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Comment: Bingo: this is itself a test :-) (Score 1) 100

by bradley13 (#49360727) Attached to: UK Licensing Site Requires MSIE Emulation, But Won't Work With MSIE

My son is applying for a computer science program at a fairly prestigious university. If you try to follow the links that ought to lead to the online application process, at least one of them is broken - it links to an internal server instead of to the public website. You can look at the URL and figure out what it ought to have been, based on other URLs on the site. Accident? Or pre-filtering their applicants?

But require IE? Worse, a Firefox emulation of IE? No, that's a different message. That's telling good applicants "you do not want to work here"...

Comment: Clinging to a hopeless theory? (Score 1) 173

by bradley13 (#49360705) Attached to: Dark Matter Is Even More of a Mystery Than Expected

The lack of evidence for dark matter is becoming kind of embarrassing to the theory. Anything that should provide direct evidence doesn't - dark matter is seemingly only necessary to explain large-scale gravitational behavior, but is not otherwise in evidence.

For me, as a layman, dark matter was never persuasive: "there's this stuff that only has an effect way out there where we need it, but has no local effect where it would screw up our nice models". Sure there is. There are other theories that seem to be at least as reasonable. For example, what if the speed of light is not a constant across all time and space? This could dramatically change the behavior of the universe on large scales. I'm no cosmologist, but I understand that there are other theories as well.

Comment: As always, it only goes one way... (Score 4, Interesting) 515

by bradley13 (#49329459) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

I teach computer science. No one will be surprised to hear that most of our students are men. This is a problem, at least, we are continually told that it is.

The news yesterday had a report on schools that train people to become small-animal veterinarians here in Switzerland. They happened to mention that 80% of the students are women. This is apparently fine; there is no outcry to find more male veterinary students.

My son works in professional child care, where women are something like 95% of the workforce. No one seems terribly concerned by this, even though the lack of male role models for young boys is arguably an actual, genuine problem.

Personally, I am very tired of articles like this. Why the continual one-way focus on women? Why can't we just let individuals be individuals, and do whatever they want? Ensure that there are no artificial barriers due to gender (or skin color, or hair color, or whatever), stop pushing people in directions they don't want to go, and just let people choose whatever career they want.

Comment: Logical or procedural, but it doesn't really matte (Score 4, Insightful) 177

by bradley13 (#49243115) Attached to: Preferred programming paradigm?

The whole world has come to worship at the OO alter, and it's fine for many problems, but too many school graduates don't know anything else. OO does at least encourage mediocre programmers to think about their data representation before they start coding. Of course, they get it wrong anyway.

Just look at the database schemas used by software systems in the wild. I ran across one last year where everything (and I do mean everything) was a string, and there wasn't a single foreign-key constraint in the whole database. A system before that couldn't be bothered even with first normal form - it truly stored multiple values in single database fields and parsed them out on demand. In both cases, the code was as bad as the database. I'm not sure the programmers had a paradigm. Maybe "random chaos"? Amazingly, both of those systems worked, more or less...

Given a good programmer, the paradigm doesn't much matter. Given a bad programmer, the paradigm isn't going help.

Comment: Re:Swiss bank accounts - huh? (Score 3, Informative) 389

the majority of Swiss GDP is bank fees on off shore accounts

Nice stereotype you have there, but it doesn't have a lot to do with reality.

The Swiss financial sector in total is around 11% of our GDP; of that, banks are a bit more than half. Take out domestic banking services, and offshore banking is well under 5% of our GDP. Pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical devices are far more important, as are other industry sectors.

Comment: He's an idiot... (Score 2) 389

Writing as a Swiss, in my view there are two parts to the Swiss watch market. Apple doesn't threaten either one of them.

First, we have the market where Swatch succeeded: the inexpensive fashion accessory. $30 bucks and you had something cool to wear. Apple's products are a hell of a lot more expensive, so they aren't addressing this market.

Second, we have the really expensive Swiss watches. They are also fashion accessories, but they are almost exclusively mechanical watches. I don't see a digital watch gaining any traction among people who spend thousands and sometimes millions for what is essentially mechanical artwork.

Where Apply may succeed is among young professionals: people far enough along to have some disposable income - past the Swatch age - but not in the market to spend crazy amounts of money for a status symbol. The thing is: people in this market have already stopped wearing watches, because their smart phones show the time. Maybe Apple will get them to wear a fancy bracelet again - and maybe not. Either way, it's pretty irrelevant to the watch manufacturers.

Of course, I never have understood the Apple Koolaid. Slick marketing gets people to buy overpriced products that don't work any better than those of the competition. Why?

Comment: Desired feature: no fingerprinting (rant) (Score 2) 167

by bradley13 (#49204085) Attached to: Hands-On With the Vivaldi Browser

Desired feature for any browser, failing that a plugin: Something that really restricts the information the browser sends to the server, to prevent fingerprinting. There are UI switchers and the like, but I have yet to find one that just bloody stops the browser from sending identifying information.

A website that isn't trying to be bleeding edge has no need to know my OS, my browser version, what plugins I have installed, what fonts are on my system, or indeed anything at all about my system and setup. Send me standards-compliant HTML and CSS, and let my browser worry about the representation.

It seems to me that this should be a standard setting, right next to "prohibit 3rd party cookies". Why isn't it available in (afaik) any browser at all?

Comment: EFF article on the subject of data and borders (Score 3, Informative) 340

While it is written specifically for the US, the EFF article Defending Privacy at the U.S. Border: A Guide for Travelers Carrying Digital Devices nonetheless provides a good discussion of your options in cases like this. It also discusses the various ways you can prepare your devices and data for the situation.

Comment: Re:Great cause, dumb ass cops (Score 1) 199

"Developed password-cracking software in-house"

Brilliant. Have some amateur develop it, instead of using an established product written by an expert. Great idea.

Reminds me of the time (no joke) a Secret Service agent asked me to get data off of a PC that had been used for a credit-card scam. At the time I was (iirc) a college freshman or maybe sophomore, majoring in EE, who happened to program as a hobby. At the time I felt pretty flattered - only in retrospect did I realize how crazy this was. I had full, unfettered access to the PC, there was no copy, and I was programming directly on the box I was extracting evidence from. Granted, that was a long time ago, but it serves as an anecdote to show the level of professionalism these agencies demonstrate. I'm sure they have real experts, but too often the field offices seem to be playing Keystone Cops.

So here we have some field office taking down a whole data center. They're probably pretty impressed with themselves, they get some neat toys to play with, and they get headlines for their heroic crime-fighting efforts. Who cares about the collateral damage they've done to thousands of innocent people using the file-sharing service? At first glance, this reminds me of the Mega-debacle in the US, where they also took down an entire data center with very shaky justifications.

Prediction: The whole case will fall apart. Either because it was all a mistake and there is no evidence, or because they screw up whatever evidence they do have. Nonetheless, the customers will be out their data and the data-center will be driven to bankruptcy. Nonetheless, the officers involved will receive commendations.

Comment: Airstrikes are almost useless (Score 1) 533

Unless you have an enemy with obvious logistical targets, airstrikes are pretty useless. Great, you blew up a jeep with a machine gun on it. The cost of your bomb plus the flight time of the drone is probably more than the jeep was worth. Oh, by the way, which side was that jeep on? With intermingled and fluid borders, and little direct intelligence, it's kind of hard to be sure...

Anyway, as others have pointed out, all US intervention has accomplished since 9/11 (and before, but that's a different discussion) is to make bad situations even worse. What's the saying? "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result". US interventions are not working. It's time for the US to mind it's own business, and let the Middle East sort itself out.

Comment: Unenforceable laws should not be laws (Score 1) 207

by bradley13 (#49100863) Attached to: Wired On 3-D Printers As Fraud Enablers

Electronic copying has made music and video copyrights almost meaningless - anybody can download just about anything. 3D printing will make patents on simple mechanical objects equally meaningless. If I need a new kitchen widget or a new plastic doohickey, why not just print one? There ought to be endless online libraries, provided by manufacturers or created by end users.

Of course, industry will fight this tooth and nail. Patenting differently-shaped measuring spoons or the plastic feet on a chair may make no sense at all - but manufacturers will never admit this. They would rather spend millions defending their worthless patents.

Comment: Mission creep (Score 1) 134

by bradley13 (#49100293) Attached to: Homeland Security Urges Lenovo Customers To Remove Superfish

Why, thank you! I had no idea you cared!

Homeland security is now an expert on computer security? Will they do as wonderful a job here as they've done at airports? Will Americans soon have to flash their national IDs at the computers before being allowed on the Internet?

What the devil is Homeland Security doing issuing such a statement? Mission creep to the nth degree...

Comment: Link (very odd criticisms, too) (Score 4, Interesting) 125

by bradley13 (#49085405) Attached to: Jamie Oliver's Website Serving Malware

Jamie Oliver's butcher's forced to close after hygiene inspection

Key bits from the article: "the score for the January 8 inspection is listed as of 1 out of five with the comment: 'major improvement necessary'." and "one of only 19 out of 1,659 food outlets in the City to receive an 'A hazardous' rating".

This sounds pretty damning and pretty embarrassing. That said, there are some odd things. One of the complaints was mold on aging beef, but - depending on what you are doing - mold is part-and-parcel of the process (and the butchery claims that this was the case). Another funny point: the butchery voluntarily closed following the inspection to fix the issues mentioned. It reopened "several hours" later. If the issues could be fixed in a few hours, they were pretty much cosmetic problems.

So what to think? I figure it's 50/50 whether there were real problems, or whether this was a politically motivated inspection. Or maybe the inspector didn't get his free steak.

Comment: Liability shift to merchants (Score 4, Interesting) 449

by bradley13 (#49085361) Attached to: Credit Card Fraud Could Peak In 2015 As the US Moves To EMV

My wife has a small company that accepts credit cards. As the parent comment points out, the credit cards want to push liability for fraud onto the merchants. This has two aspects

- First, the physical card: Chip and pin is standard here, which would be fine, but don't think your fees go down when they hand you the liability. My wife has, to my knowledge, never had a case a fraud in 20 years, but that doesn't matter either. Mastercard/Visa are completely in collusion, there is no competition, they can demand whatever fees they want.

- Second, the Internet: I wrote her first web-shops, including the payment processing. This has become completely impossible. The credit card companies impose ever more impossible rules. Ultimately, if you handle credit card numbers electronically, they began insisting on quarterly audits of your IT infrastructure. We used an ISP - so they were going to insist on auditing the ISP infrastructure. Our ISP was - shockingly - actually ok with this, but the whole nightmare just got too complicated. In the end, the rules appear to be nothing but a way of forcing you to use their approved payment processors - yet another way to suck money out of merchants.

Will some Internet payment service please, please spring up and actually give Mastercard/Visa some real competition? Paypal has been largely co-opted, Bitcoin is a joke - we need something that your average Joe can and will use. So far, nothing...

Comment: Well... (Score 1) 411

by bradley13 (#49032073) Attached to: Your Java Code Is Mostly Fluff, New Research Finds

Three things:

- First, Java is needlessly wordy - consider the necessity of explicity writing getters/setters for any class where you want access control. What a pile of code for nothing.

- Second, you can write cryptic code or you can write understandable code. Understandable code involves a few more newlines, so what?

- Lastly, depending on your developers, yes, you can have overly long code. Someone who re-implements the same functionality 10 times instead of defining an abstract class and implementing it once - such developers exist. if you have one in your team, I do feel sorry for you. How prevalent is this? No idea...

Of course, TFA wasn't really about any of this. It is about a semantic analysis that determines the number of unique concepts in a method, reducing it to a "minset" which is no longer executable. This is an interesting theoretical analysis, but doesn't have a lot to do with real programs designed to actually perform actions with those concepts. Some methods are wordy because you want them to be clear, others are wordy because of what you are doing, and still others are wordy because of characteristics of the language you are working in.

The trouble with being punctual is that people think you have nothing more important to do.