Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Last Chance - Get 15% off sitewide on Slashdot Deals with coupon code "BLACKFRIDAY" (some exclusions apply)". ×

Comment cloud and desktop synergy (Score 1) 167

from the ./ summary:

"People still see Ubuntu as primarily a desktop operating system. It's not — and hasn't been for some time."

Well there is a distinction between Ubuntu being the primary desktop Linux OS and it being primarily a desktop operating system. The poster conflates those claims by asserting the first while prior surveys supported the latter. And he is too quick to dismiss, and therefore to overlook, what is likely critical to Ubuntu cloud adaption: We want to run in the could what we already run on the desktop. It's familiar. We know how the package manager works and we do not have re-learn all those other differences between distributions which we stumble over and have to look up when moving between them. Sure, not hard to sort out, but who wants to? And who wants to keep 2X all those distribution-dependent details in their head? I think most people are like myself in this respect; pleased to learn fundamental Unix/Linux concepts, annoyed and pestered by details specific to particular distributions. Now what flavor of Linux am I on and where did it keep its config file for this?


Comment why that is (Score 3, Interesting) 257

We are right to hold discoveries of science and the scientific method in high regard. But that approval is distinct from respecting scientists as a class. The problem of non-reproducibility is no fault in the scientific method but instead indication of the rotten state of modern academia.

Earlier in my career I worked at universities writing software used for psychology and neuroscience experiments. On the basis of that experience I can offer an explanation for why about 1/2 of experiments are not reproducible: A lot of psychology faculty are terrible liars. While some demonstrate perfect integrity, others, probably the ones generating all those irreproducible results, lied whenever it suited their purposes. Still others were habitual liars who lied not to achieve some specific outcome but out of habit or compulsion. The center director of one research group confided to me, after a dispute with the faculty, that he had not been able to control his compulsion to lie. And when I claim that faculty "lie", I do not mean what could, by any stretch, be characterized as errors, oversights, or honest differences of opinion. I mean abusive, sociopathic, evident and deliberate lying. Like being told that the inconvenient evidence which you have in hand, "does not exist."

The lying is enforced by implicit threat. One time I responded to an email message, correcting an error, and then immediately after that a prominent member of the faculty, somewhat creepily, follows me into the restroom, stands too close to me while I am using the urinal, and explains to me in a threatening tone the error of my reasoning, which according to him, was that, "it would not do that because it would not do that." The dean imposed a disciplinary penalty on me for objecting to that. Though that was unusual, typically challenging lies elicited, a yelling, screaming fit from a faculty member. So it's not just lying, but lying backed up by threatening, thuggish, behavior of the faculty and university administration. This was a highly-regarded department with generous NIH funding, which makes me think that lying in that field is kind of a mainstream thing.

The root cause here has little to do with science, per se, and has more to do with the rotten management of colleges and universities. Regardless of what the employee handbook states, there are few de facto restrictions on faculty conduct and university administrations act to cover up problems by disciplining and threatening the whistle-blowers. Jerry Sandusky was not a scientist, he was a football coach, but if you look at the way Penn State concealed child molestation and protected him, that is typical of the way universities respond to faculty misconduct as welll, and explains why academic dishonesty is tolerated. One full-time faculty member in the department in which I worked had not set foot in the department in over five years nor ever appeared in any of the classes which she "taught." According to the department chairman, every time she was contacted to encourage her retirement was, whe was, "drunk off her ass in the middle of the day." It was tolerated and covered up.

I am not claiming that all scientists, fields, or academic departments are full of liars. I have never worked closely with physicists, computer scientists or mathematicians on a daily basis, but none whom I know personally have behaved like that.

To sum it all up, psychology has a problem with poor reproducibility of published results, many of the psychology faculty I knew were terrible liars; there might be a causal connection between the two.

Comment One Bit (Score 1) 177

from the ./summary:

...but said it would not block content on the 'darknet' — a network with restricted access — where abusers often posted images."

Well that is one way to defeat the blocking. Or you could flip just one bit in the entire image and that would change the hash. Pick an LSB anywhere and nobody will notice that it is a different image. Assuming it's a hash of the entire image, and not a subsample. And assuming that image compression does not swallow your LSB flip. Even without those assumptions, there will be many trivial and, to the eye, undetectable, transformations which would defeat the hash.

But something tells me that the sort of people trading in this stuff would not be looking to defeat the blocking anyway. They probably want to keep their nasty viewing habits as private as possible, and the fewer people who stumble across that stuff and report it the better off they are.

So FaceBook, Google et. al. are not fighting child abuse, they are covering it up, walling it off from the decent, respectable part of the internet so that we upstanding citizens are not accidentally exposed to it, In a doing so, they facilitate the interests of those who trade in that stuff.

Comment Predictable (Score 2) 330

from the /. summary:

The police in Helsinki, Finland has announced in a tweet that if you see someone driving Uber car, you should call 911 (or actually, 112 in Finland).

from Wikipedia:

The Road to Serfdom is a book written by the Austrian-born economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek (1899–1992) between 1940–1943, in which he "[warns] of the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning."[1] He further argues that the abandonment of individualism and classical liberalism inevitably leads to a loss of freedom, the creation of an oppressive society, the tyranny of a dictator, and the serfdom of the individual.

Comment At What Cost? (Score 1) 528

Clinton Plan To Power Every US Home With Renewables By 2027 Is Achievable

Many things are achievable but still not worth doing:

Dude 1: "So I got wasted, hooked up with that skanky 60-year old fat chick from the bar, lost my car keys and walked home in the rain, slipped and fell in a pile of dogshit."
Dude 2: "That's...achievable!"

Anyway, the kind of people who work for a living and pay taxes might ask, "so how much is this going to cost me?"

Well it might not be as bad as Obama's plan which, in his own words, would cause electricity prices to "necessarily skyrocket."

Though if we emulate Denmark or Germany then our electric bills will be about 2.5x what they are now. Over at Watts Up With That, Willis Eschenbach plots renewable energy adoption of nations vs. their respective consumer electric price. As he explains, he derives the plot from two graphs first presented together here by Paul Homewood.

Comment Re:Everybody List What You Think Went Wrong (Score 5, Insightful) 552

The reason for this decision is that the Slashdot Media business no longer aligns with the broader DHI strategy, which has been refined to focus on providing digital recruitment tools and services to connect employers and recruiters with talent in multiple professional communities.

What that means in plain English is that DHI thought they could use this place as a jobs board until they noticed that companies want to hire productive employees who do actual work instead of wasting time on Slashdot.


Comment Selfless Charity or Profits? (Score 1) 84

So is giving away free internet service to the poor a profit maker for Google or is it selfless charity?

It might well be a profit maker for these reasons: Google gets x amount of advertisement revenue for each new internet user in the U.S., because each new broadband user which Google connects brings Google additional advertising revenues. And Moore's law has dropped the cost of providing service to very low. And Google might be able to claim a charitable tax deduction for this giving. And the best pricing strategy for Google is to charge each customer exactly the most which he will pay. Price discrimination is illegal but charitable giving is a loophole; If the poor will not pay for internet service, then giving them internet service for free while charging those with more money, who are willing to pay for their broadband, is a good pricing strategy.

From a cynical perspective, Google is exploiting the poor by using them as ad-click monkeys.

From an optimistic perspective, free enterprise makes voluntary acts of charity measurably profitable to the giver, in addition to the intangible profit of good-will earned by giving.

Comment Re:Free? Who said anything about free? (Score 2) 432

then why don't you pay double for your gasoline? you are getting a 50% discount thanks to government subsidies

There is no such thing as 50% government gasoline subsidy in the United States, nor any combination of indirect subsidies which reduce its price by 50%. You are making up a lie to support your position.

and you should also be paying more for milk and other dairy products whose prices are artificially lowered by government actions

It is the opposite. Prices of farm commodities are artificially raisied, not lowered by the government. These are FDR-era programs, often called "price supports". It was recently the subject a U.S Supreme Court case, Horne v. Dept. of Agriculture in which the court ruled against the government. It is also the entire purpose of the federal corn ethanol mandate to drive up corn prices by artificially stimulating demand.

Comment Management as Automated Competitive Service (Score 1) 432

In the gig enonomy, you no longer work for a boss who controls you. Instead, you choose from what automated service to purchase the management work which he/she formerly performed.

The so-called "gig economy" replaces inflexible and inefficient management and regulatory structures with flexible, competitive, efficient and inherently fair and safe automated services. It is the continuation of two trends: automation and the transition to a more efficient horizontally-integrated economy away from a vertically-integrated economy. Now the workers can choose ad hoc services which were traditionally performed by management, choose as an automated electronic service rather than committing to employment under a fixed management and regulatory structure. Computing as service (cloud computing) and the earlier transition to shipping as a service away from in-house shipping departments are two other examples of horizontal restructuring. Eventually everything except core expertise associated with your business identity will move out-of-house and be purchased as a service.

Both customers and workers benefit from replacing the costly and clunky managers and regulators with a competitive, cheap, safe and fair automated services. It is old-style management and government which is useless and burdensome and it is those interests who Hillary appeals for political support. The gig economy is a power-to-the-people trend which Democrats inherently despise. Their own ideologies are power to the politicians, power to the union bosses, power to the trial lawyers, power to the MPAA, Export-Import bank, medicial insurance companies and any other big-business interest will buy their votes. Power to the bureaucrats and regulators, certainly yes. But not power to the people, never to those poor, stupid common people who must be kept under the thumb of their bosses who are, in turn, controlled by the government.

There is an even more insidious problem for Democrats with the gig economy which is that it exposes the many actual workers directly to the massive taxation and regulatory burdens imposed the federal government. And those workers are aghast and horrified by what they now see. A substantial role of business management is as intermediaries between the government and employees, exposing the insane and massive regulatory and tax burdens to relatively few managers at large corporations while shielding the relatively many workers under them from full knowledge. Now when Democrats attempt to apply the burdensome fines, fees, taxes and regulations directly to many small business and individual workers in the gig economy, there is massive public outrage. Democrat politicians are freaking out. For example:

- Chicago just enacted a lunatic Cloud Tax. The liberal entrepreneurs who previously supported Democrats who enacted that tax are furious.

- from Bloomburg, about Bill DeBlasio :

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio presents himself as a champion of the technology industry. The industry says he’s trying to smother progress one app at a time.

  The mayor’s plan to require Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc. and other ride-hailing services to get city approval for upgrades to the user interface on smartphone apps — and to pony up $1,000 each time they do — has rankled a broad swath of companies, with 27 signing a letter protesting his plan. It’s also raised questions about whether the mayor is siding with taxi and limousine owners who helped finance his 2013 campaign.

Expect the same sorts of things from Hillary if she is elected.

Comment Why Is It a Crime to Evade Government Scrutiny? (Score 0) 308

Over at the Atlantic Monthly Conor Friedersdorf addresses the same issue, the recent criminalization of circumventing government surveillance, in the context of the prosecution of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Notably, he states, "Prosecutors may suspect Dennis Hastert of serious misconduct, but charging him with trying to avoid surveillance risks criminalizing harmless behavior." Harmless behavior which apparently now also includes the clearing of browser data.

So according to the U.S. Department of Justice, withdrawing money from a bank account in small increments or clearing browser data, in and of themselves, are now criminal acts. But it's just fine to delete thousands of government emails which are under congressional subpoena and which were illegally maintained on a private server.

In the U.S., law is not justice. It is a tool used by powerful thugs to threaten and persecute their political enemies while coddling their allies. Also, it is actually possible to renounce U.S. citizenship and I hear the weather is nice in Chile.


Comment New Era? (Score 3, Insightful) 391

Ghost Gunner...may signal a new era in the gun control debate

Presumably he means a "new era" of debate in which gun-rights advocates are not resoundingly winning that debate. This week's news is that the Texas legislature approved campus carry and both houses of the Maine legislature approved constitutional carry. And those immediately followed the Federal Courts rollback of carry restrictions in DC. And last year Illinois legalized concealed carry.

I don't see how Andy Greenburg using a "Ghost Gunner" is going to reverse that trend.


Comment Cool Old Technology (Score 1) 557

What Cool New Tech Would You Put In?

Some of the best new home technology is actually old technology:

- Masonry Heaters, were invented in the Neolithic Era. Unlike wood stoves or fireplaces they burn clean with almost 100% efficiency and require infrequent fueling, only once or twice a day. They also look cool, have a neat ambiance and fuel costs are far lower than any alternative.

- Nickel-Iron Edison batteries were invented over 100 years ago by Waldemar Jungner in 1899 and developed by Thomas Edison in 1901. The nickel iron batteries in Jay Leno's 1909 Baker Electric Coupe are as good as new. Unlike any other home electric backup storage technology they last for basically an infinite number of charge/discharge cycles and have many other desirable characteristics such as immunity to 100% depletion (which destroys lithium and lead-acid batteries) and the are environmentally friendly, non-toxic and 100% recyclable. The only downside is their mass, but unless you will be driving your house around, it's by far the best option. And unlike aluminum batteries, and the Tesla Powerwall, the Nickel Iron batteries are available today.

- Used shipping containers: Build your house out of them. Invented, depending on your point of reference, some time between 1933 (first containerized shipping in Europe) and 1968 (ISO standard published). It's environmentally friendly and your house will be impervious to tornadoes and earthquakes. Container homes have gone from being kind of trailer-park to high-design.

Of course I would want modern options such as photovoltaics and a ground-source heat pump, in addition to the old stuff. So my advice: You will do best to select the best of both the old and new, instead of exclusively one or the other.

"Consider a spherical bear, in simple harmonic motion..." -- Professor in the UCB physics department