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Comment: Re:open-source voting machines. (Score 3, Insightful) 123

Paper ballots are pretty damn open-source.

Just because a voting machine is supposedly running open-source software doesn't preclude tampering - hardware or software.

I can remember one wise lecturer in my computer science course gave a challenge to come up with a system to solve a customer's problem. Being CS students we designed everything requiring the use of a computer. At the end he asked us if we had considered whether a non-computer based system would have actually have done a better job. While in the particular case the answer was no, it did show us that sometimes we use technology for technology's sake and not to solve the problem in the best possible way. Voting machines should be approached in the same way and the opti-scan mention by another poster certainly seems to strike the right balance between solving the problem and not throwing the wrong technology into the mix.

Comment: There are many paths (Score 2) 594

by Midnight Thunder (#48292677) Attached to: Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

There are many paths to the future and not taking isn't really one of them.

While Virgin Galactic may be about rich space tourists, these people should be seen as early adopters, helping bring down the price for the rest of us. The research and development here also provides a different technology approach than the bigger space companies, which are still focusing on traditional launch vehicles.

The challenge in the space industry is getting new investments from beyond the government and communication satellite operators. Space tourism provides an alternative private form of funding, helping develop new technogies and techniques. These billionaires probably have no way of spending all their money and this provides a nice way of providing funding for space and a way for them to do something they might enjoy with their money.

As for the test pilots, well I would prefer to see an automated flight as the first test flight, followed by a manned mission, but it may be too hard to provide a good system to deal with the unknowns. Test pilots fly with a passion and accept that never returning is part of the risk. It doesn't mean they should be treated as expendible, since we are talking about lives and highly skilled people, but we should accept that there is a risk which we must accept.

For the engineers and business owners knowing that a life is at stake should be incentive to double checking everything, even the assumption that it couldn't possibly fail. Everything fails, so it is more about asking in what conditions could it fail.

Comment: Recreating Hypercard? (Score 1) 299

by Midnight Thunder (#48286793) Attached to: It's Time To Revive Hypercard

I have seen some attempts to r creating HyperCard, but nothing really seems to have come of them. If there are any successful or fully functioning open source equivalents I would be interested in knowing about them.

I used HyperCard a bit and in certain ways the closest equivalent is something like PowerPoint or Keynote, though even with them there I a huge gap with HyperCard did. I wonder whether Apple could recreate a 21st century HyperCard, but using Keynote as a basis?

Comment: Re:And so therefor it follows and I quote (Score 4, Insightful) 353

by Midnight Thunder (#48229767) Attached to: Italian Supreme Court Bans the 'Microsoft Tax'

Well, given that Apple doesn't charge for OS upgrades anymore, it can be argued that the cost of the OS is $0, when bundled with a Mac. You can get your refund, but I am not sure that $0 is worth the effort.

The real cost is having to buy a new Mac every few years because the latest upgrade was an upgrade too far. Well, at least it easier to roll back, compared to an iPhone.

Comment: Why suspect malice? (Score 0) 572

Two wrongs don't make a right, was hopefully something that your parents taught you when you where quite small.

The issue is that the FTDI driver is deliberately reprogramming a chip that is not theirs and for which they have no authorisation to do so. This is an unauthorised modification and illegal.

You cannot stick something in a license agreement that allows you to break the law, because the courts will hold that part of the license agreement null and void.

As many many people have said the right and legal thing was to simply stop working and post a message to the user that the chip is a counterfeit/clone.

Why put this down to malice and not down to a programming/QA issue?

If I am developing something, then my general approach is to test it against know factors and some edge cases I can think about. Counterfeit stuff screws with the whole programming and QA cycle, since they say they are the same as something I developed, act as something I developed, but fail in subtle ways I wouldn't have considered or tested for.

Maybe FTDI did do something intentionally, but I suspect it was an oversight, especially considering they pulled the update once reports were coming in.

FTDI will probably have to do three things:
    - Test for the known limitations of counterfeit hardware (they can't test for the unknowns).
    - Update the EULA to be clear of risk/
    - Update the installer to warn against cloned chips and impact it may have.

Comment: Re:'Bout time (Score 1) 175

Private companies wouldn't be using it for free. They would need to lease out usage, but that wouldn't be an exclusive lease. When people were still using dial-up modems there was more competition, so this would be an attempt to recreate something that allows for this. Line sharing is really necessary for something healthy and focusing on innovation. BTW always jealous of France's

What we have now is broken, so it is time to come up with a model that will help foster competition.

Comment: Re:'Bout time (Score 4, Insightful) 175

These cities should build the infrastructure, focus on the infrastructure and then allow service providers to compete with each other for service. Essentially, government deals with infrastructure since they are generally good with that and private business on the sevice, since they are generally good with that when there is healthy competition.

Comment: Should retailers store credit card details? (Score 1) 101

by Midnight Thunder (#48117105) Attached to: Kmart Says Its Payment System Was Hacked

Beyond transactions, I wonder whether retailers should even be storing credit card information? Surely debating this problem to the credit card companies would be better? The only thing combines should be keep is maybe some sort of public key value for the credit card, which can only be unlocked with a user provide value. The private key would be in the hands of the credit card company to access your account.

I am thinking on the fly here, but the main gist is the less credit card details stored by non-credit card companies the better. These retailers could secure their systems better, but maybe they shouldn't be holding on to certain critical information either? We need to review what financial data is held in light of these issues.

In Europe you have a one time key for your online payments, that requires a special calculator looking device. Probably not the best solution, but not a terrible one either - it's just inconvenient and not necessarily clear to the non-tech savie.

Business is a good game -- lots of competition and minimum of rules. You keep score with money. -- Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari