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Comment: Re:Steal? So the army no longer has the software? (Score 1) 44

by bzipitidoo (#48039575) Attached to: Four Charged With Stealing Army Helicopter Training Software

Seeming isn't always correct, and espionage is not something I feel tolerant about. But is this really espionage, or is this trumped up military hysteria over well known information?

I know the military. They exaggerate. They would like to make everything, and I do mean everything, into a secret. There is no downside to doing so. If unsure about some information, the default is to stamp it as secret. Covers their asses that way. This includes basic facts of nature that are well known, stuff that is taught in high school science and math classes. They are total suckers for Security Through Obscurity. That this strangles cooperation and collaboration is less important to them because they don't get into as much trouble if a project fails than if a "secret" gets leaked.. At the same time, they demand that their collaborators have no secrets, and go so far as to enforce this by insisting that work be done on a military base, on computers belonging to the military, and that encryption can't be used anywhere on the hardware without lots of permission. That means of course that the contractors have to get security clearances and permission to be on the base. They also want to be in control, and despite not knowing what the heck they are doing, will periodically make off the wall demands to which the contractors can't easily say no. Can really hamstring a project, so much so that it makes the difference between success and failure. It's so bad that many refuse military funding because it comes with all sorts of unreasonable strings attached. Many years ago, OpenBSD spurned military funding, and I'm sure it was because of that sort of thing. I know universities have turned them down, knowing that the money would not make up for their interference.

Comment: Steal? So the army no longer has the software? (Score 3, Interesting) 44

by bzipitidoo (#48030639) Attached to: Four Charged With Stealing Army Helicopter Training Software

Did the perps really steal the software, or only copy it?

Not that it matters much. The army loves to go ape on "bad" guys. The army's reputation for paranoid overreaction to any threat involving computers is such that it wouldn't be surprising if the perps end up spending a very long time in Gitmo if the army gets hold of them. They'll be held without trial as, what do they call it, an imminent threat? They'll also be "aggressively interrogated" to find out how they did it. If the army has to hold a trial, they'll be found guilty of stealing, espionage, and of course (cue dramatic music) Hacking.

Comment: How to get paid to work on open source (Score 4, Insightful) 57

by bzipitidoo (#48020663) Attached to: How To Find the Right Open Source Project To Get Involved With

I'd rather hear about how to get paid to work on open source. The article talks a little about convincing your current employer to donate some of your time to a project. But first, you need an employer.

Then, your job has to have some down time. I've never had a job in IT with any down time at all. There are always bugs to fix, features to implement, fires to put out, and management to report to. Management is always pushing for more, questioning numbers and estimates or just simply cutting time, to the point that a deathmarch becomes a certainty.

Comment: Re:Oh good (Score 1) 905

by bzipitidoo (#47996019) Attached to: Miss a Payment? Your Car Stops Running

We have plenty of standards and examples to define predatory. Detection of violations are never perfect. Nor does equipment always function as intended. There are always mistakes. This kind of theft of utility is predatory. Right or wrong, it forces you to pay to play, and does so immediately no matter how inconvenient or outright damaging. From what the article says, some of these devices can shut the car off while it is in use. Are these idiots looking to repeat GM"s experience with their infamous ignition switches, but this time being far more culpable because it was caused deliberately?

This kill switch is similar to wheel clamps used to coerce payment of parking offenses. What makes it especially bad is abusive enforcement. Some authorities purposely create situations where it is all too easy to violate parking ordinances. For instance, there's the parking meter with the clock that runs a little too fast. From my experiences at the university, there are the too tight parking spaces that are nearly impossible to fit into, and so you get busted because a bumper was over the line, and there is the parking spot that is missing a line on one side because they didn't think it necessary to paint the curb, so on that technicality it doesn't qualify as a valid parking spot and you get busted for parking illegally. There's the old rotating parking trick-- one city I know made it law that on Tuesdays and Thursdays you park on the south or west side, and on the other weekdays on the north or east. Meant you couldn't leave a car on the street for longer than a day, you would have to move it all the time. That might be impossible if a bad storm hits and your car is snowed in. Didn't stop Washington D.C. from trying to profit from the situation and issue parking tickets. Naturally, your car had better be facing the correct direction. Clamps are pretty universally hated. Too many mistakes made with them, too many cases of overzealous enforcement to generate revenue, too many needless tragedies caused.

If you're desperate, you're easier to victimize with a bad deal. You don't have the option to walk away because you can't do any better anywhere else, and doing without is even worse.

Comment: car sellers are bad even at selling (Score 2) 393

by bzipitidoo (#47931215) Attached to: Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

This year, I went to the annual auto show in Dallas. What a total waste of money and time. The automakers who bothered to attend sent very junior people who didn't know anything. But they looked young and pretty. And that was their main selling point too: pretty. Pretty girls selling pretty cars. One of the few interesting cars there was a Nissan Leaf.

Don't know why they bothered having the show. If the show was an indication of the state of automobiling, I'd say they are out of ideas, and too gutless to try what few ideas they do have. Dealerships trying to stifle competition through legal technicalities makes them look really weak. Car makers need some serious shaking up, and Tesla may be the spark that sets off the forest fire. I hope batteries improve to the point that gasoline powered cars can no longer compete, and the public begins unloading them, rather like the way they unloaded SUVs in 2008 when the price of gas spiked, but more permanent.

Comment: Re:no permission needed (Score 1) 102

by bzipitidoo (#47884495) Attached to: Top EU Court: Libraries Can Digitize Books Without Publishers' Permission

Automobile makers do not get to dictate what their customers do with the cars they built. If the buyer wants to chop the car, make it into a lowrider, put different wheels on, change the paint color, smash it, bury it, or throw it with a trebuchet, there's not a thing the automobile manufacturer can or should be able to do about it. John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls Royce offended some people. Some of these people had nothing to do with the automaker, they were just upset that someone did something they thought inappropriate to a product they admired. Lot of rock stars are great at puncturing sacred cows that people didn't even realize they had.

Some people get all bent out of shape over a flag burning. Others find book burnings offensive. Get over it. Let them throw copies of Huckleberry Finn, Harry Potter, and the Dungeon Master's Guide in the flames all they like. Nothing is lost, even more so if digitization has not been blocked. The best the arsonists can hope for is that nothing comes of it, as it could backfire and raise awareness of those works. On numerous occasions, vandals have tried to destroy works of art. If there are digital copies, destruction is practically impossible. In any case, a great work like the Mona Lisa can last only so long. It will inevitably deteriorate. If idiotic copyright laws and museum policies have prevented us from copying it into a more permanent form, for posterity, we deserve to lose it to the next time some insane person loses his mind and attacks the art. Rarities have been lost because the owner decided to destroy it. If there are good copies everywhere, the owner of an original can't deny a work to the rest of us out of spite, malice, revenge, or whatever, can't demand a big ransom not to destroy it. Can't mutilate it either through reckless bureaucratic policy, as was done to many paintings, including Rembrandt's Night Watch when they cut the painting down to size to fit a space. Then there are always Acts of God. Art has been lost in fires, floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

I don't see why a work of art should be any different from a car. If the artists don't like it, it should be their responsibility to make copies or documents describing how to recreate it, before handing one over to a buyer. It's not like making a copy is so hard any more. Indeed, the biggest barriers can be legal ones.

Comment: no permission needed (Score 2) 102

by bzipitidoo (#47883101) Attached to: Top EU Court: Libraries Can Digitize Books Without Publishers' Permission

It's a start. Lot of "owners" think they have such far reaching power over works of art, think they get to dictate what others may and may not do.

I've heard many a museum claim that copyright gives them the authority to forbid photos. It's one thing to forbid flash photography on the grounds that flashes put out UV radiation which can damage art. But they try to forbid photos, not just flashes. Claim that it would violate copyright, even though the work of art in question is long out of copyright, and they never held ownership of any copyright over the work anyway. The Alamo also claims it's "disrespectful" to the dead. A building near downtown Dallas, the Infomart, has signs that say you can't take photos of the building, and they include in that photos of the exterior from public locations such as nearby sidewalks. They claim it's for security reasons. Some museums reveal their real fears, crying that they will not have any more visitors, not be able to sell postcards. Was funny to hear this one old lady complain about the Internet ruining their business.

One place I know of that did have a change of heart is the memorial to the Oklahoma City bombing. They still have signs up that forbid photos inside, but if you ask them, they will tell you that you can take pictures.

Comment: Re:Don't lie (Score 2) 499

They're in the business of assessing possible problems with people.

Too bad they get it wrong much of the time. These guys are pig-headed, simplistic thinkers. They are more interested in covering their asses than getting the facts right. They figure it's better to make connections that aren't there, no matter how stupid, than to miss something. If that catches a few innocents in the net, they accept it as unfortunate but a necessary price of security. What I found especially striking was that one of the groups is Communist. I thought we won the Cold War? What these guys do is total House Un-American Activities Committee. These guys could also be prejudiced against smart, creative people such as college professors and actors, secretly enjoying it when they get to use their petty authority and judgments to trip them up.

But that's not a founding principle of the US. Innocent until proven guilty is. British military justice, which operated the opposite way, guilty until proven innocent, had too many cases of good people's careers and lives being wrecked over unfounded accusations. The founding fathers recognized that accusations are legion, and under a guilty until proven innocent system, they might not be able to find any acceptable people. No one would be able to qualify. Unfair systems promote corruption. The people running it can more easily abuse a system for personal gain when it is already unfair and abusive.

Comment: Re:Bullcrap (Score 4, Insightful) 387

by bzipitidoo (#47863995) Attached to: Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative

The entire premise of the article is bull. Are companies ever going to get off this fixation on specific programming languages? There used to be such a thing as training. Companies once did that.

Now it sounds like everyone has accepted that you should train on your own time. Worse, you have to do speculative training. Learn the specifics of some platform, and you might get a job doing it.

Comment: Re:Perl, anyone? (Score 1) 387

by bzipitidoo (#47863925) Attached to: Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative

Last coding job I had used Perl 5. We recreated an app for a database. The original app had been discontinued in favor of a 4GL language.

Then the client decided they wanted that app coded in the 4GL language, and hired me to do it. Wow, what a lot of 80s thinking and cruft I saw. Managed to produce what they wanted, but they had to compromised a little. The input methods were typical of the era. Tried to do it all so the programmer didn't have to bother with tedious details. But if you wanted to change some of those details, you couldn't, not without a lot of extra work.

Comment: Re:C has bigger problems than that trivia (Score 1) 729

Ever used a Reverse Polish calculator? Or postfix or prefix notation? It does work. Yeah, I seriously would prefer prefix notation to superfluous parentheses.

Maybe you feel it's unclear? There's an answer to that too. Whitespace, as in Proper Indentation.

thingA
. thingB
. . thingC 4 7
. thingD thingE

Before you ask, no, the whitespace is not required, This isn't Python. It is merely there to aid coders, same as any other indentation in C source code.

Comment: Re:Humans have too much (Score 2) 206

by bzipitidoo (#47838817) Attached to: Should Cyborgs Have the Same Privacy Rights As Humans?

Very idealistic. We could do with more transparency. Mroe than that, we could do with more equality of transparency. The rich get to hide their mistakes behind the corporate veil. Those of us who aren't executives of corporations have more limited options.

However, until the law is perfect, justice is truly fair, and our peers are totally enlightened about freedom of thought, speech, and so forth, all of which may be never, privacy is important. Is there anyone who hasn't had things to hide from our own parents? Especially our parents? Like that you got a warning for speeding while you were out on the town last night? Think of all the potentially embarrassing things there are to buy, such as porn magazines, sex toys, alcoholic drinks, hemorrhoid medicine, denture adhesive, and certain genres of music. I would love to have the hypocrisies and tyrannies uncovered and shamed out of existence by acknowledgement that lots of people have the same problems and desires. I mean things like that your parents engaged in sex to bring you into the world, but they forbid that you learn any details about sex (The stork brought you? You appeared under a cabbage leaf?), and certainly forbid that you try it! Just having a waist size connected to your name could be more than embarrassing, supposing it suggests that you are overweight, and you suffer discrimination from people who have never even seen you?

There are also political issues. Do you want it known whether you voted Republican or Democrat, or some 3rd party? Some examples of political issues are the War on Piracy and the War on Drugs. Years ago, there was the hysteria over Communism, with the House Un-American Activities Committee and the infamous Joe McCarthy ruining the careers of many in Hollywood. That has all been discredited now and we are at last easing up on drugs. Piracy however is still raging. And it can still happen again, with climate scientists such as Michael Mann among some of the more recent victims. They did their utmost to fish through his private emails for evidence that he was incompetent or a liar, and when they couldn't find good enough dirt, they exaggerated what they could. There are powerful interests that would very much like to use more transparency to force their extreme views on copyright on the rest of us. Would you like to be sued for copying a recording to another device? Arrested and your equipment seized, for timeshifting? With total transparency, they could do that. But fortunately for us all, the universe does not work that way. They cannot win, but they can hurt plenty of people before they are at last shut down. I think someday, copying will be legal, and seen as good for everyone, even artists. Until then, we all just have to be a little cautious, and keep it quiet whenever we do anything they could construe as piracy.

Comment: C has bigger problems than that trivia (Score 1) 729

The "if (a = b)" syntax is among the first things newcomers to C are warned about. It's not a big problem.

Null terminated strings are a bigger problem. What do you do if you want to embed nulls in a string? Not use the entire string.h library for starters, have to write your own routines. It really is better to store the length in a simple integer, as long as it's not stupidly small like in Turbo Pascal where they set aside one measly byte, thus making the maximum length a paltry 255 characters. There are simply too many use cases where length information is needed. Having the length makes a strlen function trivial and run in constant time, instead of a time dependent upon the data. We now have the String class in the Standard Template Library which addresses these problems.

Bigger yet are the limitations of the function call syntax. This is not just C, but most programming languages that originated in those times. Most functions have a fixed number of parameters. If it's known how many parameters there are, it is not necessary to enclose the list. Basic math is done without that, eg. c = a +b instead of something gross like equal(&c,add(a,b)), Why can't functions be done the same way? Because they decided to allow variable numbers of parameters, with the printf function being the most prominent example of such a function. This was done in a very awkward manner. Consequently, most programmers avoid it. But we still have to include the parentheses even for functions with a fixed number of parameters. C enshrined parentheses as basically a sigil to distinguish function names from variable names. What does C gain from this? The ability to curry? No. Recursive functions? No, don't need variable length parameter lists for that, it does recursion anyway. The good in C's function syntax is that the programmer doesn't have to use a key word like "call" to call a function, and C has no unnecessary distinction between a function and a "procedure" as in Pascal. Can sort of do some functional style programming by passing pointers to functions. But they didn't get functions good enough. Operator overloading is an ugly hack that tries to address these inherent deficiencies. It doesn't succeed, can't go far enough. Same with polymorphism and name mangling. And C++'s addition of prefacing a parameter with an ampersand is nice, but merely a syntactic shortcut. The latest C/C++ standards also nibble at this problem with things like the introduction of "auto". But it still has the fundamental problem of excessive parentheses, like in LISP. C is all about brevity and economy, in both syntax and compiled code, but in this, they didn't do as well as they could have.

Then there's parallel programming. C wasn't designed for it, and can't do it clearly and cleanly. To be fair, there isn't a general purpose language that really nails parallel programming. Does it make sense to have to clear an array by using a loop, as in "for (i=0; i<MAX; i++) a[i] =0;"? Not if you're trying to use the massive parallelism of current commodity graphics cards. To this day, parallel programming remains a sort of black art, to be attempted only by the most skilled and intrepid programmers. Similar to the reputation that assembler still has in some programming circles, or that network programming used to have (sockets, ooh, scary!) Just include the magic library and call the magic functions, let them handle the complexities.

And that brings me to the next point, the libraries. The language designers didn't put enough consideration into libraries, or they would have realized how huge the entire set of libraries could get and made some provisions for that. Instead, years later namespaces were added. The next problem with the libraries is related to the problems with function calls. The library interface is too language specific. Those header files are a mess that makes it much harder for another language to use the related functions. A common solution is to resort to "wrappers", like much of CPAN for the Perl language. SWIG is another approach. There are also things like f2c and p2c. What's very badly needed is some kind of standard library interface. Not easy to do, not with the variety of programming paradigms out there, but maybe now we know enough to do it.

Comment: efficiency matters (Score 2) 161

by bzipitidoo (#47774093) Attached to: Research Shows RISC vs. CISC Doesn't Matter

This study looks seriously flawed. They just throw up their hands at doing a direct comparison of architectures when they try to use extremely complicated systems and sort of do their best to beat down and control all the factors that introduces. One of the basic principles of a scientific study is that independent variables are controlled. It's very hard to say how much the instruction set architecture matters when you can't tell what pipelining, out of order execution, branch prediction, speculative execution, caching, shadowing (of registers), and so on are doing to speed things up. An external factor that could influence the outcome is temperature. Maybe one computer was in a hotter corner of the test lab than the other, and had to spend extra power just overcoming the higher resistance that higher temperatures cause.

It might have been better to approach this from an angle of simulation. Simulate a more idealized computer system, one without so many factors to control.

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