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Comment Hubris! (Score 1) 171

One of my very most favorite old-timey sins! Hubris.

"The DRM is supposed to thwart copyright infringement by stopping people from ripping video and other content from encrypted high-quality streams."

Sounds an awful lot like "The Titanic is Unsinkable" doesn't it?

Comment Pity, since I can't accept the EULA (Score 1) 140

Google's Chrome browser, on the other hand, remained unhackable during the contest.

Unfortunately for me, I can't accept Chrome's EULA.

It incorporates Adobe's, which (if I recall correctly from my AT&T Android-based smartphone) has several clauses I can't abide - including a never-compete, don't block updates, don't work on circumvention tools, we can change the license without notice, ...

I don't intend to do anything that might come back to limit my future software work or employability. Clicking through such a license (even if every bit of it is struck down by the courts - which I'm not holding my breath expecting), especially on a device that "phones home" in a way that is easily identified with my true name, is an invitation for an all-versus-one gladiatorial match with two multibillion-dollar corporations' legal departments.

Comment GitHub is in California (Score 1) 74

I struggle a bit to understand why this isn't a bigger issue. ... I wonder why some politician hasn't attempted to differentiate themselves by even mentioning the stifling effect on innovation [company-owns-all-your-inventions] policies impose.

Because it's already been adressed, long ago.

GitHub is in San Francisco, which is in California and governed by California labor law.

California labor law says that (paraphrasing from memory):
  - As a compelling state interest
  - overriding anything in the employee agreement
  - if an employee invents something
  - while not on company time or using company resources
  - and that invention is not in the company's current or immediately foreseeable business
  - then the invention belongs to the employee
  - (and the employment agreement must include a copy of this information as an appendix.)

(IMHO that law is THE reason for the explosive growth and innovation in Silicon Valley and why other states have been unable to clone it. Invent something that your current company won't use, get together with a couple friends, maybe get some "angel funding", rent the office across the street, and go into business with your new shiny thing. So companies bud off new companies like yeast. And innovators collect where they can become the inventor, the "couple of friends", or the early hires, creating a pool of the necessary talent to convert inventions into companies when they happen.)

What GitHub has apparently done is say to the employees:
"For the purposes of us claiming your IP, your lunch time and breaks are your time, even on company property, and your use of our computers and disk storage for things like compiles, storing code, and web research in aid of your project, does not count as 'using company resources'."

In other states, and other companies even within CA, that might be a big deal. For a company in CA, whose whole business model is providing archives for other people's software projects - and giving it away free to small groups, while charging large groups (or small groups that grow into large groups), it's not a big deal, and right IN their business model.

Comment Re:14 times smaller? (Score 1) 318

"Greenland looks roughly the size of Africa when it is actually about 14 times smaller." Actually, if you make something 1 times smaller, it's gone! Nothing left! Perhaps you meant 1/14 the size, instead of "14 times smaller"....

I wish this slashdot article was using a font that was 14 times smaller...

Comment Re:Too many stories (Score 1) 299

Oh man! Good times. I had an experience very similar to your #4.

I was a consultant for a securities group, doing PC maintenance for college money on the side. Owner was a know-it-all type. He had a Novell 3.11 server holding all his corporate data. Ran out of room, so he had me span a second disk onto his virtual volume. I wasn't a Novell expert but I gave it a go. It was my first time on this particular system. I explained to him how this created another point of failure, you need to do backups, and so on. And soon, because the other drive was "singing". You know the sound, the sound of a platter drive that's getting ready to die.

I talked him into buying a tape drive. Did they ever use it? No. I made a script to make it easy. One command. Still no.

His PC had a tape drive. I set that to automatically back up the Novell server after hours. He figured it out and disabled it.

One day they get a card in the mail. It was the local power company. "We will be performing line maintenance for your block at 10am a week from now. Please turn off all of your electronic equipment while we perform our maintenance."

I'm sure you know how this story ends. =)

Comment Re:About 15 years ago, but I'll never forget him (Score 1) 299

Yup, afraid so. A large-ish company with about 3-400 employees making a popular product you probably have heard of if you're into cars.

It was right after the dot-com bubble burst. If you were in IT you were lucky to be working at all, at least in my neck of the woods anyways. I was laid off when they hired me in and considered myself lucky. It's also the only job I ever quit without giving a two week notice.

When I quit HR called me in to lecture me about how unprofessional that was. A few months later she also quit without putting in a two week notice. Her and the company's CFO went out drinking margaritas at lunch...and just never came back.

Everyone has one stain on their resume, that place is mine.

Comment About 15 years ago, but I'll never forget him (Score 3, Interesting) 299

My first day, Monday. I'm being brought around to the other programmers and board designers and introduced. "Hey this is X, he's our new guy in software." Almost every person I met looked up and said "Hi." In the tone of voice you usually use when you find your car has a flat tire. Some didn't even try to shake my hand. Some didn't even look up at me.

Took me 3 months to find out why everyone was like that. I made some friends there and they finally told me what was up one day while we were at lunch.

Our manager had a meeting the Friday morning, previous. He told the entire IT staff that he was having some work done on his house over the weekend, and that he would like the entire team to move shingles up to his roof. Right now. And oh yeah, did I forget to mention that all vacation requests have to pass my desk for approval? See you all at my house.

It gets better, or should I say worse.

He made them all take a vacation day to do it.

Comment You don't (Score 1) 196

Your engineers already have a job, doing electrical design or mechanical engineering. To me, your question sounds a lot like, "We have a team of highly talented airline pilots. What can I do to make them all brain surgeons?"

Software design is its own discipline. And doing it well is a full-time commitment. If you push your engineers through some software classes or workshops, all you're going to get from them is - at best - half-assed stuff you'll need an actual software engineer to fix later on.

Do it the right way. Hire a professional, spec out the software you need, and have your professional write it for you. It will save you time and it will save you money. Consider how much your engineers are making. Now think about how many hours they'll lose in productivity trying to be software engineers and writing lousy code. Now think about how much time the software engineer you'll eventually have to hire anyways will take fixing it all. Budget that against what it would cost to simply hire the software guy in the first place and do it correctly the first time. You'll see why your idea is the wrong one.

Comment The current model is broken (Score 5, Interesting) 542

Hollywood can't help but do this now. It's all that's left to them.

Every film nowadays has a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, mostly thanks to Hollywood accounting practices. To invest that kind of money you have to be able to show the principals an expected return on that investment. You need to do market analysis and show that you have an audience large enough to get that return.

The only way to do that is to copy older blockbusters and assume the returns will be in the ballpark. Hence, reboots.

Look at Deadpool if you want to know about risk aversion. The studio did NOT want to make that movie. It was "risky". Imagine living in a world where you would think that a Deadpool movie was too risky. That's why they're going for The Matrix. The two sequels were garbage but still made bank. So they know that this reboot will too.

It's the beginning of the end for Hollywood, IMO. Their model can only support smash blockbusters, and now they're out of them.

Comment saw a proof of concept several years ago (Score 1) 457

If you think about the makeup of a car the only thing that can be controlled are those with electronic controls.

Which is just about everything these days. Some of the controls, and other devices are federally mandated - like anitlock brakes (which work by turning the bakes OFF in a controlled manner) and tire pressure sensors. Others are there because running a vehicle bus DRASTICALLY cuts the cost of wiring harnesses - like nearly every controllable or reporting device in the vehicle.

A few years ago I saw a proof-of-concept demonstrated at a conference. The researchers had used a flaw in a popular (with auto companies) tire pressure sensor system to achieve remote radio control of the car's vehicle bus. (CAN bus, if I recall correctly.) That let them do a bunch of stuff. Among them was disable the brakes, set the cruise control to a high speed, and make it impossible to shut off the engine or open the doors.

There are a LOT of other ways to interfere with recent vehicles' operation, and at high speed the driver doesn't have time to figure out how to work around such interference even if it's theoretically possible.

Comment I disagree (Score 5, Insightful) 246

It is the job of the CIA to collect intelligence. Central Intelligence Agency, right there in the name. It's not their job to post software patches.

I think what Cindy Cohn meant was "it would sure be nice if the CIA had let us know about the problems rather than keep them secret", and I agree that would have been awfully nice of them - but wanting the CIA to reveal tactical information that helps it do its job is silly.

They're a spy agency, folks. This is what spies do.

Comment Re:Well, sort of (Score 1) 52

Illiterate /. editor strikes again. "Cyberfox Developer Proclaims Death of Web Browser" should read "Developer Proclaims Death of Cyberfox Web Browser." Reply to This

Oh, you think this was accidental? What if said "Your browser trying to kill you, here's one weird trick to stay alive"?

If it said that, it would already have 2 million shares on facebook.

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