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Comment: In Canada Engineers Are Required to Write the Code (Score 1) 664

by celest (#46308183) Attached to: Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration

In Canada, the public is protected from such software bugs by statute, in the same way the public is protected from medical screw ups: a professional engineer is required by law to write any software code where safety is on the line. Just like when a new bridge is constructed and must be designed and validated by a professional engineer who is an expert in structures and who becomes professionally liable for the project, the same is true for software. If safety is on the line, a professional engineer who is an expert in software and/or computer systems (as the case may be) must design and validate the code and they become professionally liable for the software. Unfortunately, too many companies ignore the law.

Source: Professional Engineers Act of Ontario (http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90p28_e.htm ) and Professional Engineers Ontario (http://www.peo.on.ca/). There are similar acts and professional associations for all provinces and territories in Canada.

Full disclosure: I'm a professional computer engineer registered in Ontario with PEO.

Comment: Illegal in Canada (Score 4, Informative) 405

by celest (#46032283) Attached to: Network Solutions Opts Customer Into $1,850 Security Service

It's worth noting that this action (auto-enroll and bill) is illegal in Canada. Each province/territory has its own consumer protection act that requires explicit opt-in for any new services that are provided to existing customers, in writing. You cannot auto-enroll people and require them to opt-out to not be charged.

Source (for Ontario, at least): http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/ht...

Non-legalese summary provided by the Ministry of Consumer Services of Ontario: http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/e...

Comment: In Canada Professional Engineers Must Do The Work (Score 1) 100

by celest (#45246029) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Developer Responsibility When Apps Might Risk Lives?

In Canada, under the various provincial acts (and a National act that keeps them largely consistent), professional engineers (note, the word "engineer" is legally protected in Canada, like Medical Doctor or Lawyer, unlike in the US.) must do any work that involves human safety. That INCLUDES computer/technical related work. The classic example is software for air traffic control systems or software on space shuttle modules.

One of the problems for the engineering regulatory bodies (Professional Engineers Ontario - PEO - in the case of Ontario) is that many companies don't employ computer/software engineers even when their software involves human safety. They use computer science majors, or people with 1 year technical diplomas from the local college, or people with Microsoft or Cisco courses, or whoever happens to know whatever programming language they are using. The companies are legally required to have the work reviewed and signed off on by licensed engineers, but they just assume "oh, it's not like software is like a bridge or a building or something", so don't realise that the engineering priciples are no different than those used in structural engineering. Where it becomes even more fuzy is that the laws also state that licensed engineers must be used when "financial welfare" is on the line. Very few banking systems are properly designed by licensed computer/software engineers...

Source: I'm a professional engineer (P.Eng) registered in Ontario. Related legislation in Ontario:http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90p28_e.htm - Professional regulatory body in Ontario: www.peo.on.ca

Comment: Why is "monetizing" OS still = "clamping down"? (Score 3, Insightful) 168

by celest (#45160071) Attached to: Should Google Get Aggressive About Monetizing Android?

Why is it that in 2013 the majority of discussions about generating revenue using a free/libre/open source strategy are still focused on "clamping down" and other zero-sum game thought patterns? Haven't we shown yet that there are not only strategies to generate revenue with open source that don't involve trying to control everything, but also that these strategies can be more successful in the long run? The type of "collision course" competition that the OP mentions is strategy thinking from the 70s and 80s. We're past that. We can do better.

I think a more interesting question to ask is: "How can Google generate revenue from Android while continuing to nurture the ecosystem and helping other stakeholders also continue to benefit from its success?". Facing challenging questions and trying to solve them is far more interesting than simply assuming that there is no solution, especially when anecdoctal evidence suggests otherwise.

Disclaimer: I'm doing my doctoral research in strategic management in the area of open source strategy, so my perspective is necessarily biased. Some of my work can be found at http://osstrategy.org/

Comment: Real problem is estimated market size, not tech (Score 1) 160

by celest (#43974551) Attached to: Reversible Male Contraception With Gold Nanorods

The real problem is that pharmaceutical companies don't think there is a market for male contraceptives. It has nothing to do with technologies. There have been many effective, reversible, non-invasive procedures in human trials for the past 30 years:

http://www.malecontraceptives.org/

The issue is that "most men" think contraceptives are "unmanly" and will "never take them". At least that's what several doctors have personally told me when I was investigating contraceptive options. Nothing will move forward until there is a (at least perceived) cultural shift towards the acceptance that males should be responsible for their own fertility, creating a (at least perceived) market to justify the large capital expenses required to finalize and make available the various drugs and procedures.

Comment: Re:The issue of perspective (Score 1) 1145

by celest (#43253575) Attached to: SendGrid Fires Employee After Firestorm Over Inappropriate Jokes

Rationality is only one way of viewing the world. Lots of people aren't rational and a lot of social behaviour isn't rational. As an engineer, my brain is wired to think rationally and to view the world through a rational lense. It's my prefered way of interacting with people. A very large percentage of people don't work that way. They are driven more by emotions, communicate with emotions, interpret the world through feelings, not reason. They're humans too. Part of the point of the blog post I linked is to help you step into their world and understand it. Trying to understand people who don't see the world through a rational lense is still a worthy pursuit and can help you grow as a person, even if your preferred way of understanding the world (and mine too) is rationality. It's too easy to just say "they're not rational" and leave it there. Let's dig deeper and see what we can learn.

Comment: The issue of perspective (Score 2) 1145

by celest (#43242387) Attached to: SendGrid Fires Employee After Firestorm Over Inappropriate Jokes

While reading about all of this, my biggest issue was that I felt like I was lacking perspective. I was seeing a lot of arguments from various people but I didn't understand how anyone's perspective could lead to the given outcomes.

I found this post very helpful: http://griffin.oobleyboo.com/archive/on-pycon2013-and-equality/

It does a good job of moving you into someone else's shoes; some who is very different from you, whoever you might be. It was helpful. Viewing things from another perspective is NOT condoning actions. It's learning. Understanding. It's a step in the direction of addressing long-standing systematic issues. A first step.

Comment: UR DOING IT WRONG! (Score 2) 215

by celest (#36006142) Attached to: VMware Causes Second Outage While Recovering From First

You would think someone as big as VMware would have figured out, by now, that if "An inadvertent press of a key on a keyboard" can lead to "a full outage of the network infrastructure [including] all load balancers, routers, and firewalls [resulting] in a complete external loss of connectivity to [their Cloud service]" that they are DOING IT WRONG!

In other news, VMware announces they're releasing a new voting machine: http://xkcd.com/463/

Input Devices

Is the Line-in Jack On the Verge of Extinction? 411

Posted by timothy
from the erasing-the-analog-hole dept.
SlashD0tter writes "Many older sound cards were shipped with line-out, microphone-in, and a line-in jacks. For years I've used such a line-in jack on an old Windows 2000 dinosaur desktop that I bought in 2000 (600 Mhz PIII) to capture the stereo audio signal from an old Technics receiver. I've used this arrangement to recover the audio from a slew of old vinyl LPs and even a few cassettes using some simple audio manipulating software from a small shop in Australia. I've noticed only recently, unfortunately, that all of the four laptops I've bought since then have omitted a line-in jack, forcing me to continue keeping this old desktop on life support. I've looked around for USB sound cards that include a line-in jack, but I haven't been too impressed by the selection. Is the line-in jack doomed to extinction, possibly due to lobbying from vested interests, or are there better thinking-outside-the-box alternatives available?"
Games

8-Year Fan-Made Game Project Shut Down By Activision 265

Posted by Soulskill
from the of-doors-and-ways-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Activision, after acquiring Vivendi, became the new copyright holder of the classic King's Quest series of adventure game. They have now issued a cease and desist order to a team which has worked for eight years on a fan-made project initially dubbed a sequel to the last official installment, King's Quest 8. This stands against the fact that Vivendi granted a non-commercial license to the team, subject to Vivendi's approval of the game after submission. After the acquisition, key team members had indicated on the game's forums (now stripped of their original content by order of Activision) that Activision had given the indication that it intended to keep its current fan-game licenses, but was not interested in issuing new ones."
Bug

Saboteur Launch Plagued By Problems With ATI Cards 230

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-or-less-finished dept.
An anonymous reader writes "So far, there are over 35 pages of people posting about why EA released Pandemic Studios' final game, Saboteur, to first the EU on December 4th and then, after knowing full well it did not work properly, to the Americas on December 8th. They have been promising to work on a patch that is apparently now in the QA stage of testing. It is not a small bug; rather, if you have an ATI video card and either Windows 7 or Windows Vista, the majority (90%) of users have the game crash after the title screen. Since the marketshare for ATI is nearly equal to that of Nvidia, and the ATI logo is adorning the front page of the Saboteur website, it seems like quite a large mistake to release the game in its current state."

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