Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

×

Comment: Re:Yes. It is called "land subsidence" (Score 2) 227

by hey! (#49366771) Attached to: Experts: Aim of 2 Degrees Climate Goal Insufficient

Which makes sense. Sea level rise in the last 50 years has amounted to about 4 inches, probably not enough to make drains run backwards.

The way sea level rise will make itself known isn't through changes in day to day phenomena, but in exceptional phenomena like storm surge flooding. This is a place where inches may well matter. People plan around concepts like a "ten year flood" or a "hundred year flood", and this creates a sharp line on the map where there is no sharp line in reality. Depending where on the domain of the bell curve their chosen planning horizon is, a few inches could turn a ten year flood into a five year flood, which has immense practical implications.

When people way that there is nothing intrinsically worse about a globe that's four degrees hotter they're right. But *change* that undermines human plans represents a big challenge. Change also represents a big challenge to species populations that can't relocate on the timescale of change.

Comment: Re:as usual faith in humanity is gone... (Score 2) 175

by hey! (#49362099) Attached to: Commercial Flamethrower Successfully Crowdfunded

Having fun isn't necessarily stupid. Having fun with flamboyantly dangerous things isn't necessarily stupid. It's endangering unwilling bystanders that's stupid.

Some people like to build and shoot powerful crossbows, or even replicas of medieval siege weapons. These are extremely dangerous and useless things. The dangerous power of a trebuchet to throw an upright piano 150 yards is part of the charm.

But a trebuchet is something that takes certain amount of thought and sacrifice to obtain and use. This flamethrower thing is more like a powerful handgun. There's been a recent fad for ridiculously overpowered handguns, which pack superfluously fatal power into a convenient, affordable form factor. The recent brouhaha over "armor piercing" ammunition was a side effect of a manufacturer selling a cut-down semi-automatic carbine as a "handgun", even though if you look at videos of people using them they're obviously terrible as handguns. This raised the question of whether 5.56 NATO ammunition should be regulated as "handgun ammunition", and in the end I think the decision not to was reasonablee. These aren't cop-killing or military handguns. They're extremely dangerous toys designed to get your rocks off.

There are some who'd say that because these guns are dangerous and impractical they should be banned. But I don't agree. "Impractical" isn't the same as "useless" because getting your rocks off is a legitimate use for a thing. I think people should be able to enjoy their ridiculous firearms as long as they do it at some kind of appropriate range. I also think there's a real danger though from stupid people who will go plinking in the woods with the things like they were BB guns.

That's really the only problem I have with this flamethrower, whether it's gold, chrome, or gunmetal gray. Any idiot can buy one, but it'd take someone reasonably intelligent and determined to find a place where it can be used safely. I'm not against people buying them, but I am for coming down hard on people who use them where they're a danger or public nuisance.

Comment: Re:This Guy's Talents Should be Put to Good Use (Score 5, Interesting) 187

by hey! (#49361119) Attached to: Prison Inmate Emails His Own Release Instructions To the Prison

Well, in the end you have to ask "did he get away with it?". Or, given that he turned himself in later, "did he have some purpose in escaping that he fulfilled?"

Intelligence is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. It includes things like thinking through unintended consequences before acting that quite clever people are sometimes bad at.

Comment: Perhaps the problem is with the concept. (Score 1) 159

by hey! (#49349767) Attached to: Many Password Strength Meters Are Downright Weak, Researchers Say

What does "password strength" really mean?

If people used a textual representation of number obtained from a reliable hardware random number generator then the meaning would be unambiguous. It's the number of digits in that number. But most people don't do that (perhaps more should).

So what does it mean to say that a password has so many bits of entropy? Well, I guess it means how many truly random bits it would take to index their password from the universe of passwords the user considered. This is more an exercise in psychology than it is in mathematics. You have to figure out how users generate passwords or discount passwords. For example requiring a mix of upper and lower case letters doesn't add as much entropy as you'd think, because most users are mediocre typists who'll avoid using the shift key too often. Requiring digits means that many people will just "0" for "o" and "1" for "L".

So it's really easy to concoct passwords which you know are bad, because you know the methods used to select which passwords you'd consider; if the developers of the strength meter don't take your particular generation algorithm into account the meter will show the password to be stronger than you know it to be.

Comment: Re:Top Gear: The BBC Whovian Reboot (Score 2) 637

by hey! (#49348357) Attached to: Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

A fourth car races by.

It opens, and the words Top Gear: Mark II appear.

It's a young British woman of mixed Asian descent.

The crowd goes wild.

Seriously, an exotic woman driving exotic cars too fast? Who'd watch that?

I would, because I'm a man and I'm not afraid to admit that on some level I'm a pig. Ideally she'd be smart and funny too, because I don't like to think of myself as being a total pig, but either way I'm in.

Comment: Re:The BBC doesn't have much latitude here. (Score 1) 637

by hey! (#49347911) Attached to: Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

Meanwhile, the BBC has a chance to reinvent Top Gear with younger presenters

Nailed it. It's like the old saw about the Chinese character for "crisis" being made up of characters for "danger" and "opportunity". No matter what happens now they're going to lose some of their long-term fans. But at some point young people aren't going to be so keen on watching some ancient codger behaving like an ass.

If they play this right it could become like Dr. Who, with a reboot every few years to bring in fresh blood.

Comment: Re:what will be more interesting (Score 2) 637

by hey! (#49347855) Attached to: Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

Sure. But the man verbally abused and bullied a subordinate. Then he physically assaulted him -- or perhaps by that point the physical altercation was mutual.

At some point you have to ask yourself whether you have your priorities straight. As a fan of the show I'm sorry to the big ape gone. As a fan of civilized behavior I'm happy to see at least a minimum standard of decency in behavior getting enforced.

Comment: Re:Most degrees from India... (Score 4, Interesting) 264

by hey! (#49337571) Attached to: Wikipedia Admin's Manipulation "Messed Up Perhaps 15,000 Students' Lives"

I'll see your anecdote and raise you some speculation.

I've worked with a number of young Indian engineers and found them to be roughly comparable to American engineers with the same level of experience; if anything they have a slightly higher level of textbook knowledge because (I speculate) their educational system puts a higher premium on memorization. That turns out to be awesome when you're lucky enough to be hiring someone with that certain spark of talent it takes to be great at the job. On the other hand it also means you can easily end up hiring a dud who interviews great because he happens to have a prodigious memory. When the VC my company worked with asked us to take on some surplus H1B engineers he'd sponsored I had a range of experiences from absolutely top-notch talent to total cement-heads with an encyclopedic recall of the GoF book.

But what I've never run into an Indian H1B who didn't know anything at all about his field, although I'm sure it happens. Given the size and level of economic development in India I'd be shocked if there were not at least a few diploma mills, but you'd be a fool to turn your nose up at a diploma from U of Mumbai or IIT/Delhi.

It can be tricky evaluate a candidate from a different country and culture than you, so you've got to expect that a conscientious company may end up hiring a few clunkers. But if your Indian colleagues were *all* ignoramuses, it suggests to me the companies you worked for were incompetent or bottom-feeders when it comes to recruiting engineering talent.

Comment: Re:It has an acronym , so it will fail. (Score 1) 149

by hey! (#49331705) Attached to: Obama To Announce $240M In New Pledges For STEM Education

Not really. His point is that school systems are spending money badly already, so that giving them more money would necessarily amount to "throwing money at the problem" (his words). For my town's schools that point fails in that we don't spend money the way he claims all schools do; we aren't top-heavy with administrators. And we spend just a tad less than the national average per student.

I suppose what you're saying is that since we get better results than the national average for less-than-average outlay, we're doing just fine. That's true, if your standard for "good enough" is "beat the national average"; if you think schools in this country are by-in-large doing a good enough job.

"One Architecture, One OS" also translates as "One Egg, One Basket".

Working...