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Comments

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Microsoft Announces Windows 10

nine-times Re:we are DOOOMED!!! (303 comments)

Nah, it's fine. Every other release is garbage, not every odd number. How would you possibly try to figure out Microsoft's numbering, anyway? Their version numbers go from 3 to 95, jumps to 98, 2000, then goes to the lettering, ME and XP (are those roman numerals?). Then in goes to Vista. Now, lets be fair. 95 and 98 are the years, so let's just count. So 95 is version 4, 98 is version 5, 2000 is version 6, ME is version 8, XP is version 9, and Vista is version 10. So next comes 11, right? Nope, version 7.

Ok, but some of those were professional builds, right? So let's just start from NT v4 and count major NT releases. 2000 is version 5, XP is version 6, Vista is version 7, and... wait.

Wait, wait, I know, let's look at Microsoft's internal versioning numbers. NTv4 is version 4, 2000 is version 5, XP is version 5.1, Vista is version 6. Ok this is making sense, because next version after vista (v6) should be 7, right? Nope, Windows 7's internal version number is v6.1. Windows 8 is version 6.2. WTF?

2 hours ago
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Adobe Photoshop Is Coming To Linux, Through Chromebooks

nine-times Re:How important is that at this point? (142 comments)

While I agree that it's not fair to say "GIMP SUX" because it's a great program, I also don't feel that it's fair to say, "the only reason professional graphic designers aren't using it is because they don't learn the fundamentals of design and don't want to relearn."

I'm not sure what the current state of the GIMP is, but for a long time, it didn't even have proper CMYK support, which is tremendously important for doing professional print media. Also, I can tell you from a lot of testing a few years ago, Adobe's algorithms for optimizing graphics are (or at least were at the time) unmatched by any open source tools. For example, if you wanted to have a relatively large JPEG with a hard file-size restriction, Photoshop did a better job of compressing the image so that the JPEG compression looked ok. Or in the case of GIFs, it would do a better job of making the image look good with a limited number of colors. I've also seen some issues (admittedly a couple of years ago) where Photoshop provided better text rendering, specifically with regards to kerning.

And you can say that those are fringe cases that don't matter for most people most of the time, and those people can use GIMP. Fair enough. But those are just two examples where Photoshop actually might perform better in cases where professionals need that performance.

The UI is also pretty well designed, and the UI is an important aspect that shouldn't be dismissed. People who prefer a good UI aren't necessarily just failing to "learn the fundamentals" and are unwilling to learn. A better UI might enable you to work faster, with less frustration and confusion.

Now I really want to get into the middle of this argument, and I think we should just drop the whole thing. But if you're angry that people aren't using the GIMP, it may be better to ask why they aren't using it, rather than just assuming that they're stupid and lazy.

4 hours ago
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Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time

nine-times Re:Start menu usage dropped in lieu of what? (238 comments)

Well sort of, but the problem is that the searching is now unintuitive enough that you didn't know how easy it is. Press the Windows key and start typing.

So it's not hard, and doesn't require a lot of clicks, but yes, it's a bad UI. After years of training people to use the mouse, they made it so easy access is only available through the keyboard. If you use the mouse in Windows 8, as you point out, you have to find a hidden button that only exists when you hover over it. When you do find it and press it, it moves you to an entirely different context with different UI conventions. My theory is that Microsoft may have done too much testing, without any sensible designer to actually look at the interaction and notice that it was dumb. Either that, or they were so focused on pushing people to use the Surface that they didn't care that the whole UI was a confusing mess.

5 hours ago
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Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time

nine-times Re:Start menu usage dropped in lieu of what? (238 comments)

I remember when they were talking about this research at the time. If I remember correctly, they found that most people rarely hunted through the start menu "Programs" menu. They pinned applications to their task bar, or they put shortcuts on their desktop. If they used the start menu, they usually either used the search function or the list of applications that were pinned to the start menu.

This lead them to think that the Windows 8 UI would be fine, since you could still search, and you could still pin applications to the Start screen. It seems they figured, if most people aren't using the other features of the Start menu, we can provide a solution that only includes the two features people do use, and everyone will be happy for the simplified solution. Apparently they are now admitting that their approach was flawed or insufficient.

6 hours ago
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New Research Casts Doubt On the "10,000 Hour Rule" of Expertise

nine-times Re:Gladwell (169 comments)

I don't think he comes up with any of his ideas. He's a journalist. He takes an idea that he's heard somewhere, researches it a bunch, and puts together a book. His understanding of the concept isn't necessarily perfect, his conclusions can be a bit hasty, and his examples are often weak. Still, they're kind of fun, well written, thought provoking books.

6 hours ago
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New Research Casts Doubt On the "10,000 Hour Rule" of Expertise

nine-times Re:Gladwell (169 comments)

Take someone who is, for whatever reason, fully grown but only four feet tall. This person can practice and practice at basketball, and maybe become very good at it, but is not going to be the center on an NBA team. 10,000 hours of practice won't make him tall enough to be competitive.

No, but then there is Muggsy Bogues. So maybe you just have to settle for point guard.

Beyond that, I think it misses the point. I doubt that Gladwell is really trying to argue that there's no such thing as physical limitations or innate ability. It may be the "politically correct" thing to say that anyone can be anything, but it's also the "politically-incorrect correct" thing to say that we just have the abilities that we have, and the people who aren't immediately good at something should know their place. And too often, that "politically incorrect correct" thing is being used in a larger argument as an excuse for crushing people's hopes or an excuse for keeping someone in an unfortunate position.

The fact is, I could probably never be, and could never have been, the world's greatest violinist. However, if I had been practicing with good teachers for the past 20 years, I bet I could play pretty well.

7 hours ago
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New Research Casts Doubt On the "10,000 Hour Rule" of Expertise

nine-times Re:Gladwell (169 comments)

There's actually a story about John Lennon failing music class and being told that he had a terrible ear for music. Something like that. It could be one of those "Einstein was bad at math" stories, but it could be true for all I know.

7 hours ago
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New Research Casts Doubt On the "10,000 Hour Rule" of Expertise

nine-times Re:Gladwell (169 comments)

So you played some musical instrument for a while in the 7th grade and didn't get good at it. And then some teacher said you'd never get good. Therefore, you could never be good at anything musical...?

First, what makes you think that teacher was right? Sounds like a shitty thing to do, to tell a 7th grader that they can never be good at something, and they should just quit. What if it was math? "Hey kid, you're just not a math genius. Better quit studying."

And did you practices for the 10,000 hours that Gladwell is talking about? I bet if you had, you'd be at least kind-of decent. I don't doubt that some people have more innate talent and ability, but if you spend enough time practicing (maybe with a better teacher), then I bet you could carry a tune and maybe have some fun playing. Or maybe you were just playing the wrong instument. Maybe another one would have been easier for you to pick up.

And I'm not just saying that because I disagree, but because I think it's sad. I imagine somewhere in you, there's a little 7th-grade you who wants to play some music, but has given up because he thinks there's something innately wrong with him. You could still take up an instrument, get some lessons, and have some fun with it.

7 hours ago
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New Research Casts Doubt On the "10,000 Hour Rule" of Expertise

nine-times Re:Gladwell (169 comments)

I don't agree. I think Gladwell is the master of thought-provoking oversimplified perhaps-sort-of obvious but counter-cultural idea. For example, in this case, although we have the saying, "practice makes perfect", our culture is disposed to believe that some people are simply better than others, and if you're not gifted, you just shouldn't try. Gladwell sets off on an argument that, no, if you spend enough time practicing you can be great. He oversimplifies the whole thing, but probably (I haven't read this book, actually) puts some admission that practice isn't *everything* and people do also have innate gifts. If you really researched it, you'd probably find that he has an interesting point that isn't complete enough to be "the truth".

At least, this is the pattern I've noticed in his other books. And... I don't really mind it. It would be unwise to just read Gladwell's books and take everything he's saying on faith, but I'm not sure that's what he expects you to do. I think he might just be shooting for "thought-provoking", and in that, he's successful.

yesterday
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FCC To Rule On "Paid Prioritization" Deals By Internet Service Providers

nine-times Re: "You don't like our Internet . . . ?" (125 comments)

Yes, you're right. Let's just throw up our hands and accept things as they are. Hell, let's help it along. Why not change the laws specifically so that we don't have elections anymore, but we just allow people to bid on legislation at auction. Highest bidder wins. And then let's make the official rule that you don't even need to win the bid, you just need to bribe the auctioneer. Because fuck it, the having auctions sounds too close to being a just system, and might actually raise money for the government.

Oh, I know I'm not answering your questions. I'm responding to your position instead. The "why bother trying?" stance is really hard to refute, because any answer to your question, you could come up with some potential unintended consequence that might possibly result in something bad happening. Even if I could propose a completely iron-clad system of rules that regulated the political system, you could say, "Oh, but people will just break those rules and cheat anyway, because the potential benefits are too high." And you'd be right, so let's just all sit back and watch the world go to hell, because you can't fix anything, right?

yesterday
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FCC To Rule On "Paid Prioritization" Deals By Internet Service Providers

nine-times Re: "You don't like our Internet . . . ?" (125 comments)

We did build our own-- or at least, we did pay these companies hundreds of billions of dollars in public funds to build it for us. I suppose we could build another one, and if we did, there's no reason to think that corrupt government officials won't just take it from us and hand it over to rich people.

I don't think we need to build our own internet. I think we need to build our own government, and outlaw bribery. Our current one has been taken from us, and has no interest in serving the common good.

2 days ago
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FCC To Rule On "Paid Prioritization" Deals By Internet Service Providers

nine-times Re: Devil's advocate here... (125 comments)

That argument would hold more weight if (a) there were a possibility of competition; or (b) the Internet had not been subsidized with taxpayer money. The reality is, this *is* infrastructure like roads and plumbing, competition is stifled by law and economic forces, and taxpayers have put hundreds of billions of dollars into building the network. Besides that, I'm sure there are plenty of legal restrictions on what chemicals a dry cleaner can use.

2 days ago
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Security Collapse In the HTTPS Market

nine-times If there's a systemic problem (185 comments)

If there's a single systemic problem with HTTPS, it's that we're still largely relying on Certificate Authorities which charge a lot of money. The expense and complexity discourages people from using SSL more ubiquitously.

I'm not saying it's a perfect security scheme, but my point is that the single biggest problem with it is that we're not using it enough.

4 days ago
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FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous

nine-times Re:Beyond the law? (353 comments)

He's conflating "people placing themselves beyond the law" and "people placing themselves outside of the reach of law enforcement". I don't know if he's doing it intentionally, but he's starting from the assumption that law enforcement agencies have the right to review the contents of your phone. Beginning from that assumption, it becomes immediately obvious that inhibiting their access to that data constitutes "doing something wrong".

4 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is Reporting Still Relevant?

nine-times Re:Hmmm ... (179 comments)

However, of course the effort doesn't always succeed.

Also, sometimes it's just easier to give people what they want than it is to convince them that they don't really want it. Sometimes you have to ask whether "being right" matters, or if it's harmless and easy to comply with a silly request.

5 days ago
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Microsoft On US Immigration: It's Our Way Or the Canadian Highway

nine-times Re:"stashes its cash" (363 comments)

No one is arguing that.

Oh no, there are people arguing that. It's true that there are some people in the right wing pointing out that rich people invest money, but there are an awful lot within the right wing who, when you figure out what they're actually arguing, it boils down to "If you tax rich people, they no longer have an incentive to be rich, and they will stop driving economic growth with their magical rich-people super-powers. I can't explain how any of this works, but I will tell you that rich people have magical rich-people super-powers that make everyone's life better, and taxes are kryptonite."

I'm not opposed to having an actual argument about perverse incentives and unintended consequences of taxes, but let's not just take for granted that "rich-people=good" and "government=evil".

5 days ago
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GNOME 3.14 Released

nine-times Re:Commands lines (248 comments)

According to the previous logic, that's still 2 keys too many. I think Anonymous Coward wants every keyboard to have a "Terminal" key that does nothing but launches a terminal window.

5 days ago
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GNOME 3.14 Released

nine-times Re:Commands lines (248 comments)

You just don't get it. You can't expect him to use an obscure text-based interface to run programs. He wants a simple, easy to use graphical interface that's purely mouse driven to accomplish all of his tasks. But he's a power user, so he doesn't want any of that graphical stuff, he just wants easy access to the terminal.

5 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Keep Students' Passwords Secure?

nine-times Re:What are you afraid of? (191 comments)

You took my response!

When it comes to security, I always try to drive the idea home that security is always a balance between "creating easy access for authorized users" and "making unauthorized access difficult", and where you strike that balance should always depend on the context of how easy authorized access needs to be vs. how hard unauthorized access needs to be.

So in this case, your child probably doesn't need very good security. There are no state secrets, no business documents to be hidden from competing companies, and no financial documents. You don't need good security to protect elementary school homework. If anything, you probably want the account to be easy to exploit by both parents and teachers, in case there's a suspicion of misbehavior. And elementary school kids need very easy access. Therefore, security should be relatively light.

What's more, writing down your passwords is *not* a bad security practice. It just means that the account becomes as easy to access as your password list. If you keep your password list in a safe, then it might be pretty secure. If you leave your list in a public area, anyone in that area could access your account. However, in a case like that, it's not the "writing passwords down" that's insecure, it's the storage of that list that's insecure. Writing down your passwords is not inherently less secure than using a password manager. A password manager is just a list of passwords, "written down", and secured.

If you're worried about teaching your children good security policies, then let them write down their passwords, and then teach them the importance of securing that list. Not only is that a good practice, but it also lets them feel like a spy, which is awesome.

5 days ago
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Microsoft On US Immigration: It's Our Way Or the Canadian Highway

nine-times Re:"stashes its cash" (363 comments)

You may have a good point, but you'd need to provide more of an explanation. Given that it's been a known loophole for companies to shuffle money and profits to offshore "subsidiaries" or "parent companies" in low-tax countries, why should we ignore it and open that loophole up? I'm not very familiar with the situation, and I'd need a better explanation before I believed you that this is unfair, or a real problem.

See, there are a bunch of idiots out there who think in terms of, "Whenever we tax rich people, we're disincentivizing them from being rich, which discourages them from spending their money. We need to cut all taxes, and provide subsidies to rich people and businesses. The more money we can put into the hands of rich people, the more money they'll spend. And this will somehow result in the perfect economy!"

5 days ago

Submissions

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What's holding back encryption?

nine-times nine-times writes  |  more than 4 years ago

nine-times writes "After many years in IT, I've been surprised to notice how much of my traffic is still unencrypted. A lot of businesses that I interact with (both business and personal) are still using unencrypted FTP, and very few people use any kind of encryption for email. Most websites are still using unencrypted HTTP. DNSSEC seems to be picking up some steam, but still doesn't seem to be widely used. I would have thought there would be a concerted effort to move toward encryption for the sake of security, but it doesn't seem to be happening.

I wanted to ask the Slashdot community, what do you think the hold up is? Are the existing protocols somehow not good enough? Are the protocols fine, but not supported well enough in software? Is it too complicated to manage the various encryption protocols and keys? Is it ignorance or apathy on the part of the IT community, and that we've failed to demand it from our vendors?

What challenges have you faced in trying to increase your use of encryption, and what do you think we can do about it?"

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