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Ask Slashdot: Best Use For an Old Smartphone?

Rophuine Re:Replace the batteries (301 comments)

I wasn't aware that smart people weren't allowed to engage in non-productive recreation. When was this rule brought in?

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Many of You Actually Use Math?

Rophuine Re:Field dependent requirement (1086 comments)

Oh, to actually address the parent:

The bulk of programming jobs have nothing at all to do with math beyond the high school level.
Its mostly counting beans and keeping records. Really, it is.

You're right. So, if you want a bulk job counting beans and keeping records, don't learn math. If you want a cool career with lots of interesting stuff, get good at math.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Many of You Actually Use Math?

Rophuine Re:Field dependent requirement (1086 comments)

In my field, good math skills mean the difference between running a million iterations at the cost of many hours of computing time, or doing some stochastic calculus and producing a (better) result in seconds. In a past job, it meant the difference between designing a naive algorithm to spot simple patterns in usage data, or doing some fancy math and coming up with actually useful metrics. In another job, it meant the difference between not understanding what the accountant client was trying to explain and having numerous testing iterations before coming up with something that (hopefully) met requirements, and actually following the math and ensuring my algorithms matched the scenarios we were modelling.

In my experience, good math skills have been the difference between being a relatively unproductive base-wage coder and being an innovator with a reputation for really great work - and it also means that someone else gets stuck with shuffling data while I get to work on interesting problems and learn lots about different subject domains. I've gotten to work on anti-money-laundering systems and on weather and pollution modelling - gotten company time to do my own research, and been sent to training programs and conferences (often at swanky hotels!)

In summary, learn math.

more than 2 years ago
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Google+?

Rophuine Re:People think google are different. (408 comments)

The fact is, once most of my group of friends made it onto Facebook, that's where the event organising started happening. There's one girl in my main circle of friends who often misses invites because she only checks Facebook once every few weeks. We try to remember to call her, but our event-organising is so stream-lined and otherwise effective using Facebook that we often forget there's an extra step - and our group isn't organised enough to make sure someone has done it, so often everyone assumes that someone else will have called her.

more than 3 years ago
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Silverlight Developers Rally Against Windows 8

Rophuine Re:I am a Silverlight Developer (580 comments)

We don't really deal with smaller enterprise, so I'm not sure how well my experience will relate. We tend to find that our clients treat "our software won't work with your PC" types of problems as OUR problem, not theirs, and something we should address, not them. I'm yet to see a client bring it up - we have to be pretty pro-active, and we've been caught in situations once or twice where we've had to scramble to support older browsers at very short notice, because they were running very old versions and gave us the choice between making it work on their systems or them considering us in breach.

The specific situation that seems to cause it is that site managers are responsible for budget for purchasing IT infrastructure, but central IT manages the infrastructure. You get a few site officers refusing to retire PCs that are well past their expected lifetimes, and central IT says "sure you can keep using it, but forget updates: the latest OS we've tested on that hardware is XP without SPs, and the latest browser we've tested on XP without SPs is IE6, so that's what you stay with." I think central IT are trying to force the site managers to spend budget on IT gear, but IT is often not involved in our proposals (they just manage the infrastructure,) so all that happens is whichever higher-up decided to go with our solution tells us, basically, "I don't care if there's a fight between a site officer and our IT dep't over budget, or if MS have deprecated that technology, or whatever other excuses you have - we've bought your solution for our EXISTING infrastructure, and you need to make it work on that."

more than 3 years ago
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Percent of my work life spent in meetings:

Rophuine Meetings done right... (145 comments)

I'm a programmer, and I find that far too many of my colleagues assume that any and all meetings are inherently worthless. I've worked in teams who got great value out of well-directed meetings. We avoid double-handling problems, we get better use out of the various experience our team members have... It can just work so well.

It's such a shame that so many places get it so wrong, and so much IT talent has never experienced the increased productivity you can get out of meetings done right.

more than 3 years ago
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Silverlight Developers Rally Against Windows 8

Rophuine Re:I am a Silverlight Developer (580 comments)

Anyone who gets that UI overhauls/rewrites happen frequently, but DOESN'T use a layered architecture to keep the UI layer really thin, is an idiot.

more than 3 years ago
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Silverlight Developers Rally Against Windows 8

Rophuine Re:I am a Silverlight Developer (580 comments)

We've found entirely the reverse re: enterprise users, albeit with a different plugin. Enterprise users are the ones who force OUR hands. They generally tell us what browser versions and plugins are available in their SOE, and we have to support that or lose the sale. Our clients are exclusively larger enterprises, and our success rate at saying "you just need to install [x] on the machines you're going to use this from" has been zero so far. As a rule of thumb, if it doesn't run on IE7 with Flash installed and nothing else, you're gonna miss some enterprise clients. We've just spent 18 months fighting to get our last client to accept us dropping IE6 support: even though they didn't have any deployed IE6 machines left, they wanted it in the contracts anyway.

Agree completely with you about end users. Most people don't see "you can just install this plugin, restart your browser, and this will work". They see "this doesn't work".

more than 3 years ago
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Silverlight Developers Rally Against Windows 8

Rophuine Re:I am a Silverlight Developer (580 comments)

I know I'm just jumping on the band-wagon here, but I'm a .Net developer who's worked for a couple of shops over the last few years and has seen plenty of new web products started. I've been on at least three projects where we wrote off Silverlight as an option, citing reasons like unwillingness to use the plugin, lack of available developers, and general opinions that the platform was on a fast-track to being canned.

Then again, most products I've worked on with a focus on having a great user experience tend to undergo pretty massive UI overhauls every 18 months to three years, and it's pretty common to use different technologies at each iteration. Being forced into changing UI platforms shouldn't come as any sort of surprise to you.

more than 3 years ago
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Is There a New Geek Anti-Intellectualism?

Rophuine Re:False Premmise (949 comments)

In the programming world, I always got the impression that, collectively, we respected the self-taught coder more than one who spent four years in school being spoon fed how to code.

You've created a false dichotomy. Spending four years doing a degree, for most of the people I hung out with, was nothing about being spoon-fed how to code - most of the people who needed that failed out and went elsewhere. Some of them struggled through. Lots of us were good coders long before we went to uni, and we breezed through and spent most of our time messing about with stuff that interested us: we often got worse grades than the ones struggling through, because they were focusing on meeting the criteria while we were off messing with something fun.

Most of the (good) coders I've ever worked with have been a mix of the two. They taught themselves to code, then went to uni and learned all sorts of new and interesting stuff about coding, as often from their fellow students as from the courses. I've met good coders without training, but I often (not always!) find that a lack of 'four years in school being spoon fed how to code' leads to all sorts of bad habits, poor practices, and general amateurishness. NOT, by any stretch, always! There are great coders who are entirely self-taught - but I'm gun-shy of them, because I've seen some of the bird-nests these people put together.

more than 3 years ago
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Is There a New Geek Anti-Intellectualism?

Rophuine Re:False Premmise (949 comments)

Agree, but I have an insight into the 'appearance' of anti-intellectualism. We have no respect for the traditional signs of an intellectual: research papers, degrees, citations, accreditations are meaningless: we just care about how GOOD you are. No degree can tell us that: all it tells us is that you satisfied some panel or series of lecturers who were interested, not in your ability, but in whether you satisfied some set of criteria that probably aren't really all that relevant.

It can easily LOOK like anti-intellectualism, but it's just that we'd prefer to judge for ourselves, thank you very much, and not defer to the opinions of a bunch of people we don't know.

more than 3 years ago
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Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology

Rophuine Re:Actually, the New Yorker article was quite tame (426 comments)

I spent a big part of my life as a Catholic. Fairly early on, I realised that there needed to be "the real me" and "the me I pretended to be to the church".

more than 3 years ago
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Are You Sure SHA-1+Salt Is Enough For Passwords?

Rophuine Re:Salting with username (409 comments)

Wow. Just wow. I NEVER learn anything from /. comment threads, especially about security (I would argue that nobody does, because most of what's said is wrong), and I think I just did!

It's worth noting that this benefit relies on your application server not being compromised, as if an attacker owns that, they can change code to move the client-based hash step to the server (changing the client AND server code), and still see passwords. So you're really only protecting against network-sniffing attacks, which are USUALLY prevented by SSL anyway. This actually gives me an idea, but I'll have to think about it. Something along the lines of using an MD5 of the sign-in page itself as a part of the process, so changing the page will break things. That's obviously vulnerable to exactly the same attack, but perhaps there's an extension to this which might work.

You have also prevented plain-text reveal in the situation where someone somehow intercepts the post-SSL stream but can't alter the application, which is certainly a possible scenario.

There's a major benefit, with this scheme, if you're using a dedicated ssl server and relying on a secure network behind that (which is not uncommon in higher-load applications) - compromise of the ssl server doesn't lead to compromise of plain-text passwords. The attacker would need to take the next step and own the application servers behind that, and given that this scenario only crops up in high-volume load-balanced systems, there are likely lots of identical systems to deal with, and (hopefully) switched-on administrators and security experts, so adding another step like that could vastly decrease the chance of a complete compromise. The attacker would already own login details to the attacked site (they could replay hashes from the owned SSL appliance), so there's every chance they'll take that and never even try to compromise the application code itself, thus never leading to the plain-text reveal.

more than 3 years ago
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Are You Sure SHA-1+Salt Is Enough For Passwords?

Rophuine Re:Salting with username (409 comments)

You've basically described how it usually works, except that instead of having the client perform a hash, we have the client encrypt the communication over SSL. The advantage, that the password can't end up accidentally in a log file, means now that instead of the password, the hash that the client sends would end up in the log file. I'm worried that you're adding to the complexity of your code in order to prevent an avoidable bug - it seems like you'd be better to just ensure that sensitive information isn't showing up in your logs (which is a crucial step in avoiding security holes; it's specifically addressed in, for example, the PCI security standard).

more than 3 years ago
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Are You Sure SHA-1+Salt Is Enough For Passwords?

Rophuine Re:Are MD and SHA easily reversible? (409 comments)

There should be one salt per user, not one per application. This means that the whole effort to generate a rainbow table is only applicable to the one user you're trying to recover the password for; the rainbow table for the next user will be totally different, because there's a new salt. This means that all of your work to hack one account can't be re-used for the next. Salting isn't about preventing this sort of attack; it's about multiplying the effort to compromise n accounts by n. If it takes the attacker 5 days to compute a nice big look-up table, they now have to repeat that per account, instead of having now compromised every account.

more than 3 years ago
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Are You Sure SHA-1+Salt Is Enough For Passwords?

Rophuine Re:The problem is people (409 comments)

Everyone knows not to store passwords in a database. You store hashes in a database instead, which is what your link (and TFA) are talking about.

more than 3 years ago
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Are You Sure SHA-1+Salt Is Enough For Passwords?

Rophuine Re:Who cares what method? (409 comments)

It doesn't even require a replay attack. We're talking about what happens if the database of stored hashes is compromised, and if the client does the hashing instead of the server, you don't even need the password. You can just submit the hash from your stolen database to sign in as the user.

more than 3 years ago
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Are You Sure SHA-1+Salt Is Enough For Passwords?

Rophuine Re:Who cares what method? (409 comments)

Uh, what? The browser hashes the password? Now you don't even NEED the password; you have the hash, and that's all the client needs to submit to gain access! You just pretend that you hashed the password and transmit the hash. No password needed! Unless, of course, you submit the password AND the hash, but that doesn't gain anything over just submitting the password (except perhaps proving that the client has a working hash function).

Remember, we're talking about what happens when the database of stored hashes is compromised, and having the browser do the hashing makes this scenario MUCH worse.

more than 3 years ago
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Are You Sure SHA-1+Salt Is Enough For Passwords?

Rophuine Re:News at 11 (409 comments)

A correctly-implemented salted-password scheme uses a different salt per user - it doesn't even matter if it's trivial to predict. The point is that it multiplies the computational load to compromise n users by n. You can't generate a single look-up table any more.

Further, the salt is combined with the key, not the user's password. If it was just combined with the password before the encryption, when you used your look-up table to find out the (password+salt) used to generate a particular hash, you would then de-combine the known salt and have the password! Simple.

Finally, because the salt is combined with the encryption key, using one salt for your whole system would be no different to just using a different key.

With the correct scheme, adding a per-user salt means (even if the salt is trivial to discover) you are using a DIFFERENT key to compute the hash for each user. Now you may still be able to generate a large look-up table of hashes to compromise an individual hash, but it will only work for ONE user account (barring salt collisions), and so a 24-hour run (your number) will be required PER USER ACCOUNT. This means that a few dozen, or even a few hundred, accounts may be compromised, but this will be a much smaller fraction than if you weren't using salts (or were using them incorrectly, as is so common).

more than 3 years ago
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Are 10-11 Hour Programming Days Feasible?

Rophuine Motivation levels (997 comments)

I don't care enough to read through and make sure I'm not repeating what's already been done to death. I've worked for a few small companies, and seen some things work and some things fail dismally.

One thing I have definitely seen is that the typical employee has motivation for about 20-30 real, productive work hours per week. Anyone who puts in a real, near-peak 40 hours is a superstar, and I'll do anything to hang onto those people. Regardless of how much someone shines during an interview, it's very hard to judge this, and I find most new hires tend towards about 20 hours.

The absolute worst way to increase this is to just ask them to do it. Especially when they already aren't being particularly productive during part of their week. Their productivity will sit at about the same level. Their 'sitting at their desk pretending to work' time will increase. They'll get home later, have less leisure time, and their productive hours will start to creep down.

What I have seen work is incentive-based volunteering. I worked for one company for a while where I tended to work a few extra hours during the week (I probably averaged 10-hour days, when I only needed 8), and I felt more productive there than anywhere else I've worked. My salary was actually a little below what I could have gotten elsewhere, but the team culture was amazing. 4pm on Friday was officially Beer (/ non-alcoholic alternative) O'clock. There were plates of fruits and pastries in the kitchen every morning. There was an amazing coffee shop across the road, and we had an account there and were encouraged to have small-group meetings there. The boss put on a barbecue once every couple of weeks on the weekend, and he did all the cooking (for 15+ people) himself, and the food was VERY good (like large, high-grade steaks, expensive and well-prepared fish, oysters, and so on). If it weren't for that unfortunate matter involving the FBI, our Federal Police (we're outside the US), and MasterCard investigators, I'd still be happily pulling 10+ hour days there. All of that effort cost MUCH less than paying us for the extra time we put in, and given the salaries were a touch below average, we probably cost less overall than a typical software team who would be less happy, less productive, working 8 hours a day and not really pulling their weight. Another place where I worked took everyone out water- and jet-skiing once a month (the boss owned several boats and jet-skis).

If the boss really won't look at paying you more or giving you stock (and, from what I've seen, there are lots of people who don't seem to be more motivated by more money), he should look at doing something genuine to improve his employees' lives.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Google SideWiki Brings Comments to Everyone

Rophuine Rophuine writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Rophuine writes "Google has launched a product called SideWiki. It takes the form of a plug-in to FireFox and Internet Explorer which allows users to "Mark Up" the web — add comments which can be seen by anyone else running SideWiki.

Is this a great new product which will bring new horizons to the internet? Or is this just another way for Google to know what sites we're visiting?"

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