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Schneier Explains How To Protect Yourself From Sony-Style Attacks (You Can't)

Dutch Gun Re:Why the FBI thinks it's North Korea (212 comments)

There's a difference between trusting in the government not to snoop on it's citizens and trusting in the FBI's competence in tracking down crimes of this matter. Question their methods, but I'd advise you not to question their competence. I don't think they'd risk undermining their credibility as one of the world's leading forensic and criminal investigation units to place blame where it doesn't belong. What's their motivation to lie and damage their credibility? North Korea doesn't exactly pose a major threat to us, nor are they constantly in the news here in the US.

about half an hour ago
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Critical Git Security Vulnerability Announced

Dutch Gun Re:polish != Polish (139 comments)

You know, one could argue that case sensitivity in file systems actually demonstrates the difference between the *nix vs. Windows philosophies pretty well. Disclaimer: I'm a Windows guy, so let me know if I'm making unfair characterizations.

*nix

*nix is about power, flexibility, and user control. It favors command-line interaction through discrete commands, applications, and scripts. This makes it extremely suitable for power-users and administrators who are willing to invest the time to become proficient in using these tools. Visual interfaces are often built on top of these command-line actions, which can create a slightly disjointed experience for more casual users who don't understand what's happening under the hood or can't easily fall back to command-line use when needed.

File system design: A file system should give back exactly what was put into. We should provide maximum flexibility and utility, even if it comes at the expensive of user-friendliness. The entire system should not be dumbed down to protect users who can't even figure out how to properly name their files, because there may be legitimate use cases for case sensitivity in file naming.

Windows

Windows is about user-friendliness. Visual tasks and interactions are emphasized over command-line actions. Applications are often extended through proprietary extensions or internal scripting rather than through command-line input and output. Because the system is build with visual interaction in mind first and foremost, users never have to interact with a command-line. This makes it easier for casual users to achieve faster results with less training, but can come at the cost of a more shallow understanding of their computers (e.g. if the visuals change significantly, users may become confused).

Filesystem design: We can't really think of a reasonable use case in which a user would actually want to create two different files in the same directory that only differ by case. In reality, it would probably be the result of an mistake, and this may cause confusion for users. Therefore, we'll just restrict the functionality to eliminate that potential error. We're willing to write a bit of extra code to preserve case but to discard it when disambiguating files.

yesterday
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Critical Git Security Vulnerability Announced

Dutch Gun Re:I blame Microsoft (139 comments)

Karma be damned...

One could alternately argue: do you feel it's a good thing for something.dat and Something.dat to reference two different files? Because that would never confuse users, right? Shall we next talk about forward slash versus backslash in path separators, and how one is obviously much more logical and intuitive than the other? Or maybe we should get into line endings, or perhaps how there really shouldn't be any distinction between text and binary files? UTF-8 vs UTF-16?

Newsflash: different operating systems have different conventions and different quirks. I'm going to take a wild-ass guess and predict that you believe the choices of your preferred OS are obviously the correct choices.

yesterday
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Google Proposes To Warn People About Non-SSL Web Sites

Dutch Gun Re:The web is shrinking (384 comments)

It looks like Google's certificate transparency logs may be relevant to the Let's Encrypt initiative, but it seems they're not directly sponsoring that initiative. Thanks for the correction.

2 days ago
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Google Proposes To Warn People About Non-SSL Web Sites

Dutch Gun Re:The web is shrinking (384 comments)

In fairness to Google, they're also pushing a new standard that will allow free SSL certs to be used by anyone who wants it. Search for Let's Encrypt for more info.

2 days ago
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Google Proposes To Warn People About Non-SSL Web Sites

Dutch Gun Re:503 (384 comments)

Yep, same here.

On topic, Google, I appreciate the focus on security, but stop deciding to simply implement however YOU THINK the web should be working. Ok, technically, it's just a change in the browser, but the semantics are obviously meant to "encourage" everyone to switch to HTTPS. However a good idea some of us think that is, it's not up to you.

This is why people are getting freaked out about the power you hold. You're starting to demonstrate that you're not afraid to *use* that influence to simply push things to work however you want them to. You've already done that once already by pushing forward an SSL-related change far ahead of when it really needed to be, and now it looks like you're floating a trial balloon to go one step further.

Am I overreacting here? Or is Google going too far, too fast with this?

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

Dutch Gun Re:Embrace (215 comments)

You're aware that, right now, you can build cross-platform apps entirely in Microsoft Visual Studio, right? And porting .NET is part of that interoperability I was talking about. The next version of Visual Studio is going even further with it's cross-platform support.

Oh, make no mistake, they're trying to get Windows mobile kickstarted as well. I think at the moment they're just looking at the cold, hard facts. iOS and Android are absolutely dominant in that market, and if Microsoft understands one thing, it's how difficult it is to unseat a dominant market position. After all, Linux has had excellent and *completely free* offerings on the PC for years, yet it's hovering around 1%, even with the backlash by many users against Windows 8.

So, I think the strategy is to deal with the certainty that iOS and Android on mobile and Linux on servers are not going to be disappearing anytime soon. That doesn't mean that they're not going to work hard to make a viable Windows mobile platform - I think they could potentially crack into the market with some moderate success at least, but I don't think anyone, either inside or outside MS, realistically thinks that they have a prayer of dominating mobile like they did the desktop.

So, now we see them making tools and porting frameworks for easier cross-platform development. As a Windows developer, this actually makes me really happy at the prospect of using Microsoft's development tools I already own and know how to use were I to target other platforms, and I think this is exactly the reason they're doing this. Essentially, since I'm using Microsoft tools, it will probably be a no-brainer for me to also target, say, Windows mobile platforms as well. If I were using other development tools, I may not be as inclined to do so.

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

Dutch Gun Re:Embrace (215 comments)

Nah, I don't buy it. I'm pretty sure they hold no illusions of being able to extinguish open source, as I don't believe they're quite that foolishly optimistic.

This is nothing more than Microsoft acknowledging the realities of today's market in which they're no longer the sole dominating platform. They're turning their aircraft-carrier-sized ship in a new direction in an attempt to stay relevant in this more diverse ecosystem. Frankly, I think moving to open source is less important than Microsoft turning into a true multi-platform company, in which it's actually developing for platforms other than Microsoft Windows with first-line applications.

Going open-source is just a means to an end. I don't think you should read much more than that, either positively or negatively in regards to their stance on open source. They're just moving their technologies (like server-side .NET APIs) to other platforms, which will allow current MS developers to easily develop multi-platform code without having to move away from their familiar development environments - meaning Windows + Visual Studio. Visual Studio will soon be able to target Android / iOS and use the LLVM compiler, which would be unthinkable for Microsoft of just a few years ago. This is critical for their own future internal development strategy. They want their own development teams as well as other Windows developers to be able to quickly and easily create applications for different targets using a common set of tools and technologies.

In short, they're broadening their focus from an exclusive Windows stack into more generalized software development and hosting that includes multiple platforms. Linux servers, Android, and iOS are not going away, so why not make money selling software for them? This keeps their business clients happy, as it means their mobile apps don't need to run on Windows phones, which no one really wants, while they can keep using the same Windows OS and software on the PC that they're already familiar with and currently using.

If you want to look at it more cynically, you could say that Microsoft is attempting to keep Windows relevant in a post-PC world by ensuring it can more easily interop with other platforms like Linux, Android, and iOS. The best way for them to do this is to allow Windows PC developers to use their existing tools and technologies to target those platforms.

2 days ago
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Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End

Dutch Gun Re:Pretty sad (155 comments)

Or the modern trend of obsolescence of old media formats.

The simple fact of the matter is that Dr. Dobbs and similar magazines really aren't as relevant in the modern world, and that's why they're being mothballed. They've been replaced by a number of things. Online technical resources are increasingly abundant, and are often more than sufficient to learn about any topic you desire. Nearly every question I have as a professional programmer has likely already been asked and answered, often in considerable detail, on sites such as stack overflow. Various how-to topics are explored on both personal and professional blogs or other programmer-focused sites, and everything is nicely indexed and immediately accessible through the magic of Google search.

The simple fact that Google rarely points to Dr Dobbs' site about things I search for (maybe your searches are different) tends to highlight its increasing irrelevance. As much as I enjoyed reading it a few decades ago, it's time to move on. The world has changed, and some things inevitably get left behind.

2 days ago
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Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End

Dutch Gun Re:Oh yeah, he was a orthodontist (155 comments)

I rarely max out my AMD quad-core processor and/or 4GB memory. I don't have any software that can smoother the hardware.

Bwahahahaha!

Sincerely,
A professional videogame programmer

---

Kidding aside... For most types of applications on the desktop (e.g. business apps that spend most of their time querying a remote database), you can get away with suboptimal code, because programmer efficiency and maintainable code is more important than code efficiency. That's not necessarily a sign of shoddy engineering, although poorly optimized code for no good reason certainly might be. Over-optimizing code where you don't need it can also be highly problematic as well. Even as a C++ programmer, I still prefer to write my game tools in C# whenever possible.

That being said, there are still plenty of specialized applications that demand top performance. Videogames, scientific computing, highly scalable server applications (efficiency = cost savings), and so on. We're also scaling down our computers as well, where you don't have the crazy power you have on the desktop. Examples include smart phones and even smart watches, where run-time efficiency translates directly to improved battery life.

So, sometimes efficiency matters a great deal, and sometimes it doesn't. A good programmer knows when each is appropriate and their tradeoffs, and uses the correct tools for the job at hand.

2 days ago
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Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End

Dutch Gun Re:Pretty sad (155 comments)

I was a subscriber back in the day. Sad to see it going, but it's not too surprising, given modern trends.

I have to admit, though, the content was a bit on the broad side to be really useful to me, since my focus was mostly on client-side application programming in C++ (I wanted to become a videogame programmer). I was still a student then, so about 90% of the content flew right over my head. As such, I found the C/C++ User's Journal more relevant. Even so, I enjoyed reading it and trying to figure out what they were talking about. Eventually, only about 75% went over my head, so I think I learned a few things, although I still couldn't write a database query to save my life.

3 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Software For Image Organization?

Dutch Gun Re:Software doesn't really matter (258 comments)

I think I see where we're going wrong here. I agree you don't want to edit the original picture data, but you're conflating that with the notion of editing the image *file*, which occurs when you edit the embedded metadata. That's what I was referring to. Those are two totally different things.

Anyhow, of course, you can do what you feel works best for you, so long as you're happy with the results.

3 days ago
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Microsoft To Open Source Cloud Framework Behind Halo 4 Services

Dutch Gun Re:please keep closed! (50 comments)

I'm guessing that's where I originally picked this information up, but I couldn't remember the exact source, so I didn't cite it. Thank you for the reminder and the links to those sources. I also recall one of Bjarne's talks discussing another reason why C++ performs better than managed languages, and that's because of better cache coherency, which is a pretty crucial for modern processors.

Anyhow, as someone who relies on both C++ and C#, I'm glad to see them both moving forward with solid support from MS.

4 days ago
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Microsoft To Open Source Cloud Framework Behind Halo 4 Services

Dutch Gun Re:please keep closed! (50 comments)

From someone who uses both C++ and C# on a regular basis, my experience has been that the difference is fairly significant, not just 4%. That aside... you ask who cares? Examples:

Demanding Applications
If your app is extremely large, complex, or graphically intensive, you can probably benefit from a native performance boost. There's a reason office suites and graphics programs are written in C or C++. Games, of course, fall into this category as well.

Simulations
In scientific simulations, there's no such thing as "fast enough". These guys still require supercomputers on occasion, and you can bet they're concerned with the efficiency of their code, since they typically have to rent time on them.

Small-form Devices
For more computationally constrained platforms, such as in tablets, phones, and now even watches or other in-home smart devices benefit from improved speed and tighter control of memory. Also, keep in mind that lower CPU usage means more efficient battery use, which is critical for many small devices.

Large-scale Server Applications
For server-side applications, run-time efficiency can actually trump programmer productivity in importance when scaling up to very large numbers of users, like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, or Amazon has to do. A 10% increase in efficiency leads directly to a non-trivial savings in power costs of your server farm, so in these scenarios, efficiency can be very important. Of course, when Microsoft is renting you it's servers, it's more than happy to have you use C#, since you're the one paying for the servers. My bet is that their own command and control code is completely native.

Today's programming world is especially diverse - much more so than it used to be. Not everyone is writing business apps for desktop PCs.

4 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Software For Image Organization?

Dutch Gun Re:Software doesn't really matter (258 comments)

Personally, I definitely want metadata to be stored in the image file itself, because if you do it any other way, there's always a risk of losing that association. I feel you're setting yourself up for a disaster if you use a hash, because the moment anything touches that file for *any reason*, poof, that metadata is now gone. You're highlighted the huge weakness in your system, but then created a tautology by saying "but modifying the original files is a bad idea anyway". It's only a bad idea if you've got a fragile system that depends on the exact file hash to reference critical metadata.

I think there's a reason that the XMP standard goes through great pains to embed metadata inside the image files themselves rather than resorting to external sidecar files, which is typically considered a last resort and a very poor alternative solution. If you use the image's own embedded metadata as the original and authoritative source, then you can rebuild your database from scratch automatically, no matter what you've done with your image files, or how you've folded, spindled, or mutilated them.

De-duplication is trivial if you use proper tools which compare visual features and don't rely on exact matches. Also, I don't consider the backup issue to be significant, because if you make a change to the file's metadata, then I want that file re-backed up, because I consider it to have been changed. However, since you're not changing the actual image data when you change metadata, any decent diff program should only store a small delta to represent the change.

4 days ago
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Microsoft To Open Source Cloud Framework Behind Halo 4 Services

Dutch Gun Re:please keep closed! (50 comments)

Well, yes, there are plenty of crappy programmers out there. And some developers always are looking for ways to make things simpler for everyone by creating all-encompassing frameworks, but in the end, almost invariably, it does lead to a lot of cargo cult programming practices with an over-reliance on frameworks and little understanding of how things work internally.

That being said, there's nothing wrong with using higher-level systems and frameworks so long as you understand the tradeoffs you're making. I'm an expert C++ programmer (videogame development), but I always turn to C# / .NET for internal tools, because I'm so much more productive in that language. The tradeoff, of course, is that the tools tend to be much less efficient, as well as some extra work for writing interop with native code. It's not as much of an issue since I can assume we have more powerful development machines using those tools, and high-speed is less critical than efficient workflow, functionality, and safety.

I think it's the same sort of tradeoff you'd be making when using this sort of framework. It's never going to be as optimal as a carefully tuned, custom crafted solution. As such, for extremely large or complex systems, or anything that absolutely demands extreme efficiency, you'd be better off with custom solutions written by experts. However, for projects with more modest goals, it could be that the requirements in productivity outweigh the costs of a custom, low-level solution. As long as the decision is made knowing these tradeoffs, it's fine.

The problem is that the vendor never tells us about these tradeoffs. For years, Microsoft touted C# / .NET as the next big thing, and told us that "pretty soon" we were going to see performance comparable to native code. It never happened. Natively compiled C++ still kicks the crap out of managed code in real world scenarios. Most major client-side applications are still written in native code. I suspect it will be similar for this sort of platform. Yes, it will work, but it's never going to be nearly as optimal or flexible as a custom solution expertly designed and optimized for the particular task at hand.

4 days ago
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The Shale Boom Won't Stop Climate Change; It Could Make It Worse

Dutch Gun Re:We are doomed... (389 comments)

and China's one child policy is probably the best long term action for the environment.

And yet, in most developed first world countries, birth rates have pretty much plateaued, or are on the way there. The US, China, Japan, Singapore, Russia, most of Europe - all currently below population sustaining birth rates at the moment. Check out this chart, sorted by fertility rates from lowest to highest. You can likely notice a clear trend between the upper portions of the chart and the lower regions.

Economics and education (especially of women) is the key, not police state policies that encroach on more of our personal liberties. We need to get everyone to first-world economic status as fast as we can, because then:

1) People will stop pumping out kids en mass, since at that point they're an economic liability, not an advantage, and
2) People will start caring more about the environment when they're not trying to figure out where they'll get they're next meal, or if they will have a roof over their heads tomorrow.

Seriously, exploding population was the boogieman twenty or thirty years ago. If we forecast using today's trends, it seems pretty likely that the world's population will most likely peak and then decline. Take a look at the actual data trends (the recent ones - and don't extrapolate linearly), then draw your own conclusions.

5 days ago
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Peru Indignant After Greenpeace Damages Ancient Nazca Site

Dutch Gun Re:Human made (465 comments)

Yes, watch what humans do.

They build amazing structures, write inspiring music, invent fantastic technology, care deeply for others, and sacrifice their lives to save a friend. I've seen people risk their lives to save a dog drowning in a frozen lake, or to save complete strangers from a burning building. The world holds it's breath when miners are trapped in a cave in, and if they are miraculously saved, we weep tears of joy at the happy reunions with their loved ones. When tragedy strikes in the form of a hurricane, flood, tsunami or earthquake, we come together to donate our money and our time to help those affected. People have returned thousands of dollars lost to their owners when they had nothing to gain from it. Some people devote their entire lives to helping the least fortunate among us.

Sure, the world has plenty of evil people that do evil things. But if you can't see the good in humanity as well, you're not looking hard enough.

about a week ago
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Deflating Claims That ESA Craft Has Spotted Dark Matter

Dutch Gun Re:Dark matter and the sniff test (83 comments)

It just doesn't add up to me.

"Not adding up" was the reason dark matter was invented. ;)

about a week ago

Submissions

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Penny Arcade Honored by Washington State

Dutch Gun Dutch Gun writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Dutch Gun (899105) writes "Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (Tycho and Gabe) of Penny Arcade have been honored by the Washington State legislature with a resolution. The bill praises their charity work with Child's Play, for attracting tourist dollars by starting the Penny Arcade Expo, which has grown to become the largest video game exhibition in the country, providing student scholarships, and for their leadership role within the computer gaming community. Washington State is home to at least 45 game development companies, including such notable names as Nintendo of America, Microsoft, Bungie, Valve, ArenaNet, PopCap, Gas Powered Games, Monolith, Zipper Interactive, Snowblind Studios, and more.

This is a marked departure from the typical news involving governments and gaming. One could see the courtship of the computer gaming industry by the State of Washington as a shrewd political move, given the current tough economic times and the seeming resistance of the entertainment industry to recessions. Or, perhaps a bit less cynically, this might just be a sign that gaming has reached a critical threshold of mainstream normalcy."
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Microsoft Lays Off Entire Flight Sim Team

Dutch Gun Dutch Gun writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Dutch Gun (899105) writes "Microsoft has just laid off the entire Flight Simulator development team. This continues a long-running trend of terminating or severing relationships with game development studios, such as the Bungie split, FASA, or the closure of Ensemble Studios.

While one would presume that core Xbox development is not currently in jeopardy after spending up to a billion dollars to pay for Xbox 360 repairs and salvage its reputation with gamers, does this signal a reversal from Microsoft's recent focus on internal game development? And what are it's plans for Flight Simulator, a twenty-five-year product with an extremely loyal user-base and a multitude of externally developed add-ons?"
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Microsoft Lays Off Entire Flight Sim Team

Dutch Gun Dutch Gun writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Dutch Gun (899105) writes "Microsoft has just laid off the entire Flight Simulator development team. This continues a long-running trend of terminating or severing relationships with game development studios, such as the Bungie split, FASA, or the closure of Ensemble Studios.

While one would presume that core Xbox development is not currently in jeopardy after spending up to a billion dollars to pay for Xbox 360 repairs and salvage its reputation with gamers, does this signal a reversal from Microsoft's recent focus on internal game development? And what are it's plans for Flight Simulator, a ten-year product with an extremely loyal user-base and a multitude of externally developed add-ons?"
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NCSoft and Epic sign exclusive PS3 deals

Dutch Gun Dutch Gun writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Dutch Gun (899105) writes "Epic has announced that Unreal Tournament 3 will be a 2007 Playstation 3 exclusive. Perhaps even more significant, though, is the fact that the widely-used engine will be ported to and optimized for the console, providing an efficient development system for other games.

Sony has also partnered with Korean-based MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) developer/publisher NCSoft to develop exclusively for the Playstation 3. This could be seen as a move by Sony to ramp up it's console's online presence to compete with Microsoft's popular Xbox Live service. NCSoft's more well-known games include Guild Wars, City of Heroes, Lineage I & II, and Tabula Rasa (currently in beta). No specific titles were announced, but it seems plausible we'll be hearing about one or more of these MMOs being developed for the Playstation 3 in the foreseeable future.

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?st ory=14650"

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