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Comment Go slow, let them own it. (Score 1) 467

We *nix nuts often think that *nix is the best, but we also often forget that we didn't come to this conclusion of someone else's volition. We came to it because we learned it for ourselves. In general, the first psychological reaction of "do this because I said so" is "screw you." You won't "get them to connect the dots" if that's what you're blatantly trying to do. They will do it of their own volition, however, if you just be your enthusiastic self, and talk about why you like this feature or that. When they can apply the skills you teach them to their own projects, they will be hooked, but the key is that they have to do it.

If they're fresh to the *nix terminal, or *nix in general, start slow, and, for the students' sake, consider doing just rote labs at first. The major ins and outs of the terminal are many and varied, so covering them all will be difficult and overwhelming. Instead you might introduce them to the shell by way of a simple set of exercises (programming or otherwise) that build on each other week-by-week. As commands are needed, introduce them, but no sooner; any sooner and you risk overwhelming them. The first CS course has historically provided an incredible learning curve, not due to the conceptual bits you want students to learn, but to the outside learning that we take for granted once we know it. Small things, like the directory structure (i.e. strange/new/arcane compared to Windows), all the command line flags, and the excess of information that comes way too fast.

Skilled teachers introduce their subjects like a conversation: they don't blow their wad in the first 2 sentences. They start slow, introduce a concept, munge it, then build from there. Introducing the maze of power and concepts that is the shell really can't be done in one single class. Getting "them to connect the dots" is not within your control. Just as you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink, so too is it with your students. Have a project into which they can sink their teeth, like building C/C++ program with a few different files, or writing a shell script to collect data from 5 of their classmates computers via ssh. When they can take ownership, they'll connect the dots on their own.

Finally, remember that this is an introductory course, so they likely will not know what you may think they should. They are not stupid, just uneducated on this subject; remember that they're there to change that.

Comment Re:Wat (Score 5, Informative) 307

What gives you the impression that the key-exchange in SSH is vulnerable?

Answer: The key-exchange is not vulnerable. However, there is an issue the first time you connect to one host from the other. That initial message that most people ignore is a possible MITM (Man in the Middle) avenue a cracker could harness.

Example message:

The authenticity of host ' (' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is 96:21:c3:32:3d:cc:18:d5:53:6a:d4:0d:0d:73:c6:1a.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?

While giving the password to the remote server for authentication may be secure, unless you've verified that fingerprint, you don't know to whom you're talking. That is, when you connect the first time, and you blindly accept that fingerprint, if it's a cracker, you are literally typing your password to the rogue machine (that would then turn around and log in "as you" to the real machine).

Ideally, you would to verify that fingerprint with a version you get through alternate, presumably secure, means. E.g. an over-the-phone conversation with an administrator, or physically accessing the work system and writing it down, or (temporarily) connecting directly to the server with a cross-over cable.

Comment Haduh! (Score 2, Interesting) 187

In U.S. culture at least, we have little notion of how to let the "other side" save face. Saving face, or not 100% embarrassing folks when they've obviously messed up, is critically important in many negotiations, both exactly political, and locally among friends. The old adage "it's not what you say, it's how you say it," still rings true. People aren't stupid, and most would rather not be insinuated as such. People do, however, make mistakes, either semi-intentionally, unknowingly. (Analogous to driving, right? That's why they call crashes "accidents".)

Ridiculing folks gets folks nowhere. In the long run, most would agree that having businesses around and prospering is a good thing. (Let's not get into a debate about size of businesses for now.) A healthy business affords jobs to the local community, a service to those who need it, and acts as a community partner. A dead business does no such thing. A friendly reminder is often more than enough to get someone to clean up there act. I know it sure is for me.

Comment Re:I Call Shenanigans (Score 1) 227

That's disappointing because it's a good idea whose time has been very long in coming.

Erm ... hasn't Firefox had a browser-based webserver for at least a couple of years?

Perhaps the difference is the already-built-in-nature as compared to the-user-must-install-it? There is definitely something to be said for teaching the general public and making standard useful tools.

Comment Re:In Soviet Russia, web sites visit you (Score 1) 216

Umm, I run separate browser instances all the time. I do it mainly to keep different projects separated, but there's no special script necessary. It's a commandline option to Firefox, which I've updated in my launch icon:

$ firefox -ProfileManager -no-remote

This tells the new instance of firefox to not use an already existing firefox instance (-no-remote), and allows you to select or create a different profile. The histories are completely separate.

Comment Re:um, does this make sense? (Score 1) 131

As with most things open source, it's not what the program is per se, but rather what one does with it that's important. Think data. The programs themselves can be Free; what they produce does not have to be and likely isn't.

For example, the ability to

  • run your hardware can be done as effectively with Linux as it can with Windows. What one does with each usually independent of OS one runs.
  • create basic documents can be done as effectively with OpenOffice as with MS Word. The content created is independent of which office suite running.
  • surf the web can done as effectively with FireFox as with Internet Explorer. The content viewed is independent of the browser in question.
  • read PDFs can be done as effectively with Evince or Okular as it can with Adobe Reader. What a human interprets is independent of the program used to display the file content.

But, to allay your fears, I doubt the military is going entirely open source

Comment About time. (Score 2, Insightful) 1385

Would you travel on the new high speed lines?"

Absolutely, yes.

If I had to travel to anywhere it serviced, or had friends nearby the service areas, totally. It is so much more efficient for my time to sit on a train and read a book, type on my computer, or sleep than it is to be forced to pay attention to the road. Or, for air travel, I have a lot of stop and go action, driving to the airport, waiting in the security line, getting on and off the plane, inability to use electronic devices for large swaths of travel, etc. (Plus, no power.)

To make it analogous to computers, think of the brain as a processor. It's hella wasteful for it to be sitting idle. Public transportation lets it be more productively active. Parallel work flows.

Can rail work in the land where the car is king?

Yes, but it's much harder for the "older generation" to see it. (You can define older generation for yourself.) As a 25 year-old, I grew up with congested roads, idiot drivers (you don't even know who you are!), and 30-minutes or more as a standard driving time. Hello suburbia and rural areas. Conversely, my father grew up when gas was 23 cents a gallon, and folks bought cars every other year because they were so cheap. Sunday drives "just because" were common, and, at the risk of getting flamed, with a slightly richer average socio-economic status associated with cars then, also came a slightly more educated and conscientious crowd -- i.e. less idiots on road in general.

I won't claim that I'm the norm, but I do claim that I'm on some part of a trend that will eventually be the norm.

Public transportation will happen, whether it's the rails this year, maglev in 20 years, or something else. Like a lot of other socially stagnant issues, the timeline is associated with the old ones digging their heels in. Change is hard, but when they die, it gets easier. Kind of like racist attitudes. (With exceptions, racist people generally don't change their minds. They die.)

Comment Re:Great news (Score 1) 828

What graphic card and driver are you using? I've read that KDE4 has issues with nvidia binary driver versions earlier than 177.80 due to bugs in the driver.

That's exactly the point. KDE4 "has problems" that Gnome doesn't. Thus, for what I (and I'd guess many others as well) do, KDE4 is almost unusable. Or put simply, Gnome works, KDE4 doesn't.

I'll give you that sometimes you have to fix hardware issues. (At least one does in the Windows world.) On the other hand, I've experienced similar slow differentials on similar hardware with and without binary drivers from nVidia, with integrated graphics systems, and with ATI cards.

The slow issue is one of a few problems, that for me, are show-stoppers.

Comment Re:Great news (Score 1) 828

[KDE and Gnome both good for different reasons]

While I would hate to see Gnome consigned to the dustbin I think it's about time they gave up and admitted that KDE has won (flame away). I admit that KDE isn't perfect, far from it, but KDE4+ is streets ahead of Gnome now and the big hurdle to widespread use by companies has now vanished.

I will give you that KDE4 has a ton more features than Gnome, as well as a couple of programs that are better. However, as an outside observer (read: end-user), Gnome and affiliated programs fit my bill because they are generally more stable, and have smaller memory-footprints to boot.

Anecdotally, let me give some examples:

  • At work, I have two identical machines, circa 1 year ago hardware-wise. I'm running Kubuntu 8.10 and Ubuntu 8.10 on them. The KDE one regularly "loses" the mouse or keyboard. They just plain stop responding. I used to have to CTRL-ALT-F1, and restart kdm to get back responsiveness. The Gnome version has yet to show me this behavior.
  • The KDE desktop will entirely freeze from time to time. I'm not running much, just doing something simple, like switching between desktops, or alt-tabbing through windows. And bam. I have to resort to CTRL-ALT-F1. Sometimes that won't even work, and I have to hard-reboot. Doing similar in Gnome has yet to show me similar behavior. (I use them both in similar ways, for the same things - it's a test environment.)
  • Programs will randomly quit. An example is KMail. If I get a new IMAP mail, it sometimes decides to quit. Evolution does this too, but much less frequently.
  • Off the top of my head, some KDE programs with different, but annoying problems: Kate, KOffice, Konqueror, Kopete, Konversation, Kirc. In contrast, I find that their GTK counterparts "just work," are faster, and use less memory to boot. Gedit/jEdit? OpenOffice? Firefox? Pidgin? Yeah, very successful on the Gnome desktop.

On that note, I find that KDE and QT apps are just ... slower than Gnome and GTK apps. Clicking on a menu shouldn't take 4 or 5 seconds to pop up. It should be pert-near instantaneous. Switching desktops should take milliseconds, not seconds, nor should it matter to which virtual desktop I'm switching.

I'm not dissing KDE, but rather pointing out that it's not as complete as folks say it is. I'll concede KDE's successes. I have only small gripes against Amarok, and indeed use it as my default music client. I believe Konsole to be superior to Gnome's terminal in terms of usability. Okular is a decent program although I prefer Evince for it's simplicity.

But for the majority of my KDE4 experience ... Crashing randomly, even if it's only in my particular use case, is hardly successful, especially when the counterpart doesn't crash for my use case. Using excess memory is another no-no. I have 4 Gigs on both of these machines, and the KDE one consistently has problems, starting to swap, etc. Unacceptable.

I believe that Gnome is far from dead, and as long as KDE has these problems, it is not nearly as far ahead of Gnome as one might think. In fact, in my mind, stability and resource usage are far more important.

But what do I know? I'm just an end-user.

Comment Re:Well, for one thing.. (Score 1) 518

Yes there was a Linux version as well. I just opted for the almost-same hardware but with Windows for the $300 difference. All of my hardware (64-bitness, webcam, wireless, bluetooth, media buttons, all of it) has worked flawlessly from the get-go. Just struggled with Flash, but that's not for this discussion.

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