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Comment The Great Race ! (Score 4, Interesting) 183

'The Great Race' was a 1965 movie and also an American tradition. Competitors race from one side of the country to the other in various vehicles with various rules.

Self driving cars will surely do the same. They will be judged on safety and speed and technicalities like choosing the best route and handling obstacles. Car buyers will want this information and car makers will struggle to optimize their software to win the next race.

Comment legal considerations . (Score 1) 183

Do I still pay for insurance or can the cost of incidents be charged to the software maker?

Will the cost of my insurance vary depending upon the safety record of the software provider?

Will I be unable to use my vehicle if flaws are discovered in the software? This assumes that Big Brother can disable any vehicle or class of vehicles from a central control location. Which also assumes that Small Hacker can also disable vehicles. Which also assumes that forced updates will be required and that end user modifications will be illegal and detectable.

We may soon have adequate technology to make self driving cars, but the legislative and legal ramifications will take decades to work out. What software provider is big enough to survive the lawsuits that will grow from a deadly flaw? How will the software flaw be argued and proven/dis-proven before jurors in a courtroom? How many lawyers will get rich?

Comment journalism ! (Score 1) 1832

- look at this headline: "Ask Slashdot: How Can We Improve Slashdot?"

How many of these words need to be capitalized? Headlines have always been this way in /. Sometimes it is difficult to tell when a word is a proper noun or just a word. It's embarrassing to have that on my screen when someone walks by and assumes I'm reading some tabloid trash.

If you go to you will find headlines from the world's best news sources and some also rans. Some are like this but many use caps only when necessary. Which are more meaningful to you? Which are aimed at mature readers? Which are aimed at morons?

The days of massive bold newspaper headlines is gone. "Extra extra, read all about it!" sounds childish in this century. Let's have headlines that are functional, less hype. BTW, I like the clarity of this particular headline and whipslash's recent interactions.

Comment that's very logical, ha ha ... (Score 1) 246

So we agree that farm laborers might not need to know how to program computers. Most people don't need that information, and it doesn't apply well to any other area of interest.

But there is something that can benefit everyone including future programmers.

Logic. Real logic, not that soft stuff mentioned to high school or jr college students. Real logic is a form of algebra and uses algebra type symbols to analyze constructs of language and reasoning. It may be offered as a class for philosophy majors in better universities, but there is no reason that a fifth grade boy or girl wouldn't love discovering things with it.

I have enjoyed it all my life as a means to confuse and devastate my enemies with statements of exquisite illogic against which there is no argument for the uninformed. Likewise it is good training for politicians who wish to appear to say things that voters want to hear. Logic is the only protection against manipulation by them or other evangelists. Which is probably why politicians want us to learn programming instead.

Comment economics - (Score 1) 165

It might be best to weigh the relative cost in time and money:

1 Of buying the blocks you want
  - vs -
2 Of buying, tuning, programming, material cost etc of printing the same blocks.

You don't explain your desire to print blocks. Are you planning to compete with Lego by pirating their designs? Is there some configuration you must have that they don't offer? These considerations are part of the economic equation too. Of course if you are just an adult playing with commercial toys, maybe you don't value time very highly and you have more money then you can sensibly spend.

Comment show me a viable alternative . (Score 1) 105

Using v12.x from last year: I have direct access to 1000+ radio stations worldwide, sorted by genre in iTunes. Real radio stations, not made up music lists (although Apple offers that too in iTunes). Additionally I have access to 100,000+ worldwide radio broadcasts by plugging the internet address into iTunes (when I can find that information).

Beyond that I have access to uncountable podcasts, both audio and video on any imaginable topic. Then there is iTunes U which offers educational material from universities around the world. iTunes offers to organize all this on my hard drive, to sync it with other devices, to back everything up in the 'cloud', and even to filter content for children who might use the computer. Despite all that it does, iTunes is remarkably user friendly and attractive to look at. All this costs nothing. I can choose paid content very conveniently if desired.

I spend around 6 hrs/day with various iTunes content including TEDtalks; obscure podcasts related to my work; blues, jazz classical & zydeco radio and much more. If you know a program that offers more for less, tell us about it. I'm very sorry for the loss of radio stations in future versions, but I expect that they will still be accessible in the My Music folder by entering the broadcast address.

Comment Re:We know there are questions we can't answer. (Score 2) 225

You have chosen a very difficult math problem as your example. Anyone highly trained in some specialty field can do the same and befuddle outsiders. The challenge here is to state a simple question that anyone can understand, which is impossible to answer.

example: Can God make a chili pepper so hot that He cannot eat it ?

Comment end game (Score 3, Interesting) 225

This thought line reminds of two things that keep it in perspective:

1 The TED podcast of January 4 "Have we reached the end of physics?" by Harry Cliff. He points out that there are some things that we can never know (or prove with any foreseeable technology.) Big surprise!

2 Charles H. Duell was the Commissioner of US patent office in 1899. Mr. Deull's most famous attributed utterance is that "everything that can be invented has been invented." Whether this is a correct attribution is irrelevant to this discussion.

It is possible that at some point the rate of new discoveries and ideas will diminish, but history has shown the opposite- a snowballing increase in human knowledge in almost every area. Of course we will never know it all, never be able to prove all that we do know, but we will keep on striving.

Comment One or Nine keys ? (Score 1) 179

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

Submission + - Uncrackable DRM by 2018 (

swell writes: The end of game piracy? That's surely never going to happen, is it? According to well-known Chinese cracking forum 3DM it certainly is, and in as little as 2 years. The reason is a new way digital rights management companies are going about protecting games, with the key example being the protection used on Just Cause 3, released December 1st last year.

more at:

Comment Re:iBook . (Score 1) 148

Quite right according to
Only available for iOS & Mac at the moment.
Sorry to have assumed that, like iTunes, Apple would open the platform.

Contract terms are worth a close look. I've heard vague suggestions that both Apple and Amazon want exclusive access to your work; also that they want to dictate prices on their platform and elsewhere. (You can't sell elsewhere at a lower price...) But again, that is rumor and I can't find time to dig in for actual facts. OTOH, an open textbook such as the OP proposes might be free so price is not a concern.

Other concerns involve updates. There are indications that newer versions of iOS and Mac OS are not working well with iBooks and iBooks Author. The book Yellow Submarine (from 2010) is no longer listed at the iBook store. Another concern, if you are using a 16GB iDevice, is that something fancy like Yellow Submarine can take 370MB of space.

iBooks seem to be the best example of what is becoming possible with living, interactive books. They are in the same 'bleeding edge' category with wearable VR devices and 3D 4K video. If you can't afford the equipment (the Apple tax), you're out of luck.

In the end however, if you want your book to have magical properties, to be able to sing and dance in 17 dimensions, your only choice is iBooks. The Yellow Submarine book was an example of what is possible when creative people care about the user experience.

Comment iBook . (Score 1) 148

I have an iBook from several years ago of 'Yellow Submarine' (a variation of the movie featuring music of the Beatles). Pretty much every page has sound, animation, text, images ... and I can't remember if it includes extensive reader interaction. These Apple format books probably work on all devices where Kindle works (with the likely exception of proprietary, exclusionary devices).

Assuming that things have improved in 2016, it's probably a better platform now. I hear from creators that iBooks are easy to assemble.

You can wait a few more years/decades for other authoring systems to catch up. Or you can beat yourself up trying to hack something together. Do you want to publish or do you want to fiddle?

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