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Comment: Re:Remove It (Score 2) 517

by swilly (#48170735) Attached to: Debian Talks About Systemd Once Again

I don't know about journald, but on Solaris the binary logging works using digital signatures. Each log message (and the prior log messages signature) is signed to ensure that the log message hasn't been tampered with, and that log messages haven't been removed. In the event of tampering, the log messages can still be read, but are flagged as untrustworthy. I understand that administrators prefer text messages (which is why our Solaris systems also logged to syslog), but for security auditors digitally signed binary logs are a godsend.

Comment: Re:So confused (Score 2) 376

by swilly (#48153693) Attached to: Pentagon Reportedly Hushed Up Chemical Weapons Finds In Iraq

There was never any question about whether Iraq had chemical weapons. After all, Saddam used them against Iran and his own people. The question has always been, "where are they now?"

The possible answers are that he still had them somewhere, that he gave them away, that he destroyed them, or that he had run out. Each of these answers presents problems. If he still had them, then where were they and who might still have access to them? If he gave them away, who did he give them to and why? If he destroyed them, why not let the West verify this and stop the sanctions (and also prevent an invasion)? If he used them all up, why didn't he make more? Saddam's actions suggest that he had something to hide, or that he wanted people to think that he had something to hide (I always liked the idea that he wanted Iran to believe he had them, but wanted to plant doubt in the US, and he couldn't pull off that balancing act).

I don't know if I believe the article, but it would be nice to have a conclusive answer one way or another.

Comment: Re:German illegal? (Score 2) 323

by swilly (#48142621) Attached to: How English Beat German As the Language of Science

This was very common. Germans emigrated in large numbers in the late 19th century, but you wouldn't know it today. In response to public outrage at unrestricted submarine warfare many Germans immigrants Anglicized their names, turning Schmidt into Smith, Wilhelm into Williams, and so on. Anglicization also happened in England, with the most notable case being the rename of Saxe-Coburg to Windsor (yes, the English royal family were Germans with blatantly German names).

Comment: Re:WTF? (Score 3, Informative) 261

by swilly (#48132689) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Can't Google Block Spam In Gmail?

I agree. I can't remember the last time I had spam reach my Gmail inbox. Google is incredibly good at finding spam.

In fact, my complaint is the opposite, Gmail is too aggressive in flagging mail as spam. I get notifications from Fidelity about my account, and most emails are fine but things like dividend payments are consistently flagged as spam. I always flag them as "Not Spam", they match an existing filter, and I've even forwarded them to Google for review, but none of that has helped.

I occasionally have other emails incorrectly flagged as spam, but its pretty rare. The Fidelity messages aren't time critical, so this is more of an annoyance than a problem. I wish Google (or Fidelity) would get better at recognizing the difference between spam and legitimate emails that happen to be sent to a lot of people.

Comment: Re:Top Gear had an interesting experiment (Score 1) 402

by swilly (#48093579) Attached to: Fuel Efficiency Numbers Overstate MPG More For Cars With Small Engines

That's not surprising. The Prius has an Atkinson cycle engine which can be efficiently and quickly turned on and off, but it has a very low power density. This means that the Prius performs well when coasting (as it can turn off the gasoline engine when it doesn't need it), but poorly when accelerating hard. Most driving consists of short periods of acceleration and long periods of coasting, and the electric motor can handle a lot of the work for low speed acceleration and maintaining cruising speed, which means that the power density of the gasoline engine isn't very important for every day driving. However, if you are constantly accelerating hard, then the electric motor is wasted, the advantages of the Atkinson cycle engine are minimized and the disadvantages are maximized. If you keep it up for a long period of time, the Prius will not perform well at all. (The aerodynamic body would probably help when constantly accelerating hard, but I suspect its benefits would drop off as its speed increases.)

Comment: Re:In other news: Are 4K displays worth getting ye (Score 1) 204

by swilly (#47839027) Attached to: Dell Demos 5K Display

Most Linux desktop environments are DPI independent for fonts and toolkit controls, but it can be a bit hard to change as such things are often tied to your system theme. Of course, that doesn't help with scaling things like images. For many years now you could get desktop scaling using Compiz, but that requires hardware with good OpenGL support so few distributions use it. The current standard for things like 4K monitors is HiDPI (which Apple is calling Retina for marketing reasons).

The only Linux distribution I know with good support for HiDPI is Linux Mint Cinnamon. It even selects it automatically if it detects that your monitor exceeds a certain number of pixels per inch. The setting is in Settings -> General -> Desktop Scaling. I find that with HiDPI and a some tweaks to the default fonts, only web browsers don't display how I want them to (I prefer a 110% zoom for my web browser). Fortunately, changing the default zoom in Chrome works very well, it can even scale Flash content properly.

Other desktop environments that use Gnome libraries like Unity and Gnome Shell should have HiDPI working soon (if they don't already). It looks like KDE has HiDPI support, but they still have some issues to resolve. I'd expect the new KDE 5 desktop to work well.

Comment: Re:First World Problems (Score 4, Informative) 154

by swilly (#47681773) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Recliner For a Software Developer?

The definition of First, Second, and Third World are not based on wealth, but on ideology. Second World countries are those that are industrialized and socialist (though in practice it referred only to communist governments).

You don't hear much about them because back in the early 90's there was this series of events that resulted in the collapse of most of the Second World. The independence of the Baltic states and the Ukraine, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. You may have heard of some of these, as they were a big deal at the time.

The major Second World country to survive these events is China, but North Korea would also be considered a Second World nation. I've heard of a proposal that we repurpose the term Second World to refer to developing nations, which works well since it's the natural term for nations moving from Third to First World status, but this hasn't been adopted yet (probably because developing countries don't want to be associated with the old Soviet Union).

Comment: Re:Um.... (Score 2) 120

by swilly (#47412841) Attached to: A Box of Forgotten Smallpox Vials Was Just Found In an FDA Closet

According to Wikipedia, this is not quite true. Chinese did discover the practice in the 10th century, and reports on the practice were given to the Royal Society in 1700, but no action was taken.

The Ottomans learned it before the early 18th century, but we don't know for certain how or when it got there. They also reported on it to the Royal Society in 1714 and 1716, but nobody paid much attention until the wife of the British Ambassador to the Ottomans witnessed it and introduced it to Europe's ruling elite. It was introduced to America in 1721 by the Puritan minister Cotton Mather (of the Salem Witch Trials fame). He had heard of it from a Sudanese slave, but he was also familiar with the Royal Society reports and had been trying to get physicians to attempt the procedure.

We don't know when the procedure was introduced to Africa, but it was introduced via the Muslim world. We also don't know when it was introduced to India, who may have discovered it independently (but probably not).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...

What did we do before Wikipedia?

Comment: Re:you can't judge a theory by its quacks (Score 1) 339

by swilly (#47113609) Attached to: The Singularity Is Sci-Fi's Faith-Based Initiative

Jules Verne wrote Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea in 1870. Submarines had been under development since the 17th century. The first military sub is usually credited to an American sub that failed to attach explosives to British ships during the American Revolutionary War. The first sub to sink another ship was a Confederate sub during the American Civil War, which was apparently too close to the explosion, causing it to sink as well.

The Confederate sub had ballast tanks, screw propulsion, and used a "torpedo" that was towed behind it. Everything was human powered, but very much recognizable as a precursor to modern submersibles.

I don't want to take away from Verne's accomplishments, but he didn't invent the sub, all he did was extrapolate and determine what a futuristic model might look like.

Comment: Re:If you haven't read The Myythical Man-Month... (Score 1) 352

by swilly (#47005605) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Should Every Programmer Read?

If you you do is write code, then you aren't a Software Engineer, you are a Programmer. An engineer is involved in requirements, specifications, design, and testing. On a good team, the experienced Software Engineers should also be consulted for process improvement, QA, and DevOps.

Comment: Re:Situation is a Shambles (Score 1) 239

by swilly (#46711313) Attached to: Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability: A Technical Remediation

This has little to do with any C-specific. If you were re-using a buffer in some managed runtime, you would still see the same problem.

Most managed runtimes perform bounds checks, C does not. As a result, the same bug couldn't happen in Java or C#. Of course, bounds checks come with a cost, and one that most people wouldn't want from low level code, which means that C/C++ developers must be extra vigilant.

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