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Comment: The economics do not add up - not by a long shot (Score 1) 369

by walterbyrd (#46796785) Attached to: Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

I doubt the ingredients in a bottle of beer cost much more than $0.20.

The real money goes to marketing. After that: taxes, distribution, packaging . . .

Honestly: I would not be surprised if the can costs more to make than the beer that's inside it. I know that's the case with sodas.

Comment: Underlying assumptions are false (Score 1) 234

by jd (#46793425) Attached to: Bug Bounties Don't Help If Bugs Never Run Out

Ok, the envelope game. You can rework it to say the second envelope contains the next vulnerability in the queue of vulnerabilities. An empty queue is just as valid as a non-empty one, so if there are no further flaws then the envelope is empty. That way, all states are handled identically. What you REALLY want to do though is add a third envelope, also next item inquire, from QA. You do NOT know which envelope contains the most valuable prize but unless two bugs are found simultaneously (in which case you have bigger problems than game theory), you absolutely know two of the envelopes contain nothing remotely as valuable as the third. If no bugs are known at the time, or no more exist - essentially the same thing as you can't prove completeness and correctness at the same time, then the thousand dollars is the valuable one.

Monty Hall knows what is in two of the envelopes, but not what is in the third. Assuming simultaneous bug finds can be ignored, he can guess. Whichever envelope you choose, he will pick the least valuable envelope and show you that it is empty. Should you stick with your original choice or switch envelopes?

Clearly, this outcome will differ from the scenario in the original field manual. Unless you understand why it is different in outcome, you cannot evaluate a bounty program.

Now, onto the example of the car automotive software. Let us say that locating bugs is in constant time for the same effort. Sending the software architect on a one-way trip to Siberia is definitely step one. Proper encapsulation and modularization is utterly fundamental. Constant time means the First Law of Coding has been broken, a worse misdeed than breaking the First Law of Time and the First Law of Robotics on a first date. You simply can't produce enough similar bugs any other way.

It also means the architect broke the Second Law of Coding - ringfence vulnerable code and validate all inputs to it. By specifically isolating dangerous code in this way, a method widely used, you make misbehaviour essentially impossible. The dodgy code may be there but it can't get data outside the range for which it is safe.

Finally, it means the programmers failed to read the CERT Secure Coding guidelines, failed to test (unit and integrated!) correctly, likely didn't bother with static checkers, failed to enable compiler warning flags and basically failed to think. Thoughtlessness qualifies them for the Pitcairn Islands. One way.

With the Pitcairns now overrun by unemployed automotive software engineers, society there will collapse and Thunderdome v1.0a will be built! With a patchset to be released, fixing bugs in harnesses and weapons, in coming months.

Comment: Code != Literature = Why Writers Need Outline Mode (Score 2) 278

by Tsu Dho Nimh (#46787073) Attached to: Apache OpenOffice Reaches 100 Million Downloads. Now What?

Perhaps for programmers the need is not evident, but for anyone who writes long documents, it's indispensable. It's indispensable enough that I am still using Microsoft Word for anything that has any sort of header/subheader structure. OO and LO are OK for short letters and memos, but if it has more than 2 headings it gets clunky because of the lack of outline mode.

The core difference between writing text and writing code, which apparently the programmers working on OO and LO fail to grasp, is that writers are producing text which will be read by humans, not executed by machines.You can't just comment out the cruft and do a GOTO jump over that module you decided you don't want, then tell them to go back 17 pages to pick up the information in paragraph 3. Writing needs structure and flow to lead the reader through the material in a way that make the content comprehensible. It needs primary and subordinate ideas. Order and levels of importance are important. In Microsoft Word, collapsing the document into Outline mode and seeing the heading and subheading structure makes the flow of the document visible, and more important, the means to change that flow is on the same screen. There is no interruption in the work flow. seems to understand it, going the other direction: most real code isn't actually in a form that can be simply read .... in order to grok it I have to essentially rewrite it. I'll start by renaming a few things so they make more sense to me and then I'll move things around to suit my ideas about how to organize code. Pretty soon I'll have gotten deep into the abstractions (or lack thereof) of the code and will start making bigger changes to the structure of the code. Once I've completely rewritten the thing I usually understand it pretty well and can even go back to the original and understand it too.

Which leads me to "Issue 3959", wherein writers asked for this on 2002-04-10 20:39:19 UTC ... it's ranked as "Trivial" now. It has nothing to prevent implementation except the inability of the code maintainers to accept that writers really do know what they need in their tools.

Here's the overview of Bug 3959 ...

OVERSHOOT wrote upstream: Ah, yes. Issue number 3959. Originally filed April 10, 2002. More than twelve years ago. In that time it has remained in the top-voted issue list year-in and year-out. Others come and go, but 3959 keeps on pissing off users. At last look, there are about ten duplicates requests on file.

Every few years some developer wanders by and tells the people following it that nobody needs outline view, or that there are tools available to do it, or whatever. Often, they close the issue. In effect, "I don't use outline mode so obviously it's not important." The mailing list heats up for a while, the developer either mumbles something about maybe the team should look into it and vanishes or else just vanishes, but the issue is either reopened or left open. I've seen at least four of those cycles so far. We're probably due for another one.

At this point, I suspect that 3959 will outlive (Open|Libre|Star)Office for the classic open-source software reason: if it doesn't scratch a developer's itch, it ain't happening. And apparently, developers don't outline, edit, or otherwise structure their writing or much care about the people who do.

As the wisdom of XKCD proves -

Comment: Re:Quick question (Score 1) 173

by Sesostris III (#46786021) Attached to: Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr Released

It does not suck that bad anymore. For anyone still having a grudge against Unity, I recommend trying it again at this point.

How would you feel about the sentence: "Your brain surgeon does not suck that bad anymore."

I think the sentence "Your brain surgeon does not suck that bad anymore." is not applicable in this instance. If your brain surgeon sucks, then your brain is is irretrievably damaged. If your Gnu/Linux distribution sucks, then your computer is not irretrievably damaged - you could back up your data, wipe your disk clean, and install another distribution (or wait until the original distribution no longer sucks).

A better sentence would be "Your hair stylist does not suck that bad anymore".

Sorry to hear about your brain surgeon, by the way.

Comment: Re:*Yawn* I'll Wait for the Mint Edition (Score 2) 173

by Sesostris III (#46786001) Attached to: Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr Released
You know, it occurs to me that if Mark Shuttleworth hadn't been "too ambitious and stubborn", he wouldn't have acquired his fortune in the first place - a fortune that he's subsequently used to bankroll Ubuntu and Canonical, and generally drive the Gnu/Linux ecosystem forwards.

Now he might fail (as you state, he is up against Apple, Microsoft and Google), but I think it is very good that someone is making the attempt - even if this does occasionally annoy his existing user base. For those there is always Xubuntu!

Comment: Re:*Yawn* I'll Wait for the Mint Edition (Score 4, Interesting) 173

by Sesostris III (#46785901) Attached to: Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr Released
I'm currently with Linux Mint Debian Edition on my desktop (I migrated from Ubuntu as Unity and Gnome 3 were somewhat new at the time!). If only rolling upgrades were approximately every three months, I'd be happier. Unfortunately, they're not. (UP4 was on 2012.04.05, UP5 was on 2012.09.17, UP6 was on 2012.12.19, UP7 was on 2013.09.23, and UP8 was on 2014.02.04. Only one of these was a three-monther). When I installed LMDE it was a "rolling" release. Now it's described as "semi-rolling".

To be honest, I think the issue is lack of resources within Mint. When I installed LMDE, there was an XFCE edition (which I installed). This has been dropped. Fair enough, if the 'market wasn't there, no point in using resources unnecessarily.

Which leads us back to Ubuntu. This has been successful because Mark Shuttleworth has been using his personal fortune to keep things going. I sense a need for Canonical to get (at least) to a break-even point so it can continue even after Shuttleworth's fortune is no longer available (I doubt his pocket is bottomless!).

That either means relying on donations (like Mint) or getting some commercial success. Canonical have decided on the latter, and are have adopted their behaviour accordingly. I do not begrudge them this, and wish them well.

I will try the Unity (and Gnome) editions in VirtualBox (XFCE 12.04 LTE is on the laptop). I will then make an independent judgement as to what I think of them. For my next desktop build, I might revert to one of the Ubuntus (or if I'm feeling masochistic, I might even try Arch!)

And to compare - I recently bought a retail version of Windows 8.1 and installed it in VirtualBox. To be honest I don't think it's as bad an Operating System as has been made out - but the privacy issues are horrendous (I paraphrase, but one default install option seems to be to "send all browsing history to Microsoft to help Microsoft 'improve' the user experience etc."), and the default location for documents is Sky Drive. Microsoft also dream of "monetization and profits"! Now Ubuntu might be as bad (although I doubt it), but at least I don't have to pay to install it!

Canonical is an Organisation. It needs to keep going and thrive, and I (for one) hope they do. There is worse out there!

+ - 'Accidental' Siberian Mummies Part of Mysterious Ancient Arctic Civilization->

Submitted by concertina226
concertina226 (2447056) writes "Russian archaeologists are trying to discover the origins of a group of 800-year-old bodies found just 29 km from the Arctic Circle, which were accidentally mummified by copper when they were buried.

The mummies were discovered at Zeleniy Yar in Siberia, in 34 shallow graves, and 11 of the bodies found in the medieval burial place had either smashed skeletons or missing and shattered skulls.

They may have been damaged by their peers deliberately to prevent spells emanating from them.

There is only one female, a child, who is buried with her face masked by copper plates, and three male infant mummies, who wear copper masks and were bound in four or five copper hoops that each measure several centimetres wide."

Link to Original Source

+ - Americans are scared about the future of drones, robots, and wearables->

Submitted by colinneagle
colinneagle (2544914) writes "Findings from a recent Pew study on Americans' opinions on future technology and science: 65% think it would be a change for the worse if lifelike robots become the primary caregivers for the elderly and people in poor health. 63% think it would be a change for the worse if personal and commercial drones are given permission to fly through most U.S. airspace. 53% of Americans think it would be a change for the worse if most people wear implants or other devices that constantly show them information about the world around them.

The drone concern is to be expected, from both a privacy and a safety perspective. Last year, a small Colorado town tried to issue permits for residents to shoot down airborne drones, and came pretty close to making it legal. And just last week, a drone fell out of the air at a triathlon in Australia; an ambulance crew had to pick pieces of the drone's propeller out of her head. Compare this problem with Amazon’s vision of constant drone deliveries and you have a recipe for a country full of concerned parents.

The wearable concern is just another sign of privacy concerns going mainstream. Google Glass has seen some serious backlash lately, with even physical violence and theft against those who wear them in public. The study just illustrates how widespread this contempt goes.

One issue I was surprised not to see was concern over the impact of robots and drones on jobs for humans. A 2013 Oxford study estimated that as many as 47% of human jobs in the U.S. can be automated, taken over by robots or drones that don’t require a wage (let alone a minimum wage) and can work round-the-clock."

Link to Original Source

+ - The Dismal State Of SATCOM Security

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Satellite Communications (SATCOM) play a vital role in the global telecommunications system, but the security of the devices used leaves much to be desired. The list of security weaknesses IOActive foundwhile analyzing and reverse-engineering firmware used on the most widely deployed Inmarsat and Iridium SATCOM terminals does not include only design flaws but also features in the devices themselves that could be of use to attackers. The uncovered vulnerabilities include multiple backdoors, hardcoded credentials, undocumented and/or insecure protocols, and weak encryption algorithms. These vulnerabilities allow remote, unauthenticated attackers to compromise the affected products. In certain cases no user interaction is required to exploit the vulnerability; just sending a simple SMS or specially crafted message from one ship to another ship would be successful for some of the SATCOM systems."

Comment: Re:Uproar? (Score 1) 146

by tsqr (#46778803) Attached to: Vintage 1960s Era Film Shows IRS Defending Its Use of Computers

So are values such an interest paid to the bank, and income from stocks not pre-filled?

Nope. You get the blank forms from the government, W-2 (employer statements containing income and withholding numbers), and statements from banks and investment firms. Employers and banks and such are required by law to deliver the tax statements by the end of January each year, but it's not uncommon for financial institutions to be significantly late (this is a popular reason for the filing of extensions). Lots of opportunities for transpositions and transcription errors as you manually copy numbers from one form to another. Must be really fun for people who suffer from dyslexia.

I've been filing my taxes electronically for years, and quite frankly, I can't remember whether the IRS and California Franchise Tax Board are even sending me the instruction booklets and blank forms any more (which would be fine, as they would just go directly into the trash).

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