Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re: He was an evil man (Score 1) 16

What makes him evil? I mean, aside from suspending habeus corpus, using the military to seize and close newspapers and arrest editors for publishing editorials critical of his conduct of the war (and holding them without charges or trial), arresting and deporting a US Senator for criticizing his conduct of the war, and issuing a declaration that "freed the slaves" only in the areas of the South not under control of the Union Army (it did not free a single slave in the North, nor in the areas conquered by the Union Army) -- an act that caused widespread desertions by soldiers who were willing to fight to preserve the Union, but not to free slaves -- what was particularly evil about him?

Comment: Re:So few experts... (Score 1) 220

by srmalloy (#49398615) Attached to: How would you rate your programming skills?

tl;dr, if you think you're an expert you probably need more exposure to better programmers.

Or to move out of the narrow scope of your current programming work to other languages and/or application types to discover whether you're actually an expert in programming or just have particularly deep experience in one limited area.

Comment: Re:Is there a reason they can't build this system? (Score 1) 114

by srmalloy (#49397689) Attached to: DHS Wants Access To License-plate Tracking System, Again

The data is already being collected, and has been for years; why should the NSA put out bids to create a parallel system that won't have historical data when it stands up, when they can just put out bids for building them an interface to the existing database?

Comment: Re:Mass unemployment (Score 1) 477

Not to mention that self driving trucks will ruin the crystal meth business.

Probably not; it would just change the mechanisms. Find a location where the trucks going to where you want your junk to go will stop as they pass through, arrange for a 'stupid pedestrian' to cross slowly in front of the autonomous truck to keep it stationary, and a confederate slips under the trailer and applies a magnetically-attached package to the frame. Repeat the process at the destination to recover the package.

Comment: Re:Um... How will it change society? (Score 1) 477

You can safely skip TFA, because it actually says nothing about what the title implies. Instead, the author seems to needlessly hand-wring about the "ethics" of these cars.

And the angsting about the 'ethics' of autonomous cars is an infinitely-deep well of assumptions and hypothetical scenarios. Your car detects another car having lost control that is heading for it in a head-on collision, but swerving to avoid it will hit another car. Now assume the car that lost control has a family of five in it, while the car that yours would hit when swerving has a single occupant. Now assume that the single occupant is a surgeon on their way to perform a transplant operation on a deathly-ill patient who will die if the transplant is not performed. You can construct an infinite number of 'what if' scenarios about what an autonomous car should do in situations that require an 'ethical' decision, the vast majority of which require additional information that would be impractical if not impossible to obtain and communicate, and attempting to implement decision trees for all the possibilities would result in a tangled snarl of conflicting rules that would make your car's operation resemble the scene from 'Robocop 2' where the myriad additional directives has him spazzing back and forth, unable to respond to his environment.

Comment: Re:He thinks it is bad now? (Score 1) 161

by srmalloy (#49371741) Attached to: Europol Chief Warns About Computer Encryption

Besides, how do you know that an ongoing unreasonable warrantless dragnet over the entire country isn't a disruption? It's insidious, even more so when the public wasn't aware of it.

Exactly. Where, from the outside, can you tell the difference between "We're collecting all this phone traffic, but we're only looking at it when it touches the specific individuals we already suspect of criminal activity and are investigating" and "We're collecting all this phone traffic; let's run the pattern-recognition software over all of it to see if we can turn up any criminal activity we can use to boost our arrest numbers"?

Comment: Re:A Language With No Rules... (Score 3, Interesting) 667

by srmalloy (#49267899) Attached to: Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English'

I think non-native English users make all sorts of errors, while native speakers make the constistent errors that are all over the internet.

The errors that people for whom English is a second language mage cannot properly be characterized as 'all over'; they are almost invariably errors that result from adults, who lack the flexibility to learn new languages readily, running past the end of their knowledge of English and by reflex applying the grammar and lexicon rules of their own language to English. Where there have been populations that spoke another language that became integrated into the English-speaking population -- the Welsh, Irish, Scots, and Vikings, among others -- aspects of grammar from their own languages got absorbed into English, cases where English grammar were overly complicated got elided. For example, Celtic languages have a 'meaningless do' -- where, in other Germanic languages you would say 'saw you him today?', in Welsh it would be 'did you see him today?'; similarly, nouns lost the forest of cases, genders, and plurals that other Germanic languages retained. And this ignores the vocabulary changes from words the speakers of other languages brought; for example, the perfectly good 'ingang' has long since been buried by the Norman French 'entrance', while other Anglo-Saxonisms got relegated to a 'lower-class' status by French and Latinate words by association with the social class that used them -- 'ask', 'question', and 'interrogate', for example, or 'quick' vs. 'rapid', 'look' vs. 'regard', 'daze' vs. 'stupefy', 'room' vs. 'chamber', 'learning' vs. 'erudition'.

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary." -- James D. Nicoll

Comment: Re:Big Data (Score 1) 439

by srmalloy (#49063053) Attached to: Will Submarines Soon Become As Obsolete As the Battleship?

Take for instance the Harpoon, it's comparatively slow compared to the Russian stuff. But it is designed to be fired in huge numbers to overwhelm air defence systems.

Actually, all antiship missiles are designed to be fired in large numbers to overwhelm air-defense systems; that's one of the things that the US Navy's VLS systems were designed to counter. Defenses against antiship missiles are limited by their cycle times and total load -- how fast they can attack a new target and how many shots they carry. Swing-arm launchers that have to load a new missile each time they fire (or fire twice, depending on the launcher) have a slower cycle time, and may not be able to use their entire combat load in the time from detection to target (this is one of the things that drove Soviet supersonic antiship missile design, to reduce the engagement window); with a VLS system the reload cycle time is eliminated, allowing a guard ship to fire as fast as it needs to. This changes the parameters of engagement to a question of how many missiles can be carried, and produced the proposals for fleet-defense ships that were essentially nothing but massive VLS arrays, carrying several hundred launch cells each and relying on the task force's Aegis vessels to provide guidance.

While a battleship with a CIWS which has unlimited shots and can track super fast targets kind of cripples airpower and missiles (or is advertised to do so).

I can't speak for other CIWS systems, but the Phalanx system definitely does not have unlimited shots; the weapon has an internal load of ammunition (roughly 30 seconds of firing at low cyclic rate), and once the combat load is shot, the CIWS needs to be reloaded. Block 0 Phalanx would require 10 to 30 minutes to be reloaded; the Block I and later Phalanx systems can be reloaded in under five minutes. Five minutes for a Mach 2 antiship missile is 100 miles; once the incoming missile comes over the horizon, you don't have time to reload your CIWS.

Comment: Re:Higher temperature?!?!?! (Score 2) 42

by srmalloy (#49053191) Attached to: Scientists In China Predict Pentagonal Graphene

730C for this pentagonal graphene seems much lower, which also suggests a much lower stability.

You can see that from the molecular diagram. Look at the way carbon-carbon bonds form in molecules, and what this does to the geometry of the molecule. By themselves, the bonds would 'spread out' until evenly separated in angle. In the pentagonal arrangement, the angles between bonds are not distributed evenly, which means that there is more energy stored in the bond than there is for the normal 'spread' of carbon-carbon bonds, lowering the energy that would be required to break the bonds. This is reflected in a lower temperature limit before degradation occurs. Depending on what the normal operating environment is, there may well be no noticeable difference in stability.

Comment: Re:So to cicumvent the screen locker... (Score 1) 375

by srmalloy (#48926723) Attached to: Why Screen Lockers On X11 Cannot Be Secure

... there has to be a trojan on the system or at least something connected to the X server over the network.

Not always; sometimes it's just bad design. At a previous job many years ago, I recall being able to demonstrate getting past the screen lock on Perq computers by taking advantage of processing lag -- when you hit the key combination that would bring up the password input to unlock the screen, it would briefly clear the screen lock and show the desktop -- with full access to the computer until the screen lock process updated and showed the password prompt, which blanked the rest of the screen. Doing this repeatedly, you would first open a new shell window, then run a ps -ef command to show the active processes, look up the process for the screen lock, and then do a kill -9 on the screen lock process, which got you back to the desktop. We wrote this up and sent it to Perq, and they went back and altered the screen lock code so that it didn't display the desktop when you hit the unlock key combination.

Comment: Re:Keypunch machine (Score 1) 790

by srmalloy (#48785135) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More?

Not just the chunk-chunk-chunk of the keypunch machine, but the rapid-fire chunkchunkchunkchunkchunk when you pulled a prank on someone and made a program card for one of the IBM 029 keypunches that declared every column a duplicate column and stuck it on the program card cylinder. Most people didn't look at the window you could see the cylinder behind, so if they started punching cards, when the first one left the punch station and hit the read station, with a second card feeding to the read station, it would automatically punch the new card as a duplicate of the first one in about a second and a half -- and then repeat the process over and over again until they figured out to turn the 'use program' switch off.

"But this one goes to eleven." -- Nigel Tufnel