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Comment "Sources?" (Score 1) 75

Did this sentence..

Eighty-four percent of Americans with online access through three sources -- home broadband, smartphone and tablet computer -- say they like having so much information available.

..strike anyone else as a weirdly alien concept of what the word "source" means? It's so incomprehensible, that I can't even say for sure that it's wrong!

Comment Re:Here come the science deniers (Score 1) 560

No denying here. I would also like to understand what long term effects alcohol has on the brain as well in comparison.

If there are equally bad mental health problems associated with use of both substances, then we can come to a conclusion about legalization or not of any mind altering drug - including those things that are currently legal most places. Once we understand the relative impacts - we can make better decisions rather than coming to a conclusion about a single substance in isolation.

That is science.

Comment Re:Not people: It's a computer problem (Score 1) 394

So the day they make your particular fetish or recreational substance / entertainment / political stance / religion / etc. a crime...

You're an optimist, and overstating the safety and benevolence of this program. Quit sugar-coating it, you apologist! ;-)

Peoples' fetish, substance, etc is already illegal, somewhere. And since no government (including UK) has shown itself to have the ability to store things securely (it's almost as though they employ people), it is reasonable to assume the data is (or eventually will be) globally available.

UK citizens aren't just making a decision to totally and completely trust trust their own government forever. They are also deciding that they already fully trust the Russian government, the Chinese government, the Saudi government, criminals, etc and that they will always be able to trust those parties.

UK is declaring that this is one big happy world without any adversarial relationships, and that "security" is a totally obsolete concept.

Comment Re:And even here they don't know how it works (Score 1) 291

I think people are inferring too much heavy-handedness.

Look at it this way: Airplane mode successfully restricts radio use while airborne, because it is enabled by the user.

(See what I did there?) Correct operation is defined as the computer doing whatever the user wants it to do. The user is in charge of balancing convenience with desire-to-not-be-a-dick, so he'll select what is most appropriate for his needs.

Airplane mode works! It's great. It's one of the best, most successful, easily-understood interfaces we have. You damn well know that in the early days, there was a discussion where some absolute fuckwit at the table said, "We'll need an altimeter, or maybe just use the GPS..." and he was cut off by the genius who said, "Wait, we already have checkboxes and menus and stuff. Why are you making this setting difficult, mister fuckwit?" and that UI battle was won, decisively, forever.

Driving mode can be like that.

Comment Re:Block everyone or the driver? (Score 1) 291

You need to think of this as a UI guideline, not a gun pointed at someone's face. A quasi-standard, not a regulation (even though it might be coming from regulators).

If done correctly, a user will select the best mode, not to save their life, but to maximize their own convenience. People do want to interact with their device when they're driving, and this isn't even a mistake. The problem is that the best UI when you're not driving, is a horrible UI when you are driving, and probably vice-versa.

Depending on how software authors adopt the setting, it might be:

Voice control when driving, otherwise stop listening and making incorrect inferences when I'm not driving.

Display to HUD when driving, display to screen when not.

STFU about trivial nonsense notifications when driving. Bombard me with a bunch of shit that I'm finally capable of handling now, when not driving.

"Blocking" things doesn't necessarily mean it's something you do to the user; it's something you do for the user because they've requested it as a matter of convenience. That's the key to doing this right.

Comment Re:And Obama once again is a blatant liar (Score 1) 534

No, you (and a bunch of other people, it seems) just don't understand him. He's taking the responsibility. When he says "I can't" that's just his way of saying that he disagrees strongly that Snowden should be pardoned.

He's a piece of shit, but at least he's admitting it. I thought some people were being stupid, but the more of you who come forward, the more I think you're just not familiar with how he speaks. "I can't" is the way some people express "I won't, because I think I shouldn't."

Comment Re:Scary! (Score 1) 74

How else is the machine meant to know how you want to interact with it?

The "classical" web experience was that the user was always, and easily, aware that there wasn't "the" machine, but two machines: the browser and the server. And you were only interacting with someone else's computer who serves their interests over yours, when you request a page, submit a form, etc.

Web 2.0 is that the browser runs javascript and therefore your own computer is their agent, using your electricity and hardware on their behalf, sometimes in direct conflict with your own interests. That might be pretty freaky to a time traveller from the 1990s or early 21st century. 1995 Guy would be laughing, "There's no way people are going to tolerate that." Decades later, many of us still think of our computers as ours and might not remember (*) that the modern web-browsing experience is very compromising.

(*) Or maybe a more accurate way to put it, is that we're living in denial.

Comment Re:The answer is no, this is pointless (Score 1) 230

There are several problems that seem insurmountable:

1. While you could block the internet from directly interacting with these devices - by definition something would need to interact with the widget - either directly or as a proxy - unless you are okay without remote access.

2. If you have a machine on your network that interacts with the device, and also interacts with the internet (say for web browsing - http protocol) - then a bug in your machine could be a conduit for further access to the IoT device.

The only way to be absolutely sure a device is secure is to not have it connected to the network -

Comment Re:It's pointless (Score 1) 260

It is a code of conduct violation to remove (print) proprietary and sensitive business documents from the systems they reside on. Editing tools are sufficient to read and mark up - as well as version control these documents. Needing paper is a crutch for people who have too much time on their hands (you have to print the document, mark it up, then type in your edits, and load/save the new version --- too many steps take too much time).

I deal with hundreds to thousands of business documents over the course of many years; there is barely enough time to read them before feedback is needed.

That being said - this does not take into account legal documents that have requirements to keep paper copies in file cabinets under lock and key -- but that is for the legal assistants and lawyers to deal with --- not the vast majority of people in business.

Comment Re:Hardest problem (Score 1) 497

Not all 'computer science' cirriculae is equal either - particularly in recent years.

This is why I've long advocated never being 'just a programmer', or any other pigeonholed job for that matter. Define your work on your own terms as much as possible. When I first started working as a system admin / technical support specialist on the night shift (yeah - they had me doing two jobs at once) -- I took the time to automate a number of things, including the then current paper ticket system they kept in a binder and passed from shift to shift, as well as many of the systems checks and maintenance activities. As I moved to new jobs in the company, I continued to do this - providing value add, as well as easing my own workload burden along the way. I wouldn't say I'm indespensible - but I've managed to survive through 20 years of reorganizations, layoffs, and offshoring that severely impacted my 'just a programmer' peers.

Comment Re:fraud (Score 1) 497

There are many excellent points here - and as a programmer since I was a teenager and also in my 50s now - I have also thought about this problem a long time.

A good visual analogy to a computer system is Russian nesting dolls. Each doll can be equated to an underlying system and associated languages. At the deepest innermost layer you have microcode - running on an extremely simple state machine that has code written for it to emulate a Von Neuman central processing unit (CPU). Next comes binary numbers that can be inserted into registers and memory using the CPU. Up from that is assembly language - which is another extremely simple langauge used to communicate with the CPU in native binary. Above that are a plethora of compiler based languages - that essentially convert their human understandable grammars into native binary (or intermediary assembly language - and then to binary...details). At the same level there are also interpreters - which are interactive languages that can be programmed 'on the fly' one line at a time; each line is acted upon immediately when you enter it - and were used effectively for teaching students... Basic being one such language. They could also be used for high performance computing - LISP being an example. It's important to point out at this point - all languages don't have to be loaded on a given system - these are just the possibilities.

Now things get really interesting: virtual machines. A virtual machine is a simulated CPU that has its own simplified instruction set that an applicable language can compile against. The nice thing about a virtual machine, is it can be deployed across many different hardware architectures without the need to recompile your programs. Examples are Java's JVM, Python's virtual machine, and Javascript V8 virtual machine.

Finally you have application frameworks - collections of libraries and other functions that allow you to quickly build applications with less work - because most of the heavy lifting is already done for you. In this category I would also lump code generators - like the Unified Modelling Language (UML) - that has tools which takes a program defined using the UML language - and generates code in a specified programming language.

There are far more complexities to this than I've listed here. However, you can think of this in almost archaeological terms - each layer over time making it easier or faster for someone to build applications using a computer. Spreadsheet programs are a good example of building systems that allow an end user to leverage the power of the computer to handle complex calculations with little need for the user to understand programming at all.

That being said, I agree there are a lot of extraneous languages, frameworks, and development environments out there that makes it more likely that people will create buggy code. The farther away from the CPU - in terms of abstraction - the less you will know about what your application is really doing 'under the hood'. As a result, I do suggest a clear bias towards simplification in the selection of languages used to build the underlying systems for the use of people to solve problems, coupled with perhaps certification programs to make sure what is being built is being built good.

Comment Re:Show us the data (Score 1) 232

And it is the influence that these fake stories have, not the quantity of them, which is important.

No, it's why the stories have influence, which is important. I give zero fucks about anyone's measurements of the influence itself.

You can frame it as a problem with a particular website, or you can frame it as people-enjoy-lying-and-being-lied-to. IMHO the former is worthless way of looking at things, and the latter gets us closer to diagnosis.

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