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The Internet

Why In-Flight Wi-Fi Is Still Slow and Expensive 193

An anonymous reader writes: Let's grant that having access to the internet while on an airplane is pretty amazing. When airlines first began offering it several years ago, it was agonizingly slow and somewhat pricey as well. Unfortunately, it's only gotten more expensive over the years, and the speeds are still frustrating. This is in part because the main provider of in-flight internet, Gogo, knows most of its regular customers will pay for it, regardless of cost. Business travelers with expense accounts don't care if it's $1 or $10 or $50 — they need to stay connected. Data speeds haven't improved because Gogo says the scale isn't big enough to do much infrastructure investment, and most of the hardware is custom-made. A third of Gogo-equipped planes can manage 10 Mbps, while the rest top out at 3 Mbps. There's hope on the horizon — the company says a new satellite service should enable 70 Mbps per plane by the end of the year — but who knows how much they'll charge for an actual useful connection.
Programming

Was Linus Torvalds Right About C++ Being So Wrong? 757

Nerval's Lobster writes: Perhaps the most famous rant against C++ came from none other than Linus Torvalds in 2007. "C++ is a horrible language," he wrote, for starters. "It's made more horrible by the fact that a lot of substandard programmers use it, to the point where it's much much easier to generate total and utter crap with it." He's not alone: A lot of developers dislike how much C++ can do "behind the scenes" with STL and Boost, leading to potential instability and inefficiency. And yet there's still demand for C++ out there. Over at Dice, Jeff Cogswell argues that C++ doesn't deserve the hatred. "I've witnessed a lot of 'over-engineering' in my life, wherein people would write reusable classes with several layers of inheritance, even though the reusable class wasn't actually used more than once," he wrote. "But I would argue that's the exception, not the norm; when done right, generic programming and other high-level aspects of C++ can provide enormous benefits." Was Linus going overboard?

Comment Re:Initiators vs promoters (Score 1) 180

The headline is shocking when one consider the steep rise of cancer since 1945. If it was luck, then how it could change over time?

we need to be careful that we are comparing apples with apples when comparing cancer rates between different countries or time periods. We have higher rates of people reaching their 70s and 80s now. And in addition to increased longevity, we also (in developed countries at least) have a higher proportion of our populations being older.

This is why we use an "age standardised cancer incidence" rate, to account for differences in the population makeup.

I'm not sure if the age-adjusted rate is much difference between now and the 40s, but if it is then I would expect it to be largely based on the dramatic rates of tobacco use in the couple of decades after WW2.

Comment Re:So perhaps /. will finally fix its shit (Score 2) 396

Really Why? what content on Slashdot justify's the need for encrypted content? I really don't get this huge push for SSL everywhere. give me SSL when I need it, I don't want SSL for accessing a forum or a news site or just generally browsing the web.

since you have a slashdot account, I'm sure you don't mind your ISP, their transit provider, and slashdot's CDN seeing your password going over their network in cleartext when you log in.

Even if you use a throwaway password for sites like this (and I hope you do), don't you think it would be better to make a small change that has no effect on how end users interact with the site but somewhat increases their security?

Comment increased risk of cancer? (Score 2) 175

given that tumour cells (for solid tumours) normally have defects in extra-cellular matrix related genes (eg genes in the collagen family are sometimes mutated in advanced gastric cancer) that help the tumour invade and spread through tissues, I wonder if using such a treatment increases the chances of either tumours forming, or tumours becoming higher grade/more serious more quickly...

Comment Re:Why? (Score 4, Informative) 71

I confess to being a bit baffled at how these power cord defects keep happening. Your basic AC power cord is ancient by the standards of electronic gizmos and by far the simplest thing going into a modern laptop.

recently we had a power cord melt and nearly start a fire in our server room while power maintenance was occurring (so power was only going to 1 PSU instead of both PSUs). Turns out the cables don't meet the appropriate standards (IEC 60950) despite being stamped with "10A".

The cross-section of the copper strands in the failed cable was smaller than that of a 'proper' cable. These cables were illegal, but are being imported from cheap manufacturers in China (obviously without testing to Western standards) and being sold at somewhat reputable stores. Beware of cables marked "PVC YOUZHI DIANXIAN 3x0.75mm2" :)

Government

Sweden Considers Adding "Sexism" Ratings To Video Games 642

An anonymous reader writes A government-funded agency in Sweden is considering creating special labels for video games based on whether or not the games' portrayals of women are sexist. From the article: "Avoiding sexism and gender stereotypes in video games produced in Sweden will become a key goal for the association, which has been given a 272,000 kronor ($36,672) grant by Sweden's government-funded innovation agency, Vinnova. Inspired by the Bechdel test, which looks at whether fictional films or books feature at least two women talking about a topic other than men, Dataspelsbranchen will work with several game developers to analyze how Swedish video games portray female characters and gender issues.

Comment Re:Question for sequencing expert. (Score 3, Informative) 128

I don't know if ancient samples are processed differently, but for 'fresh' samples, the DNA gets broken up into small fragments (200-1000 base-pairs long), and then these fragments get sequenced. All bits of the genome have roughly even chance of getting sequenced, and with thousands or millions of copies of each fragment, you normally get reasonably even coverage over the whole genome.

The problem is when you map your sequences back onto a reference genome (ie the currently known chr1, chr2, chrX, etc). The aligning software will have trouble deciding where to place a fragment that is part of a highly repetitive sequence (like centromeres or telomeres) , or is duplicated several/many times (eg large gene families that have large sections of the genes in common, or pseudogenes that look like copies of other genes). In addition, we don't even know the exact sequence for some of these regions, so our reference human genome is contantly being updated (currently up to version 38).

For bioinformatics analysis, sometimes it is easier to sweep some of this under the rug. For example, some people use a reference genome that masks out the centromeres and telomeres (ie our reference sequence just has NNNNNNNNNNNN bases here, instead of As,Cs,Gs and Ts). Otherwise there are databases that list the regions containing repeated sequences or duplicated segments, so you can check any of your findings to make sure they aren't in a suspicious region.

Comment Re:Why..... (Score 2) 259

That's generally what each country does to the companies operating inside it.

But here's the problem. Lets say an iPhone costs $400 to make, and sells retail for $1000. One Apple-related company pays $400 to get the phone made in china, and then sells the phone to Apple Ireland. Apple Ireland pays $450 to get the phone, then sells the phone for $995 to Apple Australia or Apple USA or whatever. Australia/USA can tax the profits of the local company, but the local company only made $5 per phone, and then used most of that for local expenses/advertising. Apple Ireland books most of the profit, and at a tax rate far less than other Western countries.

Social Networks

Pseudonyms Now Allowed On Google+ 238

An anonymous reader writes When Google+ launched, it received criticism across the internet for requiring that users register with their real names. Now, Google has finally relented and removed all restrictions on what usernames people are allowed to use. The company said, "We know you've been calling for this change for a while. We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users. For this we apologize, and we hope that today's change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be."
Government

NZ Govt May Gut Privacy Laws For US Citizens and Ex-Pats 134

Master Moose writes with an excerpt from stuff.co.nz indicating that New Zealand's government "wants to override privacy laws to supply the U.S. Government with private details about Americans living in New Zealand. As part of a global tax-dodging crackdown, the U.S. is forcing banks and other financial institutions to hand over the private financial details of U.S. 'persons' and companies based overseas. From July this year, Kiwi banks and insurers will be required to provide U.S. tax authorities with American customers' contact details, bank account numbers and transaction history. The move comes amid continuing criticism of New Zealand's participation in Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement talks, aimed at securing a wider-reaching free trade deal with the U.S. and other countries. Critics say the secretive talks could restrict New Zealand's ability to make its own laws on everything from the environment to employment."

Comment Re:PHB's strike again (Score 1) 207

from what i remember the worker bees warned against a launch due to ice and whatever but the bosses said to launch

what if I told you that every single launch has had some worker bees who thought their part of their module wasn't up to scratch, or might not work in the current conditions, and voiced this opinion to their manager? People with an engineering mind-set don't like uncertainty....

I don't have any evidence that this is actually the case, but it seems likely when so many people are involved in a project.

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