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Ask Slashdot: Best PDF Handling Library?

Phoenix Rising Re:I've found these tools useful (132 comments)

Great tool for HTML conversion. Doesn't meet the OP's criteria, but it's the best open source HTML to PDF converter I've found.

about a month and a half ago

Yahoo DMARC Implementation Breaks Most Mailing Lists

Phoenix Rising Re:Am I understanding this correctly? (83 comments)

DKIM validates off of the 'd=' in the DKIM signature. If the mailing list software alters the message (by adding an unsubscribe notice or other list decoration, e.g.), then the original DKIM signature is invalid regardless of any header address.

SPF validates the sending IP to the SMTP mFROM claim. Most list software changes the mFROM to a list bounce address, and therefore SPF at least passes.

DMARC does a couple of things to validate messages... First, it compares DKIM and SPF domains to the header From domain - if they "align", then it checks to see if each passes. If either DKIM or SPF passes and is aligned, then DMARC rules aren't triggered.

So, for list software to work with DMARC, they either have to keep the original message content (and some headers) - i.e. act as a (reasonably) strict forwarding system - or they have to claim ownership of the email message and resign it.

Going down the route of From vs. Sender (i.e. purported responsible address) is a rehash of the attempted Microsoft SenderID "improvement" on SPF.

about 5 months ago

Google Makes It Harder For Marketers To Collect User Data

Phoenix Rising Re:And google will retain that info exclusively. (195 comments)

Emails that wind up in "Promotions" are verified valid marketing material. I.e. it passes DKIM and SPF, comes from a known good behavior IP, isn't spammy...

For now, at least, Google seems to be (mostly) playing along with the marketing folks while still trying to (a) enhance their user experience and (b) give themselves a leg up. The image pre-load is definitely going to alter things like newsletter and ad read rates that marketers depend on to tell how well they're targeting their subscribers; I imagine the marketers will work their way around it in short order if they feel they're losing too much information.

about 9 months ago

US Postal Service To Make Sunday Deliveries For Amazon

Phoenix Rising Re:what? (258 comments)

Um, no. There is no other corporate or government entity in this country that is required to meet the standards applied to the USPS under that law, and the 75 years is indeed a hard funding benefit - they've got a $5b/year over 10 years requirement.

I believe if you look at the accounting, absent the pre-payment plan the USPS actually made money last year.

about 10 months ago

Full Screen Mario: Making the Case For Shorter Copyrights

Phoenix Rising Copyright is too long, but... (361 comments)

I agree that Nintendo's suit based on copyright is counterproductive - that, in fact, anything that's been on the market for 30 years has outlived any need for protection under Copyright law. Limit it to the same duration enforced for patents - 14 + 14 - and I think we come closer to the intent of the founding fathers (who probably would argue that even 7 years was an incredible head start...).

But Nintendo could still have shut this project down through trademark protection. Indeed, they are obligated under trademark law to shut the site down or at least force a formal licensing agreement out of the author (and a corresponding change in the open source license terms...). SMB and its characters remain prominent symbols not only of the Mario franchise but also Nintendo as a company - there's no way they could let this go.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: How Important Is Advanced Math In a CS Degree?

Phoenix Rising Re:Consider doubling down on math (656 comments)

The most important things to me as a programmer in a team:
1) Can you work logically through a problem? Can you break a problem into its constituent parts and expound on the possible consequences of what you are attempting? This isn't just math, though the logic of math helps; it's brainstorming, it's thinking outside the box, it's problem analysis; it's even part report writing and presentation - being able to express the problem clearly to others. You have to know all about the subject matter, too - that's point #3 below.
2) Can you code logically, cleanly and maintainably? If your code is one long strand of spaghetti, or reads poorly, or has too many interdependencies, then you aren't doing yourself or your co-workers any favors in the long run. Again, math is good here, but code organization is more about being able to clearly organize parts of the problem into efficient buckets - functional analysis. There are elements of writing class in here, too - even down to the use of white space.
3) Can you learn, and quickly? You don't need to know everything as a programmer - but it really helps if you can figure it out on short notice. Being a good researcher and a fast learner is an invaluable trait in the generic programmer. Having a broad knowledge base to start with is good; first rule of computer professionals - keep learning! Of course, if you're in a specialty field, you'd better look like already knowing what you need to know for your specialty - so don't skimp on the math or physics if you'll be doing game programming, don't skimp on statistics if you'll be doing accounting and business apps.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: How Important Is Advanced Math In a CS Degree?

Phoenix Rising Consider doubling down on math (656 comments)

I was going to start this out by saying that some people saying DiffEq isn't "higher math" are math geeks and that they're over-emphasizing math... But then I went back and re-read the OP and, well, maybe they're still overstating the case, but they do have a point.

If you really want to go for a career in computer programming, you will need a more solid basis in math than a good understanding of long division. You need to be able to do function based math (grouped under Algebra when I learned it) in your sleep; you will never be any good with computer code if solving simple equations and reading functions isn't second nature to you, regardless of variable names or format. And all of those proofs you did in Geometry and then probably again in Calc I and II - that's formal logic, and if you can't apply formal logic at a whim, computer programming is going to be a rather rough life for you.

Beyond that, statistics and probability, linear algebra, matrix algebra, trig, vector math - these are things you're likely to run across sometime during your career. Maybe (probably) not every day, unless you're in a job that utilizes them heavily, but they're good to have learned at one point so you know where to start 10 years down the road when you run across that situation.

If you really got through the math between long division and DiffEq without really understanding it, I'd recommend going back and working through anything in the above list until you do understand it - and if you have more advanced math ahead of you, include Calculus in your review. If you need a tutor for it, get one; or audit lower level classes as refreshers; or find some book that explains things in terms you understand. Also, if you don't know it already, understand your own learning style and find something that matches your style; understanding how you learn best can help immensely as you go forward.

PS - DiffEq is a bit different; I had zero problems with math classes (aside from being bored) until I got to DiffEq. I did calculus, complex math, matrix algebra, prob&stats, and linear algebra all okay - don't know what it was about DiffEq that tripped me up. Don't feel bad that it seems difficult - it isn't simple. It's also nothing I have used in my career as a software developer.

about a year ago

Watch a Lockheed Martin Laser Destroy a Missile In Flight

Phoenix Rising Hmm - naming issue, anyone? (177 comments)

ADAM - Absolute Destruction of Available Mass

(Megazone-23, part 2)

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: How Can a Blind Singer 'See' the Choirmaster's Baton?

Phoenix Rising Depends on the level of the choir (189 comments)

I sang in a semi-pro choir for a while and at one point our director had us all move to the edges of the largish church we were rehearsing, had us face the church walls (i.e. away from each other).... and start singing in unison. Believe it or not, if you know the music and the group you're singing with, it's very doable.

Barring that, having someone who knows what they're doing holding the blind person's hand and tapping or squeezing should do the trick.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: How Can a Blind Singer 'See' the Choirmaster's Baton?

Phoenix Rising Re:Have someone next to you squeeze your arm (189 comments)

Having also sung in choirs and played music, a competent friend will be able to adjust for the delay in the same way that a marching band adjusts for delay across an entire football field. It's very doable.

about a year and a half ago

Netflix Using HTML5 Video For ARM Chromebook

Phoenix Rising HTML5 with DRM, or Silverlight... (232 comments)

Decisions, decisions...

Not that either are ideal, but considering that Silverlight (or Netflix) can't manage to sync my audio and video on my current netbook, I'd be willing to switch to improve my Netflix stream.

about a year and a half ago

The Book of GIMP

Phoenix Rising Re:Yet detractors criticize it as being complicate (197 comments)

Which industry?

I can't remember the last time I needed to use CMYK for my fine art photography. Heck, most of the photo magazines don't even want CMYK any more.

And when I go to develop my website graphics? No CMYK in sight there either.

How about printing business cards, brochures or fliers on a full-color printer? Only if the shop requires it for some bizarre reason - color profiles have pretty much removed the need for CMYK there.

So for some small definition of the word "industry" perhaps CMYK is still useful; for the rest of us, "industry" is getting along just fine without CMYK separations.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Handle SPF For Spam Filtering?

Phoenix Rising DMARC... (187 comments)

Add DMARC to your processing ( It's a 'yes, I really meant it' notification for senders to communicate to receivers.

Other than that, the other suggestions already posted are about as good as it gets: use SPF as one element in scoring a message. Mark the message if your e-mail system allows it (e.g. label:authenticated in green, or label:authfail in yellow).

about a year and a half ago

Mozilla To Enable Click-To-Play For All Firefox Plugins By Default

Phoenix Rising Re:I predict chaos (181 comments)

Average User: Hey, why doesn't the video play automatically anymore?
Other Person: You have to click the big Play button first.
Average User: Oh, okay.

The average user probably won't ever understand why they have to do it, nor will they care, but they'll be able to repeat the necessary step(s).

But they're not clicking the big 'Play' button - they're clicking the 'Are you sure you want to enable this possibly dangerous third-party software' button, and it is altering (read: degrading) the experience the web page designer intended to present to the end user.

And depending on what they just enabled, after they click the "we'll try not to make this scary warning too scary" button THEN they might have to press the 'Play' button that shows up.

about a year and a half ago

Mozilla To Enable Click-To-Play For All Firefox Plugins By Default

Phoenix Rising Re:I predict chaos (181 comments)

It is a bad thing for some users, yes.

I've turned on Flash to hear background music when listening to recordings of a musical instrument I was considering purchasing. And again, while I as a technical user am interested in clicking buttons in order to enable things, Joe User is not.

about a year and a half ago

Mozilla To Enable Click-To-Play For All Firefox Plugins By Default

Phoenix Rising I predict chaos (181 comments)

While we as technical users might enjoy a plugin-free experience with no extra clicking involved, the average Joe User is going to be pissed off.

I run with NoScript - does pretty much what Mozilla wants to do (plus script blocking), except without the big gray box. The average user is not interested in NoScript type functionality - they want a rich web experience out of the box, and if that includes Flash, PDF files, and audio, then that's what they want.

I suspect the reason Flash is turned on isn't because of ads - it's because there are a number of high profile corporate websites out there that become unusable if Flash isn't enabled.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: How Does an IT Generalist Get Back Into Programming?

Phoenix Rising The best answer is: whatever drives you (224 comments)

If you want to be a web developer, learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript, a web backend language, and SQL. If you want to do sysadmin type stuff, learn a scripting language or three (PowerScript, Python, Perl, UNIX shell scripts (ick!)). If you want to get into heavier programming, pick up languages used in the direction you want to head; that might be a scripting language or it might be a "real" programming language.

If you can, work your programming skills in to your current job. It's much easier to get a job programming if you've been programming at a job. If not, I'd suggest getting involved with a FOSS project of some sort. Experience on the resume is a huge plus; doing a project for yourself on your spare time not so much.

Whatever you do, pick something that you can get "in to"; you'll be happier in the long run if whatever you learn is what you want to be doing. I'm at a programming job now, coming from systems administration; I got there because I was always working for software development companies, and I had to write a lot of scripts and more involved bits and pieces of code. I finally made the leap when I found a programming job that addressed a topic I was passionate about.

Good luck.

about 2 years ago

Civil Suit Filed, Involving the Time Zone Database

Phoenix Rising Re:Astrolabe, Inc. v. Olson et al (433 comments)

Yeah, my bad. Not (probably) Microsoft.

Of course, the only reason this is an issue is that Olson freely commented on the source of a lot of his data; had he not, no one would question his ability to put it all together.

So many people use the zoneinfo DB now, I'm thinking a modest effort could organize something where individual governments could - and would - contribute their changes and the DB could be recreated from scratch in short order. In fact, given that the U.S. government was hosting the package (and I saw something about the IETF taking it over?), it would almost be poetic if the tz package became the official publication of time zone data that the government points to when someone asks for a public records request on the matter - provided, of course, that it remains free of encumbrance.

more than 2 years ago

Civil Suit Filed, Involving the Time Zone Database

Phoenix Rising Re:Astrolabe, Inc. v. Olson et al (433 comments)

Which opponent does Astrolabe think they'll force into bankruptcy? This move is sure to draw in the orbital lawyer brigades from IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Red Hat and pretty much every other OS and device manufacturer in today's tech world. Maybe they thought they'd start small with Olson, but the presiding judge is going to soon be overwhelmed with amicae briefs.

more than 2 years ago

Civil Suit Filed, Involving the Time Zone Database

Phoenix Rising Has to do with TZ change dates (433 comments)

Here's a decent and quick summary, clipped in part from the complaint. Short version: Astrolabe, Inc. has purchased the copyright to the American Atlas and is claiming that because Olson and others used the atlas as a source for some timezone information, the entire database infringes.,guid,c5f28bae-4b9c-41ea-b7b7-8891ad63c938.aspx

Of course, the timezone information itself is public - the atlas only collected it.

more than 2 years ago


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