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Comment Re:Who didn't see this coming? (Score 1) 259

Sure, only in this case, they've been extinct a long time. It used to be, I used Skype's landline call feature to talk to the 'rents. I even used that (voice only, mind) to talk to them on my Nokia n800, swearing up and down that 4-7 inch ARM-equipped tablets were the future. Now, my parents call me on Skype. I've spent maybe two bucks of the last I gave Skype, three years ago. The only thing stopping me from giving up entirely is my parents, and even my Mom prefers Whatsapp

Comment Re:What is the point of the Windows Store? (Score 1) 209

Well, the chief advantage is that Microsoft can force its practical monopoly on gaming OSs to run Steam and GOG out of business. Then again, Valve has built up enough cash that they probably could make SteamOS into a serious contender, with a free office suite that actually had a UI that made sense.* In short, they've continually done wrong by gamers to the degree that, if they make a serious effort to move from "Windows DXnn -- Required for serious gaming" to "Windows UWP App store -- Required for PC gaming", then those who've made piles of cash from gamers will realize that they have to adapt or die, and to adapt, all they need is to produce a decent office suite and let Adobe do their thing. And Microsoft has been dropping the ball for so long, it'll be a cakewalk. *Consider the instructions to turn off the autoformatting that continually screws up your text in Word: Click on the File Pane, in the column ont he left, click on the Options icon-button. In the window that pops up, select in the left+colum the "Proofing" option (note: this is not the same as the "Proofing" field on the review Pane). Under the field "AutoCorrect" Options, press the button labeled "AutoCorrect Options". This will bring up a (Word XP, if not 6.0) dialogue. Click on the tab "AutoFormat As You Type" and de-select everything. In short, to make the program work for most of us, you need to navigate through the thirty-year history of the program, and every single UI change they made. Well, that's not entirely true. Thank God those variable drop-menus were dumped. But that just goes to show that Microsoft's cash cow has been vulnerable to a revolution for a long time, as Office has been the inefficient "Only Choice in Town". On the other hand, MS has never been good at the gaming market, simply because they can't overcome their B2B mentality and adopt one of fanatics.

Comment Failure Rate (Score 1, Interesting) 147

Look, it's like this: Microsoft Office products get things right 80% of the time. Windows (or MacOS) also gets things right 80% of the time. Printer Drivers get stuff right 80% of the time. So half the time, things go wrong, and figuring out why takes way too much time. LibreOffice has some kind of nuisance/showstopper fault 40% of the time (so "Gets stuff right" 60% of the time). Every time I've run a presentation through Impress, some slides have been seriously screwed up (after all, go to a random site, get a random computer, and tell me it's going to render the Liberation font correctly). The last time I used LibreOffice for a publicly-read paper, I had it printed on-site right before I went on. I got handed the text, and went live. Somehow, each word was printed backwards, in some horrific pitch. I don't care whose fault it was, the result was not readable. The paper I presented, of course, was one of my best -- the printed version should only be a prop, dudes. But using LO to prepare stuff for print? I have to switch between Word and LO, and LO keeps throwing tabs into my footnotes. What's up with that?

Comment So you believe the Koran predates the Prophet? (Score 4, Informative) 622

I mean, hold on a second. Slashdot links to an article that copies from another article a report of carbon dating of "545-568" for a piece of parchment from a codex of the Qu'ran. People in this thread immediately act all smarmy about religious folks and their crazy beliefs. Some even claim historians will "just give you the facts" or some horsecrap. Here's what a historian does: A. Looks at article. B. Follows link to article they stole that from. C. Follows their link to the article they stole it from. D. Hits a paywall and goes to Wikipedia. E. Finally gets the point: two bifolios of a really old Qu'ran were discovered (by Alba Fedeli) in a Birmingham codex, Radiocarbon analysis (by the University of Oxford's Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit) dated the animal from which the parchment came to between 568-645 with 95.4% confidence -- in other words, there's a 19 chances of out 20 that the animal was alive when Mohammad was. The verses were copied onto it sometime after the animal was killed. This should all be backed up by consulting the sources linked in Wikipedia, but I'm doing this for an internet rant, thank you very much. So, guess what? If you actually study the sources, you find that 1) no "scholar" has produced a coherent argument using this evidence as the key proof that the Koran predated Mohammad, 2) Antetexts are an entirely different matter, 3) plenty of people are willing to blindly follow their faith on this matter. Most of those seem to be those who proclaim the loudest about the superiority of "science" without having any knowledge of what "science" is and a fundamental confusion of what constitutes faith and what constitutes reason. Hint: if you believe it, 'cos you read it on the interwebs and it matches what you think of the world, it ain't reason.

Comment Consoles and couches (Score 2, Interesting) 147

Let's get the obligatory stuff out of the way: the author there seems to think that Halo is some sort of masterpiece. It ain't.
Even in terms of mechanics, consoles are lousy for FPSs: controller vs. K+M; the mouse always wins. From a PC-superiority perspective, the best way to do an FPS is therefore Keyboard and Mouse, which means one player sitting in front of a screen. Consoles can't beat PCs on technical specs.
The result, someone who wants a "serious FPS" is going to do it alone in a darkened room in front of the same device that delivers pornography.

Consoles, on the other hand, are hooked up to huge screens and are played on couches. There are often other people around, which is what can drive sales. So, yeah, split screen makes more than sense, it makes sales.

Of course, the way all consoles are selling now, their target demographic is fast becoming married men who only get to play for an hour or two late at night after the spouse and kids have gone to bed.

Comment IATA can't seem to communicate (Score 1) 273

Whether this becomes an excuse for shrinking carry-ons is a different story, and that's how the news organizations have tried to field it. But if you look at their latest press release, they try to be clear:

The Cabin OK guideline is smaller than the size set by most airlines as their maximum acceptable for carry-on baggage. Thus, passengers with Cabin OK carry-on baggage can travel with a greater assurance that it will be acceptable across the different airline requirements. And, when travelling on a participating airline there is a further benefit: those bags with a Cabin OK logo will have a priority (determined individually by each airline) for staying in the cabin should its cabin capacity be exceeded and some baggage need to be moved to the hold.

What they're trying to say is the following: thanks in part to airlines charging for luggage, passengers often encounter situations where the plane is full and some bags are gate-checked, at no additional cost to the passenger. On some of the smaller aircraft, many "perfectly legal"-sized bags are out of necessity gate-checked. The "Cabin OK" logo is IATA's way to signal that, barring exceptional circumstances, that bag need never be checked at the gate. The idea is that the gate agent need only grab the trolleys without the logo to ensure space on a full flight.

Comment The key quote (Score 4, Interesting) 122

Keith Bristow, the director-general of the National Crime Agency, said: “Some of what we would like to talk about to get the debate informed and logical, we can’t, because it would defeat the purpose of having the tactics in the first place. Frankly, some of what we need to do is intrusive, it is uncomfortable, and the important thing is we set that out openly and recognise there are difficult choices to be made.”

Translation: "It is important that we be completely transparent on this single fact: we are not transparent, and we will do bad things, because reasons."

Comment Re:Assumptions (Score 2) 78

What do they have to sell here? All you need is a legitimate business case to be on the network, and you have access. That's the point here: PillPack immediately changed their procedures, but if they were able to call up a full prescrption record using only name and DOB, any number of other businesses with a medical component can too. All you need is to associate names and DOBs (Facebook anyone?), call up the prescription records, look for something chronic, desperate and lucrative, and fire off an automated, personalized email. Profit!

Comment There's more than that (Score 1) 320

It also is, as Mr. T. said, an ancient practice that was well respected before modern science. Mind you, there have always been astrological crackpots, those who don't apply it scientifically, but just make stuff up. And, yes, the inference is "the sun's position in the sky has a direct and obvious effect on existence below the sphere of the moon; the moon's position in the sky also has an influence, although less strong (think: tides); therefore, the position of the other celestial spheres - mercury, venus, mars, jupiter, saturn and uranus - against the sphere of fixed stars, notably the constellations of the ecliptic, should have an influence.

Of course, it doesn't quite work that way. The inference is false, and the whole thing collapses.

Comment Re:Head on? (Score 1) 134

And only a month after the first public posting of the vulnerability, in their own forums.

Some guy accurately describes the vulnerability, complete with screenshots showing a Superfish-signed online banking page, and posts it to the public Lenovo Security-Malware support forum, and they take no public action for 29 days; yet around the same time, they stopped installing the software on new machines. Only when it's a scandal do they first make statements that are designed "to defuse the situation", which, in this case means trying to convince their owners that their dangerously compromised and possibly already-exploited machines are safe, and then (perhaps when someone points out that such statements are only going to increase the price tag from the inevitable class-action suit) do they start behaving properly.

So, no, that's not a speedy response. As a company selling a product, they are ultimately responsible for everything that product contains. They have a duty of care to make sure that the goods they are supplied do not place their customers at risk. If one of their trusted partners wants to load a Root CA onto their machine, it better have a good security case for it. "Used by major commerce sites", for example, is a good reason; "allows us to break SSL" is a bad one. Ignorance is not an excuse. If Lenovo is not loading up their machines with all the crap they put on it and auditing their installed certificates, they are not doing their duty to the customer.

If Lenovo tells people their machines are secure, when it has known for a month at least that they weren't, it is making things worse for itself. Saying they don't read their own public support forums, or that the information didn't get to the right person doesn't amount to an excuse so much as an admission of guilt. Claiming that PR flaks are there to give these kinds of messages slanders the job of spokespeople: specific people are assigned precise messages to communicate to the people exactly to avoid statements that would open them up to litigation.

Right now, we don't know of any security compromises that occurred via Superfish. We may never hear of them, but that doesn't mean that they never occurred.

Right now, Lenovo seems to have their best PR approach underway: release the uninstallation tool, contact every anti-virus provider on the planet, contact everyone who registered a product with them, and then shut up and start saving pennies for the settlement.

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