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Comment: Re:Opera is a dieing art form (Score 1) 121

by rlh100 (#47238525) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Resolving the Clash Between Art and Technology In Music?

Sorry about dieing. It looked wrong but aspell liked it.

When you comment on someone's spelling errors do you ever think about how that might hurt the writer. I know you probably thought it funny or helpful but spelling has always been a struggle for me. Up until 10th grade when an English teacher looked at any of my writing, the first thing out of their mouths was "Robert, you need to work on your spelling". Like Calvin, I would tune out and visit planet Zoke. It was not until age 16 that I got an English teacher who made me feel like I could write. That was almost 40 years ago.

And for people who suggest that maybe I should use a different spell checker, aspell works for me. My text editor is vim. My spell checker is aspell.

Besides there are some basic problems with spell checkers as Taylor Mali says in his hilarious poem:
"The The Impotence of Proofreading"
Watch here:

Comment: Opera is a dieing art form (Score 1) 121

by rlh100 (#47237793) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Resolving the Clash Between Art and Technology In Music?

Opera attendance in America is dropping off dramatically. Most of the audience are older women and couples. Over 50. The opera community is having a very hard time attracting younger members. Competition of other types of music and high ticket prices.

So I think what this person is trying to do is great. It probably won't be a success. But it may draw new audience members in.

Once when I complained about modern classical music to a friend of mine who composes new symphonies, he said:
"Traditional classical music has had time to filter out all the bad symphonies leaving just the best. With modern classical we are listening to it in real time. All the new compositions and ideas, good and bad. Isn't that exciting."


Comment: Phone security frameworks are fundamentally flawed (Score 2) 249

by rlh100 (#47219963) Attached to: New Permission System Could Make Android Much Less Secure

What is the point of asking a security policy question when the only answer is yes? Why do apps want access to so many different services? The android/apple security permissions frameworks are fundamentally flawed. A polite term might be naive.

At DeveloperWeek 2014 I went to a talk by a Mozilla developer on the Android security policy framework. He put forward two ideas:
Fine grain access control.
Prompt for permission the first time an app accesses a service, not at install time.

His first observation was that the granularity of the permissions was far to coarse. Access the Internet. Use the phone. Access memory. Why are you forced to allow near complete access to the Internet when a service might only want to write to a specific site? Why read/write entire user memory when it only needs to store a state file or a small collection of cache files. Fine grained access controls are all standard features of the operating systems that underlie Android and Apple smart phones.

The argument might be made that it would confuse users to be asking for complex permissions. I would say, what's the diff? The user is going to say yes either way. The only other option is to not use the app.

Fine grained permissions enforced by the OS would limit damage that a rouge app could do by limiting what it could do without popping up an access request.

The speaker's second idea was that the permissions policy questions should be asked the first time you use a service in an app, not at install time. The first time an app might build a current list of requirements/sites/etc and ask in one question. If an app needs to access something new like a new tracking URL or call a new phone number, a new permission request pops up enforced by the OS. A user who is annoyed by the pop-ups can always click "Don not show this message again".

The benefits of these two changes is that you do not have blanket permissions granting for apps even for services the user may never use. This would prohibit a virus from starting to use a service that had not been previously accessed. Even a naive users might think twice when his GPS app suddenly wants to reformat the memory card.

The two prongs of making permissions more granular and not granting them until they are actually accessed by the user would fundamentally improve the smart phone security policy. Both of these should be implemented by the OS so they are automatic, uniform and enforced.

The argument of its too complex for the user is null because the users it might confuse are going to say yes in any case. They always do. The argument that it is too complex for the developers, my answer is "tough, you're a developer, deal with it".

I wish I could find a reference to the talk. It was the afternoon of the last day of DeveloperWeek 2014 in San Francisco. The guy was from Mozilla. I recall it being a last minute change because someone canceled.

Standard arguments about how nothing is perfect and everything can be bypassed apply. The standard reply of something is better than nothing apply as well.

Brought to you by Captain Obvious

Comment: Re:You're getting old? (Score 1) 218

by rlh100 (#46555829) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Re-Learning How To Interview As a Developer?

IBM discovered back in the 1960's that they were taking great engineers and promoting them to become terrible managers. So they came up with a two track promotion policy so that great engineers could be promoted to manage and vice president class positions with similar pay and benefits but remaining engineers. Most larger technology companies follow this model.

Comment: IRS Data Mining Catches Working Poor (Score 1) 264

by rlh100 (#46117839) Attached to: Federal Agency Data-Mining Hundreds of Millions of Credit Card Accounts

In the past year or two the IRS has manged to organize their data mining capabilities into a "useful" automatic auditing tool. The IRS is cross checking tax returns with "third party information". Bank records and soon credit card transactions.

The program was supposed to catch the wealthy tax cheats hiding their money and collect hundreds of billions of tax revenue. It turns out that what these robo-audits do best is catching poor people who try to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit and have some un-reported income on the side, only collecting a couple of billion.

People are complaining about what the NSA could do with the data they collect. This article is about what the CFPB might do. I am more concerned about what the IRS is actually doing with their data mining. Catching the people who have the most to loose and the least chance of hiding their tracks. The working poor.

The IRS data mining is an actual example of how data mining by the government can backfire. Rather than catching wealthy tax cheats hiding their millions, it caches poor people.

Rather than focusing on "maybes" and "what ifs" of the NSA and the CFPB. Shouldn't we be more concerned about what the IRS is currently doing? Effectively targeting the working poor.

BTW, do you have an eBay business that earns you a couple of thou a year? Expect to pay income tax on it in the next couple of years.

Comment: Flexible non-metallic conduit (Score 2) 336

by rlh100 (#45948283) Attached to: New Home Automation?

When I did the same thing for a house I had stripped down to bare studs it was a year or two before cat 5 wiring became the norm. So the house has a lot of cat 3 wiring in the walls, but no cat5. What I discovered and wish I had used is flexible non-metallic conduit. In 100ft rolls is it about 35-40 cents a foot. Run it to every location you might want Ethernet or cable. Run a cat 5 cable there as well. This allows you to run other types of wire as needed pulling it with an electrical fish tape. Check that the installers do not kink the flexible conduit. The other thing you might think about is running Ethernet to more locations than you think you need. Where you aren't going to use it immediately just leave it in the wall and install a blank outlet cover.

Have you thought of in the wall wiring for speakers? This takes some forethought because you have to figure out where the A/V system will be and where the speakers will be.

If you are going to install an alarm system, have an alarm company design the wiring for it.

A final suggestion. Just before they are going to install insulation and button up the walls, go around with a camera and systematically photograph the studs, wiring and plumbing. In a couple of years when you are wanting to screw into a stud or figure out where the plumbing is, you have photos. Be systematic in the sequence so you can figure out which room and where you are later.

Comment: Qualified operators, legal liability, battery life (Score 1) 134

by rlh100 (#45658805) Attached to: Watch Out, Amazon: DHL Tests Drug-Delivery Drone

This whole drone delivery thing is a publicity stunt.

First off it takes a skilled operator to fly a drone. A friend of mine has learned to fly a 1/20th scale helicopter. He does it well. But he has spent a lot of time learning and he still has mishaps. With drones your delivery driver has to be a reasonably competent pilot. And don't tell me "computer control". It will be a long time before we see self flying drones.

Second, as pointed out, a drone out of control can kill. With a truck out of control you slam on the brakes and it generally stops. With a drone out of control if you slam on the breaks, i.e. turn it off, it falls from the sky. To do anything safe with a drone you have to regain control to land it safely.

Just imagine if in your car or truck when you started to loose control you could not just slam on the breaks but had to regain control before you could stop safely.

Third, legal liability. When the drone falls from the sky or crashes into something, who is going pay for damages? If it kills someone who will pay for the law suite?

And the last thing is power. If the drones are battery powered how far will the get on a charge. My guess is that it would be measured in 10ths of miles not 10s of miles. My friend who flies helicopters gets 10 to 15 minutes on a charge with no payload. Drones that can fly farther are gas powered and are really small airplanes which need runways to land and take off.

I love to read about drones and drones delivering packages. They are great. But I also love to read about stunners and phasers, transporters and faster then light interstellar travel. But I read about them in science fiction not in business plans.

Drone delivery in the foreseeable future is just a publicity stunt, AFAIAC.

Comment: Router configurations not stored in NVRAM (Score 2) 599

by rlh100 (#45333511) Attached to: Withhold Passwords From Your Employer, Go To Jail?

Every router's configuration was only loaded into system memory, not NVRAM. The ASCII files the routers were configured from were all encrypted. Terry was very careful to make sure that no one could play with his toys.
There was no way to "root" or hack into the routers. Cisco's best could not do it and they tried.
He ended his temper tantrum by requiring then Mayor Newsom to come down to the jail so Terry could give him the passwords in person.

Comment: Analog electronics (Score 3, Insightful) 41

If I was a young double E student I would focus on analog electronics. Designing analog electronics is a dieing art. And it is art as much as electronics. Simulation only goes so far. Then you need to know the tricks of design and layout.

The old school analog electronics engineers are retiring and there is not a new crop of young engineers to take their place. While more and more things are going digital we will always need analog electronics to interface with the real world.

Analog electronics will become a specialized niche that will command big bucks. Kind of like COBOL programming. Neither of which are very glamorous but both of which are all around us.

Comment: Army Corps of Engineers proposed this in the 60's (Score 1) 341

by rlh100 (#44721615) Attached to: The Golden Gate Barrage: New Ideas To Counter Sea Level Rise

There was a project for a 3-way dam to keep the fresh water separate from the salt water. The project died an early death in the environmental backlash of the mid 60's.

This is a horrible idea. I will totally change the ecology of the SF bay. It will probably kill most of the salmon going into central California via the Sacramento/San Joaquin rivers. And how much energy with the pumping plants need?

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981