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Comment: Protected relationships (Score 1) 281

by sjbe (#49356133) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

So then the next thing you'd say is priests and lawyers should also not have confidentiality, because that would be inconvenient.

Lawyers and doctors have a relationship worthy of protection for very clear reasons. Same with spouses. But priests/clergy? Not really agreeing with that one. Why should a relationship between a priest and anyone else be a legally protected one relationship? What benefit to society is provided by protecting that relationship? I cannot think of a single benefit to society by protecting that relationship as something special when investigating a crime or inquiring about mental stability.

Comment: No risk of homogeneity (Score 1) 192

I don't think most people would disagree with you, but I think it'd be an enormous loss if every country ended up being just like every other country.

Never going to happen. Heck there are pretty substantial regional differences even within single countries. Go visit the Louisiana Bayou and then go to NYC and tell me America is homogenous.

But if you get to some other location and it's the same language, same restaurants, same shops, same recreational activities, what a waste.

"Waste"? Not at all. Shared cultural experiences have huge benefits, not the least of which are increased commerce and reduced conflict. It's hard to think of someone as the Other if they look, talk and act like you. Many people very much like familiarity even when in a foreign place. And it doesn't take a lot to feel displaced. Even something like moving from the US to Canada (or vice-versa) results in some pretty significant cultural adjustments even though the two countries are very similar in a lot of ways.

I'm not at all arguing that everyplace should be the same (quite the opposite in fact) but there is nothing wrong with having some, or even a lot of similarity.

In the end, I think a lot of places that want to be Americanized (or whatever you want to call it) will end up so, and then they'll soon come to regret it.

I could say the exact reverse and it has the same potential of being true. There is nothing wrong with adopting bits of a different culture if they appeal to you. The US has adopted cultural practices and language from around the globe. There is no reason why it should be bad for other cultures to take bits of American culture and language they like (or not if they don't). Different merely for the sake of being different is every bit as bad as everyone being the same.

Comment: Dubious assertions (Score 3, Interesting) 281

by sjbe (#49355643) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

As for the argument that the tougher cockpit doors and lockout mechanisms are to blame for this incident ... that could be argued, but those changes have probably saved more lives over the last 14 years than were lost in this tragic incident

That's a pretty dubious assertion and you certainly have no evidence that it has saved any amount of lives. The main thing protecting the cockpit these days is the realization by most passengers that their safety is in their own hands. Anyone threatens to hijack a plane today and the passengers are very unlikely to sit quietly like they would have pre-9/11. The cockpit door lock is something that sounds sensible but which has unclear protective value and obviously introduces a new failure mode.

Comment: Nothing unusual unfortunately. (Score 1) 46

by sjbe (#49355321) Attached to: US Air Force Overstepped In SpaceX Certification

One of our customers for my company is a medical device company regulated by the FDA. The FDA a few years ago came down hard on them with fines and a consent decree whereby they couldn't sell products due to issues in their quality control systems. We are very familiar with this company and while they did have issues, the FDA has essentially forced a complete reorganization on them, some of which will be good but much of which is utterly pointless.

I'm in the middle of doing a bunch of Control Plans, FMEAs and other documents for products we've been making for well over a decade to support this customer. These documents will serve no useful purpose and in all likelihood never get looked at again. I'm also validating test equipment which I assure you at the end of the day will prove nothing. It's necessary to help our customer stay in the good graces of the FDA but really is pretty much a waste of everyone's time since these sort of documents are supposed to be done when the product is being developed, not ten years later without any evidence of an actual problem.

Comment: No precedent to set (Score 1) 192

If this passes, expect states in the US to try the same thing, especially if they have casinos that aren't doing well.

States in the US have had a hypocritical fight against gambling going on for years. Plenty of states have prohibited and restricted gambling in one form or another for most of my life. It's a fairly recent development that casinos have been permitted outside of Nevada, New Jersey and Indian Reservations because the state wanted the gambling revenue for the state lotteries. It's been an uphill battle to allow casinos and other forms of gambling in most states until fairly recently. And now the brink and mortar casinos and the states both want to fight online casinos because those are a threat to their business model.

Comment: What makes you unique (Score 3, Insightful) 192

Quebec is an island of francophone culture off a continent that is dominated by the U.S. Either you embrace protectionism or risk losing all that makes you unique.

That is a nonsense argument. If one needs to resort to protectionist measures to "preserve" your culture from a peaceful (to you) neighbor, then your people don't really support said measures even if they claim to. Actions speak louder than words. People claim to hate McDonalds and yet they sell millions of burgers every year to many of those same people. If the people of Quebec really want to speak French or engage in Francophile activities then they will do so. If they don't then they shouldn't be forced to. Cultural norms shift over time and there is nothing fundamentally bad about that.

I spend a fair bit of time in Canada. I was married in Alberta and regularly vacation in Ontario. Canada is a wonderful country. Most of Canada has little difficulty maintaining what makes them unique because what makes them truly unique isn't stuff the government needs to pass laws to protect.

Comment: Re:GAO = U.S. Government Accountability Office (Score 1) 121

by sjbe (#49354053) Attached to: GAO Denied Access To Webb Telescope Workers By Northrop Grumman

Another important note is that the GAO is probably the most trustworthy and reliable portion of the U.S. Federal government from the public's point of view.

I agree that they are certainly up there with regard to trustworthiness. However they are hardly the only ones. I know it's super fashionable to claim that government is nothing but a bunch of crooks and that they can't do anything right but it's demonstrably not true. Government can be and often is a powerful force for good in society and while there is no denying that power often breeds/attracts corruption, for a government to be effective it cannot be universally incompetent and/or corrupt.

Other generally regarded as trustworthy and normally competent portions of the US government? Here are a few though hardly an exhaustive list.
1) Portions of the FAA
2) The US Geological Survey
3) The National Park Service
4) US Army Corps of Engineers (make mistakes sometimes but nobody thinks they are crooks)
5) National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
6) US Fish and Wildlife Service
7) US Coast Guard (and select other portions of the US military)
8) The Secret Service (despite some recent embarrassing errors they're quite good at their job)
9) The US Mint

Comment: Looking for the least worst solution (Score 1) 35

by sjbe (#49353817) Attached to: Big Vulnerability In Hotel Wi-Fi Router Puts Guests At Risk

You have got to be shitting me?

Not in the slightest. I've seen the hardware and setup for a few hotels and and a lot of restaurants with my own eyes. While I'm sure there are plenty of security issues with LTE, I know for a fact that plenty of public free wifi is about as clean as a $2 hooker.

Folks, you would think the designers of these 'secure' base stations would have wondered how to protect against cell site spoofing.

Please point me to a single instance of non-governmental cell site spoofing outside of black-hat hacking conferences. This simply is not a significant problem. Highly insecure wifi is a significant problem. Extremely slow and annoying public wifi is a significant problem. Anything that can be intercepted via LTE can be (more easily) intercepted via public free wifi. There is no truly secure solution but I'll take my chances with LTE over dubious hotel wifi any day of the week. It's kind of a least worst option.

Comment: I just skip the "free" wifi (Score 2) 35

by sjbe (#49353245) Attached to: Big Vulnerability In Hotel Wi-Fi Router Puts Guests At Risk

There is a reason why I generally use LTE through my phone instead of "free" wifi when traveling. Not only is the LTE usually faster and less geographically constrained, but I don't have nearly as many security or connectivity problems 99% of the time. I've been behind the scenes at some restaurants and hotels and the "security" setup pretty much convinced me that free wifi is generally not worth the risk if you have a viable alternative. I assure you that many hotels and probably most restaurants do not have a crack IT staff maintaining their system. It's about as basic and insecure as you can possibly imagine. I've even had to point out to a franchised restaurant that they had the free wifi on the same subnet as their internal computers with zero protection of any kind.

Comment: Selling software is expensive (Score 1) 261

by sjbe (#49335811) Attached to: Developers and the Fear of Apple

In an article about 'developer fears of Apple' it probably isn't tactful to boast about the loot Apple rakes off the top.

Who'se boasting? I have no affiliation and no particular affinity with regard to Apple. The fact that a few developers are terrified of Apple is not evidence of a widespread problem and the fact that Apple is hugely profitable is pretty much the worst kept secret on the planet.

It isn't expensive anymore to use an eCommerce framework to sell direct to your customers.

Care to wager on that? (Disclosure: I'm a certified cost accountant.) Just because you can set up some software to do ecommerce does NOT mean that it is cheap to reach consumers. In virtually any software company you care to mention, only about 10-20% of cost is in engineering and development. The VAST majority comes of cost to a software company comes from Sales, General and Administration with Sales accounting for the lion's share. Doesn't matter what software company you mention from Microsoft on down to little tiny firms, the basic cost structure is roughly the same. Gross margins are usually somewhere between 60%-80% and net margins are somewhere between 10%-30% with sales and marketing making up most of the difference between the two margins. Microsoft for example spends about 2X as much on SG&A as they do on R&D. If you think selling software is cheap you have never tried to sell software on any sort of scale.

Selling software is not merely a matter of setting up an ecommerce platform. Even ignoring the technical issues, there has to be a reason for people to go there in the first place. That requires marketing (read $$$) even for a very good product, much less the shovelware that accounts for most mobile apps. You'll easily spend as much or more as Apple takes in most cases setting up a system that probably won't work as well and which almost definitely will be more annoying to customers.

Comment: Sturgeon's law (Score 5, Insightful) 261

by sjbe (#49335467) Attached to: Developers and the Fear of Apple

Their walled garden represents easily one of the top 3 threats to computing freedom,

How do you figure? Not saying you are right or wrong but I'm not seeing a credible argument backing up this assertion.

and if you're a developer they're nothing but bad news - a nasty middleman who will dictate what your app can do and take your money for the privilege of doing it.

"Nasty middleman"? As if Apple provides no value here. Apple created the f-ing platform, both hardware and software as well as the distribution system. It is WILDLY successful and popular. If you don't like how they do it, go somewhere else. Android or Blackberry or Microsoft are all options. Whether you like it or not, Apple reviewing apps does keep malware and other shitty or problematic apps out of the ecosystem. Are there downsides to this? Absolutely. Is Apple sometimes unfair? No doubt about it. But let's not pretend that there is no benefit either. Apple has created something that a huge number of people value very highly and are willing to pay for. There is nothing wrong with being a middleman as long as you are providing value and Apple clearly does to a lot of people. Maybe you don't value what they are selling (and that's totally fine) but many others do.

For developers, the app store is a microcosm of the American dream, they'll tell you that you can make it on merit, but only a tiny minority will, the rest will just tread water and only enrich Apple in the process.

Let's be frank. 99.999% of the apps on the app store are crap (see Sturgeon's law) and do not deserve any of our money. Just because you put something out there doesn't mean it is automatically valuable to anyone else. If someone is delusional enough to think that developing a crappy piece of software entitles them to anything then I have no sympathy.

For users, it's the worst of '90s computing powered by the latest technology - a store full of shitty shovelware that you have to pay for or be annoyed by ads or restricted by a "trial version."

So every developer is supposed to live the dream and somehow be part of the 1% and they all develop undiscovered gems but you admit that most of the software is actually crap not worthy of purchase. So which is it? You're contradicting yourself. If the developers develop something worth buying, people tend to buy it. If they make shovelware then they deserve to lose money. Neither is Apple's fault or responsibility. Apple just makes both possibilities available. It's up to the developer to make something people will actually give a shit about.

Comment: No revolt in evidence (Score 1) 261

by sjbe (#49335127) Attached to: Developers and the Fear of Apple

If things get bad enough there's an actual 'revolt' against the platform, that would be something.

Agreed though there is no evidence I can see that such an event has happened or is likely in the near term.

Am I right in thinking the iPhone market-share is decreasing?

No. Apple's marketshare has been remarkably consistent for about 5 years. Apple also gets >50% of the smartphone industry profits which is arguably more important.

Comment: Sedintary is correct (Score 1) 487

by sjbe (#49328603) Attached to: Hacking Weight Loss: What I Learned Losing 30 Pounds

Um, which demographic plays Dance Dance Revolution again?

That would be young people, mostly still high school age or younger.

The guy said "techies like us are at increased risk because of our sedentary lifestyles" which is true for lots of techies. Increased risk != destiny. You may be the exception but people who largely sit at their desks and type all day are not as a general rule considered active.

Comment: Dumbest comment ever (Score 0) 91

by sjbe (#49321523) Attached to: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Introduces the Doomsday Dashboard

No one cares about nuclear weapons since the cold war ended. Well, no one but old, irrelevant people.

Are you stupid or trolling? You must be a weapons-grade imbecile to not care about nuclear weapons. You seriously think that a device that can fit in the trunk of a car or on the nosecone of a missile, capable of can vaporizing a major metropolitan area in an instant, is not a big deal? That might be the dumbest thing I've ever read on slashdot in the last 15 years and that is saying something.

Comment: Ignorance is dangerous (Score 1) 91

by sjbe (#49321423) Attached to: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Introduces the Doomsday Dashboard

At some point I realized that nothing serious ever happened, and things kept getting better and I just stopped believing it.

So by your logic because nuclear war hasn't happened yet, it never will? That's... impressively illogical and dangerous.

This is probably why I'm skeptical that global warming will have a serious negative impact on my life.

If you are over the age of 40 and look at actuarial tables, global warming might or might not impact your life greatly. But if you give a crap about those who are younger than you then there is a very real probability it will impact younger folks in very tangible and serious ways. Within my lifetime glaciers have hugely receded, the Arctic ice cap has shrunken to historic lows, etc. If you think those events (regardless of whether caused by man or not) are not having an effect on global climate and weather right now then you either ignorant or have an agenda.

The goal of Computer Science is to build something that will last at least until we've finished building it.