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Comment Or ... (Score 4, Insightful) 38

they could just give their environmental regulators the authority to enforce their existing environmental laws.

In the film Under the Dome, Chinese journalist Chai Jing astonishes a Chinese audience with a film clip from California where Cal DoT stops a truck and actually checks that it has all the mandatory safety and emissions equipment. That never happens in China. China has tough emissions standards on paper, but the law is written so that the regulators don't have any enforcement powers. So Chinese manufacturers simply slap stickers on vehicles claiming they have all the mandatory emissions equipment without installing any of it. Technically this is a crime, but the law's written so there's literally nothing anyone can do about it.

And if you don't think environmental regulations make a difference, this is what New York looked like in 1970. Note that that isn't a sepia tinted black and white photo, it's true color. Granted it shows an exceptionally bad day, but before the Clean Air Act got strengthened in the mid 70s bad smog was pretty common. If you look at pictures of American cities from the 70s you'd think that photo technology of the day put a blue or yellow haze on stuff in the distance (like this). It wasn't the film, cities actually looked that way a lot of the time.

Predicting bad pollution days isn't "fighting" pollution, it's living with it. If you want to fight pollution you've got to stop people from polluting. You've got to catch them at it, fine them, and in some cases throw them in jail. Pollution like they have in China is nothing short of manslaughter on a national scale. 1.6 million people die every year from it.

Comment Re:Sorry, but Apple still deserves most of the cre (Score 2) 275

Eject a disk by moving it from my desktop to the trash with all the files I want to delete? Makes sense.

Well, to understand this, you have to recall that early Macs had to be able to run off of a single floppy drive. Users might buy a hard drive or a second floppy drive (or if they had a dual-floppy SE, a third floppy drive for some reason) but it couldn't be relied on. Yet they still had to be able to tolerate having the OS disc ejected at times.

So there was a distinction between physically ejecting a disc while keeping it mounted (which was represented onscreen by a greyed out disc icon) so that you could copy to it, and both physically ejecting _and_ dismounting a disc.

The formal way that you were supposed to do this was by using menu commands. The Eject command was for eject-but-keep-mounted while the generally ignored Put Away command was for eject-and-dismount. It was also possible to use Put Away on an already greyed out, ejected-but-mounted disc icon.

User testing showed that this was inconvenient, and one of the OS developers eventually created a shortcut for the Put Away command, which was to drag a disc icon to the trash. It wound up being so popular that it shipped.

Apparently there had been some thought at the time about changing the Trash icon into some sort of Eject icon in the case of ejecting a disc, but apparently this was felt to be confusing or too difficult, so it wasn't done. In OS X the idea was revisited, and now the Trash icon does turn into a standard Eject icon when you're dragging a disc.

In any case, in real life, whatever confusion dragging disc icons to the trash might have caused, everyone got over it basically immediately.

Switching tiled applications makes the one menu bar change? Sure. It's not like moving the cursor half the screen for each click is a waste of time.

It's not; since there's nothing above the menubar, you can just slam the mouse up. It turns out to be faster and easier than having multiple menu bars. The Mac and Lisa groups did consider per-window menubars, but having tested the idea, it was rejected. For example, here's some polaroids of a screen from 1980 showing a Lisa with a menu attached to the bottom of a window: http://www.folklore.org/images... Later that year, the menu had moved to the top of the windows: http://www.folklore.org/images... And early the next year, it finally settled at the top of the screen: http://www.folklore.org/images...

Comment Electric Motorcycles (Score 2) 119

I'm eagerly anticipating affordable electric motorcycles.

I think Brammo and Zeros are rated at ~ 200-500 MPG equivalent?

That's way better mileage than even a fully loaded (everybody standing) bus gets in peak hours.

The problem with the electric motorcycles today is the price tag. The prices have dropped recently (from, say, $19,000 to $14,000, with ~$12,000 for very low end bikes that can't go very far,) but they need to go down further and increase in range.

Comment Re:No Teaching Experience? (Score 1) 60

Some people are great at teaching, others are not.

I believe this is a self-perpetuating myth. What the data shows is that new teachers in America improve rapidly over the course of about three years, after which they are about as good as they'll ever be. So it's certainly not the case that some people are just naturally teachers; great teachers have to learn the craft through practice, and that learning comes after they finish their official training.

But maybe what we're seeing is that it takes teachers three years to reach their inborn teaching potential, after which they no longer are able to learn anything more that might help them. My question is, how do we know that? How do we know that American teachers are actually completely incapable of becoming better teachers after three years of in-classroom experience?

We don't know. The remarkable thing is that until very, very recently, very few American school systems have actually attempted to systematically improve the performance of their teachers through observation of what they're doing in the classroom. They may have "professional development" where they get more of the same kind of theoretical training they got in education school, but they usually don't follow up to see how the teacher actually puts that to use, or even to identify bad habits the teacher may have developed over the years, or good habits he hasn't. In my kids' school system kids are sent home early on "professional development days" so that working with actual students won't get in the way of a teacher's skill development. It's like trying to make someone a better baseball hitter by banning bats and balls from training and simply talking to players about the theory of biomechanics.

Imagine you own a factory and your assembly line is turning out too many defective widgets. How would you address that problem? Would you send your engineers to a seminar every year on manufacturing theory and ask them to make design changes when they came back from that seminar? Or would you go over the assembly line with a fine tooth comb? While the seminar idea has it's merits, it's too slow and it'd take sheer luck for the seminar to hit on the particular problem that's affecting the line.

In America we have a simple model for improving the teaching at a bad school: fire the bad teachers and hire better ones. But imagine, just for a moment, it is possible to use empirical methodologies to improve the performance of any teacher. Imagine for a moment some bad teachers could be transformed into mediocre ones; some mediocre teachers into good ones; and some good teachers into great ones. In a world where that was possible there'd still be a place for the hire and fire strategy, but relying on that strategy exclusively leads to two unfortunate and unnecessary results: (1) Poor districts have to make do mostly with inadequate teaching and (2) teaching in rich districts tends to be adequate, but great teaching remains uncommon.

Sound familiar?

Comment Re:Betteridge's law of headlines (Score 1) 262

According to Betteridge's law of headlines: No.

Yawn... years later, there are still oh-so-clever people kneejerk yelling "Betteridge" in response to every headline phrased as a question, not understanding what the original point of Betteridge's law actually was.

Hint; this isn't it, it's a (probably) legitimate question, and even if it was a crap attempt to kick-start a discussion by phrasing it in that form, it's still not an example of Betteridge.

Comment Re:Because this will be unlike Biosphere 2 how? (Score 5, Informative) 74

To answer your question, smaller habitat, no experiment at maintaining atmospheric composition, outside excursions in "space suits" etc. Its not very much like Biosphere II.

As for why not under the sea or Antarctica I can give at least three reasons. (1) cost of building, transporting and maintaining the habitat; (2) all the support and research personnel live in Hawaii, above water; (3) the research objectives don't require putting the experiment in a dangerous or inaccessible place.

Now someday when we have an actual habitat design along with all the actual support systems we plan to send to Mars, a trial on top of a super high mountain would make sense as a kind of Mars analog. But we don't have such stuff to test so we don't need the Mars analog with all the expense and complication.

Comment Re:Furthermore, Saudi Arabia must be destroyed (Score 4, Insightful) 390

Not everyone in Saudi Arabia are bedouin; in particular the ruling House of Saud is descended from town dwelling Arabs.

I'll go out on a limb and guess that not everyone in Saudi Arabia is worthless. Even people involved in managing their oil. And as for the elite they don't seem to be worse than anyone else who's inherited oil-based wealth; they've managed that for the long term benefit of themselves and their families. If they're ostentatious with their wealth, well they have a lot of it and it hasn't bankrupted them yet.

So there's no rational reason to want to destroy Saudi Arabia. But there's every reason not to want to be so dependent upon them.

Comment Re:LARP? (Score 2) 16

That'll have to be a pretty sophisticated VR system. It'd have to be one that taps into your nervous system, can make you feel like you're actually exercising your muscles as you walk, and one that has a hell of a force feedback mechanism, so that you not only can't walk through walls, but can actually feel them with your hands.

In case you missed it, check it out at: https://thevoid.com/ .

Comment Re:I wouldn't even ask for read access (Score 1) 196

Well, for his situation, I think he needs it.

For his situation he needs to absolutely avoid it. Otherwise he ends up doing his old job, not the new one.

the currently architected system held together with bale wire and duct tape, and a staff that's resistant to change

Welcome to every IT department on the planet. Get used to it. Learn how to work through it and deliver successful change anyway.

information being incomplete or inaccurate, and the only recourse is to blame other people

Of course the information is incomplete AND inaccurate. You know that's the case, even if you just logged onto the box and checked it yourself.

Deal with it. Certainty takes too long, costs too much and still results in space shuttles exploding. So stop playing blame games and focus on constructive activities, make sensible assumptions, get them validated, give people options and get the fuck on with it.

Perfect information doesn't exist in IT. Perfect architecture isn't going to happen. Balance cost, time, risk, quality and capabilities and get shit done.

It's fun. People will support you. You'll get an amazing amount done.

Anything cut to length will be too short.

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