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Comment Government regulations require broken algorithms (Score 1) 190

I've worked in government, where regulations forced specific security requirements. Because the regulations were based on some guy's understanding that was slightly outdated and slightly questionable at time they were written, they were completely outdated and foolish by the time we were following them.

As an example, regulations require the use of MD5, though weaknesses were found in MD5 in 1996 and it was more completely broken in 2004-2007. SHA-1, SHA-2, or SHA-3 would be much more secure, but regulations require MD5.

The federal standards relating to classified information are *better* at confidentiality though they don't account for the most recent threats, but they are wholly inappropriate for many tasks. They're also expensive and restrictive to implement because they require that each module by certified ("validated") which can take two years and several hundred thousand dollars - per module.

If there's anything that can be done on the legal side which can actually work, I think it'll be around liability. If you sell a product or service that gets hacked, you're liable unless you can prove that you followed best practices. A problem there is apparent if you've watched a locksmith unlock a few things. I used to work as a locksmith, and most locks, locks that follow industry standards, take about 30 seconds to open (hack). The highest security locks you'll normally find are made by Medeco. They take many minutes, even an hour or more, to open without a key. IT security isn't completely different, there's no magic that will keep a skilled attacker from abusing a system.

What we *can* do is harden systems against script kiddies and accidents - be sure that our systems don't allow employees to accidentally set our customer database to be directly accessible via the web, and our web site doesn't crash when John O'Reilly registers because he has an SQL "quote" in his name.

I've been doing information security full time for twenty years and before that I studied law. I don't see any clear way that law can improve information security much. Attempts to do so may well just make things more expensive, and possibly no more secure.

Comment See the Mythbusters on Youtube. Pointy object. Edg (Score 2) 190

Mythbusters did a segment on this, and maybe a revisit. A pointy object certainly helps. Kicking with both feet can do it, though. The side windows are just tempered glass, not the plastic-laminated safety glass.

On the other hand, tapping the EDGE of the glass, such as when trying to unlock the car with a coat hanger, can easily shatter the window. That happened to be and I didn't hit it hard at all.

Comment Just do whatever, and expose it to the internet (Score 1) 268

> Programming isn't terribly complex. If you want to program, just do it.

You really, really should know better than that by now. In the 1980s, if you wanted to write a really crappy macro and use it on your computer, fine. Today, most software is exposed on the internet and runs on devices connected to networks that people depend on, networks that contain private information of one kind or another. "Don't worry about knowing what you're doing, just do whatever" is an extremely foolish approach.

Comment Where most are too fat, thin is in. Where starving (Score 3, Interesting) 237

> . In some cultures, thin is attractive. In others, fat.

Specifically, in cultures in which the majority of people are overweight, where obesity-related causes such as heart disease are the most common causes of death, thinner than average tends to be a) healthier and b) generally considered attractive. In cultures in which food is scarce and malnutrition is a widespread problem, being heavier than the average starving peon is a) healthier and b) generally considered attractive.

Some people enjoy an excess of whatever is physically good, as if their libido thinks "if some is good, more is better". A plentiful supply of milk is good for reproductive odds, some guys enjoy very large breasts (where medium is sufficient); if a lot of people are malnourished thicker is healthier, and to some people very thick is very attractive.

Fashions vary, but standards of what turns people on is more the same across cultures than is different. (Especially when you factor in that "healthier than average weight" is the criteria - that may be thicker or thinner, depending on if the average is obese or malnourished).

Comment For me, sites use Flash only for ads / crap (Score 1) 92

For years I've not had Flash in my default browser, and maybe once or twice per year I come across I site that has Flash content I want to see. In those cases I launch my other browser.

I have no doubt that many of the sites you visit have *something* in flash, but what? Ads? A stupid animated splash page that just wastes your time?

Until early 2010, Flash was needed for Youtube, which was the last site I used it, or saw many people using it. Once Youtube had html5 as an option, six years ago, I've only really seen Flash used for crap I'd prefer to avoid anyway, such as ads. I can think of one exception - a Cisco tool I'm forced to learn for certification.

Comment That's me five years ago, and bad for everyone (Score 1) 449

> I personally consider hiring someone to do some job usually as somewhat of a failure of myself - either I am incompetent to do it myself or too lazy. ...
> I work as a sysadmin as my day job btw.

That was me up until about five years ago. Then about five years ago I started spending my time studying and getting some new certifications, which will also apply toward a degree. I now make four times as much money as I did five years ago, and I spend 25% of that directly paying people to do things I used to do myself. (For example renovating a bathroom last month.)

That leaves me with three times as much money (which I spend in ways that indirectly fund jobs for others), while the people I hire directly get paid as much as I used to make.

Economically, we're all better off if I specialize in what I'm best at, spending time increasing those skills, while paying other people to do what they're good at. I suppose that's the difference between a tribal economy where everybody hunts their own food and builds their own home versus a modern economy where professional construction workers build homes and professional farmers raise food for everyone. I suppose I'm ABLE to grow all my own vegetables, but that's wasteful of my time when I could instead be doing what I specialize in.

Comment The studies show programmers hire daycare (Score 0) 449

What the studies show, overwhelmingly, is that as a culture moves from being based in manufacturing to electronics and then information technology, the new programmers and database administrators hire daycare teachers, home care aids for their parents, hair dressers, and many other low-skilled jobs that arw better than the unskilled jobs picking cotton. Specifically, for every job lost, about five are created, and they aren't all high-tech, needing a lot of education. Factory workers change their own oil, database administrators HIRE someone to change their oil.

Comment You're missing some things (Score 1) 449

> Another effect is that in the past when jobs got automated away, there were still many low skilled jobs for the majority of the people.

It's not that there were *still* jobs. When electricity became readily available, machines started doing many jobs that previously had been done by humans, and that same automation that took over some jobs created many, many more jobs. There were a LOT of low to medium-skill jobs created by popularity lf electrical machines. I'd bet the MAJORITY of people currently working for less than $20/hour are doing jobs where they use electrical machines - automation created their job.

Later, electronics automated many jobs, and created many more. Then computers automated many jobs , most secretarial work, bookkeeping, etc. At the same time, the availability of computers created many new jobs. It's not that there were still jobs "left over", most of us do jobs that didn't exist 200 years ago; our jobs were CREATED by automation. What do you do in your job? I bet your job is to supervise and control some machine that automatically does the hard part for you.

> That and the scale of automation is much greater today than in the past.

It was in the late 1800s to mid 1900s that most jobs were automated in the sense that a machine does the actual "hands on" work while the human supervises and controls it. In the farmer's field, the combine lifts the harvest from the soil, while the farmer sits at the controls. The pilot sits and waits in case the autopilot needs to be switched to a new route. Workers at the dam and power plant watch screens, ready to push the button which causes the system to open and close gates thousands of feet away, if the system determines that it's safe to do so based on all sensor inputs. Very few workers use their muscles today. Rather, they monitor, control, and R&D tyre machines that do the real work. The pace of that transition peaked around 1941.

The most recent peak was 75 years ago, but this has been happening since the invention of the wheel. The3 availability of wheels meant that machines could be built to do things. That eliminated many jobs and created many more.

Comment The very same technology that did the old jobs (Score 1) 449

> What you call the information sector was only enabled by technology simultaneously becoming available.

Yes, the technology called "electricity" took over some old jobs and created a bunch of new, higher-paying jobs.

Next, the technology called "electronics" took over some old jobs and created a bunch of new , higher-paying jobs.

Yes, the technology called "computing" took over some old jobs and created a bunch of new, higher-paying jobs.

Before any of that, the technology called the "steam engine" took over some old jobs and created a bunch of new, higher-paying jobs.

Before that, the technology called the "wheel" took over some old jobs and created a bunch of new, higher-paying jobs.

Comment Many true statements, just like 1816, 1916, 1966 (Score 1) 449

> a) not everyone has the ability, skill or desire to just jump into programming

And 200 years ago, not everyone had the ability, skill, or desire to move to the city and just jump into manufacturing. 50 years ago not everyone had the ability, skill, or desire to just jump into operating the new electronic machines.

> b) programming can be automated too

Farming was automated, manufacturing was automated. When manufacturing was automated, we got consistent, controllable quality. Maybe as programming is automated we'll gain the ability to have consistent, predictable quality in software. That would be awesome.

> You also gloss over that all of the farmers who were cast aside by automation were absorbed into the very factories

That's quite the point. When people no longer had to pick the cotton (making raw cotton less expensive), they could instead work making things with the cotton, a higher paying job. When the looms were automated (making textile products less expensive), people moved again to higher paying jobs. As the factories were automated, even less skilled people moved into office jobs - data entry, secretaries, customer service, etc. As secretarial, data entry, etc. was automated (making data-centered tasks less expensive), the entire information economy was created.

It goes back far beyond 250 years ago, too. The invention potter's wheel meant fewer people needed to be working on creating pottery, heck the wheel itself meant far fewer people were needed for MOST jobs. The result of that, always for thousands of years, is that the output of those tasks becomes less expensive, having been produced by machine. That allows people to do cool new stuff with it - the material is cheaply available and they have the time to do something new with it.

Comment He's right. (and has been for hundreds of years) (Score 4, Insightful) 449

Hawking wrote that "the automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing". Ignoring the obvious "that word doesn't mean what you think it does" regarding "decimate", he's right.

Automation HAS reduced the proportion of people who work in manufacturing, after it did the same in agriculture. That's happening now, just as it's been happening for 250 years. There was a time when most people worked to produce food and other necessary agricultural products. Automation by machines such harvesters meant that people could stop spending their time trying to produce enough food and move to building convenience items, such as dishwashers, electrical ovens, etc. They could also spend much more time doing R&D to invent radio, TV, airplanes, etc. Once we had machines doing the physical manufacture of products, we spent our time creating an entire new sector of the economy; neither agriculture, manufacturing, nor service. Humans started spending our time creating the *information* sector, building web pages, etc. I'm excited to see what we create next, and I'm glad I don't have to till the field today.

Comment It's like I said the other day - if San Francisco (Score 4, Funny) 322

This reminds me of something I mentioned here on Slashdot just the other day. Though it's not looking like San Francisco will really be underwater by 2020, if it is, refugees from San Francisco will come *here* wearing their assless leather pants. That's worrisome.

Now back to News for Nerds.

Comment Parables, yes. God said he would not destroy Sodom (Score 1) 410

> That said there's considerable evidence that the stories in the Bible and Koran are meant as parables and not to be taken literally.

Of course, starting with the fact that the text explicitly says so. Jesus said very few would understand his stories, though many more would THINK they understood. Some old testament is an interleaving of actual oral history as understood at the time with parable-like lessons of wisdom. You mention Sodom, which was destroyed by a "rain of fire". Archeological evidence indicates that some kind of extreme heat, much beyond the heat house fires, did destroy some settlements in the area - perhaps a meteor. (Google desert glass).

> That God punishes the faithful for the sins of the unfaithful, ... We see this in Sodom & Gomorrah and the Floods.

The biblical story of Sodom & Gomorrah has God saying he would NOT destroy the city if any good people were there, then the angels tell the one good man, Lot, to flee from the city and don't look back. His wife turned back and was "turned into a pillar of salt" (covered by ash?)

Comment Proves Iran has capability to hurt the US with cyb (Score 1) 184

We've known for years that Iran's leadership is all about "death to America". The attack on Saudi Arabia shows that they CAN perform significant cyber* attacks. They can do damage though cyber, and they want to attack the USA. Means and motive. We've damn sure given them the opportunity - our IT security is crap.

Additionally, with Iran (and China) actively using these as offensive weapons, the odds are very good that other countries will rush to improve and enlarge each of their cyberwarfare capabilities. In other words, it's yet another neon sign warning that cyber is truly becoming a military branch now, an important means of warfare. For Naval warfare, for example, the US Navy is far superior to any other naval force; for cyber warfare, we're not nearly so dominant. The president-elect (and commander-in-chief) had better address this.

* Yes, "cyber" is an anachronism, EXCEPT when it comes to cybersecurity / cyberwarfare. So before you post "who calls it 'cyber' anymore?", the US military and defense and security sectors call it cyber. That's the term that's used.

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