top Ask Slashdot: Where's the Most Unusual Place You've Written a Program From?
On a long drive from LA to Portland I was the driver and I was bored, so I wrote a simple moon lander game (modeled from one I'd seen written in BASIC) for my new HP-25 programmable calculator by dictating instructions to the guy riding in the shotgun seat. The display showed your altitude on one side of the decimal place, velocity on the other side (and with the +/- sign) and remaining fuel in the exponent. After each iteration you entered how much fuel to burn on the next step and pushed R/S (Run/Stop) to continue. If you got down to zero altitude (or below) with a velocity less than some maximum value then you had made a successful landing. Otherwise you crashed.
top Yeti Bears Up Under Scrutiny
top How Do You Get Better Bug Reports From Users?
Writing a good bug report is not easy, and users should not be expected to know what information the developer will need to find and fix the bug. They only want to report that there is a problem, and that they'd like it fixed.
That said, you can guide them to give more useful information. I found that making a form to fill out with all the details broken out into separate pieces gave us more useful information. Want to know how to reproduce the bug? Make that an individual question on the report. Which component where you using, or what web page were you on? Make that a specific question. A real person can follow up if necessary to get other information, and then they can file the "official" bug report in the form that the developer can understand and use.
top New Best Way To Nuke a Short-Notice Asteroid
If the asteroid has any rotational motion then the crater created by the first impactor will have moved out of the way of the second.
top Typing These 8 Characters Will Crash Almost Any App On Your Mountain Lion Mac
I tried this in Safari on Lion. Capital F required, but indeed just "File:/// " crashes it.
Then you get a pop-up asking if you want to report the problem to Apple? Sure. But then that crashes with a pop-up reporting that crash reporter has crashed. Bonus! about a year and a half ago
top Ask Slashdot: How to Exploit Post-Cataract Ultraviolet Vision?
Birds supposedly have UV vision, and some of their markings are for each other, and are more clearly distinguished by other birds that can see UV.
So you might consider observing birds and making sketches of their markings, much like the naturalists of 100 years ago, so that the rest of us can see what the birds can see of each other.
top PayPal Predicts the End of the Wallet By 2015
This is good. I take it to really mean that we'll see the end of PayPal by 2015.
top Ask Slashdot: Is There a War Against Small Mail Servers?
I've run my own mail and web servers from my home for years, so I was worried about this when I was making the switch from Time-Warner cable (who didn't care, BTW) to Verizon Fios. One person I know reported that Verizon did indeed block port 25 (and port 80) inbound, while another told me his setup worked fine, once he replaced the free router they gave him with his own router.
And indeed, after making the switch, I still am able to get mail inbound on port 25. The modem/router they gave me does have controls to adjust security settings, which look a lot like Windows trusted -vs- untrusted controls. But I can't really tell if they do much. The key thing I found was to set up port forwarding to send port 25 to the machine in my internal network with the mail server. Same for port 80 to the web server.
Outbound I route through the ISP. Postfix makes that easy. I found a few years ago that certain domains I sent to, though not all of them, started bouncing mail even though I had an SPF record, just because my IP address was in a range listed as "dynamic" (i.e. "residential"). Clearly that's for spam control. Not everybody does this, and I could send direct to those who do not, but it was simpler to just send everything out via port 587 to the ISP.
top Fedora 15 Changes Network Device Naming Scheme
How about a compromise? Keep the ethX names, but use the proposed scheme to have an unambiguous order in which the names are assigned.
top Many Top iPhone Apps Collect Unique Device ID
If you take a hash (eg SHA1 is better than MD5) of the UDID you get a unique string that is not the UDID. Of course if other apps do the same then these could be compared to identify users -- not necessarily by name, but connecting a user on one server with a user on another.
So concatenate the App Id, which is unique to the app, with the UDID, which is unique to the device, and then take the hash, which is then unique to both and not invertible. Do this once, on the device (not on your server, or the UDID has to be transmitted), and use that as a unique identifier of the user/device.
top Dubai's Police Chief Calls BlackBerry a Spy Tool
RIM needs to make a blackberry device that can use the Iridium satellite network.
top YouTube Is Down
I've noticed lots of slow responses or no responses from Google servers lately. (Gmail, Google Docs, Google Search, Youtube, Google Maps, etc) It doesn't happen all the time, but many many times throughout the day. Has anyone else noticed this? If so, is anything known about it? DOS, etc?
Yes, I use Google for DNS and I've notice in the past day or two that it fails for long intervals (many minutes). I also wondered about DOS.
top Are Sat-Nav Systems Becoming Information Overload?
I found the audio to be distracting, whereas the video display gives me positional awareness, and I can look at it when I choose to, not when the box decides to say something. I found I was much more relaxed when I found how to turn off the audio.
So I guess having both at the same time is the real problem.
top Ethics of Releasing Non-Malicious Linux Malware?
Please don't associate BOINC with you little project. It will confuse the casual reader into thinking it is something bad rather than something good.
top Fear Detector To Sniff Out Terrorists
This will fail. A dedicated terrorist has no fear, while a law-abiding citizen can now be in fear of being accused of what is essentially thought-crime.
top Microsoft Files For 3 Parallel Processing Patents
You'd think that somebody that's light-years ahead when it comes to parallel processing would rule the roost in the Top 500 supercomputer list. I'm sure there's a good explanation, though....just waiting to hear it.
To get on the Top 500 list your machine is measured against the LINPACK benchmark. It's not the best benchmark for parallel performance, so in many cases nobody has bothered.
top How To Get High-Schoolers Involved In Real Science?
I'm working on a science education project called I2U2, which is looking for teachers like you.
The main idea of the project is to give students (and their teachers) direct access to data from major physics experiments, along with access to grid computing resources so that they can do interesting investigations with those data. We have access to data from the CMS test-beam, as well as Monte Carlo data simulating CMS itself. We will have real data from CMS once the LHC turns on. We have access to environmental data from LIGO, the gravitational wave detection experiment (not the gravitational wave data itself, I'm afraid; but there's still cool things you can do with the seismometers and other sensors). And we have an array of several hundred cosmic ray detectors in place in schools across the US (and a few abroad) from Fermilab's QuarkNet project (http://quarknet.fnal.gov)
All this data can be used for inquiry-driven projects which the students design themselves, with guidance from their teachers and materials we are preparing for the teachers. These 'e-Labs' are not scripted labs (though we do provide a general structure for developing those investigations), they are an opportunity to do real inquiry with real data. And yes, this will include tools to let you track your students' contributions and progress.
We will be doing some teacher workshops this summer, and we need some teachers to be beta testers. If you are interested in that, or in the project in general, check us out at
http://www15.i2u2.org/ We are not set up for production yet, so please excuse that it's not very polished, but it should be possible to learn a bit more about the project from that site.
top Race For the "God Particle" Heats Up
Also, what are the odds the particle doesn't exist AND they find it?
Actually, that's what I expect to happen.
In the Standard Model the Higgs is a fundamental particle.
And it is a scalar particle (spin 0). There are no other fundamental particles in Nature that have spin-0, and there are good reasons to expect that they cannot exist.
So what I think will happen is they will find something which behaves much like the Higgs in the Standard Model. But it turns out it's not fundamental. Only that part of the discovery comes later.
So I'd say the best odds are that the Higgs of the Standard Model does not exist, yet they find something that behaves almost exactly like it
top EHR Privacy Debate Heats Up
The danger of an Electronic Health Record is that it may perpetuate mistakes which of course do happen and any mistakes can carry on and lead to more problems.
It cuts both ways. With electronic records some cross-checks are possible, such as checking prescribed drugs for interactions, or perhaps even checking that the symtoms and/or treatment really match the diagnosis.
top Number of ET Civilizations In Our Galaxy Is 37,964
What are the error bars? Don't say 37,000 to 361. That's the variation between different theoretical scenarios. But real results have to be based on experimental inputs, not just theoretical guesswork.
The usual way of computing error bars is to look at the statistical variation of the data, to infer a distribution of likelihood for the results. Problem is, we have only ONE data point (i.e. us), so the variance of the inputs is infinite.
Even if you estimate 37,000 civilizations in our galaxy, how many are within 100 light years of us? Based just on the ONE data point we have, they would have developed radio and TV within the last 100 years, so we could only hope to detect them if they are within about 100 light years. Plus or minus infinity.
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