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Will You Even Notice the Impending Robot Uprising?

fizzup Re:Nope. People will deny that they are robots. (246 comments)

Well, I'll admit that the train is, in fact, in communication with a central server that controls the trains. I guess that makes them remote-controlled. I'll even admit that humans monitor the performance of the train system. However, humans only drive the trains in exceptional circumstances. I've seen it happen a few times, and you can watch up close because there is no enclosed space or seat for the driver. They just unlock the cabinet that's in the passenger compartment and tell the control center that they're taking over using their handheld radio. This is what it looks like.

As it happens, I toured the control center with my son's cub pack (younger than scouts). I asked if they employed more or fewer monitors/controllers than a system with human-driven trains. They said they had about the same number. There were less than 10 people in the control center, including supervisors and the tour guide with a few to several dozen trains running at any one time on two lines.

During the last transit strike, the trains kept running with a normal schedule. Driverless. Really, truly. Nobody there. Crickets.

You could say that the entire system is a robot (rather than each individual train), but I don't think these trains are drones under any meaningful definition. They are not driven by people. They are autonomous machines monitored by people, and the monitoring is about as rigorous as for the New York Subway.

about 4 months ago

Will You Even Notice the Impending Robot Uprising?

fizzup Nope. People will deny that they are robots. (246 comments)

I take a train to work (and home again) that has no driver. Yet, to a person, everybody disagrees with me that a robot drives me to work.

about 4 months ago

Man Trying To Fly Across the Atlantic On Helium Balloons

fizzup Re:waste of helium. (92 comments)

...even if wastefully vented just stays in the atmosphere where it can be recovered by other means.

Nope. Helium and hydrogen get fast enough at altitude to achieve escape velocity. Due to atmospheric escape, the concentration of helium in the atmosphere is relatively constant at about 5 ppm. That is a ridiculously low concentration. It is absolutely not economic to extract helium from the atmosphere. Liquid helium is less expensive than scotch, and you wouldn't try to extract a cask after it was poured into a swimming pool.

about 7 months ago

Is the Stable Linux Kernel Moving Too Fast?

fizzup That's what he said! (156 comments)

I mistakenly didn't pull it out in time.

about 7 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Request Someone To Send Me a Public Key?

fizzup Re:Trying Again (399 comments)

You should not let a missing explanation bother you. You will never get an explanation for any moderation. When you moderate a comment and then submit a comment on the same post, the system undoes your moderation. However, Slashdot's moderation is slightly less ham fisted than most. The system lets you pick a single word that lets the commenter know why his comment is moderated the way it is.

Your previous comment was moderated "Offtopic." Kudos to the moderator that did it. From the original post,

My question is, what is the proper wording for such a request?

You haven't answered his simple question. You haven't done it twice. In two tries.

I have mod points and I was about to give your second comment the same moderation, but I won't be able to do it now because of this explanation. Enjoy it, but expect another moderator to give you "Offtopic" on your second comment, too.

about 8 months ago

Chrome's Insane Password Security Strategy

fizzup Re:A helpful crutch (482 comments)

Don't do this. It basically puts your passwords (their building blocks, really) in clear text in your command history. It's not any greater security than Chrome has when someone has physical access, and it is significantly less convenient.

about 8 months ago

Describe Any Location On Earth In 3 Words

fizzup I think it's a neat idea, but no semantics (478 comments)

Without meaning, it's hard to ever find a place. The obvious way to use it is to find a memorable 3x3 spot near where you want to record. However, similar names are a long way apart. For example, fired.hotel.resident is in Papua, New Guinea; however, the semantically similar fired.hotel.dweller is in Germany.

Without similar names referring to similar places, like country.region.city.street.house does naturally, the service is not that helpful. Even if you had more words to remember, it would be better to have a hierarchical representation of places so that nearby names referred to nearby places.

about 9 months ago

Describe Any Location On Earth In 3 Words

fizzup Re:another.useless.service (478 comments)

I dunno. I'm having some fun with it: "another.useless.service" is on Outtrim Avenue in the southern suburbs of Canberra, Australia.

about 9 months ago

Describe Any Location On Earth In 3 Words

fizzup Re:1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052 (478 comments)

For what it's worth, that's a spot on the shore of God's Lake in northern Manitoba. Not a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there either.

about 9 months ago

Neuroscientist: First-Ever Human Head Transplant Is Now Possible

fizzup Re:head transplant, or body transplant? (522 comments)

Or like a terrible pump design. Intelligent design my ass, more like idiotic design.


  1. 300 liters per hour.
  2. 100% duty cycle.
  3. 75 year MTBF.


about 10 months ago

Bill "The Science Guy" Nye Says Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children

fizzup Re:Yes! (1774 comments)

I have a similar story from my own childhood. One summer, when we were driving through Osoyoos, the VW Rabbit overheated and we needed to stop and get it repaired. This was in the late '70s, and "foreign" cars breaking down in small towns was cause for a serious over-charging at the service station. A thousand dollars later, we're back in the Rabbit heading up the steep hill on the Crowsnest Highway heading east. It's a steep climb out of the desert, so we're all on tenterhooks to see if the car is actually repaired. Mom is seriously pissed about the overcharging, but when she looked back at the evil city she turned into a telephone pole.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: How Would Room-Temp Superconductors Affect Us?

fizzup It would make rooms a lot colder. (262 comments)

Could you imagine? You'd have to collect all that condensed air...

about 2 years ago

Nomad Planets: Stepping Stones To Interstellar Space?

fizzup Re:Too Bad (244 comments)

Option 1. Accelerate half the way there at 9.81 m/s/s, then turn around and decelerate at 9.81 m/s/s.

Option 2. Travel at a constant speed, but spin the craft about it's axis such that the outside shell of the craft has centripetal acceleration of 9.81 m/s/s. Live on the inside using the craft's wall as a floor.

more than 2 years ago

Your Next TV Interface Will Be a Tablet

fizzup Wireless keyboard/trackpad combo (210 comments)

On my MythTV box I use a wireless keyboard and trackpad on a single device. It turns my TV into a computer monitor, and I find the interface quite pleasing.

more than 2 years ago

Don't Worry About Global Warming, Say 16 Scientists in the WSJ

fizzup Re:And this is why alarmists come off as flakes (1367 comments)

I know that it's counter-intuitive, but the mass of CO2 created by burning a kilogram of gasoline is greater than one kilogram. Volume isn't very interesting, because CO2 is a gas and gasoline is a liquid, so it's no surprise that the volume of gas created is greater than the initial volume of gasoline. This fact (that the CO2 is more massy than the gasoline) is counter-intuitive because most people naively apply conservation of mass to the problem, and say most of what is produced is water, so the mass of CO2 must necessarily be less than the mass of gasoline. This is how folks get tripped up: the oxygen has mass, and a lot of it.

Gasoline is a mix of chemicals, isooctane, butane, and many others, but it's actually pretty close to CH2 in composition. Maybe something like CH2.5. To a first approximation, every carbon atom in gasoline is part of a CO2 molecule after combustion. Some of it is just carbon (soot) and some of it is CO, but the biggest component is CO2. Oxygen is 16 times as massive as hydrogen, so after combustion the mass of CO2 is greater than the mass of gasoline you burned.

here is a reference that describes the situation in greater detail.

more than 2 years ago

Makers Keep Flogging 3D TV, Viewers Keep Shrugging

fizzup Re:Some of us... (457 comments)

LASIK is a gimmick...

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: How To Get Non-Developers To Send Meaningful Bug Reports?

fizzup Re:More pressing question (360 comments)

How do you get people (customers, bosses, etc._ to prioritize things like bug reports as anything other than "highest"?

You say, as respectfully as you can muster, "This is your opportunity to provide input on the order in which the work should be done. If you don't prioritize then you let the developers decide what's important. After all we have to do the work in some sequence. We will do our best, but we can't prioritize as well as you can. Please help us to succeed. Can you identify the ten most important defects/use cases/whatever?"

The first time you do this you will get some crazy priorities. At a very immature organization that I once worked for, we had a meeting to prioritize 1-2-3. The meeting went like this, "That's a one. That's a one. Hmm. That's a one. That's a one. Hmm, gee. Aaahhh. That's a zero..." No kidding, we left the meeting with two dozen ones and a few zeroes, but I was pretty happy about it - progress!

Another thing that can be effective, though belligerent, if you have a priority-setting session that goes off the rails is to scan the list of items in the largest tranche of like priorities (usually the highest) and find the easiest or most enjoyable one to work. Tell the group that's the first one the team will work on, and tell them why: because it's easy, fun, whatever. Even better if you can list a handful of items like that. After saying it, you will get a new higher-than-high priority class, because the easiest and most fun item is never the most important. Beware, though. This will get you what you want, but you will piss somebody off for being lazy or looking to have fun at a sweatshop.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Does Being 'Loyal' Pay As a Developer?

fizzup Quit right away. (735 comments)

You think that your management is inside your circle of friends, but they would do anything for money. Maybe they wouldn't kill your grandmother, not sure. In business, this is called "making the hard decisions." You have to do it to manage people. In business, this is called "playing with the big boys."

You must quit your job now, because you have an unhealthy relationship with your coworkers and bosses. You will be badly hurt if they ever have to let you go, and it will take a long time to recover from it at a time when you will have to search for a job.

more than 2 years ago


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