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


Forgot your password?

Comment Right after I buy my laptop fuel cell (Score 1) 151

Color me skeptical, but these "battery breakthrough" stories are the new "laptop fuel cell" stories, which have appeared here since about the first month Slashdot has existed, and always been shipping just a little bit in the future.

When they put them in a shipping product, then I'll pay attention.

Comment Indentation isn't enough for DNA. (Score 1) 385

Well, the thing is, even if we HAD a "DNA Beautifier", which we do not, even neat, organized, DNA is about as useful as handing that code over to my 96-year-old Grandmother and asking her to interpret exactly, with perfect precision, what even part of it does. We simply do not know enough about protein synthesis for the source code to be of much use at all, and there aren't any obvious efforts on the horizon for great leaps forward in that respect.

Comment Somebody wants to land some grant $$$... (Score 2) 385

Not in five years, maybe not in fifty; this is so absurdly over-optimistic, it's not even funny.

We know SO LITTLE about how genes actually function to produce, well, you, the idea that we can, within five years, figure out which genes are "responsible" for aging and turn them off/around is ridiculous. The amount of feedback looping going on, even if we knew which genes produced which raw proteins, is so twisted that even figuring out the protein synthesis process itself requires super-computers, much less figuring out how all those proteins interact with your body.

We heard all this very same talk when the first Human Genome Project results were released. Please tell me what grand advances that has brought us, other than a few diagnostic tests, and some treatments for a couple rare diseases.

Comment They have some pretty strict limits (Score 1) 60

The patent office has some pretty strict limits as to when they can actually reject a patent. As in, there are specific laws they must follow for something to qualify as "prior art" for a patent rejection, and only specific places the law authorizes them to go. As in, with the silly "Point a Laser Pointer at a Cat" patent... any idiot knows there are approx. 1B videos on YouTube about this. But internet videos aren't on the list. Nor are websites in general, unless said websites have an actual printed publication behind them.

Certainly Internet-based prior art can be used as an effective DEFENSE to a patent lawsuit, and can lead to the patent being revoked, but they cannot be used by the patent examiners in the initial evaluation.

Comment There's gotta be a better way (Score 2) 60

There should be a way to structure the patent laws so you can't sue somebody who bought a patented invention from somebody else. The idea that an end-user is fully liable for the development practices of an upstream company is ridiculous.

I realize such laws would be tricky to craft (an unscrupulous vendor could "buy" IP they don't own from a shell company or patsy), but the current way of doing things is resulting in far too many patent trolls pursuing mid-sized organizations that have enough money to make the suit worth it, but not so much they can actually afford patent litigation.

Maybe craft a law that if you want to go after end-users (instead of the organization carrying out the infringement), your maximum recovery will be a RAND licensing cost, and it better have some relation to how much you paid to develop/acquire the patented invention to begin with.

Comment Hmmm... (Score 1) 96

If they can keep the cost and weight penalty low, this could work. Planes (especially short-haul planes) currently spend a significant percentage of the day loading and unloading. If they can cut that down by simply slotting in pre-loaded passengers and bags, this could speed around turnaround times enough for this to make sense.

Comment Which is why it's a bad idea... (Score 1) 169

Well, it depends on the work I suppose. If you can land a long-term gig as an independent contractor then yes, you can ratchet your rate expectations down a bit. But if the jobs you are taking are piecemeal? Then needing to bill at around triple what you'd earn as a regular full-time employee is about right. Somebody working in fits and starts has to cover:
- Benefits
- Downtime
- Payroll taxes
- Liability Insurance
- Overhead (i.e. travel, legal bills, things an employer might reimburse you for, like your cell phone)
- Non-billable labor (time spent doing all those mundane tasks you would foist off to corporate functions (i.e. billing, accounting, marketing, etc.)

What? You can't get anybody to pay it? Well you are almost certainly earning less than an employee doing the same job would be.

Comment Still in use today in general aviation (Score 1) 220

While the "slip stick" is no longer used pretty much anywhere, any amateur pilot will be able to quickly demonstrate his E6-B Flight Computer. The proper use of this device is mandatory to obtain a pilot's license, and it's actually a pretty decent way to perform a lot of quick, yet otherwise-complex calculations for fuel burn, wind drift, en-route time, etc.

In commercial aviation, they've been replaced by flight-planning software and more sophisticated avionics and navigation systems, but they are still in wide use for people flying "personal" aircraft.

Comment But is it 12 percent of a plan? (Score 1) 188

Peter Quill: I have a plan.
Rocket Raccoon: You've got a plan? Okay, first of all, you're copying me from when I said I had a plan.
Peter Quill: I'm not copying you, I have a plan, that's not that unique of a thing to say.
Rocket Raccoon: And secondly, I don't think you even have a plan.
Peter Quill: I have part of a plan.
Drax the Destroyer: What percentage of a plan do you have?
Gamora: You don't get to ask questions after the nonsense you pulled on Knowhere!
Drax the Destroyer: I just saved Quill!
Peter Quill: We've already established that you destroying the ship I'm on is not saving me!
Drax the Destroyer: When did we establish that?
Peter Quill: Like three seconds ago!
Drax the Destroyer: Well I wasn't listening then, I was thinking of something else...
Rocket Raccoon: She's right, you don't get an opinion... What percentage?
Peter Quill: I dunno... Twelve percent?
Rocket Raccoon: Twelve percent?
[starts laughing]
Peter Quill: That's a fake laugh.
Rocket Raccoon: It's real!
Peter Quill: Totally fake!
Rocket Raccoon: That is the most real, authentic, hysterical laugh of my entire life because THAT IS NOT A PLAN!
Gamora: It's barely a concept.
Peter Quill: [to Gamora] You're taking their side?
Groot: I am Groot.
Rocket Raccoon: So what, "It's better than eleven percent!" What the hell does that have to do with anything?

Comment Good point... (Score 2) 150

Full encryption does nobody any good if the OS, as deployed, is so full of holes that the encryption isn't much of an impediment to gaining full access to everything on the device.

I'm pretty sure that neither Android nor iOS is a true bar to getting at what's on your phone (iOS almost certainly has plenty of exploitable bugs your tax dollars have discovered or paid for information on), though it might not be information that's going to be admissible in a trial.

Comment Who cares about the e-reader market? (Score 1) 200

I don't see why we should care about the "e-reader" market; the market for e-books themselves is far more important. The sales are still growing, if not as quickly as they were.

(Also, despite all the ribbing Amazon gets for them, the "Special Offers" aren't the least bit intrusive. They appear on the "sleep" screen and about the bottom 1/3" of the Home screen. They are not visible when you are actually reading, which is what most people spend the most time doing.)

Slashdot Top Deals

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.