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The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

John_Sauter Re:What now? (131 comments)

Damn that's not a good sign then.

Our puritanical culture condems sexual entertainment. I don't agree: I think hiring a prostitute is much more fun than watching a violent movie or attending a loud concert. However, to each his own.

2 days ago
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The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

John_Sauter Re:What now? (131 comments)

Out of curiosity, what is the least corrupt part?

The section of the Secret Service that protects the President.

2 days ago
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German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

John_Sauter Re:solution (290 comments)

A budget is a statement of what's important. (A more-or-less clerical friend of mine said that the most important theological document a church has is its budget.) If a company is required by law to do something, then that something will be held to be important, and an unwillingness to devote the resources to doing it will not necessarily fly with the judge.

That is why you hire the judge's granddaughter. The judge will be reluctant to declare the effort insufficent, because she won't want her grannddaughter to lose her cushy job.

2 days ago
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German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

John_Sauter Re:solution (290 comments)

Sure that works in Germany?

Well, it works everywhere else, why not in Germay?

5 days ago
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German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

John_Sauter Re:solutionn (290 comments)

And within a few days the girl will file a report informing about the volume of work she is facing and the number of subordinates she needs to hire to get the work done, along with the suggested salary for herself and the subordinates. All of it to be paid by Google, of course.

And her supervisor will reply that there is no money in the budget for hiring more people, so she should do the best she can with the resources she has been allocated.

5 days ago
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German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

John_Sauter solutionn (290 comments)

Google should hire the judge's granddaughter to read and respond to the e-mails.

about a week ago
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Information Theory Places New Limits On Origin of Life

John_Sauter Re:Life may be common, but not always as we know i (211 comments)

....if we were to find a planet filled with plants made up of D amino acids and left-handed DNA we may find ourselves unable to consume those plants for nutritional value.

More importantly, they would not be able to consume us for nutritional value.

about a week ago
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Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx

John_Sauter Re:how I prepare a presentation (326 comments)

I'm still saying you are the competent exception. If you took one class in public speaking and are an expert, you are not the standard student. You are a savant. Where I worked we had technical editors, visual editors, and general content people who went to school to learn how to communicate ideas professionally and if you are performing at their level you are possibly in the wrong line of work.

Just because I can prepare a presentation that people will listen to does not make me a professional. When I started doing it, the ability to communicate with customers effectively was considered part of the normal duties of a software engineer. Today's professional communicators will invite you to a free dinner and sell you a timeshare. I'm not in their league.

about two weeks ago
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Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx

John_Sauter Re:how I prepare a presentation (326 comments)

....A trained communicator in the loop is a very good idea.

I would disagree with you only on this point, and only slightly. I would say that a trained or experienced communicator in the loop is a very good idea. I have never had any formal training in communication, beyond a class in public speaking in summer school.

about two weeks ago
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Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx

John_Sauter Re:how I prepare a presentation (326 comments)

I have a similar background, except we had an editor who approved all slides. She was a ruthless, heartless person who lacked a soul while wielding a red pen like calvaryman's saber as she edited. In other words, the perfect editor. To this date, I cringe at a presentation withe text less than 16 pt and more than 20 words on a slide. When I see a sentence with a period on a slide I remember her admonition "Women have periods, slides don't."

I would liked to have met her. As far as I know my slides never had any approval process, but I think your editor would have liked them.

about two weeks ago
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Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx

John_Sauter how I prepare a presentation (326 comments)

I started doing presentations back in the days of 35-mm slides. I didn't have to prepare them myself—I sent the text to the corporate slide presentation department, and they sent me back the slides.

I prepared my presentation by first writing out what I wanted to say, word for word. I then distilled that document into a few topic lines, which I had made into slides, generally about three topics to a slide. At this point I discarded the original manuscript. When I gave the presentation I glanced at each slide to remind me of what I wanted to say, then spoke extemporaniously.

Today I prepare the slides myself using LibreOffice Impress, the free equivalent of Microsoft PowerPoint, but I use the same method.

about two weeks ago
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Getting Into College the Old Fashioned Way: With Money

John_Sauter Re:Not worth it (161 comments)

At first I wanted to write off your post as just typical, cynical slashdotterism. But I re-read it and - well, I realize that you are probably right, particularly in the IT field (it could be argued that if you want to work in academia, school names _do_ matter).

Reading your post carefully, I see you aren't saying that "college is worthless, blah blah blah" but rather that the differences between the universities for undergrad ain't what they used to be. As another commenter here noted (paraphrasing) information has been liberated by the Internet so University isn't the only way to attain subject matter knowledge anymore, closing the gaps between schools.

However, I continue to believe that if a person goes through 4+ years of accredited university experience, learns how to follow directions, learns how to deal with smart people & foolish people, and discovers that they have a passion for something (be it computer science or otherwise) is a person better prepared to be effective in the working world than otherwise. And if that's university's main benefit, then dammit I guess I have to agree that it matters less where you do it.

Grad school is probably a different story but for undergrad & the kind of jobs you will be getting with an undergrad degree - I think you got it right.

To provide a different perspective, I had the incredible good fortune to attend a top-tier university. In my four undergraduate years, I got to program four of the five computers on campus: an IBM 7090, a Burroughs B5000, a DEC PDP-1 and a DEC PDP-6. After leaving the university, I spent the next 40 years working in the computer industry. I doubt I would have been able to do that had I attended a lesser institution with no approachable computers. Today computers are everywhere, but I suspect there is some other technology present at the top-tier universities that will be very important in the future.

Also, I got to know and work with some of the most intelligent people in the world. That experience is very humbling: I used to think I was pretty smart—I learned I wasn't. That's a valuable life lesson.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Strangest Features of Various Programming Languages?

John_Sauter end of line codes (729 comments)

Probably the same way that most popular operating systems store text files as a list of lines separated by newline characters, encoded as 0x0A on UNIX or Windows but 0x0D on Apple II or classic Mac OS. VMS is an exception in that its "non-stream" text files have each line prefixed by its length.

The conventions for line endings are based on history. DEC's operating systems and operating systems descended from them use CRLF because that is what you had to send to an ASR-33 teletype at the end of an output line. UNIX and its descendents use NL, which has the same code as LF, because they were targeted at later printers.

By the way, the VMS record length field was 16 bits, avoiding the limitation of 255 characters in systems which used only 8 bits for the string length.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Strangest Features of Various Programming Languages?

John_Sauter Re:Null Terminated Strings (729 comments)

- strings terminated by a binary zero rather than their physical size. Who the hell thought that would be a good idea? Well, age old argument. Basically a matter of taste or sadly a historical "evolution".

I'm pretty sure null-terminated strings come from the days of punch cards/punch tape where an unpunched area is read as null (binary zero). Wherever the data-entry clerk stopped typing was the end of the string and the string could be appended to latter (impossible with a non-zero end-of-string symbol or a string length in the header which can't be rewritten on card/tape).

Actually, an unpunched column on a card was a space. You are right about paper tape.

about two weeks ago
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How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

John_Sauter not your typical slashdotter (359 comments)

...I still have the HP 48G I used in college. Now my son brings it to middle school and uses it to pick up chicks.

If your son is picking up chicks in middle school I deduce (a) he is approximately age 12 to 14, (b) you taught him well, and (c) he is not the typical slashdotter.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Dead Is Antivirus, Exactly?

John_Sauter Re:cryptolocker solution (331 comments)

There is a solution for this class of malware, but it isn't anti-virus. Since cryptolocker only damages user data, the operating system should provide a secure and automatic backup of the user's data. Any time a user's file is changed, the new version is recorded on the backup, with its date. From the user's point of view, the backups are read-only, so malware can't damage them, and the user can retrieve an old version of a file at any time.

I hope you are aware that this could go wrong in terrible ways: there are some files that you actually want to have only in encrypted state. If your operating system always keeps a backup of their unencrypted versions, you may be secure against certain kinds of ransomwares, but open to all kinds of other data leakage.

Actually, I'm not. I was imagining that my PC, including its secure backups, is under my control. If I take a portable computer out into the world, I don't take the backups with me; they stay in my secure location. If I modify files while I am away, there might be a way for them to be sent back home, but if there isn't the data is backed up when I return.

What am I missing?

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Dead Is Antivirus, Exactly?

John_Sauter cryptolocker solution (331 comments)

... The current big thing, cryptolocker, would work just as well on Linux. It needs no special privileges, all it needs is to run as the current user to encrypt all of the current user's documents and hold them for ransom....

There is a solution for this class of malware, but it isn't anti-virus. Since cryptolocker only damages user data, the operating system should provide a secure and automatic backup of the user's data. Any time a user's file is changed, the new version is recorded on the backup, with its date. From the user's point of view, the backups are read-only, so malware can't damage them, and the user can retrieve an old version of a file at any time.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: IT Personnel As Ostriches?

John_Sauter a cautionary tale (246 comments)

There is a lot of good advice here, so let me add a cautionary tale. I used to work for a local government as their “computer guy”. I got a call from a user who was unable to watch some video he had on a thumb drive. As part of diagnosing the problem, I logged in to his computer using my own account, copied the contents of the thumb drive to the hard disk, and played it from there. It turned out that playing the video worked from the hard drive and the rear USB connector, but not from the front. I told him this and closed the call, but didn't delete the video from his hard drive. I noted the call in my log, but didn't mention that the video was pornographic.

Much later, about a year after I my employment had been terminated, I got a call from the town's police. One of the detectives wanted to talk to me, and asked me to drop by the police station. It seems that someone had discovered that this user had been watching porn on his computer, and when they examined his computer they found that same porn on his hard drive, under my name. They gave me the third degree, wanting me to admit that I had been the source of the porm. I suspect they wanted me to be the scapegoat, since I was no longer an employee.

I acted calm, pleasant, truthful and stupid. They told me that I could be in big trouble if I didn't cooperate, and I responded by saying if I lied in order to tell them what they wanted to hear, in the long run I would get confused about what lies I had told, and get caught in a contradiction. Of course, it helped that they all knew me, so I had credibility when it came to being stupid. It also helped that these were small-town cops; I probably wouldn't last five minutes in an NYPD interrogation room.

This happened more than five years ago, and I haven't heard anything about it since.

about a month and a half ago
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HP Gives OpenVMS New Life and Path To X86 Port

John_Sauter Re:Not in visable uses... (136 comments)

The most bad-ass server I've ever had the pleasure of working with was a Digital VAX 11/750 generations ago. It was *built* to be reliable from the very first rivet....You could upgrade its CPUs one at a time without shutting it down.

You must have been using a cluster—the VAX-11/750 only had one CPU. I used a 750 when developing EDT; we called it “MAYTAG”.

about a month and a half ago
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Two Cities Ask the FCC To Preempt State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet

John_Sauter Re:can be done (200 comments)

...People that are not using the service should not have to pay for it just because someone decided to run a line past their house. That would just encourage the planners to run dark fiber everywhere and collect fees for years before people decide to connect.

There's little reason to charge by the bit or have data caps like most ISP's do. It's not a finite resource like water is. The major cost is last mile, once you have that in place it is a minor cost to upgrade your backbone to support extra usage. The last thing parents need is a huge bill because their kids watched a ton of 1080p youtube videos last month, downloaded a lot of games off steam, or whatever else. The penalty would either be so small that it would be meaningless to have at all or big enough that it would cause massive bills by surprise like cell phone service and smartphone app pricing have done in the past.

I don't think you are taking economic realities into account. I modeled my proposal on the local water company. It costs money to run the fibre past each house. Somebody has to pay for that, and who better than the owners of the houses. Having this source of revenue encourages the utility to run fibre along each street, not just the wealthy neighborhoods. They wouldn't get paid for truly “dark fibre” only for fibre which can be connected to and provide Internet access.

Yes, data communication is a finite resource. It costs money to send a bit reliably across town or around the world—lots of people work hard to make sure the Internet stays up. Who better to pay those costs than the people who want that bit moved?

If parents don't want to monitor their children's (or guests') Internet activity, they can ask the utility to cap their daily data volume to prevent unpleasant surprises. There are other solutions, more difficult technically but not beyond reason. For example, the traffic of children and guests could be marked so that it could be limited in badnwidth and daily volume.

about 2 months ago

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