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


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale Extended! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 20% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY20". ×

Comment Re:Terrible summary (Score 1) 206

I wonder if the JPEG recommendation comes from size and archival requirements, plus lawsuits related to decoding all of the various RAW formats.
If you're paying a vendor to write and maintain your photojournal archive system that's expected to hold the next 100 years worth of photos, supporting 30 year old RAW formats with each new release is going to not really be worth it. It may be easier to have all the photos in a standard format. There are likely new cameras coming on the market that their system does not have support for - they may HAVE the photo, but won't have the technology to access it for weeks or days later, after the 24-hour news cycle has moved on to the latest crisis. At least with JPEG, even if it's not ideal, everyone is still speaking the same language.
Second, there may be legal issues with using reverse-engineered libraries to decode and read various RAW formats. Reading and keeping up to date with the legal aspects of each RAW format for any of 150 camera manufacturers is probably a full time job in a very niche field. JPEG has it's own problems but people are much more familiar with that. When you're as big of a target as Reuters, you have to keep your legal liability to a minimum.

Comment VGA support? (Score 1) 60

There about eleventy-billion VGA displays sitting in closets, storage rooms etc. Our office still uses VGA for everything despite the displays supporting HDMI. A female HDMI to female VGA adapter is about $6 in bulk. Skylake finally dropped support for analog VGA but I suspect these 32 bit stick computers still do VGA out over HDMI. You could really provide some serious value to users with old "garbage" 17" VGA flatscreens that you would otherwise have to pay to get taken away.

Comment Re:unique id (Score 1) 214

Right, either SSN or Federal Taxpayer ID #
There's also the federally issued passport, which also has it's own number. I've never really understood why the passport isn't just the de-facto personal ID, it's a global standard ID system recognized by all countries (as far as I know).
I'm sure there are others, but that's at least three federal unique ID systems for humans off the top of my head. Other certifications like HAM, Pilot, Captain's licenses are all forms of federal ID as well.

Comment Re:Is it really a waste of time? (Score 1) 304

Powershell uses -gt for Greater Than, -lt for Less Than and -eq for Equals
-gt and -lt are fine, however -eq instead of = has caused me no small amount of grief. Powershell still uses = for variable assignment but doing a literal compare requires -eq and often times is not obvious that = is causing the problem where -eq is the required operator.

Comment Re:No no no (Score 1) 607

I dated a girl who worked as a vet at a local banfield vet clinic. They have a flowchart-type of software that is basically a jump to conclusions mat and leads the vet to a safe conclusion. $150,000 worth of tuition, condensed down in to 400kb worth of decision data inside of a script on a computer. I think a human life is worth more than that, but clearly they're on to something here, as Banfield corporate lawyers signed off on it as being less risky than having a human make the initial diagnosis.

Comment Re:No no no (Score 4, Insightful) 607

Have you EVER shopped for doctors based on price? Did you even know that was a thing? Docs just seem to set a price based on whatever, and you and your insurance company figure it out from there.
General practitioners/family doctors could be in every strip mall for in and out service, yet they're not. Anything outside of routine service would go to a specialist which you would pay closer to current market rate for, but the AMA has closely limited the number of doctors in America. I looked at getting a medical degree to go work in third world countries, but they've raised the barrier of entry by charging about half a million dollars in tuition, plus 6-7 years worth of apprenticeship to enter the field. Plus entry tests, etc. The tuition and time alone makes me look elsewhere for a profession.
If you brought down the standard for med school training for general practitioners, you could easily outsource about 60% of general doctor health care. In fact, to meet this gap they have a Physician's Assistant (PA) who is effectively a doctor with a much shorter training schedule at about 90% pay level.

Comment Re:Of course not (Score 1) 345

The pharmaceutical companies aren't interested in developing inexpensive drugs you take a few times and then are done with. They want to develop something you have to take for the rest of your life to treat a chronic condition and charge as much as they can get away with.

Bzzt. This is a very common misconception about the motives behind pharmaceutical companies not going into antibiotic or vaccine research without government funding. It doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

Any competent pharmaceutical company is constantly looking for cures to both acute and chronic conditions. Why? Because not only would it be a very expensive drug that you take a few times while the patent is active, but when one company discovers the cure, all of the other companies are left holding their dicks in the wind. No company wants to be in that position, so they all want to be the first to a cure even if they technically would make more money with a non-curative treatment in the long run. It's the Prisoner's Dilemma writ large.

Funding for antibiotics isn't low because Big Pharma doesn't want to cure people. It's low because there's a lot more money in a cure for type II diabetes than there is in a cure for carbapenem-resistant enterobacteria.


Comment Re:Really? Quicktime? Seriously? (Score 2) 320

Valid question. I used to install Quicktime... 4? On my Pentium 2 MMX 200mhz computer back in the mid 1990's so I could watch movie trailers on Apple's website in middle school. That's the last time I installed Quicktime that I can remember. I'm honestly curious what purpose it serves today? Is it a web browser plugin or what? I haven't even thought of Quicktime in YEARS.... let alone had a reason to use it...

Comment Re:Wunderground Classic revival?!?! (Score 4, Informative) 56

Basically the original site was very, very data dense, and had lots of links to specific views of weather data, data patterns, forecasts including aviation and maritime. You also got a post-it note sized wundermap view of your local area with all of this data. Rather than getting a TV man weather report, they gave you a full weather station with all the relevant data feeds. It was very transparent and if you disagreed with the weather report, there was enough data go dig in and decide if the model was off, or if that weather pattern would impact your local area.
The new "web 2.0" redesign dumped most of that data deep in the website, or hid it completely. Rather than having an all-in-one page, you were forced to hunt for relevant information. Data density dropped way, way down as well, which made it harder to put together a coherent picture yourself. If you just wanted to know if it was going to be sunny on Saturday, the new Wunderground was for you. If you were a hard core weather junkie who helped build up the site by telling all your friends about it for the last 15 years, it was total garbage. Since wunderground's primary audience was talented nerds, the new design did not go over well, and it didn't offer anything special (other than Wundermap which is a polished feed of the high resolution radar data now avalible for $$$ from NOAA) so it just kind of died due to absolutely shit management not understanding their core audience, and then alienating them by turning off earlier this year.
Here's a NYT article on the topic
Here's a blog post detailing the changes
  OLD - Here is a screenshot of "Classic" Wunderground, essentially unchanged from 2002 or so when the site really took off:
  NEW - Here is the site with it's "web 2.0 redesign" that went in to beta around 2010 and finally completely replaced Wunderground Classic in 2015:
The old site had it's fans for their reasons and it wasn't for everyone, but it was still the best online weather station data aggregator when they finally put it down. The only thing that could have made it beter was some sort of integration with stormpulse (I reccomend Cyclocane as a free alternative)

Comment Re:I can't help but wonder (Score 4, Informative) 342

I addressed his point and covered additional issues. I don't think it's destined to go the way of Amtrak, which shares lines with Freight. Dedicated commuter rail is fast and on time. More astute way of putting it would be to say it's like European high speed rail, or Uber, where the convienience of it drives further adoption. Everywhere high speed rail is installed, it drives adoption. People said what you said about the DART rail system in Dallas, and it beat is ridership projections by 5x in the first year.

Comment Re:I can't help but wonder (Score 4, Interesting) 342

This may shock you, but most people aren't robots, and you still can't replace human interaction with video conferencing. Most people would frown at the idea of eating thanksgiving dinner around a table surrounded by glowing screens. Video conferencing only exists as a bandaid that fixes the problem that existing transportation methods suck. Fix the root issue and the need for video conferencing goes away. Your argument still doesn't solve the problem that college students will want to go home on some weekends, holidays will not evaporate, and not all problems can be fixed remotely.

Comment Re:America: Not allowed to dream big anymore (Score 4, Informative) 342

High speed rail is built to such exacting standards, it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility to throw some LIDAR down by the wheels and flag anything that throws up a yellow flag for repairs. If they're not doing that already. Generally in Japan after an earthquake they will run the trains at reduced capacity, only 50-70% advertised speeds while repairs are made. As Mitch Hedberg famously said, "we apologize, your escalators are temporarily stairs"; high speed rail can still run at regular speeds without issue. Heck, if you're willing to slow down to 5mph you can run a train over some pretty gnarly looking rails that aren't particularly flat, and then speed back up once past.

Comment Re:I can't help but wonder (Score 5, Insightful) 342

It's for the people who come after us, for the next couple hundred years, either until Earth becomes uninhabitable or we build a better more comfortable transport technology. I know it's hard to think more than 15 years in to the future, but the first rail lines from the 1850s are still in continuous use 170 years later, NOW, and I don't hear anyone talking about the death knell of rail. We gave highways a whirl and while they're super convenient, it's obvious that they don't scale nearly as well as we had imagined they would. And also we realized that most people are too dumb for flying cars, so we're back to rail. Unless you come up with something else, a long term transportation solution needs to be put in place. Right now it's looking like high speed electric rail between population centers, and then self driving uber/google/apple cars between the high speed rail and your final destination. But first we need that high speed rail. It works pretty fantastically over in Europe, you should try it some time.

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig