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Comment Have them convert between Arabic and Roman numbers (Score 2) 140

I taught an intro to programming course years ago and having them convert an Arabic number to Roman numerals was one of my favorites.

There are lots of CS constructs that come into play including number and string manipulation, looping constructs, if/then logic, etc.

They also get to see that there is more than one way to solve the problem and that some solutions can be far more elegant than others.

Comment Car (Insurance) Analogy! (Score 1) 113

In the US all or most states require you to have liability insurance to pay for any injuries or death, required just like the ACA mandates/requires you to buy health insurance.

Guess what, some people don't. Or they just pay the initial premium to show coverage and then let the policy lapse.

So some states also mandate that you have additional coverage in case the other guy is un-insured or under-insured (i.e. not enough to cover your co-pay).

These APP companies are the un-insured guys. They could be responsible and provide benefits typical of the jobs they provide, but instead they want it to be somebody else's problem.

Did anyone notice that they didn't actually propose anything beyond 1) we shouldn't have to pay and 2) stop suing us.

Comment Not all data is useful (Score 1) 142

The new glorious world of big data and data analytics has one small problem. Just because you have a ton of data doesn't mean that there is any useful information in it. Really, what are companies going to be able to glean from such a database? That some peoples heart rate goes up when they drive? Which means what?

Insurance companies are the original big data users. Actuarial science is all based on the premise that it is possible to predict the likely outcome for an individual through the statistical analysis of the larger group. They have been doing this quite successfully/profitably since the 1700's. There is a definite point of diminishing return between increased revenue by identifying higher risk individuals and the costs associated with implementing those programs. If it costs $1 million to implement you would need to identify 10,000 people and charge them an extra $100 just to break even. If they can find a competitor whose rate is less than that $100 increase and leave then you start losing money, and not just the $100 but the original premium as well.

A lot of people are under the misconception that all they need to do is gather data and they will then be able to sell it. But the data has to be useful and I just don't see it in this case.

Submission + - What is keeping you out of IT Security?

xanthos writes: Demand for cybersecurity professionals over the past five years grew 3.5 times faster than demand for other IT jobs and about 12 times faster than for all other jobs, according to a March 2014 report by Burning Glass Technologies.

The types of jobs in the field are numerous and range from entry level analysts who monitor intrusion detection systems, security engineers and architects who design and build out various security technologies, risk and compliance analysts, pen testers, malware reversal analysts and IT Security management.

With all these jobs paying above average and many over $100K, what is keeping you from taking your admin, networking, developer experience and moving to information security?

Comment And the point of the study is what? (Score 1) 159

Single factor authentication (ie password) is a people problem. If access to a site is granted by matching an identifier with one other piece of information, then it is the risk created by the compromise of those credentials that should govern how "strong" those credentials need to be.

Financial information? Strong. Personal Health information? Strong. Email? Depends on how interesting you are. Hardware store loyalty points? Meh.

The more important point from the article is this:
"In fact, research from Microsoft/University of California at Berkeley/University of British Columbia (paper titled Does My Password Go Up to Eleven? The Impact of Password Meters on Password Selection) found that indeed, password gauges do encourage users to concoct stronger passwords."

Warn/shame people that their passwords suck and they are likely to do better.

(And interestingly enough, mathematically a site that insists on an 8 character password with at least one each of upper/lower case letters, numbers and special characters produces less secure passwords than a site that insists on 8 characters that can be any of those.)

Comment And if you haven't read Simak (Score 4, Informative) 104

If you are unfamiliar with the work of Clifford Simak I strongly suggest that you give him a try. What I have always loved is that there is so much that is just unknown going on in his stories. No great hero's, no great battles, just a lot of "what the hell is going on here?"

His last book "Highway of Eternity" is great and "Ring around the Sun" has always been a favorite as well. Most of his stuff is a short quick read abd us easily found in your favorite used book store (you do have one I hope).

At a minimum read the novel synopsis over at Wikipedia to get a glimpse of a very interesting author.

Comment A number of free options at Turnkey Linux (Score 1) 343

A great resource for situations like this is Turnkey Linux ( They host a wide variety of fully built server images that make it easy to try out a number of systems to see what best fits your need. You can download and fire up well known CMS like Drupal or plone and see if they fit the need or not. Then if there is something they like they can load the iso on a bare metal box and go.

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