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Comment: Re:ugh (Score 1) 183

by drinkypoo (#47762731) Attached to: Seagate Ships First 8 Terabyte Hard Drive

When did hard drives not fail? I've had failures since the early 90s, when they were in the 200 MB range.

Well, I'm sure someone will speak up about some tales of DASDs of yore still older than what I've had, but I still remember when Seagate was called "Seizegate" because of the frequency of occasion when one needed to dismount the drive, place it upon a soft surface, and give it a good rap on one corner (perpendicular to the axis of rotation) in order to permit it to spin up. 21MB of ST-225, baby.

Comment: Welcome to the free market (Score 1) 199

by jd (#47762443) Attached to: Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps"

Where providers are free to gouge and customers are free to... well... complain on Slashdot, but that's about it.

It's only actually free when there's freedom. Freedom to choose between genuinely different providers is a start. If they go to the same tier 2 provider, then the that will define the prices and services, so isn't a choice at all. If they ARE the tier 2, then they're the ultimate source of services and pricetag for all the tier 3s out there.

But there has to be more, since bandwidth throttling dictates bandwidth availability downstream. You can't sell what isn't there - unless you're Time-Warner or Comcast, of course. Try that with a physical product ("It'll cost you $elebenty, payable now, no refund, and if it doesn't do what we claim, that's not a lemon, that's the fault of some unidentified someone doing something somewhere somehow and we'd rather screw you than bother them"). So, freedom to know what you're actually buying and freedom to use statuary rights to obtain that product or a refund.

This is actually one reason I'm a little unhappy with free software. It has been telling vendors that it's ok to not provide what is offered. Not so much by actually doing that - free software has been, in general, superb about being up-front about what it can and cannot do, known defects and limitations, etc. More by saying in the license that the producer is entitled to lie through his teeth without consequence. A quick look at Oracle's conduct shows that vendors have paid very close attention to that clause.

Free Software relies on there being a viable alternative, that users can go elsewhere if dissatisfied. The resilience to fixing bugs in GCC and GLibC, in present and prior administrations, demonstrate that when viable alternatives are scant, such software is too complex to fork or replace unless it gets really, really bad. Which it has occasionally done.

When it comes to cable companies, it's infinitely worse. You're not in a position to run fibre from your home to an alternative tier 2 in another State. Partly because of expense, partly because laws governing interstate activities make it impossible for private individuals, and partly because the cable companies would raise all hell, three quarters of bloody murder and a dash of pint of high water to stop you. Which would not be hard for them, all they need to do is to persuade the tier 2 provider to not sell the capacity. If that failed, they could keep you tied up in knots with the FCC over whether you were an unlicensed telecom operator or not. Mind you, some of you might like knots. I dunno. If all else failed, they could SWAT the people running the cable, get you listed for suspected terrorist ties, or just repeatedly run a backhoe through your cable until you got the message.

You have no choice. You have no freedom. The cable operators have been redefining "monopoly" and "telecommunications" to whatever serves their purpose, not yours, and on multiple occasions. They have been free to do so because everyone likes simplified services and nobody in the States is going to vehemently oppose the "market at work". Even when it clearly doesn't. Not until it is far, far too late to stop things happening.

And we're way past it being too far. It was too far when telecos started replacing copper for fibre at select spots. Supposedly to improve service (which never improved). The reality was that DSL companies competing with the teleco all went out of business where this happened. No great surprise, you can't run DSL over fibre and everyone knew it. It was too late when telephonic "service of last resort" stopped being mandatory in many States. It was too late when ADSL was all private users could buy, SDSL was only sold to select businesses.

It was too late when rival multistate networks got bought up by the Big Telecos with not a murmur from anyone.

It was not because these were fatal in themselves, it's because people had become too stupid and too utterly dependent on being spoonfed by corporate giants (who are far less efficient than any big government ever thought of being, except at defrauding customers). The time for people to learn to think had passed. There wasn't anything left to think about. There were no examples to learn from. All that was left was a self-inflicted oblivion.

It's as if a hundred billion endpoints all screamed out and then fell silent.

And no Consumer Jedi to notice or care.

Comment: Re:Not so sure it's harmless (Score 2) 221

by mabu (#47760995) Attached to: TechCentral Scams Call Center Scammers

I got a call two days ago from these people. I strung them along until they gave me a web address to go to in order to download some software and run it on my computer. Then while they were expecting me to do that, I ran a WHOIS on the host and IP, found out who was hosting them (it turned out to be an American company) and I contacted their abuse team and reported the site as being fradulent. 24 hours later, their web site was shut down.

It also helps when you contact their abuse department, that you tell them you work for an antivirus company and you're going to add the IP address of the site to your blacklist. In many cases, there are hundreds if not thousands of web sites operating from the same IP. They will take quick action rather than have one bad customer cause 900 other customer sites to not be accessible.

Comment: Different ages of development (Score 5, Insightful) 92

by mabu (#47760885) Attached to: The Grumpy Programmer has Advice for Young Computer Workers (Video)

I am not sure there's much advice us older programmers can give new developers because the industry is a lot different now.

In the old days we were often tasked with solving a problem, and we were more-often free to use whatever tools and technology were best, and we also thought of development environments as tools, which we could switch out if the application required something different. We also did all our own testing. I recently worked with a younger programmer on a project and it was miserable. He couldn't give me 20 lines of code that didn't have a bug in it, because he was dependent upon having some QA person test his work and an IDE that would hilight every mistake.

Nowadays there is so much abstraction going on in programming, people don't really seem like they're programming as much as they're using some sort of GUI development tool and plodding through innumerable amounts of API documentation and going on witch-hunts to try and figure out why something that's documented to work, doesn't actually work. I remember a big Oracle project I was on where my software wouldn't work properly and I couldn't figure out why. It took me several months of bitching on usenet to finally get a rep within Oracle contact me privately and tell me I wasn't crazy, they knew about the bug and just weren't acknowledging it. In the old days, there wasn't as much of that going on. Programming was simpler and less bureaucratic.

Comment: Re:Incredibly wise advice (Score 1) 92

by mabu (#47760811) Attached to: The Grumpy Programmer has Advice for Young Computer Workers (Video)

I think the reason there's no job security in programming is because basically, nobody's really doing any "programming" these days.

Modern programmers know less about machines and languages than they do APIs and UIs. Everything is so object-oriented and encapsulated, and there are so many square pegs developers are asked to fit into round holes, they're not really designing stuff as much as working on an assembly line sticking various parts-pieces together with no real sense of oversight of the big picture.

Comment: Re:Backward-thinking by the DMV (Score 1) 438

by drinkypoo (#47759571) Attached to: California DMV Told Google Cars Still Need Steering Wheels

The safest roads will be when ALL cars are autonomous. Having humans in the mix will just ruin all the gains that autonomous cars provide.

That's not true at all. An automated car which can't deal with unexpected human actions also can't deal with unexpected vehicle actions due to software error or hardware failure.

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