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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) 448

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.

Comment: "powers data centers with renewable energy" (Score 1) 191

by bradley13 (#49028955) Attached to: Apple Invests $848 Million Into Solar Farm

"[Apple] powers all of its data centers with renewable energy"

Solar makes lots of sense in the California desert. However, I find statements like the above really annoying. In the night, solar provides zilch. On calm days, the same for wind. Apple's data centers hang off the grid like anyone else, and the great weakness of all renewables is irregular production and lack of storage.

Comment: Actually a UK bank (Score 2) 129

by bradley13 (#49025673) Attached to: HSBC Banking Leak Shows Tax Avoidance, Dealings With Criminals

The data comes from the Swiss subsidiary, but HSBC is actually a British bank. And you have to love this bit from TFA:

"The man in charge of HSBC at the time, Stephen Green, was made a Conservative peer and appointed to the government. Lord Green was made a minister eight months after HMRC had been given the leaked documents from his bank. He served as a minister of trade and investment until 2013."

The little fish will be prosecuted, while the big fish are made peers of the realm. Business as usual for all of the big banks.

Comment: Yes, but... (Score 3, Interesting) 252

by bradley13 (#49012675) Attached to: AP Test's Recursion Examples: An Exercise In Awkwardness

Yes, it is a test question. Yes, if you understand recursion, you can answer the question. However, it is poor code, because the recursion is not tail-recursive; anyone who uses recursion with unknown values ('n' in this case) will write a tail-recursive function.

Since it's a totally artificial question, there is no reason that they couldn't have used a tail-recursive function. Lots of students won't know the difference, but crappy code like this is a stumbling block exactly for the students who really do understand what's going on.

Comment: Lack of compiler support !!! (Score 1) 252

by bradley13 (#49012561) Attached to: AP Test's Recursion Examples: An Exercise In Awkwardness

I would use recursion a lot more frequently if compilers supported tail recursion. Not for simple iteration, perhaps, but there are plenty of cases where recursion is a better solution that a loop. For example, recursion is often be appropriate when working through some sort of data structure.

The problem is: The most common languages don't optimize for tail recursion. This means that even shallow recursion will eat memory. If the depth of the recursion is unknown, then the lack of optimization for tail-recursion means that your program may run out of memory - not because of any programming error, but due to a defect in the compiler.

There is nothing inherently difficult about handling tail recursion. Scala does it just fine, running on the JVM. I can only imagine that those responsible for mainstream languages figure no one will use it. Well, we, can't, because your compilers don't support it properly...

Comment: Weakness of the digital age (Score 1) 178

by bradley13 (#49005003) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: With Whom Do You Entrust Your Long Term Data?

Most of the comments are technically correct, but everyone seems to have accepted the elephant in the room: We have no decent archival solution for the digital age. The bookkeeping done by monks 600 years ago can still be read today, as long as you can make out their handwriting. Accounts from 19th century companies were kept in ledgers. Barring fire, flood or other disaster, any ledgers someone thought were were keeping are still legible today. Some readers may recall that UBS got in trouble for trying to destroy bank records from WWII - but those records still existed with no effort whatsoever other than having them stacking in some storage closet for 70 years.

Yet without a serious and sustained effort, digital data self-destructs. No commonly used media has a storage life of more than a few years. We have all accepted this as fact, but it is actually a problem in serious need of a solution. As more and more records are kept online - business records, governmental records, personal records - the danger of serious data loss increases.

Want a recent example? In the US, the IRS lost important emails from personal mail accounts, because they had no archival strategy. If they were lying (which I personally tend to suspect), then it was an entirely plausible lie, which still serves to make the point. Just as with security, archival is an overhead expense that management doesn't really want to spend money on.

Comment: Dangerously wrong - snake oil (Score 1, Interesting) 201

by bradley13 (#48980613) Attached to: Testosterone Increasingly Being Used To Fight Aging In Men

Somebody is selling snake oil again. Testosterone may have subjectively beneficial short-term effects (virility, muscle tone, etc), but all current evidence is that it shortens your lifespan.

Studies of eunuchs have shown that they live substantially longer than non-castrated men. That's just one link; anyone with a bit of Google-fu will find others. For example, higher levels of testosterone are thought to be a reason that men have shorter lifespans than women.

Comment: Utterly counterproductive (Score 1) 779

by bradley13 (#48961149) Attached to: WA Bill Takes Aim at Boys' Dominance In Computer Classes

When will people learn that measures like this promote discrimination.

As soon as you force schools to have more girls in the classes, one of two things will happen: (1) They will forbid interested boys from taking the classes, or (2) they will put uninterested girls into the classes, which will screw up the classes for those who really do want to learn.

Reminds me of the (entirely unofficial, but entirely real) quota systems I have seen in certain schools and companies. Because some women were admitted/hired despite being unqualified, all women in the program were regarded with suspicion. This was utterly unfair to those women who were, in fact, qualified. It encourages discrimination, because everyone assumes that all girls/women are there due to the quota rather than their personal capabilities.

The right approach: Encourage anyone interested to take the classes; ensure that the instructors and administrators are not discouraging anyone because of their gender.

Comment: Cash grab of a bankrupt country (Score 1) 825

by bradley13 (#48952729) Attached to: Obama Proposes One-Time Tax On $2 Trillion US Companies Hold Overseas

The thing is: The money this tax is aimed at is not in the US and - by international law - was not earned in the US. To impose such a tax, the US must do some combination of violating signed treaties and forcing foreign jurisdictions to subject themselves to US domestic law. The US might have been able to pull something like that off, say, during the Cold War. Now? After the 2008 banking crisis? After the total muck the US has made of the Middle East? After Snowdon and the NSA revelations? Forget it, the US has lost too much credibility for such a naked power/cash grab to ever work.

Option a: The current US administration really is this clueless. Sadly, a real possibility, given the other idiocies they have shown.

Option b: This is a distraction. Just like a magician - attracts your attention with one hand, while, the other hand...someone is getting his pocket picked.

The US is bloody bankrupt, with current debt approaching $20 trillion and unfunded liabilities of around ten times that amount. It's all about cash, to keep paying for the bread and circuses, so that the political elite can put off the inevitable reckoning just a little bit longer.

Dreams are free, but you get soaked on the connect time.