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Comment Rubber Ducking (Score 3, Interesting) 131

It's called Rubber Ducking. The idea is that by talking out loud, you have to form your thoughts into words, which requires you to organize your thoughts more completely. Think about all the times that you've gone to ask someone a question, and as soon as you ask them the question, you figure out the answer yourself. Whether you use a rubber duck, a live video audience, or another person doesn't matter much. This is one of the reasons that pair programming can be quite effective.

Comment So do cars (Score 1) 228

Cars also help terrorists. Maybe we should consider restrictions on them too, to make sure they can't be used for terrorism. And guns help terrorists. I certainly don't see the Americans raising a fuss about that. Curiously, the UK doesn't seem to be raising a fuss about that either. Heck, western governments frequently help terrorists. Perhaps we should address that one first.

Comment Re:It's simple (Score 1) 452

If you believe that courts only hear cases for guilty people, or only convict guilty people, then our conversation was over before it started.

And it's not designed to protect you from improper conviction (because that would be impossible). It's designed to protect you from additional punishment for pleading your innocence.

You should probably watch Dont Talk to the Police (or any of several similar videos and articles). It explains how an innocent person can try defend himself and still get into trouble.

Comment Re:It's simple (Score 1) 452

Because if I'm a witness, telling the truth doesn't lead to me being punished. (If my testimony could lead to my prosecution, then I would be able to invoke the 5th Amendment right to not testify, unless I had been given immunity.)

So a witness doesn't have the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" dilemma. The Wikipedia article (and many others covering the reasons for the 5th Amendment protections) does a pretty good job of explaining this.

Comment Re:It's simple (Score 1) 452

There was once a common practice of forcing defendants to testify, and adding more charges if they denied guilt and then were found guilty anyways. The Fifth Amendment protects against that practice, and only that practice.

I think you could make an argument that prosecutors are doing something similar in recent times. They pile on lots of charges, hoping some will stick. (And hoping that juries will see all the charges, and make an assumption that at least some of those must be true.) The time and cost of defending against all those charges is so daunting that the suspect is faced with 2 bad choices -- spending several years of their lives and all their savings defending themselves, or pleading to a lesser charge even though they did nothing really wrong. This dilemma is basically the same dilemma that the 5th Amendment is trying to protect us from.

Comment Re:End of a Dream (Score -1) 344

George Zimmerman would never have seen prosecution if he was black or Trayvon was white; guilty or not the evidence just wasn't there.

What kind of crack are you smoking? 1. He followed Trayvon -- he was the one doing the assaulting. 2. Do you truly believe that the American justice system treats blacks better than whites?

Comment Re:Better use for NSA capabilities: Watch Congress (Score 1) 250

If the NSA can monitor anyone (which Snowden claims, and which appears to be true) then there's likely some monitoring of Congress going on. Sad that Congress itself doesn't seem to realize this. (Or at least not those either profiting in some way from the NSA or being blackmailed by the NSA.)

Comment Re:Predicitng the future is hard (Score 1) 352

So apparently this was a legitimate article from Ars Technica in 2005. Let's see how we're doing so far, just 8 years later.

1. The people of the future are a scantily clad people. They delight in showing off their naked, tattooed flesh.


2. In the future, an airport security checkpoint will work exactly the same as it does now, except that the scanning technology will be different. For instance, at the GE-manufactured checkpoint that I saw, the machine supposedly sniffs you for bomb residue.


3. The elderly Japanese people of the future will be so desperately lonely for companionship that they'll purchase creepy android replicas.

Not quite yet, but still seems headed in that direction.

4. The senior citizens of the future won't roll around in wheelchairs - not even cool robotic wheelchairs like those invented by Dean Kamen. Instead, they'll have robotic exoskeletons that will make them much stronger and faster than the non-elderly. So in addition to being the largest voting block in future elections, they'll also have superhuman strength and speed.

Not yet, and not looking too likely at this point. Robotic exoskeletons exist, but they're not even used much in heavy industry yet.

5. In the future, most robots will look pretty much like robots have looked since the 1970's.

Robots pretty much look like Frisbees. (I.e. the Roomba is the only successful robot so far.)

6. Apple's market share doesn't change much in the future.

Considering the iPhone and iPad, I'd say their market share has definitely increased.

7. On the weekends, the people of the future will take to the water in dolphin-shaped craft that don't look nearly as much fun to drive as a Seadoo of today.

No signs of that happening any time soon.

8. Dolphin watercraft aren't the only form of future transportation that's a bit cramped. The electrically powered cars of the future will be quite small.

We now have the Smart, the Fiat 500, the Mini, and several others. American drivers have a lot more choices in very small cars than they did in 2005.

9. Future entertainment will follow the trends that were established with the rise of disco. First, they replaced the live band with a DJ. Next, they'll replace the DJ with a large, floor-mounted robotic arm. ... Vinyl aficionados can rejoice, though, because vinyl records are still around.

Not sure about the DJs. That seems to not have changed much since 2005, and I think the mix of live music to DJs to Musak is likely to remain where it's been for the past few decades. Maybe more iTunes mixes though, especially at parties. The prediction about vinyl records was spot on though.

10. In a future 9/11-style scenario, where the top of a high-rise building is on fire, a Moller Aircar...

The Moller is still 50 years away, as always. Moller says it's 5 years away, as always.

"The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, preserved their neutrality." -- Dante