Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale Extended! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 20% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY20". ×

Comment Re:Free Publicity For Amazon! Yay! (Score 5, Interesting) 261

What will really make or break this (in my opinion) is the financial metrics, i.e. is it profitable to use a drone delivery system? And my guess would be that yes, eventually it will be. Hell, it could be financially feasible right now I suppose.

It's hard to tell with Amazon, since they're perfectly willing to do unprofitable things, but one supposes they have math that says it's in the ballpark, or they wouldn't continue sinking effort into it.

We know a few things about the finances of the idea. Electricity is cheap. Really cheap. Electric motors and batteries are really efficient. And automated flight is a real thing. That means little or no pilot attention for much of its journey. Judging by the video, their explicit goal is no pilot attention for any part of the journey, unless the vehicle cries for help. Which means the labor cost is cheap. That sounds like a trifecta to me.

Comment Re:the main legit use i can see (Score 4, Interesting) 261

The main legit use I can see would be to have this drone alone side of the delivery trucks. meaning the trucks get to keep driving, the drones when they get near the correct location grab the box and drop it on the doorstep.

It's no accident that the range of the drone in the video is 15 miles. The typical major metropolitan area in the United States is about 30 miles across. One depot in the middle of the city, or two at opposite ends, and the vast majority of customers are accessible with no truck at all. That's also why the new drone is a VTOL airplane, complete with wings and a rear propeller. They were chasing that range, and wings was the way to do it.

Comment Re:What is with these space law professors? (Score 1) 211

I have to say that the space lawyers I have talked to share my puzzlement as to what the professors say things that seem so ungrounded.

It's the technique of the Big Lie. If you repeat a blatant lie often enough, there are a billion low information voters around the world who will quite quickly start telling each other that it "sounds reasonable", because everything familiar sounds reasonable.

When you get right down to it, the only people with the funding, the attention span, and access to the required technical skill to pull off mining an asteroid in our lifetimes are US billionaires. This is the beginning of every other country acknowledging that, not finding the idea palatable, and trying to get out in front of it, by the only means at their disposal. Lawyers and lies. (But I repeat myself.)

Comment Re:For the foreseeable future, right where it's at (Score 1) 232

It's weakness is colour reproduction, but it's getting better. My Panasonic has a THX calibrated mode for colour. The led models do too, but it's not nearly as good.

Samsung's AMOLED for phones now covers 97% of the Adobe RGB color gamut, which isn't bad. LED backlit LCD can now squeeze out 99.3-99.5% of Adobe RGB. Not a wide gap, anymore. AMOLED definitely covers far more than sRGB.

Comment Re:For the foreseeable future, right where it's at (Score 1) 232

. Maybe if someone can create an LED TV that is as good I'd be interested, but for the moment I'm worried that when my current plasma dies I'll be forced to downgrade.

LG is shipping AMOLED TVs, at long last, the first vendor to break from the pack and do it. They have true black, just like plasmas. The largest sizes are still fantastically expensive, but they are available, and they're UltraHD.

Comment Re:I dunno... (Score 1) 232

Yes, I am bemoaning the loss of the plasma screen, I still think it has the best blacks, but still.

LG is shipping OLED TVs, the first vendor to break from the pack. The largest sizes are fantastically expensive, but they have plasma-quality black/contrast ratio, and for the same reason. One supposes they will hold the price up for a while, since they have zero competition, but they're available.

Comment Re:Fake God Detector, Blamed For Hundreds of Death (Score 1) 151

Truth is, people have killed, stolen and raped each others forever, it has nothing to do with religion or politics, it's just how people are.

No it's not.

"Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." -- Steven Weinberg

Comment Re:For those bitching about the "Special Editions" (Score 1) 424

Really Potsy? That's not legal so you can fuck off. You do not have license to modify the movie.

I don't need a license to modify the fucking movie. I need a license to modify and distribute the modification. It is legal for me to possess a movie and a modified copy of the same movie that I have not distributed. The person who performed the edit and distributed it did something currently illegal, but I am not doing anything illegal by having both.

Oddly enough, all we have to do is create a fully scriptable movie editor, and even the person creating the modified version would be doing something legal, as long as what he distributes is a script that will generate the modified version from the purchased media. He would, in fact, hold a copyright of his own to that script, completely independent of the movie copyright.

Do I have the legal right to tear pages out of a book I own? Yes I do. I have the identical right to rip scenes out of a movie I own.

Do I have the legal right to rip pages recommended by a friend out of a book I own? Yes I do. I have the identical right to rip scenes recommended by a friend out of a movie I own.

Comment Re:Smells like FUD (Score 1) 108

The security of most consumer devices is pathetic and useless. The security of medical devices has known to be almost non-existent for years now.

Agreed. And there have been exactly zero attempts to exploit that. Or at least so close to zero, it can successfully be concealed from the entire public. So no, not inevitable. This smells like FUD. The authors of malware take great pride in knowing about zero-day exploits. That's where the money is, generally speaking. This is the polar opposite. This is a 5 year exploit. Or possibly even older. And yet it hasn't been exploited. So what's going to be different in 2016? Short answer: nothing. This is FUD.

The types of criminals who will ransom your Word documents have already performed the calculus of risk and decided that being the test case for Murder By Remote is the very last thing they want to do. Law enforcement does exactly nothing about your Word docs. Law enforcement would pull out all the stops for that murder case, and criminals know it. Essentially all of those criminals are not psychotic. Sociopathic, yes, but not psychotic. This topic is a good illustration of the difference.

Humans are not intrinsically honest. It's time to stop pretending they are.

Humans in successful societies typically are intrinsically honest. The spontaneous first response is the honest response. And that's why the society works. The societies that work the most poorly are those that are the least honest. Books have been written about the reasons and the mechanisms, but that's what it boils down to.

Comment Re: Islam's relationship to modern science (Score 1) 330

I find a lot of people who are agnostic or atheist have actually made science their religion. Most aren't even practicing scientists, and instead of looking to the scientific method to teach them new ideas, they have "faith" in theories despite science not yet having proven or disproven them. They use science as their religion not to further science, but to attack religion. Your comments are pretty close to putting you in this bucket.

Excuse number #912 -- "atheism is a religion too". Or better yet #912.A -- "science is a religion". Please. If you know anything at all about science, its purpose, and how it works, you know that it is not a religion. It is a way of figuring out what it is best to believe about the real world in a systematic and improvable way. Note well the two essential components -- "about the real world", and "in a systematic and improvable way". It addresses the real world, not a fantasy world, and the standard for truth is thus this objective world itself, not what people have said about it or believe about it or wrote about it in an ancient book long before we had anything vaguely approaching a science. But the second part is just as important. If I make a claim about some systematic organization supposed to hold in th real world, it is possible to accumulate evidence that supports the claim, refutes the claim, or is neutral towards the claim. Over time, more evidence and better methods of looking generally result in claims that we believe very, very strongly to be either true or very close to true, claims that we believe not to be true, and claims that cannot be decided by the evidence at hand. In all cases the standard of truth is correspondence of the assertion with reality itself, not with argumentation about reality, although the reasoning process is Bayesian and hence one isn't building up evidence-supported beliefs in isolation.

"Science" is not a religion, it is the set of interlocking assertions that have the strongest, mutually supporting evidentiary support. It is literally what it is best to believe about the real world according to an actual standard. It does not assert perfect truth, it asserts probable truth, provisional probable truth at that. If you want to actually learn something about the reasoning process involved, I would recommend E. T. Jaynes' "Probability Theory, the Logic of Science". You might also want to peruse Richard Cox's monograph "The Algebra of Probable Inference". The difference between a religious text and these two works is so profound, so obvious, so glaring, that perhaps you will reconsider your rash statement that science is a religion. These books establish, via a minimal set of axioms, a direct connection between evidence and networks of probable beliefs -- they provided mathematical support and a proof of sorts that it is better to believe things given evidence than to believe any random notion that is asserted by anyone, anywhere, for whatever reason that is not supported by evidence, that contradicts beliefs that are supported by strong evidence, or that is contradicted by the evidence itself directly.

I would offer examples -- but is there really any point? There are a near infinity of possible religions. There are quite a few actual religions, religions that contradict one another on numerous points, and the number swells to a really large number if one allows (as one should) all of the religions ever believed by any vagrant tribe throughout history, and all of the named variations on religions loosely shared between tribes.

For starters, probability theory would dictate that even if one knew that precisely one of these variants was precisely true, it is rather improbable that your particular beliefs out of this set of possibilities is correct. It isn't even probable that your beliefs come from a major family that could be correct. The odds are against any given religion being correct before you examine evidence. Without evidence (and a general agreement as to what might constitute evidence) the best one can do is make all of these possibilities equally likely, that is to say, nearly infinitely unlikely.

Then one can systematically examine the scriptures and claims of each and every religion. All of the major religions tend to claim in their scriptures that they are perfectly true, inerrant, and the Word of God made manifest to be disbelieved in a single tittle at peril of whatever memetically evolved punishment suited its human creators at the time. If you've studied Godel's theorem, you should realize that this is a clear signature that this particular claim is false. If you want to identify a liar, look for the man who claims "I never lie". Nevertheless, it doesn't take five minutes of reading scriptures associated with the world religions making claims about God and the world to find numerous statements that are open absurdities, claims that are directly contradicted by everything we have painstakingly learned to believe on the basis of sound reasoning and experimental evidence. In other words, even if you allow the condition of contradicted by beliefs supported by strong evidence to apply to religions themselves, the contradictions between the religions reduce the believability in the entire set.

Is this in fact not only the case, but obviously so? Of course it is. Any believer in a major scripture-based world religion (excluding diffuse deism disconnected from any dogma or scripture as a world religion) believes in their religion and its scriptural claims as "evidence", but has no difficulty whatsoever in rejecting the claims of all of the other religions as absurd. If you are a Christian, you are not a Muslim. You aren't a Muslim because you think that Muhammed was (fill in the blank) mistaken, lying, misled when he claimed, as he does throughout the Quran, to be taking dictation from God/Allah. If you thought this was true, you would be a Muslim instead of a Christian. As for why we would doubt it even though it is written down, there are lots of things that are written down that aren't true. Documents making claims for absurd miracles, bad science, and openly questionable ethical assertions are things that we automatically reject as probably untrue -- unless we have been raised to think that they are true beyond any question or exposure to critical thinking.

You asked what is absurd about the Book of Mormon. Do you want a list? Claims of imported old world plants and animals utterly absent from the new world? Steel swords in the new world? Compasses used for navigation before compasses were invented? The wrong geography for the old world? The constant assertions that white folk are good and pure and dark folk are not? The idea that Joseph Smith dug up gold plates covered with strange writings in the fields of upstate New York, and managed to decipher them with divine help? The terrible quality of the writing? There is an entire musical (to which I have tickets) poking fun at the Book of Mormon, which is nothing compared to the South Park episode which openly, and quite rightly, mocks it. Or you can go here: http://www.skepticsannotatedbi... and click on the lists of "problems" all neatly excised and commented on. Good luck with the hermeneutics (the entire discipline devoted to trying to pretend that problems in scriptural writings aren't).

In the end, of course, it ultimately comes down to evidence. An atheist doesn't necessarily believe that there is no God. They simply see no reliable and reasonable evidence that God exists. Lacking this, there is no good reason to reject the null hypothesis that there is no God, any more than we need to reject the null hypothesis that pink unicorns are not real animals prevalent in my back yard. I'm happy to believe in pink unicorns. Just show me one. Well, really you need to show me more than one, plus enough supporting evidence that I can be convinced that I'm not looking at a dyed horse that has undergone a painful surgical procedure.

What exactly, constitutes reliable, inarguable evidence in favor of the existence of God? What constitutes even weak evidence in favor of the existence of God? Our feelings? Question begging "logical" proofs? Scriptural writings that are mistaken on almost every single point that they can be checked on, that make absurd claims every few pages, things that if they were claimed today we would dismiss without wasting a minute on them?

So, my friend, while I am, as it happens, a professional scientist -- a theoretical physicist, in fact -- who majored in physics and philosophy as an undergraduate and whose favorite philosophy professor was a student of Bertrand Russell, and who writes about boring stuff like ontology and semantics and semiotics just for the fun of it, I deny any claim that science is a religion. The scientific worldview is the collection of mutually (reasonably) consistent, evidence supported beliefs about the real world. One can give a good reason for believing every single thing one believes in this worldview. If you doubt any of its assertions, there is an open and above board methodology for resolving the conflict, one that will, in general, convince any reasonable person in possession of the same evidence and supporting network of beliefs.

How, exactly, can that be compared to the primary reason -- seriously -- that anybody on Earth believes in their religion: Their parents believed in it and raised them to believe in them and (often) punished them if they questioned it and rewarded them if they accepted it, if only in subtle ways? If you don't believe that the acceleration of gravity is roughly 10 meters/second^2, we have an easy way to resolve the question if you are at all reasonable. If I happen to think that the Holy Trinity makes less sense than heretical Arianism, how exactly are you going to resolve the question? That's the difference between the two. Scientific truth is derived from observations of the real world and can be validated over and over again by anyone that doubts it. Nobody can answer the Trinity vs Unity question on the basis of evidence, because there is no real world evidence worthy of the name for either one.


Comment Gravitational locking already? (Score 1) 96

Seriously? The moon is gravitationally locked now, sure, but the Earth (and moon) still being liquid/hot when it slowed to a lock? I don't think so. For this to be plausible the moon would have had to coalesce, in an orbit, with nearly zero spin angular momentum, which seems absurdly unlikely. Otherwise, like a bird on a rotisserie, it would have been "roasted" pretty much equally on both sides. So maybe, but I doubt it.

Comment Re:This guy was a CIA *director* (Score 1) 486

b) Is hanging actually a legal way of killing somebody if he was gived a death sentence anywhere in the US? Just asking, since publically demanding a crime towards another citizen is illegal, at least in germany.

It's legal in two US states, in one case only if lethal injection isn't possible, and in the other only if the condemned requests it. In the US state in which Edward Snowden performed the majority of his illegal actions, the death penalty is not legal in any form.

Advocating a crime against another person in the US is only illegal in certain specific instances. In particular, advocating a crime against certain protected classes is illegal, the protected classes being ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and homosexual people. Advocating large scale property damage and theft (inciting to riot) is also illegal, but that isn't against a specific person. The right to free speech acknowledged in the first amendment of the US constitution applies, and applies very broadly.

Those who claim the dead never return to life haven't ever been around here at quitting time.