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Comment Can't replicate (Score 4, Informative) 135

I can't replicate it either. The YouTube video claims I double-tap the home button but the second tap is slightly longer? By the end of the first tap it's already bringing me back to the lock screen, i.e. by the time I'm pressing down for the second tap, I'm already being taken back to the lock screen. iPhone 5, updated last night to 7.0 (11A465).

Submission + - Another Climate-Change Retraction (

jamie writes: It seems every time someone twists global-warming science into 'good news,' a retraction is soon to follow, and so it must be for Slashdot. Yesterday, the conservative Wall Street Journal published yet another apologetic claiming "the overall effect of climate change will be positive," by someone who (of course) is not a climate scientist. Today, Climate Progress debunks the piece, noting 'Ridley and the WSJ cite the University of Illinois paper to supposedly prove that warming this century will be under 2C — when the author has already explained to them that his research shows the exact opposite!' We went through this same process last year, with the same author and the same paper, so it's pretty embarrassing that he 'makes a nearly identical blunder' all over again.

Submission + - Gore Misquoted on Hexametric Hurricanes (

jamie writes: In a story on Thursday, Slashdot and its readers had a little fun at the expense of Al Gore, who was quoted as saying that the hurricane severity scale was going to go to 6. A correction was made the next day. The author of the piece that Slashdot linked now writes "I retract the balance of my criticism." Turns out Gore was misquoted.

Luckily for Gore, this is the first time he's been ridiculed for something he didn't actually say. Well, except for Love Story, Love Canal, farm chores, and everyone's favorite, inventing the internet.

(The original Slashdot story is at and its central link now includes the Washington Post's correction.)


Submission + - One-line software patent expires (

trombonehero writes: Here's a particularly silly example of a software patent which has been holding real innovation back for 22 years: a patent on an if statement which is required to correctly implement the JBIG fax codec.

This silly patent, which held some open-source software back for 17 years, comes out of patent today, but it might be a little bit late for bold new innovations which interoperate with the fax network.


Leaked Heartland Institute Documents Reveal Opposition To Science 615

New submitter bheerssen writes with an excerpt from an article by The Bad Astronomer: "The Heartland Institute — a self-described 'think tank' that actually serves in part as a way for climate change denialism to get funded — has a potentially embarrassing situation on their hands. Someone going by the handle 'Heartland Insider' has anonymously released quite a few of what are claimed to be internal documents from Heartland, revealing the Institute's strategies, funds, and much more." At least one site has the documents in question.

Comment Re:/. turns green, lifts bus over head: PATENT SMA (Score 1) 584

Hmm. Well, there's also 7844610 which was filed in 2004 and does seem pretty similar. In fact their abstracts are identical. That's a little deflating.

The patent whose application was filed in April 2002 is this related one, 7502770, which isn't very similar. I think that's the one you meant.

Comment /. turns green, lifts bus over head: PATENT SMASH (Score 5, Informative) 584

I think I may want to contest this patent.

The patent cites Slashdot comment moderation as an example of how not to assign importance to user actions. Its authors were apparently unaware that the algorithm they described in November 2010 is virtually identical to the way Slashdot has actually assigned importance to user voting on Firehose stories since May 2008 (give or take). I know because I wrote it.

What this patent calls "authority," we call user "clout."

Multiple clouts, actually. Each Slashdot user has a number that describes how valuable the system believes their up/down votes in the firehose are, and it's separate from how valuable their descriptive tags applied to stories are. (Up/down votes are simply tags with special names, making vote-scoring and description-determination very similar under the hood.)

It's been a while since I looked at this code -- I work for sister company ThinkGeek now -- but scanning over our public repository here are some of the interesting parts:

plugs/Tags/ - the tags_peerclout table is the way that each type of clout is built. It has fixed entries at gen=0, the zeroth generation, which would typically be the Slashdot editors or other users considered reliable and definitive. To build gen=1, the code looks at how many users tagged or voted on the same objects as the gen=0 users did, and assigns the gen=1 users scores based on similarity (or difference). Then from the gen=1 users, gen=2 users are assigned scores similarly, and so on.

The gen=0 entries in that table "designate one or more contributing authorities by delegating to each a specific quantity of authority." I don't think I could describe that better myself.

plugins/Tags/Clout/ process_nextgen() - here's where each new generation of user clout is successively determined, for firehose votes in particular. Line 194 invokes the algorithm and line 203 assigns that user their new voting clout. This iterative process is the automated method through which "each contributing authority may in turn designate and delegate authority to one or more additional contributing authorities."

plugins/Tags/Clout/ init() - sum_weight_vectors totals the change in clout for each generation, and possible weight decreases exponentially. If you're in gen=1 the maximum weight you can have is only 60% of the maximum from gen=0, etc. The fraction is smaller than 100%, which helps ensure "that the total quantity of authority delegated does not exceed the quantity of authority the contributing authority was itself delegated." When the clouts are used to determine firehose item ratings, "the ratings are combined in a manner that affords a higher priority to the ratings provided by contributing authorities to which a greater quantity of authority was delegated."

All this may have changed since it was written. I don't actually know what's running on Slashdot at this moment. I'm just going by the public repository that I knew was on, and I don't even know if there's a later version of the code available anywhere.

But I suspect that this system would constitute prior art.

Also, looking over my code from 2008, boy, I really wish I'd put in more comments.

User Journal

Journal Journal: in which i am a noob all over again 17

I haven't posted a journal here in almost three years, because I couldn't find the button to start a new entry. ...yeah, it turns out that it's at the bottom of the page.

So... hi, Slashdot. I used to be really active here, but now I mostly lurk and read. I've missed you.

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They laughed at Einstein. They laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown. -- Carl Sagan