Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


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:Is banishment legal? (Score 1) 225

by hey! (#49498541) Attached to: Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C.

Well, keeping you out of the public eye is an appropriate punishment when you're convicted of a political crime. But we shouldn't recognize political crimes.

If people want to pay attention to what this guy has to say because he gyrocoptered in restricted airspace, that's their business. Even though it's a pretty stupid reason, it shouldn't be a judge's role to sit in judgment of that.

THere's an important flip side to freedom of speech that is often overlooked: freedom of listening. As a citizen you should be able to hear what the government doesn't want you to hear, unless the government has a compelling reason, and even then the restrictions should be narrowly tailored. "That guy just pulled a stupid stunt," is not a compelling reason to intervene in what people choose to listen to.

Comment: There is the small issue of academic freedom. (Score 1) 181

by hey! (#49498337) Attached to: Columbia University Doctors Ask For Dr. Mehmet Oz's Dismissal

You can't fire a faculty member because outside the scope of his duties he expresses an opinion you don't like -- even if it's a clearly crackpot opinion. If you could, Stanford would have kicked Linus Pauling out when he became a Vitamin C crackpot.

The difference, though, is that Pauling was a sincere crackpot -- brilliant people are often susceptible to crackpottery because they're so used to being more right than their neighbors. Dr. Oz is a snake-oil salesman; when he's faced with people who are educated -- not necessarily scientists but critical thinkers -- in a forum he doesn't control, he speaks in a much more equivocal fashion. That shows he knows the language he uses on his show and in his magazine is irresponsible.

So selling snake-oil isn't crackpottery, it's misconduct. But somebody's got to find, chapter and verse, the specific institutional rules of conduct Dr. Oz's misconduct violates. There will have to be due process, particularly if he's a tenured professor, which will probably require lesser disciplinary measures than dismissal be tried first.

Comment: Re:Wow. Just wow. (Score 1) 319

by hey! (#49490245) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

So... They didn't test the iPad / content combo to establish usability / feasibility / usefulness prior to dropping all this cash?

That's speculation. Feasibility is no guarantee of performance.

I read the attached article, and there were two specific complaints cited. The first was security, which is a non-functional requirement; that could well be a failure of the customer to do his homework on requirements but presumably a competent and honest vendor could have done a better job on security. It's often the vendor's job to anticipate customer needs, particularly in projects of the type customers don't necessarily have experience with.

The other complaint is that the curriculum wasn't completely implemented. If the vendor failed to deliver something it agreed to, that's purely the vendor's fault.

Sometimes bad vendors happen to good customers. Bad vendors happen more often to bad customers, but every project involves taking a calculated risk.

Comment: Re:Sign off. (Score 3, Insightful) 319

by hey! (#49490193) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

Well, until the details of how the contract was awarded and how the vendor failed have been thoroughly investigated, it's premature to fire anyone.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for accountability and decisiveness, but picking someone plausible and throwing them under the bus isn't accountability. In fact that may actually shield whoever was responsible.

Comment: Re:Valve needs to use their clout (Score 1) 309

by jedidiah (#49481535) Attached to: NVIDIA's New GPUs Are Very Open-Source Unfriendly

That's total hogwash. There is nothing about how Linux works in practice that makes BLOB drivers any less reliable or any harder to deal with. What problems may have existed have been fixed already and fixed for a long time already.

You sound like some stupid Lemming working out of an outdated playbook.

Just take advantage of the fact that Unix is well suited for automation.

Comment: Re: A first: We should follow Germany's lead (Score 0) 698

by jedidiah (#49478849) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

No. He's just more anal about rules than a German is.

The problem with liberty is when people start deciding to play favorites. Then what you have just devolves into the religious wars that early American settlers fled from.

If you are trying to play favorites in any way shape or form then liberty and equality have just been thrown out the window.

Some people have a hard time with this (especially Europeans).

Comment: Re:They all do usability (Score 1) 183

Then you run through every use case. Confer with the actual users to see what those are.

Medicine is not the only field where you could have a highly complex system deployed that doesn't achieve anyone's requirements. I've seen that myself in banking (Fortune 500) and also in "startups".

Comment: Re:Everyone loves taxes (Score 1) 173

Everyone loves the benefits of government-funded infrastructure if someone else is paying for them.

That's not entirely true. If you are in the top %0.001 of the population for income, you could feasibly pay for your own private infrastructure. You buy a plot of land, put a wall around it and hire a bunch of people to protect you, take care of you and cater to your needs. But your standard of living wouldn't actually be any objectively better than it is in contemporary America. In fact it would probably be somewhat worse. Historically societies that organized themselves along these feudal lines were not by modern standards innovative. You mustn't imagine living your untaxed castle enjoying Internet access and the other benefits of a modern science. In the rule by and for the wealthy, guys like Jon Postel or Vint Cerf would most likely have been serfs.

Humanity's greatest resource is the creativity of people -- a resource that tends to be squandered either by totalitarian control on one hand or anarchistic neglect on the other. People who can see no middle ground aren't just blind as futurists, they're historically blind.

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir