Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Implement locally? (Score 1) 130

by Greyfox (#48923585) Attached to: How One Small Company Blocked 15.1 Million Robocalls Last Year
There is no situation I could be in where an incoming call is important enough to warrant my immediate attention. There's a guy at work whose wife is expecting a baby, I assume he's made arrangements for immediate contact. Maybe his wife should have a talk with him about working for a company that lets him work from home.

The old asterisk voice menu system I used to run was pretty good at shutting down telemarketers and robocallers while still letting legitimate callers through. I don't think it'd be so easy to implement on an android phone, although it really should be. Maybe that phone Canonical is working on will have more open standards, but I'm not holding my breath.

Comment: Re:Not their fault (Score 1) 382

by hey! (#48918827) Attached to: "Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

Something worth considering. We associate snow with cold, so it's tempting to see more and frequent snowstorms as disproof that the planet is warning. However temperature is only one of the constraints on snow. The other is moisture.

I have lived here in Boston over fifty years, and in the 60s and 70s the December climate was bitterly cold and *bone dry*. In recent decades there has been a marked tendency toward warmer AND wetter Decembers and Januaries, and thus frequent significant snow storms in December (almost unheard of) and January (rare until the 90s).

This storm was particularly intense, and in my town got two feet or more. This has happened on six prior occasions, once in 1888, and five times since 1969.

Comment: Re:Unity? (Score 1) 29

by crgrace (#48918789) Attached to: Game Hack-A-Thon Attracts Teams At 500+ Sites Worldwide

Programming an audio engine, or dynamic light engine for the umpteenth time is not being creative.

I think it's *incredibly* creative. In fact it's the very essence of creativity: you know what you want to achieve but it is non-obvious how to get there.

Perhaps it is a different kind of creativity compared to other aspects of game design but the times when I've been deep into highly technical development have been some of the most creative periods of my life.

I actually agree that using a game engine should be OK for this, but creativity isn't one of the reasons.

Comment: Re:Regulation? (Score 1) 330

by istartedi (#48916063) Attached to: Davos 2015: Less Innovation, More Regulation, More Unrest. Run Away!

Not only is that obvious on its face, you can see it in the statistics: the more "statist" and regulatory governments have been, the less well economies have done and the more income inequality we've seen.

That's an awful lot of un-quantified stuff. You can have fun measuring these things in oh-so many ways. I propose to measure oppression in Stalins per acre, and economic outcome in chickens per pot. Fair enough? Let's get some real analysis started now...

Comment: East coast storms are notorious (Score 1) 382

by istartedi (#48915885) Attached to: "Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

East coast snow storms are notoriously difficult to predict. I'm not surprised that even with modern technology they still can't get it perfect. In addition to the dynamic nature of the low-pressure circulation interacting with the coast and the gulf stream (like a hurricane) you've got the all-important freezing temperature line. It's even worse than "a line that might shift" though, because if the cold air intrudes under the warm you get freezing rain, not snow.

I grew up in that region (DC area) and it was always like this. I have no envy for those forecasters.

One of my fondest memories is of the 1978 storm. Hit in the afternoon, 2" predicted. 6PM, forecast increased 6-8". Next morning? Most of us had 24", some hit 36". I wonder if modern tech could have done better.

More often than not though, it seemed like DC always got cheated out of snow when I was a kid. Rain, sleet, snow that got rained on and turned into a soggy mess. Beautiful snow that you could play in on your day off was just all too rare.

Comment: Why make up a conspiracy theory? (Score 1) 382

by Salamander (#48915221) Attached to: "Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

If you think weather forecasting is easy, let's see some of your forecasts. A forecast which has been substantially correct for New England and merely didn't extend as far south as had been expected only underscores the difficulty of the exercise. Occam's Razor suggests that no cause beyond "honest mistake" need be posited. I know some people like to take every opportunity to prattle on about government overreach, but you're *really* stretching that fabric too thin this time. Get a grip.

Comment: We need better software, not more programmers (Score 5, Interesting) 199

by crgrace (#48910959) Attached to: Why Coding Is Not the New Literacy

It's been this way whenever a new technology became normalized in the public eye.

I had a chat with my late grandfather about this in the mid-90s. I told him about when I was a kid and there was a big push in making children "computer literate". So much so, in fact, that I took a class in 3rd grade or 4th grade in LOGO on a VIC-20.

My grandfather said that reminded him of when he was a boy in the 1930s. In his time people thought EVERYTHING would be mechanized and learning how machines work and how to fix them would be required to be literate in the future. So, he actually took classes in engine design (!) and maintenance in the mid-30s, and it wasn't a vocational school.

As we all know, the deep knowledge required to design a car or an oven similar machine is held by specialists and baked into the products we buy.

Similarly, the deep knowledge required to program a computer to do useful work SHOULD be baked into the products we buy.

Think of it this way: who needs to read the manual when they get a new car? You just figure it out because it is largely intuitive. A TON of non-intuitive thought went into making the car easy to use.

I think it is our responsibility (those of us here who are engineers) to work towards putting that level of ease of use to work. This is the real reason Apple is popular. Their stuff is easier to use than most other products and people are HUNGRY for that.

We don't need to teach every kid to program. We just need better programs.

Comment: Re: Scaled Composites renamed (Score 1) 38

by jd (#48909771) Attached to: Virgin Galactic Dumps Scaled Composites For Spaceship Two

Solar sail can achieve 25% light speed, according to NASA, and Alpha Centauri is 4 light years away.

You want a manned mission (with robots doing all the actual work) to determine if the conventional wisdom that a manned mission to the outer planets is physically impossible is correct. Even if the pilot dies, you learn the furthest a manned mission can reach. There's seven billion people, you can afford to expend one or two. Ideally, they'd be volunteers and there'll be no shortage of them, but if you're concerned about valuable life, send members of the Tea Party.

Comment: Microsoft's UI history is...not good (Score 1) 370

by dtjohnson (#48909139) Attached to: Windows 10: Charms Bar Removed, No Start Screen For Desktops
It is not as if we must have the 'start' menu, or even a work-like or work-similar functionality. What fills us with dread is that the new Windows 10 UI is likely to be difficult and time-wasting to use...and since Windows is ubiquitous...we will likely be using it anyway. We, all of us, use a variety of digital UIs every day...the dashboard on our car, the screen on our home entertainment system, our smart phone, kitchen appliances, etc. Most of these are fairly simple and intuitive to use...simple enough that we don't give them a second thought. That's the point, here. Windows 8 is NOT simple or intuitive. It is painful, irritating, and time-wasting. That 'start' menu was nothing special as a UI feature. It was actually very poor...beginning with the obvious conflict between clicking on 'start' to perform a 'shutdown.' But...we were used to it. We were familiar with it. There's nothing wrong with a new UI if it is good as in 'powerful,' 'simple,' 'easy,' and 'fast.' The first iPhone (and ipod touch) was radically different from anything that had gone before it but it was a very good UI and people were able to use it effectively after just a few minutes. The Windows 8 UI, on the other hand, requires a book with screenshots in one hand and a smartphone with tips in the other hand to really accomplish anything for a first-timer. So...Windows 10, whatever it ends up being, will be carrying a lot of baggage to the rollout. Know that Microsoft.

Comment: Re: Scaled Composites renamed (Score 1) 38

by jd (#48909107) Attached to: Virgin Galactic Dumps Scaled Composites For Spaceship Two

No big surprise. The military are willing to invest what it takes for what they need. Military entities are, by necessity, pitifully naive when it comes to anything useful, but once they specify what they think they want, they don't shirk at the cost, they get the job done. A pointless job, perhaps, but nonetheless a completed job.

The corporate sector wants money. Things don't ever have to get done, the interest on monies paid is good enough and there hasn't been meaningful competition in living memory. Because one size never fits all, it's not clear competition is even what you want. Economic theory says it isn't.

The only other sector, as I have said many times before, that is remotely in the space race is the hobbyist/open source community. In other words, the background behind virtually all the X-Prize contestants, the background behind the modern waverider era, the background that the next generation of space enthusiasts will come from (Kerbel Space Program and Elite: Dangerous will have a similar effect on the next generation of scientists and engineers as Star Trek the old series and Doctor Who did in the 1960s, except this time it's hands-on).

I never thought the private sector would do bugger all, it's not in their blood. They're incapable of innovation on this kind of scale. It's not clear they're capable of innovation at all, all the major progress is bought or stolen from researchers and inventors.

No, with civilian government essentially walking away, there's only two players in the field and whilst the hobbyists might be able to crowdsource a launch technology, it'll be a long time before they get to space themselves. The military won't get there at all, nobody to fight, so the hobbyists will still be first with manned space missions, but it's going to take 40-50 years at best.

We have the technology today to get a manned mission to Alpha Centauri and back. It would take 15-20 years for the journey and the probability of survival is poor, but we could do it. By my calculations, it would take 12 years to build the components and assemble them in space. Only a little longer than it took for America to get the means to go to the moon and back. We could actually have hand-held camera photos taken in another solar system and chunks of rocky debris from the asteroid belt there back on Earth before Mars One launches its first rocket AND before crowdfunded space missions break the atmosphere.

All it takes is putting personal egos and right wing politics on the shelf, locking the cupboard and then lowering it into an abandoned mineshaft, which should then be sealed with concrete.

Gravity is a myth, the Earth sucks.