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

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Re:And I'm the feminist deity (Score 1) 290

Friend of mine, his wife is a dentist, she's pulling in nearly 300k a year.

I make better than 300K per year as a software developer, when you include base, bonus and stock grants (which I view as variable cash bonuses, since I have them sold automatically the instant they vest). And I don't have to stick my fingers in peoples' mouths.

Comment: Different perspectives... (Score 1) 119

by swillden (#49772379) Attached to: Leaked Document Shows Europe Would Fight UK Plans To Block Porn

Whatever you think of the various sides of this argument, it's interesting to me to look at how different the sides are.

The US is, on average, far more concerned about pornography and other sexual issues than the UK, but there is not and never will be any significant discussion of government-mandated filters, outside of specific situations like government-run schools. The reason is our belief in the importance of free speech. Although there are plenty of Americans who would like to ban porn, no one at a national level says it out loud. No one seriously talks about it even at local, highly homogeneous levels, because everyone knows it won't fly.

The UK is somewhat less prudish than the US, but is perfectly willing to carve out large exceptions to free speech wherever it's convenient. Therefore, British pols do talk seriously about trying to ban porn, except for adults who opt out.

Europe (as a whole; there are exceptions) is even less concerned about free speech than the UK, but apparently considers porn to be something worth fighting for, to the degree that they're willing to invest at least a little effort in fighting to keep porn available to kids in the UK.

FWIW, I think porn is bad. Conceptually, there's nothing wrong with human sexuality, but porn presents an extremely distorted view of human sexuality. I think regular consumption of hardcore pornography, particularly by adolescents, skews expectations and perceptions in ways that have negative consequences. That said, I have no interest in trying to ban it. I do filter it on my home network, but that's a half measure which mostly serves as an early warning system (I get notified of attempts to get to porn sites) which offers a chance to talk the issues over if I find my kids looking for it.

All of which mostly says that I'm a fairly typical American parent: concerned about porn but unwilling to take the strong anti-freedom steps needed to effectively ban it :-)

Comment: Re:Just stick to the mantra (Score 1) 85

by Grishnakh (#49772239) Attached to: No, Your SSD Won't Quickly Lose Data While Powered Down

Oh please. The main reasons for backups (esp. for individuals) are 1) user error, and 2) hardware failure, not acts of god. An on-site NAS protects against those just fine. It protects against viruses too, since the virus isn't going to easily affect the NAS box (though even better is to simply not run Windows).

Theft? How many people have had thieves run around their house looking for NAS boxes? What kind of thieves even bother to steal electronics these days anyway? They aren't worth enough on the used market to bother with.

Comment: Re:Just stick to the mantra (Score 0) 85

by Grishnakh (#49772043) Attached to: No, Your SSD Won't Quickly Lose Data While Powered Down

What are you talking about? That's a bunch of crap. A USB hard drive is nothing more than a standard laptop hard drive in a special box with a SATA-to-USB interface board. If what you said was true, then laptop hard drives would be failing left and right; instead, they have generally excellent lifetimes, just like desktop hard drives. And USB hard drives actually do better since they're unpowered most of the time.

Comment: Re:And I'm the feminist deity (Score 3, Interesting) 290

India has Bollywood, yes, but Indians seem to have a much more realistic grasp of what career paths are actually feasible and which aren't. Of course, there's also a huge number of middle-class (for India) Indians, since their population is enormous. Finally, I've never heard of sports being a big thing in India. They have cricket of course, but I don't think it's like the sports-mania we have here in the US.

China, having an authoritarian government, probably does things to strongly discourage too many people from wasting their time on dead-end career paths like acting. Here in the US, it's easy to get student loans or even scholarships to go to college for theater. I knew a girl who did this not that long ago; she had a full-ride scholarship, and what did she blow it on? Theater. Did she get a job in theater? Nope; she moved towards make-up and costumes in her senior year thinking that would be a more realistic career path, graduated, and ended up working at a hotel in customer service. A complete waste of a degree. I wouldn't be surprised to find that China doesn't allow silliness like this with student loans or other public funding.

As for Africa, that's hard to say, because Africa has no industry at all to speak of. I can't imagine that software engineering has much prestige there because people probably can't think much beyond life in a mud hut. Even if you go to South Africa or one of the Arabic northern countries, there's not much industry there either, and not much employment for programmers.

Comment: Re:Why not just kill them all? (Score 1) 102

by Grishnakh (#49771747) Attached to: Sex-Switched Mosquitoes May Help In Fight Against Diseases

Bats eat mosquitoes, but they eat a lot of other bugs too. I doubt they'll miss the mosquitoes much, and other bugs will fill in that food source.

And you better hope you don't have to go back to black powder; that stuff sucks. Not only does it make a lot of smoke, it fouls up guns very quickly, so you have to constantly clean them (much more than with modern guns). It also has poor ballistic performance. Aside from that, there's more to cartridges than powder and bullets: you also need a primer. Reloaders today save money by loading their own cartridges, since the powder is cheap in bulk and lead is easy to cast (or you can buy those premade if you want), and it's easy with some simple hand tools to put this stuff into brass shells and press them together, but I've never heard of anyone making their own primers; they have to buy those pre-made.

Comment: Re:I call shenanigans... (Score 1) 290

If it was easy for the government to, on a whim, make highly popular companies with "irresistable tech", then the Soviets would have succeeded economically in a big way.

You can't create or plan for success like Google; it just happens. It is possible the NSA infiltrated them after-the-fact, but the idea that the NSA created Google is just ridiculous.

Comment: Re:what boys/girls want (Score 2) 290

little boys want a place to 'perform', while little girls want a place to 'relate'.

That's BS. The prevalence of girls/women in theater disproves it.

Also, coding on computers hardly counts as "performing". It's something that socially awkward boys like to do because computers are highly predictable and won't make fun of you. Boys who like to perform go into sports and theater, not computers. Girls go into cheerleading, sports, and theater; they too like to perform.

Comment: Re:And I'm the feminist deity (Score 1) 290

I think you're ignoring the aspect of social standing and prestige here. Plays are a big part of American culture at that age, and acting is a highly prestigious vocation in our society. A-list actors make huge amounts of money. It's the same with sports: school sports has a huge amount of prestige, and again leads to a highly respected and prestigious vocation with enormous pay. Women's sports has little to no prestige, but female actors like Julia Roberts are extremely well-paid, so while little boys pursue football, little girls (and some little boys) pursue theater.

Of course, these professions also have an enormous drop-out rate: for every superstar raking in big bucks, there's thousands upon thousands of others who end up waiting tables to make ends meet, and eventually drop out (and there's a bunch of B-listers who make OK pay but nothing spectacular). But every little kid in our society is taught to follow their dreams, no matter what the odds, because all our movies show stories of people who do just that and succeed, despite all the odds against them, and live happily in lavish lifestyles.

A robotics program isn't very attractive to kids because it doesn't lead to a career with lavish pay. No one is going to be a billionaire working as an engineer at some corporate job. So why should kids pursue it?

Some little boys pursue it: these are the boys who aren't cut out for sports or acting. They're generally introverted and not so social, and they're smart enough to realize that those career paths are foolhardy unless you really are super-talented. Those are the boys who go into coding or robotics programs. Little girls don't, because girls are more social than boys, and there's a social stigma attached to anything "nerdy" (even though everyone and his brother has a smartphone now, a direct product of nerds).

I'll bet if you tried an experiment in schools in India and China with kids being able to go into either a coding/robotics program or a school play production, you'd have vastly different results.

In summary, it's the culture, stupid!

Comment: Re:I thought Nix was only for lice!? (Score 1) 102

by Grishnakh (#49771205) Attached to: Sex-Switched Mosquitoes May Help In Fight Against Diseases

There is no reason anyone should be stuck with a sex arbitrarily chosen by nature. Everyone should be able to pick and choose whatever is best for them at any given moment in their life.

Um, there's a very good reason people should be, and are, stuck with the sex arbitrarily chosen for them by nature: we simply don't have the technology to change it. No, cosmetic surgery doesn't count, it's just a poor attempt at making someone appear to be the opposite sex. To actually change someone's sex, you'd have to figure out how to actually change their genes in all their cells, and then change their physical characteristics too. Maybe in the future we'll figure out how to do that with all this stem-cell research, and that would indeed be very cool, but not now. Until you can actually change someone enough that they can actually reproduce as a member of the opposite sex, and also exist as a member of that sex without needing hormone therapy, then it isn't real, it's just a facsimile.

I'm not saying people shouldn't be free to take advantage of current transsexual medical technology and techniques, and I do wish the situation were better for their sake, but let's not fool ourselves as to how effective it really is. It's a very, very rare transsexual who doesn't look like someone who got GRS, rather than just a normal member of that sex (and the ones who really do "pass" always seem to be Asian for some reason). You can mess around with hormones, reconstructive genital surgery, even facial surgery (to make the face look more masculine or feminine), but you still can't do stuff like change the shoulder-to-waist ratio, hand and foot sizes, etc. And this is also neglecting many other things, such as that men's and women's brains have different structures.

Comment: Re:Why not just kill them all? (Score 1) 102

by Grishnakh (#49771143) Attached to: Sex-Switched Mosquitoes May Help In Fight Against Diseases

Mosquitoes are parasites. They don't polinate anything. They just fly around and suck blood from hapless victims, human and animal. No one is going to miss them when they're gone, just like no one will miss roundworms.

Yes, for other insects, you're right: they may occupy an important part in the ecological chain. I've never seen any evidence that mosquitoes have any value at all.

Comment: Re:Banksters (Score 1) 645

by swillden (#49770527) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Of course the owners of the bank take the hit when fines are levied. Who else would?

How about the individuals that committed the crimes?

That's certainly fine with respect to crimes that justify criminal punishment (e.g. prison). But if regulators choose a market-style punishment (fines), then they're just acting as a market force, and that's a consideration for shareholders as owners.

Do you know how corporate boards work? They're designed to shield the management level executives from any such governance by the shareholders.

Utter nonsense. Yes, in some cases that may be the effect, but it's certainly not the design. Your cynicism has gotten the better of you. By design, boards of directors are intended to serve the same role that elected political representatives do for citizens of a nation; to represent the interests of the voters. It's not feasible for every governmental or corporate decision to be voted upon by the whole body, so they choose representatives. A proper board of directors takes a dim view of executives acting against the interests of the shareholders, and boards that fail their jobs badly enough do get ousted.

Plus, the fines paid by the shareholders are only a tiny fraction of the money the corporation made from these illegal activities.

That just indicates that regulators are not making the fines large enough. If regulators want to use financial penalties, they have to make them large enough that bad actions are unprofitable.

Comment: Re: Why do this in the first place? (Score 1) 71

MoFo is expert at making excuses for architectural deficiencies that slay the UX but have 15-year-old bugs on them because "that touches a lot of code". And fostering an environment where that's A-OK. In the time that Mozilla's not been able to get async tasks out of the UI thread, Elon Musk has build a spaceship company that's gone to the ISS and landed a rocket back to Earth. It's either a lack of engineering discipline or absurdist leadership - hard to say which or both but no for-profit firm would tolerate such complacence.

Comment: Re:Missing the key point (Score 1) 386

by swillden (#49770359) Attached to: What AI Experts Think About the Existential Risk of AI

You're assuming that simulating the structure of an organic brain is necessary to accomplish the same functions. That's like assuming that simulating legs is the only way to construct a self-moving machine, just because that's the way that nature has done it. Evolution produces workable schemes and fine tunes them; but it clearly suffers from the local maximum problem, while the scientific approach to generating knowledge is much less prone to that limitation. You're also ignoring the fact that the basic construction of our computers is orders of magnitude faster and more energy-efficient than the neurochemical processes that drive organic intelligence. That fundamental difference in materials has to make a difference at larger scales, I think. There are likely other questionable assumptions underlying your guess.

Your assumptions may be valid, but we have no way of knowing. I suspect they're not, myself. What is certainly true is that we won't know until we understand how intelligence works.

"For the man who has everything... Penicillin." -- F. Borquin

Working...