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!



West Virginia Won't Release Broadband Report Because It Is 'Embarrassing'

samweber Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (183 comments)

You are forgetting what might be the most likely possibility: that the people that would be embarrassed are the OTHER companies that also bid on the contract. Remember, expensive as it was, the company that got the contract was the LOW bid -- what on earth were the other bids? If you read the article, the Governer's office does explicitly claim that it is not the government that would be embarrassed, and although they could of course be lying, the other bidders certainly look suspicious.

Usually when there are bids for a contract, the losing bids are confidential. Violating this might lead to lawsuits as well.

about 2 years ago

NASA Tries To Save Hubble's Successor

samweber Re:I'm sure the deficit hawks will be right on thi (134 comments)

And if it is so worth doing, then why hasn't private enterprise or even private charities funded it or part of it?

Writing a statement like that on the internet which was, of course, started by the government, is like saying "Keep the government's hands off Medicare!". Breathtaking in its ignorance.

Have you ever heard of Google? Well, it was started by a grant from the US Government's National Science Foundation.

And take Akamai. It now delivers between 15 and 30% of all web traffic, and is used by all of the top 20 eCommerce sites. But when the founders tried to start it, no company or investor was interested. Instead, the government funded them and that is why they exist today.

If you want innovation, supporting governmental-funded research is the way to go.

more than 3 years ago

Supreme Court: AT&T Can Force Arbitration

samweber Re:South Park (415 comments)

Other commenters have already made many good responses to this. But, one point that hasn't been made is that the new health care law prevents health insurance companies from denying you insurance because of preexisting conditions.

Without a cost for not having insurance, all those "I'm healthy and I don't wanna pay for no insurance" jerks wouldn't get insurance until they get a major illness and then turn around and demand that a health insurance company pay for everything ("You canna reject me 'cause of no preexisting condition!")

Or, in other words, everyone now has health insurance benefits, either directly or indirectly by having the ability to get it later on when you actually need it. So, yes, it is reasonable to pay for it.

As an aside, I know a guy who all through college maintained that he didn't need any health insurance. He was going to save all that money and live life to the fullest. "When I'm old, just leave me on the ice, or put a bullet through my brain! I'll have led a long and happy life!" Well, when he was 40 and had two small children he had a heart attack. Suddenly he realized that he wasn't willing to die right then. At least he's now honest enough to admit that he was an idiot when he was younger.

more than 3 years ago

Report Critical of FBI Cybercrime-Fighting Ability

samweber Re:No surprise here (56 comments)

And yet, on other topics, Slashdotters are known for ranting about how government workers are overpaid, that government is evil, and libertarianism solves all problems. And here we see the result: when the FBI can't pay enough to hire good people, then it can't do its job well and everyone except the criminals suffers. It is all very well for people to bitch about their taxes, but there are real-world consequences.

And, to address another poster, who wrote "Most agents make $80k within 3 years if they do well and the upward limits can get over $130,000" -- that is NOT good pay. Consider that newly-minted MBAs tend to get around $100k, even though their actual skills like mostly in the ability to speak management-babble.

more than 3 years ago

Are Graphical Calculators Pointless?

samweber Re:Obvious (636 comments)

In the real world, cheating would be called "collaboration".

Why, yes indeed. I worked in industry for many years, and I can tell you that no workers were more highly valued than those who were unable to do even the simplest things by themselves. "Let's collaborate!" they would say, and our hearts warmed instantly and we leapt into action, "helping" our valued coworkers, doing their work for them. In contrast, those with highly valuable skillsets, able to quickly solve difficult problems, those were as dirt to us. "Be off with you!" we'd cry, "and never dare to cross our path again!" Yes, as sweatyboatman says, nothing is more valuable in the real world than incompetence!

more than 3 years ago

No U.S. Government Shutdown This Week

samweber Re:Dang. (385 comments)

Oh, for heaven's sakes.

Reagan came in, touting the "trickle down theory", claiming that giving tax cuts to the wealthy would make everyone's lives better. The result was that the deficit tripled, but this was perfectly okay with the Republicans.

When Clinton came in, though, suddenly the Republicans decided that nothing was more important than cutting the deficit. Cut spending they cried. Luckily the Democrats had enough votes to ignore this, and the result was that Clinton produced a budget SURPLUS.

The Republicans then claimed that budget surpluses were bad. Cheney stated that "Deficits don't matter" and GW Bush doubled the deficit.

Now, a Democrat is in office once more, and suddenly the Republicans are once more claiming that nothing is more important than cutting the deficit.

Right. This is rather an obvious game. And why should anyone believe the economic advice of the very same people who when they were in charge not only crashed the economy but produced massive debts in the process? And exactly how is this country's economy supposed to recover when so many people are unemployed?

more than 3 years ago

California Library's Plan: Get Rid of Books

samweber Re:starting no doubt with 'rainbows end'... (197 comments)

The public doesn't want to pay taxes to fund 6-figure public sector salaries and pensions, and the people making that pay decide to cut libraries and schools instead of their own pay

Indeed, 6-figure public salaries are an outrage! Kids graduating college with MBAs earn 6-figure salaries in their first jobs, and how DARE police chiefs, city planners and those people responsible for the safety and well-being of entire cities even consider themselves to be worth even a small fraction of the worth of an 22-year-old with an MBA! It is not enough that public employees are paid significantly less than their corporate counterparts, but they should be publicly flogged, each and every day, to punish them for being willing to work for the good of the citizens of this fine country!

more than 3 years ago

White House Wants 1M Electric Cars By 2015

samweber Re:Sure It's Doable, Just Shift Subsidies (603 comments)

No, you just need to think about it for a couple of minutes.

Say you have the government pay to put in a better transportation system to get people from New Jersey to downtown Manhattan. The money that is used to pay the workers goes from them to grocery stores, restaurants, clothing stores, etc. The restaurants, grocery stores and clothing stores thus do better. Also, the transportation system means that more people from New Jersey are able to get to work in Manhattan, and thus employment goes up. Furthermore, the people who used to use inefficient methods to get from New Jersey to Manhattan can instead use their money and time on better things. And, yes, all this more than makes up for the cost of the transportation system.

Really, now, this is all quite obvious. Why on earth does all of this need to be explained?

more than 3 years ago

Anti-Cancer Agent Stops Metastasis In Its Tracks

samweber Re:Dear Scientists and Researchers (269 comments)

And that cost is minimal, considering that it's all there somewhere on rotating memory.


Okay, the non-profit ACM (acm.org) maintains a digital library of its journal and conference articles. The costs of just maintaining said library is several million dollars a year. Add to that the costs of running each journal and conference.

If all the articles are going to be made available free to readers, that means that these costs will have to be paid by the researchers. Already page charges are quite high -- since there are a lot more readers than writers, this would result it being extremely expensive to have one of your articles published. Do you really want it to be that only rich people could publish research?

more than 4 years ago

Amazon Cuts Off North Carolina Affiliates

samweber Re:Actually, I think it's a great tactic (411 comments)

Okay, currently in NC businesses which sell directly to NC residents collect sales tax, but NC businesses which sell to NC residents via Amazon don't. Whether or not you agree with NC's proposal, there are more factors here which I don't think you've considered.

the founders of this great nation realized that smuggling was a good thing

To the contrary, the United States was set up as a nation of laws and with the assumption that there would be taxes. There's nothing that excuses smugglers from the legal system.

But there is no reason why the governments should have license to grow when its supporting economy just dropped 20%.

Firstly, the proposed change in no way "grows" the government. It is simply an additional revenue stream. Secondly, since as you say the economy has dropped 20%, that means that NC is collecting about 20% less revenue. I highly doubt that this proposal will even come close to making up for this, so in total NC's revenue will be shrinking, not growing.

To argue otherwise is to argue that you can tax a nation into prosperity, or that you can lift yourself up by your boot straps.

Actually, there are good reasons why you want to do this.

First of all, the state's expenditures naturally increase during a recession. Why? Firstly, the basic costs of maintaining infrastructure do not decrease drastically: potholes in highways still need to be fixed, electric poles which fall during a storm need to be repaired, etc.

Secondly, consider that the 20% drop in the economy is not applied evenly. This year nearly 50% of college graduates didn't manage to find jobs. That is a lot of talent that is being wasted. Also, for example, some friends of mine used to be a two-income family until, in one week, one was laid off and the other had a 30% pay cut. That's a family that is now trying to live on one-third of their usual income, but their mortgage payments aren't any lower. As a result there is a lot of capable people who suddenly find themselves in deep financial trouble, if not homeless.

Because of this, the state's unemployment insurance program, its support for working families who aren't able to afford enough food for their children, homeless shelters, etc experience a large increase in the number of applicants. So, the costs of these programs rise, at the exact time that revenue falls.

What is the state to do? Not only would it be immoral to let people starve to death, it is foolish: dead people will never get jobs and help the economy in the future. You want all these talented people to be earning money, not dying in a tent city.

Instead, you DO want to have new government programs to help the economy. Take some of those unemployed civil engineering graduates and have them design better infrastructure for the cities, and then hire other unemployed people to build it. Not only do you get to enjoy the benefits in the future, but the newly employed people then spend their pay at local shops and stores, which means that those businesses have more sales, which means that they no longer have to lay people off or go bankrupt. This will improve the economy, and once it has recovered any loans that had to be made can be paid off. This just makes sense, and has worked before.

more than 5 years ago

Java Gets New Garbage Collector, But Only If You Buy Support

samweber Re:Forgive my ignorance WAS:re: Garbage collector? (587 comments)

A lot of other people have replied to the parent post, saying quite correctly that avoiding memory leaks is hard in practice. However, there are also other reasons as well:

  • If you do allocation manually, you also have to worry about freeing something twice. The result of that is usually rather nasty, including creating ways for attackers to break into the system.
  • Garbage collection is usually faster than manual allocation -- see Urban Performance Legends, Revisited
  • Garbage collection allows objects to be compacted in memory, which increases locality and hence performance greatly.

more than 5 years ago

Java Gets New Garbage Collector, But Only If You Buy Support

samweber Reference Counting != Garbage Collection (587 comments)

No, no, no! Creating a cycle of object references does not cause a memory leak in Java!

You are assuming that a garbage collector uses reference counting. However, reference counting doesn't work for the very reason you state, and therefore GCs don't do it that way. They actually check whether an object is usable by the program, and not just whether it has any old reference to it.

more than 5 years ago

Microsoft To Banish Memcpy()

samweber Re:Let Java do it for you. (486 comments)

Until you're trying to do something for which Java has no standard API. Last time I checked, USB joysticks were like this. There is JInput, but if you include JInput in your distribution, your project is no longer 100% Pure Java and will not run as an applet.

But your C/C++ code is never able to be run as an applet, while Java code might. So, on these grounds Java is better.

Or unless your target platform is incapable of running managed code. Some handheld platforms have only 4 MB of RAM, not enough for a JIT compiler and the bytecode in addition to the translated code except in trivial examples that act a generation old.

And for that we have Java ME edition.

Okay, there are devices that are even more tiny in which C or assembly is the only option. I've also dealt with a processor that couldn't be programmed in C without extensive non-standard C extensions. Either way, this is a small minority of situations -- there is no one solution that suits all purposes.

And per Apple's developer agreement, the only managed language that can run on an iPod Touch is JavaScript in Safari.

And they allow just any old C code to run?!!

Or unless your existing program's model is written in an unmanaged language, and you want to reuse the old code so that you can be sure that the model is bit-for-bit accurate. How hard is it to automatically translate C code to, say, C++/CLI?

Eeek! Don't do this!

If you want bit-by-bit accuracy, you absolutely don't want to try translating C code to C++! You even have to worry about changing C compilers if you are doing that. (And yes, I have worked with C code which would break if we used a different compiler. It was not fun.)

What you should be thinking of doing is to write an interface between the existing model code and your new one. This can be done in both C++ and Java. When the new code has to manipulate the model, it goes through this interface and calls the old code to do the necessary operation.

more than 5 years ago

Copyright and Patent Laws Hurt the Economy

samweber Re:Just so you know... (597 comments)

So, you admit that the patent on making ham and cheese sandwiches that survive being frozen and microwaved is not just a matter of "mixing two substances together." Great, we're getting somewhere!

Now, you are maintaining that adding Criso and calcium stearate to the sandwich is "extremely" obvious. Well, naturally, simply everyone has calcium stearate in their kitchen cupboard, ready to apply at a moment's notice. But I think I'd need a little bit of persuasion to convince me that Crisco is an obvious thing to add to a sandwich.

But maybe you are just a natural food scientist and don't realize how special you are. Could be. Why don't you just point us to some of your food patents, then?

more than 5 years ago

Copyright and Patent Laws Hurt the Economy

samweber Re:Copyright definitely kills innovation (597 comments)

No, that's not true. Admittedly, the site is somewhat hard to navigate, but there is an individual rate.

But the way to buy a pdf version of an article is pretty easy to find. It's surprising that you missed that.

more than 5 years ago

Copyright and Patent Laws Hurt the Economy

samweber Re:Just so you know... (597 comments)

Did you even LOOK at the patent you were linking to? It is NOT about "mixing two substances together". What kind of low melting triglyceride blend do you think "anyone with a brain in their head could figure out"?

No wonder you decided to be anonymous.

more than 5 years ago

Copyright and Patent Laws Hurt the Economy

samweber Re:Copyright definitely kills innovation (597 comments)

The cost of $23,245/year seems reasonable to me for an INSTITUTIONAL subscription. If you want a subscription for yourself, just get an individual subscription. Or buy the pdf's of just the articles you want. What's the problem?

more than 5 years ago

Null References, the Billion Dollar Mistake

samweber Re:There was a bigger mistake: (612 comments)

But since you use C to write more optimized code, using one byte for the terminator uses less space than using N bytes to memorize the actual string length, unless you're fine with strings with max length of 255.

In almost all cases, that's a false economy. Okay, in the worst case you use one word instead of one byte for the string. In lots of cases, though, the fact that you want memory regions to be word-aligned means that you will end up allocating the N-1 bytes anyway.

And, in return:
  * String equality will take only 2 memory reads if the strings are two different lengths
  * String concatenations take O(n_2) time, where n_2 is the length of the second string, instead of O(n_1+n_2).
  * Getting the string length is a constant time operation.
  * Operations that need to check for buffer overflow can do a single cheap check at the beginning of the operation.
  * You don't have the development, debugging and support costs associated with the all-too-common off-by-one and overflow bugs.

more than 5 years ago

IBM Offers to Send Laid-Off Staff to Other Countries

samweber Re:Obviously (493 comments)


First of all, IBM isn't unionized. There is a small, fledgling union, but it isn't able to do any collective bargaining. It has no say in IBM wages. So, in this case, there are NO "legacy costs" due to the union.

Secondly, for Fortune 500 companies, 10% of profits are eaten up by the wages and benefits of the top executives. So, yes, there is a significant cost that is due to paying out money to the elite executives.

more than 5 years ago

I'd rather measure my days by means of ...

samweber Something else entirely: Kisses (534 comments)

Kisses seem to me to be a wonderful measure of time.

Of course, if stereotypes hold true, then many Slashdotters are still on their first day of life.

more than 5 years ago


samweber hasn't submitted any stories.


samweber has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?