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Comment Remarkable people (Score 5, Insightful) 335

A remarkable number of people believe homeopathy works. A remarkable number of people believe in gods, devils, prophets and an afterlife. A remarkable number of people believe scrying, remote sensing, dousing or fortune telling is real. A remarkable number of people firmly believe various economic, political or social "truths" in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

A remarkable number of people are intelligent, well-adjusted and successful in their lives, and still manage to hold one or several of the beliefs above without ever experiencing any sense of disconnect. Those remarkable people almost certainly includes myself, and most likely you as well.

Comment Re:Promote longer life? Not so fast (Score 2) 91

Japan's farmers are old because Japan is a segregated society. Farmers, fishermen, and other manual laborers who's professions are considered 'unclean' are a subclass heavily discriminated against.

No. You're confusing manual labour - well respected, fishermen and farmers especially - with "burakumin", the old class of people that did work forbidden by buddhism, such as butchering, leather tanning and so on.

Discrimination of burakumin still exists, but mostly among the kind of people that worry their daughters will marry the "wrong sort" of people, and "wrong sort" also includes not having a foreigner in the family tree, not being a member of the right country clubs, having insufficient money and so on. The recent mayor of Osaka, for instance, is burakumin, but while there are many reasons to dislike him, I've heard of nobody doing so for that reason.

Comment Re: Switching (Score 1) 147

2) Compatibility with .docx sucks. Compatibility with Excel is _terrible_.

Excel is almost hopeless, since you really need the full scripting environment as well.

But docx has not really been a problem in practice. If you make sure you have the fonts installed, it's good enough. I asked one of our secretaries once about the doc files I send her. She said there were always some oddities - but there were oddities in files from everybody at the department. And most of them do use Office. Different versions; some use the US English version while others use the Japanese one; different base settings and so on.

Libre Office incompatibilities were in her eyes no worse than Office incompatibilities with itself. She didn't know I wasn't using Office, in fact.

Comment Sony? (Score 2) 283

The Sony tablets are very, very nice, and they have an 8" compact version. They're very lightly skinned, they're water resistant (you can wash off the screen) and they're very light. So light, in fact, that the first time I picked up the Z I thought it was an empty display model. That lightness, more than anything, is what makes it so pleasant to use for me. Can hold it up without effort for long periods when reading for instance.

Comment Re: Yay for price drop (Score 1) 130

Crude is the raw material. You still ned to manufacture and distribute the gasoline. As a guess, the refinery capacity hasn't increased in your area of the world. Nor is it likely to, as the trend is toward hybrids and all-electrics. Projected future consumption is not likely to support a large refinery project for the next 30-50 years.

Comment A step forward, but... (Score 4, Insightful) 399

Achieving practical nuclear fusion for power generation would be a very nice step forward. But "holy grail" is rather overselling it, I suspect.

Even when practical, we're still talking very big, very expensive plants that depend on a long supply chain for all its parts, the high-purity fuel and so on. When you consider the building, running and maintenance costs, and the cost of dealing with the spent fuel (much better than for fission plants of course) the energy won't be all that cheap. Hopefully cheaper than fossil fuels at least, but I would not be surprised if a first generation of plants, at least, become more expensive than that.

And they'll be competing with rapidly dropping costs for solar and other renewables. A big, expensive plant like that will need a 40-50 year lifetime to pay for itself. If you can't show that it will likely run profitably for that time period few or no companies will be willing to take on the very major investment. We may well see a technical breakthrough for fusion, and still get no plants actually built.

Comment Re:truth is... (Score 1) 93

Yea, because open-source software is famous for having well-designed, easy-to-use comprehensive instructions. ;>)

It often sucks, certainly. But there is one compelling advantage, in the case of unusual stuff such as this. The developers themselves are happy to talk about and answer questions around their tools. And open source tools tend to attract hobbyists that do things for fun, and are happy talking about what they do, and not just commercial developers that won't publicly say a word.

So with open source tools you're much more likely to find blog posts, forums and so on with information to help you along. There's a chance there's be people out there that had the same trouble you do, and wrote about it in public. With commercial tools - and especially tools with a userbase in the hundreds rather than tens or hundreds of thousands - there may simply be no public information out there at all beyond the docs written by the provider.

Comment B4 (Score 1) 177

Slightly larger than B4 size overall, but with a wider format. The width is 1.9cm wider than A4 and 11cm longer. Plenty of space to show a full A4 PDF and even scale it up a bit, and still have controls, status bars and the rest on the top and bottom.

If it is light enough, this would be an excellent device to read and annotate research papers. Your typical 10" tablet is just too small to fit all of a double-column paper on screen and still keep the text readable. Zoom in on one column and you no longer see the illustrations and lose a lot of context. I'm afraid this will be too heavy to use like that, though.

Comment Re:I'm Retired, I Already Live "Robotic Nation" (Score 1) 755

This is exactly it. The vast majority of people do not just sit back and do nothing. We like to do stuff, we like to feel needed, and we like to feel part of a group. Even with basic income taken care of, most people will do some kind of work (paid or not) given a chance.

If anything, this should make the economy more efficient, not less. People can work at the most needed stuff, for the optimal time they want or need, without regard for minimum income or weekly hours.

Comment Surplus (Score 1) 295

We're collectively producing more rice than we eat. Japan is stockpiling unused rice every year, and the world markets are flooded with cheap rice. Food insufficiency (starvation, malnutrition) is currently a problem of resource allocation, not production.

At the same time, the consumers in the big rice consuming countries aren't eating just "rice". You can typically find many dozens of very specific breeds of rice with differences in flavour, texture, firmness, size and so on. And that's within a single type (Japonica, say).

I suspect this would only be useful for rice grown for feed or as an industrial crop. But for feed, source of starch and so on there are already other, well entrenched crops available, so I don't see much of a practical impact of this development.

Comment Re:A simple proposition. (Score 1) 394

What is the alternate solution? Are you willing to pay for a subscription to every site you visit? Do you want more "native content" intermixed with all these articles?

Or, you know, less content. It's not as if we're all sitting around wishing there was more stuff on the internet to read, right?

We pay a monthly subscription for our online daily newspaper. I occasionally pay for things such as printed anthologies of online comics I follow, buy books by authors whose blogs and articles I read. I subscribe to a couple of websites.

At one end there is high-quality content such as newspapers (which is high quality in my home country) and other stuff like I listed above. Stuff that is good enough that people really do want to pay for it.

At the other end a lot of people out there are creating good stuff completely for free. You've got academics, programmers and other professionals with a day job that write to spread what they learn. You've got hobbyists sharing their passion. Small businesses publishing good stuff to promote their name and skills. Factual events are widely and freely reported.

The content farms, clickbait sites and the rest out there is squeezed between these two. The high-quality stuff sets the bar for what people expect in order to part with their money. The free stuff sets the bar on what people accept before they abandon you and leave for better sources.

If your business depends on having so much advertising that it drives people to block stuff or leave, then you have no business being in business at all.

"Falling in love makes smoking pot all day look like the ultimate in restraint." -- Dave Sim, author of Cerebrus.