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Comment: MOST IMPORTANT (Score 1) 215

by Celarent Darii (#49357123) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Makes Some Code Particularly Good?

Code has to be AVAILABLE - this is the most important. That means it must be OPEN SOURCE.

If it is CRAPPY code, it can be MADE BETTER if it is open source.
If it is INEFFICIENT code, it can be REWRITTEN if it is open source
If it is HARD TO UNDERSTAND code, it can be COMMENTED if it is open source.

So any code that is OPEN SOURCE, even if it is crappy, inefficient and hard to understand, can be improved.

But any code that is CLOSED is absolutely useless in my opinion.

Comment: Re:TSA checks still useless (Score 1) 310

by Celarent Darii (#49356953) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

And Shakespeare came so very close to doing so:

HAMLET [...] we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes, but to one table; that's the end.

POINS [Henry IV, part 1] .... there are pilgrims going to Canterbury with rich offerings and traders riding to London with fat purses.

As a matter of fact, the Oxford English Dictionary says that Barclay wins the honor for using fatly first.

Some beast agayne, styll leane and poore is sene Though it fatly fare, within a medowe grene.

Magnificent thing, the English language, so fatly adorned with so many words.

Comment: Not much of a coincidence (Score 5, Interesting) 157

by Celarent Darii (#49231393) Attached to: Strange Stars Pulse To the Golden Mean

The two numbers Phi and Pi are actually related by trigonometry, so it is hardly surprising that they would show up in a ratio concerning the rotation of stars.

If you divide a circle into 5 sections of 2*Pi/5 each you will get the five points of a pentagon, whose dimensions are all based on phi relationships [i.e. the Golden Mean]. Thus one can state:

2 * cos (Pi / 5) = Phi or
2 * sin (Pi / 5) = sqrt ( 3 - Phi )

or even better:

Pi = 5 arccos (Phi / 2)

that is,

Phi = 1 - 2 * cos (3 * Pi / 5)

So it is not entirely strange that the simple harmonic motion of a star could be expressed as some ratio of Phi.

It's all numbers, numbers all the way down.

Comment: News speak == Newspeak (Score 1) 366

The modern media is no longer about communicating the news. Its is committed to instituting ideology. If you control the vocabulary of the debate, you control the outcome of the debate.

From Orwell's 1984

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought — that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc — should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever. To give a single example. The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as ‘This dog is free from lice’ or ‘This field is free from weeds’. It could not be used in its old sense of ‘politically free’ or ‘intellectually free’ since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless. Quite apart from the suppression of definitely heretical words, reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself, and no word that could be dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum.

Comment: Re:You need to rethink that. (Score 1) 274

by Celarent Darii (#49203379) Attached to: Laser Takes Out Truck Engine From a Mile Away

What is interesting is that this beam is made by several beams interacting at a focal point. What if they changed the difference of the focal point? Sure, one beam would dissipate over 70km, but perhaps they could manipulate intensity of the beam at a certain distance by the interaction....

What you describe are engineering problems. If history is any indication, the military is pretty good at [eventually] solving them. Nothing like the instinct to destroy someone else to get the human intellect working.

Comment: Re:Why an email client (Score 1) 167

by Celarent Darii (#49203197) Attached to: Hands-On With the Vivaldi Browser

Well, I often write a lot of technical emails and need documentation nearby. A browser tab is useful to have the manual that you can read and copy text from and then another tab to write the email.

However, I use emacs [mu4e] and w3 or eww in another buffer. But I can see why for some people an email client and browser would make some sense.

Also many people use webmail, which is similar in that it runs in the browser. With a built-in email client you get something like webmail but good for offline use. That is certainly a feature than many would like.

Also, don't forget Zawinski's Law.

Comment: Re:Why call them activists? (Score 1) 247

by Celarent Darii (#49198303) Attached to: How Activists Tried To Destroy GPS With Axes

But materially they are the very same act. The Tea is destroyed no matter for what reasons you do it.

  Motive has a certain relation to culpability, in that motive often determines the moral judgement on the act.

If a person places a bomb and destroys a store, there is damage. It makes no difference if you call him a terrorist or activist, the damage is the same. The words 'terrorist' or 'activist' is trying to give a moral judgement on the act by somehow defining his motive. Indirectly 'activist' means there is some larger issue that the writer wants to explain to the readers. "Terrorist" means he is just an enemy to be eliminated.

Thus I think 'vandal' is the best word, as it describes more clearly the physical act without reference to his supposed motives. Calling him an activist implies that his motive is somehow morally defensible.

Comment: Re:Why call them activists? (Score 1) 247

by Celarent Darii (#49196573) Attached to: How Activists Tried To Destroy GPS With Axes

The "Tea Party" was the destruction of property by a bunch of hooligans.

If you actually read history, you should know that there were other cities in the colonies that simply refused the tea to be unloaded from the ships. The question was of 'taxation without representation', so they blocked the tea from unloading unless they also had representation in proportion to the taxes they would have to pay from it. The ships in Philadelphia and New York returned home without unloading the tea as dictated by the local governors. In Boston however they destroyed the property, not even allowing it to return to its owner.

And actually, if you study history, the Tea Act actually made tea cheaper for the colonies, in such a way that it threatened the rival Dutch merchants. It should be pointed out that many of the Dutch merchants took part in the protests as it was completely in their self interest. Even Samuel Adams proposed the same solution that was proposed at New York and Philadelphia - send the ships back. It was only at the crowds dissatisfaction with the meeting that a small group (30-100 they say) went to ransack the ship Dartmouth. You can read a simple summary of these events in the Wikipedia page.

The entire mythology that this band of miscreants was 'upholding their rights' is pure propaganda *after the fact*, as a kindling to the sentiments of independence and to escape the paying the cost of the damaged property. Even the expression "The Boston Tea Party" is from the 19th century, and not before. To say that this band of miscreants somehow had the right to destroy what wasn't theirs is simply nonsense. In fact, if you see the history which took place in other British colonies, the Tea Act was eventually repealed and they obtained greater independence, without the need of a bloody and protracted revolution.

[disclaimer: I studied in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I know Boston very well. The "Boston Tea Party" is a nice myth, but no serious reader of history in the original sources can claim that the Tea Party was somehow a purely patriotic act. It was the work of discontents that probably wasn't organised and certainly not planned by the main leaders of the American Revolution. It was only afterwards that it was used as a symbol of their intent and resolve.]

Comment: Why call them activists? (Score 4, Insightful) 247

by Celarent Darii (#49194887) Attached to: How Activists Tried To Destroy GPS With Axes

Why call these nuts activists? They are just destroying public property. We call that vandalism.

Seems like you can do whatever the hell you want, just call yourself an activist to excuse your behaviour. Maybe I should go tear down the neighbours hideous lawn ornaments in order to save the world from bad art so I can be an activist.

It doesn't matter what you want to draw attention to, destroying the property of someone else should just be called for what it is: destruction of property.

Comment: Re:spying is a drug (Score 1) 87

by Celarent Darii (#49157843) Attached to: NSA Spying Wins Another Rubber Stamp

Actually, Rousseau is just copying from Aristotle's Politics [5, v]. Here is an interesting quote that reminds us of our own times. (in this translation despotes is made into 'tyrant') :

Revolutions in democracies are generally caused by the intemperance of demagogues, who either in their private capacity lay information against rich men until they compel them to combine (for a common danger unites even the bitterest enemies), or coming forward in public stir up the people against them. The truth of this remark is proved by a variety of examples. At Cos the democracy was overthrown because wicked demagogues arose, and the notables combined. At Rhodes the demagogues not only provided pay for the multitude, but prevented them from making good to the trierarchs the sums which had been expended by them; and they, in consequence of the suits which were brought against them, were compelled to combine and put down the democracy. The democracy at Heraclea was overthrown shortly after the foundation of the colony by the injustice of the demagogues, which drove out the notables, who came back in a body and put an end to the democracy. Much in the same manner the democracy at Megara was overturned; there the demagogues drove out many of the notables in order that they might be able to confiscate their property. At length the exiles, becoming numerous, returned, and, engaging and defeating the people, established the oligarchy. The same thing happened with the democracy of Cyme, which was overthrown by Thrasymachus. And we may observe that in most states the changes have been of this character. For sometimes the demagogues, in order to curry favor with the people, wrong the notables and so force them to combine; either they make a division of their property, or diminish their incomes by the imposition of public services, and sometimes they bring accusations against the rich that they may have their wealth to confiscate.

Of old, the demagogue was also a general, and then democracies changed into tyrannies. Most of the ancient tyrants were originally demagogues. They are not so now, but they were then; and the reason is that they were generals and not orators, for oratory had not yet come into fashion. Whereas in our day, when the art of rhetoric has made such progress, the orators lead the people, but their ignorance of military matters prevents them from usurping power; at any rate instances to the contrary are few and slight. Tyrannies were more common formerly than now, for this reason also, that great power was placed in the hands of individuals; thus a tyranny arose at Miletus out of the office of the Prytanis, who had supreme authority in many important matters. Moreover, in those days, when cities were not large, the people dwelt in the fields, busy at their work; and their chiefs, if they possessed any military talent, seized the opportunity, and winning the confidence of the masses by professing their hatred of the wealthy, they succeeded in obtaining the tyranny. Thus at Athens Peisistratus led a faction against the men of the plain, and Theagenes at Megara slaughtered the cattle of the wealthy, which he found by the river side, where they had put them to graze in land not their own. Dionysius, again, was thought worthy of the tyranny because he denounced Daphnaeus and the rich; his enmity to the notables won for him the confidence of the people. Changes also take place from the ancient to the latest form of democracy; for where there is a popular election of the magistrates and no property qualification, the aspirants for office get hold of the people, and contrive at last even to set them above the laws. A more or less complete cure for this state of things is for the separate tribes, and not the whole people, to elect the magistrates.

Comment: Re:spying is a drug (Score 0) 87

by Celarent Darii (#49154127) Attached to: NSA Spying Wins Another Rubber Stamp

Actually, spying on citizenry is really the effect of democratic rule if you think about it.

Any body with political power will naturally try to preserve its power, just like anything likes to hold onto what it has. Thus it will do everything possible to insure that it continues in power. Anything that is a danger to the exercise of its power must be observed, controlled or eliminated or else one loses political power.

In a monarchy, the threats to power are usually other possible candidates to the throne, or, more commonly, foreign powers. Thus a monarch will do everything possible to eliminate possible usurpers or foreign agression. Examples of history are the War of Roses, or most of medieval Europe.

In a democracy however, the power devolves from the people, and so those in power need to know what the people are planning to do, especially on how they plan to vote, because this is the only real threat to their power. The power devolves more from public opinion, and so public opinion has to be known, observed and eventually controlled in order to stay in power. Since political power resides in the voting populace, there is a general tendency in any democracy to try to control the opinion of the populace, or at least to know the dangers to which their power is endangered. The phenomenon of gerry-mandering is nothing else than political power trying to insure its continuance.

In a monarchy the people are naturally subject to the monarch, and the enemies are usually foreigners. Thus in a monarchy there is not much need of a general program of spying on citizenry. In a democracy however the people elect their ruler, and so a democratic ruler, if he wants to continue to rule, generally treats the citizens themselves as a threat to his power. Thus he must spy on them, know that they are doing, just like any political power spies on its enemies.

Even Aristotle said that a democracy naturally degenerates into despotism. The United States is simply repeating the past, though one must say in a much faster tempo than its predecessors.

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.