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Comments

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OpenSSL Bug Allows Attackers To Read Memory In 64k Chunks

lennier Re:The problem is C (303 comments)

And what would be an appropriate language for writing security-critical software?

How about this one? It is a little memory-hungry though - 128K of RAM isn't within everyone's budget.

about two weeks ago
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OpenSSL Bug Allows Attackers To Read Memory In 64k Chunks

lennier Re:It's really annoying (303 comments)

What languages is L4 written in?

The more relevant questions are "what is the size of the codebase of L4 written in an unmanaged language" and "is that unmanaged codebase small enough to mathematically prove its correctness" .

There is a reason why we layer systems on top of each other, and not just because we like cake.

about two weeks ago
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OpenSSL Bug Allows Attackers To Read Memory In 64k Chunks

lennier Re:It's really annoying (303 comments)

This bug is almost 10 years old

Well look who natively counts in binary.

Hello Joshua! Give my regards to Dr Falken.

about two weeks ago
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OpenSSL Bug Allows Attackers To Read Memory In 64k Chunks

lennier Re:Yet again C bites us in the ass (303 comments)

What does managed code do that good C doesn't???

Managed code does one very important thing: it guarantees that elusive quality you've just named 'goodness'. (With respect to memory access, at least).

Goodness or otherwise of arbitrary unmanaged C code is a Turing-complete quality that, we've painfully discovered, cannot be reliably detected by either a compiler, a testing regime, or the entire planet's worth of expert C programmers given unlimited access to the code and up to two years time. That's how many coder-years? A lot.

Goodness of managed code? It has that quality. Period. And we can go on with our lives solving instead of creating problems.

about two weeks ago
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OpenSSL Bug Allows Attackers To Read Memory In 64k Chunks

lennier Re:Gee, that's worse than no encryption isn't it? (303 comments)

If only they had written OpenSSL in Java instead of C!

Arguably all the recent security holes in Java are exactly because they wrote extensions and libraries in C/C++ and not in Java.

A real language - like, say, UCSD Pascal in 1978 can compile itself to its own virtual machine just fine...

But admittedly the resource requirements to host a system like that that are pretty steep - you'd need at least 128K of RAM. Still, I like to dream that one day....

about two weeks ago
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Introducing a Calendar System For the Information Age

lennier Re:Um no (224 comments)

I don't think they're very concerned with easily-divisible numbers—4*7-day months and 13-month years!

13 months is a little annoying, yes; you have to split the months on week boundaries to make quarters. But we actually do have 13 lunar cycles in a year, so this naturally aligns the months with the real moon. And we keep 7 day weeks, which is a win both because we're used to our week, and because 7 days is a natural quarter-moon. And no more "30 days hath December..."

Thing is, a workable Earth calendar never is going to be evenly divisible by powers of 10, because it has to stay aligned with astronomical cycles which are subtly varying; even the Sun and Moon don't strictly align. So everything's going to be a bit of a juggle. Frankly, I think this is the best alternate calendar design I've seen in a long while.

about a month ago
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Are DVDs Inconvenient On Purpose?

lennier Re:No, the problem is DVD should not be cheaper (490 comments)

The question you should be asking is why is streaming video so expensive that DVD (shipping little plastic discs around) is cheaper than sending bits over a wire?

Because it's the second stupidest deliberate misuse of computational capacity to artificially create digital scarcity since Bitcoins.

The correct way to distribute large files like movies online is to copy the bits as locally to the endpoints as possible, and cache them pervasively at all levels of the network. Nothing would need to be sent more than once down any given cable. It would be fast, cheap, make use of the Internet as it was designed to function, and give us near-unlimited bandwidth.

But that would mean that those bits don't become artificially scarce and can't be tracked and audited by the media companies for copy-protection purposes. So instead of copying, we stream them over and over and over again, generating terabytes of needless, duplicated data traffic, and creating huge bandwidth storms that suck all the capacity out of the Internet.

tldr: Video streaming is expensive because it was designed to be. It wasn't designed by or for you, and it doesn't benefit you.

about a month ago
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GNOME 3.12 Released

lennier Re:Gnome = good (134 comments)

They took out the the duel pain feature?!?!?! WTF.

Yeah, I hate it too when I score a counter-riposte to my opponent's flying parry and there's just a beep on the referee's scoreboard and no blood.

about a month ago
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Transhumanist Children's Book Argues, "Death Is Wrong"

lennier Re:Promised? (334 comments)

We already should had sent a tripulated mission to Jupiter

o_O ... a what now?

about a month ago
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Bitcoin Inventor Satoshi Nakamoto Outed By Newsweek

lennier Re:Why? (390 comments)

By keeping his identity anonymous, he was protected against time travelers visiting him on the day he created the algorithm and having it stolen from him.

Well, now we know what John Titor was really looking for with his leet IBM 5100 mining rig.

about a month and a half ago
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Bitcoin Inventor Satoshi Nakamoto Outed By Newsweek

lennier Re:Why? (390 comments)

Because if he dies and didn't leave an error

.... not even a kernel panic?

about a month and a half ago
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Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

lennier Re:surprised!!!! (704 comments)

You think "governmental actors" care about $615,000? That's adorable.

$615,000 in drug, terrorist and child porn money? Or assuming some innocent parties involved in Bitcoin, at the very least $615,000 of juicy leads and contact details for the people who are dealing the hard stuff? Yes, it's conceivable that they perhaps might. You know, since tracking and catching thsi stuff is pretty much the number one job of all the West's police, intelligence and militaries at the moment.

Lie down with Bitcoins, wake up with whatever it is that Bitcoin merchants are selling. And possibly the FBI knocking on your door to ask nicely if you have any drug dealers or terrorists in your address book.

about a month and a half ago
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Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

lennier Re:surprised!!!! (704 comments)

The concept of currencies outside of government control tends to make governments nervous.

Yes, because the advocates of those currencies are loudly crowing that the entire point is to enable criminal acts. That it's a perfect money laundering service and that this is a great thing.

But if a government responded rationally to this widely advertised lawbreaking by shutting down the people who launder money and the mechanism they're using to do it, that would somehow be immoral, and anyway they wouldn't do it. Because, um. Government bad, government inefficient, Bitcoin rules, FBI drools?

I'm shocked, shocked that Bitcoin exchanges might conceivably be running into money problems related to fund and transfer freezes from ongoing international drug investigations. That's simply not possible, because Bitcoin!

about a month and a half ago
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Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

lennier Re:surprised!!!! (704 comments)

Is it possible this is some grand conspiracy? Sure it is.

Yeah, since deliberately thumbing your nose at multiple international anti-money-laundering treaties by associating with blatant drug dealers and then having all the governments which subscribe to those treaties respond rationally by shutting you down, is.... a conspiracy.

I don't see what's hard to understand about this. Bitcoin's primary market appears to be criminals. Bitcoin advocates advertise this fact widely and make it one of their primary selling points for cryptocurrency. Therefore, anyone trading in Bitcoin-to-national-currency is waving a huge sign saying 'I'm moving money for criminals, please arrest me now. Oh, but you can't because it's cryptocurrency and you don't know for sure that I'm a criminal myself! Just, you know, that I've made millions selling services to criminals! Double dare you to arrest me! Triple, quadruple, googolplex dare you! Phpppppttttt! Ha ha, stupid cops!'

And then mysteriously! Bitcoin exchanges start getting... unspecified "problems".... to do with not being allowed to bank any more.... which they can't talk about because of... unspecified "investigations".

Yeah, I'm going to put that down to a completely coincidental series of bizarre freak accidents with no connection whatever to international law enforcement's rational response to widely advertised international lawbreaking. That seems perfectly plausible and anyone who suspects that it's just a case of crooks getting into trouble from cops is a 'conspiracy theorist'.

about a month and a half ago
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Silk Road 2.0 Pledges To Compensate Users For Stolen Bitcoins

lennier Re:If they make good on this. (84 comments)

Of course but, if you really need financial stability, I don't recommend being in on the ground floor of a startup.

Especially a completely illegal one based on experimental, buggy technology under ongoing cyberattack, selling products that ruin people's lives, are supplied by organised crime, and are actively targeted by high-level federal and international prosecutors with access to military espionage technology - and a complete dump of your predecessor's transaction databases.

There's high-risk, and then there's unethical high risk, and then there's completely stupid, unethical high risk, and then there's... whatever this is, it's pegging the scale.

I'm not going to say "good luck", but I would advise even the rubberneckers to stand well clear of the impact crater.

about 2 months ago
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Astronomers Make the Science Case For a Mission To Neptune and Uranus

lennier Re:"Bespoke" (134 comments)

The only planets never to have been the subjects of bespoke space missions from Earth are

Am I misunderstanding the definition of "bespoke" and its application within sentences?

I think you could substitute "tailor-made" for "bespoke" in any context - including actual tailoring - and get exactly the same meaning. It's a linguistic metaphor, yes. Do you object to any other commonly-used metaphors?

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is Crowd Funding the Future of Sci-Fi?

lennier Re:Most main-stream sci-fi isn't science-friendly (116 comments)

I do hope to God that they don't remake "Forbidden Planet" though...

Of course it will happen. But in these liberal times it will be retitled "Permitted Planet".

about 2 months ago
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Plan 9 From Bell Labs Operating System Now Available Under GPLv2

lennier Re:Dead end (223 comments)

Objects can be serialized and the result looks like a file.

More generally, everything is a namespace/filesystem.

Yep. There's a very close connection between objects, dictionaries, relational tables, files/filesystems, and functions - all centred around binary relations, a fairly well-understood mathematical object - which seems well worth exploring. However, there haven't been (to my knowledge) many languages which attempt to explore this connection at a fundamental level.

Here's a suggestion: we could fairly simply extend S-expressions so they allow for multiple lists or atoms after the dot in a dotted pair. This would allow us to represent binary relations in a simple syntax that reduces to an ordinary list in the case of a relation containing only one row. You end up then with a very low-level but powerful data model which both simplifies and extends the 'array' and 'object' structures in today's scripting languages (eg JSON), and SQL tables, and which has nice mathematical properties: for example, you can union and intersect these relations as you would sets, which is an operation which is undefined on objects or dictionaries. We can also do Cartesian product which is an extension of list appending, _and_ a corresponding Cartesian divide which corresponds to a key-value lookup.

From here, we just need to extend this with a semantics for function evaluation to interpret relations as functions and allow for infinite-sized, recursive computed relations. Which gets a bit tricker, but if we got this, we could represent, say, the entire Internet as a filesystem. Would that be useful?

about 2 months ago
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Plan 9 From Bell Labs Operating System Now Available Under GPLv2

lennier Re:Dead end (223 comments)

But a stream of bytes is inherently too low an abstraction to build everything on.

How about taking it just one step forward to a stream of streams? Then we could at least create object-like structures but with minimal overhead. Plus, it would be a fully recursive definition that would lend itself to virtualisation.

Of course, S-expressions are only 56 years old so such a radical proposal isn't likely to be adopted any time soon.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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The Secret History of Star Wars

lennier lennier writes  |  more than 5 years ago

lennier (44736) writes "How exactly did George Lucas develop the script for the first Star Wars? Why were the prequels so uneven when the originals were so good? Did he really have a masterplan for six, nine, or even twelve episodes, and why did the official Lucasfilm position keep changing? And just how big an influence were the films of Akira Kurosawa on the whole saga? Michael Kaminski's The Secret History of Star Wars, Third Edition is a free, thoroughly unauthorised, e-book that brings together a huge amount of literary detective work to sort fact from legend and reveal how the story really evolved. Download it or have your nerd credentials revoked."
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