Slashdot: News for Nerds


Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!



Ask Slashdot: How Many Employees Does Microsoft Really Need?

UrsaMajor987 Found a cause and effect (272 comments)

"The company is famous for its huge teams that don't work together well, and excessive middle management." Can you guess which one causes the other?

about a week ago

Ask Slashdot: Unattended Maintenance Windows?

UrsaMajor987 You have redundancy right? (265 comments)

The last place I worked at had redundancy both within the data center and across data centers. That is they could survive the loss of a data center. If the service you are supplying is so critical you should have redundancy. This will give you a little more leeway on when maintenance is done.

about two weeks ago

The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

UrsaMajor987 Double Edged Sword (364 comments)

Spreading the work across so many states insures continued political support, even when the Pentagon no longer wants to keep buying the F-35 but decides it needs a new plane. They won't be able to stop producing the old one.

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Replacing Paper With Tablets For Design Meetings?

UrsaMajor987 Incomplete Specs (143 comments)

You have left some important information off. Is the meeting being held at the customer site or your facility? Is there a need for people to join remotely? These days not everyone is in the same room during a meeting. I really think that something like Lotus LiveMeeting might work best. Remember a key point; the decision makers in such efforts are frequently technically illiterate. Keep the presentation as simple as you possibly can and don't forget printouts of the presentation that people can mark up by hand.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Web Language That's Long-Lived, and Not Too Buzzy?

UrsaMajor987 We all hate legacy code (536 comments)

We all hate legacy code and want to work with something brand new but Perl is actually a very useful language. Don't forget to add performance to your list of desired attributes. Here is a performance comparison between several popular languages . At least for the tests they were conducting; Perl was very quick.

about three weeks ago

The Security Industry Is Failing Miserably At Fixing Underlying Dangers

UrsaMajor987 In All Fairness (205 comments)

In all fairness to "software engineers", this discipline is so new it is a joke to call it engineering. Civil engineering is centuries old with more than a few huge heaps of rubble created when they pushed outside of their bounds of knowledge at the time. Lots of exploding steam engines and crashed airplanes before best practices were codified in those disciplines. Real engineers have to pass a professional exam. You could try the same thing for software engineers but the exam would be meaningless almost before anybody could take it. That tells you the discipline is too new to called engineering however comforting the title may be. Give it another 50-100 years until it settles down. Right now, programming is more of a craft than an engineering discipline.

about a month ago

Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly

UrsaMajor987 Re:Thanks for pointing out the "briefly" part. (461 comments)

Another side benefit is becoming less dependent on natural gas (from Russia). Imagine if a significant amount of our energy came from a source that Putin controlled.

about a month ago

Perl Is Undead

UrsaMajor987 Re:Yes, Perl is indeed dead and rotting (283 comments)

Same here. The great thing about Perl is not all the things you can do with it, but all the things you don't have to do because there is CPAN module that already does what you want. IMHO, the most important characteristic of a language is its' usefulness and Perl is very useful indeed.

about 1 month ago

Workplace Surveillance Becoming More Common

UrsaMajor987 Time to put the lie to exempt employees (195 comments)

Most programmers and people in IT in general are classified as exempt. Given the level of monitoring and control; the idea that IT people are exempt is a joke. Shift the classification to non-exempt and start paying overtime.

about a month ago

Computational Thinking: AP Computer Science Vs AP Statistics?

UrsaMajor987 None of it (155 comments)

Basic schooling (up to high school) should be about preparing kids for life; not jamming in some jobs training gratis for business. Instead of statistics, how about financial literacy? So that later on the kids won't be stunned when they find out what a $100,000 college loan really means. And maybe they can keep their parents away from the pay day loan vendors. Instead of computer science, how about critical thinking? The next time they hear some bloviating politician they will be able to see the arguments for the hogwash they are. If a kid graduates high school with good reading skills (and with that the ability to teach themselves anything they want to learn), good math skills (enough for financial literacy), a good grasp of history (at least of their own country) and the ability to think critically and analyze arguments, the schools can pat themselves on the back for a job well done.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: How To Bequeath Sensitive Information?

UrsaMajor987 Re:Weird questions... (208 comments)

Nope, not a concocted story. A long career in IT; the last 19 years with a major international bank that took great pains to secure sensitive data both within the data center and in transit between data centers. The problem I am trying to solve is different. With the bank, we were sending sensitive data from one secured facility to another; what I need to do is send sensitive data from my (reasonably secure) home system to a location where I can not be sure of the security. How do I keep sensitive data secure in a remote location that is not necessarily well protected? At first I thought it would be easy; just use a password protected zip file and put it on DVD or USB. Send the media and password through different channels. But then I thought, what if someone gets curious and unzips onto their hard disk and leaves the files unprotected? The more I thought about all the possible scenarios for compromise, I realized plain old paper was the best solution. I was hoping there was some way of doing it electronically since there will be updates in the future but I could not think of any safe way of doing it via computer. The best solution suggested so far is to print everything out on paper and keep in a safe deposit box in the local bank. I can send the branch location and deposit box number to the siblings and since the paper is kept locally, updates should require nothing more than a trip to the bank. Kind of ironic that after all those years in IT and worrying about securing systems and data; I am reduced to using paper. Maybe I will seal the documents with wax and a ring :-)

about a month ago

Congressman Asks NSA To Provide Metadata For "Lost" IRS Emails

UrsaMajor987 Re:Sad thing about this is (347 comments)

I don't think AARP, the NRA, the League of Conservation Voters, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund should be taxed. I also don't believe they are primarily political organizations. For example, the NRA gets involved in elections and supports candidates. But they will happily support anyone from any party if they have a NRA good rating. The NRA advocates for an issue, not a political party. I also think that the Tea Party (and the Koch brothers) are primarily political organizations. Do you know of any instance of the Tea Party supporting a democrat? It was not unreasonable for the IRS to give them some extra scrutiny given they were claiming not to be a political organization. I think it would serve the country best if the IRS went back to the law as written by congress; 501(c)(4) organizations must stay out of politics. They can advocate for issues but not individual politicians or political parties.

about a month ago

Congressman Asks NSA To Provide Metadata For "Lost" IRS Emails

UrsaMajor987 Re:Sad thing about this is (347 comments)

The Revenue Act of 1913 which set up these categories specifically states that 501(c) organizations be "Civil leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare or local associations of employees, the membership of which is limited to the employees of a designated person or persons in a particular municipality, and the net earnings of which are devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes." In 1959, the IRS (without congressional approval) redfined things a bit: "[a]n organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare if it is primarily engaged in promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the people of the community. An organization embraced within this section is one which is operated primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterments and social improvements." Why they did this I do not know and how they expected to draw the line between an organization that primarily supports social welfare and one that secondarily supports social welfare is beyond me. To answer your question about which category under 501(c) the Tea Party should have applied for; the answer is none of them. By the wording of the original law, political organizations should not be getting any 501(c) designations. Obama's campaign organization did in fact convert to 501(c)(4) status (I assume you are talking about Organizing for Action). It converted after Obama won the 2008 election. Since Obama cannot run again, it is misleading to still refer to it as his "campaign organization". Both Republicans and Democrats are abusing the 501(c)(4) designation and deserve to be called out on it. It's a race to the bottom. It is however convenient for large donors; they can now safely give to both parties equally (in secrecy) and claim special access regardless of who wins.

about a month ago

Congressman Asks NSA To Provide Metadata For "Lost" IRS Emails

UrsaMajor987 Sad thing about this is (347 comments)

The sad thing about this political firestorm is that not one person in a hundred can actually explain what it is about. It's amazing how many people think that the IRS was seeking to prevent the Tea Party from getting tax exempt status; that was never the issue, their tax exempt status was never in doubt. The issue was they were applying for 501(c)(4) status which is reserved for social welfare groups like civic leagues and volunteer fire departments. Social welfare groups are allowed to engage in political activity but it cannot be their primary activity. Wondering why the Tea Party wanted that 501(c)(4) designation? Such groups do not have to reveal who is donating money to them. There has been a large run up in the number of groups applying for the 501(c)(4) designation.

about a month ago

New Car Can Lean Into Curves, Literally

UrsaMajor987 Been done before ( like most things automotive) (243 comments)

Actually, you can get the car to roll to the inside of a corner without active suspension. Just design the suspension so the the roll axis is above the center of mass for the car. You can also design the suspension so that the car does not dive down in front on braking or squat on acceleration. This was tried with the Lotus F1 cars in the seventies and abandoned because the drivers disliked it. The diving and squating was providing them with valuable feedback on how much braking/accelerating they were doing. Lotus also had an experimental road car with active suspension that "leaned to the inside" that was never produced. I wonder if the Mercedes active suspension is going to hide from the driver just how fast they are taking the corner.

about a month and a half ago

The Coming IT Nightmare of Unpatchable Systems

UrsaMajor987 Re:Driverless cars... (240 comments)

I assume that the coding will be done to a higher standard like other life critical systems (avionics, medical devices, etc.). The thing is the software driving a car has to be more complex than typical avionics systems since it has to understand what it is driving into in addition to controlling the car and dealing with various hardware failures. How are they going to insure adequate testing? Is there even a standard for testing? Maybe more complex than the space shuttle software, which as I recall was pretty expensive.

about 2 months ago

Shrinking Waves May Save Antarctic Sea Ice

UrsaMajor987 Politicized Science is very dangerous (298 comments)

Use of the term "denier" with it's association to "holocaust denier" tells you just how political this debate has become. Politicized science is very, very dangerous. Here is a link to a short excerpt from a book by the philosopher Karl Popper, a man all too aware of how dangerous science in the service of governments can be. He set for himself the question of "What is a scientific theory?" I wish everyone would read the first four pages of this excerpt. It would tone down the rhetoric of the global warming debate and send the creationists back to their pews.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Tech Customers Forced Into Supporting Each Other?

UrsaMajor987 All of them (253 comments)

US companies have been engaged in a race to the bottom for some time now. Laying people off and borrowing money to buy back stock and keep the price up (and fatten that bonus). The constant layoffs and off-shoring have really eaten into the company's abilities to support or even produce quality goods. I used to work with an "enterprise" product for which we paid millions in licensing fees (yes, millions). The support was awful and the product quality seems to be constantly eroding. I don't know what replaces the old model. Perhaps a community based tool set. Whatever the solution, those companies that provided "enterprise" products at huge prices will not be a part of it.

about a month ago

Gun Rights Groups Say They Don't Oppose Smart Guns, Just Mandates

UrsaMajor987 Re:Yes! No more mandates! (584 comments)

I think we are basically in agreement; there really are no free markets in any meaningful sense. Simple bartering (which doesn't even require money) is about it. My main point is that when people are pushing for free markets; take a careful look. Don't be surprised if you find a frustrated would-be monopolist. Free markets are one of the great myths of our current political environment and the people pushing free (i.e. unregulated) markets have been largely destructive to society as a whole. Not completely destructive; you can definitely overdue regulation but some of the deregulation has been terribly destructive. I am thinking here of the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

about 2 months ago



How to share sensitive information

UrsaMajor987 UrsaMajor987 writes  |  about a month ago

UrsaMajor987 (3604759) writes "I just recently retired after along career in IT. I am not ready to kick the bucket quite yet, but having seen the difficulty created by people dying without a will and documenting what they have and where it is, I am busy doing just that. At the end of it all, I will have documentation on financial accounts, passwords, etc. which I will want to share with a few people who are pretty far away. I can always print a copy and and have it delivered to them, but is there any way to share this sort of information electronically? There are lots of things to secure transmission of data, but once it arrives on the recipients' desktop, you run the risk of their system being compromised and exposing the data. Does anyone have any suggestions or is paper still the most secure way to go?"


UrsaMajor987 has no journal entries.

Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account