Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: You have got to be joking (Score 1) 157

by Archtech (#49362417) Attached to: UK Licensing Site Requires MSIE Emulation, But Won't Work With MSIE

"How can a government department concerned with security not get this sort of thing right?"

Very funny.

When did a government department of any kind ever get anything right? Especially when it concerns computers. Triply when it concerns security. See for example:

etc., etc. passim.

The truth of the matter is that politicians and civil servants tend to be highly non-technical, and very much focused on high-sounding (but misleading) talk. This is the exact opposite of the attitude you need to accomplish anything with computers. But they are also very arrogant, and committed to the belief that - since they don't understand computers - programming and the like must be extremely easy.

Comment: The Emperor Julian (Score 1) 191

by Archtech (#49318909) Attached to: Your favorite Julian?

(known to the Christian churches as "The Apostate" because he tried to restore the official religion of Greece and Rome for the previous thousand years).

Educated, cultured, humane, civilized: along with Marcus Aurelius, a living proof that near-absolute power does not always have to corrupt absolutely. Sadly, he was murdered by Christians to prove that their religion (which mandates peace, forgiveness, and non-violence) was better than his.

Comment: Is this really what the Constitution is for? (Score 1) 391

by Archtech (#49154377) Attached to: Verizon Posts Message In Morse Code To Mock FCC's Net Neutrality Ruling

"...In 2012, it insisted that the very idea of Net neutrality squished its First and Fifth Amendment right..."

As a foreigner I'm probably completely wrong. But isn't the Constitution getting to look very much like a Bill of Rights for immense corporations to enrich themselves by any means they choose? Just asking.

Comment: It's harder in a democracy (Score 1) 183

by Archtech (#49101509) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Can Technology Improve the Judicial System?

It's funny that the summary starts with "One of the cornerstones of any democracy is its judicial system". That's true of all forms of society/government; it is absolutely not limited to democracies. So why bring democracy into it - except that it's one of the holy words of our society, a word that stuns everyone into instant acquiescence and worship?

One can make a strong case that justice is particularly hard to come by in a democracy, as opposed to a monarchy or a true aristocracy. The distinguishing feature of real democracy is that the people as a whole wield supreme power. So a majority can carry out any act, no matter how illogical, unethical, or downright disgraceful. Such as the execution of Socrates, for instance. Or the decision to execute the admirals of the Athenian fleet after the battle of Arginusae - which was rescinded the following day, when the people changed their minds.

You can see a similar pattern in the USA, where many prosecutors are elected by the people. This leads them to pursue popularity at all costs - and, in a populous society where most electors will never get to meet the actual candidate, popularity is usually sought by lighting up the media with sensational news. How many miscarriages of justice have been perpetrated because a prosecutor wanted to make a name for himself? And of course the prosecutor is not held responsible, because his job is only to argue the case for conviction. If someone is wrongly found guilty, that is the fault of the defence, the jury, the judge, the police who made up evidence or concealed exonerating evidence... and anyway, it's all forgotten the next week.

Probably the best place to start constructing a good judicial system is with a genuine concern for justice. It has been well observed that, in any country that has a Ministry of Justice or something similar, justice itself will be conspicuous by its absence. (Just as any corporation that has an "ethics committee" has probably forgotten what the word "ethics" means). Honest people know what's right, but given enough bureaucracy and laws - assisted by thousands of career-minded functionaries - we get today's situation where any lawyer can tell you that the law has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with justice.

Comment: Re:Tough decision (Score 1) 136

Definitely bricked. It's axiomatic that your data is more valuable than your hardware - since you have it all backed up, you just buy new hardware and you are set. (Although you might want to consider changing your OS).

In fact, I have heard security professionals opine that a brick is the ideal secure IT system. It can't store any data, it can't do any computing, and it doesn't do you any good except as part of a wall (or something handy to throw at a politician). But it is VERY secure indeed.

Comment: Re:Something Truly Innovative (Score 1) 162

by Archtech (#48802061) Attached to: What are you most interested in seeing out of CES?

" At the core, sales & marketing are just con artistry".

When I was a bit younger - I'm really old and creaky now - I might have said exactly that. And I still feel that way, a lot of the time.

The thing is though, even if those skills are just con artistry, maybe they are necessary or even indispensable. In a perfect world, as Dr Sheldon Cooper might see it, everything would be decided by pure facts and logic. Everyone would have perfect information, and would instantly see all the consequences and ramifications of every fact.

Needless to say, your average human being (even Sheldon, actually) is not much like that. One of the greatest weaknesses of economics has always been its understandable inclination to over-simplify reality through entirely unjustified assumptions such as perfect information, perfect rationality, and a complete lack of empotions or any other motives than maximizing monetary property.

So salesmen and marketroids do fulfil a useful function - like dung beetles and bacteria, if you will - by partially compensating for our lack of imagination and logic. It would be far better if we could do without them, but sales would be a lot slower - causing manufacturing to slow down, workers to be laid off...

Comment: Re:Something Truly Innovative (Score 3, Informative) 162

by Archtech (#48765103) Attached to: What are you most interested in seeing out of CES?

Jobs was truly innovative - but he thought in terms of applications, not basic technology. It's true that he didn't make any original technical inventions (AFAIK), but he was brilliant at finding attractive ways to market what others had invented.

That sort of creativity is extremely valuable, but it is slightly different from what I think we were discussing. To put it very simply, someone like Jobs could not succeed unless other people (mostly unsung heroes of technology) had previously done the spadework. On the other hand, their work would not have been nearly as fruitful without Jobs' clever marketing touch.

To my way of thinking, he could be compared (in a sense) with a brilliant Web site designer who produces a wonderful interactive site using the standard ingredients of HTML, CSS, scripting, etc. Everyone has access to the same palette of technology, but most designers do routine uninspired work, while some make a dreadful mess. And a select few have the talent to leave out whatever isn't essential, thus creating a work of art.

Comment: Re:Something Truly Innovative (Score 1) 162

by Archtech (#48754149) Attached to: What are you most interested in seeing out of CES?

Thanks, lazarus. My comment was heartfelt and I deeply believe that it is correct. As they say, "you get what you measure"; or, perhaps more accurately, "you get what you reward". Earning profit is rewarded and respected; making creative or technical breakthroughs is not, except sporadically in places such as /.

An optimist believes we live in the best world possible; a pessimist fears this is true.