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UN To Debate Taxing Internet Data

CowboyRobot Nonsense (284 comments)

The United Nations is not a government and does not have the ability to levy taxes even if they wanted to. The debate about taxes happened in a U.N. forum, but the U.N. itself would have no role in collecting taxes. It would be the U.S. and European countries that would collect and keep the money.

more than 2 years ago
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Of currently dead inventors, my favorite is ...

CowboyRobot Philo Farnsworth (542 comments)

I'm not the first to mention him, but I add Philo Farnsworth because he's the most relatable of the bunch. I simply don't have the brainpower or industriousness to be like Tesla or Leonardo, but I think if I really applied myself to a few core, solvable problems, I would be able to come up with something that no one had done before.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Book For 11-Year-Old Who Wants To Teach Himself To Program?

CowboyRobot JavaScript (525 comments)

I had taken some programming classes when i was younger. First in C and then in Java but it was only by fooling around with JavaScript that I really got the concepts of coding down. With JavaScript all you need is a text editor and a web browser, no compiler. And the feedback you get is so immediate that debugging is much quicker and less frustrating than with other languages. All the instruction is free on the Web, and with HTML5 gaining traction, JavaScript is again a useful language to know.

more than 2 years ago
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Utah's Medicaid Data Breach Worse Than Expected

CowboyRobot Round numbers (1 comments)

The nice, round numbers they quote suggests to me that they have no idea how many records were actually compromised.

more than 2 years ago
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What Color Is Twitter?

CowboyRobot Synesthesia (1 comments)

I like the idea of a collective synesthesia of online content. I think a few options should be added: - Give a history of color changes - - and map it to significant changes in content - Don't just track the median average, also track the most-occurring color references - - avoiding brown is a good start, but 'most frequent' may be more telling than 'average'

more than 2 years ago
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Emergency Landing Due to Snakes on the Plane

CowboyRobot Crocodile (3 comments)

The crocodile being loose on a plane is probably a more interesting story

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: What are your top work-from-home tips?

CowboyRobot Exercise (2 comments)

I've been working primarily from a home office for about 10 years. At first I was good about maintaining my discipline, waking up at the same time, showering and dressing - but then, instead of an hour commute, I started work right away, an hour early. Then, undisturbed by meetings and co-worker's phone calls, I found i was able to get all my work done by about 1pm. It was all great, until a month or two into it when I started getting lazy, waking up later, delaying showering and dressing and procrastinating the work whenever I could. The solution for me was to make sure I got out of the house and got some exercise every day, even if it was just a walk around the block. That put me back on track to having at least a minimum of discipline.

more than 2 years ago
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The Lost Film That Accompanied Empire Strikes Back

CowboyRobot Re:Star Wars (195 comments)

...is likely to get you flogged and/or hung.

You will surely get hanged. Alas, none of us here are, or ever will be, hung.

more than 4 years ago
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Web Release of the Open Movie Elephants Dream

CowboyRobot Re:Anyone Interested In Making a Re-Edit? (290 comments)

Agreed, there is potential to actually communicate a message/story that has meaning using what is there. It's almost like a cartoon where you have to fill in the caption yourself. A shame that with all the hype and the quality graphics that the narrative is so opaque.

more than 8 years ago

Submissions

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Certificate Transparency

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  5 days ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "Ben Laurie (of Google, among many other organizations) explains how we cannot have a secure Web as long as we rely so much on the current method of depending on third-party certificate authorities. "Ultimately, we want to ensure that Web users are actually talking to whom they think they're talking to, and that no one else can intercept the conversation. That's really an impossible goal—how can a computer know what the user is thinking—but for now let's reduce the problem to a slightly different one: how to ensure the Web user is talking to the owner of the domain corresponding to the URL being used." His solution is to use "public, verifiable, append-only logs." Ideal certificate transparency allows everyone to participate, introduces no latency, relies on no third party, and is automatic."
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ACM and the Professional Programmer

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 2 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "Vint Cerf was a co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and can rightly claim to be one of the "Fathers of the Internet." He's a vice president at Google and was president of the ACM from 2012-2014. On behalf of that organization, he has an essay that gently questions the relevance of the ACM now that so many (most?) software engineers and other computer science professionals are not members, and may not have formal CS education at all. As he puts it: "The question that occupies my mind, especially as the membership in ACM has not grown in a way commensurate with the evident growth of programmers, is whether and how ACM can adapt its activities and offerings to increase the participation of these professionals.""
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Who Must You Trust?

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 3 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "In ACM's Queue, Thomas Wadlow argues that "Whom you trust, what you trust them with, and how much you trust them are at the center of the Internet today."
He gives a checklist of what to look for when evaluating any system for trustworthiness, chock full of fascinating historical examples.
These include NASA opting for a simpler, but more reliable chip; the Terry Childs case; and even an 18th century "semaphore telegraph" that was a very early example of steganographic cryptography.
FTA: "Detecting an anomaly is one thing, but following up on what you've detected is at least as important. In the early days of the Internet, Cliff Stoll, then a graduate student at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories in California, noticed a 75-cent accounting error on some computer systems he was managing. Many would have ignored it, but it bothered him enough to track it down. That investigation led, step by step, to the discovery of an attacker named Markus Hess, who was arrested, tried, and convicted of espionage and selling information to the Soviet KGB.""

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QA Testing at EA and Netflix

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 3 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "To millions of gamers, the position of QA (quality assurance) tester at Electronic Arts must seem like a dream job. But from the company's perspective, the overhead associated with QA can look downright frightening, particularly in an era of massively multi-player games. Hence the appeal of automated QA testing, which has the potential to be faster, more cost-effective, more efficient, and more scalable than manual testing. While automation cannot mimic everything human testers can do, it can be very useful for many types of basic testing. Still, it turns out the transition to automated testing is not nearly as straightforward as it might at first appear. Joining the discussion is Jafar Husain, a lead software developer for Netflix. Previously he worked at Microsoft, where one of his tasks involved creating the test environment for the Silverlight development platform."
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The NSA and Snowden: Securing the All-Seeing Eye

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 5 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "Bob, Toxen, one of the developers of Berkeley Unix among other things, has an article at the ACM in which he describes how the NSA could have prevented Edward Snowden from releasing classified information. "The NSA seemingly had become lax in utilizing even the most important, simple, and cheap good computer security practices with predictable consequences, even though it has virtually unlimited resources and access — if it wants it — to the best computer security experts in the country... Consider that one of Snowden's jobs was copying large amounts of classified data from one computer to a thumb drive and then connecting that thumb drive to another computer and downloading the data. He likely secreted the thumb drive on his person after downloading the data he wanted and took it home. This theft could have been prevented rather easily with the use of public-key encryption... The NSA should have had a public/secret key pair created for each sysadmin who needed to transfer data and a separate account on each computer for each sysadmin to transfer this data.""
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The Curse of the Excluded Middle

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 5 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "Erik Meijer, known for his contributions to Haskell, C#, Visual Basic, Hack, and LINQ, has an article at the ACM in which he argues that "Mostly functional" programming does not work. "The idea of "mostly functional programming" is unfeasible. It is impossible to make imperative programming languages safer by only partially removing implicit side effects. Leaving one kind of effect is often enough to simulate the very effect you just tried to remove. On the other hand, allowing effects to be "forgotten" in a pure language also causes mayhem in its own way. Unfortunately, there is no golden middle, and we are faced with a classic dichotomy: the curse of the excluded middle, which presents the choice of either (a) trying to tame effects using purity annotations, yet fully embracing the fact that your code is still fundamentally effectful; or (b) fully embracing purity by making all effects explicit in the type system and being pragmatic by introducing nonfunctions such as unsafePerformIO. The examples shown here are meant to convince language designers and developers to jump through the mirror and start looking more seriously at fundamentalist functional programming.""
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Don't Settle for Eventual Consistency

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 5 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "At ACM's Queue magazine, Wyatt Lloyd of Facebook writes that "Systems that sacrifice strong consistency gain much in return. They can be always available, guarantee responses with low latency, and provide partition tolerance. We coined the term ALPS for systems that provide these three properties—always available, low latency, and partition tolerance—and one more: scalability. Scalability implies that adding storage servers to each data center produces a proportional increase in storage capacity and throughput. Scalability is critical for modern systems because data has grown far too large to be stored or served by a single machine. The question remains as to what consistency properties ALPS systems can provide. Before answering this, let's consider the consistency offered by existing ALPS systems. For systems such as Amazon's Dynamo, LinkedIn's Project Voldemort, and Facebook/Apache's Cassandra, the answer is eventual consistency.""
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Samsung's Position On Tizen May Hurt Developer Recruitment

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 5 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "Samsung isn’t making it easy for developers. The company may have released a handful of SDKs for its latest devices, but Samsung’s non-committal approach to its Tizen platform is probably going to cost it developer support. Samsung’s first smartwatch, released in October last year, ran a modified version of Google’s Android platform. The device had access to about 80 apps at launch, all of which were managed by a central smartphone app. Samsung offered developers an SDK for the Galaxy Gear so they could create more apps. Developers obliged. Then Samsung changed direction."
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Please Put OpenSSL Out of Its Misery

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 5 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "Writing for the ACM, Poul-Henning Kamp claims that "OpenSSL must die, for it will never get any better." The reasons being that OpenSSL has become a dumping ground of un-organized contributions. "We need a well-designed API, as simple as possible to make it hard for people to use it incorrectly. And we need multiple independent quality implementations of that API, so that if one turns out to be crap, people can switch to a better one in a matter of hours.""
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Can't Find a Parking Spot? There's an API for That

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 5 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "California-based Streetline has partnered with cities, universities, parking garages and transit agencies in the United States and internationally to build a large, smart parking network. The network is powered by ultra-low-power wireless sensors that it deploys in its partners’ locations. The data collected by those sensors is analyzed by the company’s Smart Parking Platform to determine parking availability. The system distinguishes between metered and unmetered spaces, and it can identify special kinds of spaces, such as electric vehicle (EV) and accessible spaces."
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A Primer on Provenance

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 5 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "Lucian Carata and colleagues at the University of Cambridge describe the importance of knowing where data comes from and what processes may have altered it. In "A Primer on Provenance", they describe how sometimes the transformations applied to data are not directly controlled by or even known to developers, and information about a result is lost when no provenance is recorded, making it harder to assess quality or reproducibility. Computing is becoming pervasive, and the need for guarantees about it being dependable will only aggravate those problems; treating provenance as a first-class citizen in data processing represents a possible solution."
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Converter Makes JSON as Understandable as a Spreadsheet

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 5 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "Eric Mill, a developer at the Sunlight Foundation, has created a JSON-to-CSV converter where users can simply paste JSON code into a box and have the code automatically reformatted and re-colored, then converted into an easily readable table of data. A complete CSV of the table data can also be downloaded. The converter uses JavaScript so it runs without a server and the JSON conversions happen inside the browser."
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Multipath TCP

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 6 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "The Internet relies heavily on two protocols. In the network layer, IP (Internet Protocol) provides an unreliable datagram service and ensures that any host can exchange packets with any other host. Since its creation in the 1970s, IP has seen the addition of several features, including multicast, IPsec (IP security), and QoS (quality of service). The latest revision, IPv6 (IP version 6), supports 16-byte addresses. The second major protocol is TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), which operates in the transport layer and provides a reliable bytestream service on top of IP. TCP has evolved continuously since the first experiments in research networks. MPTCP is a major extension to TCP. By decoupling TCP from IP, TCP is at last able to support multihomed hosts. With the growing importance of wireless networks, multihoming is becoming the norm instead of the exception. Smartphones and data centers are the first use cases where MPTCP can provide benefits."
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Eventually Consistent: Not What You Were Expecting?

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 7 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "Storage systems continue to lay the foundation for modern Internet services such as Web search, e-commerce, and social networking. Pressures caused by rapidly growing user bases and data sets have driven system designs away from conventional centralized databases and toward more scalable distributed solutions, including simple NoSQL key-value storage systems, as well as more elaborate NewSQL databases that support transactions at scale.

Eventual consistency is increasingly viewed as a spectrum of behaviors that can be quantified along various dimensions, rather than a binary property that a storage system either satisfies or fails to satisfy. Advances in characterizing and verifying these behaviors will enable service providers to offer an increasingly rich set of service levels of differentiated performance, ultimately improving the end user's experience."

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Rate-Limiting State

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 7 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "Writing for ACM's Queue magazine, Paul Vixie argues, "The edge of the Internet is an unruly place." By design, the Internet core is stupid, and the edge is smart. This design decision has enabled the Internet's wildcat growth, since without complexity the core can grow at the speed of demand. On the downside, the decision to put all smartness at the edge means we're at the mercy of scale when it comes to the quality of the Internet's aggregate traffic load. Not all device and software builders have the skills and budgets that something the size of the Internet deserves. Furthermore, the resiliency of the Internet means that a device or program that gets something importantly wrong about Internet communication stands a pretty good chance of working "well enough" in spite of this. Witness the endless stream of patches and vulnerability announcements from the vendors of literally every smartphone, laptop, or desktop operating system and application. Bad guys have the time, skills, and motivation to study edge devices for weaknesses, and they are finding as many weaknesses as they need to inject malicious code into our precious devices where they can then copy our data, modify our installed software, spy on us, and steal our identities."
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IBM Invests $100M to Help Developers Build Cognitive Applications

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 8 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "Hard on the heels of a recent move to make its Watson supercomputer a service that developers can invoke via RESTful APIs, IBM is now making $100 million available to help developers build cognitive computing applications that can run on top of Watson. The funding is part of a larger $1 billion investment that IBM is making to create a formal Watson Group and is designed to encourage independent software vendors to become part of an ecosystem that IBM is trying to build around Watson."
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Node at LinkedIn: The Pursuit of Thinner, Lighter, Faster

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 8 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "Node.js, the server-side JavaScript-based software platform used to build scalable network applications, has been all the rage among many developers for the past couple of years, although its popularity has also managed to enrage some others, who have unleashed a barrage of negative blog posts to point out its perceived shortcomings. Still, while new and untested, Node continues to win more converts. In 2011 LinkedIn joined the movement when it opted to rebuild its core mobile services in Node. The professional networking site, which had been relying on Ruby on Rails, was looking for performance and scalability gains. With its pervasive use of non-blocking primitives and a single-threaded event loop, Node seemed promising. Kiran Prasad joined LinkedIn as senior director of mobile engineering in 2011 and led the company's transition to Node. On the server side, LinkedIn's mobile frontend is now built entirely in Node. Prasad admits Node isn't the best tool for every job, but upon analyzing LinkedIn's system, Prasad and his team determined that what was needed to improve efficiency was an event-driven system. Node also proved attractive because it's thin and light while allowing for the direct manipulation of data objects."
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BitPay's New Payroll API Enables Bitcoin Paychecks

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 8 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "BitPay, virtual currency payment processor, has announced a beta trial for its new Bitcoin Payroll API. The API allows employers to offer a portion of employee pay in bitcoin.Targeted at employers and payroll service providers, the API allows employees to opt-in to receive a payroll deduction in bitcoin on a recurring basis."
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The Emergence of API-First Development

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 8 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "How an API was designed and implemented is usually of little interest to consumers of the thousands of APIs available today. What matters most is that an API works, is easy to integrate and solves a real problem. But for the growing number of companies looking to take advantage of the booming API economy and considering developing APIs, design is an important subject. Historically, API design has been a consumer-first exercise: a company develops a data-rich application and at some point, decides to build an API through which that data can be accessed. In recent years, however, more and more companies have opted for an API-first approach under which APIs are designed, implemented and documented before the application that will consume them even exists. “Don’t be afraid to break the structure of your API” in the early days... “Find a few key customers that are willing to work with you and keep in constant communication with them. This will allow you to change the API given their comments.”"
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Unikernels: Rise of the Virtual Library Operating System

CowboyRobot CowboyRobot writes  |  about 8 months ago

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "What if all the software layers in a virtual appliance were compiled within the same safe, high-level language framework? Cloud computing has been pioneering the business of renting computing resources in large data centers to multiple (and possibly competing) tenants. The basic enabling technology for the cloud is operating-system virtualization such as Xen1 or VMWare, which allows customers to multiplex VMs (virtual machines) on a shared cluster of physical machines. Each VM presents as a self-contained computer, booting a standard operating-system kernel and running unmodified applications just as if it were executing on a physical machine. While operating-system virtualization is undeniably useful, it adds yet another layer to an already highly layered software stack now including: support for old physical protocols (e.g., disk standards developed in the 1980s, such as IDE); irrelevant optimizations (e.g., disk elevator algorithms on SSD drives); backward-compatible interfaces (e.g., POSIX); user-space processes and threads (in addition to VMs on a hypervisor); and managed-code runtimes (e.g., OCaml, .NET, or Java). Are we really doomed to adding new layers of indirection and abstraction every few years, leaving future generations of programmers to become virtual archaeologists as they dig through hundreds of layers of software emulation to debug even the simplest applications?"
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