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The History of SQL Injection, the Hack That Will Never Go Away ( 193

An anonymous reader writes with this history of SQL injection attacks. From the Motherboard article: "SQL injection (SQLi) is where hackers typically enter malicious commands into forms on a website to make it churn out juicy bits of data. It's been used to steal the personal details of World Health Organization employees, grab data from the Wall Street Journal, and hit the sites of US federal agencies. 'It's the most easy way to hack,' the pseudonymous hacker w0rm, who was responsible for the Wall Street Journal hack, told Motherboard. The attack took only a 'few hours.' But, for all its simplicity, as well as its effectiveness at siphoning the digital innards of corporations and governments alike, SQLi is relatively easy to defend against. So why, in 2015, is SQLi still leading to some of the biggest breaches around?"

Donald Trump Obliquely Backs a Federal Database To Track Muslims 593 writes: Philip Bump reports at the Washington Post that Donald Trump confirmed to NBC on Thursday evening that he supports a database to track Muslims in the United States. The database of Muslims arose after an interview Yahoo News's Hunter Walker conducted with Trump earlier this week, during which he asked the Republican front-runner to weigh in on the current debate over refugees from Syria. "We're going to have to do things that we never did before," Trump told Walker. "Some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule." When pressed on whether these measures might include tracking Muslim Americans in a database or noting their religious affiliations on identification cards, Trump would not go into detail — but did not reject the options. Trump's reply? "We're going to have to — we're going to have to look at a lot of things very closely," he said. "We're going to have to look at the mosques. We're going to have to look very, very carefully." After an event on in Newton, Iowa, on Thursday night, NBC's Vaughn Hillyard pressed the point. "Should there be a database system that tracks Muslims here in this country?," Hillyard asked. "There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases" Trump said. "We should have a lot of systems." Hillyard asked about implementation, including the process of adding people to the system. "Good management procedures," Trump said. Sign people up at mosques, Hillyard asked? "Different places," Trump replied. "You sign them up at different places. But it's all about management."

Python Is On the Rise, While PHP Falls ( 232

Nerval's Lobster writes: While this month's lists of the top programming languages uniformly put Java in the top spot, that's not the only detail of interest to developers. Which language has gained the most users over the past five years? And which are tottering on the edge of obsolescence? According to PYPL, which pulls its raw data for analysis from Google Trends, Python has grown the most over the past five years—up 5 percent since roughly 2010. Over the same period, PHP also declined by 5 percent. Since PYPL looks at how often language tutorials are searched on Google, its data is a good indicator of how many developers are (or aren't) learning a language, presumably because they see it as valuable to their careers. Just because PYPL shows PHP losing market-share over the long term doesn't mean that language is in danger of imminent collapse; over the past year or so, the PHP community has concentrated on making the language more pleasant to use, whether by improving features such as package management, or boosting overall performance. Plus, PHP is still used on hundreds of millions of websites, according to data from Netcraft. Indeed, if there's any language on these analysts' lists that risks doom, it's Objective-C, the primary language used for programming iOS and Mac OS X apps, and its growing obsolescence is by design.

Persian Gulf Temperatures May Be At the Edge of Human Tolerance In 30 Years ( 488

An anonymous reader writes: According to a new climate study the Persian Gulf may become so hot and humid in the next 30 years that it will reach the threshold of human survivability. Ars reports: "Existing climate models have shown that a global temperature increase to the threshold of human survivability would be reached in some regions of the globe at a point in the distant future. However, a new paper published by Jeremy Pal and Elfatih Eltahir in Nature Climate Change presents evidence that this deadly combination of heat and humidity increases could occur in the Persian Gulf much earlier than previously anticipated."

Comment Re:Just count from an epoch (Score 1) 291

"...since 1967 the second has been defined as the duration of 9192631770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom."

This "second", what an inelegant unit to use for the basis; it's not inherently based on an order of magnitude count in the first place; really it's just a legacy of some base-60 divisions of Earth's rotation time. Don't you think it would be better to define the second more simply as 10^10 periods of cesium 133 radiation? Then you'd really be on to something.

Comment Re:Somebody's on the Pearson payroll (Score 1) 363

I actually do this in my classes. My department has an in-house written College Algebra text, but I recommend to my students as an "alternative" that they get Sullivan College Algebra, 8th edition, for about $5 online.

Two things with this: One is that potentially I could, like the professor in the story, get in trouble with my department for this arrangement (it's a bit of a gray zone). Second is that the college bookstore can't stock old editions from the publisher. So it's a one-by-one acquisition process. You can't depend that students have it on day one; therefore I have to provide handouts for the first few weeks before they get books. And if you did this across the institution, you would likely deplete available sources of the old editions (e.g., I allow one edition back of Weiss Introductory Statistics, and I'm pretty sure that I've single-handedly caused the depletion of it at Amazon -- I already need to keep exercise lists two editions back, which is a maintenance problem when I adjust my assignments, and further back than that and certain exercises have values changed or don't exist at all). Online homework is chimerical, IMO; college students students should have the maturity to do their own homework and then verify with odd-numbered answers at the back of the book; when I tried online homework in the past, it just threw up more technical barriers for students to say they couldn't do it.

So I agree with the GP that open textbooks are the way to go. OpenStax at Rice University recently upped their offerings quite a bit; not perfect, but finally over the threshold where I could work with them. I'm currently trying to puzzle out how I could switch to using their College Algebra and Introductory Statistics books, in the face of officially required in-house texts from my department.

Comment Re:The real issue (Score 2) 363

"If they are so incompetent as to not be able to choose their own classroom material, then how the hell did they become an Associate Professor?"

For published research. I have multiple acquaintances who are new professors who don't even write their own lectures (they are given canned PowerPoint presentations and tests from the department), and this is considered roundly to be a good thing by all parties, because it frees up time for the research by which all promotions and advancements are judged. Professors' primary job is research; teaching is a secondary side-issue.

But other than that I agree with your observation on textbooks; they should have more authority.

Comment Re:The real issue (Score 2) 363

"Also known as the fucking reason chairs and vice chairs exist."

Common misconception.

The primary goal of university faculty is published research. Faculty are promoted for that, and effectively nothing else.

The side-goal of university faculty is teaching students. This generally does not effect promotions or salary. I had a dean at a prior school laugh in my face when I said I thought I was valuable because I was an excellent teacher. "We don't care about that...", he said, "We can get any body off the street in to teach a class."

My current school is better, and I do now have a position which focuses on teaching, but it is by nature non-tenure-track, and for significantly lower salary. I wish this could be changed, but the corporatized environment is making it even less likely over time.


China Ends One-Child Policy 279

jones_supa writes: China has scrapped its one-child policy, allowing all couples to have two children for the first time since draconian family planning rules were introduced in 1979. The announcement followed a four-day Communist Party summit in Beijing where China's top leaders debated financial reforms and how to maintain growth at a time of heightened concerns over the economy. China will "fully implement a policy of allowing each couple to have two children as an active response to an ageing population," the party said in a statement published by Xinhua.

Comment Re:I know people will go crazy over this idea.... (Score 1, Informative) 278

The "point" of having separate states in the U.S. was not remotely to provide different choices for where people could live. The "point" was that the various state leaders were simply going to refuse to join any union that didn't mostly keep their existing little fiefdoms -- most notably in the case of the slave-owning states. For an excellent read on how the sausage was made, consider Robertson's "The Original Compromise: What the Constitution's Framers Were Really Thinking".

The ability of lower-class people to move between states is relatively very limited, and fraught with risk (like leaving behind existing family and community support structures).

Comment Re:Bad framing (Score 1) 246

"There's a big difference between what gets billed and what gets paid."

Assuming that insurance pays for it. (And applies various group-negotiated reductions.) The biggest problem with the inflated American system, IMO, is that you're playing Russian roulette that a claim gets denied and then the individual is on the hook for the whole inflated bill. Not being able to confirm before the service if the cost is zero or tens of thousands of dollars is truly terrifying.

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