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Comment: How many passengers can it carry? (Score 1) 34

by Flytrap (#49384317) Attached to: World's Largest Aircraft Seeks Investors To Begin Operation

I am really excited about the possibility of a week long cruise over Europe or a 5 day low altitude cruise across an African savanna or game park aboard a cruise liner such as the Airlander. However, when reading articles about the Airliner, it is always about the technical gobbledegook that engineers and airship geeks get off on... never does it cover the things that matter to the potential investor or future passenger.

At some point there was a view that future airships would be able to gently cruise the skies for days on end much like ocean liners of yesteryear. Future airships were said to be able to carry and support 200-300 passengers and crew over a few days or up to 1000 passengers and crew on a single transatlantic voyage. These were the promises (or dreams) being made a few years ago.

Now, with the Airlander, we have an opportunity to evaluate those promises and see how close to the dream of luxury airship liners, reminiscent of old school luxury ocean liners, we can get. And suddenly everyone appears to be silent about those prospects... nothing to fire up the imagination of a dreamy eyed 12 year old except for the fact that the Airlander's "unusual shape emulates a wing, giving it lift as it is propelled forward by its four engines, as well as from the 38,000m3 of helium that fills its hull."


Comment: Re:this is getting old (Score 5, Insightful) 206

by Flytrap (#48810029) Attached to: China's Engineering Mega-Projects Dwarf the Great Wall

Some economists worry that China might eventually be mired in enormous debt

While any country can over stretch itself and find itself mired in unsustainable debt, it is hard not to roll one's eyes when one reads the report's really, really, really, remote scenarios for how China could get itself into such a situation. Given the current global geo-economic reality, spending as much time as the report does on the likelihood of this scenario coming to pass almost discredits the rest of what is actually a great report.

Chinese foreign reserves are almost US$4 trillion (as at September 2014) - more than the combined total foreign reserves held by the next 7 largest holders of foreign reserves (i.e.Japan, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Russia, Brazil and Republic of Korea). The United States foreign reserves, by comparison, are a paltry US$134 billion

At the other end of the scale, United States foreign debt stands at a staggering US$18 trillion - about US1 trillion of that borrowed from the Chinese - more than that of the United Kingdom and Germany combined.

The report then nonchalantly skims over the distinction between the mega-, giga-, tera- projects around the world and lumps them together as if they all pose the same systemic risks to each respective economy. This may serve the purpose of highlighting the manic pace of development taking place in China, but the author's US corollary to China's mega airports, rail infrastructure, city expansion, ports, malls, urban housing (albeit many of which still lie empty), are what I would call vanity mega-projects, such as the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft program, the International Space Station, etc.

If I were worried about a major global economy (and the US and China now the two largest economies in the world, by a long shot) "eventually being mired in enormous debt", it would be the one that is spending trillions of dollars on projects that cannot be used to further grow the country's economy in future. Spending billions on improving the county's economic efficiency (such as rail infrastructure, ports, airports, housing for migrant workers, renewable energy, manufacturing, education, etc.) cannot be equated to spending billions on improving the efficiency with which one can obliterate one's adversaries from the sky.

Comment: Re:For the rest of us (Score 3, Insightful) 299

by Flytrap (#48287127) Attached to: It's Time To Revive Hypercard

Why couldn't a new incarnation of something like Hypercard be cross platform.

I am not familiar with Hypercard (my entry into programming was via Basic first on the ZX Spectrum and later on the Apple IIe), but I would argue that if is was as great at easing lay peoples entry into programming as some claim, then we should rather exert more effort in making a new incarnation of Hypercard that is cross platform, rather than in trying to convince people that second best is better because it is cross platform.

Comment: Re: Apples and Oranges (Score 5, Insightful) 427

You couldn't be more wrong... the point made by Anonymous Coward (no, not you... the first Anonymous Coward) is valid and is informed by legal precedent set during the Microsoft anti trust case.

  • 1. Apple has a less than 15% market share... they may be very influential, but I hardly doubt that anything that they do could be construed to be abuse of market share.
  • 2. Apple can only dictate iOS requirements to itself since it is the only OEM using iOS. If they make decisions that are bad for the only iOS OEM, Apple are the only OEM to pay the price, not Samsung, HTC, Huawei, LG, Xiaomi or Motorola.
  • 3. Google should be able to dictate how Android is configured for its Nexus line of handsets; but, just as Microsoft was accused of bulling tactics for insisting that Windows OEM licensees had to make Internet Explorer the default browser to maintain their most treasured partner statuses, Google finds itself in a similar position for insisting that OEMs must pre-install Google services (even when the OEM has its own competing alternatives) or risk losing access to high value Google services that are not easily substitutable. By having such an overwhelming market share such that OEM's have very few alternative options, Google could be attracting the same attention that Microsoft attracted when they did the same thing with their market share.

So, just to set the record straight... if Jonny Ive and Craig Federighi decide to screw Dan Riccio over by making onerous demands that the hardware engineering team much comply with in order to qualify to run the next version of iOS, the worst that could happen would be that Apple could have no new hardware to ship their fancy new operating system on next year. There would be howls of protest from investors, mobile network operators and customers... but Apple would be the biggest loser... not their competitors.

+ - Malaysia flight MH17... not the first... probably not the last

Submitted by Flytrap
Flytrap (939609) writes "Whoever brought down the Malaysian airliner should be held accountable... But history shows us that geopolitics often overshadows accountability and very few of the parties responsible for such disasters are ever held accountable.

An article contrasting the downing of Malaysian Flight M17 (by forces still to be determined) with the downing of Korean Air Flight 007 by Soviet fighters and the downing of Iran Air Flight 655 by the USS Vincennes got me thinking about why the standards of accountability are so inconsistent.

The Independent catalogues 7 passenger planes that were shot down prior to Malaysian Flight M17 (I added 2 more for completeness). This article also raises questions about why some parties are able to get away with downing a civilian aircraft while some parties are held accountable (the article does not attempt to answer the question)
  • 1954. Cathay Pacific VR-HEU shot down by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. Ten people on board were killed.
  • 1955. El Al Flight 402 shot down in Bulgarian airspace by two MiG-15 jets. Seven crew and 51 passengers were killed.
  • 1973. Libyan Airlines Flight 114 shot down by Israeli Phantom jet fighters. Only 5 survived of the 113 on board.
  • 1978. Korean Air flight 902 shot down by Soviet Sukhoi fighters after it violated Soviet airspace. Remarkably nearly all the passengers on board survived an emergency landing on a frozen lake. Two people were killed.
  • 1978. Air Rhodesia Flight RH 825 and Flight RH827 shot down by Zimbabwe People’s Liberation Army (Zipra) using ground-launched Stela missiles. 10 survivors were murdered at one of the crash sites, in the other none of the 59 passengers and crew survived.
  • 1980. Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870 brought down by a missile fired from French Navy aircraft over the Tyrrhenian Sea. All 77 passengers and 4 crew were killed.
  • 1983. Korean Air Flight 007 shot down by Soviet fighters after the pilot strayed into Soviet airspace. There were no survivors.
  • 1988. Iran Air Flight 655 shot down by the USS Vincennes using a surface-to-air missile while in Iranian territorial waters. All 290 passengers and crew were killed.
  • 2001. Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 shot down by the Ukrainian military over the Black Sea using a BUK S-200 missile. All 66 passengers and 12 crew members died.

The Russians, of course have their own take on this inconsistency, and one suspects that they are counting on a continuation of this practice, in the event that they may have had a hand in the downing of Flight M17. However, despite their obviously ulterior motives, they have a valid point, which other web sites are beginning to also pick up on.

Not withstanding what may have happened in the past, we should not let that get in the way of holding those who may be responsible for shooting down Flight M17 accountable, regardless of whether their act was deliberate or accident — when you wield weapons of that nature, one has to accept culpability for how they are used. The question for us, is: how do we do that when the standard of accountability set by prior incidents is so low and inconsistent and seems to be overshadowed by geopolitical agendas that make it hard to sift fact from fiction — Colin Powell's very detailed presentation to the UN security Council of fake made up evidence of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, comes to mind."

Comment: What percentage of your media is downloaded (Score 1) 152

by Flytrap (#47561517) Attached to: What percentage of your media consumption is streamed?
I think that the question makes more sense in geographies that have ubiquitous and reliable bandwidth. For those of us in other parts of the world, the question might be better rephrased as "What percentage of your media consumption is downloaded?". For me, the answer would be over 90%.

Comment: Microsoft, Oracle, IBM rule enterprise software (Score 2) 71

by Flytrap (#47300905) Attached to: Oracle Buying Micros Systems For $5.3 Billion

This article may help you understand why Oracle continues to grow (they just surpassed IBM in revenues from enterprise software sales).

To summarise it quickly for you:

  • Worldwide software revenue totalled $407.3bn last year
  • Microsoft continues to be the unquestionable enterprise software giant
  • Oracle which narrowly overtook IBM is in second place
  • Oracle's strong showing was thanks to trends such as big data and analytics.
  • The software industry is in the middle of a "multiyear cyclical transition"
  • Cloud is driving the bulk of this change
  • Pure cloud player Salesforce.com is now the tenth largest enterprise software vendor

Many of the top 10 enterprise software companies are not sexy brands, and most do not even have any consumer products or services. Names that dominate this list include Oracle, IBM, SAP, EMC, CA Technologies and Salesforce.com.

Comment: And what were his options... (Score 1) 346

by Flytrap (#47195117) Attached to: Did Russia Trick Snowden Into Going To Moscow?

And what, exactly, were his options...
... joining Bradley Manning (aka Chelsea Manning) in Extreme Solitary Confinement that has been described as cruel, inhuman and degrading by the United Nations and many others such as this very detailed report on The Torture Of Bradley Manning by Andrew Blake, or this article by Jesselyn Radack that catalogues exactly How the US Military Tortured Bradley Manning

Russia is the last place that I would have thought of seeking refuge... but I think that we must all trust that Snowden probably knew better than all of us which countries would have succumbed to US pressure to hand him back and which would have taken great pleasure in not doing so.

Now, if Snowden is a true patriot, he will fight for the right to come back home and have a fair hearing before a jury of his peers... and seek to be recognised and judged as a whistleblower.

Comment: Re:ZOMG PANIC! (Score 3, Insightful) 127

by Flytrap (#47193675) Attached to: Sony Overtakes Rival Nintendo In Console Sales

I think that it is worth noting that the sales comparison is not lifetime sales, but sales for 2013 only. So, Nintendo's 2012 sales would not have been included.

The fact that the Wii U has been available for longer makes the PS4 2013 sales look even more lacklustre. All the consoles have their best sales immediately after launch (which is why having a good launch catalogue is critical). The Wii U was launched in late 2012, and it is unlikely that 2013 saw the kind of sales that it had in the first few months after launch. However, the PS4 was launched in 2013. So, when you compare sales data for 2013, you are comparing sales data of the latest and greatest that Sony has to offer with the sales performance of a console that most had already panned as being not worth the purchase.

Comment: It was inevitable (Score 1) 121

by Flytrap (#47142517) Attached to: HP (Re-)Announces a 14" Android Laptop

I guess this was inevitable... After this strategy worked for Samsung in differentiating itself from Apple's iPhone, someone was bound to try to see if the same strategy would work against the iPad.

I think that what HP missed in Samsung's game plan was that they built their G-series phones as premium devices... size alone was not enough

Selling a whole bunch of cheap devices will get one more market-share, and very little else.

Comment: What else is needed... Rocket engines (Score 5, Insightful) 140

by Flytrap (#47138325) Attached to: SpaceX Shows Off 7-Man Dragon V2 Capsule

Maybe the small matter of getting the thing into space using a rocket engine is why they still need the Russians.

The most powerful rocket engines are made by the Russians... and the US buys several a year to launch its biggest payloads into space (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/us-military-national-security-agencies-vexed-by-dependence-on-russian-rocket-engines/2014/05/30/19822e40-e6c0-11e3-8f90-73e071f3d637_story.html)

SpaceX is developing some pretty powerful launchers, but until they can match the power and reliability of the Russian RD-180, I don't think that NASA or the Pentagon (who are the biggest buyers of the RD-180) will be turning their backs on Russian engines.

From the linked article: "Long-term U.S. plans to produce a domestic cousin to the RD-180 never got off the ground. The aerospace sector discovered that it was comfortable with the workhorse Russian engines when it came time to launch sensitive missions like spy satellites. The Atlas V rocket has made more than 50 consecutive successful launches using the RD-180. NASA and other government agencies rely on the Atlas V for some of their scientific payloads."

I have no doubt that the Dragon capsule will live up to its billing... So far, Elon Musk and SpaceX exceeded expectations on virtually everything. But, until then, the rickety, but dependable Russian Soyuz will continue to be the preferred choice of most astronauts for getting to and from the space station.

However, the real reasons that astronauts like Chris Hadfield et al think that the Russian Soyuz will be hard to replace are hard to fit into a single post.

  • Consider, for instance, that the Soyuz TMA-M can hang around the space station for 6 months, and be ready for use to return astronauts safely back to Earth, without a maintenance crew having to go and check every nut and bolt - a feat that even the Space Shuttle could never muster (for the record, the Space Shuttle had a mission duration of about 12 days - a few Columbia missions went up to 16/17 days).
  • Another example is that it takes the Soyuz just 6 hours to go from launch to docking with the space station (for comparison, it took the space shuttle almost 3 days to reach the space station after launch).
  • There are many other little things like these that are not cool or sexy, but make the ruthless efficiency and effectiveness with which the Soyuz executes and fulfils its purpose is second to none. It will take a lot more than a larger tin-can and a more comfortable ride to convince astronauts to put their lives in SpaceX's hands.

"If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?" -- Lily Tomlin