Slashdot: News for Nerds


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Slashdot Asks: Do You Want a Smart Watch?

Bazman New version of an old saying... (381 comments)

Even a watch with a sticker on it saying "You have unread emails and new tweets" is right several times a day.

about two weeks ago

Mathematicians Solve the Topological Mystery Behind the "Brazuca" Soccer Ball

Bazman Re:And another question (144 comments)

I do wonder what Bobby Charlton could have done with a modern ball considering he did this with a ball made of inch-thick cowhide with a concrete core that absorbed half its weight in water on a typical English match day.

about three weeks ago

Study: People Would Rather Be Shocked Than Be Alone With Their Thoughts

Bazman Re:Just 15 minutes? (333 comments)

Actually the PR does say they started with college students and then found some older people to play with, so ignore me.

about three weeks ago

Study: People Would Rather Be Shocked Than Be Alone With Their Thoughts

Bazman Re:Just 15 minutes? (333 comments)

A university press release, so my money is on the participants being any student wandering round campus who saw the sign offering $5 for doing experiments in the Psychology Dept. Not biased at all.

Press release says the research is coming out in Science today so can check later.

about three weeks ago

Exploiting Wildcards On Linux/Unix

Bazman Re:Question... -- ? (215 comments)

Any other way? How about this way:

rm ./-f

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch?

Bazman Re:Acceptable battery life (427 comments)

It means you have to take a charger with you if there's any chance you might not be spending the night in your own bed when you go out... Of course that won't happen because you're wearing a nerdy watch.

about a month ago

Wikipedia Editors Hit With $10 Million Defamation Suit

Bazman Progress (268 comments)

He's suing the editors, the people who wrote the stuff. A few years back, people would have sued wikipedia for showing the page, the hosting company for hosting the page, the company that maintain the DNS record for WIkipedia and Dell (or whoever) for running the site on their servers.

Not really news.

about a month ago

US To Auction 29,656 Bitcoins Seized From Silk Road

Bazman Re:Do they accept (232 comments)

Expected riposte from bitcoinfanbois insisting that bitcoin is a form of cash in 3...2..1..

about a month and a half ago

The Computer Security Threat From Ultrasonic Networks

Bazman Fix (121 comments)

Headphones. Or dummy jack-plugs.

about a month and a half ago

Was Turing Test Legitimately Beaten, Or Just Cleverly Tricked?

Bazman Churnalism (309 comments)

If the Turing Test is a test to see if universities can release press releases that the media churn out without doing any basic thinking or background checking then yes. Otherwise no. See

UK university staff are getting more and more pressure to get publicity for their work. Why? Because the student market is much more competitive than it was. Every Uni now has a small army of press and "impact" people who aim to get the Uni in the papers, on twitter, etc etc. Not that Kevin Warwick needs much help with that, he's been doing it for years.

The press release about this so-called Turing Test was pretty much written in a style ideal for lazy journos to cut and paste into Quark Xpress.

about a month and a half ago

How Open Government Data Saved New Yorkers Thousands On Parking Tickets

Bazman Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (286 comments)

Put your hydrant tap points near ground level and go _under_ the car? How many cars don't have 6" ground clearance?

So anyway its clearly a cultural thing. In the UK there's no mention of parking and fire hydrants in driving. So either we burn or cars get smashed or our firefighters' hoses are smaller than yours or something.

It might be more effective to put "Do Not Park Next To Fire Hydrant - Your Car Will Get Splashed With Dog Piss" signs up.

about 2 months ago

How Open Government Data Saved New Yorkers Thousands On Parking Tickets

Bazman Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (286 comments)

There's a fire. The firepeople can park in the middle of the street and run a hose past your car.

I'm guessing its because they won't be able to **see** the fire hydrant rather than be able to physically get to it. We have "H" fire hydrant signs on the pavement (US: sidewalk) in highly visible locations to indicate hydrants which are usually accessed via flat metal panels in the ground.

about 2 months ago

Apple Announces New Programming Language Called Swift

Bazman Re:Swift Programmers Wanted (636 comments)

I think the poster knew that, and I also think Apple should have looked a bit harder to see if there was a similar thing with a similar name before naming their language. However I doubt the original swift-lang people are too keen on getting into a legal dispute with Apple.

about 2 months ago

A Bike Taillight that Goes Beyond Mere Taillighting (Video)

Bazman I'm out... (86 comments) they say on Dragon's Den. Engineer this down to *cloth* and I might be interested. So I can roll it up and stuff it in my backpack. And make it not black when the batteries fail. And make it only slightly more expensive than one of those hi-viz cyclist vests. What? They give those away for free? Could you sell one of these things for $5/£5 and still make a profit?

For a fiver I could wrap my bike and myself in reflective material and not have to worry about batteries.

about 2 months ago

Emory University SCCM Server Accidentally Reformats All Computers Campus-wide

Bazman Stay classy, Slashdot (564 comments)

Not only have they had to re-image all their PCs, you've now slashdotted their web server!

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Easy-To-Use Alternative To MS Access For a Charity's Database?

Bazman Python/Qt (281 comments)

So... if LibreOffice Base is not functional enough... and if a web solution is "too techy" for them... and if other proprietary solutions are too proprietary for you... and if an extant CRM isn't okay for them... and if a single-user single PC solution is acceptable...

Write a standalone Python app that uses PyQt for its GUI, design the forms in the Qt UI form designer, use the Qt database abstraction to use an SQLite DB on a local file.

If this is a solution that is going to be dropped on them and left without support, then you don't need a super-flexible (read "buggy") database-designing framework, so knock it out in PyQt and run.

If you are going to be around to support it, then just use your preferred django/mysql system. I'm sure the org can stretch to a couple of RPi's to run it on. Oh, and backups.

about 2 months ago

How Firefox Will Handle DRM In HTML

Bazman Linux version (361 comments)

Are Adobe going to make a Linux version of the DRM module? Because their record with Linux versions of their PDF DRM tech is VERY POOR. We get research articles from the British Library which are DRM'd, and our Linux users can't read them. One solution is to complain to BL at which point they will often just email you a plain old unDRMd PDF. The mega-facepalm thing is that the British Library came out against DRM-content a few years ago, and have done a massive backtrack because the publishers didn't like it.

Whether DRM is a bad thing or an insanely bad thing (ok, or a good thing, whatever), I don't ever want to see "This Content Cannot Be Viewed On Your Nerdy Linux Operating System" popups ever. But if this is Adobe's shitcreek we're wading through, I think I will.

about 2 months ago

Autonomous Car Ethics: If a Crash Is Unavoidable, What Does It Hit?

Bazman Time? (800 comments)

"Programmers have all the time in the world to get it right". HAHAHAHAHAHA.

No, we have deadlines like everyone else. And even then we only have all the time in the CPU. Yeah, we can add more CPUs to the system, but that makes it more complex, and that makes it harder to hit that deadline. What kind of idiot made that statement?


about 3 months ago

Autonomous Car Ethics: If a Crash Is Unavoidable, What Does It Hit?

Bazman Re:Adding up braking power. (800 comments)

Braking power isn't infinite. Wheel braking will eventually skid the wheels (which is why we have anti-lock brakes now, so you can still steer while braking). Are you thinking cars should be equipped with dragster-style parachutes, or retro-rockets? Or just a bloody great anchor that the computer can deploy and tear up the road?

Even when the car has deployed the parachute, the anchor, and the retro-rocket is still firing, the computer might still not be able to stop going into that tree that's just fallen over. Plus all those negative G forces are going to smear the drivers eyeballs over the inside of the windscreen.

about 3 months ago


Bazman hasn't submitted any stories.



Bazman Bazman writes  |  about 11 years ago

I suspected this all along. I've been doing data analysis of tropical disease data for quite some time - meningitis in Africa, loaloa in Cameroon, and most recently lymphatic filariasis in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo and Benin.

And then last week I discover where the money comes from. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They pay the tropical medicine researchers, and the tropical medicine researchers pay me to do the statistics.

But the joke is on Bill, because I only use Free Software - R running under Linux. Reports are written in LaTeX.

Of course this doesn't go down well with my anarchist-inclined friends. Especially when I told one of them that I had a meeting with the tropical medicine people and some guys from the World Bank next week...

Next entry in a years time, no doubt.


Bazman Bazman writes  |  more than 12 years ago

so today is the day of my sea otter movie
  premiere. i'm up until 1.30am writing the
  voice-over script. get up at 7.30am and sort out
  the microphone. Record the parts to my Akai
  digital recorder, and then have to muck with the
  soundcard drivers to get the digital input
  working. I was expecting this sort of trouble,
  and it didn't take long to sort it out. Chopped
  up all the audio and put it in its proper place
  on the Premiere timeline. Grrreat. Adjust a few
  levels here and there and its ready to mix down
  onto my camera.

Once its on the DV tape in the camera, its over
to the TV and the VCR to make a VHS copy. Hello,
that doesn't sound right. There's something wrong
with the audio at the start of the film. Rats. I
check the Premiere project and there's a section
of wav file out of place. Delete. Fixed. Sorted.
I mix down to the camera again.

Then its over to the TV. its 12:30, the transfer
to VHS takes 30 minutes, I'll be out of the house
and on my way to the 3pm showing no problem. I
switch the camera on. Low Battery. I plug the
mains in. Low battery. I try my monster great
fully charged 10 hour battery. Low battery. I
take the batteries out, wander round the house
for a minute, try again. Low battery. The camera
will do nothing except display Low Battery.

This is the final process in getting the finished
film ready. And I'm stuck, totally. Despair hits.
Obscenities fly at nobody in particular. Then I
have an idea. I pack the camera and the tapes into
my bag and run into town to the camera shop where
I bought the camera. I tell them my story. The
man tries my camera with a fresh battery and
it says 'Low Battery'. He takes it for repair,
and offers to make a VHS copy from my DV tape. I
have to come back in an hour.

  Its funny having an hour in which you're in a
tense deadline situation but there's nothing you
can do. I walk back home and try to relax on the
couch. I also search for the receipt for the
camera, and find it in my desk draw.

  After an hour, I pack everything I need onto my
bike and speed back to the camera shop. The film
is being transferred on a machine in full view in
the shop, and some customers are watching! I
wander into town and sit by the fountain for ten
minutes, relaxing again. Nothing I can do.

  Back to the shop, and pick up the tape. Its now
2.25. I speed onto campus and arrive at 2:45, just
in time. At 3pm there's a few Biology students and
some friends in the room to watch the film. They
all seem to like it, and four of us go and have
a coffee in the coffee bar afterwards. I think
they liked it. They certainly liked the otters.



Bazman Bazman writes  |  more than 12 years ago So at least on Saturday I got a fair bit of editing done on my sea otter film - even did a cheesy animated line-over-map thing showing the float plane going from Cordova to the camp, with a silhoutte float plane over the top. Niiiice.

Then saturday night to the pub. The Bobbin was chocka-full of goths.

Then on sunday decide to install my new hard drives. Nightmare. Windows decided that my paging file wasnt big enough. Or wasnt there. But logged me straight out without giving me a chance to fix it. Aargh. Two reinstalls later I got a semblance of a working system back and then had to fix all the device drivers. I've not checked that my soundcards are working yet, I'm just grateful to have video back.

And a power failure on Saturday means lots of machines here at work are screaming. Aaaaaargh....

I dont like Mondays, tell me why, I dont like Mondays...


Bazman Bazman writes  |  more than 12 years ago

Friday. Working at 8.40, and about to leave. At least
today I'll get home before 11. Working hard for a
deadline next week to get some web-based reporting
of food poisoning cases done. I've found a great
web-based free GIS 'mapserver' (google for it) and
thats saved a lot of work and made it all possible.
Now I just have to get the data into it.

Every day we are sent updated data by email which gets
filtered by procmail, gunzipped, un-pgped, and stuffed
into a Postgres database table. Then the idea is that
every midnight or so a job gets the data out of the
table, matches up the postcodes (like zip-codes) with
the small area-based units we use (census tracts of a
sort) and computes incidences over space and time.
Then all this data has to go into a Dbase .dbf file
cos thats what the GIS uses.

So not only am I building a GIS, doing stats analyses
with R (, I'm also writing code for
R to write out dbf files. Hence the late nights.

And I'm making a documentary about sea otters that has
to be done in a couple of weeks. Aaaaah.

So its Friday, but I dont think I'm going to have a
restful weekend somehow.

  Happiness to all of you.



Bazman Bazman writes  |  more than 12 years ago Ah, I've got moderator points again. Now I have to pay for all those great comments I write on slashdot. Dang.

So, I'm going to whore myself. If you've got comments you want modded up, send $1 to me and I'll use all my moderator points on you whenever I get mod access.

Nothing much else happening today....


Bazman Bazman writes  |  more than 12 years ago

Well well well. Here I am, reading stuff on slashdot when I see someone has a journal entry. When did slashdot become 'blogs for nerds'?

  today I have mostly been thinking about playing football.

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