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


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:fees (Score 1) 166

The FCC made the right call in the US, they upheld the long established status-quo of the international market, but it's a hollow victory if you only have one ISP to choose from. The decision is kind of a surprise to me given the head of the FCC was an influential telco lobbyist prior to his appointment. In this case it seems to me the FCC are doing their job by telling telco's what to do, rather than the other way around (as one would expect with such blatantly insestious oversight).

Comment: Feasibility of exploiting real instruments? (Score 1) 109

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49149331) Attached to: Can the Guitar Games Market Be Resurrected?
If you have a large enough market, the simplicity and repeatability of dedicated controllers with buttons chosen precisely for your game's design and so on is attractive.

If you don't, you run into the problem that low volume production of such gear isn't going to make the price point any more attractive, and it's fairly bulky and expensive for something you can only play a few games with.

Anyone know what the feasibility might be of, instead, of taking advantage of what is already available? For mics, the attempt to make voice control a fad left a fair number of consoles already equipped with one, cellphones and tablets all have them and support wired or wireless headsets, and USB mics of unexceptional quality cover everyone else for not much money. On the guitar side, probably-awful 'beginner' units are $60-80(probably less if you get one used after buyer's remorse claims the original victim), and essentially any electric guitar will support putting out a low-level signal into a 1/4inch jack. If a device already has a line in, a simple mechanical adapter will do, if not, cables that are a USB audio-in on one end, 1/4inch jack on the other are quite cheap. Once you had that, your game could presumably crunch the guitar's output and (depending on how much 'game' and how much 'learning tool' you want) do anything from treating a few large contact areas as 'buttons' to actually grading you on the degree to which your results match the correct output.

I doubt that, if the user needs to purchase everything, particularly new, you could beat the package cost of a mass-produced controller pack; but if you don't think that you have the volume for a suitable production run of instrument-controllers, it seems like an approach that has very low marginal cost and can work with more or less any instrument floating around in the wild, might be less risky and more approachable.

Comment: Re: Hard to believe (Score 1) 153

by TheRaven64 (#49148121) Attached to: Microsoft's Goals For Their New Web Rendering Engine

Who says the OS should provide nothing useful and let app makers make their money on it?

If you set up a straw man, then it's very easy to kill it. The issue is not an OS providing something, it's that Microsoft, which had a near-monopoly in the desktop space, used the money from selling the OS to fund development in another market (browsers) and then bundled their version, undercutting the competition with cross subsidies. There was a thriving browser market before IE was introduced, but it's hard to compete when most of your customers are forced to pay to fund the development of your competitor.

Comment: Re:Legitimate use for 3D printing (Score 1) 49

by ColdWetDog (#49147403) Attached to: Researchers Create World's First 3D-Printed Jet Engines

The limitations of the existing manufacturing technologies really aren't in the realm of designing new parts or putting them together. It's keeping them together after the thing has been spinning for a couple thousand hours. Computerized CNC is a well advanced, constantly improving technology that works pretty well. You just don't slap a new turbine spindle in an engine and blast down the runway - you have to test it for hundreds of hours before you even put it under the wing.

So 3D 'printing' (which isn't really what this technique is) won't get you out of design and test any faster. It probably won't even help you create a one off part for an older engine - if you have drawings detailed enough to print it, you have drawings detailed enough to mill it.

Next thing you know, we're going to be printing jet engines on the Internet.....

Comment: Re:Just y'know... reconnect them spinal nerves (Score 2) 200

by ColdWetDog (#49147017) Attached to: Surgeon: First Human Head Transplant May Be Just Two Years Away

If this guy had the technology to repair severed spinal cords, he'd already be a Nobel candidate. It is one of the Holy Grails of neurology / neurosurgery. Think of all the paraplegics and quadriplegics you could rescue using those techniques.

Millions of rats have died trying to get us that information.

Comment: Re:Just y'know... reconnect them spinal nerves (Score 1) 200

by ColdWetDog (#49146989) Attached to: Surgeon: First Human Head Transplant May Be Just Two Years Away

Sort of depends. They could make the cut high in the brainstem, above where most of the autonomic functions are located. That would technically be *much* harder than the plain ol spinal cord - which, of course, is the hard part as it is. Just connecting the major blood vessels and bones is pretty easy all things considered.

It's just a scam to keep somebody happily screwing around in the lab, mostly torturing rodents.

And we've already discussed how dangerous that can be.

Comment: Re:Ha (Score 1) 45

by TapeCutter (#49146601) Attached to: The Believers: Behind the Rise of Neural Nets
I understand how it works, that's why I was so impressed. What they (and others) have done in total is solve a long standing problem with NN's, their tendency to be single minded, ie: you train it to recognise cats then train it to recognise dogs, you end up with something that recognises dogs and non-dogs but has forgotten what it knew about cats. The hint is in the name "deep learning".

As for a "huge computer" Watson now knows a lot more than the original and runs on a commodity rack mounted server. Agree, prosthetics is where AI will converge with the human mind, again the technological bits and pieces are already in use, but still very much isolated from each other.

If you define AI to be the replication of human intelligence then it will never arrive except via birth and environment. IMO, it's a very narrow definition and not particularly useful since we presumably all posses our own human like intelligence. No matter how you slice it, it was a major milestone when an AI defeated the best humans in an unbounded problem space where humans excel, such as Jeopardy.

I guess it would be cooler before I knew how it worked but I was playing with ANNs on a smaller scale well before Watson came about.

Ditto, I taught myself programming in the early 80's because playing Conway's game of life on graph paper was tedious. Sure, by definition knowledge removes the mystery but to paraphrase Feynman "Knowledge can only add to the awe and beauty of a flower, I don't understand how it can detract"

Comment: Always a cheaper fish... (Score 2) 78

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49146395) Attached to: Microsoft Closing Two Phone Factories In China
Given that China has historically been the nominally-communist-but-attractively-cheap-and-open-for-business destination, they can't be entirely surprised that Vietnam is now cutting into their action.

That aside, though, I wonder if this is more or less purely cost focused, or whether the quasi-mercantalist Chinese government policies aimed at aiding domestic firms and speeding up acquisition of foreign firms' tech has a bigger role? They aren't necessarily irrational, given that competing on price and low environmental standards isn't exactly a fun game, even when you are winning it; but such policies presumably do encourage foreign firms to head for the exit more quickly at the same time as they reduce the impact of their doing so.

Comment: Re:"Free" exercise (Score 1) 253

by TheRaven64 (#49146301) Attached to: I ride a bike ...
150 km a day on a bike? How long does that take? According to my phone GPS, which isn't spectacularly accurate, I do about 18km/hour (though I'm far from the fastest cyclist), so even if you're twice as fast as me that sounds like it would involve a bit over 4 hours on a bike. That's a lot of time to spend commuting each day, it's adding over 50% to the normal work day!

Comment: Re:Just y'know... reconnect them spinal nerves (Score 5, Interesting) 200

by ideonexus (#49146285) Attached to: Surgeon: First Human Head Transplant May Be Just Two Years Away

The problem, even with a spinal cord cut intentionally and carefully, is that the surgeon has no way to know what connections in the head go to what connections in the body. Our nervous system-brain interface isn't a blueprinted thing at birth, our brains are actually born with no knowledge of the nerves running through our bodies. Our brains and bodies learn to interface with one another via "neural pruning." The brain is born with a bazillion* neurons, far more than it needs, but this is to account for all the possible nerve connections. Then, as the body grows, the nerves send signals to the brain, and those neurons that don't receive signals die off, leaving the neurons that are properly wired into the body. In other words, our brains grow by natural selection.

So how is a surgeon supposed to wire up a body to a brain that hasn't grown into that body? How is a brain pruned in childhood to interface with a body of certain dimensions and nerve-wirings supposed to interface with a body of completely different dimensions? It's not just a problem of lining up the nerves in the donor body with the right connections in the patient's head (a seemingly impossible task in and of itself), its the fact that the nerves in one person's body are going to be a very different set of wires than those in the the head. Many of the major nerves will match, but the signals from those nerves will be very different.

I wish this researcher the best of luck, and I imagine we will benefit tremendously from the new information we get from this research, but I suspect the final result will simply discover what the next challenge is to performing a successful head transplant.

*Technical term. :)

"All my life I wanted to be someone; I guess I should have been more specific." -- Jane Wagner