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Comment: Re:Global Foundries doesn't want the chipfabs (Score 1) 53

by gelfling (#47423913) Attached to: IBM To Invest $3 Billion For Semiconductor Research

No no not the CHIPS - the foundries which make them. A Korean chipfab or Intel for that matter, will invest more than a BILLION dollars a year in the manufacturing process just to keep current. IBM does not. This results in much higher costs per unit and a much higher reject rate.

Comment: This is like the Belgian army (Score 1) 290

by gelfling (#47423513) Attached to: The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

The tiny Belgian armed forces is horribly bloated and inefficient because it's based on awarding political contracts across a broad spectrum of Flemish and Walloon constituencies. This results in badly mismatched and concocted schemes to build systems no one wants and no one can use. For example one model of APC uses a one-off 90mm gun where the ammo is made by a single small company. But the other FOUR incompatible models of APC all made by different companies are all secure in their permanent contracts as well. This is the F-35 in a nutshell.

BTW the Australians and the Brits discovered the F-35 "B" version VTOL runs so hot it melts the decks on their ships taking off.

Comment: Re:Cry Me A River (Score 1) 536

by plover (#47422059) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

What I think a lot of the utopian visions miss, as well as a lot of the posters here, is that the problems with programming are not problems with the tools, but with the code that these amateurs produce. Writing clean, clear, correct, modular, maintainable, tested, and reusable code is still a skill that takes time to learn.

Generally, most people understand following a sequence of steps to achieve a goal. They can follow a recipe's steps to bake a cake. Some can even write down the steps they took to accomplish a task, which is the beginning of automating it; but recording and playing back steps is certainly not all there is to programming. Almost anyone who can write steps down can then learn enough of a language to string together a dozen or even a hundred individual steps to then achieve a goal: StepA(foo); bar = StepB(foo); StepC(foo,bar); ... another 97 steps here...; return(). The problem is that because writing down all those steps is possible, people who manage to do it once think they're programming. But all they're really doing is scripting.

Once someone tries to add logic to their scripts, the resultant code is generally buggy, slow, difficult to maintain, impossible to test, and probably should not be put into production, let alone reused. What a professional software developer does is recognizes the difference. He or she uses his or her experience, skills, and knowledge to organize those instructions into small groups of functionality, and wraps them into readable, testable, reusable, methods. He or she recognizes dependencies in the code, follows design principles to ensure they are properly organized, groups related methods into classes or modules, knows when to follow design patterns and when to break from them, groups related areas of modules into architectural layers, and wraps the layers with clean, testable, usable interfaces. He or she knows how to secure the code against various types of attack or misuse, and to properly protect the data it's been entrusted with. He or she understands validation, authorization, authentication, roles, sanitization, whitelisting, and blacklisting. And he or she understands the many forms of testing needed, including unit testing, system testing, integration testing, fuzz testing, pen testing, performance testing, as well as tools to evaluate the code, such as static code analysis and metrics.

On the other end of the developer's life are the inputs to the processes: requirements, stories, use cases, usability, scalability, performance. They know that following certain development methodologies can make a great deal of difference to the software's quality. And then there are the realities of all the non software development issues: equipment, firewall rules, IDPs, networking, vendor contracts, software licensing, hosting, distribution, installation, support, bug tracking, and even sales.

Tools can help with all of these steps, but as you pointed out, having a word processor does not make one a poet.

Comment: Re:seems like snowden did the exact same thing. (Score 1) 95

by plover (#47416707) Attached to: Thousands of Leaked KGB Files Are Now Open To the Public

Really? Because I don't seem to remember the purges that took place when Reagan took office, or Bush, or Clinton, or Obama. I don't remember when they arrested the political dissenters from the opposition parties, hauled them out of Washington and trucked them up to camps in North Dakota where the majority froze to death, or shot them in the basement of the Lubyanka after pronouncing them guilty in a secret "trial". Perhaps that all took place when the Ministry for Information took razor blades and cut out the encyclopedia pages for Jimmy Carter, and extended the entry for the Bering Sea to compensate, because we can't really trust our history books.

Go read Mitrokhin's books. Read the KGB's own history, stolen from their own archives. Compare it to what the USA claimed actually happened, and to what the USA claimed was Soviet propaganda. Mitrokhin's papers serve as independent corroboration that essentially everything the USA said about the Soviet Union's "active measures" was true.

Comment: Re:seems like snowden did the exact same thing. (Score 1) 95

by plover (#47416581) Attached to: Thousands of Leaked KGB Files Are Now Open To the Public

Wow, such hate and bile. The country Mitrokhin "betrayed" no longer existed. He turned over documents from the Soviet Union, not from "Russia". Yes, there is a distinction.

You completely failed to read what was written, which was a comparison of Mitrokhin to Snowden.

Apparently, that's what the fuck I don't get.

Comment: Re:Python for learning? Good choice. (Score 1) 394

by Kjella (#47413153) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

I'll disagree on that. We use white space to communicate our programs' block structure to other humans. Why should we use a different syntax to tell the compiler the same information?

IMHO it's far easier to logically get it right with braces and pretty-print it for proper indentation than fiddling around with whitespace.

Comment: Re:more leisure time for humans! (Score 1) 524

by Kjella (#47409439) Attached to: Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

That's revisionist history, ludicrously so. Marx never foresaw anything of the sort. He believed firmly in the labor theory of value, and as such all economic power derived from human labor, not from mechanical power. Communism was about combating the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few people who owned the means of production, at the expense of the masses who provided the labor (and hence the real value).

It is not very hard to re-frame Marx in terms of the knowledge worker, where the owner of the means of production like the [e-tail site/online bank/search engine/social networking site] exploits the individual developers who produce the system but alone are insignificant and replaceable leading to a race to the bottom where providing the labor is greatly underpaid while stock owners and other capital holders make off with the profits. That does of course not exclude the possibility that capital owners will pay off unique individuals and start-ups that threaten to shift the competitive landscape or compete with the existing companies, but more of a global mutual interest among all companies to depress wages.

Even in the absence of formal collusion it's not hard to reach a form of unwritten understanding in direct and transparent competition of substitute goods. For example on the way to work there are two gas stations quite literally across the road from each other, if one drops the price of course the other will follow. So what makes them profit most, both high or both low prices? Now apply the same to store clerk wages, of course neither has an interest in raising the general wages. It is really the same when you see Google/Apple/Microsoft/whatever involved in anti-poaching agreements, surely they could just poach back but it'd raise the wage costs for everyone so better if they don't.

I do agree though that he thought the actual value lay with the labor, not the machinery but I guess you can equally apply this to software, doesn't really all value of the code stem from the one who developed it? Granted, he got paid for it but whether that pay is fair is another matter. Remember, Marx never claimed the workers were forced to work anywhere at gun point. What he said was that all the choices were bad ones and workers were exploited no matter who they worked for. It's not like market economists dispute that companies would lower labor costs if they could either, they just refuse to do something about it. If the supply and demand don't add up to a wage you're comfortable with do something else.

Of course we won't run out of jobs as such, but when there's more people wanting jobs than there are jobs, real wages start trending downwards as workers undercut each other. The relative wealth between those with capital and those who work for a living diverges and it becomes harder and harder to join them as their holdings increase faster than any savings you can make. As long as human labor remains essential to the function of society, we can still unite and strike for higher wages though. If we're no longer essential and the system runs on robotics, software and a few scabs until we go back to work, well then we're in deep shit.

Comment: Re:And Chicago is relevant to Australia? (Score 1) 60

TFA tries to compare the legal aspects of one country's police using a legitimate cell tower's data (a "tower dump") with a court request for a copy of the purchase order of a surreptitious TriggerFish by a police force located in a different country. Different countries, different laws, different technologic approach to collecting the data, different accusations. The primary thing they share in common seems to be the outrage they spark.

Comment: Re:And in 20 years (Score 1) 95

by plover (#47408609) Attached to: Thousands of Leaked KGB Files Are Now Open To the Public

The declassification rules in the US are such that all documents are to be publicly released 50 years after the end of their active life. That's why they were compelled to release ULTRA and VENONA information in the 1990s, 50 years after the end of WWII. The declassification process is not automatic, in that someone still redacts the names of involved people who are still alive, and they make sure that the release won't endanger any current activities, but for the most part they are compelled to release it all.

If you are at all interested in the history of our intelligence services, and you find yourself in the D.C. area, I strongly recommend visiting the NSA's Cryptologic Museum. http://www.nsa.gov/about/crypt...

Comment: Re:seems like snowden did the exact same thing. (Score 5, Informative) 95

by plover (#47408547) Attached to: Thousands of Leaked KGB Files Are Now Open To the Public

Here are a few more differences and corrections:
* Mitrokhin turned the data over to British officials only after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He did not endanger his country's ongoing intelligence operations. He may have embarrassed several former Soviet officials, but the revelations were not a crime against his country, as that country no longer existed at the time of their release. While the act of copying the classified data would certainly have been a crime against the Soviet Union, again, that country was gone. (Snowden released the data of his own still-active country, including information about active operations.)
* The data he turned over was archival material spanning decades and ending in the 1980s; he gave it up in the early 1990s. Some of it was less than ten years old at the time it was delivered. (Snowden's data was indeed more current and relevant.)
* After the publication of his notes in two books, the SVR actually provided academic access to the old KGB archives for a time. I think that was ended after the wrong person was embarrassed by his historical record, perhaps a former lieutenant colonel in the KGB. (The NSA has not yet opened their doors to the public in response to Snowden's release.)
* He was not a "whistleblower" in that he did not release this data in an attempt to change any ongoing practices. He was a historian who respected the truth, and did not want the facts distorted or destroyed by a regime with a long history of rewriting history. (Snowden is an activist, who is trying to effect change.)
* Mitrokhin's position was a Senior Archivist. He had access to essentially all KGB historical records, not simply operations of which he was a part. (Snowden was an administrator of systems, and had access to the records they contained; he also used other people's credentials to gain additional access to other records.)

Comment: Re:Nobody check this (Score 1) 95

by plover (#47408353) Attached to: Thousands of Leaked KGB Files Are Now Open To the Public

Well, considering Mitrokhin had Christopher Andrew publish selected information in two English language volumes already, "The Sword and the Shield", and "The World was Going Our Way", I think your pleas for ignorance are not going to have much effect. This is simply a release of the rest of the materiel he exfiltrated.

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