Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:reality check (Score 1) 116

Blanket bricking of cell phones, or selective bricking of those of "ringleaders", is an inevitable problem for the most peaceful and well behaved political rally with this kind of technology in government hands. Remember the "Arab Sping", and Tianenmen Square, and even the more recent and quite peaceful "Occupy Wall Street" the US, and understand exactly why and how law enforcement want this kind of power.

Comment: Re:Patent Trolls arent just little companies (Score 2) 95

by Antique Geekmeister (#47711253) Attached to: How Patent Trolls Destroy Innovation

> Fixing this mess won't be easy.

Fixing the mess is at least straightforward. Discard software patents. Their legality has always been questionable, for sound technical and legal reasons, and they're one of the greatest drains on the patent office. They also have profound, demonstrable adverse effects on industry and on innovation in practice.

Implementing that legal and policy change will not be easy, I agree.

Comment: Re:Trolls or Not Trolls (Score 3, Interesting) 95

by Antique Geekmeister (#47711235) Attached to: How Patent Trolls Destroy Innovation

> The original purpose of Patents to create a period of exclusivity to regain the expense of research, tooling (and other capital risks), are good.

That benefit can often, not always, be retained by simply keeping a trade secret. The corresponding social benefit of limited patents is that they expire, and the invention is then available to the public.

Unfortunately, the patent office, and the patent system itself, is overwhelmed by software patents. These are by their nature nebulous, aggressive, and often overlapping in complex ways. They also open the doors for, yes, patent trolls, who do no innovation and produce no actual goods or services to the general public. They exist purely as legal entities to file lawsuits based on patents they've purchased, and have no history or intention of using themselves.

The ideal solution is to discard software patents altogether. They are a horrific drain on software design and productivity, not merely due to patent troll losses, but because they force companies to invest thousands or millions of dollars in patent suites to protect from potential patent litigation. And they directly interfere with software authors publishing their work as open source or freeware. The corporate lawyers, and the expense of patent review, cause many companies to refuse to publish even patches to open source, or freeware. There are good reasons the GPLv3 has tried to deal with software patents harshly. They've been a real problem with open source and freeware.

Comment: Re:Not much of a fix (Score 2) 101

by Antique Geekmeister (#47693675) Attached to: ICANN Offers Fix For Domain Name Collisions

> WHAT THE FUCK made you create these new TLDs in the first place? Did you just pull some TLDs out of your ass and say 'great plan' and only AFTER saying you would create them start to think about the impact?

ICANN charges the registrars, and the registrars collect money for people registering their domains across all domains for simple fraud protection or trademark protection. I'm afraid that the domain registration business is aimed at the domain squatters, since they easily squat the domains _just_ when you try to register them and release them before they have to pay fees, if you don't follow up and buy them. The remainder that do get registered, and the defensive registration of the same name across multiple domains, is where ICANN gets funding.

Comment: Re:Phew (Score 2) 58

> I'm glad that was made clear, us nerds know very little about IT in reality

I'm afraid that you're quite right. Many of our nerd friends and colleagues keep their SSH private keys un-passphrase-protected on backups and on NFS shares or removable media, we leave defaults in place for SNMP access. Moreover, a majority of the companies I've worked with in the last 10 years rely on their external firewalls to protect their internal networks from monitoring. This is even though people with VPN and laptop access connect to those internal networks all the time.

More generally, the Windows admins and most developers don't generally need to or try to understand how other protocol works. They click a few boxes on their configuration tools, they read a Google how-to, and that's the extent of their review. They don't bother to ready the man pages or do an "snmpwalk" because they don't _have_ to.

And it's not just the Windows admins or software developers. I spent an hour on Thursday walking a senior Linux administrator through SNMP. He'd never realized that SNMP was the core tool for scanning remote network devices. I could explain why, but that's a separate post.

Comment: Re:Version control (Score 2) 126

by Antique Geekmeister (#47682869) Attached to: Switching Game Engines Halfway Through Development

I've used all of them, quite effectively. Sorry, but Perforce's overly centralized control and the administrative expense of error prone Perforce management makes it unusable for long projects. The centralized control is too vulnerable to central administrator errors, such as having to delete content and accidentally deleting the only copy. Subversion has some similar issues, and relatively poor performance and very confusing upgrade cycles to deal with.

Git is working out _extremely_ well for small and large projects in my experience, and its ease of replication and offsite management are far superior. Bitkeeper is comparable to git in performance but now badly lags in cross-compatibility features and broadly available hosting resources like github or bitbucket.

Comment: Re:Rise of the middlemen (Score 1) 126

by Antique Geekmeister (#47682343) Attached to: Switching Game Engines Halfway Through Development

That's a ludicrous "version control" fee. Given that you have to set procedures anyway, for effective work flow and creating production releases, it sounds like someone made a mistake in the licensing. What feature could it possibly be adding when you can do robust software management and collaboration at,, or any of the git repositories with commercial support services?

Comment: Re:Hmm? (Score 1) 84

by Antique Geekmeister (#47667763) Attached to: Twitter Reports 23 Million Users Are Actually Bots

I'm afraid to say that your failure to see how the failure to see how the older, phone based system can break down does not match my experience. The SMS system breaks down in numerous ways for high volume alert systems, and the systems that _send_ the pages are often lightweight in-house systems vulnerable to failure. The tendency of most such systems to send each page with its own unique, unidentifiable, sequentially identified number also makes it dificult if not impossible to _group_ the messages. 100 such messages means they come from 100 distict ids: it's unmanageable for high volumes, and it's not accessible from a webapp or more effective user interface to review and expire them by groups.

Personally, I use Twitter _only_ for a work account that is published nowhere and subscribes only to a work related alert system. It's not Twitter's usage model, because it collects no personal data and gets no noticeable advertising advertising revenue. But it's far more reliable than SMS has proven, especially with the fragile and poorly maintained alert to SMS paging systems.

Comment: Re:Hmm? (Score 1) 84

by Antique Geekmeister (#47661813) Attached to: Twitter Reports 23 Million Users Are Actually Bots

> Why in the world is this the business of SEC?

Because the anticipated market value, growth, and revenues of Twitter are based on models of human behavior and human subscription. A 20% growth of Twitter's user base is great news for Twitter, as a company: but if that 20% is made up of 50% spambots who don't pay their bills, they're not a revenue source and shouldn't be counted as such in Twitter's business statements to stockholders or other investors. At the end of the business day, a working business needs paying customers, not just an "exciting paradigm shift". I'm afraid that entrepreneurs and investors lost sight of this during the dotcom craze. They rode a tidal wave of excited investment money, and they spent it without a matching return. The SEC is therefore now being more cautious about company's financial reporting, especially their extrapolated growth. And botnets don't usually pay their bills.

I will note that there are useful bots on Twitter. Automated SMS text alerts, for example, have turned out to be much slower, much less reliable, and much more difficult to organize than a well crafted Twitter feed. Given the option, I'd replace any high volume alert paging system with a twitter feed at the first opportunity.

Comment: Re:Terry Pratchett has Alzheimer's (Score 1) 105

I suspect that Mr. Pratchett would be somewhat grateful, though finely appreciative of any irony, if he's still in condition to do so. A lot of his stories contain tough choices, and struggles with amazing burdens. If he decides to go this way, I hope someone can find an orangutang to hand him a book to read to sleep.

Comment: Re: And so it begins... (Score 3, Interesting) 252

by Antique Geekmeister (#47643267) Attached to: <em>Babylon 5</em> May Finally Get a Big-Screen Debut

Part of the "jumping the shark" was due to money craziness, and the problems when core actors decide they need to do other things with their career. The switch of captains was an enormous problem for fans and the story line, but we'd come to terms with it. The switch of first officers as well, was crippling.

The reboot of Star Trek was, admittedly, a failure. It lacked Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future as a better place as a more mature place and time with a frontier that tested and showed people who'd learned to engage frontiers with the hard-won wisdom they'd learned, who were actually making the galaxy a better place by sharing that wisdom But I was personally very pleased with the "Enterprise" series as an attempt to restart the series in an earlier period and recapture the exploration of a less mature series.

And for Star Trek/Babylon 5 comparisons, there can only be the Deep Space 9/Babylon 5 comparison. Anyone who didn't see parallels simply wasn't paying attention, and it was fascinating, as fans, to see how much better of a storyline Baboylon 5 was, and how much having a larger studio and a larger budget and franchise was able to help Deep Space 9. I really found myself wishing that Paramount, JMS, and the remainders of Gene Roddenberry's core crew and estate could have worked something out for Babylon 5 to have been told in the Star Trek universe with the larger budgets and resources.

I'm forced to admit that as a fan, I was delighted and thrilled to see Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, renowned as Gene Roddenberry's supportive wife, as Nurse Chapel and Lwaxana Troi and the voice of all the computers in Star Trek, pop up as the wife of the emperor in Babylon 5. It was wonderful to see the woman, herself, show her support of the excellent work at Babylon 5 by appear in a small bit fascinating role.

And Walter Koenig's hop from roles as Chekov in Star Trek to Alfred Bester in Babylon 5 was... well, you have to go watch the shows to understand the _completely_ different role Walter Koenig plays, and to applaud the acting and the writing that created it.

Comment: Terry Pratchett has Alzheimer's (Score 2) 105

Let's hope that this treatment works well, and is approved for human use quickly. Terry Pratchett's abilities to tie fascinating details of human experience, knowledge, and even science into an entertaining and educational story is an incredible loss to the world. Even if you only recovers enough to enjoy the well-earned adulation of his fans, the chance to thank him personally for his work is worth significant medical research.

I understand he particularly likes banana daiquiris.

Comment: Re:"Questions" that remain, not question (Score 1) 266

by Antique Geekmeister (#47626539) Attached to: Snowden Granted 3 More Years of Russian Residency

> if he had some kind of deadman's switch set up.

That's why I didn't think a deadman switch would be a question. If Snowden retains control of any information or documents he has _not_ already revealed, how can that information be obtained? That's actually 2 important remaining questions which can't be answered by a press interview.

> Well, if Snowden's saying it to the press, I'm not sure the Russians will be able to deduce any more

The press does not, and can not, print everything from every document or interview they receive. They must edit, for reasons of space if nothing else. Careful discussion with an alert, intelligent person can often give details of operations and infrastructure that were never in any document or in previous interviews: that's why I treasure face time and telephone with remote personnel. They often leave out details in written documentation, other interviewers may not know the right questions to ask or to report.

>> What inspiration do minor details about NSA monitoring provide for Russian surveillance?

> Uh, are we accusing him of inspiration via minor details now? That's ... pretty specious. Just gonna leave it at that.

I'm not accusing Snowden of planning this. It's a logical step for intelligence analysis of existing NSA practices. Analysis of NSA's abusive practices also provides metadata about the working technologies to follow those practices.

Comment: "Questions" that remain, not question (Score 2) 266

by Antique Geekmeister (#47622049) Attached to: Snowden Granted 3 More Years of Russian Residency

There are many _questions_ that remain. How much additional information does Snowden have squirreled away in dead drops, that will be revealed if he is killed or imprisoned? How much information can Russian personnel gather about subtle policies of NSA, by indirect deduction of what Snowden says to press or to his handlers? What has, or can, the NSA do to protect its revealed policies and assets? What inspiration do minor details about NSA monitoring provide for Russian surveillance?

The concept that there is "the only remaining question", and posing the question to cast the Russians as aggressive victims, is a straw man. It's a side issue distracting debate from much more important issues.

Make sure your code does nothing gracefully.