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


Forgot your password?
Note: You can take 10% off all Slashdot Deals with coupon code "slashdot10off." ×

Comment Why Mars [Re:And the timeframe for getting anoth (Score 1) 76

Mars has been explored heavily because a manned Mars mission (MMM) has been in planning since W announced the project during his term. True, the funding for MMM has been waxing and waning, but so far the plan is still alive (even if sick).

It makes sense to probe Mars heavily before a MMM. For one, the question of past or existing life has yet to be answered. If there is life on Mars, that will greatly affect how a MMM is done.

Comment Re:Being wrong will bring more changes than right (Score 2) 206

Well, it better be "significant enough" to be the difference in a statewide election. If it's not, or if it's real, then all the research will have done is shown those republicans where they have over saturated some areas and it's time to redraw some lines. My guess, is that's the worst case scenario for the "researcher" and that if it is legit we'll never hear from the again.

Wait. Are you saying it's appropriate to "redraw some lines" based on what party won a district?

Corrupt much?

Comment Re:Really? (Score -1, Troll) 206

> 'a statistically significant' pattern where the percentage of Republican votes increase the larger the size of the precinct.

The larger the precinct in geographical terms, the more spread out the population. The more spread out, the more rural, the more rural, the more Republicans per capita. Where's the problem here?

And she's relying on polls as the baseline.

Last election, lots of people realized they didn't want to talk to obama's cronies and told them to fuck off.

I am not seeing anything that screams voter fraud in KS. Shitcago on the other hand...

Votes are supposed to be secret, her assumption based on bullshit lies that something is wrong is not a good enough reason to let her see everybody's vote.

Comment Re:In other words. (Score 3, Insightful) 206

The law should NEVER, EVER, EVER, provide protection over any data available behind public sector activity.

The public sector frequently claims the release of information will be burdensome; however, the public sector actors are not always forced, by statute (as they are in Minnesota) to ensure records should be held in a way which the sector cannot claim burden in failure to comply.

This needs to change.

Comment Re:The problem with neural networks (Score 1) 39

Is that *in theory* you could understand why they come to a particular result, but in practice it could be potentially very hard with a large network for any person to get their head around the processes leading up to the output. This means that unless safety rules are changed we won't be seeing these things driving cars or flying aircraft anytime soon since the software needs to be verifiable and neural networks are not.

I would agree that neural networks shouldn't be in a learning mode while they should be in a fixed operational mode, but once they are trained and the neural network is no longer being modified to fit the training set then a neural net is like any other algorithm and will output predictable results.

Comment Re:The cars can detect gestures. (Score 1) 230

Wouldn't be any accidents with all automated cars. For that matter, if a light's out, it won't matter to an automated car. Once they're all automated, lights would just be a visual indicator to the car's passengers that they're stopping. And central traffic control should have to stop cars a lot less than cars currently have to stop.

Comment Re:The cars can detect gestures. (Score 1) 230

Could be overridden from a central location and commanded to drive to the nearest police station, far less risky to the public and police officers in the field than pulling them over in some random location. Once it's at the local police station it could be directed to the high security suspect holding spot / car crusher out back, where the occupants could be safely extracted before or after being crushed with their car.

Comment Re:Same thing that caused the crash in 2008 (Score 1) 131

"Companies make money creating a product that no one checks to make sure it's not bogus"

In this case, carbon credits are mandated for a product that literally doesn't exist: CO2 supposedly not emitted. Of course it's going to be a joke.

Worse it's a protection racket... 'You give us money and we won't do bad things'. Paying people not to do things that you fear they might do otherwise. It incentivizes doing bad things otherwise you start thinking they weren't really going to do bad things in the first place. In this case it incentivized extra emissions in order to justify credits for cut backs.

It is like the West subsidizing dictators in order to prevent extremism... it incentivizes those same dictators to promote just enough extremism to keep the money flowing.

If you want to cut carbon emissions then you need viable alternatives, not carbon credit deals with polluters.

Comment Re:Don't buy in. (Score 4, Insightful) 94

It's not something that just "capitalists" do; spinning and BS are part of every known organization. We saw it in the Soviet Union also. Humans, especially those who strive to move up in an organization or power structure, are overall aggressive and selfish, and playing games with language is part of this process.

Even if students don't want to play language games themselves, they should be exposed to spin and understand its usage and techniques in order to navigate the real world.

Comment Re:Obey traffic laws; offer emergency override (Score 1) 230

So, all Jack the Ripper needs is to put a flashing light on his car and he can force his victims to a stop? No thanks.

Hell, it's not unheard of for actual police officers to engage in kidnapping, rape, and murder - if you suspect such a situation, they should NOT be able to trivially disable your vehicle.

Sure, it should automatically respond to police signals just as a conscientious driver would. But you should also be able to override that behavior, just as a driver with a sense of self-preservation sometimes must.

Meanwhile, an unconscious occupant would seem to me to be one of the points of an automated vehicle. Any automated vehicle which needs me to continue to pay attention to the road in case of emergency is a horrible danger to everyone else, because passengers won't do so reliably. And if I don't have to pay attention to the road, then I may as well play video games, take a nap, etc. Just like if I had a chauffeur. You wouldn't pull over a limo because the passengers were unconscious would you?

That is the case now. You are obligated to pull over. Now... I agree with a manual override. If Jack the ripper starts walking towards the car, then I would like to be able to hit a button and drive away. Or if you really feel unsafe where the car wants to pull over, then similarly I would want a manual override.

I agree that having an automated car will actually save lives where now if the driver has a medical issue the likely outcome is a high speed collision which endangers even more lives. But if the passenger has truly had a medical issue and can't stop the car then it would be good to have the ability to pull the car over. Again, manual override should take precedence. But if the person is on the phone with 911 and passes out the car should be capable of getting pulled over by a single patrol car. Something as simple as a directive to slow down and pull over when a car with flashing lights is behind you.

Comment Re:Typical Federal employee (Score 1) 43

to take five months to get within...

It has an ion engine. While quite efficient, current ion engines are slow. One advantage of ion engines is that they can use electricity from solar panels for power, and thus the probe doesn't have to carry large amounts of chemical fuel. This makes the launch cheaper, saving tax-payers money. See, the government cares!

Comment Re:Please... (Score 2) 269

stop trying to correct this with the obvious suggestions to shell out $60. This is a good thing.

Problem is when they get a new hard drive and the policy becomes "as long as we got the space"... the part about Windows XP should have been the red flag in the story. These records are very likely not well secured. Policies on record retention and archiving should reflect the risk that old systems can become compromised and only what is really needed should be kept online. Policies on record retention that merely reflect the physical limitations of hard drives are bad.

Comment Re:It' called COTS (Score 1) 269

In the past these were discounts. Now they're licenses to steal.

We seriously need procurement reform and standardization across government at all levels. Not sure there is a silver bullet there, since more procurement regulations have often meant less and less competition as fewer people are making purchasing decisions and fewer and fewer companies can afford to play the bidding game. Just saying that government needs to get the best deal doesn't make it so.

For things like a hard drive which should be considered a commodity I would think there should just be some combination of a max price list where people can just buy from any source as long as it is less than the max price. Also, someone to internally review purchase history and provide feedback or decrease purchasing authority for those that regularly make bad decisions.

The litany of red tape is how you get $1000 toilet seats or whatever at the Pentagon. Because even though it is a cheap item the add on costs of all the contracts on top of it mean that the installation and all the red tape adds to the cost. And then the line item says "toilet seat" but you are really counting all the associated costs which you have layered on and on. In the Pentagon case, you have security costs. Just like in the Police Department case you really can't just hire some high school kid without having a company backing them up with training and liability. But still... how is this not a case for Best Buy's Geek Squad? Maybe a few hundred bucks... or better yet a new computer.

Reasonably short records retention should be a policy anyway. But having your license plates on a computer without adequate security because it never got updated to a fully patched and supported OS is an issue. Forget the size of the hard drive... in this case I am glad the size of the hard drive is forcing a better policy, but come on.

Comment Re:Obey traffic laws; offer emergency override (Score 1) 230

Also, I would expect that most owned vehicles (not taxis) would offer a driver manual override feature... So, what is the value of a police override that can itself be overridden by the driver? Again, if you don't allow a driver/passenger override then you have created a safety issue, potentially a large scale safety and security issue if you consider the possibility of a widespread hacking attack.

"Just think, with VLSI we can have 100 ENIACS on a chip!" -- Alan Perlis