Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

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:If "yes," then it's not self-driving (Score 1) 319

by Kjella (#49190145) Attached to: Would You Need a License To Drive a Self-Driving Car?

It's worth noting that there is one piece of automation in cars already that does give a different kind of driving license in a lot of places: automatic gear change. If you get a driving license in a car that has an automatic transmission then you can't drive manual cars with it, though the converse is allowed.

And it's silly. You can give an 18yo (around here) that just got his license a Ferrari, that's legal. You can give him a 3500 kg van + 750 kg trailer, that's legal. Of course you shouldn't drive a car you can't handle, but learning it on your own would be no worse than a lot of the other "self-learning" on the road.

Comment: Re:I'm dying of curiousity (Score 2) 33

by Tom (#49190131) Attached to: Software Freedom Conservancy Funds GPL Suit Against VMWare

They are taking a calculated risk knowing that very few GPL lawsuits actually went to court. They know it takes money to fight a legal battle and hope the opposing side doesn't have it, or will run out of it before reaching a final verdict. And finally, from the fact that they've been at this since 2012 - they probably think that it's a fairly cost-efficient way to buy more time and make business.

Comment: Re:We got it alright (Score 1) 393

by Gr8Apes (#49189823) Attached to: Microsoft Convinced That Windows 10 Will Be Its Smartphone Breakthrough
What we got was at least the initial piece of what we wanted, internet being put under Title II. Now, the real question is how much of Title II is going to be enforced? But, besides that, the other biggie was the wholesale throw out of exclusivity contracts that prevent municipalities from laying their own cable.

Comment: Re:If "yes," then it's not self-driving (Score 1) 319

by Kjella (#49189795) Attached to: Would You Need a License To Drive a Self-Driving Car?

Even if you can account for such things, how will your autonomous vehicle handle malfunctioning sensors? Aerospace has been working at this for decades and still hasn't figured it all out.

The main reason to have pilots is that you have someone with "skin in the game", not because they're actually good backups. Like in your linked case there's several major pilot errors that were only possible because the safety systems were disabled due to a 30 second glitch in the sensor. After the sensor recovered the pilots were given multiple warnings about what was happening but instead caused such a massive stall that the computer refused to believe the sensors, going silent as the pilots slammed the planed into the ocean killing all on board.

If the computer had taken a HAL 9000 with "I can't let you do that, Dave" and taken the plane out of the stall once it recovered they'd be alive. If the computer had been forced to carry on despite the faulty sensor, it would still have engine power and altitude to infer that air speed is wrong and keep the plane flying and it would almost certainly have done a better job. They died because the default was in any out of the ordinary operation to let the humans take over. It's a better poster child for a self-flying plane than against it. But since the pilots paid with their own lives they become the lightning rod for the anger, while a self-flying plane crashing would be become a corporate nightmare.

Comment: Re:IANAL, but my answer would be no (Score 3, Interesting) 178

IANAL, but my answer would be no

And probably just as important in this case is YJMV - Your Jurisdiction May Vary. The UK is fascist country where I know it's illegal, I wouldn't bring any device I wouldn't unlock - I'd just make sure it's clean and I can download what I want once inside the country. The US is a fairly safe country thanks to the fifth amendment. The rest of the world? Dunno. Don't really care to research it either. If I was doing anything naughty I'd send it online or even in the mail. At least then they can't refuse me entry or any of that shit.

Comment: Re:And still (Score 1) 112

by Gr8Apes (#49188165) Attached to: NASA Ames Reproduces the Building Blocks of Life In Laboratory

God may have created life (directly or indirectly) all over the universe.

True, we know that there is nowhere in the universe that His noodly appendages doesn't grace.

And although being omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, requires a human to find, judge, and act on his will. Guess noodly appendages can't wreak wrath anymore.

Comment: banks again ? (Score 2) 305

by Tom (#49187501) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles

The only way you can have losses that exceed your net-worth is if someone has given you a huge amount of money that they really shouldn't. Typically, it means the banks gave these guys credit beyond even the most loose definition of sanity.

More and more I'm thinking that the fantasy worlds we live in when we play roleplaying or computer games are much closer to reality than the fantasy world of the financial industry.

Comment: Re:Do pilots still need licenses? (Score 1) 319

by IamTheRealMike (#49186799) Attached to: Would You Need a License To Drive a Self-Driving Car?

That article says the autopilot was disconnected and "[The investigation] will help us to understand whether there was a problem with the Airbus or in the training received by flight crew in manual aircraft handling at high altitude."

In other words they don't know what happened, but at the time of the near stall the plane was no longer under the control of the auto pilot. BTW if a plane suddenly finds itself overspeeding, climbing to lose speed is the right thing to do.

Comment: such stupidity (Score 1) 393

by Tom (#49186655) Attached to: Microsoft Convinced That Windows 10 Will Be Its Smartphone Breakthrough

will run on [...] phones and provide an experience very much like the desktop. [...] repeatedly failed to take the mobile space [...]"

Yeah, I wonder if these two could be in any way related...

MS is a design and UI fiasco and always has been. The only reason few people realize how unusable the crap is, is that we are so used to it that we don't notice anymore - until the next major update, or if you don't use it daily and then suddenly sit in front of it and wonder who the fuck came up with this stupidity.

And everyone who knows anything at all about mobile devices and usability knows that nobody on the planet wants a windows desktop experience on their smartphone. People want a smartphone experience on their smartphone, what's so difficult to understand about that?

Oh, speaking of that: People also don't want a mobile experience on their desktop. They want a desktop experience on their desktop, that's not so difficult, either.

Comment: Re:Try and try again. (Score 1) 393

It is actually kind of sad if you know their history.

Back in the day they were competing with Palm, and had Windows CE and Pocket PC 2000. When PocketPC 2002 came out my employer switched over from Palm and I got to rewrite a bunch of tools. They did pretty good for a while with Mobile 2003, and Windows Mobile 5. It knocked Palm down several notches in the mobile market, with Palm losing value and getting bought out in 2005.

I'm not convinced you know your history of devices at the time all that well.

WinCE/Windows Mobile/etc. didn't start to succeed against Palm because of great improvements in Windows for devices; it started to take over because of overt stagnation in PalmOS-based devices.

Palm become successful with the PalmPilot and PalmPilot Pro, in part because it was simple, quick, and worked. It avoided many of the complexities of the PC ecosystem, such as the notion of everything being in a "file" (PalmOS used an in-memory record-based storage model instead), so that people could work with the kinds of PDA data they wanted to work with in a more natural manner.

Unfortunately, Palm saw great success, and pretty much decided to keep on doing what they were doing, without really pushing any significant boundaries. They dragged their feet on implementing a colour display. They dragged their feet adding any form of wireless communication (before the Tungsten era, they only communications you could get were either via the serial interface, or via a modem over the serial interface). Palm OS 6.0 (Cobalt) was in development for a good part of a decade, and in the end never shipped on any device. The business itself went from being a stand-alone business to being bought out by US Robotics, which was then bought out by 3Com two years later. The founders didn't like the direction 3Com was taking the company, bailed, and formed Handspring. Meanwhile, only two years later, 3Com spun Palm off into it's own, separate company again. Two years after that, Palm broke itself into palmOne (hardware) and PalmSource (software)...in another two years, palmOne bought out some of PalmSources IP, and the rest of PalmSource was sold to ACCESS. palmOne became Palm again, merged with Handspring, developed webOS -- and a few short years later was bought out by HP.

Now I didn't have a very large peek behind the scenes -- I was out on the sidelines writing the jSyncManager, once in a while hearing from a manager at Palm, but even from the outside it was easy to see that the serious game of Hot Potato being played with/by Palm led to some serious issues with innovation. There really wasn't any. Developments were iterative and slow. Where they were once ahead of the curve, by the year 2000 they were already falling behind. It took them ages just to integrate their system with a phone! The device and platform was nearly stagnant by the time webOS was released, and while innovative, in the end it was too little, too late -- especially when compared to what Apple showed the world with iOS.

The point being, Windows on mobile devices didn't rise in prominence because they suddenly were seen as extremely good devices. They had a UI with lots of small items that needed a stylus to manipulate, their browser was substandard, and the devices needed frequent rebooting. Battery life wasn't great, and when compared to Palm with it's simplified interface, were a PITA to use for normal PDA uses. Sure, they were great for the Windows geek who wanted to show how they had an underpowered Windows PC in their pocket, and became somewhat the standard for use in embedded systems like barcode scanners, but for virtually everyone else, they were nearly useless. However, they did suck much less than Palm did by that time. PalmOS pretty much hadn't changed in 10 years. It took ages for them to add simple things like colour and wireless networking (and even when they did, that was a feature relegated to only one or two models). The core of the OS was pretty close to stagnant -- they used pretty much the same non-threaded kernel from the original Pilot 1000 all the way up to PalmOS 4. Windows for mobile devices only looked good in comparison to how badly Palm continually fumbled around instead of innovating.

Looking back, considering that Windows on mobile devices (in its various incarnations) was only better in that it sucked less than Palm did, it shouldn't come as any surprise that Apple came in and ate everyones lunches overnight. Microsoft than, as now, took the wrong approach, and Palm just sat around and frittered away their lead until they didn't matter anymore (not entirely their fault -- all the resets and restarts and changes in direction from being bought and sold every 2 - 3 years for 15 years was as much to blame as anything). Microsoft only had the distinction of being the best of the worst -- which is still better than Palm's giving away the market entirely.

In summation, Windows Mobile 5 didn't knock "Palm down several notches". Palm was already actively falling down a notch-filled pit of doom. Sure, this helped Windows Mobile for a short while, but I'm not so sure that "sucking less than Palm" is really all that much to brag about. In the end, the market certainly didn't find it all that exciting.


Comment: STILL smells like a duck... (Score 1) 153

by fyngyrz (#49186083) Attached to: Astronomers Find an Old-Looking Galaxy In the Early Universe

Except that science collectively doesn't claim to know what happened at the points when the universe was dense enough and at high enough energy scales that it is speculated current laws of physics break down

Yes, that's my point exactly. They don't. Because they can't. Because the theory is based on assuming something happened that our physics can't describe. BB theory is therefore incomplete in a way that makes it unable to stand in the face of what at this time appear to be some very simple and reasonable questions. Questions physics force us to ask.

To stick with your analogy, the Big Bang theory isn't saying the baseball materialized spontaneously from the ground, but that it appeared at some point on that path, with some evidence that the trajectory goes back some where near the ground for loose definition of "near." In which case, there being a pitcher and it being spontaneously generated on that path both being consistent with current theories and observations

No. Quite wrong. The specific reason I use this analogy is that BB theory goes right to the ground -- fractions of fractions of fractions of a micrometer above -- such that the option of there being a pitcher or a ball launcher, or a firecracker under the ball, or a really strong dwarf cricket or even microbe, etc., has completely gone away. You cannot explain BB any further using our physics because they state that the theory covers it right back until it cannot. Consequently it either has to be some other physics, or else it's massively wrong. Theories that are rigorous but then, still within the context of their own propositions, devolve into "and then we don't know" or "because we have no idea"

BB theory may, as I said above, be quite correct, and we may need new physics to understand it. if that's the case, on that day, it becomes a complete and compelling theory to me. Until then, it's not.

As of right now, spotting a galaxy that shows what we understand to be evidence of being older than would be possible if BB theory is correct does not particularly surprise me, any more than finding evidence that "Thor" was just some dude with a really big hammer would surprise me in the context of the ideas that present the Æsir and Vanir as "gods." Because just as, at present, there are no physics that would actually make the idea of a god or gods credible in the face of objective, reality-based inquiry, there are no physics that actually make the idea of the BB credible in the face of same.

Documentation is the castor oil of programming. Managers know it must be good because the programmers hate it so much.