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!



Delays For SC Nuclear Plant Put Pressure On the Industry

fermion Re:The question should be, what is causing delays? (139 comments)

So the solution to this is to build nuclear plants where we can get minimum regulations and avoid lawsuits. These location should be where no one really wants to live, so that people are not going to effected and need to file lawsuits to protect themselves. I have often thought that the states from Washington to Minnesota, which taken together from a significant net drain on the national budget, should be asked to secede and form a country that exemplify conservative values such as an aggressive free market, very limited regulations, and the like. In such a place nuclear power plants could be built in, say, North Dakota, without any of the pesky useless safety issues that now make nuclear power an unreasonable solution.

3 days ago

Posting Soccer Goals On Vine Is Illegal, Say England's Premier League

fermion Re:Ticket ToS (226 comments)

In many venues there are limits to the recording devices you may take in and use. These are largely in place to limit the quality of the fan images to protect the market for the professional images, which generate a great deal of money. These rules are enforced by bag checks, metal detectors, even pat downs. In addition, the primary function of the ushers seem to be monitoring the fans for use of prohibited devices.

That said, the result of violation of these limits is not generally criminal. If I take a picture of cirque du soleil, for example, I will be asked to stop or be ejected if I do not. Likewise, if I am recording a soccer match, and that is the only way to catch a goal, the rules might be that I delete the recording or be ejected, and if I am always doing this the league has the freedom not to sell me or ticket or let me in if I get a ticket.

So under the terms of service, the solution is to ban these people who post goals from attending the game. Claiming the activity itself is illegal is silly. The best the league can hope for is that a person who has been banned might get arrested for trespassing if they ignore the ban and it can be proven they were aware they were banned.

4 days ago

Microsoft Surface Drowning?

fermion Re:The problem of Microsoft (337 comments)

The problem with MS is that they have never been in the business of supported or selling to end users, and they are entering this market at the expense of the desktop business market.. The cost of their software products, at the consumer level, has always been very high end. They have lower priced products, but those tend to be so incomplete as to require a lot of time to make work. Remember, the product is only cheap if your time is worth nothing.

So MS Surface is a good product, but it is expensive for what it is. To make it look cheap they compare it to a 13" Macbook, but the reality is that if is priced evenly between a 11" and 13" Macbook, so is not aggressively priced.

For better or worse, the reason that consumers buy MS Windows based PCs is because they are aggressively priced. A laptop can be had for 1/2 the price of a Mac because the laptop can have lower specs because MS Windows can run well on lower spec machines. I am not going to run on an I5, but there are many who that is fine and they can get a cheaper laptop than Apple provides, and get service from a third party that caters to end users.

It is going to be a while before the culture shifts to MS being a seller of premium consumer product. This will happen, if MS is serious about being such a firm, but that opens up the business market. Already MS is talking about only supported one version of IE, which means that business is going to have the headache of rolling out frequent updates. Apple is teaming with IBM to get point of use applications on iPad, which will significantly reduce the cost of supplying business rule applications to worker bees. Firms can already create custom apps on Android devices to serve the same purpose. MS Surface should be a way to counter these losses on the desktop. Instead they are produces commercials to make the MS Surface seem fun, and charging extra for a keyboard.

about a week ago

Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

fermion Re:No, school should not be year-round. (421 comments)

Summer breaks are useful for parents of means who can put their kids into other activities or parents with commercial activities with which the kids can help. For most everyone else it is beneficial to have year round 8-5 school, not because kids get more educated but because it is highly effective babysitting.

A case can be made for a trimester year round school situation in which students are required to attend two per year. Two in a row can be missed with permission, and missing three is equivalent to dropping out of school. This could be beneficial in many ways, but would be complex.

A big problem with the proposal is simply costs. Right now there is a lot of stuff that happens in the summer. Some of it is paid by school budgets, some of it is paid by external grants, some of it is paid by the teacher. The fantasy is that we can increase the school year with no significant costs. This is not true. Over the past 20 years teacher pay has gone up considerable, and a lot of that cost has to do with simple additional time the teacher is required to work. This is the same in any situation. If you are paid hourly, i.e. required to be at work at 7 and work until 3, if they ask to work until 4 every day then that should come with additional pay. This is what has happened with teacher, the additional few weeks and time per day has increased pay about 15%. If we go year round the pay will increase another 20% at least.

There will be other costs. Training will not happen during the off time, so staff will have to hired to cover classes. The argument cannot be made that personal business can be handled during breaks, so teacher will have to take days off during the year, a practice that many teachers now try to avoid. This again will require additional staff hire. To give you an idea of this additional cost, say a school has 60 teachers, which is a small school. Two weeks of training and two weeks of personal time is 20 days. For all teachers that is 1200 person-days, let round it up to 10,000 person-hours. At minimum wage, rounding up again, is $80,000 per school in class coverage costs. Not all of this is new costs, but it is significant. Add a half million for additional pay, weekend costs to maintain the school that is now down over break, and one is looking at a cost per student going from around $7,000 to around $8,000.

about two weeks ago

For Fast Internet in the US, Virginia Tops the Charts

fermion Re:And yet here I am (97 comments)

Like so many of these studies the centers of the data are of little use for someone trying to quantify speeds. Even if we had a range for the center, say a standard deviation, that would still leave out variables like size, population, geography and variables in population density. It is unreasonable to publish a single number for a states as meaningful. It does back to the idea that one can make a bunch of junk numbers seem more valid by putting them on a pretty map.

about two weeks ago

The Hidden Cost of Your New Xfinity Router

fermion Re:Just refuse the new gear (224 comments)

The equipment supplied by Comcast or ATT or Verizon or whoever has traditionally been notoriously wasteful in terms of energy. I myself but a router and DVR. The router pays for itself in a year, and both probably have a return on investment of two years in terms of electricity and rental savings.

about two weeks ago

Why the "NASA Tested Space Drive" Is Bad Science

fermion Don't have to go back 100 years (315 comments)

25 years ago there was desktop cold fusion. A lot of people wanted it, there were conferences on it, probably at least a hundred million was invested in it over a year or two. but it was bogus. The hypothesis was sound, it was no completely unreasonable, but the experiments showing a positive results on the hypothesis were flawed. It is not that cold fusion does not exist as something that might happen, it is that we have not shown it happens. I don't want to muddle the situation, but there is a clear line between what can happen and does happen in the lab. Theoretical people have told me that their models are necessarily not connected with reality. They are math, and the math sometimes tells us what is going on, sometimes fools us, and sometimes is just bonkers. What differentiates all this is good experimental science, which is really hard to do. I mean really hard, and for the most part does not lead to a theory, but only data that can be collected by math. This is why even though Galileo did a lot of good research, it was 100 years before the math caught up and we were able to do what we now classify as as science.It is why electromagnetic, the speed of light, quantum mechanics, and what is to follow is going to drop out the math. Which is to say we have a very complex interactions. Virtual particles drop out the math. The math says that they must exist, but inherently can't do anything useful. This is in the same way that photons can be coupled so they may seem to act faster than the speed of light(maybe, until we get distances longer than the earth-moon system we cannot really know) but no one expects information to be communicated faster than the speed of light. The end result is that if you have an experiment that violates the math, you have to be very sure it is a good experiment, and the consensus is quickly building that this is not. There is a certain responsibility to being an experimentalist. One can't just willy nilly say there are 40 dimensions of energy is created from the aether. On can be sloppy with conclusions, as Einstein was with the photoelectric effect, or Milikin in his oil drop experiment, but one does have a responsibility to do ones best to control systematic errors, and not jump to conclusions when one does not fully understand those errors. Unless, of course, like the two cited authors you are lucky enough to be accidentally correct.

about two weeks ago

Psychology's Replication Battle

fermion Re:WTF? (172 comments)

We also have to look at how repeatability works. One reads a paper, does one best to follow the work, perhaps calls one of the researchers to get clarification, combine this with known methods, and at the end of the day maybe get a similar result. If, as in the case of cold fusion, the result is not similar, then there is at least some carelessness if not fraud in the original result. Which is fine because it is just one result, and no one should thinks one result is conclusive.

In social sciences reproducibility is possible. For instance in epidemiology databases are crunched using well known statistical methods to determine correlations, then further science is applied to determine is these correlations might be causative. If a second party cannot do an equal statistical analysis and get similar results then the results are not valid. If a second party can go through the process of collecting the data and find systematic errors, then the results is not valid. This is in fact a big problem with education research. When subject to the process of real science, much if not most of the research has been shown to not meet those standards.

So social science research can be scientific, but there is a second issue. We expect research to be predictive. It is said that field such as astronomy are as unscientific as social science. But in astronomy there is an element of application. The results are used to predict other finding which then can be confirmed. This is the element that makes fields such as physiology less scientific.

about two weeks ago

Critics To FTC: Why Do You Hate In-App Purchasing Freedom?

fermion Re:Real world equivalent (171 comments)

I thought of it another way. You go to the store and everything the kids touches goes on your credit card. Remember, most of what occurs in the apps has no real world equivalent. You can't go and return it, or even complain it was faulty or did not meet expectation. At least a theme park if there is bug in the ice cream you might get another one.

In any case,Apple is absolutely wrong here. If this were a convenience feature it would be easy to add in a setting like they do with so many other features. For instance cellular data roaming can be turned off. To make sure that Apps still have an opportunity to waste bandwidth there is an annoying reminder to turn the cellular data back on when accidentally using the App. If Apple wanted go, it could allow users to set the time interval anywhere from zero to 15, or more, and then allow the App to be as annoying as it wanted to get you to turn back to 15. As it is, the protocol is clearly meant to maximize unintentional in App purchases.

about two weeks ago

The Great Taxi Upheaval

fermion Re:The Free Market has the Technology Now (218 comments)

Information implies past data and perfect information implies absolute security and verification. This is more possible through the medalian system as carry a large cost and can be removed if people are very unreliable or dangerous. Of course the system is not perfect, but utilizes the time tested method of excessive punishment for certain acts, as well as background checks. Look at it like cleaning staff in a hotel. They have oppotunity to steal, but there is likely no due process if an accusation arises so there is less incentive to steal.

In the current system, information may be collected, and may be reliable, but it is not verified or acted upon. One can imagine where a driver gets a bad review, then creates a new account with a friends credentials. One can imagine a case where cars are not well maintained and cause an accident.

In fact the solution to this is very simple and should not raise the prices much if the profits of the service are moderated. Require each driver to carry commercial insurance and have a commercial drivers license. My father had one, so I know they are not difficult to get. The service could contract with an insurance company to provide a customized package. I think it is important for each driver to contract with an insurance company, not the service, because the insurance company will have additional checks and verifications. The policy can then be linked to the profile to insure that a driver is more likely to be who he or she says it is.

Right now these services are simply trading security for costs. For some this is a good tradeoff. But if the system of regulated cabs is dismantled without something equally secure we will simply see a period where people have no choice but to be insecure and then an expensive process where regulation, probably worse regulations, are implemented.

about two weeks ago

The CIA Does Las Vegas

fermion Re:or credibility of the government (124 comments)

The key point I was trying to make is that the current war does not depend on conscription. We have enough incentive in terms of pay and benifit and enough people with no other skills that we do not need conscription, so the kids have no reason to protest like the did in Vietnam. The other point is, and I am amused that some silly person spent an hour trying to retcon history(like Boehner is trying to do with the government shut down and the impeachment threats(so sarah palin never suggested that we impech obama, only those in the administration) is that those who were directly impacted by his action or indirectly impacted by those who were supporters did not have any recourse. It is like the no fly list now, except the no fly list is secret and does not seem to focus on certain famous US citizens whom the McCarthy type people did like. As far as the various wars of the Veitnam era an the various wars of current Iraq era, they were political, religious, and economic factors in both. Obviously the former was a religious type fanaticism against communism, while the later is a political fanaticism against Islam. The former was to protect us against a Russian aggression through Cuba, while the later to protect us against a radical 'Muslim' aggression through terrorism. In both cases free exploitation of resources, including oil, was a proximate factor. In either case proxy wars are fought. Vietnam instead of China, Iraq instead of Afghanistan(I know we are now in Afghanistan, but the horses were already out, so to speak).

about three weeks ago

NASA Tests Microwave Space Drive

fermion Re: Bad summary (201 comments)

In 1989 Fleischmann and Pons published a paper showing evidence of cold fusion. No one, other than a team atmTexas AM, of course, was able to replicate. The lab where I worked had a preprint of he TAM paper andmeveryone unformly decides it was crapbduebto lack lack of experimental detailed procedure. I am told the FP paper had the same issues. Though millions was thrown t the problem in 1989 and 1990 nothing came of this discovery that gviolated all known science. Mather AM people denied fraud by claiming bad rods, but it seems likely there was some spiking. FP were so suspect the filed lawsuits against other scientists who disputed their results. The lesson bieng that one result is a best a guess and worse fraud, and while we want to test the current expectations of physics, a single result provides little information. It is not so much that cold fusion or virtual particles can't provide useful energy, but that the current theory does not show how such a thing is possible and experiment is inconclusive.

about three weeks ago

The CIA Does Las Vegas

fermion or credibility of the government (124 comments)

In 1950 Joe McCarthy claimed to have a list of communists in government and started a process that destroyed the lives of common US citizens without due process or ability to appeal. In the mid 1960's most young people were against the government because they were being forced to serve their country in the military, which generated a great deal of anti-government sentiment because they did not want to. If we look what is happening today, most of the government overreach does not effect such average of high profile private citizens. For the most part this overreach is seen as only targeting foreigners or terrorists. Susan Sarandon is not being hauled in front of congress and being prevented from working because of what she says. In effect, the government has gotten much more sophisticated at managing the perception of the public. Of course not everyone is governement is so sophisticated. Some are still playing 'there are 400 communists in the Obama white house' card or claiming so other such nonsense and trying to use it to limit rights. But for the most part, the days of stupid seem to be at a lull.

about three weeks ago

Why TiVo's Founders Crashed and Burned With Qplay

fermion Re:What? (50 comments)

You know, my tivo adds additional commercial content to my viewing experience, content that cannot be turned off or skipped. I like my tivo, but have come to realize that maybe the company is not so efficient given that it needs to engage in promoting content in addition to a monthly fee.

about three weeks ago

AP Computer Science Test Takers Up 8,000; Pass Rate Down 6.8%

fermion Re:No surprises here (119 comments)

The college board is desperate for relevancy. Since 1994 the SAT has changed several times after 50 years of stability to make it more attractive to increasingly critical urban population and schools. It was no longer good enough to see which students matched the standards of east coast prep schools, students had to be characterized based on a more diverse standard. It may have been wrong, but there was simply not enough money to be made catering to the east coast universities looking to rank the east coast preparatory graduates. They are now trying to get funding through the AP exams. The thing you have to know is there are many federal grants that will fund low income students who want to take the AP Exam, money that goes directly to the that the College Board. So, unlike the 20th century when only the best of the best took the AP Exam. There is not enough money in it. There are not people profiting at all levels on students taking the AP exam. Universities, often private, often the best in the area, are training teachers to teach AP classes, mostly paid by federal grants or local tax dollars, a single class generating $10-20 thousand dollars for the university and college board, and there are often dozens of classes offered over the summer. There is the cost of AP books published by the CB as well as past tests which are not free. The College Board is also free to punish or reward districts with awards and direct monetary compensation to various leaders, and these punishments come down to the school level. There are cases where district leaders have reprimanded people at the school level when the leaders did not get their expected rewards. I am not judging what is going on right now. All I am saying is that AP classes are no longer used to filter the best students from the best classes. AP classes are now a way to introduce college level material to interested students. Students who do not want to be in these classes are generally not. Instead of filtering by ability, the filter is a desire to learn. This, of course, means that many students are not able to do the work and get frustrated. Most are not going to do well on the test. But if the class is well taught, these kids will be more ready for college, I would say even more so than a dual credit class. The added benefit is that there is little grade inflation on the test. Students are allowed to fail, then given some information to reflect on that failure. As anyone who has been to college knows this is a critical skill. With the need for every student to graduate, even if they have never attended a class, the AP exam is one of the only way to provide that feedback to college bound students. It is unfortunate, but too many 18 year old adults still think that running home crying to mammy and daddy is a reasonable way to pass a class. The AP test does not finely rank students like so many other test do, and rewards students for their ability to find the questions they know best, and completely those to get enough points to meet their desired goal.

about three weeks ago

Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill

fermion Re:Even better, reflect true cost of cell phones (77 comments)

Right now you best deal on a contract phone is buy a new phone when the contract runs out. Otherwise you are paying the fees for a phone that is already paid for. If you sign a new contract, and get a new phone, the amount of money you pay is constant. There is no wasted money. If she was paying for a plan that was out of contract that was a waste of money. Paying $100 is wasted if she was out of contract. Paying $100 in contract would not necessarily be a waste, but it is likely a wash. The value of an iPhone 5S is about $650. If you buy the phone and use something like Cricket it will be $2000 over two years, but there is no lockin. If you get the subsidized phone, and use something like verizon, you are paying a few hundred dollars more over the two year period, with lockin. Most people aren't set up to lay down a few hundred dollars for a phone at time of purchase. Getting a phone for free and paying for a couple years makes more sense. The lockin comes from this extended payment. My fear is that this current climate is leading to higher prices. On verizon, if you use their early upgrade plan you pay about $150 extra over the two years, in addition to the $300 premium.

about three weeks ago

Lawrence Krauss: Congress Is Trying To Defund Scientists At Energy Department

fermion Re:Price of using scientists as political pawns (342 comments)

I don't think any serious person thinks that Galileo woke up one morning and said lets do politics. No, he was at church, the story goes, say the chandeliers swinging, and ended up being persecuted by the politicians of the time.

Most scientists don't take political positions. They make observations, and when a consensus is reached, they sometimes take actions. For instance, when it became pretty clear that lead was dangerous, there was a movement to remove it from gasoline. This became political because some interests were only interested in quarterly profits, not long term costs to taxpayers. Fortunately the taxpayers won. For instance, there is really good science linking the buildup in the environment of lead to the increase in crime, and the decrease in crime of the past decade or so to the decrease in lead. It is not just correlation, cut actual causation.

Now, as far as NPR is concerned, compared to Fox News of course it looks biased. NPR is not going to invite John McCain on the air to talk about when he was a kid you could kill black people, and know he has to deal with a black man, as he has been saying this past week. But the thing about NPR is it probably does a better job of using the public air waves than other.

Here is the rub. Fox News can say and do whatever it wants because it does not use free public resources. This is the key. Free public resources, not funding by the government. The government funds lots of things, and that does not necessarily absolutely limit speech. For instance, many churches take money for schools, which frees up money that they then use to do stuff like encourage people to attack people going about their day to day business. For instance, one church in my area bought cameras so they could photograph people going into a gay club. But radio stations were given public bandwidth and were supposed to use it responsible ways. I think NPR is responsible and balanced compared to some of what I hear on the AM stations. AM stations are using free resources. We could take it back and make a great deal of money leasing it to other agents. We don't. They agree to use it, and should be more responsible.

about a month ago

The Almost Forgotten Story of the Amiga 2000

fermion In other words (192 comments)

The person who is submitting this has cornered the market on Amiga machines, step two is to shill the products to increase the price. I don't think people are going to buy computers just for nostalgia. If so, I have a stash of Apple /// computers.

about a month ago

The Almost Forgotten Story of the Amiga 2000

fermion Re:SCSI madness (192 comments)

I never had a problem with SCSI. As a matter of fact, it was as plug and play as you could get a the time. For instance, the IOmega tape drives came in SCSI and parallel. Installing the parallel PC option was very difficult, even following instructions. On a Macintosh with SCSI, it was plug and play. The biggest issue I saw was just getting it plugged in and either using a setting a terminator. In other words, following instructions.

about a month ago

High School Students Not Waiting For Schools To Go Online

fermion DUH (82 comments)

Any student that is disciplined, self motivated, and has learned how to learn, will be more able to learn in a an independent fashion that students who do not have these skills. In a traditional education one went to school where one listened to a professor lecture or read books on the subject. The actual pedagogy, after the teen age years, was minimal, and often involved simple discipline, not teaching of the skills one needed to learn more independently in later life. As long as we could live with the vast majority population engaged in semi-skilled labor, this was fine. However, now we really have more a need for skilled labor. This requires more people to have than a high school education. So we need an advanced pedagogy to help people reach the potential where they can learn more.

All these computer classes are great for the natural learner, the 20% or so of students who have that ability. But these are the same students who have been graduating high school for year, who can go to the public library and learn everything that they would if they got an MBA(one of good friends did this), who, like reported in the NYT today, did not complete school but invented Scotch Tape.

While we need to make sure not to apply negative pressure to these kids, which means to let them take the online courses, give them independent study, allow to explore, we also cannot use this an excuse to stop the more expensive education of the kids who really need to be taught. The correlation between online courses and independent skills(Or as it says, habits of the mind) in no way indicates that online courses teach independent skills. Sure, you could put a kid a computer and give him an F if she does not complete statistics, but is that teaching? Some would say yes. I would say we are accepting that most of kids will be semi-skilled laborers without the jobs to insure a high rate of employment, which means more welfare checks.

about a month ago



Back when patents had to be innovative

fermion fermion writes  |  about a year ago

fermion (181285) writes "This weeks "Who Made That" column in The New York Times concerns the built in pencil eraser. In 1858 Hymen Lipman put a rubber plug into the wood shaft of a pencil. An investor then paid about 2 million in today's dollars for the patent. This investor might have become very rich had the supreme court not ruled that all Lipmen had dome was put together two known technologies, so the patent was not valid. The question is where has this need for patents to be innovative gone? After all there is the Amazon one-click patent which, after revision, has been upheld. Microsoft Activesync technology patent seems to simply patent copying information from one place to another. In this modern day do patents promote innovation, or simply protect firms from competition?"

Anti-Drone Clothing

fermion fermion writes  |  about a year and a half ago

fermion writes "Given that the Obama Administration now has the power to Terminate Americans on Demand, it might be time to think about defending ourselves from such a near term scenario. One might think that a Stinger would be the ideal defense, but radical gun control promoted by the liberal government makes that a difficult option at best. Therefore we are forced to execute a more passive defense in the form of anti-dron apparel from Adam Harvey. I am sure this will become the new little black dress."

Linux forcibly installed on Congressman's computer

fermion fermion writes  |  about 2 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "I am sure most have heard about Michael Grimm, a US House of Representatives member from New York, who's campaign headquarters was vandalized. What has not been reported everywhere is that Linux was installed on one of his computer, erasing data in the process. Is this a new attack on democracy by the open source radicals, or it is just a random occurrence?"
Link to Original Source

When Patents Attack

fermion fermion writes  |  about 3 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "This American Life runs a story this week on Intelectual Ventures, a firm some consider the leader of the patent trolls . The story dwells into the origins of the term patent troll and the rise of the patent troll industry. Much time is spent presenting Intelectual Ventrues both as a patent troll firm and a legitimate business that allows helpless inventors to monetize patents. It is stipulated that Intellectual Ventures does not in fact sue anyone. It is also alleged that the Intellectual Ventures create many shell companies presumable to hid such activity. Intellectual Ventures is compared to a Mafia protection racket that may never actually burn down a business that does not pay the dues, does encourage such burning to occur."
Link to Original Source

Flight 447 "Black Box" Decoded

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 3 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "An initial report has been released by the BEA concerning the details of the last minutes of Flight 447 en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. According the report the autopilot disengaged and stall warning engaged at 2 hours 10 minutes and 5 seconds into flight. Less than 2 minutes later the recorded speeds became invalid. At 2 hours 14 minutes and 28 seconds, the recording stopped. The final vertical speed was recorded around 10,912 ft/min."
Link to Original Source

Gaming and Real Assassinations

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 3 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Wall Street Journal has an article detailing the gaming life of Jared Lee Loughner. While it seems to avoid explicitly blaming gaming for the murders, it does appear to allude to a link. For instance "In the 7th grade, he and a friend, Alex Montanaro, began playing the multiplayer online games Starcraft and Diablo, which featured complex virtual worlds where players assume roles and play against other people around the globe, Mr. Montanaro said in emails over the weekend and Monday." Is the fact that he played a certain game in grade 7 in any relevant to his alleged shooting of a nine year old girl in 2011? The article further details his increasingly erratic online posting, which apparently inevitably leads to assassination. What is really depressing is that Education Week seems to make a directly link between utilizing online communication and expression of violent behavior.


Link to Original Source

Safara 5 the ultimate Ad Blocker

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Regster is reporting on the Safari 5 Reader. This feature, in the form of button marked "Reader" strips all ads, all branding, as well as consolidating content spread over several web pages into a single frame. Some say this is an attack on Google and others that will compete with the new iAds. Some say this is just a way to remove distractions that keep users from enjoying web content. What is clear is that this a bold move, one that makes the attack on flash seem tame. The race no longer seems about speed. It is nowabout using the HTML tags to render content in the most user centric manner."
Link to Original Source

America Speaking Out

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Republican House Leadership has jumped on the social media bandwagon by creating American Speaking Out. On this site anyone in the world(all one has to do is enter the universally known 90210 postal code) can posit ideas, vote them up and down, and comment. Right now the top ideas are to stop the pork, roll back, reduce the military and tax churches. While the later two are rather excellent ideas, I am not sure what 'roll back' means. Perhaps repealing all amendments to constitution after #12. As far as stopping the pork, I doubt any representative would have a job if money was not sent back home on a regular basis."
Link to Original Source

Android Store to Stop Selling Android Phones

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "In classic Monty Python style, Google has responded to the news of the imminent domination of the smartphone market by retreating. In a Google Blog post Andy Rubin writes that '[o]nce we have increased the availability of Nexus One devices in stores, we'll stop selling handsets via the web store..' He further states that the store has not met expectations and 'that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone, and they also want a wide range of service plans to chose from'. As such Google wil 'offer Nexus One to consumers through existing retail channels'."
Link to Original Source

Apple bought Intensi

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The New York Times claims that Apple has bought Intrinsity, the company allegedly behind the A4. The story is heavy on speculation, light on citations. Intrinsity may be the company that provides the technology for the A4. Intrinsity employees are changing thier Linkedin profile to list Apple as their employer. The Intrinsity website "appears to have pulled down." The only verification of the sale are the infamous "people familiar with the deal". How does this purchase, if it happened, relate to the rumored purchase of ARM?"
Link to Original Source

Programmer cannot get a date, shoots up gym.

fermion fermion writes  |  about 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The man who killed three women at a gym, and then himself, was evidently a frustrated analyst who could not get a date. The legend of the lonely geek living in the parents basement, alone, without success, without sex, is rampant on /.. Here is perhaps the more realistic example. An apparently successful person, with his own home, job, and a minimum of social skills,but not able to find another to be with. Was the lack of a sex life an excuse? As always, it is the quiet ones. A neighbor is quoted as saying ""I never saw any women over there, and he wasn't bad looking,I don't understand it. I just assumed he was gay.""

Pre does not get US tethering either

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Register is reporting that the Pre Dev Wiki has been sent a note asking it to stop discussing tethering. Evidently Sprint is none to eager to have users tether the game changing tetherable smart phone. The development forum is evidently eager to avoid lawsuits, so has rapidly agreed. Perhaps, like the iPhone, the Pre is going have a vigorous underground. What is interesting is that the Pre, like the iPhone(allegedly), can be tethered in the non-US domain, but even those customers are being denied apparently lawful information to satisfy the US exclusive agents."
Link to Original Source

Wolfram|Alpha and the ToS

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "Growlaw has an article on how Alpha is different from Google. It seems that Wolfram reckons Alpha as an authoritative source of information and has created a special terms of service to insure that users do not violate the rights of the apparent legal entity known as Alpha. Wolfram claims that "in most cases the assemblages of data you get from Wolfram|Alpha do not come directly from any one external source. In many cases the data you are shown never existed before in exactly that way until you asked for it, so its provenance traces back both to underlying data sources and to the algorithms and knowledge built into the Wolfram|Alpha computational system" which is capable or generating unique copyrighted information. Wolfram states that lack or attribution is a violation of copyright and an act of academic plagiarism. Parents and teachers are warned that if the kiddies use the service and violate these terms the parents or teachers will be held responsible. This is not completely unreasonable, as Alpha is likely a unique creation, and deserves full legal protection. What might be a bit controversial is the attack on deep linking:"It is not permitted to use Wolfram|Alpha indirectly through another website that has created a large number of deep links to Wolfram|Alpha, or that automatically constructs links based on input that you give on that site, rather than on Wolfram|Alpha"."

Apple Back on top.

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "Forrester Research published the Customer Experience Index 2008 Snapshot: PC Manufacturers. From the summary "Apple leads and Dell lags.". The NYT blogs the finding with specific data. Apple has a rating of 80%, MS Windows PC manufacturers are in the 60's, and Dell drags in at 58%. The blog suggests that MS outsourcing OS support to the manufactures might be a mistake, and they may want to explore direct support through retailers like WalMart. If MS were to be truly agressive, they might again follow Apple by implementing plans to open company stores. In this time of rising unemployment, I am sure there are many available MCSE that would be happy to help."

G1 not so open

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The register reported that the open-to-anyone-and-any-application Android Store has terminated the availability of a popular tethering app. The Android Store, which was supposed to be devoid of a not-so-benevolent dictator preventing such useful apps from reaching the market, evidently caved to T-Mobile's displeasure at the bandwidth sucking app. The control of the store by T-Mobile appears to be real and material, as indicated by a quote from Google: "Google enters into distribution agreements with device manufacturers and Authorized Carriers to place the Market software client application for the Market on Devices. These distribution agreements may require the involuntary removal of Products in violation of the Device manufacturer's or Authorized Carrier's terms of service". It appears, as many suspected, the the G1, and by extension the Android stack, as the Authorized Carriers deem profitable."

Jailing Kids for Fun and Profit

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "In the past students have felt especially abused when suspended from school for posting inappropriate material on facebook or sending threats through email and the like. Well imagine what Hillary Transue thought when she was put in jail for posting satirical content. In this case it turns out that the judge was paid by PA Child Care to incarcerate juveniles. PA Child Care, coincidently, ran the jails. The judges involved and have plead guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion, but have not admitted to any quid pro quo. Other judges have been appointed to deal with the cases of 5000 juveniles whose sentences are now in question. One presumes that the costs of such proceedings are not going to be fully covered by the Judges or PA Child Care. This might be a reminder to teens that the law is not as cut and dry as they think, and that what they think is tolerable behavior might in fact be criminal when viewed by a judge. It can be argued that a few days suspension is an appropriate slap on the wrist to discourage such behavior. If a further reminder is needed, the system that allowed these judges to trade children's lives for profit is still intact."

Is this the end for Jobs at Apple?

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The NYT is reporting that Steve Jobs is on medical leave until the end of June The reason cited is that the health issues are more complex than originally thought and these issues are a distraction for the company and employees. This seems to be standard press released language for things are worse than we thought, but hopefully by gettting him out of the spotlight the constant publicity that negatively effects stock price will go away. By my count, this means that Jobs will be away from Apple for 5 months. My question is will he be back, or is the Apple strategy for a peaceful and smooth transition of power. In other, is his replacement in fact an interim chief executive put in place while they perform a quiet search for a permanant CEO."

Watchman is Fox property

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "According to the NYT a judge has decided that Fox owns the copyright to Watchman, not Warner. Is this an example of copyright law becoming so complex that companies can abuse the court system to prevent competition, or just extreme incompetence by Warner. In the current business environment, either explanation is believable. Yet it is unbelievable that seasoned producers would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to create a movie that they can't even release. It seems the judge didn't want to bring this to a jury, and maybe daring Warner to appeal, or Fox to settle."

Android and the roaming scam

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "If seems that Google Android and T-Mobile has not learned from the bad experience and wrath Apple incurred with roaming charges on the iPhone. It seems that application can switch to roaming and data operation without the user knowledge. Also, according to The Register, there is no way to switch off roaming. Given the backlash that Apple experienced over international roaming charges, one would think that T-Mobile would have built a phone to prevent such unexpected charges. On the other hand, while iPhone lives under the protective graces of Apple, the G1 is a much more laissez-faire business model, and perhaps has no reasonable expectations of such intervention to protect the user."



representing numbers

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 7 years ago I notice a tag popping up around slashdot, namely hex09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0. The context of the tag is irrelevant to any civilized person, but I was intrigued with the prefix hex, presumably to indicate the number was base 16. I wonder if the use of the prefix, instead of the more traditional 0x, was due to the increasing distance between the technical elite and the hardware

As I am sure we all know, a digital computer represents all information by either an on or off state, which is typically represented numerically as 0 or 1, respectively. As the digital state is often implements as an analog current, there is often some firm threshhold value, above which the state is said to be on.

Therefore to represent a peice of information, such information must first be encoded in as a number, then the number encoded into a series of off or on states to represent that number. This is where binary notation comes from. Using only 0 an 1, in principle we can represent any number as easily as using the 0-9. For instance, using base 2, the number representing in decimal form as 4 would be 100. Perhaps a bit verbose, but quite adequate when one can complete thousands of operations every second.

The verbosity, however is a problem for humans. For instance, to represent the decimal number 9 requires us to write 1001. While a digital device has no problem with this, and humans working to hardwire code have no problems, as the amount of information to encode becomes greater, humans wish to have more information density.

Which is where Octal, or base 8 representation emerges. Octal notation groups three states, or bits, in one. In octal instead of only using the digits 0 and 1, we use 0-7. This means that to write the decimal number 7 instead of writing 0b111, we write 0o7, i which the 0o prefix means octal.

Octal was nice when bits were base of the computers, but soon information grew so much that we began to group bits together. The smallest traditional grouping of bits is the nibble, which contains 4 bits. This means the biggest number that can be held is 0b1111 or the decimal number 15. This lead to the idea that we might want a numbering system that can represent numbers up to decimal 15, and the hexadecimal system was used. In this system, digits go from 0-F. Therefore the decimal number 7 is written 0x7. The decimal number 15 is written 0xF, 0o17 or 0b1111. One can see that even though the computer does not care, it is easier for people.

Hexadecimal was quite used prior to the mid 80's. While programming tasks were easily handled through the alphanumeric keyboard, with minimal special keys, formatted text processing required copious use of the entry of special codes. Even in programming, it was useful to direct many function directly through the hardware using hex.

So, obviously, with the huge bit capacity, it is quite easy to see why we use hexadecimal to represent numerical values. What is not so obvious is why we represent using the longer form hex09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0 rather than 0x09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0.


Beware of gifts with stange Apples?

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 10 years ago I love my Apple computers. I have a G4 tower in the back room. I have powerbook that I injured a while back but still serves me faithfully. I have a newton 2100 in my pack, a broken newton 2100 and another old newton in storage. I have a Mac Classic, a perfoma, and all manner of half assembled portables and desktops. I reluctantly gave up my Apple /// because of space considerations, and I regret it to this day.

It has been a strange ride over these 20 years. Shape tables on the Apple ][. A EPROM burner in another Apple ][ to program an EEPROM for use in a Z80 controller for flight. Printing WYSIWYG documents for the first time from a Mac to an imagewriter. Horrible fonts and resolution. Embarrassing. But such excitement to not have to embed the Epson codes directly into the AppleWriter document.

And then Macs that actually ran fast enough to do work. And then Macs with harddrives, separate monitors, expandable innards. Appletalk replaced with ethernet. And then SCSI gone and all my stuff had to be replaced with Firewire stuff.

But through all this time I have never felt betrayed. Until today. Yesterday I happily installed the MacOS update. I have complained a bit in the past week about the fact that they combined security and feature updates, and I hope they have learned from this experience, even though the probably have not, but i am over it. Sort of.

But today I noticed something strange. Moving advertisements on my web pages. Could it be that my preferences for images got messed up? No, checked my pref files everything as I left it. Could it be that more sites are manually changing images? Unlikely but i looked at the page source just to be sure. No, nothing there. The source for the web pages is essentially what it has been for these sites. Check for flash, try some scripts, then give up with a static images. So could it be Flash? I don't have flash on my computer. It eats up too much time. Do a search for the file, not there. Forgot where the file was stored, so i just go back to double checking preferences and the source of the web pages. Maybe I missed something. It sure looks like flash, though.

Finally get a brainstorm and go to the macromedia site. Yep, it starts playing a flash movie. I definitely have been infected by the annoyware virus. But how, and where it is? I finally find a web page with the directory location. It is in the library directory. Not the user one, but the main one. The one that needs administrator access. Find the file, check the date. It was the date and time I installed the MacOS update.

Now, i have no proof that the update came with a flash payload. I could have accidently installed it some other way. All I have is circumstantial evidence and i do not want to make false accusations. But the install time was during the time i was installing the update. I go through great pains not to install flash and avoid sites that require it.

On the other hand flash is becoming tricky, and someone may have set up a trojan that got it onto my computer. Could have been Apple could have been someone else.

And the only thing that the knowledge base lists is Safari enhancements. Which of course brings a whole separate set of problems, like what if I don't want to use Safari.

I am telling you. I am so close to getting a Intel piece of crap, installing Linux on it, and just running the command line with the occasional X for the rest of my life. It was not so bad when all we had was the command line.


on moderation

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 11 years ago "A right of free correspondence between citizen and citizen on their joint interests, whether public or private and under whatsoever laws these interests arise (to wit: of the State, of Congress, of France, Spain, or Turkey), is a natural right; it is not the gift of any municipal law, either of England, or Virginia, or of Congress, but in common with all other natural rights, it is one of the objects for the protection of which society is formed and municipal laws established." --Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1797.

The following is some thoughts on altering the /. moderation system. I do not believe any of these ideas are novel or unique, but the application of these ideas may help with issues such as scalability and the promotion of long term discussions within an article posting. The main concepts in this modified moderation proposal are moving to labels instead of numbers for moderation, continuously variable starting moderation points based on karma, and non linear moderation scoring.

First, I believe /. should move to labels for moderation in leu of the current numbers. These labels could be 'horrible', 'unrated', 'default', 'fine', 'great', 'terrific', and 'super' , respectively corresponding to moderation of -1 to 5. The labels will need to be tweaked with the idea that labels will reflect the status of a comment. For instance, a current '1' comment would be unrated because this is the default posting for a logged in user. I do not use the karma labels to avoid confusion.

Underlying these labels would be an expanded, and scalable counter. To determine the range of the counter, one would set the increment for a category. If we select the increment to be 20, for instance, the counter would go from 0 to 101. A comment at 0 is 'bad', a comment at 101 is 'terrific', and everything else is evenly divided into groups of 20. For instance, the structure might look like
horrible 0
unrated 1-20
default 21-40
fine 41-60
great 61-80
terrif 81-100
super 101

In the discussion below I will assume that moderation counter starts at zero. I will also refer to the increment as defined above. As an aside, is feasible to make the increments nonlinear, and there are reasons to do this, but I believe the such functionally can be incorporated into the moderation procedure.

The next issue is the starting moderation based on Karma. Currently logged in users start at 1 and eventually get a point. If the user is subsequently very bad, they will lose the point. This system is effective, but imprecise. I feel it gives a new user excessive benefits, delays additional benefits until the user reaches top status, and does not quickly punish bad behavior. My suggestion is that anonymous users start at the low end of unrated, which in general is 1. All registered users would have their starting moderation calculated based on karma, as described below.

If we assume that the underlying karma count sets a neutral karma to zero and goes positive and negative with increasing and decreasing karma, we might calculate default moderation as

default_moderation=offset + karma*scale.

This equation has two variable. The first is offset, which is where we give logged in users a boost over anonymous users. For instance, if the offset is equal to the increment, a new logged in user will still start with 'unrated' comments, but a single moderation would guarantee the comment would become 'default'. The other variable is scale. To be consistent with the current system, this should cause a user with maximum karma to in the 'great' rating. This could be done by having each label change in karma add half the increment. Therefore, a karma of 'positive' and 'good' would make the moderation increasingly 'fine', while a karma of 'excellent' would have moderation in the middle of great. The application of this is that the default moderation is a continuous function based on karma, which we assume also changes continuously with user behavior.

Moderation itself should not change from the point of view of the moderator. The moderator will still choose a label and moderate. However, /. will now have fine control over the points awarded. For instance, each moderation might only award 3/4 of an increment. Or perhaps we want to encourage users to look for new good comments rather than just continue to moderated existing highly moderating comments, so we might only award 1/3 of an increment to any comment that is already 'terrific' Maybe we see that most comments posted in the first 5 minutes of an article are useless, so the moderators on those articles on get to award 1/3 of an increment until the comment reaches 'fine' status. Maybe we want to encourage moderators to look at new comments, so a moderator will only be able to award 1/4 increments to any comments that is past a certain time threshold. It may be decided that a funny comment is less valuable than an insightful comment, or an overrated tag is less valuable than a insightful tag. In summary, because moderators will still only have a certain number of moderations, regardless of the actual points awarded, the moderator can be discouraged from certain actions by making those actions less forceful.

There are several possible pitfalls in this proposal. First, the moderation of a comment will not necessarily lead to the change in moderation status for an article. This may confuse moderators. Second, communicating the variable moderation points may be prohibitively difficult. If such information is not communicated to user at the time of moderation, this proposal may not be an improvement over the current system. Third, an increased amount of computation may be necessary to display as moderation page. This increased load on the web-server may prove excessive.

A final comment on the '3 day limit' for moderation. I believe this limit is excessive and does not encourage the important activity of moderation. My suggestion is based on when the user logs into /. First, if a user does not log into /. within 24 hours of being awarded moderation points, the moderation points go back into the pool. If the user logs in within the 24 period, the user will then have 24 hours to use the points. If the points are not used in that period, they go back into the pool.


out come the freaks

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 11 years ago Dear is my friend--yet from my foe, as from my friend, comes good:
My friend shows what I can do, and my foe what I should.

--Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

I received an email recently about my sig. The email asked what was a freak. I wanted to answer that question in my journal. In addition, I also wanted to discuss why I chose to put Freaks in my sig instead of Fans.

First, what is a freak. If we look at the FAQ, we see that a freak is a person who has chosen you as a foe. This, in my opinion, is a much more significant event that another choosing you as a friend.

To get excessively philosophical, the act of choosing a foe is also an act of preparing for conflict. For some people this choice may be a petty expression of violence. However, for others it may a genuine declaration of the willingness to grow, learn and become a more complete person. As the quote above indicates, a foe can be the ideal way to discover what one should do. I hope to have the time to look at comments carefully enough to chose quality foes.


negative moderations

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 11 years ago I have been meta-moderating a lot lately. It is interesting to see how people use their moderation points, especially in modding down a post. If we look at the section of the FAQ on how moderation works, we see that we are to concentrate on modding good posting up, while reserving our negative points for for spam, true trolls, and the like.

Yet once again I saw a perfectly reasonable post marked off-topic, and I had to mark it as unfair. It was not exactly on-topic, but it was a valid and useful reply to the comment. Why a moderator would waste points marking it off-topic is beyond me. Were there not enough good comments that day? Are there some whose only mission in life is to to promote personal agendas? I do not know.

I try very hard to limit my negative moderation to truly harmful posts(goatse, etc). It seems if a post relates incorrect information, that post will invariable attract comments that correct the error, and those replies will usually get modded higher than the original comments.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

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>