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Comment government demanding assistance (Score 1) 125

What this is really about: Can the government demand that you take some action? It doesn't matter whether this is a matter of seconds, hours, or months: Are you the government's slave, to command as it wishes?

If it were just about fingerprints, then the government could collect your fingerprint from something you touched, reproduce it on an artificial fingertip, and unlock the phone*. There is nothing at all stopping them from doing this, but that's not the precedent that they want to set.

*This isn't even particularly difficult. A German computer magazine (c't) did a demo of this back in 2004, using glue and other ordinary household stuff. No link, because the article is no longer online, but a google search turns up lots of similar results.

Comment Weird ruling (Score 4, Insightful) 188

IANAL, and I don't know New Zealand law. However: this is a weird ruling.

The judgement agrees that copyright infringement is not a criminal offense in New Zealand, and that DotCom cannot be extradited on this. However, it then goes on to conclude that distributing copyrighted materials may deprive copyright holders of their property, and that this therefore is fraud (which is criminal). That latter seems like an end-run around the intent of the law, and it contradicts the first conclusion. It seems likely that DotCom will win the next level of appeal.

That said, he's a idiot. He's counting on New Zealand to defend him, and yet he keeps badmouthing the country, its laws and its government. He really is a total jerk.

Comment But...but...look what I invented!!! (Score 1, Insightful) 359

It's round! It rolls! You could use it to transport things! I think I'll call it...the wheel.

Example: I just saw a presentation involving a new ORM framework today - same old idea, same crappy ORM efficiency, why am I supposed to be impressed? How many ORM frameworks do we need? They all do the same damned thing, and all of them do it badly. By the time you have the latest and greatest innovative framework working in your project (having had to mangle to your architecture to compensate for the horrible inefficiency), you could have achieved the same end - cleaner, faster, and with less code - by doing without the framework.

Pick your topic: development methodologies, programming languages, frameworks, whatever: The whole IT branch seems to have institutional amnesia. Each new generation of programmers (i.e., every 5-10 years) rediscovers it all, plasters on new buzzwords, and pats themselves on the back for their cleverness. /rant

Comment Someone has been visited by an MS rep (Score 5, Informative) 557

I've seen this: some high-powered MS rep chats up a boss, and *presto*:

MS is great
We've got to migrate

Put that to whatever jingle you want. Also: inspect bank accounts and campaign funds.

Note also that the study supporting the move back to WIndows was carried out by Accenture (some of us know them better by their old name, Andersen Consulting). Accenture was Microsoft's Alliance Partner of the Year in 2016, so I'm sure that they have a neutral, objective reason for recommending Microsoft software.

Comment Security through obscurity not so bad? (Score 3, Interesting) 119

We all ridicule people who rely on security-through-obscurity. Incidents like this should make us take another look at that sentence: While we shouldn't rely on obscurity for protection, we shouldn't forget that it does help. Major platforms like WordPress are lucrative targets for hackers, who will spend a lot of energy searching for weaknesses they can exploit.

Using some lesser-known platform, or even rolling your own, makes you a less interesting target. Sure, you may (will!) have other vulnerabilities, but far fewer people will be hunting for them. This is a not-inconsiderable advantage.

Comment Bizarre reasoning (Score 1) 48

At a nuclear test site, volatiles boil off and condense farther away from the center of the explosion. Fine.

However, this has basically zilch to do with the formation of the moon. *That* impact literally knocked the earth into pieces. Likely there really was no more "center" of the impact. Also, note the quality of the science reporting: "volatile elements, most notably water". Who knew that water was an element?

The actual article is basically only about isotope separation of Zinc, and admits repeatedly during its text that other "studies of volatile compounds, such as water or OH in lunar glasses, suggest that the Moon may have volatile element abundances approaching Earth’s upper mantle composition".

tl;dr: This paper looked at what happens to Zinc isotopes at the center of a nuclear explosion. Everything else is conjecture, which they openly admit is contradicted by other studies. TFA in New Scientist omits the contradictory evidence and builds conjectures on top of those conjectures, until what they say has almost nothing to do with the actual article.

Comment Re:Go! Government! Go! (Score 1) 267

Airbnb would like you to think it is all about people renting out their spare bedroom occasionally. You can find offers like that, but they're probably the minority.

This is about property owners trying to run a hotel in property that is not suited to that purpose. If you want to run a hotel, you need a building in a commercial zone, so you don't annoy the neighbor. The building also has to meet requirements, like fire regulations, so that it is safe for such high occupancy. By never having any fixed residents, landlords can also skirt rent-control regulations; they may also claim that they have simply been unable to rent the property (even though they don't actually want to), which may give them undeserved tax breaks, etc..

tl;dr: It's not about your spare bedroom. it's about slimeballs.

Comment Re:Some of these things are not like the others (Score 3, Informative) 600

"I don't let lousy programmers touch my code. Problem solved."

Nice thought, but that's not real life. As a cynical estimate, at least half of the people working as programmers are lousy. Companies hire them, because they're cheap, or because the company can't find anyone better, or because the company has no clue about programmer quality. There's more code to write than there are good programmers to write them, and that's not going to change any time soon.

Comment Some of these things are not like the others (Score 2) 600

Goto: A way to enable lousy programmers to write impenetrable code. Are there extremely unusual circumstances, where a superstar might use a Goto in a good way? Yes, but the price - encouraging use by the incompetent - is not worth it.

Multiple inheritance: Middle ground. In a few circumstances useful, but the conceptual complexity is too high for many programmers. On the other hand, those will not be the ones designing your architecture. Mixed feelings about this one.

Recursion: Many algorithms can be implemented more cleanly with recursion than with iteration. If recursion were better supported, it would be more widely used. Unfortunately, the most widely used languages have poor implementations (C# and Java, to name two), making recursion horribly inefficient. Optimizing for tail-recursion is not hard (Scala does it on the JVM), so it's weird that this isn't done in all modern languages.

Comment Absolutely agree... (Score 1) 231

I haven't run any virus checker other than the one built-in to Windows for years now. They all catch old or obvious viruses. None of them is going to catch a new, clever virus. There's not a whole lot in the middle. Add in the virus-like behavior of the AV itself, the performance-suck of most of them, and it just doesn't make any sense to use them.

As another poster pointed out: user error is the biggest cause of virus infection. Train your users, use Windows Defender as a sort of "sanity check", make regular backups, and call it a day.

Comment Re: What about electrical, plumbing etc? (Score 1) 315

Call me a cynic, but...

- Some building codes make sense. Some are just braindead stupid. Most, frankly, are arbitrary: varying from town to town, as often as not put into place by local building companies through friendly local politicians, trying to secure some competitive advantage. There's nothing particular special about them, and they can and should be taken with a large grain of common sense.

- Government inspections are graft: a way for the local government to levy yet another useless fee. In too many cases, the inspection is passed when the inspector finds the envelope with the money. Or maybe the general contractor is his drinking buddy. No home buyer should trust a government inspection to mean anything.

- Anyone buying a house *must* have it inspected by their own inspector. Even if the house is brand new (see the previous point). For an older home, you never know what has happened during the life of the building. On top of that, inspect the house yourself. Trust-but-verify.

- Finally, there's nothing particularly complicated about most construction work. Some of it is heavy work. some of it takes a bit of practice (plastering, gack). In most cases, the single most important point is using the right materials. Doing work yourself, you are likely to overspec. materials, whereas contractors often try to get away with the absolute minimum. The end result from a competent "amateur" may well be better than work by a professional. Then, if you have no choice, you can pay a licensed contractor to check your work and get the inspection done.

I have seen claptrap houses that passed inspection. The realtor didn't understand why I ran screaming. I have seen solid, well-built structures that failed, and failed, and failed until that magic envelope appeared.

Comment Re:Fired after training three H1Bs (Score 1) 834

Really, it ought to be simple: Force a company to hire someone already in the country, unless they can prove that no qualified person exists. For any sort of standard tech job, proving that should be basically impossible. For the people already in the country: When an existing work-visa (H1B or whatever) expires, renewing it requires the same proof.

Bringing wage-slaves into the country - people forced to work massive overtime for crap wages - must stop. It's a lousy situation for both the wage-slaves and for the displaced domestic workers.

This doesn't stop outsourcing to international companies - that's a separate issue.

- - - - -

So far, Trump is doing exactly what he promised in his campaign. Shocking, but true. More please.

Comment "She fought the alt-right and won" (Score 3, Insightful) 760

"She fought the alt-right and won" - that is apparently her campaign slogan. That would also be news to the alt-right, that (a) didn't exist when GamerGate happened and (b) barely even knows she exists.

It's like saying: "she beat her fists against a brick wall - left blood flecks everywhere - she must've won".

Comment Re: I still use Windows... (Score 1) 498

This. I only use Windows for three things: gaming, the few times a year I have to use some Adobe product, and the few times a year LibreOffice cannot make sense of some xlsx or docx mess that I've been sent.

Sadly, Windows is still firmly entrenched in companies. This is unlikely to change any time soon.

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"We are on the verge: Today our program proved Fermat's next-to-last theorem." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982