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Last week you had a chance to ask Guido van Rossum, Python's BDFL (Benevolent Dictator For Life), about all things Python and his move to Dropbox. Guido wasted no time answering your questions and you'll find his responses below.

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An anonymous reader writes "There is a growing interest in who tracks us, and many folks are restricting the use of web cookies and Flash to cut down how advertisers (and others) can track them. Those things are fine as far as they go, but some sites are using the ETag header as an identifier: Attentive readers might have noticed already how you can use this to track people: the browser sends the information back to the server that it previously received (the ETag). That sounds an awful lot like cookies, doesn't it? The server can simply give each browser an unique ETag, and when they connect again it can look it up in its database. Neither JavaScript, nor any other plugin, has to be enabled for this to work either, and changing your IP is useless as well. The only usable workaround seems to be clearing one's cache, or using private browsing with HTTPS on sites where you don't want to be tracked. The Firefox add-on SecretAgent also does ETag overwriting."

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rjmarvin writes "Two developers were able to successfully reverse-engineer Dropbox to intercept SSL traffic, bypass two-factor authentication and create open-source clients. They presented their paper, 'Looking inside the (Drop) box' (PDF) at USENIX 2013, explaining step-by-step how they were able to succeed where others failed in reverse-engineering a heavily obfuscated application written in Python. They also claimed the generic techniques they used could be applied to reverse-engineer other Frozen python applications: OpenStack, NASA, and a host of Google apps, just to name a few..."

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What if you could compile all of YouTube's worst-rated videos in one place? Considering the sheer volume of user content that's uploaded to the site every second, it's a daunting challenge. Nonetheless, that's the idea Boootube is trying to execute on; it's a running collection of the most down-voted clips on YouTube. In other words, it's the best of the worst; these are videos that have received hundreds and often times thousands of unfavorable votes from viewers around the world.

Selections include Lil Wayne trying his hand at guitar, controversial baby yoga demonstrations, and an expletive-laced rant targeted at an innocent Dunkin Donuts staffer. Unflattering political ads and blatantly racist rants are also a common theme. There's also a 15-minute video where the clip's host uses Photoshop to prove that the "original" Eminem died only to be quietly replaced by a lookalike. We're all familiar with the overnight sensations and stars that have been catapulted to glory thanks to YouTube. But BooTube serves as a sober reminder that the good is often outweighed by the bad or mediocre.

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Programmer Steve Losh has written a lengthy explanation of what separates good documentation from bad, and how to go about planning and writing documentation that will actually help people. His overarching point is that documentation should be used to teach, not to dump excessive amounts of unstructured information onto a user. Losh takes many of the common documentation tropes — "read the source," "look at the tests," "read the docstrings" — and makes analogies with learning everyday skills to show how silly they can be. "This is your driving teacher, Ms. Smith. ... If you have any questions about a part of the car while you’re driving, you can ask her and she’ll tell you all about that piece. Here are the keys, good luck!" He has a similar opinion of API strings: "API documentation is like the user’s manual of a car. When something goes wrong and you need to replace a tire it’s a godsend. But if you’re learning to drive it’s not going to help you because people don’t learn by reading alphabetized lists of disconnected information." Losh's advice for wikis is simple and straightforward: "They are bad and terrible. Do not use them."

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Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey with 792 web users, and found that the urge for privacy is more common than it seems. A full 86 percent of respondents had covered their digital tracks in some way, whether it was with encryption software or simply by using a browser's incognito mode, although only 14 percent went as far as using Tor or VPN proxy servers to cover their tracks. More telling, a full 68 percent of responders said current laws were not doing a good enough job protecting privacy online, suggesting a growing base for new legislation. As one study author told The New York Times, "it's not just a small coterie of hackers. Almost everyone has taken some action to avoid surveillance."

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