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Ask Slashdot: Can a Felon Work In IT?

heretic108 Design and build a new Silk Road (720 comments)

Design and implement a new Silk Road, with an architecture that resists detection and takedown far more vigorously than the earlier incarnations. You'll have enough to retire on within months. Problem solved.

about a month and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

heretic108 Manage the Culture (176 comments)

Above and beyond any specific policy areas such as coding standards, seniority mixes and son on, the biggest and most important thing to manage is the overall software development culture. If you can energise the culture, and inspire people to believe in the mission, to fight for it like their own flesh and blood, as well as to honour each other's diversity of perspectives, you will achieve far more than by drawing policy lines in the sand. Keep it fun. Make the crew feel special. Give them a feeling that their futures are within their control.

This said, I would also recommend frequent peer code reviews - this will inspire better work, knowing that people are accountable to their peers. Also, be on the lookout for single-sourcing, and fight it off like the plague, even if it has a productivity cost. Yes, Natalie is brilliant with the middleware. But what if she gets hit by a bus, or leaves to have a kid? Defend in advance by ensuring there are others who can instantly step in and take over from her.

Again - an energised culture with a strong team spirit - a deep and powerful soul - will optimise the workplace far better than any arbitrary standards.

about 2 months ago

Obama Presses Leaders To Speed Ebola Response

heretic108 Re:Places that have Ebola, seem to just want to ro (221 comments)

The Nations that have Ebola, have governments that want bribes and kicks back just so that non-profits can operate and help. Then even when they get there, more mafia style extortion occurs. Is there some way to change this behavior?

Give this man a big white pointy hat with eye-holes

about 4 months ago

After the Belfast Project Fiasco, Time For Another Look At Time Capsule Crypto?

heretic108 A model based on social covenants (170 comments)

There is a social scheme to provide a level of relative security for an encrypted time capsule:

  1. Choose n separate trusted individuals or organisations, ideally scattered around the world and unaware of who each other are
  2. Gain promises from these entities that they will each send a block of data to the time capsule at a given time, and not before
  3. Decide by policy how many of these entities (m) should be required to do their part, for the time capsule to be decrypted
  4. For every combination of m entities, generate m strings, where the XOR of all these m strings arrives at the decryption key
  5. For each of the n entities, issue the required number of strings (n-1)C(r-1) required to contribute to every combination of m entities of which this entity is a part
  6. Each string is prefixed with a binary string of n bits, indicating by true/false values whether the string is part of a group of each of the n respective keepers
  7. The whole set of strings given to each entity would be prefixed by a 'keeper number' and then encrypted
  8. The time capsule curator destroys all record of who these trusted agents are, and relies on them to send their keys at the appointed time

Example - 10 keepers chosen, 4 in UK, 1 in Iceland, 2 in Australia, 1 in USA, 1 in Uruguay and 1 in Morocco. Policy chosen so that the cooperation of 7 is required to decrypt. Each keeper then is thus issued 84 strings. 1 agent dies, another agent gets busted, and a third agent becomes opposed to the decryption. This leaves 7 agents. They each send their key packages in to the time capsule curator, who decrypts each package, identifies which string within each package is need to form the key, XORs these strings, then arrives at a final decryption key. Even if an intelligence organisation manages to extract keys from 6 of the agents, they won't be able to decrypt. If on the other hand, they kill up to 3 of the agents and stop them returning their keys, the decryption can still go ahead. Ideally, you would want to set n and m according to perceived risk, plus the size of the data set. For example, 36 agents and 20 required would produce a key set which would fit into a cheap 8GB USB stick.

about 8 months ago

Rover Curiosity Discovers Australia-Shaped Rock On Mars

heretic108 What about North Queensland? (99 comments)

I can only guess that this is Australia after North Queensland has seceded off into its own banana republic

about 10 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Why Are Tech Job Requirements So Specific?

heretic108 It's the current job market (465 comments)

The job market is very tight, so employers are spoiled for choice. They will seek employees who can hit the ground running immediately. In this environment, they see even a week's learning curve as a waste, and would rather hire someone ordinary who can be immediately productive rather than someone great who might take a little longer. Watch out for this changing as the economy recovers, and jobs again become an employee's market.

about a year ago

People Trust Tech Companies Over Automakers For Self-Driving Cars

heretic108 Big Win for Bars and Nightclubs (152 comments)

Self-driving cars means that people will be able to drink and "drive" to their hearts content, legally and safely. This will help to rejuvenate the ailing club/pub scene and maybe restore the live entertainment industry to grace. It would make sense for liquor companies, pubs and clubs to invest substantially in autonomous vehicle tech. Anyone up for a new "Roaring 20s"?

about a year ago

Telepresence Robot Rundown

heretic108 The *real* test... (51 comments)

Rule 34. Or, in other words, a major internet industry needs to VC the development of advanced tactile transducers.

about 2 years ago

How Do We Program Moral Machines?

heretic108 Boon for bikers (604 comments)

On my motorbike, I'd feel much safer if all the cars around me were driverless. Human car drivers, who so often tend to blank out half-unconscious and fail to check blind spots, are the leading cause of death for bikers.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Developer Or Software Engineer? Can It Influence Your Work?

heretic108 The real differences (333 comments)

From my R&D experience across many companies, it's clear to me that a "software engineer" is a proper superset of "developer".

  1. A 'developer' is paid to create code that works within the company's contrived runtime environment and passes a few stages of testing, while a 'software engineer' is also paid to ensure the code actually works reliably in this nebulous abstract construct called the "real world" - customer/client installations where there are innumerable environmental variables and things that can go wrong.
  2. A "developer" nods timidly and reluctantly to Murphy while passing in the corridor. But the software engineer says "Thanks for another great night. What would you like for breakfast?"
  3. A "developer" goes whining to her/his team leader when the tools or OS play up. A software engineer cracks out the machine-code debugger, logic analyser and oscilloscope, traces all the API calls, and spits out working patches for the bugs in the libraries, drivers and kernel.

If I had some plant that was failing at 3:15am and costing me a fortune, I know which I would prefer to have on site.

more than 2 years ago

Canada's Supreme Court Tosses Viagra Patent For Vagueness

heretic108 A hard verdict for Pfizer (100 comments)

But the Supreme Court had no choice but to stand up for justice. No going soft on patent abuses!

more than 2 years ago

Researchers Develop Surveillance System That Can Watch & Predict

heretic108 Needs mass spook-spamming (106 comments)

I'm thinking along the lines of the emacs "spook" function, amongst other things. You just need enough a large enough group of participants working together.

The system can be trained in weird ways. For instance, if enough people in enough places scratch their noses with their left hands, then break out in a mock fight, the system will learn to sound the alarm every time someone scratches their nose with their left hand.

Or, for something more socially useful - have people pull out a cellphone, talk for a few seconds, then pull out a mock gun and pretend to mug others. Then, the system will freak out every time some annoying jerk pulls out a cellphone in public. Along that same theme, train the system to send in the troops whenever someone adjusts their underwear in public, or picks their nose, or farts loudly...

more than 2 years ago

Why We Love Firefox, and Why We Hate It

heretic108 Firefox - spiritual benefits (665 comments)

Firefox is the greatest browser, with advanced features to benefit every user at a profound spiritual level:
* Its memory bloat teaches us to be mindful of our resources, both within the computer, and our use of our resources in everyday outer life.
* Its slowness helps teach us patience.
* When the whole browser freezes up from a bit of incompetent CPU-thrashing javascript code running in one tab, it teaches us to be responsible for our own coding decisions and how they affect others.
* Its slow startup teaches us that wonderful things don't happen instantly, and that we need to lose our attachment to time

Stay away from Chrome - it feeds the ego by promoting our addiction to instant gratification

more than 2 years ago

Aussie Government Brings Back Piracy Talks

heretic108 Wrong premise (114 comments)

Framing the discussion as "piracy reduction" is long obsolete. Might as well call it a "reduce gas diffusing in a vacuum" conference.
They need to restart with a premise of "finding ways for content creators to be rewarded for their works". Then we might start getting some workable and relevant ideas.

more than 2 years ago

Harvard Licenses Technology For Tiny Swarming Robot

heretic108 I, for one... (38 comments)

(/me ducks)

more than 3 years ago

Evolution Of Debian Package Dependencies Resemble Predator-Prey Relationships

heretic108 The main question is... (58 comments)

After countless stints in Dependency Hell, I would ask: which is the predator, and which is the prey?

more than 3 years ago

Company Unveils Personalized Anime Robot Girl

heretic108 Re:Men pursue sex (240 comments)

Explain the navy please. If men are so obsessed with sex why do MEN volunteer to spend months if not years at sea with no females?

Because in humans, the pursuit of sex tends to abstract into the pursuit of the availability of sex. This means doing stuff which ultimately makes one more attractive to the opposite sex.

To use a money analogy, what's more valuable? A million dollars in cash, or the ability to easily earn $10,000 any time, any where?

more than 3 years ago



Kim Dotcom offers $5m bounty to defeat extradition

heretic108 heretic108 writes  |  about 8 months ago

heretic108 (454817) writes "Internet mega-entrepreneur, uber-gamer and now NZ political corruption-buster and king-maker Kim DotCom has posted a bounty of $5m to anyone who can dig up any dirt which saves him from extradition to the US on his trumped-up "racketeering", "piracy" and "money-laundering" charges.

Conceivably this bounty would be payable not only to government department employees, but also to anyone able to access government servers in the US, New Zealand or elsewhere, or servers of any companies or organisations working with these governments, who can retrieve documents clearly proving corruption in the whole prosecution process, and these documents help materially to derail Kim Dotcom's prosecution, this would most certainly qualify for the bounty."

How Facebook can defeat password-demanders

heretic108 heretic108 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

heretic108 (454817) writes "In response to people like employers who demand Facebook credentials for current and prospective workers, a simple solution would be for Facebook to allow all account holders to create "sandbox accounts". Once you create a sandbox account, you can (from your main account) selectively set your posts, photos, likes etc to be visible or invisible to the sandbox account. You can also choose which of your friends (and your friends' activities) will be visible. For instance, you can set it so Sandy Smith's activities are hidden by default, while Jim Stone's activities are visible by default.
The idea is that when logged in to the sandbox account, there will be nothing to indicate that it's a sandbox login. You will even be able to create a nested sandbox within this sandbox, with no nesting restriction.
With this in place, an employer will never know whether his/her employee or candidate has given up the master password, or just a sandbox password — with the ability to nest the sandboxes, account holders will have plausible deniability and will regain some control over their privacy in the event of duress attacks."

Aussie academic builds Get Smart 'shoe phone'

heretic108 heretic108 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

heretic108 (454817) writes "One of the main comic devices of TV series Get Smart lead character Maxwell Smart was his mobile shoe phone, which would ring at the most awkward moments and make its user look ridiculous. Thanks to the efforts of an Australian academic, this shoe phone is now a reality. According to inventor Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen, this phone may become available soon on sites such as ThinkGeek."

Best non-crippled cellphone?

heretic108 heretic108 writes  |  about 7 years ago

heretic108 (454817) writes "The Nokia 6288 has been an excellent cellphone in all respects except one — its crippleware OS-based restrictions against 3rd party Java MIDP applications. I'm aware that Nokia are not alone in this practice. But what about other cellphones? I'm looking to buy something other than Nokia next time, but want something with similar features, such as large hi-res color screen, 2megapixel or better camera, 3G, memory card expansion, multimedia and small form factor. Can anyone recommend any brands/models of cellphones meeting these criteria, but which are more open to 3rd party application development, and don't require developers to mess around with an expensive and complicated certification process? Or will I have to wait for the first Android phones?"

Air New Zealand caught in Wikipedia Whitewash

heretic108 heretic108 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

heretic108 (454817) writes "Many will remember the tragic Air New Zealand plane crash into Mount Erebus during a scenic Atlantic flight. Investigations at the time eliminated pilot error, placing the blame on the Air New Zealand corporation. Now Air New Zealand has been caught trying to censor the wikipedia article on the incident, in an effort to introduce doubt and reduce its perceived role in the tragedy."

Designing websites for use by technophobes

heretic108 heretic108 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

heretic108 (454817) writes "I've been building a website for a very intelligent but highly technophobic friend/client. To the best of my awareness, the site is pretty easy and intuitive to navigate — I deal with his much-younger and more tech-savvy wife regularly, and she thinks it's fine. But he's just had a look at the site in progress, and is saying I need to 're-do the layout so that it doesn't become a barrier to people' — his clients include a lot of folk who barely know what a mouse is.

So are there any good guides which people can recommend for how to make a website absolutely n00b-friendly, without annoying people of more normal skill levels and without losing some of the better features which more experienced users appreciate?

I thought of adding a big 'how to use this website' link, pointing to a page with a screencast of how to use the site and enjoy its features. Would this go down well with technophobes?"

heretic108 heretic108 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

heretic108 (454817) writes "Just when we thought we'd seen some weird filesystems, a lone developer in New Zealand has developed and released to the public domain a FUSE Filesystem called XmlRpcFs — a Linux filesystem which allows users to mount a directory on a remote webserver, and gain full read/write access. XmlRpcFs uses a purely http transport, talking XML-RPC to a CGI script on the host, and makes the remote filesystem work transparently like a local directory. Security is still a work in progress, and the developer encourages users to remove the remote CGI script when not in use, and try to access it only via https. Nevertheless, this could be a boon for website developers who use cheap web hosts that don't provide any SSH, scp, rsync or nfs access."

heretic108 heretic108 writes  |  more than 8 years ago

heretic108 (454817) writes "As RIAs (or Rich Internet Applications, aka "Web 2.0") frameworks get more advanced, delivering a better user experience, browsers are needing to download more and more client-side code.

With some frameworks, there can be hundreds of kB to download before the user sees the page. Ok for broadband, just a couple of seconds, but for the 40-90% of users (depending on country) still on dialup this means up to a minute of latency before they see any content. This is enough to make most visitors give up and click elsewhere. Worse, many RIA frameworks don't degrade well if js is disabled.

One thing I've considered is a non-RIA page containing javascript which (1) displays a 'loading...' message and (2) redirects to the RIA version. With this, if the client has js disabled they can access the non-RIA version. Otherwise, they can wait for the RIA version to load.

What techniques are web developers using to balance the benefits of RIAs against the problems of latency and clients disabling javascript?"


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