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The Ways Programming Is Hard

purnima It's hard but not that hard (278 comments)

Thinking is hard, but there is a kind of thinking that is harder.
Rough order of thing (easiest to hardest).

1) lounging around doing nothing (easiest)
2) doing what you are told to do without physical exertion (menial white-collar work)
3) doing what you are told to do with physical exertion (menial blue-collar work)
4) independent thinking about things not involving organising other humans (programming, painting, composing music, solving systems of equations)
5) independent thinking about things involving organising other humans (managing programers)
6) independent thinking about things involving organising other humans who are in turn doing independent thinking involving organising other humans (hardest)

about 8 months ago

Why the Sharing Economy Is About Desperation, Not Trust

purnima Sharing (331 comments)

has been the domain of the rich. This is because sharing was moderated by expensive middle men. If you own a castle in Britain, you are likely to regularly share some of the rooms (short-term renting them out through an expensive agency). But it wasn't easy to rent out that extra room or your basement in your three bedroom suburban house, because there was no affordable way to efficiently access that market (the market structure was very thin for short term renting).

Now the rest of us can partake in the sharing economy, agency costs have dropped dramatically for the stuff that the rest of us own.

about 8 months ago

Facebook Data Miner Will Shock You

purnima A warning (164 comments)

It may be a coincidence. After giving permission to this Ubisoft site, my poker account of facebook was banned. What gives? Is the page a ruse to gain access to your facebook account?

about 8 months ago

Insight On FBI Hacking Ops

purnima There is something wrong here (137 comments)

who would call himself Mo? I don't think an Iranian or any native Muslim would choose Mo.
It's an insult to the name Mohammad, and a common American shortening of that name.
I'd more happily expect that "Mo" to be a kid from Cleveland.

1 year,12 days

Elsevier Going After Authors Sharing Their Own Papers

purnima You are kidding me (259 comments)

I work in an area where most of the top journals are owned by Elsevier. Also most of my publications are with Elsevier and I'm on several editorial boards for Elsevier journals.. I've been thinking of resigning from editorial boards on Elsevier journals and starting new arxiv based journals because of the cost of journals. This breaks the camel's back. Elsevier can bite me.

1 year,13 days

This Whole Bitcoin Thing Could Be Big, Says Bank of America

purnima I understand how to value (276 comments)

shares in a remittance company that is likely to take Western Union to Blockbuster territory. But valuing these assumes you are buying shares that will eventually pay dividends, and when not paying dividends will appreciate because profit was is reinvested.

But Bitcoins are not shares. When you buy a Bitcoin you are not buying equity in the Bitcoin environment. Wonder what model BoA valuers have in mind for this. It weirds me out.

1 year,14 days

RMS Calls For "Truly Anonymous" Payment Alternative To Bitcoin

purnima With all due respect to (287 comments)

RMS, I watched the interview on youtube, and I don't think that he understood the anonymity issues of Bitcoin. He's not on top of the issues or the technology.

He has in mind markets with one-sided-anonymity in which the seller is known (a big cooperation) to the buyer while the buyer is anonymous to the seller. Basically he's thinking about online shopping with Walmart on one side and an anonymous buyer on the buyers side. Bitcoin provides anonymity in both directions seller-buyer, which he did not seem to appreciate. Bitcoin allows for anonymous markets and not simply anonymous buying. Bitcoin has the potential to change how we conduct commerce and not simply to facilitate privacy in exiting market structures.

Also, I simply could not understand his statement that "we have had the anonymity technology (his kind of anonymity) for decades". I really don't think that he was thinking of zerocoin.

1 year,18 days

Japanese Researchers Build Rock-paper-scissors Robot That Wins 100% of the Time

purnima hmm (114 comments)

So the human player has no incentive to change away from the Nash equilibrium of 1/3,1/3,1/3.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Where Are the Complete Hosting Providers?

purnima They are around (178 comments)

and "complete" solutions have been around for more than a decade.

The question that may be interesting, is why have people not adopted niche complete hosting providers. I don't know, but to tell the truth I need to wake up each morning knowing that my information is reliably accessible _me_, my credit card numbers haven't been sold, and that if my provider goes down I can read about it in the NYTIMES, that's all slightly more important to me than my worry that the US/German/French governments can read my crap.


about a year ago

First New Top-Level Domains Added To the Root Zone

purnima (shabaka) (106 comments)

is "network" in Arabic. Not web.

about a year ago

US Hacked Chinese University Network

purnima 1972 called (330 comments)

"This was the week that changed the world, as what we have said in that Communique is not nearly as important as what we will do in the years ahead to build a bridge across 16,000 miles and 22 years of hostilities which have divided us in the past. And what we have said today is that we shall build that bridge" I think that other corrupt president of the USA said that. Tricky Dick Nixon,

about a year and a half ago

US Hacked Chinese University Network

purnima Re:I was entirely sympathetic to Snowden (330 comments)

When did China become an enemy of the US? As far as I know it's a competitor, it is a steadily growing economic giant. Yes, but hardly an enemy. Unless, of course, we're back to 1972 when everyone not in the English speaking world that is not a CIA run dictator is an enemy. Frankly, the US is too small and becoming too irrelevant to safely classify the large chunk of humanity called China as an enemy.

about a year and a half ago

US Hacked Chinese University Network

purnima Re:I am guessing that you have nothing to hide (330 comments)

snark. humour. of course, it's ridiculous. But I guess it is far harder to detect humour aimed at US exceptionalism when it is so engrained.

about a year and a half ago

US Hacked Chinese University Network

purnima If China (330 comments)

got nothing to hide, then China has nothing to worry about.

about a year and a half ago

Saudi Arabia Set To Ban WhatsApp, Skype

purnima They are not worried about (122 comments)

western expats or the Saudi nationals. They are worried about the millions of Asian workers, maids, drivers, cleaners who are treated like slaves. You don't have effective control over slaves if you let them communicate with their family whenever they want. Saudi Arabia is a hell hole for millions of people who have sold themselves into effective slavery, and the US government treats the place like its main ally in the region. Something about American history tells me it's a natural alliance.

about a year and a half ago

No New S-300 Air-Defense System To Syria Says Russia — But Maybe Old Ones

purnima If Syria got these (188 comments)

they would turn them into surface to surface targeting rebel donkey carts transporting CIA supplied surface to air missiles come surface to surface missiles that in turn target government donkey carts. In general the only things that will blow up are innocent Syrian kids and donkeys.

about a year and a half ago

What's Holding Back 3-D Printing

purnima It's difficult to think in 3D (348 comments)

The notion that consumers will one day be able to customise 3D designs on their computer screen and print them at home is fanciful. Anyone who has tried to teach/learn three dimensional geometry can tell you that 3D hurts the brain. We don't even see in 3D. The retina is 2D and we have some vague conception of 3D. Close your eyes and consider for example the intersection of two ice cream cones. What does this look like? Is it ever an ice cream cone? Going beyond this, there are geometric phenomena in 3D that have no analog in 2D, which we don't naturally perceive, The problem is that we design in 2D, our mind's eye is 2D, our experiential perspective is 2D, and our design technology is 2D. Our perception of 3D are essentially some sort of projections of 3D Objects. It took painters centuries to even conceive of this. (Of course, you can train your 2D mind to design 3D objects , but basically you've got to be a specialist. For these designers, why would they choose 3D printing, it looks like a lathe tool to me but you are restricted to the material you can use. )

about a year and a half ago

Israel Airport Security Allowed To Read Tourists' Email

purnima If you call the US embassy about this (438 comments)

they ask you about your religion and tell you that in any case Israel is able to access your gmail account without your password, because they 7h3y RUL3.

See The U.S. Government Wanted to Know: Am I Jewish"

"This is the conversation I recall having with Chris Kain at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv by telephone:"

CK: Hello. I got your number from ___. You are being questioned by the Israeli authorities, I understand.
ST: They are threatening to deny me entry and to deport me.
CK: Are you Jewish?
ST: No
CK: Have you been in contact with the Israeli government or military in the past?
ST: No
CK: Have you been here before?
ST: Yes, several times. I am a Palestinian with family in the West Bank.
CK: Oh, you have family in the West Bank. Then there is nothing I can do to help you. In fact, if I interceded on your behalf, it will hurt your case with the Israelis.
ST: I don't understand. You are saying you can't speak with them. You have no influence. They are demanding to access my gmail account.
CK: If they have your gmail address, they can get in without your password.
ST: What do you mean? How?
CK: They're good!
ST: This is crazy. You mean you know about these requests to access emails and you have no problem with it.
CK: It is in our travel warning. They won't harm you. You will be sent home on the next flight out.I hope I have been of good service to you.
ST: Frankly, you have done nothing for me.
CK: Well at least you can say I did it kindly.

about a year and a half ago

To Connect People Securely, Tor Project Seeks New Bridges

purnima Re:silkroad should pay (56 comments)

Isn't the whole idea of Tor-bitcoin is to make an anarchist-nirvana where there is no such thing as criminal and non-criminal.

about a year and a half ago



Duverger's law in political science predicts exactly two Bitcoin mining giants

purnima purnima writes  |  about 6 months ago

purnima (243606) writes "It's not every day that the old area of Political Science can help us think in a new way about technology. The linked article tells us that Bitcoin is different sort of technology: it has a democratic system built into the protocol. So when recently, the mining pool GHASH.IO achieved 54% of computational power amongst all Bitcoin miner there was a great deal of `weeping and gnashing of teeth’ in the Bitcoin community. You see, anyone controlling more than 50% of mining power exercises complete control over the recording of Bitcoin transactions. But all is not lost, “Duverger’s law” in political science predicts that the eventual stable market structure for Bitcoin mining will be two large mining pools of equal size. Equal size means two mining consortiums that will each frequently cross the 50% computational power line and have temporary control of the recording of Bitcoin transactions. And that, unlike a persistent monopoly, need not be a bad thing for the longevity of the currency."
Link to Original Source


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