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


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re: In many situations, Windows XP is secure. (Score 1) 137

The hardware cost is irrelevant. It's the cost and time to thoroughly test / migrate / rewrite lots of bespoke software, made to the lowest quality by some company like Accenture on a contract, for which the source code probably wasn't supplied and all the original developers have left. And if the system fails the Daily Mail will write about it. And the tories slashed the budget, so all that's left can just about cover the new thing the new regulation requires.

Comment: Re:It's finally time (Score 3, Interesting) 314

by xaxa (#49569469) Attached to: Feds Say It's Time To Cut Back On Fluoride In Drinking Water

Dental health is a service provided by people who spend money to outfit dental clinics. Same as medical professionals. As such, the market dictates the availability and costs.

Fire fighting service is [etc, etc].

It's amazing to me the number of people who think the government, who can't seem to run anything well,

That's a very American viewpoint. In other countries, government functions well. In others, it does well with some things, and badly at others.

Why should I have pay for someone to have a pretty smile??

Because they'll pay for you to have something you'd argue isn't essential, like fire protection, food safety, fertility treatments, counselling, etc.

Cataract surgery isn't covered until it affects ones ability to drive, not because someone just wants to see better.

My grandma is booked for cataract surgery in May. She's still OK to drive, the medical benefit is currently justified for her mental health (she's lost confidence with worsening sight). It's free on the NHS.

Comment: Re:danger vs taste (Score 1) 629

by xaxa (#49564875) Attached to: Pepsi To Stop Using Aspartame

Brands available in Britain (see here etc) list "maltodextrin". That's a polymer of 3-20 glucoses, and I'd guess at the higher end since only some of the mass is included in the "of which sugars" on the nutrition information.

Is that really much different than starch?

(The purpose is simply to dilute the über-sweet Stevia powder so you can use reasonable amounts.)

Comment: Re:danger vs taste (Score 1) 629

by xaxa (#49564789) Attached to: Pepsi To Stop Using Aspartame

For comparison, Tesco give the RDA of carbohydrate and sugar:

330ml of Coca Cola contains:
* Carbohydrate 35g, 13% RDA
* of which sugars 35g, 39% RDA

Surprisingly, the can itself only shows the "sugars" value and RDA. (In Britain, the supermarkets are much better at promoting these values, since their store-branded products are usually better -- probably because they have more flexibility to change the recipe.)

Comment: Re: Idiotic (Score 1) 591

Possibly because in the US there are so many more prisoners held on minor offences (drug possession, etc), who wouldn't even come close to considering suicide?

Per million population, the numbers become 1.43 in E&W and 1.63 in the US.

(NB, just England and Wales. Justice is controlled by the Scottish Parliament in Scotland, under a different legal system, so the figures are separate: 13 suicides (~0.16%!), 4.19 per M population. Small country bias, or is Scotland a particularly grim place to be imprisoned?

Northern Ireland: no suicides since 2010 [5 in the last decade], prison population 1465, country population 1.8M).

Comment: Re:Expensive (Score 1) 117

by xaxa (#49493477) Attached to: UK Company Wants To Deliver Parcels Through Underground Tunnels

Bored railway tunnels are only single-track, usually with two parallel bores. Here are some good photos, I believe the "cathedral"-sized cavern was built by digging down from ground level. The finished tunnel diameter is 6.1m.

The London Post Office Railway has 2.7m tunnels, so is pretty much what you want. It was shut down after the introduction of the Congestion Charge, since that removed enough traffic that it was then cheaper to use surface vehicles.

Comment: Re: Easy grammar (Score 2) 626

If English had official "tones" like Mandarin, we could distinguish between meanings of "fuck" used as a verb in writing, to visually indicate things like sarcasm. Actually, in a way, English *does* have an informal "system" of indicating the equivalent of _tones_ -- quotation marks, underlines, italics, boldface, and wikitext markup.

This is not what tones are like in Mandarin. Different tones change the meaning of individual words completely.

ma1 (high, level tone): mother

ma2 (rising tone): hemp

ma3 (falling then rising tone): horse

ma4 (falling tone): to curse

ma5 (no tone): makes a sentence into a question, a bit like adding "right?" (rising tone?) to a sentence in English.

Sarcasm in English applies to the whole sentence, and the tone is applied to the whole sentence, not the individual words.

(Also, a homonym is a word like "minute" (time, small). It's Latin for same-word. You described a same-sound, a homophone. This would be easy if English derived technical terms from smaller English words.)

Comment: Re:Money money (Score 1) 190

by xaxa (#49429213) Attached to: How do you contribute to open source projects?

Apparently as of this month, company account data for British companies (which Canonical is) is available for free download. It's a set of large zip files, and I can't find a nice website with an interface over it -- perhaps something will appear in the next few months.


Accounts data: http://download.companieshouse...

Company data: http://download.companieshouse...

Company number 06870835, "CANONICAL GROUP LIMITED".

Comment: Re: What an Embarrassingly Vapid Article (Score 5, Insightful) 477

I wonder about uber driverless. Without a person, what prevents people from trashing the car?

The same thing that prevents people trashing buses, or train carriages. Most people simply don't.

More than the train/bus, there's probably a record of exactly who hired the car, and before/during/after CCTV pictures can be recorded.

Comment: Re:software dev vs programmer (Score 1) 139

by xaxa (#49377783) Attached to: IT Jobs With the Best (and Worst) ROI

In England we call them, much more accurately, train drivers.

Interestingly, in France we call them chauffeurs, as in heaters. Because they used to have to shovel coal under the steam engine long before they could start them. And taxi and truck drivers are still called this way. Etymology...

That is interesting -- because chauffer in English means the person who drives your limousine.

The man responsible for the fire on a steam locomotive is called a fireman. (It's actually moderately skilled -- the fire is large, and needs to be balanced, and provide the right level of heat, and not waste coal. I had a go when I was about 13, unofficially on a tourist steam railway.)

Comment: Re:Maybe useful, maybe not effective? (Score 1) 175

I don't think you even need your eyes open. When I was at school I was given a tour of the local pharmacutical R&D company's facility. They had trouble with animal rights protesters, so the fence would alert security if it was knocked by a person and bring up the appropriate CCTV camera to that panel.

Comment: Re:Freedom, liberty and privacy, and the police (Score 1) 160

by xaxa (#49249625) Attached to: LAPD Police Claim Helicopters Stop Crimes Before They Happen

cops walking (note that walking and driving are NOT the same) a beat

I've heard the same thing. I wonder if it's because walking is slower than driving (stop beating the guy for a second as the car passes), or if it's because seeing 'people' has more of an effect.

Some of both, I think. Cars are very anonymous, and the driver will (hopefully) be concentrating on driving rather than observing.

A police officer on a bicycle can be a good halfway: they're still very much human (can speak and be heard, can stop immediately without blocking the road) but they can cover a wider area. Depending on local geography, they can get to some places faster than by car. About half the police I see around here (London, but not the centre) are on bicycles.

Nobody's gonna believe that computers are intelligent until they start coming in late and lying about it.