Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Submission + - The college majors most likely to marry each other

schnell writes: The blog Priceonomics has published an analysis showing students in which college majors end up marrying another student with that same major. Religious studies (with 21% of students marrying another studying the same field) tops the list among all students, followed by general science. Perhaps unsurprising is that some majors with gender disparities show a high in-major marriage rate among the less represented group — for example, 39% of women engineering majors marry a fellow student in their field, while among men 43% studying nursing and 38% studying elementary education do likewise. The blog concludes that your choice of major may unwittingly decide your choice of spouse, and depending on how well that field is paid, your economic future.

Comment Re:Wow ... (Score 1) 249 249

No one knows how sticking with Maemo would have worked out. Would it have saved Nokia? Who knows?

You're right, nobody knows. But the probable answer is "not bloody likely." No matter how technically superior the OS may have been, it was going to be playing in a crowded space against entrenched competitors... the appropriate military metaphor would be a frontal assault against a numerically superior enemy entrenched in defensive positions. With one notable exception (Apple), every vertically integrated OEM (OS + hardware) in the mobile space has gotten mediocre results - BlackBerry, HP and Palm/WebOS, Samsung with Tizen, and now Microsoft. There's no reason to believe that Nokia's experience with Maemo would have been any different.

On top of that, Google and Apple both had fully fleshed out ecosystems for buying and using apps and music/video content - vital to success in the consumer smart device market - and Nokia would have been starting largely from scratch. Think how badly even Microsoft and Sony have struggled to make their content ecosystems work.

Given the needs for developer mindshare and the snowballing benefits of mass market adoption, I find it highly unlikely that there can ever be more than two truly successful (non-niche) mobile OSes in the market, at least for the foreseeable future. And if Apple ever stumbles badly with its iOS hardware refreshes one of these years, that number might be down to one.

Comment Re:Wait a minute... (Score 1) 249 249

A big company in an unaligned industry buys a formerly popular hardware maker, now falling on hard times, and eventually sells or pretty much writes all the assets of the acquisition off. I'm having a strange sense of deja vu... almost like this has happened before several times.

Oh wait, it has happened before with Oracle and Sun. And again with HP and Palm. And again with Google and Motorola.

You would think people would notice a pattern here...

Comment Re:Hipster tactics (Score 1) 300 300

Aside from maybe some tshirts I really cannot think of any "ironic embrace of vintage" that resulted in a meaningful resurgence of a product

How about Pabst Blue Ribbon beer? Or the otherwise inexplicable growth of vinyl record sales?

True to the nature of hipster-ism, these things will decline again at some point. But the presence of cool tastemakers interested in retro stuff is a real thing that impacts sales beyond just their own ranks. God help us all if these people rediscover fax machines.

Comment Re:Routing around (Score 5, Informative) 198 198

So the Internet was designed with resilience unless someone has a strong pair of garden shears?

The Internet will do just fine. Your personal ability to access it, watch a movie or dial 911 will not.

The big networks all have many data centers and diverse physical routing paths between them. But most people seemingly fail to realize that your house, your neighborhood - heck, maybe even your county if you're rural - probably does not. There is more than one physical path to get data from a colo facility in San Francisco to one in Seattle (even if it adds a lot of latency). There is probably only one physical way to get data to your house. Yes, even your cable provider and the telco almost certainly share a conduit somewhere near you. Mostly that's because there are simply a limited number of good rights of way to run fiber (frequently railroad tracks, gas pipelines, etc.) in any given area.

And that's also because it makes doesn't make financial sense to spend the money to ensure that your house has two redundant cables coming out of it that take two separate paths out of your neighborhood to different COs, etc. That's true not just for houses but in many cases for cell towers, Central Offices and other telecom points of presence that make last-mile connections rather than backbone connections. So that's why a fiber cut is so bad - everyone served locally by that fiber will be out of luck, even if the Internet as a whole is not.

Comment Re:Drone It (Score 2) 843 843

I have a car, but the new Mazda has a 10hp more powerful engine. Should I sell my Mazda 3 for $5000 and buy a new Mazda 3 for $21,000?

It's a fair question in the context of Mazdas. It is a much less clear answer in the context of should I buy a F-16 for $100 million that gets me a 20% chance of being shot down in an engagement vs. a F-35 that gives me a 5% chance of being shot down for $350 million.

Comment Re:Drone It (Score 5, Informative) 843 843

It sounds to me like our current crop of F16 fighters are superior. Why do we have a $1 trillion plane?

There are plenty of reasons, good and bad. I'll assume you are asking a serious question, and give you the short version of the most often cited answers:

Good reasons include:

  • It's stealthy(ish), and has an Active Electronically Scanned Array radar . Part of the idea is that you can see the other guy but they can't see you, so you have blown them out of the sky at BVR (Beyond Visual Range) and never had to get to the point of a dogfight.
  • It's supposed to replace a bunch of different fighters and attack aircraft among the services' current fleets with a single airframe. Better QC, cheaper spare parts, buying in bulk, yadda yadda. The different models for the Air Force (F-35A), Navy (F-35C) and Marines (F-35B) turned out to be more different than expected, but that at least was the idea.
  • America's allies wanted access to a fifth-generation fighter for their own militaries - which they weren't going to build on their own - and if the US didn't build a relatively affordable one (we weren't going to sell anyone the F-22 since it's our trump card for air superiority) they were going to have to buy them from Russia or China.

Debatable reasons include:

  • It - like the military itself - is kind of a Federal jobs program. If you keep your existing jets and don't build new ones, then you lose the employees with the skills and experience needed to do the job. (Kind of like we may not be able to build new nuclear weapons if we wanted them because we haven't made them for so long and everyone with any experience has retired.)

Bad reasons include:

  • The military and its defense contractors need new weapons programs to work on in order to justify their careers and existence (military procurement officers) and make money (contractors). Both groups have strong influence in congress, not least because of all the jobs they support (see above).
  • The F-35 was intended to revolutionize weapons system procurements by using a strategy of "concurrency" - think of it like agile vs. waterfall development. The idea was better stuff, quicker and cheaper. It turned out - like some of the lessons Boeing learned with the 787 - that agile development may work great at Facebook but it's a train wreck when applied to aerospace, military systems and gigantic procurements. Oops.

There were also plenty of f***ups in assumptions the program made that were only really recognizable in hindsight, like the fact that trying to mesh the Marines' requirement for a V/STOL aircraft with the traditional designs for the Air Force and Navy hobbled the plane's performance for all three constituencies.

I know a lot of people are very critical of the F-35, and rightfully should be. But it's not as bad as it may sound - I think it will eventually turn into a decent (but never great) aircraft with a long service life. It's out there flying around today, but will take probably 10 more years to get to where everyone hoped it would be in terms of capabilities. Nonetheless, you will almost certainly still see F-35s flying around under US colors in 2050, so in the long run it will work out OK.

Comment Re:what this means? (Score 1) 292 292

But then the "news" companies won't be able to predict the polls properly!!! And how will the world go on if this happens?

Accurate political polling in presidential elections has a very vital role in modern society. Otherwise, how else would you know how loudly to complain about how you are threatening to move to Canada if the other party's candidate wins?

Comment Re:$100,000,000 (Score 1) 205 205

Then perhaps they should have consulted lawyers and/or technical experts, given that apparently many millions of dollars were at stake?

Did you ever read the first Scott Adams Dilbert book? He says (I think I'm quoting but it may be a paraphrase) that "the goal of every engineer is to retire without being blamed for a major disaster." As much as that might be true of engineers, it is 10x true of corporate lawyers.

A company the size of AT&T has literally thousands of lawyers out of its 250,000 employees. I don't know if you have ever worked with corporate lawyers (at least at very very large companies). But most of the time, they cover their asses to the greatest extent humanly possible and just say that "everything we could possibly do is subject to a lawsuit in Kerplakistan or illegal in Jesus County Alabama, and therefore we shouldn't buy, sell or do anything ever." Paraphrasing a bit, but not far off.

Then product managers, engineers, sales and marketers ignore their advice, which is how the company actually does business. As a result sometimes they get it right, sometimes they get it wrong, but more often than not the company actually did some business and made some money instead of following the lawyers' recommended business plan of not doing anything except paying lawyers. Oh, and then paying other lawyers to make sure the first group of lawyers don't sue about not being paid.

Comment Re:Mixture (Score 5, Insightful) 312 312

Want to end terrorist Isalm, target the two originators Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Exactly, because ... Islamic terrorists ... like ... Israel ... and they are ... buddies and ... WHAT?

Perhaps you are arguing that Israel creates Islamic terror groups by its actions. While that is certainly an arguable issue, it is clearly not the sole root since Al Qaida explicitly cited the basing of US troops in Saudi Arabia as a motivation for the 9/11 attacks. Which had nothing to do with Israel, and was actually Islamic terror based on anger at Saudi Arabia ... which you say is the originator ... of ... WAIT, WHAT AGAIN?

So far the only government to tackle Saudi Arabia has been the Russian government with direct threats should any Saudi Arabian government led terrorists attack occur during the Russian Olympics. Shame Uncle Tom Obama the choom gang coward is such a god damned weasel

This seems like a reasonable argument that ... wait ... DAFUQ? How did this get to +3?

Congratulations Slashdot on hitting on a topic that somehow makes even init/SystemD discussions seam rational and well researched.

Comment Re:CA water is feeding you ... (Score 1) 599 599

i buy all my vegetables at the local farm market so no, they are not feeding me.

I applaud your approach. However, that may not be a fully representative statement.

Even if you never buy an ounce of food from California, its presence in the market shapes what every commodity is worth. Even if you only buy local corn for $1.00/cob, that price is being shaped by the fact that California corn could be bought nearby for $0.69/cob. The cheapness of California produce, whether you buy it or not, helps to set the market pricing for food and agricultural products across the US.

Do you ever eat at fast food restaurants (or any restaurants except high-end locavore eateries)? If so, non-trivial parts of the cheap "beef" and lettuce in your Taco Bell taco, the artichokes in your Applebee's spinach artichoke dip appetizer, or even your sole (or trout) almondine at your favorite high-end seafood place are being subsidized by California's unconscionable water policies.

Even if you buy only local vegetables, your grocery list probably includes lots of things dependent upon California and its artificial agricultural water bonanza... California is the 4th largest state in beef production, 1st in almond products (including almond milk), etc. So anything you buy at a restaurant or elsewhere using California agricultural products is benefitting from the dreadful existing state of affairs. According to the Western Farm Press, California produces in the US "99 percent of walnuts, 97 percent of kiwis, 97 percent of plums, 95 percent of celery, 95 percent of garlic, 89 percent of cauliflower, 71 percent of spinach, and 69 percent of carrots." And across the US, the market price for every single one of these commodities is being set in part by California production, even if you buy the local version.

Comment Re:Or hey, maybe we need (Score 5, Interesting) 599 599

It really is relatively simple to transport water from place to place. There's no reason for people to get upset about it. Why not just solve the problem? Really, why not?

I will assume you are in earnest and bite. You are correct that moving water from point A to point B is, while expensive, not generally a difficult issue from an engineering perspective. The problem is that this is not an engineering problem.

Fresh water is a finite resource (and getting even more finite in many areas of the US as El Nino ramps up). Pumping water from the Columbia River - hell, from the Yukon River - to California is expensive but not hard from an engineer's viewpoint. However, every gallon you drain from the Columbia is a gallon that potentially a farmer in the Columbia Basin in Washington (which leads the US in production of apples, sweet cherries, grapes, pears and hops) does not have access to anymore.

Leaving aside the farmers, many rivers in the Northwest connected to the Columbia watershed have significant salmon populations which depend on navigable waterways - as do the Native American and commercial fishermen who support themselves by fishing for salmon, steelhead and other fish that migrate upriver to spawn. Oh, and reduced flow from the Columbia would reduce the region's hydroelectric power generation and require more fossil fuel-burning electrical sources (plus making those Google, Facebook and Apple data centers in Oregon money-losers). And pretty much every other river system in the US has people, animals and industries that depend on their water flow as well. No amount of money from California or anywhere else is going to make all these issues go away.

So, yes, while we Seattleites complain about all the rain, it doesn't mean that yanking water away from us to ship to California doesn't have consequences. And in any situation where the solution requires one broad group of interested parties (e.g. California farmers, Californians who like to take showers) to benefit at the expense of another (Native American salmon fishermen, people who like apples), politics and negotiation are the only ways to resolve the question... not technology.

The use of technologies to try to solve the problem in a way that doesn't mean taking fresh water away from someone else are similarly political because they are so frickin' expensive. Desalinization uses ludicrous amounts of power (usually generated in ways that produce carbon pollution) to generate comparatively small amounts of fresh water. And someone needs to pick up the check, which isn't any less contentious a question here than it is at a post-work happy hour with a bunch of cheapskate co-workers.

So anyway, I applaud your earnestness (if that's what it is) in asking the question why we can't solve this issue. The answer just happens to be that someone has to give for someone else to get, and sorting that out is a problem technology can't solve.

Comment Re:It doesn't matter matter who did it (Score 5, Informative) 144 144

I saw something about the Navy considering a BYOD policy with the Navy's computer systems.

I mean... what the fuck? These idiots should just get a custom US government smartphone and anyone that asks for an iphone should get a black bag thrown over their head

Have to be a little careful how I respond to this... let's just say that the last thing you want is the Federal government (or at least the DoD and the Intel community) picking out your cellular technology for you. The world of cell phones has evolved in less than a decade from dumb phones that couldn't even text to portable supercomputers; GPS-enabled dog collars and pill bottles; and increased worldwide coverage at (inflation adjusted) equal or lower prices to what you got 10 years ago. In the US Federal government, 10 years has brought you the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at billions over budget and years behind schedule. Let's please never think that the US government is compatible with cutting edge technology in anything that does not evade radar, blow things up, or do so simultaneously.

In the US government world, in a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, anywhere where SECRET/TOP SECRET/SCI information is shared), you can't even bring a cell phone into the facility. Think about this: everyone at the NSA, DISA, CIA Langley etc. misses your phone call unless they are sitting at their desk. Forget that "Homeland" or "24" bulls**t about people using their Droid Razrs in CIA headquarters or wherever the hell Jack Bauer is supposed to be (Federal Secret Counter-Non Existent Surveillance Footage - Large Screen TV and Fake Hologram Agency?). This is how forward thinking the government is about mobility.

Additionally, in 2008 the government (NSA and DISA) got together to decide to do exactly what you suggested. The result? The Secure Mobile Environment - Portable Electronic Device (SME-PED) initiative, which began with a forward looking technology initiative, and by the time it had run the gantlet of DoD/Intel requirements and Federal acquisition policies, had turned into a gigantic brick of a device - running Windows CE - that cost multiple thousands of dollars. This was launched shortly after the iPhone hit the market.

I can't share the detailed results for a variety of reasons, but I can say that adoption was very poor. Real-world users decided to either stick with earlier, cheaper secure dumb phones; or just risk things and make phone calls about secret information on the mobile phones that they actually carried every day and wanted to use. At any rate, the lesson learned was that 1.) people love cell phones because they are cheap and people have lots of choices; and 2.) when the US government gets involved to pick a "secure" cell phone that all its employees should use, nobody actually uses it.

Real programmers don't bring brown-bag lunches. If the vending machine doesn't sell it, they don't eat it. Vending machines don't sell quiche.