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Ask Slashdot: How Can We Create a Culture of Secure Behavior?

petes_PoV The technology has to change (168 comments)

Security is a pain. It slows you down. it gets in the way. It makes you jump through hoops and it is inconvenient. If I had to spend as much time unlocking my front door as I do to log into some websites: ones that don't even contain any information I value, I'd probably leave it open a lot more often.

So until the software (or hardware) necessary to make systems more secure improves a great deal people won't use it. I can't say what the nemchmark is for user tolerance / acceptance, but if I had to guess I'd say is was about 1 second of "automatic" activity, zero intellectual input and one simple mechanical movement. Implement that and you've probably invented computer security.

2 days ago
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The Limits of Big Data For Social Engineering

petes_PoV More in hope than expectation. (95 comments)

Social scientists will be able to understand and predict the interactions of people the way physicists understand and predict the interactions of objects

Since social scientists are completely unable to quantify anything in their field of study, I somehow doubt that they will ever come anywhere close to doing "real" science in the way that physicists can: with their "laws", measurements and equations.

But maybe this person doesn't really have much idea how proper scientists do their work?

3 days ago
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Google: Better To Be a 'B' CS Grad Than an 'A+' English Grad

petes_PoV Re:Context (351 comments)

It seems to me that the Google guy either wasn't listening or doesn't know the difference between English as a subject and economics.

As it is, in other parts of the world, the quality of degree is more of a door-opener than the subject - or the university. So you're sometimes better off getting a 2-one from a less rigourous college than a 2-two from a more prestigious establishment. As so many places only ask for an upper second or better and care little about the subject or where you studied.

3 days ago
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Google: Better To Be a 'B' CS Grad Than an 'A+' English Grad

petes_PoV Better? For whom? (351 comments)

It sounds like that Google guy already has a career mapped out for the B-grade students:

You need to be very adaptable, so that you have a baseline skill set that allows you to be a call center operator today

Google: Avoid

3 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: System Administrator Vs Change Advisory Board

petes_PoV Let them - they will be responsible (293 comments)

Any IT professional worthy of the title can generate paperwork fatser than any team of 50 or fewer can approve it.

If they want to approve every change, then just flood 'em with paperwork. 1 day spent automating your process should keep them busy for at least 6 months. Meanwhile you won't have any changes that have been approved, so you can get on with the interesting stuff.

Oh and if anything fails, dies, gets a virus (presumably security updates and virus scanner downloads count as changes) or lets the world and his/her dog steal your company's secrets then it's not your fault: the board hadn't approved the change you submitted weeks ago.

The good thing is that the change board are taking on responsibility for the changes. By approving them, provided you execute them exactly as described, then they are to blame for any problems - as they gave approval. Make sure you keep a paper trail and have a record of everything you do.

They will quickly tire of the burdensome, boring and ultimately futile work. So enjoy the honeymoon period. It wn't last forever, but if you handle it properly, you can shed the blame for any problems for at least a year - even if the board disband. The confusion and lack of clear indications of who should have approved what can be spum out for a long time - in the right hands.

Meantime, you will have plenty of opportunity to look for another job.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?

petes_PoV Re:The Economist ... and the FT (285 comments)

If you're citing The Economist, I'd suggest adding the Financial Times - for a lot of the same reasons.

Any newspaper that doesn NOT carry a horoscope and limits sports coverage to a single page (2, tops) must have a sensible set of priorities. In addition it takes the reaslistic view that pretty much everything of importance has a business or financial driver or consequence (though it does cover natural disasters and upheaval in non-financial terms, usually with a much more level-headed and unsensationalised tone, too).

The weekend FT, especially, is the closest I've ever seen to a well-balanced, non-partisan, grown-up (more in-context F-words and nudity than any other newspaper manages, but it all fits in with the mature nature of the writing) content than you'll find elsewhere.

And full-sized newspapers are so much better than tiny little tablets or even PC screens for getting the BIG picture

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?

petes_PoV Re:The Economist (285 comments)

The Economist has always had a penchant for saying very little with the largest number of words.

I find that the Economist has a very high information density. Not just in its headline topic but in many other areas of journalism, too.

As for "half-truths and over simplifications", that's not my experience. Maybe you just don't understand a lot of the rather complex concepts and language that their professional and technically proficient writers use?

about a week ago
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How 'DevOps' Is Killing the Developer

petes_PoV So developers are better people? (226 comments)

You do a disservice to everyone involved when you force your brightest people to take on additional roles.

This sounds as if the author is saying developers are brighter than other people. Well a few may be, but when you look at most of the dumbass bugs that appear (not to mention the spelling mistakes, tortured logic, crappy coding styles, and mistaken ideas of what constitutes "good") I really can't see that being the general case.

As it is, I feel that it does developers GOOD to get them into a position where they see apps and O/S's from the other side. After all, these were developed, too. So all you're asking the developers to do is see what the results of software development looks like. Rather than allowing them to live in an ivory-tower, isolated development world and then tossing their deliverables over a wall for other people to munge into something workable. If they don't like that, then maybe the problem is with their own craft: producing bad products, than with the operational work.

about a week ago
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How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion?

petes_PoV Looking forward (582 comments)

The issue is not that some open source software has a bug in it. We're all grown-up enough (I hope) to realise that NO software is ever perfect.

The only interesting point about this situation is how the Open Source world reacts to it and what processes get put in place to reduce the risk of a similar situation arising in the future.

about two weeks ago
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This 1981 BYTE Magazine Cover Explains Why We're So Bad At Tech Predictions

petes_PoV Progress is random, prediction: impossible (275 comments)

We are bad at predicting the future because it cannot be predicted.

The gadgets that we think about as "the future" (actually: only the future of technology - the broad-brush future of the planet is vert easy to predict. We know how high the population will grow, when the max. will be reached and where all those people will live and when they will die. Omitting disasters (natural or man-made), wars and pestilence our future is easy to map) are totally subject to random decisions: which standard will be adopted, which advertisements will be used (and therefore the success or otherwise of an appliance), which bugs will be fixed and which ignored - mking the difference between choosing product "A" or product "B" as the next big thing.

Since the next generation of gadgets is built on the one before, think video games: an easily described lineage - right back to "pong" or PCs, the random decisions made every couple of years compound those made before.

While those paths are easy to see in hindsight, guessing (and it IS only guesses, no talent required) which decisions will lead to the next generation of successful gadgets and form-factors is not possible.

about two weeks ago
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This 1981 BYTE Magazine Cover Explains Why We're So Bad At Tech Predictions

petes_PoV Re:That micro-floppy (275 comments)

Forget the tech - that's the least important part. The function is exactly the same: removable storage. So in that respect it works just fine.

You also have to remember that the cover (and all articles about "the future") are written for a contemporary audience. Therefore all the stuff mentioned or described has to be acceptable to those people. If the artist had just drawn a small plastic chip, it would have been meaningless. A floppy disc, although nobody who could ever claim to be a Byte reader would consider it viable, signposts the idea of miniature storage.

In that respect it was prescient.

about two weeks ago
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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

petes_PoV Can't teach, won't teach (431 comments)

Write as you wish, you're not bound by any rules

This was (maybe still is) the fashion in UK schools for a long, long time. So long in fact that the current generation of teachers were brought up this way. The idea being that correcting grammar and spelling mistakes would somehow "stunt" creativity - and that creativity was more important than you know: being understood or communicating clearly.

Since the teachers were not taught that there was a correct way of writing, they cannot possibly pass on to the next generation a skill they never gained, themselves.

Downward spiral, anyone?

about two weeks ago
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Anyone Can Buy Google Glass April 15

petes_PoV Who followed through? (167 comments)

... others applied to be Explorers through Google contests by sharing what cool projects they would do if they had Glass

So I wonder if any of these people actually did any of the "cool projects" they claimed, or did they just pose around, with their newly aquired status (or otherwise) symbols.

about two weeks ago
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

petes_PoV Re:Five hundred years? (864 comments)

How does a 500 year data set apply to a 4.5 billion year old planet?

Extremely well, as it turns out. You don't need weather records going back to the dinosaurs to forecast tomorrow's weather. It would simply be irrelevant. All you need is enough information to establish a valid model for NOW and then use it's predictive powers. The climate people have all of that and they've run the numbers. Guess what? It works.

So what if the model only holds for a few decades, that's long enough to forecast some rather disturbing possibiliites. Ones that may (or may not - but that's a different issue) need some people, somewhere to do something

The scientists have done the science bit. It's now a political game to actually get people to do something. Questioning the science at this stage is a bt like questioning the properties of gravity - just because it may have been different 10 billion years ago.

about two weeks ago
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

petes_PoV Re:Back to Pre-Industrial Revolution Days (864 comments)

So what do we have to give up to have a zero change in the global temperature

Only one thing: having so many offspring.

The problem isn't that we have an excessive lifestyle. The problem is that there are TOO MANY of us having an excessive lifestyle. Get the population down to a billion or so and we can all have diesels, coal-fired power stations and as much beef as we could ever desire.

It's just that all 7 billion of us can't all do that at once.

about two weeks ago
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Seven Habits of Highly Effective Unix Admins

petes_PoV To be an effective admin AND stay in a job (136 comments)

Rule #8 would be not to fix problems too quickly (and let some that you can see coming, happen).

If you fix every problem before it gets serious and avert the other 90%, your bosses will think they have a highly reliable IT infrastructure. They will then cast their eyes about for cost savings - and the biggest target will be the most highly paid admins - the most senior ones - YOU!!!

So keep the problems coming, as all that management have to assess you on are the number of fixes and the time to fix. Nobody ever got promoted for solving problems that never happened.

Finally: 60 hours a week? Don't be daft. If you're really an effective administrator you should have your work finished well inside 30 hours and/or 4 working days.

about two weeks ago
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UN Report Reveals Odds of Being Murdered Country By Country

petes_PoV Re:shenanigans (386 comments)

You'll never get americans to give up their guns: they're all too afraid. What are they so scared of? Yup, all the (other) people with guns. The comments about gun shops and firing ranges being the "safest" places demonstrates this very well. The gun-owners feel safest when surrounded by guns. However when they are out in the big, nasty, world they feel insecure that other people might have weapons they can't see, so the urge to protect themselves becomes very strong.

Obviously, if nobody in the USA had a gun, this level of fear should be reduced, but it's irrational and doesn't work like that. Hence they all keep their guns and that induces more fear - so they feel the need for more and bigger guns, just as a sort of "safety blanket" (as almost none of them are ever fired in the real world) - which, of course, escalates the problem.

It's all because they're all so scared of each other.

about two weeks ago
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New French Law Prohibits After-Hours Work Emails

petes_PoV Re:Feel free to do so! Just recognize that your (477 comments)

all the brownie points and the bigger raise and the better office

And they're welcome to it. Along with all the added pressure, politics and satisfaction

Managers also have a far higher risk of redundancy (as no-one can actually see them produce anything) and lower job security as they are more expensive employees. I already earn more than I can reasonably spend and am quite capable of delivering on targets in a sensible number of hours in a 5 day a week.

about two weeks ago
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Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds

petes_PoV Re:Interesting, but they admit low-current capabil (227 comments)

How many cars are currently filling up with petrol in Suffolk (the county where SIzewell B is situated) right at this second?

Yes, this is the point that all the electric car makers either miss or ignore.

Petrol has a massive energy density (party due to being able to use air as a "free" oxidiser). In simple energy terms it "contains" about 33M Joules per litre - or 2GJ in a standard tankful. Try to transfer 2GJ of energy into an electric car's battery in the time it takes to fill your tank and you realise just how convenient a liquid fuel is.

about two weeks ago
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Facebook and Google's Race To Zero

petes_PoV How do you make money out of "zero"? (53 comments)

And people have started to do every normal activity we would do on the Internet through those two portals because it costs them zero

If there are billions of people who are prevented, by cost contraints, from accessing the internet I have to wonder whether FB and Google are executing their strategies for purely altruistic reasons, as part of a long-term (decades?) strategy, as a means of making a fast buck, or simply because the other guy is doing it - and they don't want to be left behind?.

Altruism I can understand. But making FB the home page of a continent or two ... is tht really a benefit of the people receiving free internet?

If people have no money, would there be any profit to be made by pushing advertisements to them. Would there even be retailers or wholesalers with products they could buy - given the lack of delivery infrastructure.

If the plan is, that with internet access, the people in these poor areas will become rich and will then start buying stuff they see in advertisements - would that necessarily be to their benefit? Or would the companies providing these services be more like the East India Company in the 18th century - and be indulging in a bit of commercial imperialism?

about three weeks ago

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