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Comment Re:Well, yeah (Score 3, Insightful) 928

Is Linux successful? Debatable. It has success in limited uses, but has never grown beyond these uses. It is a feature, not a product. Linus accomplished a lot, but what groundbreaking thing has he done in the last 20 years?

None of which has much to do with the kernel. I doubt there's a single feature you can point to and say "because the kernel is missing/mis-implemented this, people will not adopt linux". The lack of adoption of linux in userspace, if it is due to any technical reason at all, is to do with problems in the userspace tools.

Comment Re:Companies don't get it.... (Score 1) 474

According to Agile, you cannot do a 40 so we're stuck if the task can't be broken down.

There's no such thing. Every task can be broken down. That's what programming is - you break tasks down into smaller and smaller components, until they're able to be represented as sequences of bit manipulations.

If your company has some anal-retentive policy about which tasks are/aren't allowed to be broken down, well, that's stupid, but it's nothing to do with reality, or agile.

Comment Re:More Fearmongering (Score 1) 203

The cost per day is even higher than you state, but to be fair -- the payments are mostly on the construction of the facility -- not actually the cost of maintaining the idle facility. It'll take nearly 30 years to pay it off, but after that, hey... you have a great facility should you need it... and you probably will.

Or they could have built another dam, just like we have historically done to cope with droughts and population increases. They cost a fraction of the amount of a desal plant, both in construction and in maintenance, and can have enormous capacities.

Desal plants weren't built to deal with recurring droughts - we have them already, and we're already pretty good at storing and rationing water to deal with them. They were built because people were claiming that weather patterns were changing, and we would no longer be able to rely on rainfall to fill dams - and they pointed to the current drought as evidence.

Comment Re:More Fearmongering (Score 1) 203

Sure. That's why we built all those dams in the first place - you store up excess capacity in the good times, and have it available in the bad times. Very simple, very low-tech, and much cheaper than a complex desal plant. The reason we built desal plants instead was that the powers that be had been convinced that rainfall was going away, and those plants don't rely on rainfall.

Comment Re:More Fearmongering (Score 3, Informative) 203

Some rural areas might rely on aquifers, but the vast majority of Australia relies on man-made dams. I *know* weather is cyclical - as does everyone who's lived in Australia for more than a decade. Poems have been written about the juxtaposition of our "droughts and flooding rains". That's why I get cynical when people start screaming that the sky is falling, because we're in a part of the cycle they're not enjoying.

Comment More Fearmongering (Score 3, Informative) 203

Uh-huh. Here in Australia, we had one of these guys screeching about the perpetual drought Australia was going to be enduring. The government poured billions into building the biggest desalination plant in the country. Then the drought ended, the dams filled, and the desal plant is idling along, producing nothing, but costing half a million a day.

Comment Re:Surge Pricing - Why The Hate? (Score 2) 250

What if there isn't enough food or medicine to go around? Is a lottery the best approach? Or the fair market? Or perhaps rationing? Should a person with more money be able to redirect resources to themselves, even if it is not as important to their survival as someone who has less money?

When potatoes start costing $100/kg, growing potatoes is going to become really attractive. A high cost encourages production. A legislated price-ceiling depresses it. If you really want the government to subsidise transport during an emergency, then the government should provide the normalisation by paying the fair-market price themselves, and charging the public a subsidized rate. Trying to palm that off to the drivers just encourages them to stay home, and further decrease supply.

Comment Re:Austerity fails again (Score 1) 1307

The Guardian link doesn't provide much on the way of answers to anything; a little economic narrative strung together by a lot of snide name-calling. When the article starts off with stuff like "elites all across the western world were gripped by austerity fever, a strange malady that combined extravagant fear with blithe optimism", you know you're not going to be getting an objective analysis.

It doesn't mention the relative size of the Greek bureaucracy - it certainly doesn't outline any alternative path Greece may have chosen.

Fundamentally, Greece was always going to fail, no matter what happened. It's economy isn't depressed because it just happens to be in the "bust" of a boom-bust cycle - it's been driven into the ground by entrenched, endemic over-spending. Throw all the money you want at it, it's not going to recover until the systemic issues have been addressed.

Even Keynesians agree that you can't keep spending into deficit eternally - at some point, you have to reduce debt, even if its just so you have some credit left for the next down-turn. Sure you can run deficits during the lean years, but during the good years, you need to reign it in. Incidentally, this is the problem we have in Australia - unlike the rest of the world, we've been booming economically, thanks to our mining and China's consumption. But the politicians have kept running deficit budgets, because spending money wins votes, and "austerity" (that is, stopping the bread and circuses) doesn't.

Keynesians stimulus is supposed to be a short-run thing to counter the natural economic cycles of a healthy economy - a one-time shot-in-the-arm to get the economy back up and running quicker than it would otherwise. If the economy wouldn't naturally recover, throwing more money at it isn't going to help. Greece has to reform it's public spending, or it will crash - either by running out of money, if it stays in the Eurozone, or reverting to the drachma, and continually devaluing it to service its debts.

Remember, not all public servants are equal. Privatization will cut the count of "public servants", but can actually increase the cost of the service for a net loss to the economy.

What unique services was Greece's government offering that justified a 700% greater headcount that comparable countries? They could cut half positions without removing services, and they'd still have services staffed by three times as many people as we have here (although I realise privatisation of some services was a requirement of the IMF).

Comment Re:Austerity fails again (Score 1) 1307

Your paper has no relevance to "austerity" policies. It addresses the question of whether economies with large public debt can still significantly grow their GDP; it has nothing to say on whether reducing government employees' bonuses, or increasing retirement ages is economically a good or bad idea.

Even calling the measures Greece has agreed to "austerity" is ridiculous; Greece has an insanely large/expensive bureaucracy. Even with these adjustments, it's still much bigger and more expensive (proportionately) than that of other countries. For example, Australia (where I live) has 150,000 public servants, out of a population of 23 million (0.6%). The US has (according to Wikipedia) around 3 million civil servants out of a population of 310 million (0.1%). Before the cuts, Greece had a public service of 700,000, out of a population of 11 million (6%) - 10 times as many as Australia, proportionately. Even after the cuts, they're down to 500,000 (4.5%). Dropping the size of their bureaucracy to a mere seven times larger than other developed countries is hardly "austere".

Comment Re:Not for animals or locations (Score 1) 186

If we only ever heard about the H1N1 flu subtype, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, much of the public would be unaware of the threat that each could pose

What was the common name for severe acute respiratory syndrome? I only heard it as SARS, and people seemed to get worked up about that just as easily as they did about mad cow disease, or avian flu. There was a water contamination scare around here a few years ago, and cryptosporidium and giardia became household terms for quite a while.

I don't think it's so much the naming as it is the reporting around it. If the media repeats it enough, people will remember the term, even if it is outlandish. The main problem, I think, would be that there's probably dozens of diseases that cause "severe acute respiratory" problems. Naming diseases after prominent symptoms is likely to lead to lots of confusion, as many diseases have very similar symptoms.

Artificial intelligence has the same relation to intelligence as artificial flowers have to flowers. -- David Parnas