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Comment: Sounds about right (Score 1) 70

by jc42 (#48022751) Attached to: Medical Records Worth More To Hackers Than Credit Cards

"When I've looked at hospitals, and when I've talked to other people inside of a breach, they are using very old legacy systems — Windows systems that are 10 plus years old that have not seen a patch."

No surprise there; that's about how long it takes to process all the paper work (mostly due to HIPAA) to get a new system approved for use inside a hospital. The new Windows 8 purchases should be coming online sometime around 2024.

If you want to install a patch, the approval process starts all over from scratch ...

Comment: Re:Moderation (Score 1) 113

by jc42 (#48016939) Attached to: Yahoo Shuttering Its Web Directory

Wohoo! I got informative + insightful + flamebait mods for my message! That's one of the mods I've been trying for for years (plus the rare chance to use "for" twice in a row).

Now to see if I can achieve the ultimate: getting "funny" along with flamebait and (informative or insightful). Preferably all four, though I'd wonder if that's actually achievable if you start with 2 points.

Comment: Re:Safari monopoly (Score 1) 113

by jc42 (#48012199) Attached to: Yahoo Shuttering Its Web Directory

If they'd install a decent browser (in addition to the crippled browser that came with their tablets)

That would require buying a second noon-iPad tablet on which to run a non-crippled browser. Because the iOS API lacks support for runtime generation of executable code, all browsers in Apple's App Store are either Safari wrappers or, in the case of Opera Mini, remote desktop viewers.

So which case describes Chrome? I have it installed on an iPad, and it lacks most of the "walled garden" flakinesses of Safari, pretty much doing things the way browsers on non-Apple systems do them. Thus, Safari balks when you try to get it to display a PDF in a page, but Chrome does it like you'd expect, and sometimes even sizes it to its container correctly. Safari can display PDFs ok, if it's the only thing in a tab, but if you try to surround a PDF "object" with HTML, Safari flatly refuses, showing the "not implemented" message instead. I've taken to including a link to the PDF inside the "not implemented" failure message, and clicking on that link works fine, showing that Safari is quite capable of displaying such files. It just doesn't like to do so inside a web page with, say, additional information about the PDF. But somehow Chrome implements both cases. Google finds a number of complaints about this, and comments that nobody seems to be able to find a fix for Safari's flakiness in this case (and many more ;-).

Comment: Re:Yep (Score 3, Insightful) 113

by jc42 (#48012027) Attached to: Yahoo Shuttering Its Web Directory

Tablet focused design has ruined the web

Nah; the people who still use the web haven't seen much of anything "ruined". They see the web they've long seen, just with a larger set of web sites each month, and maybe a few new features in their browsers. It's just the suckers that succumb to the vendors' enticements into their Walled Gardens that think things have changed. If they'd install a decent browser (in addition to the crippled browser that came with their tablets), they'd see that the web is chugging along as it always has, some parts of it good and other parts not so good.

The fact that the marketers have pushed their New! Improved! products for small, portable computers doesn't mean that the old products have suddenly lost their capabilities. It just means that some of the customers have been persuaded to switch to other things that may or may not be any better.

The biggest problem with "the web" from a tablet user's viewpoint is all the old sites built by "designers" who haven't yet learned that their sites need to work on whatever screen the visitor has, including the small screens that so many people are carrying around now. The days are past when a site designer could design only for people with screens as big as the fancy one sitting on the designer's desktop. If your site doesn't work on the small screens, you won't attract many of the billion or so people who weren't using the web 5 years ago, but are now.

This isn't the fault of "tablet focused design"; it's a problem caused by designers' contempt for people with such small, cheap and portable equipment. They've been essentially anti-tablet since before tablets even existed. But they're slowly coming around, as they slowly realize how crappy their sites really are, from the viewpoint of most newcomers to the Internet.

(Actually, the web has always worked a lot better if you consciously avoid sites created by "designers". Those built by people with an engineer's concern for usability have always been a lot more useful, and they tend to work pretty well on tablets, phones, etc. The "designers" usually don't think they look pretty. But people continue to use google a lot, for example, despite its blatant lack of "design". Or maybe because of it. ;-)

Comment: Re:Apple's QA vs. Android's QA (Score 1) 203

by jc42 (#47988019) Attached to: Apple Yanks iOS 8 Update

I am wondering how a company that has all the money and talent can't catch a bug like this. Their test surface is laughably small compared to what Android or Windows has to support. What is going on there? What process are they using?

It's a well-known software phenomenon: The time it takes to build and debug a program is proportional to the number of people involved. Some argue that it's closer to the square of the number of people (due to the number of interactions in the graph connecting the portions written by different programmers). If you want a bug-free app developed quickly, give it to one person, and make sure that one person understands the problem well.

Actually, a more fun analysis says that the time is really just a function of the (square of the) number of managers managing the development team. But that might be taking cynicism a bit too seriously.

Comment: Re:Everyone loses (Score 5, Interesting) 474

by jc42 (#47946373) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

Actually, there's quite a lot of history in various parts of the world when parts of a political entity split off. Sometimes this is done peacefully, sometimes it involves serious fighting and wars. An interesting recent case was in Switzerland, where in 1978 the Canton of Bern split, with the northern part forming the new Canton of Jura. You can read a lot about it online, including a couple of wikipedia articles. It's fairly well encoded in Swiss law, where similar votes happen every few years, typically involving a municipality with a large population that wants to secede from its canton and join another. The typical reason for such splits is as in Scotland, where the people in an area feel poorly served by the government, and think they can do better as part of a different county/state/whatever, or perhaps as an independent unit as Jura did.

Here in the US, we had a similar vote in 1863, which resulted in the new state of West Virginia being formed. This is often presented as part of the Civil War split off of the Confederacy. Historians tend to interpret it as more of a case of the western population feeling poorly treated by the remote state government in Richmond, which collect taxes in the mountains, but provided few government services in return. West Virginia did apply to the federal government for statehood, which was ratified after a few years. Unlike the Southern secession, this was done without (further) warfare. A funny aspect of the story is that now, several counties in the northeast of West Virginia have openly discussed seceding and joining either Virginia or Maryland, for pretty much the same reasons. Unlike Switzerland, though, the US doesn't have much in the way of official laws that deal with such political reorganization and redrawing of political boundaries.

The story in Scotland may work out as it often does in Switzerland, where many of the votes for secession fail. The reason is that the referendum functions as a "wake-up call" to the government. It's typical for a lot of public discussion to happen, and the government(s) make promises to fix the problems that triggered the referendum. Sometimes, as people have suggested here, the government reneges on its promises. This will be followed by another vote a few years later, which will often succeed. Or the government may fix many of the problems, which will satisfy the voters and repeated votes will fail.

The Scots would probably do well to continue discussing the issues publicly, and keep the London government aware that they can't continue to get away with everything without repercussions.

Comment: Re:Shetland and Orkney (Score 1) 192

by jc42 (#47945257) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

Yes, this is correct, and my bad for perpetuating the myth. I read once that Shetland was closer to Oslo than Edinburgh, but that's also blatantly false. ...

More accurately, I've seen it stated as "closer to Bergen than Edinburgh". Or course, some people might not know where Bergen is. In any case, Shetland historically has always been rather remote from either "mainland", and they've pretty much been on their own all along. If they have problems in the middle of their winter, they can't much rely on help from anyone in the rest of the world.

Comment: Re:Probably a bad idea, but... (Score 1) 192

by jc42 (#47945063) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

Well, I've always sorta liked the Scottish historians' observation that, strictly speaking, it was Scotland that took over England, not the other way around. That was after the first Queen Liz died, back in 1703. The new king was the fellow who was already King James VI of Scotland, and became King James I of the United Kingdom of Scotland and England; uh, I mean of England and Scotland.

Of course, a more accurate description wouldn't interpret this as either country taking over the other. It was really more a case of the inbred population of royalty, who were really neither Scottish nor English, agreeing among themselves who should be the next monarch over both of those populations, and giving both jobs to the same fellow. He then spent much of the rest of his life trying to merge them into a single "nation" -- and not succeeding all that well. But this wasn't any real benefit to the majority of either the Scottish or English populations. Or the Welsh or Irish or Manx or Cornish or Shetlanders or ..., for that matter. Or those Colonials over across the Pond.

Comment: Re:Not True, I Saw It Online: (Score 3, Interesting) 85

by jc42 (#47944757) Attached to: Europeans Came From Three Ancestry Groupings

There's no measurable genetic differences. There's only one race: the human race, and that's all that ever was and ever will be.

It's not an all-or-nothing situation. There are statistical genetic differences between various groups of people (though superficial features like skin color are often not closely related to ancestral groupings). One of my favorite such statistics was the calculation that some time in the late 1980s, the US population passed the mixing point where more than 50% of Americans now have sub-Saharan African ancestors. Most such people look "white", of course, since they have only a small fraction of African genes.

I recently read that the accumulated DNA data shows that between 20% and 25% of the US population has "Native American" genes, though again in most of that population is primarily "white". I'm part of that population, with an Ojibwa great-grandmother, though nobody would ever guess by looking at me that I'm not of pure European ancestry.

One thing I've found difficult to discover is what fraction of the US is purely European. If you try googling the topic, it mostly teaches you one thing: Most people don't understand even such simple statistics. You find lots of matches for the part of the population that's "white" or "of European ancestry", but the phrasing implies that they're talking about people who are predominantly European. There's data on the small populations that are purely African or purely Asian or whatever, but it's hard to find any information on the (probably small) population that's purely European.

Of course, for most purposes this all qualifies as idle curiosity. But there are at least a few medical reasons for studying it, in addition to general curiosity about where we all came from.

Comment: Re:Finnish (Score 2) 85

by jc42 (#47944573) Attached to: Europeans Came From Three Ancestry Groupings

You don't need to learn languages to do linguistics. You need to learn about languages.

While working on a linguistics minor for my CS degree, I heard a number of versions of the quip that a linguist is someone who knows 100 words in each of 100 different languages. Of course, this should be followed with the observation that the main focus of linguistics is understanding the structures of languages, and vocabulary is interesting only in that it shows relations between languages. This doesn't generally require having a large enough vocabulary to be fluent. Most of the actual linguists I've met are fluent in only a few languages. These are often languages that are radically different from each other, though, since radical differences in how to express something would be interesting to a linguist.

Comment: Re:Not in Tesla's favour (Score 1) 156

by jc42 (#47941845) Attached to: Dealership Commentator: Tesla's Going To Win In Every State

This leads to the question of whether there will be some sort of sweeping federal action in Tesla's favor.

I'd say that's a poor choice of wording. If any such action was taken, it would be AGAINST dealers. It won't be in favour of any single company. It should be fair for all.

It should be. But history (e.g. the "only sell through registered dealers" laws) says it won't be. It'll be in favor of whoever pays the most bribes to the right officials.

16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Serling