Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Take advantage of Black Friday with 15% off sitewide with coupon code "BLACKFRIDAY" on Slashdot Deals (some exclusions apply)". ×

Comment Yeah, I know, I'm probably a denier... (Score 4, Insightful) 735

...but what a load of hogwash. Today, we are one entire degree warmer than "pre-industrial temperatures", which they define as around 1850. Coincidental, I'm sure, that the "Little Ice Age" ended around 1850, meaning that they could hardly have picked a colder point in time. I should certainly hope that we are warmer than that! The Little Ice Age saw the largest glacier extents for thousands of years, devastating many communities as they were inexorably covered with ice.

Note, also, the temperature graph in that article - a lot more than one degree drop from temperatures a couple of centuries before, which brings us to the next point. They label today's temperature range as "uncharted territory", despite the fact that the planet was almost certainly warmer than this during the Medieval Warm Period, and before that during the Roman Climate Optimum.

The rest of the TFA is all about beating the panic-drum.

Comment Re:Developers following the KICC principle (Score 1) 576

Haven't heard of that, but I might take a look if you have a link.

Without seeing a specific implementation, I have trouble imagining what the advantage could be. Determining whether a key exists, or whether a stored value is null are both simple conditions to write. Why clutter it up with an unnecessary class?

Comment Developers following the KICC principle (Score 3, Insightful) 576

KICC = Keep it Complicated and Crappy

I recently ran into a similar example in Java, where Java 8 has introduce the class java.util.Optional. This is used by certain other Java 8 classes as a return type.

What does Optional do? It provides an object that contains an object. If that inner object is null, the method isPresent() returns fall. So now, instead of:

          if (widget != null) { widget.doSomething()) ... }

You can write

          if (optional.isPresent()) { widget = optional.get(); widget.doSomething()) ... }

Of course, if you don't quite trust the class giving you the Optional, you get to write

          if (optional != null && optional.isPresent()) { widget = optional.get(); widget.doSomething()) ... }

This serves no useful purpose, except to make code more complex. Stupid, stupid, stupid...

The claim, of course, is that this marvelous class is designed to work with lambdas. The thing is, lambdas themselves are an idiocy in Java. Lambda expressions are inherent in purely functional languages, but they are semantically out of place in a declarative language.

Comment So much wrong with this... (Score 1) 120

sent a letter to top education lawmakers in the House and Senate

K-12 education isn't a federal program, even if the Dept. of Education is a busybody. K-12 education works best when managed at the local level.

insisting that computer science "must" be added to the list of "core academic subjects"

Core subjects K-12 would be things like math, english, history and basic science.

[insisting that] states be given resources to improve STEM education programs.

Money grows on federal trees? Federal funding is lets the camel's nose into the tent. Once the states are used to having that "free money", the feds can demand anything they want. Like Michelle Obama's idiotic ideas on school nutrition. How about eliminating all federal educational involvement, instead?

"Computer science is marginalized throughout K-12 education,"

Because it isn't a core subject, nor should it be.

"We need to improve access for all students, particularly groups who have traditionally been underrepresented."


Comment Usual thing; "pre-crime" and bored bureaucrats (Score 1) 173

It's the usual regulatory overenthusiasm. Basically trying to criminalize perfectly ordinary actions that might lead to actual criminal actions.

You can be penalized for emitting interference in a regulated frequency, or for using a regulated frequency for some other purpose. That is correct, and it is all that is necessary. Whether I my device is interfering because it is a cheap piece of crap, or because it is broken, or because I have flashed it - the reason doesn't matter, the result does. On the other side: if my device isn't interfering, there is no reason for the FCC to care how much I paid for it, whether it is in working condition, or whether I have flashed new firmware.

The bureaucrats need to justify their petty little empires, so they seek new regulations to write.

This is like a "pre-crime" unit: If you flash new firmware, you might be doing so with the intent to misuse spectrum. It's no different from stupid crimes like "structuring" that aren't actually (in a sensible world) crimes at all. They may, in rare cases, be evidence that a crime has been, or will be committed. That is no reason to make them illegal in and of themselves. Did you know that European eggs are illegal in the US, and vice versa? It would be perfectly fine to stick with "don't poison your customer", but that's too simple, and doesn't require enough bureaucrats. So in each case, over-eager bureaucrats have dictated a particular egg-cleaning method, and the two contradict each other.

tl;dr: The FCC needs to concentrate on its actual job. Maybe they should downsize by about 90%, so that they don't have time for dumb ideas.

Comment Android Marshmallow (Score 1) 373

I just updated to Marshmallow, where you can see and control app privileges. I went through the apps and disallowed anything they didn't need. Almost every app had the right to look at my contacts. Music apps, map apps, fitness apps - everything. None of them need this access, but they are all selling it. Hopefully, those days are now over...

Comment Jury competence? (Score 4, Insightful) 312

This is a very technical patent having to do with prediction. Not predicting branches, but predicting data. It might even be valid - I haven't kept up with processor architecture for too long. The gigantic question is: given the state of the art at the time this patent was filed, is it a logical extension obvious to a person "skilled in the art". That would be a very tough question to answer, even for an expert in the field.

Just how is a jury of non-technical people supposed to figure this out?

I'm sure they will have heard from Apple's experts: "This is obvious, a kid could figure it out", and the university's experts: "wow, what a clever invention". How will they have judged and compared these expert opinions? Their charisma? Their hairstyle?

The whole patent system is one gigantic disaster. Even for potentially valid patents, the process is just wrong.

Comment Not necessarily malware... (Score 2) 474

I've had malware served as an ad, but that's unusual. The bigger problem is the sheer volume of stuff. One news site that I visit semi-regularly tries to load things from as many as thirty external sites - it varies wildly. I just now opened their page to see today's number: on the home page Ghostery blocks 12, AdBlock Plus another 4. Go to an article, and the numbers rise to 17 and 4. Sorry, that's just too much crap: I am visiting one site, not twenty-two. The site loads many, many times faster without all of that crap.

If they were to give me a choice between seeing their site with ads, or never visiting again, it would be an easy choice: bye-bye. Crappy media sites that regurgitate articles written elsewhere are a dime a dozen. If a site with useful, original content were to take that tack...well, why would they? I subscribe to the sites I value most, and then feel entirely justified in blocking their ads. /. falls somewhere in the middle. I'm supposed to be able to turn off ads, which would be nice, but they turn back on randomly. Anyway, what's with the trackers? The mobile site seems to ignore the ad setting entirely and has been showing the same crappy ads for stupid apps for weeks now. So I leave everything blocked. At the moment, that amounts to seven external sites that I have no desire to see (or be tracked by).

Comment Question in the title? The answer is likely "no" (Score 2) 563

Star Trek portrayed a very optimistic, indeed idealistic future. As with all such things, it's not entirely realistic.

Society without money? Not unless you can make a fundamental change to human nature, by eliminating greed.

Look at the West now: no one is poor, not by any reasonable definition of the word. Barring drug addiction or mental illness, everyone has enough to eat, a roof over their heads, a mobile telephone, a television, and likely even a car. This would have counted as wealth 200 years ago.

The capitalist saying is very true: "a rising tide floats all boats". The problem is that no one wants to own the little boats. You can raise the bar as far as you like, but there will still be limited resources. Not everyone can have their own private island. Not everyone can be sole owner of a starship. Whatever goods count as rare, people will lust after them, and count themselves poor for not having them.

  As long as this remains part of human nature, we will need money, or something equivalent.

Comment Use Ghostery Browser (Score 1) 95

Use the Ghostery browser, problem solved.

For those who don't know, Ghostery cannot be offered separately, because Android Apps are not allowed to screw with each other's data. So Ghostery brought out a browser than includes the blocking. The web is a lot saner this way.

Regarding TFA: I am not at all fond of the idea of yet another web standard

Comment So he is an SJW (Score 0) 688

Good link. If he thinks GamerGate is "anti-women" then he is an SJW. Or, at least, he totally missed the point of that movement. Which is, at its root, that everyone (including women) is welcome in geek spaces; however, people are not welcome to walk in the door, get offended, and demand that geek spaces change to suit them. If you join a group and don't like how it behaves, the door is right over there.

(N.B. GamerGate started about ethics in journalism, but quickly moved beyond that.)

Comment You have to love the CC companies (Score 1) 139

You're exactly right, but the CC companies have little interest in ending fraud. Instead, they just pass along the costs. Think about it: it's actually kind of shocking that the credit cards collect a percentage of gross, i.e., the full purchase price on every transaction. In terms of processing, it doesn't matter if a transaction is for $5 or $500. This more than covers the costs of fraud, and the charge is ultimately passed on to the consumer.

Meanwhile, they impose very strict security requirements on the merchants, make the merchants pay not only the standard fees, but also transaction fees, the cost of the terminals (from certified providers, who pay fees), fees for required quarterly network security scans, etc, etc... Always another fee - and it all winds up in the price tag of the products.

In truth, Mastercard and Visa essentially hold a monopoly. They don't compete with each other, because all of the big banks are involved with both. If Google gets investigated over and over for anticompetitive practices, why do we never see an investigation by MC/Visa? It's long overdue...

Comment Quality of Ford? (Score 1) 494

"the quality of Ford vehicles to have jumped leaps and bounds"

Well, yes. Given the starting point, there is plenty of room for leaps, and space for lots of bounds. I imagine it's the same for most American cars built in union territory. Given the crazy labor costs, driven by the big unions, you have to cut corners somewhere.

Comment As always: stupid laws deserve to be ignored (Score 2, Interesting) 162

Really, claiming territory that you cannot even get to? Any treaties or laws regarding anything beyond geosynchronous orbit are laughable, because they are unenforceable.

Heck, even here on earth, I wish people would follow a simple principle: deliberately flout stupid laws and regulations. It's the only way to get them off the books. Of course, you have to be willing to fight an enforcement attempt, and most of us would rather not. However, the alternative is for regulations to accumulate. Every time a bureaucrat has a brain fart, they add another one, and the damned things never go away.

Comment Yet another company that does not need to exist (Score 4, Informative) 107

Just how did a simplistic business like GroupOn ever come to have thousands of employees?

Our dealings with them were unpleasant, but at least short. GroupOn wanted us to offer insane discounts, i.e., for us to sell as a huge loss. We asked ourselves: what kind of customer is that going to attract? The answer is clear: extreme bargain seekers, who will never come back and pay our normal prices. No thanks, go away.

They are just another crappy coupon business, only "on a computer". Whoopie.

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson