Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - 6 month subscription of Pandora One at 46% off. ×

Comment Re:Dad of Ahmed is an Islamic Supremacist (Score 1) 743

That kid may have been innocent, but his father is an Islamic activist trying to intimidate anyone who has any concerns about Islamic activism.

It is perfectly acceptable to condemn a father's actions and still also condemn unreasonable actions taken by a school and police officers. It is even possible for a reasonable person to condemn the opinions of a person and still defend the rights of the person to express those opinions.

I don't know much about the dad, nor do I honestly know much about the kid, but the fact is that a kid was arrested at school when he obviously presented no harm or danger to anyone then held and questioned without a guardian or attorney present. The facts condemn the actions of the authorities and it is perfectly reasonable to demand that people who abuse power be held accountable.

Comment Re:Linus isn't trying to make it black and white. (Score 1) 291

Thank you, you are absolutely right. I suspect most IT jobs have security as one important aspect of a much broader list of responsibilities. (My job certainly considers security of extreme importance, but I'd say I spend maybe ten minutes of my average work day directly on security.)

And look at the means! Systems security has become battle #1 for many, many IT people

That's true, because of course there are many jobs in IT just about security, but that's not the same as saying it is the primary battle of most IT people or even saying it is the primary battle of a significant percentage. If there are a hundred thousand IT people with security as battle #1, that's "many, many!" Nobody cares though, because that's only 1.5% of of the 6,500,000 IT employees in the US.

Vague claims are usually true, and useless.

The more I think about this, the more it irritates me. There are people who educate themselves about risks and mitigation options and build very secure systems within their areas of expertise. I'm in that category. Then some butt-fedora comes along yelling about how things need to be more secure and I then get to explain to my bosses and their oversight organizations why said butt-fedora commentary doesn't apply. I mean, on the one hand, it points out something I'm competent at, but on the other hand, it's a waste of time, because rarely do the oversight people or bosses actually know the difference between what I'm saying and the butt-fedora guy is saying.

Comment Re:Must be discrimination (Score 1) 445

A few years ago, I realized that I had been valuing other people and myself on a flawed scale. In an nutshell I had placed more value on intelligence than compassion and kindness. I started deliberately trying to think of the world I perceive through a new perspective and it changed me.

This emphasis on income is every bit as invalid. People seem to care a lot about making sure wages are equal, but they don't ask "how worthwhile is the work" when comparing the work of women to men. Women are more likely to be home parents, teachers, health care workers, medical scientists, financial managers, veterinarians, and psychologists to name just a few. All those things I mentioned are about helping other people directly.

I think women are more likely to place the value of their work above the income for their work and frankly I'm a little irritated every time someone breaks out the wage argument like that's all that matters.

You know what else we're probably looking at wrong? We're probably looking at gifted student programs wrong. We're probably looking at the numbers of kinds by race in the end results rather than looking at the things that are successful in transitioning kids from non-achievers to achievers.

Comment Re:Make Blu Rays available from release day (Score 1) 279

I'd rather watch most movies at home than in the theater. If there were copies available for purchase at the same time the movie came out in the theater, there is zero chance people would refrain from making and distributing free copies. It would be very tempting to just download a free copy rather than pay for the official copy or see it in a theater.

Comment Re:Where have I heard this before? (Score 2) 255

You're quite right. The good news that instead of only the elite knowing how to read and write as was normal a century ago, now most people can communicate with the written word. The number of interesting things to read and the number of people capable of appreciating it now compared to just a few generations ago is amazing when you stop to think about it. Maybe only one in ten thousand is a great writer, but not that percentage is taken from a hugely larger portion of the population. Likewise with coding, perhaps only one in ten thousand will be a coder with impact, but if that is taken from 318 million instead of 2 million, that's a big impact.

Comment Re:What kind of future.... (Score 2) 255

I can't disagree with your observations, but I do have a positive perspective to add. Imagine that you wanted a way to measure wireless signal strength as you deployed your first wireless network in 1997. You'd need to buy special equipment where today, you just download an app. The 1997 person might want a calculator at the gas pump, requiring planning ahead to have the right equipment, but today you can just pull out your phone to use the built-in app.

Today the average end user doesn't buy a newspaper, consumer reviews magazine, music player, tape recorder, map or a camera. Few drive to the book store or the bank. Anyone can buy household goods while they wait in line at the DMV and catch up with family and friends across the world during their lunch break.

Today the average consumer solves thousands of needs by just knowing there is probably a bit of programming to be added to the ubiquitous pocket computer. It's probably not fair to refer to the end consumer's actions as coding or even programming, but the average consumer today changes what that pocket computer is capable of every day without even thinking about how it works.

Comment Re:Lock-in and dependence (Score 1) 255

1) Each website will inevitably have its own API that is incompatible with every other similar service. With service APIs, no one will bother with standardization on anything but the base protocol, because no generic standard satisfies any individual service's full functionality.

That's pretty much a description of how web pages worked just fifteen years ago. Nobody misses the days when most websites were designed for IE or Netscape and you couldn't make a website that worked well in both without taking quite a few special behaviors into account. Today, Microsoft is pushing Edge, Chrome has a significant market share, and Firefox's trailblazing changes made it normal for a browser to use tabs and block pop-ups by default. Not only has standard behavior improved for the better, the industry leaders are all trying to adhere to standards.

Your instant messaging providers would still be incompatible with each other, for instance, because company A wants a whiteboard mode and company B wants custom emoticons.

Recognizing that is the state of things doesn't mean it will stay that way forever. Consider how many websites have realized that managing their own authentication process is a bad idea. There are still plenty of problems, but it is becoming normal to use an inter-operable system. Right now trapping people into a single messaging system is a business model, but I don't think it will stay that way.

2) Because it's easier/cheaper/faster, everything will depend on some company being in business and providing their service. If somebody makes a service that does text-to-speech extraordinarily well, for instance, and does it as an online API call instead of locally on the device, then if that company goes out of business the service dies with them and everything that depended on their particular text-to-speech engine would stop working.

Unless it's an open source service, then five more will spring up in it's place. If that text-to-speech service is widely desired, an open source version is guaranteed to spring up eventually.

Wait a moment... aren't these types of problems happening today? Business as usual then. Carry on.

Business as usual is widely panned, but we already live in a world where business as usual has radically changed in just a couple decades. I carry a computer in my pocket that is massively more powerful than I could have predicted twenty years ago. Yesterday I talked to it and got an answer. When I was a kid, I couldn't have gotten that answer without a trip to the library and possibly weeks of waiting for the library to get the book exchanged from another geographically distant library.

Business as usual for the average person is change, not measured in generations or even decades, but measured in months.

Comment Re:If your job can be described by an algorithm... (Score 5, Funny) 319

main {
  if broke {fix(it);return fixed && call main }
  add value;
  update or upgrade;
  do consumerstuff {
    //* call retirement(savings) #function not written yet *//
  } until money < minimum;
  call main;
} until robots;
//* call use_retirement(savings) #function not written yet *//
//* fix pseudo_code to make sense *//

function create_awesome_money_generator(ideas)
{ //* function unused, more ideas and talent needed before function functions *//
  write awesomeThing1(ideas);
  create Microsoft2();
  create Apple2();
  takeover FaceBook();
  admit(Satoshi Nakamoto);

Comment Re:What is really happening (Score 1) 318

For people like us, who actually click on information about what the EULA means and what privacy we can expect and what we can't, I agree with you.

99.9% of people don't care enough to even read a summary of the EULA or privacy concerns.


The average internet user may care, but the average internet user doesn't care enough to even read about the issue.

Comment Re:Ha hA! (Score 4, Insightful) 109

The first time I used the bittorrent protocol, I used it to get a copy of Debian. I'd never heard of it before, but I read up on it and was impressed how potentially useful it could be. Software updates were the obvious first thing that sprang to my mind (as I work with a program that gets a lot of updates, all from a host that was more or less flat lining every time the updates came out.) When I found out people were using it for copyright infringement, I was shocked since, by it's nature, the protocol shares the IPs of everyone sharing the file.

I recalled there was some company that was using it for software updates so I googled for it, and not only found that, but some other rather significant users of bittorrent protocol:

  • Blizzard Entertainment uses its own BitTorrent client to download World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, and Diablo III.
  • Facebook and Twitter both use BitTorrent internally to move files around.
  • The Internet Archive recommends people use BitTorrent to download its content, as it’s the fastest method and allows the non-profit organization to save on bandwidth costs.
  • Linux ISO distribution, as I first discovered it, is a big use.
  • The UK government released several large data sets showing how public money was being spent.

Then there's NASA, and BitTorrent Sync and all the legal music and videos Bittorrent Inc puts out. P2P file sharing just makes sense for so many things, I'm still surprised people associate it with copyright infringement. I think the real key to understanding that association is all the media coverage of the *AA battles against Napster, Limewire, Mopheus and The Pirate Bay. I suspect there would be a lot less infringement if the public wasn't constantly hearing news about how people are getting content without paying.

What I find most newsworthy is that Microsoft is using P2P to distribute updates now. Maybe the makers of the software I work with will finally get the hint.

Comment Re:Why wait? (Score 4, Interesting) 109

You jest, but it would be a reasonable deflection to say "we've looked into it and our research revealed that most copyright infringement of music and movies is done by users of Windows, while the users of our software account for a much lower percentage of infringments."*

Most pirated movies and music are being used on Windows and isn't that where the real problem is?

Isn't there a major game system that uses the bittorrent protocol for updates? Even Microsoft is using peer-to-peer technology to deliver updates now.

* - I don't actually know that Windows is used for infringements more often than the Bittorrent program, but with all the different bittorrent protocol clients out there and Microsoft's desktop majority, I feel safe making that assumption.

Comment Stop being mindless. (Score 1) 272

If you're on public land, you don't get an expectation of privacy.

I've often heard this repeated, but is it actually true?

Suppose I'm in a public space (say, a park) having a quiet conversation with someone, and keeping track of passersby: If someone walks up we stop talking.

Does this mean that someone (from the government) with a parabolic mic can eavesdrop on my conversations without a warrant?

Yes. That's exactly what it means (in the US) because that's the line the courts have upheld. There are some exceptions, based on state and local laws, but that's the federal law.

The argument is that it's only what a policeman would hear if he walked up and listened, but in that case we would stop talking.

Who made that argument? I haven't read the arguments in the cases argued before the SCOTUS, but I'd be very surprised if you can point to that argument in the court records. In fact, I suspect the problem is that you didn't realize that "Expectation of privacy" is a legal term used in discussing the fourth amendment to the US Constitution.

I have every expectation of privacy if I take steps to ensure that privacy: looking around to make sure no one can see me, for instance. Does this mean that the police can video-tape the sidewalk from the window of any office building without a warrant?

"I didn't think the cops would see me smoking crack" is not a legitimate argument in a court case. By contrast, "it was illegal for the cops to take the steps they did to get this evidence" is a legitimate argument.

I also note that there's no expectation of privacy *in your home* if you don't have the drapes closed. The implication is that we don't have an expectation of privacy *anywhere*, except in our homes and only if we're concealed.

The implication is that if the cops can see you do it without trespassing, then it can be used as evidence.

Does that sound like a free country?

Yes! What, you think prohibiting stuff makes people more free?

If you're on public land, you don't get an expectation of privacy.

In any event, we shouldn't be mindlessly repeating that meme as if it's the "law of the land". The more you say it, it only makes more people believe it.

Instead, we should be mindlessly repeating things things that sway public perception in a better direction.

Maybe repeating anything mindlessly is a bad idea. Maybe read about what expectation of privacy is here: so you don't have to come across as mindless.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato