Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Comment China (Score 1) 277

So San Fransisco is like china, where pedestrians are worth so little it is better to kill them if you run over them. Honestly, sometimes pedestrians do dart out and there are cases where there is no way to avoid them. But with numbers like this, it is evident of a basic disregard for human life, where one makes no attempt to avoid killing someone.

Comment Re:you could choke a horse with these SAVINGS! (Score 1) 117

For the longest time my ad blocker was Flash block and turning off GIF animation. For mobile platforms these were not a problem.

The advent of HTML5 video is really what is driving this revolt. There is an advertising social contract between the content provider and the reader. For example prime time TV we expect about 15 minutes of ads per hour, for non prime it may go to 20. For fashion mags most of it is ads, for Foreign Affairs there are few ads.

When the social contract is broken, there is no one to blame but the content providers, like the US auto firms have no one else to blame for their crash in the 70's. There are a lot of content providers out there that seem unaware they are screwing the pooch with bad decisions. For instance, I am not going to subscribe to Slate because they won't allow zoom on the iPad.

This article is good because it also analyses the other costs to the mobile platform, such as load time. Professional web designers used to look at this. Now it is assumed that latency and bandwidth are so great that it does not matter. In fact it still matters. I occasionally still get a stuck web page waiting for google analytics or waiting for google to record that I am going from a search result to the resultant page. It is a cost of using the web, but a cost that web sites have to manage carefully.

Comment Ok, who wrote the tools (Score 1) 571

First, it is of course an owners right to limit distribution. If someone wants to sell only to people with three nipples, that is their right. Second, no one exists in a vacuum. The tools used to write software were probably developed and refined over time by corporate drones, kids in the basement, and, yes, even immigrants who took jobs away from hard working locals who could use the bread to feed their family. Read the rant on the down load page to see how this guy thinks he developed this software independently. It is the standard conservative delusion that we do not depend on others to accomplish what we have. Third, from the article, "Although the change in the license may be a nuisance for some researchers, the program is far from irreplaceable". People who write software like this really want it to be used. Most software is used because it simply what people are trained to use. For instance, Origin is used because everyone is trained on it, even though it may not be the best, and even though it is extremely expensive. In reality lots of students pirate copies of the software. This software does not appear to cost anything, so one of two things will happen. I suppose that labs will just continue to use it, even without a license, unless it prevented by peer review. If that happens different software will be used. Again, reading the rant it seems like just another conservative having a temper tantrum because someone else that does not look like the developer is getting free stuff.

Comment Re:And continues... (Score 2) 213

This is so 1990.

Honestly, there was only a 100 year period where synchronous direct speech audio communication was the norm. In 1900 with a population of almost 80 million, only a few million had a telephone. By the year 2000, we already say a generation that was reverting back to the way humans had communicated through much of history, writing and sending asynchronously, such as one does with texting and email. The paradigm shift, so to speak, that made the smart phone a success, was the realization that for most people synchronous verbal communication was not of primary importance. Sure, a lot of people might want to make a video for later use, but I wonder how many people who can use Facetime or the like really use it. Furthermore, he rise of the answering machine tells us that the phone as a critical mode of communication is not all it was cracked up to be.

Comment will be sold on Monday (Score 3, Interesting) 106

Unfortunately, Paxton is being prosecuted for being a con man who convinced a number of people to invest under false pretenses. I can imagine that by Monday he will put the data up for sale on the 'Dark Web' to fund his defense and imminent life as a fugitive in an undisclosed tropical locations.

Comment Re:Basic understanding doesn't equate to daily use (Score 1) 255

I recall using the MS DOS and AppleDOS hooks and pokes to do some pretty fancy things at the time. Frankly, the ease of programming from about 1980 to 2000 increased so quickly that it became difficult for minimally educated people, even if they were talented, to make a living at it. There were simply too many people around willing to code for nothing, and the tools to make sure those less qualified people did a reasonable job became increasingly effective. For that matter, gates became so much cheaper than people, that is did not matter what crappy code was running, there were cycles and memory to spare. Which is to say we are already in a world where APIs have trumped coding. Being a software developer is more about understanding process, understanding how to take those bits that are the API and putting them together into a coherent package that will perform a customized function. This is a hard skill. This is why people mostly download a file for their 3D printer that is almost what they want instead of designing one themselves. After all, Sketchup Make is free. So what we are really talking about are the people who can start with a blank sheet of paper, study the available resources, and spec out a process that will transform data in a human usable form for a particular purpose. We tend to call these people engineers and easy APIs will definitely make them more efficient without having to learn how to interpret intelligible error messages. What I see is the problem are people without process skills using these things and thinking that what they get out is a reflection of reality. One can imagine an unskilled business person push data into some analysis program, making a subtle mistake, and bankrupting the company. We now that bussinesses have little analytical talent, that is why Enron was able to fool the so-called professionals in New York and California for some many year, while the engineers in Texas saw what was going on from day one and stayed away.

Comment Re:Autonomous "Driving" needs to be truly driverle (Score 1) 247

In all these things, the question we should be asking is if the cars are safer. With many modern cars resembling living room instead of cockpits, I would say that autonomous driving is not only going to happen, but it will be necessary for the future of what people want a car to be. As long as we don't see accident rates go up, or if the serious injury or death rate declines, then all will be well. Much of this is going to be driven by acquisition costs and insurance rates. Acquisition costs will be effected by the possibility of lawsuits by people who expect zero accidents or do not understand how to operate the car.

Comment Re:Wow, way to fuck that up (Score 5, Informative) 172

Altavista used keywords and the assumption that websites would be honest, because, what motivation would they have to not be honest. There was no real monitization on the web, and websites with bad reputations, websites that included keywords that were bogus, would simply fall off the web due to free market forces. However, about a year after Altavista was founded, 2o7 among other c tracking cookies began to monetize visits to web pages. Altavista, though a huge innovation over Yahoo, was still a simplistic model that really had no method to counteract the market forces that made keyword inflation profitable. Also, Altavista had no real way make money. Google was a hybrid of Altavista and 2o7 and had several advantages. First, because it used links and not keywords, it could actually use free market forces to evaluate the quality of the page. The assumption was that if a page were linked by a lot of other sites, then the page was useful and it could be ranked based on content. The second was that unlike 2o7, google actually provided a service to end users, so end users were in effect compensated for allowing tracking cookies on their computer. I myself had my browser set to reject all tracking cookies except for Google as I needed those cookies for other services. Third, the Google algorithm was quite sophisticated, so could be tweaked as the pure link based ranking failed due to link farms and the like. Now, honestly, in many cases the search results returned by google are no better than the search results returned by altavista at the turn of the century. What saves google is that it has funds and motivation to improve the results as the SEO people attempt to manipulate the rankings. I think google is looking at the secondary and tertiary levels of the links to determine ranking, which is helping a lot. Ultimately there is going to have to be some serious math done and graph theory developed to get the ranking back to the quality that allowed Google to pummel everyone else.

Comment Re:Unversal search (Score 1) 132

Tivo requires a monthly subscription. I think they are trying to be more like Amazon Fire TV, which seems to be not available anymore, but was only $100. It was used to promote Amazon videos, just like the Apple TV sole purpose was to promote Apple videos.

The saving grace of Amazon was that Amazon had a lot free content if you were a Prime Subscriber. It also had a Plex Client. I guess if Apple has Apps now, and one of those is a Plex client, then that would be good.

At the end of the day, though, I don't see any reason to buy any of these because the video format for each service is different, so once you buy a video you are locked into something that may or may not exist in a few months.

Comment customization (Score 3, Interesting) 63

There are two things that are going to be a reality. One is that students are going to receive personalized instruction. Most schools already expect this is some way, but it is cost ineffective. Automation through software will make this personalized instruction possible, and while the technology is improving, it is far from adequate for some subjects. For instance physics is increasingly taught through exploration and modeling. Just letting some students listen to a lecture and other students read and then pass a multiple guess test does not teach physics. Students have to go through certain labs. The personlization might be how a lab is set up, which still requires significant human intervention and discussion with a live professional, though eventually an AI might be able to do it. Second, despite what the luddites say every student is going to have a computer and every student is going to need to learn to use it. While there are some jobs that require limited computer literacy, those jobs are going to become fewer. I mean everyone says how great education was in the 50's but what did they really need to get a well paying job? Not as much as today. As students get computers, they will be used to personalize when possible. Otherwise they will be used to teach kids the skills they need to get a job.

Comment Re:Don't overthink it (Score 2) 174

My oldest and be preserved photos are slides. They are kept in a plastic viewing apparatus. For important videos I have a 3CCD DV camera. The mini DV tape should last at least 20 years. Printed photos, especially color, will degrade quickly unless they are professionally printed and store adequately. This can be done at home using archival ink and paper. I have a DSLR. I wish I would have just kept the memory cards instead of downloading them to a two hard disks. As luck would have it, the portable hard disk got stolen and the computer with the hard disk crashed shortly after. I have most of the photos, but the memory cards would have been nice. Memory cards are only rated for a few years, though. In any case I don't erase my memory cards. A 64 GB card is cheap, and I just shoot raw until it is full. But really cell phone cameras are to the point where the photos and video match or exceed what we had in point and shoot cameras. All the photos are uploaded to the cloud, and given the low cost of storage I suspect that this will be a solution that will result in long term storage solution for me. This is because I have tried to keep hard disk backup, even tape backups, and it, over the past decade or so, been less reliable that uploading to off site storage.

Comment Re:Take the plank out of thine pwn eye (Score 0) 146

The damage done here is usually minimal. The biggest damage they do is if they can mod a negative comment regarding their firm down. Usually we know that someone is a shill because they will mod a comment 'overrated' that has not yet been modded or 'redundant'. This will mean that most people won't see that comment, but it won't effect the modders status. I have seen this often with comments regarding Google.

Comment Re:Nope. Typo. (Score 1) 622

That time was still steeped in an oral tradition, and much was still not written down. For instance, in the Christian Testament only Mark was written contemporaneously with Jesus. The other books were written well after his death, using sources that have always been suspect. In the case of the Koran, the dates still indicates that it was written during the lifetime of the prophet, not after.

Two is not equal to three, even for large values of two.