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Google Handed To FBI 3 Wikileaks Staffers' Emails, Digital Data

RyoShin Re: What did you expect? (194 comments)

The twitter-friendly response is, "Just because I have nothing to hide, it doesn't mean I'm happy with a webcam on my toilet."

The thought that always comes to me is "I have nothing to fear, so I have nothing to hide. If I have nothing to hide, why do you need to look?"


What Will Google Glass 2.0 Need To Actually Succeed?

RyoShin Re:Shutter (324 comments)

Why not something that rotates? Have it pointed down when not in use, but it rotates forward if you want. Not only does this make it easy to see if someone could be filming, it also allows someone to have it record in a different direction than they're looking while still freeing up hands, projecting the image onto a corner of the glasses. Imagine someone riding a bike having this pointed backwards so they can see if something is coming up without using awkward mirrors or having to look over their shoulder.

If there's a motor small enough, it could rotate automatically into the downward position when not actively being used.

2 days ago

Study: Belief That Some Fields Require "Brilliance" May Keep Women Out

RyoShin Re:that shouldn't be surprising either (218 comments)

Although, on average, men and women are about the same, men have a higher variance.

You're the third +5 I've seen in this thread with that assertion. Can someone link a study or group of studies that supports this?

I'm not saying you're wrong, but seeing it so often with no source makes me wonder if it's become "common wisdom".

about a week ago

Study: Belief That Some Fields Require "Brilliance" May Keep Women Out

RyoShin Re:It worked on me (218 comments)

I received several full ride offers to college. But it was because I worked my ass off. I was only modestly talented.

The quip "The world needs ditch diggers" can easily be extended to "The world needs moderately talented ditch diggers". No one stands on their own shoulders, and even the best of those math whiz's will need someone who can understand most of what they say and can check their math, or do some more mediocre work of their own that helps out the "smarter" person.

To put it in a car analogy, it doesn't matter how great your engine is if there aren't wheels to go along with it.

To put it in a programming analogy, the lead developer/architect will always need someone to implement dwim().

Even if you can't be great[1], you can still be good, and most times that's good enough.

[1] I question that assumption; introspection is an incredibly useful quality that a lot of people, even seemingly-smart people, lack. You appear to do a lot of it, so you can probably go further than you can imagine right now.

about a week ago

Lawrence Krauss On Scientists As Celebrities: Good For Science?

RyoShin Re:Betteridge Is Wrong On This One (227 comments)

Yes, anything that puts science to a face and makes it approachable, normal and something to be admired or respected is always a good thing.

Cast your wishes carefully.

Any person who can be pointed to as someone both scientific and popular can be useful for the general population, but also creates an easy target. We've had stories on Slashdot before about companies/people trying to get as much personal e-mail as possible about scientists, not because they believe they can find evidence of forgery on the part of the scientist, but trolling for any kind of negative character trait they can parade into the press. Does he curse a lot? Like hiring prostitutes? Is a closet homosexual? Doesn't hold the door open for women? Once an accusation sticks (even a false one), then they only have to use a broad brush to paint those traits on all like-minded scientists; sadly, our population will eat. It. Up.

I guarantee you there are more than a few people who have the personal goal of digging up heavy dirt on Neil deGrasse Tyson. If they could find evidence of financial fraud, a torrid love affair, or (jackpot!) pedophilia it would spread across our 24/7 news networks like wild fire.

If we had a number of scientists highly-respected by the public, such tactics wouldn't be as useful, but right now in the general public there are only a half-dozen or so. If someone polled random folks on the street you would likely get few more answers than Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye

about a week ago

Lawrence Krauss On Scientists As Celebrities: Good For Science?

RyoShin Re:Yes. (227 comments)

that we shouldn't question the science that is proven.

Where does he say this? I would not be surprised if he said something against deniers--climate-change for instance--but these kind of people aren't asking questions.

Imagine two people have a debate about what kind of fruit something nebulous is. Person A goes "It's round and has a warm color, so some type of citrus, and based on the size I'd say it's an orange." Person B goes "NO IT'S NOT" Person A asks B "Why do you think it's not an orange?" Person B responds "IT'S NOT AN ORANGE."

This is what many politicians and non-scientists due when presented with a scientifically-driven theory (scientific sense, not layman) that conflicts with one of their motivations (power, profit, etc.) These are "deniers". There are some, few of whom get any time on news channels, that are presented with the idea and go "Okay, but your original conclusions say that X would happen, but instead we are experiencing Y, something similar-but-different. How do you explain the difference?" These are people who ask questions, and those who ask a lot of questions like this are "skeptics". Good skeptics are useful in science (better if they can do their own science to show new results or invalidate old ones), and I would be quite surprised if NDG was talking about these kind of people.

about a week ago

Radio, Not YouTube, Is Still King of Music Discovery

RyoShin Re:Broadcast Radio? Eeew.... (126 comments)

This is like saying "Why would you pay for [$NICE DINING ESTABLISHMENT] when you can get a hobo to feed you poop for free?" (Or, for those who require car analogies, "Why would you purchase a vehicle when you can jump on the back of a bus for free?")

I suppose if you're the type who likes having a selection of ~40 songs 90% of the time, separated by annoying commercials and whatever the "DJ" spews forth, then radio is fine. Personally, when I want to listen to music, I want to listen to just music. Preferably of a wide variety and stuff I know I'll like, so all my devices that can have music on them do, from my personal collection (bought-and-paid), including my car. Sure, I might miss out on some new music I would enjoy while driving, but I will happily do so over having to deal with the crap surrounding it. I listen to Pandora One while at work or home, which I pay for to also get rid of the commercials, so I'll hear the new music anyway.

about two weeks ago

Google Sees Biggest Search Traffic Drop Since 2009 As Yahoo Gains Ground

RyoShin Re:Duck Duck Go (155 comments)

I did so in response to FireFox's default being changed to Yahoo!; I knew I didn't want Y!, but I didn't really want to go back to Google for the same reasons as you. DuckDuckGo was one of the other options immediately available (dunno if it came with it or I had installed that as an option years ago) and now I use that for my default.

I miss some stuff about Google search--like the "instant facts" that often told me what I wanted to know, directly on the search results page--but I also find DDG to be competent enough to turn to Google very little.

about two weeks ago

Google Sees Biggest Search Traffic Drop Since 2009 As Yahoo Gains Ground

RyoShin Re:If you had selected something... (155 comments)

When I realized the difference after I upgraded, I actually changed my search engine to DuckDuckGo because I wanted to give that a shot rather than defaulting back to Google. So even if people didn't stick with Yahoo, the change may have helped other search providers.

about two weeks ago

Obama Proposes 2 Years of Free Community College

RyoShin Re:Free? (703 comments)

The world needs ditch diggers too.

And it would do even better with educated ditch diggers.

about two weeks ago

Mercedes-Benz's Self-Driving Concept Car Is Here

RyoShin Re:Need the Concept Bus (167 comments)

Plus, with buses, they can make smaller buses that have more routes and can also respond to demand to better stick to schedules. (If 13 people "check in" at Bus Stop B but no one at Bus Stop A, then the bus can take a shortcut that avoids A and goes to B sooner, to better handle the larger amount of people waiting to get on.)

1) convince the unions to let us

Even if the tech is viewed as very mature by every automotive professional, Average Joe will still view it with heavy skepticism. Having a human who could take control in the event of a bad situation will alleviate a lot of concern, regardless if the human could not realistically do anything useful even with very early warnings and a sharp eye. Public trust will probably grow at the same rate as bus drivers quit/retire, which brings us to the union solution: Attrition. Everyone keeps their job and rate but does less. Make them drive the bus in and out of the storage facility to keep their driving skills up and give them busy-work. No new blood, raises are probably capped off, but the drivers can keep working until they quit/retire or a specific amount of time (like 5-10 years) has passed.

While I've not dealt with a union directly (only felt some indirect effects, like not being able to move my own desk), I think that would be acceptable. As an added (evil) bonus, the driver can be a scapegoat if a bad accident occurs.

(I wonder if buggy whip makers had a union that had to deal with this...)

about three weeks ago

Mercedes-Benz's Self-Driving Concept Car Is Here

RyoShin Re:"while not intended for production" (167 comments)

A vehicle may decide that a pothole is actually an obstruction, or that the railroad track is the end of a road.

Very nice post. This particular line made a question pop into my head: Do we have any human-driven cars that have a companion AI "driving" a virtual car, where the AI is doing risk aversion and noting where the human differs from the AI for later review and/or machine learning?

Using your example, the vehicle "sees" a railroad track but, because of the sudden shift in terrain, thinks it's an end of the road. The AI, in its virtual car, starts applying the brakes, but the human maintains speed and keeps on going. The AI notices that the terrain has resumed expected road conditions, that they haven't crashed or fallen off a cliff, and marks that point as an event to review.

about three weeks ago

2014: Hottest Year On Record

RyoShin Re: noooo (560 comments)

The *actual problem* with nuclear is that practically every other option is cheaper and lower risk.

My (admittedly limited) understanding is that one of the major problems with both solar and wind power is the fluctuation. Yeah, solar is great for running A/Cs on hot summer days when the sun is shining bright, but not as useful for heaters at night in the winter.

So unless power transmission tech improves that you can run cables thousands of miles with minimal loss, or battery tech improves that extra power stored during the day is enough for night, you need something else to generate the power that can cover non-productive times for the other sources. If our goal is to get rid of our reliance on coal and fossil fuels, what other option is there but nuclear? If you're lucky you live close to a hydroelectric source, but not everyone is.

(I also understand there are problems with standard power plants not being able to spin up quickly to meet demand, and assume nuclear would have the same.)

about three weeks ago

Happy Public Domain Day: Works That Copyright Extension Stole From Us In 2015

RyoShin Re:revolutionary idea? (328 comments)

I prefer ever-increasing copyright maintenance fees. If Disney is willing to pay a billion dollars a year to keep Mickey, fine. But for most works, the copyright owners will eventually decide that it's better to release it into the public domain.

You and I are of the same mind. This does away with the whole problem of corporations owning copyright, as well.

My thoughts specifically are about doubling/halving price/time, respectively. You start with a regular fee and a regular term (I think the original term was 14 years? Sounds good to me.) After 14 years they can apply for a renewal, which will cost them twice as much and last only 7 years. The chart would be:

2..........X*4......4 (we'll be nice and round up)

Mickey is 85, so under this system Disney would have had to pay X*4.61*10^18 to renew this year (even with X=1, this is far larger than the entire world's Gross Product, so Disney would have had to give up decades prior.) As an added bonus, the increasing renewal fees can be used to subsidize initial applications, making it easier for smaller companies and individuals to copyright.

about a month ago

Pope Francis To Issue Encyclical On Global Warming

RyoShin Re:Environmental radicalism? (341 comments)

The recent run of Cosmos (with Neil deGrasse Tyson) has the episode The Clean Room which is mostly about figuring out the age of the Earth, but also spends some time discussing Clair Patterson (by way of his ultra cleanroom) and his battle against oil companies.

Corporate coverups are not a new thing, and yet people continue to give companies and company-funded studies the benefit of the doubt despite what history teaches us.

about a month ago

When FISA Court Rejects a Surveillance Request, the FBI Issues a NSL Instead

RyoShin Re:Not that I have anything to worry about but (119 comments)

Would a NBC or a CNN publish it?

Pffft, hahahaha. You're better off with The Enquirer than those two. They're more likely to report you to the FBI than report on the NSL.

If you actually want to get coverage, try the likes of The Guardian. I recommend a massive shotgun approach instead if you want more protection; scan the letter, send a copy to as many "news" organizations as possible, and post it everywhere you can on the internet. WikiLeaks, 4chan, reddit, Fark, FurAffinity, Youtube, Redtube, Daily Kos, HuffPo, make your own website, create an entry on Wikipedia, put a torrent/magnet on as many of those sites as possible, etc. Make it so easy to get that no amount of takedown orders can scrub it from the internet. Put copies in every mailbox in the neighborhood, collect those return envelopes from credit card offers and send them copies, leave copies on the seats of buses, movie theaters, libraries, hand copies to the FBI agents/police who show up to arrest you. Encourage others on the internet to do the same. Attach as much information about yourself and the event surrounding the NSL as possible. If the NSL doesn't include your physical address, put that up there as well; the FBI will be more hesitant to act if they think a bunch of local dissatisfied citizens might be hanging around your place with cell cams.

Before you pull the trigger give the original NSL to someone you trust and have them keep it somewhere safe, to be offered up if any of those news places actually want to verify it.

This won't keep you from getting arrested, but it will make a lot of people inquire as to your well-being and where you are in the justice system; depending on the reasons for the NSL, various groups might take up the cause to get you your freedom.

about a month ago

The One Mistake Google Keeps Making

RyoShin Re:They said that about cell phones (386 comments)

What about sharing the car or renting it out? A driverless car could make me money while I am at work.

I believe the end result of driverless cars (which, I agree, would have a large amount of demand from the general public) is the advent of "auto clubs". Most people would just belong to one of these clubs in lieu of owning their own vehicle and be able to order up a car on demand or reserve ahead of time, and it would drive itself to the person. Garages and apartment parking spaces would become extravagances (how many more apartments could you build in the same area if you didn't have to consider parking?). The rider just pays a fuel cost based on the trip.

I don't see Auto Clubs as springing forth from the ground, either; they seem like the natural evolution of companies like Enterprise Rental, or even insurance companies who want to keep people on their plans but have more control over the car. Heck, the insurance companies could offer smaller programs like this if people agree to drive their (manual) car less--thus reducing the risk of an accident--and will help convert society to mostly self-driving cars.

The obvious problem with this is the daily commute. This would be worked out before such clubs became ubiquitous through two mechanisms:
1) Auto clubs would offer "pool" cars; it doesn't matter if your drive takes that much longer if you can work or sleep during it[1]
2) Self-driving buses, half the size and twice the routes. They can be "called", so if no one is at a stop waiting it will keep on going (cutting down travel time at the expense of a regular schedule). You may even be able to have them come right to your door.

I think 2 will happen first: buses offer greater savings in fuel and tend to have very strict routes so there's less concern about "unknown" streets. Google already has a bus fleet (or they contract one), so doing this makes sense for them to do a proof of concept especially as people complain about the problems of their buses using normal stops. It would also be easier for smallish cities to implement these than take on a fleet of normal buses. Once self-driving buses prove themselves, self-driving cars will be accepted much faster.

[1] This also offers a meet-and-greet kind of system for potential carpoolers; if everyone in your pool likes sports, or likes Metallica, or likes basketweaving, it could make carpooling far more interesting. (There would, of course, be the "I want to be left the fuck alone" car pools.)

about a month ago

13,000 Passwords, Usernames Leaked For Major Commerce, Porn Sites

RyoShin List removed (149 comments)

The list that was posted has apparently been removed (if you can get to the site, which seems to be under heavy traffic with people looking for it). Furthermore:

While it's difficult at this point to definitively know how the hackers acquired the material, Chris Davis, a cybersecurity researcher and fellow at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs, hypothesized that one likely possibility, based on the information contained in the leak, is that the hackers made use of a botnet. "The list of credentials [in the published list] fits that bill pretty well," he explained.

Malware explains the odd collection of websites, relatively small number of accounts, and supposedly-plaintext passwords. So anyone affected who changes their password will just have that new password picked up unless they've exorcised their computer.

about a month ago



Ask Slashdot: Best software for charity/animal shelters?

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 2 years ago

RyoShin writes "I volunteer for a no-kill cat rescue shelter. After learning my background in software development, they've asked me to come up with a solution that will make it easier for them to keep a database of the felines currently in their care (including things like vaccinations, background (if any), etc.) as well as donors and potential donors. They've dropped hints that I should roll my own, but I'd rather get them something tried and tested and preferably with support; however, I have no knowledge of this area, so I turn to Slashdot users. What are good pieces of software for use by charities, especially animal shelters? An all-in-one would be great, but I will consider multiple programs. And, as always, free or open source is highly preferred (they are a small shelter), but I also want to research paid-for options and present those if they are high quality, easy to use, and can be afforded."

Telling Kids They're Smart is Stupid

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 6 years ago

RyoShin writes "A recent Scientific American article entitled "The Secret to Raising Smart Kids" (print version) looks at research on motivating kids in school. From the article: "Many people assume that superior intelligence or ability is a key to success. But more than three decades of research shows that an overemphasis on intellect or talent--and the implication that such traits are innate and fixed--leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn. [...] Teaching people to have a 'growth mind-set,' which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, produces high achievers in school and in life." Another finding is that "a belief in fixed intelligence also makes people less willing to admit to errors or to confront and remedy their deficiencies in school, at work and in their social relationships." So don't go telling your kid he or she a genius, but rather a studious, hard worker."
Link to Original Source

Do Zebra Stripes actually help?

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 6 years ago

RyoShin (610051) writes "A List Apart, an excellent resource for web development and related aesthetics, has put together an article based on original research by Jessica Enders into "zebra striping". From the article: "Zebra striping [, coloring alternate rows,] is used when data is presented in an essentially tabular form. The user of that table will be looking for one or more data points. Their aim is to get the right points and get them as quickly as possible. Therefore, if we set a task that uses a table, and zebra striping does make things easier, then we would expect to see improvements in two things: accuracy and speed." The conclusion of the peer reviewed paper? It's a wash. Striped tables offered only a slight increase in accuracy and speed overall. The article notes a few other benefits to using Zebra striping, so it's all up to the individual."
Link to Original Source

Up or Out: Solving the IT Turnover Crisis

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 5 years ago

RyoShin (610051) writes "Alex Papadimoulis, head of TheDailyWTF, has put together an interesting article about turnover in the IT industry and why quitting is okay (and employers should like it). Using ideas like the "Cravath system", why good people quit while slackers stay behind, and how ex-employees can be a good thing, Papadimoulis offers some interesting ideas for both employers and employees. "In short: embrace turnover, encourage separation, and don't even think about saying 'careers, not jobs.' Oh yes, it's Employment 2.0.""
Link to Original Source

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 7 years ago

RyoShin writes "Even after the conservative members lost control of the old Kansas school board, evolution still remains a large issue for the Board of Education in Kansas. Well, in video games. Specifically, one video game: Pokemon. On Monday, the Kansas Board of Education approved a measure to ban most content related to Pokemon, including the games themselves and trading cards "because of the franchise's blatant promotion of evolution". Furthermore, they instructed teachers to "search their students at the beginning of the school day to make sure that they aren't carrying any copies of the game". The article is sparse on further details, but states that the ACLU will challenge the decision."

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 7 years ago

RyoShin writes "Signs of the apocalypse: seven-headed beasts, cats hanging out with dogs, and a video game that combines two previous rivals. Well, according to USAToday, we're one-third of the way there. From the article: "Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, due in stores this holiday season for Nintendo's Wii console and DS handheld system (prices not yet set), will also include other popular characters such as Luigi and Yoshi (from Nintendo's Mario games), as well as Knuckles and Tails (from the Sonic games), all competing in such summer Olympic events as running, swimming and table tennis." Furthermore, Shigeru Miyamoto is giving oversight to the project. Could this be a sign that Sonic might appear in Super Smash Brothers Brawl?"



How to StumbleUpon StumbleOver and StumbleOn

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Like many on the internet, including other /. members, I am a user of StumbleUpon. For those who don't know what StumbleUpon is, the short and simple is that it is a gateway to the internet at large. It's great for lazy afternoons when you just want to find new webpages. You set some preferences, some content filters, and boom, you're off. It covers topics from architecture to zoology, and most everything in between. A great way to read new and interesting scientific discoveries or watch sleeping cats fall off of whatever shelf they happen to be sleeping on. Or both, if that's your thing. But not at the same time.

However, StumbleUpon reveals one of the larger annoyances of the internet: data redundancy. Site after site, blog after blog will host the same content (usually video or pictures, but it can even be word-for-word text), meaning that you'll wind up Stumbling Upon it time and again- and it really gets grating after you see the eighteenth LOLcat collection. To my knowledge, SU has no way to deal with this. You can rate things up or down and perhaps have less of a chance of seeing them, but that's not always the case.

To this end, I feel that StumbleUpon would do well to introduce two new features: StumbleOn and StumbleOver. Both features would be user preferences. You could choose to StumbleOn, StumbleOver, both, or neither (seeing the internet in a pure, unadultered form).

StumbleOn is a feature that would reference all citing pages to the main page or site that the citing pages talk about. This is the harder of the two features to implement. The idea is that instead of stumbling upon a page that is either a rehash or just a quick blog entry about another page (usually done for ad hits), you would instead be redirected to (or On) the original page. Slashdot will see things like this- a summary for an article will contain a link to a blog that contains a link to the actual article. StumbleOn would cut out the blog entry, giving focus where it is rightly due: the original authors.

As stated, this is harder to do. Some things see circulation for so long that pinpointing the "original" is tedious (assuming it still exists). Then there are sites that jump up simultaneously, such as the smattering of lolcat sites that appeared within a few days/weeks of each other. Content can give some help. For instance, if a blog entry directly links to the original, you know you can StumbleOn to that original. Perhaps the video being shown lists a URL to use; failing that, you could StumbleOn to where it's hosted on Youtube/MediaCafe/whatever.

Part of the problem here is ballot stuffing. Someone might get a bunch of friends/paid hacks to all say that that person's site is the "original", though it would clearly be just a lame blog entry for ad hits. But, as with most systems like this, it can be overcome with other user adjustments. Then there's the risk that a blog entry that is actually useful, like dissecting a video or giving further insights, gets marked as StumbleOn. A second level might be introduced for these, but that would start making this very complex.

StumbleOver is likely easier to implement, and, in my opinion, far more useful of the two. In the case of StumbleOver, you don't care what the original site is. You only know that you've seen it before and, even if you liked it, don't want to see it again from another site. Whereas StumbleOn would be pictorially represented as a tree, with one main site (the "root" site) being lead to from many others, StumbleOver would be seen as a nice, round circle. By seeing one part of the circle you've seen them all, so you don't need to see them again. This would lead to a lot less repetitiveness in your stumbles.

However, this is not without it's own problems- how specific should content be measured? Most would agree that a word-for-word copy, a single image or set group of images, or a video would all be easy to StumbleOver. But what about a blog entry that restates the original text in the user's own words? Is one lolcat page with 10 images the same as another with 15? (This case can be kind of solved with StumbleOn, using something like icanhaschezburger as the main source) What if someone has a higher quality version of another's video (quite unlikely, but possible)?

These aren't perfect ideas, and I have no idea how to submit them to StumbleUpon, but I think they would make great strides in making StumbleUpon a better product and the internet easier to browse.


Facebook Phone Number Folly

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 7 years ago

I, along with most of the Slashdot community, know much about social networking sites. I, probably unlike much of Slashdot, am a member of a few. One of these sites, Facebook, came under fire about a year ago for their News Feed feature, which allowed users to see updates made by their friends in one convenient form. This resulted in a massive and seemingly unexpected backlash by the Facebook crowd, which caused Facebook to lock it down only a few days later.

So users of Facebook are not ignorant of the privacy hazards that sharing information like that can lead to. However, it seems that some haven't learned their lesson. Through my own News Feed, I learned that one of my friends had recently joined a group. However, the group had a very odd title, almost like it was a personal journal entry. Curiosity got the best of me, and I clicked through to find out.

To my utter surprise and slight discomfort, I found that it was a group set up for someone that lost their phone. He had set up the phone for the express purpose of retrieving the phone numbers he had lost in the old one. This can seem like a mis-guided attempt with only one example, as doing this may be an easy way to notify all of your friends. Facebook does allow for closed groups- close the group, and only the friends you've invited can see your new phone number or post their own. Perhaps this poor fellow merely misunderstood how the process worked.

With this in mind, I decided to plug "phone lost" into Facebook's search engine. The result is so many groups that it stops counting at 500. Yet not all is lost; once again, this could be a matter of convenience, and other users had closed their group. I decided the best way to test this theory was to do a sample of the first three pages of results and compile some (simple) stats. (Note that all numbers are assumed unique, which may skew the results in favor of panic.)

Total Groups: 27 (Facebook returned the same group a few times)
Open Groups: 81%
Total Members: 523
Phone Numbers (with Area Code): 184
Phone Numbers (no area code): 14

Percentage of Group Members with posted numbers: 37%

Average Membership per Group: 19
Potential Amount of Numbers available (with 500 groups): 3515

Sadly, I was very wrong. The number of users willing to post their phone numbers in an open location such as that is worrisome. While Facebook does have the option to enter your number in your profile, it can be restricted only to friends. Furthermore, by default profiles are locked to friends-only. The combination of these two elements may have set a false sense of privacy within the users who did post their numbers.

A few users had the fore-thought to at least withhold their area code. Even so, Facebook provides their primary network (area, college, or high school), which could be used to figure out the area code in relatively short time. One group owner did ask for numbers to be e-mailed rather than posted, citing the desire not to broadcast them to Facebook. He was ignored by nine people.

While I hate the "Protect the Children" argument, I believe it has some merit in this case, and extends beyond that. These numbers are readily available for anyone on Facebook to use for their own malicious pleasure. Even if all they can do is leave psychotic voice messages at odd hours, it can still be enough to emotionally scar a person, as happened to another friend of mine earlier this year.

Still, it is no surprise that many in this generation, especially high schooler students, don't understand the potential ramifications for posting such personal information online. I do plan to contact Facebook and ask them to attempt to send out a notice to these users or Facebook in general, but even that may go ignored.


Practicing Practices

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  about 8 years ago

So much for that idea.

Working as a lowly intern for an internal programming department of a Fortune 500 company, it's amazing the quality of the code I read. Despite being a department just for one of the local facilities, you would think big money == big talent, right?

The apparent answer is no. I am in charge of maintaining over four dozen small internal web applications, written mainly in ASP and Coldfusion. (Not even .NET and MX - ug.) I've read through and fixed up code done by a dozen other "programmers", some of them interns such as myself, some of them full-time "specialists", and rarely do I look at a page and not think "WTF?".

Part of the problem could be the "rigorous standards" put in place here- and by that, I mean there are none. Very few of the applications are used by more than 20 people in the entire building, so the general process of new program creation goes like this:

  1. Program request goes to manager
  2. Manager approves/denies program
  3. Program is assigned to one of the available programmers
  4. Programmer works as quickly as possible to finish project
  5. Project is tested for approx. two hours
  6. Manager makes sure that project looks good to requestor
  7. Project is booted out door, and any bugs are fixed as they come up

Since none of the programs are large scale (even the few used by more than 20 people), this doesn't work too bad, though it doesn't have anything useful like code review.

The other problem, one more glaring even in those programs that did have a better quality control (such as those where the programmer took the time to write out a scope and get it approved), is the large absense of proper programming practices. Repeated If-Thens where Switch-Cases should be used, code copied and pasted instead of put into a function/method, the same header code repeated on every page instead of put in a file to include, horrible naming schemes, bad use of whitespace, etc. Granted, programming styles will vary from person to person, but some of the things done within these are ludicrous.

Thanks to sites like TheDailyWTF (an excellent time waster, which is also beneficial for programmers to see what not to do), I believe that this is not a local problem, but one that affects many of those who get into this because they're looking for big bucks, especially when they start using languages like Coldfusion and Visual Basic (easy to write, and therefore easy to mess up). In my courses as a Computer Science major, I have yet to see anything that deals with proper programming practices. I realize that Computer Science is intended to go beyond programming itself, but even in the classes dedicated to programming it is not touched on much.

I would almost say that an entire course could be devoted to it, but I think that would be too much time. The various practices I'm thinking of are fairly simple; a week or two at most would be needed to go over them and make sure people understand them. Potential points would include:

  • Whitespace indentation
  • Descriptive Naming practices (I prefer lowerCamelCase, myself)
  • Programming for efficiency (redundant IF checks, using SWITCH-CASE instead of IF, proper loops, code reuseability)
  • Function creation (as well as some talk about recursion)
  • Truth logic (using such things as truth tables)
  • Database setups (my college actually has an entire class for Databases, but this would be useful for those who aren't CS majors)

I'm sure others have more things that should be added to the list (feel free to comment), but if colleges would put heavier emphasis on covering these kinds of things, maintaining programs would be easier for the rest of us.


The Road to Inlightenment is Paved with Gummy Bears

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  about 8 years ago

Cause they're tasty.

I've decided to use my Slashdot journal as a sort of "blog". Whereas I have a LiveJournal to rant about my personal life and day, this "blog" will deal more with issues that affect everyone, and not necessarily only topics that Slashdot as a site is concerned with (but I still get to rant).

Some entries will be long, some will be short, some will have no point. Regardless, this blog will be open to the public and comments will be on, though I will never "Publicize" any entry, unless I find it relevant to Slashdot somehow, as well as being well written and containing references. This will be one of those "choose two" things.

Ideally, I update every weekday. Gives me a good side-thing to do at work when I get bored. If I do it at work, I doubt I'll have much in the way of references- internet use is fairly restricted. If I save it and complete it at home, then I can include helpful links.

So, if you ever visit my profile, get ready for more stuff to ignore.

Here's looking to tomorrow.

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