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Comment: Re:The time for "from scratch" is gone for ALL of (Score 3, Insightful) 296

by NickFortune (#48874035) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Has the Time Passed For Coding Website from Scratch?

The hardest lesson to learn as a programmer is that "not invented here" is code for "I am too arrogant to use someone else's solution."

Well sure. No one should ever invent anything without written permission from the Flying Spaghetti Monster, countersigned by Bill Gates, His Holiness the Pope and the ghost of Alan Turing. I mean everyone knows that!

Seriously, I quite agree with Dutch Gun's point that we all build on the work of others. I just think that blindly accepting third party solutions can be just as bad as blindly rejecting them. And if no-one ever reinvented the wheel, we'd probably still be coding in COBOL

Comment: This is why so many people are frightened (Score 1) 448

by NickFortune (#48610697) Attached to: Virtual Reality Experiment Wants To Put White People In Black Bodies

Virtual Reality Experiment Wants To Put White People In Black Bodies

See, this is exactly the sort of thing that Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have been warning us all about. First of all you try and simulate reality. Then your program gets smart enough that it starts to formulate desires. Next thing you know it wants to experiment with brain transplants and bioengineering techniques. Before you know it...

Wait ... what's that, you say? The headline should read "Virtual Reality experimenters want to give white users black avatars?"

Why didn't they say that in the first place?

Comment: Re:Microsoft has targeted other platforms in the p (Score 1) 192

by NickFortune (#48396165) Attached to: Visual Studio 2015 Supports CLANG and Android (Emulator Included)

It doesn't always end badly either.

Remember when Apple owned the word processing market? MS go very standards-friendly and very much into cross-platform this and interoperable-that.

Of course, it only lasted for about as long as it took for Word to dominate the market and then goodbye RTF and "hey guys, how about we make a mockery of the ISO standards process?"

I think what we're seeing here is MS in defensive mode. They'll embrace open source, open standards open sesame, whatever it takes until they're where they want to be in the market. And then, same old same old.

That said, I'm willing to be proven wrong. Time will tell :)

Comment: Re: The only way MS gets more apps in their store (Score 1) 192

by NickFortune (#48396155) Attached to: Visual Studio 2015 Supports CLANG and Android (Emulator Included)

The future is in electronic distribution, and software services that collect information. It's not a great future, but it has been created by a population that is willing to trade their privacy for free stuff.

A population that is currently willing to make that trade. I think it's only a matter of time before we see a popular backlash against all this pervasive snooping.

Still, I agree that software licensing is unlikely to continue to yield Microsoft scale money into the future. There's so much good, free software out there that it's getting harder and harder for MS to justify the margins they traditionally charge

wouldn't be surprised to see them start to give Windows away in the future.

Hmm... makes sense for the home market, where most users get their OS "free" with the computer and if they do upgrade, it's generally from a friend of a friend who "has a disk".

PC manufacturers do pay, of course, and with desktop sales shrinking, the risk here is probably minimal. In fact if the MS tax is eliminated it could do a lot to stem the rise of Android. Or at least ensure MS' place as a player in the mobile arena.

The problem though is going to be corporate customers. The ones with thousands of desktop systems that do pay. Big corps tend to be conservative about IT upgrades, and by giving Windows away MS would be sacrificing that revenue stream. They're probably reluctant to do that.

Of course, they could just drop the price of the Home Edition (or whatever they're calling it today) to zero and charge for the Pro one. But then they need to make the home edition good enough to be useful, but not so good that business would be happy using it. That's not compromise that's worked well for them in the past.

Maybe we'll see it licenced as "free for personal use". That would be something! :)

Comment: Re:Wait (Score 1) 52

My point was that it's much simpler when you have direct control over the node.

Entry or exit? I mean sure, if you connect to Silk Road and you're unlucky enough to enter through an NSA node at one and and exit through another one, then you're probably toast. But as I understand it, the number of subverted nodes is still fairly small compared to the total number. Which brings us back to the GP's point about security increasing with the number of nodes.

Cookies and javascript are not the only ways to track you. Doesn't Facebook require cookies to be enabled?

The weak link there is Facebook. I don't think anyone's seriously proposing FB as a champion of individual privacy.

And yes, there are ways other than JS and cookies to track people. But they tend to involve things like traffic analysis which is time consuming and requires human surveillance. Little Johnny who just wants to connect to the Pirate Bay from his mum's basement is probably fairly secure.

As much as Tor can help, there is no such thing as being perfectly anonymous on the internet

See, this is the crux of the matter, really. Security is a relative value. It's not like "oh, it's possible to circumvent this measure therefore it is of no value". It's "I know this channel is potentially insecure, but it's sure as hell better than communicating in plaintext, and hopefully the bad guys will go after easier targets".

It's like having a lock on your font door. They won't keep the government out, but there's all sorts of good reasons for having them installed.

Comment: Re:Wait (Score 1) 52

Tor becomes less effective when corporations are running the nodes. Nothing like funneling all your data through an untrusted proxy. Besides, didn't the NSA already show us that Tor does little to protect anonymity?

I think they demonstrated that Tor can be beaten, but that doesn't necessarily imply that defeating it is simple or cost-effective for most cases.

The way I see if, if you're running Silk Road X.Y then it's probably worth their while to take the time and trouble needed to find you. If all you want to do is stop your mobile phone company from tracking every site you visit over 3G (speaking purely hypothetically, of course) then without evidence of any illegal activity, they're unlikely to bother..

Just because it's not perfect doesn't mean it's useless, you know?

Between cookies and other tracking methods, all those website already know who you are, regardless of how the traffic got there.

Yeah. If only there was a way to disable cookies and javascript in a web browser. You know, like the Tor browser does by default?

Comment: Re:Release early, release often (Score 1) 270

by NickFortune (#47210923) Attached to: Firefox 30 Available, Firebug 2.0 Released

Is it really the release cycle, or is it that you feel that Firefox isn't listening to its customers.

Oh, it's the customers, definitely. Actually, can we say "users" rather than "customers?" Otherwise we get into the whole basis of the customers being advertisers and buyers of profiling data and the users being the "product". I couldn't care less about the "customers" by that definition. But I think they could usefully listen to their users rather more than they do.

And who are the customers, really? The extension developers, or the people that use it on a daily basis to surf the web?

That's an easy one. The customers are me. I mean, I'm not the only user (or ex-user really, although all my machines aren't quite switched over yet). Anyway, I'm not the only user they had, but I'm the main one that I'm prepared to get annoyed about. Of course, if it was just me, I'd probably have moved to (say) Pale Moon and forgotten about it. But there do seem to be an awful lot of Mozilla users who share my disappointment with the project overall.

In my opinion, the customers are the people who browse the web.

Can't fault you there, mate.

And if I look at it as that kind of customer, I am quite happy with Firefox and its release schedule.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! If the important thing is the users, then what does the release schedule have to do with anything? Much less your personal opinion of the release schedule. I mean I can see "happy with the release schedule, irrelevant as it may be" but you kind of lost me on the "happy with Firefox" bit. As if that followed automatically from the definition of "customers". And the way you made it sound like "the users are important, therefore Firefox is still cool and Australis isn't a widely loathed abomination inflicted upon the userbase by an increasingly out-of-touch dev team".

I mean I'm sure that's not what you meant, but it certainly came across like that.

Sure, sometimes something breaks, but they are keen to fix many of these problems.

Cool. Now if only the problems they were keen to fix were the ones their users were keen to see fixed, this wouldn't be controversial at all.

Comment: Re:Repetitive (broken) OS abandonment (Score 2) 240

by NickFortune (#47154661) Attached to: The Coming IT Nightmare of Unpatchable Systems

People shouldn't HAVE to pay for bug fixes

Well yeah. If I sell you a potato peeler and it doesn't peel potatoes, you shouldn't have to upgrade in order to peel a spud.

The trouble is it's harder to clearly define requirements in the software world. In IT a lot of those bug reports would concern the peeler's inability to cope with Grapefruit. Or with Potato 2.0 the peel of which is made from 4 inch steel for security reasons. Or with a potato three miles in diameter.

You can't reasonably expect a single product to cover all those use cases. I won't deny that some vendors take advantage, but the situation is far from as cut and dried as you suggest.

Comment: Re: The Problem Isn't "Free Speech vs Privacy" (Score 1) 278

by NickFortune (#47045069) Attached to: The US Vs. Europe: Freedom of Expression Vs. Privacy

Individual speech is the thing protected by the Constitution. Organized pressure to fire somebody from their job is not free speech, it's mob rule.

Hum. My own personal vision of "mob rule" involves fewer petitions and more burning cars, looted stores and people hanged from lamp-posts for wearing the wrong colour socks. Maybe that's just me.

So, just to clarify: are we free to say anything we like, so long as there's no danger of anyone losing their job? Or is it that we're free to say "so and so ought to get the sack" so long as we don't talk to anyone else about it. To the extent that that isn't a contradiction in terms, obviously.

Seriously: how do you distinguish between "organized pressure" and a genuine grass roots movement. I can't imagine any definition that doesn't boil down do "organized pressure groups are the ones I don't like".

Personally, I happen to think Mr. Eich got a bit of a raw deal. I still think you're barking up the wrong tree with this approach.

Comment: Re:Bullshit (Score 2) 101

Every good example you gave had mod tools released by the developers. Those aren't free to make, ya know.

True, but not always relevant.

You have to take into account that some of these tools, Skyrim's Creation Kit for example, are used in house by the developers to create the game in the first place. So while they do have a development cost, that cost is part of the cost of developing the game. By the time the tools are released to modders, they don't owe the developers a penny, nor is there any particular saving in keeping them in-house.

The cost of releasing the tools to modders is still non-zero, of course. In the case of Skyrim, Bethesda had to remove integration with Perforce and with the Havok SDK (the name of which escapes me) before they could legally release the CK. But that's just a fraction of any costs incurred in developing the tools.

Now if you're talking about a company that uses one toolset in-house and develops a separate tool for the modders, in that case you'd have a much stronger point. But but it doesn't apply to Skyrim, Fallout 3 or the other Bethesda/Obsidian games.

Comment: Re:Gee, so only a year of screaming (Score 1) 387

If I was a fanboy, I'd be telling you that there was nothing wrong with metro. And you were simply too incompetent to use the "improved UI."

Heh. The linux community has it's fair share of those, too, sad to say :)

I just find it funny (and I'm not pointing a finger at you here) how the same people can view something as a damning indictment in one context and a saving grace in another. I've thought this for a while, it was just your post brought it to mind.

Ummm... "mod trolls?"

Comment: Re:Gee, so only a year of screaming (Score 1) 387

And really, if you couldn't be bothered to replace the awful UI for something else, that's your own problem.

You know, that makes you sound a lot like a Linux fanboy: "All you have you have to do is recompile the kernel. And if you can't be bothered to change something as simple as a desktop environment, then there's no hope for you."

I always thought Linux was supposed to be bad because users couldn't be expected to have that knowledge and that windows was supposed to be better because that sort of hackery was generally unnecessary.

Funny how times change :)

Comment: Re:Protecting us from the stupid (Score 1) 321

by NickFortune (#46475363) Attached to: Google Sued Over Children's In-App Android Purchases

If you don't know who has your credit card data, at any given time, including your children, perhaps you should start there! Why yes I do take due diligence and confirm every charge on my credit cards, debit cards, and bank accounts. Do you not? If not, do you trust your children with that information?

Not a problem I have, really. I don't have kids, and the cats haven't learned how to use my plastic yet. But, hey, you just congratulate yourself for being so diligent. I'm sure it's relevant to the discussion somehow.

This a technological window kids are exploiting because their parents gave them sufficiently advanced technology. Sometimes parents should tell their kids no. Don't do that, or I'll take that smartphone away.

I think the issue is more that the payment system didn't allow enough feedback for the parents to determine that their credit cards remained authorised for in-game purchases. And While it's all very well to read the riot act to your teenage son for abusing your card, it's hard to do that to a six-yearold that didn't realise all that extra time on candy crush was costing his mother actual money.

I'm also not convinced that disclaiming purchases on a card is an adequate substitute for a payment system that allows you to manage access to cards securely.

As much as people want to lambast Google for this, and I'm sure they'll now change it to auth for every app install, the idea of controlling this problem starts in the home.

I don't know about lambasting them, and I agree that if they've got any sense they'll fix this asap. I just I don't think they're entirely without responsibility. And I certainly don't think you can dismiss the issue by saying "ho hum - all the parents fault" as the GP attempted to do.

Comment: Re:Protecting us from the stupid (Score 1) 321

by NickFortune (#46475155) Attached to: Google Sued Over Children's In-App Android Purchases

No, it whould be : create a different account for your child without access to your mails, facebook, [...] and credit card !

None of which would have made any difference in this case. The problem is not that the credit card authorisation is stored on the device. The problem is A) that once authorised, further transactions are accepted without the need for further authorisation for a 30 minute period, and B) that there doesn't seem to be any any way for a parent to determine that in advance, or to cancel the authorisation.

So they way to be responsible here comes down to "don't make in game purchases to your child". Which brings us back to the point that you might as well avoid Google devices and choose something that doesn't have this exposure.

Or, you know, they could say "whoops, our bad" and just fix it. That would work too.

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.