Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
For the out-of-band Slashdot experience (mostly headlines), follow us on Twitter, or Facebook. ×

Comment: Re:This problem needs a technical solution (Score 2) 268 268

That DC10 was designed to hit geese without sustaining damage. You think a 1 kg drone is going to do anything?

Er, no. That's just untrue. See the relevant regulations. Depending on the bird size, the engine has to either not explode or catch fire (for large birds), or continue to operate at 75% power for between 5 and 20 minutes (small and medium birds, flocks of smaller birds) before safe shutdown.

"Doesn't explode or require immediate shutdown" isn't the same as not "sustaining damage". And even though the aircraft would likely survive ingesting a drone doesn't mean it would be good to lose a firefighting aircraft for the time it would take to rebuild or replace the damaged engine.

Comment: Re:This seems incredibly backward (Score 1) 409 409

The point is that you're relying largely on the opinion of lobbyists and activists for your information. They're not reliable because they're inherently biased.

Errrr... no. When I read up on what effects us human have on the environment I keep it to people who study such things for a living, with supporting degrees and hard facts to back up their claims. No need to go on tangents on the Drake Equation or what have you. Just read more into the link I provided with the references to back the claims. No need to judge whether this is a good, bad, or indifferent thing at first. Just get an objective view of what the situation is.

Sorry, but I can't see the person you linked to as a "respectable" authority on the subject. The times I'd find him respectable is when he's giving advice on writing entertaining thrillers, some of which involve dinosaurs.

You're correct that species go instinct all the time, and have been far before we ever arrived on the scene. However all the evidence points to us accelerating the process by our actions. The question then becomes, could we be killing off things making our survival more difficult. Whether we're killing off all of the non-gross, filthy and nasty things isn't a huge concern of mine. But I wouldn't discount the attitude completely. We tend to evolve to see beauty in the things that are beneficial to us.

I don't see how later in your post what you're saying is supposed to raise hair on the back of my neck. Life adapts, and we've bred life to be beneficial to us. It's not exactly a secret. *shrug* If you want to read an excellent account of how life adapts and what impact we've had on the world, try reading The World Without Us sometime. You can see a pretty good excerpt here.

I'm afraid you've highly over-estimated the adaptability of the human race. We really aren't. Our high intelligent may have origins that go back as far as 2 million years. We live among species that have remain unchanged for HUNDREDS OF MILLION OF YEARS. Don't be so uncertain we're here to last. Our timeline is way too short to have any proven track-record, no matter how shiny our gizmos may appear. You want an adaptable life-form? Look to bacteria. Those suckers were the first to appear on this planet, and they'll be the last to leave when it's burnt up by the sun.

Comment: Re:This seems incredibly backward (Score 1) 409 409

You you say we've done bad things? What? I assume this is environmental stuff? That's massively over hyped. To the contrary, the most technologically advanced societies have superior environmental conditions than do more primitive societies.

Well we are in the middle of an extinction event that is largely believed to be caused by humans. This might be notable, yes? Many of the technologically advanced societies have superior environmental conditions because they depend on societies with less stringent regulations so that they can buy stuff on the cheap. You ever wonder what would happen to our economy if all the countries providing materials and services we depended on had the same restrictions we did?

You assumed very very much about what I'm saying and my beliefs based on very very little. Do you think it's even possible that someone can disagree with you without being deluded or insane? I don't believe in the supernatural myself. Not what most would consider "religious". We may or may not stagnate. It is you who are making the assumption that we will continue to progress on a scale that we could genetically engineer all of our problems away. I'm just saying it's a big assumption.

All I'm saying is that it's sometimes a good idea to step back and ask where are we going, what are we doing what's useful, what are we doing that's harmful. Just having a battle cry of "Progress!" (progress to what?) just because it seems really really cool might not be enough. Hardly "the faith of doom and destruction." LOL

Comment: Re:This seems incredibly backward (Score 1) 409 409

As to IQ not being interesting, you're not understanding the impact that stupid people have on society or the benefits of having a society of geniuses.

I think you're missing his point about IQ. Even though we humans may be the only animal capable of rational thought, we actually aren't all that rational. People with high IQs do stupid shit as frequently as those with low IQs. They just have more complex, convoluted arguments to convince themselves they're right in situations where their motivations are actually irrational. It takes a bit of wisdom to step back and see the difference.

Lets look at what our society has accomplished with my mentality

Very rapid change in a short amount of time. Some of it very good, some of it very bad. Throwing them together in the same category and considering anyone who questions if all of them are wise as Luddites who belong in drum circles is more than a little disingenuous.

What you consider inevitablilities are insanely speculative. Life on this planet has been around about 3.5 billion years. Us humans have been around for 250,000 years of it. And just 10,000 years of that since the agricultural revolution. Can the rate of technological advances continue at the same pace as it has since, what, a few hundred years ago? Who knows. Can stable civilizations stay in place at the current pace? Will we find technological solutions to pollutants that are causing a rapid decrease in biodiversity? Will the rapid decline in biodiversity later affect us in ways our civilizations cannot recover from? Who knows. Who knows. Who knows. What you are proposing depends on a long period of human civilizations capable of such advancements that just might not be there.

If you are concerned about "ideological dogma", you might want to step back from what you've been writing, take a deep breath, and re-read it sometime.

Comment: Re:All code ever written wins (Score 2) 27 27

The goal of the Underhanded C contest is to write code that is as readable, clear, innocent and straightforward as possible, and yet it must fail to perform at its apparent function. To be more specific, it should do something subtly evil.

That sounds just like all code ever written, except some code obviously is not clear and readable. (at least before debugging)

Yes, the original poster's specification should have read, " should do something subtly evil on purpose ."

Comment: Re:You can't make this shit up. (Score 1) 776 776

So you have no way of knowing what it was like to be uncircumcised, and yet are able to conclude there are zero side effects without anything else to compare circumcision to? I'm guessing you and logic are not close friends.

You might want to read into the functions the foreskin was created through many millions of years of evolution to provide. Or read the opinion on the procedure from countries that do not practice it routinely. Ones unlike the US, which started it to curtail the scourge of excessive masturbation. Being circumcised myself, I'm horrified to have a naturally occurring piece of my body removed without given a choice in the matter.

Interestingly enough, men's rights groups aren't the only ones who are interested in the topic. Some of the strongest anti-circumcision voices I've heard have come from dyed in the wool feminists.

Comment: Your monthly algorithm tweak brought to you by... (Score 4, Insightful) 115 115

Okay, so we have a benchmark where the bog-standard human being scores 94.9%.

Then in February (that's three months ago), Microsoft reports hitting 95.06%; the first score to edge the humans.

Then in March, Google notches 95.18%.

Now it's May, and Baidu puts up a 95.42%.

Meh. Swinging dicks with big iron are twiddling with their algorithms to squeeze out incremental, marginal improvements on an arbitrary task.

“Our company is now leading the race in computer intelligence,” said Ren Wu, a Baidu scientist working on the project. ... “We have great power in our hands—much greater than our competitors.”

I presume that next month it will be IBM boasting about "leading the race" and being "much greater than their competitors". The month after that it will be Microsoft's turn again. Google will be back on top in August or so...unless, of course, some other benchmark starts getting some press.

Comment: Re:satellites (Score 2) 403 403

One should be very wary of the distinction between "run without refueling" and "run without regular maintenance". Even assuming that the reactor's fuel would last, the ancillary equipment associated with the reactor's operation (coolant pumps and such) and electricity generation (steam turbines) certainly wouldn't be expected to operate unattended and unmaintained for months, let alone years.

That said, the fifty-year planned lifespan of the Nimitz-class includes, if I'm not mistaken, a mid-life refuelling and complex overhaul (RCOH). To be fair, the reactor's fuel would likely last longer than the planned 20-25 years if the carrier weren't actively steaming--but I wouldn't trust the other parts to last anywhere near so long.

Comment: Re:It was an app on a WORK-Issued Phone! (Score 2, Informative) 776 776

The solution: leave the phone at work when you are off duty.

That would work...except that the employer insisted that she keep the phone with her and powered on at all times. According to the claim, she was on call for client emergencies, even when off the clock.

Comment: Re:Not at fault, but was it avoidable? (Score 1) 408 408

... the real question is, "Were the accidents something a human driver could have avoided?"

It's an interesting question. On the other hand, most collisions are something a human driver could have avoided somehow...but didn't.

Sometimes you have to yield right-of-way because it's clear the other driver isn't going to. Do autonomous cars know that?

I would be shocked if they didn't "know" something like it. I can't imagine any car (let alone the entire group of 44 which didn't have a collision) doing a full year of city driving without encountering multiple situations where another driver failed to appropriately yield the right of way.

Comment: Re:Small Airports Have Advantages (Score 4, Insightful) 203 203

As a New Yorker, I much prefer LaGuardia, and strongly disagree with calls for its closing.

The point is, I think, that in exchange for an improvement (real or hypothetical) in convenience for a small fraction of total air travellers, there is a substantial and arguably unnecessary burden of cost and inconvenience to the entire system (which is ultimately paid for out of everyone's pockets--and user experiences).

I would love to see these large airports replaced with multiple smaller airports. A larger percentage of the population would have an airport nearby, and average travel times would be reduced significantly.

Well no, it wouldn't. A fully-served point-to-point network with n nodes (cities served) has on the order of n squared links between nodes. The number of passengers desiring each direct link gets to be very small, very quick, meaning infrequent scheduled flights on small, underfilled, costly-per-seat aircraft. So what happens is that airlines adopt (to one extent or another) a hub-and-spoke model. Most direct point-to-point routings are dropped. If I want to fly from East Podunk, NY (POD) to Los Angeles, I can't get a direct flight POD-LAX. Instead, I get a hop to an airline's hub (JFK or ORD or DTW or wherever), and a connection from that hub to LA: POD-JFK-LAX, or POD-DTW-LAX, or POD-ORD-LAX.

If I want to go to a destination served by a smaller airport (let's call it West Lemon, CA: LEM), then I'm taking three flights: spoke to hub, hub to hub, hub to spoke: POD-JFK-LAX-LEM. And each of those flights carries with it the time penalties associated with loading and unloading passengers and cargo, and a risk of delays or cancellations due to weather and other circumstances--plus the plain old waiting for connections, because service to and from the small airports at POD and LEM is infrequent.

Worse still, all those little commuter flights linking the regional airports to the major hubs are going to take up gates and takeoff and landing slots at those busy airports, slowing down the whole system and/or pushing those less-important flights to less-desirable times of day. Taken all together, offering frequent (or even just daily) service to a lot of small airports is going to mean a lot more flights of a lot more smaller aircraft, and/or passengers frequently making multiple connections. It would be expensive per-seat and vulnerable to failures and delays.

Now, La Guardia is an interesting case. Since it's right next to downtown New York, it draws a substantial number of departing or arriving passengers, and enjoys a kind-of-weird pseudo-hub status for historical reasons. Practically speaking, though, it means that there are effectively two hubs (LGA and JFK) or even three (if we count EWR) serving the same area, resulting in needless duplication of services. Routes that could enjoy frequent service with inexpensive (per-seat) full-sized jets get less-full or more-expensive aircraft, or less-frequent services divided between two or three New York destinations. Local New Yorkers enjoy the appearance of convenient, direct flights, at the cost of making the rest of the system a bit worse and a bit more expensive for everyone.

Comment: Re:Makes sense (Score 4, Interesting) 152 152

police injury rates are _much_ higher than most work

Welp...sort of. The U.S. BLP recently published their 2013 census of fatal occupational injuries. The overall fatality rate for the workforce was 3.3 fatal injuries for every 100,000 full-time-equivalent workers per year. Management employees averaged 2.4; sales 1.6--no surprises there, really.

For employees in the "protective service occupations" - police, firefighters, correctional services, animal control, security guards, and so forth - the rate was 6.9 fatalities per 100,000 FTE. (I haven't been able to find data broken out by occupation within the category. If someone can find that, that would be great.) So that's what we expect--police, firefighters, and others do have a riskier job than the average, and riskier than the typical office worker. Somewhat surprisingly, the relative risk is only a factor of three or four different when comparing a police officer to, say, an IT manager.

But...there's the rest of the table. "Intallation, maintenance, and repair" occupations? 7.2 fatalities per 100,000. "Construction and extraction"? 12.2. "Transportation and material moving"? 14.9. "Farming, fishing, and forestry"? 23.9.

The real manly men, in real danger on the job, are apparently out there working with tools, building stuff, drilling for oil, driving big rigs, and cutting down trees.

And let's be honest--a lot of the injuries and fatalities sustained by police officers aren't directly attributable to violent suspects. A big chunk of them come from the fact that the typical frontline officer spends a lot of time moving around--in a patrol car, on a motorcycle, on foot, or on a bicycle. Special laws protecting police officers from insults don't actually reduce their likelihood of being in a vehicular accident, or getting clipped by a passing car during a traffic stop, or slipping on an icy sidewalk in the winter. Looking at the last ten years' police fatalities for the United States, the total number of officers killed in motor vehicle incidents (car and motorcycle crashes; hit by car) is 605. The total number of officers fatally shot, strangled, or stabbed is 553. (And I suspect that the proportion who get shot is even lower in Canada.)

Comment: Re:Last time one was used? (Score 1) 55 55

even though the shuttle didn't have an equivalent system for many conditions - see challenger

That was true for 1986 NASA, certainly. Post-Challenger there were major changes (extensions) to the list of abort options - including a new bail-out capability - which made the loss of two engines crew-survivable for the entire ascent, and the loss of all three main engines survivable for most of the ascent. (See the Wikipedia article for details.) As it turns out, we have higher expectations 30 years on. Whodathunkit?

Comment: Re:Very unlikely to be triggered in the field (Score 1) 250 250

A commercial plane will most probably undergo through several maintenance events and checks during that sort of time frame, where cycling the power is part of the procedure.

It's very reassuring to know that it probably won't happen.

As other posters have noted, 248 days of operation means skipping twenty-plus maintenance and inspection cycles, plus missing one or more engine overhauls. That sucker's going to fall out of the sky due to a hardware problem before the software error gets the chance.

Even in the absence of regular, scheduled, required maintenance, there will be hardware failures due to stuff wearing out, with sufficient frequency to force reboots at less-than-eight-month intervals. Honestly, the FAA is going to ground any airline that was so lax as to get within six months of tripping over this bug.

That's not to say that this bug is a good or acceptable thing, nor that something like it couldn't have much more serious effects. But this particular error is a non-issue from a real-life consequences standpoint.

"Can you program?" "Well, I'm literate, if that's what you mean!"