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


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: Worth it? (Score 4, Insightful) 139

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49198379) Attached to: uTorrent Quietly Installs Cryptocurrency Miner
Aren't bitcoins, between the drop in value and the ASIC enthusiasts, at the point where clandestine CPU mining is close to pointless? I realize that free as in stolen has its virtues; but it likely wasn't free to get their shitware, rather than somebody else's, bundled with utorrent, so I'm surprised that it was worth it.

Comment: This will come down to implementation... (Score 1) 60

I'll be interested to see how this works out for them: Architecturally, MS is reasonably well placed to pull it off(to the degree that it is possible, no common language runtime is going to make a 40GB XBone game run on a low end Lumia phone); they can presumably produce whatever set of software services and shims a PC of sufficient power needs to run an Xbox game, given that this generation's xbox is mostly a PC and MS wrote the software on it; and their CLR is available across x86 and ARM, for programs that don't end up indirectly depending on some native binary.

What is less clear, and will be a matter for both MS and the people they hope will be writing 'universal' software, is how well 'cross platform' is going to work between platforms with different UI characteristics. An xbox and a PC with an xbox controller plugged in? Yeah, sure, no problem(though the compromises made to ensure snappy frame rates on the xbox might not look so hot on the PC, sitting closer to the screen). Meaningful interaction with a smartphone, though, will demand developer commitment on par with that that Nintendo needs to secure when trying to convince people to use the WiiU's weird little quasi-tablet controller thing. Will they bother? Will they half-ass something in order to get MS to pat them on the back and feature their game in some prominent location for a couple of weeks? Will they ignore it?

Comment: Re:... creates two gaps in evolution (Score 2) 80

True. At this point, I say 'Welcome aboard!' to any of them who decide that maybe trying science would be cool after all; but it's not even worth the effort to try to convert through additional evidence.

I just wish that there were more who were willing to be honest about it: "I'm a 6-day young earth creationist because I'm interested in faith, not empiricism." isn't my cup of tea; but I'm not interested in fighting with you about it. "No, no, empirical evidence actually proves creationism and a young earth for reasons wholly aside from my interest in it doing so!!!" effectively assures arbitrary amounts of bullshit, intellectual dishonesty, and atrociously bad science standards. Not Good.

Comment: Re:Funny Quote from Article (Score 1) 223

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49195503) Attached to: How Activists Tried To Destroy GPS With Axes
That is likely fair; though I would be curious to know if construction of the system would have been delayed by some years or decades if it turned out to be useless for those purposes: GPS is much more elegant and powerful, as well as useful for timekeeping and available more or less worldwide; but there were various RDF/ADF systems in use in specific areas at least as far back as WWII, and something like the LORAN system was comparatively mature and, being all ground based, cheap, before the first GPS satellite ever launched.

Sooner or later something GPS-like would almost certainly have become either cheap or compelling enough to be put into place (if the mind-blowing money pit that was the Iridium constellation before it was sold at bankruptcy to the present operators could be rationalized, GPS certainly could); but if it didn't offer something compelling to munitions and missiles I would not have been surprised if ships and troops and civilian applications had been allowed to handle themselves with existing radio beacon technologies and other inferior-but-available options for years, maybe a decade or two, longer.

Comment: Re: And was it really a punishment? (Score 1) 95

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49195399) Attached to: FTC Targets Group That Made Billions of Robocalls
Caller ID is pitifully weak because it was never really intended to be otherwise. At least with all the telemarketer crap I've run into, it is already being spoofed, even without the widespread presence of even basic filtering tech on phones.

I'm sure there is some totally-innocent reason why the telcos, who are definitely in no way complicit with the spammers, continue to let end users rely on it, rather than on ANI, which actually has some hope of working because it was designed to insure that somebody got billed for a call.

Comment: Re:Funny Quote from Article (Score 4, Interesting) 223

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49195329) Attached to: How Activists Tried To Destroy GPS With Axes
It takes a pretty straight face to describe GPS satellites as being analogous to 'equipment used for health care' in 1992, when the system's major use had been its (largely successful) guidance of assorted munitions and troops during Desert Storm...

At least now you have a much wider variety of civilian applications, some even not related to tracking, to point to in addition to the system's primary role.

Comment: Re:I have said it before (Score 1) 374

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49187445) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles
That is true. My comment was(in retrospect, very poorly explained) narrowly focused on an issue I heard a lot of complaining about from people operating reactors in the US(PWRs, if my memory serves): between stray hydrogen from the water in the primary coolant loop and massive neutron flux, a combination of hydrogen embrittlement and neutron damage had a way of pushing even very classy alloys into serious risk of developing cracks; and properly servicing internal parts wasn't something you did lightly, since you'd have to substantially lower output power or take the reactor offline while doing so(and when you've got that much capital equipment sitting idle, team balance sheet is not happy).

None of these stories ended catastrophically, or even dramatically, nothing even approached leaving the containment vessels; but the complaint was that speccing materials for use inside the reactor was even less fun than handling plumbing for chemical plants, refineries, and the like.

An engineering challenge, it's what engineers do; but not good for cost cutting.

Comment: Re:I have said it before (Score 1) 374

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49187119) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles
The special demands of finding materials that work adequately in enthusiastically radioactive environments don't help. Some are worse than others; but I don't think that there is anything that appreciates prolonged neutron bombardment. Can make for some very expensive repairs inside the reactor assembly.

Comment: Re:Nuclear ain't cheap any more. (Score 3, Insightful) 374

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49187077) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles
The tricky question(and the one that I've been bombarded with vehement and competing answers on, which has left me confused) is whether nuclear isn't cheap; but military procurement slush used to make it look that way; or whether nuclear could have become cheap; but military procurement slush made that unnecessary and potentially even directly inhibited it.

It's definitely the case that military purposes kept the money rolling in for R&D, pesky questions about safety and storage largely under wraps, purchases of a lot of equipment that could also make plutonium, and some PR-piece "Look at how fuzzy and peaceful nuclear energy can be!" reactor installs at home and in selected friendly-and-not-too-likely-to-change locations abroad.

It's likely that, at the same time, this left the industry largely in the hands of companies that are very, very, good at government contracting; but perhaps a bit shaky on less lucrative and parasitic forms of economic activity.

Where the optimists and the pessimists part ways is the question of whether nuclear energy is in fact just not terribly economic; and so achieved certain unique capabilities for cost insensitive customers, while largely floundering without them; or whether nuclear energy as an industry was wildly distorted by catering exclusively to select cost insensitive customers with substantially different needs than energy production, and simply needs to develop product lines that reflect current requirements.

Comment: Re:And was it really a punishment? (Score 5, Interesting) 95

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49186559) Attached to: FTC Targets Group That Made Billions of Robocalls
Honestly, if we are stuck with the NSA amassing a database of all the phone calls, ever, anywhere; and a policy of using CIA killer robots on people who annoy us; I'd be a great deal happier if we at least got some visible benefit from the whole mess by using these assets to locate and terminate telemarketers. They have to stick out like a sore thumb in call traffic analysis, and I'm pretty sure that 'the corporate veil' is not rated to withstand most contemporary munitions.

Comment: Re:Insurance and registration (Score 1) 347

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49186427) Attached to: Would You Need a License To Drive a Self-Driving Car?
It's possible (indeed virtually certain) that insurance types will factor in the expected value (positive or negative) of a given feature. They already evaluate expected costs tied to more nebulous associations between a vehicle and risk (Does model X get stolen disproportionately frequently? Are buyers of model Y, in midlife-crisis-crimson possibly not the most cautious of drivers?); if assisted braking or rear-view cameras, or lucky rabbit's feet, reduce the expected cost of insuring a given vehicle and operator, they'll presumably be folded in. How much of any savings the end users sees may or may not be an exciting number; but that'll be more about relative bargaining power.

I suspect that reductions in legal requirements are less likely. With things like BAC, people are already pretty tepid judges of when they've actually had one too many, and keeping the test equipment and testing environment calibrated, reliable, repeatable, and adequate as evidence is a fairly big pain. Even if we assume that all the relevant laws are 100% about public safety and have absolutely no secondary purposes (which is a matter of some...doubt), those aren't conditions that are going to endear some tiered system of caps based on a the car's feature matrix to anyone. Purely informally, effective input stabilization, assisted braking, and any other tech that keeps your car moving in a nice respectable, not-drunk-looking, way even if you are a bit sloshed will probably reduce your risk of being pulled over and tested, and thus effectively raise the limit a bit (except at the delightful 'sobriety checkpoints'); but if they don't mask the effects well enough to avoid attracting attention, I'd bet that the legal results will be the same.

Comment: Re:"Promise a future where we can sip cocktails" (Score 1) 347

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49186351) Attached to: Would You Need a License To Drive a Self-Driving Car?

And I stopped listening right there.

Only fucking MORONS want this sort of thing.

When you're in a piece of heavy machinery, like a car, even if you're NOT driving it, you DON'T want to be impaired in case of an emergency.

So, drinking in a self-driving car is pretty much out.

Ah, I have a slightly different philosophy for catastrophe management, one that I find hedonically satisfactory and wish to recommend to you:

You don't want to be moderately impaired in the case of an emergency. Should the emergency prove relatively minor, slurring and vomiting while making your exit from the damaged vehicle at the crash site will be undignified and uncomfortable. Should the emergency prove catastrophic, you'll be much better off dying while deeply relaxed and pleasantly intoxicated, rather than indulging in theatrical heroics.

Whenever possible, try to either be ready and able to manage the situation to a satisfactory conclusion, or enthusiastically accept that the situation is totally hopeless and apply yourself to be business of dying as pleasantly as possible. Just don't fall between the two, which is the dreadful strategy-chasm that combines as much or more effort than option #1 with as ghastly, or worse, an outcome than option #2.

Take your work seriously but never take yourself seriously; and do not take what happens either to yourself or your work seriously. -- Booth Tarkington