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Comment: Fear driven by the governments, to get more money (Score 1) 227

Never let a crisis go to waste. Everything that can be used to drive fear, which makes the populace accept higher taxes, which funds more bureaucrats and politicians, who drive the next fear cycle.

Is there any way off this merry-go-round?

Comment: For example (Score 1) 106

by bradley13 (#48937697) Attached to: LibreOffice Gets a Streamlined Makeover With 4.4 Release

I don't use Calc or Excel much, but I ran into two such limitations just recently. So, for anyone looking for concrete examples, here are two:

- Column limitation. A student of mine wrote a Java program that exported data into a spreadsheet, using some library or other (don't remember which). Now, I was impressed that this automatically started up Calc, when my student had clearly used Excel. However, as an initial step, the program created a zillion columns. Crash - max columns exceeded. Why should there be any sort of limit, other than exhausting all memory in the computer?

- Macros. I have a small spreadsheet that counts up the students' points and curves them into final course grades. The actual curving is done by a function I defined and attached to the spreadsheet. In Calc, if I alter the points, the sheet doesn't recalculate - I have to save and reload the sheet. No idea why - everything ought to work (and does in Excel).

There are similar irritations in all of the applications. Writer and Impress are the ones I use the most, and sometimes it's damned frustrating. I obviously haven't tried version 4.4 yet - here's hoping that they did more than fiddle with the UI.

Comment: Skipping the acronym, on to the contents... (Score 1) 245

by bradley13 (#48930175) Attached to: One In Five Developers Now Works On IoT Projects

Yes, TFS should have defined it's acronym. Failing that, the editors could have caught it - typically, they didn't. Irritating.

On to the actual content: 1 in 5 developers are developing software for devices with embedded software that are likely to wind up with their own internet addresses. Given the high quality, secure software we are accustomed to seeing in routers, PCs, servers, etc.. Given the high level of security awareness we see in the developers in this area. I just gave a remedial lesson in SQL injection, damn it, isn't this stuff taught in primary school?

Given all of this, just think what we have to look forward to: more mediocre developers hard-coding security holes into every device with an embedded processor. Big companies like Verizon with their supercookies will soon be tracking your toilet flushes. The marketeers and the surveillance state will be vacuuming this up - the marketeers to sell you toilet paper, big brother so that the SWAT team can kick down your door while your pants are around your ankles.

O frabjous joy. Is it too late to strangle the Internet of Things in its crib?

Comment: A realy cost/benefit analysis would be nice... (Score 1) 304

by bradley13 (#48892625) Attached to: Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

Would it be too much to ask for them to explicitly discuss cost/benefit of something like this?

Example: Our car has some "smart" routine for detecting glare ice on the road. I don't know if it has ever been right - but there have been literally hundreds of false posltives over the years. Thankfully, it doesn't do anything but beep annoyingly.

Imagine if your car foes into full emergency braking, whenever it thinks an accident is imminent. What level of false positives is acceptable? What level of false negatives? How many accidents are statistlcally likely to be prevented? How many will be caused. Assuming a positive balance, what are the financial costs of building this system into all vehicles - and what is the resultant cost in dollars/life? These are the kinds of information that the Traffic Safety Administration ought to be publishing with their proposal.

If you look at the detailed report, they break the system into three parts. All together, they expect the system to prevent about 100 deaths per year (plus a larger number of injuries. There is a very brief discussion of false positives that arose in their test scenarios (e.g., in section 4.8.1.4), but absolutely no attempt to estimate the number of accidents caused by the system.

Consider how many rear-end accidents the average person has, over how many years and miles. Then figure the reliability - the number of false positives - that can be tolerated - the number is essentially zero. Achieving this will require extraordinarily reliable sensors and software, which willwill be technically difficult and financially costly. None of this is addresses in the report.

Comment: Bull pucky (Score 1, Insightful) 200

..."we're connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs..."

This is what community colleges do. Just exactly how is intervention by the federal government supposed to help? The only change is going to be an increase in the number of administrators the colleges hire to deal with the federal bureaucrats. The next step will be to offer the schools money. Then they'll hire even more administrators in order to suck properly at the federal teat. Finally, the federal government will use their dependence on federal money to impose ridiculous rules and regulations, that require even more administrators.

We've already seen how federal "help" has screwed up the American university system. Tuitions have increased by 200% to 300% in the past 20 years (that being the first example I pulled out of Google).

You know the line: "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you". Time to run screaming in the opposite direction.

Comment: RTFA (Score 1) 551

by bradley13 (#48829839) Attached to: Systemd's Lennart Poettering: 'We Do Listen To Users'

I'm no expert in the area by any means, However, in TFA, Lennart says:

there’s very little in Systemd that’s actually required. Systemd requires Journald, because every single service that runs on the system is connected to Journald, and we need some way to log things during early boot. So Journald is a requirement, and Udev is a requirement. But pretty much all other components are completely optional.

So there's your stripped down version. Your stuck with the logging, and I'll be the first to agree that binary logs are a dumb idea. However, apparently you can drop almost everything else. The trick will be finding a distribution that does this, since few sysadmins really want to roll their own...

Comment: Lollipop = Windows Vista (Score 5, Interesting) 437

by bradley13 (#48763629) Attached to: Is Kitkat Killing Lollipop Uptake?

Part of the problem is that Lollipop offers little new, but does destroy existing functionality. Google Calendar is much less usable than before. Personal and business email is now handled by the same application, making it much more difficult to keep private and business separate. Etc..

In return, we now have fancy animations when you touch the screen, gee, golly, wow. Oh, and existing, well-known icons have been redesigned; just as an example, to go to your home screen you no longer press the house icon, now you press a circle. I'm sure some designer is real proud of that, but they must have forgotten the user-testing.

Lollipop is Google's version of Windows Vista. I'm sure they'll fix it, but in the meantime I wish I could do a rollback to KitKat...

Comment: Read up on the different types of switches (Score 2) 190

by bradley13 (#48683633) Attached to: Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

It's worth doing some reading, to understand the differences between the switch types. Here's a good description of three of the switches. You likely don't want the really loud ones - I recently bought a keyboard using Cherry Brown, which are tactile, but a bit quieter - it's still loud enough that my officemates had to get used to it, but at least they didn't kill me.

Comment: Ewww...train your cats... (Score 3, Insightful) 190

by bradley13 (#48658899) Attached to: An Automated Cat Litter Box With DRM

On a related note, he notes that the cat litter sticks to his cats paws, and he really dislikes finding cat litter particles on his kitchen counters, tables, chopping boards, etc.

Ewww... Why don't people train their cats properly. It's not hard. My cats do not enter the kitchen, and all tables are also off limits. Teach them the rules when they are kittens. Afterwards, maybe once every year or two, you'll need to remind them that the rules haven't changed.

How to train? You just let them understand that there is a really odd law of nature: going in the kitchen or hopping on a table causes them to get wet. Squirt gun, pans of water set back from the table edge, whatever. Don't yell or anything - you don't want them to associate the water with you, but with the location they tried to go. Easy, and well worth it...

Comment: Commerce clause abuse (Score 5, Informative) 484

by bradley13 (#48632711) Attached to: Colorado Sued By Neighboring States Over Legal Pot

The stupid thing is: it may well work. The federal government regularly twists the Commerce Clause beyond all recognition. The most egregious case, the one that really set the ball rolling, was the one where the federal government claimed the right to regulate farmers feeding their own grain to their own livestock. Why? Because that meant that they bought less grain from elsewhere, some of which might, potentially come from out of state. Hence, the Commerce Clause allowed the regulation.

Given that sort of precedent, the federal government can justify essentially any regulation that it wants. Certainly including telling Colorado that it's state-wide laws are invalid, because they happen to indirectly affect neighboring states.

Comment: Not /. - that's TFA and science journalism (Score 1) 82

by bradley13 (#48616071) Attached to: Spacecraft Spots Probable Waves On Titan's Seas

That idiotic quote comes straight from TFA. It amply demonstrates the quality of what passes for "science journalism". In this case, not only the author, but also the editors of ScienceMag give the impression that they think methane is some weird form of water.

Actually, the author not only thinks that methane is water, he simultaneously thinks that it is oil, because he also writes that one of the methane seas "could contain 55 times Earth's oil reserves". Alternatively, he may be mixing information from unrelated theories: previously, the absence of waves was taken to indicate that the seas were viscous, containing heavier hydrocarbons. Reality could be somewhere between the two extremes.

Regardless, TFA is poor journalism, bringing more confusion than enlightenment to the average reader...

Comment: Move away from /. (Score -1, Troll) 190

by bradley13 (#48602805) Attached to: Why Didn't Sidecar's Flex Pricing Work?

I still visit /. occasionally. The last two times, it was to find a Bennett Haselton article. Just to add fuel to the fire: have you read Bennett's Wikipedia page? I do believe he wrote it his very own self.

I think I'm going to stick to Soylent in the future...bye bye again, /., it wasn't nice coming back...

Comment: Currently impossible to stop (Score 2) 160

by bradley13 (#48599781) Attached to: How Identifiable Are You On the Web?

As others have noted, the EFF Panopticlick is the better service.

I just spent far too much time playing around with this, on an extended lunch break. I note the following things:

- You had better disable explicit tracking services (Ghostery), or it all doesn't matter anyway.

- Fonts are a big factor. Fonts are identified through Flash. There is a configuration file "mms.cfg" that can disable this. The location of this file depends on your operating system and on your browser - it took me a good half-hour to find it for my particular configuration.

- However, even after disabling fonts, and even using a "user-agent switcher" to look like a Windows/Chrome combination (instead of Linux/Chrome), I was still uniquely identifiable. The biggest factor were my language preferences, the list of plugins, and the precise browser version. Refusing to report system fonts was also pretty important :-/

In short, there's not much way around it - if you include other information available, like your IP address, you will be uniquely identifiable, and trackable across websites.

What is missing from this picture: Browsers provide an "incognito" mode. This mode needs to be extended to provide only absolutely essential information to the server. The server needs to know roughly what level of standards support you have (e.g., "Mozilla/5.0"), and what language to send content in (one language, not a list with weights). Everything else could be omitted, and virtually all websites would work perfectly.

Go a step farther and disable JavaScript in incognito mode, to prevent explicit sniffing. That will disable more websites, but if those sites start losing traffic, they'll offer versions that don't require JS.

Comment: Win hearts and minds (Score 4, Interesting) 295

by bradley13 (#48595585) Attached to: French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber

Oh, yes, causing massive traffic snarls is a sure way to with the hearts and minds of the public. Reminds me of the German train drivers who keep striking, not for more money or better working conditions, but because their union bosses are at risk of losing their negotiating power to a larger union. Makes everybody in German just love the train drivers.

Paris taxis charge to just come and pick you up. Get in the car, and find that the meter has already been running from wherever the driver let off his last fare. Given a new competitor, the taxi drivers could always compete by offering better service, or lower rates, or more reliability, or... Nah.

Remember -- only 10% of anything can be in the top 10%.

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