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30% of Americans Aren't Ready For the Next Generation of Technology

Eric Smith That statistic can't possibly be valid (191 comments)

nearly 30% of Americans either aren't digitally literate or don't trust the Internet

For that to be true, over 70% of Americans must be BOTH digitally literate AND trust the Internet, which is impossible since anyone who trusts the Internet is not digitally literate.

about a month ago
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When will large-scale IPv6 deployment happen?

Eric Smith Re:IPv6 Addresses (305 comments)

IPv6 addresses are so long that you can't remember them long enough to read the address from one machine and type it into another.

Which is not a problem because normal people don't have to read the IP address from one machine and type it into another. They use DNS and DHCP, which were specifically intended to eliminate the overwhelming majority of instances of dealing with IP addresses directly.

I've been a networking software engineer for most of my career, so I do have to deal directly with IP address (v4 and v6) routinely, and I don't complain about it. My mother is not a networking software engineer or IT person, so she's had to do that exactly ZERO times in the 15+ years that she's used the Internet.

But, it seems unworkable from a human perspective. No I haven't thought of a better solution. I'm just saying that this is a significant usability problem and a barrier to adoption.

It's not a usability problem, because people shouldn't be directly dealing with IP addresses. If people are directly dealing with IP addresses, that is the usability problem which needs fixing, and not the length of the address.

about a month and a half ago
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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Released

Eric Smith Re:Is this still a good OS for desktop? (231 comments)

XFS is prone to data corruption when improperly shut down.

Really? Ugh. I thought most modern file systems were consciously designed to avoid that sort of problem.

about 1 month ago
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Emory University SCCM Server Accidentally Reformats All Computers Campus-wide

Eric Smith If I were a Professor at Emory... (564 comments)

... and if I'd lost any files to this fiasco, I would henceforth absolutely REFUSE to use any computers that were accessible to SCCM, and I'd be trying to convince all of my colleagues to do the same.

about 2 months ago
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How 'Fast Lanes' Will Change the Internet

Eric Smith They're not adding "fast lanes" (192 comments)

They're adding "slow lanes", and moving services that don't pay up into the slow lanes.

The whole thing is nothing but greed. The ISPs at both ends are already being paid for the bandwidth, but the ISP at the consumer end wants to be paid for it twice, once by the consumer and once by Netflix.

about 3 months ago
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How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion?

Eric Smith Re:Closed source won here (582 comments)

Would you argue that if a Microsoft (or other vendor) SSL implementation was used by most of the world's web servers, this would have been less likely to happen? As far as I know, there's no reason to think that any other implementation, open or closed, would be any more immune to such problems. There is little or no evidence that closed source software is generally more reliable, or that substantial effort is made to audit it.

If you're arguing that it's bad that such a high percentage of the world's web servers use the same software, I might agree, but that is completely orthogonal to whether that software is open or closed.

about 3 months ago
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How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion?

Eric Smith Re:Honestly, the "OSS is safe" discussion is over. (582 comments)

That OpenSSL is open source is irrelevant. This bug could just as easily have happened in closed source software. Using closed source software does not give any higher confidence in the quality of the code; many studies (e.g., 2012 Coverity Scan Open Source Report) show generally comparable code quality, with some open source projects scoring substantially better than average.

about 3 months ago
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How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion?

Eric Smith safe languages (582 comments)

Heartbleed is a perfect example of why software should be written in "safe" languages, which can protect against buffer overruns, rather than unsafe languages like C and C++.

Of course, the problem is that if you try to distribute open source software written in a safe language, everyone bitches and whines about how they don't have a compiler for that language, and how run time checking slows the software down by 10%. Personally I'd rather have more reliable software that ran 10% slower, than less reliable software that ran faster. It's also crazy to turn off the run-time checks "after the software is debugged", as if the debugging process ever succeeded in finding all the bugs. As C.A.R. Hoare famously observed in 1973, "What would we think of a sailing enthusiast who wears his lifejacket when training on dry land, but takes it off as soon as he goes to sea?"

The "with enough eyes" argument, and "if programmers were just more careful" arguments don't justify continued widespread use of unsafe languages. Granted, safe languages don't eliminate all bugs, but they eliminate or negate the exploit value of huge classes of bugs that are not just theoretical, but are being exploited all the time.

I keep hoping that after enough vulnerabilities based on buffer overruns, bad pointer arithmetic, etc. are reported, and cost people real money, that things will change, but if Heartbleed doesn't make a good enough case for that, I despair of it ever happening.

about 3 months ago
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How St. Louis Is Bootstrapping Hundreds of Programmers

Eric Smith 1% *success* rate is high (147 comments)

Given the low entry barrier as compared to traditional higher education systems, the surprise isn't the failure rate, but the success rate. Given the low cost per student of providing the course, even at a 1% success rate I expect that the cost per successful student is much better than the traditional systems, though I don't actually have numbers to back that up.

about 5 months ago
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Ukraine May Have To Rearm With Nuclear Weapons Says Ukrainian MP

Eric Smith Re:Riiiight (498 comments)

so basically if they start building the uranium enrichment plants now, they might have a working nuke in 10-20 years.

There's an existence proof that it can be done in four years, if someone is willing to devote sufficient resources to it.

about 5 months ago
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Polynesians May Have Invented Binary Math

Eric Smith They were two millenia late to the party. (170 comments)

There are several algorithms using the binary number system, including left-to-right binary exponentiation, in Pingala's Chanda-sutra, before 200 BCE. Knuth's _The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 2: Seminumerical Algorithms_ cites B. Datta and A.N. Singh's 1935 _History of Hindu Mathematics 1_. Also al-Kashi described the right-to-left binary exponentiation algorithm in 1427 CE.

about 7 months ago
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Largest US Power Storing Solar Array Goes Live

Eric Smith Not creating energy (377 comments)

Unless there are some nuclear reactions going on in there, I really don't think it is creating any energy at all, much less "creating enough energy to power 70,000 homes".

about 10 months ago
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Nvidia CEO: We Are Working On Next Generation Surface

Eric Smith If Outlook missing was the problem... (200 comments)

... then they could release an Outlook app for Surface 1.0. There's no reason that it would have to wait for 2.0.

That excuse may be the most pathetic thing I've ever heard.

about a year ago
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Moscow Subway To Use Special Devices To Read Data On Passengers' Phones

Eric Smith Re:note to self. (163 comments)

Presumably MoFoQ meant aluminized mylar. It will attenuate RF, and if the bag is sealed, will act as a Faraday cage.

1 year,14 hours
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big.LITTLE: ARM's Strategy For Efficient Computing

Eric Smith wafer prices didn't go down for earlier nodes (73 comments)

The cost of a 45 nm wafer was higher than that of a 65 nm wafer, etc. It was only the cost of an individual die that went down, because with a smaller geometry an equivalent die was smaller, thus there were more of them per wafer.

1 year,20 days
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Ask Slashdot: What Should Happen To Your Data After You Die?

Eric Smith The acronym is wrong (122 comments)

The name needs a few more words. Instead of IAM, the acronym should be IAMNOT.

about a year ago
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Competitors Complain To EC That Free Android Is a 'Trojan Horse'

Eric Smith If Open Source has a competitive advantage... (315 comments)

... in Microsoft's opinion, I don't think there's much preventing them from open-sourcing their own software to get that same advantage.

about a year ago
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Mobile App Screens Calls With Brain Waves

Eric Smith Good Times (40 comments)

If you hear of an app called Good Times, don't download or install it. It is a virus that will erase your hard drive and put your phone's processor into an nth-complexity infinite binary loop.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Sony categorizes U.S. Constitution as fiction

Eric Smith Eric Smith writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Eric Smith writes "When you buy a Sony PRS-500 ebook reader, you get a credit to download 100 "classic" ebooks (public domain works, so Sony doens't ahve to pay royalties, though they still DRM them for our convenience). One of the available "books" is the U.S. Constitution, which according to the info page on the reader Sony has classified as "Fiction & Literature"."
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