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


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Oh really? (Score 1) 414

I think the placebo effects often come from getting to spend some real time and sit down with someone who will discuss your problem at length, come up with a 'solution' and tailor it just for you.

They then hand you your bottle of water, and off you go, happy that you've been given proper attention and care by a 'professional', compared to the 7 minute appointment where the over-worked and rushed GP had to try and figure out what was actually wrong, whether it was treatable, and what treatment or referral to give, without actually lying to the patient.

So it gives some people relief for symptoms because they've been given reassurance and time they don't get on the NHS. Rather than funding homeopathy, we should be funding more GPs. And change the rules to allow them to prescribe sugar pills if they want, instead of sending patients away with nothing...

Submission + - Sea level rise on Northwest European Shelf caused by moon - not man

An anonymous reader writes: This recent (free-access) paper from the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland uses a 160-year tidal gauge series from 26 stations in the Baltic Sea to show that the (global) sea level is completely governed by multi-decadal oscillations of the lunar cycle — superimposed on a unchanging and slow (1.2 mm/yr) sea level rise during that long period. The upside of studying the Baltic is that the daily tidal difference is very low in this region, which gives data with low noise. The final correlation coefficient with the lunar influence was 0.997, so not much room for anthropogenic global warming there.

The authors note in the end: "If our theory is correct and no unprecedented sea-level changing mechanism occurs during the ongoing nodal cycle, then the region’s ongoing sea-level rise (quasi-oscillatory rise since 1971) would be expected to culminate around 2011 and thereafter be falling. At the earliest, this prognosis can be empirically documented when the ongoing lunar nodal period is complete in 2020–21, i.e. within the next 6–7 years."

According to the Danish weekly ‘Weekendavisen’) the article was turned down by Nature, Nature Geoscience, Nature Climate, and the Nature-affiliated Earth Science Review before the authors turned to Journal of Coastal Research who happily accepted it. One of the authors, Jens Morten Hansen, believes the reason for Nature's rejection is that it does not fit with the IPCC political agenda.

Comment Re:Absolutely crucial (Score 3, Informative) 137

The reason behind it was to stop companies (e.g. amazon, apple and google) setting up shop in the lowest tax countries in the EU (luxembourg and ireland), and thus by only charging a low rate of VAT when exporting to the rest of the EU. This enables them to beat smaller domestic companies on final price, pay less tax overall, and funnels what little tax is collected into these tax havens. So the bigger EU countries were seeing a hefty fall in their direct VAT receipts, and loss of business from domestic companies to these giants that can relocate where they like, thus employment costs and indirect tax losses.

Fixing it by harmonizing VAT rates would require treaty changes and be politically hard to hand one of the big financial levers to the european central bank, especially given not all countries are in the eurozone - imagine the US forcing all state sales taxes to the same rate, set by the fed, and you get the idea.

Thus making companies pay VAT in the buyer's country, not the seller's. What they should have done though is put in a threshold, so companies/sole traders below a certain size were exempt, but that was opposed by some so it was dropped, and well, here we are where a mechanism intended to help small traders against the multinationals is a lot easier for the big boys to follow, particularly the requirements to keep id information about buyer location. Once they roll it out for physical goods too, it's going to be such a cluster f**k.

Hopefully though, the rise of MOSS compliant payment processors should make the system easier to follow - you just put a disclaimer up that final price will be based on the buyers VAT rate, and let the payment processor calculate the right rate and store the records.

Comment Re:EU rules? (Score 1) 392

I think it would increasingly create problems with EU legislation not to have USB port on telephone

Well, sort of. The goal was to get rid of the umpteen different standards for phone chargers, so you wouldn't end with all the obsolete ones going to landfill or polluting recyclers - the goal being able to change any mobile phone with any charger; and have that roll over onto other small devices via halo effect, though current requirements mean tablets et al aren't actually part of the standard per se.

They do have to provide microusb as an option for phone chargers, as the vast majority of devices currently use that. If the device the changer comes with has microusb, they can provide a hard-wired microusb charger. Alternatively, and this is what pretty much everyone does, they can provide a charger with a USB-A female socket, and a standard A -> microusb cable. Either is called a common External Power Supply.

If the device uses an alternative standard, i.e. lightning or type-c, then they still need to ship a common EPS, and make available an adapter for use with microUSB. The usual method of course, and the one apple follows, is to ship a power supply with a USB-A plug, and the USB-lightning adapter. Once phones turn up with type-c connectors (if they haven't already?) in the EU, they will likely do the same. As long as they ALSO make available (it doesn't have to be 'in box') an adapter for the device to use hard-wired microUSB adapters, then they're complying.

So now, any microUSB device can be charged from any mobile phone charger, including apple (though obviously not necessarily at max speed). Any non microUSB device can also be charged from other makers chargers, either by using a type A -> lightning/type C cable, or a microUSB adapter on the phone itself if the charger is the rare hard-wired type.

Long term, the regulations will no doubt be updated once microUSB devices go on the wane, and type-c provision will become the norm. But since almost all chargers use the USB A option, swapping out the cable is simple without needing to replace -and bin - the entire charger.

Submission + - Microsoft's First Azure Hosted Service Is Powered By Linux 1

jones_supa writes: Canonical, through John Zannos, VP Cloud Alliances, has proudly announced that the first ever Microsoft Azure hosted service will be powered by Ubuntu Linux. This piece of news comes from the Strata + Hadoop World Conference, which takes place this week in California. The fact of the matter is that the news came from Microsoft who announced the preview of Azure HDInsight (an Apache Hadoop-based hosted service) on Ubuntu clusters yesterday at the said event. This is definitely great news for Canonical, as their operating system is getting recognized for being extremely reliable when handling Big Data. Ubuntu is now the leading cloud and scale-out Linux-based operating system.

Submission + - Russian oil tycoons behind US "greens"? (

mi writes: A shadowy Bermudan company that has funneled tens of millions of dollars to anti-fracking environmentalist groups in the United States is run by executives with deep ties to Russian oil interests and offshore money laundering schemes involving members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

With oil prices plunging as a result of a fracking-induced oil glut in the United States, experts say the links between Russian oil interests, secretive foreign political donors, and high-profile American environmentalists suggest Russia may be backing anti-fracking efforts in the United States.

Submission + - Comcast Ghost-writes Politician's Letters to Support Time Warner Mega-Merger

WheezyJoe writes: As the FCC considers the merger between Comcast/Universal and Time-Warner Cable, which would create the largest cable company in the U.S. and is entering the final stages of federal review, politicians are pressuring the FCC with pro-merger letters actually written by Comcast. According to documents obtained through public records requests politicians are passing letters nearly word-for-word written by Comcast as their own, politicians are passing letters nearly word-for-word written by Comcast as their own. "Not only do records show that a Comcast official sent the councilman the exact wording of the letter he would submit to the FCC, but also that finishing touches were put on the letter by a former FCC official named Rosemary Harold, who is now a partner at one of the nation’s foremost telecom law firms in Washington, DC. Comcast has enlisted Harold to help persuade her former agency to approve the proposed merger."

Ars Technica had already reported that politicians have closely mimicked Comcast talking points and re-used Comcast's own statements without attribution. The documents revealed today show just how deeply Comcast is involved with certain politicians, and how they were able to get them on board.

A rock store eventually closed down; they were taking too much for granite.