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Comment Newest Flash tools compile to HTML5 & Javascri (Score 1) 156

If you can find contact information, the newest Flash authoring tools will now output html5 and JavaScript, from old Flash project files. So converting is "easy", for varying definitions of "easy".

The Flash programming language has long been a dialect of Emacscript, also known as JavaScript, so code conversion is pretty straightforward, especially with the new tools.

Comment math talent, not math knowledge. SQL is algebra (Score 4, Insightful) 274

The author doesn't seem to understand what math IS, how and why programming IS math. The author writes that you don't do a lot of algebra and such in typical web pages. Does your PHP script use SQL? That's algebra, relational algebra. It's not that you need to remember mathematical formulas; it's that have a half decent design for your software, you need mathematical THINKING. If your high school algebra homework was wrong, your sql is probably wrong too.

The author likes to copy and paste a lot. Yeah, I've seen a lot of that kind of code, mostly while rewriting it to work properly.
Programmers with a clue #include, they don't copy-paste.

It's not that you need to write the tangent function from scratch, and purely from memory. It's realizing that tangent() SHOULD be a function, which you should call from libmath. The author managed to copy-paste code that computes a tangent into the middle of the onclick() handler. That's Doing It Wrong.

Comment Linksys made a modder version (Score 2) 214

Some certainly don't care for it.

On the other hand, the "wrt" in dd-wrt and openwrt refers to the WRT-54 line of routers from Linksys. It was the first one that had widely available third-party firmware.

When Linksys changed their internal architecture to use less expensive parts, they also starting selling a special modder version which retained dd-wrt compatible internals. So that's one example of _catering_ to people who choose open firmware.

On a related note in a different industry, Roomba did the same.

Comment Yeah, a separate chip to limit frequency and power (Score 1) 214

Indeed. In my long comment I submitted to the FCC, I mentioned that their legitimate purpose could be implemented by a rule requiring a separate chip which limits power and frequency, rather than prohibiting important updates to the OS or utilities.

Comment My comment to the FCC regarding several security (Score 5, Informative) 214

I submitted a comment to the FCC outlining several significant security concerns regarding the proposed rule.

Based on 18 years of professional experience in network security, in both the private sector and government, the proposed rule causes significant concern for information security posture. There are three primary reasons. The legitimate goals of the FCC could be achieved in an alternate manner which does not cause the same widespread security vulnerabilities, by instead requiring that output power levels and any other critical parameters be limited to legal levels by a separate chip. This approach would be far superior to effectively banning proper security practice for the ENTIRE operating system and all utilities on the device, as the current proposal does.


The proposed rule which requires that manufacturers disallow firmware updates (other than signed manufacturer updates, typically provided for only a very short time), makes it much more difficult to prevent incidents such as the $45 million loss at TJX and the Target breach. In both cases, the victim companies were initially targeted because insecure wifi devices were in use. To reduce future occurrences of such breaches, it is imperative to be able to update devices which use wireless networking. Especially when a vulnerability such as Shellshock is discovered, it is imperative that risks be mitigated immediately.

Updates provided by the manufacturer may at first seem to be a possible solution, but are not actually a viable solution for two reasons. Manufacturers generally do not provide long-term updates, updates for devices more than about one-two years old. In many cases, no updates are offered at all to handle issues after the date of sale. It is not reasonable to anticipate that organizations and families will replace their network gear every year or two - firmware updates are needed, including for devices which are a few years old. Perhaps ESPECIALLY for devices which are a few years old.

Secondly, updates from the manufacturer are not a viable solution for more sensitive government and private organizations due to the response time required. In the first 24 hours after the release of Shellshock, thousands of systems were compromised. For many networks, it is critically important to mitigate the threat during this initial time frame. Manufacturer full updates were not available for several days to several months, as we first discussed the best long term solution and that solution propagated downstream from the authors, to the subsystem maintainers, distribution maintainers, OEM repackagers, and finally out to customers after testing at each level. In the meantime, temporary MITIGATIONS were performed on-site by network engineers and security contractors. These vital mitigations which protected sensitive networks in the interim would be illegal and prevented by manufacturer locks under the proposed rule. In simple terms, the proposal makes it illegal to manufacturer equipment which can be _quickly_ protected against new threats to our cyber security.


Another reason that the proposed rule is problematic is that the manufacturer default firmware, with all available features designed to be as easily accessible as possible, is not appropriate for any environment in which security is a concern. A central tenet of information security, and security in general, is that the attack surface should be as small as possible - services not needed for a particular installation should not be installed and enabled. The only software which definitely cannot be exploited is software which is not installed or not enabled. Therefore, the most secure firmware tends to be that with as many features _removed_ as possible, with only those items required for the current role installed.

Manufacturer firmware does the exact opposite, for ease-of-use by ordinary consumers. All services which might be of use to any customer are installed, enabled, and wide open for use (and abuse). Firmware which can be customized, trimmed down to provide only the required functionality (and therefore the smallest attack surface), such as OpenWRT, is a far in terms of security.


Lastly, these devices are frequently used as active security devices, such as firewalls and VPN endpoints. To require that these ubiquitous and therefore inexpensive devices be replaced with far more expensive niche versions branded as security devices necessarily reduces the number of security checkpoints which will be installed in networks. As an example, consider the twentyfold cost difference between a SOHO Cisco router and a Cisco firewall appliance which internally contains similar hardware. The small office can easily afford a firewall based on a third-party firmware for the ubiquitous router, and such a firewall can well meet the needs of a small office. They are unlikely to purchase a dedicated firewall from the same company costing several thousand dollars. Therefore, disallowing the third-party firewall firmware results in no firewall being used at all.

Overall, the proposed rule is creates significant security problems in a number of ways. All of these issues could be avoided, and the radio emission still controlled, by instead requiring that radio output power or other essential RF parameters be limited by a chip separate from the (upgradeable) main system, which includes all of the feature code, user interface, etc.

Comment Nope.FCC application form: "protected from dd-wrt" (Score 5, Informative) 214

That would be reasonable, perhaps, but it's not the approach the FCC is taking. The FCC instructions (linked below) require all applicants (manufacturers) to:

      Describe in detail how the device is protected
from âoeflashingâ
      and the installation of third-party firmware such as DD-WRT.

So indeed the rule they have proposed is to explicitly require that manufacturers prevent the installation of DD-WRT.

Comment well it depends, in Saudi Arabia church vs state (Score 1) 139

I suppose "governmental entities " is somewhat all-inclusive. It's kind of hard to know what to include in all-inclusive since different nations and other political divisions are so different. Does the (all-inclusive) government of Germany include EU entities?

Saudi Arabia has two completely separate entities. You may have noticed many hospitals in the US are run by religious organizations, and often have Saint in their name. Similarly with many schools. In Saudi Arabia, the religious groups run most hospitals, schools, and other domestic services. Does that make them a government? It's not entirely clear. The house of Saud basically handles foreign affairs, so they are clearly governmental. (The house of Saud has a friendly view of the US. The religious groups in the area often do not.)

Comment read the RFC (Score 1) 211

If you're interested, you can read the actual DNT RFC rather than guessing about what it says.

There's nothing in the spec about "reason other than the provision of the services". There is one mention of advertising- tracking is ALLOWED under an exemption for advertising fraud detection. So almost the opposite of what you guessed it says.

Comment results, not theories (Score 5, Interesting) 141

My understanding of the difference is that this produces somewhat testable results WITHOUT requiring a theory of how and why those effects occur.

To give an extremely simplified example, assume that a certain coin is flipped every day. For the past 20,000 days, it has always come up heads. (Obviously not a fair coin). The machine will predict that it will probably come up heads tomorrow. Traditional economic theory will try to understand WHY it keeps coming up heads before making predictions. That's the first difference.

The requirement for a theory that explains how and why economic effects occur also means that the theory is subject to subject to be supported or decried based on political considerations or other irrelevant factors. A system which accurately predicts what will happen without comment on politically sensitive policy questions may be useful.

Comment That's British English, not US. Parliamentary syst (Score 3, Informative) 139

That's the British sense of the word "government", not the US sense of the word. Turkey, like many nations, has a parliamentary system.

It goes something like this. The people elect parliament, who make laws much like the US Congress. The parliament then elects or nominates two heads. One handles foreign affairs. That's the head of state. In the US, the president is head of state. The other top person forms "a government" which handles internal affairs. The US is weird in that then president is both head of state and head of government. In parliamentary systems like Turkey and the UK, they are two seperate positions. (Though sometimes the head of state now has only nominal power, if the head of government and the parliament have slowly taken more and more power).

Seperate from "the government" and parliament is the judiciary. The head of government can't fire judges.

In this type of system, as in the early US system, the head of government doesn't have nearly as much power as the US president does. Other branches can and do act independently.

Comment I don't entirely disagree (Score 1) 211

I don't entirely disagree with you. However, consider this. You not only got on the web, you also LOGGED IN and posted your private opinions publicly. For whatever reason, you just chose to make your private thoughts public, and chose to have Slashdot track your /. user id. That shows that SOMETIMES, you want Slashdot to identify you. Sometimes, privacy is not the most important thing to you.

If you're like me, you clicked the "don't redirect me to beta" button. You're probably glad that Slashdot remebers that preference, so you don't have to click "no beta" every time you visit the site. In over words, you WANT Slashdot to recognize you and track your preferences.

Privacy isn't a yes or no thing, and it's not without it's costs. The question is, "how much convenience do you want to give up, right now, to get how much privacy?"

For most of us, e answer changes throughout the day. If I was on Ashley Madison, I"d want that to be very private. On the other hand, I want my Google maps to be very convenient. I'd rather it remember frequently used addresses rather than make me type em in every time.

Comment What it IS, not SHOULD be. I prefer both (Score 1) 211

I didn't say anything about my opinion of what SHOULD be. I described what the DNT spec does actually say. It says the header means that user actively chose to give up convenience and features , choosing more privacy instead. That's the meaning of the DNT header, per the DNT spec. I didn't write the spec, I just read it.

As written, DNT is well matched with Private Browsing mode. Sometimes I use Private Browsing. Most of the time I don't use it, because I LIKE auto complete. But I don't like my address bar to autocomplete during a presentation at work. So I use private mode for, I don't use it for Slashdot.

If I were writing the standard, I might have three choices:

More private, less convenient ( don't remember any preferences)
Default (features based on anonymous cookies, opaque IDs)
More convenient ("keep me logged in")

Comment I use alternate browser with Flash twice yearly (Score 2) 78

Yep. I don't have Flash installed at all for my main browser. I haven't for a long time. Once or twice per year I find some Flash I want to see, so I open Opera, which does have Flash.

Some sites will use Flash IF it's installed, but if not they'll generally "fall back" to HTML or some other method. People used to ask me "don't you watch YouTube"? Sure, and for a long time it has worked fine if Flash isn't detected at all. Apparently if Flash was detected but disabled, YouTube wouldn't work.

Comment No, that guy killed DoNotTrack dead. DNT for Beta (Score 4, Informative) 211

No, the guys who wanted more tracking took that guy out for a beer. That's the guy who killed off DoNotTrack. Like Private Browsing in Firefox or Incognito Mode in Chrome, DNT was about the balance between privacy on one hand and convenience/features on the other hand. DNT was supposed to mean that the user valued privacy more than convenience and features at the moment. Here's what was supposed to happen, what DNT was intended for:

Case 1, no DNT header:
I go to Slashdot, and have not set a specific DNT header. I therefore get the DEFAULT tracking/personalization behaviors of Slashdot, including:
        I'm not redirected to Beta, because Slashdot tracks that I set "do not showme beta".
        On my mobile device, I'm not redirected to, because again Slashdot tracks my preferences based on some identifier/cookie.

Case2, with DNT header:
I launch a Private Browsing window in Firefox, or an Incognito tab in Chrome.
The browser prompts "DNT: Do you want to tell web sites to avoid identifying you or tracking your preferences? Some features and preferences may not work in DNT mode."
I click "yes, send the DNT header".
Slashdot sees that I have expressed that I want a higher level of privacy than the default, that I am willing to give up personalization in exchange for privacy.
Slashdot does not set a cookie, and I get redirected to or each time. It does not track me to know my preferences between sessions.

It's all about the balance between privacy and convenience. Much like Incognito / Private Browsing mode disables the browser history, autocomplete, and other useful features in exchange for better privacy.

In short, the purpose of DNT was to communicate the user's desire to value privacy over convenience.

By violating the spec and sending DNT as the DEFAULT, the DNT header in IE suddenly meant "the user probably wants the DEFAULT balance between privacy and convenience". Since IE sent DNT by default, it no longer provided any information about the user's priorities regarding convenience vs privacy. It therefore became completely useless for it's purpose. That guy killed DNT.


Here's a concrete example. Quoting from the DNT policy:

| all user identifiers, such as unique or nearly unique
| cookies, "supercookies" and fingerprints are discarded

Do you really think that all sites are going to get rid of cookies, including "don't show me Beta" cookies, for anyone and everyone using IE? Just because Microsoft thought it was a good idea? No friggin way. If the USER chose to actively ticked the box, perhaps so. Because Microsoft's marketing team thought that "Do Not Track" sounded good and that breaking most web sites was an acceptable side effect? I don't think so.

Comment easy to argue, to show a path of action is stupid (Score 1) 239

Also, this is prima facie false (althpugh liberals often rely on it being true):

> it is hard to argue against a path of action

Not at all. Here ya go:

Sticking a pencil in your eye is a path of action.
Sticking a pencil in your eye is obviously stupid.
Therefore, the path of action is stupid.

The question isn't "should we get out of bed and do something today?" The question is "WHAT should we do today? Should we go to work, rob our neighbor's house, plant a tree?" Another important question that is often debated, though in different terms, is "who is this 'we'?"

It's pretty obvious that things need to get done.
WHAT should be done? HOW should it be done? WHO should do it? What are the COSTS? How will it be PAID for? What are the alternatives? These are the questions of the day, and of every day.

Many, if not most, discussions with liberals follow this pattern:
Something should be done.
Plan X is something.
Therefore, plan X should be done.

Note they don't bother to read plan X. Plan X is something, and something should be done, so we should do plan X.

You have to pass the bill to know what's in it.

The other question about "we should do something" is "who is we"? My wife and I have a daughter. She's a year old, so she can't read yet. We should teach her to read. Who is the "we" who should teach her? My wife and I? The local school district? The federal government? These are questions worth discussing.

365 Days of drinking Lo-Cal beer. = 1 Lite-year