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Submission + - Quicken Bill Pay is No Longer Safe to Use (perens.com) 1

Bruce Perens writes: I don't usually make security calls, but when a company makes egregious and really clueless security mistakes, it's often the case that the only way to attract their attention and get the issue fixed is to publicize it. This one is with Quicken Bill Pay, a product of Metavante (not Intuit). It's from personal observation rather than an expert witness case, and the company has been unresponsive through their customer support channel.

Comment Re:Huh? I use these all the time. (Score 1) 220

This gets down to something that used to be a common UI design principle before software became so feature-ful it became impractical: manifest interface.

The idea of a manifest interface (which also is a principle in language and API design) is that if the software has a capability you should be able to see it. You shouldn't have to root around to stumble upon it. Tabs follow this principle; there's enough visual and behavioral cues to suggest that you need to click on a tab. The little "x" in the tab also follows this principle.

But context menus you access by right-clicking break this rule, which means that there may be millions of people laboriously clicking on "x" after "x", unaware that they can make all the extraneous tabs in their browser disappear with just two clicks.

This, by the way, is why Macintoshes were designed with one button on the mouse. But even Mac UI designers couldn't get by with just single and double-click, so you have option-click too, bit by in large you could operate most programs without it.

Anyhow, to make sure people know about this kind of feature, your program is going to have to watch their behavior and suggest they try right clicking. But that way lies Clippy...

Comment Re:Conversely... (Score 1) 224

Yesterday I bought some 1 x 6 treated boards and sawed them to length.

Yeah, about that. Those boards might have been made of the Fast-Gro (a trademark of the Brawndo corporation) variety of southern pine, a protected plant variant. Furthermore, that treatment process is patented (the EPA outlawed the public domain one). If this ruling stands, one or both rights-holders can insist that you use only their equipment to cut those boards to length. If you don't, your gate gets confiscated along with your house, sold to pay the penalties.

Comment Abandoning Time-Worn Processes Leads to Atrophy (Score 5, Insightful) 154

Scientists determined that those people who made use of machine washing rather than hand washing had diminished hand strength and neurological motor communication necessary for fine motor control. Seamstresses who bought thread rather than using the spinning jenny were similarly impaired. But worst off were teamsters who used the internal combustion trucks rather than teams of horses and used forklifts and other mechanical devices rather than loading their vehicles by hand. Their overall body strength was much reduced.

Comment Re:Making NASA Great Again (Score 5, Informative) 278

Actually the Wikipedia article on the National Aeronautics and Space Act has an interesting list of the legislation's priorities, starting with priority #1:

The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;

Historically speaking the act, which was signed into law in July of 1958, was a reaction to the "Sputnik Crisis" created by the Soviet launch of an artificial satellite eight months earlier in October of 1957 -- an act which filled Americans with awe and a little dread, knowing that a Soviet device was passing overhead every 96 minutes.

So arguably NASA was founded to achieve preeminence in Earth orbit, not necessarily manned space exploration, which isn't mentioned at all in the legislation. Yuri Gagarin's Vostok 1 flight was still three years in the future, and JFKs Rice Moon Speech followed a year and a half after that. That speech is well worth watching, by the way, if all you've ever seen is the "We choose to go to the moon" line.

Manned exploration of the outer solar system wasn't really what the founding of NASA was all about; in fact manned spaceflight has only a single mention in the unamended 1958 text:

... the term "aeronautical and space vehicles" means aircraft, missiles, satellites, and other space vehicles, manned and unmanned, together with related equipment, devices, components, and parts.

The main focus of NASA at its founding was to provide a single agency to coordinate space and spaced-based research, which at the time would have been largely (although not exclusively) Earth-focused.

Comment Re:Something stinks (Score 1) 379

Well, at present Putin's facing a financial crisis that is going to force him to drop military spending from 69 billion to 48 billion dollars. Germany is raising its defense spending to 40 billion, and if you factor in it doesn't need to defend vast terrain or have a multi-ocean blue water navy, Germany alone should be more than a match for the conventional forces of Russia.

Things may have looked different ten years ago when Russia was riding on high energy prices -- one of the reasons that the Obama administration was so pro-fracking: to contain Russian power. But today Europe really doesn't need the US to defend itself. Sure it'd have to shift some of its defense spending away from things that support US military operations to things that replace them.

In fact support of US power has been a major reason for continuing NATO since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. The multinational force in the Iraq War wouldn't have been possible without NATO, although it wasn't a NATO operation per se. Afghanistan was a NATO operation; in fact it is the sole time in the history of the organization that the Article V mutual defense provision has been trigger -- by the US in response to 9/11.

Comment Re:TLDR: UN says more whites = happiness? (Score 2) 379

Well, you can prove anything if you get to make up the categories, but seriously, lumping Europe with Asia? 60% of the world's population lives in Asia, and 15% of the world's population lives in Europe. So it's hardly amazing that if one of your categories comprises 75% of the people on the Earth that there there doesn't appear to be a lot of diversity. Your friends could include a Pakistani, Tibetan, Uygher, Eskimo, Finn, Scot, Basque and Serb and they wouldn't be a "diverse" group.

Comment Re:Meh... (Score 1) 379

Translation, he's an actual conservative, as in Edmund Burke, who supported the monarchy, but wrote about monarchists as self-evident idiots. He was well aware that monarchs don't have any moral claim to rule; he just thought that Britain had managed against all odds to make it work. He'd feel about the free market exactly as he felt about the crown.

Burke was the kind of ferociously skeptical conservative who loves liberty but despises theories of liberty, even when those theories support his own position. In other words he had integrity, which is rare in thinkers of any stripe.

Comment Re:Picking one at random (Score 1) 231

So yes.... you might get paid, but if you don't have enough of a passion to do what you get paid for

It is passion that is the mark of the amateur; the word is derived from the Latin for "love", after all.

To a professional, passion is dangerous, it leads to doing things that aren't remunerated.

then odds are going to be that you will be passed up for promotions

Ah, but promotions in this profession are a simple and spare thing. You work a few jobs, eventually you start calling yourself "Senior". After that, there's nowhere for a programmer to go and remain a programmer. You want to go beyond that, and you have to become a manager, or a lead, or an architect (God forbid!). Or you can go into business for yourself as a consultant, where you will have to be even more mercenary.

Comment Picking one at random (Score 5, Informative) 231

The Professional Programmer

What is a professional programmer?

A professional programmer is someone who gets paid to do the job of programming.

Professional programmers take responsibility for their career, their estimates, their schedule commitments, their mistakes, and their workmanship. A professional programmer does not pass that responsibility off on others.

Sorry, bud, but professionals take responsibility for what they're paid to take responsibility for; no more and no less. And push responsibility off when appropriate too, like when their boss commits them to a schedule they can't make without compromising workmanship.

If you are a professional, then you are responsible for your own career. You are responsible for reading and learning. You are responsible for staying up-to-date with the industry and the technology. Too many programmers feel that it is their employer's job to train them. Sorry, this is just dead wrong. Do you think doctors behave that way?

Hell, yeah, they do. What do you think a resident is? Maybe the author is confused because after residency, many doctors are owners of their own practice, at which point they are not just professionals but business owners. Me, I draw a salary. If my training is going to benefit The Company, it's on The Company to provide it.

Professionals take responsibility for the code they write. They do not release code unless they know it works.

Again with the confusion between a professional and someone with independent authority. My code goes out when the boss says it goes out, ready or not.

Professionals are team players. They take responsibility for the output of the whole team, not just their own work.

Obviously not familiar with life in a corporation. Managers and leads take responsibility for the output of the whole team, when that output is good. When things are fucked up, THEN the programmers get the responsibility. Shit flows downhill, credit is taken upward.

Professionals do not tolerate big bug lists.

Professionals fix those bugs, and only those bugs, they're being paid to fix. The rest can sit in the issue tracker until doomsday. Ain't no point in getting the boss riled up over spending time fixing a minor floating point division error when you're supposed to be working on the shiny new feature.

Professionals do not make a mess. They take pride in their workmanship. They keep their code clean, well structured, and easy to read. They follow agreed upon standards and best practices. They never, ever rush.

A professional rushes when being paid to rush. A professional keeps the code clean when practical under the constraints of the job. If that means we're getting the code out on time only with a bunch of copypasta and a goto or two, that's how it's going.

Professionals get paid. If they have a rare combination of independent authority and a client with respect for them, maybe they can have other principles too. Otherwise, they write the code which gets them paid.

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