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Worst Bug or Shortcomings in a Standard?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the needed-more-time-on-the-drawing-board dept.

Bug 270

Alastair asks: "Just curious what the Slashdot crowd thinks are the worst bugs ever to creep into a standard? For mine, the various security vulnerabilities in WEP would make the grade. Also perhaps the lack of a protocol field in HDLC, and which most implementations added in a non-compatible way. I'm thinking here about bugs which result in partial or total irrelevance of the standard itself, as opposed to just a lack of interest in adopting it."

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270 comments

SMTP has no sender authentication. (5, Interesting)

OneDeeTenTee (780300) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333125)

'Nuff said.

Re:SMTP has no sender authentication. (3, Interesting)

Homology (639438) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333675)

'Nuff said.

Not really. SMTP was designed a long time ago where there was little need for sender authentication. At that time the "Internet" (ARPAnet) was much smaller and friendlier than todays predatory Internet. Few at that time could imagine what Internat has become today. No need to blame those designers for lack of sender authentication.

Now, the design of WEP is an entirely different matter. It was very well known that a design process of a new encryption protocoll should be public, but the designers decided to do this in secret. This was a bad decision going agains best practices.

Re:SMTP has no sender authentication. (3, Interesting)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333881)

Why should it have had?

SMTP is merely a transport system. Authentication, if wanted, was supposed to be part of the bodies of email messages according to whatever standard a user wanted.

SMTP's lack of sender authentication is a modern-day fetish of the anti-spam crowd, and that anti-spam crowd only wants it because back when ISPs were deciding between giving users dedicated IP addresses or dynamically providing them, a debate that raged in the mid-nineties, they ended up going for the relatively anonymous dynamic IP addresses for the most part, which meant it became impossible to track email back to its original sender. Everything we've seen since with the explosion in spam and the more and more extreme methods of dealing with it really goes back to the fact that we no longer can associate an abusive user with an IP address.

SMTP was designed at a time when the entire internet was peer to peer. In the process of turning it into a consumer product, many decisions have been made that while understandable (dynamic IP was seen as easier to maintain, roaming became seamless and efficient) nonetheless sat uneasily with how the Internet had been built thus far.

Very succinctly put. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11334435)

SMTP's lack of sender authentication is a modern-day fetish of the anti-spam crowd

Actually, it's a modern-day fetish of parts of the anti-spam crowd.

And what these fetishists fail to realize is that it won't do a thing to stop spam, as there's nothing it provides that isn't already being done without it.

Accountability? Responsible ISPs already take action against their customers that spam. Irresponsible ISPs don't; what will authentication provide? Blacklisting? We already have that, via DNSBLs - which works quite well.

Re:SMTP has no sender authentication. (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334572)

Who certifies that your authentication is authentic? ICANN, Verisign, Network Solutions, .. Microsoft?

The idea that the "anti-spam crowd" is a unified body is .. interesting. I'm sure that that being told that an idea was discussed years ago and rejected might be annoying, but have you really looked at the various trade-offs that were discussed then?

Re:SMTP has no sender authentication. (3, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334857)

Who certifies that your authentication is authentic? ICANN, Verisign, Network Solutions, .. Microsoft?
Depends. That's up to you. Back in the mid-nineties, there were various proposals and I think the major issue was the politics surrounding encryption (an indirect issue, but PGP was both an authentication system and encryption system) and the RSA patent more than disagreement on how it could work. PGP in particular used a pretty reasonable system that allowed you to create what boiled down to trusted networks. You'd certify your friends. Friends could certify each other. Get a key, see it's signed by people you know, and you can be pretty sure it's genuine.

It was a nice system but network and real politics really ensured it didn't take off. You had patents. You had paranoid government agencies enforcing export controls on encryption protocols. You had commercial enterprises making email clients who didn't want to enter that particular can of worms if they could get away with it.

The idea that the "anti-spam crowd" is a unified body is .. interesting. I'm sure that that being told that an idea was discussed years ago and rejected might be annoying, but have you really looked at the various trade-offs that were discussed then?
I think you're trying to find things to take issue with. Nobody ever suggested the anti-spam crowd is unified. If I were to say that only Dogs are particularly interested in peeing on lamp-posts, would you claim that this is unfair because you know a lot of dogs that do not do that kind of thing?

I also did explain the tradeoffs, in brief, in the whole accountable static IPs vs easy to administer and efficient with roaming dynamic IPs debate. (I could add paranoia over the supposed world wide shortage of IP addresses, but I don't think that was ever as big an issue as people maintained. If it had been, we'd be on IPv6 by now.)

Windows (0, Offtopic)

cuteseal (794590) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333127)

Windows. Nuff said. :D

Re:Windows (0, Offtopic)

bugmenot (788326) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333135)

Absolutely right.

Apparently the ideas of customer support, frequent security updates, and a professional development team are completely lost on the Slashdot If-its-not-free-its-not-for-me tin-foil-hat crowd.

Windows 2003 is the best server I've ever had the pleasure of administering. And yes, I've had plenty of experience with both Linux and FreeBSD. Win2k3 beats them all in performance, price, and maintainability.

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11333149)

Yeah sure. Im sorry if i have to laugh my ass off. Anyone who knows a bit about operating systems would tell you how idiotic your viewpoint is.

LOL AT TEH WINDOZE AHAEAHEA IS TEH FUNNAY (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11333225)

Cuteseal: Listen to me. This post is directed squarly at you.

You are not funny. You are encouraging the mindless, raving IDIOTS that inhabit slashhdot. The complete cocksuckers who make stupid jokes about 'M$' and get a +5 funny. The ones who compare modern versions of Linux to Windows 98 and bitch about instability. The idiots who reply to every technical story with either obvious, misleading or totally incorrect information and get +5 informative. The inbred fuckwits who criticize Microsofts Monopoly, and then rush to suck Apples dick over the iPod. The misshapen freaks who repeat the same rant about how copyright is evil every tenth story, and get +5 informative, as if its an astonishing now viewpoint.

You, cuteseal, are a member of this collective.

I WANT TO KILL YOU ALL! HUNT YOU FUCKERS DOWN AND KILL YOU BY FORCING LINUX CD'S DOWN YOUR THROAT!

You fuckers don't know the first thing about technology or marketing. You are scum. I bet you are either a child, or a man who is still mentally a child. I want to pick you up and shake the fuck out of you, whilst looking you in the eyes and screaming "YOU ARE NOT FUNNY, FUCKER!".

None of you fuckers are funny. You're all stupid drooling retards who think that because they can play with computers (big fucking deal, a mechanic is more skilled then the typical programmer), they are gods gift to the world. Newsflash, morons! Your jobs are gonigto India for a reason. You have no talent, only the ability to constantly while for no fucking reason over your oh-so-wonder Linux. At least the BSD users generally have brains. I've never met a skilled linux user who wasn't an egotistical asshole. "Oh look at me!!! I know how to use linux. Fear me!" And what about your shitty open source? You can't really making money by selling open source. You can only make money by 'supporting' it. CAN YOU SPELL 'CONFLICT OF INTEREST'? Open source companies have no interested in making Linux better, they want it to be hard to use! Becaue then people will pay for support!

To conclude: Cuteseal, I hate you. I hate all of you.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!?!

Re:LOL AT TEH WINDOZE AHAEAHEA IS TEH FUNNAY (2, Insightful)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333934)

I compare modern linux (slackware 10) to windows 98 because that's what I can get on my budget.

Re:LOL AT TEH WINDOZE AHAEAHEA IS TEH FUNNAY (1)

WaZiX (766733) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334012)

The inbred fuckwits who criticize Microsofts Monopoly

Well anyone who did economy would critisize Microsofts Monopoly... Monopoly is bad for the customer, declines the economy's well-being and puts a hold on innovation. Its funn that while most So Called Socialist European countries are getting rid of their governemental monopolies to give the consumer best prices and best service, Big American companies are either cultivating monopoly by Oligopoly or are a monopoly of its own.

I do agree however taht on a purely economic perspective, patents are undeniably necessary, because commercial companies would have no interest in researching new technology if its new discovery could directly profit its concurrent.

However if you think that microsoft is innovating, your putting your finger into your eye, let me explain:

Microsoft through its immense market share has made the business of Operating System a market with a very high economy of scales (economie d'echelles in french, not sure thats how you say it in english), and the only reason it perfects its operating system is to maintian this type of market. Indeed, by investing in technology and making sure of dependency Microsoft establishes Strategic Barriers at the entry of the market, thi means that even if a company was ready to put the effort to introduce a new commercial Operating System onto the market, the revenues it would generate would not cover its costs in either the short or long term, this means that the OS market is almost bullet proof to new commercial OSs.

Now to linux and other Free Operating Systems, its different strategy in terms of costs and benefits (almost no cost in development since most the work is voluntary,no real plan for profit at least from the developping of the kernel point of view and allowing companies to freely use the kernel to in turn allow them to make profit hence inducing very few costs of development of the kernel and other applications) allows for competitors to enter the market, and hence try and detrone Microsoft.

Now the whole concept of the Free Software and the only way it can work is based on the motivation of its community, without it theres no way enough "free" resources can be accumulated to be able to enter the market.

If you really believe that this motivation is bad, then not only are you a fool (because in term this same motivation will increase your well-being) but you also have no insight in economy whatsoever.

To Conclude: Just Shut up will you?

COPY AND PASTE! INCOMING MEME! (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335554)

can we all copy and paste this? store it away. whenever we get the 12 year old "windose $uckors!" kid, paste it. repeatedly.

It's not a Bug it's a feature (2, Funny)

shoma-san (739914) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333129)

I love WEP. I see nothing wrong with it at all. It's so secure...

Re:It's not a Bug it's a feature (1)

Kizzle (555439) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333153)

Damn you just missed your chance to get all that useful funny karma. Simply cut the last few letters off of the word "secure" and delete the dots and you would of been HILARIOUS!!!1

Re:It's not a Bug it's a feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11335300)

"would HAVE" you illiterate inbred retarded fuckwit!

Linux Installation (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11333134)

I wish there was a way to install programs common accross all versions of linux.

Linux zealots are now saying "oh installing is so easy, just do apt-get install package or emerge package": Yes, because typing in "apt-get" or "emerge" makes so much more sense to new users than double-clicking an icon that says "setup".

Linux zealots are far too forgiving when judging the difficultly of Linux configuration issues and far too harsh when judging the difficulty of Windows configuration issues. Example comments:

User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Linux?"
Zealot: "Oh that's easy! If you have Redhat, you have to download quake_3_rh_8_i686_010203_glibc.bin, then do chmod +x on the file. Then you have to su to root, make sure you type export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=2.2.5 but ONLY if you have that latest libc6 installed. If you don't, don't set that environment variable or the installer will dump core. Before you run the installer, make sure you have the GL drivers for X installed. Get them at [some obscure web address], chmod +x the binary, then run it, but make sure you have at least 10MB free in /tmp or the installer will dump core. After the installer is done, edit /etc/X11/XF86Config and add a section called "GL" and put "driver nv" in it. Make sure you have the latest version of X and Linux kernel 2.6 or else X will segfault when you start. OK, run the Quake 3 installer and make sure you set the proper group and setuid permissions on quake3.bin. If you want sound, look here [link to another obscure web site], which is a short HOWTO on how to get sound in Quake 3. That's all there is to it!"

User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Windows?"
Zealot: "Oh God, I had to install Quake 3 in Windoze for some lamer friend of mine! God, what a fucking mess! I put in the CD and it took about 3 minutes to copy everything, and then I had to reboot the fucking computer! Jesus Christ! What a retarded operating system!"

So, I guess the point I'm trying to make is that what seems easy and natural to Linux geeks is definitely not what regular people consider easy and natural. Hence, the preference towards Windows.

Re:Linux Installation (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333904)

But the complicated instructions are usually because linux people giving advice make less assumptions. I ended up writing a paragraph on installing ut2003 for linux when in fact the process is exactly the same as for windows. Well, OK, one operation harder if you have autorun turned on for windows, but that's a security feature of linux that's worth the extra effort imo. Ditto with chmod +xing a downloaded binary.

Re:Linux Installation (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333930)

Yes, because typing in "apt-get" or "emerge" makes so much more sense to new users than double-clicking an icon that says "setup".

And where does that setup icon come from? I don't see an icon on windows that can download almost any program, compile it, and install it automatically.

I put in the CD and it took about 3 minutes to copy everything, and then I had to reboot the fucking computer! Jesus Christ! What a retarded operating system!"

You do realise that you're comparing the quake 3 install process to downloading video drivers and configuring X.org, right?

Re:Linux Installation (2, Insightful)

slittle (4150) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334170)

And where does that setup icon come from? I don't see an icon on windows that can download almost any program, compile it, and install it automatically.
Anywhere.

Unlike Windows, it's rather rare to find a Linux software package that includes everything it needs to run. Generally, you're fucked for anything not under package management.

Personally, I anything I compile manually I do statically, and shove under /opt. The Unix way (spraying shit all over the filesystem) is just too much fucking work. Good thing Debian has an awesome collection of software to start with, or I'd be fucked.

You do realise that you're comparing the quake 3 install process to downloading video drivers and configuring X.org, right?
Installing video drivers in Windows is the same. Insert CD, click OK, reboot. Ooh, and here's the cool bit: if it (Windows GUI system) can't figure out WTF you're running, it drops back to 640x480 VGA. It never fails to at least start. EVAR. Unlike X, if you so much as sneeze on the same continent it'll refuse to start.

Just another reason why none of my Linux machines (3) even have X installed...

Re:Linux Installation (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334195)

1) The setup icon is on the quake3 cd, one of few icons in the root dir.

2) With autorun enabled you don't even need to locate the icon.

3) Quake3 doesn't support soundblaster pro for redhat 6.2, so I had to wipe it and play under windows. End of saga.

Re:Linux Installation (2, Interesting)

dpilot (134227) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334051)

Just "emerge quake3"

Actually, I *almost* agree with you. The real problem is that Windows Wizards work most of the time. But when they don't, they work against you - even worse than not being there. They get in your way and make it hard to do things manually.

I began preparing to leave RedHat when RH8.1 never happened, and they went staight to RH9. After looking for a while, and evaluating various distributions on their maintainability, etc, I came to a different realization: For home use, this is supposed to be a hobby. What the heck am I doing looking at maintainability as a prime criteria, when I should be looking at fun and the learning experience?

So I ended up going with Gentoo. But far from being merely 133t, I find it incredibly maintainable, and I have never had such an easy time installing more, and more varied, software on any system. That includes Linux and Windows. I'll agree that Gentoo is still too intense for a novice, but with a little experience it brings a LOT to the table.

Re:Linux Installation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11334450)

I wish there was a way to install programs common accross all versions of linux.

If it's going to be easy to use, it's got to have a GUI way of doing it. But why on earth would you have a GUI on a server? And good luck getting the same thing to work on a Tivo too.

Why do you think that equating different distributions makes sense? Just because they share a lot of code, it doesn't mean that they do the same thing or are aimed at the same markets. For all intents and purposes, they are all different operating systems.

I don't see anybody claiming that Mac OS X is crap because its application install procedure differs from FreeBSD.

Sorry, you lose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11334994)

(How did this get modded up? slashdot utterly sucks now and is devoid of any content or insight. I laugh at the asshats that actually PAY for this tripe.)

First, nothing you bitch about has anything to do with a standard. You will probably rebut with "It is a lack of standard that is the bug," and I counter that with "There are standards for each distribution, the bug is the vendor does not follow them."

Second, you are wrong. To install a package on my distribution of choice, I download a package designed to install on my system, I click on the RPM, then click on install. Fin.

What windows asshats fail to realize is that the ability to install software from any two-bit company with a 14 year-old writing installshield scripts or having a website automatically install software IS NOT A FEATURE. It is a bug and one that ends up with every Windows machine either being riddled with dozens of useless programs, malware infections and armsraces, and having to reinstall every year to "fix" it, or having a system so locked down so as to be unusable and still needing to reinstall every year to "fix" it.

Re:Linux Installation (1)

mopslik (688435) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335765)

double-clicking an icon that says "setup".

And how this is different than double-clicking an RPM?

Linux is by far the biggest bug (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11333138)

You fucking homosexual linux zealots. Eat my ASS.

UTF-8 email headers (2, Informative)

dimss (457848) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333253)

Standards are very unclear when you have to encode utf-8 'subject' header. Looks like there is no distinction between bytes and characters. I had to write automatic UTF-8 mailer last year. There were many, many issues with UTF-8 headers in different MUA. Especially with mix of english and non-neglish words in 'Subject'. Finally we decided to send two separate messages in two different 8-bit encodings.

Re:UTF-8 email headers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11333899)


Especially with mix of english and non-neglish words

Words such as neglish?

No Timestamps in MIDI. (1)

torpor (458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333258)

I know, I know, 31.25kb is too slow, but damn I wish MIDI had timestamps, from the get-go .. be perfect, otherwise.

Re:No Timestamps in MIDI. (1)

kauppi (21041) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333289)

Considering the time MIDI standard was created this is not a bug. And even nowadays, MIDI doesn't need timestamps.

I wish cars could fly, beer would be free and Santa Claus would really exist (and his reindeers could fly).

TCP, SMTP, POP3, HTTP, ... (1)

keesh (202812) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333274)

Really, any of the traditional protocols that have little or no concept of security.

Re:TCP, SMTP, POP3, HTTP, ... (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333437)

Your point? These protocols were made years ago, back when the internet was a bunch of colleges and .mil bases.

If there was a mean or stupid user, you personally went over to meet them, and had a "friendly chat" before you rip his lungs out.

However, these days, there's billions of people on the internet, with many millions wanting to cause problems for others.

I dunno, I think POP, ftp, telnet and such had its purpose.. perhaps not now.

Re:TCP, SMTP, POP3, HTTP, ... (2, Funny)

magefile (776388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335453)

Linking college computers to military base computers is *exactly* the situation in which I would think you'd want security ...

Re:TCP, SMTP, POP3, HTTP, ... (1)

GuyWithLag (621929) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333485)

TCP is too low-level for security considerations.

SMTP was designed at a time when every connected computer had a sysadmin that was legally responsible for it.

POP has POP over SSL; while there is the option to use STARTTLS, I haven't used a POP server yet that used this.

HTTP... What't the problem with HTTP?

Re:TCP, SMTP, POP3, HTTP, ... (1)

RFC959 (121594) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333789)

Is there STARTTLS for POP? *google* I'll be, so there is. I've set up TLS for SMTP, but that's it.


Anyway, while I agree with your comment in general, I think we have to address exactly what kind of security we're talking about. TLS is fine for what it is - it's just that what it is is fairly limited. Perhaps one of the weaknesses of a protocol stack model is that you have to implement security for each level at each level. For example, TLS will prevent eavesdropping on your SMTP conversation, but it doesn't authenticate senders within the conversation. Personally, I don't regard the lack of security awareness in these protocols as "bugs". "Shortcomings", maybe, but if you look at the life of standards, you'll see that it's much easier for a standard to be adopted if it's simple, practical, decentralized, and has little competition. Most of the standards we've mentioned fit those criteria at the time of their introduction, and adding security features would probably have impaired their simplicity and hurt their adoption.

Re:TCP, SMTP, POP3, HTTP, ... (3, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334150)

My wall sockets have little security either. At most there's a fuse, breaker or penny for protection. No user authentication or load request handshaking and management. It's shocking.

Java (3, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333277)

Most people don't call it a "bug" but I do; the operator overloading of '+', '+=' and '=' in the Java specification's String class.

Why is this a bug? Because the creators of the standard explicitely denounce operator overloading yet they do it anyway for this exception. Operator overloading is explicitely not possible in Java... except this one time.

If it is so incredibly useful in this particular case that they would bend the specification for it, can't they understand that it would be useful for other classes (ie. Matrix classes or even the standard Number classes) too?

Re:Java (1)

stromthurman (588355) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333473)

I agree with this whole-heartedly. While I've gotten away from operator overloading on account of using Java, it bothers me every time I'm allowed to do a "this" + "sucks" and have it resolve to an object. I think the idea behind not providing operator overloading was to remove ambiguity, because some people might make arbitrary choices about how two different objects are combined with an operator that may not be intuitive to other developers. While that reasoning seems ok, consider what's happened instead. They wanted to prevent lines like:
Date d = new Date() + 5;

So, now what we get is this instead:
MyDate d = new MyDate();
d.add(5);

Is it really any clearer to someone who's not going to dig through MyDate.java (provided it is available) what this is doing versus the previous example?
I think Sun effed up on this choice.

Re:Java (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333642)

What about rewriting the MyDate constructor so that if it's passed an integer value, it initializes the object already modified?

i.e. MyDate d= new MyDate(-2);

Sorry... offtopic, I know. I really didn't miss your point. Damned programmer's mind...

I'll be going now...

Me.leave("topic");

Re:Java (1)

stromthurman (588355) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333679)

If we assume MyDate is a subclass of Date, and that it relies on Date's constructors, we should get a Date object that represents 2 milliseconds before the Epoch (Jan 1, 1970 00:00:00 GMT). Of course, how I know this is because of the javadoc documentation, so if we assume the programmer creating MyDate uses javadoc to indicate what .add(-5) does to MyDate, everything's still right as rain. However, they could just as easily do the same with the +/-* operators, and then everything is again, just as nice.

PS: Love the sig ;)

Re:Java (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334712)

What are they using at the heart of that to hold the date/time value? (See my rant elsewhere about MS's use of floating point and time math errors.)

Re:Java (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333753)

I think the idea behind not providing operator overloading was to remove ambiguity, because some people might make arbitrary choices about how two different objects are combined with an operator that may not be intuitive to other developers.

If that's really the reason, then it was a really bad decision. this should be handled by coding standards. Not the language.

Re:Java (1)

stromthurman (588355) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334275)

Exactly. Removing a feature will not drastically improve coding practices. For instance, a bad programmer may do funny things with a '+' operator that confuse the rest of us, but they can just as easily do bad things like name a member function .doSomething( ... ), which is just as unclear within the code.

Re:Java (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334859)

"Is it really any clearer to someone who's not going to dig through MyDate.java (provided it is available) what this is doing versus the previous example?"

uh, YEAH

What is 5? Five *what*? Milliseconds, minutes, dates, months, years? Date at this point is deprecated except as a container of an abstract point-in-time millisecond value. Calendar classes should be used to manipulate time. Maybe that was a bad example, but the point is, when the mathematical symbols are not necessarily clear, it is much better to have methods that actually self-document at least by their name.

d.addMillis(5);

etc.

(calculating dates is far from trivial at least for gregorian calendars and involves lots of subtle rules, so no it's not just as straightforward as mathematical 'add')

MSIE & XHTML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11333287)

As a web developer, I find it annoying to have to send XHTML content to MSIE with the incorrect Content-type "text/html" instead of the correct Content-type "application/xhtml+xml"

Even if Microsoft supports application/xhtml+xml in MSIE 7, developers will still need to support MSIE 6 (maybe 5) by sending it as text/html to those HTTP_USER_AGENTs.

--BladeMelbourne

Re:MSIE & XHTML (1)

Shinglor (714132) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333455)

Just switch based on the accept header, it's not much of a problem. IE's lack of CSS support is the main problem.

Re:MSIE & XHTML (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11333515)

That's not a bug/shortcoming in a specification. That's a bug/shortcoming in an application.

Funnily enough, I thought of sending XHTML as text/html when this story popped up. There is a problem with the specification.

The latest RFC for text/html claims that the XHTML 1.0 specification defines a profile that is compatible with HTML, and that you are allowed to label this as text/html.

The first shortcoming is that it doesn't bother mentioning this "profile" by name. Most people take it to mean Appendix C.

Here's the kicker though: Appendix C XHTML is not compatible with HTML. No form of XHTML is. XHTML can be compatible with most HTML user-agents, but only because most HTML user-agents don't fully support HTML.

You see, HTML allows an SGML short cut. Instead of writing, say, <h1>My Heading</h1>, you can write <h1/My Heading/, and it will mean the same thing. Or at least it should.

Only a few user-agents implement this though. Emacs/W3. The W3C validator. A couple of search engines. The rest, including every browser you are likely to have heard of, uniformly ignore this part of the specification.

Here lies the trouble. XHTML uses a slash inside a tag to mean something completely different - that it is an empty element. The HTML for a a meta element might be <meta name="author" content="foo">.

Since HTML, based on SGML, expects a fairly smart parser that can figure out from context and the document type where an element ends, this can be an empty element without explicitly marking it as such or using an end tag.

XHTML, on the other hand, had a design goal of allowing parsers to be a bit more stupid. One of the results of this was that you have to explicitly mark empty elements with a slash as the last character inside a tag. So the XHTML equivalent of the above HTML is <meta name="author" content="foo" />.

Of course, because they used a slash, instead of practically any other character, this made XHTML fundamentally incompatible with HTML. Because if you read the XHTML version as if it were HTML, it means <meta name="author" content="foo">>. Note the trailing >.

HTML user-agents that implement the shortcut will break when they encounter XHTML that is labelled as text/html. This could have been avoided by simply picking a different character to signify empty elements. Of course, because neither of the two biggest browsers ever bothered to implement this part of HTML (Mozilla still doesn't, for everybody who claims it is "standards compliant" [sic]), nobody much cares - niche browsers can go screw themselves, right?

Somebody else mentioned the Referer misspelling, but another problem I dislike in HTTP is that language tags don't generalise. For instance, if your browser sends Accept-Language: en-US;q=1.0, de;q=0.5 to signify that the user prefers American English, but can make do with German, according to the specification, a server with English (note: English, not American English) and German resources is supposed to supply the German resource to the user.

Of course, Internet Explorer and Safari come preconfigured with en-US without en as a fallback, which means that anybody who is content negiotiating can either follow the specification and be broken for these clients, or follow Internet Explorer and Safari, and be broken for any client that follows the specification.

Another problem I dislike is that of underscores in CSS 2. CSS 2 doesn't allow unescaped underscores in selectors. CSS 2 does allow unescaped underscores in selectors.

What's that? I've just contradicted myself? Not me - the CSS 2 specification. The W3C sneaked in a change to CSS under the guise of "errata". This results in people getting an error when they try and validate their CSS that contains unescaped underscores, going and reading the specification, and finding that they are following the specification. That's because the validator was written to follow the first form of CSS 2. The validator can't be "fixed", because somebody checking their CSS is concerned with compatibility - it would be a mistake to not flag it as an error, as there are user-agents that can't understand unescaped underscores in selectors - as they were written before the specification change.

The W3C specifications aren't pretty at all. There are loads of problems of this nature. And don't even get me started on RSS...

mirc (2, Insightful)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333288)

Mirc file transfer sends data in packets, and waits for an ack for each packet.

Over tcp.

TCP of course already does this, and this just makes sending files very very slow. It should have just sent it as a single stream.

Re:mirc (1)

Firehawke (50498) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334090)

Is that mIRC or DCC in general? Do other clients do this as well? I'm not versed in the DCC protocol as that's a seperate RFC I haven't gotten to yet, but if that's across DCC's RFC, that's a braindead protocol design.

DCE and DTE i RS232 (5, Insightful)

geirt (55254) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333335)

It should have been female connectors with only one pinout (e.g DCE) on all equipment supporting RS232, and all RS232 cables should be crossed (null modems).

Instead we have a complete mess with male and female connectors, straight and crossed cables. Is pin 2 receive or transmit? Dohhh.

Why female connectors on boxes? Male connectors are more fragile. If the pins break, replace (or repair) the cable. The female connector on the box is OK.

Luckily, RS232 are dying ;-)

Re:DCE and DTE in RS232 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11334015)

You can't do this in general because RS232 is not symetrical. All of those modem control pins - "ring indicator", for example - have one explicit direction.

Of course we don't often use those pins any more, and the ones we do use (two data and two handshaking signals) are symetrical, so for that subset the proposal [one pinout, all cables cross over] is sensible. I think that there may even be another unused standard along those lines (RS4xx?).

Re:DCE and DTE i RS232 (2, Funny)

slittle (4150) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334218)

Luckily, RS232 are dying ;-)
Nooo!!

**hugs USR Couriers**

Don't you listen to that Bad Man...

Re:DCE and DTE i RS232 (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334364)

Blame the IBM PC for putting male connectors on the equipment rather than the cable. (So that there'd be a difference between the female DB-25 for the parallel printer port.)

Re:DCE and DTE i RS232 (3, Interesting)

cow-orker (311831) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334587)

Luckily, RS232 are dying ;-)

Yeah, but Ethernet repeated the same mistake and is sure to stay for a while.

Re:DCE and DTE i RS232 (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334771)

How can you get it wrong with a coax cable? (Or do you mean that new fangled RJ-45 thing that some call Ethernet.)

Re:DCE and DTE i RS232 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11334937)

Yeah, but Ethernet repeated the same mistake and is sure to stay for a while.

Luckily most of the current ethernet chipsets support auto-detection of crossover. I wont buy a switch that doesn't.

Re:DCE and DTE i RS232 (1)

geirt (55254) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335116)

Luckily, RS232 is dying ;-)

Yeah, but Ethernet repeated the same mistake and is sure to stay for a while.

The Gigabit ethernet spec have fixed that mistake since all GigE equipment is auto MDI/MDIX

Re:DCE and DTE i RS232 (1)

ShawnD (21638) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335262)

PCs are non-standard since all RS232 equipment should have female connectors. I think PCs went male to avoid confussion with the paralell port.

BTW DTE/DCE makes sense when you look at what it was designed for - connecting a dumb terminal to a dumb modem.

Re:DCE and DTE i RS232 (1)

Garak (100517) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335623)

The RS-232 or EIA/TIA-232 as its know today has alot of shortcommings beyound the DCE -> DTE cabling mess. It has to be the worst standard ever!

They didn't use ballanced cabling which limits the distance and the bandwidth big time. RS-422 and 485 both use ballenced cables and signals and can go up to 4000feet at 115,200 baud while RS-232 can only go 50feet at 19,200 baud.

Telecine'd DVD movies (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333637)

I wish the creators of DVD had required players to support converting from 24 frames per second non-interlaced to 60 fields per second interlaced on the fly, rather than the current standard of the movie being converted when the disk is mastered.

When I am watching a DVD on my computer, it is trivial for my monitor to switch to 72Hz refresh, and show each movie frame for 3 refreshes, rather than getting all the interlace artifacts. It would also have improved the compression of the DVD for a given quality.

Re:Telecine'd DVD movies (1)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334273)

I wish the creators of DVD had required players to support converting from 24 frames per second non-interlaced to 60 fields per second interlaced on the fly, rather than the current standard of the movie being converted when the disk is mastered.

What are you talking about? Movies are mastered to DVD at 24fps and the player does indeed perform the 3/2 pulldown process to produce the 60 fields per second NTSC TV requires. Progressive scan DVD players can directly output the 24fps non-interlaced image to a suitable TV/projection system which gets rid of any nasty judder.

You shouldn't be seeing interlace artefacts when playing DVD on a computer unless the original source material was interlaced such as live TV recordings.

CSV files (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11333724)

Not sure if this is the type of "standard" that the question means but CSV files are anything but standard. A very bad format.

serial RJ45 connectors (1)

UnderAttack (311872) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333767)

A lot of equipment uses RJ45 connectors to provide serial connections (e.g. terminal servers). But they all use different pin outs. Sometimes even different models for the same manufacturer need different adapters.

Re:serial RJ45 connectors (1)

ShawnD (21638) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335474)

Also the number of different, incompatible, interfaces that use the RJ45 connector. On one router I have seen: Serial, Ethernet, ISDN, T1 (Technically RJ48), Voice (E&M) and Token Ring. Some ISDN lines provide power that can nicely burn some resistors off of an Ethernet interface.

BTW My annoyance is connector mis-naming. RJ45 originaly was the name for a specific type of analog phone line. When did it become a general term for 8 pin modular connector?

XML. For existing at all. (5, Interesting)

baadfood (690464) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333882)

Sure a well defined markup language is nice but really, people seem to loose all rational sense when it comes to XML - It cannot be used in a project without the project becomming "XML"? Scripting languages have been capable of processing all manner of free form text files in the past but somehow XML is necessary for interoperation? Why do people somehow think that XML encapsulated data will be small and quick to parse and are then suprised when it isn't? Why are they so fucking proud when their server can generate some trivial number of XML packets per second? What nutjob actually thought XML is easy to read? And what is the difference between a node an an attribute? Really?

Re:XML. For existing at all. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11334557)

Sure a well defined markup language is nice but really, people seem to loose all rational sense when it comes to XML

So in other words, there isn't a problem with the standard at all?

Scripting languages have been capable of processing all manner of free form text files in the past

And you've got to write a new parser for every new format.

somehow XML is necessary for interoperation?

Necessary? No. The best option? Usually.

Why do people somehow think that XML encapsulated data will be small and quick to parse

I see people claiming that XML is easy to parse, on account of every major language having at least one XML parser already available for free.

I do not see people claim that using XML results in small documents (except where the other format under consideration is unusually large). I do not see people claiming that XML results in quicker parsing (except in relation to SGML).

I often see people claiming that XML doesn't perform very well directly after they use the wrong tool for the job (e.g. DOM vs SAX).

Why are they so fucking proud when their server can generate some trivial number of XML packets per second?

There's no such thing as an "XML packet".

What nutjob actually thought XML is easy to read?

XML, for documents and config files, is very easy to read. It's only when you use XML for things it is unsuited for that it becomes difficult to read.

And what is the difference between a node an an attribute?

Generally speaking, nodes contain content and attributes contain metadata. There are grey areas because what people consider to be "content" and "metadta" has grey areas.

Re:XML. For existing at all. (1)

doofusclam (528746) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334578)

Damn right. I put my CV forward for a new job last week, the recruitment 'pimp' got back to me and said, although the CV was ideal, I needed to put XML on at least 3 previous jobs? Why? It's not like learning to use it takes any more than a couple of days, what with the different parsers and such, and therefore I just left it off my CV.

The way I felt was that it's a marginal skill, and having to put it on my cv 3 times to placate some idiot in the HR department annoyed me.

What is it about people that makes them think XML is not only complex, but also the universal panacea to all programming ills?

Re:XML. For existing at all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11335333)

It's not like learning to use it takes any more than a couple of days

That depends. "XML" is so simple that you can start writing documents in minutes. But if you put "XML" on a CV, three times, I'm going to expect you to have experience in at least a few of the related technologies - DOM, XSLT, XPath and so on.

Re:XML. For existing at all. (1)

doofusclam (528746) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335787)

Good point.

The stupid thing is, I do have (most) of these, but they've been picked up on by HR types who deign them to be more important than they are. I know people who work there already and they wouldn't know anything about XML bar the MSXML parser.

So in that job it's an irrelevance, but the HR eejits still insist I plaster it loudly and proudly on my CV.

Re:XML. For existing at all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11335075)

amen. I don't have modpoints unfortunately, but I feel the need to "me too" this.

We used to use .ini files for all the components of our system- these weren't real windows ini's, but workalike multiplatform text files with nearly the exact same format and a bunch of extra features. One day a decree is made that we are all going to convert to XML config files. Most people said "yay, were going to be in the 21st century finally!" but me and some of the other guys that were charged with maintaining these files saw no need for it and just kind of rolled our eyes, expecting a waste of a lot of development effort but not really hurting anything. In practice, when these new files were rolled out, it suddenly became a huge PITA to maintain these things. Where as before editing a file required only notepad, you either now had to risk screwing up tags, namespaces, etc, with one mistake making the entire file invalid, or you could get the help from an XML editor, which now have to be installed on every machine in the office to really be useful.

And yeah, readability? I see no improvement. A coworker wrote an xslt script to make them look like ini files again because all the brackets and colors made his eyes hurt when opening them up in an editor, and when the node name is far longer than the value, quick scanning becomes almost impossible. IE: <SOME_PARAMETER_NAME>2</SOME_PARAMETER_NAME> -when youre screen is full of stuff like this you just want to gouge your eyes out.

The largest improvements we got out of the debacle were the ability to validate values (IE being unable to set a value like MAX_THREADS to a negative number, or an alphabetical value), and being able to have * many types of one section
(IE having a node <USERGROUPS> and then having as many <USERGROUP name="Group1" accesslevel="admin"/> type nodes underneath it as necessary whereas before we would have to do a hack of naming the sections USERGROUP1, USERGROUP2, and then parsing the names looking for all the "USERGROUP" keys- kludgy and annoying- the better solution was usually to include such information in a seperate text file or store it in the database. Still not ideal because it caused you to have to fish around to get all the information.)

And for passing data over the web, I don't see how XML improves upon a published standard protocol. The net was built upon text based protocols and I never really heard anyone complain that passing data over http or even through a direct socket connection is really hard.

Ok, im done.

Re:XML. For existing at all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11335358)

And for passing data over the web, I don't see how XML improves upon a published standard protocol. The net was built upon text based protocols and I never really heard anyone complain that passing data over http or even through a direct socket connection is really hard.

To be perfectly honest, this paragraph makes it sound as though you don't even have a clue as to what XML is. I know that isn't true, because what you posted before that is fairly sane, but moaning that XML isn't better than sockets? WTF? In other news, I think it's terrible that people like dogs, because I never heard anybody complain that the colour blue isn't good enough.

Use of floating point for date/time (4, Interesting)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333942)

Microsoft, in their infinite wizzbang, uses a floating point representation for date/time in their OLE types, with the date (days from x) in the integer and time in the fraction. That's fine until you have to do math like timezone conversions. If you convert a local time to GMT then to someplace else and back, frequently your time is now off by 0.0000000001 seconds. That adds excitement to comparing two times, especially when only one has been converted to and from.

It's not a huge problem to avoid, but unless you're draconian about using standard safe time math routines, it'll bite you .. eventually .. when you least expect it .. at a customer site running Martian Standard Time at local midnight. (Which will still be a bad hour for you to get a call no matter where it is.)

And all because someone thought it would be pretty nifty to use floating point. Don't they teach the inherent dangers of round off or truncation errors in school these days? (And before someone automatically jumps on MS, with all the UNIX standards, what are you using? Is it safe?)

Submarine patents (3, Insightful)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 9 years ago | (#11333957)

Submarine patents and other proprietary gimmicks, are bad.

A current example would be packing VC-1 into both Blu-ray and HD DVD [blu-ray.com].

Though software patents are currently only a problem in the U.S., I'd still say that they threat of stealth patents would be the worst bug. Proprietary material shouldn't get through the standards process.

C++ (2, Interesting)

Grab (126025) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334213)

The overloading of the bit-shift operators > for streams in C++. Kludge city! And C++'s templates don't exactly come out smelling of roses either.

Grab.

IMAP (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11334278)

IMAP should be a powerful idea in principle but it looks like it has been implemented by people who haven't had much experience with programming concurrent systems. I've learn about this the hard way while writing an IMAP server.

Using IMAP it should be possible for several clients to connect to the same account simultaneously. Changes made by one are reflected in the others as they happen, since the server sends updates describing these changes. Think model-view-controller. (Some clients ignore these updates, but that's another problem.) This is great in theory, but I'll mention two ways in which it's broken.

First, each client connection can receive updates for only one mailbox at a time. There is no fundamental reason why this has to be, but that's how IMAP works. So you can't be notified when new messages arrive in mailboxes other than the one you're viewing. Clients have to poll to work around this.

Second, messages have message numbers and these change when a mailbox is expunged. But there is a race condition: if one client expunges and another fetches, the second may get the message as numbered before or after the expunge. There is no way to work around this apart from disabling expunge.

The conclusion that I came to in the end was that for something as complex as what IMAP is trying to be it would be much better to build a standard on top of an abstraction layer like CORBA. CORBA provides an efficient binary over-the-wire protocol, rather than the ASCII of IMAP, and has been developed by people who really understand the concurrency issues inherent in the problem.

EIDE (2, Interesting)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334288)

Reversable cables? Come on that is so unnessecary! And making them wide and flat come on!

Plus the whole master/slave system is kinda fun.

Basically it's the only thing a novice couldn't figure out on their own when doing an install :(

Dont' forget DVD CSS and Y2K (2, Insightful)

scruffy (29773) | more than 9 years ago | (#11334750)

CSS was supposed to copy protect DVDs, but didn't, both because of poor encryption and because it doesn't prevent a bit-for-bit copy.

It was a de facto standard to use two digits to encode the year, which caused a lot of fun a few years ago.

Java (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335040)

No unsigned byte primitive. Grrrrrrr!! Also, the way Java handles date / time. Starting with mostly-deprecated util Date object, then abstract Calendar object AND GregorianCalendar object. Unless of course you're accessing a database, and then you need the SQL Date object, not to be confused with the util Date object. And don't forget the TimeZone, SimpleTimeZone, DateFormat, and SimpleDateFormat objects.

IPsec (1)

graf0z (464763) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335146)

The pristine IPsec protocol family [faqs.org] lacked two key features: the ability to pass NAT and TLS/SSL-alike hybrid authentication. If these features would have been built into IPsec and its implementations ten years ago, network layer encryption would be far more used and crappy stuff like PPTP would never have raised its ugly head. (i know this does not hold the abstract's requirements for "shortcomings", but i think the internet would look different today without it)

The NAT problem got resolved by UDP encapsulation ("NAT-T" [faqs.org] = NAT traversal, after years of being a draft finally published 5 days ago as RFC) got implemented by most vpn software during the past two years (= too late).

Hybrid auth means: peer A ("the server") authenticates itself to peer B ("the client") through asymmetric methods (like an RSA keypair and a X.509v3 cert). Peer B chooses a random symmetric session key and encrypts it for A, this sets up an encrypted tunnel. Inside this tunnel, B authenticates itself to A using simpler techniques like challenge-response or even clear passwords. Allmost all personalized TLS/SSL protected services (https, pop3s, imaps, ...) work this way: Servers has a cert, client has a password. Easy to admin, easy to deploy, easy to rollout.

But with IPsec/IKE/ISAKMP you have to choose between shared secrets (bah!) or rolling out keypairs to all peers. And like all other protocols requiring all peers to be part of a PKI (PGP, S/MIME, SSL+certs on both sides) this slowed down propagation strongly.

There is an IETF draft "A Hybrid Authentication Mode for IKE" [ietf.org] which is adopted my more and more implementations right now (= far too late). Cisco is now pushing it because of the failure of their own "group password scheme" [cisco.com] (of course they name it differently: "Mutual Group Authentication").

Man, why did they wait so long?

/graf0z.

Album/Track information on CDs (2, Insightful)

JoeD (12073) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335193)

With the space available on a CD, they should have allowed space for Artist / Album / Songname / etc on the disk itself.

Session Initiation Protocol (2, Interesting)

Bookwyrm (3535) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335417)

Beyond basing a standard for managing stateful telecommunications sessions on a protocol for stateless bulk data transport, the most blatant silliness in the SIP standard was the original "Alert-Info" header. The Alert-Info header allowed the calling party to specify the ring tone/sound by listing a URL that the receiving device would automatically attempt to fetch and play without waiting on the recipient user to allow/disallow it.

Others:
List of Evil SIP ideas [ietf.org]

Oh, and never updating the SIP version string despite syntax changes in the standard is evil.

POSIX and Leap Seconds (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335447)

The standard insists on requiring broken behavior from new implementations to preserve compatibility with old software. Not a good idea when precision timing is becoming increasingly important.

NFS (3, Interesting)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335731)

NFS is inherently flawed in it's transaction acknowledgement and retry behavior.

Back before M$ had Linux to kick around, there was the UNIX-Haters Handbook [microsoft.com]. I worked at Apollo/HP with a UNIX-Hater zealot. He enlightened me on the serious flaws in NFS, which I had experienced first-hand on a few occasions.

A quote from the book: (page 287)
So even though NFS builds its reputation on being a "stateless" file system, it's all a big lie. The server is filled with state--a whole disk worth. Every single process on the client has state. It's only the NFS protocol that is stateless. And every single gross hack that's become part of the NFS "standard" is an attempt to cover up that lie, gloss it over, and try to make it seem that it isn't so bad.

Networking in .Net / Mono (2, Informative)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 9 years ago | (#11335749)

The Socket class is astonishingly broken
IPAddresses are frequently imported/exported at Longs - 8 bytes with a sign bit
Port numbers are 4 byte signed integers.

Sure, Java doesn't have a signed int or long but .Net does.

Now they introduced a way to get the IP address as an array of bytes, so that you can support IPv6, problem is the constructor that takes a byte array will only accept a 16 byte address, not a 4 byte one for us IPv4 users. On top of this they've deprecated the only other method that can get you an ip address in binary format.

So if you want to serialize an IP address you have to either get it as a Long and cast it to an unsigned int - this generates all sorts of compiler warnings, so forget about clean compiles. Or you can get the address as a byte array and then on reception you have to turn it into an unsigned long.

Oh yeah, there's no documentation on what the environment does about the endianess of IP addresses converted into longs.

Now... we''ve also got the alarmingly bad Select() method which requires you to build lists of the sockets you're interested in and then proceeds to prune these to only leave the ones where activity has happened. Problem is that you can't reuse these lists so you need to construct them every time so you end up spending more CPU on building lists than you do on simply scanning the list of open sockets. Not that it matters, .Net throws and exception if you try to Select() on a list of more than about 30 sockets.

Another retarded design decision is the implementatino of non-blocking IO and EAGAIN, they decided that this should be implemented as an exception. And we all know how fast exceptions are.

Grrrrrrrrr

I could go on and on.
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