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Comment Re:Lots of interesting comments at -1 (Score 4, Informative) 78

The problem, as I see it, is that by doing it in Javascript, we're introducing a new dependency: the code will only work on a browser produced in 2015.

Well you can rest easy then, because no one is writing this stuff in JavaScript.

What triggered this change is Emscripten, which is a back end for LLVM that targets ... JavaScript. Actually it targets asm.js, which runs at about 1/2 native speed in Firefox (not so fast in Chrome, because Google thinks the solution to the same problem is NaCl).

What that means is any compiler that uses LLVM can now compile to asm.js. Which means any program written in Python, Rust, Go (there are a whole pile of languages) can now be compiled to run in the browser. In particular Clang is a C compiler for LLVM. Dosbox is a x86 + MSDOS emulator, written in C. Ergo Dosbox can now be compiled to JavaScript and this run in the browser. Js-dos is a site apparently dedicated hosting games that does just that. The game console emulators are also written in C. So they to can and now have been compiled to asm.js. Because modern web browsers support WebGL, OpenGL games that have been open sourced (like Quake3) have also been compiled to JavaScript, and run spookelly well. Which is how we get to the plethora of games mentioned in the article. Pity it didn't mention the technology behind it.

But why stop a games? Sqlite3 has been recompiled for Javascript. It can do in browser SQL queries in about 2ms, and is a damned site nicer to use than wandering through a spiderweb of Javascript objects. But why stick to something sane? You can now do ffmpeg encoding in your browser.

Comment Re:Bigotry Shmigotry (Score 1) 536

Imagine how the dating scene would change if men could get off (legally, cleanly and guilt free) whenever the had the urge, instead of having to date countless women and pretend to like them to get laid until the right one came along.....

Errr, have you looked at what internet offers now? Admittedly you only get to touch the screen, but there is a real woman behind it who gets paid to do what you ask and pretend to love it without caring one wit about whether you like her or not.

Maybe you haven't paid much attention to it, but the women on the planet sure have. There reaction was exactly the same as this time round - they embark on crusades to get rid of porn on the internet. Hopefully their successes to date will be an excellent predictor of Dr Kathleen Richardson's success in this time around.

Despite these developments civilisation still stands. My guess is that's because men actually enjoy the company of their partner, particularly one that also reciprocates by appreciating his company as much as he appreciates hers.

The only surprising thing about any of this is as an ethicist lecturing at a University, I expect Dr Kathleen Richardson to be smart enough to recognise we have been inventing machines designed to replace women in sex for literally millennia - starting with his hands. Yet they always end up wanting the real thing. Maybe, just maybe, isn't just sex isn't the only thing men want from a relationship?

Comment Re:Biological controls (Score 1) 106

It may be a 20kg snail, but I still find eating a starfish that grows up to almost 1 yard and has 1 inch poisonous spines impressive. A triton will chase a starfish, and the starfish runs when it senses the attacker - but it invariably looses the race against the snail.

Given a mollusc can eat them and so do some fish, it is a bit surprising we haven't found a use for the starfish the the robot finds. Ground up for fish meal and fed to fish farms sounds like an idea.

It's bloody typical of us Australian's. We are smart enough to build a fully autonomous killer robot that visually identifies it's victims. We are rich enough to build and deploy the bloody things at the tax payers expense. But we aren't smart enough to harvest them, and apparently rich enough not to care.

Comment Gnome and KDE were doing so well (Score 3, Interesting) 321

I was so chuffed when Gnome and KDE beat Windows at its own game. For years they had been lagging behind Microsoft, mostly mimicking the look and feel of Windows. KDE 4.0 gave us a hint of what was to come - it was a mess. With Gnome 3 we had clearly pulled ahead of Microsoft, producing a complete clusterfuck of an interface in long before Microsoft got their own clusterfuck to the market with Windows 8. Finally, we were setting the pace and Microsoft was following!

But things move quickly, and open source is falling behind again. Right now we are in the "ouch! that hurt phase" and fixing the mess created by the last fad. Microsoft has pared down the Vista "wow, we virtualised the 3D pipeline so everyone wants to watch ponies dancing on a spinning Icosahedron while their windows open" to something that almost always runs faster than Gnome and KDE in Windows 10. In the mean time people who preferred to use Gnome to get shit done rather than watch ponies retreated to Gnome flashback, or whatever it is called today. But, sigh, in a flash of recent inspiration Gnome made flashback depend on the 3D graphics as well, meaning you can no longer debug someones desktop using a frame buffer protocol like VNC, effectively ensuring that in some cases it isn't possible to get any work done with it, at all. Just fucking wonderful Gnome.

Unlike poor Windows users, Linux is all about choice, and so putting up with a window manager that removed features with with each iteration while managing to run slower at the same time (awesome effort, boys!) is some ways my own fault. But the reality is the choosing the right thing from the many choices Linux offers you is hard work, hard work that Windows users are spared. I tend to compensate by sticking like deranged limpet to what I used yesterday. Kudo's to Gnome I guess, for finding a way to force me off my rock.

Now I have a new rock: LXDE. While it may be true Microsoft has moved faster than KDE and Gnome to produce something todays GUI fashion Nazi's just love, if paired down, fast, and just get out of my fucking way is the benchmark, LXDE entered that race long before Microsoft knew even existed, and they now beat Microsoft at it hands down. Saying Windows 10 beats Gnome and KDE in speed as this review does is just plain dumb. Gnome and KDE haven't yet twigged they event that think they are competing in was abandoned last year, at the latest. Microsoft, to their credit did twig, and now they have Windows 10.

Comment Re:republicrats (Score 1) 209

Both parties threaten their junior members to tow the party line or they will work against them next election.

Actually, that's not what is happening. It's just a simple matter of the congressmen not needing to give a shit about the voters.

How can that be so in a democracy? Simple: in the US, you allow the politicians to draw the borders between electoral districts. So they redraw the borders to ensure they have a safe seat. Once you have a safe seat, there is no need to care about the people who voted you in.

Quoting Wikipedia:

the two dominant parties in the state of California cooperatively redrew both state and Federal legislative districts to preserve the status quo, ensuring the electoral safety of the politicians from unpredictable voting by the electorate. This move proved completely effective, as no State or Federal legislative office changed party in the 2004 election, although 53 congressional, 20 state senate, and 80 state assembly seats were potentially at risk.

Most western countries have cured themselves of this particular curse, but not the USA. Again quoting Wikipedia:

Due to the perceived issues associated with gerrymandering and its impact on competitive elections and democratic accountability, numerous countries have enacted reforms making the practice either more difficult or less effective. Countries such as the U.K., Australia, Canada and most of those in Europe have transferred responsibility for defining constituency boundaries to neutral or cross-party bodies.

So you might ask yourself, if a typical congressman doesn't have to care about what he voters think, what does he care about? Enriching himself of course. How does he do that? By passing laws allowing anybody to throw unlimited amounts of cash in his direction in return for dispensing favours.

And when that plays out, what do you end up with? Laws that favour the rich of course. And what does a country look like when it allows the rich to run the place? Like the USA of course, where 1% of the people control 35% of the wealth, and 40% people control 0.2%.

You yankies never cease to amaze me.

Comment Re:Tweet today from Elon Musk (Score 1) 142

Battery "breakthroughs" need to state power *and* energy density

What if I told you I had a brand new battery to sell you. True, it only stores 0.14 WHr/kg (compared to 100WHr/kg for LiIon) and of course bugger all power density, but on the up side, the electrolyte is real cheap, and it's good for 10's of thousands of cycles.

You probably tell me to piss off, but in doing to you have dismissed the most popular form of electricity storage we have - pumped storage. According to Wikipedia. US stores and releases 5GWh of electricity per day. I'd lay odds that's more the entire combined output of all rechargeable batteries in the country.

The article made it pretty clear the potential breakthroughs were in cost and endurance. And they are right - they alone would suffice to make to this battery a success.

Submission Slashdot experiences total loss of Internet viewers over April Fools

JohnnyDoesLinux writes: There were many warnings about the April Fool's day stories, but nobody believed them. A witness says, "It was if the new beta had taken over the minds of the people running the site, and they just shrugged off good advice".

See for yourself:
So now people are mourning the total loss of Slashdot as a viable website for Nerds, now it is "News for Nincompoops".

Comment Re:do you really want the uninformed voting (Score 5, Insightful) 1089

Over time I have gotten a little more interested in politics and voting. but when i was not interested, me voting was useless. I did not make a informed decision.

I live in country where voting is compulsory. (Actually it is showing up at a polling booth is compulsory. Compulsory voting isn't compatible with a secret ballot. The name choice is unfortunate because it sends the libertarians into a frenzy.) Turns out it's not an "informed decision" that's important. It's avoiding making a dumb decision. Regardless of whether you follow politics or not you do know when politicians make dumb mistakes, particularly when they effect you. I can't imagine too make people in New Orleans voting for Bush after the Katrina debacle for example.

It turns out that's all that is required. The people who care enough about politics to vote are the dangerous ones, because a fair percentage of them do not make an informed decision. They vote for tribal reasons - gun laws, "I'm a democrat" or whatever. You think you are making an "uninformed decision" and therefore it must be poor but trust me, it's infinitely better than those who vote the same way regardless of how they have been informed.

Comment Re:No big red button? (Score 1) 212

Bigger Bigger example, push the red button in a nuclear power plant, yes the control rods will react, but if you don't cool the heat from radiactive decay away, you will get a Fukushima.

During WWII, the major target of bombing runs was the infrastructure used to make the weapons. That means blast furnaces were damaged far more than they were by these hackers. It ditto the electricity generation infrastructure - which was coal fired power plants at the time. They were all rebuilt.

Next time it will be the nuclear power plants, which are effectively nuclear bombs with a big red target painted on the top. Had Europe been using nuclear power plants during WWII there would be places in it still uninhabitable now.

Comment No, it's not crazy (Score 2) 205

Obviously, it would be crazy to staff such critical projects largely with a handful of unpaid volunteers working in their spare time.

The people who do this have a number of reasons. Some do it open source software garners job offers. Some do it because they or the businesses they work for need free software to exist, and it's a self perpetuating loop - the more free software there is the more people contribute to it, so the more they have to chose from. For some it's like attending church - it feels right. For some it's a nice social group to be in. None of these reasons means they or the system they contribute to are crazy.

As for the free loaders - without legions of these "free loaders" free software would not exist. Few would bother to put the effort into Linux, or X, or Debian if there weren't legions of users out there to test it, and give feedback, find bugs, suggest improvements. They are a necessary part of the system. A system that for all its faults, works as least as well as any other commercial way of developing software if you go by deployments.

Comment Re:A definition of net neturality (Score 1) 200

would US ISPs be required to run trunks across the Gulf of Mexico because you decided you wanted that to have priority? Because using your argument, they really could do that.

Yep. You pretty much nailed it. In a well oiled market if there are enough customers out there who love Netflix so much they are prepared to pay the huge premium an ISP would have to charge in order to cover the cost of running such trunks, then they would exist.

But "required" is too strong a word. In a market functioning well no one requires anybody to do anything, so in this case in particular no one requires an ISP to fill a particular market niche. If the niche opens up then some will, not because anybody requires it, but because it is in their best interest to do so.

Yes, in the US "Net Neutrality" is code for "the government requiring the ISP's to act in a certain way". Yes, that is not a good way to run things - I'd be leery of it too. It's much better to let a market decide. In fact it is so obviously better that most countries had the foresight structured their telecoms so such a market would develop naturally. But not the US, which is why I said the US has cocked it up.

But then again in a well oiled market your whole scenario becomes fanciful, because if Netflix did that another content provider would pop up offering the same content from the US, so their customers didn't need to pay extra to a premium ISP just to see it. Well they would if bandwidth cost the same in the US as it did Honduras. If it cost more our new Netflix would have to recoup it somehow. I guess it could get very complicated, but that's the beauty of a well oiled market - it sorts all this shit out automagically without the need for government interference.

Comment A definition of net neturality (Score 0) 200

There is a simple definition of Net Neutrality that works: the customer gets to decide the priority of his traffic.

There are many ways you can engineer this outcome, but in all countries that pull it off they do it real simply: every household is serviced by multiple ISP's (at least 10's), and you chose the one you like given your budget.

As usual the US, the supposed beacon of capitalism, has cocked it up. Most homes are serviced by one ISP. And with the power that gives them, not only don't they give you a choice in the priority of your traffic (which admittedly would be a big ask), they erect pay walled gardens, and then they actively interfere with outside traffic to force you to use them. They do this in secret, and seem to have no trouble telling direct outright lies about it when queried.

Being able to bleed monopolistic profits off their customers has made them hugely profitable of course. So to cap it all off they engage in crony capitalism by bribing your politicians with campaign donations to preserve this farce.

I have no idea why voters in the US put up with sort of shit. It boggles the mind.

Comment Lies, dammned lies and statistics (Score 1) 422

It means that you're 96% certain that your hypothesis is true.

Yeah. But if that were really true, everybody would trust the results of a study like this. But no one does.

It's the bar that's used for medical studies.

And in particular, the medical fraternity almost never believes the result from just one study. They always advise waiting for it to be confirmed.

You would be correct if this was a randomly selected study, the issue is it wasn't randomly selected. It was published. Studies that don't meet the 96% interval typically don't get published. So all we know is 1 study out of god knows how many showed this effect. If it is 1 out of 1, the 96% percent applies. But if it was 1 out of 10 it's almost certainly wrong.

Now it's published there are kudo's to be made from shooting it down. Translation: now it's published, it becomes the null hypothesis. A study showing it isn't true is a positive result and now has a chance of getting published.

In other words, the first published statistical survey showing controversial result is barely worth the paper it's written on. It's only real use is to prompt further research.

Going the speed of light is bad for your age.