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


Forgot your password?

Comment balloon probe of venus (Score 4, Interesting) 47

The one mission I think could be really excellent would be an atmospheric probe of Venus that could float around the upper atmosphere where it is at a pressure nearly equivalent to earth. So far most probes haven't lasted very long, so it would be an engineering challenge with the potential to send back some really amazing images from the cloud layer. And forget mars, venus is the most promising place in the Solar System for its terraforming and habitability potential, *all you need to do* is remove enough Carbon from the atmosphere and you end up with plenty of oxygen. An airship could explore, take samples and test a CO2 converter. Heck just throw a plant on there and see if you can keep it alive.

Comment Re:My money is on.... (Score 1) 86

They are in fact claiming that, its just that the lie. They claim terrorism is different therefore give them what they want, when they get what they want they claim its just crime and their new powers are constitutional when they aren't. You start arguing that its unconstitutional and shouldn't be used as a tool against crime, and back to "But Terrorists!" implying the difference. The logical fallacy isn't yours, its the governments.

Sure, there are mixed messages. And in different cases there are claims being made by government agents that are completely contradictory. I was highlighting the arguments that are of greatest concern to me. It isn't of concern to me when the government occasionally exercises power in ways that exceed their authority. That is necessity. Like the police (or anyone) kicking down a door without a warrant if they think a kidnapped child is inside. But kicking down one door is different than going house to house and kicking down every door. Which is the equivalent of the mass surveillance approach now.

Comment Re:My money is on.... (Score 2) 86

This is an equivocation fallacy. The arguement to do this for terrorism is because its not a crime, but an act of war, the terrorists aren't merely criminals, but foreign combatants.

The government isn't claiming merely the necessity for mass surveillance in the face of imminent danger from terrorists, they are claiming a right to perform mass surveillance as a function of law and the ability to use evidence gained from the fruit of mass surveillance to prosecute criminal cases against people conspiring with terrorists. Either mass surveillance is constitutional as a tool against crime or it isn't. There is no false argument there. Evidence gained through mass surveillance and the fruit of mass surveillance should be inadmissible in ANY criminal cases.

Either treat surveillance without a warrant as something that is inadmissible in court in all cases or forget the 4th amendment.

Comment Re:Activity or productivity (Score 1) 165

The cult of management says that a good manager can manage anything -- and doesn't even have to understand the product. So the top manager of a potato chip company can move in and run a computer chip company.

Or the top manager of a computer company can reform the education system.

For a well established company where a manager is there to just keep things going the way they are going, then the warm body manager mentality is probably a correct assessment. In that case, management doesn't need to know the product, they just keep things going the way they are going. There are many such niche products where there is pretty much one way of doing things and you don't need to change what you are doing. Of course then managers tend to assess performance based on irrelevant things since they don't know what is relevant. Best to simply give everyone the same cost of living increases at that point and only penalize glaringly bad performance.

If you need process improvement, innovation, a company that can adapt to a changing market conditions then you need everyone from the top down to understand the products they are making and the people they are selling to and ignorance by anyone in that chain is a serious weakness.

Comment Re:My money is on.... (Score 2) 86

Worse. It will be seen as a loophole in the law that only terrorists can be found out by indiscriminate mass surveillance. If terrorists, then why not... (fill in the blank terrible crime here). Then the law will be expanded to say that any felony crime inadvertently uncovered during mass surveillance is fair game.

On the one hand, they are right... If you can be allowed to search without a warrant for terrorists then why not other criminals? If you find out someone went on a murderous rampage for personal reasons are you any less ethically obligated to try and stop them than if they have terrorist motives? No if it is constitutional, then you can't simply apply the standard to certain crimes.

The answer is that government shouldn't be allowed to violate the constitution and seizing business records without a warrant is a clear violation of the 4th amendment... that applies to terrorism cases and everything else.

Comment Re:Activity or productivity (Score 2) 165

If someones job is to paint unpainted widgets in bin A and paint them and put them in bin B, that we can pretty accurately measure their productivity by determine how many widgets are in bin B each day and comparing them with others who do the same work, or can we? What about the defect rate?

I've seen this work out (or not) first hand. You can't just pay (or evaluate performance) on one metric. But usually you can figure out some formula that can measure performance. Lines of code is never the metric in software (actually it is the opposite as software that has more lines per unit of functionality is slower). That is like paying your house builder based on the number of nails they hammer or the amount of wood they use. Neither is the number of unique graphics generated in graphic design a good metric, since generating more of anything of lower quality is going to make for dissatisfied customers as you are forcing them to sift through all the junk. For anything the trick is making sure there are checks in place to ensure quality without increasing cost substantially. You have to know your product and what makes for a quality product and tailor your production process to that. Doesn't mean it can't be done, but micromanaging merely one part of the entire process while neglecting other parts usually leads to poor outcomes.

Comment Re:Still the US' fault (Score 1) 110

So we should abandon aspirations towards human rights because Saudi Arabia or North Korea don't play along?

In the case of privacy from government seizure of private records the United States of America itself isn't even following its own Constitution and there is no reason to believe that other "Western" countries are either. So, why should anyone believe that anyone would follow an aspirational international treaty which undoubtedly would give for itself numerous ways to get around it?

Take for instance existing International Law agreed to in the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights":

"Article 12.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

While I applaud the sentiment, I don't think any government thinks that it is being "arbitrary" when it conducts mass surveillance or wholesale spying. They say to themselves and their colleagues that they have very good reasons for doing what they do otherwise they wouldn't do it.

I would have no reason to think that any new treaty would be any more effective or have any fewer ways around it. Governments will always choose to carve out security exemptions at the very least which undermines the whole point.

The US Bill of Rights and the 4th amendment is(was) so special in that it isn't aspirational, but rather spells out the requirements and procedure for violating the right to privacy in fairly specific detail. And even then you see that it hasn't survived the test of time unbroken. I can't think of any other wording that would better survive even the best intentions of those tasked with our security.

Comment Re:Move to the latest version? (Score 1) 435

P.S. likely your mobile phone and maybe even your cable setup has been using IPv6 addresses for a few years now. They are specified and necessary in related standards.

This was the insightful part of your comment. So pretty much everyone is using IPv6 at least on mobile devices... which is pretty much everyone. It is just on older wired networks where you see IPv4 addresses only.

It will be somewhat important to keep the cost of web hosting/DNS low to make sure that registrars are supporting IPv6 only DNS registrations. All the relevant technology and infrastructure should be in place though. More like making sure that web forms on registrars websites accept IPv6 registrations and such.

Comment Re:Doctor what's wrong with me? (Score 1) 111

Of course, this is important for individual diagnosis. But it's the longer term implications on the epidemiology side that are absolutely huge.

This seems to me to be the real benefit of these types of tests. I would hope that CDC, NIH in conjunction with other agencies would begin funding these types of tests on a randomized basis so they could see how viruses are spreading through the population and finding out how viral infections are interacting with other diseases and treatments. The data collection effort would be well worth it.

The other test that has a similar implication was the one announced back in June This blood test can tell you every virus you’ve ever had

Come up with a statistically meaningful sampling. Say 10,000 kits per 100,000 patients and just start collecting data.

Comment Re:Don't we (the US) already have that... (Score 1) 1291

The UK used to pay 17/18 year olds a small stipend (£30/week IIRC) for attending college, this was during the mid-90s to mid-00s when it was abolished by the Tories. Attendance rates climbed when it was introduced and dropped after it was abolished.

I'd rather see it more universally applied to all people of that age rather than by some false or corruptible measures of merit or need. For societies with fiat money, cost should not be a barrier to implement any program. With no finite supply money is simply a measure of relative worth. With a universal stipend we are saying that everyone deserves a chance at a good beginning to adult life.

Comment Re:This should be interesting. (Score 4, Interesting) 114

What happens if, by accident or malicious intent, the storage medium you are using is destroyed? Or ironically enough, if you are attacked with malware that encrypts your drive. How do you explain that you can't decrypt the drive to so they can decrypt your messages? Or that the cloud solution provider you were using is down for a undetermined amount of time?

It depends what you are accused of and how politically connected or rich you are. Seriously, a law like this is meant as a catch all that nobody will be able to ensure their compliance with. Basically it outlaws encryption for all practical purposes. So if you are accused of something, anything, and you happened to use encryption then at least they can jail or fine you on a technicality when they can't prove that any real crime has been committed.

Comment Re:Don't we (the US) already have that... (Score 1) 1291

I think an interesting test of this idea would be to apply this to 18 to 22 year olds or even starting at 16. Let them do whatever they want with the money. Go to college, start a business, buy stuff, blow it all, etc.

I think the downside of any subsidy is that it would tend to inflate the costs of things people need, think they need or really want. The upside is that if people are given enough discretion and choice of how they spend (or save) the subsidy then it can level the playing field somewhat and the effects of the subsidy on raising prices of anything in particular is lessened.

Of course for all of us who had very little money when we were starting out we are suddenly at a competitive disadvantage to young kids who are give a free ride and don't have college debts or are able to save up to buy things that took use years and years to do. Also, the same can be said of any scheme like this even if it applied to everyone. Suddenly applied to society. The people that didn't get the benefit of this are put at a disadvantage because we have been (or still are) carrying debts that the younger generation now will never have to incur at all. At some point it is about the next generation and not us anymore, but still this is a major societal shift and it is hard to imagine that it would be quite as simple as this to truly level the playing field.

Comment Re:UNAMERICAN (Score 1) 216

I think he was taking the position that H1Bs are undermining the American Job market. So really the goal is to eliminate the requirement that H1B need a sponsor at all in order to make sure that a person has job mobility and isn't a preferable candidate because of the indentured nature of the H1B program. Or at least eliminate the sponsor requirement after 30 days or something like that. And put minimum salary/income requirements that for the person to get a yearly renewal of their visa their income over the previous year has to be above the prevailing wage for that job and only applicable for jobs in the top 20% by income so they aren't just importing indentured servants.

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