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

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (Score 1) 195

by Beefpatrol (#45054905) Attached to: Probe of Einstein's Brain Reveals Clues To His Genius
"The collection of branching stochastic feedback loops necessary to carry out the processes of life, at every level from transcription to tissue function, is like nothing any sane engineer would ever try to build." I beg to differ. It is exactly the kind of thing a sane engineer would try to build if said engineer were trying to build a machine that would, when given information about a black box, (inputs and corresponding outputs,) describe the contents of the box. Or something to that effect. Pattern matching, correlation discovery, reverse-engineering of algorithms from inputs and outputs, etc. Of course, all of this can be simulated by a regular computer....

Comment: Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (Score 1) 195

by Beefpatrol (#45054331) Attached to: Probe of Einstein's Brain Reveals Clues To His Genius
I am not a big fan of the supernatural either. I see the realm of the supernatural as simply containing the things we have not yet figured out how to integrate into our understanding of the universe. At the same time, no matter how far up the chain of causality/explanation you go, you can always ask, "why is *that* there?" When considering the big bang as the origin of the universe, one can simply ask, "where did all of the big bang fuel, (energy, basically,) come from?" Saying, "it was just there -- it didn't come from anywhere and it didn't happen for a reason," just doesn't satisfy some people, (myself included.) No matter how much we know, humans will always want to know what caused . This insistence on always seeking further explanation can probably be explained by the fact that humans can't accurately comprehend nothingness. A total absence of anything cannot be simulated by the brain; humans can only perceive nothingness as a sort of void that exists -- a specifically present nothingness, which obviously doesn't make sense. (See historical scientists believing in the existence of an ether, etc...)

Comment: Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (Score 1) 195

by Beefpatrol (#45053869) Attached to: Probe of Einstein's Brain Reveals Clues To His Genius
The heat death of the universe involves the total energy + mass equivalent of the universe remaining constant while the spatial density of it asymptotically approaches zero. This, of course, implies that it never actually reaches zero, which means that in a sense, the entire universe, when considered as a whole, does exhibit perpetual motion if the universe is open. It would be interesting to prove that this is the only situation in which perpetual motion exists.

Comment: Pulse laser (Score 1) 520

by Beefpatrol (#43064179) Attached to: Neil deGrasse Tyson On How To Stop a Meteor Hitting the Earth

It might be possible to perturb an asteroid's trajectory with a pulse laser. When you hit various materials with very short, intense pulses of light at a wavelength that the target material tends to absorb, it causes such rapid localized heating that it either vaporizes a little bit of material, turning it into very hot gas, (a tiny little rocket,) or it causes a tiny, rapidly expanding piece of material to spall off the surface, (a higher-mass, lower velocity rocket.) Repeat a few thousand times per second and you will basically turn the asteroid into a crappy rocket, using the asteroid's matter as the working mass. The biggest problem I can see with this is that the mass ejected from the asteroid will have a tendency to hit the laser. It might be possible to avoid this simply by aiming the laser slightly off-normal.

Comment: I bet few will get their $35 back (Score 1) 418

by Beefpatrol (#43021257) Attached to: Six-Strikes System Starts In U.S.

Even if they find that someone who has filed an appeal hasn't transferred any copyrighted stuff, I bet people won't get their $35 back most of the time. It will happen the same way as mail-in rebates or perhaps other forms of corporate refund.

Maybe they will require $35 to refute each individual instance of supposed infringement and then only give you a refund as a credit on your bill, meaning that you will have to remain a (probably now throttled and therefore highly profitable) customer for a long time to get your multi-$35 fees back. Switch ISPs? Sorry, no refund. All the while of course, they will be getting interest on your fee money, while you won't be. You might even be paying interest on it if you had to borrow it.

Maybe the appeal phone number will be staffed from 9AM-3PM Bangalore time by a single elderly, asthmatic Indian woman with severe hearing loss.

$35 is about the same amount that banks charge for late fees on CCs, presumably because it is about the maximum they can charge before people start spending lots of both parties' time trying to get the money back.

This is all stuff sociopathic corporations have pulled before. As far as I know, it still isn't illegal. Nobody should give them a single sent in refutation fees.

I'm sure the MPAA/RIAA companies and the ISPs who also plug their own "on demand" services just love this. If you get throttled, not only can you not use the bandwidth you paid for, you can't realistically use any legit streaming services like Netflix or even watch YouTube either.

It just occurred to me that this might not even just be about torrents. Maybe they will throttle anyone that, say, watches a YouTube video that contains some copyrighted music in the background. Sure, they are robo-spamming Google with DMCA takedown notices about the video too. Or maybe they will stop that, since they haven't had a whole lot of success with stemming the flow of free content that way. It would be easier for them to just throttle essentially everyone who streams any content at all, thereby basically turning the internet off for their captive customers as a content distribution system.

Maybe this is just a prelude to new MPAA/RIAA sanctioned streaming services via the "on demand" ISPs. "Want to watch what you want when you want without being throttled for stealing movies? Join Cramcastic for only $49.99 / month and get as much guaranteed genuine content as you want! (fine print)(Up to your monthly cap.)(/fine print)"

Comment: Re:MS Really Embracing OSS? (Score 1) 227

by Beefpatrol (#42752823) Attached to: Microsoft Embraces Git For Development Tools
Good point. I almost forgot about Next. Even if Apple made that decision because it was the path of least resistance, I can still say that I think it was probably the best decision they could have made. The fact that the BSDs are the oldest OSs in common usage today isn't a coincidence.

Comment: Re:MS Really Embracing OSS? (Score 1) 227

by Beefpatrol (#42746987) Attached to: Microsoft Embraces Git For Development Tools

I don't think that is why Apple based OSX on various open BSDs. Apple is and always has been a hardware company. They don't make money on software by itself like Microsoft does. They sell laptops that would sell for $800 with Windows on them for $2000 because they are the only laptops that run OSX without all sorts of hacking. (Yes, there are other reasons, but 95% or more of the reason they keep selling those laptops for that price is due to OSX.) When Apple embarked on OSX, they were circling the drain. They knew they needed a complete OS rewrite; they needed an OS that did preemptive multitasking. (Even Windows did preemptive multitasking then.) Apple was never in competition with software companies.

They did the smartest thing they could have done, which was to put an Apple-style interface on a free, high quality implementation of an operating system that was more than powerful enough to hang with the industry leaders, well understood by geeks, and which contained, essentially, the reference implementation of the protocols that the internet runs on.

At that point, lots of people, especially geeks, (geeks had recently become cool,) wanted to buy a laptop that ran "UNIX" and that had fully supported hardware that "just worked".

Comment: Re:This is good news. Actually. (Score 1) 732

by Beefpatrol (#42703077) Attached to: Credit Card Swipe Fees Begin Sunday In USA

Unfortunately, no, I don't know much about American Express, but I can engage in some speculation. I know that they have cards that must be paid off every month and I believe those cards don't have interest like regular CCs because the cardholder isn't allowed to carry a balance. They aren't really credit cards in the traditional sense; they aren't really a vehicle for borrowing money; they seem to be a way just to use the CC processing system to make payments.

It seems to be the case that borrowers in general either pay on time the vast majority of the time or they default. Most accounts that are more than a few days past due seem to end up defaulting. Because they don't have the cardholder's money ahead of time, American Express cards still involve a short term loan which involves the risk of default.

If it is true that nobody pays interest or additional fees until they are already past due on a payment, then American Express probably loses money on a lot of the accounts that end up paying interest or fees. This is probably why they have such high interchange fees -- they don't have any other way to make money.

I thought about why anyone would want to deal with American Express if this is their business model. It kind of makes sense that there would have been a market for them back in the day when people at the point of sale couldn't verify anything about the payment except that the buyer had a card with their signature on it that appeared to be legit. For people that had money, (American Express cards were marketed as carrying prestige -- if you had one, you didn't *need* a loan,) and didn't need or want a credit line but still wanted the convenience of a card, someone with an American Express card could guarantee an honest merchant that payment would be forthcoming.

Merchants probably decided to accept them because they figured that they would generate larger sales since the people who used them had money to spend. It was also the only on-demand alternative to cash, (dangerous to carry in significant amounts,) or check, (dangerous to take because the risk of a check being bad is high,) for large transactions. They were like debit cards before real time, 24/7 transaction authorization existed. The merchant paid for that bit of insurance and for the business of those moneyed customers with high interchange fees on those transactions.

It is hard to see how they are relevant today except as corporate credit cards.

Comment: Re:It isn't just China (Score 1) 366

by Beefpatrol (#42702355) Attached to: Unemployed Chinese Graduates Say No Thanks To Factory Jobs

You can still pursue your dream job while you earn a living, and you can do your laughing at the other people on payday.

That's just it though -- you can't realistically do this very well. You can't exactly tell your factory foreman, "sorry, can't work this afternoon, I have a job interview." And that is after the fact that one is not likely to have much energy for finding a job after working all day. (Yes, I realize this is the time to suck it up and work a full day and then come home and work on your resume or whatever, but realistically, you could do a better job of it when you aren't fatigued; looking for a job can easily be a full time job by itself. The fatigue bit isn't an intractable part of the problem, it is just another thing that makes it harder.)

Comment: Re:This is good news. Actually. (Score 4, Informative) 732

by Beefpatrol (#42702079) Attached to: Credit Card Swipe Fees Begin Sunday In USA

I work for a credit union as a programmer. I am fairly involved in card stuff. The 2-4% gets split up between Visa/MC, the bank that is lending the money to the customer, and any other processors / stand-ins along the way. The majority of the amount the lending bank gets goes to reward programs and fraud. For debit cards, most of the fraud gets eaten by the bank / credit union that issued the card because most debit card fraud does not involve using a PIN; in debit card fraud situations, the bank's customer usually gets a refund after filing a dispute. This is why debit card interchange fees are almost as high as credit card fees.

For credit cards, the interchange income the bank receives sometimes does not even cover the cost of fraud and rewards; the rest of the cost is paid for from the CC loan interest. Yes, that means financial institutions sometimes lose money on CC customers even when they don't default. Overall, banks generally do make a profit on CCs even when the card holder pays it off every month, but that profit is no where near 3% of the charges on the card.

Comment: Propaganda (Score 1) 292

This is clearly anti-net-neutrality propaganda, but I am glad it was submitted to Slashdot. It points out that someone with the power to commission such an article thinks, probably correctly, that this argument will actually make some of the readers angry at Netflix. I haven't even read the article, but I'd love to know whose personal/corporate army was supposed to be rallied by this.

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"

Working...