Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


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:It's a vast field.... (Score 1) 809

It's a vast field, and expertise of people is usually just a subset. I'm not even sure what the answer you you expected was, but I'd say: I'd use your public key to encrypt the file to you and then send it to you. Personally, I wouldn't know which commands to invoke to do this, but I know that's the theory.

So, should any developer know this? That is debatable. I've had very competent developers who had next to no clue about how DNS works. They could do their job just fine with that. Me? Personally, I'm not up to snuff with the finer points of SQL queries and all the joins that exists and when it makes sense to create an index, etc. Could I find out? Most likely, but I haven't had the need to recently.

The problem is, that you are mapping your knowlegde to "what people must know". I used to do that too, and I probably still do often enough. The DNS example above didn't come from nowhere: I had the case, and I was really thinking "how could such a competent person not know this", but then this person could probably enlighten me about dozens of things I don't know well enough.

It all comes down to what you define as "general knowgledge" for a developer should be and that is highly subjective.

TL;DR Hiring people is hard. Especially, technical people.

Although the title of the post said "developer" the content said "developer/architect." Unless they were hiring a programmer that could also design houses, I'm assuming they mean IT infrastructure architect. I would presume a systems architect would be familiar with how internet protocols work (like DNS), how common physical network infrastructure works (like switches), how fundamental concepts like client-server architectures and encryption work, and the issues involved in major ares of system design (storage, virtualization, wide area networking, etc).

Programmers just need to know how to write computer code. Software engineers need to know how software systems work. Architects have to know how the pieces of systems work that they will eventually be the architect for. Perhaps the problem right up front is that unless this is some small company where everyone wears a ton of hats, "Programmer/Architect" is not a proper job designation in the first place. "Programmer/Software Architect" might be more applicable, in which case the applicant should fundamentally understand how to code and what common software design methodologies are. If the intended target application(s) are internet-based, an additional requirement to understand the problem domain would also be reasonable (familiarity with medicine if you're writing medical software, internet protocols if you are writing large scale internet applications, human resources if you're being hired to be a Peoplesoft app developer, etc).

In any case, the subject question was "what portion of developers are bad at what they do" which is a different question than the one posed by the actual post. The answer to that question is, in my experience, most of them. Note that I'm not saying most developers are bad at writing software. I'm saying most developers are bad at what they do. What they do tends to be, whether its their own fault or someone else's, significantly outside their actual area of expertise whatever that might be.

Comment Re: Its politics/emotions not intelligence level . (Score 1) 580

The rate of measles infection was going down drastically before the vaccine was created. The antibiotics are for the secondary problems, not the measles. Better general health and healthcare will also have atbig impact on modern cases. Just because you aren't aware of the latest studies on the effectiveness of multiple vaccinations does not make it incorrect.

I am fully aware. You are almost certainly referencing the McLean study which showed a potential reduction in effectiveness due to repeated vaccination controlled for a single virus strain. However, that study reiterated previous studies which showed no statistically significant vaccination interference between consecutive years of vaccination. They suggested the potential for such interference over significantly longer timeframes such as five years but also explicitly stated that the data in their study could not draw that conclusion given many other possible explanations for their results.

Assuming ignorance from refutation is another characteristic of the phenomenon I characterized earlier. In either case, there are reasons for repeated vaccination due to the nature of how the vaccine is constituted that would override this result even if it was conclusive. Furthermore, the study did not suggest escalating resistance which would incur the risk of the vaccine eventually becoming ineffective. They suggested the potential for successive interference which would more reasonably mandate switching to longer vaccination schedules instead.

As to the rate of measles infection going down, public health improvements did reduce the rate of measles infection in the early part of the twentieth century, but only by incrementally small amounts due to the highly contagious nature of measles. Mandated vaccination in the 1960s dropped the infection rate almost immediately to very low levels. There was no recorded trend that would have reduced the rate to current levels prior to mass vaccination in the United States. That is not even remotely credibly in dispute. Given the mortality statistics, mass vaccination has saved literally tens of thousands of lives in the last fifty years, and eliminated hundreds of thousands of cases severe enough to require hospitalization.

Comment Re:Its politics/emotions not intelligence level .. (Score 1) 580

This measles scare is just that, a scare. 50 something cases this year, 650 cases last year. I didn't hear about them. Measles is not a bad disease, our parents got it as a routine thing during their childhood. Very few turn serious or deadly, especially when you have modern medical care such as antibiotics.

According to the CDC, prior to mass vaccination in the 1960s the annual rate of measles infection was about half a million cases were reported in the US annually. Of those, just under ten percent required hospitalization, about a thousand had chronic disability and about five hundred died. That's per year.

Also, measles is caused by a virus, which means antibiotics have no effect on the infection. Treatment with antibiotics only occurs in cases with serious complications involving secondary bacterial infections, which by definition is not a minor case.

Plus, each time you get a vaccine they are less and less effective. People who get the flu vaccine each year are going to be in trouble when they are elderly and really need the extra protection if that is true.

That's a frighteningly wrong set of what I hesitate to call "information."

Comment Re:Its politics/emotions not intelligence level .. (Score 4, Interesting) 580

Science denial is probably more strongly correlated with politics/emotions not intelligence level. The left and the right merely have different things they are in denial about, different things that touch on their politics and their emotions. And emotions lead people to stand by their beliefs regardless of rational thought and evidence, both on the left and the right.

In my experience, there's science denial, and then there's the more likely phenomenon occurring here which is the belief that one's personal interpretation of the evidence is vastly superior to anyone else's. If an anti-vax article sounds reasonable to them, its far more likely to their thinking that everyone else who considers it rubbish is wrong, because their own understanding is far superior.

That's not exactly science denial, that's narcissism masquerading as science denial. And this general belief is, in my experience, extremely prevalent in the various technology industries, particularly IT.

Comment Re:Seriously? Look at History (Score 1) 239

Be that as it may ... I submit a specific alternate to your postulate that a leader willing to put large forces under arms in harm's way is the only method to effect fundamental change. The alternate is a new Gandhi. The general principle worked well enough for Martin Luther King, Jr. This is not say we won't get our hair mussed a bit, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a 1775 style revolution with cannons mowing down rows of sons and would-be masters.

I never said or implied that change required armed forces. What I said was it required someone willing to stick to their principles without compromising them even if it meant people had to die. Gandhi was in fact one such leader who preached non-violence to such an extent he told his own supporters they needed to be willing to die non-violently rather than kill or fight back to convince the British that they would never be able to break their resolve. That is entirely analogous to what I mentioned above that it would take a leader willing to say they would rather see Americans (or other citizens) die at the hands of terrorists rather than destroy their civil rights trying to protect them. Gandhi was able to convince huge numbers of people that it was better to die in the pursuit of freedom than live under oppression. It would take that kind of leader, I think, to reverse the trend of using ever stronger government controls to fight terrorism and other crimes.

When the government says "because of Apple's iPhone encryption one day a child will die" the people have to say "I'd rather a child die than the American people be oppressed." A leader has to convince them to say it and believe it. Gandhi actually managed to do it, so its possible. But its not easy to find Gandhis.

Comment Re:Seriously? Look at History (Score 4, Insightful) 239

An all out revolt is probably the only way this will change at this point. Society has been on a downward spiral for a while now. Historically the only way to recover was lots of bloodshed. People in power never want to relinquish power or money, which is essence is what the mass surveillance is all about. Squashing descent, getting a leg up on any one selling things you want to sell, putting competition out of business, etc..

Its easy to paint the situation as the masses being dominated by the people in power but the truth is that a revolt is unlikely to work for the simple reason that the average person really isn't just a passive observer; they really want much of what they claim they don't want. In terms of the specifics, its easy to claim that one doesn't want mass surveillance but that's just a symptom of a more fundamental truth. The truth is that given the choice presented to the people in power, most people would choose the same thing: namely given a choice between using every means at one's disposal to stop terrorism or not, most people would in fact choose to use every means at one's disposal, even if it infringed on personal freedom.

And the reason why a revolt is unlikely is the same reason why the Occupy Movement didn't generate lasting results in the same way many other movements did. Revolutions require people willing to do whatever it takes to achieve a result, often without the kinds of compromise that people normally engage in. A revolution to stop people from doing whatever it takes to achieve a goal is difficult to achieve when backed only by people unwilling to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.

George Washington famously assumed enormous military, and thus political power when he became the leader of the Continental Army, and his hands were not entirely clean when wielding it. But without him, there probably is no revolution that survives. When the war was over he surrendered that power by resigning his commission. The number of people both willing and able to exercise such vast power to achieve an end which results in surrendering that power entirely (even if only temporarily) is exceedingly small. Most people willing to do the latter have no capacity to do the former and vice versa.

To put it another way, what you need is a leader willing to say "I would rather see Americans die than surrender their freedom" that is also so popular he isn't immediately driven out of the country by pitchforks the next day, and can convince the average American (or for that matter any other citizen of any other country) to accept those values. Until such a person arrives, all revolutions to change the situation will fail, because none will genuinely have the support of the people.

Someone will probably come along and say that's a false choice, but that's missing the point. The point is that is the general perception: you either have the values that say "do everything you possibly can, pushing the envelope as far as you can" or you don't. If you don't, someone will always come along and say they would do more, and they would be correct, and because there's no way to prove it with certainty you'd always take the blame for the next person killed. That's just reality. You did everything possible, or you didn't. Leaders don't want to say they didn't, and citizens don't want excuses for why they didn't. That needs to change somehow, but most people I think don't really want that to change, deep down.

Comment Re:Beating physics (Score 2) 517

So, what I wonder is how the railguns fit into this. It seems that they'd be prone to very effectively making a couple of small holes in whatever they hit and delivering most of the energy into the sea or ground. Unless you actually hit the engines or some other critical piece, a ship, especially a warship can survive a surprisingly large number of holes before it is put out of action.

I believe the primary potential advantage of railguns is that they allow for a higher number of rounds to be carried and potentially fired at a higher rate, and have the defensive aspect of removing a critical vulnerability aboard ship. Its a significant advantage if, as you imply, the enemy will have a hard time sinking you because you don't have a magazine to detonate.

On the subject of ammunition, railguns are probably less efficient in general, but its probably a lot easier to store more fuel and less intrinsically explosive ordinance. Its not just that your ammunition is smaller because it doesn't need propellant, its likely the lower safety requirements would allow you to store your rounds at a higher space density over all. Naval vessels that are already nuclear don't need to even worry about higher fuel requirements, but even diesel ships are probably easier to design as carrying more fuel than more ammunition.

Thinking about efficiency, I wonder how much conventional ammunition is destroyed when it is not used for a significant length of time? I would imagine naval artillery shells have a "best used by" date of some kind, and their propellant and/or warheads don't have infinite shelf stable lifetimes. A railgun bullet could last a lot longer without degrading, and if your propellant is fundamentally diesel fuel (indirectly converted to electricity) then your diesel fuel remains constantly refreshed whether you fire your weapons or not. In terms of energy density cordite might be more efficient than railgun power, but the actual logistics of having a single fuel and using electricity might be in the long run cheaper than building and periodically recycling old ammunition.

Comment Re:Spaghetti on a slick wall fails to stick (Score 1) 257

Seems odd to me, though. I would think any improperly obtained evidence should be contestable.

It can be. But "improperly" requires context. Its not improper for the police to search servers. It is illegal for them to search servers in violation of fourth amendment protections. But the fourth amendment only applies when the search violates your rights. You have no right to prevent the police from searching property that is not yours.

Comment Re:Spaghetti on a slick wall fails to stick (Score 1) 257

No you CAN assert improper search whilst claiming a frame up. If a cop busts into your house without a warrant, pulls a bag of coke out of his pocket and says "This is yours", you can both claim the cop had no right to be in there AND that the drugs where not yours anyway. The same applies with the server. He can claim that access was gained improperly AND it wasn't his anyway.

No, he can't. In the first case, the defendant can claim the drugs were not his but *the house* was his and his privacy rights *to his home* were violated by the illegal search of his home.

But if the cops break into the house across the street and find drugs there and claim its yours, you cannot simultaneously claim the house and its contents are not yours *and* your right to privacy in that house was violated by an illegal search. You have no such right to have other people's houses not searched. *The owner* would have some legal recourse, but even then if the drugs were not used against him, he would not have a fourth amendment challenge because nothing is being used against him. He would have the right to sue for illegal trespass only.

What you're asserting is precisely why you should generally take advice of legal counsel rather than try to defend yourself based on incomplete knowledge of the law. The average person's actual understanding of the law tends to be woefully incomplete and inaccurate, because the law tends to be misrepresented in popular discussion. For example, the belief that the US Constitution grants the right to free speech, when it actually only asserts a right for speech to be free from government restrictions (and implicitly only unreasonable ones that do not prevent other Constitutional duties from being executed) is probably the most commonly misrepresented element of US law.

Comment Re:Spaghetti on a slick wall fails to stick (Score 4, Interesting) 257

The biggest question not answered in the trial is how the servers were found. The defense didn't challenge on that point (no one knows why).

The answer to many questions about the defense strategy during the trial seem to be that either Ulbricht or his attorney or both thought they were engaged in an internet debate and not a criminal trial. His lawyer repeatedly failed to follow proper procedure during the trial that every trial lawyer knows, and used legal strategies that weirdly precluded them from offering certain lines of defense. For example, a critical defense assertion seems to have been that many of the pieces of evidence the prosecution used against Ulbricht were not owned by him or not his property. By making that assertion, he couldn't simultaneously assert that his rights were violated when they were acquired because he claimed they were not his in the first place. When his lawyer tried to do so, he was explicitly told he couldn't do that, as if he didn't even know.

Its almost as if the defense believed that since the prosecution bears the burden of proof, anything that had *any* alternative explanation, no matter how unlikely or illogical, automatically prevented proof beyond reasonable doubt. Which is ridiculous. I have a sneaking suspicion that most of this strategy was forced upon defense counsel by Ulbricht himself. It looks from the outside less like something an (even incompetent) attorney would do, and more like someone used to internet board sparring would think should work.

Comment Re:The credibility of science? (Score 1) 958

Not even that, Scott Adams doesn't know a scientist from a self-proclaimed and popular expert.

If Scott Adams thinks Science has failed him because of all the weird diet experts in the world, he probably thinks Medicine has failed him because of Doctor Oz, Psychology has failed him because of Dr. Phil, and the US Justice system has failed him because of Judge Judy.

I don't have a problem with the credibility of Science. On the other hand, I don't think Scott Adams career as a cartoonist grants a lot of credibility speaking about Science.

Comment Re:WTF (Score 2) 237

We used to wonder what in the hell was making these ultra-bright quasars; now we believe that they are "active" galactic cores which are in the process of forming a supermassive black hole in the centers. It's possible that two such black holes might form and orbit their mutual centers of gravity, but eventually they would merge. This merging is probably the source of the gamma ray bursts.

Most GRBs have a signal that's inconsistent with that scenario because of the size of the black holes: basically most GRBs have signals consistent with much smaller objects than galactic black holes.

The original theory, and one which still explains some GRBs, are the gamma ray emissions from two neutron stars merging. Binary stars are common, and in some cases both stars eventually become neutron stars. When their orbits decay, they can merge to form black holes and in the process convert a huge amount of mass into gamma ray energy. But the prevailing theory that best explains the majority of the rest of them are a special class of supernova that emits a huge amount of its energy in two narrow jets. When those jets happen to be pointed in our general direction, they appear to be a GRB.

Some GRBs emit so much energy that for a while astronomers couldn't reconcile their energy output with the limits on their size: even total conversion of all the matter in an object of that size into energy seemed to be insufficient to generate the kind of energy a GRB produces. When it was discovered that supernova can sometimes emit jets rather than explode outward equally in all directions, that provided a way for something of that size to appear to emit more energy than possible. Astronomers were calculating the energy reaching us from the GRBs, and assuming the object sent that much energy in all directions. Astronomers now think we only see a small fraction of all GRBs that detonate, and most jet their energy in directions we can't see.

Comment Re:Power Costs (Score 1) 258

Let me know when you can find a way to dispatch a tech to swap a hard drive in a tier 1 datacenter for a buck.

It doesn't cost a buck. It costs 5 bucks, but has a 20% chance of occurring in the 4 year lifetime of each HDD. Also, you would not "dispatch a tech". Instead you would send out a tech with a cart of, say, 50 HDDs. The the tech would walk down the aisles, pulling and inserting disks. That would be his full time job. If he could do 50 in an 8 hour shift, and is paid $30/hour, that is about $5/disk.

No, you would not. The problem with this is that the whole point of the paper was to analyze ways to improve the reliability of disk arrays. You can do what you're describing if there was no specific timeframe in which hard drives need to be replaced: you just replace them whenever you get around to it, rather than soon after they fail. But that only works in environments where actual disk reliability is not important. In environments where actual array reliability is important, delaying the swapping of drives widens the window of vulnerability for an array, even one with hot spares, because of the need to survive the rare cases of multiple drives failing in a short span. That isn't likely, but when you're dealing with five nines of uptime requirement, those unlikely events have to be accounted for.

I'm also trying to imagine implementing a system whereby a $30/hr tech just walks down aisles and pulls blinking drives and replaces them, and I'm thinking anyone who does that deserves the uptime they get.

Comment Re:WTF (Score 1) 237

One of the possible conclusions is we may actually be the first intelligent species to hit space flight in our galaxy.

So we're the older more advanced civilization we're looking for? That's so amazing and depressing at the same time.

Or we're just the oldest in the neighborhood. The really cool kids might simply be too far away for us to have met them yet.

On the subject of books, Stephen Baxter wrote a series of fiction novels designed to tackle the Fermi Paradox, each one of which containing similar characters but set in a different universe with a different answer to the paradox. In Manifold Time, the answer to the Fermi Paradox is basically "we were the first, and because we take over the universe quickly enough we also become the only." In Manifold Space, the answer to the Fermi Paradox is comparable to the subject being discussed: advanced civilizations pop up all the time but they get wiped out by massive cosmic disasters repeatedly throughout the history of the universe. Manifold Origin is a bit harder to summarize, but I guess the best way to put it is that the answer to the Fermi Paradox is that evolution to advanced civilizations is contrary to our guesses so improbable, even we shouldn't be here but we didn't arrive by chance, we were "shepherded" into being here.

Comment Re:WTF (Score 1) 237

But once a civilization has achieved the Iron Age of technology, such a civilization is likely to achieve space faring status within a thousand years

It took humans 3200 years. Why do you assume that the average species is *way better* than humans?

In any case though, I thought it was pretty clearly talking about nipping things in the bud, sterilizing all life at any point in the massive timeline between the first self-replicator to a civilization capable of avoiding or defending against gamma ray bursts. The amount of time it actually takes is probably some random variable, and all things considered, how long it took us is probably around average. Earth life existed about 3.5 billion years or more before we came along.

Yeah, its a statistical thing. The point isn't that GRBs obliterate all technological civilzations. Its that by reducing the odds of a planet achieving a technological civilization capable of surviving GRBs to very low levels, the odds of us having ever encountered one drop for very likely to extremely unlikely. And that's all that's necessary to resolve Fermi's Paradox.

Make it right before you make it faster.