Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


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:ignorant hypocrites (Score 5, Insightful) 320

by unrtst (#49142471) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

Holy crap! Are people actually buying into this BS?

Software coding/design is similar to solving a maze -- you just can't give an accurate estimate how long it will take to solve the maze.

WTF? Yes, you can give an ESTIMATE on how long it'll take to solve a maze. Go get a book of mazes; Do 10 of them; Time yourself for each one; You now have min, max, and average times for a maze of that size/complexity. Next time someone shows you a maze, you can make an educated guess about how large/complex it is, then give your best case, worst case, and normal/average estimates. Do the same for programming.

Estimates are good for repetitive or non-creative tasks...

They're also good for creative tasks. I went to college with a major in fine art and worked for years as a monument engraver (etching portraits/landscapes/etc on tombstones). If someone asked about how long it'd take to etc a 5x7 portrait, I'd have a VERY accurate estimate for them. Is that not creative enough for you? How about every single project for every single class for every year of art school? ALL of those had timelines, and every student became quite good at estimating how long each project would take so they could get them all done on time. And you could ask most of them (at least those with higher than a B average) how long it would take them to do a certain thing (ex. sculpt a bust in clay from a live model) and, if they were familiar with that medium, then they could give you a very good estimate.

Estimation in the software world is a scam perpetuated by managers and management to get developers to work extra hard.

If management is asking the devs for their estimate, then how in the hell is it management fault for any of those timelines? Let me put this another way... devs, BE SMARTER. You've been asked for estimates on more than one occasion. Most that are new to development will low ball (stating a best case estimate). If/When you do that, you're just setting yourself up to fail. The best outcome will be that you are on time, and every other outcome sucks for all involved.

If you're not good at estimating, just try, come up with your figure,then double or triple it. If you always come in under the estimate, then you manager may start adjusting your estimates... who cares? Let them. It's their fault if you don't meet their manipulated figure. However, if you're not giving a large enough estimate in order to get your work done, then it is YOUR FAULT if you fail to hit your own estimate!

All that said, there are cases where providing an estimate is unreasonable. On one end of the scale, if a manager is asking for very accurate down-to-the-hour estimates on vague but somewhat small tasks, then it's asking for too much (almost more work estimating doing the damn thing). On the other end of the scale, if it's some grand idea for a giant project with no plan yet, you'll be pulling figures from your ass just as much as he's pulling the project plan out his ass... but it is what it is. Just go big.

A lot of it is just about setting expectations. If you give them high estimates, then you're more likely to meet or exceed their expectations. They may dislike the figure at first, but when you come in under budget they will be very happy and forget all about how high the estimate started out. A high estimate is not "padding", it's setting expectations that you can meet (see the maze estimate above... use "max" and you'll be able to meet or beat your estimate every time, which is what all involved really want out of your estimate).

Comment: Re:Flash was NOT cool in the begining (Score 1) 188

by unrtst (#49131599) Attached to: Google Now Automatically Converts Flash Ads To HTML5

Scalar vector graphics and sound are cool, but Flash was not wonderful technology.

There was a lot of great stuff in it. ActionScript was WAY ahead of javascript for a long time, implementing fairly cutting edge ECMAScript.
The old interface was very simple and very easy to use with keyframes and animation and sound syncing etc etc... if that's what you wanted to make, it was pretty great.

Flash was foremost a huge CPU waster.

It grew into that, and really only once it was abused in awful ways. Simple stuff used very little CPU, and by that I mean P133 level CPU could handle it just fine.

IMO, the single biggest factor / thing that should have been done different : the plugin/player should have been open sourced. I'm not going to claim it would have solved all their problems, but things like dragging their feet on 64bit support for YEARS would have been solved, and I'm sure it would have got some assistance in other ways, and probably some forks for good measure, and wider platform support. DRM is a large part of why this didn't happen, and it's the second thing I would have change (they shouldn't have including that in it; let someone else implement that in actionscript and add some way to optimize actionscript better, for example).

On the HTML5 side, we're re-living some of the same mistakes. Where's the easy to use controls for what a page can do, and what I can dynamically enable/disable?

The only reason adblock (and similar) work is because ads are still counting impressions the same way they always have. It's be easy to change that technically by either:
a) deliver the ads proxied through the site, so they are sourced from the same IP.
b) deliver the site through the ad network. IE. treat the ad provider as a CDN and deliver the entire page content through it, and let them integrate the ads.

"a" would make impressions difficult to track (no secure way to do so).
"b" would require site operators to give up more control, but they'd also gain a CDN for free, and they could use that for caching as well to greatly reduce their own bandwidth. I don't know why this hasn't been tried.

In any case, we need proper controls, not filters.

Comment: Re:Ratio..? (Score 1) 395

You are correct about nutmeg.
But water is not near the ratio to kill you.

The LD50 of water is, admittedly, high (90, according to

However, the graph in the article is a ratio between the toxic dose (based on LD50) and the typical human intake.

The median lethal dose (LD50) for a human of 75kg when the amount taken is taken all at once is apparently 6 liters of water (ref: ). I don't know what it is if you spread that over 16 hours (typical waking day) etc etc.

The typical human intake... well, here's part of where their stat/graph go wonky. What's the timeframe? I usually chug about 1/4 - 1/2 a liter, then I don't drink for a while, and I usually have a nice healthy 6-8 glasses a day. Ratio between normal daily intake and the 6 liters is really low - like heroin low!

How much water can one drink in an hour before hitting the LD50? I don't know, but I'm guessing it's 8-10 liters.
How much does one typically drink in an hour? That's going to vary wildly.
On the high side, if it's 1 liter, then it's tying esctacy in their graph.
On the low side, if it's 1/8 liter, then water is still TWICE as bad as cannabis (around 80 vs 150).

The point is, their statistic sucks.

Comment: Re:So much for the 2nd Amendment (Score 1) 312

by unrtst (#49124237) Attached to: FedEx Won't Ship DIY Gunsmithing Machine

Is the mill in question over $50/lb?

Hehhehheh... I was wondering too, and how many other things qualify for that... I'm guessing quite a few. Of the top of my head:
* a pound of blue ray movies (or dvds, or cds, or vinyl)
* any tablet (kindle fire, ipad, galaxy pad, etc)
* any phone or ipod or wearable mp3 player
* headphones
* most laptops
* most musical instruments
* makeup/face creams/etc
* all bra's and panties, and most other articles of clothing
* bicycles that cost about $1000 or more (which is most decent ones)

Surprisingly, more expensive stuff tends to be ok. For example, Samsung 55" 4k UHD LED TV = $1099 and weighs about 44lb; At 44lb, it'd have to cost over $2200 to hit $50/lb. Or their curved 65" 4k UHD, which is $2197... but it's 70lb! I tried a couple other categories, and that trend seems to hold somewhat well (ex. really good speakers end up weighing a lot more; cheap ones are too cheap to qualify; mid-range ones *may* qualify).

FedEx should be denying most shipments!

Comment: Re: expression of a political preference (Score 2) 312

by unrtst (#49124117) Attached to: FedEx Won't Ship DIY Gunsmithing Machine

It's like telling police officers you smoke weed.

No... but it is like labeling the pipes your store sells as "hash pipes". Some stores (possibly only in certain states, especially now that pot is legalized in some states) will happily sell you bongs and small glass pipes and bubblers and one hitters etc etc etc so long as you do not refer to them by any of their cannabis-associated names. Some go a step further, and will ask you to leave the store if you do refer to them by those names, pretending that "they are not in the business of selling paraphernalia". This is a WHOLE LOT like that (though I think the store may have got in trouble with the law _before_ instituting that policy).

Comment: Re:So much for the 2nd Amendment (Score 2) 312

by unrtst (#49123469) Attached to: FedEx Won't Ship DIY Gunsmithing Machine

But yeah, they also have some severe restrictions on what they're not allowed to carry, and they err way on the side of caution. If you told them "this is a block of lead, and I plan to melt it for bullets", they may well refuse, and by some legal interpretations they might *have* to.

Item 780, section B-6:
Carrier will transport small-arms ammunition when packed and labeled in compliance with local, state and federal law, and the Hazardous Materials section of this Service Guide. Ammunition is an explosive and must be shipped separately as hazardous materials. You agree not to ship loaded firearms or firearms with ammunition in the same package.

So I'm damn sure the implied use for the lead wouldn't keep it from being shipped. There may be other reasons, but nothing due to bullets.

However, you can't ship:
Money (and, apparently, anything like it)
postage stamps
letters, with or without stamps
valuable paper of any kind
fresh food
Articles of extraordinary value (extraordinary value is defined as items valued in excess of $50 per pound per package).
film, photos, negatives, etc
tobacco products (unless shipped from and to a licensed dealer/distributor)

I found a few of those to be kinda surprising, but almost all of them tend to fall under some loose umbrella of "stuff you could use in place of money". The other excludes make sense in other ways... like "More than 100 pounds of NA3178, Smokeless Powder for small arms on any motor vehicle" and other "we don't want to blow up our drivers and the neighborhood around them" type stuff; or fresh food, where they probably just don't want rotting food attracting animals and bugs and generally being nasty.

They also won't ship firearms, unless it is from and to a dealer/distributor. This is where I think the gunsmithing machine hits a grey area. I'm 99.9% sure there wouldn't have been any problem at all if they just said it was a CNC mill, which it is. If it can pop out a complete firearm upon arrival and being plugged in, then it's just like sending the firearm (it can't do that, but they don't know that, and it says it'll make guns).

Comment: Re:Actually, ADM Rogers doesn't "want" that at all (Score 3, Informative) 400

by unrtst (#49122103) Attached to: NSA Director Wants Legal Right To Snoop On Encrypted Data

... I realize you think this isn't the case, and that all of your communications are being mined and monitored (illegally, no less), and since proving a negative is impossible, I won't be able to help in that regard.

While my thoughts on the general matter at hand fall somewhere between daveschroeder's and the AC, I feel it's a bit insincere to imply that all US communications are NOT being monitored at all unless a warrant is involved. As far as metadata goes, we *know* they are; Snowden leaks have shown it; it's been confirmed by multiple sources; it happening isn't really a question.

Are they logging the content of all communications, or monitoring it, or analyzing it, etc? I don't know. Maybe that's what you are referring to. AC will probably still argue with you, but being more accurate and honest about recent events would lend your argument a bit more credibility.

Comment: Re:Ratio..? (Score 1) 395

That's simply not true.

What isn't true? That water can kill you in high doses, or that the ratio between toxic dose and normal intake would rank it fairly high on their charts?
If you drink enough water within a relatively short time frame, you will die. Look it up. You have to drink a lot, but it's not an obscene or unreachable goal, though you would probably be very uncomfortable.

Nutmeg's ratio wouldn't come close on their chart. Sure, it's sold in quantities that *may* kill a human, maybe a child, but the regular dose is a light dusting of it. It's overdose ratio is probably up there near cannabis.

Comment: Re:How does this compare to radio? (Score 1) 303

by unrtst (#49113551) Attached to: Pandora Pays Artists $0.001 Per Stream, Thinks This Is "Very Fair"

Hahahahahaha! $4.99/month for what is little better than radio, (which as far as I know is still free,)...

Satellite radio (SiriusXM) packages start at $9.99/month and go up to $18.99/month. If you want to listen to Howard Stern, or any sports, or their up to the minute traffic and weather, or get any of the 70 stations not included with the cheaper plan, then you need the more expensive option. If you want to listen to sports and that includes both NFL and any other one (MLB/NHL/NBA/etc), then you need the most expensive package.

When the two were competing (Serius and XM), the lineup differentiation made sense. Now that they're one company, it just looks like they're milking it for every dime they can get:
$9.99 = 80 channels that are essentially those in common between the two
$14.99 = 140 channels from the old lineup (either the Sirius lineup (howard stern, NFL, NASCAR) or the XM lineup (MLB/NBA/NHL)).
$18.99 = 150 channels with the combination of both of the special features.

$4.99 for ad free pandora seems about right. Granted, I think they should all be cheaper, but I rarely listen to anything.

Comment: Re:Payment Gateway Access is No Accident (Score 1) 57

by unrtst (#49106621) Attached to: Iran Allows VPNs To Make Millions In Profit

This probably holds true for local VPN providers or those run by the government itself. But any service outside Iran would see no reason to cooperate with the Iranian government.

They are businesses, therefore they want/need money.
There is little risk in this. If the (Iranian) user complains or sues, to whom will they complain? The user was breaking the law.

In general, you're probably right. However, if the Iranian government wanted, they could simply block access to that outside VPN that was not working with them, thus artificially limiting the users choice to those that abide. It's really not a far stretch of the imagination to think that may be happening.

Comment: Re:The best trick (Score 1, Interesting) 256

by unrtst (#49106401) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Parental Content Control For Free OSs?

and the children have unlimited time to get around it.

Someone really needs to define "children". This conversation is an absolute mess without defining the terms we're using (include a description of the various levels of "bad" content as well).

you have already "lost" already and I don't get it how it's really different than 20 years ago. I mean, was goatse so different 20 years ago or what the fuck? bbs's were full of xxx pics and texts too, raunchier than what you would read in hustler.

I was around and of prime age when BBS's were popular, and I had two computers, but we didn't have a modem, and I didn't see anyone that had one. This has little to fuckall to do with this conversation :-)

How was it different back then? In that, there IS a huge difference. The entry age to someone getting access to these areas was MUCH different. The percentage of children under 8 that had unfettered and unrestricted access to BBS's was nearly, if not absolutely, zero. Today, the percentage of children under 8 that have unfettered and unrestricted access to the internet, often via a phone, ipod, or tablet, is significant**.

** I don't know the exact figure, but I have eyeballs. I can see enough kids with those things that I know it's non-zero.

Combine those two, and there's a solid case for internet filters. Add to that the idea of "surprise" links or posts, such as cat videos that end up being dickspin, and there is plenty of reason to have, at a minimum, some basic filters on all items with access to the internet that your kid uses.

Lastly, why the hell is everyone shying away from the actual question? Who cares about the motivation?!? Maybe he wants to sell it to people he knows? Or maybe he just wants to know what's out there for some other reason (to build something else off of those tools)? Why do you care so much about the absolutely useless part of the question, and why are you ignoring the core question?

Comment: Re:Huh? (Score 4, Insightful) 220

by unrtst (#49077157) Attached to: Obama Says He's 'A Strong Believer In Strong Encryption'

Obama said,"The first time that an attack takes place in which it turns out that we had a lead and we couldn't follow up on it, the public's going to demand answers."

That's utter BS.
* If it's some local law enforcement types, they've already been unable to do this in a timely manor for ages. The public doesn't demand answers because the answer is clear - the data was thoroughly encrypted.
* On the other end of the spectrum, if it's something we're not allowed to know about (NSA level terrorist stuff), then the public won't know about it to ask any of those questions.

Some edge cases in between those:
* it's still high level, but the public does know the NSA knows... then they can clearly get a warrant and trace the source. They also have the most massive amounts of cpu power and maths to throw at the problem, so if anyone will get to the root, they will (assuming it's something they have full authority to rampage after full force).
* If it's still local law level, but pretty important, they can also escalate and get warrants and get the FBI/etc involved as needed.

In either case, a backdoor doesn't solve the problem if said person is using something that doesn't have a backdoor (or has one unknown to the agency working the case). Backdoors have been identified (and originated in the NSA) before, and none of those helped all the normal cases (state/local). We have no idea if that helped any other cases that were top secret (and/or questionably legal), or to what extent... but that doesn't matter with regards to Obama's statement because we, the public, won't be demanding answers if we don't know about it.

Besides, if he's only worried about saving face, that's an awful reason for anything.

Brain off-line, please wait.