Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:Submarine versus Viking longship (Score 1) 26

And I could see a longship having a piece break off after getting shot at and having that debris end up in just the right spot to clog the subs engines or torpedo bays or something like that. Sure it's statistically unlikely, and probably not even a 1/1000 chance of actually happening, but for the sake of game play I can accept it.

At that point you're better off imagining the sub had a critical weapons malfunction and blew itself up so the longship wins on walkover. Or that the warrior sneaked into the riflemen's camp and poisoned their water supply.

Comment: Re: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More (Score 1) 142

by Kjella (#49159463) Attached to: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More Robots

Weren't people saying the same sort of things when the "assembly line" was first invented? After all, the main purpose of the "assembly line" was to make the same amount of stuff with fa fewer workers than had been needed previously.

Well first off you're not looking back far enough, during the first industrial revolution there was massive unemployment as machines replace skilled artisans and craftsmen with cheap, expendable factory workers that could receive minimal training in their one task on the line. The assembly line actually comes very late in a mostly industrialized society already and an old fashioned manual assembly line still employs a considerable number of people. And Ford famously doubled wages to get retention up, because the assembly line work was actually getting complex and needed trained workers.

This time we're not just dividing and rearranging the way workers produce their product, we're cutting the humans entirely out of the equation except for meta-roles like designers, developers and repairmen. For example take the banking industry, it used to be huge with branch offices all over the place. ATMs were the first blow, now online banking has reduced it down to next to nothing. I just checked the figures on one bank I know, 250 FTEs (full-time equivalents) supporting 380,000 customers.

Think about it, in how many service industries is the human staff actually a service? When I go to the grocery store, what I want are the groceries. I don't care if robots automate the whole shop if they keep delivering the same service and quality. When it comes to water/sewage/electricity/internet etc. I'd rather not deal with them at all, I pay a bill and it works. If a lot of those jobs disappear at the same time and I don't mind seeing them go, but I'm paying nearly the same for the robot/self-service service there won't be much left of my paycheck to pay whatever new jobs these people have found.

Comment: Re:Pretty pointless (Score 1) 220

by swillden (#49158817) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

You are assuming the company would know the legal limits of an NSL. you are assuming the company would care about legal limits. If the NSA agent makes a good case of "Terrorism" then they will likely get what they want.

Of course the company would know the legal limits. They have attorneys.

That they might not care I addressed in the second paragraph.

Comment: Re:Xfce 5 should be based on Qt. (Score 1) 60

by Kjella (#49158799) Attached to: Xfce 4.12 Released

If anything, what I want is for my DE not to be based on a major toolkit. This breaks down when it gets to the file manager

And the system settings, that one is much tighter integrated to the DE than the file manager. And it needs to manipulate the pointer. And context menus, arrange menu bars etc. so it need some kind of UI toolkit. I don't quite see what it has to gain by reinventing the wheel, it's not like pulling in Qt/Gtk drains that many resources by themselves.

Comment: Re:Pretty pointless (Score 1) 220

by swillden (#49158471) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

I guess even if there was a way, the vendor would probably just get a NSL to put the backdoor in himself

NSLs can't do that. The law is quite specific about what an NSL can request. Not only can't it demand pro-active measures like backdoors, NSLs can't even demand the content of communications that the recipient already has. NSLs are limited by law to demanding communications metadata only.

Well, I suppose a letter can be issued that demands anything at all, and companies may choose to comply, but they don't legally have to if the letter specifies more than what is allowed by law.

Comment: Re:do no evil (Score 1) 174

by swillden (#49158419) Attached to: Google Taking Over New TLDs

Perhaps they should be asking for a ".google" gTLD, for that purpose, instead of trying to monopolize a generic identifier.

I was about to suggest the same, but with ".goog", to make it shorter.

They've applied for and received (been delegated) both.

Comment: Re:And no one cares (Score 1) 174

by swillden (#49158367) Attached to: Google Taking Over New TLDs

URLs have a reason to exist, and they will. The same way that IPs have a reason to exist and will, even though we rarely use them today.

Clearly they're important, and will be whether or not people see or use them. To the degree we can build infrastructure that hides the technical details and provides people with more human-friendly interfaces, we've made progress. Of course, the security engineer in me worries about the attack surface provided by these additional layers of abstraction.

But 10 years ago, I knew the IPs of all my servers by heart. Today I need them rarely, but sometimes I do and I know where to find them.

A few years from now you'll be glad that you need them rarely. Even with zero-compression, IPv6 addresses are unwieldy for humans.

Today I know all my domains by heart. Maybe in 10 years I will use them rarely, but when I do, I know how to do it.

It will be interesting to see what direction we go.

Comment: Re:Automation is Dependent on Design for Manufactu (Score 4, Informative) 142

by Kjella (#49158007) Attached to: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More Robots

At the assembly level it isn't so easy to automate with a lot of the designs. There are flex cables, adhesive, torque sensitive screws that all rely on a human to be able to manipulate and then quickly respond to misalignment. To automate this, the design constraints placed on the Industrial Designs need to change.

I think you underestimate how far sensor technology has come and will go, here for example is an example of automated salmon processing. Obviously there's a lot of natural variation, do we need to bioengineer a more robot-friendly salmon? No. They're measured out by a laser and intelligently cut. Head/tail/other cuts are dropped out to go on another processing line. Each cut is grabbed by a robot with robot vision and placed in pouches to be sealed. Skip to 3:12 if you just want to see that last part. Fillet-making machines are still in the research phase but there are examples of that too using X-rays to scan and find the pin bones. If they can deal with all that, I'm sure they can apply the right torque to a screw.

Comment: Multiple whiteboards + Google Hangout (Score 4, Interesting) 147

by swillden (#49154779) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Whiteboard Substitutes For Distributed Teams?

Okay, so the submitter asked for "good" solutions, and this may not qualify, but it's what I do: A whiteboard at each location, with a camera pointed at it. I can't draw on your drawing, but I can see what you draw, and you can see what I draw. I've experimented with various web-based shared whiteboards, but they all require drawing on the computer. Even with a tablet (either Wacom-style attached to a laptop/PC or a mobile device) and a pen, a real whiteboard is better.

In my case, generally there are at most three locations in the meeting, and usually only two: My home office and a group of people in a conference room. Having more may make the "real whiteboards" solution less effective.

Comment: Re:And no one cares (Score 4, Funny) 174

by swillden (#49154727) Attached to: Google Taking Over New TLDs

Well, then that's their limitation, not mine. I am tired of this trend of dumbing things down to the lowest possible.

Damn straight. It's like all these stupid GUI interfaces. I mean, I can see using a graphical interface if you're editing photos or something, but for reading and writing text? It's ridiculous and just makes it so that stupid people can do it without having to understand anything.

It all started with visual text editors, you know? Line editing was good enough, heck, you could argue that it made things too easy, too. What was really good was when we used toggle switches to enter data and read the output from a sequence of lights. If you can't mentally translate binary to ASCII you don't deserve the power of computation.


Comment: Re:And no one cares (Score 2) 174

by swillden (#49154699) Attached to: Google Taking Over New TLDs

Right on. It annoys me when I see people using google search to go to a specific website, rather than use the address bar to go there directly. If you try to explain to them that the address bar will take them there without having to click the first search result, it's like they don't even want to know.

I think this is just a further extension of the location bar vs search bar change.

I remember when I first saw the Chrome omnibox. It offended me. Mildly, but still. I know the difference between a search and a URL, and I am perfectly capable of clicking into the correct bar. Then I actually used the omnibox for a while (because Chrome was so blindingly fast compared to other browsers at the time) and found that when I jumped back to Firefox I got annoyed at the mental effort required to use the split location/search fields, even though it was trivial.

The fact is that low effort is not the same as zero effort. I like the omnibox because I just click and type, no need to spend a millisecond deciding which box I should click into.

I can see what you describe as the next step, so people don't have to bother understanding, or thinking about if they do understand, the difference between "cnn" and "". Or I suppose those who type slowly may prefer to omit the last four characters purely for that reason.

Comment: Re:And no one cares (Score 2) 174

by Kjella (#49154623) Attached to: Google Taking Over New TLDs

And half those sort of "new generation" searchers won't know half the time if they are redirected to a phony site.

Half the "old generation" didn't know half the time if they are redirected to a phony site by a phishing email. Anyway, that assumes you're going somewhere worth scamming. Email, online bank, ebay sure... but in the last 15+ years I haven't seen a single phishing attempt for my slashdot account info. And stuff that you just read, what's to phish? And that's why the important stuff is moving towards two-factor authentication so just stealing your password isn't enough.

It's the same generation

Comment: Re:I wonder how much hyperloop will really cost (Score 1) 151

by swillden (#49154621) Attached to: Hyperloop Testing Starts Next Year

I hope Elon Musk isn't getting arrogant, with the push into communication satellites, and hyperloop. The size of the hyperloop vehicles, suggests that it will have a lower capacity than a high speed rail line.

But much higher velocity, which can be combined with frequent runs to create high capacity.

If a high speed rail line wanted to, it could run the long, double deck high speed trains from Japan, that can carry ~1,600 passengers, every 3 minutes. Multiple trains could be stuck end to end.

That would provide massive throughput, but higher latency.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.