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Comment: Re:And what about the infrastructure issues? (Score 1) 287

by mcrbids (#49780097) Attached to: Amtrak Installing Cameras To Watch Train Engineers

It's easy to design something that people can do. It's tough to design a system that people can't fail at. And that's where there's a big, soft, squishy line that divides what people can generally keep up with and the things that people have to work at to get wrong.

As a software engineer, I require the first, and aim for the latter. It's tough.

My uncle was an BART engineer. He controlled BART ([San Francisco] Bay Area Rapid Transit) trains in the SF Bay Area for a living. The train had doors on both sides of the train and some stations opened on one side, or the other.

BART trains are frequently "up in the air" as much as 50 feet, where the expectation is that you climb a flight or two of stairs to the BART station and board the train. And, for passengers, the doors automatically opened on the correct side so that nobody got hut.

For passengers. But the engineers were expected to manually open the doors on the appropriate side when leaving their station. Now, it's not particularly difficult to look outside the door and see which side the station is on, and the doors for passengers automatically opened on the correct side.

This is where that big, squishy line starts to rear its ugly head. Because while passengers weren't expected to remember which side to get off, engineers were. And my poor uncle made a mistake one day, and opened the wrong side. It was a fatal mistake.

Answer me this: Why would we expect that passengers would never get it right, but engineers would never get it wrong?

Intelligently designed systems that account for and prevent common human mistakes is a design goal. It's tough to do because you have to predict what the end user will likely get wrong and account for that. Nonetheless, it's a hallmark of engineering advancement that we've designed something so safe and resistant to human error as a car that casually travels 100 MPH with as low a death toll as we see today.

Comment: Re:Too bad to see them go this way... (Score 2) 164

by mcrbids (#49780033) Attached to: Mandriva Goes Out of Business

Having never left the RedHat fold, (I'm typing this on a Fedora 21 Laptop) I can't say with any honesty that I've missed them. At all.

Red Hat has been very, very good to me! My business is based on RHEL/CentOS and since Red Hat is quite profitable, I have a simple, economic assurance that my technology base won't disappear.

Feel free to use Ubuntu/Mint/Whatever as your hip distro; but Red Hat has carried a solid, economically potent and robust distro for decades.

Comment: Re:not the real question (Score 4, Insightful) 200

It's only bullshit if Chris Roberts was actually lying. And validating it is pretty straightforward: Did the plane yaw, as was claimed? Can Chris' software cause it to happen again?

It's a pretty simple test. And as far as Chris' treatment, if he's been trying to tell people about this vulnerability and getting the cold shoulder, he's as innocent as they get and should be compensated for time served.

Comment: Re:No. (Score 0) 267

by mcrbids (#49621961) Attached to: Is It Worth Learning a Little-Known Programming Language?

But... you'd be surprised how often it happens that I've learned a new tool, technique, or technology, only to be presented with an opportunity to use that new technology shortly thereafter.

You miss many opportunities simply because you don't see them as such because you lack the context, understanding, or tools to recognize them as such. Broadening your horizons helps you see the solutions and opportunities for what they are.

Comment: How about sane warnings? (Score 1) 324

by mcrbids (#49598809) Attached to: Mozilla Begins To Move Towards HTTPS-Only Web

As it is now, you are not notified of security issues when you have no security whatsoever. HTTP sites should be given a dire, red warning because they represent the least secure position online. An SSL site with an expired certificate is far more desirable than an HTTP website.

Green should represent proper SSL certificates, as it does now.

But there's one more problem with SSL/HTTPS sites that nobody talks about: the fake SSL certificate. Your browser *probably* trust a multitude of SSL certificate vendors, and *any* of them can issue a certificate for *any* domain.

So there are literally hundreds of SSL certificate vendors that could issue a cert for google.com or whatever, and you wouldn't know. If the NSA offered a bit of $$ to a commonly trusted (but otherwise unheard of) certificate vendor to issue a few certificates to be used discreetly....

See the problem?

If I go to Thawte or RapidSSL to get a cert, I should have the ability to publish my vendor of choice, and nobody else's certificates should be considered trustworthy. Similarly, I should be able to publish revoked certificates the same way.

Why hasn't this already been done?

Comment: Re:Or maybe support an Open Source option? (Score 1) 35

by mcrbids (#49574451) Attached to: RealTek SDK Introduces Vulnerability In Some Routers

By spec, wireless N, up to 300 Mbit.

In practice, I've gone through 4 different routers, and so far, this one has come out on top. It has two decent antennas which may be some of that difference, to be fair.

My house was (over)built in the 1970s with 3/4" sheet rock, making each room almost like a Faraday cage - getting wifi signal *at all* from two rooms over is spotty at best. In my bedroom (2 doors away from the hotspot) I see about 15-20 Mbits, but in the same room I see up to ~ 40 Mbits for torrents. (50 Mbit connection, shared)

Oh, and it being open source, I'm gonna bank on its code quality being a bit better...

Comment: Or maybe support an Open Source option? (Score 2) 35

by mcrbids (#49573799) Attached to: RealTek SDK Introduces Vulnerability In Some Routers

You could do that, or you could buy a router pre-configured with OSS from the factory. It's not even expensive at ~ $50.

I bought a similar model about a year ago, and its large antennas and decent range/speed make it the best router I've yet had. If it's not even more expensive, why not support a vendor that supports (more) secure, Open Source solutions?

I have no relationship with this vendor other than being a happy customer

Comment: Re:Pinto (Score 1) 247

by mcrbids (#49566571) Attached to: The Engineer's Lament -- Prioritizing Car Safety Issues

Nope. Poor breaking behaviour doesn't cause crashes, people not keeping a safe distance causes crashes.

Nope. What causes crashes is hunks of metal ramming into other hunks of metal. It would be complicated except that it's not. We choose to ascribe "cause" to other events that precede the ramming behavior, but it's really arbitrary.

For example, it's widely understood that driving cars is *dangerous* and yet we don't ascribe standard risk factors for *driving at all*.

Skiing is inherently dangerous. In order to use a ski slope, I have to acknowledge this risk. Why aren't car manufacturers covered with a similar legal conract?

Comment: Re:So, Microsoft is a social leech! (Score 1) 103

by mcrbids (#49553419) Attached to: Microsoft Increases Android Patent Licensing Reach

Except in this case, the patent is for the use of VFAT, which is a very specific file system format that even Microsoft doesn't use much anymore, but is commonly understood by their systems.

There is no reason, for example, why Microsoft couldn't implement an open file system like EXT4 or UFS and update all their operating systems to recognize it, except that it would mitigate the value of their VFAT patents. So they don't bother.

I remember reading that they make more money on their patents from Android vendors than they make *gross* from their Windows Mobile sales.

Comment: Not just IOS (Score 2) 484

by mcrbids (#49553317) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Most Stable Smartphones These Days?

I have a Moto Razr Maxx HD, now working on its 3rd year. It's been basically perfect. I reboot it perhaps once every few months, and half of those reboots are due to an OTA OS upgrade.

With it's amazing battery life, and durable, sturdy case, it's a phone that feels like a "partner" that doesn't leave me hanging and even when I'm really putting the screws to it, (EG: on trips) it's "just there" for me.

It is no longer a "flagship" phone, it's not the fastest phone, and it doesn't have the biggest/brightest screen any more, but it's still a very, very good balance for a phone that I probably won't be replacing until it actually dies.

My only honest complaint is that its bluetooth reception seems weak. I use $20 wired headphones as a result.

Comment: Re:Dell, HP, Panasonic (Score 5, Informative) 417

by mcrbids (#49540887) Attached to: We'll Be the Last PC Company Standing, Acer CEO Says

How is Dell a laugh?

I write this on a gorgeous Dell Precision M3800 that has it all: powerful i7 processor, space for lots of RAM (16 GB), dual SSD bays, gorgeous 4K screen, and all in a lightweight, svelte case that rivals a Macbook Air in appearance and feel.

Oh, did I mention Linux compatibility? Ubuntu is officially supported. (My fave distro, Fedora runs without issue - literally load and forget)

Not sure what you're looking for in a PC manufacturer, but for Slashbots, isn't this pretty much it?

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