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Comment Re:One for one (Score 4, Informative) 254

PHP is actually a pretty nice language.

No it isn't.

It could have been, if the people who created it had known what the hell they were doing. And it has gotten a lot better in recent years (for example register_globals has actually been removed from the language now), but where they started from was so mind-numbingly stupid that I don't see how they could ever make it actually good, without also breaking it in ways that would make everyone stop using it.

Here's a general rant about how stunningly awful PHP is: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/06/the-php-singularity.html

And here's a specific and detailed side-by-side comparison between PHP and Perl: http://www.tnx.nl/php.html

But you're spot-on about the "meta problem": most people who write in PHP have no idea what they're doing, so most PHP code out there is badly written, so if you're learning the language, there's a very good chance that you're learning from someone who didn't know what they were doing.

Comment Re:Hope twitter has an emergency mode of its own (Score 4, Interesting) 75

I remember on 9/11 all the major news sites were effectively DDoS. I hope they and twitter now have a convenient switch to flip that will, in the case of the news sites, jettison all the garbage ad content and the complex page rendering code in favor of something more textual that would result in 100x page view scaling. For twitter I would imagine dedicating 10% of their infrastructure to purely asynchronous emergency broadcasts would do the trick in such a circumstance.

On 9/11, people were actually communicating with loved ones via Slashdot's comment system, because thanks to the heroic efforts of their admin team, Slashdot was one of the few major sites that managed to keep things running for most of the day (it wasn't entirely smooth, but it mostly worked). Serving a static-HTML version of the home page was one of the tricks they used.

A couple weeks later they posted an article describing what went on behind the scenes that day, but unfortunately I haven't been able to find a link to the article - does anyone else remember this?

Comment Re:Independence of the courts ? (Score 2, Informative) 234

actually, at the time, pretty nearly everyone was doing exactly that and had been doing it for years because they just didn't give a shit that it was a bad idea. after all, "we'll never get hacked".

It sounds like you don't understand what OneClick is. Not only was it not common then, it's not common now. Storing the credit card number is only part of it. Other than Amazon, the only site I'm aware of that does it is Apple's iTunes Store, and Apple licensed the patent from Amazon.

Comment Re:Independence of the courts ? (Score 2, Interesting) 234

OneClick was something new; my recollection is that nobody had done anything quite like it - but not because it was novel or innovative. Nobody had done it before because everybody thought it was a bad idea. Store people's credit card numbers on file, readily accessible later just in case the customer decides to come back and buy something else? Click one button to effect a transaction, with money changing hands and everything? Are consumers really gonna trust you to manage that responsibly?

Amazon's innovation was proving that the answer to that question is yes. That's all. They showed that they could do it without consumers rioting in the streets. If you had asked anyone "skilled in the art" to design a system that could buy stuff online with the click of a button, anyone could have built it. They just probably would have told you it was a bad idea.

Comment Re:Solidarity (Score 1) 706

You think they cannot arrest them all? How naive are you? Of course they can! The US has the highest prison capacity in the world for a reason. (Which incidentally makes it the "least free" country on the planet in a very real sense. Quite an accomplishment.)

No, they can't arrest them all, because we still live in a democracy. If one kid goes to jail nobody cares and the politicians keep doing what they're doing, but when a whole classroom follows along, all of their parents start making noise, and when parents start making that kind of noise, it attracts the attention of the news media, and that attracts the attention of the politicians, and that solves the problem.

Comment Re:Now, for the other angle, is this treason? (Score 1) 367

Those documents were compromised - by the NSA. I understand if you disagree, but I'm willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt here and assume that Snowden didn't share the list with anyone else and The Guardian wasn't going to publish it. That means that in practical terms the British agents aren't actually at risk, and wouldn't have been at risk, although I certainly understand why the British government believes they are, and they legitimately could have been (if the British police can obtain the list from David Miranda, so can anyone else). Still, I believe their intention was to publish a story that this information had been obtained by the NSA, not publish the information itself.

Comment Re:wow (Score 2) 367

Considering that the US has been, in recent years espousing the theory that cyber-attacks should be treated as real acts of war, suitable for real retaliation with real weapons, I would say it's pretty terrifying.

I wonder if it has occurred to anyone that the NSA's actions in other countries could be construed as acts of war....

Comment Re:wow (Score 1) 367

actually that was a DoD initiative in 2007. now there are host-based security system clients on every computer to keep USB mass storage disabled and attempts to use it logged. doesnt help when you boot into a livecd, though.

Apple no longer makes computers that have optical drives. How long do you think it will be before the rest of the industry follows suit?

(Those who need them can of course still connect external optical drives.)

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