Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Anti-GMO does not equal anti-science. (Score 1) 330

They are not the only meaningful player in the industry: For instance, take DuPont's agro side, branded as Pioneer. They sell quite a bit of GMO corn in the US every year. The only major row crop when they are not a big player is soybeans, and that's just because their research in that area worked badly enough, they end up having to license from Monsanto.

Comment Re:same for my family . Bought it for a purpose (Score 1) 324

Even for toddler playing, 16 GB is tiny quick. First, it's not really 16: The OS makes it closer to 10. You need another 2 open just to be able to do OS and app upgrades. So really, you are in trouble if you have 8 gigs of apps. Many apps for toddlers are big, as they are full of animations and sound. Games that use half a gig are not unheard of. And then there's books: Don't be surprised by 100 megabyte children's books.

Comment Re:Maybe... (Score 4, Insightful) 334

It's not about not being able to make an educated guess she'd bet on, but getting the official reason. At that point, it's possible to make a case that the reason is unconstitutional.

That's really what all of this is about: Government action without oversight, and it's hard to sue to change that without proof of harm. She has proof of harm right there: All she needs now is a target to use that hammer against.

Comment Re:No hardware or software fault? (Score 1) 80

Can't blame NASA though, when the commands are transmitted over 3 billion miles, the signal would degrade so much it is possible some critical command or an command argument was not correctly received.

Nonsense - that's one of the easiest problems to solve in all of computer science: you just tack on a hashcode, checksum, parity bit, etc., and the receiver verifies that it got the right message. If it doesn't verify, the receiver doesn't follow it, and when the sender doesn't get an acknowledgment, it retransmits the message.

That technique is baked into every communications protocol. Hamming even invented a technique to allow automatic correction...in the 1950's.

Comment Re:Donate your time not your money (Score 1) 268

There are websites whose entire reason for existing is auditing charities. You can always go for something like that.

Donating your time can be very inefficient though. Imagine you are in software, and you'd be donating time to move boxes around in a food pantry. They could hire someone at minimum wage to do this,(which is actually good for the economy) or, you could be doing some consulting, and donate that. It's also the reason you don't buy groceries for the pantry, but hand them cash instead: They will get them far cheaper than what you'd pay.

The way I donate time is to work more hours, and specifically dedicate some contracts to be directly donated to charity. Sending a check doesn't get the same public recognition as donating time at minimum wage, but it can be far more efficient, and IMO, donations are about helping a cause, not improve your social status doing it.

Comment Re:Money (Score 1) 107

Where I work, electricity is 0,25ct/kWh and a specialist in IT or law costs 1.000,- EUR/d or more.

Assuming a server we're planning to shut down is rather old, they usually are, so it will probably fail on its own within 3 years, if not much sooner. It is not doing much anymore, so it's sitting at idle, drawing only idle loads. Assuming the idle load of an old server is 100W, how much specialist's time can we allocate to shutting it down?

100W * 8760 h/y * 5y = 2.628 kWh. This will cost us about 657,- EUR or much less if the server fails earlier. So electricity savings alone buy us 5,5 person hours for the specialists. What do we need: 2x1h for two IT guys to check what server are possibly unused, 2h for inquiries and talking to probable (ex-)users and the team that was once responsible for that particular project, 1h for the IT management and 1h for the legal team to give the go-ahead. Costs 750,- = 100,- EUR more than it will ever save.

We still save on cooling, right? Removing 1kWh of input (= heat) requires less than 1kWh for the cooling system. I am have no idea how efficient these things are, but a cheap electric heat pump for heating a small house has an efficiency factor of at least 3, so it moves 3kWh of heat for every 1kWh electricity consumed. Larger and more professional installations will probably be more efficient. So to remove 100W of heat, the cooling system consumes 30W more. So with less cooling, we save another ~200,- EUR over the course of 3 years, which isn't even enough to cover the costs to actually remove the server from the rack, reroute cabling, disassemble the case, destroy the hard drive and dispose of the rest. Costing 250,- EUR, that is 50,- EUR more than it will ever save.

The real savings are in the rack space, depending on the contract and the actual savings of HUs. Assume the price is 40,- EUR/HU/month and we have a 2 HU server. Over 3 years, this saves us 960,- EUR per year or 2.880,- EUR under the most ideal conditions imaginable. (If you rent data center space by the rack, it's ZERO savings, since you're saving nothing unless you get permission to clear out an entire rack, which is not going to happen until the servers burn out by themselves)

So you're Head of IT management for a minute: do you give the order to decommission the server, expending 1.000,- EUR and 1 day of your team today, risking angry users and maybe in one way or another violating a data retention obligation by an obscure law or contract that we just forgot about to save maybe 1.300,- EUR per year or less for the next 3 years or shorter? I wouldn't. I would rather allocate my team and resources on a) making absolutely sure our accounting system keeps running perfectly, since every day of outage there would cost us more than 20.000 EUR in interest and b) that big project X has all the resources it needs to finish on time so the 10 expensive consultants working on it cannot bill more hours and upper management does not need to find a person responsible for that.

Comment Deceptive links (Score 1) 79

Am I the only one that finds it pretty underhanded to give us a link that says "they are on kickstarter" but doesn't actually link to one of those kickstarter projects? It's not quite a deceptive goatse link, but at this rate, I'd want links in the blurb to list the domain they point to.

Comment Re:No H1-Bs for contractors (Score 2) 636

It'd help in many ways, but it also makes the H1-Bs situation far more precarious. Modern abuse and quotas means almost all H1-Bs come from those nasty companies, but even before that, many people chose contracting firms to handle their immigration because you are far safer from layoffs and such. I remember when I was an H1-B, a long time ago, going direct, and my then employer had round after round of layoffs. The moment I saw the pattern, I had to look for another job IMMEDIATELY, because getting hit by one of those layoffs meant a tiny window to find another employer or leave the country, and that new employer had to file for a visa. Through a contracting firm, a layoff might mean a job change, and maybe not getting paid for a few weeks, but it's far less onerous. This gets even harder when also applying for a green card. It's not uncommon for companies to ask immigrants that they want to sponsor to sign that they have to pay the immigration fees incurred in the green card process if they leave willingly before the green card is done plus one year. When going with direct employment, it also means you cannot run without taking a major financial penalty. And if you are laid off in process, then you better get a job extremely quickly, or your green card process might have to start all over again, and it can take many years.Getting my green card got a big weight off my shoulders.

So your proposed change to the H1-B program sounds like a wonderful idea as long as it comes together with something to minimize the precarious conditions of H1-B workers that easily qualify for green cards, and work in the US for 5, 10 years while they wait for a visa number. This should help American workers too, as the minute one of those workers gets a green card, their job mobility increases, and with it, their negotiation power. I got a 30% raise with my first job change after a green card. In 5 years after the green card, my salary more than doubled.

Having people as temporary workers for a decade? You've got to be kidding me.

Comment Re:So how long before (Score 1) 181

The problem of remote control of a car is that you cannot assume it'll happen for good reasons, or by the people that you think. It's the same issue of having an encryption backdoor, theoretically held by "the good guys"

If a vehicle can be controlled remotely, it's because there is some authentication mechanism that allows that to happen. Anyone that steals the keys can remotely control the car. Imagine how much fun kidnapping becomes when you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

Same problem when people talk about blockchain-based DNS. If the only thing protecting something is a digital key, then you have two problems: Making sure the key is not lost, and making sure nobody copies it. Stealing keys becomes more profitable than ever, as there is no more recourse: whatever you were protecting is compromised.

So the question is: Would it be a good idea to let a terrorist or a gang control everyone's car? Because that's the door you are opening the second you let police do it.

Comment DBAs first? Strange (Score 1) 139

Around here, if anything, the DBA job is disappearing: There are a lot less openings, and most are at huge, extremely corporate places that you'd not even want to work for. And even in that world, they are switching to development models that don't need DBAs. So maybe the averages are high because only companies that pay well would even hire DBAs?

They also talk of averages, but not high ends. Around here, a programmer's high end is very high: I make 4x what my employer pays an entry level developer. People realize how much a top developer can get you. DBAs, not so much.

Comment Re:Crashes (Score 1) 167

Comparing the safety of a formula that is weeks old and one that is over 90 years old by comparing total fatalities is laughable.

No driver has died in an actual F1 race/qualifying since 1994. Cars have changed, circuits have been taken off the calendar for safety reasons. Accidents still happen, but it's nonsense to compare the safety of today with how F1 was in the time of Senna or Lauda.

Comment Re:But, but... (Score 1) 71

I've seem time factor heavily in some road construction: St Louis: I-64 roadwork was going to cause havoc on many people's commutes, as it required closing go the most traveled highway on the city. The contracts took into consideration how long it was going to take, offered bonuses for finishing early and severe escalating penalties for delays. It was finished early.

Comment Re:Check their work or check the summary? (Score 1) 486

It might have helped in this problem, but nowadays, even assembly language is just an abstraction: You might thing you are doing in order operations on 8086, but they are really being translated to out of order operations inside of the processor that will get the same result, but with very different performance. Branch prediction? Nah, we can run the beginning of BOTH branches, and just discard the computation we did not want, because it's actually faster. And don't get me started on the differences between what you tell a video card to do, and what it actually does.

The distance between what we write in practical, end user facing applications and what happens in the hardware is so large nowadays that it's hard to have any real control over what is going on. The best we can do is understand the performance characteristics that we see in the layer right below ours, and hope things don't change too much.

Therefore, the problem with the original paper is that it fails to really explain what we can learn from the experiment. It's not that disk is faster than RAM: That's just ludicrous. But that we really have to have some understanding of the libraries and VMs we use to get anywhere. It'd not be impossible for the JVM to realize the immutable string is being edited in a loop, that there are no references to it that could escape, and then just optimize the whole thing into a string buffer implementation that should be as good as calling the file writer: It just happens to not do said optimization for us. It's happened in Java before: Code that was seen as terrible because it was very slow is not slow anymore, and easier to read than the old school way of optimizing it.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (7) Well, it's an excellent idea, but it would make the compilers too hard to write.