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Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power

meustrus Re:So basically (441 comments)

I do really appreciate having thoughtful discussions, and I'm glad my words were not lost on you. You've got some good points yourself, and although I don't really have any argument to voice right now I'm reminded of something more basic that informs my unfortunately unusual point of view.

One belief I hold that pretty much nobody in politics shares is that economic growth is not the ultimate standard by which we should judge progress in our society. Look at the last few years. A Democratic Washington has largely succeeded in turning the economy around, and we're back to growth and Wall Street profits. But how's the average American doing? Wages have been stagnant since about 1970, and that trend shows no sign of abating. Home ownership levels are not recovering. People of my generation are moving back in with their parents, and baby boomers are being forced out of their homes by gentrification. And falling unemployment levels are really due to people giving up on finding jobs, not because they found them. It's easy to look at GDP and say "we fixed it!" But growth in GDP does not necessarily mean a growth in the economy, and growth in the economy does not necessarily mean an improved standard of living for the average American, and an improved standard of living does not mean people are happier today than they were fifty years ago. We need to figure out how to measure what really improves peoples' lives, because economic growth ain't it.

yesterday
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Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Considering US Presidential Run

meustrus Re:DOA (418 comments)

Oh, I'm sure some groups of idiots would vote for her. But elections in this country typically come down to less than a 10% margin. Surely you can agree that Slashdot is at least representative of 10% of the population's political views.

2 days ago
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Book Review: Bulletproof SSL and TLS

meustrus Re:Really? (90 comments)

An invalid cert means you could be susceptible to a man in the middle attack. But even with an invalid cert, you're still more protected than without SSL. An educated user can make an educated decision. Unfortunately we are talking about mass market computer users, who as anyone in IT can tell you do the stupidest things imaginable on a daily basis. We're also dealing with web site operators that just want to put something up and let the server deal with everything with a minimum of hassle. Doing SSL at all is not easy, and doing it right is hard.

In the military, they have a standard that all technical manuals must be written for a 4th grade reading level. How to operate the tank? 400 pages that an average 10 year old could understand (with enough attention span). Every piece of open source software should have the same goal, not just for its documentation (you do have docs, right?), but for its API design. Instead, as I read in another comment by jandrese: "All of the APIs are apparently written with the thought that anyone messing with SSL should have PhD in cryptography first, because otherwise they're just going to screw it up."

2 days ago
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Book Review: Bulletproof SSL and TLS

meustrus Re:Really? (90 comments)

We should concentrate on educating Web designers to only use HTTPS when it's really appropriate and necessary.

No we shouldn't. HTTPS should be everywhere. A somewhat insecure implementation of SSL is better than no SSL. Further, everything should be encrypted so that we can have some basic level of privacy. It's also not a good idea to raise a red flag for hackers to see over every "appropriate and necessary" use of strong encryption. And finally, if you want it to be illegal to spy on you, it helps to have the DMCA on your side. Any attempt to protect communications makes it a crime to break the encryption no matter how trivial it is to do so (based on my not lawyerly understanding; I am not responsible if this assumption gets you into trouble).

2 days ago
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Book Review: Bulletproof SSL and TLS

meustrus Re:HEY DICE, WHAT THE FUCKHAPPENED TO MODERATING? (90 comments)

Oh, so that's why I didn't see any responses for the last week, and then this morning just a huge flood of stuff to go through. Interesting data point: the only post of mine that kicked off a lot of replies despite the messaging bug was political.

2 days ago
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Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Considering US Presidential Run

meustrus Re:I'd really love to see a woman in the White Hou (418 comments)

But it's the job of government to serve all of its consituents' best interests, not to make a profit come hell or high water.

You've got a point there, but it isn't even necessary. Mitt Romney can make a profit come hell or high water. All that Carly Fiorina can do is torpedo a successful company's profits and market share. It's reasonable (if misguided) to think that a successful CEO might have some skills that apply to political office. But Carly Fiorina is about as far from a successful CEO as you can get.

2 days ago
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Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Considering US Presidential Run

meustrus DOA (418 comments)

I can't find a single positive comment on /. about Fiorina. We've got a surprisingly diverse collection of political opinions here (even if the ideologues seem convinced that /. is some kind of haven for extreme political views opposing their own), and if not even the trolls can find something supportive to say it seems pretty clear that this candidacy is totally DOA.

2 days ago
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Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power

meustrus Re:Beware the T E R R O R I S T S !! (441 comments)

I said logistical support

It's a real shame that most people don't understand the vast majority of military action is logistics. I know it's off topic, but I would really, really love to play a strategy game that at least gave a nod to this huge facet of all military operations larger than border skirmishes.

2 days ago
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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

meustrus Re:Philosophy -- graveyard of fact (447 comments)

History of Scientific Method

Science and the scientific method evolved alongside and informed by philosophy for the last several thousand years. Nearly all prominent figures in science prior to the foundation of the modern scientific method were primarily philosophers (Aristotle, Bacon, Descartes, et al). The scientific method we use today has enabled many intelligent people to pursue knowledge without needing to first understand the limits of our own perceptions and understanding, i.e. philosophy. But philosophy is still the foundation of why the scientific method works at eliminating the bias that creeps in from the human element.

2 days ago
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Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power

meustrus Re:So basically (441 comments)

If you live in a Time Warner area, saying "no" to Time Warner means saying no to cable and usually to internet above DSL speeds. For some of us, that service is more valuable than any message we might send by refusing to support Time Warner. Not much of a choice, really.

If you house catches fire, your tax dollars paid for the fire department to come save you. We as a society have decided that you can't say "no" to funding the fire department, because plenty of short sighted idiots will do just that and their houses will burn down. Even worse, if people could make that decision, the government would need to spend even more tax money on keeping track of who has and has not paid for that service. And further, the fire department would still have to show up and make sure that the fire in your house doesn't spread to nearby houses that are protected. Some government services are universally good for society and can only be effective if everyone pays for them.

Of course not every government program is a fire department. That's why our government has constitutional limits to what it can do. Unfortunately those limits have broken down over the last 70 years as people of all political persuasions and branches of government have pushed to make all laws national. You see, the strictest limits are imposed on the federal government, which can only make laws about very narrowly specific things (which have been interpreted less narrowly over time). Federal government is supposed to be weaker than state government because individual voters have less power over it. But as society has become more complex and interconnected, and voters have adopted a larger context to our lives, it is ourselves that have pushed for more and more power to which we have less power to say "no".

So ultimately, it's right that we can't say "no" to the IRS. But we clearly don't have as much power as we should over where that money goes. The solution is to get more involved with local politics and put our emphasis on state government. Historically, the Democrats were for states' rights until FDR; after that the Republicans paid lip service to the idea, but it's pretty clear nowadays that nobody in Washington is serious about abdicating power to the states. And the unfortunate thing is that the states simply aren't prepared to take that power. They would have to raise taxes and gain power, and especially with most state governments controlled by Republicans that simply isn't going to happen. So the federal government can't just give up its power until the states are ready to take it, or else the unelected corporations (Time Warner et al) will expand to fill the resulting power vacuum.

2 days ago
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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

meustrus Re:It's an issue of free-will (447 comments)

I'm sorry, but I prefer to define free will as the ability to freely make choices. Not as something that requires such nebulous concepts as consciousness and intentionality (a "will"). You couldn't prove in your whole lifetime that a human being has consciousness or intentionality.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?

meustrus Re:Easiest way... if you have money to burn (267 comments)

To make a car analogy...Macs are like the Honda Civics of the computer market. They probably cost more used than they're worth, but there's a good reason for it. A 20 year old Honda is more likely to still work right than a 20 year old Chevy, and you pay a premium for that. So when you're buying a new car, if you want it to last a long time, you might take that into consideration and buy a Honda. Of course not everybody does, because people that buy new cars don't usually care if it will work right when it's 10 years old. If you want the latest technology, maybe you shouldn't buy a Mac unless you really want to spend several thousand on a new computer every year. But at least you won't have to buy a new one next year if you don't want to.

Don't read too far into the analogy because it will break down quickly beyond the reliability metric.

2 days ago
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Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Considering US Presidential Run

meustrus Re:A millionaire who won't pay back her loans (418 comments)

So she won't appeal to the millions of Americans who just used the last of their paychecks to finally pay off their overdue medical bills instead of getting nice Christmas presents for their grandmas. But those people vote Democrat anyway. She'll be just fine with the advertising demographic on far right talk shows. You know, the people targeted with advertisements on how to get the IRS off their backs.

2 days ago
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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

meustrus Re:It's an issue of free-will (447 comments)

A machine can easily be given free will. Most advanced artificial intelligence actually has free will. Take the Overmind project. The AI can move its Mutalisks any way it wants; it chooses to move them in the most effective way it has learned to do so, because it is designed to want to be effective. Sure, it's never going to deliberately lose the game like a human might. But that's just a matter of its motivations. The Overmind lives in the game world, deriving pleasure solely from defeating its enemies and deriving pain solely from taking casualties. It has never learned any concept of dignity, nor does it derive any pleasure from arranging its buildings artistically. Does that mean it doesn't have free will? Not any more than my own complex network of desires (stimulation, expression, victory) and pains (hunger, thirst, pain, regret, loss, embarrassment) mean that I don't have free will. My choices in service of these abstract and not fully understood motivations are more complex than the Overmind's choices on how to use its Mutalisks most effectively, but that doesn't mean I have free will and the Overmind does not. Maybe we just don't want the Overmind to have free will because it doesn't look like human free will.

4 days ago
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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

meustrus Counterexample (447 comments)

So apparently Watson didn't play Jeopardy. Apparently it was the programmers who played Jeopardy, using Watson as a tool. Does that prove Watson is not intelligent?

Let's say a fictional Dr. Sorenson, unscrupulous and backed by a powerful and wealthy totalitarian state with no regard for human life, has several dozen children upon which to conduct unrestricted psychological experiments. After years of research and careful conditioning, he has succeeded in programming a child to disregard all concerns except the acquisition of knowledge and the ability to understand complex and tricky queries. This child is completely subservient to Dr. Sorenson's instructions. It grows and learns over the next 20 years, a human tool to the evil Doctor. After that time has passed, the state wants to prove that its children are the best educated in the world, and so taps Dr. Sorenson's research to do so. The child is to travel to America with a team of caretakers, much like Watson, and play Jeopardy. The child is not exercising free will or otherwise acting in any recognizably human manner; it only is acting out years of conditioning and controlled learning. Clearly, it is actually Dr. Sorenson that is playing Jeopardy, using the child as a tool. Does that prove that the child is not intelligent?

4 days ago
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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

meustrus Re:Philosophy -- graveyard of fact (447 comments)

But how was the scientific method invented? With philosophy. Er...bitches?

4 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?

meustrus Re:Easiest way... (267 comments)

I was going to say that they do have accessibility options for font size and other things, but the configuration now is more limited than I remember. I can only assume their solution now is to lean on their Retina displays operating at a non-ideal resolution to make the entire interface larger with fewer artifacts than at non-Retina resolutions.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?

meustrus Re:Easiest way... if you have money to burn (267 comments)

"Averages about $1200", and "You could get"? Every single machine I see over $1200 is an old Mac Pro; current models are over $3000 as they use server-type processors and ECC memory. And you "could get" a five year old 2.66Ghz quad core Mac Pro from that link at $739, which is...less than two thirds of $1200. Or a three year old 2.5Ghz quad core iMac at $799.

If the price still puts you off, you don't have to buy into that market. But don't complain that these things keep their value; in most products (like cars), that means it was a solid, reliable product, unlike certain computers I've bought that died after only a year. I dare you to find non-Macs from 5 years ago that sell anywhere near $799 now.

about a week ago

Submissions

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Ars Says Ad Blockers Killing the Internet

meustrus meustrus writes  |  more than 4 years ago

meustrus (1588597) writes "Ars Technica reports that ad blocking is devastating to the sites you love in a 'hopefully informative' post following an experiment on Friday afternoon where they blocked access to the news site from those using ad blockers. 'There is an oft-stated misconception that if a user never clicks on ads, then blocking them won't hurt a site financially. This is wrong. Most sites, at least sites the size of ours, are paid on a per view basis.'

While advertisements may be necessary for revenue, and some sites are better about them than others, most of us install ad blocking software for those websites out there with the obnoxious screen-covering or sound-blasting advertisements. More often than the annoying ads, though, is that when a page stops loading you can look down at the status bar to see 'Waiting for doubleclick.net...'"

Link to Original Source
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What Intel's New Integrated GPU Means

meustrus meustrus writes  |  more than 4 years ago

meustrus (1588597) writes "So Intel has released new Arrandale and Clarkdale processors with integrated GPU's. For some reason, it seems like I'm the only one who's worried about this. Early last month, Bright Side of News posted a rumor that Apple would skip this generation of Intel processors, demanding a version without built-in GPU. Why would they do this? For the last couple of years, Apple has had a good thing going with nVidia chipsets in their laptops, using GeForce 9400M integrated graphics which perform vastly superior to Intel graphics. Even with the recent developments concerning nVidia chipsets, it is still a sad day that such an arrangement becomes more and more of a faded reality.

What Intel proves to me with the integrated GPU is that it intends to pour salt in nVidia's wounds and push its graphics chips on PC designers and consumers. In my opinion this is monopolistic behavior, like trying to kill Netscape by shipping Windows with Internet Explorer. In a review of the new processors, there is a description and picture of the die for the new CPU's. Most notable is that it combines a 32nm CPU with a 45nm GPU. This is not some engineer's dream of perfection. It's a hack job pushed by management as a strategic move to put an Intel graphics chip in every computer in the world, with the eventual goal of weakening competition for third-party GPU's and chipsets which use them."
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Windows 7 Released to MSDNAA

meustrus meustrus writes  |  more than 5 years ago

meustrus writes "Windows 7 Professional has been made available through Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance (MSDNAA). 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available. Also available is Windows 7 Ultimate RC and language packs. Being a university student, I have proceeded to install the 64-bit edition on my Macbook Pro 5,1 and let me tell you, it purrs."

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