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Comment Re:I've had this as a plug-in. (Score 3, Insightful) 138

And the sad part? So many here will cheer when HTML V5 video is worse in every metric than Flash by a country mile!

Uses more resources? Yep, both CPU cycles and memory, just compare Flash/VP8 to HTML V5 H.264 of the same quality and you'll find its a pig. they try to hide how big a hog it is by offloading to the GPU but guess what? GPU cycles don't grow on tress and all that extra power sucking will equal much quicker battery drain.

Has less features? Yep again, when it comes to animation and gaming HTML V5 isn't anywhere as good as Flash, despite it being in development for...what? The better part of a decade?

And finally the rotting elephant in the room...DRM. Adobe not only has always allowed any format to be put in a flash container but they also have had zero problems with people redistributing Flash or even producing a FOSS option in Gnash. Compare this to HTML V5 which thanks to APPL and MSFT is tied to H.264, a format owned by one of the nastiest patent trolls on the planet. Anybody think they are gonna let FOSS OSes add support without cutting them a check?

I'm all for replacing flash but it should be with something BETTER, what we are getting with HTML V5 is practically a wish list written by APPL and MSFT to help their position. think APPL wants HTML V5 to be great for animation and gaming and possibly compete with their appstore? Think MSFT wants a video format that doesn't have a patent tollbooth for any possible competition?

So if you want to replace Flash? Then replace it with something BETTER, with more features, more open formats, less resource usage. What we are doing is replacing one bad idea for another and that isn't progress to me.

Comment Re:Veterans care (Score 1) 30

Anybody who ever served on active duty and handled classified information is just a bit hacked off at Her Majesty's cavalier attitude about, well, everything.

That's true, but comparing Hillary's sending and receiving emails that weren't marked as classified over a non-government server is absolutely NOTHING compared to Petraus' knowingly giving top secret information to someone with neither a need to know nor a security clearance. Remember Mata Hari? (I probably spelled that wrong)

Plus, his adultery is strictly against the USMJ code; people have gotten dishonorable discharges for that alone, and anyone else would have gotten time in Leavenworth for spilling secrets. Petraus got off not with a slap on the wrist, but a stern talking to.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Gimpy text and Mars

I use the Gnu Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) to design book covers. It's an excellent free open source program that has three weaknesses -- its menu structure is completely illogical (but can be gotten used to), I can't find a full spectrum palette, and its text handling is so poor as to be useless.

Comment Re:What's the real problem? (Score 1) 187

It's not a question of open vs proprietary, it's a question of buying support from the right people. If you're running code that wasn't developed in house, then you probably don't want to be supporting it in house either. You want an SLA with penalty clauses with someone who will fix it when it breaks. If it's open source, that just means that you have more options in terms of who will support it if the level of support that you want involves fixing bugs and adding features.

Comment Re:Comparison? (Score 1) 237

I was going to comment that I'd expect some variation depending on the quality of the venue, but then I looked at the list. Most of the places that they looked at are top-tier publications, so it's pretty depressing. That said, they are focussing on the wrong aspect of reproducibility. The real metric should be, given the paper, can someone else recreate your work. And I suspect that even more papers fail on that. At the ASPLOS panel discussion this year, there was a proposal that PhD students should spend their first year reproducing some published result. We often do something similar for undergraduate projects (take an idea from a paper, reimplement it, see if your results support their claim).

Comment It's not just healthcare, either (Score 1) 122

You make a good point, but it applies beyond healthcare too.

May I introduce you to the auto industry? They'd like to sell you a new car that is always on-line, accepts OTA updates, and runs the safety-critical vehicle control systems on the same bus as the infotainment controls. What could possibly go wrong? (It's ironic that among the reports of hacks and abuses over recent months, there was also a report suggesting that many customers didn't use or actively didn't want a lot of these new electronic gadgets in their vehicles anyway. The only developments that almost everyone seemed to support were the directly safety-related driver aids.)

Then we have the financial and insurance industries, whose only requirement for any software they make sometimes seems to be "minimise fraud". Obviously that's an important commercial requirement, but meanwhile, they still can't reliably do basic things like sending money from person A to person B, providing secure and usable on-line banking facilities, providing working IT for their in-branch staff, or sometimes even keeping accurate records of who is authorised to access an account or facility.

Comment Re:Aaaand *NOTHING* happens to them... (Score 4, Insightful) 122

We could call the licensed programmers "Software Engineers", and have it actually be true.

The trouble is, it wouldn't be, because we're probably still several decades away from the kind of maturity and evidence base we'd need in the industry to actually do software development as a true engineering discipline. It's a laudable goal, but we don't know how to do it yet.

Comment But who will watch the watchers^Wregulators? (Score 1) 122

The good thing is that licensed professionals have to adhere to professional standards or become liable.

The problem is who sets those standards.

No-one knows how to write perfect software, because there is no such thing. Even with technically perfect implementation, there are always questions of requirements and design where at some point the specification of what you need isn't in a neat, unambiguous, technical form.

Very few people in the world know how to write highly robust and secure software, and the cost of doing so is often high. A few more people are exploring various potentially better ways of doing things, which might improve the situation in the long term, but for now there isn't a large and reliable body of evidence to support most of these ideas. Crucially, in many cases today, even skilled and diligent professionals who will all do good work may genuinely disagree about which tools and techniques they prefer to use and why.

Regulation and licensing would most likely be based on "best practices" determined by some central organisation, but there is a tiny pool of candidates who are even remotely qualified to make such judgements and a tiny body of evidence to support it. Realistically, that means the people settings the standards probably won't be the real experts, such as they are. No, the regulators will more likely be people like those consultants who sell a different trendy methodology every few years, and the idea of giving those vacuous salespeople a louder voice than already have and actual legal powers over how other professionals develop software is more terrifying than any bug.

Comment Re:That's gonna be a nope (Score 1) 122

There's an increasing amount of good open source software on Android that can replace the Google crap. I'm now using:
  • OSMAnd, which is actually the reason that I'm still using Android. Best mobile maps app (Nokia's Here is better for driving, but not for walking): offline vector maps that are small enough that you can fit a few entire countries on the phone, offline routing, and so on. The version on the Play store is not as good. I used to use the free version on Play, but actually donated $10 to them after discovering the F-Droid version.
  • K9 Mail is a pretty reasonable mail client.
  • Standalone Calendar is a fork of the AOSP calendar (now replaced by the Google Calendar app on most devices). The UI is not great, but I've not found any mobile calendar app that is. I mostly just use the Calendar Widget on my home screen to look at upcoming events and DAVDroid to sync with my CalDAV / CardDAV server (which also syncs with my laptop).
  • Open Camera is definitely a geek's calendar app: far more configurable settings than the stock one, but the UI isn't quite as polished.
  • KQSMS provides a nicer interface to SMS. For backups, SMS Backup+ will sync SMS with an IMAP server.
  • AnySoftKeyboard provides a configurable set of keyboard layouts and, unlike the Google version, doesn't appear to be spyware.
  • Firefox on Android is actually pretty nice, and the addition of the Self Destructing Cookies addon makes it a lot nicer than any other Android browser I've tried (cookies are automatically deleted when you navigate away from a page, tracking cookies are deleted periodically while on the page. There's an undo button if you realised that you actually wanted them for one site, and and you can then whitelist just those ones).

I'd love to have a company adopt some of these, polish the UI a bit, and provide an Android phone that ships with them by default, instead of the Google stuff.

Comment Re:is the problem not ADOBE FLASH? (Score 1) 219

It's not just that they're complex. The code for decoding them is also not usually with security in mind. Remember that libjpeg was written in an era when a 486 was a high-end machine and all three sites on the web that contained images were pretty trustworthy. It needed to be able to decode and display the image in a limited amount of RAM, on a slow CPU, without the user complaining about the time it took (and it didn't - it was slow, and we complained). Modern CPUs are fast enough that even an interpreted JavaScript PNG or JPEG decoder is fast enough, but video decoding (unless offloaded to an accelerator) is still pretty CPU-intensive, so now video decoders are written with performance as the overriding goal and security a distant second. Doing proper bounds checks costs cycles (and, worse, often breaks autovectorisation), so gets overlooked.

Comment Those same executives are resistant to updating (Score 1) 122

The company I work for, Bright Plaza, has a SAAS that can almost eliminate the risk of phishing attacks and several other threats, while improving the user login experience. (It's a proof of knowledge SAAS that can support almost any type of proof of knowledge, from text and picture passwords to cognitive self tests and others.) And, based on the number of Lamborghini's at the Healthcare IT conferences, there's no lack of money available. Even more, the HIPAA lawas make it extremely expensive to expose clients' personal data. But from our attempts to to get healthcare companies to consider actually implementing, or installing even dirt simple new features, they have zero interest in actually doing anything about this. Like lemmings, they will either keep running their own systems (often dating back years), or if they're already sucked into one of the vendor systems will just wait until EPIC, or one of the other big three vendors, provides some new halfway measures.

Comment That would be penny wise and pound foolish (Score 5, Insightful) 347

If this is actually a credible report, then the U.S. government needs to stop funding the rebuilding/construction of areas that are CURRENTLY under sea level like New Orleans and the dikes and berms around it. No more federal funds of any kind for regions currently under water!

By that logic we should just write off large swathes of the Netherlands. Dykes and berms work just fine, and we have the engineering means to keep portions of land we consider valuable dry even if the waters rise 10 or 20 feet. New Orleans would fit in this category in my opinion. It is a unique part of American heritage and a cultural gem (one of not-so-many the US possesses), well worth the investment of Federal dollars to keep around.

Not to mention that it is by far less expensive to retain land by shoring up or building new dykes, than it is to reclaim land already submerged. Not as cheap as ditching it of course, but in places where it is worthwhile (New York City, Hoboken, New Orleans, Holland, and various other places) it is much smarter to keep existing places dry than leave them to be inundated and then realize our mistake later and either lose them forever, or pay even more to reclaim them.

"Pok pok pok, P'kok!" -- Superchicken