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Comment: we live in interesting times (Score 2) 52

by 8086 (#43172289) Attached to: US Vulnerability Database Yanked Over Malware Infestation
Apart from the great irony of this incident, it is also a sign of things to come in cyber security and the computer industry in general. It seems we're at a point of time when you don't have to be stupid and/or high-visibility in order to get hacked, most contemporary software is ill-equipped to deal with the rising security threat, and even security service providers cannot be fully trusted. Hopefully this translates to more employment for us geeks and opportunities to build all the security features and plug up all the holes like we always wanted to but couldn't spare the time for.

Comment: Cuba libre (Score 1) 121

by 8086 (#42349449) Attached to: The Mark Cuban Chair To Eliminate Stupid Patents
Mark Cuban is an accidental billionaire with a lot of attitude and an itchy twitter finger. His smarts are debatable, but his chutzpah is not. In this instance, however, I agree with him.

Judge Posner who ruled on an Apple v Samsung case agrees with a lot of us here: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/10/judge-decries-excessive-copyright-and-software-patent-protections/ . It's time the USPTO did something drastic about frivolous patents and patent trolling. The problem cannot go away with major systemic change, and because of the complexity of laws involved, you can't just make reforms such as "ban all patent trolls" willy-nilly. The patent trolls will just reincarnate as software company holding companies or some other type of legal entity that bends the rules.

What needs to happen are major changes to the patent examination process itself. Very few people know that when looking for prior art, patent examiners don't use Google or even the Internet to do their research. They do searches in a few official patent/scientific databases in order to make their opinions about prior art. The patent applicant and his attorney can provide USPTO with references from the Internet to prove their point and those are read over by the examiner, but otherwise the examiner has their hands tied.

If the examiner wants to deny a patent application, he/she has to move mountains and prove without a doubt that the invention is not patentable. Patent attorneys are persistent leech-like creatures who will keep appealing any such decisions using any possible argument for as long as possible. Every time a patent attorney argues and disproves a patent examiner's decision, the examiner looks stupid in front of his peers. So, by default, the path of least resistance for the patent examiner is to just keep on awarding patents based on the limited knowledge of USPTO's databases.

I know this from working as a software patent litigation expert.
Linux

+ - Raspberry Pi To Cross The Ocean In Autonomous Boat->

Submitted by lukehopewell1
lukehopewell1 (1855440) writes "The Raspberry Pi is a triumph in computing, and it's now set to become a triumph in robotics as one developer plans to build a model boat around it and sail it across the Atlantic Ocean, completely unmanned.

It's codenamed "FishPi" and will see a model boat sail across the Atlantic all by itself save for a camera, GPS module, compass and solar panels. It's only a proof of concept right now, but if this guy set it up on Kickstarter and offered a live stream of the crossing, I'd be opening my wallet."

Link to Original Source

+ - "Flame" didn't take a nation state to develop->

Submitted by mrheckman
mrheckman (939480) writes "Security researcher Todd Heberlein shows how easy it is to create AV-evading viruses:
http://www.netsq.com/Podcasts/Data/2012/GlowingEmbers/ (HTML5 video)

"Flame is the latest high profile cyber espionage attack, and two things stand out about it: how long it has been around without being noticed and its size and breadth of capabilities. This has led to a lot of handwringing in the anti-virus community and computer security community in general. One explanation given for the fact that such capable malware could have gone so long without being noticed is that it was developed by a nation state with huge budgets. Glowing Embers sets out to show that this is not the case. A single person in a single week can accomplish many of the things Flame can all while evading anti-virus software. ""

Link to Original Source
Google

+ - Master your online search skills with the Power Searching with Google course->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "It seems that Google wants to help you become a power searcher and get better answers from the service. Today the search engine giant announced that they are rolling out a new free online video course called “Power Searching with Google” that was built to teach end-users best practices and various tricks to get the most out of the search experience."
Link to Original Source

Comment: why not 4G? (Score 1) 134

by 8086 (#39352719) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who Has the Best 3G Coverage In California and Nevada?
You should bring aboard one of these (http://nyconvergence.com/2012/03/ny-marketing-firm-uses-homeless-for-sxsw-wifi-beacons.html) homeless people and you'll have 4G internet. You won't need as much internet on the trip, either: with a homeless companion you can sing "spanish ladies" for miles, share stories about the down-low in whichever city they're from, and food, as you find the best dumpster diving joints on the interstate.

Comment: not true (Score 5, Interesting) 231

by 8086 (#33431898) Attached to: Why Microsoft Is Being Nicer To Open Source
I don't know about the whole BRIC, but I've been practicing computer science for 13 years in India and haven't seen a single person use Linux as a desktop OS. Even as a server OS, people usually go for Windows instead of Linux, web servers being an exception. Most people just pirate MS products if they can't afford them. My two cents: MS realizes that people use mixed UNIX/Linux-Windows environments and that they're not going to gain any more market share by bashing open source, since it has 'arrived'. What they are trying to do is show interoperability with open source software, so that you buy Windows because it won't hate your Linux machines. Also, like everyone else, they're trying to build 'community' around the Windows programming environment, because that's where they've been lacking so far. ASP is losing to PHP because a lot more free code is available that can be quickly and lazily deployed. Another reason why this might be happening is because younger people who have grown up with open source software are now working at MS and they probably want to change the evil MS image.

Comment: More of a software problem (Score 1) 104

by 8086 (#33114138) Attached to: Negroponte Offers OLPC Technology For India's $35 Tablet
What the Indian government needs to do is come up with a linux distro that will run on old discarded hardware and contain educational applications. A lot of the costs involved in building a new computer platform are redundant when there are already a bajillion old discarded PCs that one can buy for around $35. One thing Indians and most developing nations are good at is fixing up junk and making it useful. A government supplied distro that comes with educational videos, sounds and images, a local copy of wikipedia, and a simple platform that the masses can use for writing applications such as a grain price monitor, and a usable UI written in hindi (and later on in regional languages) can go a long way in achieving their aims.
The government already owns BSNL which has a huge cellphone network throughout the country, and they can start a low-speed internet plan (available only to those with a ration card). They can collaborate with someone in China (say huawei) to manufacture PCI cards and USB dongles that can use the GSM network for data.

The problem is not hardware as much as it is software and content. If you were to subsidize and hand a netbook to every child and poor person in the world today, you couldn't expect them to use it for educational or professional benefits. They'll just log on to facebook and watch Justin Bieber videos. Just recently we heard a story about how computer use does not correlate with higher grades in developed nations. What makes people think it would be any different for a developing country?

As a middle class schoolkid in India, I would've been delighted if there was something else apart from just black and white books that I could learn from. Instead of just reading about concepts, it would've been cool if I had access to simple videos of what an atom probably looks like and speeches delivered by mahatma gandhi. Or a simple geometry application in which you can draw circles and triangles to learn about them without wasting paper.
What India can do is get together a big enough team of developers, schoolteachers and social workers to write applications and compile content for this $35 computer, integrate it into an OS distribution that will run on any x86 processor above the 486 and is portable to other platforms, and then get NGOs to install this on old machines and deliver them to the poor. When they run out of old machines to use, then, maybe they can come up with a cheap x86 or ARM based laptop that has a cheap screen, a keyboard and a pointing device and can run this OS.
My point is that there are greater educational returns for the government of India in spending money in compiling a good software distribution and getting the masses involved early instead of starting another Simputer project that leads to nothing.
To those who do not believe a computer can be made for $35, I'd point to the cheap-ass Nokia 1000 series phones that are the mainstay of the cellphone revolution. These devices can still run simple applications such as games and e-wallets, etc., play MP3s, and some can even read flash memory cards. If one could just write some applications for them and increase the screen size, bingo.

Comment: bullshit (Score 1) 193

by 8086 (#32830336) Attached to: Student Wants Science To Name 'Hella' Big Number
"Hella" seems derived from hell and that would give the spelling of this huge number a negative connotation. Numbers are numbers, they should not have any connotation. That Groucho Harpo proposal has the same problem, it has a happy connotation. Not everyone would like to hear something like: there are Hella stars in the galaxy, or, I'm sorry to report but you earned Harpo dollars this month.

Comment: Re:Damn Skippy! (Score 1) 565

by 8086 (#32779616) Attached to: Intel Co-Founder Calls For Tax On Offshored Labor
Adding to your point, globalization has also increased the cost of living for the existing middle class here in India. People who do not work for IT or Real Estate here are at an economic disadvantage. Today, if I want to buy a drink in Hyderabad, I have to shell out at least $5 whereas when I was in a small town Ohio it cost me $2 for one. A Honda Civic here costs about $26000 and gas costs about $5 a gallon. Cigarettes are cheap, rent is cheap, but food costs about the same here as it did there. Healthcare and broadband is a lot cheaper because of lower monopolization. You fancy folk sure imbalanced our local economy. Food costs are rising as more and more farmland gets converted to shiny call centers or future sites for call centers because land prices have skyrocketed due to the perception of a growing economy.

To add to the pain, very little permanent development actually happens here in the field of IT and CS, since we're mostly doing monkey work and the local market for IT products and services is underdeveloped. Too many Indians, too few Chiefs. If I'm an Indian businessman looking to commission a developer for, say, an account system, I have to compete with the prices that US customers are paying. Very often what Indian IT consumers end up with is half-cooked and unreliable systems. When it comes to the point when the average Indian IT worker costs half as much as a US counterpart, we risk having the rug swept from beneath us, leaving a lot of poor and hungry people who drive around in their Honda Civics.

Comment: They need a legit homebrew option (Score 1) 258

by 8086 (#32663296) Attached to: New Wii Menu Update Targets Homebrew Again
Everybody knows homebrew is the door for piracy. While the freedom crowd may advocate that one should be entitled to fully use the device they own, truth is that a large part of any console's cost is recovered by content, and without that cash innovation will die and/or consoles will become more expensive. Nintendo always owns a part of the Wii - they paid for it. I know it feels great to be able to play any game you ever wanted for free, but that's because it's easy to not see the food you're stealing off a video game industry worker's table and the despair of many kids who will not get to buy that new Katamari game because it's price got jacked up by ten bucks because of all the pirates. Behind that cartoon face of Mario lies an army of people: developers, marketers, testers, designers, etc that are trying to make ends meet and keep a job (by keeping a business afloat) just like the rest of us. It ain't just fun and games. Enough said.

What Nintendo needs to do is find a way to give out licenses and necessary digital signatures to small production houses and homebrew developers for nominal fees/free so that true homebrew on the Wii can be done in a legit way. How hard would it be for Nintendo to approve a few hundred true homebrew games every month? They're alienating a lot of fans this way, even if for the right reasons. And, this solution will last only the few weeks it takes Skullptura or Razor 1911 or whomever to find another backdoor.

Contemptuous lights flashed flashed across the computer's console. -- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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