Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Because Apple is a Jobs Thought Machine now (Score 1) 88

You obviously never bought Apple products while Jobs was alive. Apple made plenty of mistakes while he was there.

They made plenty of mistakes. I can list a lot of them. But with the possible exception of the lack of copy and paste on the original iPhone and its indented headphone jack, I can't really think of any that were as glaringly obvious to the casual observer as their recent mistakes.

also, Steve would never have removed the headphone jack, because he would have tried Bluetooth for maybe a week

AirPods would have been one of his favorite things, no question.

Maybe, but that's not all people use Bluetooth with. There's also cars, where Bluetooth barely works at all.

Which you can still do because Apple ships an adaptor for a wired connection with every phone. Not that I ever use it because in my car I attach through the USB connection that pretty much every car made in the last 6-7 years has.

My phone is plugged into my new (three weeks old) car through the USB connection. It still needs Bluetooth for audio. It only works without Bluetooth if your car pays Apple $$$ for CarPlay integration. I suspect SJ would be driving a Tesla these days, and... you guessed it. No CarPlay.

ESC key is still there by default, an app has to specifically override the touch bar to remove.

But when it is gone, it is gone. Also, you can't feel when it is gone, because it is a touchscreen, which makes it an accessibility nightmare for the visually disabled. At the very least, it should have been an option (on both models, not just the 13").

You are SERIOUSLY underestimating how long Apple has been working on FaceID and how much Jobs would have loved it. I cannot believe someone on Slashdot is claiming that Steve "no buttons" Jobs would have been against removing the last button and installing a 1000x improvement in biometrics.

How long they have worked on it? What does that have to do with whether it's a good feature or whether SJ would like it? Do you know how long they had been working on the Newton when SJ killed it? I mean someone could polish a turd for thirty years and it would still be a shiny turd. That's entirely the wrong metric. The fact that something is hard or takes a long time does not make it a good idea. If it were, then everyone would have beards down to their waists.

The problems with FaceID are fairly fundamental. First, by default, FaceID requires you to look directly at the phone to unlock it, and it inherently requires you to hold the phone in a spot where it can see your face. That's kind of clumsy in a lot of situations. Second, the lack of a home button is a big turnoff. It is quite challenging to swipe up from the bottom edge of an iPhone in a case (which most iPhones are), making the lack of a hardware home button a serious pain in the backside. It's hard enough trying to get into the control center with my device in a case (which I don't use very often for precisely that reason). I can't imagine having to do that every time I want to hit the home button or unlock the device.

Don't get me wrong, I think FaceID is a great idea in principle, and arguably even in implementation (even though the screen notch is ugly as h***, IMO), but that doesn't make up for the lack of a home button or TouchID. The device would be much, much better if it had both, and given a choice between the two, I would choose TouchID over FaceID every day and twice on Sunday, because it maps onto the way I use my device better. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Wrong, this is EXACTLY how you lead. You go places other people are afraid to tread, you make a few people angry, but you move everyone else forward.

Leading doesn't just mean doing things that other people are afraid to do. It also means making d**n sure you're doing the right thing. All of the things I listed above are situations where they did something that, IMO, is the polar opposite of the right thing. The difference between courage and arrogance is common sense.

Comment Re:I'm not sure it is (Score 1) 441

The impossibility defense becomes practical at some point, as in, "I can't produce the decryption keys, because I have been in jail too long and don't remember them."

Besides, at least at the federal level, there's an 18-month maximum for contempt of court. (Some state laws allow for longer durations.)

Comment Re:Know what else is a public safety issue? (Score 1) 441

The director is not stupid. He is, however, responsible for doing his job, and part of that job is to articulate the argument that encryption makes his job (and the job of his staff) more difficult and to indirectly provide cover when the next attack (and there will always be a next attack) succeeds due to lack of access to some data.

Of course, the thing is, they can have all the data in the world, and there's still no plausible way to sift through it. The flow of information exceeds what can be feasibly checked for terrorist intent by tens of orders of magnitude. It isn't just a little bit impossible. In a hundred years, we won't have computers that could sift through all the data we produce today. Thus, in the real world, breaking crypto can never prevent the next attack. All it can do is tell you more about the people who committed the last one.

That matters because of the difference between theory and practice:

  • In theory, if decrypting someone's data somehow could lead you to people who were going to commit the next attack, then arresting them could break the next attack.
  • In practice, you already know who someone was communicating with even without breaking the crypto on the actual messages, so the act of breaking the crypto can never lead you to the people who were going to commit the next attack.

At best, the only thing breakimg crypto can do is save you from having to investigate all the other people that the person was communicating with who weren't going to commit the next attack. And while that's useful from a cost-cutting point of view, a national security issue it ain't.

Comment Re:I'm not sure it is (Score 2) 441

Even if you assume that they'll do their jobs perfectly, there would still the problem that any back door is essentially guaranteed to eventually be discovered by bad actors and used against the public at large. If the NSA gets their way, we won't be able to do banking online, because it won't be possible to secure the transactions. We won't be able to use credit cards at stores, because it won't be possible to secure the transactions. Basically, imagine a global information apocalypse, and then multiply by 1,000, and you're still not scared enough. Their proposal would be a ticking time bomb that at some arbitrary point in the future would quite literally bring about the end of modern civilization as we know it.

And it would only affect the good guys—the people who have nothing to hide. The bad guys—the people who are actually trying to hide things from law enforcement—would still use unbreakable encryption. After all, the punishment for breaking a crypto law can't practically exceed the punishment they would get if they handed over proof of two decades of drug smuggling, contract murders, etc. Better to go to jail on that minor charge for a year or two than for the rest of your life. So there's absolutely no incentive for the bad guys to follow the law, which means they won't.

This isn't even one of those situations where you can justify it by secondary effects. Folks scream about gun control even though reducing the number of weapons in the hands of the good guys does reduce the number of weapons in the hands of bad guys by reducing the number of weapons out there in the world that can easily be stolen, de-serialed, and sold on the black market. This doesn't even have that advantage, because you don't have to steal crypto software. It costs nothing to make a copy of a piece of software (assuming it isn't commercial software), so the bad guys won't have any trouble getting real crypto even if they take away everyone else's access.

And even if somehow they could magically fix all of those problems with a crypto system based on rainbows and unicorn farts, breaking everyone's crypto still wouldn't buy them much. At best, in the hypothetical situation where someone committed a terrorist attack, they might be able to determine whether the people that person contacted were terrorists or not, instead of having to investigate all of them. So it would save a relatively small amount of investigative effort. And in exchange for that tiny savings by our government, they want us all to give up every shred of privacy—every shred of information security—and send us hurtling headlong towards the end of the world as we know it.

No, what they are proposing is approximately the single most stupid thing ever to come out of any branch of government. This tops the ban on carrying soft drinks through airport security. This tops the ban on pocketknives. This tops the California cities that limit the number of electric vehicle parking places at businesses in the hopes that somehow it will magically reduce road congestion by making people drive their gas guzzlers. It is completely unjustifiable through any logic, no matter how far you try to stretch it—completely and utterly bonkers. Sad.

Their idea is bad, and they should feel bad.

Comment Re: What else can they do (Score 1) 159

The "disinhibition effect" is driven by anonymity. People are "mean" to strangers online. Teenagers spend most of their time socializing with close friends.

No, read that article again. Anonymity is just one of several factors that contributes to the effect, and it occurs even without anonymity. It turns out that actually seeing the look on someone's face when you hurt his/her feelings results in a lot more empathy than a text message sent ten minutes later, and not seeing that person in the flesh until the next day.

Asserting that something is "self-evident" is very different from providing actual evidence. I have seen no evidence of causative harm from teenagers socializing online, rather than say, watching TV.

You aren't paying attention, then. Studies have shown that teenagers today are significantly more narcissistic, on average than twenty or thirty years ago. This may or may not be visible by looking at specific individuals in isolation, but in aggregate, the effect is very real and well documented. And that's precisely the effect that one would expect from a loss of empathy, which is precisely the effect that one would predict from people socializing online too much and in person too little. I mean, this isn't absolute proof, but it is about as close as you can get without a randomly selected control group.

Comment Re: What else can they do (Score 2) 159

There's actually a lot of objective evidence that people are a lot more mean online than they are in person. There's even a name for this difference—the online disinhibition effect. It should be self-evident, then, that doing most of your socializing online will lead to people not being as nice, and in aggregate, will cause significant societal harm.

This is not to say that parents need to micromanage their kids, but there definitely comes a point at which parents do need to actually parent, by telling their kids to put down the phone and actually talk to other people. That said, I'm not sure how Apple could address that—Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc., sure, but not Apple. The problem isn't the hardware, and thus can't realistically be solved by the hardware, I don't think.

Comment Re:You know.... (Score 1) 312

Funny. There was an NVIDIA driver security fix on Linux just a few days ago. So nice FUD, but you really need to be a lot more paranoid. GPU drivers are updated for security vulnerabilities often enough for it to have been the first thing I thought of when I saw this story, which is to say that those updates occur way more often than they reasonably should.

Comment Re:You know.... (Score 1) 312

Defense in depth requires that you address holes at any level, regardless of whether they can be exploited by someone without breaking some other security. When applied to meatspace, you're basically arguing that there's no need to fix a stuck-open bank vault door, because the exterior doors of the bank have locks and alarms.

Comment Re:Because Apple is a Jobs Thought Machine now (Score 1) 88

Now it may not always take to a great depth but the basic fact is that everyone technical working at Apple is looking at product design using very similar criteria to what Jobs would be using. Apple has become a kind of like a large somewhat lossy AI simulating Jobs mind, using employees as the processors.

It obviously doesn't take. If it did, they wouldn't make so many utterly stupid and basic mistakes in their design. For example, the current Apple TV has a USB-C port and comes with a USB (non-C) to lightning cable to charge its remote control. Worse, even if you buy an adapter, the USB-C port on the device still won't provide power for charging the remote control. They literally provide a device that looks like it should be capable of being used standalone, but actually can't be used unless you either have a computer or a cell phone charger to charge up the remote control. (Well, it will work for a few weeks until the remote control's battery runs down. And I guess some TVs have a USB debug port, though not all.)

I mean, that's the sort of obvious, trivial oversight that would have caused Steve to throw the device across the room and say, "Come back when you have a product that people can use."

Also, Steve would never have removed the headphone jack, because he would have tried Bluetooth for maybe a week before throwing the phone at an engineer and saying, "This doesn't f**king work." My iPhone 6s won't reliably connect to either of my cars (different brands, different years). It just randomly fails, often requiring power-cycling both devices to get it going again. It takes one second to plug in a wire. When Bluetooth doesn't work, it takes three to five minutes to get it working again, and because it fails about once per week, on average, it is at least an order of magnitude slower than just using a wired connection. Given the poor reliability, I doubt Bluetooth will be Steve-ready for at least another five to ten years. It just sucks horribly.

And I'm pretty sure Steve would never have shipped the touchbar with an escape key (which is critical for proper keyboard navigation of dialog boxes in OS X, not to mention vi), nor would he have shipped the iPhone X without a fingerprint scanner. As somebody who has used a fingerprint scanner on the back, it works just fine. Their irrational fear of doing what the rest of the industry is doing resulted in a product that is considerably less usable than the previous generation. This is not how you lead.

I could continue ranting for hours like this. It isn't that Apple doesn't produce good products. It's just that the polish is no longer there. They don't spend the extra time to fix all the things that would have caused Steve to tell them that the product isn't ready. Their engineering teams are simultaneously too detail-oriented and not detail-oriented enough, missing the forest for the trees. And the only way to fix that is to bring in somebody with the same sort of eye for what details matter to real users that Steve had—to bring in a gatekeeper and champion of user-friendliness.

Comment Re:Should All Be Gone (Score 1) 208

Every employee always has a smartphone on them. Always.

People do sometimes forget their phones at home, and not everybody has a phone that can access internal resources, so that's not necessarily true. However, every employee does have a badge (or else they couldn't get into their own building). It would not be that hard to have a battery-powered badge reader that, when you tap your badge on it, unlocks a locking hub, and re-locks it when you tap the same badge a second time. That approach has several benefits:

  • It's a lot faster to tap a badge than to get out your smartphone and screw around with it for three minutes while you're trying to grab a bike.
  • If a bike gets stolen and recovered, you know exactly which employee forgot to re-lock the bike, and you can slap that person around a bit (unlike with a fixed code).
  • The cellular hardware required for validating the badge would also give you the ability to track the bike.

Of course, that device would have to get charged every day, but I think they pick up the bikes every night and redistribute them every morning anyway, so charging them up wouldn't be such a big deal. Alternatively, they could have badge readers on the bike racks, and require you to return the bikes to those racks. That would have all the same advantages without the need to charge the bikes, and would also have the advantage of guaranteeing that you can find the bikes in a consistent spot, rather than them being in any of a dozen different places around any given building. Of course, it would be a big disadvantage if any of those racks ever became full. :-)

Comment Re:You know.... (Score 3, Interesting) 312

Which probably contains security holes that make it unfit for use in a data center. Sticking with an old version of GPU drivers is simply not a viable option, and anybody even suggesting otherwise should be stripped naked and dragged through the streets behind a Brinks truck on national television for all to see. It is the computer security equivalent of saying, "It doesn't matter if the fuel tank in that Ford Pinto is so thin and right in front of the rear bumper."

If this is legal (I'm pretty sure it isn't), then it's way past time for some serious changes to copyright law and contract law. No sane society can afford to allow a company to make arbitrary changes the license agreement on critical device drivers that are required for hardware to function properly and that must be kept up-to-date to keep a system secure. After all, if they can change these terms of sale retroactively, what's to stop them from deciding three years from now that the Tesla V100 drivers are no longer licensed for data center use, and you're required to upgrade to the Tesla V600 if you want to keep using it in a data center? One year from now? Six months?

Even if NVIDIA manages to find a way to avoid losing every lawsuit that arises from this suicidally stupid decision, I have to wonder why in h*** any data center purchaser in his/her right should mind even CONSIDER NVIDIA hardware in the future, knowing that NVIDIA might arbitrarily change their licensing terms in a way that forces them to sell all their hardware at a loss and replace it at any time?

This really should bankrupt NVIDIA in a just world. It's that heinous. And IMO, someone should be fired for even suggesting such an appalling change to their hardware licensing retroactively.

Comment Re:More proof we need more laws... (Score 4, Insightful) 315

This guy repeatedly, intentionally, with malice aforethought, put people's lives in danger. He may not have pulled the trigger, but IMO, he should still be found guilty of felony murder (in the first degree) and tried accordingly. Watching him get a lethal injection sentence *might* be enough to deter others who still think it's fun....

Comment Re:erase before entry (Score 3, Insightful) 71

Yeah, this is what I don't get. Anyone who would actually have something to hide would not carry it unencrypted across the border, because they would know that the border security people might decide to search it. So apart from catching the most incredibly stupid criminals (who would probably get caught for other reasons even without this search), the only thing this rather bizarre policy will do is cause Americans to become lackadaisical about our fourth amendment rights. Then again, maybe that's the point.

Slashdot Top Deals

A freelance is one who gets paid by the word -- per piece or perhaps. -- Robert Benchley