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CodeSOD: Constantly Counting

The Daily WTF - Thu, 2021-04-15 07:30

Steven was working on a temp contract for a government contractor, developing extensions to an ERP system. That ERP system was developed by whatever warm bodies happened to be handy, which meant the last "tech lead" was a junior developer who had no supervision, and before that it was a temp who was only budgeted to spend 2 hours a week on that project.

This meant that it was a great deal of spaghetti code, mashed together with a lot of special-case logic, and attempts to have some sort of organization even if that organization made no sense. Which is why, for example, all of the global constants for the application were required to be in a class Constants.

Of course, when you put a big pile of otherwise unrelated things in one place, you get some surprising results. Like this:

foreach (PurchaseOrder po in poList) { if (String.IsNullOrEmpty(po.PoNumber)) { Constants.NEW_COUNT++; CreatePoInOtherSystem(po); } }

Yes, every time this system passes a purchase order off to another system for processing, the "constant" NEW_COUNT gets incremented. And no, this wasn't the only variable "constant", because before long, the Constants class became the "pile of static variables" class.

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Categories: Technology

OMG! New free speech social network won’t allow members to take the Lord’s name in vain

The Register - Thu, 2021-04-15 07:17
‘Frank’ reckons it won’t follow Parler’s path to plug-pulling because it has its own servers and ‘the best security’ . But it also uses Cloudflare …

A new social media network that promises its users untrammeled free speech won’t allow “The N-word, the C-word, the F-word or God’s name in vain.”…

Categories: Technology

Windows comes to Apple M1 silicon as Parallels delivers native desktop hypervisor

The Register - Thu, 2021-04-15 05:04
Meanwhile, ESXi on Arm spotted booting Windows

Two new Windows-on-Arm options have come into view.…

Categories: Technology

A 23-Year-Old Coder Kept QAnon Online When No One Else Would

Slashdot - Thu, 2021-04-15 04:30
Bloomberg's William Turton and Joshua Brustein have published a profile of the 23-year-old proprietor of VanwaTech, an internet provider in Vancouver, Wash. that "provides tech support to the U.S. networks of White nationalists and conspiracy theorists banned by the likes of Amazon." An anonymous Slashdot reader shares an excerpt from the report: Two and a half months before extremists invaded the U.S. Capitol, the far-right wing of the internet suffered a brief collapse. All at once, in the final weeks of the country's presidential campaign, a handful of prominent sites catering to White supremacists and adherents of the QAnon conspiracy movement stopped functioning. To many of the forums' most devoted participants, the outage seemed to prove the American political struggle was approaching its apocalyptic endgame. "Dems are making a concerted move across all platforms," read one characteristic tweet. "The burning of the land foreshadows a massive imperial strike back in the next few days." In fact, there'd been no conspiracy to take down the sites; they'd crashed because of a technical glitch with VanwaTech, a tiny company in Vancouver, Wash., that they rely on for various kinds of network infrastructure. They went back online with a simple server reset about an hour later, after the proprietor, 23-year-old Nick Lim, woke up from a nap at his mom's condo. Lim founded VanwaTech in late 2019. He hosts some websites directly and provides others with technical services including protection against certain cyberattacks; his annual revenue, he says, is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although small, the operation serves clients including the Daily Stormer, one of America's most notorious online destinations for overt neo-Nazis, and 8kun, the message board at the center of the QAnon movement, whose adherents were heavily involved in the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Lim exists in a singularly odd corner of the business world. He says he's not an extremist, just an entrepreneur with a maximalist view of free speech. "There needs to be a me, right?" he says, while eating pho at a Vietnamese restaurant near his headquarters. "Once you get to the point where you look at whether content is safe or unsafe, as soon as you do that, you've opened a can of worms." At best, his apolitical framing comes across as naive; at worst, as preposterous gaslighting. In interviews with Bloomberg Businessweek early in 2020, Lim said he didn't really know what QAnon was and had no opinion about Donald Trump. What's undeniable is the niche Lim is filling. His blip of a company is providing essential tech support for the kinds of violence-prone hate groups and conspiracists that tend to get banned by mainstream providers such as Amazon Web Services.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Blue Origin sends Mannequin Skywalker aloft again, testing out comfier capsule for future space tourists

The Register - Thu, 2021-04-15 03:31
One day you too can experience a few minutes of free fall with great visuals... if you can afford it

Video  Blue Origin has successfully completed a test launch and landing of its reuseable New Shepard rocket with an advanced capsule design, bringing the outfit one step closer to eventually sending up paying passengers.…

Categories: Technology

Ford's BlueCruise Self-Driving Tech Did a 110,000-Mile Road Trip

Slashdot - Thu, 2021-04-15 03:02
Ford has revealed that it spent last year conducting the "mother of all road trips" for its upcoming BlueCruise system, sending five Mustang Mach-E crossovers and five F-150 trucks on a collective 110,000-mile journey across the US and Canada. Engadget reports: The aim, to no one's surprise, was to gauge how BlueCruise handled in a wide range of realistic road and traffic conditions. Ford had already racked up 500,000 miles of development testing, but these were shorter, narrowly-focused dry runs. The road trips helped Ford look for changes in everything from road signs to weather while traveling cross-country. BlueCruise will reach 2021 Mustang Mach-E and F-150 models later in the second half of the year through a software update, although you'll need the Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep Package. Like Super Cruise, it relies on looking for "prequalified" highway sections and verifies that you're paying attention to the road. You really can take your hands off the wheel, but you'll have to be ready to intervene when you either leave the BlueCruise-ready area or face an unexpected issue on the road.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Dell to spin out remaining VMware stake, cements Friends With Benefits status for at least five years

The Register - Thu, 2021-04-15 02:28
‘Market does not appreciate hardware/software combo’ says Big Mike. So virty giant gets freedom, customers are promised no change

+Analysis  Dell will spin out its stake in VMware, and the two companies will continue to operate without major changes for at least five years. Indeed, they said they plan to deepen their collaboration.…

Categories: Technology

Farming Startup Unveils Self-Driving Robot That Uses AI To Zap Weeds

Slashdot - Thu, 2021-04-15 02:25
Carbon Robotics, a Seattle company led by Isilon Systems co-founder Paul Mikesell, is unveiling its self-driving robot that uses artificial intelligence to identify weeds growing in fields of vegetables, then zaps them with precision thermal bursts from lasers. GeekWire reports: [W]hat farmers need is less a revolution in farming methods than a revolutionary tool that fits into their current farming patterns, Mikesell said. Carbon worked closely with farmers in eastern Oregon and southern Idaho, he said. As a result, Carbon's robot system -- the Autonomous Weeder -- was built about the size of a medium tractor so it would fit in the furrows between rows of common crops like onions and sweet potatoes. It can cover up to 16 acres of cropland a day, zapping as many as 100,000 weeds an hour, Mikesell said. And since it's self-driving, all a farmer has to do is take it to the field in the morning and turn it on. "We're really intent on not making farmers have to change how they're doing things," Mikesell said. "That's been a key to our success. We fit right into their operations." Carbon has sold out all the robots it built for the 2021 planting season, and is looking for an industrial partner who could help it build more units for 2022, Mikesell said. The company is looking to get into the hundreds of units built and shipped for next year, he said. "There's a demand for a lot more than that, tens or hundreds of thousands of them."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Dogecoin Price Surpasses 10 Cents To Reach An All-Time High

Slashdot - Thu, 2021-04-15 01:45
Dogecoin, the virtual currency that originally started as an internet meme more than seven years ago, has surged more than 85% in the last 24 hours and is trading at $0.13. Its market cap is now over $17 billion. CNN reports: The currency has soared more than 2,000% from the start of the year, and has a big fan in Tesla CEO Elon Musk, whose tweets about it have on occasion driven up Dogecoin's value. Dogecoin has also enjoyed something of a cult status on Reddit, where a popular group -- not unlike the WallStreetBets group behind GameStop's rally -- decided earlier this year to propel its value "to the moon." Dogecoin soared over 600% in the wake of that push. The latest surge in crypto prices comes as Coinbase became the first major cryptocurrency company to list its shares on a U.S. stock exchange.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Is it still possible to run malware in a browser using JavaScript and Rowhammer? Yes, yes it is (slowly)

The Register - Thu, 2021-04-15 01:18
Firefox 'fully compromised' in 15 minutes via SMASH attack

Boffins from Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and ETH in Zurich have bypassed memory chip defenses to execute a successful browser-based Rowhammer side-channel attack dubbed SMASH.…

Categories: Technology

Korean Workers Need To Make Space For Robots, Minister Says

Slashdot - Thu, 2021-04-15 01:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: South Koreans must learn how to work alongside machines if they want to thrive in a post-pandemic world where many jobs will be handled by artificial intelligence and robots, according to the country's labor minister. "Automation and AI will change South Korea faster than other countries," Minister of Employment and Labor Lee Jae-kap said in an interview Tuesday. "Not all jobs may be replaced by machines, but it's important to learn ways to work well with machines through training." While people will have to increase their adaptability to work in a fast-changing high-tech environment, policy makers will also need to play their part, Lee said. The government needs to provide support to enable workers to move from one sector of the economy to another in search of employment and find ways to increase the activity of women in the economy, he added. The minister's remarks underline the determination of President Moon Jae-in's government to press ahead with a growth strategy built around tech even if it risks alienating the country's unions -- an important base of support for the ruling camp -- in the short term. "New jobs will be created as technology advances," Lee said. "What's important in policy is how to support a worker move from a fading sector to an emerging one." The government is looking to help with this transition by expanding its employment insurance program to 21 million people, or more than 40% of the population, by 2025. "The program is part of a government initiative to provide financial support in the form of insurance for every worker in the country, whether they are artists, freelancers or deliverymen on digital platforms," adds Bloomberg. "Separately, the government is providing stipends for young people to encourage them to keep searching for work, as their struggle to stay employed amid slowing economic growth has been made tougher by the pandemic."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Respiratory Study Launches To Discover How Apple Watch Can Predict COVID-19

Slashdot - Thu, 2021-04-15 00:20
Researchers at the University of Washington have partnered with Apple to study how Apple Watch may be used to predict illnesses such as coronavirus, or flu. Apple Insider reports: "The goal of the study is to see if the information collected by the Apple Watch and iPhone can detect early signs of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19," say the organizers on the recruitment page. The study is focusing on the Seattle area because residents "may have higher than normal risk of respiratory illness because of frequent exposure to other people through work or other activities, health conditions, or other factors." This Apple Respiratory Study is expected to take "up to six months." During the study, participants will be required to periodically answer survey questions in the Apple Research iPhone app. If participants get sick while enrolled in the study, they will be sent an in-home testing kit for COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. But, this will likely assist the study further, as sick participants will be asked to "take some additional health measurements using your Apple Watch."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google's FeedBurner Moves To a New Infrastructure But Loses Its Email Subscription Service

Slashdot - Wed, 2021-04-14 23:41
Google today announced that it is moving FeedBurner to a new infrastructure but also deprecating its email subscription service. From a report: If you're an internet user of a certain age, chances are you used Google's FeedBurner to manage the RSS feeds of your personal blogs and early podcasts at some point. During the Web 2.0 era, it was the de facto standard for feed management and analytics, after all. Founded in 2004, with Dick Costolo as one of its co-founders (before he became Twitter's CEO in 2010), it was acquired by Google in 2007. Ever since, FeedBurner lingered in an odd kind of limbo. While Google had no qualms shutting down popular services like Google Reader in favor of its ill-fated social experiments like Google+, FeedBurner just kept burning feeds day in and day out, even as Google slowly deprecated some parts of the service, most notably its advertising integrations. [...] But in July, it is also shutting down some non-core features that don't directly involve feed management, most importantly the FeedBurner email subscription service that allowed you to get emailed alerts when a feed updates. Feed owners will be able to download their email subscriber lists (and will be able to do so after July, too).

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Nigerian email scammer sent down for 40 months in the US, ordered to pay back $2.7m to victims

The Register - Wed, 2021-04-14 23:32
Among the victims: the United Nations

A Nigerian email scammer based in New York was on Tuesday sentenced to 40 months in prison, and ordered to pay back $2.7m in stolen money.…

Categories: Technology

How the FBI Managed To Get Into the San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone

Slashdot - Wed, 2021-04-14 23:00
A new report from The Washington Post reveals how the FBI gained access to an iPhone linked to the 2015 San Bernardino shooting. Apple refused to build a backdoor into the phone, citing the potential to undermine the security of hundreds of millions of Apple users, which kicked off a legal battle that only ended after the FBI successfully hacked the phone. Thanks to the Washington Post's report, we now know the methods the FBI used to get into the iPhone. Mitchell Clark summarizes the key findings via The Verge: The phone at the center of the fight was seized after its owner, Syed Rizwan Farook, perpetrated an attack that killed 14 people. The FBI attempted to get into the phone but was unable to due to the iOS 9 feature that would erase the phone after a certain number of failed password attempts. Apple attempted to help the FBI in other ways but refused to build a passcode bypass system for the bureau, saying that such a backdoor would permanently decrease the security of its phones. After the FBI announced that it had gained access to the phone, there were concerns that Apple's security could have been deeply compromised. But according to The Washington Post, the exploit was simple: [An Australian security firm called Azimuth Security] basically found a way to guess the passcode as many times as it wanted without erasing the phone, allowing the bureau to get into the phone in a matter of hours. The technical details of how the auto-erase feature was bypassed are fascinating. The actual hacking was reportedly done by two Azimuth employees who gained access to the phone by exploiting a vulnerability in an upstream software module written by Mozilla. That code was reportedly used by Apple in iPhones to enable the use of accessories with the Lightning port. Once the hackers gained initial access, they were able to chain together two more exploits, which gave them full control over the main processor, allowing them to run their own code. After they had this power, they were able to write and test software that guessed every passcode combination, ignoring any other systems that would lock out or erase the phone. The exploit chain, from Lightning port to processor control, was named Condor. As with many exploits, though, it didn't last long. Mozilla reportedly fixed the Lightning port exploit a month or two later as part of a standard update, which was then adopted by the companies using the code, including Apple.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Report: Aussie biz Azimuth cracked San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, ending Apple-FBI privacy standoff

The Register - Wed, 2021-04-14 22:37
Mozilla-authored code in iOS exploited, since patched, it is claimed

Australian security firm Azimuth has been identified as the experts who managed to crack a mass shooter's iPhone that was at the center of an encryption standoff between the FBI and Apple.…

Categories: Technology

Washington State Votes To End Restriction On Community Broadband

Slashdot - Wed, 2021-04-14 22:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Washington State lawmakers have voted to kill telecom-industry backed restrictions that limit the reach of community broadband. The Public Broadband Act (HB1336) passed the state Senate with a 27-22 vote on Sunday, after passing the House with a vote of 60-37 last February. State Representative Drew Hansen applauded the bill's passage on Twitter, stating it "reverses decades of bad policy" and opens the door to better, cheaper broadband. "Washington was one of only 18 states that restricted local governments from serving the public by providing public broadband," Hansen told Motherboard. "My bill eliminates that restriction." In Washington, a twenty-one year old law let some local governments build their own broadband networks, but prohibited local utilities from delivering broadband to customers directly. Hansen, who was also the primary sponsor of the state's new net neutrality law, says his bill finally eliminates those unnecessary limits entirely. "The Public Broadband Act broadly authorizes all local governments to provide broadband to anyone -- people who are totally unserved, people who have some internet access but it's not affordable or reliable -- any people at all," Hansen told Motherboard. "Under the Public Broadband Act, Washington governments have completely unrestricted authority to provide broadband to the public."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

What Happens When You Have a Heart Attack on the Way To Mars?

Slashdot - Wed, 2021-04-14 21:41
If your heart stops en route to Mars, rest assured that researchers have considered how to carry out CPR in space. (One option is to plant your feet on the ceiling and extend your arms downwards to compress the patient's chest.) From a report: Astronauts, because of their age range and high physical fitness, are unlikely to suffer a stroke or have their appendix suddenly explode. That's good because, if it does happen, they're in the realm of what Jonathan Scott -- head of the medical projects and technology team at the European Space Agency -- describes as 'treatment futility.' In other words: there's nothing anyone can do about it. On the ISS, when medical incidents arise, astronauts can draw on the combined expertise of a host of medical experts at Nasa. "The patient is on the space station, the doctor is on the ground, and if there's a problem the patient consults the doctor," says Scott. By the time astronauts reach Mars, there'll be a 40-minute time lag in communications, if it's possible to make contact at all. "We have to begin preparing for not only being able to diagnose things in spaceflight but also to treat them as well," Scott says. Artificial intelligence is likely to be a part of the solution. If you're imagining the holographic doctor from Star Trek, downgrade your expectations, at least for the next few decades. Kris Lehnhardt, the element scientist for exploration medical capability at Nasa, says: "We are many, many, many years away from: please state the nature of the medical emergency." Emmanuel Urquieta is deputy chief scientist at the Translational Institute for Space Health (TRISH), a Nasa-funded program which conducts research into healthcare for deep space missions. While full AI may be a way off, Urquieta believes some form of artificial intelligence will still play a crucial role. "It's going to be essential for a mission to Mars," he says. While the crew for a mission to Mars will likely include a medical doctor, he explains: "No single physician can know everything." And, of course: "What happens if that astronaut gets sick?" Research projects funded by TRISH include Butterfly iQ, a handheld ultrasound device for use by non-medical personnel to make diagnoses that would otherwise require bulky equipment and a trained operator. VisualDx is an AI diagnostics tool originally developed to analyse images and identify skin conditions. The technology is now being adapted to help astronauts diagnose a wide range of conditions most commonly encountered in space, without an internet connection.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Ice, ice maybe? Astrobotic will ride SpaceX's Falcon Heavy to the Moon in 2023 and drop off NASA's water-hunting rover

The Register - Wed, 2021-04-14 21:34
Firm's Griffin lander to do the honours

Astrobotic has provided an explanation for another of SpaceX boss Elon Musk's tweets with news that its Griffin lander lander will be riding a Falcon Heavy to the Moon in 2023.…

Categories: Technology

Business Travellers Planning To Cut Future Flights, Poll Finds

Slashdot - Wed, 2021-04-14 21:01
Most business travellers in the UK will take fewer flights than they used to, according to a poll, thanks to increased use of video conferencing. Only a third expected to return to the same level of flying as before the coronavirus pandemic, once travel restrictions are lifted. From a report: The huge reduction in air travel caused by Covid-19 had no impact on the work life or productivity of the majority of the business flyers, the poll found, with one in five saying the shutdown had had a positive impact. Carbon emissions from aviation were growing at 5.7% a year before the pandemic, despite many countries committing to cut all emissions to net zero by 2050 to tackle the climate crisis. Green campaigners argue that the aviation shutdown provides an opportunity to put the sector on a sustainable trajectory. Business-class seats provide most of airlines' revenues but result in more emissions than those in the economy cabin because of the greater space occupied by each passenger. Business fliers also fly far more frequently than most holidaygoers, with 10% of those in the poll taking more than 10 flights in the year up to the first lockdown in March 2020. Bill Gates recently estimated that more than 50% of business travel would end as companies adopted online meetings and cut costs.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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