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


Forgot your password?

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:Better definition of planet (Score 2) 177

by Your.Master (#49157267) Attached to: One Astronomer's Quest To Reinstate Pluto As a Planet

Sol and Luna aren't proper names, they are Latin names. They aren't improper names either, just not better. Their English names are the Sun and the Moon. There's a fine point of grammar in there about inserting the definite article "the" in there, much like in "the Earth" vs. "Earth" vs. "Terra" but never "the Terra".

The Latin names aren't all that obscure either. You might stump people you ambush on the street, but "solar" and "lunar" are well-known terms. I agree that satellite has come to mean man-made satellites in everyday parlance.

Comment: Re:Better definition of planet (Score 1) 177

by Your.Master (#49156329) Attached to: One Astronomer's Quest To Reinstate Pluto As a Planet

Scientific labels tend to be intentionally recognizably distinct from popular ones as lack of distinction is an invitation for ambiguity and confusion.

No, they don't. The only example I can think of for that is IUPAC organic chemical naming conventions, and that's because IUPAC naming conventions define an algorithm for naming an unbounded number of chemicals, even ones never mentioned before, unambiguously.

Here are some short, simple scientific words from the top of my head that are often used differently by the non-scientific community:

weight (very similar to planet, the public often conflates weight and mass which are separated in scientific contexts)
accuracy / precision
fruit (hence the infamous debates about tomatoes)

Yes this is what you get for "voting" rather than recognizing more work is needed to build consensus to get everyone save outliers onboard. 1/3 disagreeing isn't a consensus.

You've got it backwards. You're saying before you can solve the problem, the problem needs to be solved.

This sounds a bit lame as justifications go... lose efficiency? Since when are scientists in the business of conserving syllables?

Since always. Ever notice how variables names in physics formulas (and pure math formulas) are single-characters, even though that means we have to reach into multiple alphabets? That's punishable by death in most software contexts.

Comment: Re:"Born atheist" quite a leap (Score 1) 512

by Your.Master (#49145213) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion

I have to challenge you on that. Show it formally, or I will have to disregard your claim. I do not believe you can back up your claim.

I will say that atheism doesn't preclude a belief in the absence of gods, it only requires an absence of belief in god.

Let me illustrate the difference:

I don't believe my next door neighbour has a 4K TV in his bedroom. I also don't believe that my next door neighbour has a 4K TV in his bedroom. I neither know, nor care, whether my next door neighbour has a 4K TV in his bedroom. I have an absence of belief concerning the presence, or non-presence, of a 4K TV in my neighbour's bedroom. I think it's unlikely, but not so unlikely that I'd bet money on the subject.

I do affirmatively believe, however, that my neighbour has a bedroom, even though I've never seen it.

And I believe that my neighbour does not have 100 4K TVs in his bedroom. I affirmatively believe in the absence of 100 4K TVs in the bedroom of my neighbour, despite never having seen it and despite admitting that it is hypothetically possible. After all, I believe in the existence of more than 4K TVs whose locations I have never identified, and I believe in the existence of bedrooms sufficiently large to house 100 4K TVs if you pack them correctly, especially the smaller ones. But I do not believe that he has 100 4K TVs in his bedroom.

Comment: Re:"Born atheist" quite a leap (Score 1) 512

by Your.Master (#49139437) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion

(Atheism requires just as much faith as theism, since atheists still must "believe" in the unprovable.)


For example, it takes more faith to believe that there is a psychic duck flying through space deliberately diverting meteors from hitting the Earth so that Earth will have time to develop civilization, than it does to believe that there is no such duck, even though the lack of a psychic space duck is not disprovable because he could always have just used his psychic powers to erase the memory of anybody who tries to make an observation. A being of logic would not include the possibility of the psychic duck just because it had heard of the concept -- that would be biasing its decisions toward old ideas.

Your statement is common, but it's a variation on saying that something has a 50% chance of being broken: either it is broker, or it isn't. It's a facile analysis and it's unfair to both atheists and theists.

Regardless, everybody has to agree on definitions. Wikipedia says:

Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.[1][2] In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.[3][4][5] Most inclusively, atheism is the absence of belief that any deities exist.[4][5][6][7] Atheism is contrasted with theism,[8][9] which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.[9][10]

The "most inclusive" definition is not an aberration or a vandalism, and is the one used here.

On agnosticism:

Agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims – especially metaphysical and religious claims such as whether or not God, the divine or the supernatural exist – are unknown and perhaps unknowable.

People aren't born believing that they can't possibly know whether or not God exists, that's a conclusion that rational people make.

As corollary, agnosticism is not incompatible with atheism and in the strictest sense isn't even incompatible with theism or the stricter senses of atheism (in that you can acknowledge a truth value as strictly unknowable without regarding it as a 50/50 even-money option, like the psychic duck).

Comment: Re:What he really said (Score 1) 672

by Your.Master (#49108945) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge

He didn't say average *people*, the context was explicitly about how good a grasp of science people had. Yes, scientists have an above-average grasp of science, and non-scientists therefore have, on average, a slightly below-average knowledge of science, because the sample is biased by the removal of scientists.

Comment: Re:In Canada, not a problem (Score 1) 196

by Your.Master (#49096725) Attached to: A123 Sues Apple For Poaching Employees

While true, there's still more to it if we tie to a case like this:

It is a well-established principle of Canadian law that any post-employment restriction on
competition or solicitation that goes beyond what is “reasonably required” to protect the
Company’s proprietary rights, such as confidential marketing or pricing information or its client
relationships, will not be enforceable. The overriding issue the courts will consider is whether or
not the clause goes beyond what is reasonable to furnish appropriate protection to the Company.

An important takeaway is that "systematically hiring away A123’s high-tech PhD and engineering employees, thereby effectively shutting down various projects/programs at A123," would not be legal in Canada because that doesn't protect any proprietary rights. A123 does not have a proprietary right to PhDs and engineers, it has a proprietary right to trade relationships with clients and confidential information.

Absent evidence to the contrary, the courts will assume that an employee will honour his
or her obligations with respect to the use of confidential information.

Comment: Re:What about the online use of these cards? (Score 1) 448

by Your.Master (#49085841) Attached to: Credit Card Fraud Could Peak In 2015 As the US Moves To EMV

Genuine question: how do they authenticate you so that they know to send the OTP to you?

Do they just assume you have physical possession of your phone? i.e. just "something you have"? If so, why would you imagine that's better than having a password?

My naive guess would be that there's both a password and phone authentication going on at some point in your banking process. Such two-factor authentication is not absolutely required by all banks in the US, it's not uncommon and it's pushed hard by many of them, and usually it goes password-first, then phone auth.

Comment: Re:someone explain for the ignorant (Score 1) 448

by Your.Master (#49085777) Attached to: Credit Card Fraud Could Peak In 2015 As the US Moves To EMV

I grew up 4 hours away from the nearest city.

The only people who don't take credit cards are teenagers (for babysitting and mowing lawns, generally). And even that looks like it's changing.

I have emergency cash at home or when I travel, in case disaster strikes and takes down the credit network. That's about it.

Comment: Re:GOTO is a crutch for bad programmers (Score 1) 677

by Your.Master (#49040069) Attached to: Empirical Study On How C Devs Use Goto In Practice Says "Not Harmful"

void func()
        if (AquireResource1())
                if (AquireResource2())
                        if (AquireResource3())



I know some people are allergic to triangles, but I like them because it makes it easy to see what code is potentially skipped and which code is definitely going to run (barring a crash) at any given time.

Another alternative:

void func ()
        Resource resources[3];
        if (AcquireResource1(&resources[0]) &&
            AcquireResource2(&resources[1]) &&

This is essentially simulating RAII semantics in C. You might even pack all three AcquireResource[1|2|3] functions into a common AcquireAllResources and in so doing make the if less ugly.

I don't like that goto code above because I think it makes it difficult to follow every flow of execution. You may be used to it and think the opposite.

Show me a man who is a good loser and I'll show you a man who is playing golf with his boss.