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

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

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:LOL .... (Score 1) 63

by minstrelmike (#49359341) Attached to: US Air Force Overstepped In SpaceX Certification
I think the waste of too much bureaucracy is a direct result of voters/pols wanting to "prevent" waste.
Counting anything costs money. If we're going to make people apply for something, we need to read all the damned applications. And we need to have rules for what is successful and what isn't on the application. And we need to advertise it to everybody who might be eligible. The laws about hiring contractors and putting out bids are stultifying.

But in a democracy, we make rules based on fantasy and belief implemented by immediate desire.
Let's stop this current example of fraud and abuse (one example out of 4,000 purchases) regardless of how much it costs.
That's how bureaucratic policies get implemented and ossified.
And it isn't necessarily bad. If you want "your" property rights enforced, some governmental entity someplace has to have a meticulous record of that.

The sweet spot is finding the correct amount of bureaucracy for each aspect of the job, something the article directly addresses.

Comment: Re:They should go (Score 1) 198

It's actually odd plates on odd days, even plates on even days.

Over the long run, that's statistically unfair to the even-plated people since the odd-plated folks can drive consecutive days on
Jan 31/Feb 1 (Feb 29/Mar 1 looooong run ;-) Mar 31/Apr1 May 31/Jun1 July 31/Aug 1 Aug 31/Sep 1 Oct 31/Nov 1

Comment: Re:And the almond trees die. (Score 3, Insightful) 414

by minstrelmike (#49313785) Attached to: How 'Virtual Water' Can Help Ease California's Drought

If water was properly priced, it would just be an additional variable in the profit calculation. It doesn't mean you'd have to rip out the crop. If you can still make it profitable, despite higher water prices, it makes sense to continue to grow it.

The "real" agricultural problem is that trees aren't like regular crops. You only have to water alfalfa and corn after they've been planted and while they are growing. You don't have to water empty (fallow) fields. You do have to water trees year-round. The economics of almonds only makes sense when you have a steady water price you can count on for decades. Expect the tree growers to scream. And they will scream at politicians and the government, blaming them for the increased price instead of accepting that free market forces work on _everything_ regardless of whether you wish them to or not.

Economics is the study of how we calculate scarce resources. Now that water has become scarce, economics arises.

Comment: Wired article wheel fire (Score 5, Interesting) 208

There was an article in Wired quite awhile ago by a pilot. He said if there was a sudden change in direction, it was probably because the -experienced- pilot who was familiar with all the airports in the area, was looking for a safe airport. In that direction was a 7,000 foot runway. He theorized there was a nosewheel fire, the pilot turned and then everyone was overcome by smoke so the plane continued on untl running out of fuel.

http://www.wired.com/2014/03/mh370-electrical-fire/

Comment: Re:Actually (Score 1) 532

by minstrelmike (#49101191) Attached to: Stephen Hawking: Biggest Human Failing Is Aggression
Exactly. No way to get rid of ggression. Sounds like Hawking thinks evolution is done now. The only reason humanity is as smart as it is is because we compete and cooperate as groups with each other for resources. Limited resources leads to war. It's not aggression that _causes_ war. Without aggression, limited resources simply leads to death.

Having an intelligent predator is the best way for a species to "improve" itself. (Unless of course you think you know the future and that evolution can now stop since things will forever remain the same).

Comment: Re:The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One (Score 1) 131

by minstrelmike (#49060821) Attached to: Bank Hackers Steal Millions Via Malware

...Of course, the last time this weird dichotomy came up, the attackers were state actors because they were so patient and thus weren't plain ol criminals....Sounds a bit clueless to me.

That's because according to all the rabid wannabe economists here on slashdot, if you're a government, you don't need to break into a bank to steal money. In the Sony break-in, there was no actual money to be stolen. Those Hollywood accountants are really good ;-)

Comment: Re:Makes sense to me (Score 1) 411

by minstrelmike (#49039677) Attached to: Your Java Code Is Mostly Fluff, New Research Finds
I support a web system (LAMP stack) written in Perl 10 years. I fell for the library-ization idea of "good" practices when I started. After the three of us have sorted thru each other's code for 10 years and settled onto a somewhat standard approach, the library approach is dead. In a well-designed system, at least for database entry and reporting, there isn't much cause to have multiple functions shared between programs. All the stuff for this set of tables or this functionality ought to be included in this form/report right here and probably not ever used anywhere else.

And if a function is used elsewhere, then it is probably overloaded with parameters which then have to be tracked and managed. That cost in maintenence has not been worth the "advantage" of not writing an almost similar function twice in two different places.

I saw that with Oracle Designer. It was going to generate forms from tables. The reason we abandoned it is because you cannot generate relational forms, only single table forms. One of the odd things was there were 1100 parameters you had to set. But we looked at it and realized that was unavoidable. I can easily write code to display a web form based on table descriptions (version #1). I can create fields for dates vs text vs numbers and can have restrictions on values if those are in the database table/field descriptions somehow. But if I want to let the user choose colors for the forms and different sizes of fonts for the labels and different whatevers, well you end up with 1100 options to set.

There is a cost to abstraction, and it's expensive in java.

Comment: Re:Scalability matters, accuracy less so (Score 1) 153

by minstrelmike (#49011831) Attached to: Facebook Will Soon Be Able To ID You In Any Photo
I think the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris just threw NSA monitors into a scalability tizzie fit.
Apparently, the terrorists e-mailed each other using the subject line CONSOLIDATE YOUR DEBT!!!

If you cannot safely throw out all the spam that infests the web, then you've got a lot more messages to sift through.

Comment: Re:Academic wankery at its finest (Score 1) 154

I think the development of fire might be one of our defining moments but it may not be measurable in rocks an eon later. The invention/discovery of agriculture 10,000 years ago has been the common starting point and I think those changes would be measurable in rocks by paleontologists of the future.

Comment: Evolution Discovered!!! (Score 1) 180

by minstrelmike (#48716739) Attached to: 65% of Cancers Caused by Bad Luck, Not Genetics or Environment
They essentially rediscovered evolution--how random mutations result in "luck" against survival in the current environment.
The most telling point in the article was when they said the rate of colon cancer was 4 times the rate of small intestine cancer, and that exactly matches their differing rates of stem cell divisions overall. They did note that certain cancers such as lung cancer and skin cancer had environmental effects and that there were also general inheritance effects from your genes (who'da thunk?).

Cancer is evolution in action (just like every other biological process, whether at the individual cell level, the level of the individual, the level of species, and it also acts against the processes that build biological products such as beaver dams, beehives, and human civilization).

All the simple programs have been written.

Working...