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In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

RDW Re:Now I just have to ... (441 comments)

I want to read that novel.

Check out the Amazon extract ('But amid all the despair and hopelessness, people were working indefatigably to stabilise the nation and alleviate the prevalent tumult; and on 28 August 2298, the sedulousness of these committed inidividual was recompensed.') and you might change your mind. Still, if the original article is accurate there's no justification for his treatment, and the implications are deeply disturbing. Have we been told the full story?

about two weeks ago

Post-Microsoft Nokia Offering Mapping Services To Samsung

RDW Re:Will download (67 comments)

This might be a problem with Google Maps 7. I haven't noticed it with Maps 6, which seems to do full caching, and is a superior app all round. If you're on Android, there are various methods of 'upgrading' to the previous version here:

You're still stuck with the annoying marketing-driven 30 day limit, though with a proper manager for the cached maps in 6.x it's easy enough to download exactly the same area again. There are a number of other apps that handle offline maps on Android, of course, but I've yet to find anything that's otherwise as useful as Google Maps 6. A shame Nokia seems to be making Here a Samsung exclusive - Google could use some serious mapping competition across Android.

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Phone Apps?

RDW The two essential apps (167 comments)

There are, of course, hundreds of thousands of apps you might consider installing, but I think most people will agree that only two are absolutely essential for everyone:

Hypnotic Spiral:


this will allow you to make anyone else do your bidding, making a large majority of other apps completely redundant.

I Ching - Divine Your Future:

(sample review: 'Excellent! The only I ching app that uses sticks and not coins. Much more reliable. The editable entries are also a bonus. Great work, thanks!' )

This will help you make all the major decisions in your life, including what apps to install. It is also useful for understanding the plot of The Man in the High Castle. I meditated on your situation, and using the yarrow stalk method received the wisdom of Hexagram XLII ('The second SIX, divided, shows parties adding to the stores of its subject ten pairs of tortoise shells whose oracles cannot be opposed. Let him persevere in being firm and correct, and there will be good fortune.'). I hope this is helpful.

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

RDW 35mm film (635 comments)

Yes, I use digital too like everyone else, but somehow I keep going back to the Leica.

about three weeks ago

New EU Rules Will Limit Vacuum Cleaners To 1600W

RDW Re:Do the math (338 comments)

They haven't finished banning things yet. The common Class C halogen bulbs that fit in standard GLS light fittings are going to be killed off in 2016 in the UK: http://www.nationallampsandcom...
Don't know if anyone has bothered marketing a 'rough service' bulb of this type. The lighting quality is very nice, and the GLS halogens are/were a good drop-in replacement

about three weeks ago

New EU Rules Will Limit Vacuum Cleaners To 1600W

RDW Re:Do the math (338 comments)

In the UK it's perfectly legal to sell 'rough service' incandescent light bulbs (supposedly tougher glass, reinforced filaments) to anyone, which is a loophole a couple of companies are now exploiting.

about three weeks ago

Would Scottish Independence Mean the End of UK's Nuclear Arsenal?

RDW Re:Hopefully. (375 comments)

'400 rads, ladies and gentlemen. A lethal dose to anyone within ten yards. Get it while it's hot!'

about three weeks ago

How to Maintain Lab Safety While Making Viruses Deadlier

RDW Re:Huh (218 comments)

Slashdot editors - please fix the submitter's grotesque misreading of the linked article in the summary! Creating fictional outbreaks of lab viruses leading to thousands of deaths should be left to bad movies, not 'news' sites. Which isn't to say, of course, that there aren't genuine risks to consider. High level containment of various viruses in China and elsewhere has been breached on a number of occasions in the last few decades, sometimes with fatal consequences, e.g.:

"... there have already been three escapes from BSL-4 containment since 1990: a Marburg virus laboratory-acquired infection at the Vector facility in the Soviet Union in 1990, a foot and mouth disease virus escape from the Pirbright facility in England, and a SARS virus laboratory-acquired infection from a BSL-4-rated biosafety cabinet in a Taiwan laboratory."

"SARS has not re-emerged naturally, but there have been six escapes from virology labs: one each in Singapore and Taiwan, and four separate escapes at the same laboratory in Beijing."

Luckily, none of these incidents involved 'gain of function' strains, but the potential for a catastrophic incident is certainly there.

about a month ago

DNA Project 'to Make UK World Genetic Research Leader'

RDW Re:Also get the karyotypes please (65 comments)

You can process genome sequencing data to get the same sort of information you'd get from a karyotype (translocations, missing or extra copies of chromosomes or particular cytobands, etc.), but at much higher resolution. Unlike a traditional karyotype it generally won't be derived from a single cell, though (which has advantages and disadvantages).

about a month and a half ago

DNA Project 'to Make UK World Genetic Research Leader'

RDW Re:First steps (65 comments)

It wouldn't help the individual patients, as the risk factors are pretty difficult to avoid in today's world.

It can help at the time of treatment. We are already sequencing not just the germline DNA of the patient, but also the damaged genome of the tumour tissue. If a specific gene is found to be mutated that can be targeted by an existing drug, then the treatment can be tailored to the individual case.

about a month and a half ago

UK Government Report Recommends Ending Online Anonymity

RDW Re:Online in England, maybe (282 comments)

Maybe they forgot that the Internet has no borders?

No, they remembered:


'The only way as we see it to resolve questions of jurisdiction and access to communications data would be by international treaty.'

Coming soon to a legislature near you!

about a month and a half ago

Newly Discovered Virus Widespread in Human Gut

RDW Re:Did they sampled it? (100 comments)

There's a bigger problem with the summary than that - timothy has misread the BBC article, which refers to 'half of all samples from the gut'. These aren't human cell samples, they're faecal samples. The phage presumably infects gut bacteria, not human cells. From the proteins that the phage encodes, the researchers predict the genus of bacteria the host belongs to (Bacteroides).

about a month and a half ago

Genetically Modifying an Entire Ecosystem

RDW The beautiful part (52 comments)

Because CRISPR itself is so precise, we can envision a number of safeguards. Alterations can be reversed by releasing a new drive with an updated version of the change.

...and when wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

about 2 months ago

Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek To Control the Internet

RDW Never had one fail? (117 comments)

The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls

Right now on Slashdot, you can see the results of this blatant manipulation in the service of their sinister paymasters in the energy-saving lightbulb industry...

about 2 months ago

How To Fix The Shortage of K-5 Scholastic Chess Facilitators

RDW Re:It's a joke article (128 comments)

It's not a joke article or astroturfing. He's just using humorous examples of improbable technical solutions to the problem, when of course the real answer is to get more adults involved in helping the kids to learn chess (which is his real point). He's written elsewhere about a K12 chess tournament sponsored by his company:

about 2 months ago

The World's Best Living Programmers

RDW Knuth (285 comments)

ITworld's Phil Johnson has rounded up a list of what just might be the world's top 14 programmers alive today.

In the unpublished final volume of The Art of Computer Programming, Knuth describes an algorithm that can provide a complete emulation of any of the other 13.

about 2 months ago

Programming On a Piano Keyboard

RDW Re:MIDI? (57 comments)

You can send MIDI through USB if you have the drivers and your keyboard supports it, but pro keyboards will also have dedicated MIDI ports. The idea is to transmit which keys are played (with timing and velocities, etc.) to a virtual instrument on the connected computer. When set up this way, your keyboard's built-in sounds aren't used. This arrangement gives you access to a huge range of sophisticated virtual instruments, light years away from the unconvincing beeps you probably heard in the 90s. There are single instrument libraries (e.g. from a specific grand piano) with well over 100Gb of samples.

about 3 months ago

Firefox 30 Available, Firebug 2.0 Released

RDW Re:Anybody please! (270 comments)

You linked to the list of bugs *fixed* in 3.6

In the first link, the relevant text is the first bit ("Firefox 3.6 is no longer supported and is affected by vulnerabilities fixed in newer versions of the program"). In the second link, many vulnerabilities fixed in subsequent versions are listed. I suspect neither of us knows exactly how many of these already existed in 3.6, which is sort of the point - it's no longer audited or supported. Why risk using a vulnerable browser when it's perfectly possible to make Firefox 30 behave like Firefox 1, using Classic Theme Restorer and a bit of tinkering with 'Customise' and about:config? It took me about a minute to get 30 working the way I wanted (by moving the navigation buttons), since most of the customisation I'd done for earlier versions carried through. Only the previous upgrade to 29 took longer than this (basically the time it took to discover, install and configure CTR). Most of the earlier updates have required no changes to retain my preferred UI. It's irritating that the Mozilla devs insist on foisting a Chrome-style UI on us, but it's so easy to fix this (when necessary) it's only a minor annoyance.

about 3 months ago


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