top Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
But on the flip side, it amazes me that some not-so-geeky people manage to make use of Arduinos. The whole package is a not-so-thick veneer over plain Atmel C programming, and yet it opened up the chance for many times more people than would have ever managed with the Atmel-provided IDE. And then there's Processing for an even less-geeky approach.
top Schneier: Break Up the NSA
Experience has shown that cell division is just a precursor to further growth.
How about we go back to having an unambiguously named War Department which is in recess whenever there is not war (which should be most of the time), and abolish the rest of the agencies that are determined to make enemies of everyone possible? Policing the people should be a matter for the states anyway.
top Ford Rolls the Dice With Breakthrough F-150 Aluminum Pickup Truck
(the term from Snow Crash)
top The last time I used a dial-up modem was...
I used one for vgetty at first, and then asterisk, long after it was obsolete for data. Also experimented with faxes although that's more work. So they will continue to have a use as long as land lines exist (granted, that might not be so much longer...)
top Official: Microsoft To Acquire Nokia Devices and Services Business
I worked at Nokia from 2011-2012. Everyone was saying then that the reason for Elop (who was otherwise so useless) was to devalue Nokia enough that it would be a good deal for Microsoft. And here we are... the other shoe drops. But there will be a third shoe when he becomes CEO of Microsoft. They deserve each other.
top big.LITTLE: ARM's Strategy For Efficient Computing
The same strategy enabled high-EER air conditioning: use a small compressor which runs most of the time plus a larger one to handle peak cooling loads, rather than an even bigger compressor which cycles on and off frequently.
top The public sector in direst need of reform is ...
If we are talking about US government, it goes to show how screwed up it all is, that you can't even pick which branch needs reform the most. They all do.
top Interviews: Ask Ray Kurzweil About the Future of Mankind and Technology
Siri? Google Glass and the apps that run on it? Google Voice turning your voicemails into emails as fast as you receive them? Turn-by-turn directions developed independently by several companies? This stuff used to be called AI.
about a year and a half ago
top What Early Software Was Influential Enough To Deserve Acclaim?
A course that covers the history of software would be about as useful as, say, music appreciation or art history. It could be taught in a non-CS department just to get some of that liberal arts flavor, maybe even count as one of the required humanities credits.
about a year and a half ago
top Ask Slashdot: What Stands In the Way of a Truly Solar-Powered Airliner?
That's a good idea actually. It just takes a lot of space relative to the cargo it can carry, but the sky is big so what the heck. I suppose it's just not going to be fast enough for passenger transport.
Maybe if the envelope was e-ink, you could make it rise by turning it black (to absorb sun) and fall by turning it white. Or use a tether to raise and lower the cargo so that you don't have to completely land in order to "drop-ship" something. Not that it would work so well when the wind is blowing...
top For 1 kWh of electricity, I pay ...
It's possible to buy for near the spot price, but then you have 2 contracts: one with the supplier and one with the grid owner. So it's about double these rates effectively.
top Setting the various household clocks ...
Yeah that was nice, I lived in Phoenix until this summer; but have now moved to Oslo, so I had to change the clock for the first time ever. The result is that the sun goes down even earlier, like 3:30 or something, and it's quite dark by 4:00 PM. But it will still get worse.
Funny how Russia decided to just do DST all year.
top Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda Resigns From Slashdot
Yeah it's been a while hasn't it... I think I've read at least 80% or so of the days since sometime in the 90's, it might've been 97; it's like smoking must be (not that I've tried), addictive and fills the awkward moments. You guys threw a cool party "get sloshed with slashdot" at a silicon valley Linux conference in 1999 I think (celebrating the Andover money I suppose); I and a friend from the local LUG rented a minivan and drove from Phoenix for that (well, for the conference, not only the party
;-). I hope the site is not going downhill in any way after your leaving. But I can appreciate the need to find some other meaning to life after such a long time in one gig. ;-) So good luck with whatever you end up doing next, and thanks for all the news and entertainment for all those years. As they say, time flies like arrows...
top When it comes to jury service, I ...
On capital punishment... the trouble is what to replace it with. Prisons are also barbaric and uncivilized and a waste of life. Plus they cost more. Plus there is the tendency in the US to privatize them, which leads to perverse financial incentives to put more people in prison. So we have the highest incarceration rate in the world.
Yet no-one has figured out how to get rehab right. And if rehab were successful, it would be too much an invasion of a person's privacy; it must be, in order to be successful: to change the person's way of thinking (which led to the undesirable behavior), permanently. If it were successful then the application might be broadened, until a pretty large fraction of the population is in some kind of rehab/reprogramming, even more than to the extent that we have too many in prison now. As now, society could just continue to say that when you commit a felony you lose your rights, sorry about that. Then continue lowering the bar, until there are a lot more felons available for the service of the state (or the privatized institution).
So whatcha gonna do? I think first of all we should quit putting people in prison for not-so-serious reasons (number one being drug offenses) and find quicker, more effective punishments for all the fraud/theft type stuff (e.g. some sort of multiplicative restitution when possible, or a better education and a chance to start over in cases where that might work better). What good does it do for taxpayers to pay Madoff's room and board for life, even as badly as he screwed up? He still has a useful brain, and after being so thoroughly discredited as a financial guy, maybe could go on to do something completely different, if we let him. He could be put back in square one with only the most basic possessions, and allowed to start over in a different field.
In cases where murder 1 is 100% certain (which as you point out, is never) I don't in theory have a problem with capital punishment. It's no worse than the murder, and there are people with such twisted ways of thinking that they cannot live normal lives without doing things like that. But yeah, there are all the incorrect convictions to worry about. But I'm not sure that life in prison is better. Maybe if prison were more like a constrained but semi-normal life, were there aren't opportunities for further murder, and no opportunities to get raped by the other prisoners, but there are opportunities to do something good. I don't care about the perception of "justice" from outside as much as whether we have a solution which works in the best way, what to do with this human capital which has gone awry. We haven't been going towards that kind of goal at all. I think all the efforts we have made are bad enough, that you can't just say capital punishment is the one thing which is so barbaric that it ought to be banned.
top 45 Years Later, Does Moore's Law Still Hold True?
Seriously I remember hearing it back in the 70's. Enough already. Transistors are so small that human hair isn't even a reasonable comparison to make.
top What's the Oldest File You Can Restore?
I recently recovered my very first data files (on 5 1/4" floppies from my high school days - programs I wrote myself plus software from that time) using an Apple IIe from a thrift store, a serial cable, and ADTPro on my Linux box. Now I can in theory run stuff on an emulator, although I didn't get around to it yet. The IIe is now for sale if anybody wants it (only reason being the impending move... otherwise I'd just keep it). tinyurl.com/2f684um
top PC Era Forecasted To End In 18 Months
This is just an attention-whoring headline, nothing more. Yeah so other devices sell more than PCs... doesn't mean people will stop using PCs. I can't imagine doing everything I need to do on such small screens. For the kind of light reading / heavy video watching that passes for web surfing with most people, it's understandable, but not for some kinds of work.
Oh and for those who say "finally, good riddance to MS" well we just have new overlords on the other devices. Thank goodness Android and Meego offer some alternatives to the Apple app lock-in. It's the same story all over again with Apple replacing MS this time around, except that this time the playing field is somewhat less tilted at the beginning.
top Making Airport Scanners Less Objectionable
As long as the TSA is allowed to flaut the 4th amendment like that, our standing as a "free society" has been greatly reduced. There is no way that "fixing" the actual images or safeguarding the privacy of them makes up for making you stand there submissively with your arms up inside a scanner which risks your health. You as a citizen should be considered innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around; and that's all there is to it.
top How Do You Manage the Information In Your Life?
I use a
personal wiki for stuff I don't mind sharing, and usually plain text files in ~/ideas or ~/notes or ~/journal for stuff I don't want to share (backed up occasionally to another system of course). Very rarely I need to use inkscape or dia or gimp to make an illustration of something, although I plan on doing a bit more of that now that I got a Cintiq (it was cheap at a computer swap meet, couldn't resist). It's far from ideal, but we don't have good enough software for that yet... at least, not software which I consider will have a long enough lifetime to be worth using (MS OneNote doesn't count because I don't run Windows often, and can't control what will happen to OneNote or any data that I might store in it. But the UI is slick.) Also I have been using toodledo on the iphone for really terse notes about random ideas that come up while I'm out and about (when I go hiking and get the endorphins going I come up with the most far-out ideas), and also for shopping lists. Again, not ideal, but at least it syncs to their site... I have been planning to write a better tool for that eventually, so I can control where the data is stored.
top Beware the Garden of Steven
It's cool that Apple will help indie startups to do the marketing of their apps. What I'm worried most about is whether they will start to impose their idea of "quality" control as they have for the iPhone app store: nothing off-color, no scripting languages (or outright requirement to use Objective C and Cocoa rather than say Qt and C++), must follow their UI design guidelines, etc. Of course it's going to be difficult for them to rein stuff like that in since MacOS is not a new platform. But I think they really shouldn't try as hard as they have on the iPhone, and it's going to suck even harder if they do try.
ecloud hasn't submitted any stories.
This looks really cool! Are you going to set up a server to combine maps, so people can collaborate on covering large areas and getting all the roads?
I used gpsdrive on my last trip (cross country, Phoenix to Baltimore. I saved the tracks, if anybody wants them.) My impression was it was too slow on my old P133 toughbook, and the GPS kept dropping offline too; not sure how much of that was due to the cable (brand new, but wiggling the serial end seemed to help sometimes) and how much due to bugs in gpsd or something. I bet yours is much faster if you're using vector graphics rather than so much image processing.
A richer coworker was having fun with his "mechanical lady", one of those talking all-in-one GPS units with a nice color screen, maps, a database of businesses etc., and the ability to give directions. Maybe we'll get there someday.