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Comment Re:Google and non-SSL site warnings (Score 1) 216

"...cannot be upgraded to SSL in a practical manner"

Um, why would that be? I'm having trouble imagining.

Once upon a time, getting an SSL certificate cost $100 or so; installing an SSL certificate was a pain. Still, for any sort of web server with commercial intent, the costs and effort were negligible. I manage a site for a very small company, and it has used SSL for years. Ok, maybe it wasn't worth it for a hobbyist site.

As of a couple of months ago, with LetsEncrypt, the excuses are all gone. For the company I mentioned, I moved to LetsEncrypt this year. Even though the project is still officially in beta, getting and installing the certificate was totally painless - completely automatic. It was also free, as in beer. What possible reason is there, not to put SSL on every web server out there?

Ok, two reality checks:

- LetsEncrypt does not yet have an automatic renewal process. They believe in short-lived certificates, and at the moment that means that you have to manually renew your certificates every 3 months. That problem should be resolved in the next couple of months.

- Likely, many shared-hosting ISPs are not yet set up for LetsEncrypt. Some may even resist, because they make money selling SSL certs. A bit of market pressure should solve that problem, and likely will by the end of 2016.

Encrypt everything: your internet connection, your hard disks, your cat, everything. Not only for your own security, but also as your small contribution to the fight against overreaching governments.

Comment Project Euler and Games (Score 1) 140

For simple procedural stuff, do exercises off of Project Euler.

Then move on to games. These can start simple, for example, writing a poker or blackjack program that runs in the console. Then move up to simple graphical games. Put together a simple framework they can use, to get them started. Or take an existing framework, but it's really better to roll your own: it will be a lot smaller, because it is focused on the exercises you want to do, and you will understand it better as well.

Comment Not a big deal... (Score 0) 458

This sounds a lot worse than it is. New chips will continue working just fine with older versions of Windows.

All CPUs have a set of flags that software can query, to find out exactly what features they support. The only consequence of this decision is that any new features or instruction-set extensions will not be used by older Windows versions. The impact on your average user will be precisely zero.

Comment Really, um, credible (Score 2) 241

Authorities in New York City said they received the same threat but quickly concluded that it was a hoax.

Really? Every time some punk sends a stupid email, you're going to shut down an entire city?

First, there is no reason to take this stuff seriously. US deaths by terrorism is still in the ballpark of people dying of lightning strikes. If you insist on taking it seriously, give a 10% annual bonus to any teacher with a concealed carry license plus appropriate training. Problem solved.

Comment Yeah, I know, I'm probably a denier... (Score 4, Insightful) 735

...but what a load of hogwash. Today, we are one entire degree warmer than "pre-industrial temperatures", which they define as around 1850. Coincidental, I'm sure, that the "Little Ice Age" ended around 1850, meaning that they could hardly have picked a colder point in time. I should certainly hope that we are warmer than that! The Little Ice Age saw the largest glacier extents for thousands of years, devastating many communities as they were inexorably covered with ice.

Note, also, the temperature graph in that article - a lot more than one degree drop from temperatures a couple of centuries before, which brings us to the next point. They label today's temperature range as "uncharted territory", despite the fact that the planet was almost certainly warmer than this during the Medieval Warm Period, and before that during the Roman Climate Optimum.

The rest of the TFA is all about beating the panic-drum.

Comment Re:Developers following the KICC principle (Score 1) 576

Haven't heard of that, but I might take a look if you have a link.

Without seeing a specific implementation, I have trouble imagining what the advantage could be. Determining whether a key exists, or whether a stored value is null are both simple conditions to write. Why clutter it up with an unnecessary class?

Comment Developers following the KICC principle (Score 3, Insightful) 576

KICC = Keep it Complicated and Crappy

I recently ran into a similar example in Java, where Java 8 has introduce the class java.util.Optional. This is used by certain other Java 8 classes as a return type.

What does Optional do? It provides an object that contains an object. If that inner object is null, the method isPresent() returns fall. So now, instead of:

          if (widget != null) { widget.doSomething()) ... }

You can write

          if (optional.isPresent()) { widget = optional.get(); widget.doSomething()) ... }

Of course, if you don't quite trust the class giving you the Optional, you get to write

          if (optional != null && optional.isPresent()) { widget = optional.get(); widget.doSomething()) ... }

This serves no useful purpose, except to make code more complex. Stupid, stupid, stupid...

The claim, of course, is that this marvelous class is designed to work with lambdas. The thing is, lambdas themselves are an idiocy in Java. Lambda expressions are inherent in purely functional languages, but they are semantically out of place in a declarative language.

Comment So much wrong with this... (Score 1) 120

sent a letter to top education lawmakers in the House and Senate

K-12 education isn't a federal program, even if the Dept. of Education is a busybody. K-12 education works best when managed at the local level.

insisting that computer science "must" be added to the list of "core academic subjects"

Core subjects K-12 would be things like math, english, history and basic science.

[insisting that] states be given resources to improve STEM education programs.

Money grows on federal trees? Federal funding is lets the camel's nose into the tent. Once the states are used to having that "free money", the feds can demand anything they want. Like Michelle Obama's idiotic ideas on school nutrition. How about eliminating all federal educational involvement, instead?

"Computer science is marginalized throughout K-12 education,"

Because it isn't a core subject, nor should it be.

"We need to improve access for all students, particularly groups who have traditionally been underrepresented."

Why?

Comment Usual thing; "pre-crime" and bored bureaucrats (Score 1) 173

It's the usual regulatory overenthusiasm. Basically trying to criminalize perfectly ordinary actions that might lead to actual criminal actions.

You can be penalized for emitting interference in a regulated frequency, or for using a regulated frequency for some other purpose. That is correct, and it is all that is necessary. Whether I my device is interfering because it is a cheap piece of crap, or because it is broken, or because I have flashed it - the reason doesn't matter, the result does. On the other side: if my device isn't interfering, there is no reason for the FCC to care how much I paid for it, whether it is in working condition, or whether I have flashed new firmware.

The bureaucrats need to justify their petty little empires, so they seek new regulations to write.

This is like a "pre-crime" unit: If you flash new firmware, you might be doing so with the intent to misuse spectrum. It's no different from stupid crimes like "structuring" that aren't actually (in a sensible world) crimes at all. They may, in rare cases, be evidence that a crime has been, or will be committed. That is no reason to make them illegal in and of themselves. Did you know that European eggs are illegal in the US, and vice versa? It would be perfectly fine to stick with "don't poison your customer", but that's too simple, and doesn't require enough bureaucrats. So in each case, over-eager bureaucrats have dictated a particular egg-cleaning method, and the two contradict each other.

tl;dr: The FCC needs to concentrate on its actual job. Maybe they should downsize by about 90%, so that they don't have time for dumb ideas.

Comment Android Marshmallow (Score 1) 373

I just updated to Marshmallow, where you can see and control app privileges. I went through the apps and disallowed anything they didn't need. Almost every app had the right to look at my contacts. Music apps, map apps, fitness apps - everything. None of them need this access, but they are all selling it. Hopefully, those days are now over...

Comment Jury competence? (Score 4, Insightful) 312

This is a very technical patent having to do with prediction. Not predicting branches, but predicting data. It might even be valid - I haven't kept up with processor architecture for too long. The gigantic question is: given the state of the art at the time this patent was filed, is it a logical extension obvious to a person "skilled in the art". That would be a very tough question to answer, even for an expert in the field.

Just how is a jury of non-technical people supposed to figure this out?

I'm sure they will have heard from Apple's experts: "This is obvious, a kid could figure it out", and the university's experts: "wow, what a clever invention". How will they have judged and compared these expert opinions? Their charisma? Their hairstyle?

The whole patent system is one gigantic disaster. Even for potentially valid patents, the process is just wrong.

Comment Not necessarily malware... (Score 2) 474

I've had malware served as an ad, but that's unusual. The bigger problem is the sheer volume of stuff. One news site that I visit semi-regularly tries to load things from as many as thirty external sites - it varies wildly. I just now opened their page to see today's number: on the home page Ghostery blocks 12, AdBlock Plus another 4. Go to an article, and the numbers rise to 17 and 4. Sorry, that's just too much crap: I am visiting one site, not twenty-two. The site loads many, many times faster without all of that crap.

If they were to give me a choice between seeing their site with ads, or never visiting again, it would be an easy choice: bye-bye. Crappy media sites that regurgitate articles written elsewhere are a dime a dozen. If a site with useful, original content were to take that tack...well, why would they? I subscribe to the sites I value most, and then feel entirely justified in blocking their ads. /. falls somewhere in the middle. I'm supposed to be able to turn off ads, which would be nice, but they turn back on randomly. Anyway, what's with the trackers? The mobile site seems to ignore the ad setting entirely and has been showing the same crappy ads for stupid apps for weeks now. So I leave everything blocked. At the moment, that amounts to seven external sites that I have no desire to see (or be tracked by).

Comment Question in the title? The answer is likely "no" (Score 2) 563

Star Trek portrayed a very optimistic, indeed idealistic future. As with all such things, it's not entirely realistic.

Society without money? Um...no. Not unless you can make a fundamental change to human nature, by eliminating greed.

Look at the West now: no one is poor, not by any reasonable definition of the word. Barring drug addiction or mental illness, everyone has enough to eat, a roof over their heads, a mobile telephone, a television, and likely even a car. This would have counted as wealth 200 years ago.

The capitalist saying is very true: "a rising tide floats all boats". The problem is that no one wants to own the little boats. You can raise the bar as far as you like, but there will still be limited resources. Not everyone can have their own private island. Not everyone can be sole owner of a starship. Whatever goods count as rare, people will lust after them, and count themselves poor for not having them.

  As long as this remains part of human nature, we will need money, or something equivalent.

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