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Comment Auto companies, patents, etc (Score 4, Interesting) 50

Florian Mueller predicts the (German) auto companies will become patent trolls, as the tech industry takes over autonomous car design:

Are we going to see a convergence, where tech companies and auto companies team up, or a divergence, where tech companies produce the new vehicles and legacy car companies shrink into irrelevance?

The only thing I can predict with great confidence is that the cost for a replacement CPU board for a Tesla will be A Lot More than the cost of the constituent parts. (Nissan charged me $1500 for a truck wiring harness after mice chewed the insulation. It's really hard to believe that almost 6% of the cost of that truck was in the wiring harness.)

Comment Net Neutrality and the 1st Amendment (Score 1) 456

If you believe in Net Neutrality, should this also include 1st Amendment protections for content that is legal but offensive?

I'm not sure if we want to add ISPs to the (relatively small) list of entities where the First Amendment is explicitly applied. On the other hand, I'm afraid of the consequences if internet companies have unlimited rights (subject to other existing laws) to decide what content is and is not made available on the internet.

(Do Telephone Companies have to right to refuse telephone service, and utilities the right to refuse power, water, etc? I don't know!)

Comment Re:Microsoft updates / apple updates - No proxy ca (Score 1) 386

The presumption would be that you have an existing Mac to run it on. For a large operation, the cost of buying hardware for this function is 'in the noise.' For a smaller operation that already has an investment in Macs, taking an older Mac, adding an external hard drive (if necessary) and running OS X Server on it for Software Updates is a wise use of existing resources.

As far as lights-out, Server comes with a remote manager that you can run on other machines (although you might have to pay $20 to get it on the machine you want to use to manage the otherwise headless server installations.) So that's not an issue. That being said, Minis do have some annoying issues rebooting when they're "headless". My Mini systems running Server get rebooted only when there's a Mac OS X update, that happens maybe 4 times/year. So screwing with the monitor and keyboard when rebooting the Mini is an acceptable cost for me.

I've been running OS X Server on low-end Minis since "Tiger", for at least 10 years, for file server, web server, internal DNS, LDAP, VPN for my small/home office. Earlier versions of Server were -expensive- (retail $1k!) and hard to configure. Over the years it's become a lot easier to configure (once you get DNS set up exactly right) and of course you can't complain about 2 orders of magnitude price decrease, particularly for what you get.

Now if you have the skill and the patience and the significant user base to justify a pure web-cache solution, go for it! But it's not quite clear to me that solution will understand some nuances on whether the currently cached software update (Mac OS or iOS) will work for all devices on your network.

Comment Many digital ads piss me off (Score 2) 204

and generate -negative- brand response. That's particularly true of in-line ads, and most of all of Facebook ads that are mixed in (deliberately camouflaged) with user-generated content.

And that's before taking user data mining into consideration, both sucking up my data, and then using it (most often to show me ads for something I've already purchased.)

Submission + - Stolen laptops lead to potential BitCoin scam

david.emery writes: Washington Post has a story where a laptop stolen from his girlfriend leads police to discover the thief is also involved in a MalWare BitCoin scam. But the story also quotes investigators as wondering why someone with several $M of BitCoins has to steal laptops and pawn inexpensive jewelry.

Comment Re:Ada (Score 2) 505

There's a lot of good stuff here: and here:

And It's "Ada" not "ADA". The language name is not an acronym. Rather it's named after Ada Countess Lovelace, see The choice of the name was deliberate, Ada Lovelace is commonly cited as the first computer programmer (for Babbage's Analytical Engine). And that name long pre-dates the current initiatives for "women in computing." (There were a fair number of women involved with the Ada program, such as the late Jean Sammet, quite unusual in the late 1970s/early 1980s during the initial development of the requirements and then language itself.)

Comment Re:Ada (Score 1) 505

Only partially... Image processing routines have been subject to buffer overrun attacks. Buffer overrun attacks occur when array bounds aren't checked. The core question is the efficiency of such checks (versus the security they provide.)

If the compiler has type information on the index, then in many cases it can (easily) prove that a range check is not required.


      type index_t is range 1..10:
      type image_element_array is array (index_t) of image_elements;

Now any object declared of type index_t does not require a range check when used as index for an object of type image_element_array. Under some circumstances, -creating a value of type index_t- does require that check (e.g."my_index := my_index + 1;" will require a range check on the assignment. If you try to assign "11" to my_index, either directly or because the previous value of my_index was 10 and you tried to add 1 to it, you'll raise Constraint_Error exception at that statement. And this is where Ada started out superior to Pascal, because you never really knew what would happen in Pascal if you violated a range constraint.)

But the 'right way' to iterate over an array, one that is perfectly type safe, is
        my_image : image_element_array;
-- somehow my_image gets loaded
        for an_index in my_image'range loop ...
-- all values of an_index are within the range of values for my_image; compiler does not need to generate any range checks for my_image (an_index) !!

Comment Re:Ada (Score 3, Insightful) 505

The particular interesting thing about -avionics- is the cost of development is dwarfed by the cost of verification. I remember a presentation by Boeing Commercial Aircraft on the 777. They said, "We've done DO-178b Level A in a bunch of languages. For most languages, the cost to develop and the cost to verify is pretty much the same. For Ada [Ada83 - this was in the 90s], the cost to develop in Ada was 25% more than other languages. But the cost to -verify- that Ada was about 1/4 the cost of any other language. DO-178b Verification costs up to 10x development," He wouldn't say just how much that cost for 777, but he strongly implied it was multiple billions of dollars.

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