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Comment: Re:Encryption? (Score 4, Insightful) 140

by grcumb (#48902571) Attached to: Google Handed To FBI 3 Wikileaks Staffers' Emails, Digital Data

If I worked for Wikileaks, I think I'd be encrypting everything especially if it involved using a Google server.

Or better yet...don't use an email provider with any US presence.

Uh... that only means they don't bother with a warrant. They just go and get whatever they like.

Perversely, you're actually better off dealing with these ridiculous, draconian, panopticonian laws, because at least in theory you have some kind of recourse - even if it consists of fighting retroactively to reduce the J. Edgar Hoovering up of your personal data. If you use an offshore email provider, the NSA will just grab whatever it wants, whenever it wants, without even the tiniest fig leaf of law to cover up strategic bits.

Comment: Re:I agree with Lennart (Score 2) 551

by grcumb (#48834855) Attached to: Systemd's Lennart Poettering: 'We Do Listen To Users'

He talks about it more here. I will quote him without giving any of my own commentary:

The design of systemd as a suite of integrated tools that each have their individual purposes but when used together are more than just the sum of the parts, that's pretty much at the core of UNIX philosophy.

I would say that he misunderstands the essence, the substance and possibly even the purpose of the UNIX philosophy... but I think he actually does understand. I think he's simply being disingenuous, twisting the definition to meet his desires. It's clear that this is a man who believes that he knows what's good and what's not.

This blog post from last September lays out in perfect clarity how dismissive he is of contrary points of view:

The toolbox approach of classic Linux distributions is fantastic for people who want to put together their individual system, nicely adjusted to exactly what they need. However, this is not really how many of today's Linux systems are built, installed or updated. If you build any kind of embedded device, a server system, or even user systems, you frequently do your work based on complete system images, that are linearly versioned. You build these images somewhere, and then you replicate them atomically to a larger number of systems. On these systems, you don't install or remove packages, you get a defined set of files, and besides installing or updating the system there are no ways how to change the set of tools you get.

[Emphasis mine]

So the toolkit approach is not useful for someone who's deploying large numbers of commodity servers? This defies logic. It implies that somehow it's better to use commodity servers built using Lennart's toolkit than to have the capability to define one's own toolkit to build your own purpose-built standard image.

He's ignoring logic here in order to serve his own agenda, which of course consists of being smarter and sleeker and better than some crufty old Linux with 20 years of barnacles on its hull.

Init on Linux emphatically is ugly, but it's the product of a very large number of people coping with a very large set of circumstances, and finding a solution that is decidedly imperfect, but can be made to address most of the hundreds of thousands of peculiar and unique use cases in the world today.

Quoth Poettering:

The Linux model is the one where you have everything split up, and have different maintainers, different coding styles, different release cycles, different maintenance statuses. Much of the Linux userspace used to be pretty badly maintained, if at all. You had completely different styles, the commands worked differently – in the most superficial level, some used -h for help, and others ––help. It’s not uniform.

This really is the essence of it. When you get right down to it, he's just pissed at having to deal with other people's half-assed implementations of everything, and having to make all the bits work to a purpose. It's just too... democratic. I suspect he feels the same way George W. Bush did when he famously quipped that if he really were a dictator, he'd get a lot more done.

And that's really the essence of the problem. No matter how good systemd turns out to be, it's effectively less than a dozen core committers (the top 10 committers have submitted over 90% of the code) dictating how your modular system is going to run. They want a single group (themselves) and a single philosophy (theirs) to occupy pretty much the entire space between the kernel and userland. And that is not the Linux way of doing things.

Comment: Re: Master plan (Score 1) 105

by grcumb (#48789091) Attached to: Sloppy File Permissions Make Red Star OS Vulnerable

Too late, Kim Jong Un ordered the general who bought the HP printer to be executed already, and ordered his brother to buy a Canon inkjet to replace it. The brother was also executed for bring imperialist Japanese goods into Korea, but at least they have a new national printer now. Both the PCs are now being studied by North Koreas elite hacking squad to see if the files can be removed without recompiling the whole system from scratch, but the results are not promising so we may see more outage on the North Korean netblock again this week.

"PC ROAD RETTER? What dis fuckin' PC ROAD RETTER? You die today, Minister!"

Comment: Re:Joke? (Score 1) 790

by grcumb (#48785129) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More?

A real typewriter couldn't make two rapidfire Dings! in a row.

I think you've forgotten —or never knew— the carriage release. It was a feature on both my old Remington manual and my Underwood electric that allowed the carriage to slide all the way to the end with a single gesture. And depending on how you set your tabstops, you could probably get the same effect with the TAB key, too.

Near the end, there are several measures in which the bell rings after only three keystrokes, and without the carriage return sound, also impossible:

See above.

Comment: Re:Seriously? GOOD NEWS? (Score 1) 255

by grcumb (#48770105) Attached to: FCC Favors Net Neutrality

Be careful what you ask for.

Most /.ers probably are not old enough to remember the days when all telecommunications were regulated under title II.

Are you implying that there was a time when residential internet was regulated under Title II? If so, I'd be interested to hear a great deal more.

Let's just say that costs were higher, innovation was essentially prohibited, and service was even worse than you can get from Comcast today.

And was that due specifically to Title II, or was it due to other regulation, which allowed the national, monolithic monopoly that Lily Tomlin (quite rightly) so loved to hate?

I stand to be corrected, but I believe that there's nothing currently in Title II that would result in the stagnation that AT&T brought about in its time. It's true that there would be greater scrutiny of how carriers manage their networks, which could conceivably result in slow-downs in deployment of certain management practices and technologies, but I'd venture to suggest that that's the fucking point.

When 'innovation' means a willingness to hold a content service's customers to ransom, then hell yes, I'd like to see that process slowed down. I'd even pay a little for the privilege of not getting fucked over.

I agree that it's unfortunate that such measures seem to be necessary. It would be nice to believe that the invisible hand would bitch slap any company that tried to play fast and loose with its customers. But tragically, because of the nature of communications networks, that doesn't always happen.

And let's make no mistake - it's the very companies who are guilty of these sins that are arguing that Title II is a return to the 'bad old days' of the 1930s, when the FCC was created and Title II came into being. It was during those 'bad old days', by the way, that the majority of Americans finally got telephone service, such as it was.

Comment: Re:Cat and mouse... (Score 4, Insightful) 437

by grcumb (#48727963) Attached to: Netflix Cracks Down On VPN and Proxy "Pirates"

What I don't understand is why the big media conglomerates put such baffling restrictions into their licenses in the first place.

Do sociopaths need a reason other than the desire for control?

Well, purportedly, the reason for this is to ensure profits, but that doesn't compute. Even a business undergrad could tell you that with a little rationalisation in the business space, it would be possible for Hollywood to extend their control and improve their profits in the process. Somehow, though, the ridiculously hidebound distribution chain is successfully working against an improved industry. There are enough people with a vested interest in keeping things the way they were (the way things are is... obviously different) that they can cut off their proverbial face to spite their nose. Yes it's that illogical.

I'm really surprised that, even with over a decade to adjust, most media companies have yet to do so. Even telcos, the other digital industry we love to hate, have learned significant lessons and are in the process of taming a frontier they initially ignored. But media - their collective consciousness defies even a modicum of logic.

Comment: Re:Not seeing the issue here (Score 1) 209

by grcumb (#48649949) Attached to: Judge: It's OK For Cops To Create Fake Instagram Accounts

Bingo. You're absolutely correct.

"I've got three witnesses that put you there, DNA evidence, and some video with someone wearing jeans and a white hoodie, just like you wear, though the face isn't visable. You'll get the death penalty. If you give me a confession, we can get it down to manslaughter. First offense. You'll probably just get probation. Here's some paper."

You might like to look up the difference between coercion and deception. One of them is almost always a crime; the other, not so much.

Comment: Re:been there, done that (Score 2) 280

by grcumb (#48614815) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

You're not a liberal arts major, by any chance, are you? 'Cuz one thing STEM tries to do is kill the belief that an anecdote counters data.

Why yes, I am a liberal arts major, who studied classical logic, among other things. I was responding to the assertion that 'most' liberal arts majors ended up as lowly restaurant workers. I countered that by asserting a) that restaurant workers are not so lowly as characterised; b) that drawing general conclusions about people's prospects based on their education does not bear out, particularly where some of the more respected and influential jobs are concerned; and c) that in a number of cases, a liberal arts education is a precursor to the kind of work that most people can only dream about.

You see, I was actually not making a positive argument so much as rebutting (and refuting) someone else's crass, inaccurate and unsubstantiated assertion that a liberal arts degree is valueless. Shocking, isn't it, to see a STEM major failing so badly at applying basic logic?

But yeah, the plural of anecdote is not always data.

P.S. For the humour-impaired: I'm a keyboard monkey, too. A liberal arts educated keyboard monkey.

Comment: Re:been there, done that (Score 3, Funny) 280

by grcumb (#48612745) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

I second this comment. besides teaching college which will probably involve a graduate degree, most of thejobs with a liberal arts degree involve asking "Do you want fries with that?"

Two things:

First - I supported myself for a decade working in bars and restaurants. There are more interesting people living interesting lives employed in that sector than just about any other.

Second - Ridley Scott went to art college. Peter Jackson was self-taught. James Cameron was a truck driver. The people who have done more to shape your vision than you're likely able to realise followed no discernible pattern of behaviour. I'd advise you to save your derision until someone's earned it.

Case in point: One 'liberal arts' friend of mine plays the king of the White Walkers on GoT. Another works on The Daily Show. How's your job look now, keyboard monkey?

Comment: Re:been there, done that (Score 1) 280

by grcumb (#48612645) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

Have an English degree, found it useless. went back got my BSEE, been employed as such ever since. short version, go back and get your degree.

Did a double major in Theatre and English Literature. After 20 years of gainful employment in systems software development and consulting, I'm now CTO at an international think tank. I also know the value of capitalisation and punctuation.

Short version: It's horses for courses; reflect carefully, then do what you feel is best. If you're smart, the real determining factor is how hard you're willing to work, and how well you continue to learn.

Comment: Re:please keep closed! (Score 0) 50

by grcumb (#48597329) Attached to: Microsoft To Open Source Cloud Framework Behind Halo 4 Services

I disagree. Encapsulation and abstraction of complexity is natural and humans are great at breaking complexity apart and making the common-man able to accomplish what was one impossible.

No dispute there. The problem, though, is not that we make easy things simple and hard things possible (pace, Larry Wall). It's that we have of late developed a tendency to simplify too far. Microsoft is famous for making systems administration and certain types of programming 'click-and-drool' easy. And hyperbole aside, the cost to society of the half-competent people who found gainful employment due to this charade can be measured in the many billions.

You're absolutely right in that commercial flying is safer than ever, notwithstanding the tendency in airlines to pressure senior pilots out in favour of cheaper, younger staff. And those working in HFT would likely be wreaking havoc by other means if they didn't have software and fibre-optics to enable them. I guess my tongue hadn't entirely left my cheek when I wrote that last para.

BUT... Microsoft has contributed significantly to a general downward trend in the quality of software and systems integrity. And they've done so by marketing the idea that with the right tools, tool users can be commoditised. And that really, really sucks.

Comment: Re:please keep closed! (Score 1) 50

by grcumb (#48597007) Attached to: Microsoft To Open Source Cloud Framework Behind Halo 4 Services

Whatever it is that made Halo 4 (cloud-based or otherwise) should remain closed. Or better yet, incinerate it.

Agreed. 'Software that makes it easy for non-experts to do expert tasks' will one day be recognised for its role in causing the downfall of civilisation as we know it. By then, of course, it will be too late.

Some among you may think that's overstating things. Some among you are also .NET developers, so what do you know?

Seriously, though: From the Airbus crash to high frequency trading to the Sony hack, examples abound of how enabling and empowering mediocrity is the first ingredient of every modern tragedy.

ASHes to ASHes, DOS to DOS.