Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


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:Doesn't rely on carbon or oxygen? (Score 2) 69

by theVarangian (#49154333) Attached to: Methane-Based Life Possible On Titan

Methane is CH4. The C is for carbon. Come on people!

You left out the last part: "...does not rely on either carbon or oxygen for respiration". I'm no chemist nor am I an expert in exobiology so somebody who is may feel free to educate me if I' wrong here. Having said that, the way I understand it a hypothetical methane based life form on Titan would use complex hydrocarbons as an energy source by reacting them with hydrogen like for example reducing ethane and acetylene to methane and it would consume i.e. respire (inhale) hydrogen for that purpose. So the statement is correct, these Titanian life forms would neither respire (inhale) Oxygen nor a carbon based gas like life forms on earth do, just the hydrogen that is disappearing when it hits the surface of Titan. What you would expect to seen if such life forms existed on Titan. would be an unexplained disappearance of hydrogen (check) and methane being produced (check) with fluctuations in both as populations of these life forms grew and shrank for whatever reasons (seasons, radiation, predators, ...???). Of course there are other ways of explaining such fluctuations which is why we must send a rover to Titan a.s.a.p to do some research.

Comment: Re:Yeah... I don't think so (Score 1) 393

by theVarangian (#49070831) Attached to: PC-BSD: Set For Serious Growth?

Looking at it's Desktop environment (lumina), there is no way in hell PC-BSD will ever become widely adopted. It's a jarring shitfest of Windows-95 wanna-be hell designed by amateurs. If any OSS *nix has a shot at becoming mainstream by 2020, that would be Ubuntu. While they have their own issues, at least they understand how to put together a good looking UI, and their installer works quite well on consumer grade gear unlike most OSS *nix distros.

Looking at the PC-BSD reviews on Youtube I'd have to agree. I moved to OS X partly to escape the Windows 98 UI and while Aqua isn't perfect it is IMHO (your milage may vary) a helluvalot better than any iteration of Windows up to and including version 7. I'm always interested in new ways to interact with computers and the thing that continually disappoints me about many attempts by the FOSS community to come up with desktop environments is that so many fall into the trap of copying Windows. Ubuntu with Unity deserves some credit for at least knocking off OS X's Aqua rather than Windows but they didn't do a good job. The most recent efforts at improving the desktop that I have tried are Gnome 3 and Windows 8 with Gnome 3 being IMHO the clear winner and one of the best takes on re-inventing the traditional desktop that I have seen recently (an opinion that inspires near religious indignation in some people) although Microsoft deserves some respect for at lest trying to come up with something different (again, an opinion that inspires near religious indignation in some people).

Comment: Re:Maybe not on slashdot (Score 0) 74

by theVarangian (#48986871) Attached to: Photosynthesizing Sea Slugs Steal Genes From Algae

But I know many multicellular intelligent organisms that have engaged in horizontal gene transfer. Many of them probably shouldn't have.

Yes, even humans. It may be a little know example of horizontal gene transfer but if you stay vegan for long enough you start to grow grass on your head instead of hair, thus acquiring the ability to photo synthesize.

Comment: Re:Two things (Score 2) 825

Thank God for #1. This is a bad idea--giving a Liberal more money for whatever "reason".

As opposed to what? Giving a conservative a pile of money which he uses to start a totally unnecessary war in Iraq that cost 4488 soldiers their lives? Look at what a success that turned out to be!!

Comment: Re:Two things (Score 2) 825

1.The Republican Congress will never approve this idea. Never. 2. Europe closing tax havens? Africa is ripe to be next with new tax havens and super cheap manufacturing centers.

Does it really matter if the Republicans will approve of this? Perhaps Obama knows that every single Republican congressman is now getting frantic phone calls from every rich Ayn Rand reading jerk that ever contributed to his campaign. Obama also knows that taxing the rich is probably not going to bother the electorate that much. The common working American like any other working class person derives a certain amount of 'schadenfreude' from watching rich people squirm. The is especially the case if those rich people are tax cheats who, unlike the ordinary working American, can hide their earnings in foreign tax shelters. When the Republican party rises up on it's collective hind legs and fight this tooth and claw they will once again be perceived as the party that exists mainly to defend the rich at the expense of the American people since this money would be used to improve America's decaying infrastructure which ultimately would benefit everybody including the rich (even if they are to short sighted and greedy to see it). If I was Obama I would spend the rest of my presidency luring the Republicans into fights that they are dumb enough fight but that also make them look like they only care abut the rich, thus preparing the ground for the 2016 elections.

Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 1) 495

I think there's more going on here than just European "socialism" vs. American "capitalism". Demographics, for instance, are wildly different for the US.

Average population and population density for countries 1-15: 34 million and 193/km^2 United States population and population density: 316 million and 34/km^2

Yes, but if US capitalism is so superior to European socialism population density should be a trifling obstacle for private enterprise guided by the invisible hand of the free market. (Hint: that was more sarcasm).

Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 1) 495

Yeah, who would have thought that European 'socialism' would be more effective at bringing the internet to the masses than American private enterprise? But sarcasm aside, here are the world's 16 most connected countries according to a study done by Harvard University for the FCC:

1 Sweden


15 Portugal

16 United States

Did you make a top-16 just so you can include US?

Well yes... Listing the top 16 countries is sufficient to show where the US stands relative to Europe in internet connectivity and since the topic is why US internet is so much worse than it is in Europe reproducing the rest of the list seemed pretty pointless and not including the US would be pretty pointless too don't you think?

Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 5, Informative) 495

EU wide publically funded projects to bring high speed broadband across Europe?

We had plenty of choices for dial-up too, what we lacked particularly in the UK was free local calls, that made modem calls expensive compared to the US. Since then everything has been going our way.


Yeah, who would have thought that European 'socialism' would be more effective at bringing the internet to the masses than American private enterprise? But sarcasm aside, here are the world's 16 most connected countries according to a study done by Harvard University for the FCC:

1 Sweden
2 Denmark
3 Japan
4 South Korea
5 Switzerland
6 Netherlands
7 Finland
8 France
9 Belgium
10 Norway
11 United Kingdom
12 Germany
13 Iceland
14 Italy
15 Portugal
16 United States

Comment: Re:Oops (Score 4, Interesting) 211

by theVarangian (#48890847) Attached to: At Oxford, a Battery That's Lasted 175 Years -- So Far

Actually the janitor changes it once a week when he cleans the room.

Hehe.. maybe he is. The municipal power company in Reykjavik, Iceland built a Focault pendulum in their HQ as a showpiece. Local urban legend has it that after it was first installed the thing would stop swinging at seemingly random intervals which caused the artist and the physicist who designed it a lot of head scratching. No amount of calculations, physics theory and modelling could explain these mysterious disruptions in the predicted workings of the pendulum so finally they set up a camera to observe the thing. The footage showed the pendulum swinging away for hours and hours until suddenly a member of the cleaning staff walked into the frame, stopped, looked at the pendulum, reached out, stopped it with his hand and then walked out of the frame. Mystery solved... dunno if the story is true but it made me laugh.

Comment: Re:Best of 2009? May be, but we live in 2014. Righ (Score 1) 132

by theVarangian (#48632315) Attached to: Review: The BlackBerry Classic Is One of the Best Phones of 2009

that's the point of TFA. This thing would've been great in 2009. Now it's just serving a niche market of shrinking ex-crackberry users. Still, if it prevents RIM from disappearing from the face of the earth, that might count as a success.

The old style Blackberries weren't even very good back in their heyday. I got a Black Berry Curve 8320 in late 2007 and used it for about two years. The phones themselves, i.e. the hardware, was OK, I especially liked the Black Berry keyboard and the little trackball. However, I also concluded that the software and OS sucked ass big time if you wanted to use the Curve as a smart phone to surf the net or use apps to make your life simpler like we do with modern smartphones. And that is precisely what I have been buying large screen smartphones for since the early 2000s, to use apps. Even so I can see how the Curve was the perfect device for SMS and e-mail junkies since those were just about the only two things the Black Berry Curve series did really, really well. So I switched to iPhones the instant I could get my greasy paws on one back in 2009 and never looked back except to contemplate switching to Android a couple of times.

Comment: Re:EUgle? (Score 4, Insightful) 237

by theVarangian (#48476707) Attached to: Google Should Be Broken Up, Say European MPs

Why don't the Europeans start their own search and ad engine?

Oh, because they would lose?

What I don't understand here is Google does not have a monopoly on search services. They're just damn good at it and the market, with several other choices including Bing!, votes with its clicks. I'm not sure I see what's wrong with that.

This isn't about a monopoly per se. The issue is that Google has got the same business unit that handles their web search operation also pushing Google services. The result is that Google is actively discriminating against competing services and since these competitors don't have their own search engine with a dominant market share to fall back they are proverbially stuck up shit creek without a paddle. It's a bit as if, say America Online, owned world's entire internet backbone and was preventing competing ISPS world wide from accessing that backbone on equal terms in order to gain a competitive advantage for their own ISP division. That being said Google has an 80% market share in the US/Europe and that pretty much makes them a monopoly in my book or at the very least something pretty close to a monopoly and monopolies are IMHO usually bad. Many of the people on this forum screamed their heads off in the past when Microsoft was doing something like this. Instead Googles army of fanboys is now out in force again trying to paint a big yellow smiley over the whole thing.

Comment: Re:Yes, go ahead...Blame Apple (Score 1) 189

by theVarangian (#48476275) Attached to: Behind Apple's Sapphire Screen Debacle

Just a reminder GT did not sign on the dotted line, GT is not a real person not matter how many deceitful and disingenuous corporate types like to pretend it is, in order to shift responsibility away from themselves to other people and make them pay. So why would the corporate executives of GT sign, what kind of motivation would they individually need to risk their whole company in order to provide Apple the best deal possible. So how much money and risk could Apple save by investing in the executive team of GT, keeping in mind as per typical executive teams the one thing they always put in place for themselves is a golden parachute when it all fails. So how much would Apple have to shift from one offshore tax haven bank account to another offshore bank account to basically get corporate executives to stab their own company in the back, keeping in mind Apple could save hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the contract or eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars of risk.

Strange things go on in the world of finance where investment companies routinely buy into doomed companies, that enable vulture capitalists like Mittens Romney to make huge profits. For some strange reasons those executive teams of say pension funds go stupid and buy all sorts of crap for billions of dollars and yet they all still retire rich no matter how much other people's money they lose.

It should be pretty obvious by now when it comes to corporations, psychopathic corporate executives always act in their own interest and whether or not that serves the interests of the company they work for is completely arbitrary.

This is a case of over eager executives at GT biting off more than they could chew and a bunch of over eager executives at Apple trying way too hard to maximise profits with the result that everybody ended up with egg on their face. So IMHO they are both to blame. GT had the option of not signing a deal that was "onerous and massively one-sided" and telling Apple to go jump in a lake. As regards Apple they should have known better than to offer GT that crappy deal in the first place. I mean saving costs by not to installing backup power supplies on the sapphire growth furnaces, really? Contrary to what some people in the business community seem think you CAN actually end up paying a dollar for trying to save a cent. Somebody at Apple got too greedy and they deserve being a laughing stock of the tech industry as a result.

Comment: Re:In Finland (Score 2) 516

by theVarangian (#48465691) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

Similar in Sweden, where I live there have been maybe 5 outages the last 15 years, none of them long enough to create any problems aside from having to set the clock radio again.

And we have underground wiring. Areas with above ground wiring sees more outages.

This is also what annoys me whenever I have been visiting the US - the air is filled with wires high and low, which definitely destroys the scenery of the otherwise picturesque towns that are common in New England among other places.

This is one thing I have never quite understood about the USA. Even in places where hurricanes and earthquakes are common they put electric lines on wooden poles with the result that when an earthquake occurs or a hurricane blows through the streets are literally covered with downed power lines. I live in an earthquake prone region where we almost exclusively use underground wiring. We've never had an outage because of an earthquake. Come to think of it we've never had more than minor damage to buildings as result of even the biggest storms the N-Atlantic has thrown at us while the power grid didn't even notice the storms. This brings me to my curiosity over why Americans keep building houses out of wood in these regions? In California for example much of the earthquake damage seems to be wooden houses although they have noticeably strengthened building codes Californians are still stuck with a whole lot of vulnerable older houses. I was watching a documentary on the reconstruction of areas around New Orleans and along the Mississippi and I was surprised to see that these houses that had been destroyed were simply being rebuilt as they had been before without any attempt to adapt the architecture such that the habitable areas of houses are not at ground level. I have travelled in South East Asia where they have similar flooding problems as the Americans have around the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi river and most of the houses there are built on stilts with the habitable area upstairs while the area under the house is used for storage. It takes a pretty massive flood to reach the upper floors of houses that are built like that. There are companies that specialise in house liftings in the US, I'm surprised the practice is not more wides spread than it seems to be. I suppose it's just to expensive?

Comment: Re:Various hacking tools? (Score 2) 224

by theVarangian (#48460321) Attached to: Top Counter-Strike Players Embroiled In Hacking Scandal

I think the suggestion is that it requires *other* skills, namely hacking skills. However, since hacks would be wind up being distributed (after all, doesn't information want to be free, even if one person worked on it and everyone else is just freeloading?), the skill would be "researching hacks" rather than 'creating hacks".

Why bother with the hacks then? If you want unlimited wall hacks you might as well just hold your tournament in a flat open arena with no cover anywhere and disable all the equalisation algorithms. If you want a hacking challenge try hacking some major corporate network. This also has the benefit of being followed by a stretch of vigorous physical exercise as you try to run away from the FBI SWAT team.

Comment: Re:In an unrelated news item... (Score 3, Insightful) 334

by theVarangian (#48438237) Attached to: The EU Has a Plan To Break Up Google

Population count (507 mio. vs. 319 mio.) and GDP (18.4 trio. US$ vs. 16.8 trio. US$).

Given their superior regulatory environment, why does the EU only make less than 70% per-capita of what the US makes? Especially given that many US-headquartered companies are recognizing most of their revenue in Ireland.

Because the EU added several Eastern European nations as members who were, and to some extent still are, recovering from two world wars and 50 years as vassal states of the Soviet Union. Man of these countries are suffering through the usual corruption and political instability issues that plague all young democracies. Just try to imagine that the USA admitted a few dysfunctional South American countries with broken economies and a few tens of millions of poor working class citizens as new states of your union. The per capita economic output of the USA would take a bit of a nosedive. The reason that most US-headquartered companies are recognising their revenue in Ireland is because they are dodging taxes, the EU as a whole does not benefit from that because their corporate slime balls are doing the same thing. The only ones benefitting from the now famous 'double Irish' tax dodge are corrupt Irish politicians.

Build a system that even a fool can use and only a fool will want to use it.