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Comment So is Poettering, and me, and a million others (Score 1) 276

> I am the best developer for my domain.

For an sufficiently narrowly defined domain, so am I. Then again, so is Lennart Poettering.

Eric S. Raymond is a far more accomplished developer than I am. It is good for me to remember there are many, many far more accomplished, and many who are just plain more knowledgeable all around.

I happen to be, or once was, the best in the world at protecting paid web sites from unauthorized access. I was a longtime member of many cracker forums, and got a certain amount of respect because I had been around for many years and knew the ins and outs of the various security systems. Little did they know I was a spy, that the most senior member of their community was there to surveil them and feed them misinformation. So I was the best at my particular speciality, but plenty of people are better than me in much larger, more general domains. Being the best at one very specific thing doesn't make me good, it makes not versatile.

Comment Re:tracking (Score 1) 362

You'd be surprised how many paranoid people don't actually understand what it is they're being paranoid about. There are people who, for example, won't enter their credit card number into an electronic system because they're worried someone will steal the details, so instead speak it aloud over the phone in a room full of people.

Here in Australia there was also some kind of single card for some array of services or other (health, maybe?) that the government wanted to introduce, being sold to the public on the basis of it being a convenient way for them to co-ordinate all these services, rather than getting Form A from Department A to submit to Department B so they could get Form C to submit to Department C so they can get Form B so they can go and get what they actually want from Department D. People raised a huge fuss over privacy concerns, and how this card would be used to track people, and all that, and eventually it was scrapped. The people celebrated because they'd defended their privacy. But the various departments talk to each other behind the scenes anyway, and bit by bit legislation to allow the departments to do what they were going to with peoples data passed, leading to the end result where people are tracked anyway but don't have the convenience they could have had.

So the moral of the story is, if you're objecting to some offered convenience because privacy, either think about and object to all the other ways the involved parties could get your info anyway, or just take the convenience on the basis that you might as well have that if your info is going to be passed around anyway.

Comment Re:tracking (Score 1) 362

Who is "they"? The NSA probably has access to my credit card transactions. But my neighbor doesn't, nor does my mother-in-law, nor do the local police.

The local police, if they have any reason to care to, can easily get access to it. There's been things in the news about how most of the time when the police go to someone - particularly ISPs and financial institutions - asking for something, it's just handed over without so much as asking if there's a warrant. There's also been things in the news about cops just accessing whatever records they like, so if your neighbour or mother-in-law happen to know a cop could use a few more dollars or a favour, they could have access too.

But more generally, even without actual access to bank records, plenty of larger businesses and institutions can track other things from which a creepily complete picture of you can be inferred.

Comment Design (Score 1) 22

I see in the distant future, we will eventually reverse engineer the genetic 'object code', to create the source code (I think ID is much more likely than random beneficial mutation); and I wouldn't be surprised if it looks similar to object orientated techniques we currently use.
Imagine having the source code to life, where you can tinker at a keyboard and 'print out' new DNA. The implications are both scary (eg the ability to create super bugs, or eliminate certain classes of people), to being able to cure genetic disease, to even immortality.

Comment The best in town learn from the best in the world (Score 2) 276

I've discussed the Linux RAID code with Neil Brown, who wrote most of it. That conversation made me keenly aware that my grasp of Linux storage it is rather pitiful.

I've discussed proposals for new internet protocols with Vint Cerf, known as "the father of the internet". I was reminded I'm the big fish only in a very, very small pond.

A few weeks ago someone at work asked for "a Perl guru". Just that morning I had participated in the Slashdot discussion with Larry Wall - a fresh reminder of who is a Perl guru and who isn't.

My co-worker read something about Linux on Stackoverflow, and he knew as much as other people posting to that question knew - he felt like an expert.

A co-worker once used "telnet 25" to do smtp. Nobody else he knows does that, so he's an expert.

My own experience is that the more I learn, the more I am exposed to actual experts, the more I discover that there are many people much more knowledgeable than I. If I think I'm really good, that actually just means I *might* be better, in some ways, than the people I talk to - thinking I'm good just means I'm failing to learn from people who are better.

I strongly suspect those who are humble are the people who read the work of Knuth, T'so, Engelschall, etc - the really programmers know they aren't the best.

Comment Re:Most coders (Score 1) 276

This is also not mathematically true. You are assuming an even and symmetrical distribution of "better than average" and "worse than average" programmers, but the term "average" doesn't necessarily equal the median.

If you have a number of exceptionally-good programmers, but few exceptionally-bad programmers, the average will be raised to where over 50% of your programmer population is actually qualified as "below average", regardless of their opinions about their skill.

However, we must consider the dynamics of the programming industry. If someone is indeed a terrible programmer, they are likely to be driven out of the industry, either by their own choice or by management. On the other hand, the good programmers will usually be encouraged to stay. That puts a bias on the distribution, raising the average quality of programmers beyond the median quality of programmers.

Comment Re:Thanks, I'll pass on all of them (Score 1) 234

I'll grant you restaurant variety will suffer the smaller the town. That said I live in a place with a population of less than half a million and we've got several Thai places, numerous Korean joints, at least one Japanese eatery I'm aware of, and a couple Indian places.

That describes one side of a single city block in downtown Vancouver, if you add a Vietnamese Pho, a Starbucks, two decent coffee shops, and a superior French bakery.

Comment Time, Names, Murphy's Computer Laws (Score 1) 276

These should be required reading for programmers AND designers. I'm looking at you Mr. shitty designer/programmer that only lets me put 13 characters in for my (first) name.

* Falsehoods about Names

* Falsehoods about Time

* Falsehoods about Computers, aka, Murphy's Computers Laws

* 97 Things Every Programmer should know

Comment The law is written. You can read it not imagine it (Score 1) 61

The laws are written down. You can read them, rather than making something up out of thin air and deciding to believe it. I've copy-pastes it for you below. You'll notice flying is NOT illegal - flying over someone's house is very much NOT covered by the "peeping tom" section because that would make air travel nearly impossible.

As I recall 46 or 47 states use this wording:
(11)âfor a lewd or unlawful purpose:
(A)âenters on the property of another and looks into a dwelling on the property through any window or other opening in the dwelling;
(B)âwhile on the premises of a hotel or comparable establishment, looks into a guest room not the person's own through a window or other opening in the room; âor
(C)âwhile on the premises of a public place, looks into an area such as a restroom or shower stall or changing or dressing room that is designed to provide privacy to a person using the area.

For a civil tort (suing someone for money) it pretty much comes down to a "reasonable expectation of privacy". Generally, there is no "reasonable expectation of privacy" outdoors. (With rare exceptions). Even if there is a fence, you know planes fly overhead, small planes and helicopters fly low. Therefore you can't reasonably expect that a small plane won't fly over and get an overhead view of your yard. (Quite to the chagrin of many a marijuana grower).

Comment No, that's not illegal, in public. Same as driving (Score 1) 61

Peeping Tom would be looking in someone's windows.

Driving down the street, or sitting at a bus stop, and seeing people walk by in public isn't illegal. There's no invasion of privacy because there is no privacy out in public. Flying 200 feet overhead and seeing people walking down the sidewalk isn't illegal any more than driving down the street and seeing people. Sitting behind a bush also is not illegal in the United States. If you want privacy, go inside.

If you're extra paranoid, you might think about a "drone" hovering outside your window. *That* would be illegal, and very loud. I have a small "drone" (toy quadcopter) and I can easily hear it from 200-300 yards away.

Comment National gun registry has some privacy (Score 1) 61

Another area with registration ensures that the information about a specific gun is available to law enforcement following proper procedures, but the database can never be leaked in masse, causing the issues that would entail.

Each manufacturer (seperately) has a list of which distributor they sold it to. Each distributor has a list of which wholesaler they sold it to. Each wholesaler has a list of which retailer they sold it to. Each retailer has a list of the end-purchaser they sold it to.

A law enforcement officer following procedure who finds a gun (or toy RC helicopter?) can get the owner's name with five phone calls. So if you want to know about a specific gun (or suspicious toy?), it takes 10-15 minutes to get the information. You can't get a list of *everybody* who bought guns, though (not without going to each individual retailer).

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