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Comments

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Debate Over Systemd Exposes the Two Factions Tugging At Modern-day Linux

Ash Vince Re:Are you sure? (832 comments)

Part of my concern is about SystemD is the scope for bugs. All the daemons that are replaced by SystemD have years of development under teams of developers. Can one expect a re-write of all these daemons by a small team with no history of working on these applications to be anywhere near free of bugs?

In my experience software with years of development has no fewer bugs that a new project if the people working on the project are good and it is not rushed.

Often software needs a rewrite every few years just so the current developers are 100% comfortable with every aspect of the code. If you have a huge legacy application it can often be more prone to bugs as the code becomes so convoluted, and often new developers to the project are scared to refactor crap out as some of the crap is important and it takes a horrible process of trial and error before you know what can be removed.

23 minutes ago
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Passwords: Too Much and Not Enough

Ash Vince Re:Why so high? (222 comments)

In PHP 5.5 they introduced the password_hash [php.net] function to replace this, but it has a mode that generates backward-compatible crypt() style hashes, so if you pass the wrong arguments to it, you will be generating md5 (or worse) hashes.

It might generate crypt style hashes, but it will not ever use MD5. It always uses Bcrypt at present until something better comes along. You should have read the link you posted more closely.

There are probably ways you can screw it over though so it doesn't add any security, but the defaults are pretty secure and the php manual steers you toward not changing them unless you know what you are doing.

I don't mean to sound rude (even though you did say you thought I knew "fuck all") but you really need to understand what you're doing.

Your right, but I have the advantage that all my code is peer reviewed nowadays and we also get free pen tests and advice from a really top notch security team who are world leaders in this stuff. That does mean that if I screw up this sort of stuff it is generally noticed and I then have to fix it, that certainly helps raise your game.

4 days ago
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Passwords: Too Much and Not Enough

Ash Vince Re:Why so high? (222 comments)

Of course, you didn't mention salting, so I hope they told you about that too. Unsalted password hashes... about as useless as chocolate teapots.

I explicitly mentioned the password_hash function in recent versions of PHP. This does the heavy lifting for you, including generating a random salt as best it can.

That's why you do not rely on bcrypt as the only answer to the security of your passwords (I hope you use bcrypt, last time I saw PHP it still used MD5.....

What in PHP used MD5? The password_hash stuff has only been in PHP since 5.5 and only ever used bcrypt. Previously some PHP developers might have used MD5, but there was nothing built in to PHP that purported to hash passwords, it was left to developers to role that own and they often did it badly. That is not the same as saying that PHP "used" MD5 for hashing passwords though.

4 days ago
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Passwords: Too Much and Not Enough

Ash Vince Re:Why so high? (222 comments)

If this is the level of comprehension of security in the web dev community, then I'm not only unsurprised at the number of hacks, but will be using a randomly-generated password for every website that asks me for a password.

As a php developer who works for a security company we generally do what the pen testers advise us to in regard to hashing passwords. Currently that is to use the password hash function in the latest versions of PHP.

Maybe the reason us dumb old web developers do not have your amazing knowledge at our disposal is because NOT hashing passwords is not exactly a recommended practice by any real security company.

Where I used to work we had a pretty crappy legacy product which did not hash the passwords in the DB. This was because the customer liked the fact that the system would mail out passwords if the user forgot them instead of making them reset it. When they got pen testing companies to test this product the pen testers always noticed this process and correctly deduced that the passwords were not hashed. This was then always raised as something that should be fixed, of course the customer always ignored this defect, they would make us fix anything else that was raised though.

We went through several pen tests over the years I worked there, by a few different companies, nobody thought have the passwords stored in plain text was a good idea. The fact that you think it a good idea suggests to me that either:

A) You are either some amazing outlier security guy miles ahead of everyone else on the planet.
B) You know fuck all

I reckon B

5 days ago
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Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected

Ash Vince Re:Easy to solve - calibrate them to overestimate (398 comments)

You could also decrease speed limit to something unreasonable. For example, 15mph and issue tickets at 21mph.

You can also hide a max speed sign behind something, like a bush, and install it in otherwise higher speed zone.

You can also install speed trap on the down-slope road, where drivers would naturally speed up without any conscious input.

You can also offer "early payment" discounts on tickets, where if you pay and plead guilty your fine reduced to the point of not worth the time fighting it.

You can establish a ticket challenge procedure that would conflict with working hours, making it logistically difficult for people to challenge.

You can intentionally mail tickets to old addresses, then rake up late fees and interest.

Oh, all of these happened in one or another municipality at some point in time.

The truth is that very few speed limit signs are hidden in the manner you describe. Lets be honest, the vast majority of the time us drivers exceed the speed limit we do so knowing we are doing it, we just do not think we will get caught. We know what the speed limit is on most roads we drive down, we just sometimes push them as we are in a hurry. We are probably driving in a generally safe manner, we are just doing it too quickly.

The thing is though, speed limits do exist for a reason. They are there to force us to account for the unknown: children running into the road, morons pulling out of side streets and not looking, us getting a blowout due to something to small to see in the road. The chances of these things happening are all pretty minuscule but since we all drive everywhere so much these small odds multiple so it always happens to someone in the end and the fallout can be catastrophic and expensive for the city to clean up afterwards.

Speed limits are also actually a way of us being more flexible with other driving rules, like paying attention to where you are going. Sometimes people do some really stupid crap on the roads. Like trying to find a CD to put on and veering on to the wrong side of the road, answering the phone in our pocket that is awkward to get to, looking at maps, turning round and shouting at the kids in the back, this list could go on for ever. As it is we can do this with a certain degree of impunity as the worst that would happen is we wrote off our car and someone else's the vast majority of the time. If everyone could drive everywhere as fast as they liked the police would have to be far more ruthless at enforcing other aspects of the traffic laws, maybe even down to banning persistant offenders until they got the message.

Sometimes I actually think this might be a better idea, then I catch myself doing some of the stupid crap I describe :)

Oh what a surprise, the fucking moron mod crew disagree.

about a week ago
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Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected

Ash Vince Re:Easy to solve - calibrate them to overestimate (398 comments)

There are traffic lights on dual-carriageways in the UK, so a 70mph limit. Rarely on the motorways, although technically there are traffic lights used on some entry slip roads at rush hour, although you'd be lucky to be doing 70 on them then...

I have never seen a set of traffic lights on a 70mph dual carriage way. Usually they have a reduced speed limit to 40 or 50 in the run up to the lights. Actually a hell of a lot of dual carriageways have a limit much lower than 70 even though that is the standard national speed limit for them.

And very few motorways have traffic light on the main bit of road where you can do 70mph. On the exit slip road you should actually be stationary or nearly stationary when you get to where the lights are so you can give way to traffic already on the roundabout.

The reason you are not supposed to run red lights, ever, is because if you could not stop in the UK then you must have been exceeding the speed limit in the approach. The duration of the amber light is tuned with this in mind.

about two weeks ago
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Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected

Ash Vince Re:Easy to solve - calibrate them to overestimate (398 comments)

You could also decrease speed limit to something unreasonable. For example, 15mph and issue tickets at 21mph.

You can also hide a max speed sign behind something, like a bush, and install it in otherwise higher speed zone.

You can also install speed trap on the down-slope road, where drivers would naturally speed up without any conscious input.

You can also offer "early payment" discounts on tickets, where if you pay and plead guilty your fine reduced to the point of not worth the time fighting it.

You can establish a ticket challenge procedure that would conflict with working hours, making it logistically difficult for people to challenge.

You can intentionally mail tickets to old addresses, then rake up late fees and interest.

Oh, all of these happened in one or another municipality at some point in time.

The truth is that very few speed limit signs are hidden in the manner you describe. Lets be honest, the vast majority of the time us drivers exceed the speed limit we do so knowing we are doing it, we just do not think we will get caught. We know what the speed limit is on most roads we drive down, we just sometimes push them as we are in a hurry. We are probably driving in a generally safe manner, we are just doing it too quickly.

The thing is though, speed limits do exist for a reason. They are there to force us to account for the unknown: children running into the road, morons pulling out of side streets and not looking, us getting a blowout due to something to small to see in the road. The chances of these things happening are all pretty minuscule but since we all drive everywhere so much these small odds multiple so it always happens to someone in the end and the fallout can be catastrophic and expensive for the city to clean up afterwards.

Speed limits are also actually a way of us being more flexible with other driving rules, like paying attention to where you are going. Sometimes people do some really stupid crap on the roads. Like trying to find a CD to put on and veering on to the wrong side of the road, answering the phone in our pocket that is awkward to get to, looking at maps, turning round and shouting at the kids in the back, this list could go on for ever. As it is we can do this with a certain degree of impunity as the worst that would happen is we wrote off our car and someone else's the vast majority of the time. If everyone could drive everywhere as fast as they liked the police would have to be far more ruthless at enforcing other aspects of the traffic laws, maybe even down to banning persistant offenders until they got the message.

Sometimes I actually think this might be a better idea, then I catch myself doing some of the stupid crap I describe :)

about two weeks ago
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Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

Ash Vince Re:Let me get this right (839 comments)

Instead of paying interest, money should have an expiration date. Use it or lose it.

So people never get to retire?

It depends. If you made the expiration date something like 50 years then people could certainly retire.

It is worth remembering that the vast majority of the top 1% were born into tons of money, they have just got richer during their lifetime.

I was watching the UK version of the apprentice the other day and it occurred to me that at least Alan Sugar made all his own money. Donald Trump from the US show was born rich, then just leveraged his daddys cash to make more cash in the same line of work. He did not even need to set up a business as he was just given one to play around with.

Ok, you can say that these people did well not to lose all their cash but that is not really much of an achievement if you are born with more money than you will ever need in your own lifetime anyway. You can afford to take risks that most people cannot over and over again until one of them pays off.

It is this inherited money that skews the system so massively.

about two weeks ago
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Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

Ash Vince Re:This looks like a nasty trick. (839 comments)

Progressive taxes are ones where they affect the more the richer you are. Regressive taxes are ones that affect you more the poorer you are.

There is a ton of debate about how you figure out which is which though :)

about two weeks ago
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London Unveils New Driverless Subway Trains

Ash Vince Re:I've been wondering why this took so long (127 comments)

Start with the Victoria Line. The trains there could be converted to driver-less operation within a week. Trackside barriers are a red herring. If someone jumps onto the track, there is nothing the driver can do about it anyway.

The biggest reason for keeping drivers on the train for the forseeable future is to cope with when things go wrong. When the DLR goes wrong someone just drives to the nearest station then walk a few yards (all the stations are really close together) and then sorts it out. With the underground that is not possible due to the way the tunnels and the way the two electrifies rails make walking down them impossible, when something goes wrong you get stuck under ground unless the driver can get you to the nearest station.

I am sure we will see driver less trains eventually, but that is still along way off as the infrastructure needs serious improvement before then. A decent, modern digital signalling system not reliant on a poxy third rail than can be screwed up by a coke can landing on it will be needed first. Eventually TFL will actually spend enough cash to sort things like this out, but that is decades away.

Until we get rid of the train driver though, they are seriously overpaid for the job they do. It will require a serious influx of cash though to hasten there demise, and they have TFL over a barrel with their current pay deal.

about three weeks ago
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NVIDIA Launches Maxwell-Based GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 GPUs

Ash Vince Re:Only 4 displays, sticking to AMD. (125 comments)

If I had that setup at home, I'd find the fucking postage stamp I'm allocated at work to be insufferable.

Sounds like you work for a crap employer. Most companies nowadays recognise that developers are far more productive with at least 2 monitors. Where I work we all have 2 dell monitors attached to a laptop docking station for our company issue laptop so we can actually use 3 screens if you don't mind one being smaller than the other two.

If I had that setup at work, I'd have to drop a few grand to duplicate it at the house.

Why? Personally I try and avoid working unpaid hours from home, if it was part of my job requirement then I would want the company to buy be the necessary gear.

I don't mind the off bit of being on call to reboot servers and such, but that hardly requires anything more than a laptop screen.

about a month ago
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NVIDIA Launches Maxwell-Based GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 GPUs

Ash Vince Re:Only 4 displays, sticking to AMD. (125 comments)

Can only drive up to 4 displays , pretty much any AMD card can drive 6 displays. I don't want to play games but want more screen real estate for software development.

Then why look at this card at all? You must be able to get something FAR cheaper if all you want is 2d real estate for software development. Wouldn't 2 or 3 cheaper cards be a far better purchase, even if you needed to buy a new motherboard to support it.

about a month ago
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KDE's UI To Bend Toward Simplicity

Ash Vince Re:Some criticism (184 comments)

This is the sort of criticism that software developers really need to get, and it seems good that maybe KDE is listening. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if a lot of people respond to this by saying the criticisms are stupid, that "if you know what you're doing" then you'll understand what's really going on, etc.

Ifr they were listening they would fix this crap. The problem though is that the stuff he points out all seems like the sort of horrible boring drivel that most devs hate fixing. they want to work on new features that are fun to implement, not digging through tons of other peoples code and all you see at the end is a few dialog boxes not being displayed when they don't make sense to.

This is one of the reasons why commercial software generally does this sort of thing much better, because you can assign this bug to someone then tell them their bonus depends on it getting fixed this sprint.

Doing that with unpaid devs is more tricky :)

about a month ago
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Study Finds Link Between Artificial Sweeteners and Glucose Intolerance

Ash Vince Re:Does HFCS count? (294 comments)

Pop quiz, hot shot?
Why do those subsidies exist? what did they replace?
You don't know, do you?

The US subsidizes its own farming industry in order to enable it to compete with the third world where people work for peanuts. Europe does the same.

about a month and a half ago
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Torvalds: No Opinion On Systemd

Ash Vince Re:Simple set of pipelined utilties! (385 comments)

This is making init do stuff it doesn't need to do, which makes it more complex, which makes it more fragile.

This whole argument seems to be based around the idea that systemd is trying to do something that you do not want: make bootup a more efficient process as more things can be started in parallel. Ok, the trade off is that solving this is a complex problem so it does introduce more complexity.

The question is though, at what point would a system boot too slowly to force you to start acknowledging that this is an issue?

Linux boots have been getting slower and slower for as long as I can remember even though the hardware is getting faster. When it starts taking closer to 2 or 3 minutes to boot to a working desktop would you ever acknowledge that this problem needs fixing? I have a feeling that most people who are against this sort of work simply never reboot their machine so would be happy with it taking 5 or 10 minutes to boot, the problem though is the most people do seem to care about this, especially people who use linux desktops and do not want it to look like something 20 years old.

In my case, I have to cold boot my PC at least once everyday because I use full disk encryption mandated by my employer. That means i also have to do a full shut down if I am out and about and putting it back in my bag. Every time I stop using it, it needs a full shutdown so the encryption key is definitely out of memory. So for me, a faster boot is useful and saves me time.

I do not want to sacrifice a working system to obtain that, but I do want people to look at how they can solve this problem, even if it results in something slightly more complicated. All software and hardware has been getting more complicated as they hardware has become more powerful. Once upon a time nobody cared about multitasking, now any OS without it would be useless on the average PC. Surely enabling multitasking as early on in the boot process for as much as possible is actually a good thing now most PC's have 4 or more cores.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?

Ash Vince Re:Experience counts (232 comments)

I would love to have at least one of those fearful devs to handle documentation.

Could you elaborate a bit on that? Because it kinda sounds like you're a tyrant. Why would anyone welcome fear, without being a tyrant?

The problem is that there is the other side of the coin to people who spend their whole life documenting and avoiding writing code, that is developers who just churn out tons of code say "hey, i don't need o write documentation as the code is easy to read". The problem with this approach is twofold:

1) Your are nearly always a poor judge of your own code, in terms of how straightforward it is. Of course, you understand it, you wrote it. It needs to be reviewed and the reviewer should also determine if it needs any additional documentation. Also, big pieces of work should actually be designed beforehand, at least in broad strokes, and the design should be included in the documentation and kept up to date with any changes during implementation.

2) It requires someone to look at the code in depth to understand what bits they need to change if any future amends are required. You should always be aiming to write code that is as straight forward as possible for a developer who is new to the project to pick up. A large part of that is making sure they can start looking at the right bit of code they need to change when given a project easily without it taking up your, or another developers time. If you give them a head start by having things like design diagrams, database schema and other documentation then your team becomes more productive as a result, even as people rotate into and out of it.

Having someone who loves writing documentation of your team can be very valuable if the documentation they produce is good.

(Disclaimer: I hate writing docs, if someone else wants to do it for me and the docs they produce are half decent I will cover for them and say how great they are to management. If I don't have anyone like that on my team I just slog through them bitching about how much I hate documenting stuff, even though I know it needs doing)

about a month and a half ago
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How Governments Are Getting Around the UN's Ban On Blinding Laser Weapons

Ash Vince Re:One of those strange rules of war. (180 comments)

That brings up a good point. That is probably why the government automatically deducts taxes from the paychecks of most employees.

Then maybe your duty even extends to things like civil disobedience to try and obstruct you government from behaving in this way? I am not sure I actually agree with this, but I do understand people who do.

There is an interesting side point to this though with regard to Israel in that US taxpayers do help foot the bill to pay for their armed forces. They also pay a sizable amount to Egypt to keep the military there Israel friendly and maintain the blockade of Gaza.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrar...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/worl...

Does this make US citizens compliant also for the deeds of the Israeli armed forces? $3.1 billion is quite a lot after all.

Of course the problem with this argument is that in many cases the US taxpayer simply has no idea what their money is spent on.

about a month and a half ago
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How Governments Are Getting Around the UN's Ban On Blinding Laser Weapons

Ash Vince Re:Not much different than the fire starting laser (180 comments)

Be that as it may, laws that are not enforced or do not have penalties for infraction that are enforced are meaningless.

Not true. Often laws are in place to provide cover for those who want to engage in activities the laws sound like they should prevent. For instance if you have a law that has a few well crafted loopholes then the people engaging in activities that may not fall under a technical definition of the law but are certainly against its spirit can point at the law and say "hey, we are following all relevant laws so we are the good guys".

about a month and a half ago
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CBC Warns Canadians of "US Law Enforcement Money Extortion Program"

Ash Vince Re:Seems reasonable (462 comments)

As far as i know, its the only Consitutions which specificly warns of giving excessive powers to government, and thus allso specifies a sollution for it via militias, and gun ownership etc.

i am not an amierican, so i may be wrong here.
Still, it doesnt seem to have helped them thus far ;)

Gun ownership is a big con when it comes to preventing crap like this. The problem is that the government will always have more people, who are better trained with bigger guns unless a sizeable part or the population come to their senses. Gun ownership might help prevent a foreign aggressor from taking over, but it does precious little to prevent a government from manipulating its own populace into putting up with their corruption.

The reality of the US is that the corporations have long since bought all the news media and are very adept at using it to push the population into electing the politicians who they want in power. Recently this has actually been accentuated with the complete relaxation of the campaign financing laws as politicians need lots of rich backers to get elected. This money is actually an investment though, as the politicians then have to pay the people who provide it far more attention than their own voters.

about a month and a half ago
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LLVM 3.5 Brings C++1y Improvements, Unified 64-bit ARM Backend

Ash Vince Re:The FSF/GNU folks overreached with GPL v3 ... (99 comments)

The FSF/GNU folks overreached with GPL v3. They overestimated their importance, pushed a little too hard, and get spanked by Darwin. Both the scientist and the kernel.

Gcc being displaced was bound to happen. When politics guide engineering the long term is doubtful.

Unfortunately this is a pretty spot on assessment of the situation in my mind.

Ok, It was annoying that companies were starting to find ways to use OS technology as center pieces in their products and not opening all of their source code to let people tinker with it. The problem their though is that in some cases if they did that then they would reveal too much about things like the underlying hardware that might be under NDA's forced upon them by other companies

Given enough time this sort of problem might have solved itself as companies slowly moved away from doing business in this way and embracing ideas that ultimately gave them long term benefit (ie: free code), but the GPL3 seemed a crude attempt to force too much change too quickly on business executives who have too much to lose, so are by that point in their careers too conservative.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Bleszinski: "I'll never make another disc-based game"

Ash Vince Ash Vince writes  |  about 8 months ago

Ash Vince (602485) writes "Ex-Epic design chief Cliff Bleszinski has had it with disc-based games.

In a new interview with Gamasutra, the former Gears of War designer said he wanted to make a PC game in the modern online environment that allows creators to have closer relationships with their players."

Link to Original Source
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Save MySQL petition

Ash Vince Ash Vince writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Ash Vince (602485) writes "A petition has been started which aims to try and ensure an open source future for MySQL after the acquisition of SUN by Oracle.

In April 2009, Oracle announced that it had agreed to acquire Sun. Since Sun had acquired MySQL the previous year, this would mean that Oracle, the market leader for closed source databases, would get to own MySQL, the most popular open source database.

If Oracle acquired MySQL on that basis, it would have as much control over MySQL as money can possibly buy over an open source project. In fact, for most open source projects (such as Linux or Apache) there isn't any comparable way for a competitor to buy even one tenth as much influence. But MySQL's success has always depended on the company behind it that develops, sells and promotes it. That company (initially MySQL AB, then Sun) has always owned the important intellectual property rights (IPRs), most notably the trademark, copyright and (so far only for defensive purposes) patents. It has used the IPRs to produce income and has reinvested a large part of those revenues in development, getting not only bigger but also better with time."

Link to Original Source
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Subversion for Database Changes

Ash Vince Ash Vince writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Ash Vince (602485) writes "Where I work we have recently moved to subversion to manage our codebase. We have been running it for several months and have now had a number of successful releases of our software using it. As far as source code management it seems to do everything we need but since the application we provide is heavily database reliant we need something to track changes to both table structure and content of certain tables.

Since we cannot be the only people in this situation what solutions have other people come up with to fill this gap. At present we have been using a text file containing the SQL which we then keep in our subversion repository. This just about does what we need but seems a bit messy. Is there a better solution out there?

(In case its relevant we use MySQL as a database server)"

Journals

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Google Blocks Pings

Ash Vince Ash Vince writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Google are now not responding to pings from the outside world so all of us who ping their servers to check if the internet is up now have to find any something else to ping instead.

Does anyone have any recommendations for a decent site you can ping to see if your local internet connection has crashed?

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Slashdot - Are you getting paid to read it?

Ash Vince Ash Vince writes  |  more than 7 years ago

After reading the Media Defender email leak recently it got me wondering as to how many other companies actually pay their employees to read slashdot. In the case of media defender it seems as though they pay staff to read it but probably don't mind them posting the occasional comment as at one point they talk about a comment being friendly and ask if it was one them posting it.

This led me to wonder how many people actually read and post on slashdot through choice nowadays. Now don't get me wrong, this is not one of those moaning posts where people just carp on about dupes and the like, but I am curious as to how many other companies might have people in their public relations departments reading slashdot, digg and other tech sites to keep them appraised of how well received a particular campaign or product is.

We know there was the whole Intel section recently but alot of companies that are currently less well liked here amongst the regular users (I can think of one in Redmond in particular) would not want to draw any attention to their staff involvement, even if it was only supposed to be in an observational capacity. This also assumes that if you paid staff to read slashdot all day they would be able to resist the urge to post the occasional comment.

Then there are all the strangely modded comments. Even if you were only supposed to READ slashdot, if you happened to log in one day and noticed you had some points, would you not be tempted to use them? The more paranoid amongst us might even realise it would be possible to write a script which looked at a number of different slashdot accounts and inspected the HTML after they were logged in and flagged any that did have mod points. And this is assuming the captcha prevents automated account creation and has not been defeated as well.

If I was getting paid to read slashdot, I would not mind spending a few minutes each day signing up a new account. Then at the end of the day the account gets entered into a database and as soon as the random mod points come round, bingo. I would be very surprised if I am the first person to realise how easily this could be achieved.

Some of you regular readers will also remember that someone recently wrote an algorithm to rate how reliable an article on wikipedia is (http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/31/0259224&from=rss). So does anyone out there have any ideas how we would do this for slashdot to flag up corporate trolls in a similar way? Then they might me able to read, but any regular posting be counter productive if the site could flag your posts with who was paying you.

On another similar note, could any of the paid readers here tell me how they got into the gig, as I would really like to get paid to sit about and read slashdot too.

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