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Submission + - What You Can Do About the Phone Unlocking Fiasco (

itwbennett writes: "Now that the ridiculous phone unlocking law is a done deal, and we all understand exactly what that means (i.e., 'fines of up to $500,000 and imprisonment of up to five years'), you might be left wondering what can you do about it? Well, you could start by lending your John Hancock to this petition at the White House's 'We The People' platform. It's already over halfway to the number of signatures required to get a response from the executive branch."

Submission + - Why Petting Feels Good (

sciencehabit writes: Social beasts—humans, elephants, chimps, dogs, and cats—seem to enjoy being caressed. Neurobiologists have now taken a step toward pinpointing neural circuitry underlying this pleasant sensation. Using genetically engineered mice, they demonstrated that a specific class of sensory cells in skin reacts to gentle stroking but not to a pinch or a poke. In addition to helping to identify similar cells in people, the findings could "lead to a drug or lotion that might make you feel better," suggests the study's leader.

Submission + - Reality check on renewable energy ( 1

Lasrick writes: Dawn Stover has another great piece detailing why renewable energy will never provide us with all our energy needs. She deconstructs the unrealistic World Wildlife Fund report (co-written by several solar companies) that claims renewables will be able to provide 100% of the energy needs of several countries by 2050. Good information on why even nuclear power can't do the job.

Submission + - Hacker Faces 105 Years In Prison After Blackmailing 350+ Women ( 1

redletterdave writes: "According to the 30-count indictment released by the Central District of California early this morning, 27-year-old hacker Karen "Gary" Kazaryan allegedly hacked his way into hundreds of online accounts, using personal information and nude or semi-nude photos of his victims to coerce more than 350 female victims to show him their naked bodies, usually over Skype. By posing as a friend, Kazaryan allegedly tricked these women into stripping for him on camera, capturing more than 3,000 images of these women to blackmail them. Kazaryan was arrested by federal agents on Tuesday; if convicted on all 30 counts, including 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of aggravated identity theft, Kazaryan could face up to 105 years in federal prison."

Comment Re:Not at all. (Score 1) 532

Perhaps that "tested, trusted company code" is a steaming mess of spaghetti code that's been cautiously poked, prodded, and duct-taped over the years into something that in the end works but is a maintainability nightmare?

Probably. I've seen my share of that.

An interesting aspect is that a quick hack can actually be the fastest way to get the job done - in the first two or three iterations. But later on, the side effects of even minor changes grow dificult to contain and things that should be minor programming tasks start taking weeks.
So if you are content to use the old code exactly as it is, GP's approach of leaving the code alone is fine. But in my experience, sooner or later some business requirement comes up that means changing the functionality. At that point, the steaming mess of spaghetti code will really hurt you.

It is easy to fall into that trap, and getting out of it takes patient refactoring. Usually takes more time than a proper design would have taken in the first place.

Comment Step cautiously! (Score 1) 532

Just last summer I took over a project with over 250,000 lines of code. It was a complete disaster of a codebase, a total Rube Goldberg machine... but somehow, after years of poking and prodding and band-aids and what-not, it WORKED...however, even the tinest code change too weeks to happen because the code was so badly written. The project had a ton of turnover through the years, and from the looks of it many of the coders use conventions from different languages they were familiar with, copy/paste all over the place, bad structure, fragile inheritance schemes, etc., etc.

So, I did the only thing that made sense. Started completely from scratch, picking out the parts that were usable as we went. We haven't finished yet, but I haven't looked back...

Comment Re:Not at all. (Score 1) 532

Yes, but there's also when you hire the new guy, fresh from college, and he sits down at his work station. After a few days of getting absolutely no work done, he comes to you and tells you he wants to rewrite the core 50K lines of tested, trusted company code because he thinks it's not written "by the book". To which, the only sane reply is "You touch that code, and I will set you on fire."

Perhaps that "tested, trusted company code" is a steaming mess of spaghetti code that's been cautiously poked, prodded, and duct-taped over the years into something that in the end works but is a maintainability nightmare?

Comment Trust your first level support a bit more? (Score 1) 749

What you say may be correct for talking to the customer, but when one of the first level supporters (who presumably have at least a bit of experience) asks 2nd level to check server X, doing so might be smarter than to argue with the 1st level.

After all, the whole purpose of 1st level support is to solve simple stuff and escalate those things that are not obvious cases. If you treat 1st level like a potentially dumb customer, you end up with a $30/hour guy asking standard questions to a $8/hour guy.
Exactly what isolating 2nd level from the dumb customer was meant to avoid, only that you pay both guys for it ;-)


US Army Sees Twitter As Possible Terrorist "Operation Tool" 320

Mike writes "A draft US Army intelligence report has identified the popular micro-blogging service Twitter as a potential terrorist tool. A chapter titled 'Potential for Terrorist Use of Twitter' notes that Twitter members reported the July Los Angeles earthquake faster than news outlets and activists at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis used it to provide information on police movements. 'Twitter is already used by some members to post and/or support extremist ideologies and perspectives,' the report said. The report goes on to say, 'Terrorists could theoretically use Twitter social networking in the US as an operation tool.' Just wait until the Army finds out about chat rooms and email!"

Submission + - New AACS Processing Key Discovered

An anonymous reader writes: The movie studios recently released new HD-DVDs that can no longer be circumvented using the infamous 09 F9... AACS processing key that floated around the Net last month, but today a new key has surfaced. Like hundreds of other readers of Freedom-To-Tinker's "Own Your Own Integer" story, someone named BtCB posted his "randomly generated" number in the comments, asking, "What are the odds that this is the new processing key?" As it turns out, BtCB's key was not so random, and, a week after he posted it, the hackers over at doom9 realized that it really is the new processing key. With this kind of hacker "luck," it doesn't look like AACS will last for long.
The Internet

MySpace Gets False Positive In Sex Offender Search 345

gbulmash writes "In its eagerness to clear sex offenders off its site and publish their identities, MySpace identified an innocent woman as a sex offender. She shares a name and birth month with a sex offender who lives in a neighboring state and that was apparently enough to get MySpace to wrongly brand her and completely ignore her protests."

Submission + - OOXML Balloting Begun

An anonymous reader writes: The ISO has started the balloting process for the Open Office XML format (aka "ISO/IEC DIS 29500" — all 6000 pages of it). If you want your opinion heard, now is the time to contact your country's local standard body so they can then decide how to vote. Contact information is available for the US, Canada, Germany, and over 100 other countries. The ISO standard will cost you CHF64 to read, but ECMA 376 is available as DOCX and PDF files.

Will ISPs Spoil Online Video? 301

mrspin writes "last100 writes: "With an ever greater amount of video being consumed online, many Internet users are in for a shock. There's a dirty little secret in the broadband industry: Internet Service Providers (ISPs) don't have the capacity to deliver the bandwidth that they claim to offer. One way ISPs attempt to conceal this problem is to place a cap of say 1GB per-month per user, something which is common in the UK for many of the lower-cost broadband packages on the market. Considering that a mere three hours viewing of Joost (the new online video service from the founders of Skype) would all but use up this monthly allowance, it's clear that lots of Internet users aren't invited to the party. But what about those who (like me) pay more for 'unlimited' broadband access? There shouldn't be a problem, right? Wrong." The article then goes on to discuss the recent trend of bandwidth throttling based on techniques such as packet shaping which punishes p2p traffic whether it's legitimate or not."

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