Archive for the ‘General’ Category

RISC vs. CISC was the Flame war of the late 80s

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

From Slashdot | RISC Vs. CISC In Mobile Computing

Completely pointless (Score:5, Interesting)

by El Cabri (13930) * on Monday May 19, @08:06PM (#23469122)
Journal

RISC vs CISC was the architecture flamewar of the late 1980s. Welcome to the 21th century, you’ll like it here. It’s a world when, since the late 90s, the ISA (instruction set architecture), is so abstracted away from the actual micro-architecture of microprocessor, as to make it completely pointless to make distinctions between the two. Modern processors are RISC, they are CISC, they are vector machines, they’re everything you want them to be. Move on, the modern problems are now in multi-core architecture and their issues of memory coherence, cache sharing, memory bandwidth, interlocking mechanisms, uniform vs non-uniform, etc. The “pure RISC” standard bearers of yore have disappeared or have been expelled from the personnal computing sphere (remember Apple ditching PowerPC ? Alpha anyone ? Where are those shiny MIPS-based SGIs gone?). Even Intel couldn’t impose a new ISA on its own (poor adoption of IA-64). The only RISC ISA that has any existence in the personnal computing arena, including mobile, is ARM, but precisely, they do only mobile. There’s really no reason at all to build any device on which you plan to run generic OSes and rich computing experience on anything else than x86 or x86-64 machines.

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Technology is Fucking Rad

Monday, May 19th, 2008

From Slashdot | 20% of U.S. Population Has Never Used Email

Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

by iocat (572367) on Sunday May 18, @09:40AM (#23452632)
Homepage Journal

Some people *LIKE* being connected to electronic devices. If I don’t want to get emails, I guess I could turn off my Blackberry, but… I LIKE GETTING MY EMAIL RIGHT AWAY. I love my Blackberry. It rules.

I like computers. I like email. I like SMS. I like videogames. Hell, I like watching TELEVISION.

I don’t understand this “computers are evil” meme that rises up at slashdot — what the hell are you doing on this site, or working in tech, if you don’t like computers or electronic devices? Unless, you’re the kind of ‘phone it in’ asshats that make my working life less enjoyable — not saying you are, but what the fuck?

I’ve taken vacations and turned off my phone, left the game systems behind, and gone someplace with no TV. It was nice and peaceful, just kicking it and reading books. I love me some books — probably my favorite leisure activity.

But I’ve never been happier to come back from a vacation! Cell phones rule. Videogames rule. Email lets me interact with my wife about a million times more than I would if we didn’t have it. Social networks enable me to stay involved in the lives of friends who live thousands of miles away — and have them involved in my life too. Videogames let me interact with my son on levels I couldn’t otherwise. Computers rule. I don’t think my laptop has been more than 10 or 20 feet from me, other than if I’m out to eat, in months. Cell phones — don’t get me started! Do you remember trying to coordinating meeting up at a location before cell phones? It sucked! Cell phones are freaking sweet. My phone gives me directions, it tells me where traffic is, it enables email, people can call me on it. It has all my friends’ contact info. It connects to the Web. It has an MP4 of the moon landing I can watch when I’m bored. It has MP3s of my favorite songs I can listen to. It’s fucking rad!

Technology: It’s a good thing!!

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Why the NSA wants your computer to be secure

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

From Slashdot | Just How Effective is System Hardening?

Re:Lunix bailout by big daddy gubment (Score:5, Informative)

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday May 13, @11:55AM (#23391776)

The NSA, and state entities in general, has an interest in increasing security, even though it sometimes makes its job less convenient. The reason is pretty simple: Insecure systems can be broken by anybody with sufficient knowledge and motivation, NSA, spammers, organized crime, foreign intelligence services, etc. Secure systems can be broken by a search warrant, only available to state entities.There are, I’m sure, a number of exceptions to this trend; but for something like computer security, the government’s best interests are pretty clear.

The rest of your post is probably trolling; but what the hell, I’ll answer it anyway: SELinux added Mandatory Access Control abilities to Linux. These are very useful, and very powerful, security features and it is definitely good that Linux now has them; but it is hardly the case that any OS without them is necessarily insecure.
As for the “handout” angle, SElinux was certainly a handout for Linux; but it was also the cheapest and most effective way for the NSA to make MAC widely available in a short period of time. The objective of the program was a handout of security from the NSA to other entities. The handout to Linux was just the easiest path to that objective.

define “effective” (Score:4, Insightful)

by darkuncle (4925) <darkuncle@gmail.PARIScom minus city> on Tuesday May 13, @11:26AM (#23391488)
Homepage

system hardening is effective at defeating certain classes of attacks. that said, most security breaches are NOT due to fancy footwork with memcpy or other low-level wizardry. They’re due to either:

1) improperly designed trusts between systems (e.g. the Internet can’t talk to my database server, but my webserver has full access; when my webserver is compromised, the contents of my database are toast as well). Networks designed to fail safely and gracefully, with liberal application of the principle of least privilege, help mitigate this kind of risk.

2) stupid user tricks (I place social engineering in this category, along with phishing and the majority of email viruses). There is no technical solution for this essentially social problem – education helps, sane and safe defaults help tremendously (every unnecessary feature is an additional security risk, and the risk compounds as features are added), software policy approaches like ACL/MAC/UAC/RBAC help … but in the end, users just want to do whatever it is they’re using the computer for. If an attacker can convincingly pretend to be legitimate, or present a convincing enough temptation, users will bypass, override or disregard any level of protection. Vista’s UAC is the canonical example here – great idea foiled by end users (granted, the implementation was almost guaranteed to train users to eventually ignore the constant repeated warnings).

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Skate Ramps in Melbourne

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

Riverslide Skate Park is the only skatepark in the city. If you’d like some variety, and want to try some other skateparks around town, here’s a few to get you started.
South Kensington Sk8Park

JJ Holland Park, Kensington
Melways ref: 42 J3

What’s there?
The South Kensington Sk8Park is a big concrete course. There are gaps in the portable sections to watch out for.

Getting there
If you take the St Albans/Williamstown/Werribee Train Line, get off at South Kensington Station and walk across JJ Holland Park.

If you take the Broadmeadows Train Line, get off at Kensington Station and head west down Macaulay Road and south down Kensington Road.

Ascot Vale Sk8Park

Wingate Community Centre, Wingate Avenue, Ascot Vale
Melways ref: 28 H11

What’s there?
This is a street-type park with fun box and a few ledges.

Getting there
If you take tram 57 from Elizabeth Street, get off the tram at Stop 32 in front of the showgrounds and head towards the flats.

If you take the Broadmeadows Train Line, get off at Ascot Vale Station and head south down Ascot Vale Road until you reach Wingate Avenue.

Fitzroy Bowl

Edinburgh Gardens, North Fitzroy
Melways ref: 2C D1

What’s there?
Two deep concrete bowls and a shallow beginners’ bowl.

Getting there
If you take tram 11 from Collins Street, get off at Stops 20 or 21 when you see the gardens on the right. The bowl is in the gardens.

Junction Skate and BMX Park

Riversdale Road, Camberwell
Melways ref: 45 G12

What’s there?
A street course and bowl.

Getting there
If you take trams 70 or 75 from Flinders Street, get off at Stop 38 in front of the park.

If you take the Lilydale or Belgrave Train Lines, get off at Camberwell Station and head south down Burke Road before turning right into Riversdale Road. The skatepark is on your right.

Prahran Ramp and Bowl

Malvern Road, Prahran
Melways ref: 2L K10

What’s there?
The Prahran skatepark features a 14-foot metal vert ramp, a metal mini and ledge/street based skating.

Getting there
If you take tram 72 from Swanston Street, get off at the intersection of Chapel Street and Commercial and Malvern roads. Head east down Malvern Road and the skate ramp is on your right.

If you take the Sandringham train, get off at Prahran Station, head east up Greville Street to Chapel Street, turn left into Chapel Street and then right into Malvern Road. The park is on your right.

The Shed Sk8 Park

New Holland Drive, Cranbourne
Melways ref: 134 C5

What’s there?
This is the largest indoor skatepark in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the largest skateparks in the world. The park includes half pipes, mini ramps, fun boxes, and grind poles.

Entry is $8 with pass out. Limited equipment is available for hire.

Getting there
If you take the Cranbourne Train Line, get off at Cranbourne Station and catch the 896 bus to the skatepark.

Box Hill Skatepark, VIC (in a shop)
– 693 Station St, Cnr Whitehorse Rd & Station St
Box Hill, VIC
(03) 9897 4200
Call first to check their opening times!

Box Hill is a small but fun indoor skatepark facility in Melbourne.” J.O.

http://www.street-directory.com.au/melbourne/melbourne_map.cgi?landmark=SKATING+RINKS

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Bars in Canberra

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

The bar staff were very friendly Back when I was working (briefly) in Canberra, I was lured to Candy Bar (at Academy) by the promise of $5 cocktails.

After an indeterminate number of drinks, I had to visit the little boys room. I was having a great time washing a cigarette butt (whitewater raft) through the urinal cakes (dangerous rocks) to the drain (base camp), when I noticed that there was a security camera in the bathroom pointed right at me. I had never seen a camera in a toilet before, and a million thoughts of what they might be doing with the footage flashed through my head as I abandoned the whitewater rafters and hurridly zipped up.

I’m sure it was a coincidence, but when I went back to the bar, it seemed as if I was suddenly getting amazingly good service from the female bar staff…and I thought I heard someone giggle when I said “and can you make mine a large?”

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Body’s cells replaced every 7 years

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

There is a quote from Steve Grand that Richard Dawkins has included in his new book The God Delusion (page 371)…

Think of an experience from your childhood. Something you remember clearly, something you can see, feel, maybe even smell, as if you were really there. After all, you really were there at the time weren’t you? How else would you remember it? But here is the bombshell: you weren’t there. Not a single atom that is in your body today was there when that event took place … Matter flows from place to place and mementarily comes together to by you. Whatever you are, therefore, you are not the stuff of which you are made. If that doesn’t make the hair stand up on the back of your neck, read it again until it does, because it is important.

This one really triggers my bullshit detector, just like the popular myth that people only use about 10% of their brains. I know people with tatoos that they have had longer than 7 years.

But I am yet to dig up some evidence… Stay tuned.

Update (15/04/2007):

TheBrummell also agrees that this sounds unlikely…

However, there’s a quote on page 371 that I suspect is not completely true. Steve Grand says (among other things) “Not a single atom that is in your body today was there when that event [in your childhood] took place.” I remain unconvinced that certain atoms, notably of elements like Calcium and Strontium or that are bound into long-durability molecules such as myosin, are experiencing rates of turnover in my body sufficient to replace all of them over a decade or two. The much-mentioned idea that each of us contains Strontium-90 in our bones in place of a few Calcium atoms as a result of (mostly American) above-ground nuclear tests during the 1950’s argues against such fast turnover rates.

A review from a radical Christian perspective (no link) does not question this factoid, but uses it to push the idea of a “soul”. The review also had this scary snippet (do people actually think like this?):

Yet the only thing standing in the way of global jihad is the American hyperpower. And that owes as much to our religious resolve as it does to our military might or economic clout—while the secular left has capitulated to a suicidal multiculturalism in which our mortal enemies are given the house-keys to slit our throats as we sleep.

Getting warmer; this is discussed on the Snopes forums: snopes.com > Urban Legends > Science > Does every atom in your body get replaced every X years?.

Still nothing concrete…

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Body’s cells replaced every 7 years

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

There is a quote from Steve Grand that Richard Dawkins has included in his new book The God Delusion (page 371)…

Think of an experience from your childhood. Something you remember clearly, something you can see, feel, maybe even smell, as if you were really there. After all, you really were there at the time weren’t you? How else would you remember it? But here is the bombshell: you weren’t there. Not a single atom that is in your body today was there when that event took place … Matter flows from place to place and mementarily comes together to by you. Whatever you are, therefore, you are not the stuff of which you are made. If that doesn’t make the hair stand up on the back of your neck, read it again until it does, because it is important.

This one really triggers my bullshit detector, just like the popular myth that people only use about 10% of their brains. I know people with tatoos that they have had longer than 7 years.

But I am yet to dig up some evidence… Stay tuned.

Update (15/04/2007):

TheBrummell also agrees that this sounds unlikely…

However, there’s a quote on page 371 that I suspect is not completely true. Steve Grand says (among other things) “Not a single atom that is in your body today was there when that event [in your childhood] took place.” I remain unconvinced that certain atoms, notably of elements like Calcium and Strontium or that are bound into long-durability molecules such as myosin, are experiencing rates of turnover in my body sufficient to replace all of them over a decade or two. The much-mentioned idea that each of us contains Strontium-90 in our bones in place of a few Calcium atoms as a result of (mostly American) above-ground nuclear tests during the 1950’s argues against such fast turnover rates.

A review from a radical Christian perspective (no link) does not question this factoid, but uses it to push the idea of a “soul”. The review also had this scary snippet (do people actually think like this?):

Yet the only thing standing in the way of global jihad is the American hyperpower. And that owes as much to our religious resolve as it does to our military might or economic clout—while the secular left has capitulated to a suicidal multiculturalism in which our mortal enemies are given the house-keys to slit our throats as we sleep.

Getting warmer; this is discussed on the Snopes forums: snopes.com > Urban Legends > Science > Does every atom in your body get replaced every X years?.

Still nothing concrete…

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How to ask for a raise

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

A slave to the corporate grindI found an old email that I think is quite funny – although I was very annoyed when writing it.

I graduated from university at the same time as a severe market downturn. Many companies stopped their graduate programs that year, and job prospects for people in my field were poor.

Smaller companies that did not have formal pay levels for employees saw their opportunity and hired graduates at ridiculously low rates.

Almost 2 years after joining the company, the market had improved, and my job title now had “senior” in it, but my payscale had barely moved. I decided that something needed to be done about it, so I had a crisis meeting with my manager.

It worked…to a degree.

Hi Stuart,

As per our conversation, I am pleased to let you know that we have agreed to give you a $x,000 increase in your salary. This in in recognition of your efforts to date and more importantly our belief in you that you will become one of our leading Consultants.

The forecast for the next 12mths looks extremely promising with the number of opportunities now presenting themselves and I have an expectation that you will meet the challenges I offer you (in fact I have no doubt that you will be able to meet all challenges).

Regards,
{ManagerName}

But you should always remember that your boss has had vastly more experience than you have when it comes to the question of salary.

Hi {ManagerName},

I am pleased with the level of confidence you have in my abilities, and I am looking forward to the next 12 months with Initech.

I appreciate {CompanyName}’s offer, but restate my point that this takes me from a low graduate salary to a below average graduate salary.

I would appreciate another meeting with {CompanyOwner} and yourself to clarify my position.

Regards,
Stuart.

You can practically see the steam coming out of my ears. The situation was eventually resolved, with management cleverly picking a number that meant that I was still unhappy with my salary, but wasn’t quite prepared to leave. In HR terms, this would be called “salary optimisation”.

The problem is that if you pay your employees just enough to keep them from leaving, you attract the kind of people who work just hard enough not to get fired.

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Corporate Behaviour

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

For my job, I work in very corporate environments and move from company to company frequently. I think it’s starting to have an effect on me because I find that I’ve started using words like “quality outcome” and “work-product” without irony.

Working in an environment where anyone can be fired (right-sized? let go?) for violating one of HR’s workplace behaviour policies makes you especially sensitive to actions that leave a clear audit trail – like anything that happens on your computer. You can tell when someone strays onto a website that wouldn’t be considered worksafe by the frantic slapping of the alt-F4 keys to close the web browser before the site can launch an array of pop-up windows that will make your website access log look as if you have just visited multiple porn websites in a row.

I briefly worked at a company that wanted to show in their marketing material that they were all about being young and vibrant, and having fun (they sold insurance). The screensaver on all the computers would run a slideshow of all the images from their ad campaigns. One shot was of 3 young twenty-somethings playing on the beach. The two girls were wearing shorts and bikini tops, but the image could not be considered overtly sexual. Even so, every time I saw that image on the computer monitor I would start to feel uncomfortable, and my fingers would reflexively reach for the alt-F4 keys.

Another thing I find is that my sense of humour completely disappears…well, almost; I still find it funny that a local tobacco company accidentally named a software project after the river that forms the border to Hell in Dante’s Inferno (or after a satanic heavy metal band, either way, it’s pretty funny).

One company I worked for had all of their meeting rooms named after dead musicians (Hendrix meeting room, Morrison meeting room etc). Rather than finding this amusingly quirky, I found it morbid and creepy. I did find it funny that when a new meeting room was created, it was clearly named by someone who wasn’t very good at understanding patterns – it was called the Williams meeting room (although maybe it was just wishful thinking on the part of someone who didn’t like Robbie).

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You keep using that word…

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

I saw Clerks 2 last night. It was predictable low-brow fare; full of smutty humour and squarely aimed at fans of the previous movie. In other words…an enjoyable night out.

In the first Clerks movie, there was a dialog sequence about snowballing. The equivalent in this movie was a sequence about “ass to mouth”, where Randall is talking about young girls and how they are more sexually adventurous these days, so adventurous that often they suggest that he goes ass to mouth.

Ass to mouth is something that could have only been thought of by porn directors who have been working in the industry a little too long. To get all Wikipedia on you, it means “the removal of the penis or another object from the passive partner’s anus followed by the immediate insertion of the penis or object into the passive partner’s or another partner’s mouth.”

Needless to say; it is not something that anyone ever suggests if they are going to be the person on the receiving end.

Watching this scene, the words of Inigo Montoya sprang to mind: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

What Kevin Smith must have really meant was rimming, which is still a kind of fringe sexual activity, but is a much better fit than the traditionally accepted definition of the term. Becky certainly wouldn’t have confided the following to Dante with the original meaning “I’m telling you this only because I am your friend. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, it’s acceptable to go ass to mouth.”

I enjoyed the movie, but this scene left a bad aftertaste. ;-)

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