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Comment What a Phenomenally Stupid Question (Score 5, Insightful) 107

Let me get this straight: You've been acquiring personal computers, integrating them into your businesses, and installing on them software products so monumentally shitty that it beggars the imagination that anyone with even the slightest sense of pride would admit to writing them. What's more, you were told by people who actually know what the fsck they're talking about that the products were shitty, both at a superficial and fundamental level -- and you systematically ignored them, and kept throwing bad money after worse money, all the while complaining when your systems crashed, your data was corrupted, and your networks infiltrated...

And you've been doing this for at least the last 30 years...

And NOW you suddenly claim to give a shit about platform integrity?

And I suppose the complete absence of any mention of WinCE or Windows Mobile in the article is sheerest coincidence.

What selective, partisan crap.

Comment Re:Uh, not really (Score 4, Insightful) 335

Every reason people used to give in favor of Firefox now applies to Chrome, times ten.

Incorrect. Chrome can't run NoScript.

And before you say, "Chrome lets you control JavaScript execution, blah blah blah," yes it does at a very coarse level. NoScript is much more fine-grained, and provides substitute scripts for sites that "need" to run crap from google-analytics et al.

It looks like this functionality may bring NoScript that much closer to Chrome.


Comment MS Tool Suites Have Always Sucked (Score 5, Insightful) 775

Below is a copy of a rant I posted to LJ a while back. In short, Microsoft does not, in any meaningful sense, make it easy to get started hacking on their systems.


Those of you who know me in even the most casual way may be shocked to hear me say: I want to do some programming in Windows.

One would think that one would simply go out and download a compiler and an SDK (a bit fat wad of compiler headers, link libraries, and documentation) -- or perhaps buy a CD-ROM containing same -- and you'd be completely set to develop any kind of Windows application.

You'd be wrong.

What's available is a hopelessly confusing mashup of tools to develop native applications, VisualBASIC applications, .NET virtual machine applications, Web applications (for IIS only, natch), database-driven applications and, if you're very nice and pay lots of money, Microsoft Office plugins. And, just to make it hard, all these tools are hidden underneath a cutesy Integrated Development Environment which passively-aggressively makes it as cumbersome as possible to figure out what's actually going on under the hood -- you know, the sorts of things a professional programmer would want to know.

Okay, fine, just give me the tools and docs to develop native C/C++ apps. "Oh, no no no," says Microsoft, twirling its moustache, "You have to pick one of our product packages." Packages? "Oh, yes, there's Visual Studio Express, Visual Studio Standard, Visual Studio Professional, Visual Studio Team System, and Visual Studio Grand Marquess with Truffles and Cherries."

After looking at the six-dimensional bullet chart of features, I think that Visual Studio Express may get the job done, since it comes with a C/C++ compiler and will compile native apps. "Quite so," says Microsoft whilst placing a postage stamp on a foreclosure notice, "provided you're only writing console apps -- you know, programs that run in a command window. If you want to develop full Windows GUI apps, then you'll need additional libraries which aren't necessarily included with Visual Studio Express."

Ah, so VS Express will only let me develop "toy" applications and, if I want to do anything more advanced, I should download and install the complete Windows SDK which, amazingly, is free. "Well, you could do that," says Microsoft after tying Nell to the sawmill. "But the SDK doesn't really integrate very well with the IDE. And there's still some link libraries which only ship with Visual Studio Standard or better."

Fine. I'll look at buying Visual Studio Standard. And then maybe I can get to improving this device driver. "Device driver!?" says Microsoft, blotting the blood spatters off its hat. "Heavens, no, that's not included with anything. You need to download and install the Driver Development Kit for that. And you may or may not need the DDK for each version of Windows you intend to support. Not to worry, however; they're all free downloads..."

*fume* And people wonder why I've avoided this clusterfuck for the last 25 years. Ever since the Visual Studio 6 days, I've been smacked in the face with this braindamage every time I've tried doing the slightest exploration of Windows development.

So: Can anyone with modest Windows development experience tell me what Visual Studio flavor to get and which addons to download if I want to:

  • Write native Windows applications and device drivers in C/C++,
  • Debug said applications and device drivers,
  • Not give a damn about "wizards" trying to write my code for me,
  • Not give a damn about database, Web, VisualBASIC, or .NET development.

Comment Re:Not entirely FB's fault (Score 1) 205

That's fine as far as it goes, but it fails to consider that Facebook "apps" are the undisclosed third party in the room, who can abscond with anything and everything on your profile.

You may wisely choose to never be friends with "SociopathicStalker53" and thereby keep your information away from them. But if they write a cutesy "quiz" that one of your friends decides to run, despite your precautions you're fscked anyway.

And this state of affairs is entirely Facebook's fault, because it's baked in to the underlying design.



Submission + - Facebook App Exposes Abject Insecurity ( 1

ewhac writes: "Back in June, the American Civil Liberties Union published an article describing Facebook's complete lack of meaningful security on your and your friends' information. The article went virtually unnoticed. Now, a developer has written a Facebook "Quiz" based on the original article that graphically illustrates all the information a Facebook app can get its grubby little hands on by recursively sweeping through your friends list, pulling all their info and posts, and showing it to you. What's more, apps can get at your information even if you never run the app yourself. Facebook apps run with the access privileges of the user running it, so anything your friend can see, the app they're running can see, too. It is unclear whether the developer of the Facebook app did so "officially" for the ACLU."

Comment And If It *Had* Been a Rave...? (Score 2, Insightful) 628

Honestly, what's the justification for this nonsense? Are the local constabularies that bored? And what the hell was with the SWAT-like response? Do they seriously think Osama bin Laden is going to turn up and spin techno for three hours?

Did the owner of the field give informed consent for the gathering? If so, then the police had no business being there. Apologies are almost certainly in order.


Comment Being Brilliant Does Not Prevent Being Wrong (Score 1) 390

Plato was unquestionably brilliant, but even he thought the sun revolved around the earth. It took Copernicus's work to break out of that error -- and oh by the way all the math suddenly got a hell of a lot simpler.

So Lessig and Obama both have words of effusive praise for the man, and that's all very well, but to this armchair observer, Posner's suggestion is silly on its face for two reasons. First: As I'm sure Posner well knows, all works are copyrighted upon the instant of their creation. Every news article, every photo, every blog post, every tweet (twit?) -- all enjoy the full majesty of the copyright regime. Does that mean that everyone who hopes to publish anything needs to first become conversant in copyright law and the current state of the art in copyright litigation? Am I expected to append to every post, including this one, a hyperlink to a EULA? Absurd.

Even so, Posner's suggestion might have some arguable merit if it weren't for the other fact he appears to have skipped over -- copyrights today last effectively forever. Once you obtain a copyright on Happy Fun Ball, it's yours until well past the day you die. Copyrights throw up obstacles to creative expression. These obstacles are there to afford the artisan some isolation and breathing room to exploit their work exclusively before anyone else can horn in on it. But if copyright terms were more reasonable -- say, 28 years, as they were in the past -- then those obstacles would fall away over time and new creative forces could flow in and find and develop new ideas in the old material. But with eternal copyrights, this never happens. The obtacles that protect the creative artisan also hem him in and prevent him from moving anywhere else. You get gridlock, and once that happens the equation then devolves into who has the most money to fend off litigation when they decide to just go ahead and do what they want, anyway (*cough*Disney*cough*).

I'm not prepared to dismiss Posner entirely, however. I think he may be making the same error that Lawrence Lessig appears to have made (and recently appears to have realized), which is to argue from within the framework of the existing copyright regime ("the sun revolves around the earth"). It's fairly well established at this point that the existing regime doesn't work all that well, and cannot work well unless you want to completely sacrifice the freedom and autonomy people enjoy over their own computers. We need a Copernicus to come in and show us a new way of looking at things. I have a few meager ideas along these lines, which could benefit from spirited debate with the likes of Lessig and Posner, but I'm just a part-time armchair troll on Slashdot, and clearly beneath anyone's notice.


Comment Trust in Editorial Decisions Must Be Rebuilt (Score 4, Insightful) 176

Unless and until the reporters and editors of the Chicago Tribune are prepared to denounce the "reporting" of flagrantly biased "news" organizations, unless they are prepared to say, "We are not like them. We are better than them, and here's how we're going to continue to be better than them..." Then I'm afraid they're going to have to accept the necessity of someone looking over their shoulder, checking their work.

This "review" process is already taking place -- it's why subscriptions are falling off a cliff. The product is crap, the readers know it's crap, which is why they're not buying it. Solution: Stop printing crap.

Clearly, their feedback mechanism has gotten seriously out of tune. I think also that they recognize this, and that the idea of allowing direct reader feedback on stories in the queue was born out of some desperation to correct their editorial priorities.

Here's a hint: Try to keep ideology at bay, and follow the facts wherever they take you. Yes, it's often uncomfortable. I imagine Woodward and Bernstein had many sleepless nights. Yet we are the better for their work. Emulate that. Oh, and spike any "story" about Paris Hilton.


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