Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Re:I just watched the video (Score 1) 65

by rhysweatherley (#46240887) Attached to: Australian Police Deploy 3D Crime Scene Scanner
Actually I know a little bit about this as I once interviewed for that project before they temporarily lost their funding. Traditional scanners need 2 or more LiDAR emitters on separate axes to build up a 3D scan. They also need to be physically mounted in a stable location which makes it hard to map buildings with staircases and hidden rooms. The purpose of the spring is to flop the scanner around so that a single LiDAR emitter can get a complete view of the environment as the holder walks around along all possible axes. It can also be mounted on unstable platforms like automated farm tractors. The rest is software.

Comment: Visual Boxes Aren't Code (Score 1) 876

by rhysweatherley (#46192065) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?
Because while programming by joining prefabricated boxes together with lines sounds awesome, it's what is inside the boxes that is important. If the box you need is not already written, then you need variable assignment, conditionals, and loops to write a new box. And then all of a sudden you are back to writing text code even if it is drag-n-drop "if" statements encoded in XML. At that point you might as well give the programmer a text edit window and get out of the way. The lines are the least interesting part of an application, but they are the only parts that even make sense to do graphically.

Comment: Re:Incorrect (Score 4, Interesting) 194

Yes, because I would just love having to go through regulatory channels and potentially paying fees in order to publish software that I don't even make any money from.

Depends on the regulations: "Commercial software can pick from one of the 5 following standard commercial licenses: ... Any commercial software license that deviates from a Standard License reverts to Standard License Type 1 wherever its EULA conflicts with this regulation. Software that complies with the Open Source Definition or otherwise allows the user to inspect the source code and remove unwanted features independently is exempt from this section."

You are then perfectly free to make money from your software. Pick whichever one of the standard licenses suits your purpose and carry on. But what you cannot do is employ a lawyer to invent a creative way to screw your users in the fine print. If you do, your license is automatically torn up and replaced with something sane.

Comment: Re:Slip the backdoor into a precompiled GCC instea (Score 4, Interesting) 576

by rhysweatherley (#44891911) Attached to: Linus Torvalds Admits He's Been Asked To Insert Backdoor Into Linux

I wonder if anyone actually takes the responsibility to do this check. Maybe there are GCC binaries in the wild which replicate a backdoor.

Even if there were, you need only recompile your gcc source with llvm, icc, visual studio, or basically anything that isn't gcc to get a new compiler that won't replicate the backdoor any more. For extra fun, randomise the order of this compiling that compiling something else so that even backdoor reinsertions that cross the vendor boundary will eventually fail. Or write your own C++ interpreter in Python/Perl/whatever and use it to (very slowly) run gcc on itself - even if it takes a week you'll have a clean binary at the end. Yes, hiding such a backdoor seems scary to the untrained eye. It's also trivial to get rid of if you're paranoid enough to care.

Comment: Re:Why not do what experts have recommended? (Score 2) 32

If you want "networked" configuration nodes, an isolated network should be the only thing accessing equipment. That node should not access anything else, or any other networks...

Because those experts are morons. It ignores the economic cost of companies having to run a separate parallel Internet. Take electricity suppliers that need to monitor and control remote switching devices, for example. GSM/CDMA networks are just there, already deployed by the telecommunications industry. A cheap GSM modem and an account with the local telecomms supplier is economically better at contacting remote stations than running ones own wires out to single-point stations in the suburbs and the bush.

Isolated networks also don't work. Putting a dodgy default-passworded device on an internal network doesn't work when your attacker walks up to the remote station, cuts off the padlock, and installs their own device straight onto your wide-open "no one could possibly hack this because it's disconnected" network. Which is basically how Stuxnet got deployed - direct intervention onto a private network at a weak point.

This problem cannot be solved with simplistic "if you don't want people to hack it, don't connect it to the Internet" solutions. How about building it to be difficult to hack in the first place? Or making VPN layers the default way the Internet works rather than an afterthought? Or teaching (mostly non-software) engineers security techniques that were honed over decades of fighting malware on the open Internet? Or any of a million other practical solutions that don't boil down to "la la, I can't hear you so you can't hear me".

Comment: Re:I understand their pain (Score 4, Insightful) 331

by rhysweatherley (#44467281) Attached to: Why PBS Won't Do Android

As an Android and iOS developer, it is tough to support all possible screen sizes, aspect ratios, hardware specs and versions of Android. Sometimes not having a newer version of Android(>= 4.0) you miss a lot of features that people come to expect and your code is riddle with backwards compatibility stuff just to support Gingerbread, or worse(ie: Donut).

And none of this would be a problem if PBS would simply publish the specification for whatever JSON/XML/etc back end they are using to transmit information to the clients about shows and episodes, and use standard RFC-compatible video formats and streaming protocols with no DRM or other nonsense.

Why would it not be a problem? Because the next day the app stores would be full of "SparkleVideoPlayer now supports PBS!" updates for all of the existing streaming video apps and their loyal users. Or if my screen size, aspect ratio, blah, blah, blah is not supported, I can write my own app!

I can understand why the commercial TV outfits want to control everything - they think it's the only way to poison the experience with ads. But why are public broadcasters like PBS, BBC, and Australia's ABC doling the same thing? It's idiotic - the solution to "how do I support a million devices" is simple: "publish the spec so that the taxpaying public can write their own apps".

Comment: College Funds? (Score 1) 74

Do you need to earn "Crime pays" kind of money to fund college funds for 4 children in America?

I don't know whether he wants his kids to have a good education or whether he thinks they'll make better master criminals with a degree & a job in Wall Street :)

But at the very least he thinks a child's education is important, which is more than most.

Comment: A whole generation grew up with PCQ Linux (Score 3, Informative) 39

by Gopal.V (#43905053) Attached to: Indian FOSS Evangelist Atul Chitnis Dead At 51

I started using Linux before I got internet or was in a university. I wouldn't have started on Linux (and eventually interned at FSF India) if not for those streams of CDs that were available for a very expensive 100rs (approx 3$ back then).

This wouldn't have been possible without the efforts of toolz. And several others who were behind the curtain (I remember calling up the Digit phone # to ask for help with my i810 video card).

The result was a grass-roots up linux community that sprung up all over India, out of curiousity and tolerating lots of lost partitions.

Both toolz & OldMonk, linux-india old-timers recently lost to us, will not be forgotten (at least by me).

Comment: Re:A win for Flash and Silverilght (Score 4, Interesting) 320

by rhysweatherley (#43612965) Attached to: RMS Urges W3C To Reject On Principle DRM In HTML5
Oh shut up - taking a pass on DRM is not "pick your battles carefully". Flash and Silverlight are dying on their own because they don't run, or run barely, on the current generation of smart phones, tablets, and ... wait for it ... smart TV's. The content distributors desperately need standardisation because supporting hundreds of device types and dozens of plug-in technologies is a pain in the neck. The problem is they've chosen to outsource the problem by making browser vendors write the proprietary DRM plug-ins for them. Instead of simply adopting the existing specifications for Internet video formats and protocols. Everything they want to do can already be done with AVI/MP4/etc together with HTTP/RTP and a "video" tag in HTML. Everything that is except spy on users and take away people's ability to enjoy the content on a whim. If we resist DRM, they'll either have to adopt open standards or they'll have no business model at all.

Comment: Re:Kill it (Score 2) 646

by rhysweatherley (#43121045) Attached to: Is Daylight Saving Time Worth Saving?

Incredible amounts of money and aggravation are wasted every year on this leftover from the age of agriculture.

Speaks someone who has no idea where their food comes from. Hint: agriculture.

Here's one simple example: Every morning the cows come in around dawn to be milked. Several hours later the milk tanker arrives to collect the milk and take it to the bottlers to get it ready to put on the trucks to go to the supermarket for you to buy tomorrow.

The cows will come in a little later in winter. Which pushes the schedules for the tanker drivers and bottlers back by an hour. Now the bottlers who used to work 9-5 are working 10-6. Also shifted are the truck drivers going to the supermarkets. And the stockists in the stores. And so on.

Do you really think it is a good idea to force millions and millions of low-paid truck drivers, milk bottlers, and cheese churners to work idiotic shifts and see their families even less just so that you can avoid having to change your office-worker watch twice a year? There are more people in society than you post-industrial types.

Comment: Is "Securing elections" a euphemism? (Score 2) 85

by Gopal.V (#42929739) Attached to: Kevin Mitnick Helping Secure Presidential Elections In Ecuador

That guy: I can secure that election for you, very cheap & virtually bulletproof.

I don't mean to challenge whatever white-hat work that Kevin Mitnick is doing, but the phrase does indeed strike me as something a lobbyist (or well, tout) would tell me. Perhaps I'm just cynical.

Trust in the democratic process is as important as the actual security of the process. So I would suspect that anything Mitnick finds will be discussed behind closed doors - and it's none of my business, but this does not add any more unless I trust Mitnick (viz not at all).

Comment: Attitude, not titles (Score 1) 333

It's not the title, it's the attitude. If you write code the way a civil engineer designs bridges and or an electrical engineer builds circuits, you will build crap.

When building a bridge to take a 10 ton load, you better use 15 ton beams just in case one is under spec. When building a circuit to switch at 10 MHz, use components designed for 12 MHz just in case one is under spec. It's called "tolerances" and is the underpinning of all engineering, and is a great idea for those fields where once it is built the requirements generally stop changing.

Except in software engineering. Tolerances in software are called "fudge factors" or "heuristics", and they always result in unmaintainable spaghetti as requirements constantly change over time.

I use the term "Software Developer" for myself because I refuse to "engineer" software; i.e. build crap. My most recent contract involved fixing problems in embedded systems code written by an EE major. Total nightmare - no unit tests, no code comments to speak off, mysterious algorithms with no explanation as to where they came from, references to "see datasheet" for the component that was used three board revisions ago but not any more, and so on. The circuit? An absolutely beautiful example of balancing requirements and managing tolerances. But the code to run the circuit was rubbish that would get stamped "go back and do that again" by the code reviewers in any software development shop.

The ironic thing is that the term "Software Engineer" was coined to give developers the air of professionalism. Perhaps the engineers could learn something about professionalism from the developers instead? Like how to design a system that won't fail the minute the requirements change.

Comment: Re:OMG this will NEVER happen (Score 1) 315

by rhysweatherley (#41634833) Attached to: DRM Could Come To 3D Printers
A whole car may be silly, but the thing about cars is they need repairs. I scraped the side of my car against a concrete pole in a carpark a few years back. Easy enough for the panel beaters to bang out the dings and repaint the doors ... except for a scratched-up door handle. They would have had to send away to Korea at great expense to get a completely new injection moulded handle. For now I'm putting up with the scratches. But imagine if my panel beater could just pop the design into a 3D printer and make me a new one on the spot? That's what scares the crap out of traditional car manufacturers ... that they can no longer rip you off for replacement parts.

"I prefer rogues to imbeciles, because they sometimes take a rest." -- Alexandre Dumas (fils)

Working...