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!



Can You Buy a License To Speed In California?

pla Re:So you CAN buy a license to speed (325 comments)

Why not use a mass transit service like subway or tram?

I suspect you meant that tongue-in-cheek, but if not...

The nearest subway stop to me: 213 miles.
The nearest passenger train stop: 90 miles.
The nearest bus stop? 24 miles.

Hell, the nearest taxi service won't even come to my house unless I prepay by credit card.

And although you could fairly say that I live in the middle of nowhere, I actually live in a fairly densely populated region of the country, just not inside an actual city. The US just plain has fuck-all for realistic public transportation.

about a week ago

GM Names Names, Suspends Two Engineers Over Ignition-Switch Safety

pla Re:Hero ? (236 comments)

Sure, management wouldn't let him make the change and that is bad.

With this going so high that congress dragged the CEO in to lie to them that this involved anything more than "cheaper to let you die", by naming these two engineers, GM has just given them the power to completely ruin the company.

"We tried to do the right thing and management thwarted us at every turn". Done in one, the CEO just perjured herself before congress, and the class action liability suits put GM (back) into bankruptcy (where they belong).

Unfortunately in this case, engineers tend to have too strong of a "boyscout" streak in them, and the ones implicated here will probably just do their best to ignore the fact that GM just threw them under the bus for following orders.

Or put another way - I don't work in an industry that seriously puts people's lives in danger, and legal would goose-step me out of the goddamned building before they let me do something like GM claims these two engineers did "on their own". So an entire multinational supply and manufacturing chain of command just quietly went along with the whims of two peons that massively violated protocol? Bullshit.

about a week ago

Can You Buy a License To Speed In California?

pla Re:So you CAN buy a license to speed (325 comments)

I don't know about California, but in Oklahoma a speeding ticket is going to cost you at least $200. If you avoid two tickets a year, it would pay for itself in 12.5 years.

No one really cares about the tickets themselves. For someone making $200k a year, they would gladly pay $200 every week for the right to zip through crawling traffic.

The real problem comes from getting "points" and the eventual loss of your license. And once that happens, you have drive like a frickin' choirboy or they start giving out real punishments, like spending weekends in a cage (c'mon, let's not pretend people actually stop driving when they lose their license - In 99% of the US, "not driving" amounts to a sentence of death-by-life-on-welfare).

about a week ago

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Unix Admins

pla Re:Rebooting is not a fix (136 comments)

For some reason, Windows admins have been trained to reboot immediately when things don't work well rather than to figure out why something is failing.

Because in the Windows world, I usually don't have the luxury of digging into the kernel's or driver's source code to figure out exactly why it has stopped behaving correctly. If it doesn't log any errors, doesn't export any useful diagnostic messages, doesn't outright crash on reproducible conditions, and just stops working "right", your avenues of further inquiry get very very ugly, very fast.

I can reboot a VM in well under a minute. For any nontrivial problem that happens roughly twice a month and a reboot makes it go away, it would take twenty years of rebooting to justify spending an entire eight hour day diagnosing the root cause.

And I say that as someone who (in the Linux world) has written his own kernel patches to work around buggy hardware. In Windows, just not worth the time; because even if you do successfully diagnose the problem, you may well have no ability to correct it.

about a week ago

Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code

pla Re:Right! (578 comments)

I'm pretty sure that you can't teach politicians to code either, they just don't have the intellectual capability to handle such a task.

The bigger problem I see with teaching politicians to code comes from their comprehension of boolean logic. In computer science, we constantly evaluate the truth of various simple expressions. In politics, their entire career depends on their ability to obfuscate the truth of insanely complex issues in such a way as to make them look true (or false) based on the interest of their highest bidder. ;)

More seriously, though, I have to agree with Bloomberg. Not everyone can code, and of those who have the raw capacity to learn it, many of them would hate actually doing it. Coding requires going into an almost trancelike state for hours at a time, sitting motionless while visualizing the flow of data through complex control structures and eventually interacting with some form of I/O. You try to stick a traditional manual laborer (I mean that in the good way - The kind of guy who enjoys nothing more than an honest day's hard work) into that seat for ten hours, and watch him slowly go crazy.

about a week ago

Nat Geo Writer: Science Is Running Out of "Great" Things To Discover

pla Re:I've heard this one before ... (292 comments)

Personally, I find it just hilarious that TFA fails to recognize two points:

First, that our inability to live long enough to win a prize that takes a 150 year career directly highlights a domain of science that we still have some pretty amazing leaps left to take.

And second, that a NatGeo author of all people would dare to write about another discipline running out of material - How many indigenous tribes do you have left to exploit for stories, NG? And will you do the honorable thing and close up shop when you finally run out, or will you just turn into yet another travel-n'-tourism rag? ;)

We can talk about this again when a human born on Earth can someday physically walk on another habitable planet. I can think of three completely-physically-possible ways to accomplish that, without even giving it much thought: Living forever (with enough energy and the right tools, we can repair anything); near-infinite free energy (fusion) combined with time dilation, uploading your consciousness to a clone made, at the receiving end, from your own digitized and transmitted DNA. Any combination of just those alone would completely reshape human existence, and don't even require getting into the "maybe but probably not" methods like FTL travel or wormholes.

This really doesn't take much effort, you poor uncreative bastard (not you, parent poster - the TFA author). Pick something you can't do that the laws of physics don't outright ban (and even some of those might have a way to "bend" them, if not outright break them). Pick something obvious we have almost no understanding of - gravity; what your dog really wants for dinner; the size of the universe (the Hubble Radius merely describes our causal universe - We actually can't tell whether or not we live in an infinite universe); how to feed everyone in a world that throws away more food than it actually needs; fuckin' magnets (as Hofstadter said, "greenness dissolves" - You can't explain macroscopic effects with turtles all the way down); why hot models like ugly singers; what "causes" radioactive decay; why writers in a dying genre feel the need to prove their inadequacy in other domains of knowledge - And you'll have a breakthrough just waiting to happen.

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?

pla Re:Should be objective, not biased... (451 comments)

a bog-standard usb/spdif dongle that I own and use from time to time won't work on win7/64. no driver on earth for it. 32bit, yes. 64, no.

So to keep a $30 USB audio dongle working, you plan to forgo all the advantages that come with more than 4GB of RAM?

And you realize, of course, that within the next year or two you'll start seeing more "can't live without it" software no longer releasing 32bit builds?

throwing away working hardware is a sin.

Ever heard of the Sunk Cost fallacy?

about two weeks ago

Under the Chassis: A Look At Tesla's Battery Shield

pla Gonna go with "no" on this one. (152 comments)

Do these updates look like they'll solve Tesla's problems?

Since Tesla's biggest problems come from buggy whip... I mean, car dealership... protectionism, combined with a dislike bordering on zealotry from a media that still considers the Chevy L88 as the engine to beat for every compact sedan they review?

No. No, these updates will not solve Tesla's problems.

about two weeks ago

How much do you spend yearly on mobile apps?

pla Re:WOWZA! (240 comments)

If the people on /. don't see the worth of buying decent mobile apps - what's the point of them other than to advertise and hijack the masses?

I pretty much only use my tablet as a web browser (and in private browsing / incognito mode by default), and occasionally as a test bed for my own apps (nothing published, just for the hell of it). I can get to virtually any "productivity" tool I need via browser, and for the few things I can't, we have RDP. I can also get to more games than I can ever possibly get sick of via browser; and while they may or may not contain ads, it doesn't much matter - My usage pattern provides a practical privacy barrier in two senses; first, it limits the access of the sites I visit to access my personal information stored on the tablet; and second, it limits the amount of personal information actually stored on the tablet in the first place.

I can count the number of things actually "installed" on my tablet on one hand... A PDF viewer (and I won't count my plain-PDF library of a few hundred books as "apps"), a couple open-source games (for airplane mode), and an offline mapping/gps thingamabob that lets me follow my position on a "live" map even in airplane mode.

about two weeks ago

Meet the Diehards Who Refuse To Move On From Windows XP

pla Re:Good for you. (641 comments)

I'm not sure where your 98% statistic comes from

You'll notice my first sentence echos the GP's almost word for word. I'll readily admit that as hyperbole, but I didn't start it.

As for those old win98 and 2000 systems you mention - I have had the "pleasure" of helping people upgrade from them, years after they went EoL. One word: Ugly. These things pick up so much malware (not even counting the viruses you can't see, just the obvious shit that doesn't even try to hide) you may as well just publish your PII on the front page of the NYT.

Yes, you can take some steps to minimize the damage, and if you have a realistic upgrade path in the next month, I wouldn't completely panic about missing today's XP EoL deadline. If, however, you just plan to keep using it indefinitely until Microsoft gives in and decides to go back to the look and feel of Win95... What can I say but "Thanks for the contribution to my retirement fund" when you need someone like me to clean up your mess in a few years. :)

about two weeks ago

Meet the Diehards Who Refuse To Move On From Windows XP

pla Re:Good for you. (641 comments)

and yet his efforts will probably stop 99.9% of the crap that affects "modern" Windows versions with their clueless users.

99% of the crap that affects "modern" versions of windows makes use of bugs that date back to the days of XP and older. And as these long-standing bugs get discovered and patched, effectively the very act of MS releasing a patch will serve as an advertisement to the world of malware about the existence of a new XP exploit that will never get closed.

Continuing to use XP for any box either connected to the network or publicly-accessible (ie, kiosks) at this point amounts to begging the world to hack you - Nothing short of willful negligence.

about two weeks ago

Why Are We Made of Matter?

pla Re:Something From Nothing. (393 comments)

Wouldn't you prefer that they create conditions where students learn a lot more? After all, failure isn't an objective.

If I believed in the trivially-false progressive delusion that no dumb kids exist? Sure. I would also prefer that the Rockefellers give everyone a gold-shitting unicorn when they turn 18.

In this world, however, a good three quarters of people shouldn't go to college. If we want to elevate the "trade" schools to have a "similar" status (with a wink and a nod), hey, great. But when we push everyone to go to college and then half the incoming freshmen need to take remedial math and English... Then no, failing half the freshmen out in their first semester would provide the greatest benefit to everyone. It would save those who don't belong there a ton of money; and when when you pack a real class with morons, they distract from the actual instruction time for people who do belong there.

TLDR: Yes, Virginia, there are stupid questions. And you waste the class time I paid for by asking an awfully lot of them.

/ Hint #1 that you don't belong in college: If you feel the need to waste class time arguing with the professor about how he grades (particularly about how much partial credit he gives wrong answers) - Just go home.

about two weeks ago

It's Time To Plug the Loopholes In Pipeline Regulation

pla Re:Money money money (163 comments)

Yes, it is. What you meant to say was, "I find it unlikely that anyone would offer me what I consider my home and experiences to be worth."

Fair enough, but it amounts to the same thing under the present discussion. Of course someone could conceivably offer me enough money that I would gladly take it and buy my own private Caribbean island. I won't hold my breath on RDS offering me $100M for my 3Br cape in the middle of nowhere, however.

Please be more clear with your wording in the future. Blatant trolling like the above does no-one any good.

My wording perfectly communicated my intent, although I will admit to a bit (and just a bit, not anything over the top) of hyperbole - Though make no mistake, people do exist who wouldn't voluntarily sell at any price. I certainly wouldn't go so far as to call my comment "trolling", though - I meant every word of what I said. People bought out under eminent domain seizures - Or in this case, under "oops we turned your block into a hazardous waste dump, collect your $300k checks on the way out of town" conditions don't get compensated for their emotional investment in their property. Simple as that.

You want "fair" compensation, or the closest thing we can get to it? Every time we hear about one of these minor disasters, the CEO's family homestead gets bulldozed and turned into high-end luxury housing for everyone displaced. CEO doesn't have enough land? Work through the entire board until everyone has a new place to live. Of course, that would often fail because the soulless CEO finds it more convenient to live in a series of condos scattered across the world, but we can at least try to demonstrate to these scum why I wouldn't sell my home for twice its appraised value.

about two weeks ago

Why Are We Made of Matter?

pla Re:Something From Nothing. (393 comments)

There's a video of someone asking astronomy graduates from an Ivy League university what causes the phases of the moon and the seasons, and most cannot answer.

And I graduated from a state school known for its quality engineering programs with a degree in CS, and half my graduating class could barely write HTML, much less actually code.

Unfortunately, the reality of a modern college education has become more a matter of opportunity than actual rigor. I would love to see colleges failing out half their freshman classes - except, that ignores the reality of the modern college as a business rather than an institution of higher learning. Bad for business, having a reputation for "firing" the majority of your clients.

Make no mistake, you can still get a lot out of a college education - I like to believe I took full advantage of my time there. But you can also get by with an insultingly high GPA (we can't just "pass" them, every precious little snowflake deserves A's, dontchaknow) just by showing up.

That said... I have trouble believing that astronomy graduates can't visualize how the steadily changing angle from which we view a 50% illuminated sphere gives rise to the appearance of "phases"... The light half of it shadows the dark half, and we see part of both from a sideways perspective.

about two weeks ago

It's Time To Plug the Loopholes In Pipeline Regulation

pla Re:Money money money (163 comments)

I answered your actual question. Now, you' seem to be mocking it, based on how my answer does not apply to a question you did not ask

Fair enough. I should not have mocked your answer, and I apologize for doing so.

I thought it clear, though (from my subject, if nothing else), that I asked my original question rhetorically. I simply don't find that even remotely an acceptable answer.

about two weeks ago

It's Time To Plug the Loopholes In Pipeline Regulation

pla Re:Money money money (163 comments)

Anyone exposed to the oil, or with property damage, will be compensated.

"Home" does not count as fungible.

The value to me of the place I've chosen to settle down far exceeds its market value. Yeah, great, they destroyed some houses and will pay for them plus a few grand extra as a "nuisance" fee; except they didn't destroy "some houses", they destroyed a neighborhood.

You can't just pay me off for my sunny spot on the back deck where the light hits just so, filtered between my favorite trees. You can't just pay me off for the trails I've made in the woods behind my house, or all the time I've spent learning those woods and enjoying them. You can't just pay me off for the squirrels I've trained to take peanuts right from my hand while sitting in that aforementioned favorite sunny spot. You can't just pay me off for needing to move away from my neighbor who I consider a close friend, or pay off his kids who love coming over to play with the cat.

Now... I would agree with you completely if the issue at hand involved individual property owners voluntarily selling a right of way across their yard to random oil companies, knowing that an accident could eventually occur. Except it doesn't work like that, and that explains why we hold these parasites to a higher standard of safety. They apply to the government for permission to steal that right of way for a pittance under eminent domain, they dot all their "i"s and cross all their "t"s to have the right people look the other way... And then they expect us to just live in the shadow of their stellar record of safety and caring about the environment?

FUCK THAT. They can damned well pay to put in pressure shutoffs every hundred feet.

about two weeks ago

It's Time To Plug the Loopholes In Pipeline Regulation

pla Re:Money money money (163 comments)

For the same reason we don't put firewalls after 100 feet of network cabling. It's expensive and likely to _create_ more failures than it prevents.

Great analogy, because just like water or crude, bits on the wire leak out when a failure occurs and make a mess of everything around them. Man, I'll never forget the sticky mess I found myself in when a backhoe came through the top wall of the server room and took out a densely packed cabling tray. Bits up to my waist within minutes, just awful. ;)

Ironically, though, your answer does more to promote the idea than discredit it - Because, we do put routers between network segments and firewalls at each end-point, and no more fine-grained points of (virtual) compromise really exist.

Backhoes notwithstanding.

about two weeks ago

It's Time To Plug the Loopholes In Pipeline Regulation

pla Money money money (163 comments)

Why don't pipelines like that have passive shutoff valves every hundred feet or so, such that if the pipeline suddenly looses pressure, the valve closes and no more oil can escape than already made it into that section?

We've had those for water pipes in our homes for decades to keep the house from flooding in case of a burst. And filling your basement with water does a hell of a lot less damage than filling your basement with crude.

Of course, we all already know the answer to that. The same answer GM didn't give congress last week; the same answer we always have when talking about health and safety tradeoffs: Money.

about two weeks ago

To Reduce the Health Risk of Barbecuing Meat, Just Add Beer

pla Re:Marinade, add beer to the marinade (179 comments)

Pre-cooking food at low heat for a period before slapping it on the grill can cut down the time needed to cook it as well as limit how much burnt material is produced.

Except, by doing that, you've ruined the whole reason we barbecue things - Because we want that thin outer layer of charring.

Yes, we have plenty of ways to cook foods without forming PAH, acrylamide, or the other carcinogens-of-the-week. We could boil everything. We could microwave everything. We could bake everything on low heat while basting to keep the surface moist. Those will all pretty much prevent the formation of all the nasty chemicals we worry about in our barbecued foods. They all take less effort than barbecuing, too - A typical cookout basically requires someone manning the grill continuously to cook up a steady flow of burgers and hotdogs; vs throwing 10 lbs of dogs in a big boiling pot and having enough cooked to feed a small army in under ten minutes.

We grill things over open flame because all those nasty carcinogens make it taste better. Simple as that.

about two weeks ago

"Nearly Unbreakable" Encryption Scheme Inspired By Human Biology

pla And next up, they claim to have cured cancer. (179 comments)

TFA contains no actual information, just an assertion that the interaction between poorly-described models of "biological" systems might kinda possibly maybe make them money because the world needs car door key fobs, or something like that.


about two weeks ago



French anti-piracy logo uses pirated fonts

pla pla writes  |  more than 4 years ago

pla (258480) writes "Cory Doctorow reports (and FontFeed confirms, with better fact-checking) that the French governmental agency in charge of enforcing their new "Three Strikes" Law, Hadopi, has made use of not just one, but two unlicensed fonts in their official logo.

One of these, "Bienvenue", exists only as a privately owned font designed exclusively for France Telecom with no licensing terms available whatsoever. Hadopi claims they never intended that version of the logo for release — Despite having registered it (complete with infringing fonts) as a trademark two months ago. For the other font used in their logo (including both the original and the replacement), "Bliss", they didn't purchase a license to use it until the very day they found it necessary to release a non-infringing replacement logo."



Call me paranoid, but...

pla pla writes  |  about 8 years ago So today I posted a little off-the-cuff comment about parenting and video-games... Nothing major, though undeniably strongly opinionated. Agree or disagree as you will - Not the point of this journal entry.

First mod to it, troll. Okay, I think, I've gotten an awfully lot of those lately to posts I clearly didn't mean as trolling or flamebait, but whatever, perhaps I have an anti-fanboi.

Then later, I got two interestings and an insightful. Okay, not bad, that at least pushes me up to a +2, which with my karma bonus gives a total score of 4. Which it did indeed show.

Now, a few hours later I check back again, and see a total score of two, still with the same breakdown of a troll, an insightful, and two interestings. Biggest difference, my karma bonus has vanished (though my account still shows me as having excellent karma, so not like I magically lost my good karma between 4:30pm and 8:15pm).

So... As the subject line says, "call me paranoid, but" who has the power to change that? Do we have editors seriously abusing their powers, going around making Slashdot's moderation system even less meaningful than its normal, defective, modstorm-prone state?

I'd really like to know... I've written 1858 posts to Slashdot in the past few years, on the presumption that, except for the Gods correcting truly egregious abuses, the moderation system at least works at face value. If every slave-labor underling working at /. can just up and steal karma from posts that hit on one of their peeves, I'd like to know not to waste any more of my life contributing to a lost cause...


Interesting ratings...

pla pla writes  |  more than 11 years ago "Score:-1, Insightful"

I can only say, "WTF"? How does an insightful comment get a -1?

Heh. If I took this seriously, I might feel somewhat concerned by the logic behind that.

Overall, though, I find it more *amusing* that one person's "insightful" equals another's "flamebait" or "troll". I can understand reduntant, or overrated, but flamebait and troll seem mutually exclusive from any positive mods whatsoever.

Strange world we live in. Well... No, just strange people in it. ;-)


Wow, I have fans! (And freaks...)

pla pla writes  |  more than 11 years ago So, my first /. journal entry. Forgive the me-centric nature of it, but I just spent a few minutes wandering around my preferences page, and noticed all sorts of cool things.

Most interestingly, I actually have fans and freaks! Eerie.

I don't quite know *how* I got them, since I did a quick perusal of their posting history, and we don't seem to have any obvious threads in common. Do people just randomly add others to their friends and foes list?

Oh, and I seem to have moderator points once again. In all the years I've used Slashdot, I got my first moderator points only a few months ago. Now, this latest set of points makes my third (fourth?) time.

So, in other news, I managed to get a comment of mine modded out of existance today. So what have I learned from slashdot? One, don't say anything bad about Apple - those fans get *vicious*, even about very guarded criticism. And two, in a forum of mostly geeks, don't attack science (the institution, not the techniques) as little more than a modern religion, complete with priests, acolytes, and inviolable holy doctrine.

Hmm, okay. I guess I'll stop now.

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>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account