top ArkOS: Building the Anti-Cloud (on a Raspberry Pi)
As much as I appreciate the joke, GP is right - and it has nothing to do with the OS the system is running, even though I'd wager Linux to still be more secure choice in that front. It's about who do you suppose is going to keep the system up-to-date? Following security news about the latest remote exploit in $HTTP_SERVER, or other parts of the system?
Giving a typical home computer user a "plug-and-play" server machine to host his/her own web pages at home and expecting anything like responsible and competent administration is silly. By trying to make it super simple to set up a server, they seem to be catering to the crowd that uses "password" as password, leaves their wifi just because that's the way it came from ISP, etc etc etc.
If they are trying to make their security idiot-proof, I sincerely wish them all the luck. Not holding my breath on that one though...
top Finland's Upper Secondary School Exams Going All-Linux
Right now, all the details are up to evaluation whatever seems most feasible.
Taken from project's website, the most likely way forward now is a USB-bootable live Linux distro on a laptop that has been maximally gutted in its ability to access anything else but a predefined server and the USB stick it boots on. Like, not having hardware drivers for the hdd etc. There also won't be any other programs except those needed to do the test installed, and the exam participant's user account won't have privileges to install anything else either, of course. The systems are most likely going to be booted by the administrators before test begins, (and the laptops, if owned by the students, have to be turned in for checks -- although if it's done in the same spirit as checks for graphing calculators are, the actual checks are randomly done. No school has enough manpower to do a sweep checks for every machine). There most certainly won't be any virtualization software included with the programs the exam taker can run.
The problem would at that point to prevent the student to boot into another OS in the middle of exam, accessing whatever, and then booting back test system again. Maybe they'll include constantly home-calling ping to some central server which will notify the local admins that "exam taker #34234 is up to something no good. Go look over his/her shoulder constantly for a while". Also, rebooting the whole computer would most likely be visible enough for the exam administrators (who are, or should be, on constant outlook for cheaters in any case).
That being said... a entrepreneuring (and skilled) exam taker could, with some hardware hacking, overcome many of these blocks in order to bring unauthorized materials into the exam and maybe even succeed in going unnoticed. That's why I'd really think the school districts (or the state) should just scrap the BYOD idea and shell the cash for bunch of cheap (around €200 or so) laptops. Since they would be usable for many years only for this purpose with tailor-made OS, it won't have to be *that* powerful anyway.
top Asus CEO On Windows RT: "We're Out."
What does Netcraft have to say about it?
top Why Is Science Behind a Paywall?
Journal subscription fees (and scientific publishing business models) have nearly nothing to do with pharmaceutical research and safety/effectiveness testing costs. Troll harder, please.
top 3D-Printed Gun May Be Unveiled Soon
When you need the stuff bad enough, pretty much
top Ask Slashdot: New To Linux; Which Distro?
Even if the submitter kinda implies he or she wants to learn by doing (or, "the hard way"), I can't get a feeling out of my chest that all this learning by doing would be much more effective with at least
some reading homework before and/or during the doing. For that, I recommend at least skimming through this: http://en.tldp.org/HOWTO/Unix-and-Internet-Fundamentals-HOWTO/index.html
Yeah, there's some stuff the submitter probably already knows or isn't all that interested about for now... and that's why it's a good idea to skim through first.
top Tech Leaders Encourage Teaching Schoolkids How To Code
Actually, nevermind the "shortage of IT workers/cheap labor" issue, I think it would be very beneficial for humanity and geeks in general if most people had a passing knowledge how the magic boxes are instructed to do fancy stuff. Maybe such knowledge would help citizenry at large understand things like why DRM is fundamentally broken concept, that an ability to give general purpose computer your own instructions should count as one of the most important features and an important form of expression and self-determination, which would help us make sure stuff like "Trusted Computing" never sees any significant success in its owner/user-hostile form.
top Valve Officially Launches Steam For Linux
My personal pet peeves about Unity:
1) Half-assed implementation of application switching - especially / mostly when dealing with multiple windows from same application (TERMINALS!!)
2) System-wide menubar (and I'm a long-time Mac user, for chrissakes!)
Now, let me elaborate on both of these. I admit I haven't yet mucked around with settings, and I'm actually using unity on a University lab computers where BOFHs are mostly responsible for the state of things, so reality might not be the same for you:
1 - application switching: Previously, every window of an application was a "program" in it's own right for alt-tab switching. I could switch to whatever window I exactly wanted to,
quickly. That quickly is a keyword here. Because now, if I want to get that-one-terminal-I-directly-want, I have to raise the application switcher on screen, alt-tab on it, WAIT FOR A SECOND, and only THEN I get to actually choose the exact terminal I want up.
On Mac (up to 10.6 at least), cmd-tab raises all of the windows of a single app up. Even THAT would be preferable to Unity, because then I at least I get the terminal I want quickly and smoothly. That wait, as short as it is, is infuriatingly jarring and I can't fathom how anyone claiming to be UX engineer would come up with it. App switching happens
all the fucking time and introducing a jarring delay onto it is unbelievably stupid. They also decided to get rid of the win95-style application switcher, so I can't even choose my exact program instance from there. Gee, thanks a lot.
Then there's the fact that this stuff doesn't play nice with multiple workspaces/virtual desktops. Try launching an instance of a program on another workspace when you already have one open on somewhere else, you'll see what I mean.
2 - System-wide menubar: Well, I kind of get what it wants to do. But let me say it, it's a stupid idea. It was and is a stupid idea on Mac, and it is stupid idea here. It really only works on a premise you always use every program in maximised window. On Unity, it's made even more stupid by the fact that it's hidden by default and you only get to see the menu by moving your mouse there. So if I want to select something from the menu, I need to move my mouse over there even before I can move my mouse over the exact menu I want to use! I know, this is a small issue, but still. When you're mucking around with user interfaces, these small things MATTER.
about a year and a half ago
top Opera Picks Up Webkit Engine
Well, it has worked for Apple well enough...
about a year and a half ago
top Finland Is Crowdsourcing Its New Copyright Law
The number of signatures required is simply ludicrous. It's pretty close to 1% of the whole population of the nation, including newborns and the elderly.
To put it in perspective..
- 1% of americans would be around 3 million people. Would you sign a petition that REQUIRED 3 million signatures?
Signing is easy, it can be done over internet as in Finland, people have been conditioned to use their e-banking for identification.
- It only takes 20000 names to name a presidential candidate in finland
These days, president of Finland has been mostly stripped of his power other than to talk in grave voice about problems and visit other heads of state occasionally.
- In the last parlament election, the person who got most votes got around 43000 votes. Getting 5000 votes guaranteed a seat.
Apples and oranges, as parliament elections are divided by voting districts and this citizen's initiative thing is national.
about a year and a half ago
top Should Microsoft Switch To WebKit?
I do know this is pedantry, but wasn't Webkit originally KHTML fork?
(not that this makes GP's point any clearer...
about a year and a half ago
top Schmidt On Why Tax Avoidance is Good, Robot Workers, and Google Fiber
Well... if I
own the company, I should be able to do quite whatever I want with it, no? Because the Board is elected in our out by the shareholders, right?
Maybe you meant if I'm a CEO of a company?
ahh.. pedantry. Part and parcel of being a slashdotter.
;) about a year and a half ago
top Voting Machine Problem Reports Already Rolling In
Paper ballots are a system that can be verified as "working as it should" by any adult layman.
Go ahead and try to offer a firmware+machine code+source code bundle and motherboard schematics of a electronic voting machine to a layman for verification.
And better yet, try to find a viable way for the layman (who just happens to be a tech professional and able to understand the above) to verify that the box of electronics in the voting booth is actually the same as the infodump he just read. Preferably without breaking it apart, also it should be done to a significant fraction of units in use, if not all of them.
about a year and a half ago
top Shake-up at Apple: Forstall Out; iOS Executive Fired For Maps Debacle?
I believe that within Apple, it's called "Real artists ship"?
about a year and a half ago
top WTFM: Write the Freaking Manual
A cynical answer is that even if the language or framework author/project head was a technical writer worth his or her salt, it makes more sense to write a book and sell it. Because asking money for the language (compiler/interpreter+libraries) itself is not going to fly in the flooded market of programming languages unless it is really really good and only very few of them are actually that good. Maybe not even then, because the price tag of non-zero value is poison for easy availability which is a must if you want someone to look into your project or language on his or her free time. With frameworks you might get more leeway but not much, especially not if you count on having a hobbyist/hacker community to flourish. Of course, getting someone like O'Reilly to greenlight your book about your own virtually-unknown language or framework might prove to be tad difficult too... Of course, if you're someone like Apple or Facebook or Microsoft or Google who offer a platform with sizable userbase with monetization prospects, this isn't really a problem.
And then there is the fact as noted in submission that writing a good manual takes a different skill set than designing and implementing a good programming language. If you don't have it, someone else has to take up that work if it's going to be of any use. And for that to happen, the language or project has to exist in some kind of usable, stable state long enough for those "outsiders" to actually study and learn how this thing actually works.
Which brings me to the last point. The really good books about a given programming language or framework give also "learned in real world use" insights about the pitfalls, deficiencies and suggested "usecases to avoid and the usecases to strive for" of the language which might only be discovered afterwards. This also might or might not be easier for someone who is not intimately knowledgeable with the inner workings of the language or framework by the virtue of being the one who created it. You kind of become blind for the real merits and sore spots in your own work, so to speak.
And fwiw, I actually have no problem with the idea of paying for a book to help me learn a language / framework I want to know how to use. I have even done that! I do, sometimes, lament the fact that online documentation is lacking because looking up things is usually easier on those than on dead tree (or PDF files simulating dead tree).
I do share some of the sentiments of TFA though. Most infuriating is when there's a "quick and easy tutorial"... which also doesn't cover very much beyond the simplest of use cases and then theres a very terse api reference. And virtually nothing in between. At that point I usually ask myself "do I really have to / want to (+ have time to) learn this thing, and is there a good book on it?"
top Ask Slashdot: How To Fight Copyright Violations With DMCA?
So, the basis for denying GPL code made by others in proprietary-closedsource-only software is based on emotion, not principle? Or there doesn't exist any "principles" outside of the scope of Free(beer) vs. Libre(freedom) vs. Paid-and-proprietary?
The copyright holder has every right to allow or disallow any use of his/her work as he/she sees fit, and they are under no obligation to justify their decisions or the basis of said decisions. Of course, after a license has been granted, it binds the copyright holder but excluding certain uses on whatever basis while allowing other uses certainly falls within the rights of copyright holders. The audience can either take it or leave it as it is.
Now, we might argue whether or not the guy should have anticipated stuff like this and expressly deny all religious marketing with his work, but given the infringing parties response so far it might not have done any difference.
top Comments On Code Comments?
I, for one, am of the school of thought that within the method, stuff should be so clear that it isn't necessary to add any comments clarifying a line or two. Of course, sometimes, somewhere needs to exist a big function or method which does a whole lot of stuff to bring everything together. That one can get its inline comments. Even those should be used sparingly.
But every (and yes, I do mean
* every single one *) method/function (1) has to be given a heading comment block that explains what it takes as arguments, what it does with them and what it returns (and especially important is what happens on those nasty corner cases).
And if your method is really so dead-simple one-liner thing
... it should be asked if the method really needs to exist at all?
(1) Well, okay. Depending on the language, sometimes the simplest of closures do not need this.
top Russia's New Secure Android Tablet Keeps Data From Google
"There is nothing like this operating system on the market.
It is hack-proof," Mikhailov claimed. "There are people who are clamouring for this."
I can see this going over juuuust fine.
Or maybe he thinks that all the good hackers are russian and won't touch it because they "love their country" or something?
top Archos Gamepad: The Android console market gets crowded
As much as I hate to say this, iPad and iPhone are already there.
Sure, iOS is not "open" in the same sense that Android ecosystem is, but what matters is that it's not "closed" in the sense that Nintendo and Sony ecosystems are, either. And honestly, Android tablets are being used for mobile gaming, too:
Don't get me wrong, I really like to use physical controls more than a touch screen. But mobile gaming has already shifted away from dedicated devices like PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS to multipurpose devices that in addition to playing games, make phone calls (ok fine, many tablets don't do that but anyway), browse the internet etc. And now that the Android market is already filled with games that cater to touchscreen-only devices, I wonder if this is the kind of platform fragmentation that most developers are going to shrug off as "not worth it, thanks"?
top PC Makers In Desperate Need of a Reboot
Well, I have actually found the vendor-bundled display resolution/setup thing that came with a work-supplied Thinkpad actually better to use than the Windows XP Display properties dialog window. This was on a X series Thinkpad that still said "IBM" on the case. I moved on from that job (and away from that laptop), and haven't had any experience on Thinkpads ever since so I can't say if it's gone south or not.
I'm very confident that this is the sole exception to the rule of mandatory suckiness of system tools by vendors.