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Comments

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Boeing Told To Replace Cockpit Screens Affected By Wi-Fi

swillden Re:We've heard this before. (105 comments)

The FAA requirement for a lock on the door was only issued after 9/11

On October 9, 2001, the FAA published the first of a series of Special Federal Aviation Regulations (SFARs) to expedite the modification of cockpit doors in the U.S. fleet. This Phase I fix included installation of steel bars and locking devices.

No mandatory door locks before 9/11.

Yes, but the claim was that prior to 9/11 pilots were asking that locks be installed and that airlines refused the expense. I was asking for a citation supporting those claims -- that pilots asked and airlines refused.

2 hours ago
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Obama Administration Argues For Backdoors In Personal Electronics

swillden Re:Let me be the first to say (401 comments)

Oh, I see the problem. You've internalized Republican wingnut derp. Only a wingnut would hold being a community organizer against someone.

I'm not a Republican, but even I can see that you've misunderstood the complaint. He's not holding having been a community organizer against Barack Obama, he's implying that community organizer is the role in which Obama belongs, i.e. that he's not competent to be the president and that he should therefore go back to what he knows how to do.

2 hours ago
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Obama Administration Argues For Backdoors In Personal Electronics

swillden Re:No, it is not. (401 comments)

It is if we are permitted to keep our own information secret from law enforcement except when compelled to deliver it by warrant.

That's an interesting statement, because some US courts have ruled that we cannot be so compelled because it violates the fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination.

I see three options:

1. Makers of devices are required to provide back doors for law enforcement access. This was part of the idea of the Clipper chip... which was a total flop because no one wanted to buy it, and Congress didn't get around to (or didn't dare to) compel usage.

2. Makers of devices don't have to provide back doors, but people can be held in contempt for refusing to provide access to officials with a warrant. Some US courts have taken this position.

3. Makers of devices don't have to provide back doors, and fifth amendment protection prevents requiring people to provide law enforcement access. Some US courts have taken this position.

So, which should we aim for? I think 1 is clearly not a good idea, not least because providing a LE backdoor that can't be exploited by malicious actors is far easier said than done. 2 is what you suggested. 3 is what many on slashdot believe they prefer.

Personally, I lean towards 3, though I can see arguments for 2.

2 hours ago
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Obama Administration Argues For Backdoors In Personal Electronics

swillden Re:GTFO. (401 comments)

Won't be long before Google and Microsoft follow suit.

Google has never had the ability to decrypt an encrypted Android phone. The key encryption key is derived from the user's password (plus salt), so a brute force search of possible passwords can recover it, but Google hasn't ever had any special back door. If you use a good password, no one is going to be able to get in without your assistance.

(I'm a member of Google's Android security team. Not speaking as an official representative, mind you, but anyone can look at the code and see exactly how it works, so no official statement could appreciably differ.)

2 hours ago
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Boeing Told To Replace Cockpit Screens Affected By Wi-Fi

swillden Re:We've heard this before. (105 comments)

Several years before 9/11, pilots were asking that the cockpits be made more secure by installing a $200 lock on the pilot's side of the door giving access to the cockpit. Airlines complained that it would be too expensive.

Cite?

3 hours ago
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Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity

swillden Re:uhh (475 comments)

And unlike Earth where you can simply reboot society via going outside and farming a little plot of land, you can't do that on Mars!

You can't necessarily do that on Earth, either. Earth as it is right now, sure. But it hasn't always been like it is now... in fact it mostly hasn't been like it is now, and it's guaranteed that it won't always be like it is now. Changes can happen with lightning speed, too. A supervolcano eruption, a meteor strike... or even just climate change. What would happen if the planet suddenly reverted to "Snowball Earth", with 30 feet of surface ice covering the equatorial oceans?

We're eventually going to have to learn to either (a) sustain human life in extreme conditions or (b) engineer the planet's climate, deflect rocks, suck the energy from supervolcanos, etc., or else we'll die. Learning to live on Mars, or in space for that matter, without constant support from Earth is a Good Idea.

3 hours ago
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The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

swillden Re:the solution: (437 comments)

Or are you under the illusion that this one amendment is sacrosanct while they crap all over the rest of it?

Are you arguing that because they crap all over the rest of the Bill of Rights, we should allow them to crap all over the second as well? Really?

Obviously, the correct solution is to required our government to obey all of the law -- and in the extreme (and unlikely, I think) event that we fail to achieve that via political processes, we'll have to make use of our arms to retake control (our arms and the unwillingness of the US military to fight fellow citizens; both are necessary). The "crapping all over all the rest of it" makes holding onto the second amendment vastly more important, not less.

5 hours ago
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Artificial General Intelligence That Plays Video Games: How Did DeepMind Do It?

swillden Re:"artificial intelligence" has become a religion (90 comments)

like i said a few comments back, you've been watching too much sci-fi and have no concept of how this stuff is actually made

I've been consistently ignoring such snide remarks and I'm going to continue doing so... but my willingness to be so patient with your snark is wearing thin. Cut it out or I'll simply stop responding.

As for whether or not I know "how this stuff is actually made", you might consider that I'm a professional software engineer with 25 years' experience, currently working for Google. I know quite a lot about how "this stuff is actually made", including familiarity with current machine learning techniques, since I'm a guy who makes it. I also personally know a couple of people who've worked on Watson (I worked for IBM for 15 years, including on Watson Labs research projects)... and they agree with my perspective on this question: AI is clearly possible; we don't yet know how to create it because we don't understand intelligence.

***we already understand "artificial intelligence" it's just code***

You can argue in exactly the same way that programmers in the 1950s understood how to implement knowledge graphs. Or computer vision. Or voice recognition. After all... they're "just code". Never mind that programmers of that era had no conception of the modern algorithms needed to actually make those things work. What they lacked wasn't just horsepower, but fundamental understanding of the problems and the solution. They couldn't build a computer system capable of driving a car that was infeasible only because it couldn't compute quickly enough, they couldn't build such a system at all.

the notion that "artificial intelligence" is something that we can 100% "undesrtand" shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what "artificial intelligence" actually is...it's just software running on hardware, all programed by humans

Certainly it will be software running on hardware, all programmed by humans. Humans that understand what intelligence actually is and how it works... something that we don't yet know. To get a little more specific, it appears that human "intelligence" is actually a collection of several different components, with several emergent properties. It's long been thought that "self-awareness" is the key emergent property, but many animals have self-awareness and yet lack the crucial ability that makes humans distinct.

The current best thinking is that the distinction is a particular form of creativity. Specifically, the ability to create abstract explanations. We certainly know how to write computer programs that manipulate abstractions, but they're abstractions of the programmer's creation, not of the program's. We need to learn how to write software that is able to create and criticize its own conjectured solutions to problems. We do not yet know how to do that.

We know it's possible, because we possess computers that can do it. In our heads.

I linked you to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights...you should at least have a cursory undestanding of how civil rights works in the US...it's absolutely ridiculous that you think I need to proffer up some sort of link to prove humans have free will

There are several misunderstandings implicit in this sentence.

First, I didn't ask for a link to prove humans have free will. You mentioned current legal definitions of free will. I asked for a cite to explain what such legal definitions are.

Second, you seem to think that civil rights are somehow related to free will. I don't see any such link. It's perfectly possible to have free will without having any civil rights, and it's equally possible to have civil rights without free will. I suppose you're trying to argue that we have established systems of human rights in order to protect the expression of free will... but that's clearly a second or third-order effect.

Third, you seem to think I'm questioning the existence of free will. I'm not. I don't think our perception of free will is in any way incompatible with the notion that our brains are deterministic machines... and I also don't think that they necessarily are. Quantum effects may well add a non-trivial amount of non-determinism to our thought processes. Such non-determinism may be a necessary component of what we perceive as free will, or it may not. We don't (yet) know. And it's possible that this non-determinism is both fundamental and is the mechanism by which a supernatural influence (e.g. our souls) play into the picture. Actually "supernatural" isn't quite the right word, because if there is such an effect it is also natural, just not part of the physics we understand.

7 hours ago
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Arducorder, Next Open Source Science Tricorder-like Device, Nears Completion

swillden Re:Interesting. But might end up as more of a toy. (55 comments)

As said this could be an interesting device. But I'm not really sure what this will allow anyone to do.

The point isn't what you can do with it, the point is that it's fun to build it and to experiment with all of the sensors. Perhaps that experimentation will spark some ideas for building things that actually are useful, but even that's a second-order concern.

This.

What happened to the slashdot of old?

yesterday
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eBay To Spin Off PayPal

swillden Re:lol capitalism. (73 comments)

Apple Pay isn't new. It's just another spin on what Google and ISIS (now SoftCard) did before it. The reason PayPal didn't change the world was because the financial industry is owned by the banks, and they don't allow it to be changed except in the ways they want. Many have attempted to bypass them, or undermine them, and none have succeeded. PayPal didn't do it in the past and isn't going to in the future. Neither is Apple.

yesterday
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eBay To Spin Off PayPal

swillden Re:lol capitalism. (73 comments)

First, it has nothing to do with Alibaba's IPO and everything to do with Apple's new one touch payment.

How so?

yesterday
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Matchstick and Mozilla Take On Google's Chromecast With $25 Firefox OS Dongle

swillden Re:Not sure how well it will work (102 comments)

ChromeCast isn't exactly setting the world on fire.

It's the #1 best-selling electronics device on Amazon, and I believe it has held that spot continuously ever since it was released. It's also one of Best Buy's top sellers. Every non-geek I know who has one loves it. I don't know if that equates to "setting the world on fire", but it's been pretty darned successful.

yesterday
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Apple Fixes Shellshock In OS X

swillden Re:I have an idea (163 comments)

While I'm a big fan of open source, that approach has real and obvious problems.

The problems show themselves just as much in software as anywhere else. e.g. People would much prefer to create new code than do code reviews or write tests, so defects in open source software linger around for a decade or two.

Exactly. The approach does have a lot of benefits, but there are some negatives as well.

yesterday
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Adobe Photoshop Is Coming To Linux, Through Chromebooks

swillden Re:How important is that at this point? (191 comments)

Both Windows (7) and Linux (Ubuntu 14 and Crunchbang). The problem with the UI isn't with window managers or other technical parts; it's the design of the UI. The way an excessive amount of buttons are seemingly randomly slapped together in a toolbar.

Meh. I don't think it's that random and in any case I have no trouble whatsoever with finding the buttons I need on any platform.

The way dialogs and popups don't follow platform styling.

Who cares? Okay, so it's prettier if it follows the platform styling, but the style has no impact on usability.

The way it defaults to a multi-window environment.

This is only a problem if you lack a good window manager with proper focus-follows-mouse behavior. On Linux, I prefer the multi-window environment. It's much more flexible, especially if your workflow includes needing to interact frequently with other apps.

yesterday
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Artificial General Intelligence That Plays Video Games: How Did DeepMind Do It?

swillden Re:free will is not a religious idea (90 comments)

"no" is the answer, if you use legal definitions of 'free will' (or concepts similar to in practice)

Cite?

ook, we're just going to have to agree to disagree about how actually feasable what you describe really is...it's just so far out there...it really is, from an engineering and psychology perspective, about as likely as humans being able to travel across the whole universe and through time

Nonsense. There is a fundamental difference between something that is barred by the laws of physics and something that is perfectly possible, but just beyond our current ability. Oh, it's possible that we'll discover new physics that make supralight and time travel possible (it's even possible that the same discovery will enable both), but it's more likely, I think, that both are simply disallowed by the laws of nature.

Construction of brains, however, is incontrovertibly not barred by any physical laws... because it's done many times every day.

if what you describe ever really is even on the horizon and we see that it may be done, then, IMHO, we can have a reason to have this debate for real

I don't think it's far off at all. I suspect that we'll understand and be able to construct artificial intelligence before we can replicate a human brain, but I don't think either is more than 100 years away.

idk if humans would even still be 'human' in an evolutionary sense by the time we could do what you describe

It's perfectly conceivable that we'll have achieved sufficient mastery of genetic engineering to begin modifying ourselves in non-trivial ways by then, so you may be right. But this, also, is not so far away.

yesterday
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Apple Fixes Shellshock In OS X

swillden Re:I have an idea (163 comments)

If I can't otherwise have sewage treatment -- yes, definitely.

And the 10,000 other, similar, issues? There are lots of things that need to be done but no one really wants to do. If the solution is that everyone must do those things themselves then we lose much of the advantages of specialization.

yesterday
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Apple Fixes Shellshock In OS X

swillden Re:I have an idea (163 comments)

This sounds needlessly complicated. Let's just each do what we can for others in, say, seven hours on four days of every week, and leave the rest to our leisure.

So... you're suggesting that we apply the open source notion of "everyone works on what interests them" to all productive labor? While I'm a big fan of open source, that approach has real and obvious problems. Are you going to volunteer to maintain the sewage treatment plants?

yesterday
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Adobe Photoshop Is Coming To Linux, Through Chromebooks

swillden Re:How important is that at this point? (191 comments)

I can just about manage to get things done in GIMP, but it's not a pleasure; the UI is an utter mess.

On what platform?

I find that GIMP's UI is just fine with a proper window manager. On OS X it's very painful, though, and I would expect the same on Windows (dunno, I haven't used Windows in about 15 years).

yesterday
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Google To Require As Many As 20 of Its Apps Preinstalled On Android Devices

swillden Re:It's sad (413 comments)

Actually, they made it COVERT. They have other ways of finding your real name. Like, say, automatically parsing your emails. Or buying your name from the telco which provides your phone service.

You're assuming that getting your real name for their own use was ever Google's goal. I see no justification for that assumption. Even if you assume that Google cares to know your real name, those other options aren't new.

2 days ago

Submissions

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Google Wallet now works with any card

swillden swillden writes  |  more than 2 years ago

swillden writes "Google posted on Wednesday: 'we’re releasing a new, cloud-based version of the Google Wallet app that supports all credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. Now, you can use any card when you shop in-store or online with Google Wallet. With the new version, you can also remotely disable your mobile wallet app from your Google Wallet account on the web.'"
Link to Original Source
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Google+ for Google Apps Released

swillden swillden writes  |  more than 2 years ago

swillden (191260) writes "Finally addressing a problem with the new Google+ social network that has generated a great number of complaints from long-time Google users, Google has announced the availability of Google+ for users with Google Apps accounts. The feature isn't enabled automatically for all Google Apps domains, though, it's necessary for the domain administrator to turn it on."
Link to Original Source
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Real-world RAID0 performance

swillden swillden writes  |  more than 5 years ago

swillden writes "I recently got the opportunity to play with some fairly high-end hardware and I was very surprised at the poor I/O performance. The machine was a 4-way Xeon with a high-end RAID controller and five 300GB SCSI Ultra-320 15,000 RPM drives, to be configured as a very high-performance database server. I didn't care so much about the real database workload, though, I just wanted to see what kind of data rate I could get, for fun.

Given that each of these drives individually can sustain over 100 MB/s, and given that I'd expect RAID0 to scale roughly linearly with the number of drives, I was expecting in the neighborhood of 500 MB/s. What I got (according to bonnie++) was about 200 MB/s, less than half the expected data rate. Disappointed, I decided to give Linux MD RAID a try, which got me up to about 240 MB/s, 20% faster than the hardware RAID, but still disappointing.

My question for the slashdot geeks that play with this kind of stuff all the time is: What kind of performance should I expect out of a system like this? Does RAID0 always scale so poorly? And, just for good nerdish fun, what's the fasted storage I/O you've ever seen?"
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What examples of Security Theater have you seen?

swillden swillden writes  |  more than 6 years ago

swillden writes "Everyone who pays any attention at all to security, both computer security and "meatspace" security, has heard the phrase Security Theater. For years I've paid close attention to security setups that I come in contact with, and tried to evaluate their real effectiveness vs their theatrical aspects. In the process I've found many examples of pure theater, but even more cases where the security was really a cover for another motive.

Recently, a neighbor uncovered a good example. He and his wife attended a local semi-pro baseball game where security guards were checking all bags for weapons. Since his wife carries a small pistol in her purse, they were concerned that there would be a problem. They decided to try anyway, and see if her concealed weapon permit satisfied the policy. The guard looked at her gun, said nothing and passed them in, then stopped the man behind them because he had beer and snacks in his bag. Park rules prohibit outside food. It's clear what the "security" check was really about: improving park food vending revenues.

So, what examples of pure security theater have slashdotters noticed? Even more interesting, what examples of security-as-excuse have you seen?."
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swillden swillden writes  |  about 8 years ago

swillden writes "I've come across an increasing number of GPL programs lately that display an EULA-style click-wrap agreement during installation. While not exactly wrong, this seems like a bad idea to me, since it perpetuates the idea that you must agree to some arbitrary set of conditions in order to install and use a piece of software. In this case the conditions are very liberal (there are none, really), but still it reinforces the notion that you can't install a package unless you agree.

The FSF says that such click-wrapping is neither required nor forbidden but it seems like a bad idea to promote the click-wrap meme, even if the license is user-friendly. What do slashdotters think?"

Journals

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10 seconds that can help boot Orrin Hatch out of office

swillden swillden writes  |  more than 8 years ago

I'm sure all of you have seen the many articles about various wacko things Senator Orrin Hatch has done to support the RIAA and MPAA. Among other things, he'd like to empower the media industry to remotely destroy the computers of people they suspect of illegally sharing files.

Wouldn't be great to give him the boot? You can help, by doing nothing more than voting on a web site.

See, for the first time in quite a few years Hatch has a serious contender for his seat. Pete Ashdown is a smart, tech-savvy businessman who's taken a year off to run his campaign. Ashdown is the sort of moderate Democrat who has a chance to win in Utah, and Utahns have expressed their opinion in polls that Hatch has been in office long enough and they'd like a change.

However good Ashdown's chances in theory, though, campaigning is about money, and he needs it.

That's where this vote comes in. Barbara Boxer has some campaign cash she's going to give to one of the Democrats running against a long-term incumbent senator. If Ashdown can win that vote, he'll have a great warchest to start the campaign with. It won't be enough, but it will give him a good start and will hopefully prime the pump for other large democratic contributions.

So go vote, and get all of your friends and neighbors to do the same! Even if they're Republicans, they still have to appreciate that an utterly one-sided race like Hatch has had in the past is not good for democracy. Get them to vote!

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