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Comment: Engineers do dress well (Score 5, Insightful) 165

I'd note that most software engineers aren't philosophically opposed to dressing well, or to reasonable dress codes. They're mostly opposed to stupid dress codes that make them uncomfortable while working for no good reason. Reasonable dress for a meeting with outside customers is different from that for a group of engineers banging out a solution to a code problem, and what's reasonable when you've hauled someone in on their day off to deal with an emergency isn't the same as what they'd wear during a normal workday. Management tends to lose sight of all this because they've got much different jobs from the engineers and the dress norms for them are going to be different from those for engineers because the routine situations are going to be different.

Comment: Re:Firewall != Windows Firewall (Score 1) 348

The problem there is that the Windows firewall itself creates it's own attack surface. You have such a large range of internal machines that need access to so many different services on the servers for monitoring, administration, deployment, support and so on, and so many of those services are either so poorly documented or multiplex so many different functions/services over the same port that it's difficult to write specific rules for them, that in the end your firewall rules for the servers end up being unmanageably complex. They end up not protecting you nearly as much as you think they are, and they actually cause problems and contribute to failures (I could count on spending at least half a day every week diagnosing firewall-rule-related problems, and every release tended to result in several rollbacks and re-deployments over the course of a couple of days because of errors or omissions in firewall rule changes which we also had to diagnose). Plus, for all that cost, the primary threat wasn't from other compromised servers, it was from internal machines which legitimately had access to the servers (ie. the desktops belonging to DBAs, sysadmins, managers and so on) which were compromised by malware coming in via other vectors that bypassed all the firewalls.

Comment: Firewall != Windows Firewall (Score 1) 348

You said they disabled the local firewall. That's how I'd run most Windows servers on a network of any size, because the local firewall just eats up resources on the server that could be better used for the server's actual job. The firewalls should be proper hardware firewalls built into the networking infrastructure located a) between the outside world and the client networks to control access to the network in general, b) between the POS terminal segment and the server segment to control what access the terminals have to the servers and to block the servers from unnecessary access back to the POS terminals, and c) between the two client networks you mention to control what access each client has to the other's network.

The Windows Firewall itself is fairly useless in a large network because as far as incoming connections go it can't control things any better than a hardware firewall can, and for outgoing connections it's pointless because any malware that might try making unwanted outbound connections has to be assumed to have enough access to disable or bypass the Windows Firewall.

Comment: One catch: the starting point (Score 1, Insightful) 710

People who're worried about climate change would likely be people who've already started cutting electricity usage. If you've already been doing things to cut down for several years already, how likely are you to be able to still make big gains? Not very. It's a lot easier to get those when you haven't cared and can still do the easy things like replacing burned-out incandescent bulbs with CFLs or LEDs, or replacing an old less-efficient refrigerator with a new one when remodeling the kitchen. It's not so easy when you did all those things, and replaced the windows with double-pane insulated ones and had the heating/cooling system upgraded to a modern unit, several years ago and now all that's left would be very-big-ticket items like a solar power system or infeasible stuff like completely rebuilding the house using modern materials and construction.

Comment: Re: It's not just the refund (Score 1) 137

by Todd Knarr (#47390637) Attached to: Amazon Fighting FTC Over In-App Purchases Fine

Amazon is confusing users by making it so that setting the parental controls to "no in-app purchases allowed" leaves the game in a condition where in-app purchases are still allowed. If I get in a car, put the car into Reverse to back out of a parking spot, then put it in Drive to go forward, a reasonable person would expect the car to go forward. They wouldn't expect it to continue to act as if it were in Reverse for another few minutes before the Reverse setting expired and it began to act in accordance with the gearshift setting. Similarly when you set the parental controls in an app you'd expect the app to act according to the controls, not to ignore your setting for several more minutes because you've entered the password recently (as part of setting the parental controls, not to authorize purchases).

Comment: It's not just the refund (Score 4, Insightful) 137

by Todd Knarr (#47389401) Attached to: Amazon Fighting FTC Over In-App Purchases Fine

I think Amazon's problem is going to be that just refunding the purchases doesn't help the parents. If the kid maxes out the credit-card on in-app purchases, the parents have to deal not just with those purchases but the fees and interest from over-limit charges on the card and/or the additional costs associated with any declined charges (eg. if I pay a bill on-line using my card and the charge is declined, I get hit for late fees and possibly service disconnections). Having this happen when you're out-of-town (eg. the kid does this while the family's on vacation, and when you go to check out of the hotel you can't pay your hotel bill and you have to figure out why without being able to check your accounts on-line to see what unexpected charges are there). The only acceptable way of handling things is what Amazon should've done from the start: once parental controls are turned on in an app, all actions that would cause a charge or affect parental controls always require a PIN (and ideally there'd be an option to say "don't allow charges period until parental controls are turned off again").

Comment: Management botched it again (Score 5, Insightful) 128

by Todd Knarr (#47296253) Attached to: Prisoners Freed After Cops Struggle With New Records Software

Sounds like a typical bollix-up: the system was a drastic change from the existing one and difficult to use, and has performance problems on top of that, but management still sent it live and turned the old system off without making sure everyone had thorough training. On top of that they didn't have any extra resources on hand to help with the extra workload as people learned the new program on the job and didn't have anybody familiar with the program on hand to help the users. End result: the entirely predictable train wreck occurred. But of course the management responsible for this will never be held accountable for it. Instead the blame will be put on "the software", instead of the management who signed off on the software being acceptable when it manifestly was not.

Comment: Buyer beware (Score 3, Insightful) 431

by Todd Knarr (#47255439) Attached to: Chinese-Built Cars Are Coming To the US Next Year

I'm minded from earlier cases of problems with Chinese-sourced products that the Chinese attitude is very much "It's the buyer's responsibility to make sure they're getting what they ordered and paid for. If they don't check, it's their fault for being so gullible.". Not exactly the attitude I'd be looking for out of a manufacturing center.

Comment: Naturally, they've done it before (Score 4, Insightful) 218

by Todd Knarr (#47186953) Attached to: Microsoft Fixing Windows 8 Flaws, But Leaving Them In Windows 7

This is just an extension of the kind of coerced upgrade Microsoft's attempted before. With Vista and then with Win7, when they didn't take off on their own MS tried to force the issue by making the latest versions of IE and DirectX and such only available for Vista/7, not XP. This is the same thing: "Upgrade to Win8 or take the heat for running a vulnerable OS.". Thing is, it'll backfire the same way the "no latest DirectX on XP" did. Win7's such a large base that developers can't afford to write code that won't run on it, so they won't be able to use the new Win8-only safe functions. Which means applications will remain vulnerable on Win8, just like on Win7 where they also run.

Comment: Push payments? (Score 3, Interesting) 228

by Todd Knarr (#47173455) Attached to: AT&T To Use Phone Geolocation To Prevent Credit Card Fraud

If they're going to track your cel phone, that means they're assuming you have your cel phone on you. So why not send the authorization code to your cel phone and let you give it to the merchant? That way it doesn't matter if the card's stolen, the merchant can't get an auth code if you aren't present with your phone. Or better yet, have an app that'll let you punch in the merchant's ID and transaction number and initiate the payment from your end, rather than having the merchant handle your card? That makes stealing the card pointless, because just having the card isn't enough to let you make a charge.

Comment: No master key (Score 2) 475

by Todd Knarr (#47144741) Attached to: The Sudden Policy Change In Truecrypt Explained

Unlike with Lavabit, there's no single master key for TrueCrypt that can be gotten from the developers that'll decrypt any TC partition. The best the NSA could get is the ability to create their own signed binary package with their own modifications and have it appear as the official package on TC's site. The problem with that is that the TC code's open so anybody can build from source and compare with the official build and see that they aren't the same. And any compromise of the source (eg. weakening the cryptography) would be instantly revealed in the diffs. The whole NSL thing sounds dodgy, and doesn't quite fit. It seems more likely that, with Win7 and later moving to supporting only GPT disks, the TC developers found they can't add that support and decided to throw in the towel.

In any case, the version of TC from before this change is still available and as far as anyone can tell is still secure. I'd be leery of switching to other encryption software that's known to be less secure until someone comes up with a definitive vulnerability in 0.71.

Comment: Problem with antivirus (Score 2) 225

by Todd Knarr (#47104417) Attached to: Google Starts Blocking Extensions Not In the Chrome Web Store

Kaspersky AV installs it's extensions in Chrome, and frankly I a) don't want to depend on the Chrome Store for them since I can only trust them if they come directly from Kaspersky and b) don't want them disabled since I installed Kaspersky specifically for this purpose. I can see refusing to enable local extensions until the user confirms they ought to be there, but Chrome isn't the only source of browser components on my computer.

The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination -- but the combination is locked up in the safe. -- Peter DeVries

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