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Comment Two quick book recommendations (Score 5, Informative) 330

...if you're a fan of late 70s/early 80s computer culture.

Somebody gave me Steven Levy's Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution as a teen (thankfully missing the minefield of shitty books with the term "hacker" in their title) and it was amazing. Early days computer hobbyists, Paul Allen and Bill Gates writing BASIC for the Altair on a timeshare and dealing with the hobbyists who wanted to copy it instead of buy it, Ken and Roberta Williams and Sierra On-Line, and so much more.

Also loved the more recent Commodore: A Company on the Edge by Brian Bagnall. Just captivates the imagination to read about people hand-drawing their CPUs. There's an enthusiasm in the early computer industry that seems to have dampened over the years, as startups and corporations begin with the money in mind rather than the starry-eyed idealism and hobbyist tendencies that powered the first personal computer businesses.

Neither of these feature Ashton Kutcher, however, or even Steve Jobs to any great extent. But if your passion for computers is in their function rather than their form I highly recommend the above books.

Comment ASLR? More like ASLnotsoR. (Score -1) 208

This has been known in the industry for some time, and has always been considered something of a too-simple solution to a too-complex problem.

The workaround to increase the complexity of stack smashing in this regard is in ASLR/FMA, address space layout randomization with fuzzy memory allocation. Basically, reduce the predictability of memory locations from memory-fill attacks by causing memory allocation (in hardware, transparent to the OS) to return slightly more or less than what is called for. This has some implications for programmers to be sure; for example, for malloc(), if you think you'll need 1000 bytes, you just call for 1500 to make sure you get enough back from the OS to work with.

For this trivial increase in workload, fuzzy memory allocation means that all the same memory allocations that go on in the system will add up to different amounts of memory used at different times, making it improbable at best that guessing offsets will be successful in the future. And we can all agree this is only a good thing when most people are already running with 8GB or more.

Comment One possible interpretation (Score 1) 2

(from their developer documentation)

MEGA supports secure cross-account access to folders. The owner of the folder is solely responsible for managing access; shares are non-transitive. All participants in a shared folder gain cryptographic access through a common share-specific key, which is passed from the owner (theoretically, from anyone participating in the share, but this would create a significant security risk in the event of a compromise of the core infrastructure) to new participants through RSA. All keys of the nodes in a shared folder, including its root node, are encrypted to this share key.

So, you and some friends share a folder you can all upload to. If two of you happen to upload the same content within the folder, MEGA's servers can deduplicate that because the content will be encrypted (client side) with the same key and can be compared. On the other hand, if you each upload the same content into your private space, the two copies would not look the same in encrypted form and couldn't be deduplicated.

However, it is not safe IMHO to trust encryption that's outside your control. But somebody will hack together MEGA's API with client-side encryption, and the pirates won't use it because they won't think it's worth the bother.


Submission + - Valve starts promoting Steam for Linux to Windows users (geek.com)

An anonymous reader writes: team is now being used by thousands of gamers running a Linux OS, and Valve has got to the point where they are happy to start urging Windows users to make the switch.

Proof of that comes from a “Join the Beta” promotion on the homepage of Steam suggesting you try Steam for Linux. There’s even a download link to get Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, which removes yet another barrier to entry.

With Gabe Newell’s clear hatred of Windows 8, this shouldn’t be a surprising move. We aren’t going to see another version of Windows appear for a few years, so in Valve’s eyes pushing Linux to gamers makes a lot of sense.


Submission + - JavaScript Comes to Minecraft (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: JavaScript is the language of the client and it is becoming the language of the server. Now it seems set to be the language of Minecraft. ScriptCraft is a Minecraft mod that can be added to the game to allow the player to use JavaScript commands. Walter Higgins ported the Rhino JVM implementation of JavaScript in a few spare weeks over Xmas. Some additional JavaScript classes allow the construction of blocks making it possible to automate construction. It also provides a "turtle like" drone class that makes it easier to move in 3D. It makes use of a fluent API to create a domain specific language for movement. As its creator says:
"Ultimately I think the ScriptCraft mod could be used to take building in Minecraft to a whole new level. With a full-blown language at the Player's disposal, it should be possible to create not just castles and forts but entire road networks and cities."
Most importantly of all, it not only pushes the boundary of Minecraft it also provides a way to get kids who are already hooked on Minecraft to start learning JavaScript.

Comment Does the guy really qualify as seasoned? (Score 3, Funny) 683

For example, nothing was said about GOTOs being liberally sprinkled throughout the code. If he's working in a non-optimal language that doesn't support GOTO, he should try hacking in the functionality with preprocessor defines. Maybe even hack in a preprocessor if the language designer forgot one, or add another preprocessor if not. With a few stacked preprocessors one can even write his own (better) computer language, and what seasoned programmer doesn't aspire to have one or two of those under his belt?

Comment Use of language (Score 2) 59

Also among the business practices Google has agreed to stop is 'scraping Web content from rivals and allegedly passing it off as its own, said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.'"

So, would there be a problem if Google scraped Web content from rivals and proudly proclaimed it was passing it off as its own?


Submission + - AMD tweaking Radeon drivers to reduce frame latency spikes (techreport.com)

crookedvulture writes: "Slashdot has previously covered The Tech Report's exposure of frame latency issues with recent AMD graphics processors. Both desktop and notebook Radeons exhibit frame latency spikes that interrupt the smoothness of in-game animation but don't show up in the FPS averages typically used to benchmark performance. AMD has been looking into the problem and may have discovered the culprit. The Graphics Core Next architecture underpinning recent Radeons is quite different from previous designs, and AMD has been rewriting the memory management portion of its driver to properly take advantage. This new code improves frame latencies, according to AMD's David Baumann, and the firm has accelerated the process of rolling it into the official Catalyst drivers available to end users. Radeon owners can take some comfort in the fact that a driver update may soon alleviate the frame latency problems associated with AMD's latest GPUs. However, they might also be disappointed that it's taken AMD this long to optimize its drivers for the now year-old GCN architecture."

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