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What Will Microsoft's "Embrace" of Open Source Actually Achieve?

Dr_Barnowl Re:Sales (198 comments)

It's a shame that Sharpdevelop is so tied to Windows ; if it lived up to the promise of the platform, it would just run on Linux. Monodevelop is a *terrible* port and really lags behind SharpDevelop on features.

Even MS gets that UI is hard - the Windows.Forms namespace was being specifically excluded from the open-sourcing AFAICR.

13 hours ago
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RFID-Blocking Blazer and Jeans Could Stop Wireless Identity Theft

Dr_Barnowl Re:Hope it works better then my wallet (101 comments)

I found the el-cheapo cardboard sleeves with a foil lining to be entirely adequate. 5 in a pack for a few dollars. I've not replaced the first one yet (I only have one NFC capable credit card).

13 hours ago
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Congress Passes Bill Allowing Warrantless Forfeiture of Private Communications

Dr_Barnowl Re:Brian Reynolds is a time traveler (378 comments)

In the UK that could get you an infinite prison sentence.

You can be locked up for 2 years for not revealing an encrption key.

Then another 2 years if you don't reveal it after that.

Ad infinitum.

about a week ago
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Keurig 2.0 Genuine K-Cup Spoofing Vulnerability

Dr_Barnowl Re:Security or identification? (270 comments)

It's IR-reflecting ink. There's no identification. They are just being assholes.

about a week ago
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Keurig 2.0 Genuine K-Cup Spoofing Vulnerability

Dr_Barnowl Re:But does it report artificially low ink levels? (270 comments)

Yeah, the only thing that got me off Win2k was DRM.

The games I wanted to play had DRM that the crypto API in Win2k didn't support.

"Upgraded" to Vista. Was I ever bitten.

about a week ago
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Keurig 2.0 Genuine K-Cup Spoofing Vulnerability

Dr_Barnowl Re:Someone has (270 comments)

And for that convenience you sell your control over your coffee maker.

I mean, seriously. It's a hot water machine with DRM on it. If the bottled water guys get hold of this idea, they'll make a kettle that only boils when you put the cap from the bottle into a slot. See what a ludicrous idea that is?

I have an Aeropress. You put a paper filter, and coffee in it. When you're done, you're left with a puck of coffee grounds which you eject into your (compost) bin.

You then rinse it under the tap and enjoy your coffee. Maintenance done.

about a week ago
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Keurig 2.0 Genuine K-Cup Spoofing Vulnerability

Dr_Barnowl Re:Someone has (270 comments)

This is why I used a cafetiere for the longest time.

I made all the coffee I wanted to drink at once, and the only waste was the grounds (and yes, it seems I'm wasting them, thanks for the tips about using them as soil improvement, sibling poster.

Now I use an Aeropress.

It makes better coffee, at the cost of a small circle of filter paper as waste. The grounds are much easier to deal with because it compresses them into a puck. I may even start saving them for my herb garden....

about a week ago
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British 'Porn Filter' Blocks Access To Chaos Computer Club

Dr_Barnowl Re:Good grief. (135 comments)

That's the "City of London".

It's not the city of London. It's a small, privately owned borough in the middle. It has it's own private police force (who are staunch advocates of strong copyright policing, surprise). It's the scene of many of the financial crimes of this and previous centuries, but curiously, these don't get too much attention from their own private police.

about two weeks ago
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Google Hopes To One Day Replace Gmail With Inbox

Dr_Barnowl Inbox is Getting Things Done (239 comments)

.. or at least, it should be. It obviously has some nods to the methodology, like deferring actions for later.

What it needs is better context support, a proper 'tickler', and a full-featured API.

about two weeks ago
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UK Announces 'Google Tax'

Dr_Barnowl Re:Great (602 comments)

Yes, you need robot makers.

But the whole point of automation is to reduce costs or increase productivity or quality.

If you robotize McDonalds, you're not going to increase the number of people who eat there ; that's pretty much determined by the size of the restaurant and the capacity of the kitchen. Quality is pretty much set by the quality of the ingredients, and is not the reason people eat in McDonalds.

The kitchen labour is flexible - McDonalds go to great pains to have people on contracts that mean they can have them work as little or as much as they need. So the thing they are making flex is labour, not production. Add robots, and you have less human labour. If you don't, there is no economic reason to do so - you don't need more production (or they would be having problems recruiting, not trying to keep their workforce lean).

If robots cost more to make and maintain than your human labour, you don't use them. Therefore robots mean fewer dollars in the pockets of human labour. It creates SOME jobs higher up the supply chain, sure, but not the kind of jobs that McDonalds kitchen labour can do - these guys are by and large, on the lower half of the bell curve for ability, as you point out. But if you need to spend more dollars on robots and engineers to handle them, you're doing it wrong. Therefore more money departs from the labour end of the economy (the customers of McDonalds) and into the pockets of the owners (the customers of 5 star restaurants).

Extend this to every low-skill employer and you have a vast underclass of unemployed people who i) need supporting ii) can no longer afford to buy goods and services that they previously would have afforded.

Lower demand means less economic activity which means more push to increase productivity and decrease labour.

Before long, robots are making the robots. The only guy with a job in robotics is the guy who maintains the robot maintaining robot. Sooner or later they realise that if they make another robot maintaining robot, they can make him redundant too.

At this point you can go one of two ways :

i) The 0.1% own all the robots and don't see why they should share their wealth. The remaining human population compete for an increasingly small pool of non-automatable jobs, the unemployed are herded into basic subsistence camps (by robot "peacekeepers").
ii) Everyone realises that the robots are made of materials from the Earth, and powered by energy from the Sun, that the Earth should be owned by all of us equally and that we should be striving for universal human happiness, and that if we cooperate we can all have a living standard that exceeds the definition of "comfortable" by some large margin, since all these robots made everything so gosh-darned productive

about two weeks ago
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UK Announces 'Google Tax'

Dr_Barnowl Re:There is no single "fair" value. (602 comments)

Would Walmart be as successful if they had to pay a living wage to keep employees?

Bingo.

Wages that are so low that the government is forced to step in and subsidise them? That's basically slavery. It is in fact, worse than slavery. If I kept slaves, I would have to feed, clothe, and accomodate them. Wal-Mart doesn't even bother to pay them enough for that, because it knows that their cost of living will be kept up by the government, aka, the people.

When all those right-wingers are screaming about minimum wage being too high, they're really advocating more socialism, because you can't have wages that low without social welfare programs. Without welfare, no-one would take a job for so little because they would be unable to survive.

about two weeks ago
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UK Announces Hybrid Work/Study Undergraduate Program To Fill Digital Gap

Dr_Barnowl Re:Why the subsidy? (110 comments)

Because the economy increasingly runs on good IT people, but there aren't enough to go around.

People around the age of 40 - 45 in this country come from a real boom for the IT industry - the introduction of the "home computer" - 8-bit microcomputers within the budget of the working citizen.

The perfect storm of kids TV that only lasted for an hour or so each day, and computers that came with a BASIC interpreter, and you needed to learn at least one BASIC command on to get them to do anything, created a generation of "bedroom programmers". People would learn to program for fun. We then had a perfect progression through 8-bit micros, to 16-bit, and then 32-bit PCs, learning all the way.

The skills you need these days to get your computer to do something interesting, whether it sits in a box under your desk, on your lap, or it's just a circuit board behind a flat piece of glass, are very much different, and typically involve poking a couple of pretty icons.

Kids get very disappointed when they can't make things go all whizz-bang within 5 minutes of their first coding lesson. It's always been a special fraction of the population with the inclination to be programmers. But these days, the bar has been set even higher - you have to have a real obsession with programming to overcome the draw of all the other shiny toys out there, especially when they discover that to make even one simple app requires many hours of dedicated study and practice and work.

That's the problem. Computers were fun in our day because we were doing things that no-one else had done. Catching up to others is work.

about three weeks ago
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UK Announces Hybrid Work/Study Undergraduate Program To Fill Digital Gap

Dr_Barnowl Re:Could be a good idea.. (110 comments)

It boggles the mind, doesn't it.

One of my favourite interview questions is "What's your favourite data structure, and why?", and when they answer, I ask "How would you implement it?"

For something like 80% of the candidates I've interviewed, the answer is usually "erm...."

The vast majority of the remainder say "ArrayList" but don't usually say why.

Out of those, I've only interviewed one who could give any kind of basic indication that they knew how to implement one.

The state of the industry is shocking.

about three weeks ago
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Slack Now Letting Employers Tap Workers' Private Chats

Dr_Barnowl So what? (79 comments)

What, we don't think that Lync and everything else that offers a chat server in your own rack can't be configured to do this?

Hell, at my last office, they were feeding all our VoIP calls through this SIGINT app ; the only reason I found out was because I was copied in on ICT change reports for operational reasons and one of the changes was they moved the storage for the VoIP calls to another server.

Presume that you're being watched. You likely are, by someone.

about three weeks ago
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Sweden Considers Adding "Sexism" Ratings To Video Games

Dr_Barnowl Re: More detailed ratings are a good thing (642 comments)

The NHS might be far from the best healthcare system imaginable, but it's official - it's one of the best universal healthcare systems, in terms of both efficiency and outcomes.

Mirror, mirror.

about a month ago
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World's Youngest Microsoft Certificated Professional Is Five Years Old

Dr_Barnowl Re:Which says what? (276 comments)

I'm really not sure it puts out a good image of your product if a 5 year old can pass your professional certifications.

It either means your certs are weak sauce, or your product is lamentably simple.

about a month ago
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Flaw in New Visa Cards Would Let Hackers Steal $1M Per Card

Dr_Barnowl Re:Well... no. (126 comments)

People are going to have to start accepting cryptographic signatures (maybe from keys signed by the government, like they have in Estonia).

Most of my utility bills are now via email.

about a month and a half ago
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Flaw in New Visa Cards Would Let Hackers Steal $1M Per Card

Dr_Barnowl Re:Well... no. (126 comments)

Screw that.

Keep the card in a foil lined sleeve. You can get a pack of five for a few dollars, or get a fancy shielded wallet. I quite like the look of the ones made of woven stainless steel thread. I tested the el-cheapo ones that are just card and foil and they prevent card reads from all the readers I tested.

Then your physical removal of the card from it's sleeve is required to complete any transaction, contactless or otherwise. No-one will have a reason to amputate your finger.

If you scan things into Apple Pay it's not a copy of your card (unless someone seriously fucked up when they designed the crypto schemes for your payment card). You have to trust Apple, who are no doubt greatly enjoying the information about your payment history.

about a month and a half ago
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Skilled Foreign Workers Treated as Indentured Servants

Dr_Barnowl Re:seems to me (284 comments)

H1B tax.

You should pay a tax on top of the H1B employees wages that makes the full package 20% more costly than employing a US worker.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Eric Schmidt urges regulation of mini-drones

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that the CEO of Google thinks that drones should be regulated. Drones are certainly a hot topic, with appearances on both side of the divide in Cory Doctorow's novel Homeland — with the authorities using them to distribute riot gas, and the noble hackers using them to post the video of them doing it. Is Eric really concerned over how the public will use drones against each other, or is he more concerned that they might eat into Google's pie somehow?"
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UK Government - "Pay a £20 fee to acquit yourself of file-sharing (maybe)"

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that the UK government plans to introduce a £20 fee if you wish to appeal against an allegation of copyright infringement, within 20 days of your accusation. Note that this doesn't guarantee acquittal, as only "excuses" covered in the Digital Economy Act will be valid even for consideration. This scheme could be in place as early as 2014, so John Smith, General Secretary of the Musicians' Union says "We urge ISPs to begin building their systems now and to work constructively with rights holders, Ofcom and government to get notice-sending up and running as soon as possible,". What are the thoughts of Slashdot?"
Link to Original Source
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EU Proposes HFT Transaction Tax

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that the UK opposes a proposed new tax on transactions with at least one end Europe. Why is this "News for Nerds"? The proposal includes tax on derivatives, an instrument the High Frequency Trading stories we've been chowing down on recently. With the proposed tax being 0.1% or 0.01% for derivatives, the story highlights the sheer volumes involved — it's speculated that the tax would earn some €57B a year ($78B), around 80% of it from the City of London. A transaction tax like this is something frequently proposed in Slashdot HFT discussions. The UK says that it will veto the tax "unless it was imposed globally" — should the USA follow suit and impose a similar levy targeted at the trading desks of the NYSE?"
Link to Original Source
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Sony to convert online bookstore to open format

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that Sony are to convert their online bookstore to the EPUB format.

While this format still supports DRM, it's supported on a much wider variety of readers. Is this a challenge to Kindle? It's nice to see Sony opening up to the idea of open standards ; even if you still have reservations about buying a Sony device, you might be able to patronise their bookstore sometime soon."
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Google to release another open-source OS

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that Google are planning to release another operating system : Google Chrome OS.

This is apparently going to consist of the Google Chrome browser, running in "a new windowing system". The browser is the platform, much like it is in the Palm Pre smartphone, part of the intention being to provide a fast boot time.

They are setting their sights first on the growing market for netbooks, with ARM and x86 compatibility planned out of the starting gate.

A "browser OS" would probably do just fine for the majority of users, but I don't think I'm ready to give up my heavy client-side platforms just yet. What will be interesting to see is the Microsoft response to this — they have enjoyed an alleged "96%" share of the netbook market OS recently, so anything designed to eat into that will not be popular in the Redmond boardroom."
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EA releases license deactivation management tool.

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "Electronic Arts have posted a link to a SecuROM De-authorization management tool. Once downloaded, the tool will search your drives for EA games infested with the draconian online DRM system, and help you download their respective individual de-activation tools.

This isn't a perfect solution, since it's still possible to run out of activations in the event of hardware failure or other source of data loss, but since the announcement that this particular DRM system will be dropped for The Sims 3 , it would seem that EA has had a minor epiphany about DRM."

Link to Original Source
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British IRS loses database of every child in UK.

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  about 7 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "News breaking in the UK is that the HM Revenue & Customs (the UK version of the IRS) has lost in the post discs containing the entire Child Benefit database. Every child in the UK is entitled to receive Child Benefit, so this covers some 25M people (out of the UK population of some 60M), 7.25M families, and contains names, addresses, dates of birth, bank account numbers and national insurance number (aka SSN).

The lost data has failed to turn up under a search by HM Customs (famous for rooting contraband out of tight spaces) and the UK police.

This is data loss on an unprecedented scale. Many of the people questioning the Chancellor of the Exchequer at this moment are using the issue to raise questions about the UK government plans for a national ID database.

The data was apparently "password protected". The word "encryption" has also been used, but not in connection to the data, so it could well be something as simple as a passworded ZIP archive. The data was placed onto a couple of optical media and sent to another government office, for audit purposes, via the internal post system provided by a third party courier. This was not the first occurrence of the database being transferred in this way.

While there is no evidence so far that the data is being put to nefarious uses, this will cause total chaos in the UK banking system ; affected accounts are being flagged and mothers across the country will be phoning their bank in a panic."

Link to Original Source
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Swedish company trials peer-to-peer cellphones

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "TerraNet is trialling a p2p based mobile telephony system. Phones are used to route calls onto other phones, constructing mesh networks of "up to 20km".

The BBC reports the natural tendency of the big telecoms providers to want to squash this. I can see other problems though. The advantages in an environment with sparse cell coverage are obvious, but network effects mean that the number of connections in a heavily populated mesh grow exponentially. What happens to your battery life when your phone becomes a node? And while the company is optimistic that they have a viable technology model from IP licensing, the demand for devices supporting this is going to be proportional to the number of devices that it can connect you to.

On the plus side, it would provide some great experience with mesh networks."

Link to Original Source
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Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports in prose and in video that Robert Soloway, an alleged user of zombie spamming networks, has been arrested in Seattle. He will be charged with aggravated identity theft, the first such charge since the relevant law was passed in 2003.

While it's highly encouraging to see spammers brought to book, the spam level has not noticeably decreased since his arrest, testimony to the more prevalent spam output of eastern European and Asian sources."

Link to Original Source
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Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The CEO of Sun Microsystems blogs that "no amount of fear can stop the rise of [...] free software". While he avoids specifically mentioning a certain software company by name, he links directly to the interview in Fortune that started all this brouhaha.

He makes a special point that Sun "... decided to innovate, not litigate."

You have to wonder who else from the corporate world may pitch in at this point."

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