Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!



FDA Approves Implantable Vagus Nerve Disruptor For Weight Loss

alispguru Anyone else remimded of Steven Gould's Reflex? (168 comments)

In the sequel to Jumper, the bad guys control people with an implanted device that incapacitates them by stimulating their vagus nerves to make them throw up.

Enough that it could kill them, since it doesn't have to stop, ever.

No, thank you.

about two weeks ago

Tumblr Co-Founder: Apple's Software Is In a Nosedive

alispguru iCloud has NEVER worked for Pages (598 comments)

When a Pages document in iCloud storage is open across multiple iOS/OSX devices, Pages routinely declares it can see multiple versions and can't decide which one it should keep. One of the options it offers you is to keep both of them, leaving you to manually look at both and figure out which one is the best. This happens even without simultaneous access, and edits often get distributed randomly between versions, requiring manual cut-and-paste merging.

Apple should go to the Dropbox people, hat in hand, and say:

Yes, Steve was a dick when he talked with you years ago. We don't want to acquire you - we want to hire you to host iCloud file storage. We want a cloud back end that Just Works, and cross-platform sharing will be a plus.

I would pay for that service, in a heartbeat.

about a month ago

United and Orbitz Sue 22-Year-Old Programmer For Compiling Public Info

alispguru I am disappointed in Orbitz (349 comments)

I can understand United doing legal crap like this.

Orbitz, however, is known for creative flight scheduling. I'm surprised skipping the last leg of a flight isn't an advanced option of Orbitz search.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

alispguru Peripheral STEM career - technical writing (280 comments)

With your current background, you could get a job in technical writing. Every firm that does engineering needs people like you who:

* Understand the subject matter
* Can write about it readably

about a month and a half ago

"Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer" Pulled From Amazon

alispguru The one woman is the Barbie brand manager (561 comments)

Jean McKenzie has been Executive Vice President of Mattel since September 2012. She was named President of American Girl Jan. 1, 2013. Prior to re-joining Mattel in 2011 as Senior Vice President-Marketing, she was President and CEO of Gateway Learning Corporation and Senior Vice President for The Walt Disney Company. From 1989-1998, Ms. McKenzie served in various executive positions at Mattel working on the Barbie brand, most recently as Executive Vice President and GM of Worldwide Barbie for Mattel.

Not sure if this makes the screw-up better or worse...

about 2 months ago

NSA Director Says Agency Shares Most, But Not All, Bugs It Finds

alispguru Which should be split out into two agencies (170 comments)

There shouldn't be just one organization with those two jobs. There should be an open, well-funded office in, say the National Institute for Standards and Technology that searches for vulnerabilities and has a responsible disclosure policy for everything it finds.

The Government has had this problem before - there used to be one body that handled both promotion and regulation of atomic energy in the US, the US Atomic Energy Commission. In 1974 it got broken up into two agencies, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (the regulator) and the Energy Research and Development Administration (the promoter).

about 3 months ago

One In Three Jobs Will Be Taken By Software Or Robots By 2025, Says Gartner

alispguru This is why I'm a programmer (405 comments)

Automation will take us last.

about 4 months ago

Do Specs Matter Anymore For the Average Smartphone User?

alispguru Local voice recognition (253 comments)

Voice recognition is the most processor intensive thing most users commonly do, and today everybody does it remotely on big servers, primarily because you need a bunch of data in RAM to do it fast.

We probably won't see this on phones until we get really low-power RAM (memristor-based, maybe).

about 4 months ago

Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

alispguru Reason is concentration (521 comments)

The "bad for wildlife" question basically comes down to:

* how much mass you have to move
* how much land area you have to occupy

per watt generated.

Coal and hydro lose because they both require a lot of mass (water and coal) and a lot of area (dammed waterway, mines and transport).

Nuclear and geothermal win because they both require very little mass and very little area other than the plant itself - uranium ore has at least 1000 times the energy per gram as coal.

Any kind of solar is in the middle because of the large area needed to capture relatively dilute solar energy.

about 5 months ago

Don't Want Google In Your House? Here Are a Few Home-Tech Startups To Watch

alispguru Given the choices, go with Apple (88 comments)

Realistically, your choices are:

* Facebook and their ilk, who will sell your individually identifiable data without a second thought.

* Google, who will absolutely sell your info, probably aggregated. At least they're upfront about it.

* Apple, who views their non-release of your data as a market differentiator and thus a valuable part of their brand.

As long as people choose Apple for privacy, Apple will value privacy and not sell their data.

about 7 months ago

Bill Gates To Stanford Grads: Don't (Only) Focus On Profit

alispguru Or maybe Do as I say, not as I did (284 comments)

That way you'll never be in my position of wealth and generosity, and my reputation will have less competition.

That's Gates for you - always competing.

about 7 months ago

Kerry Says US Is On the "Right Side of History" When It Comes To Online Freedom

alispguru Is he ignorant, stupid, or lying? (261 comments)

Unfortunately those are the only three choices here.

about 9 months ago

Skilled Manual Labor Critical To US STEM Dominance

alispguru Of course do this, but... (367 comments)

Don't go thinking that learning trade X or skill set Y or getting credential Z means anyone is set for life.

There are no simple fixes for the current situation where anybody's livelihood(*) can be reduced in value by automation. All the old middle-class certainties like:

- I own a house, which is an asset whose value will only go up
- I have a college degree, which guarantees me a middle-class job
- I have trade labor skills that have been valuable for many years, and will be valuable for the foreseeable future

are no longer certain.

(*) If you're lucky enough to have monetary assets of $500,000+ that you can invest conservatively, and are disciplined enough to live on only the proceeds, you're pretty safe.

about 9 months ago

The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science

alispguru There should be a three-line bumper sticker (600 comments)

Listen to Authority's response
If Authority is right, accept it

Most people stop at the first step.

about 9 months ago

It Was the Worst Industrial Disaster In US History, and We Learned Nothing

alispguru Coal sludge is bad, hyping it doesn't help (290 comments)

One billion gallons is about 10 billion pounds.

There was 140,000 pounds arsenic in 10 billion pounds of sludge.

Concentration of arsenic in sludge is 1.4 * 10e5 / 1e10 = 1.4 * 10e-5

Or about 1 part in 100,000.

This is why they got away with it. Coal ash sludge is nasty, but not quite nasty enough to be a hazardous substance per se. Hell, one of the best ways to get rid of it is to add it to concrete, which is then poured where people live.

The figure you should worry about is the change in the arsenic level in the river after the spill. I didn't see that figure in the article.

about 10 months ago

Snowden A Hero? Gates Says No, Woz Says Yes

alispguru Gates and Woz are bad privacy references (335 comments)

Both of them can choose exactly how much privacy they want, because they're both rich. Gates is maybe three orders of magnitude richer than Woz, but both of them are at least three orders of magnitude away from the American median income ($45K or so).

Also, neither of them can just go out in public in the US without being recognized.

That's the problem with the privacy "discussions" in the US - most of the people who can actually change things are members of a minority who gave up big swaths of their privacy, voluntarily, as an entrance requirement for their profession. They can say "privacy is an illusion - get over it" with a straight face, because they haven't had any themselves for decades.

They may be over it, but I'm not, and it pisses me off that they get to choose my privacy level.

about a year ago

Stanford Researchers Spot Medical Conditions, Guns, and More In Phone Metadata

alispguru If it's just metadata... (193 comments)

... then Ms. Feinstein should have no problem with a FOIA request for the metadata for her cellphone.

I bet it would take about an hour to find a call from a lobbyist, received during a break in a legislative session.

about a year ago



Fortress project wrapping up

alispguru alispguru writes  |  more than 2 years ago

alispguru writes "The Fortress project (readable, highly parallel scientific code for the JVM) is shutting down after almost ten years of effort.

This is really sad. I thought that if anyone had a chance to put a stake through Fortran's heart, it would be Guy Steele."

Link to Original Source

Apple's Exclusion of Apps - for multitasking?

alispguru alispguru writes  |  more than 4 years ago

alispguru writes "AppleInsider claims that Apple's restricting of iPhone apps to their native toolkit is for technical reasons — apps created with their toolkit will play nice with the new iPhone 4.0 multi-tasking. Sounds fishy to me..."
Link to Original Source

alispguru alispguru writes  |  more than 8 years ago

alispguru writes "With options like the "first programming language" poll, and one extra:

I Know Only One"



There are things WORSE than XML

alispguru alispguru writes  |  more than 11 years ago

As bad as XML is, I would be the first to admit it is possible to create a worse language for representing nested property lists. In fact, I encountered one in actual, operational use in my travels as a migrant information worker and NASA contractor.

The name of this atrocity is Object Definition Language, and it is a standard format for metadata that NASA attaches to many of its major remote sensing imagery products, as well as data from planetary probe missions.

You should really look at the PDF linked above to get the true flavor of this stuff, but I can give you a quick taste right here. S-expressions, XML, and ODL all are syntaxes for representing nested property lists.

S-expressions are what you get if you ask John McCarthy.

XML is what you get when you ask people who know and love HTML/SGML

ODL is what you get when you ask people who know and love FORTRAN.

I'm serious! The simple S-expression

(foo "bar")

would be this in XML:


and this in ODL:

object = foo
  value = "bar"
end_object = foo

I got to know about this stuff as part of several tool-writing exercises where we were trying to make complex, deeply nested ODL intelligible to its scientist users. The "solution" we came up with involved parsing the ODL, translating it into XML, then hosing the XML through different XSLT translators to generate pretty HTML.

As a result of those projects, I now know more about ODL, XSLT, and DHTML than I really want to.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?