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Comment: Re:Dial up can still access gmail (Score 1) 317

by grcumb (#47933627) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Remote Support For Disconnected, Computer-Illiterate Relatives

Gmail optimizes for low bandwidth links.

I didn't know that! Is it something I need to configure?

Good News: No, you don't need to configure anything.

Bad News: Yeah, it's as bad as you remember. The biggest difference is this really condescending message at the top of your screen, saying, "Hi! You're a second-class citizen, so we're sending you to a second-class interface using second-class bytes! NOM NOM!!"

... Or something - I can't remember the exact text; I just remember promising myself I'd find the developer who wrote that and emasculate him with rusted baling wire.

A decent mail client with GMail over IMAP is probably best. Only downloads headers unless you actually load the message.

Comment: Re:Ya, but... (Score 1) 391

by grcumb (#47922129) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

English lit. grads can do a variety of jobs, but wouldn't be my first choice for a programmer, unless they could demonstrate strong programming skills.

How very condescending of you. But I would say the same about engineers, CS grads, science and math majors as well. Mostly because I find them generally closed-minded, with a strong tendency toward binary thinking. It is a rare person indeed that is capable of writing truly good code. Those who are capable typically can maintain a balance between left and right brain, holding a wide range of possibilities in their head, visualising very complex models and fluid scenarios, and only in the last instance reducing them to computer logic.

It may seem paradoxical, but the only useful test of a good programmer is whether they program well.

The best team I ever worked on featured an ex-veterinarian, a chemical engineer, a Classics major, one who switched majors from music to sociology, one who did half a law degree, and myself, a theatre/English lit. double major.

The half a lawyer now helps to manage Google's international network. The chemical engineer manages the systems of a globally known company. The musician/sociologist is CTO of a successful SaaS operation. The vet is a senior application designer, and I'm Chief Technologist at a think tank. I'm sure you've done far better, but we haven't done so bad either.

Comment: Re:Ya, but... (Score 1) 391

by grcumb (#47921963) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

... employees with STEM degrees have critical thinking skills *and* STEM degrees. Just sayin'.

So... your point is that STEM degrees are intrinsically better prerequisites for all aspects of software development? Or that STEM degrees are intrinsically better in some way than liberal arts degrees? If either of those is your point, I suggest you check your assumption that completion of a STEM degree implies the presence of critical thinking skills. Because NO.

And if you think for a moment that a smart liberal arts major isn't capable of complex abstraction, conceptualisation and its expression in formal logic, then... well, once again, check your assumptions.

Comment: Re:Dual degrees (Score 3, Interesting) 391

by grcumb (#47921895) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

There's certainly a place for people with dual degrees in tech and liberal arts -- people who truly understand the tech they're discussing, plus have the experience in communication and argumentation to explain it, push for it, and lead it.

Hi there. I'm the Chief Technologist of a thinktank and do a lot of technical work, from application & systems design and development through to legislation, policy and regulation. I did a double major in Theatre and English Lit. when I went to university. It amazes me that the majority of 'engineers' or science geeks show such disdain for liberal arts majors. Do they not realise that smart people are everywhere?

The thing that really makes me chuckle, though, is that they don't seem to believe that someone with strengths in the arts could ever be an autodidact, in spite of the fact that most good geeks have this capability as a defining trait. In theatre, I had to learn basic electronics, electrical circuitry, technical design, how to build weight-bearing structures, basic colour theory, linguistics, aesthetics (which, scoff as you like, requires pretty heavy thinking about the nature of human consciousness) and about a dozen other disciplines. And English taught me a little humility about the power of expression. It taught me to harness it as well.

As my colleagues will tell you, I have a significant lack of mathematical ability; my brain is simply not wired to read equations (or musical notation - another great failing). I can do it, but I expend a great deal more effort than my math whiz friends. This puts some programming work outside my competence - algorithms especially. I understand perfectly the concept of big O, though, and with assistance, I can write highly performant code.

But... I can design, create palettes, do layout and describe workflows a fuck of a lot better than most engineers. I know enough typography to be dangerous, and I can outperform most people when it comes to interfaces.

I know the value of a good engineer. I learned it at my father's knee. But if anyone ever suggested that I fill my software shop with nothing but STEM grads, I would laugh them out of the room. No offence, all you engineers, but there's a whole raft of software design and development issues that you guys suck at.

Comment: Re:When the cat's absent, the mice rejoice (Score 5, Insightful) 286

The criminals here worthy of being described as scum and deserving confinement are the people involved in child pornography, not the investigator. At worst he seems to have exceeded his statutory jurisdiction in pursuit of actual crimes.

Allow me to quote the immortal words of Mr H.L. Mencken:

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

Now, on behalf of Mr Mencken, and all those who fight for human freedom, allow me to suggest you fuck off, and to remind you that just because there are a few scummy characters in the world, it still doesn't justify putting the entire state of Washington under surveillance, which is what happened here.

Comment: Re:Are you fucking serious? Tell me you aren't! (Score 1) 198

by grcumb (#47869187) Attached to: UK's National Health Service Moves To NoSQL Running On an Open-Source Stack

Why the fuck are you storing the data if you don't give a damn about keeping it consistent?

There are thousands (and thousands) of cases where it is simply not reasonable to expect homogeneity in your data. Of those thousands of cases, a very large number of them not only have extremely heterogeneous data, they still need to be stored and queried. NoSQL is a useful tool in such cases.

Is it 'safe' — i.e. does it do all of the data integrity stuff we've come to associate with RDBMSes? No. Emphatically no. If you didn't code it into the right logic in the right places, you are probably worse than shit out of luck.

BUT... there are still thousands of cases where the pain of living with NoSQL far outweighs the pain (and in many cases impossibility) of living with your data inside an enterprise RDBMS.

And yes, I say this based on years of work with exactly these kinds of data sets. They were my bread and butter for a long time.

So, uh, holy fuck: Believe it.

Comment: Re:No thanks (Score 3, Interesting) 326

by grcumb (#47848411) Attached to: Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx

Stallman is the crazy outlier. Where he stands, at the very edge, is exactly where we need him to be. You dont have to follow all of it, but there would be less of his ideas if he was more concerned with being central and accessible.

Just for the edification of the other readers here, which parts specifically do you feel you don't have to follow?

For the record, I know exactly which ones I would choose, but I'm interested to know what exactly you think makes Stallmann a 'crazy outlier'. Because, in my estimation, it would take a lot for someone to qualify for that kind of labeling.

I disagree with his statement that Linux distro maintainers allow non-free components because they're not sufficiently committed to freedom, but I don't think him 'crazy' for having said it. I think his blanket characterisation of profit motive as evil is too much of a generalisation, but tragically, I don't think he's entirely wrong in stating that the effects of profit motive on a lot of commercial organisations has been detrimental to our freedom - dangerously so. So yeah: same conclusion, more temperate language. That's not nearly crazy or even an outlying opinion, to my mind.

There is a point to Stallman being far out there, its so the rest of us dont have to. Let him do his thing.

I take your point, but I remind you that the same could have been said about Ghandi, or even Martin Luther King, when people were blaming him for the violence in Selma and the bombing in Birmingham.

See, the problem I have with this kind of rhetoric is that you seem willing to stand to the side at a witch-burning and say, 'Well, I would never cast a spell, but I can see why people bought magic services from her.' It's a little disingenuous, isn't it, that you would be willing to profit from someone's courage, when you're not willing to defend it?

Again, this isn't a case of 'My Free Software, Right or Wrong.' On the contrary, I'm arguing that you can quibble all you like with the arguments Stallmann makes, and the rhetoric he makes them with. But I have to ask: With an attitude like yours, how much have you actually done to promote freedom?

(Real question: I'm open to correction.)

Comment: Re:The last sentence of the summary is spot on (Score 2) 66

by grcumb (#47843965) Attached to: Two Explorers Descend Into An Active Volcano, and Live to Tell About It

I am so full of envy right now, with a generous side order of awe. Watch that actually brought a tear to my eye.

Well, if you can pay the airfare to Vanuatu (3 1/2 hours away from Sydney for about $US 750), only a couple hundred dollars more will get you a walking tour to the edge of the caldera. It's not really a mountain so much as a high plateau with two (yes, two) active calderas. It's a fucking amazing place, a lunar landscape emerging over the last rise after a morning spent walking through jungle. Pretty primeval.

But if you're not in an exercising mood, you can simply pay a pilot to overfly the volcano. I did this once. We were actually on our way to Pentecost island in a small twin-prop charter, when the pilot said, 'Hey, the visibility's really good - you folks want to see a volcano?'

We thought about it for, like, 0.273 seconds and said, "FUCK YES!"

So he took us over it. Right. Over. The Volcano.

Was it cool? Yes, it was cool.

Comment: Re:Grandparents... (Score 2) 66

by grcumb (#47843577) Attached to: Two Explorers Descend Into An Active Volcano, and Live to Tell About It

Do you realize where this volcano is? Hint: look at the natives in the grass skirts. They're out chasing forest critters for dinner, not gearing up to rescue stupid rich tourists. I really doubt that anybody would come out and rescue them.

Howdy, commentator! I just read your comment about the people of Vanuatu, where I live. Guess what? This whole country is full of 'natives'! Isn't that cool?!

One thing though: Promise me you will never, ever, EVER come here. Because witless, condescending fucks like you tend to get killed and cooked for dinner.

(We're not really cannibals, but we'd do it just to spite you.)


Twitpic Shutting Down Over Trademark Dispute 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-in-a-name? dept.
First time accepted submitter exiguus writes As of September 25th Twitpic will be no more. Twitter, allegedly, has threatened to deny them access to their API. Noah Everett said "Unfortunately we do not have the resources to fend off a large company like Twitter to maintain our mark which we believe whole heartedly is rightfully ours. Therefore, we have decided to shut down Twitpic." Resources will be made available to users to download their videos and photos, but a date when that function will be available has not been made available. "We'll let everyone know when this feature is live in the next few days."

Comment: Re: Is Coding Computer Science? Of Course! (Score 1) 546

by grcumb (#47823125) Attached to: Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

Your post also brings into question exactly how good of a programmer you really are as well. You see, English, much like programming, has a structure and a syntax. While you may have syntax, there is no structure. You may not have to compete for a job with someone who doesn't have a BS in CS, but you will most certainly have your cover letter compared to another person with a BS in CS who actually puts structure into his correspondence.

"Your post also brings into question your abilities as a programmer. English, like programming languages, has both structure and syntax. While your writing has syntax, it is largely unstructured. You may not have to compete for a job with someone who doesn't have a degree in Computer Science, but you most certainly will have your cover..."

... Oh, forget it. Your last sentence doesn't actually have logical coherence.


Comment: Re:Hmmm (Score 1) 230

by grcumb (#47821719) Attached to: Akamai Warns: Linux Systems Infiltrated and Controlled In a DDoS Botnet

No, unmaintained web servers getting attacked and turned into bots is not news. This problem is not even specific to Linux systems. Any server that isn't patched with latest security fixes for the OS and applications is at risk regardless of the OS used.

The biggest difference we see between proprietary and FOSS systems is that the lack of maintenance in proprietary systems is often the fault of the vendor. In short, there's no way to keep a service or application patched, because there are no patches forthcoming.

Lack of maintenance by the sysadmin is a more common source of insecurity on Linux systems. The patches are often (not always, but often) there, but they do have to be applied by someone.

Comment: Re:Lennart Poetterings rebuttal (Score 2) 613

by grcumb (#47821293) Attached to: You Got Your Windows In My Linux

Oh please cry me a river. Impose systemd on others? Did Lennart own Ubuntu, Debian, RedHat and Suse now? It was deceided by the developers of those distributions to replace the old sysv init with systemd, and the alternatives were concidered. In Debian it was a democratic process by voting. RedHat is a company so clearly they will not bet on a broken system. Almost all of the arguments against systemd are not valid on technical grounds, and now you want to muddy the waters by attacking Lennart directly.

No, you ignorant little shit, I am not attacking Lennart directly. If I were attacking him directly, I would question his character and his motivations. I would suggest that he, like you, is of questionable (probably canine) parentage, and that his reading comprehension is at such a disastrously low level that he (like you) indulges in exactly the mistakes that I warn about in my critique.

So you see, if I were attacking Lennart, I would have written a paragraph or two like that one. But I didn't.

You, on the other hand, deserve no such forbearance because you fucking still don't fucking get it. Fuck.

Being technically correct is not - and never has been - sufficient for technology to become successful.

There is a time and a place to stomp on the desires of others when better answers to old problems is concerned. It is a common sin of the young that they think they know where that time and place actually is. In reality, they seldom do, because it's an insight that comes from experience.

Nobody is going to stop you on your path to self-destruction. All we ask is that you let us antiquated geezers (who actually have, you know, systems to run) alone. Is that too much for you to get your tiny little head around, you strident, inexperienced little twerp?

(P.S. If I've overdone the name-calling in the pursuit of a certain tone, please accept my apology. I have no idea whether you're actually little or not.)


Comment: Re:Lennart Poetterings rebuttal (Score 5, Insightful) 613

by grcumb (#47813853) Attached to: You Got Your Windows In My Linux

I would be interested in the anyone's response to Lennart Poetterings rebuttal to the common complaints about systemd.

I'm too n00b to know who's right.

Full disclosure: I do not like systemd, although that judgment is based on its merits as I see them relative to my needs.

There seemed to be a pretty concerted determination not to get the point in Lennart's long spiel defending the system. As someone who has been using Unices in anger since the early '90s, I've pretty much seen Linux grow from its infancy. I've seen this kind of attitude before in technology — in Windows, Linux and elsewhere. The article is clearly written (and written clearly) by someone who's clever, articulate and... far too concerned with being right. It's not a healthy perspective.

Being technically correct is not generally optional. It's just not ever nearly as conclusive as some people think it is.

Having the humility to accept an imperfect universe — and to admit that it's imperfect in a particular way for a large number of particular reasons — is a virtue that fewer and fewer people seem to possess these days.

(It's the lack of this virtue that makes people say, for example, 'less and less' where I used 'fewer and fewer' and when someone corrects them, they trot out the grammar nazi epithet and say, 'Everybody knows what I mean. Deal with it.' And the lack of this virtue as well that will make people pick on the triviality of this example to discard my entire post. The temerity of such an approach cannot be explained to those who suffer from it.)

Systemd is clearly not change for change's sake. Lennart and the dozen and a half others who have commit rights are clearly scratching an itch. But regardless of the technical merits of the system, it is horribly, horribly wrong to impose this new system —any new system— on Linux wholesale without a significant maturing process. And by significant, I mean years.

And this is where Lennart's most completely mistaken. He thinks that the technical arguments are the decisive ones, in spite of the fact that technical merit is not why systemd is going to become prevalent. He therefore tries to write a technical opus in defence of the indefensible, which requires more than a few straw men (binary config files? shyeah....), several big ommissions (binary log files) and a clearly unwilled but nonetheless unforgivable ignorance of the fact that he's winning because he's RedHat, not because he's better. (Yeah yeah yeah, it's not all RH; it's others too, you're technically awesome - I read that part and remain utterly unconvinced by the argument.)

Paul Venezia's screed, on the other hand, is just plain substance-free. He's not arguing either technical merit or political power. He's simply looking at a looming mess and saying, well, that it's going to be messy. And to that extent, he's right. Systemd is going to make a mess, and that's precisely because its proponents think that they're perfectly within their rights to claim, 'Well, nobody's forcing anything on anyone.'

What they don't realise is that that is not how cooperation works. And believing you're better or righter than others is an absolutely shit way of improving your own software.

"I have just one word for you, my boy...plastics." - from "The Graduate"