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Comment Re:STV (Score 5, Informative) 154

The Irish STV implementation also has to redistribute so called "surplus" votes.

Since it features multiple candidate constituencies the amount of votes required to get elected is not a simple majority but a quota defined by the Droop formula (Total number of valid ballots/(Total number of candidates +1))+1. Ballots for candidates who exceed the quota have a surplus and that surplus gets redistributed according to the next preference on the ballot. The exact mechanism for choosing the actual votes that comprise the surplus amount is random and those randomly selected votes are then transferred as full votes to the next preference candidate. So when a candidate has 10000 votes with a quota of 8500, 1500 ballots are chosen at random and the preferences in those ballots are used to transfer them to the remaining candidates in play. For situations where a candidate gets a surplus on a second count (ie including transferred preferences from an eliminated candidate or from surplus votes from an earlier elected candidate) only the ballots transferred at the last stage are used when selecting the surplus votes to be transferred.

These shortcuts were introduced to speed up manual paper counts but they meant that the task of comparing an electronic count to a paper Voter Verified Audit Trail (VVAT) presents an interesting problem. In order to be able to fully and accurately validate the electronic count the VVAT records would have to be able to be tied exactly to the sequence of the electronic votes (so that each electronic record could be tied to each paper record and the random selections for surplus redistributions could be matched up). One solution to this would be to remove the shortcuts for electronic voting but that would have meant moving to e-Voting entirely as they could not use two different counting methods in different constituencies. So they had to implement an e-Voting STV counting mechanism that followed the same rules as a paper count would. Not hard to do but this then led to a further issue for those of us arguing for a voter verified audit trail for any e-voting system.

One of the Irish Government's least silly arguments against any VVAT for e-Voting was that such a capability might be compromised and could result in someone figuring out exactly how (some) individual voters had voted. Since the Irish constitution explicitly specifies that parliamentary voting must be secret this was something they were very much afraid of - it's notable that since the constitution does not explicitly require counting votes to be accurate (it only implies this) they were less concerned about that. Anyway that's how it seemed to me when I met them about the issue - they didn't say it as bluntly as that but they were terrified about the potential secrecy problems but only worried about the potential for "small" errors.

The real problems with the Irish e-Voting debacle had very little to do with the complexities of an STV count - they were the same as they were\are in most other counties though. The machines in question were provided by private companies, closed and not adequately tested by properly independent security professionals, the vote tabulation software was also closed, similarly unavailable for inspection by independent specialists and most worryingly it was never available any significant period of time ahead of any given election as it had to be rewritten for each count. The lack of a voter verified paper audit capability (which could have been implemented safely despite the concerns described above) meant that the systems could be attacked\compromised\fail in ways that could materially affect an election without being detected. In the end though few of those problems led to the current Government's decision to abandon the problem, they finally got fed up with the political and financial costs associated with fighting to keep the project alive and they gave up. I'm pretty sure that many of the Government Ministers and civil servants involved still think that the Nedap\Powervote e-Voting system was perfectly fine.

Submission + - How did RIM's Blackberry get FCC clearance?

Gogogoch writes: I'm sure there is an expert reading Slashdot who can tell us how RIM got their Blackberry approved by the EMC regulators, such as the FCC. I'm thinking of the "does not interfere with other equipment" requirement. My experience is that a Blackberry manages to interfere with most forms of telephone, speakerphone, or audio amnplifier producing those annoying clicks and noises something like a 56K modem, but different. Please, how did they get away with it?
User Journal

Journal Journal: Centralized Systems = Large Problems

Annalee Newitz questions whether it's a good idea to store your life on someone else's servers: Data crash of 2027: "... this situation is worse than potentially being data-raped by some feds trolling for terrorists. When we store all our personal, financial, and social information on other people's computers, we risk losing everything for reasons even s


iTunes Staffers Becomes Music's New Gatekeepers 79

WSJdpatton writes to mention The Wall Street Journal has a look at how Apple is shaking up the world of music retailing. "Apple -- now one of the largest sellers of music in the U.S. -- offers home-page placement in exchange for things such as exclusive access to new songs, special discount pricing or additional material such as interviews with stars. Most other big retailers, digital and physical, also seek exclusive offerings, but Apple is especially aggressive and has outsize clout when it comes to the slightly out-of-mainstream music it often emphasizes."

Submission + - Orkut: You email address can be hacked easily

vikrantsharma1 writes: "Orkut has been in the midst of privacy and security concerns since its launch. There have been many ways through which you can get to know the email address of any person on Orkut even when it is not displayed in the public profile. Although, Google keeps on fixing bugs as and when they are highlighted; however, there seems to be a long way before they can make Orkut a secure social network.

One of the method to know the email address which I came across has been listed below which you can try yourself.

1. Open the profile of the person whose email address you wish to know. It can be anyone in the Orkut network.
2. Click on "Ignore User"
3. Open GTalk and sign in with your ID
4. Click on Settings and select "Blocked"
5. You will find the email address of the person whom you blocked on Orkut.

You can see the sceenshots of the same at email-address-can-be-hacked.html"

Submission + - International Public Toilets Database

William S. writes: "Press Release: 10 March 2007

A publicly accessible database has been set up at . You can search for public toilets in 19 countries and find out information that includes the address and detailed information about the facility as well as geographic coordinates. A user can submit comments and enter new locations. There is a wiki, forum and mailing list linked from the main page of the database with information related to public toilets. It is hoped that public exposure to this resource will add to it's content and help expand coverage.

For more information contact:

or go to:"

Submission + - BBC reports Skynet going live

rowleyrw writes: The BBC are reporting "The British military is set to take one of its most significant steps into the digital age with the launch of the first Skynet 5 satellite. The spacecraft will deliver secure, high-bandwidth communications for UK and "friendly" forces across the globe." It's not yet the Skynet of Terminator, but how long before it becomes self aware :-)

Submission + - Features the Wii Opera Browser is Screaming for

frenchy64 writes: "With the next release of the Wii Opera Browser just around the corner, there is just so much potential to fulfil it's overwhelming. Okay, we know it needs Tabs, updated Flash and all that jazz, but what else could be included? The Wii Gamers have an editorial suggesting features such as DS Connectivity for an easy wireless Keyboard, Wiimote Gestures, and Browse-While-Playing capabilities (to name a few)!"
United States

Submission + - FBI abused Patriot act powers

devnulljapan writes: Well, we all knew this, but here's the scoop from the Guardian and the BBC and CNN even Faux News is covering it, albeit with a spin that it's all Robert Mueller's fault:
The FBI abused its powers under the PATRIOT act to obtain information about US citizens, according to a justice department report published yesterday. The Justice department's inspector-general, Glenn Fine, said the FBI had been illegally using its powers in some cases, was under-reporting the frequency with which it forced firms to hand over customer information, and obtained phone records other than for emergencies.
Why is this not front page news in the US? If only the acronym was ANNA-NICOLE-SMITH...

Why Is "Design by Contract" Not More Popular? 178

Coryoth writes "Design by Contract, writing pre- and post-conditions on functions, seemed like straightforward common sense to me. Such conditions, in the form of executable code, not only provide more exacting API documentation, but also provide a test harness. Having easy to write unit tests, that are automatically integrated into the inheritance hierarchy in OO languages, 'just made sense'. However, despite being available (to varying degrees of completeness) for many languages other than Eiffel, including Java, C++, Perl, Python, Ruby, Ada, and even Haskell and Ocaml, the concept has never gained significant traction, particularly in comparison to unit testing frameworks (which DbC complements nicely), and hype like 'Extreme Programming'. So why did Design by Contract fail to take off?"
Linux Business

Samba Success in the Enterprise? 149

gunnk asks: "We've deployed a Samba server here to replace some aging Novell Netware boxes. It works great: fast, secure, stable. However, we have one VIP that feels that Samba is 'amateur' software and that we should be buying Windows servers. I've been searching with little success for large Samba deployments in Enterprise environments. Anyone out there care to share stories of places that are happily running large Samba installations for their file servers? Or not so happy, for that matter — better to be informed!"

Submission + - Where are the science shortages?

An anonymous reader writes: With Bill Gates talking about the shortages in people to fill positions in science and technology, I was wondering where the shortages really are in science? Are there really any science positions out there in high demand? It seems like a lot of the visa worker issues revolve around IT, but is there an impact in science or engineering?

Submission + - Computer job without IT or CS degree?

An anonymous reader writes: What's the best way to get a job in IT or programming without an IT or CS degree? I have a science degree with very light ancillary experience doing some basic IT support and programming. From an employer's perspective what's the best way to substitute for a lack of a IT/CS degree or real job experience — non-degree community college courses, extra CS college courses, certificates, or what? Do any of the MS software development certificates carry any weight at all or even help you get a foot in the door?

How does one even go about finding an entry level job? All the job ads seem to be for experienced people.
Wireless Networking

Submission + - Adding Wireless to an Existing Network

illeism writes: Hey /. — I know some of you out there are using wireless for your businesses. Well, I've been tasked with adding wireless access to our existing network. My question to you is: Who did you pick for your wireless and why? Things I'm concerned about include, security, ease of management, having an "inside" and "outside" way to connect so that vendors can come in and get an internet connection without having to put them in the network but still keep it locked down enough to stop the next door neighbor from just jumping on. This is going to be a relatively small deployment, so I don't need a enterprise sized solution. I'm sure there are other things that I should be considering, so, I ask /., what do you think?
Operating Systems

Submission + - Linux Kernel

Tokimasa writes: "Are there any good tutorials on how to use the Linux kernel to build an OS? I would really like to learn more about operating system design and implementation, and that seems like a fairly straightforward way to go about it."

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