Slashdot: News for Nerds


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!



Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

erice Re:Advanced? (95 comments)

Would an advanced race actually do something so illogical?

By "advanced", I assume the summary meant "technologically advanced". How would any civilization reach a high level of technology without going through industrialization? It's not like anyone enjoys living downwind of a coal plant, but the messier forms of energy production are convenient, cheap, and don't require any advanced materials or science. Try to imagine an alternate history where we emerged from the industrial revolution with effective, sustainable fusion and solar power without ever polluting the planet.

The thing is, fossil fuels run out rather quickly on the cosmic scale. A few centuries and the consequences of pollution become apparent quickly too. A civilization must quickly move to something cleaner or it dies. Either way, the pollution stops. What are the odds that our telescopes will find a planet inhabited by a civilization that just happens to be going through a (likely) one-time few century window of time?

If they exist at all, the average of civilization out there is probably tens to hundreds of million years old. It is unthinkable that a civilization that old would still be producing significant pollution (at least of a type that we are familiar). Maybe we should be looking for efforts to dump excessive waste heat.

4 days ago

Selectively Reusing Bad Passwords Is Not a Bad Idea, Researchers Say

erice High entropy rules on low importance sites (278 comments)

This is why it is infrurriating when low importance sites require high complexity passwords. They create unnecessary exposure for the limited pool of high complexity passwords I can remember. Meanwhile, the bank will take anything.

about two weeks ago

Seat Detects When You're Drowsy, Can Control Your Car

erice Re:Not foolproof (106 comments)

Perhaps not creepy but, by itself, not foolproof. I have a tendency toward Bradycardia (slow heart-rate). My normal is in the 50's and at times will slow even down to the mid-40's while fully alert and functional. I don't know whether the system in mind incudes other input in order to determine impairment - the article doesn't really say - but heart-rate alone would be far from reliable.

To be universally useful, I think that a "fatigue detector" needs more than just one parameter.

Lane departure should be a good combination. Calibration for the driver would be helpful, too because you are right, heart rate varies significantly from person to person. Conditioned athletes often have resting heart rates below 50, even below 40. On the other hand, a couch potato may start wavering at 80.

about two weeks ago

Slashdot Asks: Do You Want a Smart Watch?

erice Not of the kind usually talked about but, yes. (381 comments)

Suuntu Ambit2 is a 100m water resistant GPS sport watch that you can run apps on to custom process the data. It doesn't do things that smart phones do but it does not require a smart phone to function and it operates in environments where smart phones can't. It is heavy, expensive, and there are Linux compatibility issues. That is why I don't own one yet. But it is the right direction.

about two weeks ago

What Happens When Gaming Auteurs Try To Go It Alone?

erice What suprise? (86 comments)

The results, surprisingly, are mixed: while some, such as Double Fine's Tim Schafer, have gone on to far greater success, it doesn't always work out that way

This might be a surprise to people who know nothing about startups or business but it should not be to anyone else. Here's the reality: Startups often fail. In fact, the overwhelming majority of startups fail. Being an "auteur" may improve the odds of a soft landing significantly but it does not remotely guarantee success because there is no way to guarantee success.

The reasons for failure are many including poor business skills (there is more to running a company than running a project) and unconstrained egos. The usual bad luck and mayhem that sink projects can also sink companies that only have one project.

about two weeks ago

What's Your STEM Degree Worth?

erice Re:Not the data I was looking for... (148 comments)

You you really want them to average in tech workers without degrees, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg?

Why not? High income dropouts are so few that they make little difference in the result, especially if you do your statistics right and report the median rather than arithmetic mean.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch?

erice Re:Durability and independent operation (427 comments)

Why are you comparing a specialty dive watch to a smart watch.

It would be like me saying I would buy a Dive watch, but there don't have a phone and I can check my airline reservation from one.

Because anything less than a dive watch is a device that I have to be careful with around water. It isn't about the dive functions (made largely obsolete in recent years by wrist mounted dive computers) and there is very little "Special" about a dive watch. It is just an exceptionally robust watch. This is the kind of watch that people who wear watches for function tend to wear, as opposed to those where watches are jewelry.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch?

erice Durability and independent operation (427 comments)

I wear a shock resistant dive watch. Quite unlike my smart phone, I don't worry about dropping it, hitting it against solid objects, or getting it wet because it shrugs these things off like it was nothing. I don't worry about losing it because it comfortably resides on my wrist regardless of what I am wearing.

I want a smart watch that is like that.

However, much of that advantage is lost if I still have to carry around a cumbersome, unattached, and fragile smart phone. It is fine to augment the smart phone when the two devices are together but if the smart watch is non-functional on it's own than I don't want one.

If the technology is not up to these challenges (And, frankly, I don't think it is) then it is not up to creating practical smart watches. Come back in 10 years and there may be a smart watch worth wearing. The battery problem may be solved by that time too.

about a month ago

DNA Study: First Farmers Were Also Sailors

erice First farmers *in Europe* (40 comments)

Not the first farmers. Early European civilization certainly arrived by sea from the Middle East and invasion/colonization from the sea was repeated many times. It is not terribly shocking to think that agriculture could also have arrived initially by sea. However, that is a very different thing than claiming that the first farmers in the Middle East were also sailors. A thousand years or more could have passed between the beginning of farming in the Middle East and the transmission of that technology to Europe.

about a month and a half ago

Tesla Makes Improvements To Model S

erice Re:gullwing doors (136 comments)

No worries about clearance above the car

Because this is a concern for a sports car, when most parking places are designed for vans.

they don't stop you from putting a roof-rack on it

Also a big problem for sports cars, I'm sure.

Crossover SUV != sports car. They are bigger, taller and commonly used to carry bicycles, skis, and other sporting equipment on their roofs. Crossover SUV's are highly utilitarian which is very unlike sports cars.

about a month and a half ago

Sparse's Story Illustrates the Potholes Faced By Hardware Start-Ups

erice Trivial hardware is still challenging (103 comments)

Hardware is Silicon Valley's new religion. Bits and atoms aren't so different after all, the creed goes; just as the cost and complexity of starting a software company has drastically declined over the last decade, it's now becoming much cheaper and easier to start companies that make physical things. But talk to almost any real hardware company, and you'll discover that the promised land is still some distance away.

No. Hardware is Silicon Valley's founding religion. Software came later and now real hardware startups can not get funding. Sparce's experience shows that even if your development is trivial (no significant R&D) and you don't do any of the manufacturing yourself, it can still be a bumpy road to selling product.

I see no evidence that this is improving. All that has happened is that ambitious hardware startups no longer happen and people are getting excited over hobby scale development that didn't use to make the news. Well, to be fair, Kickstarter has allowed "super hobby" scale developments to take off that used to fall into a no-man's land. They were too small to form a viable business around and yet too big for a couple of guys to pull off in their spare time. Still, this is nowhere near a hardware renaissance. The promise land is not just some distance away. There is little evidence that we are going there.

about 2 months ago

The Singularity Is Sci-Fi's Faith-Based Initiative

erice Re:Sentient machines exist (339 comments)

No. We don't know *how*, but we know it can be done and is done every minute of every day by biological processes.

The knowing how is the problem. While there is little down that a human level AI could be built if we knew what to build, it is not clear that we are smart enough to come up with a design in any kind of directed fashion.

“If our brains were simple enough for us to understand them, we'd be so simple that we couldn't.”
  Ian Stewart, The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World

This is conjecture, of course but there is scant evidence against it. Some AI researchers have taken this philosophy or something similar to heart and propose that the only way to make real progress in AI is to reproduce the processes that lead to the human brain: random changes and selection pressure. The trouble is, even if it works and a human AI comes out of it (and it is no clear that we are even smart enough to provide the right selection process), it seems we would have little control and less understanding of the result. Benign but useless seems the most likely outcome.

about a month ago

B-52 Gets First Full IT Upgrade Since 1961

erice IT upgrade for a machine that predates IT (190 comments)

Well, not exactly. But certainly if you proposed having a computer onboard in 1961, the first reaction would be: The B52 is big but it's not that big!

Second would be "What would you do with one?"

about 2 months ago

Registry Hack Enables Continued Updates For Windows XP

erice Security risk? (322 comments)

Point of Sale systems usually operate under more controlled conditions than end user machines. Would these updates keep your XP machine plausibly secure or highly vulnerable to threats not considered serious to point of sale systems? What about vulnerabilities in components not present in POSReady 2009 but used in XP?

about 2 months ago

Fiat Chrysler CEO: Please Don't Buy Our Electric Car

erice Re:Raise the Price (462 comments)

No, they can't. CA Regulations don't allow electric alternatives to be n% more than gas.

Citation needed. I looked through the regulation and I see no mention of requiring a certain price for ZEV's.

What it does require is that a certain % of the sales be of ZEV's. If they are change too much, they won't sell enough. This leads to two solutions:

1) Spend little on R&D for an electric vehicle. Sell it just cheap enough (at a loss if you have to) to meet the minimum requirement. Whine about it.
2) Put some effort and investment in developing an electric car that people will actually want with a manufacturing cost that leads to a price people are willing to pay. Refine the design over time so that it becomes that profit center that saves your bacon when the bottom inevitably drops out of the IC car market as the cost of gas heads toward the stratosphere.

about 2 months ago

Agree or Disagree: We are in another tech bubble.

erice Bubble vs recession depends on who "we" are (154 comments)

If any economic categorizations other than "normal" are appropriate than they are "depression" or "recession" rather than "bubble". I haven't perceived any significant change since 2008. Companies remain stingy. Unwilling to train. Unwilling to pay for the talent they need. Commonly using outsourced labor (which blows up in their face almost without fail). We work in an industry with extensive collusion among the major employers not to compete for employees (yes, this is still happening) and where no one is willing to form a union.

By what metric are we experiencing a bubble? Do we mean a negative bubble?

Technically we can't be in a recession because that is a macro economic term and the economy is growing. However, we can and are in situation where much of the economy is dragging. That is perfectly compatible with a tech bubble. Here in Silicon Valley (or, more properly the Bay Area since the focus has shifted toward San Francisco), there a many many startups raising large amounts amounts of money and chasing big ticket buyouts or IPO's with questionable business plans. Very frothy. However, it is only party time in the space of Internet and mobile services.

Network infrastructure? No. Telecom? No. Semiconductors? Are you serious? The only "hardware" startups that get funded are those that apply the absolute bare minimum of hardware and wrap a service around it. Outside the bubble, a few companies are doing well (like Apple) but, as you have observed, they haven't passed much down to the rank and file. I don't think it is as terrible as 2008 but it looks a lot more like 2008 than 1998.

about 2 months ago

The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence

erice Re:My concern is far less esoteric (255 comments)

If self-driving cars ceed control back to the real driver when things get "interesting", without all the conditiioning that driving countless kilometers will the driver still be able to react competently? Or will it be like throwing inexperenced learner-drivers into the deep end?

Driving is a skill, and like any skill it needs to be practiced often to stop going rusty...

Returning control to a human would not necessarily mean giving control to the human in the car. You could imagine a team of remotely connected people whose job it is to drive under circumstances not anticipated by the software.

However, any kind of hand off can only be of a the slow to no speed variety. In any circumstances that requires a quick decision, the automation will have to carry though on it's own. There will not be time to recognize the alert, access the situation and react even if there is a skilled driver already sitting behind the wheel.

about 2 months ago

The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence

erice Maybe the problem is the word "robot" (255 comments)

Robots stores in Science Fiction are about powerful artificial sentient minds wrapped in an mobile and often human like container.

Robots in real life have been defined as machines with mechanical appendages that can programmed and reprogrammed for a variety of tasks. Their computational capabilities are seldom extraordinary and they usually don't even employ AI.

More recently, "robot" has also been used to describe machines with ai-like programming even if they are single function (like a robotic car).

When a word is used in three greatly different ways, should we be surprised that there is is confusion about that a "robot" can do?

about 2 months ago

Programmers: It's OK To Grow Up

erice Re:Train Yourself, Peon (232 comments)

We want people to spend their own time and money to train the skills that we need. There's no way we would invest in such things -- it hurts the bottom line!

How daft! We do not want people who have trained themselves. If we wanted someone who learned technology outside of a corporate setting, we would hire someone straight out of college and we don't do that. We want other companies to train you.

about 2 months ago



Robot rat beats up on live rats to make them depressed

erice erice writes  |  about a year and a half ago

erice (13380) writes "Scientists researching anti-depression treatments have a problem: they can't tell if the treatment works or not unless their lab rats are depressed. Their solution is a malevolent mechanical rat that ensures that all their real rats lose the rat race."
Link to Original Source

Woman wants to replace her non-functioning hand with a bionic prosthesis.

erice erice writes  |  more than 2 years ago

erice (13380) writes "Injured in crash which damaged the nerves in her arm, she has reach the limits that can what be accomplished with nerve transplants. She can move her arm but doctors have given up hope of restoring use of her hand. So she wants doctors to amputate the hand and replace it with a bionic version that does work."
Link to Original Source

World's largest optical telescope created

erice erice writes  |  more than 2 years ago

erice (13380) writes "Astronomers in Chile linked four telescopes together to form a single virtual mirror 130 meters in diameter. Previous efforts had linked two telescopes but this is the first time that all four had been linked."
Link to Original Source

Doctor trials laser treatment to change eye colour

erice erice writes  |  more than 2 years ago

erice (13380) writes "A US Doctor proposes to change healthy pigmented eyes to blue by destroying the pigment with a laser. The procedure has already been tested on cadavers and then on live patients in Mexico. He is seeking funding to continue clinical trials."
Link to Original Source


erice has no journal entries.

Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

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>
Create a Slashdot Account