• ibwolf (cs)

    And still people think that using computers to do the ACTUAL counting of votes is a good idea....

  • Paolo G (unregistered)

    Why do these stories always sound like they are made up? Could it be because (gasp) they are made up?

    If this is a true story rather than a joke or an urban legend, then why not tell us which "major TV station" and which "Large Computer Company" you are talking about instead of being so coy?

  • BobB (unregistered)

    Ah Fortran. I love that language. I got my first programming job doing (Yes, actually coding not just code maint) Fortran. It was a blessing and a curse at the same time. Unfortunately, I was born in '79, so I didn't get all the blinkin and the beepin with my Fortran. Just a happy Solaris box that was more than eager to compile for me. Meeeeemoooorrrieeees....

  • conservajerk (unregistered) in reply to ibwolf

    This seems like a story of untested code being used in production and failing (what a surprise), not a story of why computers should not be used in elections...

  • Tyche (unregistered)

    The correct syntax for the END specification doesn't have the periods around it

          READ(5,*,END=600)LINE
    

    Of course I could be wrong, I learnt Fortran 77 not Fortran 4 :)

  • Zylon (cs)

    "...dumb terminals operated by a little old ladies"?

  • TheRider (cs)

    This reminds me of those old-days Videotex terminals. For anybody who remembers: It was internet 0.1, so to speak. I have no idea about how this worked in the US, but here in europe, the national telephone companies operated a network, to which special dumb terminals with built-in modems could connect with a special protocol. For several years it was mainly used for banking purposes, but there were even weather forecasts and stuff like that available.

    Now, the big banks had, of course, their mainframe system on which they held their customer account data. And, they had to implement Videotex banking services for their customers. This was the first attempt at e-banking, mind you, way before the internet. I clearly remember how one of the big three Swiss banks implemented their solution: Some specialized computer (can't remember what make it was) did the Videotex network interface, supplying the UI to the users, and all payment requests ("pay amount x from my account to account y") were printed on a dot-matrix line printer, (maybe placed on a wooden table, photographed and scanned) and the printouts transported over to next building where the mainframe datatypist girls worked. The datatypists then had to type the money transfer requests into the mainframe terminals for actual execution. I think such an architecture is considered a media disruption nowadays...

  • dabean (cs)

    Can someone explain 400 cycle power please? I've never heard of it and Google isn't being helpful. Is that literally 400Hz or just a name for something like 3-phase?

  • operagost (cs)
    blinky-lights
    You misspelled "das blinkenlights."
  • dpm (cs) in reply to Paolo G
    Paolo G:
    Why do these stories always sound like they are made up? Could it be because (gasp) they are made up?
    Could it be because you haven't been around long enough to realize that things like this really do happen?
    Paolo G:
    If this is a true story rather than a joke or an urban legend, then why not tell us which "major TV station" and which "Large Computer Company" you are talking about instead of being so coy?
    Damn, Alex, people are unhappy when you *do* reveal the name, and they're unhappy when you don't.
  • Trawn (unregistered) in reply to dabean
    Comment held for moderation.
  • dabean (cs) in reply to Trawn
    Trawn:
    That would be 3 Phase Power at 400Hz. 3 Phase can be 50hz, 60Hz or 400Hz.

    http://www.3phasepower.org/3phasefrequencyconverters.htm

    Thanks.

  • Anon (unregistered) in reply to Paolo G
    Paolo G:
    If this is a true story rather than a joke or an urban legend, then why not tell us which "major TV station" and which "Large Computer Company" you are talking about instead of being so coy?

    To protect the guilty! (and avoid potential lawsuits).

  • Old fart (unregistered)
    Comment held for moderation.
  • DeLos (cs) in reply to Anon
    Anon:
    Paolo G:
    If this is a true story rather than a joke or an urban legend, then why not tell us which "major TV station" and which "Large Computer Company" you are talking about instead of being so coy?

    To protect the guilty! (and avoid potential lawsuits).

    Umm, it was FOX and IBM. There happy? Does that change the story for you? No? Ok, how about ABC and Digital?

  • attritioner (unregistered)

    "Connected to the computers were a number of old terminals operated by a dumb little ladies"

  • lw42 (unregistered) in reply to DeLos

    Sorry, couldn't have been IBM: look at all those octal numbers.

  • Lee (unregistered)
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Kozz (unregistered) in reply to DeLos

    DeLos: Well put! Made me laugh. Although I don't know if it was intentional, you're betraying your age by suggesting the existence of FOX so long ago. ;)

  • :-X (unregistered)

    There's no reason why computers can't handle elections. The software will just need to be THROUGHLY tested beforehand and a lot of security measures will need to be taken...

  • WhiskeyJack (cs) in reply to Kozz
    Kozz:
    DeLos: Well put! Made me laugh. Although I don't know if it was intentional, you're betraying your age by suggesting the existence of FOX so long ago. ;)

    Yeah, was just going to say.. FOX didn't exist back then.

  • Sanity (unregistered) in reply to conservajerk
    conservajerk:
    This seems like a story of untested code being used in production and failing (what a surprise), not a story of why computers should not be used in elections...
    In my mind, that is a reason why computers should not be used in elections -- at least, unless they are prepared to open the source to public scrutiny, testing, and abuse for a year or so before the election.
  • alexgieg (unregistered) in reply to dabean
    Comment held for moderation.
  • ibwolf (cs) in reply to :-X
    :-X:
    There's no reason why computers can't handle elections. The software will just need to be THROUGHLY tested beforehand and a lot of security measures will need to be taken...

    Considering all the things that can go wrong purely be accident it is hard to trust them. Add to that all the possible malicious attack vectors (possibly used by the very people entrusted with operating the computers!) and, no, I don't trust 'em.

    At the very least you need a full paper trail back-up.

    It always amazes me that, when using e-vote stuff, that they don't have the voting booths print out a simple (filled in) ballot that the voter puts in an old fashioned ballot box.

    These paper ballots could then be tallied for some random sample of polling locations and compared with the computer votes. If they match then all is fine and dandy. If they don't then something is seriously amiss.

  • CC Pizzabutt (unregistered) in reply to BobB
    BobB:
    Just a happy Solaris box that was more than eager to compile for me. Meeeeemoooorrrieeees....

    Sun didn't exist in 1979. Sun and SunOS date from 1982. The name 'Solaris' didn't start until 1991.

    In other words, you're lying.

  • DC (unregistered) in reply to Sanity

    We (humans) make mistakes. It is just a matter of which humans we prefer doing the mistakes (the ones that write the software/review the software or the ones that count votes/oversee counting votes).

  • DeLos (cs) in reply to Kozz
    Kozz:
    DeLos: Well put! Made me laugh. Although I don't know if it was intentional, you're betraying your age by suggesting the existence of FOX so long ago. ;)
    Damn it! I was so worried about getting two good companies that I totally blanked. I thought I had CBS in there.

    Oh well, my point stands. How about MTV and Google! lol.

  • Wynne (unregistered) in reply to CC Pizzabutt

    He said he was born in '79, you accusatory moron.

  • Huh (unregistered) in reply to CC Pizzabutt
    CC Pizzabutt:
    Sun didn't exist in 1979. Sun and SunOS date from 1982. The name 'Solaris' didn't start until 1991.

    Neither he started to code minutes after birth.

  • Nobody (unregistered) in reply to CC Pizzabutt
    CC Pizzabutt:
    BobB:
    Just a happy Solaris box that was more than eager to compile for me. Meeeeemoooorrrieeees....

    Sun didn't exist in 1979. Sun and SunOS date from 1982. The name 'Solaris' didn't start until 1991.

    In other words, you're lying.

    No, you're not paying attention. He said he was born in '79, not working in '79. I would assume his first job would have been in the late 90's at the earliest, probably early 2000's.

  • A Gould (unregistered) in reply to Paolo G
    Paolo G:
    Why do these stories always sound like they are made up? Could it be because (gasp) they are made up?

    If this is a true story rather than a joke or an urban legend, then why not tell us which "major TV station" and which "Large Computer Company" you are talking about instead of being so coy?

    Because it's not really important to the story (other than establishing "people who should know better than to put untested tech on live TV")

  • Outlaw Programmer (cs) in reply to Lee
    Lee:
    Based on the register names and sizes, it looks like they are referring to the CDC 6000 series of computers. Also, these were known for having separate peripheral (I/O) processors, which fits the story. So, my guess is that the computer company is Control Data Corporation. When I was a youngster, back in the early 1970's, I used to hack my local college's CDC 6600 on my way home from junior high school. No kidding!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CDC_6000_series

    In the story, the I/O controllers weren't necessary. They were brought on stage just to wow the viewers, but, as per the story, they weren't really hooked up to anything.

  • Mntpthn (unregistered) in reply to CC Pizzabutt
    CC Pizzabutt:
    BobB:
    Just a happy Solaris box that was more than eager to compile for me. Meeeeemoooorrrieeees....

    Sun didn't exist in 1979. Sun and SunOS date from 1982. The name 'Solaris' didn't start until 1991.

    In other words, you're lying.

    He said he was born in 1979, not that it was in '79 that he was programming on a Solaris box. That means he was probably programming after 1991.

    I can read!!!!

  • notme (unregistered) in reply to ibwolf
    ibwolf:
    :-X:
    There's no reason why computers can't handle elections. The software will just need to be THROUGHLY tested beforehand and a lot of security measures will need to be taken...

    Considering all the things that can go wrong purely be accident it is hard to trust them. Add to that all the possible malicious attack vectors (possibly used by the very people entrusted with operating the computers!) and, no, I don't trust 'em.

    At the very least you need a full paper trail back-up.

    It always amazes me that, when using e-vote stuff, that they don't have the voting booths print out a simple (filled in) ballot that the voter puts in an old fashioned ballot box.

    These paper ballots could then be tallied for some random sample of polling locations and compared with the computer votes. If they match then all is fine and dandy. If they don't then something is seriously amiss.

    Not to mention, with computer voting, the vast majority of the population (probably including you and me) would not have the skills necessary to confirm the correctness of the election.

    With old fashioned paper voting, I can just show up there and observe the whole process, and then I can be pretty sure the votes have been counted correctly. (In my country, citizens have a guaranteed right to do that.) At least 50% of the population have the skills to do that if only they wanted to.

    In the case of computer voting, all I can see is someone pushing a button, and the machine spitting out a result. If there has to be a recount, the same person will push the same button again. The only possibility for an ordinary person at that point is to trust those few persons who know what they're doing, are truely indepedent, not malevolent or corrupt and are willing to and have the time to actually do it. That's not a lot of people.

  • dkf (unregistered) in reply to Huh
    Huh:
    CC Pizzabutt:
    Sun didn't exist in 1979. Sun and SunOS date from 1982. The name 'Solaris' didn't start until 1991.
    Neither he started to code minutes after birth.
    It would have been cool if he had though. He'd have so much more experience than the rest of us...
  • Paul (unregistered)

    The problem with evoting isn't that computer is tallying the results - the problem is really quite a simple one and easy to implement - it's that for some pigheaded reason (to make it easy to rig, perhaps) none of the implementations have decent security or a decent backup counting system. Without a paper trail and if you can intercept the vote, there's no way of knowing if someone really did vote the way it was registered. Even in a fair election where no votes were miscounted, how can you be sure? Doing as ibwolf said, and printing out the vote (on non-thermal paper) for the user to look at and put into a ballot box, would go a long way to fixing these problems.

    With X on paper, you can stuff the ballot box, but with vigilance, that can be mostly stopped. And then you can recount the ballots.

    What's more, there's no way to register dissatisfaction except by not voting. With a paper ballot, you can vote for everyone or no one and the ballot is counted as spoiled. With any evoting machine I've seen, you have to hold your nose and pick a "valid" option. This mightn't be a problem for many people here, but I grew up in Northern Ireland, and with its notoriously corrupt election system (at least in the part I lived), you had to make sure you got to the voting station early so that no one else used your vote, even if you put an X beside everyone on the ballot. There were some elections where upwards of 10% of the votes were "spoiled" because people like me couldn't bring themselves to vote for anyone in particular, but didn't want their vote to be used by whoever had access to voter registration records and so could impersonate us.

  • BobB (unregistered) in reply to CC Pizzabutt
    CC Pizzabutt:
    BobB:
    Just a happy Solaris box that was more than eager to compile for me. Meeeeemoooorrrieeees....

    Sun didn't exist in 1979. Sun and SunOS date from 1982. The name 'Solaris' didn't start until 1991.

    In other words, you're lying.

    If you had any reading comprehension skills, you would have noticed I was BORN in '79.

    In other words, you're an idiot.

  • Anonymous Coward (unregistered) in reply to Lee
    Lee:
    ... When I was a youngster, back in the early 1970's, I used to hack my local college's CDC 6600 on my way home from junior high school. No kidding!
    Did anybody else automatically think "I wonder what the prevailing wireless protocol was in the 1970's..."
  • Me (unregistered) in reply to CC Pizzabutt
    CC Pizzabutt:
    BobB:
    Just a happy Solaris box that was more than eager to compile for me. Meeeeemoooorrrieeees....

    Sun didn't exist in 1979. Sun and SunOS date from 1982. The name 'Solaris' didn't start until 1991.

    In other words, you're lying.

    He said he was born in 1979. Sheesh. Learn to read before calling people liers.

  • Bitchen Ric (unregistered) in reply to Lee

    Wow. You are truly king of the geeks! I'm not worthy! :)

  • a Brazilian (unregistered) in reply to Paul
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Boulder_Dude (unregistered) in reply to Lee

    I recognized that dump right away. Brings back such (mostly nice) memories of learning to program with FORTRAN on the CDC 6400 at CU Boulder. There's a bunch more of the dump that isn't on there, which would allow you to actually trace back your code from the addresses in the A registers (the X registers are used to do the computation) to the instruction line that caused the exception.

    Octal RULES!

  • Anon (unregistered) in reply to Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward:
    Lee:
    ... When I was a youngster, back in the early 1970's, I used to hack my local college's CDC 6600 on my way home from junior high school. No kidding!
    Did anybody else automatically think "I wonder what the prevailing wireless protocol was in the 1970's..."

    Yes. Something like that. :-)

  • jetcitywoman (cs) in reply to Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward:
    Lee:
    ... When I was a youngster, back in the early 1970's, I used to hack my local college's CDC 6600 on my way home from junior high school. No kidding!
    Did anybody else automatically think "I wonder what the prevailing wireless protocol was in the 1970's..."

    Morse code? Seriously, from what I remember, it was probably 300-baud modems over landline. I think the only thing available back then was telex or teletype.

  • Tristique (unregistered)

    <trolling...>

    The real wtf is if they'd just written it in Java, they could have just caught the IO exception!

    The compiler even enforces it...

    $ /opt/java1.5/bin/javac vote.java 
    vote.java:12: unreported exception java.io.IOException; must be caught or declared to be thrown
             ch = System.in.read();
                                ^
    1 error
    
    </trolling>
  • fert (unregistered)

    I still think E-Voting is possible, its just all in implementation.

    The main issue is gaining the confidence of the voters, and to do this, you just need to allow them to see their vote was actually counted. A simple receipt printed out with a randomly generated unique number to identify THEIR vote, then let them go onto some website and actually look and see hey look there is my number in this column here, along with all these other random numbers.

    What is the % of people who will check this? Low but those who do will confirm that you are in fact counting all the votes. Sure there is still plenty of room for corruption, but, lets say the receipt printed off has two parts, and you submit one part as you leave, then now you have a paper trail of a unique time stamped number that matches the paper you give to the person, and you can audit random stations to ensure accuracy.

  • Martin (unregistered) in reply to Paul
    Paul:
    What's more, there's no way to register dissatisfaction except by not voting. With a paper ballot, you can vote for everyone or no one and the ballot is counted as spoiled. With any evoting machine I've seen, you have to hold your nose and pick a "valid" option.

    The e-voting machines in Germany have an "invalid vote" option you can pick.

  • Monty (unregistered) in reply to Martin
    Martin:
    The e-voting machines in Germany have an "invalid vote" option you can pick.

    Select your vote McCain Obama File Not Found

  • Martian (unregistered) in reply to a Brazilian
    Comment held for moderation.
  • caffeinatedbacon (cs) in reply to CC Pizzabutt
    CC Pizzabutt:
    BobB:
    Just a happy Solaris box that was more than eager to compile for me. Meeeeemoooorrrieeees....

    Sun didn't exist in 1979. Sun and SunOS date from 1982. The name 'Solaris' didn't start until 1991.

    In other words, you're lying.

    Reading comprehension; learn-it, love it.

    BobB: Born 1979 Coded: FORTRAN Compiled On: A Solaris box

    In 1991, he would have been 12, and only a sadist would make a 12 year old code FORTRAN.

    God I hope my sarcasm-detector's just broken and you're not really that dense.

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