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Comment: Sys Comp Design - Cirguit Gear (Score 1) 172

by icknay (#47225165) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: PC-Based Oscilloscopes On a Microbudget?
Check out the circuit-gear units. The new "mini" is just $99 I have the previous generation unit. I've enjoyed it for just hacking around, and it's great for demos, since the computer it's hooked up to can be projected. The GUI software for it is open-source, so that's neat.

Comment: Re:And this is impressive why? (Score 5, Informative) 114

by icknay (#44515839) Attached to: Mozilla Launches Persona Identity Bridge For Gmail
Are you kidding? Persona solves a whole raft of super common problems
  • -Say for example site you post on is hacked. With Persona the bad guys don't get anything. There is no password stored on It's more akin to certs. That alone will eliminate a whole class of internet disasters that we read about every week on slashdot.
  • -I don't want to make up yet another stupid username/password recovery question for every site. Now I can just use one of the Persona identities I already have, and I'm done. I also trust Mozilla or Google a lot more to be on top of security than
  • -Unlike, say, facebook connect, this is a federated standard, not dependent on any org. You can run your own identity-provider if you like, not that most people would care to.

Comment: Warning: toolbar (Score 1) 183

by icknay (#43725911) Attached to: To Avoid Confusion: Oracle's Confusing New Java Numbering Scheme
Note that addition to using a new numbering scheme, each critical Java security update attempts to install the toolbar, even if upon the initial install you unchecked the checkbox. The latest browser versions include measures to foil the attempted install of the, so tech-savvy people tend to be unaware of how bad and intrusive the toolbar is. It mucks up all search results with complete garbage. (details here)

So basically the tech naive types get this thing installed and it thoroughly messes up their internet experience, but they are not sure how it happened... thanks Oracle! I cannot think of a better way of getting nobody to use Java.

I would like Java to thrive and compete with other languages, so I'm trying to make sure Oracle to get all the bad press it deserves for this abusive practice. Heh, every time there's a Java story, I try to post a reminder for people to be super careful when applying Java updates. Posting this warning repeatedly I think means I've satisfied one of the three tests for becoming a certified Internet Crazy Person. I just need to figure out what the other two are and I'm all set!

Comment: Warning: toolbar (Score 5, Informative) 211

by icknay (#43489843) Attached to: Oracle Fixes 42 Security Vulnerabilities In Java
Suppose that when you first run the java installer, it asks you if you wan to install the toolbar, naturally you select No Malware button, and everything installs nicely. Now later on, for each security update that comes along, there's a nice Install Important Update button .. and what do you suppose that does? It installs the toolbar! I know Oracle is supposed to be aggressive with their practices, but I cannot believe they abuse security updates this way to get a few pennies out of which is basically a search-result-spam engine.

The reason you have not heard about this more, is that Macs and Firefox/Chrome (not sure about IE) resist the installer, so you just don't see it, but the crappy Oracle behavior is in fact going on each time. The result is that naive users are getting this toxic thing installed and it really messes up their whole internet experience.

Hey Oracle: you're pissing away tons of Java goodwill in exchange for pennies form the spammers. Who on the heck thought that was a good trade? Like what techie who learns of this behavior is ever going to install Java anywhere? Aren't you trying to make JavaFX into a real client thing?

See for lots of details on how the installer tries to trick the users and hide itself. It's kind of interesting arms race between the spamming toolbar and the browser vendors.

Comment: Warning: Oracle installs toolbar (Score 5, Informative) 165

by icknay (#43074743) Attached to: Oracle Rushes Emergency Java Update To Patch McRAT Vulnerabilities
Warning: the Java installer will install the toolbar if you click the "yes, please just install my security update" button, even for the original install you declined the toolbar -- really an obnoxious abuse of updates. Here is a very interesting analysis of the whole back and forth between the installer and the browsers trying to keep junk out. Interesting tidbit: apparently the installer sleeps for 10 minutes, so if you try to "remove" right afterwards, it's not there yet. This is on Windows, not sure across all platforms. Oracle taking this little tiny income stream from in exchange for screwing over tons of users and admins seems like a big mistake by Oracle, and would just sort of bug me if I were an engineer at Oracle spending all this time trying to make Java better.

Comment: It's about the tech support (Score 1) 230

by icknay (#41701789) Attached to: ARM-Based Chromebooks Ready To Battle Windows 8, Tablets
The next time your are fixing some relative's or co-worker's machine .. think about if maybe everyone would be better off if they had a chromebook. The point of these things is that, if you just limit things to the web, you can make a very secure, reliable, no-brainer type machine. It can't do everything, but jeez, it sure can do a lot of what most regular people use their computers for, and that's just going to become more with HTML5 et al. Or a business could hand them out for employees who need some web app to do their jobs. You just have your login to the app (google hosted, or somebody else .. it all works), and if they break the machine, you just hand them another one. Data is cached on the device, but the real data is the cloud. The software on the device is designed deeply to be very secure (easier since it does so much less) so it should be much less vulnerable to "infection" the way a more general computers are. Android and iOS are trying to not be vulnerable to malware, but it's so much harder when stuff can get installed. The chromebook does not have a native software "install" .. it's just the web, so it's a lot easier to nail down right.

Comment: Check out the free Stanford class w/video (Score 1) 525

The free Stanford CS101 intro-to-computers class is going to start April 23rd, so that's worth a shot: It introduces programming with code and everything, but it's easier than a full programming course. It's a way to get started, warming up to a full programming course later on. Some people can read a book and poke around themselves. However for many having videos/lecture notes/assignments all geared together is an easier way to get started. Disclaimer: I'm teaching this class!

Comment: programming practice (Score 4, Informative) 364

by icknay (#36302868) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Good Homeschool Curriculum For CS??

For little live code practice problems in python and java there's

There's Google's complete free python class at

For a huge library of cs assignments, try the nifty assignments archive at

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian