Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


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:Same error, repeated (Score 4, Informative) 303

by pthisis (#49126393) Attached to: Moxie Marlinspike: GPG Has Run Its Course
Why use gpg instead of s/mime, which has native support in most e-mail programs, with no need for plugins? S/MIME relies on centralized key servers or opens itself to man-in-the-middle attacks. You can hand-authenticate individual CAs with some effort, but there's no equivalent to PGP's web of trust. And CAs are single points of failure, making them extremely desirable points of attack. Marlinspike, of course, has developed his own proposed solution to the CA problem: It's up to the reader whether this contributes to his credibility on the issue because he knows what he's talking about and has taken the time to contribute code to help fix the problem, or whether he's someone with his own personal dog in the fight and hence has an ulterior motive in denigrating PGP's trust model.

Comment: Re:Simple solution (Score 3, Interesting) 431

by pthisis (#48896709) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Can You Get a Good 3-Button Mouse Today?

I presume "real computer" was snark for "not Microsoft Windows".

Selections and the clipboard both have their uses.

Selections are faster and leaner--you can just highlight some text, then center-click wherever to copy it there. It's faster than having to highlight, then explicitly copy with Ctrl-C or whatever, then click somewhere, then paste with Ctrl-V or whatever. It's also guaranteed to give you plain text, rather than bringing along formatting and images and stuff.

The clipboard is more featureful, it's useful when you want to bring along formatting or images or other non-text stuff. It also allows you to highlight another area and paste over it, as you mention. It's also more persistent, so if you are working on code or something and have a string you're going to paste repeatedly, you might put that on the clipboard with Ctrl-C and have it until you explicitly cut something else; you can still do selection copy/paste for quick little stuff in the interim, but still have your main item saved on the clipboard so you don't have to go re-copy it.

Having both is useful. Selections are a lot faster, I use them the majority of the time but still use the clipboard sometimes.

Comment: Re:LOL ... w00t? (Score 5, Informative) 292

by pthisis (#48652717) Attached to: Amazon "Suppresses" Book With Too Many Hyphens

Propose such a "simple" perl script.

Here are some cases it should know how to deal with:

Between numbers (note that slashdot eats some of these characters; the numbers below all have different dashes or related symbols between "555" and "1000"):
"Pages 555–1000 discuss this matter" (this should be an internumeral dash, which is typically an en dash, U+2013).
"Her phone number is 5551000" (this should be a figure dash, U+2012).
"There were actually a lot more of them than the estimated 555—1000, to be precise" (this should be an em dash, U+2014).
"The teacher asked me to solve 5551000. I told him negative 455 was the answer." (this should be a minus sign, U+2212)

Between letters/words you have a similar problem: even if you know it shouldn't be a minus sign (which symbolic algebra makes tough to know for sure, but suppose you could surmount that), you generally have no idea what kind of dash or hyphen it should be turned into.

Comment: Re:100% Agree (Score 1) 567

by pthisis (#48573843) Attached to: The Case For Flipping Your Monitor From Landscape to Portrait

For most all other cases, reading documents, coding, surfing the web, portrait view is better. Think about the flow when you are reading, isn't it natural that you want to see more rather than scrolling up and down?

I'm with you on e-reading.

Landscape is vastly superior to portrait for coding--I always have multiple windows open side-by-side. Stacking them vertically makes line-by-line comparison more difficult. And you can easily have a web browser open on the right half of the screen for stackexchange/docs/whatever while you edit on the left half.

Comment: Re:Competitors? (Score 1) 203

by pthisis (#48445343) Attached to: Corning Reveals Gorilla Glass 4, Promises No More Broken IPhones

At least most studies show it is more shatterproof glass than scratch resistant, which is Gorilla’s forte it seems.

That's too bad, I was about to complain about Corning worrying about drop tests when scratches are a far bigger problem for most people. It's easy enough not to drop your phone, it's difficult to avoid scratches from everyday wear without resorting to crappy screen protectors and the like.

Comment: Re:should be easy enough to change it back (Score 3, Interesting) 400

Yes, but there are rumblings of them trying to launch their own engine again.

Yahoo's never been effective at writing their own search engine; they were powered by Google up until 2004, and before that Inktomi. In 2004 they tried their own engine for the first time, but it sucked. In 2009 they cut a deal with Bing.

Comment: This is the latest in a long unfortunate evolution (Score 5, Interesting) 331

by pthisis (#48281749) Attached to: Colleges Face New 'Gainful Employment' Regulations For Student Loans

A liberal arts or pure science education is not meant to be a professional degree. It's a way to learn a lot about a particular topic, independently of whether that directly helps your employment chances or not.

Historically, there was a fairly sharp delineation between universities and vocational schools--even "white collar" vocational schools like engineering were at separate institutions (often A&T or A&M schools), and lawyers and doctors were primarily apprenticed. At some point doctors, and later lawyers, became highly skilled professions that needed more formal training. To a degree it made sense to combine medical schools with pure sciences under one university, since some of the basics overlap.

But it had the unfortunate side effect of starting the thought in people's minds that universities are vocational institutions, rather than institutions of higher learning. I certainly don't mean to insinuate that a liberal arts degree has no application in the real world--quite the contrary. But it's intentionally targeted at longer-term learning rather than particular vocations per se, and not everyone who pursues a higher degree does so as a job entree.

Nonetheless, the law schools and med schools were followed by a spate of mergers between technical institutes and universities. Suddenly non-university vocational institutes were looked on as crappy and inferior, and it became a mantra (for no good reason) that you needed a 4-year college/university degree to succeed at jobs that historically had been done quite successfully without it. Even a shorter professional program started to become more prestigious if allied with a 4-year college, for no good reason (e.g. nursing schools at universities being, generally, valued more highly than independent nursing colleges).

The result was a massive spike in the number of people going to 4-year colleges--that number has sextupled or so over the past 60ish years--and a massive decline in the number of people going to vocational and technical schools. The latter have become a joke to the point where vocational school brings to mind TV commercials for Devry or Andover tractor trailer driving or dental hygeniest schools.

The downfalls of this are manifold. University prices skyrocket as everyone seeks to get in, whether they are really interested in a university degree or not. Vocational schools fold and a large percentage of the people who'd have attended them are forced into universities, exacerbating #1. Jobs see more and more college degrees, and start expecting them, making people start viewing colleges and universities as professional/career prep schools.

And universities become disincentivized to teach pure liberal arts or even theoretical mathematics, as they start being judged based on how good they are as job factories rather than as educational institutions; the result is a short-term focus that harms long-term research and eventually job opportunities (much akin to eliminating R&D budgets, but on a national scale).

Comment: Re:Read Tesla's patents (Score 1) 140

by pthisis (#48125767) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Books On the Life and Work of Nikola Tesla?

If you want a non-bullshit view of Tesla, read his patents. His real achievement was that he figured out most of the kinds of modern AC motors. It's not at all obvious how you get an AC motor started and turning in the right direction. Clever tricks with bits of copper in the magnetic circuit are used to bias starting direction, and synchronous motors start up as induction motors. Tesla worked all that out

Like Edison, Tesla had a surprising knack for suddenly inventing and patenting things that had been invented shortly beforehand by people in other countries, and then failing to credit the original inventor while pocketing their profits; the modern induction motor is one example. Galileo Ferarris worked it all out and published in 1885; Tesla (supposedly independently) invented it and filed for a US patent on it a couple of years later, and Tesla and Westinghouse abused the patent and court system to deprive the original inventor of credit and rights (Even if Tesla actually did come up with it independently, he was second to the table).

Walter Bailey had also demonstrated induction motors in 1879, but they were a more primitive design.

Comment: Re:Windows 9X (Score 1) 349

by pthisis (#48065861) Attached to: Possible Reason Behind Version Hop to Windows 10: Compatibility

It's how Java exposes the OS name to its users. If you look in that list, that property is a native Java function. The Java library itself probably goes through all the BS required to get that, instead of the version number or some other more reliable method to see if your stuff will run.

Java actually does the right thing. System.getProperty("os.version") returns the version number ("4.0", "4.1", etc). System.getProperty("") returns the human-readable name ("Windows 95", "Windows 98", etc).

It's some third-party Java developers who are too dumb to use the right property (or to look up capabilities directly rather than attempting to infer them from version numbers).

Comment: Re:losing your rights (Score 1) 274

by pthisis (#48050577) Attached to: Could Maroney Be Prosecuted For Her Own Hacked Pictures?

I guess under these standards the papua new guinea indigenous dress [] would be considered pornography and 'child pornography'.

No. There's nothing "sexually explicit" about that dress. Nudity is not per se sexually explicit (see the example of Thora Birch cited, or any number of TV commercials featuring naked babies).

Comment: Re:It wasn't environmentalism ... (Score 1) 91

by pthisis (#47856965) Attached to: California Blue Whales Rebound From Whaling

The white rhino was saved due to the efforts of a few visionaries who convinced the South African government and Swaziland, if I recall correctly, to allow the commercial breeding of white rhino (which means for profit, in case you don't understand economics 101). The fact that people, including Mericuns, could hunt them for large sums of money, meant that there was money to protect them and breed them. That's what saved them

The timing simply doesn't support this theory as sole or primary driver--the hunting program wasn't launched until 1968. By then conservation measures had already resulted in a tenfold increase in the white rhino population from their turn-of-the-century lows.

Comment: Re:It wasn't environmentalism ... (Score 5, Informative) 91

by pthisis (#47838177) Attached to: California Blue Whales Rebound From Whaling

Want to see the true value of an endangered species act, look at the rhino. It regrettably has a high economic value and it is on the path to extinction despite protective acts.

The white rhinoceros is one of the biggest success stories in environmental conservation. It was down to about 200 individuals by the late 19th century. Following the imposition of hunting restrictions, populations have rebounded to over 20,000 individuals and it was de-listed as an endangered species under CITES in 1995; limited hunting is now allowed to control population growth.

The black rhinoceros has recovered significantly as well, from a low of about 2400 to almost 5000 current individuals, and it's been reintroduced into at least 3 countries (Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia) where it had been extinct.

The Indian rhinoceros has also shown rebounding populations in the wake of conservation efforts.

The Javan and Sumatran rhinos have seen continuing declines in population, as has the northern white rhino (which is either a separate species or a population of normal white rhinos depending on classification); all 3 are now conservation-dependent. But rhinoceri on the whole have shown remarkable comebacks since the advent of environmental protection laws.

Using TSO is like kicking a dead whale down the beach. -- S.C. Johnson