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Comment: Concorde MKII (Score 4, Insightful) 179

by Goonie (#49604197) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!
Republicans hate big government, except when it comes to a) building big machines designed to kill people, and b) firing rockets into space.

Republicans have been the primary Congressional force running interference for the old space industry, either by throwing money at the likes of ATK to build rockets that will never fly, or actively blocking SpaceX from competing with the established players on contracts.

While the big government contracting model can get crews into space, it does so at such an exorbitant price it's simply not worth it. SpaceX, or more precisely the discarding of legacy design and especially legacy contracting models that SpaceX represents, at least gives us a chance of a sustainable space program because it is far, far better value for money. It's also far more in alignment with professed Republican principles, as distinct from revealed preferences from observed behaviour.

A revived crewed space program under the old model will result in bugger-all flying, lots of money wasted, and will get cancelled soon enough. Why bother?

Comment: Very old debate (Score 1) 628

by Goonie (#49602153) Attached to: My High School CS Homework Is the Centerfold
For what it's worth, this has been discussed for many years, and these researchers have a rather humorous partial solution.

My take: it's not the world's biggest problem, but if it's necessary to provide comparisons with earlier papers go ahead and use Lenna, go right ahead. If you just need to illustrate a technique on human skin tones, pick something else and stop needlessly pissing people off.

Comment: This is a misunderstanding of Agile IMO (Score 1) 186

by Goonie (#48439265) Attached to: It's Not Developers Slowing Things Down, It's the Process
Not every Agile process recommends that kind of approach. I teach Agile development, and I certainly don't. When you see a lot of final year student projects, you see all sorts of interpretations of "Agile" methodology, from utter adhockery to an approach that's waterfall in all but name. The more successful students, and successful projects, will take the time to carefully design the parts of the system which are a) high-risk, and b) difficult to change, and don't bother with trivial design for simple, easily modified parts of the system.

Comment: Re:Moat? Electric fence? (Score 2) 213

by Goonie (#48424843) Attached to: Congress Suggests Moat, Electronic Fence To Protect White House
That has to be the stupidest accusation of hypocrisy I've heard in a long time. Apples and fucking oranges.

The White House is a (relatively) small building which faces a real, live, no-shit security threat for which armed guards and big fences are a rational, effective, and cost-effective response.

Big fences along the entirety of the United States land border and random citizens arming themselves to the teeth, by contrast, are dumb responses to the threats which the country, as a whole, faces - not least, shooting each other with guns at a rate that far exceeds any other developed country.

Comment: Let machines take the risks (Score 1) 112

by Goonie (#48290905) Attached to: SpaceShipTwo Pilot Named; Branson Vows To 'Move Forward Together'
I agree to some extent, but why have humans taking the risks in highly experimental spacecraft in 2014?

Leaving aside the question about whether the design was adequately verified with on-ground experiments (including static full system tests but also validation of individual engine components), why have a design that requires a human pilot on board for flight testing?

Comment: No you don't (Score 1) 219

by Goonie (#47645869) Attached to: Point-and-Shoot: TrackingPoint's New Linux-Controlled AR-15s
There's virtually nothing in the populated areas of Australia, other than other humans, that attacks humans and can be usefully defended against with a firearm.

We have nasty spiders and snakes, but you don't use firearms to kill either of those. Both only strike humans defensively. Our large land animals are all herbivores; kangaroo, emus and cassowaries have a very nasty kick but they'll run away in preference to attacking you. Dingoes, despite the high-profile death of Azarea Chamberlain back in 1978, are basically wild dogs, and represent little threat to people.

We also have a collection of potentially lethal acquatic species, including the Blue-Ringed Octopus, several species of jellyfish, and some sharks. Again, guns aren't a lot of use against them.

Crocodiles, which I guess you're referring to with the giant knife reference, are the one animal that will actually try to eat an adult human. They only live in the tropical north of the country, far away from the major population centres, and any that move in near the cities in those regions are killed or relocated by professional shooters.

So, no, you don't need a gun to protect yourself from the wildlife in Australia. And despite some myths, if you want a rifle or shotgun for hunting or target shooting, or need one for farming or pest control, you can get one in Australia. You just can't walk into a gun shop and buy an AR-15 or a big-calibre handgun for "self-defence" here. And, nearly 20 years after the changes to the gun laws, that remains overwhelmingly popular here.

Comment: Failure of risk analysis by more than OpenSSL devs (Score 4, Informative) 149

by Goonie (#46732315) Attached to: NSA Allegedly Exploited Heartbleed
Just a minor correction - my piece does indeed suggest that the OpenSSL developers have some strange priorities. However, it lays the larger blame at the companies that used OpenSSL, when all the information necessary to suggest that this kind of thing could happen was already available, and the potential consequences for larger companies of a breach are easily enough to justify throwing a little money at the problem (which could have been used any number of ways to help prevent this).

+ - Heartbleed was a failure of risk analysis

Submitted by Goonie
Goonie writes: In the wake of the Heartbleed bug, there's been considerable discussion about what should be done to reduce the risks of such serious bugs in crucial pieces of software. Clearly, technologies can help. So can better software development processes. But, in a piece for The Conversation, as well as describing the bug for a lay readership (and feel free to nitpick away), I argue that the real problem is the lack of risk analysis by both those who developed OpenSSL, and those who make use of the library to build applications.

Comment: A union would be helpful in this situation (Score 3, Insightful) 310

While trade/labor unions are much maligned in the often libertarian-leaning IT community, this is the kind of situation where a bit of organization amongst colleagues - along the lines of what engineers or medical professionals have, would actually be useful.

But given that we have the IT professional community that we have:

  • Document that you've told your boss, and probably your boss's boss, and probably the legal department (perhaps informally and verbally initially). If you've told them, it's their problem, not yours
  • Start polishing your resume. Whistleblowing usually has negative consequences for the whistleblower - and, furthermore, continuing to work for an organization which has such a lax attitude to software poses a risk to your career if you stay there.

Incidentally, your case neatly demonstrates the near-uselessness of the IEEE-ACM Software Engineering Code of Ethics, which is very long on what the ethical obligations of a software engineer are, but has nothing useful to say about what you should do where others are ordering you to act unethically.

Comment: smartphone gaming sucks (Score 3, Insightful) 78

by Goonie (#45285541) Attached to: Google Nexus 5 Posts Best Gaming Benchmark Among Android Smartphones
Much and all as the 3D graphics prowess of modern smartphones is amazing, trying to do any serious gaming on them is an exercise in frustration. Touchscreens are useful for some things, but their slow response times and lack of real tactile feedback makes it impossible to play fast-action games well on them.

The degree of technical confidence is inversely proportional to the level of management.

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