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Comment: Re:Welcome to the Information Age! (Score 1) 82

by nine-times (#47729891) Attached to: It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights

I don't know. I my experience, a lot of poor security isn't caused by incompetence. It's caused by someone saying, "But that will cost more money..." or "That will take too much time..." or "But I want to buy from this supplier because the owner is my brother-in-law..."

I mean, they don't necessarily say those things out loud, but those are often the reasons. It's not necessarily that they're too dumb to understand that it's bad security. They just don't care. They're not thinking about the potential for problems down the road. They're not thinking about long-term maintenance. They're not really thinking about public safety. They're just thinking about, "I have to get this job done in a way that makes my life better/easier. I want to work less and make a big bonus."

Not that I work in a traffic-related industry. That's just been my general professional experience as to why security is usually terrible.

Comment: Re:Welcome to the Information Age! (Score 3, Insightful) 82

by nine-times (#47728569) Attached to: It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights

No, it's scary how much we still don't care about security. These things could definitely be fixed, we just don't care to fix them. We don't demand security in the first place, we aren't willing to pay for security, and we aren't really willing to fix security when it's broken. People will run around looking for blood for 5 minutes when it's discovered that there are huge security flaws, but nobody will fix them.

Remember all the news when it was discovered that a person could easily and untraceably hack voting machines? Do you think that was ever fixed? The way we use credit cards is insecure. Most email is unencrypted. We use Social Security Numbers as both an identifier and a form of authentication.

Most of what we do is completely insecure, and it's actually kind of amazing how rarely people take advantage of it. But it's really disturbing that we aren't remotely willing to secure things that would be relatively easy to secure, and would solve lots of problems.

Comment: Re:Hydroelectric Dams (Score 1) 495

by nine-times (#47711373) Attached to: Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

About 40,000 people die in car accidents every year, in the US alone. It's one of those things that I keep pointing out because people keep seeming to fail to realize how many people that is. When people say, "We can't have solar power because it'll kill a thousand birds!" or "We can't have freedom (i.e. NSA spying and CIA torture is ok!) because otherwise we might have another 9/11, which killed a thousands of people!"

40,000 people die every year due to car accidents. Nobody is talking about giving up cars.

Comment: Not that difficult (Score 1) 239

Wired has an interesting article on the possibility of selectable ethical choices in robotic autonomous cars. From the article: "The way this would work is one customer may set the car (which he paid for) to jealously value his life over all others; another user may prefer that the car values all lives the same and minimizes harm overall; yet another may want to minimize legal liability and costs for herself; and other settings are possible. Philosophically, this opens up an interesting debate about the oft-clashing ideas of morality vs. liability."

Before we allow AI on the road, we'll need to have some kind of regulation on how the AI works, and who has what level of liability. This is a debate that will need to happen, and laws will need to be made. For example, if an avoidable crash occurs due to a fault in the AI, I would assume that the manufacturer would have some level of liability. It doesn't make sense to put that responsibility on a human passenger who was using the car as directed. On the other hand, if the same crash is caused by tampering performed by the owner of the car, then it seems that the owner would be liable.

As far as I know, even these simple laws don't explicitly exist yet.

Patrick Lin writes about a recent FBI report that warns of the use of robot cars as terrorist and criminal threats, calling the use of weaponized robot cars "game changing." Lin explores the many ways in which robot cars could be exploited for nefarious purposes, including the fear that they could help terrorist organizations based in the Middle East carry out attacks on US soil. "And earlier this year, jihadists were calling for more car bombs in America. Thus, popular concerns about car bombs seem all too real." But Lin isn't too worried about these threats, and points out that there are far easier ways for terrorists to wreak havoc in the US.

Normal cars also make it easier to commit terrorist acts and other crimes. So what? I mean, yes, let's consider whether we want to take special safeguards and regulations regarding AI cars, but this shouldn't be something to go crazy worrying about.

Comment: Re:Defeats the purpose (Score 2) 231

by nine-times (#47694211) Attached to: Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It

Yes, I agree completely. I do kind of hate coming back from vacation to a huge inbox, but on the other hand, I do things like emailing someone saying, "I know you're on vacation and I don't want you to do anything now, but I know I'll forget if I don't send this now. When you get back..."

Comment: Re:Some people need more hand-holding (Score 1) 198

by nine-times (#47694155) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

Oh, I wouldn't be surprised at all. I've worked in IT support for a couple of decades now, and I know exactly how that goes.

There are two things about that though. First, it's a bit of a fringe case. You have to consider the question, "How many people of that sort are in my target audience?" If the answer is "a lot", then you should think about writing documentation for them specifically, and find a way separate it out from other documentation for those who are more comfortable using a computer. Otherwise, people who know what they're doing are going to be frustrated searching through 100 pages of inane instructions to find actual information.

Second, people like that often also won't read the documentation. If they do, they won't understand it, or else won't feel confident that they understand it. At a certain point, you have to either provide those people with IT support personnel that they can call (your older relative has you). At the very least, you need to provide them with simple step-by-step instructions that never vary, where they don't even need to understand what they're doing. Like "In order to do [x], press the power button on your computer to turn it on (it's located in the top-right-hand corner of the box under your desk). It will flash some things on the screen for a while. Wait for it to ask for a password, and then type 'hunter2'. Wait 2 minutes. Then find the blue "E" on your screen, with "Internet Explorer" written under it. It will be the third little picture on the screen, all the way to the left..."

I've had to write instructions like that before, and some people need it to be that simple. But obviously a web application vendor can't take responsibility for that level of instruction. Even something like Dropbox, which is designed to be extremely simple, has to assume some level of competency.

Comment: Re:Potentially... (Score 1) 105

by nine-times (#47677193) Attached to: Google Expands Safe Browsing To Block Unwanted Downloads

The act of knowingly installing it contradicts that. If you don't want it, don't make the choice to install it.

See there, you're talking about *actually* unwanted programs. If a program is potentially unwanted, then it's not currently unwanted. It just might become unwanted in the future.

Comment: Potentially... (Score 2) 105

by nine-times (#47673101) Attached to: Google Expands Safe Browsing To Block Unwanted Downloads
I know it's started becoming a common terminology, but I don't really like the terms "Potentially Unwanted Program" and "Potentially Unwanted Application". Any program/application is *potentially* unwanted. Whenever someone starts talking about PUP/PUA, I can never figure out where they're drawing the line.

Comment: Speaking generally (Score 1) 198

by nine-times (#47672169) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

I'm not aware of Odoo, so I'm only speaking generally, but generally speaking, having a simple/intuitive product does *reduce* the need to documentation. For example, I don't need documentation to tell me that I can open a Word document by going to "File", selecting "Open", and then going to "Computer", "Browse"....

Now, come to think of it, the process for even something as simple as that has gotten needlessly complicated. WTF is Microsoft doing these days?

Back on subject, yeah, if you open files by going to an obvious menu button that says, "Open File...", then I don't think you really need to document that. You only need to document the features that aren't completely blindingly obvious.

The need for documentation can also be reduced by having a good help/support system. If you have a procedure for doing something unusual and complicated that's undocumented, you had better have someone standing by that I can call/chat/email who can help me out. And even still, that stuff should be documented at least well enough that you can train your support staff.

If you don't have good support and something is not completely obvious, then yes, it should be documented.

The IBM purchase of ROLM gives new meaning to the term "twisted pair". -- Howard Anderson, "Yankee Group"