×

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

Thank you!

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

Comments

top

"Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

hey! Re:Not their fault (337 comments)

Something worth considering. We associate snow with cold, so it's tempting to see more and frequent snowstorms as disproof that the planet is warning. However temperature is only one of the constraints on snow. The other is moisture.

I have lived here in Boston over fifty years, and in the 60s and 70s the December climate was bitterly cold and *bone dry*. In recent decades there has been a marked tendency toward warmer AND wetter Decembers and Januaries, and thus frequent significant snow storms in December (almost unheard of) and January (rare until the 90s).

This storm was particularly intense, and in my town got two feet or more. This has happened on six prior occasions, once in 1888, and five times since 1969.

2 hours ago
top

SpaceX, US Air Force Settle Spy Sat Dispute

hey! Re:Breaking Lockheed's grip on the military (80 comments)

They're absolutely desperate to get away from Lockheed.

That's sarcasm, right? Have you heard of the F-35?

Ha! That's an old one. After you find the golden rivet you can hop in your F-35 for a little snipe hunting.

yesterday
top

Bjarne Stroustrup Awarded 2015 Dahl-Nygaard Prize

hey! Re:Ppl who don't know C++ slamming C++ (190 comments)

Well it's been many, many years since I've used it, which was back in the late 80s and early 90s. My impression from this time is that C++ is unquestionably a work of genius, but that I didn't particularly like it. Part of that is that we didn't really know how to use it effectively. In that era most object oriented programmers used concrete inheritance way too much. Part of that is due to aspects of what we thought an OO language should have that turned out to add complexity while being only marginally useful in practice (e.g. multiple concrete inheritance and operator overloading).

But in terms of meeting its design goals C++ is a tour de force of ingenuity -- even if some of those goals are questionable by today's standards. The very fact that we know some of those features aren't necessarily ideal is because they were taken out of the realm of academic noodling and put into a practical and highly successful language that could tackle the problems of the day on the hardware of the day. It's hard to overstate the practical impact of C++ on the advancement of both theory and practice of software development.

Any prize for contributions to OO programming pretty that didn't include Stroustrup in its first recipients would be dubious.

3 days ago
top

Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

hey! Re:I have an even better idea (304 comments)

I have an even better idea: let's find a way to fix human beings so that they're perfectly consistent in their behavior.

While certainly taking demonstrably bad drivers off the road is a no-brainer, even good drivers have lapses. My teenaged son is learning to drive, and whenever someone does something like cut us off I make a point of saying we can't assume the driver did it on purpose, or did it because he was an inconsiderate or bad person. Even conscientious and courteous drivers make mistakes or have lapses of attention.

It's the law of large numbers. If you spend a few hours on the road, you'll encounter thousands of drivers. A few of them will be really horrible drivers who shouldn't be on the road. But a few will be conscientious drivers having a bad day, or even a bad 1500 milliseconds.

3 days ago
top

Senator Who Calls STEM Shortage a Hoax Appointed To Head Immigration

hey! Re:Bay Area (511 comments)

Er... maybe it's the companies (and now the state) you work for.

5 days ago
top

Senator Who Calls STEM Shortage a Hoax Appointed To Head Immigration

hey! Re:Yeah! (511 comments)

Don't worry. They'll find a way to disappoint you.

5 days ago
top

Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

hey! Re:Splits the community in half (808 comments)

An exhaust leak makes a car sound much, much LOUDER. How the heck does that give the impression that it has become less powerful?

I'll give you a hint. It begins with the letter "p" and rhymes with "mycology".

5 days ago
top

Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

hey! Re:Just give the option to turn it off... (808 comments)

As a cyclist, I can attest a Prius is not a totally silent vehicle. Nor, I am sure, is a Tesla although I've never encountered one on the road. The reason is tire noise.

For a modern car traveling at 20+ MPH and not accelerating, tire noise is the dominant sound. You can easily hear a car traveling at speed from a hundred yards or more away, almost entirely from the tire noise. The engine of a well-maintained car traveling at a constant 30 MPH might as well be totally silent.

At low speeds such as would be encountered in a parking lot or congested city street the engine noise is dominant, particularly because the car is doing a lot of accelerating and decelerating. At those speeds I think a modest synthesized engine sound is a very good idea, especially when you consider blind people and even more especially service dogs, who would have to be re-trained for some other kind of noise. There would be no need for the artificial sound once the car is at cruising speed.

5 days ago
top

Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

hey! Re:Splits the community in half (808 comments)

If you play a synthesized noise back through the car's sound system the energy wasted is negligible. And arguably, anything that serves a purpose isn't wasted, so long as it is done with minimum energy needed.

I actually kind of like the idea of synthesized sounds. Think of it as being like haptic feedback. Anyone who's ever driven a car with an exhaust leak knows the powerful illusion it creates that the car's engine has lost power. So why not use sound to convey feedback about what the car is doing -- in this case using lots more gasoline.

In fact I'd take it further. If the oil is low or past due for changing, why not pipe valve tapping sounds into the passenger compartment? Or if the pressure of a tire drops maybe impart a thrum to the steering wheel.

5 days ago
top

Blogger Who Revealed GOP Leader's KKK Ties Had Home Internet Lines Cut

hey! Re:Internet cables? (418 comments)

A jacketed linear medium which carries data is called a "cable" whether it's RG-6 coax, Cat 1 UTP, or fiber. And if that cable carries Internet traffic, it's perfectly reasonable to call it an "Internet cable". The only problem I have with "cut the Internet cables" is the superfluous pluralization, which I suspect is the product of an analogy with "cut the telephone wires", which in contrast is technically accurate because a telephone cable carries a twisted pair of wires. But if people use "Internet cables" because they're not precisely aware of what's in the innards of a cable, we'll just have to accept that. When people use a word it becomes their property, no matter how ignorant or uninterested they are. They always win in the end because it take no effort to sustain ignorance and lack of interest in the details.

I understand the impulse to language pedantry; my particular bugaboo is is the contemporary use of "broadband", which sets my teeth on edge. It's futile to object to how people use and understand a phrase. It's the result same inexorable process that makes Shakespeare incomprehensible to modern audiences without special training, and which will make *Star Wars* incomprehensible to future generations. I've seen fairly radical changes in my own 50 year lifetime, like the disappearance of the verb "shall" from everyday speech.

5 days ago
top

US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

hey! Re:Person who worked in mosquito control here. (666 comments)

Almost certainly would have been stolen for agricultural use. I've supported teams going to Africa and theft is extremely common in many of the places DDT would be needed the most. And it's unlikely that the theft of DDT would result in more people being fed in the long term, for reasons to numerous to go through.

In any case your post illustrates the problematic mindset I alluded to: the tendency to imagine DDT as a panacea, and a substitute for expertise and forethought. Eliminating DDT caused pest control to get a lot smarter and intelligently targeted, which was a good thing, and leads to more sustainable gains. Admittedly it''s harder work to make smart, informed decisions, than to spray and pray.

5 days ago
top

US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

hey! Person who worked in mosquito control here. (666 comments)

I spent many years working with vector borne disease control, so I actually know something about this. Let me suggest a slightly different way of thinking about DDT.

The problem isn't DDT per se, but how, where and when it is applied.

In WW2 draftees were dusted with DDT powder to kill body lice, and so far as we know no adverse health results resulted -- probably because there were none. That's because this *application* is benign. Likewise spraying house interiors with DDT is a cost effective, safe, and environmentally benign.

Indiscriminate fogging with DDT on the other hand is neither environmentally benign, nor in the long term effective. DDT is (potentially) great stuff, and therein lies the problem. It promises (to a certain kind of mentality) to take the brain-work out of deciding when and where to spray. It's tempting to roll the trucks with ULV sprayers and spray anywhere and anytime, and it will often produce dramatic effects in the short term for not much money. In the long term it produces a host of environmental problems, and pesticide resistance -- particularly if it enters aquatic habitat. For one thing, it is toxic to invertebrates. **That's why we use the stuff**. The problem is that it is non-specific, and it (and its toxic by-products) remain in the environment for years or decades. Modern alternatives break down rapidly into non-toxic byproducts. In fact DDT's persistence is what makes it highly desirable for in-house spraying. One spraying can last for a year or more. That's good when you want to kill everything, for a long time; but that's not what you want to do when you're applying outside. Many invertebrates are beneficial, or even indispensable.

It's notable that in the article you link only quotes papers from the '69 to '72 era when it comes to the ecological impacts of DDT. This smacks of cherry-picking. When an idea like eggshell thinning enters the scientific discourse, it is normal for evidence for and against the idea to be found in the literature. This means it is *always* possible to find early literature citations which appear to refute the current scientific consensus. A quick google scholar search for articles on eggshell thinning and DDT from 1975 on shows overwhelming evidence in support of the hypothesis. For example it reveals the reason that the early feeding studies cited failed to find eggshell thinning: in many species it is not DDT, but DDE (a by product of the environmental breakdown of DDT) that is the culprit.

That DDT per se is not particularly toxic to humans is no news to anyone. I was actually briefly part of a team that looked at ways of tracking DDT usage so that it could be used in house spraying in Africa. The problem is that in desperately poor countries stuff gets stolen, and the danger is that material intended for safe and environmentally benign domestic spraying would be diverted to agricultural use which while not particularly threatening to human health would have disastrous impact on environmental health and the economic activities that depend on that.

5 days ago
top

US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

hey! Re:Yep it is a scam (666 comments)

But with global warming you don't necessarily get warmer weather. That's because "warming" is a misnomer. What's actually going on is the total amount of kinetic energy in the atmosphere is going up. That means **on average** the globe is warmer, true, but nobody actually experiences the global average. They experience the **instantaneous local temperature**.

With a more energetic atmosphere, air masses move around more and differently. That means a lot of places will get stretches of unusually warm AND unusually cold weather. And some places will get wetter, and others drier. The hallmark of climate, as you are most likely to experience it personally, is what would be anomalous weather a few decades ago.

5 days ago
top

IEEE: New H-1B Bill Will "Help Destroy" US Tech Workforce

hey! Re:More US workers == offshoring?? (482 comments)

And what if you don't get the green card? Then you will go back home, and be the ideal candidate for offshoring the job you care currently doing -- although at much lower wages.

Understand, I *want* you to get the green card too. We should just issue more green cards faster to tech workers if we need them. If there is an H-1B program, it should be a fast track toward permanent residency.

Concentrations of tech workers *create* jobs. That's why Facebook moved from Boston to the Bay Area. Boston has plenty of tech talent for a small company, but if you're planning on growing from a half dozen to thousands of tech employees in three or four years the Bay Area is arguably the only place you can do that. So why would we want to kick tech talent out of the country? Only to send their jobs with them.

about two weeks ago
top

IEEE: New H-1B Bill Will "Help Destroy" US Tech Workforce

hey! Re:Protectionism never works (482 comments)

This has nothing to do with protectionism. Nobody is saying not let foreign software into the country.

As for foreign labor, I have no objection to bringing foreign labor in. My objection is kicking that labor out after it has gained experience. If there really was a tech worker shortage, these are the very workers we'd want to stay.

What this does is create a pool of offshore labor that's familiar with the work being done *here*. The obvious purpose is to use the immigration system to assist companies that want to relocate work overseas. And there's nothing special about American tech people; anything we can do can be done in India or Ukraine. That's fine, but I don't think the US government should be in the business of making it attractive for companies to move jobs overseas.

It's something so irrational (if we were to assume for the moment that the US government works for the welfare of the American people) there isn't even a word for it. It's the mirror image of protectionism. It's self-predation.

about two weeks ago
top

Microsoft Ends Mainstream Support For Windows 7

hey! Re:Windows 7 was/is a capable OS (639 comments)

Well, Windows 8 is a capable OS too. It's just got a somewhat awkward and unfamiliar graphical shell.

I don't even hate the Windows 8 shell; I pretty much take it for granted that modern desktop shells suck. That's because designers keep trying to get them to do more for users, when users don't really need *more*; they need the shell to do what they want, when they want it, and then stay the hell out of the way. On top of that there's the unfamiliarity. Windows has always UI problems with putting a cheery facade over a complex train wreck, but the fact that they keep changing the signposts.

I just roll with it. It's like learning to conjugate irregular verbs when you're mastering a language, only they keep changing them every few years. As an *OS*, apart from the somewhat confusing shell, I have no complaints about Windows 8, unlike Vista, whose aggressive "optimizations" broke a number of tools I use regularly. It's all increasingly peripheral, anyway, as more information is managed through the web. The desktop is no longer the focus of the user's experience, it's just a terminal.

about two weeks ago
top

Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More?

hey! Re:Floppy drives (790 comments)

I've heard this story, but it was after my time there. It's definitely in the classic style of MIT lame nerd humor. There's an often element of ironic self-deprecation in MIT humor.

Up until the 80s at least MIT had an archaic phone system in all the dorms. It was almost certainly maintained in part by student labor, since due to tuition costs most students had work study jobs -- often quite technical.

about two weeks ago
top

Chilling Effects DMCA Archive Censors Itself

hey! Re:I smell a rat (88 comments)

Well, there actually is a legitimate issue here.

Not every takedown notice in the Chilling Effects database is bogus. By putting the text of legitimate notices in a searchable database, Chilling Effects can be used to find infringing content. For example I didn't see "Interstellar" when it was in the theaters near me. Using Chilling Effects I very easily found a number of sites offering bootleg downloads.

If Google removes an infringing link from search result, having the takedown notice copy stored at Chilling Effects appear in Google search result effectively nullifies the takedown. The offending URL is right there in the takedown text.

So what is being balanced here is Chilling Effects' mission -- serving as a database for researching takedowns -- vs. the legitimate copyright interests of the people issuing the takedowns. It won't stop legitimate or illegitimate users of the Chilling Effects database, but it won't guide casual search engine users to infringing content either.

Of course this won't satisfy intellectual property interest groups, whose only mode of operation appears to be "scorched earth".

about two weeks ago
top

AirAsia QZ8501 Black Box Found

hey! Re:time constraints? (95 comments)

Diving to 30+ meters? Probably air. And I'm guessing it's probably not a good idea to work divers to exhaustion.

about two weeks ago
top

Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More?

hey! Re:Floppy drives (790 comments)

They still use dot matrix printers in some rental car agencies -- if you're getting nostalgic.

As for the old rotary phones they were quite ingenious. The technology didn't exist to have out-of-band signaling between the terminal (phone) and the central office switch. Instead as he dial unwound it would interrupt the circuit between the phone and the switching station, essentially hanging up very briefly. Each of these brief pulses in the circuit current would rotate a series of servos at the switching office by certain amounts. What that meant was that you could dial a phone buy tapping the receiver cradle at a certain speed. When I say "you could" I mean in the same sense as "you can pick a lock with a piece of bent wire and a thin lever." In other words your mileage may vary.

When I was an MIT student a club I was in had a lock on their phone's dial to prevent people making unauthorized calls (long distance call used to cost lots of money. The lock was next to useless because so many people knew how to dial phones by tapping the number out on the receiver cradle.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

top

Paypal Forces E-Book Sellers to censor Erotic Content.

hey! hey! writes  |  about 2 years ago

hey! (33014) writes "On February 18 of this year, global giant payment processor PayPal sent eBook publisher Smashwords an ultimatum: if Smashwords didn't remove all eBooks with certain erotic content from its catalog in the next several days, PayPal would immediately stop handling payments.

Smashword's TOS already precluded child pornography, but now PayPal wants them to also censor depictions of consenting, non-related adults acting out incest fantasies. Likewise fantasy novels in which human characters transform into non-humans are affected if those characters have sex. ZDNet has a summary of the impact of these changes, which would among other things ban Vladmir Nabokov's *Lolita*.

As outrage mounts, finger pointing is in full swing. Smashwords blames PayPal, and PayPal blames the banks it deals with. The crux seems to be that erotica buyers have a higher rate of "chargebacks" — customers who buy stuff then demand their money back. Fair enough, but is a customer really more likely to return a book because it depicts one kind of fantasy between consenting adults vs. another? Perhaps the problem is just the quality of writing."

Link to Original Source
top

hey! hey! writes  |  more than 7 years ago

hey! writes "Fantasy author Lloyd Alexander, author of the Chronicles of Pyrdain, Time Cat, and the Westmark trilogy passed away last week at the age of 83.

Alexander, who graduated high school at the age of fifteen, left college at the age of nineteen to serve in World War 2, where he rose to the rank of staff sargeant in the Army's intelligence service. He received his intelligence training in Wales, and became fascinated with the country's romantic history and literature. The Chronicles of Pyrdain, his best known works, are set in an imaginary land resembling the mythical Wales, and draw heavily upon the medieval Welsh Mabinogion for inspiration. That series won two Newberry Awards, one for the second book in the series, The Black Cauldron, and another for The High King, the final novel length work set in the Pyrdain universe. He received or was nominated for many other prestigious awards.

Alexander published his first work in 1955, the year after Tolkien published The Fellowship of the Ring, and the next decades saw many attempts to follow in Tolkien's footsteps. Like C.S. Lewis, Alexander remained firmly outside that stream of High Fantasy literature, writing in the simpler language of the young adult literature market. But while Alexander did not write with the elaborate theological symbolism of Tolkien or Lewis, his works often have an similar (if humanistic) moral gravity, touching as they do on themes of heroism, loss, and even political irony. In his own words:

"In whatever guise — our own daily nightmares of war, intolerance, inhumanity; or the struggles of an Assistant Pig-Keeper against the Lord of Death — the problems are agonizingly familiar. And an openness to compassion, love and mercy is as essential to us here and now as it is to any inhabitant of an imaginary kingdom."


I have written an appreciation of Lloyd Alexander. For more information, refer to his Wikipedia entry and his NY Times obituary. Lloyd Alexaner (1924-2007), rest in peace."
top

hey! hey! writes  |  more than 7 years ago

hey! (33014) writes "As many of you are aware, the folks who engineered the merger of Daimler-Benz and Chryslter into DaimlerChrysler are having second thoughts. Chrysler has a long history of doing interesting things, but they also have a long history of financial ups and downs. And current management is eager unload Chrysler while the unloading is good.

Meanwhile, while Chrysler's situation is precarious, Al Gore's stock is at an all time high. He just starred in a smash hit, double Oscar winning movie. He's just been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. And the public seems to have decided that his impassioned opposition to the Iraq war was not, after all, a sign of mental instability. In short, although it seems incredible, Al Gore has become cool. If there were any doubt of it, he has been awarded an Emmy, not for his nascent work in TV, but a special award designated for those "touch our common humanity". In other words an award for cool people.

It's been widely speculated that Gore could let the Clinton and Obama wound each other over the Democratic nomination for a few months, then step in for a last minute coronation. On the other hand Rick Haglund, a Michigan journalist who covers the auto industry, puts one and one together and comes up with this intriguing idea: Gore should make a play for Chrysler. Gore even has his own VC firm to do it. Should he put his investor's money where his mouth is, or should he go for a fourth run at the presidency?"
top

hey! hey! writes  |  more than 8 years ago

hey! (33014) writes "The Bush administration has announced a new space security policy, which includes the statement that "Consistent with this policy, the United States will preserve its rights, capabilities and freedom of action in space ... and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests."

Strictly speaking, this doesn't say that the US policy is to deny space access to hostile countries. It just says that the US can do so if it is "necessary". Possibly this is meant to cover situations similar to those in which we would deny a hostile seafaring nation access to non-territorial waters. While attacking hostile assets in space would be a regrettable scenario, it is probably inevitable that spacefaring nations contemplate this. Even so, this has been widely reported as a kind of declaration of space imperialism by the US (e.g., "US spreads its wings over space control", "US turns space into its colony", and "America wants it all — life, the Universe and everything"), whereas China's blinding of a US satellite a few weeks ago was largely tolerated or even lauded. Could US international prestige possibly sink lower?"

Journals

top

Geez, I'm starting to get cranky

hey! hey! writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I've done two posts today in which I call the subject of an article "stupid" (example 1 and exzample 2).

I have to watch it. It's a bad habit to start thinking of yourself as superior.

top

Two questions

hey! hey! writes  |  more than 10 years ago

Just an experiment. I'd like to know two things.

(1) Does anyone read journal entries?

(2) How do people find journal entries they might want to read?

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?