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Comment: Re:There is one major entity - Apple (Score 3, Insightful) 114

by danaris (#49140505) Attached to: Schneier: Everyone Wants You To Have Security, But Not From Them

The fact that there is really no major entity working to keep our data safe for ourselves and ourselves alone

Apple does this. Look at HealthKit for example, all data is stored locally, Apple doesn't mine it. They allow you to control who has what access to specific parts of the data.

It's not exactly true of all data, but Apple tries to give you specific control of data where it can.

The reason why Apple does this and other companies do not is simple - Apple actually makes money selling hardware. Google and Facebook have no revenue except what they can extract from you data, so they have totally different motivations.

This is true—I tend not to think of Apple as "an entity working to keep our data safe," since I primarily think of them as a hardware/OS vendor. But yes, any data Apple does happen to hold of yours is as safe as they can make it from those who want to monetize it—and they don't care to do so themselves.

Dan Aris

Comment: Did you read it? (Score 5, Insightful) 114

by danaris (#49139675) Attached to: Schneier: Everyone Wants You To Have Security, But Not From Them

That's not what he said at all. I mean, I'm not disagreeing with you substantially, but that's completely separate from the actual point of the piece.

It's all about the fact that, in order to do many or most of the things we want to do today, we have no choice but to give someone access to our data—but that almost everyone we could give that access to wants to (ab)use it to make money.

More importantly, that's even true of those who actually want to help keep our data secure from others—even our governments.

The fact that there is really no major entity working to keep our data safe for ourselves and ourselves alone—and that there are so many, even those that theoretically should be trying to do so, working directly against that end—is definitely something we need to be concerned about, far beyond simply bemoaning the stupidity of all the "lusers" who will happily give away their data for free because they just don't know any better.

Dan Aris

Comment: Re:Good grief... (Score 1) 673

by danaris (#49112631) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge

And if you want to learn programming, going to university is probably the worst way of doing it. You'll learn the most simply Java anyone can imagine, will be dissuaded from doing what good programmers should be doing - writing as little code as possible by yourself and using library functions wherever possible, and things like testing and frameworks you will - maybe - meet in higher semesters when your bad habits are already solid. Also, you'll learn a couple programming languages that are so obscure that your professor is one of 10 people submitting patches to the compiler and its Wikipedia page doesn't require you to scroll. On an iPad.

Broadly, I agree with this, but there is an important exception I think should be mentioned: Learning how to think like the computer. This isn't something that gets taught directly, but something that you can learn through exposure to multiple languages.

I think the best courses I took in my college CS degree were the couple that were essentially a survey of different types of programming languages. In a single semester, we learned the basics of Pascal, ML, Smalltalk, and Lisp (and probably 2-3 others I've forgotten about).

The important thing wasn't to retain the actual skill in each of the languages, though, and the professor knew that—it was to get a feel for several different types of programming. Before I took those courses, I knew how to write code in C and Javascript. After I took those courses, I had the fundamental modes of thought necessary to pick up nearly any programming language.

Dan Aris

Comment: Re:GeekDesk! (Score 1) 348

by danaris (#48862383) Attached to: Regular Exercise Not Enough To Make Up For Sitting All Day

Absent the standing desk, I would suspect that normally standing implies some other measure of activity besides just not-sitting. I would suspect just-standing as you would at a standing desk is better than sitting, if only because of micro-movements involved in remaing standing. But I'm guessing that simply moving to standing desks won't fully erase the bad effects of too much sitting, it'll lessen them to the bad effects of too much just-standing.

When I'm standing at the GeekDesk, I move around a lot. Sometimes it's just shifting positions, but other times I'll be practically dancing as I'm reading something, or contemplating the next chunk of code, or even watching a video or playing some Hearthstone over lunchbreak.

Not being stuck in a chair really frees you to move around as much as you feel like you want to.

Dan Aris

Comment: GeekDesk! (Score 5, Interesting) 348

by danaris (#48855955) Attached to: Regular Exercise Not Enough To Make Up For Sitting All Day

This is why I got my department to buy me a GeekDesk a couple of years ago. I don't stand all day every day, but it lets me stand quite a lot of the time.

Since then, my chronic low-grade upper-back stiffness has decreased a lot—but I find that on weekends, when I tend to sit on the couch with my laptop a lot, it frequently comes back. My legs still sometimes get tired from standing for a few hours at a time, but overall, I think it was a really, really good decision.

If you can't afford a GeekDesk, and think you can handle losing the chair cold turkey, there are much cheaper standing desks that can get you off your butt and on your feet—for your health! :-)

Dan Aris

Comment: Re:Principles vs Practicality (Score 4, Insightful) 220

by danaris (#48767937) Attached to: EFF: Apple's Dev Agreement Means No EFF Mobile App For iOS

You're post implies that, if EFF agreed to Apple IOS dev's T&A, that they could change the way Apple does things w/ regard to it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I'd rather EFF not break it's principles, and show just where Apple stands with regard to its walled garden, than have them bow to a Corporate overlord.

No...you may have inferred that, but that's not what I was implying. What I was implying was that, since the app is designed to help people help the EFF achieve some of its goals, if the app were in the app store of one of the most breakout popular devices in the history of the entire world, it would thus make it possible for a significant number of additional people to help the EFF achieve the goals aimed at with this particular app.

But because they have decided that some of the principles behind what they want to achieve are utterly inviolable, and the Apple dev agreement conflicts with some of those inviolable principles, they clearly feel that they are therefore obligated to prevent anyone who owns an Apple device from using their app.

This is the kind of cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face behaviour that really hamstrings a lot of efforts to improve the world. I'm not saying the ends justify the means—far from it. Just that when you're living in a badly imperfect world, insisting that you, yourself be perfect at all times while trying to make the rest of the world better is very, very often going to prevent you from doing more good than it actually does in itself.

Dan Aris

Comment: Principles vs Practicality (Score 5, Insightful) 220

by danaris (#48767727) Attached to: EFF: Apple's Dev Agreement Means No EFF Mobile App For iOS

Well, I'm sorry for the EFF, then, but everyone knows what the terms are to get an app in the iOS App Store.

This sounds, to me, like the EFF allowing slavish adherence to their principles to prevent them from doing something that might actually help real people in the real world advance those principles in meaningful ways.

Either that, or they just realized they could use it as a publicity stunt.

Dan Aris

Comment: Re:We have unbundled here. Prices went up. (Score 1) 448

by danaris (#48760781) Attached to: Unbundling Cable TV: Be Careful What You Wish For

And where I live, having cable is considered uncool and most people cover all of their video needs under $30 a month. Also, my gigabit Internet connection costs $22 per month so .... maybe it makes sense to move to a more developed area where you would not be raped by large corporations

Unfortunately, in order to get a deal that is even within 2 orders of magnitude of that, you can't live in the US. Anywhere.

Dan Aris

Comment: Re:macro assembler (Score 1) 641

by danaris (#48584523) Attached to: How Relevant is C in 2014?

When I was in college, one of my CS professors had a weekly quiz that he called "Iron Code." It required you to write a (relatively simple) program, and submit it, using a custom utility (I forget the details; this was 15+ years ago now)...but you only got one shot. Your grade was based upon the degree to which your program's output in response to various inputs met the specifications. If it didn't even compile, you got a zero.

I was so-so at this activity, but there were a fair number of students in the class who consistently got high marks.

Humans can be taught not to make errors. It just requires more time and more careful attention to detail. It's not sexy, and it's usually not fun, but it's totally possible, and if it's your job, then you can damn well do it.

I'm just glad it's not mine, because patience and attention to detail are not my strong suits. :-)

Dan Aris

Comment: Bought and paid for? (Score 3, Insightful) 129

by danaris (#48547689) Attached to: Economist: US Congress Should Hack Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Any rational interpretation would suggest that when people buy or pay off the loan on a piece of equipment—whether a car, a refrigerator or a mobile phone—they own it, and should be free to do what they want with it. Least of all should they have to seek permission from the manufacturer or the government.

Any rational interpretation would suggest that when rich people and large corporations buy or pay off the loan on a congressperson, they own it, and should be free to get whatever legislation out of it they see fit. Least of all should they have to deal with interference from busybody economists trying to tell them what's "rational."

Dan Aris

Comment: What people want to read (Score 4, Insightful) 368

by danaris (#48542407) Attached to: Overly Familiar Sci-Fi

The biggest problem with what Stross is saying is that people, in general, want to read about situations that are familiar to them. It's damn hard to come up with a truly believable far-future culture in the first place, but it's much harder to do so in a way that makes it both alien to us and something that people can identify with enough to actually enjoy reading.

If you really follow Stross's advice when writing far-future sci-fi, you're likely to lock yourself into a very small niche of potential readers. And if you're writing that way because that's the story you want to write, or because you truly believe it's important to the integrity of the story that the culture be very different than our own, and you're OK with selling a few thousand copies or less, then that's fine. But I dare say most sci-fi authors who actually publish do so because, at least in part, they actually want to have people read their books, and to make a little money off them.

Dan Aris

Comment: Re:So what should they have done? (Score 1) 250

by danaris (#48527487) Attached to: Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

"so what should they have done? Just let those pieces of random garbage data take up space on the iPod for the rest of its life?"

Do you realize how inane your argument here is? The answer to your question there is simply "yes". If they wanted to be customer friendly, pop up a warning message that files were detected that were now garbage and prompt for a deletion.

OK, that's not an unreasonable option. Apple could have chosen to do that, and that might have avoided this issue. But it seems likely to me that when Apple wrote the iPod OS (not to be confused with iOS) and the iTunes synchronization mechanism, they didn't even consider the possibility that someone would manage to put songs on there that tricked the iPod into thinking they were FairPlay DRMed files, and thus it would have been a considerable extra effort for them to put such a notification in place. But even without it, it's not like any actual data would have been lost—files synchronized to an iPod would still exist in the music library. Unless they were using unsupported third-party software in the first place, in which you should be blaming the third-party software for doing things that are explicitly not supported. So once the files are deleted off the iPod...they're still on your computer where you downloaded them to originally.

Dan Aris

Comment: Re: Get the facts first (Score 1) 250

by danaris (#48527449) Attached to: Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

If you can find some actual "tricky, monopolist behaviour" somewhere, I'll give you an answer. Until then, though, all we're talking about is FUD regarding Apple not wanting to go to a lot of effort to implement various random competitors' DRM algorithms...which said competitors would have had to license to them, and provide proper information for third-party implementation of, etc, etc.

Dan Aris

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