Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!



The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science

Jeremy Erwin Re:The theories defined (567 comments)

Pollsters like to mix it up a bit. An "easy" poll is an uninformative poll.


Lytro Illum Light-Field Camera Lets You Refocus Pictures Later

Jeremy Erwin Re:Meh (125 comments)

Hmm. That's an odd way of using dodging and burning. It's usually used to improve contrast by overexposing or underexposing selected areas of an image.

2 days ago

The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science

Jeremy Erwin Re:The theories defined (567 comments)

I wouldn't suggest that the supreme being hypothesis is scientific. But as a polling question it's fairly unambiguous,

2 days ago

The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science

Jeremy Erwin The theories defined (567 comments)

This is what confidence in evolution, the big bang vaccines, etc mean in the context of the poll.

Smoking causes cancer
A mental illness is a medical condition that affects the brain
Inside our cells, there is a complex genetic code that helps determine who we are
Overusing antibiotics causes the development of drug-resistant bacteria
The universe is so complex, there must be a supreme being guiding its creation
Childhood vaccines are safe and effective
The average temperature of the world is rising, mostly because of man-made heat- trapping greenhouse gases
Life on Earth, including human beings, evolved through a process of natural selection
The Earth is 4.5 billion years old
The universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang

Except, perhaps for the "mental illness" question, there's not much room for quibbling over the meaning of each, imho.

2 days ago

Lytro Illum Light-Field Camera Lets You Refocus Pictures Later

Jeremy Erwin Re:Meh (125 comments)

From the AP Code of Ethics

The content of a photograph must not be altered in Photoshop or by any other means. No element should be digitally added to or subtracted from any photograph. The faces or identities of individuals must not be obscured by Photoshop or any other editing tool. Only retouching or the use of the cloning tool to eliminate dust on camera sensors and scratches on scanned negatives or scanned prints are acceptable.
Minor adjustments in Photoshop are acceptable. These include cropping, dodging and burning, conversion into gray- scale, and normal toning and color adjustments that should be limited to those minimally necessary for clear and accurate reproduction (analogous to the burning and dodging previously used in darkroom processing of images) and that restore the authentic nature of the photograph. Changes in density, contrast, color and saturation levels that substantially alter the original scene are not acceptable. Backgrounds should not be digitally blurred or eliminated by burning down or by aggressive toning. The removal of “red eye” from photographs is not permissible.


2 days ago

Lytro Illum Light-Field Camera Lets You Refocus Pictures Later

Jeremy Erwin Re:Meh (125 comments)

The Chicago Sun-Times decided to replace its photographers with iphones-- the result was notably less dramatic photos. I'm not sure what became of that experiment, but the Illum might be more useful than an iphone, as a trained photo editor could take the raw illum files gathered by print reporters and refocus them appropriately. I'm not sure that this would end up being ethical, though.

2 days ago

Lytro Illum Light-Field Camera Lets You Refocus Pictures Later

Jeremy Erwin Re:Meh (125 comments)

Most of the first DSLRs were sold to photojournalists who had deadlines. All the usual photographic tools for creating a record of the days events, without the hassle of developing film.

2 days ago

Lytro Illum Light-Field Camera Lets You Refocus Pictures Later

Jeremy Erwin Re:ignorant (125 comments)

I prefer the old ways.

To change focal length, change the lens.
To change the aperture, twist the aperture ring.

To focus the lens, twist the focusing ring.

To zoom, move closer to, or farther from your subject.

It may not make for better pictures, but it makes the process of taking them more enjoyable.

2 days ago

Lytro Illum Light-Field Camera Lets You Refocus Pictures Later

Jeremy Erwin Re:IIIum? (125 comments)


At least it's not ILEUM.

2 days ago

Google's New Camera App Simulates Shallow Depth of Field

Jeremy Erwin Re:More Google innovations: (126 comments)

digital audio systems that minimize background noise.

5 days ago

Google's New Camera App Simulates Shallow Depth of Field

Jeremy Erwin Re:creamy bokeh (126 comments)

Yeah. What if you want catadioptric bokeh?

5 days ago

Google's New Camera App Simulates Shallow Depth of Field

Jeremy Erwin Re:Why? (126 comments)

Consider this picture of a spider dining on its prey--possibly a cricket.

What's important? the spider, the web, the meal.
What's not important? the storm drain, the foliage

It's not completely successful, but both the foliage and the storm drain are out of focus, while the spider, the meal, and the web are in focus. The aperture control on a large sensor camera lets the photographer select where the blurriness ends, and where it begins. Generally, the longer the focal length of the lens, the more dramatic the effects of opening up the aperture. Since camera phones use short focal length lenses, the blurring effect is quite subtle, and is often insufficient to draw in the viewers eye.
In this particular case, it's a macro shot, so even a very narrow aperture (f/16) involves some blurriness. Quite often, macro-photographers use very narrow apertures-- f/16-f32, in an attempt to resolve all of the interesting aspects of their subjects.

5 days ago

Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance

Jeremy Erwin Re:SORM (396 comments)

But the way forward is clear. Make internet surveillance legal, and a free and open society will blossom, untroubled by questions of legality

about a week ago

Pluto May Have Deep Seas and Ancient Tectonic Faults

Jeremy Erwin Re:It's a Planet (47 comments)

He discovered the first Kuiper belt object.

You can think of him as an American Piazzi, if you'd like.

about two weeks ago

How much do you spend yearly on mobile apps?

Jeremy Erwin Re:Define "App" (240 comments)

As far as I'm concerned, "mobile" is just an excuse to make money off market segmentation. Want to watch hulu on your PC? No problem.
Want to watch it on your tablet PC? Sorry, you'll need a hulu plus subscription.
Want to watch a video on your PC? Enjoy.
Want to watch it on a handheld PC? "This content is not licensed for your device."
A mobile device is simply a computer without cords. It's high time the market defragmented and realized this.

about two weeks ago

How much do you spend yearly on mobile apps?

Jeremy Erwin Re:Does digital subscriptions count? (240 comments)

Of course it does. Afterall, you don't bu Adobe's Creative Cloud--you subscribe. Same goes for Microsoft's Office 365.
So subscriptions and in-app purchases are right iin.

about two weeks ago

Smart Car Tipping Trending In San Francisco

Jeremy Erwin Re:Smart Cars = HiTech ??? (371 comments)

Some years back, the fuel efficiency tests were changed.

about two weeks ago

Apple Patent Could Herald Interchangeable iPhone Camera Lenses

Jeremy Erwin Re:Breakage (160 comments)

Hypothetically, if you screwed a camera lens onto an iphone, the lens cylinder would project beyond the rectangular prism that is the iphone. And if you dropped that iphone, and it landed on the lens, it would probably stress that lens mount quite a bit.

about three weeks ago



No fourth amendment rights for hackers, US District court rules

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  about 6 months ago

Jeremy Erwin (2054) writes "Apparently, if you call yourself a hacker, you may lose fourth amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures

The court in Idaho decided that a software developer’s computer could be seized without him being notified primarily because his website stated: “We like hacking things and don’t want to stop.”

The developer, Corey Thuen, developed security software to protect industrial equipment against electronic attack. Thuen had hoped to open source some of his work, but his former employer, Batelle Corporation, claimed that Thuen's program Visdom, infringed on work he had done for Batelle's Sophia project.

What elevates the case from a run-of-the-mill intellectual property dispute is that Battelle persuaded the court to allow it to seize Thuen's computer to copy its files. The district court ruled that the programmer has the skills, as a "hacker", to release the contested code publicly, and destroy any evidence, if he knew a seizure was imminent: "The court has struggled over the issue of allowing the copying of the hard drive. This is a serious invasion of privacy and is certainly not a standard remedy... The tipping point for the court comes from evidence that the defendants – in their own words – are hackers. By labeling themselves this way, they have essentially announced that they have the necessary computer skills and intent to simultaneously release the code publicly and conceal their role in that act. And concealment likely involves the destruction of evidence on the hard drive of Thuen’s computer. For these reasons, the court finds this is one of the very rare cases that justifies seizure and copying of the hard drive." The plaintiff also obtained a temporary restraining order against Thuen and Southfork Security without a prior notice primarily because, again, the Southfork website declared “we like hacking things and we don’t want to stop"./auote?


Why aren't there any civilians in military video g

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Jeremy Erwin (2054) writes "A columnist for Slate asks why there aren't any civilians in todays's military shooting games.

Mostly, they don't want to face the consequences of players' bad behavior. In an interview with the website Rock Paper Shotgun, Battlefield 3's executive producer Patrick Bach explained that he doesn't "want to see videos on the Internet where people shoot civilians. That's something I will sanitize by removing that feature from the game." Bach believes that video games are serious business but that players' irreverence is holding back the form. "If you put the player in front of a choice where they can do good things or bad things, they will do bad things, go [to the] dark side because people think it's cool to be naughty, they won't be caught," he said.


Link to Original Source

Russia targets dissidents with anti-piracy raids

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Jeremy Erwin (2054) writes "The Russian Government is using the pretext of software piracy to suppress dissident organizations, seizing computers and shutting down websites, regardless of whether the targeted groups actually use unlicensed software. Similar groups, allied with the government, remain immune to harassment. The New York Times article notes that Microsoft's behavior has not been completely above board."
Link to Original Source

Agriculture: Invented, so that we might have beer

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Jeremy Erwin (2054) writes "Our Neolithic ancestors might have first experimented with agriculture in order to ensure a steady supply of alcoholic liquids according to a new book by Patrick McGovern, Uncorking the Past The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages

"Archaeologists have long pondered the question of which came first, bread or beer. McGovern surmises that these prehistoric humans didn't initially have the ability to master the very complicated process of brewing beer. However, they were even more incapable of baking bread, for which wild grains are extremely unsuitable. They would have had first to separate the tiny grains from the chaff, with a yield hardly worth the great effort. If anything, the earliest bakers probably made nothing more than a barely palatable type of rough bread, containing the unwanted addition of the grain's many husks."

Calcium Oxalate is considered by most brewers to be an undesirable byproduct of alcohol production. Lacking a firm grasp of chemistry and filters, early brewers simply created special grooved beer crocks would allow the beer stone to precipitate out of solution into the grooves. 5500 years later, the deposits remained, providing archaeologists with evidence of beer production."

Link to Original Source



Nytimes is afraid, very afraid

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  about 9 years ago

I confess I do like the nytimes. I've been reading it regularly since high school. Perhaps I'm attracted to the shear verbosity of it-- I'd rather read a 30 column inch story than an AP supplied 6 column inch blurb. With so much wordiness, it just has to be insightful... And, of course, the Grey Lady has a certain eliteness factor associated with it, adopting color presses long after the McPaper did it. They don't have an astrology column. They have a Science section. And so on.

But occasionally, the institutional interests of the New York Times Company pop up to remind its readers that the newspaper is a conservative beast, at odds with the interests of its readers. When David steals Goliath's Music is one of those occasions.

Both the court and Congress should be sensitive to evolving technologies. But they should not let technology evolve in a way that deprives people who create of the ability to be paid for their work.

Ooh. Now that's a solution. Leave the R&D up to Congress.


Fastest Supercomputer is BlueGene(L)

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I just checked Jack Dongarra's site (on a tip from Boing Boing).

BlueGene(L) takes the lead, with an Rmax of 70720 GFlops. It's followed by Project Columbia, at 51870 GFlops. Earth Simulator is third, with 35860 GFlops. Several clusters are benched at ~20GFlops. It looks like a site needs at least 10 GFlops to enter the top 10-- and it's even possible that Virgina Tech's System X will be knocked out of contention, if a couple of surprise entries publish benchmarks before the Nov 09 top500 list.


strange spam messages

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  more than 9 years ago

The following spam arrived in my inbox from some internet drug dealer.

enjoy your girlfriend's medical problem like never before

I really don't want to know. It sounds quite unethical.


Of the cheesy and the profane

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Patrick Smith, a columnist for Salon, has recently been writing about the supposed "terrorist dry run".

About a month ago, Annie Jacobson shared a flight with a group of Syrian musicians travelling to a gig in the states. Observing their peculiar habits (traveling together, speaking arabic, praying), she came to the conclusion that this group was in fact, an Al Qaida cell, preparing for a 11 September attack. The Air Marshall on board came to a rather different conclusion.

One of the groups that has attacked Smith for his skeptism is the Federal Air Marshals Association, which may of may not be associated with actual air marshals.

Anyway. their website opens with a flash introduction. It's pretty cheesy-- interpolating pictures of the World Trade Center disaster (complete with falling bodies) with quotations from American Revolutionaries-- "The tree of liberty must periodically be refreshed with the blood of tyrants"-- that sort of thing. It's all set to one of those vaguely mournful funeral pieces that classical symphonies dredged up for "9-11" memorial concerts and the like.

I'm not sure I really want the Air Marshall on my plane to be motivated by thoughts of bloody revenge and patriotism. I would prefer a purely professional motivation-- so that if skyjackers attempt to take the plane, the marshall will react with competence and professionalism, and not be inspired by thoughts of martyrdom.


Bourne Supremacy-- a bit of a dissapointment

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Warning: Spoilers follow.

I just got back from seeing the Bourne Supremacy I have to say that I was a little disappointed. Bourne Identity, its predecessor was refreshing at the time because it marked a return to Europe, it was decently plotted, and the characters were at least somewhat believable.

Over the past half century, cinematographers had learned how to properly film a gunfight amid a East German winter. They had learned to highlight the crimson blood against fresh fallen snow, to contrast the crack of sniper rifle against the tranquility of nature. And when the bodies had fallen into the powder, the spy could retreat to the seemingly exotic cities of Berlin, or Paris.

After the wall fell, and the Soviet Empire began to crumble, such European films were eclipsed by the "Columbian Drug Lord" movie, or the "Islamic Terrorist" film. Perhaps these settings were less anachronistic, but somehow the sands of Arabia or the jungles of South America were less aesthetically pleasing.

The Bourne Identity, blessed with the exotic cities of "Zurich", "Marseilles", and "Paris" (which were all, I'm led to understand, redressed sections of Prague), piled on believable characters, a suitably complicated plot, and blessed lack of comedy. Sure, the ubermensch assassin archetype is itself a little absurd, but somehow Damon, with the help of his costar Potente ,pulled it off. The plot departs from Ludlum's original novels, but that's forgivable, as Carlos the Jackel is a non entity in these modern times. And lack of comedy made lines like "I want Bourne in a body bag by sundown" seem more serious and authentic.

And of course, Identity had one of the greatest car chases in the history of cinema.

The Bourne Supremacy, which was not directed by Doug Liman, Identity's director, is still largely set in Europe-- after a brief stop in Goa India, the action moved briefly to Naples, then to Berlin (a profoundly ugly city--at least in Greenglass's lens), and then onto "Moscow".

I hope I'm not giving much away by revealing that Potente, after a listless performance, exits the stage in Goa. Damon spends the rest of the film without her company, and chasing after his adversaries, whom he believes to be agents of the CIA's Treadstone project.

Meanwhile, we learn that "Pamela Landy", played by Joan Allen, is investigating the ruins of her failed operation, which she believed was bloodily disrupted by Jason Bourne. Early in this investigation, Allen announces that she believes that Bourne/Treadstone is running some two bit scam to defraud the CIA financially. We, the audience are initially amused by this notion, because we know that Treadstone is about black-ops work and not about money.

Or is it? In the end, we learn that Allen's inititial suspicions are not so far off the mark-- and Bourne, the $30 million dollar piece of "US Government Property" will find his answers not in a plot to kill government leaders, or steal bombs, or launch coups d'etat, but in a humdrum "Russian Petroleum" fraud.*

It seems a waste-- and though Damon is given ample opportunity to show off his automobile racing skills-- Greenglass's frenetic photography is more blurry than truly engaging.

[*]Yes, I'm well aware that a certain famous CIA mole sold his country essentially for a lifetime supply of "Red Lobster" dinners. But that doesn't mean that his story makes for engaging cinema,


On Kerryisms and Bushisms

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  more than 9 years ago

For a number of years now, Slate has been running what its author calls Bushisms-- reports of incidents in which the president has been tripped up by apparently simple english, and blurted out malapropisms, mangled syntax, and the odd Freudian slip For a leftist such as myself, they serve as a comforting "reminder" that the (p)resident is an idiot.

For the past few months, in a spirit of bipartisanship, Slate has also run Kerryisms which serve to highlight Kerry's excessive use of guarding phrases and caveats. The author of Kerryisms, William Saletan, takes it upon himself to simplify the Senator's verbiage, replacing phrases with footnotes, so that:

"I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception. But I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist ... who doesn't share it." [Ellipses in original transcript]


"I oppose abortion1. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception.2 3"

[1] personally

[2] But I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist ...

[3] who doesn't share it.

If a reader skips the footnotes, the meaning of the phrase changes, from a strict pro-choice position to a rather more pro-lifeish position. "I really don't care about your personal decisions" becomes "I may care deeply enough to enact my personal position into law." For this sort of thing, Saletan has been roundly accused of distorting Kerry's message, and failing to appreciate nuance.

Nuance seems to be highly valued among liberals-- the world is a bit too complex for simple maxims. Others see only the result of such "nuance" and mistake it for flip-flopping. Synthesis becomes mediocrity. Flexibility becomes amorality.

But it takes a good speaker to properly present such nuance. Kerry is, on occasion, not up to the task. On such occasions, his capacity to translate his mind-language into english is so slow that he is tripped up into oversimplifying- and is forced to grope his way back to complexity.

Saletan's renditions are at least partially accurate-- those simplifications are what Kerry's oratorical skills allow him to say-- and the caveats are a crude attempt to salvage the original thought.

In that respect Kerryisms complement Bushisms fairly well. Both depict poor oratorical skills struggling to keep up with other thought processes. If such gaffes are representative, the presidential debates will be excruciating to watch.


Random thought on the Israel/Palestinian "wall"

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  more than 9 years ago

One of the most common reactions to the recent World Court decision condemning the Israeli security barrier is the utilitarian argument:

Who cares if it cuts through Palestinian land? Who cares if involves a massive land grab? It stops terrorists, doesn't it?

The utilitarian response to this sort of argument would be diminish the utility value of the wall itself-- if a novel terrorist tactic renders the wall useless, the costs of building and maintaining the barrier will come to outweigh the benefits...

I'm not of a mind to propose such a "novel tactic"-- but I would not be surprised if hamas has their "best men" working on novel methods of murder-- and the conflict will will shortly resume its rather bloody course.


A little History is a dangerous thing

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Saddam Hussein has repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of the ad hoc court currenty trying him for various war crimes.
In today's Washington Post, a letter argues that there is ample precedent for trying heads of state in the trial of King Charles I.

The letter writer, Tony France, approvingly cites the words of Lord President John Bradshaw

[Charles Stuart] "out of a wicked design to erect and uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his will, and to overthrow the rights and liberties of the people.


France concludes his missive with these words:

"Many at the time challenged the legitimacy of the trial of Charles I, but the bottom line is that England is still here today, a cornerstone of free thinking and a bastion of a free people."

Conveniently, though, France forgets what really became of Mr Bradshaw, who so foolishly argued that the king can be held hostage to the law. Upon the restoration of Charles II, the various conspirators were charged with and convicted of Regicide-- meaning that the legal doctrines by which Bradshaw and his associates convicted the King were fraudulent, and therefore, the execution of Charles Stuart was an act of murder.

Bradshaw himself died in 1659-- but his corpse was exhumed and hung in chains at Tyburn. His fellow conspirators were hung, drawn and quartered.

"Challenged the legitimacy" seems a bit of an understatement.


More Florida Voting shenanigans

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Worried that the current generation of electronic touch screen voting machines precludes a recount? Don't be. According to an April 2004 rule issued by the Florida Department of State, "manual recounts [are] not required for the touch-screen machines because the machines do not permit the types of errors that are subject to ballot recounts."

Sometimes it takes a lawsuit to deflate such overconfidence.


Democrats are free; Republicans, slaves to the Borg

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Might as well post this little article, which notes that John Kerry and the DNC are using LInux to host their websites, databases, and other support systems, while Bush's coterie relies on Microsoft.

I do hope that this not a facile comparison, and that this choice reflects, on the part of the democrats, a willingness to reconsider the IP-grabs of recent note. But I'm not holding my breath.


That peculiar American Institution: Creationism

Jeremy Erwin Jeremy Erwin writes  |  more than 11 years ago

In the NY Times, Nicolas Cristof berates northeastern elites for ignoring the fact that Americans outside the region cling to religion. Evangelicals, in particular, are ignored. Hence, when Bush refers to his religious beliefs-- it is something to be noted.

Kristof points out that "A new Gallup poll shows that 48 percent of Americans believe in creationism, and only 28 percent in evolution (most of the rest aren't sure or lean toward creationism)." I'm not so sure that this is a particularly admirable quality--most in Europe would call this evidence of scientific illiteracy rather than sincerity of religious belief-- but in the Good Old USA, it's a test of world views.

How would I answer the poll? I don't believe IN Evolution. I don't believe IN Creationism.

Evolution is not something one believes in. I do not cling to faith in Charles Darwin. However, evolution is a more scientific answer to the origin problem. One can theoretically confirm it through observation. In Bioinformatics, certain extrapolations from the theory of natural selection can be applied to protein and genetic homology problems.

But believe it it? Not a chance. If a more useful theory comes along, I'll give it a whirl. What I believe in, is Science. Objective truth is obtained through systematic observation.

Apparently, I am in the minority.

I view this as a problem, not as some testament to the pious nature of Americans. One does not have to be an atheist to believe that creationism is, as an explanation, less fit than, say, natural selection.

Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that Evolution is too often presented as alternative to creationism, and not as a framework for researching Biology. Evolution, as "taught" to millions of Americans, has no value other than to attack religious beliefs. So why not believe in creationism? Saving one's soul from a jealous and vengeful god is more practical than a abstract, useless theory...

Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account