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


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:A simple proposition. (Score 1) 375 375

I don't hate ads. I don't pay much attention to them, I don't find them to be useful or helpful in any way, and I don't click on them except by accident. But I totally understand the reason they're on the page. I get it. People hosting web sites need some income to pay the fees associated with that.

When your ads take so long to load that I navigate away from the page before it even loads, you lose ad impression money. When your ads are so intrusive that I stop going to your site, you lose ad impression money. When you make my experience shitty, you lose ad impression money.

There is an equilibrium here. If you can serve me ads in a way that doesn't make me stop viewing your page, then you get ad impression money and I get to consume your content: we both win.

Comment Re:Kickstarter to buy out slashdot? (Score 2) 550 550

$2 million? Is slashdot even worth that much? Would they take $300,000 in return for perpetual banner ads or something?

Well, when Dice bought Geeknet media properties Slashdot, SourceForge, and Freecode three years ago, they paid $20 million for the bundle. All three sites have undergone significant decline since then (Freecode is basically dead), but I very much doubt that Dice plans to take that big a loss on the sale.

Comment Auto playing youtube ads (Score 4, Interesting) 35 35

Okay, I've been willing to put up with ads on Slashdot for many years. I've never taken advantage of the 'turn off ads' feature for subscribers. But the auto-playing Youtube ads that I'm getting today are crashing browser tabs, they're occasionally scrolling my browser up to the top of the page and interrupting my reading [and my writing--typing this comment was interrupted by shittyness from the video ad], and they're causing pages to have to continue to load occasionally after they've already loaded. I'm glad I have my sound muted by default.

Fuck you, Slashdot, I'm browsing you with adblock from now on.

Comment Re:Unamused (Score 1) 107 107

Look at it this way: if Comcast creates a 2gb service that's so expensive that nobody uses it, they get a little more ammo in the can for their claims that nobody wants or needs gb-scale internet access. When we complain about their crappy, slow service, they'll just point at the lack of adoption of this service and say, 'see? Nobody wants it!'

Comment Re:The tapes were re-used (Score 5, Interesting) 307 307

It is suspected that the tape was re-used due to NASA's tight budget and they couldn't afford more tape.

Not just budget concerns. There was also a big problem in the 80s when commercial whaling was outlawed. The tape that NASA had used to record a lot of data involved whale oil in its production somehow. When whaling went out, whale oil went away, and companies that made data tape scrambled to replace it with something. They came up with synthetic alternatives, but because they didn't have much time to test, they discovered after it was already in use that the new stuff basically turned into glue after sitting on a shelf too long, which ruined tapes. So the old whale oil tapes became valuable for re-use, since you could depend on them not gluing together and losing all of your data. So that's another reason why NASA taped over a lot of irreplaceable data.

At a conference last year, I spoke with a NASA guy who was working on recovering a lot of old lunar data. He told me about the whale oil angle. He also said their best find at that point had been a whole palette/palettes of the whale oil tapes that had been sent from one NASA group to another to be copied over, but had been misplaced in a warehouse during transit, and just sat there ever since.

Comment Re:Awesome, you can approximate the speed... (Score 1) 45 45

Okay, but look. The ISS roughly repeats its orbital path roughly every 3 days, taking a 5-meter resolution image. Landsat is 16 days and 15 meters. RapidEye is 5 meters at 5 days (or daily, if you are okay with some pretty oblique photos). MODIS is every 1-2 days, 250-meter resolution. There are many other options, but you get the idea. You choose your instrument based upon the needs of your project. If you're imaging the northwestern US in the summer, and you're interested in being able to check up on some phenomenon at a temporal resolution that's pretty short and a high spatial resolution, Urthecast may be a good choice. You could use RapidEye, but in my experience, it's crazy expensive. I don't know what Urthecast costs are. If you just want to see something like % cloud cover of the Earth daily, MODIS will work and is free. If you want to see land use change since 1980, you go with Landsat because it goes back so far.

If it's cloudy, then you won't get good data, but that's basically true of all satellite imagery, unless you are doing some application that uses EM bands that pass through clouds easily.

The other option is chartering aircraft or using drones, and aircraft are super expensive and drones are a lot more DIY. But those might be the best instruments, like I say, depending on your project.

Comment Re:Traffic? (Score 5, Insightful) 45 45

It appears that individual cars are at just about the spatial resolution of the camera. Figure a car is something like 2 meters by 5 meters. Urthecast's camera, 'Theia', is advertised as a 5-meter camera (5m x 5m on the ground). So a car only takes up about half of a pixel. Which means that when the CCD is exposed, sometimes the pixel comes out white for a white car that happens to align itself totally within one cell of the CCD, and sometimes the car 'disappears' when it is overlapping two cells and is not increasing either cell's reflectance enough to make the cell come out white. (Note also that we only really see white cars; if you look very closely you may be able to see darker colored cars also, but they mostly blend into the road because they are not differently colored enough).

Theia is also a 'pushbroom' camera, which means that its CCD array is a linear array that is swept over the field of view (likely with a mirror or similar). Furthermore, the camera itself is moving through 30 degrees of arc while focusing on one area of the Earth, which means that as the CCD is imaging each linear set of pixels, it's moving within a camera that is moving on board a space station that is moving with respect to the Earth. So there is a *lot* of image processing going on to turn this collection of pixel rows into a coherent video. Some of that processing is likely to involve lossy processes and interpolation that provide a second source of this 'disappearing car' phenomenon.

Comment Re:What is being missed... is the $2 million part. (Score 1) 456 456

'they' probably means the local government union objected to a non-union project.

Could be. On the other hand, it could just be because they'd like a system with a formal service contract, warrantee, liability insurance, etc. Having some former student come back to the school occasionally to perform incantations over a Commodore may not inspire great confidence that the system is well in hand. What if something goes horribly wrong with the system and causes damage to the building? May not be Jeff's fault, but Jeff may be involved in the legal fallout.

Comment Re:Security is a process - not a tool (Score 1) 203 203

What a bunch of delusional macho BS. When was the last time you actually saw someone grab a gun and go be a "first responder" to a crime? You haven't.

There was an incident in my town a few years ago in which a guy shot some people and barricaded himself in a building. There was one citizen who took it upon himself to grab his gun and go be a "first responder" to this crime. The barricaded man shot him, and then it was up to the police to try to remove the would-be hero safely from the area in order to get him medical treatment.

So, anecdotal evidence that people do grab a gun and attempt first response, but it doesn't always go quite the way they imagined it would.

Comment Re:And I'm the feminist deity (Score 1) 446 446

Yeah, it seems to me that we have done a few things that make young people's lives a bit worse:

First, we have this credential inflation going on, where businesses are requiring four-year degrees for jobs that might have only needed two-year degrees or even just high school just a few decades ago. Being a secretary or file clerk or whatever hasn't become more difficult, but for some reason we now expect applicants to have a degree?

Second, the cost of college has blasted off way above the rate of inflation. Some people say that's because of the availability of education loans, and maybe that's right; I don't know. But the value proposition changes as college becomes more and more ridiculously expensive.

Third, we seem to like to tell kids that they can do whatever they want, be whatever they want to be, and everything in their lives will work out. Realistically, why does my university even offer a BA degree in theatre? It's not a well-known program; there are no well-known professors; there are very few famous graduates. I doubt if 10% of the program's graduates wind up working in theatre.

It is a disservice to our undergrads to represent programs like this as good preparation for a job in their chosen field. But I'd say that as long as we make that clear, that what those students are really getting is bit of socialization and practice at working and managing their lives, combined with a BA degree that may get them past the first cut at HR for a somewhat menial job, then we have warned them enough.

What I'd really like to see is a significant paring down of the diversity of undergraduate degrees. I think there's too much specialization, especially in liberal arts and social sciences (of what practical use is an undergraduate degree in, say, psychology, if one doesn't plan on going to grad school?).

Comment Re:And I'm the feminist deity (Score 1) 446 446

I knew a girl who did this not that long ago; she had a full-ride scholarship, and what did she blow it on? Theater. Did she get a job in theater? Nope; she moved towards make-up and costumes in her senior year thinking that would be a more realistic career path, graduated, and ended up working at a hotel in customer service. A complete waste of a degree.

But is it really a complete waste of a degree? Is four-year college only valuable as a vocational program, or might there be advantages to general education, a particular social environment, and so on?

Comment Re:Interesting... (Score 1) 85 85

I don't think the Department of Education has an enforcement division

Actually, I was recently surprised to learn that the Department of Education does have an enforcement division, and that they are armed with Glock 27s and Remington shotguns.

Here's an article with some of DOE's purchase orders over the past several years:

Comment Re:Controversial because? (Score 1) 284 284

I'm so glad to see your comment. I don't have a strong opinion about Common Core, being neither a teacher or a parent (though I am favorably disposed toward it). But I do believe that we should argue the merits of CC on their own, without complicating the discussion with standardized testing and teacher evaluation. Those two are important issues, but they are not Common Core. It's frustrating to me that CC has somehow become a partisan issue, and that there is so much wildly manipulative misinformation swirling around the topic.

I am also generally in favor of reducing the number of standardized tests that students take. And I believe that teacher and school evaluation is an issue that must be taken on, but I don't know what the best approach would be (though I'm fairly certain that NCLB and the like is not it).

Time-sharing is the junk-mail part of the computer business. -- H.R.J. Grosch (attributed)