Dirk Ruffly’s Techdirt Profile

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  • Apr 20th, 2015 @ 11:36am

    DNA evidence ... NOT

    In two places you refer to the evidence in question as DNA evidence, but in fact this story deals with microscopic comparison of hair. That is, determining if a hair in evidence is substantially identical to a sample from alleged victim, perpetrator, witness, etc. DNA is not in play here.

    This kind of comparison evidence has always been questionable, although seldom actually questioned in court.

  • Jan 5th, 2015 @ 9:25am

    Re: Re: Tautology yes, but not quite the same as your examples ...

    Hopefully, the definition for "unhackable" is not the same as for "idiot proof", since my original reply to your post was mistakenly placed here.

    Perhaps I'm proving Gwiz's point. :)

  • Jan 5th, 2015 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: A fundemental misunderstaning of the subject.

    Can you provide some references? Although I'm perfectly comfortable with the idea that the task is very hard, and we don't know how to build unhackable systems yet, I have yet to see a proof or even a particularly good argument that it is actually IMPOSSIBLE to build a perfectly secure system.

    Note that I'm really talking about absolute mathematical or physical impossibility, as in faster-than-light travel, as opposed to really, really hard or even the strong suspicion that it's impossible. Remember the famous words of Lord Kelvin: "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." ... it appears that this learned and experienced man was slightly in error.

    Perhaps the issue is that we need a good operational definition of an unhackable system against which to test.

  • Jan 5th, 2015 @ 7:56am

    Tautology yes, but not quite the same as your examples ...

    While certainly a less than useful comment, "... create unhackable systems" is not in the same class as "... build faster-than-light spaceships" or "... create immortality." Faster-than-light travel and immortality (at least in the literal sense) are known to be physically impossible (that's not just an opinion, as it's supported by a great deal of real evidence, but as with all scientific knowledge it's subject to revision.) Creating unhackable systems is not, however, known to be impossible; we just don't know how to do it yet.

  • Aug 6th, 2014 @ 6:11pm

    Does 0% REALLY mean none?

    It's worth noting that the Wikimedia Foundation page referenced in the article does not actually say that zero requests for take down were honored (well, at least I didn't see it ... go ahead and make me feel foolish by correcting me.)

    The site actually says "0%" were honored, which if they are rounding to the nearest integer using any of the common rounding algorithms could mean that one request was honored.

    Just saying.

    The current (non)privacy climate sure breeds suspicion and paranoia.

  • May 14th, 2013 @ 5:51pm

    Einstein didn't publish a theory of relativity

    Forgive me my pedanticism, but you're using the word "theory" incorrectly, from a scientific perspective. In science, a hypothesis is published and IF the hypothesis withstands scrutiny (i.e. a lot of testing) and IF the hypothesis provides a generally acknowledged useful way to model physical phenomena (especially to predict additional behaviors not known when the hypothesis was proposed) THEN and ONLY THEN does a hypothesis become a theory.

    This is important! For example, when Creationists say "evolution is only a theory" they are almost right ... evolution is a fact that is explained by the Theory of Evolution (i.e. natural selection), which has withstood more than a century of close scrutiny and provides the best explanation of observed phenomena. Similarly, gravity is a fact that is explained by the Theory of Gravity, etc.

    I bring this up because scientists often assign a strict meaning to many words that most of us use quite loosely in daily conversation. We read of "legal theories" here, and watch detective shows where everyone has a "theory" about what happened. Scientific theories are a whole different critter, perhaps more akin to a "legal theory" that's made it all the way up to a unanimous validation by the Supreme Court.

  • Dec 18th, 2012 @ 7:00am

    From the "that-isn't-as-odd-as-you-think" dept.

    " ... and, apparently, they didn't even ask for the proper postage from the recipient, which is a little odd ..."

    This isn't odd at all. Note that the stamps are Egyptian (if, in fact, they are real stamps.) Postal services generally deliver mail from one country into their own country without charge. That is, the originating country sets the rate and collects the postage; the assumption is that mail is seldom one-way, and there will be a roughly equivalent volume of mail heading in the other direction.