Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Seriously Nice Desktop UI (Score 1) 69

That's great. A stable, intuitive, responsive desktop is sorely needed. Linux desktop environments lack polish. Always missing features, configuration settings are confusing, and the file manager is too easy to crash. Why for instance is it such a pain to set colors in LXDE? Themes are icons and colors together, makes it difficult to have one without the other. In Openbox, I don't want the scroll wheel to flip between desktops, or "shade" and "unshade" windows if on the titlebar, and that's the first thing I turn off in that environment. Have to find and edit a text file to do that too. Too many times I'm scrolling a window and the mouse wanders off the page, and then suddenly I'm spinning through desktops or shading several open windows the next time I scroll.

As to responsiveness, where's Wayland?

Comment: Hardware Companies & Telecoms Have Too Much Po (Score 1) 30

We should be able to get the latest software, and uninstall bloatware without having to root our device and invalidate our warranty. As it stands I have an old version of Android filled with Samsung crapware. Not surprised to learn LG is pulling crap also - just disappointed there aren't real alternatives for when I upgrade to a new phone.

Comment: Why Intel generally thumps AMD in business (Score 1) 48

by sjbe (#49822377) Attached to: Intel Releases Broadwell Desktop CPUs: Core I7-5775C and I5-5675C

So why is AMD constantly on the verge of bankruptcy?

Because AMD has historically made their business model making a product that is compatible with another company's product and that other company (Intel) has a cost advantage in making the product and generally controls the architecture. Intel is actually quite the manufacturing juggernaut in microprocessors whereas AMD has basically no manufacturing of their own. Intel also has a lead in die size as well so AMD is typically playing catch up. Intel basically can make a smaller, faster processor cheaper and sell it for less any time they want to. Hard to compete effectively with that. AMD has to be smarter than Intel and they haven't shown themselves to be capable of doing that on a consistent basis. Even when their designs have been better, Intel has been able to leverage their die size advantage to overcome design deficiencies. Furthermore they've made some pretty bad tactical business errors (the acquisition of ATI hasn't been the smoothest) and Intel has been known to engage in some arguably shady business dealings with their customers.

Basically probably the only reason AMD is still with us is that Intel doesn't want the anti-trust scrutiny that would come with killing them off. Having AMD around gives Intel a "credible" competitor, albeit one that hasn't shown any meaningful ability to compete consistently. AMD has been trying to diversify away from just PC microprocessors for a while now with mixed success.

Comment: Too difficult for the value to most people (Score 1) 94

by sjbe (#49822147) Attached to: Facebook Now Supports PGP To Send You Encrypted Emails

First it raises awareness about PGP which might cause more people to use PGP to encrypt and sign their emails.

No it won't. The only people that will do it are crypto-geeks. It will not result in widespread adoption. Most people A) don't give a shit, B) don't understand public key encryption, C) can't be bothered even if they do understand it, and D) the people they communicate with think A, B and C as well. The value of it is not commensurate with the difficulty of using it to most people most of the time.

Comment: Re:Linux Mint gets it right. (Score 1) 69

by Lumpy (#49821793) Attached to: Cinnamon 2.6: a Massive Update Loaded With Performance Improvements

You are 100% correct. Although I went a step further. Relatives I have moved away from Linux to Chromebooks and ChomeBoxes. That way I have ZERO maintenance for the devices. I dont even have to do any updates at all. It's wonderful and my family members are all so happy they dont have to do any stupid windows tricks.

Comment: Too hard to use (unfortunately) (Score 4, Interesting) 94

by sjbe (#49821365) Attached to: Facebook Now Supports PGP To Send You Encrypted Emails

I wish more companies would support this. Even if it's just random status updates and reminders for services I use, I prefer absolutely everything to be encrypted.

In principle I agree with you. Unfortunately precisely none of the people I interact with on a daily basis have even the slightest interest in bothering with encrypting their communications. Worse, only a handful of them have the technical chops to do it properly. The rest wouldn't even begin to comprehend the need to jump through all the extra hoops. If they need to tell me something privately they simply do it in person where no one can listen. Using a tool like PGP securely is NOT simple and this will ensure it is never used except by a handful of crypto-geeks.

There currently is absolutely no way I am aware of to make public key encryption simultaneously simple AND secure. You can have one or the other but not both. It fails the "explain it to your grandmother test" badly. Until some clever soul can find a way to make it nearly transparent to use and still secure, end-to-end encryption will remain a play toy for paranoid geeks and the occasional clever n'er-do-well.

Comment: Does US have any real jurisdiction over FIFA? (Score 1) 148

This 'onion' issue is but a side-show of the indictment of FIFA officers by the Obama Administration

While everyone knows that FIFA is corrupt, we must also acknowledge the fact that the indictments from US is a kind of a long-stretch, for all I know FIFA does not belong to USA alone

Comment: Avago's past practices (Score 1) 61

by Taco Cowboy (#49819997) Attached to: Intel To Buy Altera For $16.7 Billion

Disclaimer: I'm one of the early investors of Avago

As far as I know Avago does not carry out the "cut until it hurts" routine

I know the style of Hock Tan, the CEO of Avago --- and from past experiences (from the merger with LSI, et al) the 'cut' were mainly of low level, ie, disposable personels, while key people - those who have been identified to have contributed in key technologies - were often offered plumb hike in salary / stock option to get them to continue to perform

In other words, what Hock Tan looks for are:

1. Talents
2. Products
3. Synergistic deployment of technology

+ - New Gens of bots that tough out injuries->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy writes: Most of the bots that we have right now stop working properly they suffer damages, — The Yutu lunar explorer of China is a perfect example: It stopped functioning when problems developed in the mechanisms which deploy its solar panel

Researchers from the University of Wyoming, in collaboration with their colleagues from Pierre and Marie Curie University of France, have developed bots which can figure out how to continue to function within minutes, despite suffering injuries

The researchers got their inspiration from the amazing ability of animals to adapt to injury, There are many three-legged dogs that can catch Frisbees, for example, and if your ankle is sprained, you quickly figure out a way to walk despite the injury

"When injured, animals do not start learning from scratch," senior author Jean-Baptiste Mouret said. "Instead, they have intuitions about different ways to behave. These intuitions allow them to intelligently select a few, different behaviors to try out and, after these tests, they choose one that works in spite of the injury. We made robots that can do the same"

The breakthrough isn't based solely on the robots themselves — we've had robots capable of advanced movement for some time. What's key is a new algorithim that lets the robot figure out different gaits and motions much faster. Normally when a particular approach stops being effective, the robot tests various ways of moving until it finds one works

"If the robot has to search through the space of all possible behaviors," Clune said. "It’s going to be larger than the number of molecules on planet earth, it’s like finding one of a few needles in a field of haystacks"

The process can take hours, so Clune and his team found a more effective method: Giving the robot a simulated "childhood"

Before it is deployed, the robot uses a computer simulation of itself to create a detailed map of the space of high-performing behaviors. This map represents the robot's "intuitions" about different behaviors it can perform and their predicted value. If the robot is damaged, it uses these intuitions to guide a learning algorithm that conducts experiments to rapidly discover a compensatory behavior that works despite the damage. The new algorithm is called "Intelligent Trial and Error"

The scientists' robot has solved this by trying to mimic animals — by discovering which leg is broken and then then using trial and error to figure out the best way to continue walking

"Locomotion is a major challenge," Dr Iida said. "It's an issue of energy efficiency. Robots are unusually very inefficient compared to animals"

The bots from University of Wyoming is not the first one to mimic animals, as there are bots from other companies are also trying to mimic animals, such as Boston Dynamics, which is now owned by Google

It makes a variety of robots, including the internet sensation Big Dog, which can attain locomotion on a variety of different and difficult terrains

"Each behavior it tries is like an experiment and, if one behavior doesn't work, the robot is smart enough to rule out that entire type of behavior and try a new type," Cully continues. "For example, if walking, mostly on its hind legs, does not work well, it will next try walking mostly on its front legs. What's surprising is how quickly it can learn a new way to walk. It's amazing to watch a robot go from crippled and flailing around to efficiently limping away in about two minutes"

The same Intelligent Trial and Error algorithm allows robots to adapt to unforeseen situations, including adapting to new environments and inventing new behaviors. Jeff Clune explains that "technically, Intelligent Trial and Error involves two steps:
(1) creating the behavior-performance map, and
(2) adapting to an unforeseen situation"

The map in the first step is created with a new type of evolutionary algorithm called MAP-Elites. Evolutionary algorithms simulate Darwinian evolution by hosting "survival of the fittest" competitions in computer simulations to evolve artificially intelligent robots. The adaptation in the second step involves a "Bayesian optimization" algorithm that takes advantage of the prior knowledge provided by the map to efficiently search for a behavior that works despite the damage

"We performed experiments that show that the most important component of Intelligent Trial and Error is creating and harnessing the prior knowledge contained in the map," Clune says

This new technique will help develop more robust, effective, autonomous robots. Danesh Tarapore provides some examples

"It could enable the creation of robots that can help rescuers without requiring their continuous attention," he says. "It also makes easier the creation of personal robotic assistants that can continue to be helpful even when a part is broken"

While these engineers are focused on self-learning robots, others are developing robots and materials that can "heal themselves" when they are damaged

BAE Systems said recently that in the future, it could build drones that contained a lightweight fluid that would allow jets to heal themselves from damage sustained in flight, as well as on-board 3D printers that can make new parts, while a new plastic that can fix itself has been developed by engineers at the University of Illinois

Additional reports from

A Youtube clip on the bots is available from

Link to Original Source

+ - Foxconn offers Electric Car rental service in China->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy writes: The world's largest electronics contract manufacturer, Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn), plans to expand its electric-car rental business in ten more cities in China after the business started in Beijing last year

Since the beginning of this year, Hon Hai has launched similar services in Hangzhou and Changzhou in the eastern provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu respectively. Guiyang in southwest Guizhou province will start operations with 100 electric vehicles in July

The electric-car rental service is activated through the company's smartphone app, website and the WeChat platform. Customers will be able to use the car with a QR code sent to their smartphones after orders are confirmed. The company works with Alipay for online payment

The new-generation electric vehicles will be equipped with internet connectivity which warns drivers of low battery and shows the nearest charging station beforehand. The first priority is to solve charging problems for users, the company said

Also on

Link to Original Source

Comment: Yes you can mess up salary negotiations (Score 1) 498

I've never heard of this happening (to programmers).

I hire people all the time and I've had to say no to great candidates who wanted more money than we could pay. I've also turned away applicants who thought they were worth more than they were. Most companies have a budget and they aren't going to exceed it. They know what local market rates are (unless they are idiots) and are unlikely to pay you more than that. If you live where I do you probably aren't going to get a six figure salary as a programmer but the cost of living is a LOT lower than in Silicon Valley so the net result is often better.

I've messed up negotiations pretty bad, too (by telling them that I was going to give my current company a chance to ended with the hiring manager yelling at me for a while), but they'll still come back.

That is VERY unusual. Most employment negotiations do not go anything like that. I'm not a programmer but I do have two masters degrees, an accounting certification, and a lot of experience as an engineer and I've had times when it has been REALLY hard to find work better than flipping burgers. If you are luck enough that getting work hasn't been a problem, congratulations. Unfortunately that doesn't describe most of the working population.

"Love may fail, but courtesy will previal." -- A Kurt Vonnegut fan