Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Age of Slashdot Accounts (Score 1) 146

I remember visiting Slashdot the day that accounts first went live in 1998. I think they went live around 8am CDT, but for some reason I didn't claim my account until around noon. Now I'm forever saddled with a shameful four digit uid. At least it contains the number of the beast. So, that first day there were at least 2665 accounts registered by about noon.

Comment How is this different from fivethirtyeight? (Score 4, Insightful) 519

So aside from being a visual disaster and not providing all of the background numbers, how is this different from what Nate Silver has been doing for the last four years? Okay, it allows you to assign a swing, but it's a lot more opaque and seems a lot less robust than what Silver has been doing over at fivethirtyeight.

Comment Ikea jerker and a normal table (Score 1) 347

There's lots of various options for building an easy standup desk, especially if you're close to an Ikea. An easy solution is to stop by Ikea and pick up some Malm side tables and trim to height. That worked well enough for a while, eventually I wanted something better.

The solution was to pick up a used Ikea Jerker desk off Craigslist. I work at that most of the time and when my feet need a rest I'll switch to a small table that's close by. Total cost: $50 and it works great.

That said, it weirds out some people at work how I work standing up. I can't imagine what they'll think once I move in a treadmill.

Comment What goes around comes around.... (Score 5, Interesting) 253

There's some deep irony here. After the Nevada primary Angle changed her website to make her seem more consistent with the mainstream values of the Republican party. The Reid campaign, sensing an opportunity, archived her old website and put it online at This, of course, really irked the Angle campaign who attempted to use copyright law against the Nevada state Democratic party to squash the publication of the site.

Comment Re:Student effect on economy (Score 1) 344

And while the students do pay some local taxes (sales taxes, etc) other people who work in Pittsburgh pay those taxes, plus they also pay income taxes.

This is not true. One of the problems with Pittsburgh is the number of people who work in the city but don't live in the city, so they can't charge them income tax. For example, the income tax in the city of Pittsburgh is 3%, elsewhere in Allegheny county it's 1%. I know lots of people who live just outside of the city (for example, Wilkinsburg) because it saves them 2% of their paycheck. It's also interesting that Pittsburgh only taxes income that is taxable by the state, this excludes grad student stipends.

The only way around this is to levy a non-income based tax on workers. Which is what they do with the stupidly regressive occupation tax that knocks $52 off everyones paychecks throughout the year. This is actually becoming almost standard in western PA with Robinson and Washington County recently adding it.

I'm not saying this occupation tax is fair, in fact, I think it's stupid and backwards for Pittsburgh, but there are lots of problems with the Pittsburgh tax base. Of course, when your mayor is, well, less than stellar, that causes problems.

Comment In related news... (Score 1) 433

Apparently upgrading your computer can cause all sorts of strange problems that the OS developer couldn't have anticipated. Why just last night my Ubuntu box ate itself when I upgraded to Karmic. Oh wait, this is supposed to be an attempt at a Windows bashing story circa 1998. Okay, move along with the reality distortion field...

Seriously, this passes for news? One support firm says to wait until Windows 7 SP1? The same firm will probably say wait for Windows 7 SP2 once SP1 comes out. In fact, they'll probably caution people against Windows 7 SP1 because of the upgrade process (remember XP SP2 and SP3?). Also, have folks actually looked at this support firm that most people have never heard of? Their web page ( doesn't inspire the greatest confidence. Love the stock photos and the fact they say they'll hook me up with anything.

The fact is Windows 7 is one of the best operating systems from Microsoft ever*. It's solid, it works, it's fast, it's pretty, it has the best multimedia support of any OS, and like it or not, it's going to be the new standard. However, a legacy of bad decisions by partner companies, manufacturers, and even Microsoft has left existing systems with problems -- drivers with memory leaks, crapware, and the occasional security hole. Moving your grandma to Linux because Windows 7 had problems installing on her crapware loaded PC isn't the solution, nor is moving her to a Mac, plan9, haiku, inferno, *bsd, OS/2 warp, xenix, dr-dos, vms, minix, or system z.

Although, if you migrate your grandma to System Z please provide a writeup of how you managed to do it. I've been trying to get my grandma to understand the z/vm hypervisor for years...

* If it helps out, feel free to insert the phrase "Imma let you finish, but..." prior to this sentence

Comment Better idea: take a research methods class (Score 5, Insightful) 46

The subject basically says it all. If you're conducting a study, either for academia or industry, do yourself a favor and take a good research methods class. I can't count then number of promising studies I've rejected for publication because their methods were poor. While Dr. Jacobson makes some good points, most of them are pretty obvious to anyone who has taken a good class on creating experiments with humans -- for example, deception is a cornerstone of many human studies. Also, for you budding young scientists, make sure you get IRB approval before conducting your study. I reviewed a paper where the authors were clearly from a University and I had questions about the ethics of their methods so I asked for the IRB data for the study...whoops, they never got it. The paper was withdrawn by the authors shortly after.


Solar-Powered Moon Rover To Explore Apollo Landing 151

Mike writes "Carnegie Mellon roboticist Dr. William Whittaker has teamed up with Astrobiotic Technology to develop a solar powered moon rover that will explore the Apollo landing site in 2011. The photovoltaic clad robot features two electric motors in the hub of each wheel, and a half cone of solar generators up top that will power the wheels, run computers, and beam stereo HD video back to earth. The project has been entered in the $25 million Google Lunar X Prize competition."

Comment Re:For several reasons no (Score 2, Informative) 664

1) The iPhone is the biggest selling single phone on the market, hell they've a 1/3 of the whole market with one device

The OP misspoke slightly, but sometimes stuff can get confusing. The iPhone is the biggest selling phone in the United States, yes, even more than the freebie RAZR (cite). They had 28% back in February of 2008 and now have 30% as of December 2, 2008 -- although the later figure seems more suspect (cite, cite). The supply drop of iPhone-2Gs in the 1Q diminished their numbers quite a bit. Also, the market is smart phones, not just touch screen ones. The largest player in smart phones in the US is Blackberry -- which, well, has been having a less than stellar time with the attempt at the touch screen Storm.


Sleep Mailing Screenshot-sm 195

Doctors have reported the first case of someone using the internet while asleep, when a sleeping woman sent emails to people asking them over for drinks and caviar. The 44-year-old woman found out what she had done after a would be guest phoned her about it the next day. While asleep the woman turned on her computer, logged on by typing her username and password then composed and sent three emails. Each mail was in a random mix of upper and lower cases, unformatted and written in strange language. One read: "Come tomorrow and sort this hell hole out. Dinner and drinks,,. Bring wine and caviar only." Another said simply, "What the......." If I had known that researchers were interested in unformatted, rambling email I would have let them read my inbox. They could start a whole new school of medicine.

Ender in Exile Screenshot-sm 507

stoolpigeon writes "Orson Scott Card's work Ender's Game began as a novelette, which he says he wrote as a means of leading up to the full story he had developed, Speaker for the Dead. Ender's Game was published as a full novel in 1985, and won the Hugo and Nebula awards (as did Speaker for the Dead in '86 and '87). I think it is safe to say that Ender's Game is ensconced in its position as a science fiction classic. Now, 23 years later, Card has finished the first direct sequel to Ender's Game in his new novel Ender in Exile." Keep reading for the rest of JR's review.

Hands-On With Microsoft's Touchless SDK 84

snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister takes Microsoft's recently released Touchless SDK for a test spin, controlling his Asus Eee PC 901 with a Roma tomato. The Touchless SDK is a set of .Net components that can be used to simulate the gestural interfaces of devices like the iPhone in thin air — using an ordinary USB Webcam. Although McAllister was able to draw, scroll, and play a rudimentary game with his tomato, the SDK still has some kinks to work out. 'For starters, its marker-location algorithm is very much keyed to color,' he writes. 'That's probably an efficient way to identify contrasting shapes, but color response varies by camera and is heavily influenced by ambient light conditions.' Moreover, the detection routine soaked up 64 percent of McAllister's 1.6GHz Atom CPU, with the video from the Webcam soon developing a few seconds' lag that made controlling onscreen cursors challenging. Project developer Mike Wasserman offers a video demo of the technology."
Operating Systems

How Kernel Hackers Boosted the Speed of Desktop Linux 380

chromatic writes "Kernel hackers Arjan van de Ven and Auke Kok showed off Linux booting in five seconds at last month's Linux Plumbers Conference. Arjan and other hackers have already improved the Linux user experience by reducing power consumption and latency. O'Reilly News interviewed him about his work on improving the Linux experience with PowerTOP, LatencyTOP, and Five-Second Boot."

James Powderly of Graffiti Research Labs Detained In China 337

An anonymous reader writes "News from Free Tibet 2008 that internationally known artist, technologist and co-founder of the Graffiti Research Lab, James Powderly, was detained in Beijing early on August 19th while preparing to debut a new work and technology of protest, the L.A.S.E.R. Stencil. According to a Twitter message received yesterday by Students for a Free Tibet at approximately 5 pm Beijing Standard Time, Powderly had been detained by Chinese authorities at 3 am. His current whereabouts remain unknown. Powderly was the inventor of throwies." (Powderly's detention was also mentioned at Make Magazine's blog.)

Comment Re:MythTV increasingly impractical (digital and HD (Score 1) 254

cable company is REQUIRED by fcc to give customers cable boxes with firewire out.

myth tv can control almost all firewire boxes just fine.

While it is currently true that the FCC has regulations regarding the availability of firewire controllable cable boxes, the regulations do NOT state that the encryption level must be changed. I used a cable box with firewire for two years in MythTV setup. The only channel I received over firewire that was not available via unencrypted QAM was Universal HD, and I'm pretty sure that was a mistake. All the other channels that were encrypted over QAM were still encrypted on firewire.

The only alternative that you have right now is the Hauppauge HD-PVR, which captures analog component and transcodes it to H.264. Of course, this device isn't fully supported yet. It's an exciting future, but not quite there.

Even at the point that where the HD-PVR becomes fully functional, you'll still need to drive it with a cable box.

There is also question about how long the firewire "standard" will remain. At the recent FCC hearing on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University, Intel made it very clear that they were pushing for IP based technologies and thought that the firewire standard had failed.

You have mail.