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A New Benefit For Logged-In Readers: Meet Slashdot's ROT13 Initiative

KeithIrwin DMCA Violation (261 comments)

And if you undo the rot-13 on your own, you've committed a DMCA violation and Slashdot can sue you. No, I'm not kidding about that. Legally, they could. There are no requirements in the DMCA that a technological measure which control access to a copyrighted work need to be non-trivial to defeat. Even when it's just rot-13, bypassing it is a violation of the DMCA.

about a year and a half ago
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Google Blogger: Vietnamese HS Students Excelling At CS

KeithIrwin Re:One data point... (291 comments)

He also said that they don't understand loops and conditionals. I think that the author is pretty clear that web development isn't CS, based on several of the other articles he linked to (like, this one). But students who have a solid understanding of programming and are used to consulting reference material for how particular commands or functions work would be highly unlikely to be stymied by IMG tags if they were to try to create some. It's not exactly a complex concept. People who have trouble with IMG tags would be people who aren't used to looking at code carefully or ones who think that computers "understand" things. Neither of those should be the case for anyone who has had a reasonable computer science education.

about a year and a half ago
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Google Blogger: Vietnamese HS Students Excelling At CS

KeithIrwin Re:The US does other things, though (291 comments)

Yeah, we used to teach our kids LOGO and BASIC back in the 80s and early 90s. Now we teach them MS Word, Powerpoint, and Internet Explorer and how to upload videos to YouTube (which is "learning multimedia" in much that same way that the other things are "learning computer science"). We used to do those things. I learned LOGO and BASIC in my elementary school in the early 80s. But you don't find them done any more.

about a year and a half ago
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Google Blogger: Vietnamese HS Students Excelling At CS

KeithIrwin Re:Not Blocking Per Se (291 comments)

Being a skilled programmer doesn't necessarily mean being a skilled teacher, especially when it comes to the basics of programming. It can actually be quite difficult for someone to teach to others the things which come easiest to them. However, your overall point that we don't have a surplus of skilled computer science educators is true. But even without that, forcing at least a little basic computer programming on kids, even with unskilled teachers, is a lot better than letting them do without. I'm pretty sure that the teacher who taught me Logo in 2nd grade and BASIC in 3rd didn't understand very much about programming beyond the range of those courses. (I suspect this partially based on, for example, that when I asked when you would use GOSUB instead of GOTO, they didn't have a clear answer). But they were effective at teaching that basic material and that was a great start. I think that the article this was about illustrates this well, as I have trouble believing that Vietnam has a much greater quantity of skilled computer scientists teaching in its schools than the USA does.

about a year and a half ago
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Google Blogger: Vietnamese HS Students Excelling At CS

KeithIrwin Not Blocking Per Se (291 comments)

What's happened is that the national standard for computing education in this country (which have been adopted by most states) are set by a board of specialists who all specialize in the use of computers in education. They don't specialize in computer science. There are no computer scientists on the board at all. As such, they recommend that teachers teach the sort of skills which make the computer useful in reinforcing learning in other subjects because that's what they specialize in. So, for example, they might recommend that students learn how to use spreadsheets in middle school because it helps them in analyzing experimental data in middle school science. Or they might recommend that students learn how to browse the web because it helps them practice reading and study skills. But they don't recommend learning programming because it is outside of their specialty and they likely don't understand how programming can be used to reinforce learning in other subjects (which I would argue that it can be used very effectively to do so for many subjects, especially math and science).

If we want to change this, we need to get state level boards of education to adopt different standards. That's how change will happen.

about a year and a half ago
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Apple's Lightning-to-HDMI Dongle Secretly Packed With ARM, Airplay

KeithIrwin Re:Poster/Article is way off ... (392 comments)

The HDCP side would most definitely not require that. It's a stream cipher, so aside from any buffering you might do if your HDCP solution was software rather than hardware (which would actually still seem pretty difficult to do even with a fairly stompy processor), it needs less than a kilobyte. The other side, who knows?

about 2 years ago
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MIT Investigating School's Role In Swartz Suicide

KeithIrwin Re:You Disgust Me (382 comments)

What crime? He hooked a computer up to an open network and used it to download a bunch of papers which were freely available to any computer hooked up to that network. What he did was a Terms of Service violation, not a crime. It should've been a civil matter, at most, but the justice department has decided that using a website while violating their ToS should be considered felony wire fraud. Odds are quite good he would have eventually been found innocent (possible with appeal depending on the judge).

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: CS Degree While Working Full Time?

KeithIrwin Re:UofA says no (433 comments)

They had software engineering when I was there, but it was entirely optional. And the SEI (which was certainly there at that time), like the Robotics Institute or the Information Networking Institute, primarily offers graduate classes. At the time, I don't know that the SEI offered any undergraduate courses. I didn't specifically set-out to avoid any knowledge of software engineering, but all my friends who had taken it recommended against it, so I took other courses instead. I also don't know how much of what I mentioned as not being covered was actually covered in software engineering. From what I heard of it, it sounded more like it was about the waterfall model and writing lots of specifications. This was around the time when agile was a brand new idea, so it obviously wasn't being covered yet. I wouldn't be surprised if it is now.

about 2 years ago
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America's Real Criminal Element: Lead

KeithIrwin Re:Evolution of ideas by testing on half the state (627 comments)

I completely agree. If we actually want to measure whether or not, for example, laws have the desired effect, this would be a very reasonable way to do it. Science should not be confined to laboratories. We're essentially running uncontrolled experiments in the nation as a whole when we ought to be running controlled experiments.

about 2 years ago
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America's Real Criminal Element: Lead

KeithIrwin Re:lead concentration = poverty (627 comments)

In the Mother Jones article, they say "Although both sexes are affected by lead, the neurological impact turns out to be greater among boys than girls." I'm not sure what their source is for that, but it certainly sounds plausible that such a difference could exist. Your stating that there is a flaw in their reasoning assumes that the effects of lead on the brain do not differ by gender. Do you have a source that shows that the effects are the same?

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: CS Degree While Working Full Time?

KeithIrwin Re:UofA says no (433 comments)

Out of curiosity, what universities have CS programs which teach how to write maintainable, extensible, and self-documenting code as a required part of the curriculum? I'm not really familiar with any which do. I mean, I got a BS in CS from Carnegie Mellon in 1998 and although I learned a lot of useful stuff about data structures, algorithms, artificial intelligence, programming languages, computer architecture, networking, compilers, and operating systems, I didn't learn much about writing good code.

For example, I never received any instruction on any of the following: how to write good comments, how to choose appropriate variable names, version control, style guidelines, javadoc (or doxygen or similar), design patterns, logging, or designing extensible code. I learned some things on some of those topics from my fellow students, but I really didn't learn any of it from my instructors. Every instructor I had did a good job of covering the material for the course they taught, but that material just wasn't in the curriculum. So what universities do have it in their curriculum?

about 2 years ago
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Researchers Find Crippling Flaws In Global GPS

KeithIrwin Re:Misleading Summary (179 comments)

I'm pretty certain that this is how Ian has intercepted and captured at least two US drones

Who is this drone-intercepting and capturing Ian ?

Well, as you likely know, most bagpipes have two or three drones, and Ian is a common Scottish name, so I'm pretty sure he's a Scotsman who managed to hijack some American bagpipes in transit. Clearly, the US needs to protect them better when they're transiting through the UK.

about 2 years ago
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Researchers Find Crippling Flaws In Global GPS

KeithIrwin Re:Misleading Summary (179 comments)

Well, thanks for the kind words anyway. Honestly, I thought that modding up my second comment (which was mostly just meant as an error correction) was excessive. If I'd known it would've been modded up, I might've not made it as I don't want to be a karma whore. But, oh well, I guess I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

about 2 years ago
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Researchers Find Crippling Flaws In Global GPS

KeithIrwin Re:Misleading Summary (179 comments)

Err, I just meant divide by 0 error, not overflow. The fun bit of that attack is that the reason it effectively bricks it is that the divide by zero error crashes it and it reboots, but it logs its data into flash, so as soon as it finishes rebooting, it starts reprocessing the stored data, thus it reads the 0 again and crashes and it just gets stuck in a loop like that forever. It's a fairly fun and clever paper.

about 2 years ago
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Researchers Find Crippling Flaws In Global GPS

KeithIrwin Misleading Summary (179 comments)

The paper isn't really about attacking GPS infrastructure. It's about attacking GPS receivers. Some of these receivers may be part of other sorts of infrastructure. I was at CCS when the paper was presented. It's all about sending fake GPS satellite signals to receivers to exploit bugs in the software in the receivers. The work is interesting and includes attacks which can desynchronize the clocks on some devices and there was one device you could essentially brick by telling it at the satellite was at radius 0 (center of the earth) resulting in a divide by 0 overflow. I liked the paper and thought it was neat, and it could do serious damage to particular systems which rely on GPS if they have the right type of flaws in their software to be exploited by this attack, but it was not an attack against the GPS satellites or anything like that.

about 2 years ago
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Activists' Drone Shot Out of the Sky For Fourth Time

KeithIrwin Re:Uh, right. (733 comments)

If a bird is wounded, it is to be killed humanely after. Either the bird flies away clean or it's dead at the end of the day. There is no in-between.

Umm, that's not what the videos from their YouTube channel shows. It shows that many of the wounder birds are not collected to be killed and instead escape with their wounds. It also shows that in at least some cases, wounded birds were killed inhumanely. You're theorizing about what they do based on what they ought to do rather than based on the available evidence of what they actually do.

more than 2 years ago
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Activists' Drone Shot Out of the Sky For Fourth Time

KeithIrwin Re:Uh, right. (733 comments)

Yes, but if you watch some of the videos they took from other events, you can see people doing things like kicking wounded pigeons and one adolescent who would pick up the wounded ones and then smash them against things (his knee, the ground, pigeon crates). That would generally be illegal animal cruelty. There's a difference between hunting animals and torturing them. I think that they're saying that their footage of this event contains similar abusive actions. The article doesn't say that every action at the event was illegal, just that they had been videotaping animal abuse. Unless you were there, I don't think that you can know that they didn't record animal abuse.

(As a side, someone should really monitor that particular adolescent. He appeared to be smashing the pigeons against things until they were dismembered and then cackling with glee. That's a pretty big warning sign of the potential for becoming a psychopath. I'm not saying that he is one or will necessarily become one, but if I were someone who knew him, I would keep a really close eye on him going forward.)

more than 2 years ago
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Feds Continue To Consider Linux Users Criminals For Watching DVDs

KeithIrwin Permission to mod/jailbreak? Huh? (423 comments)

I've read the DMCA. I've followed the court cases. I don't understand how jailbreaking a phone or modding a console would violate the DMCA, and I don't understand why people keep legitimizing the idea that it would by asking for DMCA exceptions. The DMCA says "No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title." And it defines "(A) to `circumvent a technological measure' means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and (B) a technological measure `effectively controls access to a work' if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work."

What work are we talking about if you mod your gaming console? Video games aren't scrambled or encrypted and they don't require the application of information or any process or treatment. You can run a video game in an emulator without doing anything to it. You just load it and run it. And you can easily copy a video game using a DVD or Blu-Ray reader and writer and an emulator will happily play the copy. The technological measures in a video game console are about preventing the console from running unauthorized software (including unauthorized copies of games), not about protecting the content on the gaming discs. As such, I don't understand how you would be violating the DMCA by modding your console. (Mind you, video game console manufacturers could change this if they started encrypting their discs, and they might next generation, but the current gen ones don't. They're signed, but they aren't encrypted.)

Likewise, I haven't seen any evidence that jailbreaking a smartphone would circumvent a technological measure meant to protect a copyrighted work. Now, once you jailbreak a phone, there might be software on that phone which you could circumvent, but that would be a separate act. Is there logic here that I'm missing or is no one else looking at what the law actually says?

more than 2 years ago
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Feds Continue To Consider Linux Users Criminals For Watching DVDs

KeithIrwin Re:duh (423 comments)

Yes, that's what the summary is saying. They had a chance to make it legal (at least from a copyright perspective), and they decided not to. I read the summary. I'm clear on what it says. I don't need you to repeat it to me. I'm not sure why you feel the need to repeat it with a weird, condescending tone.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Ask College To Change Intro To Computing?

KeithIrwin Re:They have to teach something (337 comments)

If this course is very much like similar courses I've seen, they don't really teach you anything anyway. They just give you the book, tell you to follow it, and are available to help if you're really stuck.

more than 2 years ago

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