Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment The Flaw Lurking In Every Deep Neural Net (Score 1) 230

No need to wait for self-driving cars. If the NSA is using neural networks to analyse big data and look for terrorists, it will sometimes miss obvious terrorists, and sometimes classify harmless people as terrorists. I would hope that the latter would be screened out by human review, but there's not much we can do about the former without improving our understanding of neural nets.

Comment Why is the web slow? (Score 1) 220

When a web page is slow to load, it is often because of all the data that must be loaded from 3rd-party sites - Google Analytics is one of the worst, but there is also Facebook, Twitter, etc (probably for 3rd-party logins). SPDY is not going to fix that. If Google wants to speed up the web, it should start by reducing the latency of its own services.

Submission + - Apple Drops Snow Leopard Security Updates, Doesn't Tell Anyone (

Freshly Exhumed writes: As Apple issued an update for Mavericks, Mountain Lion, and Lion yesterday, Snow Leopard users have not seen a security update since September, 2013. This would not be noteworthy if Apple, like a host of other major software vendors, would clearly spell out its OS support policies and warn users of such changes, but they have not. Thus, the approximately 20% of Mac users still running Snow Leopard now find themselves in a very vulnerable state without the latest security updates.

Submission + - Yes, You Too Can Be An Evil Network Overlord - On The Cheap With OpenBSD, pflow ( writes: Have you ever wanted to know what's really going on in your network? Some free tools with surprising origins can help you to an almost frightening degree. Peter Hansteen shares some monitoring insights, anecdotes and practical advice in his latest column on how to really know your network. All of it with free software, of course.

Comment Re:What contradiction? (Score 2) 491

Exactly right. Also, from the purchaser's viewpoint, he wants good quality oranges but wants to pay the poor-quality price.

There are purchasers all over the country who could make best-selling orange juice, if only they could buy good quality fruit at trash prices. The flaw is in their own business model, not in the way that oranges are produced.

Comment Evidence that we are living in a simulation (Score 1) 745

How would a mathematician run a simulation?

(1) It would not be a QCD simulation of the whole universe, because in most times and places a simpler approximation than QCD would be sufficient.
(2) Special Relativity - helps the simulation, because it constrains the crosstalk between different star systems, different galaxies etc. A full simulation of the entire universe would not be necessary.
(3) Quantum Mechanics - hinders the simulation, by increasing the computational complexity. Incompletely decohered multiple worlds must be simulated, and this is hugely computationally expensive - unless you have a quantum computer.

A corollary of the simulation hypothesis is therefore: if we are living in a computer simulation, then quantum computers are physically possible, at least in the host world.

Comment Re:Presumed Complicit. (Score 1) 195

The original story is ambiguous, but the linked articles appear to state that it was the operator of Freedom Hosting, not TorMail, who was charged with enabling CP. If the feds can run a Tor client to see what a site on the dark web is offering, it is a reasonable assumption that the hosting provider can do the same, and should do some basic diligence to ensure that the sites he is hosting comply with the law.

It is interesting of course that GMail, EC2, AT&T etc escape responsibility for what their customers do.

Bruce Schneier said "What I took away from reading the Snowden documents was that if the NSA wants in to your computer, it's in. Period."

This applies even if you are using TOR. TOR conceals your IP address, but it cannot remove the vulnerability of the end points - the client and server of the web/mail/whatever service. The Silk Road server was running PHP, and was probably compromised within hours of coming to the attention of the authorities. For the next two years the FBI was most likely building a case by parallel construction.

It is not a smart idea to use TOR or other services to break the law.

Comment Re: Amp hours per kilogram (Score 1) 199

Well spotted. The figure guessed above (0.13V) is incorrect because the maximum power density and maximum current density do not occur under the same conditions.

The paper claims "an order of magnitude" higher power density than Li ion batteries. The table in the png file shows that, by "an order of magnitude", they mean a factor of two.

Some of the technological problems are mentioned in comments below.

It's a very nice piece of scientific work, but I don't expect these batteries will be coming to our phones any time soon.

Comment The assumption of Gaussian distributions is worse (Score 1) 312

The real danger comes not from a 50% confusion between standard deviation and mean absolute deviation; but from the assumption that the statistical distribution is Gaussian.

Before the credit crunch, financiers who considered themselves "masters of the universe" believed on the basis of the Black–Scholes equation that they could hedge their risks with a mean time to failure of billions of years. The probability distributions were assumed to be Gaussian, but this bore no relation to the past performance of the stock market.

Comment Are native builds necessary? (Score 1) 277

Old machines are much less power-efficient than modern ones, and it is wasteful to have them on 24/7. If OpenBSD were adapted for cross-compiling, all the builds could be performed on a single high-end Xeon server, and the old machines switched on only occasionally when it is necessary to do a native build for verification or testing.

Comment The suicidal tendency of GUIs (Score 1) 729

GNOME, KDE and Windows desktops were great when they were in catch-up mode (with Mac OS).

Windows peaked at Windows 98 SE; every change since then has been negative; Windows 8 is its death rattle.

KDE peaked with v3.5; I haven't been a regular user of GNOME so I don't know when the rot set in, but it is not the highly usable system that it once was.

I no longer migrate non-technical friends to Linux; I recommend Windows 7 in "Classic" mode, which will not reach its EOL until 2020. For techies I still recommend KDE 4, which I use myself, but I have given up on kmail, which committed suicide when it gave up maildirs and switched to the temperamental Akonadi backend. Please! How do you explain to someone that they need to restart a database before they can read their email?

It is not that all the innovations have been bad; it is that, when a system is close to perfection, most changes will be downhill; and while amateurs can code as well as the professionals, the creative skill needed to imagine a new yet workable GUI/desktop paradigm is exceptionally rare. Therefore, many projects reach feature-completeness, and then commit suicide because their developers feel the need to innovate.

Comment Why it won't work (Score 1) 540

1. $6 billion is nowhere near enough.

2. It's completely impractical. Try a practice run in Death Valley, but without outdoor agriculture, and without going outside unless you are wearing a spacesuit. How many years do you expect your spacesuits and other high-tech equipment to last, especially in the high-radiation environment of a planet with no magnetic field?

3. If the whole thing is media-driven for TV viewing, it's an invitation to do Capricorn One for real - with $500 million - and pocket the rest of the investors' money.

Perhaps this is the plan. If you can make a good film by mashing up Abraham Lincoln and Buffy, then this scheme is a mashup of Capricorn One and The Producers. It would be very funny - unless they actually try to do it.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan