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!



Apple To Be Investigated By the EU Over Tax Affairs

RLBrown Re:Apple is a wealth extraction engine (155 comments)

Ideally, competition based on quality to price ratio in each market niche is how business should work. But every business man on the planet would happily embrace monopoly if it is his own monopoly. Capitalism is not about competition, it is about control. Against that, John Q Citizen has to depend on civil regulations to keep product standards high, and financial practices honest, for example, minimum wage standards, lemon laws, safety and health standards. But, what would happen if the USA had a minimum wage law that said a USA company must pay at least $xx.xx/hour to any wage earner, regardless of that earner's citizenship or geographical location? We would be smoked by China corporations, that's what would happen. The best we can hope for is that a manufacturer will, despite capitalistic pressure, take some personal pride in the design of its products. Oh Wait, that is Apple.

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Modern Web Development Applied Science Associates Degree?

RLBrown vocational training is now life long (246 comments)

This is not an isolated problem. All vocations either do or will require life long vocational retraining. New technologies are introduced very frequently in areas such as building construction, business systems, environmental systems, mining, agriculture, metalworking, and so on. The time has passed when you could learn to weld on the xyz welder, and thereafter be employed for life, working with only that tool and that skill. When John Henry saw the stream drill, what he should have done is to put down his hammer and say "teach me to run that stream drill". The associates degree should be just the first certification -- the student needs to be taught to pursue and obtain more certifications throughout his or her working life. Also, my feeling is that the curricula needs to involve as much "why" as "how".

about 6 months ago

South Carolina Education Committee Removes Evolution From Standards

RLBrown Re:Evolution is a theory, but not "just a theory". (665 comments)

Quite true. It is also important to distinguish a testable hypothesis, which can be promoted to an accepted theory by such tests, as opposed to a whimsical musing, for which no tests either positive or negative are possible. The Theory of Evolution started out as a hypothesis that could explain certain observations. This hypothesis was put forth by Wallace and Darwin. Decades of further investigation provided positive tests, and no negative tests. Accordingly, the hypothesis became a theory, and in fact became so well accepted, it is considered a law of nature. In comparison, there are no tests for creationism. Anybody can claim that every observable aspect of the Universe was created just a few millennia/centuries/years/days/seconds ago, with everything in place such that observations make the Universe appear to be older and appeared to be evolving. But such a claim denies its own testability. Hence it can never be promoted to accepted theory. It is just a whimsical musing, nothing more.

about 7 months ago

KWin Maintainer: Fanboys and Trolls Are the Cancer Killing Free Software

RLBrown Re:censoring hateful expression is acceptable (406 comments)

With respect, please note that there is a 1942 Supreme Court ruling on the matter. Quote from Justice Frank Murphy: "There are certain well-defined and limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise a Constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous and the insulting or “fighting” words – those which by their very utterances inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." Basically, the court says that free speech is to convey ideas and opinions, but not as a psychological weapon. A better point, in the replies above, is that a blog is a privately controlled forum, for example just like the O'Reilly Factor on Fox TV. The moderator gets to decide what is acceptable and what is not. Such forums are by no means venues for free speech. So Constitutional protections have no meaning to the original question.

about a year ago

KWin Maintainer: Fanboys and Trolls Are the Cancer Killing Free Software

RLBrown censoring hateful expression is acceptable (406 comments)

In the quoted blog, Martin Graesslin is basically asking if censoring zero-content hate speech from fanboys and trolls is a compromise on supporting full freedom of speech. It is not. In the USA, we make this differentiation. You are free to express any opinion, but may not do so with "hateful" language. "Fighting words" are forbidden in public forums. In addition, advocating illegal action is not the same as expressing an opinion. Saying something like "The bums in Congress should be removed from office, one and all" is okay, whereas "grab your gun, we march tonight" is not.

about a year ago

Apple Patents Wireless Charging

RLBrown Lawyers getting the busines (253 comments)

As the article says, this will get the lawyers plenty of business. That is likely the point, as I believe that giant corporations have lost control of their attorneys. IP ligation has become a separate business for these guys, only minimally tied to the company's best interests.

about 2 years ago

Google Says Some Apple Inventions Are So Great They Should Be Shared

RLBrown implementation (347 comments)

I believe this would be implemented as follows. First, a patent is submitted by interested parties to a neutral standards group. If the group decides the patent covers something essential to the functionality of products across the given industry, they grant a mechanical license. This means anyone gets to use the patented idea, but must pay a fixed predetermined fee to the patent holder. I can think of some patents that I wish had been handled that way, for example back up cameras on cars -- so useful for safety, that it should be universally available to all car manufacturers. A company might even come to hope that its patent is selected for such licensing, as it becomes a standard every manufacturer will use, giving a guaranteed revenue stream to the originating company.

more than 2 years ago

Apple Yanks Privacy App From the App Store

RLBrown Re:rotten (136 comments)

Dirty work? Do not be so sure. The article raises the possibility that Apple did not like the Clueful app because it discloses to users that some developers are in fact evil. But then this possibility is knocked down as not being likely. So we are left with a big question as to why the Clueful app was pulled. The most likely reason is that the app fell into a technical TOS violation, something that is prohibited but in this case would have in fact been okay. Perhaps because the app sends user data back to the developer? Even if that was done for benign and beneficial use, it could still be a TOS violation. Let's not conjure up headlines. I know a lot of developers do not like the walled garden, but after the "Find and Call" incident, maybe users view the wall in a different light.

about 2 years ago

Executive Order Grants US Gov't New Powers Over Communication Systems

RLBrown a careful reading of the actual executive order (513 comments)

Upon a careful reading of the actual executive order, I find, in my humble opinion, that the order does none of things that are being ranted about. First, the bulk of the order are instructions to DHS to develop policies and procedures to ensure that communications will survive in the event of a national emergency. Second, it does allude to ensuring that federal needs will have priority during emergencies, a privilege the government already enjoys. Third, it carefully notes that the authority of the FCC is not being superseded by the order, and that the FCC has control over any communications channels that have been assigned to the federal government, i.e. DHS does not. Frankly, it reads as a get your act together directive, not a sweeping grab of new federal powers.

more than 2 years ago

Photographers, You're Being Replaced By Software

RLBrown Examples (282 comments)

Yes, many specialized photographic tasks have been and are being transformed into graphic designer tasks, with CGI. Examples include automobile advertisement photography. In the past, there were photographers based in Detroit, where the mainstay of their business was to photograph new (and usually yet to be publicly announced or shown) automobiles. To do this, they had barn-like studios, with car sized turntables and ramps. Now, this is primarily done by CGI. In fashion, sets are now CGI around the model. Sometimes, even the clothes! Remember the famous "water dress" photos of Giselle? The water dress was all CGI. The business is still "photography", drawing with light, but it is expanded well beyond capturing reality. Professions change with technology and time. While this is not in line with the cited article of the original post, wedding photography as a business is drying up because even amateurs can get decent results with modern automated cameras, and the magic "fix this" buttons in many photo editing programs. Mind you, they may not get great results, but they will get "good enough". Lower your standards, then you will not need to hide a professional photographer. The low and mid level professional photographers will lose. The high end, where the photographer does his or her own CGI will survive. Perhaps also we will see a continuing if tiny market for the high end formal sitting portrait.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: How to Exploit Post-Cataract Ultraviolet Vision?

RLBrown Perhaps back in WWII (350 comments)

Back in WWII, when the medical treatment was much more primitive, elderly persons in England, who had vision partially restored by cataract surgery, were asked to watch for long wave UV covert signals, from off the coast vessels, as part of the war effort. This may be an urban legend -- it is unanswered on Snopes, but I do recall reading about it as a child, I believe in a commentary written by Arthur C. Clarke. But the memory is vague, and who knows where Clarke might have learned of it. So as something vaguely remembered from a book half a century old, that may or may not exist, where the original author may or may not have had first hand knowledge, ... well, by Internet standards, that's your proof right there!

more than 2 years ago

Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas

RLBrown a diffusion problem, that's all (283 comments)

In the blog linked from the summary, the blog writer uses the word 'always' for the spread of an idea. The quotes from the director of research Szymanski do not show 'always' in that sense. As for the age of the hyperbole Universe comment, it seems to be merely emphasizing that no progress is made toward person to person spreading of the given belief, when the current adoption is underneath the 10% value. He could have equivalently said "until the cows come home."

It seems to me this is a simple diffusion problem. A person's belief might be influenced if N or more people in that person's immediate circle of contacts (call it T people) hold the given belief. The researchers say that N/T > 0.1 will spread the belief by person to person diffusion, less will not. This means that if you wish to introduce a new belief into society, you and your cohorts must work to get to that fraction, whereupon thereafter, it will take on a life of its own without your continuing effort to promote it. Since the introduction of a belief by diffusion increases the fraction, it will proceed exponentially. In this context, that perhaps justifies the calling the spread "rapid".

True or false? Who knows. This was a blog of quotes, not a research article. Perhaps if 10% of slash dotters come to believe in it, everyone will.

more than 3 years ago

EG8 Publishes Report In Noninteractive, Nonquotable Format

RLBrown Re:as an old guy... (148 comments)

Agreed, there is no point in limiting usage when alternatives are available. Perhaps it is deliberate, as others have suggested -- the authors do not want people to be excerpting material from the report. Which is also a stupid attitude. In my comment, I was attempting to puzzle at the automatic entitlement attitude that authors must use the media that makes it easy to excerpt. I, too, would be upset if some one told me I had to produce an analysis without using Mathematica(tm) or had to build a web site without Dreamweaver(tm) (My God, suppose they insist on FrontPage!) Still, coming from a background where a third of a century ago I wrote and calculated and analyzed with pencil and paper, from such time I have still have a nice set of stencils and technical pens for making charts and graphs, I smile when some one complains that not having computer assistance is a barrier.

more than 3 years ago

EG8 Publishes Report In Noninteractive, Nonquotable Format

RLBrown as an old guy... (148 comments)

I can only smile a little. There was a time when if a journalist wish to use a quote from a speech or a report, he or she would copy it out by hand, on notepads or (as a later terrific innovation) using a typewriter. Now, all the bloggers complain "I can't sweep my mouse/trackpad cursor over it and just copy and paste it - what shall I do, what shall I do!"

more than 3 years ago

Research Suggests Tobacco Companies Add Weight Loss Drugs

RLBrown forget the tobacco, just sell us the drugs! (281 comments)

Surely they would find the market for a reliable weight loss product to be as profitable as the market for tobacco.

more than 3 years ago

Apple Camera Patent Lets External Transmitters Disable Features

RLBrown Sometimes a patent is just a patent (268 comments)

Each member of the engineering staff, at any engineering oriented corporation, is highly motivated to patent something - anything. So long as it has a whiff of possible application, it will go into the mill, if for no other reason than to prevent some other company from patenting it. This patent could be just such. This infrared communications port is only practical if the end-user has opted to allow it. As pointed out several times in this forum, simple filters should easily defeat it.

I also suspect, based on the concert anti-bootlegging example in the patent disclosure, it is a shiny concept to dangle in front of the RIAA cats, that has no real effect. On the other hand, when the end-user chooses to let it work, there might well be some enhanced reality applications.

It is true that DVD players "evolved" from not having geographical restrictions to having built in limits, simply by an industry wide agreement. Similarly, it would be interesting if industry wide agreements lead to built in camera overrides. But whereas the DVD player manufacturers were dependent on the goodwill of the media producers, the camera manufacturers are not. The RIAA and friends may be able to push on devices that are both cameras and players, but the manufacturers of pure photo and video recorders will have no reason to bend to such demands, in the absence of laws, of course. Make sure now, before it even gets started, that your congressman knows that there are lines not to be crossed.

more than 3 years ago

Splinternet, Or How We Broke the Good Old Web

RLBrown Disappointed (223 comments)

Upon reading the headline and summary, I went to read the article, expecting to read about governmental fracturing of the Internet, including web, email, and other services, behind national firewalls and censorship. That's a REAL issue. Instead, I found that the article was about (1) the horrors of not having a standard browser with the same extensions for everyone, and (2) the heresy of making people either pay (e.g. NYT) or exchange personal contact information (e.g. Facebook) for certain content. The browser wars are as always has been, but HTML5 is a fine advancement and it is being deployed by market pressure. As to paying or bartering info for content -- well, it is either that or advertising. I am not bothered by it. The young ones (yes, I am an old fart) seem to gleefully offer up access to themselves in exchange for access to similarly minded individual. I got one of them-there Facebook accounts, myself. Not to mention LinkIn, Twitter, MySpace, ... None of the above (paywalls, social networks) can be said to fracturing the web, anymore than the L train fractures the transportation system. It just means sometimes you are asked to pay a fare.

more than 3 years ago

US May Disable All Car Phones, Says Trans. Secretary

RLBrown Necessary Justification (1065 comments)

Want to stop this? Simply require it be justified on a monetary basis. The government should be made to answer these questions: 1. How much do automobile accidents cost the nation overall? 2. What fraction of that is do to distracted driving? 3. What fraction of distracted driving is due to cell phones/music players? 4. How much is it going to cost to implement a cell phone suppressor in cars? 5. How much revenue will corporations lose when their road warriors can't call from their cars? Calculate (1)*(2)*(3) - (4) - (5). If the answer is less than zero, you are a fiscally irresponsible government agency. That's going to go over very well with the 2011-12 Congress.

more than 3 years ago

Webvention Demanding $80k For Rollover Images

RLBrown Re:Look on the bright side! (314 comments)

Also, for the companies that caved in and paid Acacia, the "license" was carefully worded to not specify the particular patent, but rather whatever rights in general Acacia might possess. That way, should a court overturn the particular patent, the licensees would not be able to get their money back.

more than 3 years ago

Apple Censors Consumer Report iPhone4 Discussions

RLBrown Re:Say Again? (588 comments)

You are right -- I read the main review and did not catch the "during testing" link. But at 10 AM tomorrow, we can hear what Apple is going to do. My guess is (1) free bumpers for everyone, and/or (2) a custom cut stick on laminate, for just the half inch around the gap, installed at any retail location or mailed on request. The worst thing they could do is deny. It might be a marginal effect, irreproducible and unquantifiable, but it is in the public meme and the public will not let go of it. So it needs a fix -- any fix, even a placebo, but a fix has to be made.

more than 4 years ago


RLBrown hasn't submitted any stories.


RLBrown has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

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>