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Comment: Fun, But Useless (Score 3, Funny) 56 56

This is a fun device that can show you what can be done with 3D printed plastic. That said, it's useless. It would be really cool if I could apply 1 pound of force to the crank, turn it a Million times, and have it apply a Million pounds of rotational force at the other end. But it's made of plastic, so it won't do that. Indeed, the fast-rotating parts would wear out before the slow-rotating part made a single turn. So it's not even good as a kind of clock.

All that said, it's a good conversation piece, and probably worth the price for that.

Comment: Re:Therac 25 (Score 5, Insightful) 152 152

What happened is that people who used the system very day, day in and day out, became so fast at entering the machine settings the rate of UI events exceeded the ability of the custom monitor software written for the machine to respond correctly to them.

Which is still to some extent a UI issue.

But the literal "killer" is what happened next:
  1) The machine detected that it had screwed up.
  2) But the UI reported this by a cryptic error message: "MALFUNCTION nn" - where the 1 = nn = 64 error codes not only weren't explanatory, but weren't even included in the manual.
  3) And if the operator hit "P" (for "proceed") the machine would GO AHEAD AND OPERATE in the known-to-be-broken mode, giving the patient a fatal (high-power, not-swept-around) electrons rather than a 100x weaker flood of x-rays, with NO FURTHER INDICATION that something is still wrong (unless you count the patient sometimes screaming and running out of the room.)

If 2) and 3) aren't user interface problems, what is?

Comment: Re:pardon my french, but "duh" (Score 4, Insightful) 152 152

Well that may be so. But as you get older you get less patient with people wasting your time.

Let's say you're 90 years old. You're using a webmail system which does everything you need it to do. Then some manager has a brainwave and suddenly all the functions are somewhere else. How much of the 3.99 years the actuarial tables say you've got left do you want to spend dealing with that?

It's not just 90 year-olds. Take a poll of working-age users and find out how many like the MS Office Ribbon; how many people are cool with the regular UI reshuffling that takes place in Windows just to prove you're paying your upgrade fee for software that's "new"?

Comment: Re:Therac 25 (Score 1) 152 152

According to wikipedia, that had software problems that ended up killing people What's that got to do with UI changes and user experience?

The original post was about bad user interfaces causing harm to people. Changes breaking the user experience was only one of the issues.

In Therac's case the bug WAS primarily in the user interface:
  - Due to a race condition, if a button happened to be pressed at the wrong moment and the menu filled out in a particular order, the device would configure the electron beam for x-ray generation rather than electron beam generation (high electron beam current, no scanning) but not position the target, flattening filter, collimator, or ion-chamber x-ray sensor in the beamway, resulting in a configuration that irradiated the patient with beta radiation, rather than x-rays, at 100x a normal dose.)
  - The machine DID detect that there was a problem. But it reported it as "MALFUNCTION nn" - where nn was a number from 1 to 64 and not explained in the manual. If the operator entered "P" (proceed), it would then go ahead and operate in the improper mode anyhow.

Both the second part and most of the first part sound like user interface problem to me.

Comment: Re:Therac 25 (Score 2) 152 152

I was working as a developer when the news of the Therac 25 problems broke, so I remember it well. You actually have it backwards; it wasn't bad UI design at all.

The thing is mere functional testing of the user interface would not have revealed the flaw in the system. What happened is that people who used the system very day, day in and day out, became so fast at entering the machine settings the rate of UI events exceeded the ability of the custom monitor software written for the machine to respond correctly to them.

If the UI was bad from a design standpoint the fundamental system engineering flaws of the system might never have been revealed.

Comment: Projects on github should "git fetch" NOW! (Score 1) 89 89

Someone started uploading all the HackingTeam source code to GitHub ... There are also some signing keys for kernel drivers in here.

IMHO:

Anyone with a project hosted on git hub should pull a backup copy NOW!

Hosting this leak on git hub could lead to moves by authorities to contain it - which could have the side effect of making GitHub and/or some projects on it unavailable - temporarily or permanently.

Better safe than sorry.

Comment: Also driver and closed-device rooting projects? (Score 1) 89 89

... will this help bona fide security researchers with their work on fighting exploits on all platforms ... ?

I wonder if this will also help people trying to write open software for closed devices? Signing keys, driver sources with spyware installed, ... Not only does it expose the malware bypassing the user's security, it may also expose the internal details of how the devices are driven and/or how to compromise the malware's and devices' anti-user "security".

(I have often wondered how many of the closed-driver devices have the code closed just for business reasons and how many are closed because that's where the spyware has been installed and they can't let the source out - even sanitized - because that would lead to the spyware's exposure.)

Comment: Also to try to head off "the common man". (Score 1) 367 367

The goal is to intimidate the makers of such designs. Arrest first and ask questions later, when such designs get out.

It's also to make it harder for "the common man" to arm himself - in case a Schelling Point is reached and a LOT of people suddenly decide that they need to arm themselves against the government or its puppeteers. By slowing them down, and reducing the number and quality of designs available, the powers that be have more time to react and try to divide and reconquer.

Of course intimidating designers is a big part of that.

Comment: Which is why OpenBSD is hosted in Canada (Score 1) 367 367

This is not the first time they did this. In fact it has quite an interesting history in cryptography that was classified as a munition for just this reason.

Which is why OpenBSD is hosted from outside the US. (It's NOT just that Theo happens to live in Canada.)

Comment: Re:Outside help (Score 1) 331 331

actual interest payments are somewhere around 2.6% to 4.3% of GDP (depending on your calculation method)
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6e55...

greek tax revenue as a proportion of gdp is about 30%
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

so greek interest payments are approx 10% of tax receipts
http://data.worldbank.org/indi...

"There is such a fine line between genius and stupidity." - David St. Hubbins, "Spinal Tap"

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