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Ask Slashdot: How Do I Make a High-Spec PC Waterproof?

lgw Water cooled! (76 comments)

Make it water-cooled! Duh.

2 hours ago
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Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"

lgw Re:IBM no longer a tech company? (200 comments)

Well, obviously more than 50% of something can be above average, as average is different from median, and that probably is the case with schools, but that's beside the point.

Technology is efficiency: growth with the same resources. Nothing impossible about that, as long as we stay far from communism.

And of course, exponential growth eventually trumps any petty concerns about distribution of what we have today, which is why the average American has it so much better than 99% of people who have ever lived -- not that you'd know it for all the moaning.

3 hours ago
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Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"

lgw Re:IBM no longer a tech company? (200 comments)

Capitalism's model depends on endless growth.

You say that like it's a bad thing. Growth per-capita is another way to say "standard of living". That which provides growth given the same resources is called "technology".

Technological improvement is increased standard of living from the same resources. Capitalism's model depends on endless technological improvement, and thus endlessly funds technological improvement, resulting in continued improvement in standard of living.

6 hours ago
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Passwords: Too Much and Not Enough

lgw Re:Per-user salting (206 comments)

You'd be better served in life by less arrogance and better reading comprehension. I can understand that attitude from someone in their early 20s -- at that age life can still seem simple and thus everyone's an idiot for not agreeing with you -- but I rather think you'd need hexadecimal to still be in your 20s.

Do you understand that PBKDF2 is chained iterated hashing, and informally calling that process just "a hash" is normal? Do you get that rainbow tables make it easy to retrieve a percentage of passwords from a large credentials store, but only if they all use the same salt? Changing the salt (the salt parameter to PBKDF2 or whatever) in some per-user way defeats this.

Building a rainbow table of 1 billion likely passwords with a 100ms hash only takes 30k core-hours. 10 years ago that was a big deal, but now that's one day and a few hundred bucks on a commercial cloud, or cheaper on a botnet. (And I'd bet there are hardware solutions that make it trivial.)

8 hours ago
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Passwords: Too Much and Not Enough

lgw Re:Per-user salting (206 comments)

I've used a half-dozen two-factor auth solutions between different finance sites and different employers in the past 5 years, and non of them have used my phone. I see that from email providers, as it's the cheapest possible solution (which, still, far better than no solution). I wouldn't use anything phone-based for banking, to be sure, as malware targeting phones is so damn common (plus physical theft of the phone happens), but that's just me.

8 hours ago
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Passwords: Too Much and Not Enough

lgw Per-user salting (206 comments)

Two-factor auth is a big win, of course. For anything financial, and for work accounts, the whole idea of strong passwords should be abandoned in favor of well-designed two-factor solutions.

How many people do per-user salting of the password hash? It's an important best practice to defeat rainbow tables. If you have thousand of passwords stolen, despite your best efforts, the least you can do is make it non-trivial to guess each one.

Mostly, though, encrypt your stored credentials in some way that requires an attacker to compromise two unrelated machines to get anything of value. Even a simple AES encryption with a hard-coded key is a win, as it's actually pretty tough (for a non-insider) to figure out he needs to either hack the source code repo, or somehow find the key in the object, on disk or in-memory. That's not impossible, but practically it limits the threat to malicious insiders, and malicious governments.

yesterday
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Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

lgw Re:Too Late (508 comments)

Administrators should be responsible for closing failing schools and get fired when they don't,

And when the administrator claims no schools are failing? When the administrators competitive salary is determined by the number of schools he's in charge of? If the administration is great in the first place, there won't be any failing schools.

If it were easy to choose between school systems (via a voucher system or something more), then you could tell the failing schools because parents would move their kids out of them. When there's no "market" pressure, you need something to help force the issue.

Sure, a bad metric gets gamed, but it still beats no metric at all! And the schools really do include with teachers and admins who really do suck, and really were counting on the lack of any metric to just coast through life at our kids' expense.

yesterday
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Decades-old Scientific Paper May Hold Clues To Dark Matter

lgw Re:"The data come from" (92 comments)

ST:TNG settled 2 things for geeks: the pronunciation of "data", and the phrasing "data is".

yesterday
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Decades-old Scientific Paper May Hold Clues To Dark Matter

lgw Re:That's all well and good... (92 comments)

But, it makes the equations balance...

That's how science works. The predictions of the current model fail - the equations don't balance. You'll get many competing hypotheses each with its own suggestion for a new something that makes the equations balance. There were quite a few ideas for "dark matter" including a few "we just got gravity wrong" ideas.

The was no doubt at all that something was missing in established theory about galaxies and gravity - too much data to argue with. It's not like someone just invented dark matter out of the blue, then went looking for a use for it! There was no reason at the time to prefer any particular hypothesis.

Then the CMBR data gave us a fairly accurate measurement of the ratio of dark matter to matter in the universe long ago, and removed any doubt that it must be cold dark matter of some sort - not c or near-c particles, not a different theory of gravity, those ideas were falsified by the new data And in fact only the WIMP theory of dark matter accurately predicted the new measurement.

Dark energy is still early in this curve. There's no doubt about the data: there's something we don't know about the universe at very large scale, and it's the dominant effect at that scale. There are a bunch of hypotheses about what it might be, but that's about it right now.

yesterday
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Researcher Finds Tor Exit Node Adding Malware To Downloads

lgw Re:Defaults (115 comments)

Sorry, "HTTPS everywhere", not "-only" - it tries HTTPS first, which helps with a bunch of sites so you don't have to bookmark the https version specifically, but still falls back to HTTP when needed.

Everyone should use that plugin in normal browsing IMO - it will drive traffic to HTTPS, and really there's no reason for non-HTTPS sites anymore Slashdot are you listening, you HTTP-only weenies?

yesterday
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Researcher Finds Tor Exit Node Adding Malware To Downloads

lgw Re:Defaults (115 comments)

"HTTPS only" is a plug-in, on by default in the Tor Browser Bundle. The Tor dev team is really focused on making the browsing experience as normal as possible to encourage use over strong security by default. JS is enabled by default, for example (noscript is the other plug-in bundled, but I think it's turned off by default - haven't looked at Tor for a few years).

I understand the desire of the Tor team to encourage many people to use Tor for normal, legal browsing, and ultimately that's the best security: when use of Tor is not itself a red flag. But it makes the default Tor install much softer than it would otherwise be.

yesterday
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Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

lgw Re:Too Late (508 comments)

It's a very well known problem that "A players hire A players, but B players hire C players", and not just in engineering. The best want to work with the best, but the nervous-that-they're-not-the-best want to work with the mediocre. So most companies large enough to have formal hiring processes are at least aware of the problem, and are trying to cope.

The real problem IMO is "how can you create a standardized test to measure critical thinking", because our school system is helpless without it (and for all the complaints of teaching to the test, we need some objective way to find schools that aren't working).

Plus, the whole structure of school is around training manufacturing workers. You may not learn math, but for damn sure you're learn to sit for 30 minutes, move form task to task when the bell rings, rush to the bathroom during designated windows, and so on - all great for the manufacturing jobs that were the best jobs most people could get in most of the 20th century. But it's a new millennium now, and manufacturing is the past. We need a classroom in which student are given time to think, to stare off into space while the subconscious works on the problem - but how to distinguish that from daydreaming and doing nothing? It will take a lot of change to schools, that's for sure.

yesterday
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The Inevitable Death of the Internet Troll

lgw Re:Not just women (546 comments)

Way to miss the point: you do it for yourself, because you know what's right, and you enjoy doing what's right. Character is "doing what's right when no one is looking". The example was more of an Easter egg, though.

2 days ago
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The Inevitable Death of the Internet Troll

lgw Re:Not just women (546 comments)

I'm sure the SJW label was originally intended as satire, but Poe's Law works both ways. There have been "Social Justice" conferences and groups related to social media for a while now, and I've certainly seen people, apparently sincere, self-identify as "warriors for social justice" on forums.

2 days ago
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The Inevitable Death of the Internet Troll

lgw Re:Not just women (546 comments)

If you're not going in harm's way, you shouldn't call yourself a "warrior" of any kind. Malala Yousafzai got shot for daring to advocate that girls should be taught to read. The Canadian parliament attracted a shooter for giving her Canadian citizenship (or so it's presumed -the timing suggests it strongly).

Internet death threats from pathetic losers just aren't the same thing as taking on the Taliban. The risk may be non-0, but iit's problebly lower than the risk of driving to the event.

2 days ago
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The Inevitable Death of the Internet Troll

lgw Re:Not just women (546 comments)

you think we should simply stop trying to protect anyone from harassment and bullying because clearly it's their own fault for being sensitive

When the "offended" person is a self-righteous Western middle-class person with an entitlement complex? You betcha. You have it better than 99% of people who have ever lived - stop looking for reasons to be offended, and start realizing how wonderful things are for you.

The Nobel Peace Prize* was just awarded to a genuine warrior for social justice. Want to be a real SJW? Go someplace where it's illegal to teach girls to read, and get shot at for trying. Want to complain on the internet about your hurt feelings because someone on the internet offended you? Don't be too surprised when people tell you to be less sensitive. And go donate to Room to Read, to help those actually making a difference in social justice.

*A dubious prize in many years, but for once I'm quite impressed by their choice.

2 days ago
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The Classic Control Panel In Windows May Be Gone

lgw Re:Please Microsoft... (347 comments)

The end-user sees the IT person as nothing more than an electronic janitor who's sole purpose is to clean up the messes that they, the user, were too careless or too inept to prevent from happening in the first place. Thus, they don't bother to learn how to do things properly, they don't learn how to keep from getting a virus, they don't learn how to do even the simplest of things because "That's IT's job. I shouldn't have to know computers!"

That's the service they pay for, not having to "learn computers". IT is the data janitors. Most actual janitors don't despise the people they clean for, you know (of course, most actual janitors don't get hassled constantly either).

3 days ago
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Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales

lgw Re:Cue party of hypocrites supporters (256 comments)

It's more like "is there anything else we can try to save Detroit from the evil non-Detroit manufacturers". Sadly, there's no saving Detroit.

3 days ago
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FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips.

lgw Re:On the other hand... (688 comments)

"Classified" is a vague term, but computers holding "confidential" materials were affected (secret and above is a whole different world of computing). The machines were rootkitted by a foreign-owned company, and that rootkit phoned home. The DoJ was not amused.

3 days ago
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Google Announces Inbox, a New Take On Email Organization

lgw Re:oh fuck no ! ! ! (172 comments)

Now that's a good problem to occupy the attention of Google's "UI designers", who clearly have nothing useful to do with their time!

3 days ago

Submissions

lgw hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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Economics in Brief (Internet Flotsam)

lgw lgw writes  |  about 6 months ago

Here's some internet flotsam attributed to a graduation speech by Thomas Sargent (without digging into whether this speech really happened: the content is interesting).

Economics is organized common sense. Here is a short list of valuable lessons that our beautiful subject teaches.

1. Many things that are desirable are not feasible.

2. Individuals and communities face trade-offs.

3. Other people have more information about their abilities, their efforts,
and their preferences than you do.

4. Everyone responds to incentives, including people you want to help. That
is why social safety nets don't always end up working as intended.

5. There are tradeoffs between equality and efficiency.

6. In an equilibrium of a game or an economy, people are satisfied with their
choices. That is why it is difficult for well meaning outsiders to change
things for better or worse.

7. In the future, you too will respond to incentives. That is why there are
some promises that you'd like to make but can't. No one will believe those
promises because they know that later it will not be in your interest to
deliver. The lesson here is this: before you make a promise, think about
whether you will want to keep it if and when your circumstances change.
This is how you earn a reputation.

8. Governments and voters respond to incentives too. That is why governments sometimes default on loans and other promises that they have made.

9. It is feasible for one generation to shift costs to subsequent ones. That is
what national government debts and the U.S. social security system do
(but not the social security system of Singapore).

10. When a government spends, its citizens eventually pay, either today or
tomorrow, either through explicit taxes or implicit ones like inflation.

11. Most people want other people to pay for public goods and government
transfers (especially transfers to themselves).

12. Because market prices aggregate traders' information, it is difficult to forecast stock prices and interest rates and exchange rates.

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Geothermal vs Solar Power

lgw lgw writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Here are the basic numbers on aailable geothermal vs solar power (since this has come up in discussion more than once).

The surface area of the Earth is about 5.1 x 10^14 m^2. The cross sectional area is about 1.3 x 10^14 m^2 (one quarter of the surface area, of course).

Per this paper found as a cite on wikipedia, the total heat flow out from the Earth's interior is 4.42 x 10^13 W, or 0.0867 W/m^2. Of course, the available power is much less because it's only the subsurface-surface temperature difference that's available.

Total solar irradience is 1361 W/m^2 by NASA's latest estimate (so about 1.7 x 10^17 W across the entire cross section), or about 1000 W/m^2 on the surface at noon on a cloudless day. Averaged over the day-night cycle (surface area vs cross-section, so 250 W/m^2), and taking clouds into account that's about 180 W/m^2 (I can't find a solid source on that yet, but it looks close).

So, total solar power flow is about 4000 times as large as total geothermal flow. I'm not quite sure how to estimate the (ideal) available power as a percentage of the total geothermal power flow, but if we use a WAG of 50%, then the available power from solar is also about 4000 times per square meter more than geothermal - significantly more if we average solar power only across populated latitudes.

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Global Warming Link

lgw lgw writes  |  more than 5 years ago

This is the best summary of the great global warming fraud I've yet seen, and published in the most unlikely of places.

To be told, as I have been, by Mr. Gore, again and again, that carbon dioxide is a grave threat to humankind is not just annoying, by the way, although it is that! To re-tool our economies in an effort to suppress carbon dioxide and its imaginary effect on climate, when other, graver problems exist is, simply put, wrong. Particulate pollution, such as that causing the Asian brown cloud, is a real problem. Two billion people on Earth living without electricity, in darkened huts and hovels polluted by charcoal smoke, is a real problem.

Although I feel Harold Ambler makes some good points, he misses what I've always felt was the most important. Given that the climate will change (as it always has), do we want it to be warmer, or colder? As glaciers covering Europe (the norm for the ice age we've been in for the past 100M years) seems to me far worse than rising sea levels, I've never understood why we'd want to fight warming in the first place.

I think the whole global warming fraud started by ignoring all of the available evidence and blindly asserting that the climate is naturally stable, so therefore if man did something to break that stability we'd be creating an otherwise-avoidable catastrophe. What BS. The only thing historically unprecedented is the inexplicable stability of the climate for the past 10K years. Change is unavoidable, with or without the actions of man.

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Some quotes I like

lgw lgw writes  |  more than 9 years ago

"Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged." - Abraham Lincoln

"Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me.'" - George Orwell

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