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Comment Re:Traffic! 12 o'clock! Same altitude! (Score 1) 88

You must not have ADS-B out (or are flying in boring airspace). Swing over to NYC's Bravo and try it on a nice weekend - it's lit up like a Christmas tree. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's saved my bacon, but it's pretty handy to know exactly where to see and avoid. And there's no "workload permitting" caveat like with flight following.

Comment Open broadcasts and off-the-shelf software (Score 2) 88

I'm sorry, but who gives a shit? ADS-B is totally public info broadcast over an open standard and available to anyone with an antenna. The software is bog-standard and all this has been doable for at least 10 years. It's so bog-standard there's a large community doing this on a routine basis for more than 2 years (and that's only one example).

Of course, before that you could tune to the local ATC frequency (it's just an AM radio) and listen to position reports.

Next this guy will be listening to the local cab dispatch frequency and telling us he can find people who have called for a ride.

Comment Re:This has been going on for decades (Score 1) 74

There's a big difference between a car that's not yours and is well understood to be someone else's private property and an open web server on the open internet, voluntarily offering up pages to passers-by. It's more like you're wandering through a locker room and one of the lockers is open. You notice there's a box of chocolates saying "take one", so you do. Of course the box could've been intended for someone else, but with the locker door open who is to know? The missing access control is what made it ambiguous that the voluntary offering was intended for anybody on the internet.

That said, as far as printers go, it is implicit that the printer is there for the use of whomever can physically access it - not random people a thousand miles away. Printing "you've been hacked" just demonstrates foreknowledge that it was illicit access. But if it was some webserver offering up files or status pages or whatever, there's a lot of cases where it could be ambiguous. Config pages are problematic because there's no legitimate cause (that I know of) to configure a device you're not sure is yours*. Probably the sweet spot of ambiguity is webcams - lots of webcams are for use by the public, but lots are not and still publicly available.

*I will confess to moving a neighbor's wireless router from channel 3 (seriously?) to a channel that didn't interfere with 2/3 of the available channels...

Comment Re:Glueing things together is how I teach OO desig (Score 1) 237

"Language paralegal" is awesome. And for the record, "sitting next to someone on the standards committee" is expert-level qualification in my book. (In any case, "laughing in faces" is too bombastic for my tastes.) It means you work at a shop that 100% gets the complexity of the language. I'm in awe of such people. I've met Stroustrup once and managed to find a few compiler bugs but there's a lot I don't pretend to understand. And everything I know I'm shaky on, I learned existed in the first place from working near the proper experts.

What I mostly meant was there's a lot of people who put "C++ expert" on their resume - and it usually means they're an expert in the 30% of the language they know exists. Which doesn't mean they're not capable - that 30% is pretty much all you need for most things - it just means they've underestimated the language. I was one of those people after about 9 months of using C++. The problem is eventually you have to peek beneath the covers to interoperate with some template monstrosity or you otherwise get a bit too clever and blow your foot off (as the saying goes) so it pays to be a bit skeptical in general.

Comment Re:Glueing things together is how I teach OO desig (Score 1) 237

There's a lot of things like this in C++ that can slip past a person for years before it actually bites them

This, times 1000. I love C++ and use it professionally, and prefer it to a lot of languages - but if someone tells me they're a C++ expert I'll laugh in their face unless they're Stroustrup or Herb Sutter or someone like that.

I've been using C++ seriously for more than 5 years, and the more I learn about C++ the less I know. A few of my favorite are "what's the correct way to call swap" (and ADL in general) and reference lifetime extension. Gotta love stuff that seems like it obviously works when you don't understand it, until you realize what you're actually doing, and then it shouldn't work - but there's a special case that makes it work. Then you wonder "why did they support this?" and realize that this tiny little insane corner is crucial to making the language make sense. Just don't think about it too hard. For argument-dependent lookup, it's why you can print strings. For reference lifetime extension, it's why a ranged-for over a temporary container works (among a few other things).f

Comment Re:Stage Left (Score 5, Informative) 107

Port and starboard are explicitly referenced to the object's "forward", i.e. object's left and object's right respectively. So in this case port is the turtle's left no matter which way they face. That's why they use it on boats and planes and things where some might be facing backwards.

(By the way, if you need help remembering colors and orientations, port wine is red - and port has the same number of letters as left. Starboard is right and green.)

Comment Re:Who you gonna believe? (Score 2) 100

My argument isn't predicated on me being right about how the data's being used, it's solely that the EFF can only be talking out their nether regions when they say that they do know how it's being used. Indeed, if there is some huge conspiracy that's so secret that not even the engineers working on the systems in question know about it, then it's even less likely that the EFF knows, right?

Don't bother replying, I'm not trying to convince you and I know I won't succeed. But other people read these comments.

Comment Re:Who you gonna believe? (Score 5, Insightful) 100

The EFF has credibility with me as well (less than they used to, for similar reasons as PETA), but how can they possibly know what Google is using the data for internally? They don't have enough information to know anything beyond "it's being synced" - which for a feature called "Chrome Sync" seems pretty obvious. The reason it's being synced is also obvious and the blog post states it plainly - most schools don't buy a chromebook per student, they have a cart that's brought where required, and the sync is so that when the student signs in they have their personalization.

Google has always said "we use aggregate data to make our services better". They say it everywhere. It's how Google works. But they also say "we're not looking at individuals or less-than-anonymized groups of people". And there's no evidence they're doing the latter in addition to the former. I can't figure out on what basis - and with what information - the EFF is making that claim other than "we don't like Google". It sounds like a PR stunt for their new initiative. Really if the EFF *did* know that the data was being used for nefarious purposes, it would mean there was some sort of external leak of user data - which would be much more damaging than the supposed activity they are concerned with.

As a disclaimer, I do work at Google. I do in fact know what Google does with user data. It's pretty much what it says on the tin, and they are extremely serious about it. Nefarious use of user data is one of the few outright firing offenses, and they will find you.

So you don't believe me. That's fine, and I'm not surprised. But why do you believe the EFF, which is the party with the less information, in absence of evidence beyond their say-so? That's firmly conspiracy theory territory. Even if they did have a better track record (hard to say, they're not without mistakes), and didn't have any agendas (not true) they simply can't back up their assertions here with any evidence. You're left with an unverifiable claim from someone who can't know, vs unverifiable claim from someone who does know.

Which is more likely - the EFF made a bullshit accusation with no evidence that they suffer no penalty for and might even help them anyways, or Google making a bald-faced, PR-damaging lie that can be discovered with a simple subpoena?

Comment Re:This makes me want to run out and get a Blackbe (Score 1) 137

You know, I actually do feel that way? There's a reason they put the fourth amendment in the constitution. There are people we as a society want the government to be able to catch, if they do it properly.

That's the thing though - they fucked up. They had this interception treasure trove and were caught with their hands in the cookie jar because they're too afraid of the public to stick to what they're... you know, allowed to do. Their lawyers can explain until they're blue in the face how it's not technically unconstitutional, but too fucking bad, they've lost.

The Fourth Amendment reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Really, I think we all want both. But the TLAs fucked up the "shall not be violated... but upon probable cause [list of conditions]" part, and the "right of the people to be secure" part is more important. So until they can get their shit back in order, yes I agree that it's better for them to lose intercept capabilities. Yes that will probably mean murderers, chlld pornographers, and terrorists going uncaught.

Really, the biggest fuckup the government made was personally pissing off the only people who could hurt them - basically, Apple and Google and the other tremendous technology companies. They really do care about both their user's privacy and their own data security - and complying with lawful government requests to the exact extent required. And they took it personally, having the NSA go around the back door when they were obeying the law on warrants. The EFF can talk until they're blue in the face about encryption and PGP-ing your email and so on, but when full-device and e2e encryption are on by default in new iPhones and Androids, that makes a much bigger difference to many more people. And of course to the TLAs.

Comment Uber in NYC *is* regulated.` (Score 1) 210

In NYC the Taxi and Limousine Commision regulates... taxis and limos. Taxis are hailed and can't be called, and limos are called and can't be hailed. You can't carry passengers for hire without being one or the other.

For years and years this has been the case. You'd "dial 7" or "dial 6" or whatever and the "black car" (technically a limo, but to distinguish from the yellow taxis) would come pick you up.

So Uber shows up and the T&LC goes "Great! Another black car company! Fill out this paperwork and you're all set". All the drivers are licensed limo drivers and all the cars have T&LC plates on them. You just use an app instead of a phone call. In competition a lot of the black car companies have put out their own apps that do the same things.

I guess this is different than most cities, where I understand Uber drivers are less stringently licensed and their vehicles are not specifically registered...? Seems like a fairly reasonable system actually and I wonder why more cities don't adopt it. It solves the "problem" of Uber nicely. There's a lot of complaining about Uber in NYC but don't see what all the fuss is about - was anybody complaining about the other black car companies?

Comment Re:A truly rare find (Score 4, Insightful) 249

I know it's fun to be holier-than-thou, but moral absolutism has just as many problems as moral relativism. Everybody was doing lots of things throughout history that they thought were OK. Today, we do things we think OK. Why are you so positive that the clock of ethics has stopped as of Friday October 16 2015 and will not change in the future? Let's pick a plausible-enough example... What if in 200 years there is such a population crunch that we need a "cap and trade" on new babies, and procreation and birth control are such that... I don't know, unsafe sex without a permit was as morally risky as driving drunk and for similar reasons? If you had a stance that such things as the choice to have a child are individual concerns and not the governments', that might be viewed as just as backwards, wrong, and dangerous as slavery. Your descendants might think "how could he be so stupid? why didn't he see the evil? it's so obvious!"

There are at least as many ethical standards that might change in 200 years as those that probably won't. I assume you're just as happy to be called evil then for your stances that seems downright progressive today.

Comment Re:The problem with the ad (Score 2) 187

What upset people is that if it had been a good looking guy people would not have assumed he couldn't be an engineer.

You seriously think this is true? Really and actually?

The stereotype is *absolutely* that engineers are not good-looking people of any gender. A good looking Calvin Klein-style (or wherever it is the hot guys are nowadays) man would *absolutely* take flack over whether he was a real engineer or just a model. Frankly the assumption is that people in any of those kinds of ads *are* models and it's sort of a surprise if *anyone* in an ad isn't (and even when they say "real customer" in a commercial I'm not sure I believe it).

Look, I'm really sympathetic if you are an engineer and happen to be female and at a conference people assume you're a recruiter or something. Assumptions suck when they're wrong, and I've been there. The one about being assumed to be the waiter and given an order is an old joke. But without assumptions about people the world doesn't work.

I dare you to avoid assuming *anything* about the next person you meet at work. Start with "do you speak English/native language", then which pronoun (he/she/they/it/xe) they prefer, then where they work (maybe they're visiting!), etc. These and thousands more are assumptions you make all day every day. The alternative is utter insanity.

Is it a problem? Sure, sometimes you mess up - like thinking someone works at a store when they don't - and it's awkward. You fix your assumption and move on. If you don't actually change your mental model right away, then there's a problem - with the woman-at-conference-who's-a-developer example, you'd better not avoid asking her technical questions or asking a less senior male coworker instead, etc, as that is like the definition of sexism. It does happen and those people are 100% part of the problem.

But we're trying to make certain assumptions not acceptable, even if they are highly likely to be accurate. Good luck with that. A buddy of mine in college was - to put it mildly - a good-looking well-toned guy, and I constantly got asked jokingly-but-half-serious if (with varying levels of obfuscation) he was a dumb jock and I was the nerd he made do his computer homework. It was insulting to both of us, but we both understood that it was a more common situation than the good-looking muscly guy being a brilliant CS major, for that same guy to be hanging out with a nerd like me, and for that nerd to be so desperate to "hang out with the cool kids" to be willing to do someone else's homework. No, no, and no - but we got why people thought it and never got too annoyed unless they kept at it.

Comment Re:Why should the FAA allow drones without COAs? (Score 1) 184

That makes sense! Let's create that rule.

Oh. It already exists as 14 CFR 91.119c: "[in sparsely populated areas] the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure."

Some other kinds of aircraft other than airplanes can fly lower and closer in certain situations (maybe even drones?), but here's the dirty little secret: the FAA figures out if they want to punish you, and then they figure out how to do it, and then they succeed. It's a privilege, not a right, so while there's a sort of a farce of due process it's not remotely as strong as even what you'd find in a traffic court. If you're being a jackass and flying too low and pissing people off, they'll probably bust you for the catch-all 14 CFR 91.13"careless or reckless operation". So even if it seems like technically you're being legal flying within 500' of someone's structure, you'll still lose.

There's no such thing as a loophole when it comes to the FARs. If you think you've found one, the FAA will smack you down as an example to the rest that - no, there really aren't any loopholes. This happens all the time. The question is "does the FAA want to punish me for what I'm doing?" and if the answer is "maybe" think very, very hard.

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