Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.


Forgot your password?

Comment: Do we have reason to believe... (Score 3, Interesting) 438

by nine-times (#48621935) Attached to: Top Five Theaters Won't Show "The Interview" Sony Cancels Release

Do we have reason to believe that this group is actually capable of or prepared to carry out the attacks that they're threatening? If theaters around the country showed the movie, can these terrorists bomb them all?

Or did all these companies simply buckle to a random threat without anything behind it? Because, yeah, I guess if someone calls in a bomb threat to the local high school, you might have to go evacuate the school while the police check it out, but you should have some plan for keeping the kids from calling in new threats every day and shutting the school down permanently.

Comment: Re:Not a Real Question (Score 1) 262

by nine-times (#48621865) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

When people talk about getting a "Liberal Arts education", they're usually talking about getting an education that is supposed to be 'well rounded', giving exposure to subjects like philosophy, literature, art, and even various branches of math and science.

So you ask, "Do you mean sculpture, writing, philosophy, music, or whatever?"

And I answer, "Yes."

Comment: Re:been there, done that (Score 1) 262

by nine-times (#48621823) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

I think you're missing the point that grcumb was making, which I think was a good one. I don't believe he was arguing anything like, "If you want to optimize your chances of success, drop out of school and don't get a diploma." He was responding directly to the quote, "most of the jobs with a liberal arts degree involve asking 'Do you want fries with that?'"

I think what he was saying is something more like, "You have no ground to be so glib about other people's lives."

People who work in service industry jobs deserve some measure of dignity. People who never got a degree can still go on to do amazing things. There are people who have no connection to "STEM" fields who have made huge contributions to your life without developing software. And finally, liberal arts degrees do actually have a use.

There are no guarantees that you will be successful in any case, and there's always a vanishingly small slice of the human population that makes it to the top of their field. But who said that was the point?

If you want to make movies for example, you could pursue that. Maybe you'll be a complete failure. Maybe you'll make something great that's a commercial failure. Maybe you'll make an absolute piece of crap movie that's a commercial success. There's a very small chance that you'll ever be rich and famous as a result.

If you want to make software, you could pursue that. Maybe you'll be a complete failure. Maybe you'll make something great that's a commercial failure. Maybe you'll make an absolute piece of crap application that's a commercial success. There's a very small chance that you'll ever be rich and famous as a result. And so what? Pursue what you want to pursue. If you just want to make money and live a comfortable life, then do some research and figure out whatever career provides that, and be prepared if demand for that job dries up, because that can happen to any job.

But in any case, there's really no reason to be a glib, condescending asshole about other people's lives. There are a lot of good, hard working people out there who are making good use of their liberal arts educations. Some may even have a job that involves asking the question, "Do you want fries with that?" If you're ready to condemn them all as 'losers' because they don't write software for a living, then you're an asshole.

Comment: Re:seems a lot like human vision to me (Score 2) 93

by nine-times (#48621357) Attached to: Research Highlights How AI Sees and How It Knows What It's Looking At

When people don't know exactly what they are looking at, the brain just puts in it's best guess. people certainly see faces and other familiar objects in tv static. They see bigfoot in a collection of shadows or a strange angle on a bear.

Yes, I think it's very interesting when you look at Figure 4 here. They almost look like they could be an artist's interpretation of the things they're supposed to be, or a similarity that a person might pick up on subconsciously. The ones that look like static may just be the AI "being stupid", but I think the comparison to human optical illusions is an interesting one. We see faces because we have a bias to see them. Faces are very important to participating in social activities, since they give many cues to another person's emotions and intentions. It's a whole form of communication. A lot of other sensory biases and reactions are related to things like finding food, avoiding predators, and understanding potentially dangerous obstacles (e.g. if I step here, am I going to fall down?).

So if these are optical illusions for computers, what are the computer's biases based on? The computer isn't trying to find food or avoid predators, so what is it "trying to do" when it "sees"?

Comment: Re:Doesn't seem simple (Score 1) 134

by nine-times (#48621199) Attached to: Microsoft Gets Industry Support Against US Search Of Data In Ireland

The fact is that over the next 100 years border will practically disappear.

Even if national borders were to become meaningless, I'm not sure that jurisdiction stops being relevant. Which law enforcement agency will pursue the crime, and which court will it be tried in?

Comment: Re:Doesn't seem simple (Score 1) 134

by nine-times (#48616557) Attached to: Microsoft Gets Industry Support Against US Search Of Data In Ireland

The fact here is that the individual(s) are refusing to provide access to the data voluntarily which requires the authorities to obtain it by force. This tells me there's something incriminating in the data which is why they didn't just hand it over.

This sounds suspiciously like, "If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear." I'm not on board with that idea.

Just so I've said it, my comment wasn't intended to be in favor of law enforcement being able to search anything without a warrant, or without proper procedure. I'm just pointing out that the issue, as it's stated in the summary, is a legal argument about whether data lies in a particular jurisdiction. I meant to point out that, with the ephemeral quality of data and the ease with which it can move through countries-- even unintentionally, it might not be the best policy to make it as simple as "data is under the jurisdiction of wherever the physical hardware is that happens to hold it at the moment."

However, it might need to be that rule, because I'm not sure there's a workable alternative. All data is automatically under the jurisdiction of the location where it was created? Under the jurisdiction of the creator's primary place of residence? Under the jurisdiction of the primary location where it is most often accessed? I'm not sure I see how any of those policies would be enforceable.

Whichever jurisdiction it is decided to be under, law enforcement should be required to follow the laws of that jurisdiction.

Comment: Re:Not a Real Question (Score 2) 262

by nine-times (#48613023) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

I'm with you on this. STEM is a term that's being pushed on us by political/media types for who-knows-what reasons. It reminds me of people talking about "ya". I saw that thrown around a lot as a genre of books, apparently meaning "Young Adult (literature)", and it took me a while to figure out what the hell people were talking about. It's not really even a genre, but a classification of the target audience. It's pretty dumb use of jargon.

Back to STEM. Science, technology, engineering, and math. As though those are the same things. As though astrophysicists and programmers and marine biologists are all doing the same thing, and their expertise is interchangeable. Whoever lumped all that stuff together either has an agenda, or has no idea what they're talking about. In the contexts I see it being used, I assume that the intention is either:

(a) Companies that rely on software developers complaining about the lack of people with "STEM degrees", in an attempt to justify more H-1B visas; or
(b) Dimwitted programmers who want to lump all kinds of people into a subculture of "science people" to make themselves feel important. Like, "I'm a STEM person, just like Einstein, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Carl Sagan. I'm just like those guys, because we're all STEM, unlike the filthy common people who like reading fiction and looking at art."

I mean, I'm not sure what else I'm supposed to take away from the whole STEM thing. Nobody talked about it 10 years ago. Having a lot of biologists does not help with developing software. Having lots of people capable of making iPhone apps does not push particle physics forward. I really think we need to drop the whole classification of "STEM" as a thing.

And the whole "preferably within the space industry"... what space industry does this guy mean? Does he want to work for NASA designing probes, or Boeing trying to design a space plane? Or is there some other "space industry". It'd be great to know, because it would really help narrow down what he'd need to do to accomplish that goal. But doing something related to space would probably mean, yes, you need to go back to school and get a undergrad in that particular field. Go find out what schools have the best Aerospace Engineering departments, and work your ass off, because that's going to get competitive.

Comment: Re:Implementation not the technology. (Score 1) 151

by nine-times (#48612825) Attached to: In IT, Beware of Fad Versus Functional

I would say that it's not just the implementation, but choosing which thing to implement in the first place. A lot of these fads, whether it's "big data" or "cloud computing" or "agile development", have become popular because they're extremely useful in some cases. The mistake, sometimes, is in thinking that you've found a single solution to solve all problems, and applying it everywhere will fix everything.

Someone else here used the example of the language "Ruby" as a fad that was useless because Ruby is "awful". That doesn't seem right to me. In my experience, which is admittedly a bit limited (I'm not actually a programmer), it seems like different programming languages have their own strengths and weaknesses, so you may want to choose a specific language for a specific goal. However, realistically, in the projects that I've managed, it always made the more sense to take into account (a) the language any current code is written in; and (b) the languages my team is most comfortable working with. If you have a bunch of PHP programmers who only know PHP well, working to revise a web application written in PHP, then Ruby is probably a terrible choice. But then, Perl and C++ would also be terrible choices. Those aren't bad languages. They're just not the best choice for that particular project.

I don't want to start a shit-storm by talking about languages, since as I said, I'm not a programmer, but I think that example is simple enough. Similarly, "cloud storage" like Dropbox can be great for small teams working from different locations on small office documents. On the other hand, if you're a big company with tons of people working in a central office, editing video files that are multiple gigabytes each, then you're going to want some kind of internal storage. The issue isn't about implementing your Dropbox well, but making an appropriate choice for your needs.

Comment: Re:Doesn't seem simple (Score 1) 134

by nine-times (#48612639) Attached to: Microsoft Gets Industry Support Against US Search Of Data In Ireland

Jesus Christ, is that so hard to understand?

Because you're being belligerent, and frankly, kind of dumb. That's "the reason why you shouldn't put things in the cloud". If it were the reason, then it could be easily fixed by having cloud providers give assurances that your data will be stored in a specific jurisdiction, and then you would have absolutely no reason not to put things "in the cloud".

But really my post is meant to indicate that there are some things about digital storage and transmission that needs to be considered, and the law might need to be revised to address any unclear points. In my mind, it's a bit like having copyright laws saying that you can't make any copies of copyrighted materials, ignoring (a) the possible need to make backups; and (b) the fact that, technically, copies might be made in various caches whenever you transmit or playback the digital file.

And by that comparison, I mean to point out that some things don't simply translate between the digital world and the physical world, so the rules have to be considered carefully. There may be issues that need to be worked out and clarified, even if it's only a common-sense judgement.

If you asked me to give a simple "yes" or "no" answer, right this minute, as to whether Microsoft is on the right side of things here, I'd say "yes". I'm just pointing out that it might not be something that you can decide simply without any unintended legal ramifications. Is that so hard to understand?

Comment: Doesn't seem simple (Score 2) 134

by nine-times (#48609763) Attached to: Microsoft Gets Industry Support Against US Search Of Data In Ireland

Honestly, I'm having a little bit of a hard time deciding what I think about this. On the one hand, I'm very much in favor of privacy, and it seems to me that the rules for searching a server in Ireland should be approximately the same as the rules for searching a storage locker in Ireland.

On the other hand, I feel that it's important to consider that, with the whole "cloud computing" thing, it doesn't necessarily matter where your data is stored. For example, I might throw a document in my Dropbox folder and it get synced to "the cloud", and I have no idea where that file is physically located. It could be in Ireland, for all I know. So even though I may not live in Ireland or access it from Ireland, I may not have intended to store it in Ireland, and I may not even know it's in Ireland, it happens to be stored in Ireland at this moment. It could be shuffled off to another physical location tomorrow.

So I guess that makes me wonder, in such a hypothetical circumstance, if declaring it absolutely within the jurisdiction of Ireland might be opening a bit of a can of worms. If I throw a file up in my Dropbox and it ends up cached in Russia, without my knowledge or permission, is it now subject to Russian copyright laws? Is it now subject to Russian decency laws? If the information is considered illegal in Russia, am I now guilty of smuggling?

I don't know. I'm not a lawyer, so maybe I'm wrong to think that there might be some weird repercussions.

Comment: Question doesn't match (Score 3, Insightful) 238

by nine-times (#48584309) Attached to: Is Enterprise IT More Difficult To Manage Now Than Ever?

It seems to me that the question asked in the headline doesn't quite match the summary:

"Is managing IT harder now than it used to be? I think it is, and I offer as my support that IT executives are not as influential as marketing executives!"

In a lot of ways, IT management is probably easier. The technology is better and more reliable. We have a new generation of cloud management and MDM for all kinds of things. Managing an IT department is hard, but it's always been hard.

But I think what you're really getting at is, businesses don't want to spend money in IT. The reality is, they never did. I've been working in IT for a couple decades now, and the whole time, there's always been budget issues where upper management is saying, "Do we really need to buy new workstations? Didn't we just buy new workstations 7 years ago?" Sure, a couple decades ago, they were saying, "Didn't we just install the terminals 7 years ago?" but the concept was the same. I doubt it was new then, either. Businesses don't like to spend money, and IT gets classified as a cost center.

Sure, "the cloud" makes it all a bit worse, since now clueless executives can say, "It's all this stuff supposed to be free now? I have a Dropbox account that I use for personal stuff, and it works great, and it's free. Can't we just put all of our servers in the Cloud like Dropbox is?" But is it new that marketing is driving business decisions more than the IT department is, or that clueless executives want to replace everything with whichever buzzword-heavy technology that they've recently heard about? Nope. That's pretty much the deal.

Comment: Re:Fire all the officers? (Score 2) 512

by nine-times (#48583837) Attached to: Once Again, Baltimore Police Arrest a Person For Recording Them

Well, there's a general theory that I've heard before: A lot of the attraction to be a police officer is that they're tough and powerful. Therefore, the people who are attracted to becoming police are those who want to be tough guys and like the idea of having power over other people. If true, then there would be a tendency to end up with police officers who are wanna-be tough-guy bullies.

Now I want to stop short of asserting that this theory is true. It makes sense to me, but I don't actually know if it's true. I wouldn't claim to have any real knowledge of the internal aspects of the police force and their recruiting, aside from what can be learned from TV and movies. I'm no expert. I will say, of the police that I've met, some have been very nice and seem to be trying to make a positive difference, and some others have been bullies.

Comment: Re:Tough call (Score 1) 1037

by nine-times (#48582877) Attached to: Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?
Yeah, I think this is an issue that should be treated like.... smoking, or overeating, or poor hygiene. The government shouldn't be trying to fix it with force. The role that the government should play is in making it free and easy to get vaccinated once you'd decided you want to do it.

Dennis Ritchie is twice as bright as Steve Jobs, and only half wrong. -- Jim Gettys