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EU Ministers Seek To Ban Creation of Hacking Tools

merreborn Re:I'm still amazed (248 comments)

If you're going to legislate something, then legislate the use of memory safe programming languages and proof carrying code. Security problems would be mostly solved, and software would have fewer bugs overall to boot.

That'd drive up the cost of software development. People write buggy, insecure code because it's fast and cheap, and that's all the end user is willing to pay for.

more than 3 years ago

Rapid Browser Development Challenges Web Developers

merreborn Re:This article is confused (221 comments)

They should decide what features to use by looking at the browser usage of their user community and making their own cost/benefit calculations.

I'm involved with a site that's 44% IE6-8. We've even got a vocal (albeit tiny) set of users running IE6 on Windows 2000 or older, which means they don't even have the full set of IE6 service packs (only XP and newer got anything more recent than IE6 SP1).

It's delightful.

more than 2 years ago

ICANN Approves .XXX

merreborn Re:TLD for Financial Transactions (259 comments)

I'd really like to see ICANN create a TLD limited to banking sites and online stores

Define "online store". The line between a "legitimate" online store and an illegitimate one is a thin one indeed. If the rules for certification are too strict, you hinder cottage industry (and their are thousands of tiny, one-man ecommerce sites out there). If the rules are too lax, scammers won't have any trouble registering domains.

And of course, many people still won't know the difference between http://legitimate.onlinestore/ and http://legitimate.onlinestore.mallicious.com/

And lastly, how do you know that the guy controlling the WiFi AP in the coffee shop you're sitting in hasn't hijacked all traffic to *.onlinestore? The only protection against that would be HTTPS. And if HTTPS works, then you don't need the special TLD in the first place.

more than 3 years ago

App — the Most Abused Word In Tech?

merreborn Re:Maybe app isn't short for applicaton (353 comments)

'app' is very different from an 'application'... they are distinct terms, and one is not merely shorthand for the other.

The term "Killer App" predates the iPhone by decades. And it referred to what you call "applications". Spreadsheets were a "killer app". Historically, "app" has absolutely been used primarly as shorthand for "application".

However, Apple and Google are definitely trying to use App in a new and specific way in their recent advertising.

As to TFS:

Here, you'll find dozens of 'apps' to install and run directly from a handy icon on the browser's home screen. Except, these aren't 'apps' at all. They're websites

Never heard the term "web app[lication]"?

more than 3 years ago

Facebook To Make Facebook Credits Mandatory For Games

merreborn Re:For those not familiar with web content (116 comments)

If you read the article, the big boys have no problem with this

Word on the street is Zynga spent months fighting it, and threatened to leave facebook entirely -- that's why they launched http://www.farmville.com/ Of course, both Zynga and Facebook would take a huge profit hit without each other, so the odds of a divorce were always slim.

In fact, here's some evidence that the fight was bitter indeed

Everyone has a problem with someone taking 30% of the revenue. Lord knows Zynga's other payment processors never charged that much.

about 4 years ago

Using Kinect For a Touch-Free Interface In Surgery

merreborn Re:Sterile (53 comments)

Auto mechanics could find good use out of this technology as well. No need to drop the tools and/or get the console all greasy

All the mechanics I've seen just cover their keyboards in plastic. Cheap, simple and reliable. Trying to replace 50 cents worth of plastic with hundreds of dollars worth of electronics would be an uphill battle.

more than 4 years ago

PayPal Withholding Indie Game Dev's €600,000 Account

merreborn Re:What the hell *is* Minecraft? (775 comments)

Minecraft is an entirely new category of game. There is no name for this new category.

Think of it as something of a combo of Elder Scrolls and Second Life.

As others have mentioned, in several ways, it's similar to Dwarf Fortress, and Horde.

Also, the MMO "A Tale In The Desert" is very similar, and in many ways, has far more depth.

It combines these aspects to create something unique, for sure. But it's more evolutionary than revolutionary.

more than 4 years ago

Flash On Android Is 'Shockingly Bad'

merreborn Re:shockingly bad is an exaggeration (657 comments)

It's the same thing that kept IE's stranglehold around for so long, especially when IE was on the Mac, so there wasn't even a cross platform argument.

IE on the mac was still in many ways a distinct platform. It used a completely different, mac-only rendering engine from the windows version, and had numerous other distinct features... and bugs.

more than 4 years ago

Photo Kiosks Infecting Customers' USB Devices

merreborn Re:kiosk manufacturers are the culprits (288 comments)

I did own an Agfa Photo Kiosk. It didn't have an AV by default and it ran "Windows XP embedded edition" that prevented me from installing an AV (installers didn't allow me to do an install.). I saved a raw image of the hard disk for safety and allowed it to infect customers. It was a security nightmare. Viruses had their way into the machine, but AV software didn't

Well, that seems easy enough to fix: write a virus that installs antivirus software.

You're welcome.

more than 4 years ago

Working Toward a Universal Power Brick For Laptops

merreborn Re:Magsafe (365 comments)

All the MagSafe supplies I've owned broke after a few months after the pins got stuck into the plug.

I've had the same problem. Exposure to humidity can rapidly lead to corrosion, which causes the spring-loaded pins to fail. Then you've got no contact. I've had 2 or 3 magsafe connectors fail on me in this way in the last year.

In some ways, this is the lesser of two evils; it's much better for the brick-end of the connection to fail, than the connector inside the laptop itself -- which is how my last HP laptop died.

more than 4 years ago

Germany Finds Kismet, Custom Code In Google Car

merreborn Re:Is this how they can do wifi location detection (237 comments)

. I am lucky if I get 50m accuracy. While my A-GPS can get down to 3m. (Oh, and if anyone of you know a service that requires no further hardware, and can get down below 50 cm [ideally below 10cm], please contact me! :)

Building guided missiles on the cheap, eh?

more than 4 years ago

Germany Finds Kismet, Custom Code In Google Car

merreborn Re:Tsk tsk (237 comments)

They're not being evil now, are they?

Collecting data isn't (necessarily) evil. Abusing it is.

For example, google's well known for finding web pages that were intended to be private, but never properly locked down -- phpmyadmin installations, router admin pages with no passwords, etc.

Finding those things isn't evil. Were google to, say, forcibly install software on every unsecured router their crawlers found, *that* would be evil.

Are they being evil? Maybe. But data collection itself isn't necessarily evil.

more than 4 years ago

'Month of PHP Security' Finds 60 Bugs

merreborn Re:One of the biggest problems is configurability (120 comments)

As I brought up on the mailing list months ago when I was trying to make my case, of the books in the top 10 search results for PHP on Amazon, 5 or 6 of them, including the book by Rasmus himself (wrote PHP originally), use the ereg functions in their examples. So you can imagine that there are lots of people out there learning basic search functions out there that will be going away in the next major version. This is not good.

When has using a book that's more than 1 major revision behind ever been a good idea? A MySQL 3 book proved pretty worthless when MySQL 4 came out. And MySQL 5 adds all kinds of stuff that MySQL 4 books don't cover.

I just threw out my java books from college because they covered java 1.2.

That's just how it is with programming books. Major language releases make them obsolete.

more than 4 years ago

Decency Group Says "$#*!" Is Indecent

merreborn Re:Stop listening to the PTC (821 comments)

And really, that's kind of how it should be. If a small group of people really really cares about something, and the rest of us don't care too much, it's basic social wisdom to compromise in favor of the people who really do care.

The KKK feels awfully strongly about limiting the rights of non-whites. On the other hand, I (and, I suspect, millions of other Americans) am a strong believer in equal rights, but I'm not nearly as emphatic about it -- I wouldn't engage in the sorts of terrorism the KKK has been known to in years past. "Basic social wisdom" is then to compromise in the favor of the KKK?

Democracy should not mean giving the reins to those with the loudest voice. But that certainly would explain the dismal state of gay rights in this country.

more than 4 years ago

Proof of Concept For Ajax Without JavaScript

merreborn Re:CGI scripts (148 comments)

Sure, being able to click and drag an online map was neat when it first came out, but faster than clicking an arrow in the corner? Not for me... I'd rather have it move in whole, consistent, step sizes. And faster? Hell no! I sit around waiting several seconds for Google maps to load up, prompt after prompt to "keep waiting" or else any address you type in will get munged.

Wow. How's the weather back in 1998?

I've got a PC that I built for $300 in 2008, and two macbooks (the bottom of the line models. Not the Pro). They're all behind a perfectly average comcast cable modem. Running Google Chrome, google maps loads just as fast as any desktop app, on any and all of 'em. This is not a bleeding edge setup.

So... Is it your Pentium 2, or your 9600 baud modem that's holding you back?

You're right... AJAX doesn't run great on systems built before the turn of the century. If you don't like it, pick up a system that has more than 64 meg of ram. You have every right not to upgrade, but if you choose not to, you have no right to bitch.

The "everything should run on my Windows 95 machine" mindset drives me nuts. I bet driving your Model T on the interstate isn't much fun either.

more than 4 years ago

How Many Hours a Week Can You Program?

merreborn Re:I'll play Devils Advocate here (547 comments)

Software development is creative work. "8 hours of programming" probably doesn't consist of 8 hours of typing. And if it does, you're either an incredibly productive programmer, or an incredibly inept programmer

How would you pay a poet by the hour? Does he only get paid for the hours where his pen is actually touching paper?

more than 4 years ago

Is the Line-in Jack On the Verge of Extinction?

merreborn Re:My question is (411 comments)

Why don't all car radio setups come with a line-in jack? Even many of the aftermarket ones don't have them (on the front, at least). Such a cheap part, and yet so many people use their ipods via FM tuner or tape adapter.

My cheap-ass '06 Toyota Scion came with one, standard. They also offered an iPod dock kit for a couple hundred bucks more.

more than 4 years ago

Baffled By the Obsession With Pretend-Business Games

merreborn achievement porn (252 comments)

The people who play these games are, as a blogger recently put it, addicted to fake achievement. They want to fill the bar over and over again, level up, and unlock the next item.

It's really not that baffling. People like winning. The actual value of the "win" is often unimportant.

more than 4 years ago

Japan To Standardize Electric Vehicle Chargers

merreborn Re:Quick (240 comments)

SAE J1772 maxes out at 16.8 kW according to the wikipedia article you linked. It takes 3.5 hours to charge a tesla roadster at that wattage. If you want to charge your Tesla in 15 minutes, you're gonna need 14 times as much juice.

I can see why the Japanese might not be satisfied with that standard.

more than 4 years ago

Toyota's Engineering Process and the General Public

merreborn Re:followup comments (345 comments)

If you find yourself in a car of any brand where the engine is accelerating without command, put the car in neutral (your engine will be fine, as the engine computer has several "rev limiters" built-in)

I had an accelerator cable stick on me in a Dodge Caravan, years ago. I can't help but to think back to that every time I read how some Toyota owners have ended up in accidents as a result of this issue. In my experience, it wasn't that hard to address the problem safely.

    In my case, the problem was really the result of poor maintenance on my part -- the accelerator cable passes above the battery, and I'd let the battery leak so badly, a mound of crystalized acid built up and was rubbing against the cable. To make matters worse, I was driving the POS 120 miles a day.

Finally, one day on the highway, I pressed the gas, let off, and the damn thing kept accelerating. The cable had stuck. While I'd imagine downshifting comes naturally if you've driven a manual, I've never driven anything other than an automatic in my life. Fortunately, my father had taught me to downshift when descending steep grades, rather than ride the breaks. As a result, I had the presence of mind to downshift, and pull off at the next off-ramp.

In retrospect, I probably should have immediately brought the thing to a complete stop on the shoulder and had it towed, but I actually managed to navigate several blocks and stop lights shifting between first and neutral. Parked it at a Chevron that had an attached garage.

I suppose my purpose in relating this is twofold: first it provides real world confirmation of your advice. Secondly, I suppose it serves as a reason for anyone teaching someone to drive to also teach them about the concept of "engine breaking". That extra bit of knowledge probably saved me from ending up in a high speed collision.

more than 4 years ago



merreborn merreborn writes  |  more than 7 years ago

merreborn writes "I work for a small (10 employee) company providing a point-of-sale solution to a chain of a few dozen retailers in the eastern half of the US. We're shipping a server to every store (built in the office from wholesale parts to minimize costs), pre-installed with our software; however, our installation process has grown more complex than the stores (who have no IT staff, nor enough IT work to justify such a position) can handle on their own.

Fedex frequently delivers these servers fairly shaken up — SATA cables rarely stay connected through shipment, and we recently had one show up in Florida with the RAM module knocked completely out of the socket. Sometimes, servers show up unbootable, in ways that are undiagnosable over the phone. We don't have any existing relationships with IT professionals in the areas our stores operate, and they're all hundreds of miles apart from each other, so anyone capable of serving one store is out of range of any others. Most stores "have a guy" in town who handles repairs for them once or twice a year, but they've proven unprofessional and slow, with systems ending up "in the shop" for two months or more for simple issues.

We're looking for some sort of national IT contractor with employees in nearly every state, that we can hold accountable for checking these computers for issues upon arrival, and insuring they're properly installed within a reasonable timeframe — for example, if geeksquad had a better reputation, they might be a candidate.

Does such an organization exist? Or have you developed a better strategy for hardware deployment on a shoestring budget?"



ImMovable Type

merreborn merreborn writes  |  more than 6 years ago

All in all, I'm pretty impressed with Movable Type. It works with postgres, and memcache, and it publishes static HTML so it stays performant under heavy load. They do a lot of things well.

Although, the install process sucks. It croaked because I didn't have a certain perl library installed. No big deal though; one command in CPAN, and that's taken care of. Then it gets into the database building phase, and dies. Hard.

Turns out there's been a show-stopping bug in the release version for over a month. I understand; bugs happen. But when your release version has a bug that prevents installation, you've gotta have a fix out in far less than a month!

Well, I applied the fix mentioned in that post (which involved opening up a perl file and adding a line of code), and everything else went smoothly.

That was, until we decided we wanted to copy the installation from our dev environment into production. Our graphic artist spent dozens of hours setting up templates, building content pages, tweaking the configuration, etc. MT has a "import/export" system, but it doesn't capture most of these things -- just blog posts. It also has a "backup" feature. But apparently the "restore" half of that feature is slated for a future release. It's conspicuously absent from the relevant section of the docs. And an unanswered post in their forums notes that docs for a future release mention a "restore" tab that doesn't exist in the current version. Gee, I really hope there isn't some hapless blog admin out there dutifully creating backups that they'll never be able to use.

I google "moving movable type", and turn up a guide from 2004 that recommends, as part of the process, printing pages of the admin interface, and using a pencil to check the checkboxes, so you'll have something to refer to when you manually set them again. That can't be a good sign.

Alright, fine, I'll do this the good old fashioned way. I dump the database to a file, and tar it up along with the static content directories, gzip, and scp up to production. Unzip. Untar. MT comes up. Good. Republish. Error. It's trying to publish to the path the development server used. Huh? The config file is pointing to the right place. I put some symlinks from the paths the dev server used to the right places. Republish. Success! Wait... all these links point to the development server! I grep the database dump. Oh, great. The hostname, and the filesystem path are stored all over the goddamn database.

So I did the only thing I could. I ran sed to replace the old hostname and path in the database dump. It worked. But good god, could this be any worse?

tl;dr: MT's install process was broken for over a month; there's a "backup" system but no "restore"; there's no way to move an installation across domains; and the paths in your config file are copied all over the database.

This is state of the art blogging software? Face, meet palm.

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