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Comment: Re:Looking to move off of iTunes (Score 1) 56 56

Yeah, I started ripping my own CDs to MP3 early on in the game and quickly realized that putting my collection in Apple's hands would not let me retain control of my collection. That was back in the days of the white iPod. I currently use git annex to keep my collection synchronized across two computers and my android phone. That mostly seems to work, although the android client does seem to be a bit flaky.

Comment: Re:"Name" all you want. (Score 2) 32 32

Thanks for saving me the typing.

She won't give a shit. Most people voting for her don't understand what crime she committed and even think it's something great because ... terrorists, child molesters, whatever, I don't keep track of the boogeyman du jour.

Name her what you want. She'll laugh it off 'til someone misses the brakes accidentally next time she crosses the street.

Comment: Re:The inherent problem with electronic voting (Score 1) 81 81

Again. The problem is not whether or not manipulation takes place. The problem is that someone can cry foul and there is no way to convince the computer unsavvy that he's full of shit.

You can verify your vote with some device not under your control. That alone gives room for doubt.

Political processes are complicated and intricate. That's already plenty of room for people wanting to claim that politics is all shenanigans and foul play because it's so complicated that most people don't understand it and rather follow someone claiming to understand it.

Voting, at least so far, is something rather simple. Take a sheet of paper, make a mark, toss it in a big box, then count the slips with the same marks when everyone tossed his paper into the box. That's simple enough that people understand it and that they trust such a system. Anything making the process more complex makes it easier for people wanting to create doubt in the process.

Comment: Re:The inherent problem with electronic voting (Score 1) 81 81

I didn't say that paper elections cannot be rigged. They can, and have been more often actually than there have been fair elections.

I did not even say that it's easier to rig electronic elections than paper elections. Personally, I'd expect it to be as long as you're the one calling the shots.

What is harder is simply to debunk cries of foul play. People can easily imagine what a paper election is like and how counting them (with representatives of all parties involved present) can be somewhat trusted. It is easy, on the other hand, to convince people that this is not the case with voting machines.

People don't trust what they don't understand. And trust is something a democracy needs urgently. People need to have faith in their system of government. Whether they like their current government or not, but they need to know that it was elected fairly and that it is what "the people" wanted. That's the whole problem here. Because without ... well, you see how Mexico is doing...

Comment: Re:The inherent problem with electronic voting (Score 1) 81 81

It is?

Explain this to Joe Random who just heard some populist cry foul play, claiming that they can't be audited and that the auditors are all in league with the party that won the election. Yes, it's bull. But the problem is that you CANNOT debunk it. Joe Random can't imagine how such an audit takes place. He can imagine counting paper slips, and he can see through the ruse when someone cries foul in such an environment. Any party crying foul in a paper election will be told that they should've put some monitors down if they didn't trust the ones running the show and counting the paper slips. That's (at least in my country) their right to do.

You can't do that with computer voting. Yes, someone can make an audit. But it isn't something you can easily explain to someone who has no idea of computers. He will readily believe someone who claims that it's bogus. Simply because he doesn't understand what "audit" means. He understands counting paper slips, though.

The danger is even less in the actual possibility of manipulation as it is in the possible loss of faith in the election. People are already weary of politicians and even politics to some degree (personally, I can only hope that the general apathy is more due to useless politicians rather than people genuinely not caring about democracy anymore). The very last thing we need now is that something gives them the impression that it doesn't matter jack anymore whether or not they vote because it's rigged anyway. Whether real or imagined, if someone starts beating that drum, people will follow easily.

Simply because you can't easily debunk it.

Comment: Re:The inherent problem with electronic voting (Score 2) 81 81

But any party involved can (at least in my country, and pretty much all civilized countries I know of) nominate election observers that can easily identify whether everything's running correctly without any kind of special knowledge. They can easily tell whether the ballot is properly sealed, they can easily tell whether people step into the voting booth alone. They can easily find out whether the choice is free of influence. They can be present when the ballot seal is broken (actually, over here people are essentially locked in 'til the paper slips are counted, collected and sealed again, nothing going in or out in between) and when the paper slips are counted.

It's pretty hard to manipulate anything in such an environment. It's easy to see whether someone tries to manipulate results since it takes little more than eyes to detect foul play.

Comment: Re:The inherent problem with electronic voting (Score 1) 81 81

You act as if that wasn't even easier with voting machines. "Whoopsie, computer crash!"

And unlike in this case, you can't even claim that they're criminally incompetent. Because, hey, computers crash, that's what they do, right? Happens to you at home, too, and you can't be blamed for that, can you?

In other words, them running out of ballots and being unable/unwilling to allow voters to vote is something people can easily identify as something not being as it should be. Manipulation gets heaps easier with voting machines.

Comment: The inherent problem with electronic voting (Score 4, Insightful) 81 81

There is one single very dangerous problem with electronic voting: Trust. People have to trust it, because they are unable to test it.

With paper and pen, it's easy. You can nominate anyone to work as an election monitor. The necessary qualification is "being able to find out where the X marks the spot" and "count". That's a skill set available to nearly everyone.

Working as an election monitor to rule out foul play with election machines requires someone to know quite a bit about computers. It's anything BUT simple to rule out foul play.

The danger here isn't even so much that manipulation can take place. And I don't even want to engage in the discussion whether or not these machines can easily be manipulated. The danger is that some populist aiming for the uneducated masses goes and cries foul play when he loses the election. And that's a danger not to some party but to the faith of the population in the whole democratic process. And that inherently is dangerous to democracy altogether.

It's not easy to debunk such claims. With paper, it's easy to go "oh please, count them yourself if you don't believe us. Here's the paper slips, and you can count, can't you?". Now try the same with election machines. Saying "you can do an audit yourself" isn't going to cut it. Why should we trust the computer experts? It's not something just anyone can do.

These machines are a danger to democracy. Nothing less.

Comment: Re:Multiple multi-million dollar satellites. (Score 5, Funny) 311 311

Funnily enough at the satellite company I worked for that one time, one of the older guys there mentioned how he almost lost a satellite once by logging in to his own account and issuing a maneuver command to the satellite. Problem was the satellite was expecting times in GMT and got them in MST. Took them days to get it oriented correctly again.

Now the programmers in the audience could probably think of like 10 different specific things that could be coded into the system to prevent that from happening, but this company didn't. Which really isn't too surprising. I asked one of the devs on the ground systems team if the ground systems was using GMT or UTC. His answer was "What's the difference?" I was able to infer from his answer that it was most likely GMT, and that did appear to be the case. Somewhere deep in the bowels of the system there was presumably some piece of code written by an Indian contractor with a math degree adjusting times for leap seconds, but it wasn't in any code that anyone knew about.

The early history of that company read like a Monty Python sketch. The first satellite exploded on the launch pad. The second satellite fell over and then exploded. The third satellite burned down, fell over, exploded and then sank into the swamp. The forth satellite got into orbit and was promptly bricked by sending the wrong version of Windows(!) to it. To be fair they only had to do that because they launched it with the wrong version of Windows(!!) in the first place. One would think that ANY version of Windows would be the wrong version of Windows to shoot into space, but that's why you're not the head of a billion dollar satellite company.

Comment: Crashed the Uni Mainframe Once (Score 1) 311 311

Was curious what an apparently undocumented feature on the login page did. Turns out what it did was crash the mainframe. Go figure. You'd think they'd take that shit off the login page, but apparently no one had ever been so curious as to explore it before. Which says a lot about that uni, now that I think about it. Also, once trash talked a uni in a story on a news blag website. Yeah, those were the days...

Mostly I make my career out of fixing other people's tech mistakes. Which is not something that uni taught me how to do. Man I'm glad I got out of that place before I ran up any significant student debt. Did I mention I trash talked a uni on a news blag website?

Comment: Re:Outage.. (Score 1) 311 311

Something similar. Took almost an entire ISP down. Had a few servers with about 200 domains running bsd located at thier "data center " which was more like a couple shelve and a long bench. Anyways, they where supposed to be running a script to verify two servers were mirroring the other two. I got lazy and stopped checking the logs for it and eventually they stopped running the backups or the script to verify it. One day a drive failed and about 50 domains were off line. I couldn't remote into any server and started getting a run around from their techs so i loaded up all the backup servers i had and a file share with copies of everthing and drove the 200 miles to the isp.

Turns out one of their techs tried to fix the problem by pulling a good drive from one of the other boxes but wasn't the one mirroring the bad drive. This then caused issues in the raid for the good box which he tried to rebuild by pulling the a drive from the mirroring box and ended up breaking all the configs. The worse part is that he thought he had the right tools to fix everything at home and instead of going to get them, he loaded my servers up and took them home.

So i show up, realize i have to start from scratch, set up a couple makeshift boxes that likely wouldn't survive a month, then i connected an old NetWare server. I enabled SMB on the two new servers and started transferring files from the NetWare server. Next thing i know, someone came in and started rebooting all the routers. I looked and jokingly said a reboot is not a fix.

Well, this went on for about two hours with about half a dozen people working on it, making phone calls and claiming they were under some DOS attack. My file transfer was finished, i disconnected the NetWare server, and it all magically stopped. I had misconfigured the SMB and created a packet storm that their routers and modems gladly repeated and multiplied to the point it almost melted their network.

My real servers finally showed back up so i loaded them up, built new ones and had a t3 ran to a commercial building near the house that became their new home. There was a lot of finger pointing and talk about compensation but it got dropped when i reminded them that the only reason i had access of that kind was because they failed to fulfill a contract obligations and then screwed the pooch trying to recover.

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM

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