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Comments

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Kolab.org Groupware 3.3 Release Adds Tags, Notes, and Dozens of Other Features

nine-times Re:The 90's called (24 comments)

No, that's what normal business applications looked like in the 90s. This is what web pages looked like in the 90s.

7 hours ago
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Kolab.org Groupware 3.3 Release Adds Tags, Notes, and Dozens of Other Features

nine-times Re:The 90's called (24 comments)

It makes me suspicious that you weren't around in the 90s. That's not what web application UIs looked like.

10 hours ago
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Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

nine-times Re:Cut out the middle man! (428 comments)

I've tried. For some reason, now my car won't start.

12 hours ago
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Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

nine-times Re:Hydroelectric Dams (428 comments)

About 40,000 people die in car accidents every year, in the US alone. It's one of those things that I keep pointing out because people keep seeming to fail to realize how many people that is. When people say, "We can't have solar power because it'll kill a thousand birds!" or "We can't have freedom (i.e. NSA spying and CIA torture is ok!) because otherwise we might have another 9/11, which killed a thousands of people!"

40,000 people die every year due to car accidents. Nobody is talking about giving up cars.

12 hours ago
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Selectable Ethics For Robotic Cars and the Possibility of a Robot Car Bomb

nine-times Not that difficult (238 comments)

Wired has an interesting article on the possibility of selectable ethical choices in robotic autonomous cars. From the article: "The way this would work is one customer may set the car (which he paid for) to jealously value his life over all others; another user may prefer that the car values all lives the same and minimizes harm overall; yet another may want to minimize legal liability and costs for herself; and other settings are possible. Philosophically, this opens up an interesting debate about the oft-clashing ideas of morality vs. liability."

Before we allow AI on the road, we'll need to have some kind of regulation on how the AI works, and who has what level of liability. This is a debate that will need to happen, and laws will need to be made. For example, if an avoidable crash occurs due to a fault in the AI, I would assume that the manufacturer would have some level of liability. It doesn't make sense to put that responsibility on a human passenger who was using the car as directed. On the other hand, if the same crash is caused by tampering performed by the owner of the car, then it seems that the owner would be liable.

As far as I know, even these simple laws don't explicitly exist yet.

Patrick Lin writes about a recent FBI report that warns of the use of robot cars as terrorist and criminal threats, calling the use of weaponized robot cars "game changing." Lin explores the many ways in which robot cars could be exploited for nefarious purposes, including the fear that they could help terrorist organizations based in the Middle East carry out attacks on US soil. "And earlier this year, jihadists were calling for more car bombs in America. Thus, popular concerns about car bombs seem all too real." But Lin isn't too worried about these threats, and points out that there are far easier ways for terrorists to wreak havoc in the US.

Normal cars also make it easier to commit terrorist acts and other crimes. So what? I mean, yes, let's consider whether we want to take special safeguards and regulations regarding AI cars, but this shouldn't be something to go crazy worrying about.

2 days ago
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Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It

nine-times Re:Defeats the purpose (229 comments)

Yes, I agree completely. I do kind of hate coming back from vacation to a huge inbox, but on the other hand, I do things like emailing someone saying, "I know you're on vacation and I don't want you to do anything now, but I know I'll forget if I don't send this now. When you get back..."

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

nine-times Re:Some people need more hand-holding (198 comments)

Oh, I wouldn't be surprised at all. I've worked in IT support for a couple of decades now, and I know exactly how that goes.

There are two things about that though. First, it's a bit of a fringe case. You have to consider the question, "How many people of that sort are in my target audience?" If the answer is "a lot", then you should think about writing documentation for them specifically, and find a way separate it out from other documentation for those who are more comfortable using a computer. Otherwise, people who know what they're doing are going to be frustrated searching through 100 pages of inane instructions to find actual information.

Second, people like that often also won't read the documentation. If they do, they won't understand it, or else won't feel confident that they understand it. At a certain point, you have to either provide those people with IT support personnel that they can call (your older relative has you). At the very least, you need to provide them with simple step-by-step instructions that never vary, where they don't even need to understand what they're doing. Like "In order to do [x], press the power button on your computer to turn it on (it's located in the top-right-hand corner of the box under your desk). It will flash some things on the screen for a while. Wait for it to ask for a password, and then type 'hunter2'. Wait 2 minutes. Then find the blue "E" on your screen, with "Internet Explorer" written under it. It will be the third little picture on the screen, all the way to the left..."

I've had to write instructions like that before, and some people need it to be that simple. But obviously a web application vendor can't take responsibility for that level of instruction. Even something like Dropbox, which is designed to be extremely simple, has to assume some level of competency.

2 days ago
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Google Expands Safe Browsing To Block Unwanted Downloads

nine-times Re:Potentially... (105 comments)

He gave us both the word "crap" and "ballcock"? What a guy.

5 days ago
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Google Expands Safe Browsing To Block Unwanted Downloads

nine-times Re:Potentially... (105 comments)

The act of knowingly installing it contradicts that. If you don't want it, don't make the choice to install it.

See there, you're talking about *actually* unwanted programs. If a program is potentially unwanted, then it's not currently unwanted. It just might become unwanted in the future.

5 days ago
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Google Expands Safe Browsing To Block Unwanted Downloads

nine-times Re:Potentially... (105 comments)

If you've clicked on a link that says "install program X", then program X is no longer potentially unwanted.

I think you mean something like "unwittingly installed program" then. You could knowingly install an application and still retain the potential for not-wanting it.

about a week ago
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Google Expands Safe Browsing To Block Unwanted Downloads

nine-times Potentially... (105 comments)

I know it's started becoming a common terminology, but I don't really like the terms "Potentially Unwanted Program" and "Potentially Unwanted Application". Any program/application is *potentially* unwanted. Whenever someone starts talking about PUP/PUA, I can never figure out where they're drawing the line.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

nine-times Speaking generally (198 comments)

I'm not aware of Odoo, so I'm only speaking generally, but generally speaking, having a simple/intuitive product does *reduce* the need to documentation. For example, I don't need documentation to tell me that I can open a Word document by going to "File", selecting "Open", and then going to "Computer", "Browse"....

Now, come to think of it, the process for even something as simple as that has gotten needlessly complicated. WTF is Microsoft doing these days?

Back on subject, yeah, if you open files by going to an obvious menu button that says, "Open File...", then I don't think you really need to document that. You only need to document the features that aren't completely blindingly obvious.

The need for documentation can also be reduced by having a good help/support system. If you have a procedure for doing something unusual and complicated that's undocumented, you had better have someone standing by that I can call/chat/email who can help me out. And even still, that stuff should be documented at least well enough that you can train your support staff.

If you don't have good support and something is not completely obvious, then yes, it should be documented.

about a week ago
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The Benefits of Inequality

nine-times Re:Different approaches for different situations (253 comments)

Instead of elections, why not have all representatives be picked from a lottery of all citizens, similar to jury duty. Instead of a jury picking a foreman, they nominate and elect a president.

Well originally, the US was set up to be closer to this. The difference was, instead of being "picked from a lottery", they were elected in small elections all over the country. It was (is) called the Electoral College. Senators for each state also used to be elected by the state's legislature, rather than by popular vote.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending on your viewpoint), we changed all that to move closer to a direct democracy. People get angry about the Electoral College every once in a while and propose getting rid of it and moving to a direct popular vote, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

about a week ago
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Where are the Flying Cars? (Video; Part One of Two)

nine-times Can it be completely automated (107 comments)

I think this is tied somewhat to the issue of the issue of self-driving cars. Part of the problem with flying cars is the question of, who do we trust to fly them? What's the process of licensing people to drive/pilot these things? Do we trust people not to fly over protected airspace? Do we trust people not to fly into buildings? Along with everything else, driving/piloting a vehicle designed both for driving and flying might very well be more complicated than learning to drive and learning to fly combined.

However, if you can have self-driving cars, and you can make a self-flying driving car (including take-off and landing), then you could have the whole thing controlled by a computer guided system, adhering to restrictions to traffic and air traffic. Along with everything else, you could have restrictions that say, "When you're in NYC, the car knows that it needs to drive because airspace is restricted. Once you drive X miles outside the city, you can take to the air along certain restricted routes, following certain procedures." All of that could be controlled with computers, disallowing various kinds of abuses.

Of course, that assumes that we have sufficient systems for safe autonomous driving/flight. It also assumes that everything is coded well enough to prevent people from hacking the car to allow them to break the rules. It also assumed that people will be ok with being restricted and tracked. Finally, it assumes that, when you've put all these restrictions in place, you haven't made the idea so un-fun that people don't want a flying car anymore.

about a week ago
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The Benefits of Inequality

nine-times Different approaches for different situations (253 comments)

Some people assume that totalitarian/hierarchical organizations are simply inherently bad, and "democracy" is inherently good. Really, it's more about the situation and context.

For example, even in our modern "democracy", our military still uses a top-down hierarchy with a rigid chain of command. There are good reasons for this. When you're in dangerous situations, organization and timing can become vital to the survival of the group, and survival tends to trump social justice. If the military commander has a plan that requires a troop of soldiers move to a particular location in a short amount of time, you don't want people standing around debating, or wondering whether the plan is fair. You need people to follow orders immediately, or else a lot of people might die.

There have been situations in humanity's past when this would have been true of social/governmental organizations too. If the chief needs everyone to mobilize in order to avert disaster and keep the entire tribe from being wiped out, then you don't want a lot of debate. The whole setup worked pretty well for a while.

Of course now, things are different. Most of our lives (speaking at least of the people reading Slashdot) are relatively safe and comfortable. We don't need to follow orders immediately and unquestioningly in order to stay alive. Also, our society is larger, and the concentration of power is greater. The danger of taking time for debate is not greater than the danger of a bad ruler with absolute power over a society, so totalitarianism seems like it's not such a great idea.

about a week ago
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Samsung Announces Galaxy Alpha Featuring Metal Frame and Rounded Corners

nine-times Re:"Sophisticated" look (220 comments)

A) You're saying the iPhone 6 looks like the HTC one, from the back, if you ignore all the details and focus purely on the rough shape of the device, which is roughly the same as the iPhone 4.
B) Apple didn't just put out those pictures touting their "new design approach" and "sophisticated look".
C) I don't have a problem with companies copying each other. I think it's generally a good strategy to copy the best thing out there, and then improve on it. It's just kind of silly to copy and then brag about how your copied product is revolutionary.
D) The Sony Clies didn't have as strong a similarity, so you're not getting any points there.
E) People who complain about fanboys are usually just fanboys for the competitor.

about a week ago
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Samsung Announces Galaxy Alpha Featuring Metal Frame and Rounded Corners

nine-times "Sophisticated" look (220 comments)

Samsung says a metal frame and curved corners give the Galaxy Alpha a "sophisticated" look. The South Korean company describes the Galaxy Alpha as representing a "new design approach".

I like how the "new design approach" and "sophisticated look" boil down to "making it look more like an iPhone 4."

about a week ago
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The Quiet Before the Next IT Revolution

nine-times Re:If you didn't know what you were doing ... (145 comments)

Where we once walked on tightropes every day doing basic server maintenance, we are now afforded nearly instant undo buttons, as snapshots of virtual servers allow us to roll back server updates and changes with a click.

If he's talking about a production system then he's an idiot.

Why? Is it your contention that the work of sysadmins and support personnel has just been trouble-free for decades, and all the problems were caused by a sysadmin "not knowing what they were doing"?

about a week ago
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The Quiet Before the Next IT Revolution

nine-times Re:A rather simplistic hardware-centric view (145 comments)

The article is a rather simplistic hardware-centric viewpoint. It doesn't even begin to touch on the areas where IT has always struggled: design, coding, debugging, and deployment. Instead it completely ignores the issue of software development, and instead bleats about how we can "roll back" servers with the click of a button in a virtual environment.

And now is when we have a long and stupid debate as to whether the term "IT" signifies a grouping of all computer-related work including development, or whether it's limited to workstation/server/network design, deployment, and support. And we go on with this debate for a long time, becoming increasingly irate, arguing about whether developers or sysadmins do more of the 'real' work, and...

Let's just skip to the end and agree that, regardless of whether IT 'really' includes software development, it's pretty clear that the author didn't have software development in mind when he wrote the article.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Are Online Job Applications So Badly Designed?

nine-times Re:Pete and Repeat (274 comments)

I have spent years as a hiring manager and I would be quite impressed if such completeness and honesty showed on a resume.

And then other hiring managers would get annoyed and toss your resume because you did something you weren't supposed to. Maybe I'm just cynical, but that seems to be the way it goes with job applications: for anything that one person says, "I would be impressed and that resume would go to the top of my list!" there's at least a few others that say, "I find that unappealing and I would ignore a resume that came in with that."

about a week 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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