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Comment Test-driven Excel (Score 1) 319

I'm a relative newbie to Excel but the first thing I learned was never to trust any of the cells where any calculations are performed.

As my spreadsheets got more and more complex I quickly realised small errors in one worksheet could manifest themselves in really ugly - but very subtle - ways. One simple-looking calculation on one worksheet could blow out an entire model if it there was even a small typo.

I suspect many people using Excel haven't learned this lesson yet. I was lucky that I noticed it myself before learning the hard way.

My solution was to have entirely separate worksheets where I would basically apply rough/simple TDD principles - have some known quantities and results in any complex calculation sections and make sure they were clearly visible at all time. That way as the spreadsheet evolves it can help you catch small errors before they ruin their day.

I'm sure pro Excel people have many more useful tricks.

Comment It's not that hard (Score 3, Interesting) 154

Oracle, if you want to be total dicks to google but get tech people on side so we start giving a shit about you, here's an idea: build us a nice open source browser with no telemetry that blocks ads. Base it on Chromium. Make it fast and lightweight and strip out anything that might annoy privacy advocates (like syncing) and make it an optional extension.

Short of building a better search engine it's the only thing I could imagine making me try one of your products again.

Comment Except for the one that doesn't (Score 4, Informative) 147

At first I was all like, so the security expert can tell me that some of these password meters rate things like "p@ssword" as secure when they're obviously not, but they're not /quite/ expert enough to come up with a better tool that can more accurately gauge password strength?!@

Then I read the article; lo and behold, the author actually points out an open source tool called zxcvbn by Dropbox that is actually good at it (or at least, doesn't suck on the harsh battery of tests that these products were subject to (basically just running five passwords through six different meters).

tldr: use zxcvbn

Comment Re:Progress (Score 1) 128

Too bad the computers will NEVER be able to reliably make the kinds of judgment calls that humans can and the entire AI borg system is going to come crashing down sooner or later, so we really won't have to worry about the anti-humanist ilk ever really doing much of anything to worry about.

Yeh cool, but also computers will NEVER be able to make the kinds of terrible judgement calls that many humans make when, for example, behind the wheel of a car.

A computer isn't going to have 6 beers and then decide it's OK to drive. They're not going to drive at twice the speed limit at 4am because while tired because they want to get home faster. They're not going to have casual lapses in attention while reaching for a coffee or checking out a cute girl on the side of the road.

I don't like driving, I don't like being driven - I just don't like being in cars. 99% of driving is a sheer grind - a risky grind in which the casual inattention of others could result in my messy death.

I personally think there'll be MORE of a human element with computer-driven cars. I'd love to take a road trip with my friends where we can all have a beer and play cards or something.

Comment Re:How can you tell? (Score 1) 129

According to their PR people that is apparently what they did.

This timeline of events suggests that the second DDOS (or "a significant increase in traffic") occurred at 11:46am local time.

At 11:50am local time they blocked all international traffic. This somehow lead to a "short system outage" (which I assume means the whole thing collapsed).

At 4:58pm there was another increase in traffic, "automatically defended by network fire walls". One must assume then that this was all local traffic if we assume that all international traffic was blocked - so either local DDOS impact, or, maybe, new demand from legitimate users.

At 7:30pm though is where things get interesting. There's another "significant" denial of service. This coincides with a lot of legitimate traffic as we enter Australian peak Internet hours. (Again, we can wonder if the DoS was actually just legitimate users smashing their application, but there's no data to decide one way or the other.)

But the fascinating part is that this incident was "significant" because their "geo-blocking service fell over". This apparently then caused a router failure.

First of all, what?! Secondly, from this description it sounds like they were using a server-side geoip mechanism to block the international traffic that was responsible for the DDOS. This will obviously not help in cases where the sheer volume of DDOS traffic is overwhelming the network (which, in Australia, is most of them).

So the question is: was their DDOS mitigation plan limited to simply blocking the DDOS on the server side? Did they not have a contingency to contact their upstream network providers and block entire international routes (which would have cut the impact of most DDOSs off at the knees)?

Sadly most of this information (I think) came from a non-technical press conference, so there's not a lot of hard technical information available yet.

I hope that the ABS will make a lot of their information public - not so that us nerds criticise this whole train wreck (though that will be fun too), but so everyone can learn from the mistakes that were made and we can build better infrastructure.

Comment Literally just wall to wall video games (Score 1) 133

Getting kids to museums is hard enough but I feel like making them look at old technology (when the smartphone they're inevitably carrying in their pocket probably has more computing power than all of them combined) is a pretty special challenge.

On the other hand if you could tie it into video games at least they'd be able to do something interesting and entertaining while they're looking at all these old crusty machines. The evolution of video games, from Pong/Space Invaders to World of Warcraft/Call of Duty might be an interesting enough tale to tell visually and interactively to grab someone's attention.

Comment Re:Unfair? (Score 1) 112

China's 1 billion potential customers is hard for companies to pass up. Exporting to China is very difficult because they will price you out of the market. Your option is to give up 50% of control or stay home.

What happens with pure software/Internet companies though? I would have imagined they could exist quite happily without ever setting foot on Chinese soil. Will your service just get firewalled off if it's too successful and there are too many Chinese customers sending money overseas?

Comment Re:How much more Chrome-like is it? (Score 1) 236

There's one change I've noticed - the awesomebar dropdown has changed. I think it's the "Searching for something already in your bookmarks or open tabs? We added super smart icons to let you know" referred to in the official release notes.

The icons look different and the layout of the content is slightly different. Here's a shot of the previous version and the new version.

Classic Theme Restorer -> Location bar (3) -> Alternative appearance seems to restore the previous layout but it seems to still have a new font.

Fun times.

Comment Re:Multi-process not available for most users? (Score 1) 236

You can enable e10s by going to about:config and setting browser.tabs.remote.autostart to true. Restart your browser and then visit about:support and look up "Multiprocess Windows" on that page to see if it's enabled. (It might still be disabled if you have one or more add-ons that don't support e10s - if only it would tell you which)

Yeh it still shows as disabled with add-ons. I haven't tried with add-ons disabled (it'd kind of defeat the purpose of using Firefox for me :)

Comment Re:Multi-process not available for most users? (Score 1) 236

You can check if e10s is available by going to Options -> General -> "Enable multi-process Firefox". I think what TFA means is that it's off by default (unless you don't use addons) until Firefox 49, but can somebody confirm that?

I definitely do /not/ have that option available.

I can see a few things in about:config and about:support relating to it; it may be possible to get it going by mucking around with options but it's certainly not at the point to justify the headline.

Comment Multi-process not available for most users? (Score 5, Interesting) 236

I was kind of excited by this so updated immediately instead of my usual process of waiting a couple days.

While it was updating I did another unsual thing - clicked through to the article - where I read the following:

e10s rollout will take place in two phases, first in Firefox 48, and it will finish in Firefox 49, set for release on September 13, 2016.

Firefox with multi-process support will first reach 1 percent of the users who don't have any add-ons installed in their browser, and in ten days' time, Mozilla will activate e10s for 50 percent of the same users.

Full e10s support for Firefox instances using extensions or running on older versions of Windows will be available in the fall, during the second rollout phase scheduled for Firefox 49.

So, at a glance (and from what I can see from my now-updated install), multi-process is not /really/ included in this release except in certain cases like users who don't have any add-ons.

Submission + - In Memory: Seymour Papert

Paul Fernhout writes: The MIT Media Lab sadly informs us: "Seymour Papert, whose ideas and inventions transformed how millions of children around the world create and learn, died Sunday, July 31, 2016 at his home in East Blue Hill, Maine. He was 88. Papert's career traversed a trio of influential movements: child development, artificial intelligence, and educational technologies. Based on his insights into children's thinking and learning, Papert recognized that computers could be used not just to deliver information and instruction, but also to empower children to experiment, explore, and express themselves. The central tenet of his Constructionist theory of learning is that people build knowledge most effectively when they are actively engaged in constructing things in the world. As early as 1968, Papert introduced the idea that computer programming and debugging can provide children a way to think about their own thinking and learn about their own learning. ..."

Papert created the Logo programming language. He advised the Lego Mindstorms project (named after his book) and the OLPC project. Papert's "Hard Fun" essay gets at the core of why being a techy is enjoyable. Papert's work also helped inspire our Garden Simulator as an educational microworld. How has Seymour Papert's work affected you?

Submission + - CDC issues historic travel warning (cnn.com)

hauserchemdry writes: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an unprecedented travel warning Monday, advising pregnant women and their partners not to travel to a small community just north of downtown Miami, where Zika is actively circulating. This is the first time the CDC has warned people not to travel to an American neighborhood for fear of catching an infectious disease, according to agency spokesman Tom Skinner.

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