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Comment: Re:absurd (Score 2) 210

by JDG1980 (#47738493) Attached to: Oregon Sues Oracle For "Abysmal" Healthcare Website

Nope. A website that has to hook into a bunch of poorly maintained, poorly documented databases. That's the hard part.

This kind of crap is par for the course. I've had to figure out poorly designed databases without documentation, and it didn't cost millions of dollars to do that. Admittedly, insurance company big iron is probably much hairier to deal with than what I'm used to... but $240 million worth? Sorry, I just don't see how this adds up.

Comment: Re:Waaah. (Score 1) 336

by JDG1980 (#47736209) Attached to: New EU Rules Will Limit Vacuum Cleaners To 1600W

The real problem here is that Europe hasn't given the vacuum cleaners enough R&D time to make more efficient vacuums; should have been a ban for 2018+ not 2014.

Why not just use the same designs that are currently sold in the United States? As others have noted, we're pretty much limited to 1600W already, because of the maximum capacity of standard household circuits (120V/15A).

Comment: The real problems go deeper (Score 2) 331

by JDG1980 (#47691173) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Dead Is Antivirus, Exactly?

One major problem with security is that the permission model on both Windows and Unix doesn't really give you the tools you need to keep yourself safe. We're still stuck in the 1970s university mentality where the user is assumed to have written or at least compiled the program themselves, and is supposed to have a good understanding of what it does. The program is assumed to be operating as an agent of the user, so it inherits all the user's permissions. On modern systems, with semi-trusted and untrusted code downloaded from the Internet, this assumption is absurd and dangerous.

Rather than the program inheriting the user's permissions by default, a decent modern security model would instead restrict it to a sandbox unless it was explicitly given permission to get out – and even then the user should be given veto power over specific sandbox breaches. (Android used to work like this, but Google dumbed it down for reasons that are not clear.)

By default, a program should only be able to do the following:

  • * Get input from the keyboard and mouse (only when the application has focus)
  • * Get input from game controllers (even if the application doesn't have focus)
  • * Output video and sound using the normal system APIs
  • * Read/write temporary files to a scratch directory
  • * Open and save files only through standard system dialog boxes that are under the OS's control

Anything else – Internet access, ability to freely read and write to files/folders, ability to get keyboard input when not in focus – should require explicit user permission. And the user should have the option of unchecking any or all of these authorizations and continuing to run the app without it being able to do those things. These permissions should be as fine-grained as possible, so an application could have permission to only read certain specific folders, or could be allowed to access the Internet only through a particular API (say, for handling registration or online high scores) and only for certain domains.

Comment: Re:Renaming never worked to improve reputation (Score 2) 426

It was tied to the operating system, unnecessarily. The browser has exactly zilch to do with the operating system. ActiveX controls, tying versions of the browser with versions of the OS, varying behaviour of same browser version on different OS versions etc. If IE is renamed, it should be delinked from the OS like other browsers.

I agree that tying versions of IE to specific versions of Windows was a really bad idea. Many web developers are still stuck with supporting IE8 because it is the latest version that runs on XP, and many users (and even companies) still haven't upgraded. This has clearly retarded the adoption of modern technologies like canvas and SVG support, which is a serious problem.

But at this point you really can't fully remove IE from Windows without breaking stuff. Sure, you can use the uninstall option to remove iexplore.exe (and newer versions of Windows let you do that), but if the back-end components like mshtml.dll were also removed, then a non-negligible amount of existing software would break. Since backward compatibility is really Microsoft's strongest selling point, this is a non-starter. Don't forget that Microsoft Help files also use HTML, so the Trident rendering engine is needed to view them. You could argue that this is unnecessary tying, but I'm not sure a custom proprietary format would really have been a better choice than HTML for help files – it seems a fairly sensible choice.

Comment: Re:Kernel-mode drivers (Score 1) 179

by JDG1980 (#47674005) Attached to: Microsoft Black Tuesday Patches Bring Blue Screens of Death

I never understood why drivers had to be on the kernel ring anyway. Every single peripheral (GPU, sound card, etc.) driver I've ever encountered has had a history of stability problems. You'd think the largest point of failure on the computer could be moved to userland and restarted when necessary.

Audio drivers were moved to user mode starting with Windows Vista. (That's why DirectSound 3D is no longer supported.) Video drivers, however, pretty much have to be in the kernel for performance reasons.

Comment: Isn't this illegal? (Score 2) 231

by JDG1980 (#47413951) Attached to: Avast Buys 20 Used Phones, Recovers 40,000 Deleted Photos

How is this not a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)? They bypassed security measures (deletion) to access someone else's personal information without authorization. Given how broadly this has been interpreted in the past (Andrew Auernheimer was prosecuted for visiting public URLs on the Internet), Avast's act clearly should be considered a violation. Or is this a case of "if a corporation does it, it is not illegal"?

Comment: Start menu is only part of the answer (Score 1) 681

Bringing back an actual Start menu is an important part of what needs to be fixed, but it's not the only thing. Windows 8, with its solid color design, looks flat and ugly compared to Windows 7 with Aero. Even if they plan to stick with the more spartan look, they should at least bring back frame translucency. (There is an add-on for Windows 8 that can do this, but it's still in beta and requires installation by hacking AppInit_DLL.) And the centered window titles are even more annoying. From Windows 95 onward, the title has always been left-justified. That's where my eyes are used to looking for it, and have been for nearly 20 years. Windows 8 moved it to the center because some graphics designer thought it looks cool, but this completely breaks my eye-tracking, wasting a few seconds here and there while I go hunting for the title that's not where my muscle memory says it should be. I don't care if they expose this in the UI, but there should at least be a registry key to fix that.

Comment: Re:consent (Score 2) 130

by JDG1980 (#47344471) Attached to: In 2012, Facebook Altered Content To Tweak Readers' Emotions

There are laws governing obtaining informed consent from humans before performing psychological experiments on them.

That only applies to federally funded research (which means almost all colleges and universities). Attempting to apply this to the private sector would raise serious First Amendment questions. What one person calls "psychological experiments", another might call "protected free speech".

Comment: Re:The REAL value of the transit system (Score 1) 170

And that is a major issue in mass transit. Most mass transit systems do NOT break even after collecting all the tickets and passes. Nearly all of them must subsidize their costs with taxes. And some of them even take money from federal and state programs because the systems are not actually affordable even using city taxes without adding money from the federal and state governments.

We generally don't expect roads to pay for themselves, so why should we expect that of mass transit?

Comment: Re:Resolution or Definition (Score 1) 207

by JDG1980 (#47133585) Attached to: 4K Displays Ready For Prime Time

There are studies out there that claim an average user with 20/20 vision sitting 9 feet away from a 72 inch screen can't tell the difference between 720 dpi and 1080 dpi.

Do you regularly sit 9 feet away from your computer monitor?

I agree that for TV viewing, 4K is overkill, but it makes a big difference on PCs. Until text is sharp and clear without the renderer having to use hacks like hinting and subpixel AA, we still need higher DPI.

Comment: Re:Lest we forget... (Score 1) 207

by JDG1980 (#47133553) Attached to: 4K Displays Ready For Prime Time

... that IBM had a '4K' (I abhor this term as much as 'HD') monitor in production from 2001-2005. ... 3840x2400 in a ~22 inch panel. Good luck finding a "4K" monitor of that resolution (~204 ppi) any time soon.

The Dell UP2414Q comes close – it's a 24" 4K monitor, and therefore has a DPI of over 180.

Comment: Bad conclusion (Score 1) 688

by JDG1980 (#47065087) Attached to: Professors: US "In Denial" Over Poor Maths Standards

From the article: '"There is a denial phenomenon," says Prof Peterson. He said the tendency to make internal comparisons between different groups within the US had shielded the country from recognising how much they are being overtaken by international rivals. "The American public has been trained to think about white versus minority, urban versus suburban, rich versus poor," he said.'"

But let's take a closer look at the information in the article and see if this way of thinking about it makes sense.

Southern states Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana are among the weakest performers, with results similar to developing countries such as Kazakhstan and Thailand. [...] If Massachusetts had been considered as a separate entity it would have been the seventh best at maths in the world. Minnesota, Vermont, New Jersey and Montana are all high performers.

There are some clear patterns here. The low-performing states like Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana are poor, rural, and have large minority populations. Conversely, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are wealthy, urbanized states with relatively low minority populations. So maybe thinking about scholastic achievement issues in terms of "white versus minority, urban versus suburban, rich versus poor" makes quite a bit of sense after all.

Comment: Re:Nope. (Score 1) 355

by JDG1980 (#47060195) Attached to: Google Foresees Ads On Your Refrigerator, Thermostat, and Glasses

How else will it tell you "PC LOAD LETTER"?

A dirt-cheap character-based LCD display (2 lines of 28 characters) works fine for that. You can buy these ready-to-go for a couple bucks on Sparkfun or eBay, so they must cost virtually nothing when integrated into a mass-produced device made in China.

Comment: Re:Who is postulating this? (Score 1) 255

by JDG1980 (#47050339) Attached to: The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence

I take it you didn't read the comments on the 'self-driving car' story, just below this one? Where self-driving cars will be vastly safer than human drivers, and no-one will die on the roads any more?

I didn't see anyone say that no one will die on the roads any more. But being "vastly safer than human drivers" actually isn't that high a bar to clear. There are 35,000 traffic fatalities a year in the United States. (And it used to be much worse, before modern safety features like air bags and crumple zones were mandated.) Doing better than that is certainly an achievable goal and doesn't require omni-competent robotics.

"Floggings will continue until morale improves." -- anonymous flyer being distributed at Exxon USA