* Posts by Charles 9

3880 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Google's boffins branded 'unacceptably ineffective' at tackling web piracy

Charles 9
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Re: Oranges are not the only fruit

Altavista was closed earlier this year, IIRC, some time after being eventually bought indirectly by Yahoo!.

As for your distributed search engine idea, that has potential flaws. It's like with Freenet, things can drop off the map, plus there may be ways to attack the infrastructure or poison the results.

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Charles 9
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"Not to mention, copyright laws are different in every country. You're asking them to enforce a mix of criminal and civil laws with multiple interpretations across multiple jurisdictions."

Can't the same be said about CP laws? After all, there are differing ages of consent and differing attitudes toward the practice. It's not like there's a universal standard here, either.

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Charles 9
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Re: Ask one back

"I think the problem comes when you try and print them. Some bright spark realised pretty early on how important it would be to keep the lid on fake notes and got everyone to sign up."

And how did they convince the firms operating outside the country? Import restrictions? What about international bank note copying (copying notes from another country and then moving them over there)? What if there's a note re-issue (the US now refreshes notes $5 and greater every few years).

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Charles 9
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Re: A coherent responsible answer

But the thing is, the same things you describe can be used by CP flingers to get around censors, yet Google appears to be much more aggressive in closing those links than they are in closing piracy rings. So it DOES smack of a double standard. Unless Google can explain clearly what's so different about CP that they can clamp those down and not pirates, they'll be looking like a Janus.

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Thorium and inefficient solar power? That's good enough for me

Charles 9
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Re: Intermittency of Solar

The thing is, we can always find uses for excess power (think desalination, aluminium smelting, research into synthetic hydrocarbons). It's a lot better to have too much power than too little. We can find ways to deal with too much.

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Charles 9
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Re: Thorium reactors

Meaning, at the time, the US and the USSR WANTED uranium reactors. They WANTED the plutonium byproduct to put into thier nuclear arsenlal. It's only now, after the Cold War, that the idea is no longer as appealing.

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Charles 9
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Re: Cause for concern

Given that the isotope you want is Uranium-235, which is hard to get out of Uranium-233, I don't think so. LFTR byproducts are typically contaminated with Uranium-232. Basically, you're better off handling plutonium.

But this does raise a question. If Uranium-233 is a byproduct of the LFTR, how does one deal with it, given that it has a half-life in the 10^5 range of years?

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Charles 9
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Re: Commercial fusion may not be as far away as you think

We ARE talking about the same firm that took the challenge of reducing radar cross-section and producing the F-117 (which overachieved the goal by an order of magnitude), so they DO have a history of being able to crank out surprisingly effective tech, but we've been trying to crack the fusion problem for the past few decades, so as the saying goes, "I'll believe it when I see it."

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US House Republicans: 'End net neutrality or no debt ceiling deal' – report

Charles 9
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Re: Will Google change sides?

IINM those tubes of theirs are completely private, meaning they sidestep the neutrality issue the way a privately-funded highway does. They don't have to be neutral because they didn't built the lines with government money. As long as that condition exists, it's basically "my line, my rules".

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Charles 9
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Re: Two issues..

Actually, if the faucet is designed with a wider mouth or some other physical aspect, your water may come out at a different pressure or quality. You want your water hotter? Perhaps a different water heater. Just saying some things can be controlled by your decisions.

Thing is, the Internet is very much like the highway system: built mostly out of public funds with a sprinkling of private investment, used a lot, and getting crowded. So the argument is basically boiling down to how best to manage it. At its core, Net Neutrality is saying not to allow the equivalent of HOV lanes or the like, as one can't tell at a glance what's really important (especially as more and more traffic starts going encrypted end-to-end, obscruing its nature). They have a point, but it's also fair to ask them for a better idea, as bandwidth demands aren't currently keeping up with infrastructure.

As for the person who has no choice but cable ATM, hasn't there been competition from an alternate cable provider or a FTTP provider?

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Charles 9
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Re: End the Drug War or No More Debt

Criminal organizations WANT the status quo, as it creates a "forbidden fruit" effect that makes their trade valuable (just as Prohibition allowed mobs to make a killing off distilleries, breweries, and speakeasies in the 1920's). Legalization would mean above-the-board businesses could grow and market the stuff, increasing the supply and undercutting the criminals.

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Charles 9
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Re: I strongly suspect...

Forget screens. They were lucky to have printers. And the average transatlantic round-trip time in the early 19th century was, what, two or three months? It wasn't until telegraph systems appeared that textual communications sped up considerably, (to the point that text streaming became possible for the first time) and even then there were no pictures (early attempts at facsimiles were too clunky for practicality, and it wasn't until the 1920's, I think, that sending pictures over the phone became practical for industries like journalism). And it was all still printed.

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Charles 9
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Universal suffrage was a mistake. It was never part of the US to begin with but the system they had to begin with (must be a male landowner), while it made sure the voters had skin in the game, also wasn't flexible enough to allow for the rich who didn't own land (which started appearing more with the Industrial Revolution). The vote needs to be a privilege given only upon passing a knowledge-based test (and naturalized citizens go through it already--a civics test is prerequisite). IOW, you shouldn't be able to vote unless you know what's involved in the process.

Yes, I know, as long as it's manmade, the test can be corrupted and skewed against certain demographics, but do you have any better ideas to keep out stupid votes driven by impulse with no knowledge of the consequences (since nowadays ten stupid votes easily swamp one intelligent vote)?

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Charles 9
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I've always wondered why the country didin't keep possession of the critical infrastructure like spectrum and so on and simply leased them to private firms to manage under terms and conditions? IOW, make the stuff held in trust instead of just flaw owned to be exploited?

Then again, perhaps I'm not seeing the whole picture, and I'm pretty sure such a concept has its flaws. Please feel free to post counter-arguments, as I'd like to find a way to manage this most efficiently while at the same not allow it to be exploited and hoarded.

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Charles 9
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Re: They did add a pony

"Reduction of SNAP benefits (food assistance for the poor)"

I actually WANT this one. Limit the eligible food list to wholesome foods, as the program is frequently abused to splurge on junk food. If you're going to be on the dole, lay down some tough ground rules to encourage better behaviour.

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T-Mobile US exec mulls merger with rival Sprint

Charles 9
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Re: Putting two piles of shit together just makes a bigger pile

I beg your pardon but both of them HAVE been investing in infrastructure. That's why they both have LTE bands. Thing is, infrastructure is a high barrier of entry in a market like utilities, so incumbency and customer base tends to produce a feedback loop among the leaders of those kinds of markets. They tend towards cannibalism and natural monopolies, especially when an important commodity of the business is inherently limited (in this case, spectrum). IOW, the most cost-effective way to get more infrastructure is to get it from someone else.

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Charles 9
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Re: clearwire not a competitor

Even hex-band LTE phones have limits. There have been hex-band phones for some time (The S4, for example). US-tuned phones used by AT&T and T-Mobile use the same set of six: I, II, IV, V, VII, & XVII. Bands above XXX (like the Clearwire band, XLI) are TDD and not as well supported, especially in international applications.

I will admit the RF360 and others like it could moot the point if it really can deliver on being able to tune to ANY LTE frequency, but devices using it probably won't show up for a number of months yet (It was only announed this February). Plus note it says *40* bands, yet the Clearwire band is 4*1*, so support may still not be a given yet. Finally, consider that we'll probably be transitioning from LTE to LTE Advanced within the next few years, which will require phone refits yet again for the ability to handle wider, more variable frequency bands.

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Charles 9
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Re: clearwire not a competitor

T-Mo has been transitionoing from HSPA+ to LTE for the last year or two. HSPA bought it some time and kept it competitive. Plus the fallout of the failed AT&T merger means T-Mobile has some access to AT&T equipment. In simple terms, T-Mobile's LTE concentrates on Band IV, AT&T's on Band XVII. Most LTE Phones sold in the US focus on those bands as well as Bands I and/or VII (which are common bands abroad). Unfortunately, US phones can't use Band III (the de facto common global band) because it's an active military frequency.

The current issue with Sprint is that, not only do they still use CDMA for voice comms and as a fallback (VoLTE is not ready yet), but their LTE bands are different (Sprint uses Bands XXV, XXVI, and thanks to Clearwire, XLI, I think) and not on more typical bands. Meaning Sprint LTE phones run the risk of not supporting the AT&T/T-Mobile bands or dropping support for international LTE bands like I and VII.

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RSA: That NSA crypto-algorithm we put in our products? Stop using that

Charles 9
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Re: Maybe the clue's in the name?

Actually you can, as it has to be stored somewhere for the CPU to implement. Microcode is like any other program. It has to be stored somewhere and then sent to the CPU to actually use. If it isn't already hardwired into the CPU (which you're saying it's not), then it has to be stored somewhere, and since we're talking an initial startup microcode, it's bound to be internal to the CPU since it can't rely on external inputs this early.

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Charles 9
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Re: On the bright side...

"Interestingly enough, they're still available. For around 1300 Euros."

Most of those are high-performance cards meant to pour out megabits of entropy per second. You need that much entropy in a high-activity secure server (like an SSL trandaction server) to prevent the server getting blocked.

For lower-performance needs, other devices are available for a few hundred quid each. Some use USB, others PCI, still others 1x PCIe.

The cheapest prebuilt home solution, the Entropy Key, is now about as backordered as the Raspberry Pi was in its early days (BTW, the Pi's SoC has a HWRNG in it). So hacks are coming up with alternative ways to feed decent amounts of entropy to systems that may need it (like systems that do more than your average load of encrypted traffic). You can find plans that use webcams, sound cards (with or without radios plugged into them), even a smoke detector (the alpha particles from the Americium can be detected). They have their uses provided you whitewash the raw data first. I've been looking for a bodge-it-yourself solution that can use more reliable sources like avalance diodes or thermal noise, but the ones posted on the web are a bit beyond breadboard hacks. Oh well. For now, I'll settle for an old, cheap (read: noisy) webcam with the lens taped over (not this time, Big Brother).

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Charles 9
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Re: And now for something completely different

If that were true, wouldn't at least one company simply refuse to comply, and if threatened with the loss of export privileges, reply, "We lose either way; compliance means the world won't trust my company. So, given a lose-lose situation, I'd rather lose gracefully."

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Charles 9
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Re: Maybe the clue's in the name?

"and which Intel won't let you see the details of ...."

Hasn't anyone tried to decap one of these Intel CPUs to find out for themselves what's in the works? I'd find it hard to think they'd create an implementation that would fool even a direct physical examination.

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Valve shows Linux love with SteamOS for gamers

Charles 9
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I frankly don't know if nVidia or AMD will EVER fully open-source their cutting-edge stuff since that stuff's probably loaded with trade secrets each wouldn't want the other to know about. Intel doesn't care because they're the third fiddle, primarily intended for low-end performance.

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Charles 9
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"The Nintendo Problem" in other words.

Perhaps that's why Valve is taking this approach. It wouldn't be too surprising if Valve releases a SteamBox to act as a template machine for others in future. The idea is to make a PC that doesn't look like a PC, much as Nintendo had to make a game console that didn't draw the stigma consoles got in North America after the Crash of '83.

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Google smacks Surface with free Quickoffice for Android, iOS

Charles 9
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Trademarks CAN be shared if they're differnt enough from each other.

For example, in America, the term "Cracker Barrel" is trademarked twice. One is for a line of natural cheeses from Kraft (don't knock them here--the cheeses here are real, just not fancy). The other is for a restaurant/novelty store chain with a distinct 19th-century motif. There has been no complaints from the USPTO over the matter since they are essentially non-competitive.

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Charles 9
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Unhappy

No ODF Support

Just gave it a spin for the sake of it. One problem: I use LibreOffice.

Guess what? No ODF support.

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Charles 9
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Re: Hey, we have another source of money

US law does have laws against that, too (here we call it "dumping"), but since alternatives already exist that are not only free but FOSS, trying to assert dumping is going to be a hard sell, especially since the tie-in to Google Drive means they can claim competition by a different business model.

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Charles 9
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Except they can't because they used the VERY generic term "Office". They can trademark the complete phrase "Microsoft Office", but not the word "Office" because it's too broad. Therefore, QuickOffice (which is different enough in name and logo to MS Office) would get a pass. Also, Microsoft would have to answer why they didn't make such an assertion with StarOffice/OpenOffice/LibreOffice previously (there is IIRC a statute of limitations for filing a trademark infringement claim).

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Charles 9
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Re: Byz At this rate...

Not even with Google Docs, which can ALSO access Google Drive, meaning you can edit on the desktop and have access on the phone PDQ?

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'Occupy' affiliate claims Intel bakes SECRET 3G radio into vPro CPUs

Charles 9
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Re: Like all good conspiracies

"what network would the be connecting to?"

Probably a whispernet. Black-and-white Kindles employ this technique. As for signal propagation, any bets one of the pins goes to an antenna that's mounted within the motherbard as a requirement or the like?

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Charles 9
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Except 3G is STILL wireless, and the 3G tech is pretty well known. Radio transmissions should be pretty easy to pick up, and once you know enough about what is happening, you can probably conduct Faraday cage experiments to support your findings.

Besides, the 3G part of vPro is hardly secret, as it's being advertised as an anti-theft/remote-brick device.

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So, Linus Torvalds: Did US spooks demand a backdoor in Linux? 'Yes'

Charles 9
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Re: Linux backdoor?

So the spooks insert code that detects the VM. Malware authors do that all the time. Exploit never appears in the VM; only on a live system.

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Charles 9
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Re: rdrand: Well

How do you open-source a chip schematic. Plus if the chip makers were true genii, they'd have accounted for the possibility of someone decapping or otherwise stripping the chip down to the circuits and trying to trace them (on the assumption that a truly determined adversary, say another state, would try to identify or subvert it) and simply made it so the chip fried and was useless on any attempt.

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Charles 9
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"Linus thought this was absurd because even if the data was not random, it wouldn't reduce entropy. That's true so long as the data is produced without any knowledge of the other random data it will be combined with - but the sufficiently paranoid observe that we can't check that's the case."

Given most of the other inputs to /dev/random (the true RNG stream) are environmental, they'd have to subvert the environment to a great degree to be able to know the state of even one of the input streams to the point of being able to counter it.

And there are other true random sources of bits besides radioactive decay. You can use a reverse-biased transistor, shot noise, avalanche noise (this is what the Entropy Key uses), and so on. Then there are projects like HAVEGE that emply the hectic, multitasking nature of modern CPUs to draw entropy.

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Charles 9
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Re: Agreed.

"If I were the NSA, I would just have the "right" people placed in a company like RHEL, where the compiler could be doctored, and the doctored binary and clean source code could then be distributed.

Any recompile would, of course, inject Trojan horse code - regardless of how closely the source was inspected: Neither the compiler source, nor the project source code would contain any evidence"

But they'd also have to dodge an independent compile using another toolchain's compiler: one outside NSA control.

In the end, a compiler could probably be vetted a few times, down to the machine code, and its binary code hashed a few ways (just in case the spooks have a way to create a preimage trojan for one of them--it would be statistically infeasible to tamper with the code AND match the hashes on two different hash familities). Once that could be verified, then you can compile against that one and establish a chain of trust that shows the code wasn't tampered without it showing up in the source. I don't think we're at the stage were we need such anal retention YET...but it's still an option.

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Charles 9
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Re: Don't know about that

I know there's at least one culture that intentionally swapped their nods and shakes to stave off trouble from oppressive overlords while at the same time end-running a "cannot tell a lie" canon. Even after they were freed, the trend stuck.

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Hiroshi Yamauchi, bizlord who gave the world Donkey Kong, dead at 85

Charles 9
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Re: Not sure if it's true....

Just a slight pedant alert. In Japanese, when they're trying to accommodate a foreign word, they differentiate it by using an alternate phonetic alphabet: katakana (vs. the traditional hiragana you used).

To translate the word "monkey" into katakana would be 「モンキ」, though as you say Japanese has a direct term for monkey and wouldn't need katakana.

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Charles 9
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Joke

Oh? I'd have figured either poison mushrooms or infection from a turtle bite.

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I, for one, welcome our robotic communist jobless future

Charles 9
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Re: Nice article, but way over-simplistic

1) Isn't that what the criminal code is for: to weed out dangerous elements like power-mongers?

2) There's the condition of "ignorant bliss". Unless you say the desire to live is innate and fixed, there may be a point where people enter the world not knowing better.

3) There will still be a desire to improve things. The thing is, the best designs tend to come from people who can devote their energy to the task. Thus why we value masterpieces and such. Even in the past there were people like artists who found natural talents and made use of them.

4) There will still be a need for doctors, but the economics of medicine will change. Doctors would be doctors because they WANT to be doctors, not out of any economic pressure. I will concede there may be a point where the desire to be a doctor could be too weak, so another thought process would be needed.

5) Don't be so sure. We're clever little ticks and since pathogens needs to interact, there will always be ways in. There's current research into Quorum Sensing disruption, for example (though I concede the supposed adaptation-free QS disruptors might still be evolved beyond perhaps by rotating QS indicators).

6) Did you know they are researching ways to produce sythetic hydrocarbons using the excess energy from nuclear reactors? Navies in particular are funding this research since it reduces logistics for aircraft carriers. This goes to the bigger problem of needing more ubiquitous sources of energy.

7) Explain why it would require complete and immediate world cooperation for this to work.

8) Like with doctors, there will still be a need for policemen (think career cops; some people WANT to protect and server).

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Charles 9
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Re: Bleak

But it speaks to a bigger problem. Humans have a maintenance cost (we eat, drink, require space to live, etc.) which taxes into currently-limited resources: resources that robots can't improve anytime soon. What the unrest in the Middle East (and occasionally in Europe with the odd rumbling in North America) tells me is we are approaching a "danger zone" where the population is tipping beyond a sustainability threshold that can trigger resource conflicts (which historically tend to spawn the worst wars). When you need fewer people to sustain the world, the question eventually goes to, "Do you really NEED that many people on the planet?"

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Charles 9
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Re: Not going to happen

"No they can't. That's just wrong and the evidence is all around us. Most people when asked "how much do you want" really, deep down, think "all of it". What it is hardly matters at all."

But then, after the think it over REALLY really well they realize, especially for some things, "Well...maybe not ALL of them." I mean, having ten million T-shirts is one thing...until you notice the size of your closet. Imagining having all of the cake sounds nice until you actually get around to eating it (otherwise, the buffet business wouldn't be viable). There ARE limits. Part of our life experience is learning them.

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Charles 9
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Re: Hardly new idea

"Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought of as a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt. ;-)"

Trouble is, that adage falls apart when the presumption of idiocy is already beyond the point of doubt. At which point, you have nothing to lose anymore and might as well speak out on the chance of removing the possibly-erroneous assumption.

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Charles 9
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Re: We work because we *have* to

"And it's not because of how much it costs to put food in our mouths, it's because of the cost of having somewhere to live: something which requires almost zero ongoing input of labour (bar a small amount of maintenance), but which has a huge scarcity premium."

An interesting thought that, too. And there is a tradeoff to the rural/city equation. It's easier in cities to find what you need because everything's closer, but BECAUSE of that, space is at a premium, leading to what you describe (you can see it in any big city--New York is notorious for it). OTOH, rural space is perhaps underutilized in terms of human capacity--likely because being sustainable there is more complicated.

And since we are not in an age where vital resources like energy are ubiquitous, there's no cure-all solution as of yet.

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Charles 9
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Re: If you live in a lake, it takes longer to walk to the well

"The step change comes when it becomes practical to have semi autonomous robots doing jobs that currently we have to use people for - cleaning toilets, making burgers, assembling motorbikes."

One thing we've learned in the automation push is that robots tend to be at their best when the process is controllable. You always assemble the car the same way. you always build microchips the same way.

When the environment becomes less controllable, then Murphy strikes. There's debris in front of the toilet (including possibly a passed-out drunk) that confuses the robot heading for the toilet, or the burger doesn't flip right and instead flops elsewhere. Ever noticed there aren't really robots for picking tree fruits or for picking grapes without breaking a bunch of them? Many kinds of crops have such natural randomness to them that even our cleverest minds can't build robots that can handle them: especially when a soft touch is needed (thus they tend to compromise on man-machine interfaces where the machine provides assistance only--a simpler way for human pickers to collect the crops).

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Charles 9
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Re: I see a flaw.

"There are some solutions. The government could issue a basic income, perhaps, though funding it would be a great difficulty. Or abandon market solutions entirely for the most vital goods like food and go full-on communist, nationalising production."

Until then, however, some of our most precious resources are still limted. Food, water, energy. Without them, we're basically dead, destitute, or otherwise in dire straits. While reading this article, I thought back to Star Trek's universe and recalled some of the things that allowed its society to function. Two things in general allowed what was essentially communism to both be accepted and work there: ubiquitous energy (so much energy ordinarily they never felt much of a concern it would run out except in specialized circumstances--we're talking routine compact generators capable of multiple GW) and the ability to use that energy to fulfill the other needs (synthesizers and replicators--the ability to convert energy into different forms of matter). We would need that level of ubiquity to be able to accept what's proposed in the article. Otherwise, the potential for it running out will always keep us, at least nominally, at the neighbor's throat in the event of a crisis.

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Torvalds shoots down call to yank 'backdoored' Intel RdRand in Linux crypto

Charles 9
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Re: Host key generation is more of a risk

Some implementations store some of the random data on shutdown to help jumpstart the generators on next boot. That would reduce the window of vulnerability in that regard.

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Life … moves … in … slow … motion … for … little … critters … like … flies

Charles 9
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Re: For killing flies.....

I've seen them. They're really popular in Southeast Asia. Clear your room of skeeters and get some exercise at the same time. They're actually available in America, too, though I disagree with the prices.

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Charles 9
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Re: Killing flies ...

Experience tells me they do go forward but can react to the air from your hand. I've found better success with a cupped hand. The wind forces are different, so the fly can't detect it as easily, plus it can catch the fly in a trap if they think the cup is safe (it isn't; when you slam down, you make a shockwave in the air trapped by your hand; said shockwave can be surprisingly effective on the fly even if you don't directly smash it). I've had some success swatting houseflies bare-handed this way. Also, try tensioning your arm so that you slam down as quickly as possible when you release.

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Charles 9
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Re: Time Perception.

Something has occurred to me: something related to the perception of time.

Perhaps our perception of time can be affected by state of consciousness, too. I once recall a few mornings when I was groggy, having just gotten up, and happened to look at the wristwatch I had at the time. I could've sworn I was seeing the seconds tick by pretty quickly, but by the time I was fully awake, things seemed to be normal again. Now, I knew time hadn't sped up while I slept, so I wondered if grogginess caused us to perceive time differently as well. Have there been experiments into the perception of time in differing states of consciousness?

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Charles 9
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I'd always figured the big reason small animals perceived faster was simply because their nervous systems have less distance to travel. Barring everything else, neural impulses still travel at some fraction of the speed of light, and inter-synapse chemical reactions should still propagate at the same speed regardless of species, so all speeds being equal, it's quicker to navigate a two-inch brain than a ten-inch one.

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