Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - 6 month subscription of Pandora One at 46% off. ×

Comment Re:Unavoidable (Score 2) 60

I'm sure that some don't end up in handcuffs simply because the backlog of unpunished actual-bad-guys is so long that nobody even thinks about going after the white and grey hats, unless they embarrass the wrong person or company.

It's also possible, though, that they managed it by perfectly licit means: millions of people pay to have AV companies grovel over their files and send some amount of data back to the mothership; and since certificate problems will affect the behavior of any program that uses the OS-provided certificate store(which is most of them, Firefox being the major exception); anyone with access to a decent slice of web traffic can probably infer the presence or absence of a given certificate on every IE and Chrome user who passes through.

Comment Re:Unavoidable (Score 5, Insightful) 60

The only consolation is that 'superfish' was clear evil, executed with some degree of effectiveness; while the current Dell thing appears to be unbelievable failure at even the concepts behind safe certificate handling; but without an overt evil objective.

It is, at least, possible, that stupid will be cured by enough 3rd party testing; but evil is harder to expunge.

That said, the level of stupid on display here(especially for a company that is supposed to know how to, say, sign and deploy device drivers; and run a website with a secure order form) is pretty terrifying. Bugs are bad; but at least some of them are subtle. Adding a trusted root cert with an easily extractable private key to a huge number of customer systems isn't a 'bug', it's insanity.

Comment Good God; Why? (Score 1) 24

Why would so many companies(some with actual software development experience; and others dangerously willing to try, like Adobe) put up with Pearson software?

I realize that testing isn't a core competency and whatnot; but Pearson provides software; as written by people who shouldn't be allowed to write textbooks; but who are dangerously good at writing contracts. It couldn't possibly be worse if Adobe took a stab at writing a testing module based on some hideous combination of shockwave Xtras and Coldfusion. Hell, extending Lotus Notes to test people for specific credentials, as well as test their sanity, would produce a better result. Why? Why Pearson?

Comment Re:Speaking of recruitment... (Score 1) 383

The 'not living in a vacuum' issue is sort of the whole point: my question is whether we lose more by having garden-variety not terribly dangerous losers 'radicalized' into more dangerous ones; or whether we gain more by having an outlet for people to make their intentions clear by running off to fight in Syria. This obviously isn't an ideal scenario; but given the difficulty we've had in distinguishing between the merely disgruntled and the actively dangerous; that sort of clarity has some value.

Comment Speaking of recruitment... (Score 3, Interesting) 383

Aside from the intelligence advantages of having people who are comparatively difficult to infiltrate in person voluntarily post lots of stuff to online services almost entirely within western jurisdictions; I have to wonder how much of the freak-out about ISIS' Twitter Accounts!!! is reasonable, and how much of it is a petulant reaction from western military and intelligence officials who have no real experience with not enjoying substantial media cooperation and the ability to keep things 'on message' as they prefer.

They certainly like to talk about 'radicalization' as though it is something that can insidiously corrupt anyone exposed to enemy propaganda, regardless of their prior circumstances; but what do we actually know about the impressionability of these 'radicalized' targets? Does it actually work on anyone; or primarily on people who were somewhere between deeply skeptical of, and overtly hostile to, 'the west' in the first place?

In the same vein, given that there are nontrivial numbers of people who are anywhere between skeptical and hostile; are we actually worse off if the sinister terrorist propaganda incites them to leave and go join the glorious struggle in jihadistan? Yes, having more recruits available makes our attempt to pretend that Iraq isn't a total clusterfuck harder; but it also means that the people who most actively dislike us are no longer living next door and brooding; but off getting themselves killed, or enjoying their medieval theocracy.

I'd certainly wan to avoid having people leave and then return; that is just asking for trouble; but are we actually worse off if the people who like us least have an exciting relocation option?

Comment Re:Apple Music (Score 1) 460

I have no interest in defending Android's attempt at having a 'back' button, which is indeed riddled with inconsistency and confusion; but it seemed worth a mention because being able to say 'whatever I just did, undo it' is an important aspect of making a UI discoverable(especially when the screen size is such that the icons and labels don't have as much room to be descriptive); and it is an area where Apple went from doing it pretty well to not even bothering. Android is pretty lousy; but nobody writes articles about their declining standards; because that's just expected(and, given what Android used to look like, it's not clear that there was much room to get worse).

As for right-click, it is true that Apple OSes have supported right click for quite some time; but that doesn't change the fact that Apple was by far the most aggressive in requiring that a single-button mouse be treated as a first-class use case, with additional mouse buttons or keypress and click combinations treated as optional alternatives. With the possible exception of some esoteric X11 window manager, I don't know of anything that required a multibutton mouse; but the default baseline in Windows was always two buttons; with alternatives to right-click often being pretty clunky; and sometimes nonexistent in 3rd party software.

Comment Re:I just can't see it. (Score 1) 34

I think that the plan is to keep squeezing the humans, larger caseloads, less training, lower pay and status, until the quality of human-provided care is sufficiently grim that you'll accept the efficient neutrality of the robots as the lesser of two evils.

The process certainly hasn't been completed; but there are some good examples to be found in areas of medicine that are(whether anyone is willing to say it in so many words or not) seen as largely futile cost centers: nursing homes seem to provide a lot of the good horror stories; lots of frail old people, aggressive cost cutting in staff/patient ratios and staff salary and qualifications, and then grandma isn't being checked often enough to keep ghastly bedsores away.

It's not that 'telemedicine' doesn't have potential, or valid use cases, being able to consult with colleagues, even if you are out in the sticks, is obviously helpful; and there isn't much sense in having a country GP also doing his own labs, cultures, and x-ray film developing in the evening; but, as in other areas where automated interfaces are being pushed as a replacement for humans, cost cutting will end up being a major use; presumably by a mixture of directly replacing some jobs, where possible, and allowing others to be filled with cheaper, lower skill, people because now the expert systems and the remote specialists are handling the tricky questions.

Comment Re:Good article (Score 1) 460

The nasty trick is that one can 'manage complexity' too hard, or incorrectly, and end up making things worse. Anyone who has ever tried to walk a confused user through the fact that a digital camera shows up as a filesystem containing images when plugged into a computer would certainly sympathize with iOS' "Let's just pretend that the filesystem doesn't exist at all; and itunes will handle all the synchronization' strategy; but more or less the moment the use case expanded beyond syncing music to your phone and pulling pictures from it; everyone got a hard reminder of how often we do actually go to a representation of the filesystem when creating, editing, combining, etc. documents of various sorts. So, instead of being filesystem-free, things went to 'well, maybe the app supports dropbox? Maybe Google Drive? Maybe iCloud will magic it? Email it to yourself?' limbo of the sort normally only experienced when trying to move documents between computers.

If you want to make something automagic, the magic has to work; or the results will get ugly fast.

Comment Re:Not Sure (Score 4, Insightful) 460

Apple's adventures in skeuomorphism were pretty awful(the 'stitched leather' iCal UI? 'Game Center' and its straight-from-vegas textures? the period where every goddamn UI element was made to look like brushed aluminum, despite the fact that neither CRTs nor LCDs can actually emulate the look of reflective metal very well? iBooks hideous woodgrain shelves?); but whoever ended up carrying out the purge seems to have forgotten that there is a difference between slavish visual copies of real objects and the visual cues necessary to make a conceptual model of a real object usable.

A 'button', say, doesn't need to look like any particular physical button; but if it doesn't have some sort of border the 'a specific location that can be pressed to provide some sort of input' concept becomes a lot more confusing, because now you have to guess what the location is. You don't need to(and probably shouldn't) do some horrible bitmap clone of the buttons on your favorite 70s stereo; but you can only cut away so much before you lose the metaphor and end up with something that is neither an intuitive evocation of a real world item nor a new mode of interaction; but just sort of sucks.

Comment Re:Apple Music (Score 2) 460

I think the complaint with Apple's UI trend is not so much based on the assert of the command prompt's superiority; but the fact that Apple used to build GUIs with the objective(usually fairly successful) of being trivially discoverable, relatively forgiving, and fairly aggressively non-modal.

Now, for reasons that seem increasingly driven by a fetish for minimalism, their buttons are getting smaller and less intuitive, sometimes wholly invisible until you know what edge of the screen to swipe and in what direction, iOS has a 'drop everything and dump me back at the home screen' button; but a 'back' button is on a per app basis and only if the developer feels like it; and the company that used to hold the line on keeping right-click out of its interfaces now takes pride in the fact that 'touch', 'swipe', 'longer touch' and 'force touch' are all distinct things that may or may not have totally different effects.

Inscrutability has its place, if it can reward experience with power; but if it is merely a reflection of unsystematic feature accretion and ill advised removal of unsightly but useful UI elements, you have a problem. That is what Apple seems to be dabbling in at this point.

Comment Re:Athiest Symbol (Score 1) 518

As in this case, where I think that the state were utter morons for having a 'no hats, unless you think god says so' rule, rather than a 'no hats, period' or 'yeah, hats, whatever' rule; I would be opposed to religion-based exemptions from uniform standards for animal slaughter.

The reason I included that example was not personal agreement or disagreement; just that it is a case, unlike IDs, where state interest in animal welfare(especially when the animals aren't pets or lab animals) is really pretty new; and it is easier to find people who don't give a damn about weak animal welfare protections or documented violations of animal protections; but develop a sudden interest if they are specifically for the purposes of the other guy's freaky religion; rather than just efficiency and cost.

A failure will not appear until a unit has passed final inspection.