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Comments

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Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

swillden Re:As much as I hate Apple (178 comments)

Apple doesn't follow standards.

Bluetooth, USB, GSM/CDMA? Apple follows standards just fine when they need to.

USB with a dongle. To call that "following a standard" would seem a trifle on the generous side.

What are you talking about?

4 minutes ago
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Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

swillden Re:As much as I hate Apple (178 comments)

Its only a matter of time before I can make payments via NFC on my Android phone.

Oh, I should have mentioned... I've been making payments via NFC on my Android phones for nearly three years. Actually, these days I'd say about 80% of my in-person retail purchases are made with my phone.

10 hours ago
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Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

swillden Re:As much as I hate Apple (178 comments)

Apple doesn't follow standards.

Bluetooth, USB, GSM/CDMA? Apple follows standards just fine when they need to.

11 hours ago
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Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

swillden Re:As much as I hate Apple (178 comments)

The real problem is the lack of standards. Japan has e-wallets, there is Google Wallet and now it looks like there will be a third and incompatible Apple wallet.

There are standards. Japan is its own world, but the Google Wallet and ISIS (a consortium of mobile network operators and banks who created the ISIS wallet -- yes they're looking for a new name) relies on standard EMV payment protocols -- slightly modified by the US Visa, MC, AMEX and Discover organizations, but not incompatibly so. Apple will follow the EMV standards as well, or they'll get nowhere, because retailers are a slow-moving, cost-conscious group.

Visa and MasterCard announced two years ago that they'll implement the "liability shift" the end of 2015, which means that from 2016 onward 100% of fraud will be charged to whichever entity in the chain (merchant, merchant acquirer, clearing house, issuer) does not have the EMV smart chip technology implemented. Since merchants get stuck with 98% of fraud, and other links in the chain are moving slowly, this will provide a huge incentive for merchants to install EMV-capable point of sale terminals. That doesn't require them to deploy NFC-capable terminals, but they will, and many of them are.

Not even Apple is capable of creating an entirely new payment ecosystem. They'll play ball with the banks and card associations, or they'll go nowhere.

yesterday
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XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Remains a Best-Seller For 5 Months

swillden Re:Ummm.... (163 comments)

I haven't found one.

Ah, you have no sense of humor. That explains a great deal.

yesterday
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XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Remains a Best-Seller For 5 Months

swillden Re:Ummm.... (163 comments)

The more niche your work are the easier it is to get traction because no one else will bother to cater to that niche.

Traction, yes. Broad attention, no.

yesterday
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XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Remains a Best-Seller For 5 Months

swillden Re:Ummm.... (163 comments)

His comic appeal to people who merely believe themselves to be above average.

Bah.

It's got nothing to do with intelligence, or even knowledge in a general sense. It's that his comics so often rely on specialized knowledge. For example, a couple of my favorite strips are the "sudo" strip and the "Bobby Tables" strip. The former is only understandable to someone who has at least a passing acquaintance with *nix system administration, and the latter requires some knowledge of SQL and SQL injection attacks. Neither of those things is hard to understand. They don't require great intelligence. But they're not generally known. And to people who require an explanation, they're not funny (I have t-shirts of both, and I have never gotten so much as a chuckle from anyone to whom I have to explain the basis for the jokes).

You'll note, of course, that I'm not actually addressing your real point, which is a snarky argument that only people who like to feel themselves smarter or more knowledgeable than most would enjoy the strip. That's because it's not worth addressing.

yesterday
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XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Remains a Best-Seller For 5 Months

swillden Re:Ummm.... (163 comments)

Actually, Munroe's success is really surprising to me in spite of the brilliance of his work, because so much of what he draws is accessible to a relatively narrow audience. Not all of it, not even the majority.

I should have qualified this to point out I'm talking about his comics, more than What If. HIs What If series is very accessible, by design.

yesterday
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XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Remains a Best-Seller For 5 Months

swillden Re:Ummm.... (163 comments)

Randal Munroe is evidence that if you draw stick figures for long enough you will eventually gain recognition.

Sure, as long as your stick figures are saying and doing incredibly witty things.

Actually, Munroe's success is really surprising to me in spite of the brilliance of his work, because so much of what he draws is accessible to a relatively narrow audience. Not all of it, not even the majority. But there's enough that is only understandable to people who know more than most about computers, mathematics, physics, etc., that none of the non-geeks I know really like it.

yesterday
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Anita Sarkeesian, Creator of "Tropes vs. Women," Driven From Home By Trolls

swillden Re: Her work (1221 comments)

If you push people, it is expected that they will act, regardless of the law preventing certain actions.

Well, then pretty soon those people so lacking in self control will do all their acting behind bars.

4 days ago
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U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

swillden Re:Federal vs. local decision (Re:I like...) (614 comments)

Why is this sneaky? Being very clear and saying..."If you want YOUR money back, we expect this to be done" is perfectly acceptable.

FTFY.

4 days ago
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U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

swillden Re:Federal vs. local decision (Re:I like...) (614 comments)

it has everything to do with it. they didnt JUST pass amendments and laws. they then had to back up those laws with the threat of force many, many times because the states refused to to do it.

True, but still an utter red herring.

4 days ago
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Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

swillden Re:Beyond what humans can do (530 comments)

Global warming exists. Anyone who denies that is also a moron. But it's certainly not manmade.

I don't get the focus on whether or not the warming is anthropogenic. Should we ignore all problems that we didn't make?

Supposing that the warming isn't primarily anthropogenic, there's still plenty of reason to believe that the greenhouse gases we're adding are making it worse, and in fact we can even make some reasonable estimates of how much worse they're making it.

At the end of the day, you'd really better hope that you're wrong about our ability to modify the climate. Because the current climate of Earth is not typical. In fact, there isn't really a "typical" climate for the planet. Ice core histories show us that it swings between much hotter than it is, and much, much colder (by "colder", think "equatorial oceans frozen 30 feet deep for millenia"). Both extremes will be unpleasant for us, and I say "will", not "would", because it's gonna happen. When? We have no idea. We know that climate changes can happen very rapidly (couple of decades), even without an obvious precipitating event (big meteor, supervolcano eruption, etc.), and that they come at apparently-random intervals.

So if we want this planet to be nice for us long-term, we'd better learn to engineer our climate. Or get even better at adapting our local environment. Or both.

5 days ago
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Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

swillden Re:Damage or Change? (530 comments)

Climate has always changed, the concept of "Damage" is only relevant to those affected by it.

You mean, the same way as asteroids of various sizes have impacted into the Earth throughout the history of the planet, and "Damage" is only relevant to those affected by it?

Yes, I agree.

Yep. In the long run, the climate will change no matter what we do... unless we learn to actively manage it. Similarly, we will get hit by a catastrophically-destructive meteor, unless we develop the technology need to identify and deflect dangerous asteroids. It's worth noting that while without our intervention the climate may stay as it is for thousands of years, it may also change in decades. The ice core records tell us that the planet is capable of warming or cooling as much as 7C in as little as 20-30 years, even without any obvious catastrophic event, and even faster given a supervolcano eruption, or a big meteor. It WILL happen.

IMO, while it certainly makes sense to take reasonable steps to limit greenhouse gas production, we really need to focus on investing heavily in climate research, with an eventual goal of learning not only to understand but to manage our planet's climate. Actually, we should also invest a little in more strategies to cope with unpleasant climate. I say "more" strategies, because we already have a lot of them. The regions of Earth in which humans can survive comfortably without technological assistance are really small. The "natural" human carrying capacity of most of the places people live is basically zero, but we're very good at modifying our environment to adapt it to our needs. When the planet warms substantially, no doubt we'll have to apply more of those skills, so we should be thinking about which ones and how to improve our capabilities.

5 days ago
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Limiting the Teaching of the Scientific Process In Ohio

swillden Re:And this is how we get to the more concrete har (522 comments)

I really appreciate the scientific method and I agree it's a major milestone but it's not our most important discovery, that would be rule of law. Without rule of law there can be no civilization and without civilization there wouldn't be much science going on.

I'd argue that the rule of law is a result of applying the scientific method to social structure and governance.

The scientific method really consists of making conjectures and analyzing them critically. Some of the criticism comes from experimentation and analysis, but most conjectures never reach that point because simple thought can identify reasons they should be discarded. This process is closely related to (but vastly more powerful than) the mutation and selection process of evolution. At bottom, both are about creating and testing ideas, and selecting the ones that are objectively better (for the relevant definition of "better"). The scientific method does the selection through a tradition of criticism, natural evolution does it via replication (favoring the gene that replicates itself better).

How does this apply to the rule of law? Three ways. First of all, applying the same principle of progress to social structure, trying new methods and keeping those which work well while discarding those which don't, will lead to rule of law because it clearly is a superior social structure "technology". Second, without the rule of law, you really can't apply the scientific method to social structures, because there is no defined structure beyond the whim of the ruler(s). You have to fix the rules firmly so you can see what the outcomes are, and you can observe how to vary them. So any attempt to apply scientific reasoning to governance demands rule of law.

Third, and most important, the tradition of criticism inherent in and necessary to scientific progress inevitably leads people to criticize their government and to demand, among other things, the ability to understand the rules by which they're governed. I don't believe it's possible for any society with a significant number of scientific thinkers with any sort of influence to remain governed by fiat.

I think history bolsters my argument, too, simply based on the sequence of events. The Enlightenment was all about scientific reasoning and learning how to apply it to nearly all areas of human endeavor, not just science, and the Enlightenment came before the spread of the rule of law, not after.

Oh, actually I think there's a fourth reason scientific thinking creates the rule of law. It's even deeper, and is probably the truly fundamental reason, though it's a harder argument to make. That is that moral values are scientifically determined (even if we don't realize it), and the rule of law is morally right. It would take me a few pages to detail how and why I think that moral rightness is a real, determinable thing, derivable from the laws of nature, and not merely an artifact of culture, so I won't bother. Note that I'm not arguing that correct morality is easy to derive. It's not, any more than it was easy to derive General Relativity by conjecturing about observations of reality. But it can be derived, and in the same method: by conjecturing moral positions and then criticizing them, both logically and experimentally, discarding positions that lead to undesirable outcomes.

5 days ago
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U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

swillden Re:The death of leniency (614 comments)

That's a problem. But it's a smaller problem than the one we live with now, which is that there are so many obscure laws that if anyone in a position of authority has it in for you they can find something to nail you for. The rule of law matters.

And just-world-hypothesis believing assholes just go on without thinking they must've deserved it.

What an idiot. You kan't reed.

5 days ago
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U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

swillden Re:The death of leniency (614 comments)

Of course that can't be helped, because sometimes the laws themselves are poorly written or out of date.

Of course it can be helped. Fix the laws. The application of the bad laws will motivate their correction.

5 days ago
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U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

swillden Re:Federal vs. local decision (Re:I like...) (614 comments)

The federal government has acted as a check on the tyranny of state governments

Utter red herring.

The tyrannies to which you refer were fought by amending the federal constitution and enacting appropriate federal laws to curb the abuses. That's a Good Thing, both the process and the outcome. But it has nothing to do with mi's point. The things the federal government manipulates through funding are things that it has no authority to control, and for which there is no national political will sufficient to give the government that control. Hence this back door method.

If cop cameras are sufficiently important that the federal government should mandate them, then Congress should pass a law mandating them. If the courts knock the law down as unconstitutional (as they would), then we should amend the constitution to give the federal government the authority required. This sneaky backdoor manipulation of state policy via federal funding, though... it's a tool that has no essential limits and no constitutional controls. It's a bad idea, and we should stop it.

5 days ago
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Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

swillden Re:Urgh (525 comments)

Marxism is probably preferable to the feudal society these guys are promoting.

That's an interesting comparison. Ignoring the question of whether "these guys" are promoting feudalism, I find it interesting to think about which actually is better, Marxism or feudalism, as an economic system.

From an ideological perspective, Marxism is better, in theory at least, because placing all ownership of property in the hands of a few lords is blatantly unfair. From a practical perspective, though, I'm not sure there's a difference, because every attempt to implement Marxism on any scale larger than a small commune ends up putting control of all property in the hands of a few committee members. I don't think there is any real difference between ownership and control that looks just like ownership but isn't.

In both cases, what you have is central planning, normally organized on multiple tiers to address the fact that no one person or committee can understand and manage it all. However, feudal systems tend to create stronger demarcations between the tiers, and very strong separation of control between the fiefs. This allows for the development of a market economy between fiefs, plus whatever internal markets the feudal lords choose to allow. And those who allow greater economic freedom will find their fiefs generating greater wealth, and feudalism is, er, not much constrained by ideological considerations.

I suppose a Marxist nation that organized itself as a collection of small communes who engaged in market transactions between one another could do that as well, but I think the ideology tends to squash that idea, because if communal ownership works at the small scale, why not expand it?

All in all, though neither is a very effective economic structure, I suspect that feudalism would be better than Marxism given comparable levels of technology and education. Marx obviously thought his system would be an improvement, since his whole focus was transitioning from feudalism to the "improved" world of communal ownership. But I think history has proved that he was simply wrong.

about a week ago

Submissions

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Google Wallet now works with any card

swillden swillden writes  |  about 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  |  more than 7 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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