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Ask Slashdot: Books for a Comp Sci Graduate Student?

wendyg Ellen Ullman (247 comments)

I'd recommend Ellen Ullman's Close to the Machine, a book of essays written in the late 1990s. It's not a computer science book per se, but it is very insightful about how the choices programmers make trickle down to the eventual actual users of the system - that is, not the administrators and employees but the people the system makes decisions for and about. (eg, in the UK's DWP benefits system it would be the people receiving those benefits, not the people deciding whether or not they deserve them).


about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How Can I Prepare For the Theft of My Android Phone?

wendyg Anti-theft device (374 comments)

I actually have my phone (a Galaxy Note 2) on a lanyard and when I'm out I keep it tied to my person or hanging around my neck, like a little kid with mittens. Won't prevent *every* thief, but certainly lowers the ease of stealing it. Also protects against dropping and losing.


about 6 months ago

The Paradox of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

wendyg Re:A lot of this BS is just Daniel Berg's fiction (266 comments)

I'd point out that *this* particular New Statesman piece was written by Jemima Kahn, who was one of the celebrity names who posted bail for him. I rather suspect she's formed her own opinion. Same goes for people like Heather Brooke, the Guardian, and the NY Times, who all had their own relationships with Assange before becoming critics.

It's not *all* people who read Domscheit-Berg's book.


about a year and a half ago

Hotmail & Yahoo Mail Using Secret Domain Blacklist

wendyg Re:Dude (345 comments)

Bennett Haselton is no spammer. He's been involved in anti-censorship for nearly 20 years; he began in high school by investigating the block lists operated by the filtering software installed in many schools and libraries.

Not a spammer.


about 2 years ago

How Long Do You Want To Live?

wendyg Re:640 years (813 comments)

That's certainly how I've always felt - the existential thing and the fear of death. As I'm approaching 60, however, the thing I'm also learning to fear is the deaths of friends and family - one thing that's often left out of these discussions.

I've certainly never thought I'd be bored, no matter how long I lived.


about 2 years ago

Airline Offering Plane Crash Survival Course to Frequent Flyers

wendyg Great idea... (155 comments)

...I've thought for a long time that it was stupid and wasteful that airlines don't harness the assistance of their experienced flyers in emergency situations. The more people who know what to do the better for all concerned. And experienced flyers are less likely to make mistakes about what is and is not an emergency. I'd take this course like a shot if the airline I fly with most often offered it.


more than 2 years ago

How Do You Explain Software Development To 2nd Graders?

wendyg Under-10s at Young Rewired State 2011 (430 comments)

At this year's Young Rewired State - a week for kids under 18 to do cool stuff with code and then present the results - @pixelh8 on Twitter had a bunch of kids under 10 at the Ipswich center. They didn't appear at the eventual presentation, but he did and showed this video (YouTube) of them explaining what they'd learned and doing a little programming. He explained how he did it in his talk: 1) he made it fun for them; 2) he took the group outside and they had many play breaks; 3) he used a *lot* of metaphors to explain. I thought it was immeasurably cool that he was able to do this.


about 3 years ago

A Custom Objectionable Word List Ate My Homework

wendyg Re:I am the author of the spreadsheet in question (386 comments)

Just curious: does "all stakeholders" include the kids themselves? Since the kids are the ones who bear the brunt of both the filtering *and* whatever harassment/bullying is dished out, I'd have thought they'd have views worth taking into consideration. Probably the youngest kids would struggle to articulate that, but even a kid of 10 is going to have some comprehension of the issues and perhaps quite strong opinions.


about 3 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Self-Hosted Gmail Alternatives?

wendyg Re:why? (554 comments)

Same here. I've been running Communigate with Spam Assassin since 2003, and most of the time it just works. Every few years there's a painful day when I reinstall the whole thing on a faster machine, but it seems a small price to pay to own my own email. The biggest issue I encounter is the occasional DSL outage (which includes power outages). For that, I have the MX record configured so that email fails over to a different address/server. I've used Gmail for that once or twice, but I don't *like* it. Yes, every so often I do have to get the server off someone's RBL, but it's an infrequent issue.


more than 3 years ago

Why We Have So Much "Duh" Science

wendyg Re:You must test the obvious (299 comments)

While it's absolutely true that you really do have to test the is also true that there has been a definite growth in what some of my academic friends call the "Least Publishable Unit". The structure of academic careers - the metrics by which people are promoted, get raises, prestige, etc. - often rewards quantity over quality.


more than 3 years ago

Search Engine Optimization Poisoning Way Up In '10

wendyg Re:Useless Search Content (175 comments)

There's also apparently no algorithm for date-sorting; a friend and I were talking about this on Twitter this week. It's my view that as search engine use has become mainstream they've been increasingly optimized for consumers, not researchers. There is a real niche for a researchers' search engine.


more than 3 years ago

AMD Offers Women Geek Dating Advice

wendyg Re:She tries too hard (269 comments)

Isn't it time to update your thinking to include quotes from The Big Bang Theory?

It's a Saturnalia miracle!

more than 3 years ago

Rogue Employees Sell World Cup Fans' Passport Data

wendyg Re:No Primary Key (128 comments)

Well, several things wrong with it.

1) That is enough information for someone already possessed of the necessary technology to clone a copy of your passport, which could be used to do all sorts of things that would eventually be traced to you.

2) That information would be of great assistance to someone wanting to uncover more information about you, either mechanically (which researchers showed in 2009 SSNs can be reliably derived from your birth date and birth place) or as leverage to acquire other information - you don't know what other information about you it can be matched to, probably plenty even just in a Google search, let alone other public/private databases.

3) The *key* issue is that the culture in which such data is kept and is accessible to rogue employees - who will always exist - is endemic and dangerous. I'm sure it was done in the name of barring English (and other) football hooligans from attending the events. In theory, all the ticket office needs to know is that you are not one of the people on the banned list when you buy your ticket, and for that retaining the data shouldn't be necessary. I was under the impression that such "fans" were barred from traveling - surely the more effective way to stop them is at the border or when they're buying plane tickets. In any event, this sort of data breach demonstrates the problems that we will have with other, larger, more sensitive data stores should governments/companies/etc. create them.


about 4 years ago

CBS Refuses To Preserve Jack Benny Footage

wendyg Re:Management Types... (323 comments)

It's almost certainly not a simple matter - the BBC had plans to release its back catalogue and discovered belatedly that it didn't own the rights to it.

The dates on the shows are 1952-1958 or thereabouts. The *broadcasts* may be in the public domain. But there may be music on the shows that is not. There may be residuals owing to writers and others who worked on the shows. Etc.

That said, the tapes are theirs and in their possession. The copyright issues may be why they don't want to review the situation. But no company is going to hand over ownership of something they think they might be able to make money of sometime.


more than 4 years ago

Facebook ID Probe Shows Things Getting Worse

wendyg Older people know more people...duh (174 comments)

The thing is, there are all sorts of reasons why someone might admit someone they don't know - even a frog - to their circle of "friends" and it's also fairly obvious why older people have more "friends".

To take the second first: older people have been alive longer. They've met more people: at work, in clubs, etc. People from various layers of their pasts find them. There are people in my Facebook friends list who probably never will be sufficiently interested to speak to me again - but who are nonetheless curious what's become of me (or I of them) in the 30 years since we last met. The cliques 'n' crap from high school eventually give way to a sort of neutral curiosity.

To the first point: admitting a frog to your friends list doesn't necessarily mean you're being trusting. It may mean you don't post stuff to Facebook that you wouldn't want to be public. It may mean that rather than vet people closely you're using Facebook more like LinkedIn - as a way to build a network of contacts. Or it may mean that the only reason you use FB is so that people won't bug you about why you're not using FB and you don't GAF because you never post anything anyway.


more than 4 years ago

How to Deal With an Aging Brain?

wendyg Offline storage... (684 comments)

1-Assume this is a problem that's going to stay with you and don't beat yourself up about it. We're all being asked to remember far more stuff that we have capacity for every day; what matters is the quality of what we do with information more than our ability to haul it out of memory instantly. Focus on the quality of how you *use* the stuff you know.

2-Take copious notes. Even if you never refer to them, the act of writing stuff down helps fix it in your mind. I started carrying a 3x5 notebook full-time when I was 40.

3-Operate a triage system. What do you really *need* to remember? Focus on that. In my own case, often that's the path to where information is stored rather than the information itself.


more than 5 years ago



Pupils tracked in UK college via ultrawideband RFID for 1-3 years

wendyg wendyg writes  |  about 10 months ago

wendyg (43303) writes "As part of redeveloping its three-site campus and without consultation with parents or the Information Commissioner, the UK's West Cheshire College installed a highly detailed tracking system using ultrawideband RFID tags handed out to its 14 to 17-year-old students. The system, which cost up approximately £1 million, was abandoned earlier this year because of escalating costs and lack of the functionality the college wanted. The college has been reluctant to answer questions, dubbing privacy campaigner and persistent questioner Pippa King "vexatious", and material relating to the trial has been vanishing off the Net. The law requiring parental consent for the use of biometrics in schools (for things like taking attendance and paying for meals) came into force last month. It seems it already needs to be updated."
Link to Original Source

Young Rewired State 2011

wendyg wendyg writes  |  more than 3 years ago

wendyg writes "This week, riots across England are being attributed to alienated youth. Last week, however, saw the third Young Rewired State event — a week that saw dozens of teens sign up to spend a week hacking government data to make it more useful. This piece is a diary of the efforts at one of the 14 centres, run by Osmosoft (the home of TiddlyWiki)."
Link to Original Source


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