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Google and Facebook: Unelected Superpowers?

dkf Re:Who watches the watchers (213 comments)

The United States Federal Government was obstinately set up to minimize the aforementioned trend, but several big mistakes (Reynolds v. Sims and the 17th Amendment top the list) along the way and 200 years of mission creep have undermined most of the protections put in place.

You're claiming that Reynolds v. Sims was a bad decision? Without it, you could have stunning levels of effective disenfranchisement; all the party in power would need to do is to allocate all the strongholds of their opponents to as few seats as they could get away with (preferably one!) and split the remaining ones among the areas that they dominate, rapidly leading to an effective, perpetual one party state with no hope of ever changing it.

Any functioning representative democracy has to have something similar in place to limit the levels of unfairness. It might not stop shenanigans, but it limits things quite a lot. If you want to argue against it, please explain on what grounds you believe it to be a problem, and why what you would replace it with would not be worse.


Obama Delays Decision On Keystone Pipeline Yet Again

dkf Re:Texas needs water, not oil (184 comments)

Why can't we have a pipeline that brings fresh water, instead of oil?

Just make it illegal to use water for fracking and agriculture while there's a drought on and you'll have plenty of water for people to drink. Oh, you really want the water to support those industries? Let industry pay for what it costs to get it if they rely on it so much.


3 Former Astronauts: Earth-Asteroid Collisions Are a Real But Preventable Danger

dkf Re:Governance could be a problem... (63 comments)

The technology sufficient to divert an asteroid, especially with limited warning(which precludes some of the subtler 'attach an ion drive or give it a slow shove with a laser' type schemes), is probably pretty punchy, possibly 'basically an ICBM but better at escaping earth's gravity well' punchy.

Not if you detect it far enough out. If you've got plenty of time, even a small force (e.g., from laser ablation) is quite enough to divert an asteroid well away from the Earth; it's amazing what a small force applied over a long time can do, especially if you've got negligible friction.


Preventative Treatment For Heartbleed On Healthcare.gov

dkf Re:This does not seem to be news (78 comments)

Like everyone else they don't know if anything was taken. And frankly, Heatbleed is probably the least of the security issues Healthcare.gov has... I'd be way more worried about backbend systems, and then it doesn't matter what your password is.

As I understand it, the majority of the implementation of healthcare.gov is Java. Java's SSL implementation doesn't have the heartbleed bug at all (and implementing this bug would actually take a lot more work than doing it right). If there's a problem, it's most likely in a front-end load balancer; I don't know if you'd see a lot of user credentials in that case, as the damage wouldn't be in systems that handle client authentication.

The database(s) might be affected too, but you probably can't reach them from a normal system; the heavily firewalled approach is a favorite of Big Software Contractors and is actually right in this case. I suppose if they were affected, processing the update to them (carefully as you don't want to lose data!) would count as preventative treatment while still properly supporting the assertion that no real damage was done.


Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

dkf Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (370 comments)

As if food isn't going to be a problem in Europe, where the food and books and gas are far more expensive...

Academic books aren't such a problem; the US has more of a racket going there.

2 days ago

Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

dkf Re:Not a problem for MGP (381 comments)

The same ethyl alcohol is used for vodka, gin, rum, scotch, bourbon, brandy, tequila, Canadian whiskies, and liqueurs. MGP also sells some ethyl alcohol for fuel use, although for them it's a sideline, not their main business.

What a lot of brands I'd never heard of. Some of them have names that are confusingly similar to ones I've encountered, but not one is actually a known brand to me.

But at least some of the things are aged properly in the time between the bottle being filled and it leaving the plant. I mean, it's gotta be all of a few minutes!

2 days ago

Minerva CEO Details His High-Tech Plan To Disrupt Universities

dkf Re:It is not the timelyness, it is the format. (100 comments)

Lecturing is an ineffective way to teach because most people cannot pay attention to and retain a traditional lecture.

That's why students are told to take notes. That's why students are told to study outside lectures; tutorials and — where appropriate for the course — practical sessions in labs reinforce the lecture. You don't learn by just listening to someone, but it is part of how you learn.

2 days ago

Heartbleed Sparks 'Responsible' Disclosure Debate

dkf Re:Not that good (176 comments)

A site-license of almost any software will be a negliegable part of your operating budget.

It depends on what the software is. Some things are genuinely expensive, enough that while maybe a Fortune 500 can handle it, the many smaller companies out there tend to swoon at the prices charged. (These pieces of software tend to be in areas without major OSS competition.)

2 days ago

Criminals Using Drones To Find Cannabis Farms and Steal Crops

dkf Re:So much nonsense in terms (256 comments)

But a 400W LED fixture would produce nearly the same heat overall [as 400W HPS lights].

Well yes. Duh. All those watts have got to go somewhere, and that's virtually all going to be heat eventually. What matters is how much light you get for that power. And LEDs and HPS are fairly similar (enough that the details of exactly what you're doing and how they were manufactured matter; the luminosities per unit power are similar, according to Wikipedia).

3 days ago

Criminals Using Drones To Find Cannabis Farms and Steal Crops

dkf Re:Where? (256 comments)

Halesowen? Cradley Heath? Oldbury? Shropshire? Where are these towns, Middle Earth?

Where do you think Tolkien stole the names from? Though he should've avoided getting creative with "Mordor" and stuck with Wolverhampton.

3 days ago

Code Quality: Open Source vs. Proprietary

dkf Re:Not a surprise (132 comments)

Actually that was Eric Raymond, and it is evident that in fact there never are enough eyeballs (at least ones that can comprehend what they are looking at). The theory is sound but in practice it is not.

It's a fundamental truth that, the more of the system you have to comprehend to truly understand it, the harder it is to debug. Syntax problems? Trivial. Global liveness checking? Much harder. (There's just so many ways to screw up.)

4 days ago

Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?

dkf Re:The Economist is British . . . (285 comments)

The Economist is a *lot* more US-normative than most UK publications, yes. For one thing, a lot of their market is US; for another, they're generally proponents of the US and UK becoming more similar -- mostly by the UK changing.

Having bought the Economist in various places around the world, you should be aware that the apparent focus of the magazine is different in different places. The content is formally the same, the articles are identical, but the ordering is not; this changes surprisingly strongly how one feels it is centric towards one place or another. Always buy in the US? It will be US centric. It's quite different in France.

4 days ago

Code Quality: Open Source vs. Proprietary

dkf Re:Not a surprise, but no reflection of O/S vs Pro (132 comments)

First, we shouldn't confuse Coverity's numerical measurements with actual code quality, which is a much more nuanced property.

Yeah, but good quality might well correspond to some sort of measurable anyway. Provided you've got the right measure. Maybe some sort of measure of the degree of interconnectedness of the code? The more things are isolated from each other, across lots of levels (in a fractal dimension sense, perhaps) the better things are likely to be.

Maybe that would only apply to a larger project, and I'm not sure what effect system libraries (and other externals) would have. Yet the fact that it might be a scale-invariant approach makes me a bit more hopeful, as it wouldn't be so susceptible to the "ravioli code" problem, where the code's nicely packaged up into little pieces, but the pieces interconnect in a horrible mess of higher-level spaghetti code. Worked on a large project? You'll have probably seen it in the wild. (Yeah, I've had people argue to me that their code didn't use goto and so it had no spaghetti code problems, despite the fact that everything was so nastily interconnected that nobody else could understand it. If that's not indicative of a problem, what is?)

4 days ago

Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

dkf Re:Bad suggestion (1585 comments)

You are not free from being threatened by guns.

Yeah, there's all these mad asshole gun-freaks in the USA that are seeking to export their crazy to everywhere else. Keep it at home, jerks!

4 days ago

Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

dkf Re:But what is a militia? (1585 comments)

Thanks for the link. To summarize for everyone else, it essentially declares that all able-bodied male US citizens (or men who have declared their intent to become citizens) are automatically members of the militia if they are between 17 and 45 years old, and women are as well if they are US citizens that are members in the National Guard. For vets from the Regular military (i.e. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines), the age limit is extended from 45 to 64.

So... automatic conscription is basically in place already? Only needs a minor step, calling on militia members to formally defend their country, and you've got a fully-fledged military police state. Nice one, sheeple.

4 days ago

IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

dkf Re:Bush Vetoed this, apparently (630 comments)

And that's why having bills cover lots of things at once (rather than being automatically restricted to the principal subject area of the bill) is a truly awful practice. It's beyond corrupt as it specifically enables effectively sidestepping oversight of the legislative process. The pork-barrel politics the practice enables are merely the most visible and least harmful parts of this.

about a week ago

Heartbleed Disclosure Timeline Revealed

dkf Re:Negligence (62 comments)

Also, April 1st is the *WORST* day to notify ANYONE that there is a severe security flaw..

Major public holidays (e.g., Christmas) are much worse, as there's a really good chance nobody will even look at the warning, and may decide that their family time trumps fixing security problems.

April 1 is just the worst day to announce a major breakthrough or groundbreaking new product.

about a week ago

First Glow-In-the-Dark Road Debuts In Netherlands

dkf Re:Useless (184 comments)

Oh, wait, humans can actually see by starlight alone.

Which works just fine when it is cloudy (like it is quite a lot in the Netherlands). Oh, wait...

about a week ago

Private Keys Stolen Within Hours From Heartbleed OpenSSL Site

dkf Re:A simple question - Can you provide simple answ (151 comments)

How do I become a trusted root certificate authority ?

You ask the browser vendors, who respond by asking some very pointed questions about how trusted you are. These sorts of questions include "do you have regular audits to ensure that you're managing your keys correctly?" and "what policies do you have in place for dealing with a security breach that compromises one of the keys you've signed?" Convince enough people that you're really trustworthy, and congratulations, you're a root CA. At least until the next time they ask those questions. It's only really recommended that you seek to become a root CA if you really like acting bureaucratically.

You can also become a root CA for a particular browser by just installing a self-signed certificate in its list of trust roots. This is disappointingly common, and often a marker of an untrustworthy organisation, as the main reason for doing this is to enable SSL sniffing. Not recommended at all (and totally does not make your site trustworthy to anyone else, which is the usual point of having HTTPS set up). It does work better for specialist applications.

Becoming a non-root CA is much easier. Just pay another CA enough money (or know the right people).

about a week ago



Apple rapped over misleading iPhone ad

dkf dkf writes  |  more than 5 years ago

dkf (304284) writes "The BBC is reporting that Apple have been ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority to stop showing their current iPhone advert in the UK. The heart of the issue is that the iPhone does not support either Flash or Java, and this means that significant parts of the content of the internet were not available despite Apple's claims otherwise. It seems that Apple's determination to control their mobile platform has come back to bite them."
Link to Original Source

Tcl/Tk 8.5.0 Finally Released

dkf dkf writes  |  more than 6 years ago

dkf writes "OSNews reports that Tcl/Tk 8.5 has been released for all major platforms after 5 years of development. There are many new goodies in it, including significant speedups through an advanced bytecode engine, stronger localization of applications, integrated arbitrary-precision arithmetic, a whole bunch of brand new skinnable widgets, anti-aliased text support on all platforms, and a new code module management system to make maintenance of installations a snap.

A lot more in-depth information about the features of both this release and Tcl/Tk in general is available at both the official Tcl/Tk website and in Mark Roseman's blog."


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