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


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Sad in a philosophical sense (Score 1) 77

For having so many small experiments and projects to maintain, a human presence is really not that much more effort compared to building robotic versions of each experiment. The human is also far more adaptable, able to repair and rebuild systems as needed.

Well, except that humans are pretty much stuck at the landing site. Mars has half the circumference of earth or about 20000 km, you can get the equivalent of the lunar rover and cover maybe 20 km before you have to turn back. Sure, the rovers are a snooze feast but we got several of them in different places. For the same reason it's not practical to repair them or return samples to base either, even if we had a man on Mars.

Comment Re:Meaningless stats (Score 1) 89

Yes, but... what users are complaining about isn't really how "fair" it is from a CS perspective. What they really want to know is how they can say my video streaming is a lot more important than my bittorrent client and if there's CPU contention or IO contention or network contention just let the video take priority. Because usually somebody with a server has optimized the IO quite well for the use case with 100 streams and they're all equally important. That's usually not the case on the client, some things matter much, much more than others.

Comment Re:What year is this? (Score 3, Informative) 152

It all depends on how far you are from the nearest central, 3-5 km out on basic ADSL is pretty crap. If you live close to the exchange or they've pulled fiber "close" and you get ADSL2 or VDSL you can get decent 10-50 Mbit. No doubt the growth is fiber though, here in Norway it's now 28% (+6%) fiber, 22% (-5%) DSL since last year.

Comment Re:Porsche != 'Luddite' (Score 1) 207

The only problem is that insurance is based on risk pools. This means that as people switch to self driving cars the risk pool for cars that people drive shrinks and by definition they are the most unsafe drivers compared to the autodrive cars. This will mean insurance will go up and move people will stop driving their cars for money reasons and the insurance will keep going up.

No, insurance goes up as risk goes up. Unless driving a car becomes much riskier due to the interaction with self-driving cars or there's a selection bias where the above average safe drivers switch to self-driving and the below average stay the cost should remain constant. There would be a cheaper alternative and many people would surely prefer it but it's not like a wooden house in the countryside becomes more or less flammable because they build concrete condos in the city. Personally I suspect it would be the opposite, the people who know they probably ought not be driving but need a practical way to get from A to B go self-driving and the people who drive are those who want to, when they want to. And you're driving in a world where most cars actually follow the rules and behave nicely, I believe accident rates will go down on both sides. Whether competition works and the rates come down is another matter.

Comment Re:Add-ons? (Score 1) 362

You guys just can't be satisfied. "This or that feature should be a plugin!" Mozilla removes features and suggests they are better handled by plugins "No! Not that feature!"

There's a huge gap between "You can have the car painted any color you want as long as it's black" and "We've stripped it down to the chassis, pick the parts that are right for you". I always thought extensions were going to cover niche functionality and act as a test bed so you could slowly pull in core shortcomings into the main browser at a leisurely and well structured pace because there's an overhead to extensions when you have many installed and your browser runs like shit because of some bad plug-ins and bad interactions. Depending on what glasses you look at it seems that Mozilla first pushes you to extensions, then blames the extensions, then breaks the extension. The user don't care why it's broken or whose fault it is, they just want it to work. And if you have to turn Firefox into Chrome to do that, well we already have Chrome. And it's a lot better at it...

Comment Re:Cats & dogs living together (Score 1) 163

Google's core business is delivering targeted advertising and marketing data, give it away "free" then monetize the hell out of it. They're only opposed to malware and deceptive ads because it hurts their much bigger business of ordinary ads. What on earth made you think Google likes ad blockers? They're all cloud and web apps and put your data online so we can analyze it. And praise Jeebus they didn't get anywhere with G+, if they had Facebook's data too you'd almost have them shoulder surfing with you. Apple? It's the iSphere and you're paying for it but as long as they get a cut they're happy. And they got all sorts of stores like iTunes to sell things themselves, don't need to remind people of the world outside the iSphere. Maybe you're thinking about the part where Google uses open source, but that's just on the client side to break monopolies and get users hooked up to Google services. It's a tool and sometimes there's a common enemy but they're not your friend.

Comment Add-on good, default preference bad (Score 1) 362

I fully agree that functionality that can be provided by add-ons need not be provided by the core program. In fact, this level of extensibility is a great selling point for Firefox.

The problem is what to do with those who set the preference in the past and have yet to install an add-on. I think it would have been better to take the "paranoid" default (deny all), making sure they have at least as much security as they had before. I find it hard to believe that there are many users who were regularly approving each cookie separately but couldn't dealt with the breakage caused by a temporary "deny all" default.

Comment Re:Oh good, a reason (Score 1) 327

I hadn't read or heard much about this guy, but since he seems like he'll be the #3 between Cruz and Trump (who are both so unelectable it hurts)

US politics reminds me of the reality shows where everybody is looking to knock out the dangerous contenders, only to have the joke/outsider option run off with the prize in the final. From what I understand, Sanders is fairly far off the US political center too, at least more than Clinton. But from what I can tell Bush senior is the only one to win a third time from the same party after WWII, after eight years the grass usually looks greener on the other side. So if I was a bookkeeper, I wouldn't count any of them out.

Comment Re:Mars is impossible (Score 1) 304

Don't forget how many people would pay a handsome sum to take a vacation on the Moon.

Look, NASA is looking to pay something like $20 million/seat for a ride to the ISS with SpaceX. Not only is it much shorter, from there gravity does pretty much all the work of getting home. An Apollo-style mission would take two Falcon Heavys for $200 million launch cost to carry two people to the surface. Considering that you also need the command module, landing module and all that I think $500 million or $250 million/seat would be extremely optimistic. And I'm already projecting into the future about a low cost rocket that hasn't flown yet. But assuming it does and SpaceX works out reusable rockets and you get economics of scale both in rockets and people I'm thinking you'd still have a hard time getting down to $20 million/seat. And no, the market for that is pretty limited. It's easy to lose perspective when Musk says the fuel is 3% of a Falcon 9 launch it costs $60-70 million so like $200,000. I'm guessing Blue Origin will take the tourist market, you get to (barely) be in space and zero-g for the cool effect, a cramped moon base in a rock desert that you can only experience through a space suit sounds like it could get old real quick. Most billionaires are not Musk, if they're not single you can multiply those prices and if they are they're probably going to a place with more babes.

Comment Re:Mars is impossible (Score 1) 304

Nobody knows if gravity will actually be a significant problem for Mars or even the moon. We know it's an issue for micro-gravity (though we've got people living in it over a year anyway), we don't know about 1/3 or 1/6 gravity.

Well, even 1/6th should have the cardiovascular system working much more normally with fluids flowing in the right direction and things hanging like they normally do. And since you got gravity you could add weight vests/bracelets/anklets to add another 80 + 2x20 (wrist and ankles) lbs = 55 kg, if you're normally say 85 kg you're now effectively (85+55)/3 = 47 kg on Mars and you still got 140 kg of momentum to counteract. Maybe more if NASA designs a special suit for you. When we know the enormous differences between couch potatoes and athletes here at home, a good training regiment should keep the body in pretty okay shape unless some of your internal organs take long term damage from sleeping at 1/3rd gravity.

Comment Neat, but back in the real world people don't know (Score 1) 126

If it's really at the core of your business, then sure you should know. But for everything else I still haven't seen a single case where a business buying non-trivial software really knew whether or not you could fulfill all your business requirements before committing. In many cases it was even recognized that you're just looking for a tool that's good enough and try to make it work for you. Like I know every component in my computer. I can barely remember the brand of my washing machine. Now obviously I need to wash clothes, but an average machine for average needs should be fine. If they're not mainstream that usually means they have some special capabilities I don't need and don't want to pay for or they have particular limitations that make them useful for particular niches. Neither is good for me.

And very often it's not just a tool for today, but also for tomorrow and shifting needs. Like say I figure the games I play on Steam today run under Linux, but tomorrow there's this super cool game I badly want to play but sorry, Windows only. Okay maybe not such a great example but at least in business you build processes around it and really the worst you can end up with is a tool that just won't do the job and require you to migrate away. You end up spending so much money just getting back to where you were, before you start getting a net return on switching. There's a reason COBOL is still around...

Comment Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 214

And the competent replacement will need to start off by firing thousands of workers. What competent person is going to want the job?

More people than you realize, on the theory that it's not in clear skies and smooth sailing you need a good captain. Some CEOs more or less specialize in this, join a rotten company and find the parts worth keeping, do the harsh cuts then move on to the next rescue/salvage project. If they can get a reputation for turning things around it could pay off very well. They're not going to win any popularity contests but usually they're just the ones announcing the layoffs. It's much worse for the middle managers that have to lay off the individuals. It's the CEOs that took a successful company and put it in a nosedive that I'm surprised finds new work.

Slashdot Top Deals

Old programmers never die, they just branch to a new address.