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Interviews: Juan Gilbert Answers Your Questions

gwolf Televoting — Urgh... (18 comments)

I'm very sorry... Slashdot interviews tend to summon interesting people, with real answers to tough questions. This one, however, is quite disappointing. The answer for a half-technical questions should not be "go look at the nice video our marketing chaps did", but a explanation of the process, as thorough as possible. And if his answers are all like the one where he says, "mail-in voting is fucked-up as well, but people tend to accept it"... It is a clear no-go. If he is pushing the technical-social part to change a perceived shortcoming, he would have (IMO) the moral obligation to oppose mail-in voting, as it dillutes security and trust.

I am a (small) academic myself. His viewpoints, saying "I'm not here to fix the political part, just to research on the social issues" is short-sighted at best. And it lacks in what is often criticized about the academics: An obsession with our line of work, without caring for how it interfaces with reality. The same happens with many who research on the mathematical side of e-voting. It might be all sound and good as long as you don't factor in humans. Put humans in the equation, and we end up clearly better with good ol' paper voting.

about two weeks ago
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Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

gwolf Re:And as a university professor in a non-USA coun (538 comments)

Why is in the best interest of our country to build fences? No, building a free-transit area akin to what Europe and Mercosur have would be way better. But I know that won't happen, because of the strong assymetry between our countries.

But anyway: Yes, university education is free and has a very high level. But we do lack in many aspects. My university is huge (350,000 students; the main universitary campus is about 6Km, which would be about 3 square miles; around 35,000 full-time academic staff). However, it only manages to accept about one tenth of the people that try to enter (and some courses, mainly in the first semesters, have up to 70 students — Far from ideal. I teach, however, in 5th-6th semester courses, and my groups have been 15-35, much better).

But how many people reach university? Or how many people reach even high school? If your work is needed at home at age 12 because there's no other way the family has enough money, most probably you won't ever consider entering a university.

And... Guess who are the people that leave the country for the USA without proper migration documents? Right. It's not the lucky ones who get through profesionalization, but those that don't have the opportunity.

So, yes, there is no contradiction between us having very good universities and very low income, particularly in some areas. Of course, there's a lot to criticize our government's priorities about. But it is also not by a long shot a simple problem to solve.

I would be more interested in making it harder for educated people to migrate (legally) to the USA. If one of my students graduates and leaves to work in the USA, he will probably earn 5-10 times as much as here (to begin with), but it will also be a waste of public resources, because his talent and intelligence will not benefit our society. Funding universities is a long-term investment from a government, and the only way to get a ROI is to have the students stay here for their professional life.

about a month ago
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Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

gwolf And as a university professor in a non-USA country (538 comments)

...I find this whole thread really amazing to read, and almost impossible to understand.

Most countries I know have large, well-reputed public university systems. I happen to work on the largest university of Mexico (and Latin America), UNAM. Tuition? Virtually zero (there is a 1940s law where it stipulates a tuition for this university... It currently sits at MX$0.30, or ~US$0.02 per semester). Most public schools in Mexico have 100% free programs. Not only that, the same situation holds for most of Latin America. And that's for college level ("Licenciatura") — Want to study a Masters or Doctorate degree? In all of the "excellence"-rated programs, you are automatically entitled to receive funding from the government so you don't have to find a way to pay for your life while you work to become a more productive member of society. And yes, we do have private universities, often as expensive as USA-based ones are. But the fields where they excel are usually very different.

I know this same model exists in most Latin American countries. European states have a somewhat different program, but still, public (government-funded and tuition-free) universities are all but the norm. I just cannot understand how the USA continues to function (some would even say, thrive) under such schemes.

about a month ago
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Estonia Urged To Drop Internet Voting Over Security Fears

gwolf Re:How do you expect that to be feasible? (116 comments)

I did read your previous comment, and did reply to it.

Again: I offer you $100 for your vote, if you prove me you voted for my candidate. You go in and vote. You generate this secret code, known only to you. Then, you come to my evil lair, connect via my computer to Teh Interwebz, and type in your secret code. The system verifies you voted for my Master, and I give you your well-earned money.

That should be impossible. But any system where you can prove *to yourself* you voted a certain way opens the door to vote selling or coercion.

about 2 months ago
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Finding More Than One Worm In the Apple

gwolf And how deep can we test? (116 comments)

Of course, it's obvious today that a test for behavior on inconsistent requests should have been done in OpenSSL. As well as a test for each failure cause should have been done by Apple. And next week, when an off-by-one bug bites us on an integer overflow in libfoobar, people will say testing for that condition should have been trivial.

So, yes, some conditions can be found with fuzzers. Of course, fuzzers work in an erratic way, and not all bugs can be triggered by them. But maybe fuzzing our code (more importantly, our security-sensitive code) will yield better results than preparing tests for those components in the system we are aware of.

Then again, properly fuzzing takes quite a bit of time. It is way less fun to watch a fuzzer than to see tests making green check marks...

about 2 months ago
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Estonia Urged To Drop Internet Voting Over Security Fears

gwolf All nice and dandy, but... (116 comments)

The problem with voter-verifiable systems is that they are very prone to vote coercion or buying. If you can prove your "right way" vote was correctly counted, you can get the cheque. Or avoid the punishment for exercising your free will.

about 2 months ago
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Estonia Urged To Drop Internet Voting Over Security Fears

gwolf How do you expect that to be feasible? (116 comments)

Say this system is approved. Say you want to buy my vote. You demand proof that I voted the way you wanted me to — If the e-voting platform allows me to confirm my vote was properly counted. So, all you have to do is to promise me to hand over the money if I prove you I did what we agreed. (or you can threaten me with physical violence unless I can prove it to you, same reasoning).

A secure voting system should never allow me to prove what was my vote — But that would make me very suspicious, as it could be recording false votes from the beginning, right? Right. The only solution is to have voters deposit papers with their stated vote (and no personal identifying marks!) in a booth, and allow for recounts if needed.

about 2 months ago
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Estonia Urged To Drop Internet Voting Over Security Fears

gwolf Verifiable vote is coercible vote (116 comments)

If you can prove your vote was correctly recorded, then you might be more easily persuaded to sell it — be it that you receive a pay for it, or you receive the service of not getting your bones broken.

A vote once cast is just a piece of paper among many. Nothing should tie it to a voter's identity. A voter should be unable to prove he voted a particular way.

about 2 months ago
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Estonia Urged To Drop Internet Voting Over Security Fears

gwolf It should not happen (116 comments)

It might still happen, but many among us will still fight for the population to understand the unavoidable security risks in doing so. We have the duty to do so.

about 2 months ago
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Estonia Urged To Drop Internet Voting Over Security Fears

gwolf Re:bollocks (116 comments)

I once asked this to an Estonian government person at a e-voting presentation in my country. Her answer: "We let you vote many times. Only the last one counts."

That would allow you to vote at the workplace, then go home and vote again.

Of course, you can gather people at the election day, two hours before booths close, and have everybody vote for $foo. Then, throw a party and lock them in (or something like that), and secure the vote is "right".

about 2 months ago
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Estonia Urged To Drop Internet Voting Over Security Fears

gwolf How many do you need? (116 comments)

In a small country with 1.3 million inhabitants, a couple tens of thousands of votes can be decisive.

Or: How small the margin for a polemic vote? In Mexico, we have had presidential candidates winning with a (much disputed) 0.55% difference to the second place. How many votes do you need to rig such an election?

about 2 months ago
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Lectures Aren't Just Boring, They're Ineffective, Too, Study Finds

gwolf As a university (BSc degree) teacher... (166 comments)

I cannot tell you how much I thank questions. All of them, even the dumbest.

I do try to be very clear and dynamic, but some topics... are just hard to grasp, or I have not found the proper way to teach them... But in some subjects, most students won't even realize they are not getting what I teach. There are a few students who are burnt with questions, and cannot stand on a point they don't understand. Some students insist on their questions even if they are sometimes just too easy.

I thank them. And I try to explain, over and over, from different angles. That's what brings back the attention of the rest of the class, and the different angles are in the end good for all of them.

about 2 months ago
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The Exploitative Economics of Academic Publishing

gwolf Re:Explotative? (72 comments)

Not precisely.

Yes, they are free. But the scientific world revolves around the notion of the different metrics to your work. And it's not only prestige: Often, your income level will be determined mainly by the impact factor of the magazines you publish in.

But... Guess who dictates the values for said impact factors in the international indexes?

Of course! The publishers of closed sciencie magazines.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Books for a Comp Sci Graduate Student?

gwolf My advice to my students.... (247 comments)

I teach "Operating Systems". And yes, I don't expect (I'd love, though!) many from them to have to implement a Second-Chance (Clock) memory page replacement algorithm. But I do expect them to understand how duing professional their lives the programs they write will be treated by the operating system, and how to avoid bad performance resulting from inefficient patterns.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

gwolf Re:I'm not worried about poor students (390 comments)

The people complaining in the media about 150k debt for 4 years of school are either lying, actually had post-graduate education, or made extremely poor and lazy decisions (and I count going to a $$$ private university as a poor decision if you have zero financial aid). Its not even easy to get 150k in loans. You can't get that much from federal loans...and private lenders aren't so favorable to slacker kids who can't even bother to earn a single dollar all 4 years.

That's also a very striking fact. Practically all of the people I know that work on postgraduate studies in the best universities in the country not only do it without paying tuition, but getting a scolarship (around US$1000-1500 a month, roughly the salary they would get as professionals). The logic is, postgraduate studies do require you to focus full-time on them, and not giving them that attention will lead to failure. The whole society will benefit from masters and doctors, so the whole society pays for them. Of course, academic requisites for permanence are high.

If the society and government do not value having skilled professionals, sick schemes where graduate students have to spend their evenings serving at restaurants, and can devote much less to their studies. That's a losing recipe. And of course, that leads to longer terms because of failed subjects, which means increased debt.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

gwolf Re:I'm not worried about poor students (390 comments)

I am a teacher at a public university in Mexico. I know many of my students work (and, of course, many don't) to get enough income to live (maybe because their parents cannot support them, maybe even because they support their family).

What I completely fail to understand is how on Earth can a 22-year-old graduate –as you say– with US$150K in loans. That is just insane. And sick.

In my country, as in most of Latin America, and (as far as I understand) in Europe, all of the best universities are State-run, and tuition is either free or really low — Of course, there are private universities, with first-world scolarships. They have some selling points, but with very few exceptions, they are basically little but diploma mills, and next to no research at all is done in them (just teaching).

Anyway, I cannot understand how the USA cannot have a decent public university system. I know there are *some*, as part of my family have graduated from them. But just the idea of being in such a deep debt as a freshly graduated student... Makes me sick.

about 3 months ago
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Smartphone Kill-Switch Could Save Consumers $2.6 Billion

gwolf Lemmings! (218 comments)

You made me immediately think on the poor Lemmings looking at the decreasing counter on the top of their heads, only to grab their heads in distress upon reaching zero... Exploding in a gory feast of blood, leaving their poor mammal corpse for their brethen to remind them of their probable fate.

One of the cruelest games in game history. But, yes, one of the best ones as well.

about 4 months ago
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Smartphone Kill-Switch Could Save Consumers $2.6 Billion

gwolf Stolen? Lost? (218 comments)

Oh, come on... I have also lost several items only to find them later, misplaced in the most obvious places. Of course, I have also attributed to theft some of my losses. I guess that I have misplaced my stuff more than once.

So, if thieves were to end up with a useless brick, would people lose less phones?

Do thieves only get phones to resell them (and not, say, take your contacts information, for blackmail and similar stuff?) In my country, there have been countless campaigns telling people not to fall for anybody saying "I have your daughter kidnapped", because they are most usually bluffing (and demanding for expedited money transfers, to which many distressed parents comply without first checking)

I seriously seriously doubt this US$580 million figure would be in any significant way reduced

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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SIM cards have been broken

gwolf gwolf writes  |  1 year,23 hours

gwolf (26339) writes "After unbelievably many years, while mostly anything on a cell phone has been hacked, rooted, tweaked and b0rken, there was one piece that still was regarded as secure: The SIM card. But, Forbes reports, Karsten Nohl has proven them vulnerable, making millions of phones vulnerable. Oh, yes, remotely vulnerable to Java code execution. Nohl will present his findings in the Blackhat Security Conference, to be held on July 31."

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