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Comment: Games? (Score 4, Interesting) 166

by nine-times (#49547273) Attached to: Apple Watch Launches

Ars has an article about the difficulty of making games for the Apple Watch

Honestly, I think games are a bit of a stretch. Maybe I'm just a stupid old man, but I kind of feel like smart-watches should do very little, but everything they do, they should do in a simple, obvious, transparent manner. If you want to play games, just pull out your phone.

Now of course someone is going to say, "What's wrong with extra functionality? If you don't want it, just don't use it." All I would say is, if I had my say in the design, I'd make the UI as simple as possible, and make the battery last as long as possible. Adding a bunch of unnecessary features and games that require a bunch of processing power are likely to run contrary to both of those goals. If you gave me the choice of being able to play Angry Birds on my watch, or shaving off a couple of ounces while extending battery life for 5 hours, I'd definitely choose the latter.

Comment: Re:Automated sorting of mail and metadata? (Score 1) 65

by causality (#49537733) Attached to: New Privacy Concerns About US Program That Can Track Snail Mail

The USPS has been using automated systems of sorting mail for decades. It's why mail across town goes to a consolidated center (perhaps halfway across the state) first for sorting into carrier routes and has been for decades.

That Homeland Security want to capture this information - which has long been determined to accessible (the original pen-trace) isn't surprising at all.

And they only have to photograph/image the ones that the machines can't read. It's only surprising to people who drink the conservative kool-aide that government can't do anything right.

There are four things government is in a position to do better than anyone else: military defense, law enforcement, public works, and the erosion of liberty.

Comment: Re:Dubious (Score 1) 677

by nine-times (#49535983) Attached to: Except For Millennials, Most Americans Dislike Snowden

I am well beyond millennial status and I approve of what Snowden did so I am not sure I believe the survey results.

Nobody is saying the survey conclusively proves that nobody approves of Snowden's actions. That's not how these things work. The summary says:

Among those aged 35-44, some 34 percent have positive attitudes toward him. For the 45-54 age cohort, the figure is 28 percent, and it drops to 26 percent among Americans over age 55, U.S. News reported.

So even if this survey is accurate, that still leaves a significant percentage of people in those age ranges who do have positive attitudes. In that context, it doesn't really make sense to say, "Well I'm in that age group and I have positive attitudes, so this survey must not be accurate." Maybe you're just part of the minority.

Of course, the survey could be inaccurate or misleading. Most polls are.

Comment: Re:We can learn from this (Score 1) 163

Good point. And then someone is going to say, "Well why don't we just change the laws that allow incumbants to redraw district lines to improve their reelection prospects?" It's the same catch-22 problem. The people who have the power to make it illegal are the same people redrawing the lines.

And note that this kind of thing isn't new. The Ancient Greeks complained about the same kinds of catch-22 problems regarding politics.

Comment: Re:We can learn from this (Score 4, Insightful) 163

But is the problem that we can't identify what's wrong, or is the problem that we're powerless to do anything about it?

My understanding is that you could find plenty of people with enough expertise to lay out exactly what the problem is, but the problem is essentially, "There are a bunch of legal loopholes that effectively make bribery legal, thereby handing control of our government over to those who can pay the most."

You might ask, "Well if we know what the problem is, we can fix it! Why not close the loopholes?" The fundamental problem there is that the people in position to close the loopholes are the ones receiving the bribes, and they want the bribes to keep coming. The only thing that could get them to change the law would be if their corporate overlords, i.e. those providing the bribes, bribed them to make it illegal. The problem with that is that the corporate overlords also want the bribes to remain legal, so that they can influence public officials.

Finally, you might say, "Well why not just vote those bribe-takers out of office?" The problem there is that the bribes are used to buy elections. Without that money, you can't run ads, you can't get on TV, and you can't even participate in the public debate.

It's just a catch-22 situation. The only solution would be for voters to somehow elect someone who they've never heard of, who basically can't campaign, and just hope that that new elected official is both honest and effective. And then that has to happen in a couple hundred other elections at roughly the same time.

Comment: Re:Epic? (Score 1) 143

by nine-times (#49514005) Attached to: Astronaut Snaps Epic <em>Star Trek</em> Selfie In Space
Or maybe I'm just putting too much stress on the "Star Trek" aspect of the whole thing...? If you want to say that taking a selfie from the space station, with the Earth and SpaceX's Dragon supply capsule in the background, is itself 'epic', I'd be more likely to agree. The headline makes it sound like it's big news that she's wearing a Starfleet costume, which... yeah, it's fun...

Comment: Epic? (Score 5, Insightful) 143

by nine-times (#49513959) Attached to: Astronaut Snaps Epic <em>Star Trek</em> Selfie In Space

Is it really "epic"? Isn't really just "kinda fun"?

I guess I'm an old man for refusing to adopt the new meaning of "epic" to mean "mildly interesting", but I'm not trying to be pedantic. That was just the first thing that jumped into my head. I read the headline, was prepared for something huge, and then saw the picture and thought, "Eh.... that's really a stretch to call this 'epic'. It's kind of neat and fun, and I'm amused, but that's about the extent of it."

Comment: Who won? (Score 4, Funny) 134

Does the article say who won the fight? I'm thinking of buying a new phone, and I want to know if I should buy and Android phone or an iPhone. Since stabbing each other with broken bottles is an appropriate way to determine who has the best phone, this information is relevant to my interests.

Comment: Re:Is banishment legal? (Score 1) 271

by causality (#49498253) Attached to: Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C.

Well, the constitution does say any American citizen has free travel between areas within the US. So if I was this guy, I'd sue the federal court. Fun fact, because it's a federal issue, he's constitutionally promised a jury of at least 6 people if the suit is for more than $20. At that point, it really doesn't matter what the federal judge says, it's the jury. And since the US is a country of "letter of the law", the federal government is going to have a hell of a time defending this action when the constitution explicitly prohibits it.

Sure thing. All it will cost him is his life savings plus whatever debt he incurs.

Comment: Re:What is or is not a religion? (Score 1) 700

by nine-times (#49488861) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

So, for capital crimes, relying on people's judgement is ok, but not for money matters? I think your priorities may be a bit screwed up.

I think you somehow managed to miss the point of my post. Yes, judgment enters into criminal courts in that the prosecutor has to decide whether to charge a suspect, the judge has to make some decisions, and the jury has to decide guilt or innocence. HOWEVER , those decisions aren't made arbitrarily based on a random person's arbitrary "common sense" judgment. We don't go, "Oh, I think I know who's guilty and who's not, so we'll just put the guilty people in jail."

There are laws and court precedents. When judgement is involved, it usually involves some process where a person is supposed to be applying some criteria that were set by law or precedents. If you don't do that-- if you leave the decision up to some person's "common sense" judgment, you're creating a situation where abuse is inevitable.

So what I'm saying is, if the government is going to have a "tax exempt status" for religious organizations, it should be a decision that is made according to set laws and precedents. I would guess there already is some kind of law here, but I'm not a lawyer.

To racap, you're right to compare the decision to our decisions on whether someone should be convicted of murder. We don't put people away for murder because the general public has a good opinion of that person and would like to see him locked up. We need evidence that they actually committed murder, in accordance with existing law. We shouldn't decide tax-exempt status for an organization based on whether the general public has a good opinion of it.

Comment: Re:What is or is not a religion? (Score 1) 700

by nine-times (#49481565) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

Sorry, no. I recognize that there are circumstances where matters of governance have to come down to someone's judgement call, but I don't think first amendment matters or tax law should come down simply to, "You know, common sense. This guy sucks, so I'm deciding gets treated differently." That would just be asking for abuse.

There needs to be some kind of criteria. We do use judgment to distinguish between Murder and Manslaughter, but it's not just "common sense". There are actually laws about what the difference is, as well as a bunch of court precedence, that are used to provide guidelines for that judgement. We don't just have some guy who decides, "I think this act was particularly bad, so apropos of nothing I'm deciding to call this murder."

Comment: What is or is not a religion? (Score 4, Interesting) 700

by nine-times (#49477945) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

My question here would be, how are we deciding what is or is not a religion? You have a bunch of people with a belief system organized together... I don't know how you distinguish between a social club, a cult, and a religion other than going by what they claim for themselves. However, whatever the legal method of determining the answer to that, it should be applied consistently.

The process here should not be, "We think that Scientology is crazy and therefore not a valid religion, so we will revoke their legal protection on that basis." If there's no legal criteria to refer to, then you're setting a precedent for revoking the legal protections for any religion that you don't like. Go by the law. If the law is inadequate, then revise the law, but make sure you're comfortable with the revised law being applied consistently to all groups, including the group you belong to.

An egghead is one who stands firmly on both feet, in mid-air, on both sides of an issue. -- Homer Ferguson

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