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Comment Smaller market, too. (Score 4, Interesting) 75

Just as importantly, the market has shifted. There is still a stable market for computing and it will continue to exist, but it no longer includes the home/casual user segment. Those people have gone over to tablets and phones (most all of the non-tech folks that I know now have an older laptop sitting dusty on their top closet shelf, unused for years, and don't plan to replace it; only about half have even bothered to get a bluetooth keyboard for their tablet, while the rest are perfectly satisfied with the onscreen keyboard).

Business, tech-oriented people, the self-employed, creatives, and so on will continue to buy full-fledged computing hardware and to upgrade it over time, but this is a much smaller market than once existed for computing, where the market included basically every home and individual in developed societies. So some correction in sales was (and probably remains) inevitable over time.

Comment Here in the US (Score 1) 622

you will find that many dealerships do the same.

Only there are precious few protections for the consumer.

So when your used car breaks down catastrophically in a couple of months, it's "Oh, we must have missed that!" and when you try to use your warranty to cover it, it's excluded on one of 57 different technicalities, with maximum coverage for that particular type of repair that only covers a fraction of the typical cost, all spelled out in tiny print in a massive rulebook of which you do not actually get a copy when you purchase your vehicle and your "warranty."

And even if you manage to find something that is covered, and want to get your fractional pittance, you still have to pay out of pocket yourself for the repairs, then submit the receipt to the third-party corporation that provides the "warranty," who will scour your receipt for more technicalities on which to exclude your claim, and if they can't, will ultimately send you your fractional pittance in 8-12 months and after several letters from your attorney.

In short, U.S. "dealer checks" and "warranties" are worth less than lavatory tissue, which is why every reputable U.S. publication strongly advises used car buyers to pay to have their own favorite mechanic go over the vehicle (at a cost of $50-$200) before buying. So you can easily burn up $2k or more having cars vetted by a mechanic before you find one that he or she will actually tell you is a reasonable bet. Yet all of them are happily checked, warranted, etc.

Comment Re:Arogance (Score 5, Interesting) 247

I used to teach a pretty decent load of Chinese students in my classes in Manhattan (I taught at both NYU and on CUNY). By the '00s, they were significantly more creative, sophisticated, well-rounded, and learned (I make no claims about "intelligence") than my American students, who were really sort of "decadent" in the worst, stereotypical ways—knew only a few things about a few things but a lot about consumer goods and fashion, and didn't seem to think they needed to work, just didn't feel the global pressure from competing workers. Very entitled.

The Chinese students tended to cluster in 'A' territory and always approached me after class to talk about class topics until I had to leave, then followed up with serious questions by email. The American students always had one or two in the 'A' group and the rest clustering around low B and high C, and it was a struggle just to learn their names, as they had nothing at all to say to me unless I called on them in class. Ironically, many of the Chinese students had better formal English as well, though there were always also about half that were clearly 'winging it' and needed ESL—but were killing it in class performance anyway, managing to learn and to get through books by relying on a dictionary, a study group, and sheer determination.

Comment I started using Linux in 1993 (Score 1) 211

And I had no real driver trouble that couldn't be worked around. Winmodems and winprinters weren't actually all that common in the grand scheme of things. Maybe for a year or two in the mid-'90s. But there was a wealth of used hardware available in those days that was the real deal.

Anyway, I always used external modems, including for a while a very weird Telebit modem with a steel case, a flip-open front door, and a non-AT command set that meant that I had to log into it via a terminal emulator and execute commands myself because only AT command sets were reported.

On the printing front, very early on I was able to get ahold of a secondhand Apple LaserWriter, and then set up Netatalk and a bunch of adapters to print to it over Either/RS-422 or something like that. It made everything on Linux a thousand percent easier because you could just dump postscript directly do it, and Linux print drivers weren't really sorted for many years.

In fact, there was even a really reasonable (for the period) WYSIWYG office suite called InterViews that ran under X and dumped out PostScript files for printing. The text editor was called 'ez' and I still have a bunch of non-CS homework from that era saved as '.ez' files somewhere. For the CS homework, I would just dial my university's SLIP pool and then telnet over to the Sun systems in the department where we had logins and used gcc for everything.

The actual hard part, as I recall, was getting Linux in the first place, which took me several months. There were no dial-up BBS systems I could find that had actual complete Linux distributions of any kind. The distributions that did exist at the time (I remember Slackware, Yggdrasil, Trans-Ameritech or something like that, and a couple of others, though maybe my memory is off) were set up as a series of dozens of 1.2mb or 1.44mb floppy disk images.

Not only was there no BBS that seemed to host a complete distro, but those were actually pretty sizable downloads at the time—it represented many hours of downloading even if a complete set could be found. At school, the systems on the actual 'net via 10-Base-2 and AUI at the time (our so-called 'smart hosts' that were in the DNS system) could download such things quickly from other smart-host FTP sites with complete sets, but they were Sun workstations with no floppy drives, and our filesystem quotas were not big enough to hold a complete set.

And before I had Linux actually installed, there was no way for me at home to log into those quotas and download the files from Unix machines anyway, otherwise I could have used FTP over dial-up to move a few images at a time through the pipline to home.

IN the end, I managed to find a local ISP that would set me up at home with a UUCP feed, and a vanilla UUCP dial-up binary set that was a massive bear to configure on a non-Unix system. Then I spent many weeks laboriously pulling images down over UUCP nightly from Usenet.

Once I finally had the complete binary set downloaded, I got ahold of many boxes of floppies, wrote the images, and did my first Linux install.

That bootstrapping was the hard part. Once Linux was actually installed, the entire non-BBS online universe of the Internet became massively easy to navigate (at the time, it was not easy to do Internet on PCs—there was little if anything on http:/// but that was the only protocol supported by DOS-based systems or by Macs) because now I had gopher, wais, archie, veronica, ftp, and so on. It was like boostraping your home computing universe into the Internet age.

The drivers were really of secondary importance once you got your hands on a complete distro. You'd just note which graphics hardware was supported by the X binaries, for example, and then go out and buy that card for $50 or $100. That was easy compared to actually getting your hands on a complete distro stored on the right machine and OS (DOS to write the images) and then getting it all written out and ready for install from floppies.

Comment "Proprietary?" (Score 2) 154

I find this use of the term "proprietary" to be significantly different from the usual intended meaning of the term.

Usually, "proprietary" means intellectual property belonging to a private organization, with a harsh hand taken to prevent reverse engineering and the stated assertion (either in EULAs or otherwise) that no use can be made in any way of reverse engineered output without being subject to legal action.

Here, "proprietary" apparently means "hard to understand" since everything else does not apply—not a private organization, no need to reverse engineer since it's an interpreted language, etc. By this standard, all of the perl and assembly code in the universe is "proprietary" since it's not written with forty character variable names.

Seems a stretch.

Comment Re:It's been a while since I was a CS student. (Score 1) 173

I think there are two fundamental concepts here:

1) Understanding information as representation (cryptography here) and eliminating conceptual ambiguity/unpredictability in algorithmics (security "flaws" here). These fundamentals are absolutely part of the basics of CS, but the emphasis is more on correctness: understanding the nature, reversibility, and properties of the representation and the invariants and rigor of the algorithmics. This is good CS in general, for all cases, and you're right, it's also the fundamentals of security.

But I think when they say "teach security" they actually mean:

2) Harden designed and deployed systems against common vectors for attack in real-world situations.

This requires not just the items from (1) but also a familiarity with particular architectures, implementations, protocols, languages, and conventions and conditions of user thought and behavior. So while there is overlap, I suspect that calls for "teaching security" aren't going to be satisfied with cryptographic theory and parsimonious, sound, and unambiguous algorithmics with strong assumption and bounds checking. Most policy people wouldn't consider that to be "teaching computer security."

Comment Re:It's been a while since I was a CS student. (Score 1) 173

Er, "to the level of."

After reading this thread, I think a lot of Slashdot posters have no idea what "computer science" as a science actually is.

They think AI researchers or computer vision folks started by sitting down at an Apple IIe and banging out:

"10 REM This is my first crack at an AI program. Let's see how it goes."

Comment Re:It's been a while since I was a CS student. (Score 1) 173

This is what I think.

It should be required for anyone getting a degree that recommends their ability to write code and create systems.

It should not be required just because someone is getting a *computer science* degree, because (unless the science has completely disappeared) a lot of those guys would have to *first* learn how to code, *then* learn about deployment and networks and users, *then* learn security, and it would take serious time away from the actual thrust of their degree.

People are posting upthread about things being different now, about the engineering wing now being a part of many CS programs, which was not the case when I was in the field. So maybe a dual-track degree is in order. To get the degree with the software engineering emphasis, yes, you have to learn about security. But to get the degree on computational theory? It makes no sense to me, except in the case of those that want to work on cryptographic theory/information theory and so on.

For a lot of the guys I went to school with, it would just make no sense. They'd have to first learn to code before they learned about coding securely. Or they'd have to first learn about networks before they could learn about securing them. And so on. They were busy with problems totally unrelated to implementation and deployment, and it would turn the degree that they got into another degree entirely as they spent years learning how to build stuff, instead of how to rigorously conceptually represent stuff and how to rigorously prove stuff.

When I think "computer science," programmers are the farthest thing from my mind. I imagine blackboards and chalk and lots and lots of scribbling. Not writing well-formed PHP+SQL code. Like, totally separate universes.

Comment Re:It's been a while since I was a CS student. (Score 2) 173

I have no problem with the idea that there ought to be courses on security, just not in CS where (at least when I was a student) that's not really what they do. They're in the business of figuring out/proving/disproving whether things *can be computed in theory* and how, in theory.

Security just isn't a question that has anything to do with that, and these are people that write comparatively little code. It's not what the discipline is about.

There *are* people that spend their time learning how to code, and how to code properly for real-world situations and deployment (which is precisely where security becomes an issue). That's my point. Security ought to be taught where people are actually learning to code, deploy, and operate. It's a serious, rigorous field of its own. It just doesn't happen to be computer science (which, if it helps you, could just as easily be called "computation theory").

Comment Yeah, this. (Score 3, Informative) 173

At least in the CS school I attended, I don't think there were many people that could have "fixed a computer" or "written an application," even amongst the faculty, really. Their job was to answer the question "Can this real-world phenomenon, problem, or pattern be usefully symbolically represented for processing, and if so, how, and with what consequences?" If they were able to answer this question, they'd then toss it over to engineers in the CE department for "Can you design for us an apparatus or a program that carries out this kind of symbolic representation in the interest of computation?"

Two very separate fields.

Comment Typo: "implementations CE had designed" (Score 1) 173

should have been.

CS = math + theory
CE = programming + hardware
IT = deployment + operations

That's the way it was at my university back in the '90s. This was at a large school that is in what is now the PAC-12 conference. Each one was a separate, rigorous four-year degree.

Comment Re:It's been a while since I was a CS student. (Score 1) 173

In my CS program, it was the same—huge on math and theory and the mathematical representation of concepts, problems, and sequences/patterns. Very little coding. Just enough code in year one to get you able to actually touch keyboards and do the math, but otherwise, very little "applied" technology of any kind.

That, we were told, belonged to the engineering wing over in computer engineering, who was to worry about implementation of CS concepts and theory, and to the applied/operations wing over in information technology, who was to worry about day-to-day computation in the real world using the implementations CS had designed. We even had a 1xx class on the divisions and consequences, etc.:

Sequence: CS = Research/Theory -> CE = Implementation -> IT = Real-world application of implementation -> Feedback sent back up the chain

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