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Comment Re:Shape-shifting? (Score 1) 37

If a Rubik's cube were motorized so it could rotate itself, then sure, I'd call it shape shifting. But in fact, a Rubik's cube is just a block of plastic that doesn't move unless you move it. Whether that's a good or bad thing is a matter of opinion. It probably depends how good you are at solving it. :)

This thing slides and rotates on its own, which is a pretty big difference.

Comment Re:BULL (Score 1) 414

Your argument is based on a false assumption: that hiring is a zero sum game. That there's a fixed number of jobs, and every foreign worker hired means one less job for local workers.

Of course, that's not true at all. When an immigrant comes here, they work, live, and shop here. They perform valuable work that adds goods or services to the economy. They support other businesses that they shop at. They pay taxes that support public services. In other words, they create jobs.

Now, that leaves an important question: do immigrants lead to a net increase or decrease in jobs available to local workers? That is, do immigrants on average create more or less than one job each? That has to be answered with evidence. The available evidence is complicated, but much of it indicates that they create a net increase in jobs. At any rate, you can't just cite "bizzaro logic" and dismiss the question. If your logic conflicts with the evidence, then your logic is wrong.

How is it possible that such a country is producing such huge numbers of "highly skilled workers"?

Wow. Do I really even need to respond to that question? I'm amazed you could even ask it.

Ok. India has a population of roughly 1.3 billion people. If only 10% of them are well educated and highly skilled, that's more people than the entire population of Japan, Germany, South Korea, or many other countries with huge tech industries. In fact, 10% of India's population is larger than the population of all but eight other countries.

India has a lot of people in terrible poverty, but also a lot of people who are highly skilled and educated. And because it's such an amazingly large country, the numbers of both are enormous compared to almost any other country in the world.

Comment Re:Congratulations, Microsoft! (Score 1) 231

This isn't a new use for an old concept. It's precisely the same use implemented in essentially the same way: modify the virtual memory system so pages get kept in memory in compressed form, rather than being written out to disk.

I'm not saying it's not a good idea, or that Microsoft shouldn't be doing it. But they're one of the last to arrive at the party. OS X and Linux both already have this feature, and it's been available through third party products for decades.

Comment Re:What a clusterfuck (Score 1) 676

Your information is out of date. The article you linked is three weeks old. See, for example,, which states:

A State Department spokesman late Tuesday described the top-secret designation as a recommendation and said they had not been marked classified at the time, but said staffers "circulated these e-mails on unclassified systems in 2009 and 2011 and ultimately some were forwarded to Secretary Clinton."

Comment Ad blocker != blocking all ads (Score 1) 519

Adblock Plus is a great example of this. It blocks the flashing, buzzing, throw-themselves-in-your-face, totally obnoxious ads. But for advertisers who are willing to stick to less offensive things, they can still get through. So no, it won't kill the digital media industry. But I hope it will force them to stop torturing the internet and making their products so unpleasant to use!

Comment Re:What a clusterfuck (Score 2) 676

The summary is very misleading. It intentionally leaves out a critical detail: none of these emails was classified at the time she sent/received it. These are documents that later were marked as top secret. That's why the FBI now wants to secure them: because they're now considered secret documents, and they need to make sure all copies are secure. But at the time she emailed them, all of them were unclassified.

Comment Re:Caps Lock used to power a huge lever. (Score 5, Interesting) 698

I wish it still behaved as shift-lock: affecting all characters, not just letters. When I use caps lock, it's almost always because I'm typing an environment variable or #defined constant. And that means I'm going to be typing lots of _ characters. If caps lock behaved like shift lock, I wouldn't have to press shift for every one of them.

Comment Oh no it's theodp!!! (Score 3, Insightful) 132

For goodness sake, not another of theodp's anti-CS education posts! Please Slashdot, end the madness and stop posting this drivel. We seem to be getting a few of them per week, and most of them are nothing but snide insinuations and misrepresentations.

Comment Mars still doesn't make sense (Score 3, Interesting) 48

I don't buy the arguments for why Mars is better than building space colonies. For example:

Mars is really not far away; a quick look at a map of the Solar System shows how close it really is.

Maybe compared to Pluto it's "not far away", but that's an irrelevant comparison! You might as well say the Andromeda galaxy is "not far away" if you look at a map of the universe. What matters is how far away it is compared to human length scales. How long will it take to get there, and how much energy will it take to do it? The closest Mars comes to Earth is about 56 million kilometers, and it only comes that close about once every two years. That's an incredibly long way! Even if you assume miraculous new propulsion technologies will allow us to travel several times faster than is currently possible, and do it with using ridiculous amounts of energy, it will still take months to get there.

Besides, that miraculous new propulsion technology would work just as well for other purposes, like asteroid mining. So if you want to assume travel to Mars can be made fast and inexpensive, you also have to assume asteroid mining will be fast and inexpensive. You can't use optimistic assumptions for one and pessimistic assumptions for the other! Furthermore, the requirements for asteroid mining are a lot lower than for Mars colonization. If it takes a few years for a robot to tow an asteroid into position, no one will care much. If you have to spend six months in a cramped ship en route to Mars, you will care very much.

Mars provides a land area equivalent to the land area of Earth, which is a huge platform on which to build. In free space you have to build the platform first, using resources that need to come from somewhere else. Until we have mining facilities on the Moon and asteroids, this place will be Earth, which is a much deeper gravity well.

That hardly seems like a big deal. In either case the colony needs to be fully enclosed. On Mars you only need to build the upper half of the enclosure, while in space you need to build all of it. Either way, the cost of building the enclosure is likely to be small compared to building everything inside it. And of course you would mine the materials from the moon or asteroids. Getting them from Earth would make no sense at all, so why even bring that up? It's a straw man.

It's true that we don't know if living in 38% gravity long term is healthful, but since we know living in microgravity is certainly not fatal, it's reasonable to imagine that people will adapt.

That's a huge assumption, and completely unjustified. Six months in microgravity doesn't kill you, but it does cause all sorts of health problems, from bone loss to vision problems to (as we just heard today) skin becoming thinner. Is 38% Earth gravity enough for people to be healthy long term? At present, we just don't know. All claims to the contrary are wishful thinking. And if the answer turns out to be no, then all plans for Mars colonization are dead on arrival. So maybe we should try to find out before spending too much money on those plans?

Here are some other serious problems with Mars:

It has no magnetic field, which means no protection from cosmic rays. As far as I can tell, there is no possibility of ever changing this, which means no possibility of people ever living out in the open there. Even if you terraformed an Earth-like atmosphere, the radiation at the surface would still be too high to live there safely. So people on Mars will always have to spend their lives in sealed habitats behind thick shielding. All claims to the contrary are simply unrealistic.

There is very little energy available on Mars. The only mostly reliable source of energy is solar, and not so much even of that. Sunlight on Mars is only about half as intense as on Earth... except during dust storms (which can last for weeks), when it goes down to much less. And it's only as high as that because Mars has no atmosphere to speak of. Terraform an Earth-like atmosphere, and it will go down by half again.

In contrast, put a solar panel on a space colony near Earth, and it will produce 6x as much energy as on Earth. 2x because it's above the atmosphere, and another 3x because it can be pointed directly at the sun 24 hours a day.

Comment The real story is even worse (Score 5, Informative) 178

This article isn't very accurate. The real story make the copyright claims even more absurd. See The melody and general idea of the lyrics date back at least to the mid-1800s. The song "Good Morning to All" was published in a song book in 1893, but the authors of that book had been singing it with their kindergarten class for many years, and it's not clear they were the original authors of it. The same melody with the words "Happy Birthday to You" was, it appears, an innovation of children who had been in their class, who started singing it at birthday parties. The tradition spread, and it appeared in print at least as early as 1912.

So what do they actually have a copyright on? Well, a piano arrangement was published in 1935. And years later someone came across that piano arrangement, found that a copyright had been registered on it, and (presumably being ignorant of the actual history of the song), thought they owned a copyright on the song and started trying to enforce it.

Comment Getting sick of anti-CS education stories (Score 1) 69

WTF is up with the constant stream of stories from theodp opposing CS education? Please, Slashdot editors, stop posting them!. Yes, I know it's somehow supposed to be a conspiracy by big companies to reshape our educational system (so it's evil!), and supposedly they don't really care about education at all (wait, didn't I just contradict myself?), only immigration policy, and so on. But really, most of these posts contain nothing but insinuations meant to make people think (without giving a good reason for them to think it) that increasing CS education is a bad thing.

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981