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Comments

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Google Introduces HTML 5.1 Tag To Chrome

plover Re:In addition ... (64 comments)

... the use of the new "picture" tag which is a container for multiple image sizes/formats ...

... I hear each one can take the place of a 1000 words.

... and it will only require 50,000 words in which to send it.

11 hours ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

plover Re:CDs (523 comments)

I also make it a point to go through supermarket lines with a real cashier rather than a do-it-yourself scanner. Not because I am a technophobe (quite the opposite) but because I like dealing with a real human.

I generally avoid the self checkout, but I might use it if there are no other customers in front of me and there's a line at the cashier. Have you ever waited for a self checkout behind a typical person? I want to claw my brain out as I watch them stupidly wave a package over the scanner again and again, all the while covering the barcode with their hand. Or they bounce everything off the glass, as if they're buying basketballs. Or they have to sift through their entire basket, to find that one bottle of Axlotl juice that they want to put in the bag next.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

plover Re:Local storage (523 comments)

All you have to do is sign up and they'll migrate your email account to their IMAP servers. https://xcsignup.comcast.net/o...

IIRC they hurriedly provided this back about the time Windows 8 came out, because Windows 8 has no POP3 client.

yesterday
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IEEE Guides Software Architects Toward Secure Design

plover Re:Fire the Architects (48 comments)

Maybe the requirement to upload bulk updates was a lower priority for that development team than getting other features implemented, and it's still on their stack. Or maybe they ran out of budget before getting to implement that feature. Maybe the stakeholder who was assigned to work with that development team failed to understand his or her own user base - the stakeholder's job is to provide the business perspective, and maybe he thought a pretty color scheme was more important than bulk uploads.

People can still make poor decisions in any framework, which does not necessarily invalidate that framework. The good thing about an Agile approach is that as long as the team is there, the software can still be easily changed.

And if she hasn't already, your wife has the responsibility to file a bug report or at least report her concerns to the stakeholder - the team may not even know of this need for bulk updating, or the financial impact of the one-at-a-time process. It sounds like it's fairly easy to quantify the cost of the inefficiency, which should help prioritize it accordingly.

yesterday
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IEEE Guides Software Architects Toward Secure Design

plover Re:API consistency; negative tests (48 comments)

Software is malleable in that whatever is on the inside can be safely changed through refactoring to meet your new design goals. And yes, you have to adhere to strong design principles: the open/close principle helps ensure that you can safely migrate to a new API while still supporting your old clients; the interface segregation principle helps ensure that your clients are always getting the right service without confusion; and you have to commit to serious code coverage metrics for your automated tests. That means you don't even write an exception handler unless you have a unit test that proves it properly catches the exception.

And developers absolutely cannot work in a vacuum, or be incompetent - there's no room for them. So when they're writing the negative tests, they are expected to be smart enough understand the permutations and the boundaries in the requirements they're implementing. But high complexity means lots of paths through the code, which means lots of tests, and this need for testability that is practically and realistically achievable provides incentive for the developer to keep code complexity down. That is a feat he or she continually accomplishes through the refactoring step of TDD. That way, instead of writing fifty tests, perhaps they can split it into five modules and write ten tests. Not coincidentally, this activity continues to improve modularity, reusability, and maintainability of the module. So it improves the code's design after it's written (an activity that still was not needed up front.) As a bonus, you get to execute the automated tests again and again, so future maintainers benefit by knowing they haven't broken your module. TDD is actually a design methodology, not a test strategy.

And I know that you're using CAPTCHAs as a clever example (how can you prove that you wrote a transformation so complex that you can't Turing test it?), but the real answer there is it depends on what code you're testing. Are you testing the code that processes the outcome for a true or false response? Are you testing the user interface, that allows them to type letters into a text box? Those tests aren't especially hard to automate. But when you're talking about the specifics of "is this CAPTCHA producing a human-interpretable output?" then you're talking about usability testing, which is expensive, manual, and slow. It's a task you'd perform after changing the CAPTCHA generation routines, but you wouldn't be able to automate. So I'd have to manually test it only after changing the generation routines, and I wouldn't alter the generation routines without scheduling more user testing.

(If I ever had to write a CAPTCHA for real, I'd probably try to parameterize it and allow the admins to tweak the image generation without my having to further change and test the code. So if the admin figures out how to tweak it to a black-on-black test, and preventing low-contrast color schemes wasn't identified in the original effort, the admin could still untweak it. And yes, that should generate a bug report, even though it would be recoverable.)

But in terms of difficult to test code, teams that do this kind of development work well will often have different suites of tests for different situations. Etsy does this really well, by splitting tests into various categories: slow, flaky, network, trunk, sleep, database, etc. They always run all trunk tests on every build, but only if the developer is working on something that tests the actual network communication would he execute the network tests. See http://codeascraft.com/2011/04... for their really inspiring blog.

yesterday
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IEEE Guides Software Architects Toward Secure Design

plover Re:Fire the Architects (48 comments)

There's a ton (or a megabyte) wrong with the hardware/software construction analogy, but organizations like the IEEE keep pushing on it because that's the way people look at "engineering".

The problem is the analogy makes everyone who doesn't understand software think there has to be some "big design up front" before you write software. Of course, when the end product is as infinitely malleable as software, that's simply not true. The human interface needs a design in order to mesh with the humans in an elegant and consistent fashion, but the code? No. The only purpose of code design is to make the code readable and maintainable, and those are attributes you achieve through test driven development and continual refactoring.

I'm not saying that ideas like object orientation, design patterns, design principles, etc., are unimportant, nor am I saying that an overall application structure like Model-View-Controller, or Extract-Transform-Load, is wrong. But the continued efforts wasted trying to make Big Design Up Front work leads to unimaginably expensive wasteful processes that only work for a very limited, very rigid set of products, and of those most fail anyway. Worse is when non-developers fail to realize that the code itself is the language of design. Back to the construction analogy, people think that an engineer produces a blueprint, then 100 people grab hammers and shovels and build the building. Hire 200 people. They don't all have to be skilled laborers, either, some are just guys with shovels and hammers. Want it to go up faster? But in software development, anything automatable has already been automated. When a software developer needs to do "construction", he or she types "make". Want it to go faster? Buy a bigger build server.

The engineering the IEEE is trying to achieve is accomplished by test-first development, continual automated testing, and peer code reviews. It is not achieved by producing thousands of documents, months of procedures, and boards of review.

yesterday
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Drought Inspires a Boom In Pseudoscience, From Rain Machines To 'Water Witches'

plover Re: A fool and their money (257 comments)

My father-in-law believed he could "witch" wires, pipes, or whatever, using two pieces of copper wire. Funny thing is, he could never repeat a witching while blindfolded. We figured that decades in the construction industry meant that he could subconsciously spot the clues where a typical pipeline would be run.

If I were planning where to run tile in a field, I'd look for the low spot, and the easiest, straightest run from there to a drainage ditch. Doesn't take beechwood sticks or copper wires to figure that out.

2 days ago
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DoT Proposes Mandating Vehicle-To-Vehicle Communications

plover Re:All new passenger cars and light trucks (256 comments)

V2V doesn't have to be limited to reporting just your own vehicle's data. Each packet could include data known about other nearby vehicles. Why does this matter? Because my car has radar, cameras, and ultrasonic sensors that detect all sorts of nearby vehicles today, so its packets could include reports on all the nearby vehicles it detects, including your old car.

Additional data on other vehicles helps identify failing systems (or cheats), and can theoretically provide some corroborating information about the nearby traffic. Let's say that one of the paranoid people who have posted above tries to dodge tickets by rigging their V2V to always report they're traveling the speed limit, even when they're exceeding it by 30 km/h (even though it's obvious that reporting your coordinates every 100 milliseconds will reveal your true speed.) But if a couple different cars with radar report "vehicle at X,Y, bearing B, change in bearing -3.000 d/s, velocity 38.00 m/s, acceleration +0.1 m/s/s", then even if the offending car self-reports that it is going at 29.00 m/s the rest of the cars in the area can still respond as if it were traveling at 38.00 m/s.

(It's also interesting to consider that evolution will tend to remove incorrectly reporting cars from the road, as they will be involved in more accidents.)

Note that this doesn't even violate anyone's privacy in order to achieve safety. The packet doesn't have to identify the vehicle, as its location is (or at least should be) unique. That way if my right side ultrasonic blind spot sensor picks up a car that is 2 m away, it can simply report the existence of a vehicle at the computed X,Y.

Finally, how does this benefit you, in your old vehicle that doesn't have a V2V system? Once other cars on the road have V2V, those other cars will control themselves to avoid colliding with you. Every car that automatically steers itself away from harming you is one less chance at an accident you might get in. It won't make much of a difference initially, but as time goes on and more vehicles become equipped, you'll gradually have your risks reduced.

2 days ago
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Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

plover Re:...like dash cams. (305 comments)

Simple: you can automatically activate and deactivate it in certain trigger conditions (light bar, high speed, etc.) but you always let the cop turn it on and off at will.

If the cop has been issued a camera, but it's not recording at the same time that he's arresting someone who accuses him of using excessive force, what's that going to say to a lawyer, or to a jury? "Well, your Honor, we had three police officers trying to subdue the subject in the car when they all had to discharge their weapons and fatally shot the unarmed man with six bullets, but coincidentally the officers had all just been peeing by the side of the road so none of them had their cameras on." I know we have a few kangaroo courts in this country, but when it gets serious you still have to convince a jury to believe the shit being shoveled doesn't stink.

2 days ago
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Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

plover Re:Let's start with name tags... (305 comments)

Because camera footage could have vindicated their behavior. And if a cop with a camera turns it off just before he shoots someone, especially an unarmed robbery suspect, do you really think a lawyer is going to just let that slide? The very existence of the cameras will be enough to change behaviors.

2 days ago
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Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

plover Re:Privacy (305 comments)

There are some jurisdictions that are talking about having the cameras enabled wirelessly whenever the light bar comes on, and then they keep the video rolling until the cop stops the car, gets out, gets back in, and starts driving at the posted speed. So if he stops at a rest area, restaurant, or wherever in a non-emergency capacity, it won't automatically turn on. Of course he'll have the option to turn it on or off whenever he wants. But a cop whose camera is coincidentally turned off every time he's accused of abuse will quickly raise suspicion.

And have you seen the crap cops have to put up with? They're constantly being accused by abusive liars. The honest cops don't seem to mind the cameras in those cases because it really cuts down on their stress. When a defendant accuses a camera-equipped cop of abuse, the quickest answer is to show the defendant's lawyer the video, and (according to NPR) the defendant almost always drops the accusation. And if provoked, the video can help justify the use of force.

It may get some cops to moderate their behavior, and that's fine - we need professional police, and if the camera helps remind them, there's nothing wrong with that.

2 days ago
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Limiting the Teaching of the Scientific Process In Ohio

plover Re:just because the dept of ed.... (519 comments)

But your quote specifically says, "principally through performance on a common statewide placement examination." It does not say the CSU system uses SAT or ACT for admissions standards. Perhaps if they based admissions on the SAT or ACT results, they'd need less remediation. Of course, that means rejecting a bunch of the little revenue-generating tykes instead of sending them over to the bursar's office to extract the maximum amount of Financial Aid money from them.

It would be interesting to compare the graduation rates to the remedial course attendance. Do the remedial students fail to graduate at a higher rate than the qualified students? Are we doing those younger, under-qualified students a disservice by allowing them to matriculate?

3 days ago
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Limiting the Teaching of the Scientific Process In Ohio

plover Re: The US slides back to the caves (519 comments)

Keep in mind how big the us is and deverse. Head to the coasts and you will find that its like compairing night and day. Still it makes the us the butt of other peoples jokes.

I know you're only trying to help defend the image of the American education system, but please, stop. I'm not sure you could have packed more condemnation of your school's English curriculum into a three sentence reply.

You did remind me of a joke, though. "The bigger America is, diverse it gets."

3 days ago
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Major Delays, Revamped Beta For Credit-Card Consolidating Gadget Coin

plover Re:Major flaw in design (78 comments)

With PIN-based transactions on financial cards, the PIN is defined by the contract as the method of your approval, so no other signature is required. And I have yet to meet a cashier who is qualified as a graphologist who is legally qualified to compare a signed charge slip with the signature on the back of the card. Instead, most cashiers are trained to ignore the signature, other than making sure they got one. Some chains don't even show the customer's signature to the cashier, and some don't require the customers to show their charge card.

As this rolls out, we will see that certain issuer's cards will have PIN requirements, others will have signature requirements. It will vary by bank.

Something to note is that many banks will certainly get it wrong as this rolls out. We observed this from Canada's EMV experience. The Canadian bankers all thought they'd define a certain set of rules with EMV that would ensure every card was secured by defining PIN requirements, offline transactions, dollar limits on the cards, etc. It turned out that their cards were almost unusable for a lot of transactions, and they succeeded in making lots of people switch back to cash. The US banks are not eager to repeat that experience, but they are just as likely to get it wrong.

This will likely not be a smooth transition. Merchants and customers are all going to run into roadblocks, and lots of people are going to be upset before it's all done. I'd suggest patience, and to politely let your bank know of trouble as soon as you encounter a problem. The more complaints they hear, the more incentive they'll have to fix it before their customers jump ship for the few banks that get it right.

4 days ago
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Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

plover Re:Dobsonian (185 comments)

It's kind of sad that you underestimate kids like that.

5 days ago
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Major Delays, Revamped Beta For Credit-Card Consolidating Gadget Coin

plover Re:Major flaw in design (78 comments)

The US market is moving rapidly to chip, as the PCI has mandated a liability shift as of October 2015. After that date, any merchants who don't demand a chip instead of a mag stripe will be fully liable for any fraud on the account, so the incentive for retailers to abandon mag stripes is very strong.

I have no doubt that Coin will be implemented well, and will provide a measure of physical security that plastic cards don't. However, be assured that retailers are indeed suspicious of them because they are not original cards. No institution has yet decided to officially say yes or no to them - everyone is kind of waiting for guidance from the PCI. And with Chip-and-PIN only a year out, they may just decide to not decide.

5 days ago
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Major Delays, Revamped Beta For Credit-Card Consolidating Gadget Coin

plover Re:I'm missing something about this product, I thi (78 comments)

Once the merchants have the terminals in place and the liability has shifted to them, the issuers will have strong incentive to deploy chip cards, as they will have the least secure piece of the system. Mag stripes will be gone in just a few years.

5 days ago
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Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

plover Re:Dobsonian (185 comments)

Exactly the opposite ... You're going to expect an 11y to polar align?

Yes. Teach him or her once, and they feel like they now know the secrets of science. They'll soon be looking up exact lat/lon for their location, and setting it more precisely than the affordable (cheap) mechanism can handle, which is just fine. This also teaches them how to find Polaris. And if they ever get the itch to take some photographs, they'll have the right tool for the job.

After looking at Saturn's rings and spotting the Galilean moons, they're going to want to see other famous features; looking for the Messier objects is a great challenge for kids. This will quickly teach them a few other foundational skills, too: how to read a star chart, Right Ascension and Declination, and sidereal time. All this can be done on a relatively inexpensive 4" reflector with a small equatorial mount on a tripod.

A Dobsonian will give much clearer pictures for the money, and is great for viewing easily identifiable objects, but it's not going to give them a working understanding of celestial mechanics.

about a week ago
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Students From States With Faster Internet Tend To Have Higher Test Scores

plover Re:sorry (175 comments)

I'm sorry that such hell holes persist in 21st century USA, but that has nothing to do with my comment. We have fiber criss-crossing the entire state, including the remotest northern towns. Yes, the money may have originated primarily from the cities, but it's being spent statewide. And we have impoverished areas, But public money can only pull fibers just so far. We can't drag one up every driveway in the state.

If you want to fix your state, start by voting to raise taxes by an order of magnitude across rich and poor alike. If you're always led by selfish people who won't ever raise taxes, nothing will continue to happen.

about a week ago

Submissions

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Supervalu Becomes Another Hacking Victim

plover plover writes  |  about two weeks ago

plover (150551) writes "Supervalu (NYSE:SVU) is the latest retailer to experience a data breach, announcing today that cybercriminals had accessed payment card transactions at some of its stores.

The Minneapolis-based company said it had "experienced a criminal intrusion" into the portion of its computer network that processes payment card transactions for some of its stores. There was no confirmation that any cardholder data was in fact stolen and no evidence the data was misused, according to the company.

The event occurred between June 22 and July 17, 2014 at 180 Supervalu stores and stand-alone liquor stores. Affected banners include Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher's, Shop 'n Save and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy."

Link to Original Source
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Smithsonian Releasing 3D Models of Artifacts

plover plover writes  |  about 9 months ago

plover (150551) writes "The Seattle Times reports "the Smithsonian Institution is launching a new 3D scanning and printing initiative to make more of its massive collection accessible to schools, researchers and the public worldwide. A small team has begun creating 3D models of some key objects representing the breadth of the collection at the world's largest museum complex. Some of the first 3D scans include the Wright brothers' first airplane, Amelia Earhart's flight suit, casts of President Abraham Lincoln's face during the Civil War and a Revolutionary War gunboat. Less familiar objects include a former slave's horn, a missionary's gun from the 1800s and a woolly mammoth fossil from the Ice Age. They are pieces of history some people may hear about but rarely see or touch."

So far they have posted 20 models on the site, with the promise of much more to come."
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Why iFingerprinting Makes You Legally Unsafe

plover plover writes  |  about a year ago

plover (150551) writes "Mark Rasch, an attorney specializing in privacy and security law, has taken a look at using the iPhone's fingerprint access to protect your privacy. He believes that you can sometimes be compelled by a court to provide your password to unlock an encrypted file, depending on the circumstances. But you can always be compelled to provide your fingerprints, and that the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed there is no Fifth Amendment protection against it. That means if you lock your phone with only a fingerprint, the government will almost certainly be able to compel you to unlock it. If you lock it with a passcode, there's a chance you can refuse to provide it under the Fifth Amendment.

The new iPhone 5s’s biometric fingerprint scanner can actually put consumers (or merchants, for that matter) in a worse position legally than the previous four-digit PIN. In fact, the biometric can open the contents of a consumer’s phone and any linked payment systems, accounts or systems—including contacts, email and documents—less legally protected than the simple passcode. This is because the law may treat the biometric (something you are) differently from a password (something you know).

"

Link to Original Source
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FinSpy Commercial Spyware Abused By Governments

plover plover writes  |  about 2 years ago

plover (150551) writes "The NY Times has this story about FinSpy, a commercial spyware package sold "only for law enforcement purposes" being used by governments to spy on dissidents, journalists, and others, and how two U.S. computer experts, Morgan Marquis-Boire from Google, and Bill Marczak, a PhD student in Computer Science, have been tracking it down around the world."
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Iran Admits Stuxnet Impacted Their Nuclear Program

plover plover writes  |  more than 3 years ago

plover (150551) writes "According to this article in the Guardian,

Ahmadinejad admitted the worm had affected Iran's uranium enrichment. "They succeeded in creating problems for a limited number of our centrifuges with the software they had installed in electronic parts," the president said. "They did a bad thing. Fortunately our experts discovered that, and today they are not able [to do that] anymore."

"

Link to Original Source
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Jury awards $1.5 million to Capitol Records

plover plover writes  |  more than 3 years ago

plover (150551) writes "In the Jammie Thomas-Rasset case that never ends, a Minneapolis jury has awarded Capitol Records $1.5 million dollars.

Thomas-Rasset is expected to appeal and it the case could wind its way to the Supreme Court."

Link to Original Source
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Ars Technica Forums Abused by Phishers

plover plover writes  |  more than 4 years ago

plover (150551) writes "Some Ars Technica members received phishing attempts purporting to be from SunTrust this morning. Here's the posting on the Ars forum explaining what happened.

It seems that many users received phishing attempts to Ars only email addresses this morning. We're working on it and will update this post when we find something out.

We believe that our previous forum provider has some exploit that allows people to send messages to private email addresses through their servers. Every report we've seen has originated at one of their web front ends. If we are correct, your email addresses have not been compromised. It's obviously pretty bad to be getting phishing attempts forwarded through someone else, but not quite as bad as if an email DB had been jacked or something.

We have emails out to them. There's a chance we won't hear back for a couple of hours since they're on pacific time, but we're doing what we can.

That's got to be one stupid phisherman to try phishing from the members of Ars Technica."

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US Admits Most Piracy Estimates Are Bogus

plover plover writes  |  more than 4 years ago

plover (150551) writes "According to this article on Ars Technica, the GAO admitted that the estimates of the impact of piracy have no basis in fact.

After examining all the data and consulting with numerous experts inside and outside of government, the Government Accountability Office concluded that it is "difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the economy-wide impacts."

"
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Senate Votes to Replace Aviation Radar With GPS

plover plover writes  |  more than 4 years ago

plover (150551) writes "The U.S. Senate today passed by a 93-0 margin a bill that would implement the FAA's NextGen plan to replace aviation radar with GPS units. It will help pay for the upgrade by increasing aviation fuel taxes on private aircraft. It will require two inspections per year on foreign repair stations that work on U.S. planes. And it will ban pilots from using personal electronics in the cockpit. This just needs to be reconciled with the House version and is expected to soon become law. This was discussed on Slashdot a few years ago."
Link to Original Source
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Do your developers have local admin rights?

plover plover writes  |  more than 4 years ago

plover (150551) writes "I work as a developer for a Very Large American Corporation. We are not an IT company, but have a large IT organization that does a lot of internal development. In my area, we do Windows development, which includes writing and maintaining code for various services and executables. A few years ago the Info Security group removed local administrator rights from most accounts and machines, but our area was granted exceptions for developers. My question is: do other developers in other large companies have local admin rights to their development environment? If not, how do you handle tasks like debugging, testing installations, or installing updated development tools that aren't a part of the standard corporate workstation?"
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Wal-mart Hacked in 2006, Details in Wired

plover plover writes  |  more than 4 years ago

plover (150551) writes "Kim Zetter of Wired documents an extensive hack of Wal-Mart that took place in 2005-2006. She goes into great detail about the investigation and what the investigators found, including that the hackers made copies of their point-of-sale source code, and that they ran l0phtCrack on a Wal-Mart server.

Wal-Mart uncovered the breach in November 2006, after a fortuitous server crash led administrators to a password-cracking tool that had been surreptitiously installed on one of its servers. Wal-Mart’s initial probe traced the intrusion to a compromised VPN account, and from there to a computer in Minsk, Belarus.

Wal-mart has long since fixed the flaws that allowed the compromise, and confirmed that no customer data was lost in the hack."

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Ex-CIO Blames Microsoft For Security Breach

plover plover writes  |  more than 6 years ago

plover (150551) writes "Hannaford is a grocery store chain who lost 4.2 million credit card numbers earlier this year as a result of a security breach. Their former CIO is directly blaming their use of Microsoft as the reason they were breached.

"None of the breach was anything related to Linux. All of it was Microsoft."

Asked whether he believed that Microsoft is less secure because it's truly less secure software or whether its overwhelming marketshare makes it a cyber thief target, Homa said it was the other way around. Microsoft's marketshare is not what attracts so many attackers. "Microsoft is so full of holes. That's why it's still a target," he said.

"
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Hannaford's CIO Blames Data Breach on Microsoft

plover plover writes  |  more than 6 years ago

plover (150551) writes "Hannaford is a grocery store chain who lost 4.5 million credit card numbers as a result of a security breach. Their former CIO is directly blaming their use of Microsoft as the reason they were breached.

Homa has become a fan of simplification in battling security. "We used a lot of Linux," Homa said. "None of the breach was anything related to Linux. All of it was Microsoft."

Asked whether he believed that Microsoft is less secure because it's truly less secure software or whether its overwhelming marketshare makes it a cyber thief target, Homa said it was the other way around. Microsoft's marketshare is not what attracts so many attackers. "Microsoft is so full of holes. That's why it's still a target," he said.

Would he counsel other CIOs to avoid Microsoft like the plague? "That's what I'd do. If you limit your exposure to Microsoft, you're going to be in a more secure environment," he said, adding that Microsoft's philosophy is decentralized, forcing IT to manage more points. That means more license fees for Microsoft and more potential security gotchas for the CIO. "Hence, you see my aversion to Microsoft."

"

Link to Original Source
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plover plover writes  |  more than 7 years ago

plover (150551) writes "According to this Star Tribune story, police, with the court's permission, attached a GPS tracking device to a suspect's motorcycle and tracked his activity to the site of a theft. On Monday the thief pled guilty and was sentenced to five years."
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plover plover writes  |  more than 7 years ago

plover (150551) writes "
Wearing a blue suit and a tight smile, the fed faced his audience.
And this wasn't just any audience. It consisted of 300 potential offenders, rounded up on Tuesday so Jon Dudas could lay down the law to them.
In this Star Tribune story, Jon Dudas, the director of the USPTO was speaking to an elementary school assembly of second through fifth graders. So instead of "students" or "kids", it's now acceptable for reporters to refer to them as "potential offenders"? This is plus ungood."

Journals

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PC Invader Costs Ky. County $415,000

plover plover writes  |  more than 5 years ago The Washington Post is reporting a complex hack and con job resulting in the theft of $415,000 from Bullitt County, Kentucky. The story is fascinating, and is filled with detailed information regarding the theft.

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Warner Music about to sing a new tune?

plover plover writes  |  more than 6 years ago Warner Music Group's CEO Edgar Bronfman sounds like he's publicly acknowledging what we've known all along: consumers like the iPod, the music business has changed, and that the music industry was wrong to attack their own customers. Might this speech mark the start of the end of the insanity?

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Game time!

plover plover writes  |  more than 7 years ago Thanks to this posting, Rupert and I are now playing a game: Find the highest Google maps route distance to great circle distance ratio.

Rupert started it with this:

Fairbanks to St. Petersburg.
Great circle distance: 3,840 miles
Google directions distance: 9,631 miles
My score: 2.508

I answered by stretching his route slightly: Kantishna Station, Alaska to Skarsvag, Norway. It's a pretty long journey no matter how you look at it.

Google's route: 10,411 miles
Great circle distance: 3,141 miles
It has a score of only 3.315, but it'll take 34 days to make the journey!

This one seemed like a good North American entry:
Google's route
gets a score of 3.7.

But North America is tricky. Just about every goat and Jeep trail is mapped, and we Americans cannot abide straight lines that aren't paved. Rupert's still managed to find some good ones: Route to distance gives a very respectable 5.6.

I've headed over to the Balkans, where the maps are usefully short on detail. Here's my latest entry. Lecce, Italy to Tirane, Albania: Route to great circle.

1267 km by Google, 216 km straight arc. Score is 5.866.

It's kind of a pain because you have to snarf the lat/lon from Google's URL and adapt it to the great circle calculator, but it's fun to exploit holes in Google's map coverage.

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YASS - Yet Another Story Submission

plover plover writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Wearing a blue suit and a tight smile, the fed faced his audience.
And this wasn't just any audience. It consisted of 300 potential offenders, rounded up on Tuesday so Jon Dudas could lay down the law to them.

In this Star Tribune story, Jon Dudas, the director of the USPTO was speaking to an elementary school assembly of second through fifth graders. So instead of "students" or "kids", it's now acceptable for reporters to refer to them as "potential offenders"? This is plus ungood.

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On the date of my birth:

plover plover writes  |  more than 8 years ago helicobacter has launched a /. meme. Go to wikipedia and type in the month and day (no year) of your birth. Pick out three interesting events, two births and a death, and post them in your journal.

EVENTS:

  • 1986 - Halley's Comet is visible in the night sky as it passes in its 76-year orbit around the sun.
  • 1962 - Ranger 3 is launched to study the moon. The space probe later missed the moon by 22,000 miles (35,400 km).
  • 1802 - The U.S. Congress passes an act calling for a library to be established within the U.S. Capitol; eventually this becomes the Library of Congress. It's a geek thing.

BIRTHS:

  • 1961 - Wayne Gretzky, Canadian hockey player, coach, and team owner.
  • 1918 - Nicolae Ceausescu, Romanian dictator (d. 1989.) I only picked Ceausescu because I remember how much the Romanians enjoyed executing him.

DEATHS:

  • 1997 - Jeane Dixon, American astrologer (b. 1904.) And she never saw it coming!

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Merry [Christmas|Hannukah|Kwanzaa|Yule|.*] to you!

plover plover writes  |  more than 8 years ago

I just wanted to wish all of you well this holiday season. I know some of you aren't religious folk (neither am I), but that won't stop me from hoping for happiness for you now and in the coming year.

And money, too. Yeah, I may as well wish for something practical for you all while I'm at it.

So have a happy new year and I hope you get money! :-)

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Another submission: this year's Ig Nobles have been awarded

plover plover writes  |  more than 8 years ago Here's the text I submitted. It's probably already been submitted, but hey, they're likely to publish at least one of them (and if Zonk has anything to do with it, they're likely to publish ALL of them! :-)

The BBC is reporting on this years winners of the Ig Noble awards, honoring science achievements that "cannot, or should not, be reproduced". For example, this years winner for Medicine was the inventor of Neuticles, rubber replacement testicles for neutered dogs.

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Submitted an interesting story

plover plover writes  |  more than 9 years ago Here's my submission:

In the story Hacker Hunters, BusinessWeek Online documents how the Secret Service turned a member of the ShadowCrew and was able to arrest dozens of the members of the phishing ring.

From the article: "Law enforcement officials are often loath to reveal details of their operations, but the Secret Service and Justice Dept. wanted to publicize a still-rare victory. So they agreed to reveal the inner dynamics of their cat-and-mouse chase to BusinessWeek. The case provides a window into the arcane culture of cybercriminals and the methods of their pursuers."

I thought it was a fascinating read, anyway.

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Another submission, and it's not a dupe!

plover plover writes  |  more than 9 years ago This is the text I submitted under the heading "Vex, a New Robot Kit available at Radio Shack Soon"

While Lego Mindstorms are fine for creating autonomous toy robots, there's still a lack of kits for constructing larger, sturdier do-it-yourself remote controlled robots. Enter Vex, an Erector/Meccano-style robotics construction kit. According to PCMagazine, (beware, popunder ads) Radio Shack is set to roll these out to consumers beginning in May. No computer control (yet) but they sure look fun!

So, if the story gets rejected, you still might want to check them out. I can't wait!

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Another midnight, another submission

plover plover writes  |  more than 9 years ago Best Buy to Eliminate Rebates

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune (free registration required,) "In response to customer complaints, Best Buy, the world's largest electronics retailer, promised today to eliminate mail-in rebates within two years."

Can it be that we're finally nearing the end of one of the most hated marketing ploys of all? What is the world coming to?

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I'm hopeful about this submission!

plover plover writes  |  more than 9 years ago This one is actually news.

plover writes: Because of Congressional legislation passed quietly in 2003, the Air Force Space Command will no longer distribute space surveillance data via NASA. There was supposed a three year transitional period where the data was to be made available via a NASA web site, but earlier this month their transitional server went down hard, and NASA has decided to not rebuild it. (It was scheduled to be shut down on 31 March 2005 anyway.)

The only way to obtain satellite data now is by signing up with the official Space-Track website. Part of the agreement to obtaining data from their site is that you agree to not redistribute their data.

Of course, amateurs are still free to redistribute their observations, including those of classified satellites.

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Another rejected story prepared

plover plover writes  |  more than 9 years ago Well, I keep trying. Here's the latest scoop.

According to Reuters, the chairman of Apex was arrested in China. Chinese officials have confirmed the arrest, but have not made the charges known yet. A supplier recently came forward revealing Apex owed them $4.3 million, and fraud charges are suspected. Apex is a maker of inexpensive DVD players that are widely known for the ablility to turn off their region codes.

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New submission prepared for rejection

plover plover writes  |  more than 9 years ago This one was titled "SCO sales tanking?"

The SCO Group reported their fourth quarter income on Tuesday, and according to The Register, this quarter's earnings are down to $10.08 million, compared to $24 million last year. Their licensing revenue is virtually non-existant, at only $120,000 compared to $10 million to Q4 in 2003. Darl's statement to stockholders began by reporting 'Fourth Quarter achievements demonstrate continued progress at SCO.' I guess progress doesn't imply direction...

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Quick, a story that hasn't been rejected yet

plover plover writes  |  more than 8 years ago I submitted this story this afternoon.

'Researchers are saying that caffeine withdrawal should now be classified as a psychiatric disorder' states Sid Kirchheimer at WebMD. In this article he examines a new study that shows caffeine withdrawal produces symptoms that render a person so dysfunctional that it should be classified as a psychiatric disorder. (The article also takes great pains to say "don't panic.") Caffeine withdrawal is nothing new to me, but having it ranked as a "disorder" does trouble me a bit.

Lets see if they can set a new land-speed record in story rejection...

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Another story submission (quick before it's rejected)

plover plover writes  |  about 10 years ago NewScientist.com is running a story that NASA is going to use two helicopter stunt pilots to catch a sample capsule that will be ejected by the Genesis spacecraft. Genesis has been collecting solar gases for the last couple of years, and the scientists need to retrieve it quickly to preserve the samples.

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Story submission (not rejected yet)

plover plover writes  |  more than 10 years ago Here's the scoop I submitted:

The New York Times is running this story (privacy violations required) discussing the new trend towards global movie premieres, and how this model leads to less piracy. Finally, the movie studios are trying something intelligent to combat piracy, rather than lawsuits.

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plover plover writes  |  about 11 years ago The new sig,
John
Karma: Fair and Balanced (mostly affected by a Fox News lawsuit)

is in honor of Fair and Balanced Day on the Internet (August 15th.) which I found from this link from BoingBoing.

The story is Fox News is suing Al Franken over the title of his new book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right." As if anybody who watches Fox News would a) read Al Franken ANYTHING; and b) be literate enough to actually read at all. None of those people have enough neurons to connect the two anyway.

I think the whole thing is a Fox marketing ploy just to get their slogan out. It's certainly the first time I've ever even heard that they have one.

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Obituary column

plover plover writes  |  more than 11 years ago JADNT, AT&T Globalyst S40, 1995 - 2002.

We are saddened to announce the passing of JADNT, whose electrons were returned to a lower energy state on Friday, October 25, 2002.

JADNT was a workhorse server. It began life as an evaluation candidate for an enterprise server, but was replaced early on as it was recognized as too small to perform the required duties. It was moved to its home in JADs cubicle where its dual Pentium Pro horsepower was quickly put to use in reducing compile times. As the software it supported was obsoleted, it took on other tasks where it quietly but efficiently monitored the status of other machines, provided a historical development platform, and constantly served up a variety of utility tools and command scripts.

JADNT fought bravely in its last few remaining hours, the spindle of drive 4 noisily attempting to cooperate with the SCSI controller's pleas to spin, while drive 1 was attempting to recover from a massive bit hemorrhage induced by a power failure on Monday evening at 5:30.

Tuesday morning, technicians attempted to perform an organ transplant. The donor S40 had been removed from life support and kept in storage for over a year, but by the time the drives had been removed and brought to the fourth floor it was too late to save the ailing JADNT. Both weakened drives had lost motor control leaving JADNT in a BIOS coma, gasping for a boot sector. On Friday morning, accompanied by faithful friends, the decision to pull the plug was made.

We will all fondly remember JADNT's famous lizards, and are saddened at the senseless loss of such data as troops.mov, the immensely useful and popular swiper and even its network attached Handspring cradle.

JADNT is survived by CDGU5, D2094REG2010 and JAD2K. It was preceded in death by CAMELOT, JOHN0S2 and 4680JAD. An open case viewing will be held throughout the weekend. Interment will be next week in a closet on third floor, where it is hoped that its RAID cage may some day help restore health to other Globalyst S40s.

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I now have a better sig

plover plover writes  |  more than 11 years ago It won't get our company's IP address banned, either, Rupert.

John
Karma: Excellent (mostly affected by bribing CowboyNeal)

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