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Comment Re:Had a bicyclist blow through a red-light today (Score 1) 413

So, I saw a *car* run a red light today. Strangely, that does not cause me to question the right of automobile drivers to use the roads.

I agree with most of your other points, although a turn signal isn't really practical. I use hand signals (although most drivers don't seem to understand them, so I signal a right turn with my right hand). I stop at the stop-line, I don't weave between cars, and in general obey all the rules that apply to slower moving vehicles. I do claim a lane when I travel in traffic, although I pull over regularly (when it is safe) to let trailing cars pass. That's not the law, it's just common courtesy.

Comment Maybe not so stupid (Score 1) 254

Security is hard. General-knowledge techies think they're much better at security than their masters, but I have my doubts. Techies don't always understand the value of assets and nature of threats to those assets. And they often overestimate their knowledge of system vulnerabilities. For example many techies think you can turn a computer into a blank slate by erasing the hard drive, but there have been demonstrations of firmware based malware. Just last year a security researcher created a proof-of-concept worm that stores itself in a computer's BIOS and the flash memory of attached devices and PCI cards. It has stealth features that make it virtually undetectable, except by pulling the flash chips and dumping their contents. If you *were* infected by a worm like this, and you wanted to eradicate it, you would *have* to physically destroy any attached device which had its own flash memory, including cameras, optical drives, and possibly even printers . Eradicating all physical traces is probably more than is needed to deactivate the worm, but it's a subtle point.

Another subtle point is that if you are worried about almost non-detectable malware, you have no assurance that the new equipment you are buying to replace the old stuff isn't factory infected. What that probably means is that trying to ensure you have a 100% guaranteed clean slate isn't cost effective for agencies, unless perhaps they are high value targets (e.g. NSA, CIA, some of the DoD). What to do instead isn't obvious. The simplistic model is you start with a clean slate and you prevent bad stuff from being introduced to your systems. That model doesn't work if you can't ensure your stuff is clean from the start, and if malware can enter your systems through channels you'd never imagined (e.g. some kind of innocuous USB device).

Destroying the equipment is almost certainly overkill in this case, but I can see why this particular agency might have chosen to do so. Given their role in advancing American competitiveness, they're probably hypersensitive to issues of industrial espionage and Advanced Persistent Threats (APT). According to the article the agency's CIO thought he was dealing with some sort of Stuxnet-like attack, which in hindsight doesn't seem to be the case.

As usual the /. summary is garbage. The agency spent 2.7 million to respond to the threat, but they didn't spend 2.7 million on hammer wielding contractors.Only $4,300 went to that, or 0.15% of the total expenditure on the event. The bulk of the rest of the money went to obtaining replacement services while their servers were offline, paying security investigators to track down the infection they did have, and developing a long term response to malware.

The physical destruction of the equipment was almost certainly overkill, as was bringing down their mail servers because they were transferrig infected emails. But one thing you have to admit is that the agency's response was swift and decisive.

Comment Re:Bullshit (Score 5, Insightful) 423

Having led development teams with native-born Indian engineers on them, I can confirm that Indian cultural diversity notwithstanding, deference to superiors is a big deal with many people brought up there. That's neither good, nor bad. It's just different. Where problems arise is when people don't recognize that there are differences and fail take those differences into account.

As an American, I don't feel insulted when a subordinate questions my ideas, in fact I rely on them challenging me. What took me awhile to figure out was that my Indian employees wouldn't stand up and contradict me, especially in public. In a American that would be cowardly, but that's because we communicate in what amounts to be a different social language from Indians. I soon learned that you have to manage employees from deferential cultures differently; you've got to spend a lot of personal time together having quiet chats, maybe go out after work for a couple of beers. And you have to recalibrate your trouble sensors when dealing with deferential employees. If you give them something resembling an order, if they do anything short of hopping right to it with open enthusiasm, it's time to have a quiet, tactfully executed one-on-one.

This is not a worse way of doing things, it's just different, and it has its advantages and disadvantages. For me the toughest thing was I had to be careful about thinking out loud -- at least at first -- because my guys took every that came out of my mouth so seriously. At first, I found my Indian subordinates to be frustratingly passive. They found me (no doubt) to be overbearing, insensitive, rash and pig-headed. This was all just miscommunication, because we all were acting and interpreting each others' actions through the lenses of different cultural conventions. In the end, we did what intelligent people of different cultures do when working with each other: we developed a way of doing things that combined what we felt was the best of both cultures.

And that's an important lesson: people aren't culturally programmed automatons. We are capable of thinking and adapting. People in an egalitarian culture are perfectly capable of coming together and working coherently as a team, although the process may look ugly and chaotic to outsiders. People in cultures with deference to elders are perfectly capable of reporting unwelcome news to a superior.

So if a junior pilot didn't communicate an emergency situation to a senior pilot, *then somebody on that team screwed up*. They weren't doomed to crash by cultural programming. There may be nuances of their culture which contributed to the disaster, but that's bound to be true of human error in every culture.

I won't go so far as to say that *all* cultural differences are superficial. But I think many differences are more superficial than a casual outsider might suspect. That outsider might look at something like the reluctance of a subordinate to question a superior's instructions and assume that the subordinate *can't*. That's simply not true. On one level, the shared cultural understanding of the subordinate and the boss provides them with ways of communication that escape the outsider's understanding. But more importantly, people aren't mindless cultural automatons. If his boss is about to stall your plane on the approach to the runway, I don't think a Korean co-pilot is simply going to stand by silently. I suppose it is possible that he might be inclined to wait a few seconds longer than an American co-pilot, but if that endangers the plane then that is a mistake, period. A Korean airline is perfectly capable of training the co-pilots to report problems promptly, just as an American airline can train co-pilots to execute the commander's orders promptly without engaging in an impromptu debate.

Comment Re:At 48, I got an offer from FB, but... (Score 2) 432

Not really discrimination if there are reasons. Old people are in physical and mental decline. Old people also aren't a minority: just like it's OK for a female manager to prefer to hire women, or a black manager to prefer blacks, the young can prefer their own kind. Sorry, time to die.

I've got news for you sonny -- we're *all* in physical and mental decline. If you think you are going to live forever, think again.

But the decline goes at different rates for each of us, it starts from different points, and is offset (in most cases) by gains in maturity, experience, and wisdom. So the bottom line is you can't make any useful generalization whatsoever about the ability of a fifty year-old to do programming vs the ability of a 25 year-old. It depends on all the things that add up to that unique person.

This is what's broken about bigoted thinking. It reduces people to some kind of ill-conceived average for their "group", when it ought to be evaluating them as individuals. Back in the 90s there was a controversial book called "The Bell Curve" which pointed out that there was a racial difference in IQs between blacks and whites, and made a number of (stupid) policy recommendations based on that difference. The inevitable shit-storm followed, in which the validity of IQ tests was questioned (in some cases with good reason), but lost in the shuffle was a simple mathematical fact: even if we assume that IQ tests are a perfect, unbiased measure of mental capability, and accept the racial differences in scores as measuring something real, those aggregate differences give almost no useful guidance in making decisions about *individuals*. That's because under those assumptions, something like 40% of blacks are smarter than 50% of whites. When you're looking for very high scoring individuals, they occur as statistical flukes in both groups.

Where that leaves you is that when intelligence is an important factor in judging a candidate for something, *especially* if you're looking for high scoring individuals, you have to judge individuals on their own merits. Skin color is at best statistically useless as a selection filter, at worst self-defeating.

The analogy holds for age differences. Even if we grant that 25 year-olds are on average more capable programmers than 50 year-olds (which is doubtful), it nonetheless remains that the vast majority of 25 year-old programmers are mediocre. It may be true that mental decay has shifted some fifty year-olds from the high performer category to the mediocre category, but it remains true that high performers are statistical flukes in either group. So gray hair has no value as a filter if you are looking for *good* programmers. They're a fluke in any category.

By the way, about older people being "minorities" -- they are effectively so *for purposes of anti-discrimination laws*. The term of art you are looking for is "protected class". So the good news for all you young, white American males who resent the legal protections minorities get is that all you have to do is survive until you are forty and you'll be protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

Comment Re:Seize wallet or real coints? (Score 1) 198

Out of interest, how to deleted coins get replaced into circulation? If there is a finite supply of BitCoin, and a slow de-circulation due to loss upon deletion, how does that get fixed?

In the real world, the government has statisticians who work out the approximate total loss due to destruction and re-mint coin to replace it. How would that work in the BTC world?

Comment Re:Sure, join us (Score 1) 123

I imagined the scanners checking against a central server that holds the flight info, rather than having their own local copy of the data. But maybe that would be impractical for some reason. I can also see privacy nuts getting angry at being identifiable via a bar code (as the logical conclusion to all of this "improving convenience" malarky is for each person to have a single token that identifies them across all airlines).

On second thoughts, a bar code is far too easy to replicate and have someone else pay extra charges to transport your luggage.. so an electronic tag would probably be best - but one that you didn't have to reprogram yourself each time you fly.

Comment Re:Sure, join us (Score 1) 123

The app itself would (or, should) know the exact details of the next flight.

Though I think it would be better just to have a barcode assigned to each customer which is then attached to their luggage - then they don't have to fiddle around with the tag every time they go on a flight. Recording flight data into the tag itself seems to be a completely redundant stage.

Comment Re:Oh, by the way... (Score 0) 128

Hmm. I was being quite serious though. Most people, especially the ignorant ones you allude to, wouldn't give a shit even if you point out the risks. I used to be quite idealistic too, but I no longer take it upon myself to try to save these people from themselves, unless they are posing a direct risk to my employer.

Comment Re:Oh, by the way... (Score 4, Insightful) 128

You say that as if it's a bad thing. If you are stupid enough to put something highly monetisable into a cloud service without at least encrypting it, you deserve what you get.. otherwise, yeah, who gives a shit?

Anyway, those types of services are for convenient synchronisation and data access - not for backup of essential data (unless you have a machine somewhere that you only activate every so often and synch as a backup).

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