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


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 25% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY25". ×

Comment Re:Port? Really? (Score 1) 131

I think that you are confused about a earnest question vs a rhetorical question.

Seriously though, we software developers should never miss an opportunity to ask "how's that platform-independent Java working out for ya?" so that the business guys remember why they need us.

It's also not true that platform independence hasn't been achieved. It's just that we call it "open standards". There are many examples, but in terms of a full application stack, HTTP/HTML is probably the best. Sure, it took the w3c and browser makers a (very long) while to get down to business, but we all stopped testing every change in 5 different browsers about 5 years ago and a year or two ago we got vector graphics and 3D when HTML5 became broadly supported.

The only remaining question is why Apple, Google and Microsoft all insisted on making smart phones and tablets entirely new beasts, incompatible with each other and with the modular, cohesive, loosely coupled web-based application stack that is obviously the clear winner for just about everything else (sorry embedded device guys).

And yes, I know your smart phone browser can display HTML and the newer ones with more RAM than your laptop had 5 years ago do 3D and overly-busy pages just fine. But if a dev needs access to all those mobile-devices specific features like GPS, notifications, access to contacts and other such info, raw IP/Sockets, IPC, etc. (s)he has to learn a whole new programming paradigm (make that 3 whole new programming paradigms) rather than just reading the docs for some new Javascript API calls.

And No, I'm not suggesting mobile browsers throw out the security boundary and let untrusted code do anything it wants. But a mobile device OS could have been just a web browser on steroids and an "app" could have been a single-archive-file website that did have access to the filesystem, the network, etc. after appropriate signed-code checking, user notification/acceptance and maybe even OS-vendor approval.

To be fair, it's no mystery why it didn't go that way. That slimy goo you find oozing out of your phone isn't a defective battery -- it's Steve Jobs', Larry Page's and Steve Balmer's drool which flows more freely when they hear the word "lockin" than if you gave pavlov's dog a real T-Bone. So thanks guys. Thanks for learning nothing at all from the PC marketplace. Thanks for saddling us with yet another set of crappy technology stacks. Thanks for laughing at us from your expensive yachts where you have your personal secretary do all the things that need to get done while we sit here cursing our "smart" phones because they simply don't do enough, don't do it right, don't talk to each other and are generally designed for you to collect data about us rather than to help make our lives easier.

I hope all of your yachts sink and you're eaten by sharks (lava-sharks in Jobs's case).


Comment But that one for is really current (Score 1) 305

To be fair, the lawmakers required the project to always be updated to the very latest web-based standards. They were therefore legally bound to redo the entire thing every 3 months. The history of their git (originally RCS) repository includes code in everything from c-based binaries that implement the CGI standard to angular and d3-based single page apps.

Comment Re:Got it! (Score 1) 133

If everybody did this there would be no value in your data. Sour the milk.

You're confusing data quality and data marketability. While your proposal would diminish data quality, data quality is already pretty low as far as I can tell based on the supposedly "target" ads I see. But despite the fact that it's already unreliable at best, the companies collecting the data are still able to monetize it quite thoroughly, and will continue to do so no matter how bad the data gets. The companies (and governments) buying the data just want an excuse to do more of what they're doing. They do nothing to verify if the crap their being sold is actually beneficial.

Comment Re: It's not the Earth's fault (Score 1) 291

Yeah, you know, if you ask a human in 50000 years whether 'noon' means 'midday' or 'midnight', he'll say "zxyathslthe?" "blortpmi?".

With changes in the range of thousands of years, language will change orders of magnitude faster than the specific number we ascribe to 'noon'.

And yes, it is something you can easily ignore, as unless the human lifespan stretches into thousands of years, it's not like anyone's actually going to notice during their lifetime.

Comment Re:+1 for privacy supporters -1 for gun control (Score 1) 620

I think the judge should have fined him for firing a gun within city limits (obviously dangerous, but only a fine-able, not jail-able, offense since no one was hurt) but made it clear in her ruling that he should prevail in any civil suit he cared to file against the jackass with the drone. That would allow him to recover the cost of the gun fine from the peeping tom, and all would be right with the world.

As-is, this is a great and very unexpected ruling. Anyone know if there are job opening in Kentucky. I might light to move there now.

Comment Lawyers and money, of course. And it already has (Score 1) 712

It's like the line in Austin Powers II when #2 says "Virtucon alone makes over 9 billion dollars a year!".

If you're some idiot with a grudge that's more important to you than your own freedom and well-being, maybe guns still matter. But all the smart self-serving criminals have found ways to take more than their fair share and just payed congress and the courts to make it legal. And I bet the distribution of wealth now is far more skewed than any time since guns became useful tools of death and intimidation.

Comment Re: Academia is willing to protect total dicks (Score 1) 345

This problem is fixed by making consent explicit.

Yeah, see, the fact that you actually think that is one of the biggest problems I have with consent advocacy.

The problem is that in reality, mens rea means you don't have to have any actual consent, you just have to think you had consent. That means that consent law changes doesn't change what you seem to think it would change. As long as someone acts in a way the accused could interpret and motivate why they thought they had consent. And going along with it explicitly does mean that they are exhibiting behaviour interpretable as consent, which means that there was affirmative consent.

If you want the kind of consent law you seem to believe you want, then you'll have to advocate for specific and explicit consent requirements, or you're going to be complaining about why consent law didn't change anything but the margin between 'going along with' and 'not actively resisting'.

Comment Only because human life is cheap (Score 1) 203

What this really tells us is how the justice system values human life.

Say someone is killed by a self-driving car in a way that's obviously not an hard-to-avoid accident but a clear malfunction of the device. One might expect the liable party to face fairly astronomical damages for designing and marketing a killing machine. But we know they won't. They'll say "That guy made $30k/year and was 10 years from retirement. Here's $300k. We're even." And the courts will say, "ya, that sounds fair.". Maybe a few percent tacked on for the family's pain and suffering or something. But in general, I bet the courts will screw the little guy on this one.

Comment Re:Waaaahhhhh!! (Score 2) 688

Considering Garrett's SJW credentials, it's more likely about working on his own, with his own mailing list where he can block anyone not adhering to his particular set of prejudices. I doubt it will be particularly productive. Or inclusive.

Comment Re:Who? (Score 4, Insightful) 688

While I think it's unfortunate that some innocents get caught in the crossfire, the toxicity of SJW culture is simply so damaging that I think the approach of not giving an inch is the only tenable one. Once you start coddling specific individuals by sanctions against other individuals you immediately start up the competition of the most offended, the community fractures into group politics and productivity rapidly dissipates.

There's no utility in being deliberatly uncivil unless it's necessary to get a point across, but as soon as someone starts requiring special snowflake status and demonstrates a sense of entitlement to special care for theirs or others feelings then they should get that discussion shut down asap. Allowing the SJW mindset to start festering will do much more damage than the cost of losing a few good developers.

(And it's hardly the first time Matthew Garrett has figured in an SJW context...)

Comment Re:The article has it backwards (Score 1) 153

It would be quite interesting to know whether the decision not to install SCR was taken before the optimizations were done. Because that actually would be a plausible theory of why this happened that would jive with my experience of the automotive industry.

If it was basically one asshat manager saying that 'yeah, we're going to do this IN SOFTWARE without using SCR! And save MONEY!", then I can see exactly what happens next. Engineers go "good grief, what an ass, this is going to suck in most cases". Then they get to figure out basically any and every situation you can reduce effect and write logic to accomplish it until they reach required targets. And it just so happens that the idiots designing the benchmarks have produced benchmarks that look nothing like reality so of course they'll get completely different results than what happens when you're not driving the car under specific ideal conditions.

Of course, if that's actually it, then it's not even intentional fraud. And actually using those optimizations would be a good thing as they obviously do reduce emissions in certain conditions where power might not be needed, it's just that they should be using SCR as well. And the benchmarks should be updated to reflect real life situations.

Comment Re:"We're stronger than ever" (Score 1) 107

By that measure every company is a heavy tech footprint company today.

Which is why it's still pretty good to be in IT. The same can be said for accountants and lawyers -- every company basically has to have some.

I'm also assuming that, being primarily a website, Groupon has at least a slightly higher than average percent of tech workers. And they're a startup at least in the sense that they've never paid a dividend. Since there are so many web-basted startups that employ us nerds, news about Groupon and similar is relevant on slashdot.


Comment Why not go 6G? (Score 1) 164

> "About the only point of agreement so far is that 5G is what we'll all be building or buying after 4G..."
I was going to comment on how obvious and unnecessary the "5G comes after 4G" thing is, but then I remembered Windows 9 and and OS-X "saber-tooth tiger" and realized that with technology, the succession isn't necessarily that obvious.

Comment Re:"We're stronger than ever" (Score 1) 107

Because jobs at companies with heavy tech footprints (I assume at least some of those 1,100 layoffs will be of IT workers) is always interesting to us nerds.

I just turned down a job offer at a publicly-traded tech "startup" that doesn't pay dividends and who's profitability fluctuates widely from quarter to quarter. Including the restricted stock portion of the compensation package, it would have been a big raise -- assuming both that the stock didn't tank too much and I stayed employed long enough for it to vest. But those risks vs my current stable (as far as I know) position just didn't add up for me. And news like this reminds me exactly why I was too nervous to take the job.

The CEO's statement, "we’re stronger than ever", is probably correct. AFTER laying of a bunch of people, they very well may be in a position to make some consistent profits and eventually pay a dividend. But how many of those 1,100 took the job over better alternatives because they had dollar signs in their eyes and hoped the stock they were getting would make them rich.

This is news for nerds because we need remember to limit how much we let companies pawn off their potentially worthless stock on us in lue of real compensation.

Stellar rays prove fibbing never pays. Embezzlement is another matter.