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Comment: Re:Some math (Score 1) 112

by Jeremi (#48639835) Attached to: Tesla About To Start Battery-Swap Pilot Program

Because ... that doesn't happen at some real gas stations?

Of course, real gas stations don't give away free gas to customers who are willing to wait half an hour. If they did, that might cut down considerably on the number of people who were willing to pay $50 to fill up their tank in 3 minutes, and make the "steady line of customers" scenario less likely.

Apples, oranges.

Comment: Re:Which is why (Score 1) 308

I ask the same question again, why put this stuff online at all? Why are critical systems for infrastructure online? Why is anything of any importance for our government and nation available to the general Internet?

Because that's how the information gets from (wherever it is stored) to (the people who need to access it). The Internet is popular for a reason, and that reason is that it helps people get things done quickly and cheaply.

The alternative, of course, is to have the information and the people physically co-located, so that they can access the information only via an isolated network (or by physically sitting at the computer the information is stored on).

However, the benefits of remote access are so great that in many cases it's seen as being worth the risk of allowing it. Whether or not that assessment is correct or not depends on an estimate of how secure the networks are, but also on an estimate of how aggressive, competent, and numerous any hostile intruders will be. Clearly it's possible to get both of those estimates wrong, but I'm not sure that a knee-jerk response of "pull all the Ethernet cables and return to the 1950s" is going to be a practical solution either, as doing so would likely cause as much disruption as an actual attack.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but probably one good practice would be a lot more red-teaming -- i.e. if your network is vulnerable to intrusion, it's much better to learn how a friendly intruder got in (by asking him) and fix the hole than to pick up the pieces after a hostile intruder nuked your network.

Comment: Re:been there, done that (Score 2) 279

by grcumb (#48614815) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

You're not a liberal arts major, by any chance, are you? 'Cuz one thing STEM tries to do is kill the belief that an anecdote counters data.

Why yes, I am a liberal arts major, who studied classical logic, among other things. I was responding to the assertion that 'most' liberal arts majors ended up as lowly restaurant workers. I countered that by asserting a) that restaurant workers are not so lowly as characterised; b) that drawing general conclusions about people's prospects based on their education does not bear out, particularly where some of the more respected and influential jobs are concerned; and c) that in a number of cases, a liberal arts education is a precursor to the kind of work that most people can only dream about.

You see, I was actually not making a positive argument so much as rebutting (and refuting) someone else's crass, inaccurate and unsubstantiated assertion that a liberal arts degree is valueless. Shocking, isn't it, to see a STEM major failing so badly at applying basic logic?

But yeah, the plural of anecdote is not always data.

P.S. For the humour-impaired: I'm a keyboard monkey, too. A liberal arts educated keyboard monkey.

Comment: Re:been there, done that (Score 3, Funny) 279

by grcumb (#48612745) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

I second this comment. besides teaching college which will probably involve a graduate degree, most of thejobs with a liberal arts degree involve asking "Do you want fries with that?"

Two things:

First - I supported myself for a decade working in bars and restaurants. There are more interesting people living interesting lives employed in that sector than just about any other.

Second - Ridley Scott went to art college. Peter Jackson was self-taught. James Cameron was a truck driver. The people who have done more to shape your vision than you're likely able to realise followed no discernible pattern of behaviour. I'd advise you to save your derision until someone's earned it.

Case in point: One 'liberal arts' friend of mine plays the king of the White Walkers on GoT. Another works on The Daily Show. How's your job look now, keyboard monkey?

Comment: Re:been there, done that (Score 1) 279

by grcumb (#48612645) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

Have an English degree, found it useless. went back got my BSEE, been employed as such ever since. short version, go back and get your degree.

Did a double major in Theatre and English Literature. After 20 years of gainful employment in systems software development and consulting, I'm now CTO at an international think tank. I also know the value of capitalisation and punctuation.

Short version: It's horses for courses; reflect carefully, then do what you feel is best. If you're smart, the real determining factor is how hard you're willing to work, and how well you continue to learn.

Comment: Re:Tech angle? (Score 1) 874

by Jeremi (#48601407) Attached to: Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

Are you a paid shill for Uber, or just a disgusting human being?

Ad hominem attacks are tedious, so for the sake of argument let's take it as given that I'm both. Now that we've got that out of the way, I'll ask again: how are Uber's high prices ripping anyone off? Does anyone actually pay those prices? If so, why? Is Uber pointing a gun to their heads?

Comment: Re:Congratulations you've invented the credit card (Score 1) 156

by Jeremi (#48601291) Attached to: Small Bank In Kansas Creates the Bank Account of the Future

Congratulations you've invented the credit card!

I've always kind of wanted a bank account with built-in credit-card functionality. No overdraft fees possible, rather you pay credit-card style interest when your balance is negative, and earn bank-style interest when your balance is positive.

Of course, this is unlikely to be offered for just that reason... to the banks, overdraft fees are a profit center :(

Comment: Re:please keep closed! (Score 0) 50

by grcumb (#48597329) Attached to: Microsoft To Open Source Cloud Framework Behind Halo 4 Services

I disagree. Encapsulation and abstraction of complexity is natural and humans are great at breaking complexity apart and making the common-man able to accomplish what was one impossible.

No dispute there. The problem, though, is not that we make easy things simple and hard things possible (pace, Larry Wall). It's that we have of late developed a tendency to simplify too far. Microsoft is famous for making systems administration and certain types of programming 'click-and-drool' easy. And hyperbole aside, the cost to society of the half-competent people who found gainful employment due to this charade can be measured in the many billions.

You're absolutely right in that commercial flying is safer than ever, notwithstanding the tendency in airlines to pressure senior pilots out in favour of cheaper, younger staff. And those working in HFT would likely be wreaking havoc by other means if they didn't have software and fibre-optics to enable them. I guess my tongue hadn't entirely left my cheek when I wrote that last para.

BUT... Microsoft has contributed significantly to a general downward trend in the quality of software and systems integrity. And they've done so by marketing the idea that with the right tools, tool users can be commoditised. And that really, really sucks.

Comment: Re:please keep closed! (Score 1) 50

by grcumb (#48597007) Attached to: Microsoft To Open Source Cloud Framework Behind Halo 4 Services

Whatever it is that made Halo 4 (cloud-based or otherwise) should remain closed. Or better yet, incinerate it.

Agreed. 'Software that makes it easy for non-experts to do expert tasks' will one day be recognised for its role in causing the downfall of civilisation as we know it. By then, of course, it will be too late.

Some among you may think that's overstating things. Some among you are also .NET developers, so what do you know?

Seriously, though: From the Airbus crash to high frequency trading to the Sony hack, examples abound of how enabling and empowering mediocrity is the first ingredient of every modern tragedy.

Comment: Re:Really? (Score 2) 161

by Jeremi (#48591777) Attached to: Former iTunes Engineer Tells Court He Worked To Block Competitors

Windows has nothing to do with it. No other music management program pegs the CPU while syncing media over USB. This is purely the fault of Apple programmers not caring or not knowing how to program for Windows.

You don't give Apple programmers enough credit -- the USB transfer routine includes a surreptitious Bitcoin mining thread. That's how Apple builds up its cash reserves.

Comment: Re:Windows doesn't stop it (Score 1) 161

by Jeremi (#48591753) Attached to: Former iTunes Engineer Tells Court He Worked To Block Competitors

There's a big difference between saying "We aren't going to do any work to support your stuff," and saying "We are going to work to make sure your stuff can't be supported."

Is the latter action illegal? If so, under what circumstances?

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any particularly compelling reason why company X should be required to permit a competitors' software to make use of the company X's servers.

Comment: Re:Notes from a real Sync user (Score 5, Insightful) 232

by Jeremi (#48581827) Attached to: Ford Ditches Microsoft Partnership On Sync, Goes With QNX

As a real Sync user (from 2012), my experience has been that its problems have more to do with user interface than "stability". Even if QNX improves on the latter, it does nothing for the former.

Well, it might help indirectly. Every hour the developers don't spend trying to debug the OS is an hour they can instead spend on making the user interface work better. I suspect that a lot of mediocre products appear simply because there were so many showstopping bugs to chase down that there was never any time to smooth out the rough edges.

Physician: One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well. -- Ambrose Bierce

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