Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - Pay What You Want for the Learn to Code Bundle, includes AngularJS, Python, HTML5, Ruby, and more. ×

Comment Re:Probably not a coincidence (Score 2) 214

I work in software for a payroll processor and the "duplicate" SSN problem comes up all the time.

First off, we're not the employer and really don't care who you hire -- that's your problem. I think your contract with us requires that you perform verification of your employees, but we don't handle it. Give us an SSN, and we'll put it in the system.

Secondly, we *legitimately* see duplicate SSN's all the time in our database. Most common? Someone holds two jobs at once and we do payroll for both employers, for example.

Or, a worst case? Jane Smith works at ABC Company on January 1. She gets married on February 1, changes her name legally, moves, and gets a new job. Her old employer "lays off" Joan in case she comes back. February 2 she shows up in our database as Jane Doe at a new address, new job, new name but the same SSN. Both employers saw legitimate documentation and neither has knowledge or a duty to inform the other of any of this -- nor does the employee. We are bound not to disclose this to either client (confidentiality). What do we do? The quarterly filings contain completely different Janes, with the same SSN.

This is someone else's problem.

Now the State and Feds have this file that contains a "duplicate" SSN -- and they know it. What can they do, short term? They've got to swallow the file and take the withholding money. They're so far downstream from the problem, the best they can hope for is to send a notice to the employers asking "WTF" or kick Jane out for an audit when she files. The employers will both say she's fine. When she files -- a year later -- she claims both incomes, properly. Everything is okay for the IRS.

TLDR: SSN is a *terrible* indicator of uniqueness, and the IRS can't find your illegals for you.

Comment Re:Outsider (Score 1) 174

Systems in Slashdot context I assumed would be understood as "software/hardware" systems. :) I do Payroll and Tax Filing software architecture. One of the many challenges is to maintain enough checks and balances that it's very hard to lose track of the money, even when an insider does something malicious or stupid.

Comment Re:Outsider (Score 1) 174

Fantasy sports leagues are boring as hell. But I design financial systems, and I find cheating fascinating. :)

In a betting system (horses, sports, etc...) you have to base your bets on your own external information (scores, statistics, etc...) and possibly with some help from the betting system itself (300-to-1 odds indicate that this is a long shot).

However these guys had access to the betting information from other players -- in greater detail than the externally stated odds. The articles don't say how much they had access to. Let's say they had all of it. It'd be a reasonably cheat then to find the top few bettors based on past performance, and mimic their wagers. You might not win big, but you probably wouldn't do too badly. Crowd-sourcing the bets, from a very selective crowd.

Luck still plays a part, but this shaves some of the luck off based on information gleaned from data that others had no access to. It's insider.. something.

Comment Re:Security (Score 1) 747

The quick thought is that systemd has a larger surface area for vulnerabilities than su and is therefore more likely to be a vector for attack -- this is almost always the *correct* assumption. The ball is in systemd's court to prove that despite having more code and more complexity, it is not as vulnerable.

Comment We had a Channel F! (Score 1) 60

As a kid my family had a Channel F and a boatload of cartridges for it -- plus 2 built-in games! The last one I remember getting was "Galactic Space Wars", and then the Atari 2600 showed up thus relegating the Channel F to the closet.

The graphics weren't great, and the games were something that a beginner could code up on an Atari 800 of the same era in BASIC. But they were fun enough. The Channel F did have a really unusual controller: the joystick could be moved about in a normal axis (up,down,left,right,diagonals) but also twisted, pulled up, or pushed down. The damned things broke a lot and were hard-wired into the console itself.

Comment Re:Chinese that speak English (Score 1) 578

I didn't! Nowhere did I say the term was the authors exclusively. If you RTFA, you'll see the author uses the term twice for a specific reason. That is, where one speaker uses a more complex form of language relative to another speaker. To each the other's English is "broken" (his quotes, not mine). One is merely a subset or a simplification of the other. The author's point here being that "broken" is a two way street.

Comment Re:Chinese that speak English (Score 1) 578

There are cases in English, and some of the more common verbs are irregular. However, to your point, if I didn't decline my pronouns properly and fumbled around my irregular verbs in English I'm still perfectly understood. (But, to use the article's term, "broken".)

English's main problem for non-English speakers seems to be the vast vocabulary and idioms, neither of which are needed for functional communication.

Comment Also an old-timey fix for hard drive failures. (Score 2) 304

Back in the day (80's, 90's) when hard drives would refuse to spin up, a similar technique often worked. Take the drive and pop it into a very warm (but too hot) oven, or leave it on a car's dashboard on a hot summer's day. When it's hot enough that it's very uncomfortable to hold, but not hot enough to burn you... quickly drop it back into the system and spin it up. Then.. back up your data.

This'll cure stiction or lubricant problems with the platters.

Comment Re:Wrong conclusion: not "unintended consequences" (Score 4, Interesting) 118

One of the things that always mystified me growing up fishing here was the incredible uniformity of freshwater fish species across water bodies with very little geographic connection. New England is dotted with thousands of small ponds, and they all have more or less the same fish. Even tiny little ponds of a few acres with no major tributaries and only seasonal outlets will have bluegill, yellow perch, and probably a few black bass lurking somewhere and reportedly some pike or muskellenge. How did they get there? And why aren't fish like bluegill from different watersheds distinctive, the way the finches Darwin found in different Galapagos islands were different?

From Michigan here, lots of unconnected lakes and ponds here too.

It was always explained to me that they get there carried on the feet of waterfowl. Ducks and such land in the shallows and weeds, feet get covered in eggs. Ducks move on. Sometimes they're stocked by property owners or the DNR.

The fish *are* genetically diverse. Big fishing tournaments rely on this fact and do genetic testing on fish to make sure they came from the correct lake.

Comment Re:the bottom dregs for the cloistered elite. (Score 5, Insightful) 284

Slightly offtopic...

These companies insist you work in armpits like Bentonville Arkansas or Decalb Georgia so your salary can be shuffled down the chain to 40 grand a year not under the implication that your services are worthless, but under the assertion that the "cost of living" is so inexpensive you shouldnt need a respectable wage.

As a midwesterner, I'd like to tell you firmly to go fuck yourself ... but also I'm far too polite to do that.

Instead maybe realize that wage costs are only part of having your business in the "armpits" -- and a pretty small one at that. Real estate, utilities, shipping, taxes, buildout costs, and a lot of other factors make flyover states a financially beneficial place to locate a business. With tech jobs there's no geographical need to pick a particular location other than space, power and bandwidth -- and those can be bought. Why not go cheap?

Comment Re:software (Score 1) 169

Um, so how does one break into this dull field?

* Learn systems, and programming, and all that other crap but you were going to do that anyway. Linux and the cool stuff are fine, just remember to learn Windows too. Enjoy it. It won't be the worst system you'll use by any stretch.
  * Use whatever system they give you. You'll learn something from everything you use. If someone pulls a 1978 CADO Systems CAT III out of a closet and needs you to retrieve financials from it, you'll learn the wonders of 8086 multi-user programming and hashed files.
  * Take an accounting class. Hell, take two. Business classes are helpful as well. See things from your employer's and their client's perspective. Look at double-entry bookkeeping as a wonderful checksum and transaction based system. Speak to them in their own language.
  * Try data entry for a spell. Barring that, go quietly watch your users work. Don't tell people how to use your software, watch how they use it. Nobody wants to click a mouse when they're being read columns of numbers over a telephone by a busy accountant.
  * Make yourself useful. If you're not useful there, go find somewhere else to work.

Comment Re:software (Score 1) 169

No fear of that my friend. The biggest reason is that most US employers are unwilling to put their futures with the IRS into the hands of someone beyond the reach of US law. Generally, employers want the money here, the companies here, the programmers within easy reach, and full auditing on everything. Even if most of the code is done offshore, someone here still has to look it over.

There are a lot of trust issues around this industry. If the bank absconds with your cash, you're out the cash. If the payroll company takes the cash and fails to make your Federal deposit, you can go to jail (you can't pass the buck on that one).

This is what happens when you deal with something not entirely transparent.

"Let's show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown!" -- The Ghostbusters