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: Plenty of growth potential (Score 1) 54

by Fencepost (#49256609) Attached to: Uber Rival Lyft Raises $530M, Will Beef Up IT
I can't say whether they're overvalued, but there's definite growth potential beyond where they are now.

For example, how many municipalities in areas that they cover have "dial-a-ride" transport for seniors/handicapped? Could Lyft/Uber serve as a cross-municipality contractor for those, providing the same or better service at lower cost? Adding some specialized (e.g. wheelchair-capable) vehicles, plus being able to use their existing set of drivers where appropriate could lower municipality costs while giving better on-demand service to residents.

Comment: Re:Adblock (Score 2) 353

by Fencepost (#49080555) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Most Useful Browser Extensions?
Heh, I reinstalled Windows recently along with switching to a SSD, and apparently didn't install Flash. I didn't miss it until I saw mention of one of the Flash 0-day exploits and a new update, so I went looking to confirm that it had updated.

Of course, I run with NoScript and RequestPolicy, so I wouldn't have been seeing much Flash content anyway.

Comment: What, as in how it works? (Score 1) 809

by Fencepost (#49048987) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Portion of Developers Are Bad At What They Do?
Just because someone can't describe a fairly technical topic doesn't mean they're bad at what they do, it means that cryptography, data security or possibly data transmission work isn't what they do. Perhaps you need to revisit your recruiting materials to see if you're attracting the wrong people.

I like to consider myself more informed than a lot of folks out there (I have an unread copy of the second edition of Applied Cryptography! in a box in the garage! or maybe it's the first edition, still unread either way) and I'd be hard pressed to go beyond "I'm pretty sure it relates to the difficulties of factoring large primes or the products of multiplying large primes."

And the first question I'd ask for transmitting encrypted materials is quite frankly "who are the users at each end?" because for a surprising amount of things I'd probably say "install 7-zip and do a single-page detailed step-by-step set of instructions. Possibly laminated."

Comment: Prevention Options (Score 1) 467

by Fencepost (#48896315) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Anti-Virus Software In 2015? Free Or Paid?
A couple of other things for prevention could include CryptoPrevent and HitmanPro.Alert.

CryptoPrevent is primarily an automated way to set a variety of documented settings to restrict execution from a variety of locations, though you may need to temporarily disable it for installing or updating some software. I also haven't investigated this, but it occurred to me this evening that those policy changes might have caused problems I recently had with some Windows security updates that ended up with me saying "screw it" and reinstalling Windows.

HitmanPro.Alert monitors filesystem behavior to attempt to detect and block the assorted CryptoLocker-style infections, though there are some that it still doesn't detect (or at least can't differentiate enough from regular activity).

Comment: "Color of Law" and "Color of Authority" (Score 1) 323

This could come back to bite teachers or administrators in the ass if they're sued for their actions. They'll undoubtedly get away with it with a lot of kids, but there are going to be a few that will tell them to piss off, and then things will get ugly and expensive, possibly for both school districts and the administrators personally if it's determined that A) they didn't actually have a legal right to the information and B) it was provided to them under duress (see "Color of Law" and "Color of Authority").

Comment: OS is cheap. Migration is expensive (Score 1) 156

by Fencepost (#48866667) Attached to: Windows Server 2003 Reaches End of Life In July
I work with a few places that still have 1-2 2003 servers around, and for some of them we'll probably be locking them off from any external access and doing a few other things to restrict them while still keeping them around (possibly mostly powered down except by request). That's because they're legacy systems still running old software that someone occasionally needs to refer back to - primarily old diagnostic imaging or practice management/EMR systems which are long out of support.

I have a few places that are 1-3 doctors, 3-6 staff, and they have an old system that they need to go back and refer to every week or two for things that didn't get migrated when they changed EMRs. Migrating everything out of that old system into something like PDFs for attachment to the current system would be cost-prohibitive; paying for migration ("Sure, we'll be happy to upgrade you to our new version, it'll be just like you're switching back to us, shouldn't be more than $30k or so") is the same. We long ago VM'd almost all of these systems along with upgrading/replacing where feasible, so there's not really an added hardware maintenance cost for keeping the VMs around.

And before people say "you should have migrated everything," the last migration we did, the new vendor wanted and would accept a very specific set of fields - all on a single (large) Excel sheet. Everything migrated was practice management data - demographics, insurance, etc. NOTHING clinical was migrated (possibly for liability reasons - what happens if your import of the peanut allergy info fails because of something stupid). For clinical data, the staff at the practice still goes into the old system, generates a set of reports into PDFs, then attaches those PDFs to the new electronic chart as if the customer was coming from another practice. Migrating all the patients makes no sense, this is a specialist practice where a significant percentage of patients are seen for a year or less, then are not seen again for years if ever.

Comment: Re: Did Congress pass a law? (Score 1) 122

by Fencepost (#48846791) Attached to: Cuba's Pending Tech Revolution
Actually, it's more that Congress stopped it by barring spending any money on transfers. So Obama could likely close Gitmo, but only by actually just closing it - take the fences down, leave the prisoners to their own devices.

I'm pretty sure that's a level of "F*ck you" to Congress that he didn't want to get into, but maybe now.... After all, what are they going to do, stop cooperating with him? Attempt to roll back what's arguably his biggest domestic achievement?

Comment: Pleased to see them backporting (Score 5, Insightful) 128

by Fencepost (#48677267) Attached to: Tesla Roadster Update Extends Range
I'm pleased to see them backporting new tech to the older vehicles, and by doing this they also get replacement batteries into vehicles sold as much as 6 years ago (first introduced in 2008), though presumably they've had replacement battery packs available all along.

I'm sure they're also going to be making at least some profit on these upgrade kits, and by not abandoning the older vehicles they probably do a lot to cement loyalty from those same customers who were willing & able to drop more than $100k when they first came out.

Comment: This is how they express an opinion (Score 1) 294

by Fencepost (#48661915) Attached to: BT, Sky, and Virgin Enforce UK Porn Blocks By Hijacking Browsers
"As Prime Minister David Cameron announced, we are required to ask ALL of our customers by the end of 2014 whether they wish to opt in or out of filtering of materials deemed offensive by the government's approved third-party monitors. As we have not yet received a response from you to our previous inquiries about this, we are now required to take additional steps to ensure that you have seen and responded to this question."

Or at least that's how I'd phrase it.

Comment: Better, set up trusts (Score 1) 170

by Fencepost (#48657533) Attached to: Minecraft Creator Notch's $70 Million Mansion Recreated In Minecraft
If I won a 9-figure lottery (the only kind I could win, I generally throw a dollar or two in if I notice it's gone over 200 million), the first thing to do after dealing with taxes, etc. is to set up at least one pretty iron-clad trust designed to pay me a nice solid upper-middle-class "salary" every year, with a lot of restrictions on how I could break any principal out of it. I suspect this would also impact taxes if done properly.

Once you have your perpetual senior developer-level salary set up, **then** you figure out what you want to do with the rest, be it toys, long-term investments, completing your dream to visit every strip club in the country (note: if going the "hookers and blow" route, make sure that trust is *really* airtight).

Comment: Shopping list appliance (Score 1) 110

by Fencepost (#48590633) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Software To Revive PocketPCs With Windows Mobile 5-6?
Ignoring all the people advocating A) Linux or B) Trash 'em you can turn them into decent little shopping list gadgets for people if they have decent battery life still. Avoid anything that requires Internet or other connections at all - just turn off any wireless, etc. becasue you may not have the battery for it anyway and you certainly don't have the software/updates.

HandyShopper was a great program for Palm and Windows Mobile back in the day, is free and still available:

It's most useful for people who shop at multiple stores, because one of the useful features is tracking pricing for the same item across stores and showing you when it's cheaper elsewhere.

Comment: If only the licenses were easier to get.... (Score 5, Funny) 461

by Fencepost (#48346817) Attached to: Washington Dancers Sue To Prevent Identity Disclosure
If they were easier to get I'd happily cough up the $75 to become an officially licensed exotic dancer, but the county referenced when I first saw this story a few days ago looked like it'd be a pain unless you were actually an employee of one of the businesses.

Of course, if I did this my wife might actually demand that I dance for her and that could just be ugly all around. I am not a man built for a stripper pole.

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan