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Comment The requirements will be as long as the code (Score 1) 338

I took a Software Engineering class where we covered formal specifications. For even a simple piece of code, the formal specifications were longer than the code to cover all of the boundary conditions. It was faster and simpler just to write code. Using code snippets in not new. We call those libraries. I've used those all my life. My code specifies which libraries to use and how to tie those together. Also, random code written by other people are frequently crap. Who is going to vet the quality of the code? I am not scared by this at all.

Submission + - Killer whales caught on tape speaking dolphin (

sciencehabit writes: Two years ago, scientists showed that dolphins imitate the sounds of whales. Now, it seems, whales have returned the favor. Researchers analyzed the vocal repertoires of 10 captive orcas, three of which lived with bottlenose dolphins and the rest with their own kind. Of the 1551 vocalizations these seven latter orcas made, more than 95% were the typical pulsed calls of killer whales. In contrast, the three orcas that had only dolphins as pals busily whistled and emitted dolphinlike click trains and terminal buzzes, the scientists report in the October issue of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. The findings make orcas one of the few species of animals that, like humans, is capable of vocal learning—a talent considered a key underpinning of language.

Comment One more vote for Classic Shell (Score 1) 516

Windows 8 with Classic Shell is just as usable as Windows 7. Windows 8 without Classic Shell has a terrible interface for grouping the programs you have installed. If Microsoft had issued Windows 8 with the equivalent of the Classic Shell start button, then acceptance of Windows 8 would have been a no-brainer, and all the complaints about it would have been almost non-existent. Windows 8.1 was the right place to recover from the mistake, but instead they just gave a *different* button in place of the start button that essentially did nothing useful. Don't be afraid to use Windows 8, but get Classic Shell to go with it. It's free.

Comment It kind of makes sense...but it doesn't (Score 4, Interesting) 632

Survivor benefits are paid to the children, not the surviving parent. The parent only get the money as the custodian of the children, and is supposed to use it for the benefit of the child. The parent doesn't report the benefits on his or her tax return. If the child makes enough money during the year to file a tax return, the child does. So the IRS is going after the party to which the money was given. But of course, it really makes no sense...the child did not actually receive the money. The child has no records of receiving the money, or of any overpayment and can't contest it. It's unlikely even the parent has the records. And it is implied that the IRS can try to collect money from whomever they can get it from, not just the child of record.

Comment Reflector is the way to go (Score 1) 88

FXCop (now incorporated as Code Analysis) is not a security tool. It looks for bad coding practices not malicious software. This might catch some stuff in the process, but it is not the main purpose.

On the other hand, Red Gate's Reflector decompiles the code into C#, VB.NET, F#, IL, or MC++. You can then look for malicious code. I mainly look for code accessing classes in the System.IO namespace, System.Web, System.Net, or similar namespaces, because these are the ones that are likely to either mess with existing files or connect to the Internet.

You can use the ILDASM (Intermediate Language Dis-assembler) program that comes with the .NET Framework, but it only decompiles into intermediate language (IL). This is enough to find the calls, but most people are not adept at reading IL.

Reflector is worth every penny. Besides looking for security problems, I use it all the time to figure out what the Framework is really doing, fix bugs in other people's libraries, sign code that wasn't signed originally, translate VB.NET code to C#, etc. (To translate code, compile it in one language and decompile it with Reflector into the other.)

Submission + - Film critic Roger Ebert dead (

AndyKrish writes: Chicago Sun-Times reports of the passing of Roger Ebert — arguably the world's most famous film critic — succumbing to cancer.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Explaining to my girlfriend that humans didn't ride dinosaurs ( 4

p00kiethebear writes: "Dear Slashdot. Remember when you learned that Santa Clause wasn't real? I have a wonderful and beautiful girlfriend. She treats me so right in every way. We've been together for almost a year now and everything seemed to be going perfectly until this morning. Over breakfast we were discussing dinosaurs and she told me a story about how her grandfather, fifty years ago, dated footprints of a dinosaurs and a man that were right next to each other to be within the same epoch of history. I laughed when she said this and then realized that she wasn't joking. She seriously believes this. She believes dinosaurs and humans walked at the same time together. Her grandfather told her this when she was little so regular logic and wiki isn't going to be able to contest her childhood dreams that she has been raised to believe. The odd thing is that she's not religious, it's just what her archeologist grandfather taught her. More important than just backing up evidence to the contrary, how do I explain this to her without crushing her childhood dreams? Is it even worth discussing it further with her? Have you ever had a loved one or family member that believed something that made you uncomfortable?"

Comment Re:Excel's year 1900 bug (Score 1) 214

Excel does not treat 1900 as a leap year. Excel's epoch, though, is December 30th, 1899 instead of the 31st to be compatible with 1-2-3 for all dates from March 1st, 1900 onward, allowing for 1-2-3's bug. Excel and Word, and all other Microsoft products that use VBA as a macro language, use the OLE Automation date format that works just fine on all dates from January 1, year 100 to December 31st 9999. Dates are treated as a double with the integer part being days and fractions being the fraction of a day. Negative numbers give the dates before the epoch. The only weird thing is the date of the epoch, which causes things such the Time function to return the time on December 30th 1899, if you retrieve the date portion.

Comment Badly named suite (Score 5, Insightful) 89

This was a failure in marketing, not technology. When this came out, it took me a while to differentiate the products because of the first word in the name being the same. I finally figured out to just drop the word "Expression" and concentrate on the second word. I think it was a huge mistake trying to use the term to group a disparate set of products. They should have called them Microsoft Design, Microsoft Blend, etc. and then packaged them as "Microsoft Designer Suite". Blend is actually pretty cool.

Submission + - Kicking ACTA's Ass: Geist's 10 Minute Takedown at European Parliament (

An anonymous reader writes: As protests in Europe against ACTA have grown, skeptics have argued that most criticisms are based on misunderstandings or incorrect information about the treaty. This week, the European Parliament held its first public workshop on ACTA and Canadian professor Michael Geist took ten minutes to demonstrate why the agreement raises major concerns on process, substance, and likely effectiveness. The video and transcript are a must for anyone looking to become informed on ACTA with a full report apparently coming soon.

Comment What if the content is no longer retrievable (Score 1) 1009

What if through some (magical) combination of hardware and software, after say two months, if you didn't log in, the contents became completely irretrievable? Then if you were arrested, you only had to hold out for two months before they would have to release you. Contempt of court means that they can only hold you while you can possibly give them what they need. If it is impossible for you to comply, which would be true after two months, they have to charge you with something else (obstruction of justice?) or release you.

Comment Why? (Score 3, Insightful) 235

Only a completely de-normalized flat-file database would need anything like that number of columns. That would mean many duplicate pieces of information, and a complete maintenance nightmare. The only purpose I can see is to have views of existing normalized data for fast searching, but that would be read-only data.

This is a feature in need of an application and I can see very few applications.

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