNA which can further result in DNA double strand breaks. DNA double strand break repair is error prone [3] and corrupts the genome sequence much of the time. Thus any significant quantity of X-rays will damage ones genome and will increase ones risk of cancer and/or ones rate of aging. If the TSA is really using X-ray scanners (and people are not misinterpreting the THz scanners as X-ray scanners) then the is grounds for a lawsuit and a cease and desist decision by the courts.
2. It is useful to keep this in mind when your dentist wants to take X-rays or your hospital wants to take X-rays or run a CT-scan (which involves loads of X-rays). If you can receive treatment without the need for X-rays or CT scans it is something that deserves consideration (and even prior directives to care givers/family/facilities for permanent inclusion in ones medical record). People may be subjected to X-rays or CT scans without their permission as one can observe from many TV programs involving Emergency Room treatments.
3. Courtesy of the exonuclease activities in the WRN and DCLRE1C (Artemis) proteins [genes] involved in DSB repair.

more than 3 years ago
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Organs of UK Nuclear Workers Secretly Harvested; Energy Secretary Apologizes

bradbury Organs may be useful in derstanding aging... (309 comments)

While I think the method of harvesting the organs is open to lots of criticism, I think they could prove quite useful in the future (if they or samples of them have been preserved).

Both X-rays [1], neutrons and heavy ions at high velocity damage DNA and can induce DNA double strand breaks. DNA double strand breaks, courtesy of the WRN and DCLRE1C (Artemis) genes are *not* repaired reliably. They allow genome corruption to creep into the genome of each cell. This in turn can induce cancer or its lesser cousin "aging" (when the damage accumulates in genes which are not oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes).

One would suspect that nuclear industry workers are exposed to higher levels of X-rays, neutrons and heavy ions (why else would they be required to wear radiation monitoring badges?). The same is true to some extent for astronauts and to a lesser extent pilots and frequent flyers. And then of course there is your dentist and your local hospital. And don't forget about the TSA (at least as far as the X-rays go). To my knowledge there is no "safe" level of X-rays -- there are just greater or lesser amounts of damage & probable mutations caused.

Genome sequencing is now becoming cheap enough that the tissues of these workers may have their genomes sequenced. If correlated with their lifetime radiation exposures one could then determine relative risks more completely than is now the case. Relative risk determination generally involves a lot of hand-waving regarding radiation dose and type which are generally extrapolated from high dose exposures (atomic bomb blasts) or animals which have different DNA repair capabilities compared with humans. So the children or grandchildren of these individuals may yet benefit from their unapproved contribution to medicine.

more than 3 years ago
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Wal-Mart To Launch Unlimited Wireless Family Plan

bradbury Re:Why? (278 comments)

As I myself am dealing with issues of aging parents I will openly acknowledge that this may be one of the singular advantages of cell phones. But that could be extended to emphasize the point -- you only need some minutes of cell phone connection time per year. Having just spent an hour in a mall trying to determine how to untie two cell phones (including my 86 y.o. father's) from TracPhone and Net10 (the phones have SIM cards -- it should be possible to UnBrick them and break the addiction -- in contrast to Sprint and Verizon who claimed they would not sell cell phones with SIM cards -- thus addicting you to *their* service (as far as I understand the technology).

Why is there not a class action suit against cell phone providers regarding monopoly practices? I thought we had laws against this.

more than 3 years ago
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Wal-Mart To Launch Unlimited Wireless Family Plan

bradbury Why? (278 comments)

As someone who recently allowed my Net10 phone subscription (note "subscription" -- not "contract") to expire (though I could probably with some amount of effort unbricked the phone); I am forced to ask *why* are people willing to pay $500+ per year to be able to talk to people whenever they feel like it [1]? What is so all fired important about being "connected" 24/7 when most of us can be connected 18/7 without any additional payments (being connected at work or home) and we presumably have to sleep 6-8 of those 24?

So far in my memory 9/11 has only happened once in a decade and the probability of securing a cell phone connection during that period would fall into a category that I would call "iffy". So what is the point?

Obviously if one is paying a phone company $500+ per year one is paying them $5000+ over ten years and I can think of much better alternatives for such a sum than an extortion fee simply to talk to people.

1. Or allow them to disturb you whenever *they* feel like it?

more than 3 years ago
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Intel Buys McAfee

bradbury Re:Not on my watch you don't... (377 comments)

Ok, having grown up in the era from 8088's to current reality intermixed with "real" CPUs, i.e. DEC PDP-10/11 CPUS (and I've got the processor handbooks sitting in my bookcase). You lay out a premise. That "Intel CPUs/MMUs had memory protection. I would assert that they did not (given the memory protection allowed on a DEC-PDP-11/45 or 70 circa 1974-1982.

And so we have to compare the CPU handbooks of the 1970's CPUs (real computers) against the 1980's or 90's CPUs (toy computers).

And the bottom line will come done to this -- was Microsoft Windows 95 a secure operating system? Compared with AT&T Bell Labs Unix or BSD Unix circa 1974-1980. And by that question I mean did the operating system take full advantage of what the hardware provided to guarantee and enforce user security.

So we have a tipping point, either you argue that Intel released chips without robust memory management that created the ongoing virus propagating culture because PCs are not secure, or you argue that Microsoft, by not taking available of hardware capabilities to protect the software (which I would argue was not done until Windows 2000), promoted the growth of the "lets use PC's to compromise PC's" culture.

I await a response documenting that the 8088/8086 had memory protection capabilities (give me the pin number on the chip -- I can go to that level). I further await a detailed explanation as to when Microsoft released operating systems actually made use of them.

And yep, I'm a "nutcase". But as a suggestion -- one best handle "nutcases" carefully -- one never knows what other qualities the box contains.

about 4 years ago
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40 Windows Apps Said To Contain Critical Bug

bradbury And I care about this why? (158 comments)

Oh, wait, I forgot, there is not a slashdot/gmail filter that falls under the heading of "I'm still stupid enough to run windows being the case in point of a virus ridden insecure operating system because it isn't open sourced."

Google has managed to get it right. Only show people news (or advertisements) with significant relevance to the viewer. I'm sorry, I've used Unix since 1974, and although there was a brief period of time when I engaged with Windows in the mid-to-late '90s, I'm now back with Linux.

What was it that Forrest once said... Stupid is as stupid does.

Please report on whether the vulnerabilities might perhaps impact programs typically run under Linux. I run almost entirely open source but that does not mean that could be immune to exploits. Simply means we can resolve them much faster.

about 4 years ago

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