Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:Pilots must remain in control (Score 1) 341

by Jeremi (#49355927) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

Hm, maybe FOUR people in the cockpit. Plus an armed TSA agent. And an armed TSA agent agent. That'll do the trick.

I say we get rid of the cockpit entirely, and instead provide a set of virtual controls in every passenger seat's seatback touchscreen. That way the passengers can fly the plane democratically. It will only fly into a mountain if that's what a majority of the passengers want it to do.

(Now, where do I pick up my consulting fee? ;))

Comment: Re:Encrypt client side (Score 1) 117

by nmb3000 (#49355061) Attached to: Amazon Announces Unlimited Cloud Storage Plans

Based on their API reference [] 3rd-party apps that do whatever you want on the client side certainly look doable enough.

The downside is that it doesn't appear to support block-level file changes -- you can only create or overwrite an entire file at once. This means that storing something like a 50GB TrueCrypt volume isn't really feasible and you'd have to encrypt all your files individually. This is more difficult and more prone to mistakes.

Hopefully they expand the API at some point to allow binary delta updates of some kind, but their omission could have been a conscious decision to try and discourage people from storing huge files and big encrypted containers.

Comment: Re:Symmetric mouse (Score 2) 196

by nmb3000 (#49347673) Attached to: What Makes the Perfect Gaming Mouse?

What is DPS?

Damage Per Second. It's a unit of measure in games such as WoW that's primarily used to show how much better you are than other players. Typical use of the term would be, "hey, does anyone have dps meter for that last pull?" Feigning insecurity and disinterest are important, and the requester must absolutely not reveal that they're running 2 or 3 meter addons themselves.

A new mouse, preferably one with at least 12 programmable buttons, variable weights, and at least two bright blue LEDs, is sure to increase your DPS by at least 20%.

Comment: Re:what will be more interesting (Score 2) 631

by nmb3000 (#49346743) Attached to: Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

Are people really going to miss yet another totally fake show pretending to be reality? Is it just because this one combined cars and Daily Mail-style politics?

It's worth understanding that Top Gear hasn't pretended to be reality for quite some time. They deadpan a lot, but it's all pretty clearly acknowledged to be a live-action cartoon. I read a very good article that talked some about this recently, 'Top Gear' broke my heart (and it wasn't Jeremy Clarkson's fault):

As an auto journalist, I'm used to Clarkson's antics. He's a classic buffoon, and the genius of "Top Gear" is that Clarkson and his co-hosts, James May and Richard Hammond, realized long ago that transforming themselves into cartoon characters would be both incredibly lucrative and lavishly entertaining. The show has been on forever, and while it's always presenting new cars and ever-more-outlandish spectacles to its legions of avid viewers, the basic shtick has become reliably changeless: three weird looking English dudes doing goofy things with rides both exotic and mundane.

He also talks about some of Top Gear's strengths and weaknesses -- definitely worth the read if you're a fan of the show, or just want to know a bit more about why so many people seem to love a show about cars.

Sorry, but I have no sympathy for a primadonna for whom curses at an employee for 20 minutes and then physically assaults him up for half a minute

There's no excuse for this, but as others have said there's a bit more to it. Clarkson may or may not be a primadonna (vs just being a knob, as May referred to him several times), but given the stress he was under and the alcohol, him blowing his top over something small isn't a huge surprise. He certainly deserved to be disciplined, but I'm not sure sacking him outright was the best decision. One thing I am certain of is that the BBC will come to regret it.

Comment: Good news! (Score 1) 146

by drwho (#49344971) Attached to: First Nuclear Power Plant Planned In Jordan

I already knew about this, but glad to see it posted here. I am sad that it has to be a Russian one instead of a US/Japan or French one, and wish it could be Thorium instead of Uranium, but those aren't available yet. They originally were going to build it at Aqaba, their only sea access, to make use of the seawater for cooling and also desalinate it with waste plant heat. I wonder why they moved it.

Comment: Re:Economics (Score 1) 146

by Jeremi (#49344295) Attached to: First Nuclear Power Plant Planned In Jordan

Chernobyl had nothing whatsoever to do with maintenance. It happened as the direct consequence of an ill conceived experiment, which deliberately bypassed safety protocols

Granted, but the fact is that people occasionally do make dumb mistakes. The fact that a dumb mistake in a nuclear power plant can render an entire region uninhabitable is what makes nuclear power so risky, and hence uneconomical to insure. Most other forms of power plant might in the worst case be badly damaged, but they wouldn't also permanently remove the surrounding zip code from civilization.

Comment: Re:Risk Management (Score 3, Interesting) 724

by Jeremi (#49344117) Attached to: Germanwings Plane Crash Was No Accident

You already need a pass code but, apparently, also whoever is in the cockpit also has to authorize.

The above is incorrect -- the person in the cockpit doesn't have to authorize, he just has to not actively prevent re-entry. (The PIN system is designed so that if the person in the cockpit passes out, another flight crew member can get into the cockpit. A requirement that the person in the cockpit actively grant access to the cockpit would defeat the purpose)

Comment: Re:people are going to be saying (Score 1) 724

by Jeremi (#49344021) Attached to: Germanwings Plane Crash Was No Accident

what are we left with? keep the door open and we have murderous hijacking? keep the door locked and we have murderous pilots? yeah both are extremely rare outliers, but it's fucking scary either way

I imagine the eventual solution will be an airplane control system with software that does not allow the airplane to be deliberately crashed. (Of course then we'll have to worry about bugs in the software and/or evil programmers instead)


No, It's Not Always Quicker To Do Things In Memory 481

Posted by Soulskill
from the performance-that-fails-to-perform dept.
itwbennett writes: It's a commonly held belief among software developers that avoiding disk access in favor of doing as much work as possible in-memory will results in shorter runtimes. To test this assumption, researchers from the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia compared the efficiency of alternative ways to create a 1MB string and write it to disk. The results consistently found that doing most of the work in-memory to minimize disk access was significantly slower than just writing out to disk repeatedly (PDF).

Comment: Re:Here's MY test (Score 1) 515

by Jeremi (#49333051) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

As they get older girls are told that some jobs are not for them, that they should be working to get good husbands. TV says to look pretty. [...] So by the time it comes to pick out a career or major in college these days, the number of women choosing computing, mathematics, or engineering is small (and in my experience much smaller than it used to be).

Granting all of the above is true, it's still not clear what can be done when many/most women, whether for reasons inherent or socially acquired, are simply not much interested in programming as a career(*). You can't tell them "oh yes you are interested, you have to be, because women are under-represented in this field" without denying them the right to make their own decisions about what they want to do with their lives.

It seems to me that if you want to crack this nut, you'd have to teach better parenting skills and try to reach girls at the elementary school level. By the time the woman is a young adult, her preferences are likely already largely formed.

(*) in this case, "not much interested" can be defined as "not sufficiently interested to spend the thousands of solitary hours necessary to become really good at it"


Feds Attempt To Censor Parts of a New Book About the Hydrogen Bomb 339

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can't-do-that-on-bookovision dept. writes: The atom bomb — leveler of Hiroshima and instant killer of some 80,000 people — is just a pale cousin compared to the hydrogen bomb, which easily packs the punch of a thousand Hiroshimas. That is why Washington has for decades done everything in its power to keep the details of its design out of the public domain. Now William J. Broad reports in the NY Times that Kenneth W. Ford has defied a federal order to cut material from his new book that the government says teems with thermonuclear secrets. Ford says he included the disputed material because it had already been disclosed elsewhere and helped him paint a fuller picture of an important chapter of American history. But after he volunteered the manuscript for a security review, federal officials told him to remove about 10 percent of the text, or roughly 5,000 words. "They wanted to eviscerate the book," says Ford. "My first thought was, 'This is so ridiculous I won't even respond.'" For instance, the federal agency wanted him to strike a reference to the size of the first hydrogen test device — its base was seven feet wide and 20 feet high. Dr. Ford responded that public photographs of the device, with men, jeeps and a forklift nearby, gave a scale of comparison that clearly revealed its overall dimensions.

Though difficult to make, hydrogen bombs are attractive to nations and militaries because their fuel is relatively cheap. Inside a thick metal casing, the weapon relies on a small atom bomb that works like a match to ignite the hydrogen fuel. Today, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are the only declared members of the thermonuclear club, each possessing hundreds or thousands of hydrogen bombs. Military experts suspect that Israel has dozens of hydrogen bombs. India, Pakistan and North Korea are seen as interested in acquiring the potent weapon. The big secret the book discusses is thermal equilibrium, the discovery that the temperature of the hydrogen fuel and the radiation could match each other during the explosion (PDF). World Scientific, a publisher in Singapore, recently made Dr. Ford's book public in electronic form, with print versions to follow. Ford remains convinced the book "contains nothing whatsoever whose dissemination could, by any stretch of the imagination, damage the United States or help a country that is trying to build a hydrogen bomb." "Were I to follow all — or even most — of your suggestions," says Ford, "it would destroy the book."

All the simple programs have been written.