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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 6 declined, 0 accepted (6 total, 0.00% accepted)

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Submission + - How bad UI complicated the KAL007 flight crisis 31 years ago (

Crayon Kid writes: 31 years ago, on September 1, 1983, Korean Airlines flight 007 (KAL007) was shot down by a Soviet fighter, an incident which would go on to develop into one of the most tense moments of the Cold War.

On that morning, 23 year old John C. Beck, while working in the US Embassy in Tokyo, inadvertedly hit the wrong key and caused the loss of all ongoing work on a report on the incident being prepared by diplomats and translators for President Reagan, a fact which delayed the official statement from the US administration and caused several unfortunate side effects.

[...] I highlighted her workstation and hit the F6 key to reset. But my screen went temporarily black and then seemed to be starting again. I realized that I had mistakenly hit F7 and reset all the workstations in the embassy.

[...] I, naturally, felt terrible and was, appropriately, fired.

It was only weeks later that I began to comprehend the effects of this single keystroke mistake.

He seems to have taken this incident in stride and accepted the consequences. But it doesn't change the fact that the user interface design seems horrid: it made it possible to destroy the work in progress on the entire network with a single keystroke, without even a confirmation, and furthermore placed that key right next to one used much more often and with less severe effects.

It would be very interesting to see if this design was simply bad or if it was intentional – if for instance they wanted to be able to destroy everything at the touch of a button in case of a security emergency.

The Internet

Submission + - Has Operation Anonymous succeeded?

Crayon Kid writes: I submit to your attention the notion that Operation 'Anonymous' may have, after all, succeeded. Misguided teenager shenanigans aside, I think they made one important point: that if one site or service can be taken down for reasons seen by some as arbitrary, then any other sites and services can be taken down just as easily and for equally arbitrary reasons. In doing so, they have (albeit inadvertedly) called into question the fabric and organization of the Internet itself. It is becoming more and more obvious that the ideals that the Internet was built upon, both technological and philosophical, have failed. The Internet of today, despite what we would like to believe, is a badly hammered together mess which does not cope well with censorship, damage or bad noise-to-signal ratio. Key technologies and policies need to be addressed, reexamined and changed. For many of them work is already underway: DNS, IP address space, routing, distributed information hosting. But most important perhaps is the realization that we cannot have it both ways: either it is ultimately possible to deny access to any pieces of information and services, or to none of them.

Submission + - Is Slashdot out of date?

Crayon Kid writes: Independent journalist Kieren McCarthy wonders whether Slashdot is on its way out on his blog.

[..]while Slashdot's star has been in the ascendency for more than five years, its impact is on the wane as new websites using the latest Net technologies have started out-Slashdotting Slashdot. As a news editor for an online IT news site, I have a pretty good idea where people are getting their tech news from, and the fact is that Slashdot is showing signs of being out-of-date and, frankly, on the way out.

McCarthy goes on to acknowledge that Slashdot had once a leading role in demonstrating new technologies on the Web, but that this is no longer the case. He argues that Slashdot's "too busy" interface and complicated comment system is outdated and surpassed by the likes of Digg. It also doesn't help that there's a percieved smugness and elitism about both the Slashdot editors (and the way they choose their stories) and about the Slashdot crowd.

Not that Slashdot is no longer a force. It still has a huge number of readers and a massive and loyal following but the fact is that it is becoming less relevant, its figures are falling, and it isn't showing any signs of adapting to changed circumstances. [..]Because Slashdot doesn't produce its own content, it lives and dies on the quality of its service, and the fact is that people prefer what others are offering.

"Love your country but never trust its government." -- from a hand-painted road sign in central Pennsylvania