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Comments

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Why Is It Taking So Long To Secure Internet Routing?

dgatwood Re:Edge routers are expensive (84 comments)

I keep thinking that if an ISP really wanted to cut costs, they could proactively monitor their network for problems:

  • Provide the CPE preconfigured, at no additional cost to the customer. (Build the hardware cost into the price of service.)
  • Ensure that the CPE keeps a persistent capacitor-backed log across reboots. If the reboot was caused by anything other than the customer yanking the cord out of the wall or a power outage, send that failure info upstream. Upon multiple failures in less than a few weeks, assume that the customer's CPE is failing, and call the customer with a robocall to tell them that you're mailing them new CPE to improve the quality of their service.
  • Detect frequent disconnects and reconnects, monitor the line for high error rates, etc. and when you see this happening, treat it the same way you treat a CPE failure.
  • If the new hardware behaves the same way, silently schedule a truck roll to fix the lines.

If done correctly (and if clearly advertised by the ISP so that users would know that they didn't need to call to report any outages), it would eliminate the need for all customer service except for billing, and a decent online billing system could significantly reduce the need for that as well.

2 days ago
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Why Apple Should Open-Source Swift -- But Won't

dgatwood Re:Article shows fundamental lack of understanding (180 comments)

They won't see people switching to Swift uniformly. There are trillions of lines of code written in Objective-C, and programmers already know it and are comfortable with it. There are no tools for migrating code from Objective-C to Swift, much less the hodgepodge of mixed C, Objective-C, and sometimes C++ that quite frequently occurs in real-world apps, so for the foreseeable future, you'd end up just adding Swift to your existing apps, which means you now have three or four languages mixed in one app instead of two or three, and now one of them looks completely different than the others. I just don't see very many developers seriously considering adopting Swift without a robust translator tool in place.

I do, however, expect to see Swift become the language of choice for new programmers who are coming from scripting languages like Python and Ruby, because it is more like what they're used to. In the long term, they'll outnumber the Objective-C developers, but the big, expensive apps will still mostly be written in Objective-C, simply because most of them will be new versions of apps that already exist.

BTW, Apple never really treated Java like a first-class citizen; it was always a half-hearted bolt-on language. My gut says that they added Java support under the belief that more developers knew Java than Objective-C, so it would attract developers to the platform faster. In practice, however, almost nobody ever really adopted it, so it withered on the vine. Since then, they have shipped and subsequently dropped bridges for both Ruby and Python.

Any implication that Swift will supplant Objective-C like Objective-C supplanted Java requires revisionist history. Objective-C supplanted C, not Java. Java was never even in the running. And Objective-C still hasn't supplanted C. You'll still find tons of application code for OS X written in C even after nearly a decade and a half of Apple encouraging developers to move away from C and towards Objective-C. (Mind you, most of the UI code is in Objective-C at this point.) And that's when moving to a language that's close enough to C that you don't have to retrain all your programmers.

Compared with the C to Objective-C transition, any transition from Objective-C to Swift is likely to occur at a speed that can only be described as glacial. IMO, unless Apple miraculously makes the translation process nearly painless, they'll be lucky to be able to get rid of Objective C significantly before the dawn of the next century. I just don't see it happening, for precisely the same reason that nine years after Rails, there are still a couple orders of magnitude more websites built with PHP. If a language doesn't cause insane amounts of pain (e.g. Perl), people are reluctant to leave it and rewrite everything in another language just to obtain a marginal improvement in programmer comfort.

2 days ago
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Why Apple Should Open-Source Swift -- But Won't

dgatwood Re:What for? (180 comments)

Obj-C isn't any better than C in my opinion. But, to each their own.

It is if you're doing any nontrivial amount of string manipulation.

2 days ago
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Why Apple Should Open-Source Swift -- But Won't

dgatwood Re: Apple not in my best interests either (180 comments)

No, they're saying Apple switched because GCC's core wasn't designed in a way that made it easy to extend the Objective-C bits in the way that Apple wanted. And that could well be part of it—I'm not sure.

But I think a bigger reason was that Apple could use Clang to make Xcode better, whereas GCC's parsing libraries were A. pretty tightly coupled to GCC (making it technically difficult to reuse them) and B. licensed under a license that made linking them into non-open-source software problematic at best.

2 days ago
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Microsoft To Buy Minecraft Maker Mojang For $2.5 Billion

dgatwood Re:Will continue to be developed for other platfor (325 comments)

And you know what Mojang's opinion means at this point? Absolutely NOTHING. They can't tell their new owner to honor their intended promises, even if it were written into the deal. All they have to do is replace the boss with someone willing to change the company on Microsoft's behalf and POOF! It's happened with every other developer that's been bought out thus far that came out and said they were told/promised nothing would be changing.

Depends on how good their lawyers are. If they write into the contract a term that says that all rights revert to the original authors if the new owner violates such a term, then yes, they can force the new owners to honor those promises.

3 days ago
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US Scientists Predict Long Battle Against Ebola

dgatwood Re: +-2000 deaths? (119 comments)

Ebola may not be easy to transmit, but it sure as heck isn't hard to transmit. It's not pedantically known to be airborne, but it is believed to be spread by droplets (e.g. sneezes). There's a very, very, very fine line between the two.

And yes, I can provide citations if you'd like, but it's not like they're very hard to find with a Google search.

4 days ago
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Early iPhone 6 Benchmark Results Show Only Modest Gains For A8

dgatwood Re:power consumption? (207 comments)

Apple's done a lot of work with Grand Central Dispatch (is that the right technology?) to help developers offload as much as possible to the GPU ...

You're probably thinking of OpenCL. GCD is a pipelining engine for enqueuing work.

5 days ago
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City of Turin To Switch From Windows To Linux and Save 6M Euros

dgatwood Re:Boom in the EU = Boom in Redmond (245 comments)

Yeah, I was about to say that the reasoning behind the decision was shrouded in mystery, but same idea. Oh well.

5 days ago
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Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

dgatwood Re:CDC guilty of correlation == causation (291 comments)

The leg pains have nothing to do with exercise or DVTs. Statins are known to cause severe muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis) if too much of it stays in your system for too long a period of time. The pharmaceutical companies say that this side effect is relatively rare, but even if the claimed half a percent is correct, that still adds up to a lot of people when you're talking about a medicine that's as overprescribed as statins are.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

dgatwood Re:The war that no one wanted (471 comments)

That's certainly a reasonable way of looking at it, too. The thing is, though, it's the base price that determines how quickly and broadly something will be adopted; the price of the top model mainly just affects the profitability. :-)

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

dgatwood Re:The war that no one wanted (471 comments)

And although the drop happened more slowly, the iPad line, originally starting at $499, now starts at $299 in a smaller form factor, or $399 in a full-size version. One reason its price wasn't inflated much at launch is that it was relatively mature technology when first released—other than software differences, it's basically an iPod Touch or iPhone with a larger screen, and as we all know, making things bigger is a lot easier than making them smaller. :-)

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

dgatwood Re:The war that no one wanted (471 comments)

I don't think Apple generally reduces prices. Usually they keep the price and margin steady but improve the hardware.

Let's see.

  • The iPod started at $400. Within a year or so, the price had dropped to $300. Four years later, you could get one for $200, and $150 just a year after that.
  • The original iPhone started at $500 and $600 (subsidized price). Within a couple of months, they killed the $500 version and lowered the $600 version to $400. One year later, they released the iPhone 3G that started at $200 (for the same capacity as the original $600 version). And of course, you can now get much better iPhone hardware for free.

So then there may be hope for this product, because somewhere out there is a richer/foolhardier version of yourself who thinks of $350 just like you think of $100.

Doubtful. I'm in the Silicon Valley, where we already think of $350 like an average person thinks of $100. It's hard for most people to justify spending more for an accessory than they spent on the phone they're using it with. :-)

Like I said, I'll probably buy one after the inevitable price drop.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

dgatwood Re:The war that no one wanted (471 comments)

If price is the only hurdle, then Apple will be fine. Your line of $100 is someone else's line at $350.

Not necessarily. I drew my line at $100, too, and I've spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 on a watch before. Based on Apple's product history, there are likely to be several major differences between this and a nice watch that diminish its value from my perspective:

  • Most people who can afford a nice watch already own one. So to justify its cost, it would need to be worth as much as its purchase price plus the cost of the nice watch you'll no longer be using. For me, with an atomic-clock-synchronized watch, that's a hard problem to overcome.
  • Nice watches that cost $300 typically have warranties that start at five years, because people wear them for decades. This will probably have a one-year warranty.
  • Nice watches will be usable for decades. You can expect this one to become unsupported in the first OS after its third birthday. At that point, its usefulness will begin to diminish rapidly, as the unpatched security holes and lack of new app support turn it into an anachronism.
  • Nice watches are timeless in their design. Their design changes at a speed that can only be described as glacial by tech standards. I'd expect this watch, by contrast, to be supplanted by a thinner version within about a year.
  • Nice watches don't have to be charged every night, or even every couple of days. This watch would mean one more device-specific charge cable to carry with me on every trip, one more poorly made cable to break where the wire goes into the plug on either end, one more power outlet that I have to find in a hotel that tries to hide them from you, one more outlet adapter if I'm in Europe, one more thing to remember to pick up when I leave.... Every extra rechargeable device adds a lot of hassle.

This is how I arrived at a hundred bucks—maybe $125 if it had a camera and reliably ran for at least two or three weeks on a single charge. Mind you, this is all speculation about a product that doesn't exist yet, so there's a small chance that Apple will prove me wrong on many of these points.

Of course, what most folks here are missing is that this is a first-generation product. Apple builds those mostly as a proof of concept. Not many people buy them, but the products get them real-world testing, and they get a year or so to find ways to cut manufacturing costs. Then, they release a second-generation product at a third the price, and pull in several times the volume. For me, it will start to be interesting at that point.

But I'm not sure I'd bother wearing it after the first few days even if it was given to me. That is a bigger problem than "too expensive".

As one of the few people on Slashdot who still wears a watch, I'd definitely use one, but I can't see myself buying the first generation—particularly given that you just know they're working on a second-generation version with a camera, and if they release such a product, the resale value on the first-generation version will drop to almost nothing.

about a week ago
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Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

dgatwood Re:left (730 comments)

Or heck, swap the band and use the orientation sensor to automatically rotate it appropriately.

about two weeks ago
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Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

dgatwood Re:Any removable storage yet? (730 comments)

And no, at least in my book, removable storage is just a "nice to have". It makes archiving a little easier, assuming it is robust, but otherwise it makes little difference. With that said, I'm not actively engaged in ENG/EFP work. If I were, I might find it more important than I do now.

about two weeks ago
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Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

dgatwood Re:Any removable storage yet? (730 comments)

I'm just guessing, of course, but I strongly suspect you have never sold a picture or video, so why do you think your judgement on what makes a toy is remotely valid? When you make your first photo sale to NatGeo or feature film you let us know.

Speaking as someone who spent many years shooting video and selling it, I agree with the GP's assessment. The lack of an optical zoom makes cell phones good enough for selfies and pictures of cats—arguably, maybe even for basic portraiture—but completely useless for a wide range of videography and photography purposes:

  • You can't use them to usefully shoot a concert, stage play, dance recital, or any of the things that clued-in folks still use camcorders for, because all you'll see is a tiny white smudge where your kid should be. And if you walk out on stage to get close enough, they'll eject you from the theater.
  • And you can't shoot photos of birds in flight, or go whale watching with them, or do pretty much any other kind of nature photography unless you get spectacularly lucky.
  • You can't realistically do news gathering with them unless you have a mob of a thousand people who can all be in different places just in case the interesting action happens to occur near those spots.

So essentially, the fact that most people don't use camcorders anymore doesn't mean that phones have gotten good enough, but rather that most camcorder users never took the time to learn how to use their gear in the first place, and thus don't know the difference. For anyone who took the time to learn how to zoom, cell phones really are toys by comparison.

That's not to say that people don't get lucky and take some amazingly cool photos with phones on occasion, and that's not to say that you can't create an artificial shooting environment where a cell phone would be a usable tool, but in the real world, you'll still be missing 90% or more of the great shots because you're too limited by the hardware.

When cell phones become at least a usable approximation of a 24–105mm lens on a DSLR (without being a low-res, digitally zoomed mess), they'll graduate from toys to tools in my book. Until then, it's worth the extra weight of my 6D and my bag of L glass if I know I'm going to be taking pictures, and it's worth the weight of my XH-A1 and a video tripod if I'm shooting video.

about two weeks ago
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Home Depot Confirms Breach of Its Payment Systems

dgatwood Re:CC system is flawed (111 comments)

No, it really isn't easier than that. If an attacker is in control of the device that controls the screen, they can make it show you anything that they want, including showing the right text for the transaction you're actually making. Then, when you enter the PIN, they can perform your transaction, and repeat the process for a second one using the PIN data that they already captured. If a device vendor manages to somehow make it physically impossible to perform two transactions without entering the PIN twice, they could display something that looks like a legitimate error message (e.g. a communication error), causing the user to enter the PIN twice. Either way, you've gained nothing.

For that matter, they could show you your actual purchase, but really perform a transaction for airline tickets to Barbados, then not perform your actual purchase, but tell the register that they did. Then, to make the balance sheets look right from the store's perspective, they could add ten cents to the next few dozen transactions to cover the cost of your actual purchase. The error would only be caught on the store side through a thorough audit, and because the stolen card would not have a transaction for the store, there would be nothing suspicious about the transactions to draw the CC companies' attention towards that store, because after all, no consumer is likely to notice a missing transaction.

Securing the transaction between the consumer and the bank is hard, because the merchant's systems are inherently untrusted. The second that display screen ceases to be absolutely trusted, you've lost the security battle.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Richard Stallman to Start Fashion Line

dgatwood dgatwood writes  |  about a year and a half ago

dgatwood (11270) writes ""Walking down the halls of MIT, I’d often see my colleagues dressed rather shabbily, and it was then that I decided to do something about it," said Richard Stallman, 60, of Cambridge, MA. So Stallman, a leader in the Free Software community with decades of software design experience, is ready to turn that experience towards a new target: clothing. He is expected to showcase his new line at FOSSCON 2012."
Link to Original Source
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Feds announce bailout of Kit Kat Club

dgatwood dgatwood writes  |  more than 5 years ago

dgatwood (11270) writes "Federal regulators announced today that they have decided to provide a $69 billion bailout to the financially strapped Kit Kat Club. On further questioning, regulators said that dancer Jugs Aplenty was "an American icon who is simply too big to fail" and described the chain of night clubs as "the last bastion of freedom in a sea of scandals and coverups".

The manager of one club spoke with a Slashdot indy reporter under the condition that he remain anonymous. "Things have been kind of tight for us lately. My customers keep telling me that it is hard for them to find the cash to visit nude bars with the economy in the doldrums. This bailout will ensure that Kit Kat Clubs across the nation can continue to provide quality entertainment and live dance shows that help weary investors beat the economic downturn." He went on to say that he could not think of any business more deserving, saying, "I've got a bone to pick with politicians who wasted all those billions of dollars on banks. What good have banks done for our country lately?"

As always, we will keep you abreast of the latest developments as more information becomes available."

Link to Original Source
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NIST Announces Reverse Leap Day

dgatwood dgatwood writes  |  more than 6 years ago

dgatwood (11270) writes "The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced a correction as a result of small errors in leap second calculations arising out of the gradual slowing of the expansion of the universe. At precisely 1:00 A.M. Eastern Daylight Saving Time, the date will skip forward by 24 hours to Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008. Director James Turner described this as the first "reverse leap day" in recorded history. He added that he expected a similar correction each year for at least the next seven years.

Americans are advised to immediately adjust their clocks and calendars forward to April 2nd. Director Turner warned, however, that not all countries in the world have agreed to this change yet. "Americans who regularly interact with people in other countries should expect some minor confusion until this all sorts itself out," Turner said, adding that "We considered simply dropping February 29th, but decided that would be too confusing."

For more information, see the NIST Coordinated Universal Time page at http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/faqs/time.htm."

Journals

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Chronicles of GoDaddy: How not to run an ISP

dgatwood dgatwood writes  |  more than 5 years ago

This is a review of the GoDaddy.com ISP. For a brief period of time, I used them for both my SSL certificate provider and my hosting provider. That lasted about a week. This review chronicles my experience with GoDaddy so that others can avoid the same fate.

It's hard to know where to begin when criticizing my experience with GoDaddy. It all started with a GoDaddy SSL certificate that was expiring in mid-August. Things started going wrong when GoDaddy sent me the expiration notice in mid-June. I immediately went to their website to renew. When I got there, I got a message that said I couldn't renew it for three days. I wrote them to complain and their reply basically said, "Yes, you can't renew before a certain date." Three days later, on the day it said I should be able to renew it, it still said I couldn't renew it.

A couple of weeks later, I went back to renew. I submitted a renewal for 9 years and paid for it (almost $270). I thought it was odd that they still hadn't sent out the cert, but I figured it would happen on the billing date for the account.

In the meantime, I decided to try to speed up my website by moving large graphics to shared hosting. Since I had a GoDaddy account already, I added hosting to it. Thankfully, I only paid for two months. While uploading content to the server, I started having weird problems almost immediately, finding that the server would just suddenly block my IP (including pings) for several minutes at a time. I theorized that they were limiting the number of reconnects per minute, so I spread the load out across several IPs and finished my uploading. I did all this over the holiday weekend to minimize impact.

Well, once I had the content on the server, I switched my home server to point to the images on that server. The next night, I tried to view a page full of thumbnail images and it stalled for a very long time. The problem went away after a couple of minutes, so I ignored it. When it happened again the next night, I started becoming concerned. When it happened on the fourth night, I started running a script that requested a tiny 15K image once a minute so that I could characterize the problem.

I contacted GoDaddy at this point, and they blamed my connection. I then reproduced the problem from work (where they have multiple OC-3 connections). I contacted them again. They continued to just say "We can't reproduce this" and actually had the nerve to suggest that I call them when I have the problem. How do you call somebody about a problem that only lasts 2-3 minutes from the start of the hang to the end? That's like telling somebody, "When you see a shooting star, text me so I can look up." Yikes!

Then, it got better. GoDaddy contacted me and said that they couldn't issue my SSL certificate because they now issue them for a maximum of 5 years---this in spite of the fact that their website was perfectly willing to sell me a 9-year certificate. So they started the process of issuing a refund.

A few hours later, they denied the refund. At this point, I wrote them back, chewed them out massively, listing in detail the litany of problems I had experienced with their service, carbon copied the president of GoDaddy, and basically threatened legal action if they didn't fix this mess. They restarted processing of the refund, but continued to refuse to honor the terms of our contract.

Their servers are still performing inadequately, so I plan to drop their service entirely as soon as I figure out where to migrate the files. And my SSL cert no longer comes from GoDaddy. I didn't even wait for my existing cert to expire; I don't want GoDaddy to get the free advertising. It also helps that my new SSL cert provider is free as in beer. I figure it's worth the hassle of renewing the cert annually to save $30 a year.

The bottom line is that I was going to spend about $114/year in hosting and SSL with GoDaddy, but because of their completely inept customer support, I'm now going to spend exactly $0 with them, and I will be spending a fair amount of time over the next few weeks posting detailed, harsh, negative reviews of their hosting service on every site I can find, from FaceBook to Web Hosting Geeks....

If I did my job as well as their customer service reps did their jobs, I would have lost my job after the first day. How, precisely, do these clowns stay in business? And how have they not had their credit card merchant account revoked?

David

P.S. Does anyone know of a web hosting provider that allows SSH, is reasonably reliable, and doesn't claim the rights to produce derivative works based on anything you upload?

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