Slashdot: News for Nerds


Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!



The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers

jddj Just gotta say: Hong Kong's MTR is ROCKTACULAR! (162 comments)

Nicest subway system I've been on anyplace, bar none. A continuous amazement, built at scale. Many thoughtful design tips (f.e. your subway card can be used to pay at the nearby 7-11 (yes, a real 7-11), and you don't get held up at the turnstile when your balance is too low to get out ('cause you have an on-card deposit)).

If they're using this Expert System to help make it rock so hard, good on 'em. The USA could take a NUMBER of pointers from this thing.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Replacing Paper With Tablets For Design Meetings?

jddj Re:Look at and Boardthing (143 comments)

(Replying to myself, yeah, I know...).

Should also point out that my research was around remote collaboration.

If you're all in the same room BY ALL MEANS USE PAPER!!!! Check out Leah Buley's work on Sketchboarding, and check out Design Studio Methodology.

There's absolutely NO reason to use remote/online collab tools over paper if you're all in the same place. You're closing off the cheapest and most flexible channel for a starter.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Replacing Paper With Tablets For Design Meetings?

jddj Re:Look at and Boardthing (143 comments)

In my 60 products, looked at these, and they're very nice, but they're expensive fixed-point solutions. Not the right thing for a home office, f.e. unless you're loaded.

Boardthing, and a few other applications will remember what you've done while nobody's logged in. Think of them as a little like Pintrest for business, but with design tools built in.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Replacing Paper With Tablets For Design Meetings?

jddj Re:Look at and Boardthing (143 comments)

Full Disc: I've taken a workshop with Dave Gray, who's driving Boardthing. I'd love it to be dominant. But it's not quite there yet.

I don't have any financial part in Not even a paying customer yet - trying to get it moving in my business.

I'm enthusiastic because I looked at 60+ tools and was disappointed often. Spent $300 of company money on some hardware that didn't work out. isn't perfect, doesn't do all I'd like (would like interactive whiteboarding, f.e.), but it's the best compromise I've found.

Don't have a dog in the hunt financially.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Replacing Paper With Tablets For Design Meetings?

jddj Look at and Boardthing (143 comments)

Boardthing is very exciting, but just coming along now. will let you collaboratively sketchboard, and has good mobile coverage on iOS and Android.

Have spent a lot of time researching collaborative sketching for design, and it's a real mess. There are some great collaborative whiteboards, but they're not evenly good on tablet and desktop, iOS and Android. Some need special ports. Some have presence and video/chat capability, but again, not evenly implemented everywhere. would be my first stop, after a lot of research.

about three weeks ago

How Disney Built and Programmed an Animatronic President

jddj Lincoln at '64 World's Fair (97 comments)

I saw Lincoln at the Fair, and my 5-year-old self was amazed. I knew it was a machine, as I had been told, on earth could it move and stand just like a person? It was breathtaking!

Over the years, I've wondered at roboticists having trouble mimicking human motion, or Asimo falling over. My first thought was always "Really? How hard can it be if they could do it in '64?"

Of course, with the passage of time, I've learned about the difference between a recorded demonstration and the ability to do arbitrary kinds of work, begun to realize the power management needs and controlled environment constraints that let them pull it off, but 50 years later, it remains a high-water mark for me in the simulation of human motion onstage.

I recently visited Kennedy Space Center, and enjoyed the (sorta) animatronic presentation on the moon landings, but the astronaut is a stationary stuffed suit. They spent their budget on putting a model LM down onstage, not the figure's motion. The seams show.

BTW, my 5-year-old self also straightened out a docent at the Fair. Seems this clown was telling people the X-15 launched like a rocket and landed like a plane. I'd just built the Revell B-52 with the X-15 under the wing, and knew better. Indignantly straightened his ass out. Hmmph!

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Minimum Programming Competence In Order To Get a Job?

jddj Re:Minimal Competence (466 comments)

If you're interested in coding, you should think about it as a career. If you're interested in coding beautifully, maybe not.

Though it's true, I've met a bunch of not-all-there programmers, part of the issue with code quality is that they don't have the luxury of forever refactoring.

Once a feature is done, the lid has to get slammed on it and nailed shut. If there's a bug that shows up during a warranty period, it might get fixed, but that won't involve a refactoring.

If a bug that's not a critical issue shows up outside of warranty, it gets put on the QC backlog, to be fixed...never. (One bug not considered critical by a team I once worked on: the mobile site won't let anyone who shows up with a mobile device log in. Has lasted > 1 year and still broken).

The factors that push the "finish it quick and never touch it again if you can help it" behavior are mainly aggressive schedules, and a desire to get home a little after 5PM.

Some of the best programmers I know work the vampire shift, drive their wife and kids nuts with it. But they don't work next to me in an enterprise.

If you're young, you can burn through the night, as I'd have done before the wife and kids (and to be sure, all my coding is hobby stuff, and I'm picky and refactor forever). Now, married, mortgaged and spawned, I have to pull 15 minutes together at a time to immerse myself before someone needs snot wiped or the house fixed. That or baffle my in-laws by coding like a madman and doing _nothing_else_ throughout the Thanksgiving weekend.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Minimum Programming Competence In Order To Get a Job?

jddj Good to go with minimal competence. (466 comments)

That seems to be what most of the programmers around me have.

about 2 months ago

It's World Password Day: Change Your Passwords

jddj I'll trick 'em all! (116 comments)


about 3 months ago

Lucasfilm Announces Break With Star Wars Expanded Universe

jddj But wait... (157 comments)

...What about "Children of Star Wars"? What about "Star Wars Messiah"? Does Leia kill herself? Is Luke Atredies REALLY the Kwisatz Haderach?

I realize this is George Lucas' universe, that he "made up myself", but come on, aren't there another nine books of story to tell?

about 3 months ago

GoPro Project Claims Technology Is Making People Lose Empathy For Homeless

jddj Re:GoPro makes dubious claim... (320 comments)


I haven't seen the project in TFA, but I HAVE seen an interaction design project where GoPro cameras were put on the heads of first-graders in a lunchroom.

I have to say, the experience of seeing a first-person view through the eyes of someone 5 years old was amazing and eye-opening. Certainly, I don't have direct access to the first-graders' thoughts, but I DO have a certain access to their experience through these recordings, which I wouldn't have but for this unique instrumentation.

Try it out before you knock it. I'd say that Glass could potentially do the same thing with the homeless, if people didn't look like such rich, entitled dorks wearing Glass. There are other lower-profile life-logging cameras which could do a good job of this (I've seen one in use. The owner said people never ask her about it). Nothing about the GoPro is so special to the task.

FYI, I work in User Experience and Interaction Design, don't own a GoPro, nor do I work for them or own stock in their firm.

about 3 months ago

Twitter Turns 8; May Drop Hashtags and @replies

jddj Re:Twitter killing off... itself (96 comments)

I _wish_ this would work, but tried so very hard, and put together a nice service - everything you could want, and it's made very little headway.

The real issue is this: Twitter has your friends. You can walk away from a service, but switching services means you're walking away from your friends, and most won't do that.

Twitter is sucking more and more, and will probably lose me at some point. But realistically, not yet.

about 4 months ago

Medicine Delivered By Flying Drones

jddj Hypo on a Hellfire? (43 comments)

They must have to carefully calibrate the size of the missile with the syringe on the tip!

about 4 months ago

The Era of Facebook Is an Anomaly

jddj Facebook is AOL. (260 comments)

Srsly. Don't get all exercised about it. It'll pass.

I'm actually kinda surprised FB aren't blanketing the nation with CD-ROMs.

about 4 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Should I Get Google Glass?

jddj Re:You'll regret being an early adopter. (421 comments)

I think I might pay $15 an hour not to ever wear 'em.

Several people had Glass at a recent conference I attended. Every time I saw one (my first live-and-in-person sightings), I thought "Oh, yeah, of course: they really DO make you look like a dork."

about 5 months ago

Microsoft Quietly Fixes Windows XP Resource Hog Problem

jddj Re:Everytime I posted about this sort of problem (246 comments)

Agree: my office XP laptop (with an i5) took 12 minutes to boot to where I could even crowbar Outlook open.

OTOH, my SSD-upgraded 2008 Mac Book Pro on Snow Leopard goes from cold metal to ready to work in 20 seconds.

about 6 months ago

Eye Tracking Coming To Video Games

jddj Hope this gets hacked for usability studies (102 comments)

Eye tracking in the usability world has been in the 4- and 5-figure range for a while. At least one cheap ($1200) option required that you wear heavyish headgear.

Tobii makes some of this usability eyetracking equipment, and it's my hope that this device will be adapted to work with the popular Morae usability recording software.

Eyetracking will be part of nearly everyone's usability toolkit, vs. an expensive luxury, if so.

It might hold possibilities for eyetracking studies on mobile software as well.

about 7 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?

jddj Re:Here's a brief list (796 comments)

Sorry, I think Catcher in the Rye is worth the read. Not life-changing, but yeah, read it - worthwhile.

++On The Road - awesome book - might supplement it with some third-party history of the beats.

Recommend Dune in the Science Fiction realm. Take the series as far as you wanna - but at least Dune.

Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug is essential for the web developer, and I think "Simple and Beautiful" by Giles Colburne a close second. Maybe top it with "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman - you'll never look at a door handle the same way again.

Recommend for ANY coder Kernigan and Ritchie "The C Programming Language" - such a brief tome, and a comprehensive document on how to write in the language that rocked the world. Would be a good read for any tech writer, as well.

Whatever they say about Steven Ambrose (and they say a WHOLE lot...accusations of plagarism, f.e.), "Undaunted Courage" presents the Lewis and Clark expedition in Technicolor - if only they could teach with books of this quality.

If you're gonna read any Stephen King, gotta read The Stand, for the sweep of it.

about 7 months ago

60% of Americans Unaware of Looming Incandescent Bulb Phase Out

jddj Re: What is the best way to buy some in bulk? (944 comments)

"LED bulbs are out of this world at Home Depot" Those prices are for 4- and 6-packs. Read your own search result. At between $10 and $12 for a Cree LED bulb at Home Depot, the price is right, and I'm VERY happy with equivalent light output, color temperature and performance with my Z-wave dimmers. No CFL or LED bulb so far has matched them. I've had to return one Cree bulb so far because it shipped with the glass envelope loose. Been perfect otherwise (4 bulbs installed for trial, roughly 6 months in). Full disclosure: I hold 100 shares of CREE. And this is my actual experience using the bulbs in my house.

about 7 months ago



Slashdot the victim of peering problems on Comcast?

jddj jddj writes  |  about 3 months ago

jddj (1085169) writes "Not sure how to tell you guys, but Slashdot won't load on my Comcast internet. Everything else appears fine. This has been going on all day (Tuesday).

Happening on multiple machines and mobiles on my home LAN. If I switch the same machine over to my VPN with a same-city exit point, Slashdot loads near-instantly in the same browser, same connection — just tunnelled over VPN.

Not a DNS problem, already checked. Loads fairly quickly on 4G LTE-connected mobile phone on VZW.

Ought to look into it..."

Link to Original Source

DroidX Does - have a self-destruct tab

jddj jddj writes  |  about 4 years ago

jddj (1085169) writes "New in the box, Motorola's new DroidX has a plastic tab on the back that says "PULL^". Owners that follow that instruction pull the plastic backing with the serial number and service ID out of the phone, and in the process immediately void their warranties (confirmed by talking to Motorola and Verizon). This is happening a lot. Our story and a picture link in the journal article."
Link to Original Source

jddj jddj writes  |  more than 7 years ago

jddj (1085169) writes "A USAF airman suffered second-degree burns during a testing exercise for a "non-lethal" weapon in south Georgia (the US state, not the nation) this week. The "Active Denial System" uses a beam of RF energy to make men, women and children in its path feel like they're about to catch fire.

The weapon is designed for crowd control, and is presently planned for use in Afghanistan. Curious minds wonder how long it'll be before the now-emerging western police states begin to use it for dispersal of lawful demonstrations — or even to prevent them by force of intimidation.

(NB: I initially thought this looked like it might go under "Wireless Networking", but thought better and filed under "Education". I'm thinking Pavlov. Are you?)"



DroidX does: have a self-destruct tab. Verizon: you voided your warranty

jddj jddj writes  |  about 4 years ago

As I write, my very geeky wife is involved in one of those sisyphean discussions with a phone company CSR.

Until an hour ago, she was delighted that her new DroidX had arrived, and that she was lucky enough to be one of the fortunate few with the latest hot phone.

On the back, in the battery compartment, the DroidX has a little tag that says "Pull". It looks a great deal like the tabs that manufacturers put in electronic devices to protect a factory battery from discharging before purchase. So my wife pulls. When she follows the phone's instructions, the insulation panel with the serial number and other phone ID information comes out of the phone completely, tearing the pull-tab in the process.

So she calls Verizon. Verizon's take: Not only did she "cut the sticker" (she did no such thing, it tore a bit when she pulled it), not only is it "her fault" (for following the instructions printed on the phone), but now Verizon claims the phone's warranty has been voided, and her only option is to buy yet another brand new phone.

And get this: since she's "voided her warranty" by following the instructions printed on the tab, she's no longer allowed the 30-day evaluation period. She's stuck with paying $500 for the phone AND a two-year get-out fee if we want to run screaming from this unforgivable customer service experience. We think. It's complicated. There were a few other options, all of which are lousy outcomes for us, and involved us spending more money on this brand new phone. We haven't even turned it on yet.

Wife's in tears. Son's in tears because everyone else is upset. Can this be the out-of-box experience Motorola had planned for us?

My wife says: "I think we've come to a point where companies have gotten so big they don't have to care about the individual customer. When you're as big as the GNP of a small country, a $500 phone doesn't seem like a big deal. When the policy is written, they try to write it so no one can get around the policy, even when it would make sense. No one is given autonomy to go outside the policy, even when it would make sense. And nobody that has the authority to make a change is even aware that the situation occurs unless it reaches the media. As companies get larger and larger, this is just gonna get worse".

Why do phone companies try so hard to drive away subscribers with top-tier data plans who buy the top-of-the-line phone?

Won't thousands of other people make exactly the same mistake with the phone?

By the way: the tab? It's to pull the battery out of the phone. Don't ask me why they couldn't just put in a little fingernail notch.

Updated July 21 1PM EDT -

Motorola has also confirmed that following the instruction to pull the tab voids the phone's warranty.

We're not the only ones who pulled the tab as instructed.

Updated July 22 4:41 PM EDT -

I'm going to guess that this problem will mainly show up for folks who've had their DroidX phones shipped to them. These phones ship without an installed battery and no explanation for the tab. Folks who buy the phone at the store will typically have the salesperson install the battery, and the first time they'll encounter the tab is in the act of popping the battery out of the phone.

To clarify - we think the phone will work just fine. The part that's made us so mad is that the warranty is now gone. What happens if something does go wrong?

Updated July 24 12:35 AM EDT - Resolved? Maybe...

The Mrs. spoke to a different rep from Motorola yesterday who said "Huh? That doesn't sound right. Hang on while I check with support...No, Verizon is crazy, you didn't void your warranty...".

That sounds pretty good, but he had no way to put it in writing. He did ask the Mrs. to call back Verizon with the Moto case number to help straighten out their support desk, and suggested he'd look into getting Moto's story straight.

That's some relief - the Mrs. is using her DroidX at last, and is mollified, and the youngun is sleeping well tonight.

BUT - we have recent verbal assurance from Moto that the warranty is not void, and prior text assurance from Moto that it is void. That's not the happiest of resolutions. Would like to say we're done, but would rather hear policy from Moto and Verizon that clears this all up.

Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

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

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account