Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Pretty much no service providers catch things.. (Score 1) 203

They finally kicked me over to another department (tech guys I think) who found that a previous tenant, years earlier, had the emergency only (life-line) service. It had been "disconnected" in the system in every way as far as billing and such were concerned, but wasn't actually physically disconnected. The tech guys were finally able to fix it. (...) This is a case where you'd think their system would be able to detect that calls were being placed by a residence that had no service. Nope.

I don't know how it is in the US, but here in Norway you can dial our equivalent of 911 from any cell phone, connecting to any tower in range regardless if it has service or even a SIM card and I assume landlines work on the same principle. That the service was "disconnected" just means they don't have any obligation to keep it working, but they're not going to block any 911 call ever, I don't know if there's a law but the bad publicity would be a disaster. So this is probably by design and a feature, not a bug but customer service was probably not aware of this.

They might not even have access to the raw call log, since their user interface probably revolves around services and calls tied to a service. After all how often do you have a phone line with no service dialing 911 - because that's the only place you can reach - then calling customer service complaining that the call came through? This was a 0.01% corner case and I'm not surprised they thought it "impossible" and had to escalate to someone with real knowledge of the inner workings of the physical network.

Comment: Re:Cost of Programmers Cost of Engines (Score 1) 101

by Kjella (#49600521) Attached to: Should Developers Still Pay For Game Engines?

And by "real programming project", you mean a bloated project with dozens of programmers wasting their time arguing and figuring out how to work together? With good tools, one or two programmers can produce software that's better than a dozen programmers. And good tools should support exactly doing that: greatly reducing the requirement for people on a project.

I can beat a dozen clueless developers, I can't beat a dozen people like myself. If you can there's something horribly wrong with your cooperation, communication and coordination skills. Most of us work on systems that are bigger than one man can build and maintain and if I tried to get my paws into every corner of the system I'd only be the whirlwind trashing things on my way through for the rest to clean up. I've reached my natural scope at the level of detail that I work, if I wanted to increase the width more I'd have to reduce the depth going into design and architecture rather than the finer points of making it work.

Comment: Re:Poker is a lot more complex... (Score 1) 85

by Kjella (#49599443) Attached to: Humans Dominating Poker Super Computer

And the corollary to this is that if you play like range => bet, a good opponent will easily spot bet => range. Unlike chess where it always make sense to make the same play in the same position, it's crucial in poker to play the same hand in different ways. Of course you need to make the "correct" play most of the time, but it's when you set up a play where you have an unlikely hand like raising with garbage but hitting the flop or triple-barreling a monster your opponent thinks is a bluff that huge pots go your way.

This is particularly fun when you see bluff meet bluff and they both think "The only way I can win at this pot is to bet and bet big", you can have huge pots with total air and it's all about who blinks first while when you finally get the aces maybe you get no action whatsoever. They say it's about a 1/3 chance to hit something on the flop, that means in a two-way showdown 1/9 hands are something vs something, 4/9 will be something vs nothing and 5/9 nothing vs nothing. That means you'd better win quite a few of the hands where you don't hit the flop, if you just surrender them uncontested a pro will walk all over you.

Comment: Re:39/100 is the new passing grade. (Score 4, Interesting) 170

Assuming there is some actual effect being investigated, one reproduction will not get you to 'good' levels of surety about the effect. To hit '95%' - you're going to need likely over ten reproductions.

One study != one sample. Each study should have enough cases to make it statistically significant. The problem is related to issues with the sample population or systematic flaws in what you're measuring. To bring it into the realm of physics, if we do a high school gravity experiment and ignore air resistance we can make as many tests as we like, check for measurement uncertainty in our clocks and whatnot and put up some confidence intervals that are still horribly wrong. It's very hard to isolate and experiment with one tiny aspect of the human psyche and most of the problem is the result is nothing but either a statistical fluke or quirk with the people tested that doesn't generalize to the general population.

Comment: Re:K Bye. (Score 1) 222

by Kjella (#49593359) Attached to: Grooveshark Shuts Down

Note the "as part of a settlement agreement ..." part - which indicates that shutting down operations isn't the end of it for them.

It might not be all of it, but I'm pretty sure it's the end of it. Nobody settles half a case, particularly not when you bend over like this. The only reason Grooveshark would agree is if they got an exit opportunity where they could fold their hand and walk away from it, presumably because the other side's lawyers found there was nothing more to be gained from the company and piercing the corporate veil or pursuing criminal convictions wasn't possible or not worth it.

Comment: Re:Can't wait to get this installed in my house (Score 1) 499

by Kjella (#49593045) Attached to: Tesla Announces Home Battery System

The specs allege "92% round-trip efficiency". I'm not sure how much weasel wording goes into that figure; but if it isn't a lie-for-all-but-legal-purposes, that could easily fall within the peak/off-peak price changes in many markets.

92% round-trip DC efficiency. Basically, if you put 100% DC power in, you get 92% DC power back. That's nice, but...

Where DC holds a tremendous amount of promise is in the home/office/building environment where local generation (wind or photovoltaic) is available. The conversion of photovoltaic (DC) power to AC, only to have that AC power converted back to DC for many home electrical devices, is an incredible waste of energy. Eliminating this waste, by some estimates, could improve photovoltaic system performance by as much as 25%.

One AC/DC round trip costs 25% so if you get 100% AC power from the grid, convert to DC, store it in the battery and convert it back to AC for use as a drop-in replacement your total efficiency will be more like 0.75*0.92 = 69% efficiency. On the other hand if you have a DC source like solar panels, store it in this battery and use it to charge a DC sink like an electric car which is the ideal case you get 92% efficiency.

Comment: Re:Paid Advertisement (Score 4, Interesting) 75

by Kjella (#49592433) Attached to: Once a Forgotten Child, OpenSSL's Future Now Looks Bright

Nah. The OpenSSL codebase will get cleaned up and become trustworthy, and it'll continue to be used. The other forks, especially LibreSSL and Google's BoringSSL, will be used, too... and that's a good thing. Three fairly API-compatible but differing implementations will break up the monoculture so bugs found in one of them (and they *will* have bugs) hopefully won't hit all three of them. It's tempting to see such apparent duplication of effort as wasteful, but it's really not. Diversity is good and competition is good.

Has the fact that there's three major BSDs and one Linux been in BSD's favor? I have to pick an implementation and live with its bugs, either my machine is compromised or it's not. And those using other implementations will be hit with other bugs compromising their machines. Does it really provide any tangible benefit that not all of us are hit at the same time with the same bug, when we're all vulnerable some of the time? You divide the number of targets, but you also divide the number of developers and testers. For that matter, the eyes in "many eyes makes all bugs shallow" as well. And if you think the only true test is the test of time, the total value and exposure to the bad guys.

Am I supposed to swap browsers every time a vulnerability is found in Firefox/Chrome/Safari/IE? And wouldn't that quickly lead to a monoculture as a project dies every time it screws up big? Or if not, what exactly are the other implementations going to do for me? Software isn't like experimental physics where you want independent verification that if you try the same thing you get the same result. It's more like math where you need a formal proof that the code will always do what you intend for it to do and that it stands up under scrutiny.

We're not talking about something that must have a fail rate, if you get it right it's good. For example look at Apache and IIS, they're massively exposed yet there's very, very few exploits of significance. Okay so that's two not one implementation, but lack of diversity is mostly a problem when you have one bad product like java or flash that is a serial offender. Nobody has a problem with a monoculture that works and there's many of those. Don't allow crap in, code defensively, have reviews and fix the security bugs that get past you in a timely fashion and there won't be any need to reinvent the wheel.

Comment: Re:/.er bitcoin comments are the best! (Score 1) 247

by Kjella (#49590659) Attached to: Bitcoin Is Disrupting the Argentine Economy

EXACTLY... Argentina's currency is in SERIOUS trouble and has been in decline for a decade or more. It's where Greece is headed, and the whole EU if they don't disconnect from Greece or just outright forgive the bulk of their debt.

The Greek economy is something like 2% of the EU. Germany could pay it all off alone and still be in the comfort zone. There was a time when it looked like many dominoes could fall, but Ireland, Portugal and Spain all seem to be on a slow recovery, Italy still gives grounds for concern. The reason they can't give in to Greece is because many countries have been responsible. Many countries have taken harsh steps to bring their budgets in line. The opposition against giving Greece special treatment is strong all the way from the rich countries to the other poor countries.

Comment: Re:So far so good. (Score 1) 209

by Kjella (#49589593) Attached to: Yes, You Can Blame Your Pointy-Haired Boss On the Peter Principle

Something I learned 20 years ago, is that you never, never have a non-tech directly manage techs. They will have no idea what their people are doing, will be incapable of distinguishing good workers from self-promoters, and will quickly lose the respect of their subordinates. It just doesn't work.

Just to add to that list the boss is the natural point of escalation when two people butt heads and won't agree. I don't expect my bosses to know the details or even the subject, but they need to understand technical write-ups listing the pros and cons so we can settle it and move on. If the boss clearly has no understanding of the issue and just goes with the person he likes best, of course he'll lose respect.

The other issue is representation, my boss often have to represent our interests in various formal channels. A tech explaining things to a non-tech might be hard enough but having a non-tech boss explaining to other non-techs in other departments means most will be lost in translation. And while it's natural that you need to bring back some questions or issues they raised, a non-tech will have to do it all the time creating a very long feedback loop.

That said, he does not need to be down into the nitty-gritty details. But really, would you hire a guy with no understanding of sales as sales manager? A guy with no understanding of financials as financial manager? It's very rare that you need just "generic people management" and nothing else, because usually you have a business role too not just an administrative role. And you can't do that without some understanding of the subject matter.

Comment: Re: I like this guy but... (Score 4, Informative) 430

by Kjella (#49587447) Attached to: Rand Paul Moves To Block New "Net Neutrality" Rules

The rich must be awfully good at promoting their own agenda and making it look like it's in the interests of those people. A little sophistry goes a long way.

Americans have an intriguing tendency to vote as the social class they want to be, not the social class they are which seems heavily linked in to the American Dream. When you work hard, become a big success and make lots of money they don't want socialists to come take their money and give to slackers who haven't risen above the pack. Where in other countries workers allied together to get higher wages and better conditions on the bottom of the ladder, US workers are all about getting up the ladder and into a better job, those who can't don't deserve more.

Which might not be such a bad thing, if everybody started at zero. Reality is that most people are busy just making a living, while those with lots of free cash to invest make even more money so the rich get richer and the poor rarely make their dream come true. I think it goes far beyond rich men's propaganda, it's a cultural thing deeply embedded in Americans. What you've made is your own, I don't want it and when I get mine I don't want nobody taking it either. The rich just float on that attitude.

Comment: Re:And this is where it begins. (Score 2) 49

by Kjella (#49587063) Attached to: Fetch Robotics Unveils Warehouse Robots

Running on low margins doesn't help much if the competition is undercutting you with lower costs. At least in the bragging video made with AutoStore, they claimed going from a picker performance of 100 pieces/day to 100 pieces/hour = 8x performance as the system lines up the boxes at the picking station. Pick, scan, pick, scan, pick, scan, put in box for shipping, scan shipping box, done as opposed to running around the warehouse, particularly for new employees who have a hard time finding things. It also has other benefits like making employee theft much harder, since nothing silently disappears off the shelves or gets misplaced and they know what boxes you've had access to. The chance of accidents is vastly reduced, the storage area itself can be run in the dark and can operate colder/hotter than humans would like saving money on AC and heating.

Now obviously there's a solid investment cost but the question is how long can you afford to not make the investment? It might only be a nibble each time but higher running costs will add up and eat away at your profits too. Just look at all the other industrial robots, none of them were cheap to start with but those with money to invest will make the business case that in the long run it'll save money. Those who refuse to invest and renew themselves usually ends up on history's scrap yard.

Comment: Re:Agile - like everything else it is good and bad (Score 1) 208

by Kjella (#49584691) Attached to: IBM CIO Thinks Agile Development Might Save Company

Agile project management breaks projects down into iterative and incremental phases. An agile project will use the same methodologies as a Waterfall project, but will break down major parts of single-projects and single-phases into iterative and incremental deliverables. An iterative deliverable supplies a foundation--such as a set of core communications systems for network software--which is then iterated upon--for example, by adding facilities to carry different types of message payloads, APIs for interfacing with the networking software, and so forth. An incremental deliverable supplies a component from a larger system--for example, a core networking library--which is examined before building the rest of the project.

Except it's not agile, what you're describing is iterative waterfall. You're not completing any business requirements, each component is working on a classic interface/function spec like a traditional work breakdown structure would do. When you say it's done, it's the traditional task that is done. You might get feedback from other developers, but the customer has no way to verify that it is done. Waterfall is not static, it's always had change orders and it's not like a revised spec makes it agile. You'll have all the traditional problems that the component you're building might not fit in the final picture, over-engineering to solve the general case creating inner platform effects and so on.

The whole mantra in agile is to deliver functionality, not code modules. Developers write lots and lots of code that may or may not end up actually being useful in solving the business requirements. I wouldn't go so far as saying quick and dirty but the point is to do exactly what is needed to meet the requirement, have it tested and signed off on then call it done and only generalized as needed. Once you start building big and complex components and layers that are supposed to cover all your current and possible future needs you've abandoned the core ideas.

Sure, sometimes you need a lot of plumbing to deliver the first drop of water and it makes sense that you don't dimension the system to deliver just one faucet. But it's not agile. Agile says that the only thing that's worth anything is if the user can turn the faucet and water comes out. If he wants another faucet, we'll modify that when it hits the top of the priority queue. Often a system is a total no-go until certain critical requirements are met, but it terms of building it agile wants you to do it one requirement at the time. It works best with a little moderation, build infrastructure you know you need but don't try to solve all the maybes and nice-to-haves.

Comment: Competing for resources (Score 2) 175

by Kjella (#49575119) Attached to: When Enthusiasm For Free Software Turns Ugly

At least when it comes to forks, a lot of what decides the winner is momentum. People who don't feel strongly either way about the divide who just want to work on their non-related part of the project and will eventually switch, but not until after the fact. That is why many dysfunctional projects and organizations keep on going, you might feel that your fork is the long term better way and you're just waiting for the old project to die and wither away so you can effectively get behind one rally flag again. From your perspective it's not so much a competition as the car ahead of you swerving all over the road to keep you behind him, so you get pissed. And sometimes there is a lot of sour grapes that you stole their thunder too.

Comment: Re:I know what will happen... (Score 1) 55

by Kjella (#49571445) Attached to: Researchers Mount Cyberattacks Against Surgery Robot

The exactly same thing will happen if they do not provide the service to undeveloped areas, the patient suffers and possibly dies. Any effort to do something is better than doing nothing despite the risks involved.

Sure, but there's a few more options than doing this and doing nothing. For example, if the connection is so unreliable would you rather have someone on-site try doing it under audio/video/photo/sketch/text guidance and if the connection breaks down he'll just have to wing it or do you really want a remotely operated robot that'll leave you stranded when the connection fails. Not to mention the latter is harsh, but maybe needed on-the-job training. And if you want remotely operated robots, well you need some pretty advanced skills to maintain and repair them so you might just replace one skill they don't have for another.

Comment: Re:Does it matter? (Score 1) 52

by Kjella (#49569223) Attached to: TeslaCrypt Isn't All That Cryptic

Since most people who will be subject to ransomware have no way of knowing the mechanics of the encryption (or wouldn't be able to access it anyway) ... does that they lied about their super secret crypto make a damned bit of difference?

Well, I wouldn't bother to start poking at it but I would at least search online if there's a workaround if I managed to get hit with a cryptolocker. So by publicly announcing this tool a few may be helped, isn't that good enough? I didn't bother to read TFA but I imagine it came for "free" looking for the malware's infection vector/hiding techniques/C&C central/whatever so there's no reason to complain about a lucky break.

Seen on a button at an SF Convention: Veteran of the Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force. 1990-1951.