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


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:With the best will in the world... (Score 1) 300

by swb (#49561743) Attached to: Audi Creates "Fuel of the Future" Using Just Carbon Dioxide and Water

Making synthetic fuel when you have energy to spare could be a pretty smart storage mechanism.

Wonder what the efficiency is like though.

Since you're using "spare" energy which you can generate "for free" does the specific efficiency even matter? The efficiency of not using the energy is zero.

The only efficiency that seems to matter is the money cost of the equipment relative to the value of the produced synthetic fuel.

If you have 10 wind turbines and on a windy day you can only use the power from 5 of them, you would probably brake the other 5. The only cost to turning them for synthetic fuel usage is the wear associated with having them turn. I don't know how significant this is -- maybe they aren't designed for a 25 year lifespan of continuous rotation, maybe all those wind surveys and grid analysis they do get plugged into the engineering so that they can say the finished product has a 25 year lifespan because they know they will be idle/braked for 15 of those years.

Thus the free power is a lot less free because it will wear your turbines out much faster because you're spinning them more than for grid power.

Comment: What's the biochemistry of this? (Score 1) 343

by swb (#49561537) Attached to: Pepsi To Stop Using Aspartame

What's the biochemistry associated with aspartame or sucralose and an insulin response?

AFAIK, artificial sweeteners trick the tongue into tasting sweet but don't contain the chemistry (namely sugar) to induce an insulin response.

Now, that doesn't mean it couldn't happen (insert complex biochemistry here) and I wonder if there is possibly some kind of adaptive learned response associated with the taste of something sweet triggering it, sort of like a Pavlovian response. Or maybe there is some indirect connection with our taste buds and our insulin response -- it's not hard to see where taste and an instantaneous biological response would be beneficial, either in helping us reject poisons or in making some foods more quickly absorbed.

It also makes me wonder if could be un-learned -- if a person never ate anything sweet tasting that had sugars, would the body stop associating the taste of something sweet with an insulin response if there wasn't a corresponding increase in blood sugar?

Comment: Email IDs? (Score 1, Interesting) 18

Back when I was a lad, we knew that an "email address" was like a physical address - useless unless people know it. People even made them publicly available on the web!

Yes, spammers abused this. But hiding addresses hardly helped. So many addresses have been dumped or dictionary brute forced by now it's hardly a big deal if your email address appears in one more place.

So colour me unexcited by this terrible misstep.

Comment: "Need" definable for social integration? (Score 5, Insightful) 227

It's easy to talk about material goods as being "unnecessary" especially if they do not contribute to one's physical safety or health, like shelter, food and water.

For better or for worse, though, we are a consumer society and some things almost start to seem to become needs not because they contribute to our physical safety or health but because they contribute to our ability to integrate socially.

You may not "need" the latest smartphone but at the same time, especially among younger people, you could almost say you need to have a smartphone capable of accessing social networks in a reasonable manner because it's extremely difficult to integrate with many peer groups without one. You will not be able to participate in group dynamics or posses the same social information as other people.

The same thing could be said (more tentatively, because there are other outlets) about Netflix. If you're not able to engage with people socially because you are unaware of the types of programs they consume and cannot participate in discussions about them you are also hindered in group dynamics.

Outside the electronics/media sphere, you can make similar judgements about clothes. You don't "need" clothes that fit a specific fashion or brand paradigm -- you can buy used clothes or dollar store clothes and meet the minimal functional needs for clothing. But style and manner of dress is very important for engaging in peer groups, and like it or not people are in/excluded or find it easier or harder to engage in social activities if their mode of dress is compatible with their peer groups.

Now it's easy to make a lot of value judgements -- especially about social networking (the companies, phenomenon, etc) -- but their existence, usage and impact on social life is a reality and at some point I think some of these things become needs for reasonable social integration. Excluding them because they don't meet some minimalist description of "need" starts to sound myopic and mean spirited because I don't know anyone who just lives based on minimal need.

Comment: Re:Damn... (Score 4, Informative) 448

That's like the opposite of what happened.

Pakistan does not exist because of the machinations of the British. Rather, Pakistan came into existence due to the withdrawal and general shutdown of the British Empire, which like many occupations was suppressing tribal and ethnic dissent in order to keep their territories together. The moment the Empire (which was weak and failing at this point in time anyway) released its hold on the country there was a huge bloody massacre and a civil war ("The Partition") which resulted in the creation of Pakistan.

So it's not like the British stood around and encouraged Muslims and Hindus to fight each other. They did that all on their own.

Comment: How about none of the above? (Score 4, Interesting) 54

by swb (#49554385) Attached to: Declassified Report From 2009 Questions Effectiveness of NSA Spying

The summary seems to indicate that the value of "Stellarwind" wasn't clear because it was one of many sources and few had access to it, not that all NSA spying was seen as ineffective.

The NSA does so much spying that it seems like it would be hard to ever calculate the marginal value of each additional unit of spying. Probably more so because of the fragmentary and unreliable nature of clandestine information and the need to develop multiple sources to achieve any kind of confidence about a particular conclusion or piece of information.

The latter bit is probably what leads to never-ending development of new data sources and methods, especially as each new spying method becomes less and less specific and requires more and more analysis to tease out information. Call metadata doesn't tell you what was discussed or necessarily who was called. You need parallel data from some other source to tell you who is associated with those numbers, where they were, etc.

Comment: One 6 Plus glitch (Score 1) 458

by swb (#49554321) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Most Stable Smartphones These Days?

I've had one problem with my 6 Plus which was annoying enough to care about, crashing Safari when rotating the phone from portrait to landscape once a certain amount of tabs were open. Googling the problem I found a couple of threads on Apple's support web site, so it appears not to have been just my experience.

The fix with the initial release was to close all tabs (an annoying task in Safari), as there is no "close all tabs" function. I don't know that it's been a problem in 8.3 so far, and it seemed to be better in 8.2.

I didn't experience the issue with Chrome or with other apps, just Safari. I suspected something wonky with the nitro js engine improvements and the 6 Plus display size as occasionally not long before crashing would occur, js-heavy apps rotated web pages would not respond to screen taps or would respond in the wrong place as if the running js code didn't have valid screen dimensions for portrait.

I theorized that closing tabs also nuked cached nitro-compiled js code so that subsequent page views didn't have issues.

Other than that, my 6 Plus has just worked. Historically, I've had to reboot my iPhones to fix a random issue with phone calls more than any other problem and that's been very rare and probably less often than power cycling it for other reasons, like airport security.

Comment: Re: Good enough to criticize the mechanisms (Score 1) 129

Mod parent up. This is one of the most informative things I've ever read on /. in a comment.

It's usually people just trying to win semantic wars about stuff and trash Microsoft (or open sores or whatever).

Nicely done. I've got a Mac and I /don't/ have any of that old-skool software you mention, but if I did this is exactly what I'd want to do (or perhaps dual-boot... not sure if OS X likes side-by-side installs).

First, thanks for the "props" (blush); but now I feel ashamed.

Why? Because of what you mentioned about dual-booting two versions of OS X. And then it hit me: you're right! That's the ZERO-Cost (not counting download bandwidth) solution! So, here you go...

And also, since all accessible partitions automatically mount at startup (unless you do some simple command-line witchery), you should have no problem accessing/moving any desired stuff from the "old OS" to the new one. IIRC, these Partitions appear in the Finder like any other Volume.

Now, like any other dual-boot system, you really are only "in" ONE OS at a time. So, if you want to start migrating your "life" to the newer OS, but still seamlessly incorporate your Legacy apps into your workflow, then dual-boot is NOT for you. In that case, use the Virtualization method instead.

But if you only occasionally need to run some apps in the "old" OS, then dual-boot might be for you!

Comment: Re:Can we use this? (Score 1) 157

by JMZero (#49549411) Attached to: Wormholes Untangle a Black Hole Paradox

I don't know why I'm continuing this, but if you're going to just reflexively gainsay, you might at least say why the experiments I linked to don't prove what scientists say they do. Bell's work was a long time ago, and while it's still not 1000% nailed down it's very solid. The experiments are all on that side - the only thing on the "alternative" side is vague "I don't think the universe would work that way" crap that has to be very convoluted to match up with experimental reality.

Comment: Re:Good enough to criticize the mechanisms (Score 1) 129

Sorry for replying to my own post.

When I mentioned running PPC apps under OS X Server 10.6, an alarm went off in my head about the Server install not including Rosetta. Seems I was right. But there is an easy solution. Rosetta can be installed from the 10.6 Server DVD by executing a Command Line in Terminal.

Also, while searching for the above, I ran into an Apple Support Forum thread that talked about installing the 10.6.8 OS X client under Parallels. However, the method for that unauthorized virtualization is left as an exercise for the reader...

Comment: Re:Good enough to criticize the mechanisms (Score 1) 129

Then, Apple simply adds checking of DyLibs and other add-ons to OS X, and closes this hokey forever. Problem solved!

So, thanks to the black hat who brought this exploit to Apple's attention; so that they can take care of it.

WEll, not quite. Apple doesn't add essential security updates to pre Lion (10.7) systems. Since the rot set in after 10.6.8, many users are still on these OS versions simply because they're more accessible.. i.e. no new "improvements", and of course, many (like me) have just THOUSANDS of $ invested in software that is entirely obsoleted by 10.7 and up systems. These are developers that have either been bankrupted , or driven out of business, by the endless "improvements" in OSX (like the highly respected "Little Wing pinball", or Unsanity, creators of "Shapeshifter"), or they no longer supply updates to their OSX software. Using Snow Leopard, which is the last version to support the last 10 years worth of OSX software, exposes you to everyt malignant code for OSX in existence. Apple believes that the risk of infecting those user's computers with worms or trojans is good for the company's bottom line, somehow.... or what they are implying is that there is NO such malware after all...

As the owner of many PPC Macs, including a G5 tower that runs 10.5, (as well as "modern" Macs that can run Yosemite), and who has Mac consulting clients that still run 10.6.8'for the same reasons you mention (familiarity and software investment), I fully understand!

However, for at least the Intel Macs, there is a relatively inexpensive solution: Run 10.6 SEVER under virtualization.

So, for $69, you can purchase VMWare Fusion 7 (standard edition) direct from VMWare and then by CALLING Apple, for $19.95, you can (still) purchase the only version of OS X which is authorized by Apple for virtualization: MacOS X 10.6 Server Install Retail disc, part #0Z691-6495. So, for under $100, you can keep your Snow Leopard environment for your stuff that won't run on current versions of OS X, and still have a Mac that can enjoy security updates, newer features, etc.

Is it ideal? No. Do I wish Apple would support OS versions forever? You bet! However, it DOES provide a relatively inexpensive way to "bridge the Lion-gap", especially for those who have significant investments in pre-Lion software). Heck, you could even still run any PPC stuff under Rosetta!

So, how does this help with vulnerabilities? Simple. Like my friends who have both OS X and Windows on their Macs, you simply don't use your "vulnerable" OS to access the Internet. However, in the case of OS X, I'm not sure whether malware targeting new versions of OS X would have much luck running under Snow Leopard, anyway.

And as for having to use SL Server, I couldn't find a reasonable " guide" online to doing the same thing with a "client" version of 10.6.8, so I decided that using Server was a good enough solution.

And as for OS X being "ruined" in recent versions, I think that, if you start actually using newer versions, you'll find it is actually not nearly as "iOS-ified" or "ruined" as people would have you believe, and that the new features, such as vastly improved Multi-monitor support, Convergence, being able to do calls and texts from your Mac, etc, are really pretty damned nice!

Using TSO is like kicking a dead whale down the beach. -- S.C. Johnson