Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Re: The future is not UHD (Score 4, Interesting) 332

by maccodemonkey (#48894387) Attached to: UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice?

Any TV you can buy today can do 60 fps over HDMI. The frame rate push has been done for years, the content just never showed up:

It's also arguable if that's the future. Everyone seems pretty happy with the current refresh rates of film, and 60 fps Hobbit wasn't well received.

Comment: Re:Too Late? (Score 1) 165

by maccodemonkey (#48881275) Attached to: Time For Microsoft To Open Source Internet Explorer?

Isn't Microsoft announcing a new web browser intended to replace Internet Explorer today? Maybe it'll be open source. Maybe it'll even be based on Webkit.

I sure hope not. We need competing browser engines to keep things honest. The competition between them is the only way we ever get standards compliance.

Spoken by someone who wasn't around for the web browser wars of the 90s...

Multiple browsers led to less compliance, not more. Both Netscape and IE were in a rush to add their own non standard HTML elements to "outdate" the other. ActiveX didn't come along at a time that IE owned the market. ActiveX came along at a time when IE was in fierce competition with Netscape, and needed to BREAK the standard to push Netscape out of the market.

Having lived through that, I've never understood the logic of "we need multiple browsers to maintain standards." That's never actually happened in practice. It's like free market philosophy gone amok. Even today, we still see that a bit with either draft or pre-draft things getting added to web browsers outside of standards. Stuff like NaCL is not part of any web spec, and is entirely proprietary to Google, but hey, even with all the competition that's supposed to stop that, it still exists. Because competition promotes people creating their own proprietary stuff to beat the other browsers with.

Comment: Re:So not Python, but VB? (Score 1) 648

by maccodemonkey (#48858885) Attached to: Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

I also disagree about C being "incredibly complex for a beginner". I found C to be very easy to grasp and very good at exposing what the computer is actually doing under the hood. I would agree that programming C well is complex (and also time-consuming), but that is because it is simple, not because it is complex.

As someone who went down this path and is now a professional software developer many years later... C sucks as an intro language.

Yes, it's very important for the work I do now. It's clean, simple, and easy to understand. It's also totally useless to a beginner.

I used BASIC (and HyperCard) way back when I was a kid because I could actually do things in it. Want to code a 3D game? I could do that. How about something that could play movies? Yep, easy. A basic text editor? I could do that too. With C? Lot's of hello world and "add these numbers together." C's minimalistic nature may be a strength for actual practice, but as a kid who wants to actually create things quickly, it sucks. I'd argue early education is about getting kids interested in coding, with less of an emphasis on actual practice they might use in a job 10 years down the road first. Just get them in the door first.

If C was my only intro to programming I would have lost my mind. Try to get more kids interested in development with only a command line interface and see how that goes. (Yes, there are libraries like SDL, but that takes you fair outside the realm of novice student development.)

Comment: Re:How parallel does a Word Processor need to be? (Score 2) 449

by maccodemonkey (#48715481) Attached to: How We'll Program 1000 Cores - and Get Linus Ranting, Again

Or a spreadsheet? (Sure, a small fraction of people will have monster multi-tab sheets, but they're idiots.)
Email programs?
Chat?
Web browsers get a big win from multi-processing, but not parallel algorithms.

Linus is right: most of what we do has limited need for massive parallelization, and the work that does benefit from parallelization has been parallelized.

This is kind of silly. Rendering, indexing and searching get pretty easy boosts from parallelization. That applies to all three cases you've listed above. Web browsers especially love tiled parallel rendering (very rarely these days does your web browser output get rendered into one giant buffer), and that can apply to spreadsheets to.

A better question is how much parallelization we need for the average user. While the software algorithms should nicely scale to any reasonable processor/thread count, on the hardware side you do have to ask how many cores we really need, especially in since a lot of users are happy right now. But targeting these sorts of operations as a single thread is also the entirely wrong approach. It's not power efficient for mobile users, and it drastically limits the gains your code will see on new hardware, while competing source bases pass you up.

Comment: Re:Considering how few boys graduate at ALL (Score 1) 355

To be fair, teacher pay sucks. We all know it. There isn't a debate there.

So you don't exactly make a solid point by saying "Hey look! Women dominate in all the crappy low paying jobs! How are they oppressed?"

Do women dominate in teaching because they choose to go into teaching, or because society is corralling them into teaching because it's pretty much on the bottom end of the career ladder?

I'll tell you, any time I look at teaching (which I'd be interested in), I go "hell no" when I see the pay scales, and go back to my normal engineering job.

If you think discrimination is not a thing, perhaps you're deluded enough to think that women, as a large group, are all collectively putting themselves into low paying, low recognition work.

For bonus points, break out gender ratios in education teaching by pay scale. You'll find as the level of academia and pay increases, the ratio of women also declines. Gee, that's funny.

Comment: Re:all this info for what? (Score 1) 278

by maccodemonkey (#48687031) Attached to: Snowden Documents Show How Well NSA Codebreakers Can Pry

3: Other country's laws. People don't realize it in the US that Thailand's lese majeste laws apply here? Well, they do, and an American can get shipped over there for breaking them, due to extradition treaties. Same with Turkey and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In theory, someone handing out events for their pagan festival or church bulletins can be shipped over there to be executed, due to violating Islamic sharia laws. Privacy is important, since it isn't just domestic LEOs, but LEOs of foreign countries who can press charges and have US citizens answer for them. Right now, it tends not to be enforced, but the laws are on the books, and the pastor who was televised burning a Koran might find himself in Riyadh facing an imam and a crowd with rocks and a can of gasoline.

Errrr, no, that's totally wrong. Where did you learn this stuff?

If you commit an illegal activity in Thailand, and then enter the United States, there is a chance that the US could return you to Thailand. If you do something that is illegal in Thailand but not illegal in the United States in the United Staes, then it does not matter at all. Only US law applies to acts committed in the US.

I don't know where you learned your understanding of extradition laws, but this is so far out in right field. Maybe you should lay off the internet conspiracy crack for a while.

Seriously, learn a few things about extradition. It only applies to crimes committed in the country trying to get their hands on the person.

Comment: Re:Hasn't this been known? (Score 4, Insightful) 163

by maccodemonkey (#48662523) Attached to: Thunderbolt Rootkit Vector

Well, now I'm reading specs on USB 3.0 controllers. Ugh. There's a lot on mapping a bus address to a memory address for DMA, but nothing addressing the security implications of doing so, or what devices are allowed to do, just broad hints like the buffer has to exist in a DMA-able part of memory without saying if that's a security implication or a hardware implication.

It would be nice to see a follow up article on if/how USB 3.0 protects against these things, because I'm not a kernel USB developer sort of guy, so while I know DMA is there, I'm not feeling like I'd be able to dissect these implementation specs.

Comment: Re:Hasn't this been known? (Score 1) 163

by maccodemonkey (#48662417) Attached to: Thunderbolt Rootkit Vector

same thing as a pci-e / pci / cardbus / express card with a boot ROM or flash. They load pre boot at least on non mac systems you can go to bios and trun off option roms / set it to EFI only mode.

Apple exposes a bunch of pre boot options for the firmware on the command line, but I'm not sure if you can disable pre-boot EFI drivers from there.

Comment: Re:Hasn't this been known? (Score 4, Interesting) 163

by maccodemonkey (#48662393) Attached to: Thunderbolt Rootkit Vector

I'm pretty sure in the case of USB 3 that DMA is a function of the host controller. A device by itself cannot inject into arbitrary memory. This thunderbolt "vulnerability" is the equivalent of the windows autorun on insertion function that was disabled years ago. Only this functions above the level of the current user (aka much worse).

I'm looking up DMA for USB3. Although there are some ways to secure DMA (like a white list of addresses/sizes that are safe to write to), all of the advertised functionality of USB3, such as the sustained data rates, would be very hard to achieve if you didn't have direct access to memory. That's why Firewire ruled for live streaming of data for so long: DMA made it's rates reliable, whereas USB's dependence on the controller and CPU for memory transfers made the throughput more flakey.

Comment: Re:uh - by design? (Score 3, Informative) 163

by maccodemonkey (#48662191) Attached to: Thunderbolt Rootkit Vector

Thunderbolt is more like USB to the user - it's a thing you use to connect untrusted devices to your system. You wouldn't expect that plugging in a USB thumbdrive would magically own your system (well, maybe you should, because it's happened in the past, but I think it's fair to say that it shouldn't). You'd think that plugging in a random Thunderbolt device would be designed to be safe. Apparently not: apparently Thunderbolt is unsafe by design.

USB 3.0 has this exact same feature (DMA), so yes, yes you should expect a USB thumb drive to be able to do this.

Comment: Re: Ethics? (Score 3, Informative) 556

by maccodemonkey (#48631961) Attached to: FBI Confirms Open Investigation Into Gamergate

Dude, the entire industry is dirty. Here's a tip: if you're worried about ethics start boycotting every video game.

It's funny how when it comes out that a gaming company acted unethically Gamergaters suddenly lower their standards by a few notches rather than give up their favorite toys.

In these matters the only certainty is that there is nothing certain. -- Pliny the Elder

Working...