Beta

# Slashdot: News for Nerds

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### 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!

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### Google's New Camera App Simulates Shallow Depth of Field

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (126 comments)

This was my initial reaction too, it's like glorifying the gramophone record in an age of practically unlimited bit depth and sampling frequency. However, that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the full precision of current tech. Lo-fi effects can be nice in the right place, finally we have the ability to choose, to get the occasional buglike feature instead of the other way round.

5 days ago
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### Google Looked Into Space Elevator, Hoverboards, and Teleportation

Re:Skateboard comparison = fail (98 comments)

In space, 'just use rockets' is not the answer people want to hear, because mass is precious. In an atmosphere, though, all you need is a little extra battery power to shove air in whatever direction you prefer, which works just fine for modifying your path. It wouldn't be much like skateboarding; but I suspect that if you threw some accelerometers, clever math, and a mixture of control surfaces and glorified model airplane thrusters at the problem you could have a system that can be 'steered' by shifting your body weight, as people are accustomed to, with the actual work being handled by the aerodynamic components, since you don't have solid objects to push off of. Doesn't solve the 'make hoverboard hover' problem; but if you ignore that...

True, so it would basically take fans/propellers. Ideally, though, the hover mechanism itself would automatically enable some level of steering via weight shifting. Imagine a regular hovercraft modified for extra ground clearance. If you tilt it, it's pushing more air to one side than the other. It should also work this way in the plasma levitation systems envisioned in the paper I linked above. But in practice you'd probably want some additional control.

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### Google Looked Into Space Elevator, Hoverboards, and Teleportation

Skateboard comparison = fail (98 comments)

How would you steer this imaginary hoverboard? A skateboard will continue rolling in one direction only, as long as you do nothing. The various ways of controlling a skateboard rely on high friction in other directions. Turn it sideways quickly and you can stop it, if you know what you're doing. A hoverboard would simply continue hovering sideways, and you'd have no way to turn it without a wall or something. Similarly, there would be much less room for tricks that rely on hitting the deck against something solid, as the hover mechanism would repel any direct contact. You'd need spacewalk-style thrusters to get where you want to.

(Disclaimer: a little something from my days of physics studies http://iki.fi/teknohog/physics...)

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### The Security of Popular Programming Languages

Oh yeah? Well I was ranting about global warming before it was cool.

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### Snowden Used the Linux Distro Designed For Internet Anonymity

Re:Why doesn't TAILS use TRUCRYPT (or similar)? (171 comments)

Maybe Trucrypt isn't available for linux distros but i am sure there are plenty of alternatives that do a similar full system os encryption.

I can think of one alternative on Linux, it's called Truecrypt with an "e".

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### This 1981 BYTE Magazine Cover Explains Why We're So Bad At Tech Predictions

Re:That drawing was a joke, but (275 comments)

We genuinely are bad at predicting the future of tech, but it's usually not because we're too fanciful. It's usually the opposite. Tech predictions usually fail because we're way too conservative. That's partly the reason behind this joke drawing in 1981. Now predictions about almost everything else - society, politics, and social adoption of tech - are usually way too optimistic. But tech predictions are way too pessimistic.

More precisely, futurists like Osmo A. Wiio have stated that people don't understand exponential growth -- they overestimate short-term progress, but underestimate long-term. There are lots of almost unnoticeable advances that make people cry "where's my flying car" and yet over time those advances add up, amplifying each other, and we suddenly find ourselves beyond the need to fly.

Technology advances because techies remember the past and build on it, learning from past mistakes -- politics, on the other hand...

liebensraum.

Leben = life; lieben = to love :P I think I'll start using that term in place of "get a room".

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### Reviving a Commodore 64 Computer Using a Raspberry Pi

Re:8 out of 10 for cool. 1 out of 10 for interesti (165 comments)

Like Bash?

They say if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day... in the beginning, Linux was like teaching him to fish. Self-reliance and knowledge and skill are good things, but if you're just hungry and don't enjoy fishing, you just want the fish. Most people who use computers these days don't want to program - they just want to be given a fish.

I'm afraid you forgot the link: http://fishshell.com/

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### Reviving a Commodore 64 Computer Using a Raspberry Pi

Re:8 out of 10 for cool. 1 out of 10 for interesti (165 comments)

Boot into a system which allows you immediate programming

Like Bash? For me, Linux is what made computing interesting and fun again. It has easy access to programming tools, and none of this forced separation of users and developers.

(preferably with a modern OO syntax) and access to video, sound and peripherals. If there's anything that has suffered over the past three decades, it's easy access to I/O.

I admit it gets a little complex here, but for example Python (a key element in my "fun computing" experience) has nice libraries for these. For example, some of my electronics/FPGA work owe a lot to Python's serial port module. Not because the serial port is hard to program otherwise, but for making it easy to write all kinds of code around it.

I have no experience in modern graphics programming. However, I have the feeling that the bar for awesome graphics is a tad higher today than it was in "the year 64". Today's awesome is rather nontrivial at the direct low level we associate with C64 programming, so even professionals use higher level tools. (I think my background in physics and math helps appreciate 3D graphics, for example coordinate transformations using matrices are a basic (pun inteded) skill but I imagine there are lots of programmers with no need to do it.)

Nevertheless, I understand the point about recreating an environment in the '64 spirit. There are several projects around, the two I can think of at the moment being http://sol.gfxile.net/gp/ and http://pelulamu.net/ibniz/ .

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### Raspberry Pi's Eben Upton: How We're Turning Everyone Into DIY Hackers

Re:Am I getting old? (90 comments)

As with everything, it depends on (1) what you want to do now, and (2) your past experience.

IMHO, you need to separate the need for a media box from a tinkerable gadget. When you sit down after a hard day and grab a drink, the last thing you want to worry about is JTAG chains or something. I like having a few x86-64 boxes to just get something done, even though the idea of little-endian 4004 descendants isn't exactly elegant.

I still love tinkering with stuff programming-wise, but I've completely lost my ambition to tinker with hardware.

If you love programming, what's the problem? You're lucky to have something that excites you. However, it's nice to take hacking into new directions every now and then. Try to find an avenue from your software skills into hardware, or whateve else that might be remotely interesting. (As a teacher, I just have to mention http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z...).

For example, in early 2011 I got into FPGAs, which for me was the perfect union of software and hardware tinkering, having a smattering of experience in both electronics and programming. It was life-changing in some ways, but eventually it's just one of the tools to hack with. For example, designing circuitry to run genuinely in parallel has given me great insight in the software world as well.

The Raspi always seemed kind of meh, both because FPGAs were already established in the embedded field, and because you'd be programming a chip someone else designed, instead of designing your own ;) Also, having first learned to program on the 1980s BASIC machines, I imagine something like Python (another life-changer of mine) on a regular computer would be much closer to the experience than something that appears to involve hardware hacking.

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### Seagate Releases 6TB Hard Drive Sans Helium

No. drives are *not* sealed. Making a sealed drive that won't implode if you, say, take it on an aircraft in your laptop, or to ship it to the client (for example) is non trivial.

By "ship", do you mean a submarine? Because otherwise my head in plode (considering a roughly sea-level internal pressure vs. the mile-high club)

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### "Nearly Unbreakable" Encryption Scheme Inspired By Human Biology

You virtually always hit the noise limit before you get to the point where you have to worry about the fundamental discreteness of matter and energy. The majority of quantum experiments involve a lot of cooling and isolating of systems with very good reason!

However, due to the statistics, you can actually detect the effect of discrete electrons, without going to the level of single-electron measurements. But broadly speaking you're correct.

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### A Rock Paper Scissors Brainteaser

Re:50 percent of the time (167 comments)

Good point, the important specification would be "50% of what time?"

I've always had this problem about the whole idea of probability. If the odds of you dying in a car accident are 1/1000000, and you still die tomorrow, what good is the low number of one millionth? You either die or you don't. Probability is only a measure or a larger population, i.e. the fraction that gets the rock, death or whatever. The idea of a probability for a unique event is meaningless.

This is why I like the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. It gives real meaning to probability as the fraction of universes with the favourable outcome, even if the event is unique from our perspective (though with a total of infinite universes, the definition of a fraction can be tricky). On the other hand, changing the reality to suit a math concept is not necessarily the wisest thing.

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### A Rock Paper Scissors Brainteaser

Re:I'm the author -- video solution coming soon (167 comments)

I didn't realize that the "less than" symbol wasn't allowed.

Let me introduce you to this newfangled thingamagick called H. T. M. L.

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### Intel Releases $99 'MinnowBoard Max,' an Open-Source Single-Board Computer Re:"Open source computer"???? (97 comments) There's basically NO open source hardware out there. And if there were nobody would be in a position to do much with it, because it would take a fab to make any change. • 1. There is the good old solder-it-yourself scene, ham radio style, hardware with a hard H. • 2. There is a lively FPGA scene, with the complication of mostly closed-source synthesis tools (like compilers). I don't regard this as a huge problem, as long as I can make hardware do what I want. If you're new to the scene, I recommend fpga4fun. about three weeks ago top ### Intel Releases$99 'MinnowBoard Max,' an Open-Source Single-Board Computer

Re:Lires, Capes, Shields - how lame (97 comments)

Even better, how come nobody ever thought about using "Sonboard"?

You swine!

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### Linux 3.14 Kernel Released

Re:Tomorrow they will release (132 comments)

Obligatory

1. Donald Knuth called, he wants his joke back.
2. Kernel versions are integer vectors. You may have noticed, after 3.8 and 3.9 we didn't have 4.0, but 3.10, which is "greater than" 3.1 despite the apparent decimal equality.

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### Linux 3.14 Kernel Released

I'm currently doing my daily emerge (update \in Gentoo) on a Powerbook, so obviously my testicles are larger.

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### Darth Vader Runs For President of Ukraine

Re:It won't help if he wins (114 comments)

May the Swartz be with you!

FTFY.

# Submissions

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### Startup by ex-Nokians will keep Meego phones alive

TeknoHog writes "A team of former Nokia employees behind the N9 has revealed plans for an upcoming Meego phone. According to the press release, "Jolla Ltd. will design, develop and sell new MeeGo based smartphones. Together with international private investors and partners, a new smartphone using this MeeGo based OS will be revealed later this year.

Jolla Ltd. has been developing a new smartphone product and the OS since the end of 2011. The OS has evolved from MeeGo OS using Mer Core and Qt with Jolla technology including its own brand new UI.""

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### Microsoft worms to patch software

TeknoHog writes "According to New Scientist, Microsoft researchers at Cambridge, UK are studying the use of computer worms for spreading software fixes and fighting malevolent worms. From the article: "Software patches that spread like worms could be faster and easier to distribute because no central server must bear all the load." Not that there aren't other ways to avoid the server bottleneck, even from Microsoft itself."
top TeknoHog writes "European scientists have developed a system for tracing the position of fingers on any surface. From the New Scientist article: "Two or more sensors are attached around the edges of the surface. These pinpoint the position of a finger, or another touching object, by tracking minute vibrations. This allows them to create a virtual touchpad, or keyboard, on any table or wall.""

# Journals

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### Col. Torvalds' Linux slash GNU Band

It is time to update my 2004 song, as it will be "20 years ago today" for Linux in a few months. As of today, there is even an oggful of noise to go with the lyrics:

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