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Submission + - SPAM: NSA's best are 'leaving in big numbers,' insiders say

schwit1 writes: Low morale at the National Security Agency is causing some of the agency's most talented people to leave in favor of private sector jobs, former NSA Director Keith Alexander told a room full of journalism students, professors and cybersecurity executives Tuesday. The retired general and other insiders say a combination of economic and social factors — including negative press coverage — have played a part.

"I do hear that people are increasingly leaving in large numbers and it is a combination of things that start with [morale] and there's now much more money on the outside," Alexander said. "I am honestly surprised that some of these people in cyber companies make up to seven figures. That's five times what the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff makes. Right? And these are people that are 32 years old."

"Do the math. [The NSA] has great competition," he said.

The rate at which these cyber-tacticians are exiting public service has increased over the last several years and has gotten considerably worse over the last 12 months, multiple former NSA officials and D.C. area-based cybersecurity employers have told CyberScoop in recent weeks.

"Morale has always been an issue at NSA, with roughly 20 percent of the workforce doing 80 percent of the actual work," a former official told CyberScoop on the condition of anonymity. "NSA is a place where people retire in place. At some point watching this behavior even for motivated people becomes highly demotivating."

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Hitchbot Irreparably Damaged in Philadelphia

evenmoreconfused writes: The hitchhiking robot Hitchbot created by a team of Canadian researchers has apparently been vandalized so badly that it's abandoned its trip from Boston to San Francisco. Hitchbot had previously completed a cross-country trip of Canada, explored Germany and the Netherlands, and even watched a game at Fenway Park. But now it's over:

hitchBOT’s trip came to an end last night in Philadelphia after having spent a little over two weeks hitchhiking and visiting sites in Boston, Salem, Gloucester, Marblehead, and New York City. Unfortunately, hitchBOT was vandalized overnight in Philadelphia; sometimes bad things happen to good robots.

Comment Re: Knowing when not to (Score 3, Interesting) 345

Even though I believe I'm quite a good coder, when I read code from 5 years ago, I'm always surprised to realize that I can do better and simpler.

Whatever the state of your code is today, it will be a mess in a few years.

Yes. I find this to be the case too (I was a programmer in the seventies and eighties, and have been in programming management ever since).

So it begs the question "can one write code that one won't think is sub-optimal five years from now?". I've begun to suspect that one can't -- so just learn to accept it and move on.

What I try to get programmers to do is write code that is A) clear and simple and B) balanced in terms of development vs. maintenance time. I don't want programmers wasting time perfecting code that's not going even be looked at for years to come, nor do I want code that takes days to get into when attempting small fixes.

It's like building a house: if you follow the building standards, it's quick, safe, and any plumber or other trade can walk in later and quickly fix or modify things. If you do a bodge job it all has to be torn out and redone properly, or, if you create custom installations, it gets very expensive to create and especially to maintain.

Submission + - Microsoft's Skype Drops Modern App In Favour Of Old Fashioned Win32 App (

mikejuk writes: Microsoft, after putting a lot of effort into persuading us that Universal Apps are the way of the future pulls the plug on Skype modern app to leave just the desktop version. The split in Windows apps created by the launch of Windows 8 still persists today and Microsoft is currently trying to fix this huge blunder by creating a true Windows 10 Universal App that can run on desktop, phone and mobile.Microsoft's argument is that any WinRT apps that you have or old style Windows 8 Universal apps can easily be converted to a Windows 10 Universal app with a single code base for all platforms.
Skype is one of Microsoft's flagship products and it has been available as a desktop Win32 app and as a Modern/Metro/WinRT app for some time. You would think that Skype would support Universal Apps, there are few enough of them — but no. According to the Skype blog:
"Starting on July 7, we’re updating PC users of the Windows modern application to the Windows desktop application, and retiring the modern application."
Microsoft is pushing Windows 10 Universal Apps as the development platform for now and the future but its Skype team have just disagreed big time. What ever this is not a good example of dog fooding and puts in doubt any decision programmer might have made about being an early adopter of Windows 10 Universal Apps — if Microsoft can't get behind the plan why should developers?

Submission + - SourceForge Analysis of nmap project and data (

An anonymous reader writes: A few days ago, the maintainer of nmap (an open source network mapping tool) complained that SourceForge had taken over the nmap project page. SourceForge has now responded with a technical analysis of the nmap project history. "We’ve confirmed conclusively that no changes were made to the project or data, and that all past download delivery by nmap on SourceForge was through our web hosting service where content is project-administered."

They detail the history of services used by the nmap project, and use screenshots from to show how long the project was empty. SourceForge: "The last update date in 2013 relates to the migration of the nmap project (along with all other projects on the site) from SourceForge’s sfx code base to the new Apache Allura-based code base. This migration was an automated operation conducted for all projects, and this platform change did not augment data in the Project Web service or File Release System. We therefore conclude that no content has been removed from the nmap project page. Look and feel of this page has changed over time, but the underlying data remains has remained unchanged by staff." They also confirm that nmap downloads were never bundled with ads: "Infosec professionals do not generally wish to install secondary offers."

Submission + - Airbus confirms crash as a result of software failure.

sabri writes: As far as I know this is the first time that a manufacturer has confirmed that the root-cause of a plane crash is believed to be a software error. Airbus writes:

CITAAM confirmed that engines 1, 2 and 3 experienced power frozen after lift-off and did not respond to the crew’s attempts to control the power setting in the normal way, whilst engine 4 responded to throttle demands. When the power levers were set to “flight idle” in an attempt to reduce power, the power reduced but then remained at “flight idle” on the three affected engines for the remainder of the flight despite attempts by the crew to regain power. This statement is consistent with those three engines being affected by the issue addressed with our AOT.

Dutch newspaper NRC confirmed as well that the root-cause is believed to be software related.

Are these the first confirmed dead due to a software issue?

Submission + - Sourceforge staff takes over a user's account and wraps their software installer ( 11

An anonymous reader writes: Sourceforge staff took over the account of the GIMP-for-Windows maintainer claiming it was abandoned and used this opportunity to wrap the installer in crapware. Quoting Ars:

SourceForge, the code repository site owned by Slashdot Media, has apparently seized control of the account hosting GIMP for Windows on the service, according to e-mails and discussions amongst members of the GIMP community—locking out GIMP's lead Windows developer. And now anyone downloading the Windows version of the open source image editing tool from SourceForge gets the software wrapped in an installer replete with advertisements.

Comment An Old Story (Score 3, Insightful) 386

"... but the fact itself that someone is making decisions for me regarding things like that makes me feel somewhat displeased. C++ doesn't restrict programmers regarding what they can or cannot use."

That's exactly what I said about C vs. 360/Assembler 25 or more years ago. And I still prefer to code in Assembler.

Comment Re:Please explain (Score 1) 158

- Two automotive GPSs
- Six current family smartphones
- At least five older smartphones in drawers
- One of these:
- No doubt a few others I've forgotten

PS: this doesn't count the tracker in the Community Car Pool vehicle we sometimes have custody of (we consider it "ours" as it's home base is only about 100M away).

Comment Hands Up App (Score 4, Informative) 509

The "Hands Up" app ( ) has just been released and is designed to deal with these issues. It's quite clever and records the your interaction with the police as usual, but also:
- Turns the screen blank but keeps recording;
- Automatically uploads geotagged video segments to Dropbox every few seconds, preserving the recording even if it's erased or the phone is destroyed; and,
- Sends a text message to your emergency contact notifying them of the recording's existence.

Comment Re:Easy grammar (Score 2) 626

Now, I'm off for a pint, you can go and enjoy your 0.568261 litres of fizzy beverage while you sit in the corner with your po-faced mates and discuss base 10 maths :-)

I invoke the insensitive clod clause.

Here we go off for a litre -- you can go and enjoy your 2.11338 pints of fizzy beverage (and btw, was that Imperial or US pints?). Also, discuss base 10 maths if you must, but base 16 may be more interesting and useful around here.

Also, this way we get more beer.

Comment Re:Monopoly (Score 1) 198

Yes. Here they call it Bureau en Gros, of course, but it's all very much of a muchness. My point is that whatever the sector, it turns out that there are several apparent retailers, but closer examination reveals that what's on offer is the same stuff, at nearly identical prices, and in fact has the same owners.

For that matter, many of the people here probably have (at least indirectly) small amounts of most of these companies in their 401Ks / IRAs / RRSPs / whatever.

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