Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
For the out-of-band Slashdot experience (mostly headlines), follow us on Twitter, or Facebook. ×

Comment: it would be pretty to think so (Score 4, Insightful) 70 70

I suspect the primary reason for this is to maintain high ad prices by not charging advertisers for useless click. For instance, if I were to post this response on a mobile platform, I would first have to close the ad tab at the bottom so I could click the submit button. Sometimes instead of closing the ad, I click it. If the advertiser is getting charged per click, and google were the provider, this would generate revenue for Google while providing negative value for the advertiser, as it would tend to make me dislike the advertiser. This would tend to push ad rates down, which still would not compensate for the negative end user impression.

Comment: Re: Try it for yourself!n (Score 2) 812 812

To put in madly, June 2015 is when U.S. Conservative Chechens have come home to roost from a hand hugely overplayed. ACA subsidies have not only been held as valid regalutory measures, but required by the legislation. And now the confederate flag. The error in the logic is that most state houses do not fly other enemy flags. The only enemy flag some fly is the confederate flag. And instead of just keeping it on the down low, they made sure it was always in the face of everyone as a symbol of how whites are still fighting against the blacks or the Mexicans to whoever wanted to take over our country and rape our women. Both of these are strategic losses as a result of overconfidence. And it is a loss because the flag is no longer about heritage, which was a valid argument. The bigots have kept it at such a high profile, that it has lost its dignity. To be clear, a Deep South person, so oI see that some do see a heritage and history, but that has been destroyed by the boots. So as soon as NC builds a Hilter memorial and outs a nazi flag on it, we can talk.

Comment: before the 'bad science' complaints (Score 3, Insightful) 163 163

by fermion (#49965501) Attached to: General Mills To Drop Artificial Ingredients In Cereal
This change has nothing to do with health or whether one additive is more deadly than another additive. For all we know the new formulations are going to be more deadly to humans. I can't imagine that Trix can said to actually nutritional for any human person, although Trix Yogurt used to be one of the less offensive brands of yogurt like food stuff. This change has to do with market differentiation and convincing parents to pay a premium for name brand product that kids will eat. Now, if we are talking nutrition, I would say a mug of steel cut oatmeal with raisins is a good minimally processed food, that is cheap and nutritional to boot. But this was not my breakfast a little tyke because no one made me breakfast. There was dry cereal and a cup of milk and it was up to be to put it together. I ate corn chex mostly, which still has one of the shortest ingredient labels in the business, and BHT is the only thing that is suspect.

Comment: Why don't the boys play too (Score 1) 490 490

by fermion (#49961033) Attached to: Are Girl-Focused Engineering Toys Reinforcing Gender Stereotypes?
The way that I read this is that their are boy toys and girl toys and must make the girls learn to play with boys toys, because that is the real world, but we can't make the boys play with girl,toys.

That is really wrong because we should be tracing 'girl' skills. Learning and hacking cooking, for instance, teaching important skills. Learning to sew is much better at teaching hand eye coordination than video games. It is easier to teach if you pander to the boys, but doing so does not make one a good stem teacher.

Comment: Re:Give it some hints ... (Score 1) 424 424

you can give Google hints, you can do whatever, but two things are always going to work against you when you do non-mainstream or very narrow searches. First, google builds results by popularity. Therefore if something is not popular google is not going to have a good way to figure out which to put first. Second, the people pay a lot of money for SEO. When one wants a result that is not a certain basketball players penis, it is going to hard to get the results. Third, even if one is looking for the aforementioned item, google is under a lot of pressure to scrub results. While it does a good job on this in some ways, the SEO people are going to push bad results in front of good. What is basically going on here is that Google is broken. When I put in a search with few real results, what I get are link farms. When I put in a popular search, I still get a good number of link farms. When I am looking for obscure techincal items, I get links to sites that have every permutation of every word in such a way that it looks like there is real content there, which fools google into thinking it is a real site. Google is trying to add second and third order connections, but the reality is that the search has been as broken as alta vista for the past several years. And no, outside of a human curated search for certain disciplines, there is not credible substitute. Google has eaten all the search money, and there is no real research to fix it.

Comment: Re:Obligatory reading (Score 5, Insightful) 418 418

by fermion (#49916367) Attached to: Philae's Lost Seven Months Were Completely Unnecessary
this is an engineering problem, and incompetent people should have nothing to say about it. One of the primary ways that we can identify incompetence is when someone say if we would have done this then the problem would have been solved. Engineering problems are complex, especially in space travel, and there is no way to know that, for example, a nuclear power source designed for a soft landing would have survived a hard landing. That is, in fact, the engineering problem on which the mistake was made after all.

To answer this specific engineering problem, plutonium is simply too dangerous and costly to use in space. The reason is that plutonium is actually very safe to humans except when breathed in as small particles, such as what might be generated when a launch vehicles catastrophically explodes on launch. In this case, the small particles will tend to be inhaled by animals, pass through the lungs, and pretty permanently become part of the body. The plutonium will then go though the 24,000 half life, which means over the lifespan of the contaminated human almost no Pu will decay. It will radiate and cause health issue for a lifetime.

Again, this is an engineering problem with very smart people working it. All engineering problem result in an engineering solution, and an engineering solution is always a compromise between competing factors, some technical, some emotional.

In hind sight it is always easy to poo poo an engineering solution. People who do nothing but push paper, like the readers or forbes, are the most likely candidate is simply say 'why did we do this'. They can ask that question because they have never created a practical device in their lives, therefore never have been part of the engineering process and therefore have never understood that the result is always a less than perfect but usually quite acceptable solution.

While the nuclear power proponents want us to believe that nuclear power is the solution to everything, history tells us otherwise. Even though nuclear power is very mature technology, there is little private funding for it. In the US Nuclear power plants are not being build because bankers know there is no profit in it, and government should no more subsidize a nuclear power plant than a coal fired plant. Both are mature enough to stand on their own.

Nuclear power cannot stand on it's own because it cannot generate enough profit. For instance, BP generates enough profits so that when the Deep Horizon rig failed it could cover the 13 billion dollar clean up. Fukushima is going to cost 10 times that much to clean up. Who is going to pay for that. They taxpayer. The US taxpayer for contamination that reaches US land and water. It is true that the readers of Forbes loves to make profits at taxpayer expense, but I don't think that it is a good idea. It is only free if you are not the one impacted.

Comment: Re: vim (Score 1) 257 257

My first real coding was in FORTRAN a little under 30 years ago. At that time Fortran was about how 30 years old and it's doom was considered imminent. Many people thought Pascal was the bee's knees but fortunately I you second language was C, probably chosen because it had a shorter book. Over the past 30 years, obviously, many firms have moved to ratfor and then pretend code to modern languages, so outside of certain applications it is not used. OTOH if one is looking for an example of a language that has long life and continues to have a lot of coders who can use it effectively, Fortan and C are the only two real candidates. Vi/Vim and EMACS are the major development tools to survive as well.

Comment: Re:$68 Billion for high speed trains (Score 4, Insightful) 599 599

by fermion (#49905097) Attached to: As Drought Worsens, California Orders Record Water Cuts
Back in planet reality, fresh water is a finite resource. In the fantasy land that is especially inhabited by conservatives we just take fresh water from one place and move it to another, but where will it come from? Is Las Vegas going to give up it's water so that california can use it? If they did, be sure it would not come cheap. Water rights are paramount, and those with rights have the ability to charge whatever they want. Sometimes money can help. Las Vegas is building a new pipeline so it can tap the lower portions of the reservoir. That is a temporary solution. Rainwater reclamation for most structures would help a great deal. Desalinization would help, but would require a large amount of extra energy and would increase the cost of water a non trivial amount.

Which is the problem. People want a solution that will not raise the cost of water so they can continue to waste it. We cannot continue to treat water as an infinite resource that can be sold at cost assuming a near zero cost of production(actual cost is a few dollars per thousand gallons). Yes, we should have low cost for the first maybe 1000 gallons a household uses per month, but after that costs should be set by the market.

It is amazing how quickly even the most ardent conservatives becomes a socialist when they asked to pay for water. How the though of losing green lawns and swimming pools makes then forsake their Ayn Rand philosophy. The thing is that tier prices would provide the funds to exactly what so many conservatives want. it would provide funds to acquire additional water rights and build additional infrastructure. As a bonus these things would be paid for directly by those who benefit from them, not the general taxpayer many of whom probably are responsible water users.

Here is another thing that would make conservatives happy. There is water available but it is often being wasted on two profit crops, like Alfalfa hay. As mentioned, tared prices would free up funds to buy water rights. Paying farmer a dollar per thousand gallons of water would mean they would probably make more money than growing and selling the alfalfa.

Instead the socialists are winning because low water rates is forcing states like California to take that water away from farmers, thus threatening their livelihoods. I don't know why applying the solution that Cuba used to solve it's problem is preferable to good old capitalism.

Comment: Re:The Dark Age returns (Score 1) 479 479

This is the problem with education based on trivia. Religion is a set of fixed facts based on nothing but information inspired by the almighty, but at the end of the day is just the ramblings of sinners.

Science, if taught correctly, does not focus on the trivia. It focuses on the process, which sometimes promotes nonsense, like the Aether, but always provides a deeper understanding of the almighty by objectively probing the creation for clues about the nature of the deity, if any.

So no, science is not religion because science does not promote 'facts' as infallible or invariant.

Comment: Re:It is an issue throughout science (Score 1) 364 364

by fermion (#49856853) Attached to: Have Some Physicists Abandoned the Empirical Method?
In the old times, observations were made, theories were developed, and that was it. This was called natural philosophy. Things could only be chopped so much. Fire was in wood. Water and air were everywhere. Things tended to slow down. Heavy objects fell faster. I matched the experience of people at the time. This history defines how we looked at the world for the first 2500 or so years of our history.

It is useful to note that some real things were discovered simply by applying mathematics with no direct physical evidence. That we revolve around the sun. That the earth is generally round. That the earth has a radius.

Then we begin to validate our experiences under controlled circumstances. We note that things do not fall dependent on weight, and things do not always slow down. We create the mathematical concepts of mass and force. We develop mathematical relations that say if we apply a force to a mass it will accelerate indefinitely. We also wrote an mathematical relations that said if we put a light bulb in a box it would produce enough energy to destroy the earth. This is classical physics, and it had problems, mostly that our experiences are limited.

So then two things happened. First the Earth was not destroyed by a light in a box, and some guy said this was because energy was quantized. It was a beautiful mathematical fix for a unreasonable mathematical prediction. Second, some other guy said that if a magnet was on a table and he walked by with another magnet, it was the same thing as he standing still with a magnet while the magnet on the table moved, and created a bunch of mathematical models that predicted a bunch of other previously unobserved phenomena. You see, the brilliance of starting with the math, developing something nice, then seeing if we can find stuff that is predicted in the those equations. It has lead us to think pretty equations are better, but that is because our observations have validated that more time than not, pretty equations are better.

Of course not everything we look for has been found, or can be said to even exist. Maxwel's equations would be much more pretty if we could find a magnetic monopole. Symmetry would be served it the graviton could be detected. On the other hand, the Higgs Boson does seem to actually exist, which aloows us to consider Newton as someone who simply did not just make a lucky guess, although it still does not explain why inertial and gravitational mass are the same.

Which is to say the job is not easy because the process one uses is going to depend on where you start and where you want to go. In modern physics, there is not always observations, or at least not observations based on our experience. It is true that if you lock a cat up in the trunk of a car all day, you will not know if the cat is alive or dead until you open the trunk and check. It is not true in our experience that the cat is both alive and dead. So pretty equations are another tool in our physics repitore. By investigating all implications of the equations, and if these implications represent reality, we prevent the unfortunate mistake of predicting that we can go as fast as we want.

Comment: Re:all will be tried to be robotized. (Score 2) 385 385

Many jobs can be automated, but not be cost effective. I imagine that as the cost of the fast food worker rises, for instance, the research on replacing that worker with a robot will also increase. It will be seen if robots are tolerated in what right now is a face to face encounter.

The telemarketer has already been replaced by robots, but robots are not tolerated so these jobs are still secure. It is the same reason that these jobs are still present in the US instead of completely exported to other countries. Consumer demand.

I still think that lawyers are doctors are going to see the greatest impact in wages and jobs. The salaries for first year lawyers, for example, have been fixed or falling for a decade according to published reports. As more data is collected on patients, and that data is correlated to outcomes, the heuristics and stochastic will reach a level where only the best diagnosticians will remain employable.

Comment: Re:Switching?? (Score 2) 344 344

by fermion (#49790189) Attached to: The Tricky Road Ahead For Android Gets Even Trickier
Here is how i interpret this. A users buys a cheap android device, it does not integrate well with Google services, or becomes obsolete when the OS is not upgraded, so the user buys an iOS device. Here is how Google fixes this. Provide services to the end user. This is in fact how Google became the powerful ad company it is. Way back when, most ad companies did not provide a service, and were quite obnoxious. This meant that many people tried to avoid them. End users turned off cookies and blocked them outright. To counteract this, instead of provided services, the had name like 2o7 that less sophisticated users had trouble deciphering. Google was innovative in that it provided an increasing range of services in exchange for the end user not blocking ad service. What has happened now is that Google is not provided a high level of services. One of their products, Google docs, which cannot be that expensive to service compared to profits, has not been developed. We all know of other products that have been retired. For instance, MS has Skype and Office 365 for only $100 a year that integrates across all products? What is google offering now? Google, like Apple and MS has to develop a more compelling stack, and convince some users that it is worth money. However, as Google is an ad company, and people expect things for free with ads, this is the source of it's profit. Also, Google tends to not be able to hit a price point. This means that actual interesting products, like the glasses and the original google made phone tend to be far beyond the ability of the average user to purchase.

Comment: Re:Already has (Score 2) 158 158

by fermion (#49782389) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Will Technology Disrupt the Song?
Rock and roll came out the ability to overdrive amplifiers, electrical then electronic.

The crooning typical of music prior to that came about through the ability of microphones to pick up nuances in tone. Prior to this it was just a bunch of guys playing and singing as loudly as they could to try to get the sound recorded on wax.

The last major fight over the structure of music was 30 years ago when everyone was fighting over the right to sample. This, by and large, was due to the fact that for the first time we had a large archive of high quality recording, and the the technology to mix old and new to create a significantly different product.

I suspect that this revolution will be similar. The structure of music has changed. It has gone from an album format, in which most consumers buy and listen to a compilations of songs, to an a la carte format where listeners buy, or more often just stream, a selected song. This has minimized the importance of creating a cohesive album. While every album had one or two radio songs released as singles, most artists tried to make it part of a whole.

In the future I think software will make it possible to string parts of songs together to make something like a dance mix. Some radio DJS used to do this before it was all computer controlled. So like the album losing it status as the definitive unit, the song will also be a legacy concept, artist getting paid royalties only if a part of the song can be structured to fit in a longer musical composition.

Comment: Montessori (Score 1) 234 234

by fermion (#49776295) Attached to: Elon Musk Establishes a Grade School
Constructivist, free form, hands on education. It works for many students. This may have relevance because there are not some many things to take apart anymore. We are not on farms where things needs to fixed and children can observe, help, participate, then do it themselves. Hell, even cookies are bought prefab, at most you have to cut them. Kids do not see that if procedures are not followed, the cookies are not good. Even making a loaf of bread would benefit them. Even when I was a kid, you still had things you could solder and actually build, not just plug and play. That said, specific teaching methods for specific students is not the silver bullet for the making sure we pick out the students who are going to be tomorrows tech leader. Unless you are being very selective in the kids to get the top 1% motor skills of anyone under 10 is limited and they are not going to have a great deal of motor skills and the abstractions skills are going to be very limited. We see this in spelling bees. These involve a lot of memorization and a limited amount of abstraction. There is no cause and effect because applying the rules incorrectly does not guarantee failure. But it is an age appropriate way to predict future ability to accomplish high paid simple tasks. Likewise a Rube Goldberg machine is a great way to teach cause and effect to older kids, but again it is concrete. Because concrete is the where the kids are at. Development varies, that is why some kids can learn algebra at 10, and some can't even deal with it at 20, but when one is teaching algebra one starts with hands on concrete, and use the subject to move the student to a more abstract view. So, yes, if we are talking top students, this is a viable method to bring kids up to very high expectations by the time they are 13, but I think it might lack pedagogical validity. Like focusing on the ability to pass a multiple guess reading test. Resourceful kids will complete the task without ever learning anything.

The way to make a small fortune in the commodities market is to start with a large fortune.