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Smart Guns To Stop Mass Killings

photon317 Re:American Revolution (1388 comments)

B) The majority of the US armed forces side with the government. Civvies armed with handguns, shotguns and rifles with little to no training or experience take on professionally trained and armed troops, armoured vehicles, helicopters, jets and ships. Civvies most likely get massacred (good luck taking on that MBT or Apache gunship with your AR15): armed civillians ultimately pointless.

I'd like to point you at the difficulties out Armed Forces have had dominating unruly indigenous populations in the Middle East lately, when all the locals have are crappy beat decades-old AK-47 and home-made IEDs. With the weapons and training that a large fraction of the population has access to in the US, suppressing a rebellion here would be nearly impossible, even for the US Armed Forces. There's always the "glass parking lot" option, but they wouldn't mass-bomb the US any more than they do overseas, for the same reasons: the government loses all shreds of credibility on a number of fronts if it starts bombing citizens in mass numbers.

about a year ago
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America's Real Criminal Element: Lead

photon317 Not Causation! (627 comments)

The correlations mentioned have *many* likely tertiary connections that lead to conclusions other than the stated hypothesis. The removal of lead contamination and/or leaded gasoline from an area is probably highly likely to coincide with other general improvements to local conditions. Living standards probably went up at the same time: education levels, income levels, stress reduction, etc. The un-leading of the area was just one normal facet of improving overall living conditions, and it's likely the net of all of the improvements that reduces violent crime rate.

about a year ago
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Why "We The People" Should Use Random Sample Voting

photon317 Re:wrong-headed approach (141 comments)

I agree with your general sentiment (that government isn't about serving only the the majority - the needs of smaller subgroups should be valued as well).

However, the *Federal* government should, for the most part, only be concerning itself with large-scale issues in the whole nation's interest. While some of those issues might be valid and come from a small subgroup of concerned citizens spread across the map, you don't want to devolve things to a state where small localized groups (e.g. 44,0000 people in a farming town in North Dakota) can bring what should be localized issues to national attention where they distract from real national-level work. We have State, County/Parish, and City/Town levels of government for dealing with localized issues.

about a year ago
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New York Paper Uses Public Records To Publish Gun-Owner Map

photon317 Re:So... Question, (1232 comments)

Wouldn't it be nice if you were charged with triple vehicular homicide because someone stole your car out of your driveway and killed a family of 3 with it while driving drunk? Think before you speak.

about a year ago
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Using Technology To Make Guns Safer

photon317 Pointless (1013 comments)

Look, I think it's stupid to apply a bunch of technology (e.g. biometric authorization) to a gun in the first place, on the ground that guns are meant to be simple, reliable mechanical devices when you need them to *save* lives. That biometric auth will fail orders of magnitude more often than the gun itself in legitimate use situations, either due to actual electronics failure, loss of power, or because it can't get a clear print due to the mud/dirt/blood on the user's hands in a time of need.

But, that whole argument aside, the reason it's pointless is this: any such requirement that's being required by law (or pushed by the lawsuit environment) will necessarily have to exempt/grandfather existing weapons. If you think it's hard to pass a normal gun law in this country, realize that they almost always have grandfather clauses, and it would be completely impossible to pass a law without one. Then take stock of the existing weapons in private hands in this country, some of which are *very* old technology. These things don't fall apart and get replaced every 5 years. Some of these guns were built in the early 1900s and they'll still be used long after I'm dead. Basically you can't achieve any reasonable coverage rate with these devices in any reasonable amount of time, and thus it's pointless from a pragmatic perspective.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Where Do You Draw the Line On GPL V2 Derived Works and Fees?

photon317 Re:You misread the GPL. (371 comments)

Actually, no, that's not quite right. You can't resell his binary without his permission. The way it works is:

1) He doesn't have to give the original source or his modified source to anyone by default, and he can charge whatever he wants for his binaries built from modified source.
2) He *does* have to make either the complete modified source or patches against otherwise-available baseline GPL source available to everyone who buys his binary. He can charge a very minimal fee for access to this source (e.g. pay me the cost to mail a floppy), but not much. Under the same terms, he must also provide source to an involved third party of the purchaser if requested, but that's kind of a minor side-point.
3) When he provides said source code to a purchaser, the purchaser receives it under the terms of the GPL and is therefore free to do *whatever they want* with it that the GPL allows for, including posting it on the internet for everyone else on the planet to download for free (again under the terms of the GPL), if they feel like it.

However that binary you paid for is under the seller's copyright, and you need his permission and must comply with his terms if you want to redistribute it. This should be a minor non-issue anyways though, since you can rebuild your own binary on your own terms from the source he was obligated to provide you.

about a year ago
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Attack Steals Crypto Key From Co-Located Virtual Machines

photon317 Re:Don't trust hardware you don't own. (73 comments)

I don't think reasonable people expect hypervisors to be bulletproof. Security is a sliding scale though, and for many purposes the security level offered by a responsible cloud provider is good enough for what they're hosting there. If my bank hosted their critical system in AWS, I'd freak out. If Pandora hosts systems there to stream music to me? I could care less. If Pandora puts their billing system there that has my credit card number? Ok, I start to care a little more, but the risk is manageable if they're being careful about the design, and ultimately if someone rips their whole CC database, my CC company or I will notice the fraud activity quickly and issue me a new card. Life goes on.

Why do companies want to use virtualized infrastructure in the first place? Because it offloads work that's not directly relevant to their business. Let me quote directly from Bruce Perens' recent Ask Slashdot responses:

There is no point in having your own programmers write anything that is not a customer-visible business differentiator for your company if you can get it from the Open Source community. A “business differentiator” in this case means something that makes your company look better than a competitor, to the customer directly. Too much “glue code”, and “infrastructure” is written by organizations that have no real need to do so if they would adopt Open Source. The message that is driving them to do so is the huge stack of cash being made by the companies that do use us.

He was talking about it making sense for companies to build on top of OSS lower-layers. The same applies to the cloud infrastructure stuff. For most businesses, infrastructure is not a differentiator anymore. Why have company employees concerned with managing network switches, racks, cooling systems, datacenter fire protection codes and systems, insurance, servers? Or calling vendors and leading them in the building to replace failed drives and RAM modules, or even giving a crap about hardware at all?

If my company's purpose in life is to deliver, e.g., some social iPhone app and a backend network service that supports it, I have no differentiating interest in that level of infrastructure. I still need an IT department, but it can be a small one focused on using that cloud infrastructure correctly (e.g. security, configuration management, etc). When you can shift off that whole layer of complexity to a large-scale specialist, you've reduced the total complexity your company has to manage directly. Focus on the areas that matter, not the common ground. Did your company design, engineer, and build its own kitchen appliances for the company breakroom? Didn't think so...

about a year and a half ago
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Huawei Offers 'Complete and Unrestricted' Source Code Access

photon317 Doesn't mean much (255 comments)

All sufficiently complex software has security holes. Huawei's software undoubtedly has several. By simply employing their own "Red Team" to actively look for exploits in their normally-produced source code, but then always leaving 2-3 good remote exploits unpatched, they guarantee themselves a non-obvious backdoor. As development continues and new flaws are uncovered, they can bugfix some of the older witheld flaws, trading them for new ones.

If the code were open-source, at least the outside world would be on a level playing field with them, but when it's proprietary they have the advantage by a landslide (since the rest of the world has the additional burden of reverse engineering and/or fuzzing the equipment to find what they can grep code for). Providing just Australia one-shot access to review the source doesn't really change the situation much.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Books Have Had a Significant Impact On Your Life?

photon317 GEB! (700 comments)

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. By far this is the most profound book I've had the pleasure to read in my life. It doesn't contain answers, but it sure provokes a lot of thought...

about a year and a half ago
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US Election's Only VP Debate Tonight: Weigh In With Your Reactions

photon317 Re:Name Your Poison (698 comments)

That this analysis is modded insightful is just sad. Are you seriously touting the virtues of Saddam's Iraq over GWB and US Foreign Policy. We might have a lot of internal disagreement within the US (and the wider Western world) about whether GWB was a good president and whether taking action in Iraq was appropriate at that point in history, but trying to make a case that GWB was more harmful than Saddam is quite the extremist stretch of the imagination. Read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Saddam_Hussein's_Iraq

about a year and a half ago
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In Under 10 Hours, Google Patches Chrome To Plug Hole Found At Its Pwnium Event

photon317 Re:Crack on demand (113 comments)

Maybe some people have standards and would rather participate in Google's process instead of feed black-market attackers for profit? Or if you want to continue to be cynical, you could say that the name recognition and possible future effects on a career are better this way than the black market route, and that's worth more than the $60K.

about a year and a half ago
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What Should Start-Ups Do With the Brilliant Jerk?

photon317 Stop focusing on growth and scaling so much (480 comments)

There's a need for and room for a certain number of large-scale companies in this country and in the world. There's also a need for and room for countless smaller and medium-sized companies. They're all integral parts of a functioning society and economy. Most small/medium companies will never be big and shouldn't be. When you fully understand business scaling, you realize that both in theory and practice it's *impossible* to scale a company without changing the product or service being delivered to your consumer.

Think about the quality difference between say, Famous Restaurant Chain and that long-running Small Family-Owned Restaurant near you that makes incredible-tasting food. If you think the difference between the two is that the big tasteless one always sucked at making food but had a brilliant business guy at the reigns, and the small one, while tasty, simply lacks the business sense to scale up their operations and make real money on their talent, you've completely misunderstood how businesses scale.

Most of those famous large-chain restaurants and fast-food joints actually started out as a single family-owned restaurant that was doing very well financially because customers loved the place. They genuinely loved the food, the service and price. The low-quality form they exist in today is the direct result of scaling; there's simply no other way to do it. Quality of the goods and services *always* falls when you scale up, but you make more money. Many of those successful small family restaurants that stay that way are constantly under pressure from peers and partners to expand and are perfectly capable of handling the business process of expansion, but they relentlessly resist because they don't want to ruin a good thing.

At a small scale, each employee really matters. You do need some people who are brilliant at their respective jobs to be successful. Moving from there to the large scale is all about commoditization. It's about building a self-sustaining organization that delivers a consistent product or service regardless of which employees come and go over time. It means trading out the special people that make great things for the ability to turn out consistently mediocre things cheaply using random sets of mediocre employees. It's a hard transition to make, and it's a constant process as you grow rather than a one-time thing. If you want to grow, you have to hire people that can work with that process. People that can take themselves out of the picture personally. People who can instead design and operate an ever-expanding system where employees are just cogs in a machine which always runs smoothly even if some of the cogs are a little warped and misshapen, and even if there's a regular pace of cogs just leaving the machine and randomly-different ones replacing them sometime later.

So if you're a businessperson, or business owner, or investor, this sort of scaling and growth is what excites you. You're not excited by making the best fajitas this side of the Mississippi, you're not excited by making the best firewall software man has ever seen, etc. You're excited by creating systems out of human cogs that scale up infinitely and keep giving back ever-increasing monetary rewards. But so many business people in the world want to scale their small-to-medium company into the next behemoth and most of them will fail. Scaling is hard, and there's only so much room, and your already-larger competitors already have a big leg up on you. Most of them shouldn't even try to scale. It's perfectly ok to stick to your smaller size, not frustrate everyone with scaling attempts, and simply keep re-investing profits into making it the best damn small company anyone ever did business with.

The "brilliant jerk" isn't necessarily the problem. Maybe he's perfect for that small company, and the problem is your unnatural desire to scale things at the cost of quality, destroying a beautiful and functional small cog in the economy by trying to make it too big.

about a year and a half ago
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Pakistan's PM Demands International Blasphemy Laws From UN

photon317 Re:Really? (957 comments)

Really, the Middle East wasn't too bad in the early part of the 20th century, either. They were joining the modern world at a decent pace, women's rights were strong, they had universities with open-minded debates, female students, and even female politicians and leaders. They had open discourse on politics and religion, and generally everyone in the region was reasonably tolerant of others' religions.

It's the *modern* Middle East that's the problem. The *modern* Islamist rule in the region turned everything upside down with a new interpretation of "fundamentalist" Islam and started enforcing it on their societies. There are still living (old) people in the Middle East who remember how it was before all of this, and they're ashamed of what their countries have become. Religion evolves, and it's fair to say that the plurality of the modern practitioners of Islam in the Middle East represent a very different religion than the more peaceful and progressive variant that preceded it.

There may be an interpretation of Islam that's peaceful, but there are clearly also interpretations that are not. As with Christianity, the important thing in the moment is: which side is winning Islam's internal debate and controlling the majority of its political actions on the world stage?

about a year and a half ago
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Slashdot Anniversary: Houston, TX, US

photon317 Re:Sign-Up? (12 comments)

Go back to the URL that got you here: http://slashdot.org/anniversary.pl , click on the radio button next to the party you're going to, scroll to the bottom of the screen for the Attend Party button.

about a year and a half ago
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Is That Sushi Hazardous To Your Health?

photon317 Re:Thats why I pay more in Texas (554 comments)

Maybe you're in the wrong part of Texas? I've been eating good sushi in Houston for years. Quantifying "good" is hard I guess. I've never been to Japan, but I do make quarterly trips to the SF Bay area, and "good" sushi there is rarely better than good sushi here in Houston.

more than 4 years ago
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AT&T Loses First Legal Battle Against Verizon

photon317 Re:Effective ads (214 comments)

But again, there's a larger problem which you illustrate perfectly. AT&T and Verizon operate on completely different technology stacks (AT&T uses the global GSM standard, Verizon uses the "Asshat Americans want to be different and incompatible" CDMA standard). "3G" is a weak term that means different things in these two technology stacks. AT&T's 3G is a much better 3G than Verizon's 3G, and thus also much more expensive to roll out. If the "XG" terminology actually had real meaning (as in, you could compare the number X and accurately tell the difference in network capabilities, even when comparing CDMA and GSM), the ad would have to be modified to say something like "Verizon's 3G network is much larger than AT&T's 4G network".

more than 4 years ago
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AT&T Loses First Legal Battle Against Verizon

photon317 Re:Now to get rid of noncompetes (214 comments)

Patents are not part of the libertarian ideal, therefore your logic fails.

more than 4 years ago
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The Jet Fighter Laser Cannon

photon317 Re:9mm? (464 comments)

Unfortunately your father in law is misinformed. It's common for even people with a great deal of field experience to be misinformed about these things. Ask a qualified ballistics expert and you'll find the diameter of the entrance wound is a relatively small factor. Proper bullet design, and proper consideration of the correct weight to use for the platform in question, are much bigger factors. A 147gr Winchester RA-9T ("LE" ammo, but civilians can legally buy it if they find nice dealers) out of any full-sized 9mm handgun will vastly outperform a standard "chunk-o-lead" target-shooting round out of a .45, for example. Using that level of ammo in both, the difference between the wounds from the two is negligible.

more than 4 years ago
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The Jet Fighter Laser Cannon

photon317 Re:9mm? (464 comments)

Mostly they did it for stupid reasons, if you really read up the informed sources on these things.

The truth is 9mm is every bit as capable across a broad range of handgun scenarios that LE are likely to face as any other reasonable semi-auto cartridge (.40, .45, .357Sig), assuming one makes the correct ammo choices (on that point I'll concede: correct ammo choices matter more in 9mm than they do in .45, but not by a huge amount). Add to that the 9mm's lower perceived recoil, faster followup shots, and larger round counts in the same physical magazine size, and the 9mm looks quite good. That's why most of the world's militaries, including the US, and all NATO and UN types, have standardized on 9mm. Operator skill and unpredictable situational factors will make far more difference than any you can find between the calibers in any case, so the whole argument is really just a religious debate.

Back to the point about the fed branches though. The FBI originally tested the 10mm Auto to replace 9mm. The 10mm Auto actually *is* arguably a superior round to everything mentioned above in terms of "incapacitate in as few shots as possible". That is, of course, if you're willing to make the tradeoffs in mag capacity, ammo/gun weight, and extreme recoil. Once they had mostly settled on 10mm Auto, they did some testing with agents, and found that many (mostly females - it's in the reports, I'm not trying to be sexist here) simply could not handle the 10mm recoil and would not use it. So S&W came up with a "10mm short", which became the .40 we know today, as a compromise package that would be "like the 10mm (at least in diameter)" but lower recoil. It's basically a 10mm Auto that's been cut down with a lot less powder behind it.

And like all irrational "compromise" solutions of that sort, it's a complete practical failure. All objective testing indicates at best it's on par with its 9mm and .45 cousins (certainly nothing like the original 10mm), and arguably you're better off with one of those two. It just takes generations for people to admit those kinds of mistakes and move past them when you've got industry giants and federal government branches involved.

more than 4 years ago

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