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Australia

Submission + - Australia creates cyberwarfare unit (securecomputing.net.au)

An anonymous reader writes: Australia's Federal Government computer emergency response team and other spy agencies are teaming up to create a cyberspooks unit to counter threats from other countries, the nation's chief lawmaker said last night. In a speech referencing Stuxnet and GhostNet, Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the unit would protect sensitive Australian Government and business information from espionage by the nation's foes. Recently new powers were handed spymasters to deal with the enhanced security threat that the Greens party said were "excessive".

Comment Re:Technically... (Score 1) 1277

What "smaller countries" vote on everything? Or in other words, what countries other than just Switzerland practice direct democracy regularly and systematically at the national level? I think there are none. The USA with its state-level ballot measures / ballot questions is probably the closest thing so far - at least until the EU possibly gets an practicable implementation of initiatives and referendums.

Anyways now to correct the other bit: The notion of direct democracy in Switzerland means that people can collect a percentage of the population's signatures -it is specified in absolute numbers, but saying it like this makes the point more obvious- to "forcibly" initiate a public vote on new laws, or (more easily) stop new laws passed by the government.
As you might guess, the "collect signatures" part very much limits the number of issues that actually will be voted on, and they only get voted on on the national level if it in fact is a nation-wide law that needs to be passed or undone- so no hindrance in practicing the same in the USA, really. They often are simply taken on consequential issues parliament has either not wanted to decide yet, or that parliament has decided wrongly or insufficiently. An example of what one issue that probably would not have dragged on for so long with the right to initiate a vote in the USA: Recompensating any 9/11 first responders for illnesses they may have contracted.

Apart from all that, specific kinds of laws, like changes in the constitution or specific areas of the law may also just simply require a public vote. Even parliament itself can initiate a public vote so they don't have to decide an issue... but you already know that from your own legal practice, except it never happens on the national level, as far as I can tell.

Comment Re:Modern drives are *too* reliable?? (Score 1) 237

You forgot the amount of data that mankind wants to keep grows and no end is in sight, even if you consolidated data in a "cloud" with de-duplication and only a few copies for redundancy it would grow. One example everyone knows is how cameras and their produced files got larger and larger resolutions recently, that trend probably won't stop...

So, the need for data storage will keep growing and that data storage better be reasonably long-lived if you want to stay in business, because that is a primary feature for these devices for just about your entire customer base. Short-lived devices will degrade your reputation as a vendor rapidly and for a long time...

Comment Re:Libraries are in trouble (Score 1) 181

Well yes, they are a bit of a unnecessary luxury by now. We want information to be on the internet or our hard disk drives, in proper form for reading on many screen form factors and many OS's supported readers, printable and storable. If libraries could offer that, they could stay as very relevant as Wikipedia is.

Of course, the modern information access that is being demanded directly contradicts the business model of most copyright holders. Now the question is, which of these two is unsustainable... and I'll say it's the old copyright model, both because of the very excessive duration of protection (which by now ensures it never ever will benefit the living people who protect the copyright in the first place), as well as the very fact that it does not practically work in our society without various very ugly forms of restrictions in our own homes and on the internet to support it.

It is not the internet and free services that need fixing, but the laws regarding intellectual property.

Comment Re:Great book (Score 1) 583

You're being extremely generous. With the time it takes to publish something these days, 10 years total including renewal is more than enough motivation.

In fact, that may still be too generous. Even people who do their marketing themselves, inefficiently, for a rather niche audience, ought to recoup their money by that time if they wrote anything worth reading at all.

Comment Re:Excellent. (Score 1) 680

Yes! Yes, I can! Computer science and/or IT subjects are at least as badly off as maths. These, too, are usually taught as "training" not "education" by the definition of the original article. But usually they stop teaching you at the equivalent to addition in maths - most just teach people how to click buttons in MS Office.

Comment Re:How is this different than other production job (Score 1) 735

An educated programmer (or other engineer) knows a lot both about technical feasibility and about customer wishes. An educated programmer will also often contradict the illusions of feasibility and usefulness that computer-uneducated marketing and management have. As information scientists & analysts, they even may have better education in parts of a management job than the mangers themselves.

So, that should by all means result in much more influence on the company than a graphical artist. Essentially, they often should be sitting on the same table and always on eye-level with even top-level management, because they are the only ones that really have a means to estimate feasibility and time/resource consumption on what's usually by far the most complex part of work in a product (and hence the largest risk), PLUS knowledge about customer wishes that management and marketing often does not have, PLUS an useful elevated ability to work with information in general which that enables them to -say- work out if a complex project schedule is realistic or not in a systematic fashion, PLUS they are amongst the hardest to replace if they leave a company.

Programmers don't obsolete management skills or marketing skills. But they are not used well at all -and your company will feel that just as badly as having a bad CEO- if they are only seen as the people who execute tasks as much as possible to the specifications by management or marketing, like graphic artists.

Comment Re:As a programmer (Score 1) 735

So what if you need a good idea, too? You still cannot get away with a good idea that is poorly implemented by engineers and scientists - it will also go exactly nowhere if there's any competition at all. Which there will be, unless you live in the US and can just patent the entire industry sector, that is. But we already knew that in the US, lawyers win.

Everywhere else where you don't work with a given monopoly, the mere fact of realizing non-trivial software is well over the head of badly trained programmers, and you will either never complete the software/product, or have a cripped product with drastically reduced specifications that comes at fourteen times over budget and ten times too late, is buggy, and will require massive efforts to adapt once you need it to work on a different computer / with some added functionality. Your potential customers will run for the competition or omit the use of any thing like this entirely, and that's the end of the story.

And ultimately, between having a good idea that is (in some way) feasible, and implementing it sufficiently well, the problem lies far more with the latter. That's the reason why -for instance- we don't have robots do all the manual labour for us yet, even in industry sectors where superficially similar production processes are already done by robots. We all already know that would be really nice and magnitudes of orders more efficient than any manual labour, but getting there is a slow and requires skilled workers that are not plentiful either on the software or on the hardware side of these engineering projects.

Comment Would be great, if side view were included (Score 1) 754

They should just make an unified display for the side & rear view, mounted very easily viewable near the forward view - presumably with three cameras, one mounted at the back of the car, two on the side. Merge the picture, put it on a display. A single look would then suffice to get a ~270 degree view - a nice panorama picture.

That would sure help to prevent at least a lot of those non-lethal accidents where people bump into another due to not perfectly checking all views, driving on objects backwards that are low'ish on the ground or missing the timing between checking the rear and side view or whatever...

Comment Re:Make China look good? (Score 2) 488

Nah. You forget that the EU and Japan and Australia and many more are also still in this boat, and they will not at all dismantle democracy because China exists or grows. And the US not being so influential anymore does not have to be a bad thing - it will just mean a different mix of EU-US-Japanese-Australian etc influence. Not a full change in direction.

Of course, even in a democracy, it is always a problem maintaining freedoms. I think the decline in number of people who likes objectivity and the scientific method and reason as a thing to strive for in life (and politics) worrisome in that regard, and a failure in western education. And it has strong effects on how our governments act and communicate, too. But that's not China's fault at all.

Not that China doesn't have highly questionable politics and distribution of wealth. But you also ought to see that the growth China has right now is the only chance for 1.3 billion Chinese to no longer live in abject poverty. It is not really something to dislike per se.
Idle

Submission + - Pastor: Married Church Leaders Must Drop Facebook (nj.com) 2

WrongSizeGlass writes: Rev. Cedric Miller is ordering about 50 married church officials to delete their Facebook accounts or resign from their leadership positions. Miller said 20 couples from his Living Word Christian Fellowship Church have recently run into marital trouble after a spouse connected with an ex-flame via the social networking site. On Sunday, he plans to "strongly suggest" that all married people to stop using Facebook, lest they endanger their marriage.

Is Facebook now one of the Deadly Sins? Is it the latest excuse for infidelity or just the latest scapegoat?

Comment Re:Freeform linguistics no good unless perfect (Score 1) 84

I don't think there's a terrible problem with Wolfram Alpha in this regard. It's pretty good at guessing what you meant.

And more importantly, even if it gets your query wrong, you can write the precise one based on the (usually at least partially correct) query it generated from natural language. This is very often more efficient than doing help/google queries for appropriate commands and their syntax...

Comment Re:The fairest penalty is no penalty (Score 2, Insightful) 728

About all games on Windows already could be pirated, practically speaking - but fans WANT to fund their favourite artists, plain and simple.

And this is not mainly because of the laws, its just human nature. See, Switzerland for instance already allows anyone to record or otherwise obtain and possess and enjoy any music for free, as long as it is for private use (yourself, family, close friends).
Okay, it's not entirely free since there's also some legal arrangement with fixed fees that apply to empty media that partly reimburses artists. But that's besides the actual point I want to make: The important but is that people still actively buy music in Switzerland. They also pay street artists despite not being forced to.

Comment Re:No big loss (Score 1) 304

Setup times are far less time-consuming than Linux.

Eh? The Enterprise Linux distros (which you can also buy pre-installed on hardware if you want) do far more work for you in most cases. Even just on a single setup, but much, much more if you have more than just one server.

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