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Comment: Re:Overly paranoid (Score 3, Funny) 232

Okay, so what are you going to do about that paranoia? Use OpenBSD? That's too bad, because the NSA has already inserted cryptospy code into the distribution without Theo's knowledge. Oh, so you'll just compile it yourself from the sources, and read and review them all yourself? Too bad because your compiler has code in it that secretly inserts itself when it detects compilation of the OpenBSD kernel. Oh, but you're going to review all the compiler source code yourself and do a Canadian cross to build a clean compiler which you will then use to build a clean OpenBSD kernel from source? Too bad, because Bernstein has been paid gold in a secret numbered bank account in Thailand to insert a bug that will only manifest when it checks the installation of a new kernel on your machine.

Eventually, you have to put your tinfoil hat away and figure out how to get some work done on that there computer. Paranoia has a useful limit.

Comment: Overly paranoid (Score 5, Interesting) 232

I started using OpenBSD in 1998. It was a viable, timely competitor to Linux at the time, especially for building firewalls as such.

OpenBSD is a great example of what happens when you make life too difficult for end users and administrators in the name of Security. OpenBSD has never embraced the most recent release of anything -- if it's new, by definition it's insecure and it can't be trusted. Ergo, if you have to demonstrate the latest technology in whatever you're doing, you start with a Linux distribution.

From the article: "We wanted a tool that would fit on installation media, which meant minimizing code size and external dependencies." That's the breakage mode, in a nutshell. NO ONE in the world has been clamoring for an OpenBSD signing tool that runs on a floppy. But the designers are imagining the user requirements based on their own biases. This way lies the death of any commercial or open source software product.

Comment: Knowing everything vs. nothing (Score 1) 507

by johnwbyrd (#42550283) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To React To Coworker Who Says My Code Is Bad?

It's extremely common for bright young inexperienced programmers to take this attitude toward existing projects or code, so much so that I'm surprised that this is the only situation in which you've encountered this behavior.

A manager's job is to take this arrogant kid and groom him so that he can be used productively in a team environment. If he's already talking about how much your code sucks then he's got a bit to learn about presenting contrary opinions in a respectful way. All the same, you need to keep your ego in check so that his good ideas (if he has any) can be applied productively to solving the company's problems.

You start with him the way you do all new guys: assign him a small piece of the code and limit his job to refactoring or rewriting a portion of it. Make sure everything's marked in source control before you let him loose. And have him give a general presentation at the end (at the source code as well as the project level) as to why his changes have improved things. Reward him for playing nice with others and chastise him for being arrogant or a lone gun. And give him bigger jobs as he proves he can handle them.

My basic rule is to listen for as long as possible before overruling a junior programmer's opinion. Make sure that he has his chance to give his say. But after hearing it, take the counsel of your own 10 years over his if your opinions diverge. Experience does matter and there's really any substitute for it.

Comment: Before choosing this programming language or that (Score 3, Insightful) 224

by johnwbyrd (#42330545) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does an IT Generalist Get Back Into Programming?

Instead of following the pattern on here of recommending this programming language or that, I'll suggest a different course.

First, choose a very specific field of work. Video games, insurance, pinnipeds, ASIC design... something.

Second, look at the development technologies and tools that exist in that field and are used frequently and common. Games use C++ and assembly, ASICs use Verilog, pinniped databases are written in .NET.

Third, focus on learning the technologies that are used in your particular field of interest.

This will permit you to have a marketable skill in precisely the area of programming you want to accomplish.

I am aware that many programmers consider themselves "generalists" -- and heck, I do too. But the field of programming is now sufficiently wide that ALL programmers must, to an extent, specialize. Of course you can always apply your generalist knowledge to solving one-off problems. Instead, I suggest you focus on a particular area of expertise related to your dream job.

Best of luck.

Comment: Flawed methodology (Score 2, Insightful) 86

by johnwbyrd (#40846979) Attached to: Twitter Launches Political Index

Fox News's darling for collecting poll data about political events is Rasmussen Reports. In Rasmussen Reports's methodology, they make a series of random, pre-recorded calls to landline telephones. One sensible theory says that people who still have landline phones, and who take the time to do an automated random phone poll, tend to be older and retired. These people typically vote conservatively, thus causing Rasmussen's findings to be skewed conservatively.

Likewise, any sort of "polling" of Twitter results will probably not be statistically interesting, because not everyone uses Twitter. I find it utterly unsurprising that Twitter people discuss Obama far more frequently than Romney. However I don't think that these numbers can be extrapolated to the general election in any way.

Comment: Re:Google Docs (Score 1) 204

Another vote here for Google Apps and Docs.

You didn't mention other business apps like accounting and other admin functions, but I put in a vote for early virtualization of all your core apps, using VMware or Redhat or whatever your favorite virtualization platform is. When we founded our little company, we installed Quickbooks and SugarCRM and Perforce and a couple other business process apps on virtual machines, and that turned out to be a big win later on.

Comment: Supersampling in consumer units (Score 1) 255

by johnwbyrd (#40042367) Attached to: Dolby's TrueHD 96K Upsampling To Improve Sound On Blu-Rays

The thing I don't get about all these consumer-grade audio products hawking 96k sound are why engineers, who should know better, are attracted to them. It's as though we came out with a new TV that displays past the wavelengths of visible colors into the ultraviolet spectrum. Sold, presumably, with the tag line, "Our new plasma television reproduces all the colors that you CAN'T see... but BEES CAN!" Likewise, dogs in your household may appreciate an upgrade to 96k sound, but if humans cannot physiologically perceive sounds above about 22-23 kHz... then why... why...

Comment: Re:Unsampling ... then re-sampling in 96KHz? (Score 2) 255

by johnwbyrd (#40042195) Attached to: Dolby's TrueHD 96K Upsampling To Improve Sound On Blu-Rays

This is incorrect. Interpolating an audio signal using using lerp or Bezier or whatever will introduce auditory artifacts in the upper frequencies of the sound. The only mathematically correct way to upsample a signal is to perform the transformation into frequency space and then resynthesize the signal at the desired frequency with a lowpass filter.

See https://ccrma.stanford.edu/~jos/resample/ for more information on why curve fitting is incorrect.

Comment: Harvard's libraries cannot afford it? (Score 1) 178

by johnwbyrd (#39792391) Attached to: Harvard: Journals Too Expensive, Switch To Open Access

Harvard's current endowment is approximately $32B. This is approximately the amount of equity in Kraft Foods or in Coca-Cola or in Oracle.

Harvard is an enormously profitable corporation with a small side business involving handing out diplomas. For Harvard's libraries (underfunded though the department may be) to complain about the cost of anything, given the college's $38,415 undergraduate tuition this year, constitutes the pinnacle of hypocrisy.

Class of '91, gentlemen.

Comment: Communication as a form of intelligence (Score 5, Interesting) 93

by johnwbyrd (#39087537) Attached to: John Nash's Declassified 1955 Letter To the NSA

As I read the correspondence I tried to put myself in the position of Dr. Campaigne, and tried to figure out whether what Nash was saying made any sense. I confess that Nash's presentational style made me feel as though I was reading what Nash himself referred to as "a crank or circle-squarer". The core of Nash's invention is a squiggly, messy node graph of colored lines demonstrating a manually obfuscated binary function. But the importance of his communication is the importance of P vs. NP functions, which Nash communicated very very obliquely. Nash's Unabomber handwritten font didn't help him either.

I feel bad that I would have made the same mistake that Campaigne did. But I think nearly anyone would have.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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