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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: USA - Please don't go to a public system (Score 1) 858

by pt73 (#42187189) Attached to: Congressional Committee Casts a Harsh Eye On Vaccination Science
As someone from a public healthcare country, I implore you please DO NOT go to a public system. I don't want to loose your subsidy.

You pay market prices for drugs and provide big profits for pharmaceutical companies to develop and profit from those drugs. Our public monopoly purchasing system ensures that if a drug company wants its drug prescribed in volume in my country, they need to cut a very good deal on the price. Your market even encourages competition, meaning we can play companies off each other to get the best deal on similar products.

No doubt this happens in other areas such as equipment too.

So thank you USA for ensuring that drug and medical companies profit from you and we can squeeze them on price for our entire market. Please don't change.

Comment: And just who can "sue" (Score 2) 394

by pt73 (#41987779) Attached to: Red Hat Developer Demands Competitor's Source Code
As I understand it, a further problem arises with who can sue. You can only sue for copyright infringement if YOU are the copyright holder.

So RedHat can accuse RTS of using GPL code but it can't sue unless it holds the copyright of that GPL code. If a 3rd party contributed GPL code that has made it into RTS's propitiatory code, only that 3rd party can sue. And RTS could simply offer to purchase the rights or rewrite.

I can't see why RedHat would pursue this at all.

Comment: Independent Audit (Score 2) 221

by pt73 (#41850351) Attached to: IEEE Standards For Voting Machines
The problem isn't needing to know how the machine works. Even code audits can't confirm that the hardware is rigged to do something strange. You just can't be 100% sure. From what I understand (being outside the USA) is the real problem is no independent audit trail to confirm that machines have correctly capture voter intent..

So a better system is to have two machines. One is used to fill in a vote which is both machine and human readable. Once printed, the voter can confirm the vote by looking at it and then lodge the vote for counting by another machine. OCR could even handle that. An audit can occur by hand counting the printed votes. All other controls that apply to older voting methods can still be applied such as incorrectly filled in votes and controls for fakes.

Comment: Big Difference (Score 1) 387

by pt73 (#41849047) Attached to: Seattle's Creepy Cameraman Pushes Public Surveillance Buttons
There is a big difference between an individual I don't know filming me and a corporation or government I can identify (especially after the fact). That difference is the repercussions of misuse on the recorder. A corporation or government agency that misuses a recording is likely to suffer repercussions for abuse of my image. For a business, it runs the risk of financial harm. For government, the risk is loosing the next election. However if I can't even identify the individual filming me, how could there be any repercussions?

What's more, I could reasonably expect that an individual filming me on purpose is being provocative, and such an individual is likely of a mindset to also be provocative in the way he (or she) uses that video.

Comment: Solar Power need not mean Solar Cell (Score 1) 590

by pt73 (#41827213) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Stands In the Way of a Truly Solar-Powered Airliner?
Does something powered by a fuel generated by the energy of the sun (hydrogen or biofuels) count? Generally aircraft want to carry as little as possible. So any "solar" solution needs to separate energy capture from consumption. You want to do the first on the ground and store it in a high energy, low weight, low volume form where the energy is easily extracted. Combustion is great because one half of the chemical equation (Oxygen) isn't even carried.

Comment: Re:hardware backdoors (Score 1) 255

by pt73 (#41760559) Attached to: Huawei Offers 'Complete and Unrestricted' Source Code Access
Who said it was "residential broadband"? And even if your understanding were true, you need to consider the full ramifications. It's brief is to connect every "house, school, hospital and business in Australia". It isn't delivering IP. ISPs will do that. It provides the pipe to connect a place to an ISP - or a telephone provider....It is the only network to be delivered to houses and will carry everything, telephone, Internet, pay TV and probably in the future, broadcast TV. What's more, you can't anticipate what will go on top of it in the future. Perhaps mobile (cell) towers will use the NBN for backhaul.

So is that a national security resource?

Comment: Re:Source (Score 1) 255

by pt73 (#41760469) Attached to: Huawei Offers 'Complete and Unrestricted' Source Code Access

In Australia, they have the source code for routers running a residential broadband network, and that's not good enough. Why does something seem wrong with that?

I think you fail to understand the nature of this "residential broadband network". It is to replace the copper telephone network and it will be a monopoly. The government has paid for the copper network to be shut down. The only alternative would be mobile networks, which probably already contain Huawei gear and don't cope very well in times of stress.

So it does actually come down to a national security issue.

Comment: Not About Free Speech (Score 1) 254

by pt73 (#41689881) Attached to: Former Australian Cop Wants Jail For Internet Trolls
Firstly, this is Australia, not the USA. There are no free speech protections and that isn't necessarily wrong - just different.

While I'd defend someone's general right to free speech - as most Australians would - I won't defend it for people expressing things - especially hateful things - anonymously. If you don't have the guts to put your name to what you say and to cop the free speech back, then you don't deserve the right to speak in the first place.

So to the law in question. It was originally written with telephones in mind. It's purpose is to place a big stick over behaviours that are hard to track. The ex who rings their former partner in the middle of the night from a payphone every night for a month, etc.

In the case in point, a women was raped and murdered - a very rare thing in Australia. The mocking of this person no doubt by anonymous hard to track people is not free speech. When there is no face behind the words, it is cowardice wanting to provoke without taking the heat. If a society wants to seek them out and punish those kinds of people, I think they ought to be able to.

Comment: Re:Welcome to the real world (Score 2) 338

by pt73 (#41654551) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Linux Game For Young Kids?

Seriously, take this advice. Eye-hand coordination needs to be learned in 3D and in the real world. Computer games are very limited. Even Wii. Also read up on children and exposure to "screen time". The gamer with the xbox playing 1 year old may be harming his kid. Not giving him an advantage. Some research even suggests that background exposure to TVs for under 2 is detrimental to development.

As for computer skills, playing games is not likely to teach many of those - at least not well. He won't be using a keyboard and mouse when he grows up anyway.

If you want computer exposure though, look to the web. Go for educational websites that provide a combination of "games" and education. We like "" but there are many others.

Comment: Look for the right analogy (Score 1) 383

by pt73 (#41459195) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Explaining Version Control To Non-Technical People?
Some people have mentioned "backups" as an analogy. While partially true, when you come to talk about backing up the repository (for centralised version control), you'll get the inevitable why backup backups? Given they are researchers, I suspect the best analogy is multiple authors writing a text book. Often writing a book is broken up into chapters with each author writing a chapter. Version control effectively keeps a copy of each draft but rather than keeping copies of each draft, version control manages that process for you. Sometimes multiple authors work on the same chapter. In this case they may take turns. Again, drafts follow a sequence and so this essentially becomes the single author problem with a slight level of complexity. However sometimes someone might review a draft while you continue working. You will receive the review and incorporate changes into your current draft. Verson control provides a process to handle this without having to meticulously go through the review to decide on changes that need to be incorporated. Then explain that unlike authoring a book, a software developer could be generating drafts very quickly - multiple times a day. Other analogies may be the practice of keeping a log book where version control is logging changes to code and (hopefully) reasons for those changes.

Comment: Re:Great news (Score 5, Insightful) 155

by pt73 (#39742389) Attached to: Australian ISP Wins Case Against Movie Studios
While I'm sure studios don't mind that much. They are playing a bigger game than just this case. The certainty means that any lobbying for change of law cannot be stifled by claims that the current law is adequate (for what they want). So whereas law makers could have said there was no need to change the law to achieve what the studios want, the certainty of the High Court ruling shows that the current law does not allow them to easily pursue the ISP. So expect pressure on the federal government for a law change.

Comment: Re:Seems reasonable.. (Score 1) 1271

by pt73 (#39053883) Attached to: Doctors "Fire" Vaccine Refusers
Loose weight.... Stop smoking.... Stop drinking alcohol.... Don't eat junk food... There are many things a doctor may suggest to cut your risk of disease. Most people will not do all of those things and many patients are not complient in other areas. Should a doctor refuse to have those people as patients too? While I'm all for vaccination, to "fire" a patient seems a little extreme. Educate and inform the parents, including about the flaws in the rational arguments and the nature of the emotional arguments they are getting from the anti-vaccine lobby. As for the kids, don't the doctors think those kids might need them more than ever because of the decision of their parents.

Comment: Re:Everyone a specialist now (Score 1) 474

by pt73 (#38885257) Attached to: Trials and Errors: Why Science Is Failing Us

We just have to work a little more at stepping back from our tiny cages and saying "So what does this really mean in the larger scheme of things?" and recognizing there is larger world beyond our narrowly-focused field of view.

This is exactly the problem the article is on about where "stepping back" is no longer a feasible solution. How far back do we have to step? How do you know you've gone far enough? How do you cope with the data you get from "stepping back"?

The article is in effect saying that we've stepped back as far as we can and still cope. And while some technologies (such as machine learning) will help with the size of data sets required to step back, it still may not be back far enough for most problems.

Comment: Re:Context is important (Score 1) 709

by pt73 (#38873891) Attached to: DHS Sends Tourists Home Over Twitter Jokes

No, I'm saying absent any contextual information, 140 characters can be widely interpreted as different things by a global audience. An audience who subconsciously fill in the context based upon their own individual culture, background, beliefs, ideas, worldview, etc.

Happens both in Tweets and in Slashdot posts.

There are actually an interesting questions raised. Who ought to be factoring in the 140 characters with limited background or context? Does the responsibility lie with the author or the reader? It also demonstrates the risks of tweeting may not be fully understood by most Twitter users. If these two have been deported because of a few tweets, I feel a little sorry for them. However he took the risk when he chose to broadcast tweets to the world - including DHS. Sometimes you just can't control how someone might interpret your writings (however short). As one never to take my own advice, "sometimes it is better to remain silent".

Computers can figure out all kinds of problems, except the things in the world that just don't add up.