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Slashback: Behaviorism, Attrition, Elimination 235

Welcome to another episode of Slashback, laden with bits about the psychology of the Apple Cube, damage-control parity among handhelds, mourning the passing of a Linux-friendly ISP, technicalities of credit, and aliens. Can you ever read enough about aliens, anyhow? Enjoy.

Its maddening combination of color and shape drive one completely in -- No, wrong cube. Savage Henry Matisse writes: "There's a really super article analyzing the psychology behind Jobs' most recent flight of fancy, posted here. The thrust of it is that, rather than being a replay of the NeXT FUBAR or another instance of being too-far-ahead-of-his-time, the CUBE is really a very sly piece of manuevering meant to shoehorn Macs into the corporate compu-hierarchy from the top down. Very insightful-- an analysis kinda along the same lines as Neal Stephenson's In the Beginning was the Command Line" And for those who prefer the practical to the theoretical, RevAaron writes: "Many of us have been wondering about some of the details of Apple's newly released Power Macintosh G4 Cube, including whether or not it has an AGP slot or just a chip soldered onto the board. Listen to the story from the lead designer of the cube here at MacSlash."

Well technically, they'd still block excess light from your eyes ... FroBugg writes "Handspring has just released an OS upgrade for all their Visor handhelds, which is supposed to fix the DRAM problem that caused crashes and data corruption. Go get it here." This is the same RAM Problem Palm devices have as reported a few weeks ago, at which point no fix was out for Visors.

The end of a (very brief era): dubious_1 writes "The free internet service provider http://www.freewwweb.com has ceased operation. The service provided by freewwweb used ppp and pap authentication for its dialup making it available to users of any operating system. Users of freewwweb agreed to set their web browsers home page to a page used by freewwweb, to allow them to support the service through ad revenue. According to the web page you are redirected to when accessing the previous freewwweb.com site, the service lost by the demise of freewwweb is now being filled by Juno however, this service is only available for users of MS Windows 9x and nt. Unlike freewwweb, Juno uses a proprietary front end to authenticate users on their service. The web site specifically says that this client program is not available for either Linux or MacOS."

One recurrent Ask Slashdot question is about this very issue -- Where are free ISPs for Linux users? I wonder if there are any good answers now that freewwweb has snuffed it. Surely if billions of dollars are there to be made with free-for-the-viewing television programming, there's no reason that ad-supported ISPs should be uncommon. Can you say "target market"?

Credit where credit is due. We mentioned a fraudulent site established to mimic the look of online personal credit-card site PayPal. Jawed Karim writes, "You incorrectly mention that your credit card can get stolen by becoming a victim to the fake PayPal site. This is not true. The credit card is not exposed when you log into your PayPal account. Just wanted to make this clear. (The same correction has been made to the MSNBC article, at the bottom of it)"

Well, isn't the danger that customers lulled into thinking they were on the right site would be also lulled into giving their information away? Someone sure wants to steal credit card information with this site, but yes, it's more of a social engineering trick than an automated number grabber.

Yes sir, we know that the damn cat is still in the box. Swede2048 writes: "Lots of people think that SETI is a hopeless adventure, and mostly a waste of time and processing cycles. [including many who read yesterday about the "SETI-on-a-board product" ;) -- t] For those who haven't read it yet, last month's Scientific American had a great article describing the results SETI has already provided. By NOT finding e.t.life in the searched sky, SETI has placed some restrictions on what kinds of e.t life can exist."

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Slashback: Behaviorism

Comments Filter:
  • There is one Linux friendly ISP out there that I know of. FreeInet [freeinet.com] is similar to NetZero [netzero.com] in which is uses ad interface for the service. However, it can be bypassed in windows with just a regualr dial-up connection which means that Linux users can also follow suit. Now with this method, this also means that you are bypassing how the company stays in business, so if you must have free internet access and you bypass the ad interface for FreeInet [freeinet.com] then please do the right thing and at least spend some time each day on their homesite clicking on some adds.

    I know, it may be boring, it may seem stupid, but there really arn't too many Free ISP's that are Linux friendly. Let's try and help those that are, and maybe in return, more companies will follow suit. The Linux community is to large to be ignored completly.

  • No, I was just trying to offer some helpful clarifications...
  • I don't think that's the point. The article focuses more on the Fermi paradox, which exists independently of SETI@Home. Essentially, if aliens really do exist, then Fermi suggests that we should see some unmistakable sign of their existence.

    Since we do not, then we must ask "where are they?" SETI@Home is not the end all and be all of searching for alien life, it is just one of the many factors contributing to the overall whole of the Fermi paradox. Think of our lack of success with SETI as not being proof that there is no life, only one small piece of circumstantial evidence.

    Over time, we will gain more evidence through many different ways. Humans may not know anything definitive about life in the universe for thousands of years.

    Personally, I find this to be more of a philosophical musing than a statement of scientific fact. One must admit that the implications of Fermi's paradox, while possibly wrong, do say a lot about our place in the galaxy. Who are we? Where did we come from? Where would other civilaztions come from? Why? Why not?
  • On NT you can just do a "start /low setiathomeclient" batchfile and run it at low priority. You already should be running your DB server at /high or /realtime, right? Oh and turn off the stupid priority boost on foreground apps. I can wait 2 extra seconds for my User Manager For Domains to come up but the background is where the real work happens on a good server. It is POSSABLE to get NT up to an OK level of performance/stability. It Just takes alot more than a 2 week MCSE!
  • And insisting in doing SETI is inhuman. I mean, enough of the people in *our* planet are starving; yet all these self-described geeks would rather find out if there's life in another planet than see if there's still life in Somalia.

    You can do both, you know...

  • technology won't fly the food across an ocean

    Ummm... and birds will? Or are airplanes no longer technology? Do you think that the Wright brothers built an airplane to feed somalians? Hell, I bet they didn't know what Somalia WAS. They built an airplane to see if they could BUILD AN AIRPLANE. It has been other people since who have applied that technology to help people.

    It may not be possible to see now, but I bet something very similar could happen with SETI. Distributed.net is great and all, but no distributed project until SETI really grabbed the common American's attention. Just by asking the question, you have already found an audience for helping people with a distributed project. I argue that w/o SETI@Home, these new ideas would not have happened for a long time.

    It is all well and good to rant about meat production. We'd probably be a lot healthier w/o it. Unfortunately, it would piss MANY people off. As good as that might make YOU feel, it is a damned poor way to actually get anything done. You have to decide whether it is more important to you to accuse the rest of this nation of being heartless (thereby making yourself feel good)or whether it is more important to you to work with people who don't share all of your views in order to achieve your goals.

    Enough grain is produced today, even with the meat industry, to feed the world. This is, in part, to basic research that has enabled us to grow disease resistant and drought resistant grains. There is a significant research project funded by the US Dept. of Agricuture to develop a grain that will grow in the terrible conditions on the Horn of Africa, to be GIVEN to Somalians. Having all those people quit their jobs to go "help people" as you seem to view it would be a detriment to Somalians in the long run.

    Anyway, this post has gone on much longer than you really deserve. I'm sure it won't change your mind in the slightest. But, maybe, you should think about it, huh?

  • Here the US is responsible for the death of over half a million children.

    Ahhhh, your true colors finally appear. It's America's fault. (Oh, *I*'m sorry... the US. Because people might think I meant Paraguay when I said America...). Saddam Hussein is responsible for those deaths. What America is responsible for is not letting Saddam bully us into letting him feed his people AND build up an NBC weapons stockpile. Saddam has proven over the past ten years that given a choice between (a) delivering food to his people and (b) buying another tank, he will choose the tank EVERY DAMN TIME. Saddam will feed himself and his army. Everyone else is merely a distraction to him. I personally think that one of Clinton's few foriegn policy triumphs has been his refusal to back down on the oil-for-food program.

    Do not demonize the US for killing Iraqi children. Demonize Saddam Hussein.
  • by iCEBaLM ( 34905 ) <icebalm@ice[ ]m.com ['bal' in gap]> on Monday July 24, 2000 @06:30PM (#908350)
    Essentially, if aliens really do exist, then Fermi suggests that we should see some unmistakable sign of their existence.

    Maybe we do see it and just don't understand or can't comprehend what we're seeing. If you built a 8 lane highway right next to an ant hill would the ants understand what was going on? No. For all we know aliens have built a super-hyper-transwarp highway right next to our solar system.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • >Yes, you're right. I don't exempt much of the U.S.
    >from the "we are the world" mentality. There are
    >way too many people willing to appease tyrants
    >rather than support fighters for freedom.

    Okay, you think the US should stand up to tyrants and put them down. That's all well and good. I agree. But for every person who thinks that we should NOT appease tyrants, there's someone who, when America DOES fight tyrrany, will accuse the US of "imperialism" or "hipocracy" or other imaginary crimes.

    Examples, you ask? Look at the outcry when:

    NATO moved to protect ethnic Albanians in Kosova from slobo milosivich's plans for genocide.

    America has been decicedly anti-castro for decades now (up until clinton recently decided to start sucking up to him).

    We certianly haven't been "appeasing" saddam hussain these last ten or so years.

    In each of these cases (and I could name more), where America (okay, and our allies, I'm not leaving you out on purpose) HAS adopted a policy of standing up to tyrrany, there wss as much of an outcry (imperialism, warmongering, etc.) as there would be (from a totally diferent set of people) if we had done nothing, or supported the regime in question.

    It's a Kobiyashi Maru situation.

    You can't please everybody, so you take the middle ground, pick your battles, and try to do what's in the best intrests of your citizens. And, all too often, just wind up pissing everybody off.

    Sux to be president, eh? Who was it again who said, of the presidency, that anyone who WANTS the job, should, by no means, be allowed to have it?


    Resistance is NOT futile!!!

    I am not a drone.
    Remove the collective if

  • Try teaching to fish to somebody who is dead.

    Hell, if they're dead, let's cut 'em up and toss 'em in the stew. Just because they are dead is no excuse not to contribute to the elimination of world hunger.


  • SETI isn't directly detecting intelligent life, it's just detecting a side effect of it: strong, point-sourced radio waves that may, or may not have a pattern, but are definately not background radiation or interference.

  • I see what you're saying! Technology won't help grow more food,

    There is no need to grow more food than what is already grown. The world produces enough to feed everybody well with current technologies.

    Also, the countries where malnutrition is the most prevalent have food surpluses.

    technology won't allow people contribute money to the cause,

    Money doesn't solve problems.

    technology won't fly the food across an ocean,

    Why would you want a people to depend on food flown in by strangers across an ocean? You want people to produce their own food crops.

    technology won't improve distribution channels in a country

    Repeat: you want countries to grow their own subsistence crops. A big cause of hunger worldwide is having a privileged few control the land, who grow cash crops in order to export to the 1st world. You can do a lot of things in your immediate environment to counteract this. For example, eat what is produced locally. Diminish or eliminate your consumption of beef-- the amount of grain and water used to produce one pound of meat is huge. Even better, become a vegetarian. Together we can make the international meat industry collapse, and free up huge amounts of grain for the starving.

    And, check out this article [ora.com].

  • ...to make up for the curves on the iMac. Aesthetic balance, you know.

    I seem to recall somebody talking about the "bubbelization of America" when the iMac was still causing a stir. I will be really amused if the Cube takes off, and somebody laments the "cubization of America".

  • That's clearly not true. Re-read the paragraph yourself, my friend. It states that the maximum any sponsor will have to pay is 150% of the largest amount in the last 30 days. This means that if the maximum donations in the last 30 days was 300,000, but then it hits 500,000, the sponsors will only have to pay 450,000 for that day -- but the next day the most they will have to pay will have increased to 750,000!

    You are wrong. I see nothing wrong with letting some corporations foot the bill for food.

  • 1) For those of you in New Zealand that seek a free ISP that is Linux (or any other OS) friendly, i4free [i4free.co.nz] is very excellent. I have now been using them since they pretty much started and am very happy with their service. The fact that they are working on WAP and other advanced services makes them even more desirable. I know of no other free service provider in New Zealand doing what they're doing.

    2) I don't know if anyone else has ever thought of this, but I was reading some information from the July feature article [sciam.com] of Scientific American and thought to myself, "What if we are the most developed, most advanced civilisation in existance?". Think about it. What if we, mere humans of planet Earth, are the most technologically and socially advanced living creature in the universe? Our broadcasts and attempts to reach other life may not be failing because there's nothing out there, but more so because maybe no one else has the ability to broadcast using light, sound or radio let alone receive the broadcasts. This is the complete inverse to what we've always assumed. So far we've assumed that life out there is at a similar or more advanced technological level to ourselves, but maybe we're the more advanced.

    Nothing outstandingly mind numbing, but it is a possibility and something to think about on those long boring nights trying to get a program finished or server back online.

  • > Why should we waste our time trying to save people who choose to live where there is no food?

    Are you implying that the people who are starving have the option to move to another country?
  • by Tiro ( 19535 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @05:09PM (#908359) Journal
    Quite frankly, you show a very naive understanding of the problem. Third world people do not starve because of a lack of food, they starve because a) their government is corrupt, and/or b) they do not have sufficient capitalism.
    We're going OT here, but this isn't a full picture at all. A lot of the shortages are because of (c) crop failure and (d) people being driven from their homes.

    The latter is caused when war breaks out when rebels try to overthrow their corrupt governments. Another cause is infantile border disputes, such as the one currently going on in Eritrea and Ethiopia. What ends up happening either way is people become refugees for long periods of time while their fields and homes are destroyed. They have to rely on UN handouts because they are poor and there are shortages. Also the incredible amount of wealth spent on armaments and soldiers is lost, spent on war when it is needed for infrastructure.

    The former cause is from whacked out weather. Things have been strange since El Nino and the entire world's weather patterns have been affected. Whether or not pollution is the cause is not known. Hopefully this is a short term phenomenon but no one knows for sure.

    You are absolutely right that world hunger (especially in Africa) has mostly political and economic causes, but "to help the people overthrow their government" is crazy. The anarchist in me likes it, by the realist doesn't.

    We see the recent elections in Zimbabwe. The people are poor and hungry and the economy is going from bad to worse, but the ruling Xanu PF held their freeist and fairest election in the nation's short history a month ago. Other countries are in similar conditions, with emerging democracy and strong opposition parties. These certainly should not be overthrown.

    Certainly some other places might end up better if their dictators were deposed or overthrown by rebels. But in doing so you open up a huge can of chaos! Right now the Congo is being ripped apart by five or so different nations all fighting its "civil war." What's going on there is like Africa's version of the Thirty Years War (1518-1548). The reality there is utterly depressing.

    What Africa needs is a growing middle class and an African Union. Union could start cooperation and bring peace among African nations, and the middle class could bring the economic leadership needed.

  • I mean, the odds are just insurmountable, and how would it help us if we discovered that there's another sea route for the vital Indian spice trade that's too far for us to go, or for them to come?

    I think the differences between this and SETI are very easily quantifiable. This doesn't even deserve an answer.

    And insisting in funding Columbus is inhuman. I mean, enough of the people in *our* country are starving; yet all these self-described explorers would rather find out if there's an alternate sea route than see if there's still life in Seville.

    But here the analogy is spot-on. The Spanish crown should have cared more about feeding the famished Sevillans; instead of that, they genocided people like the Taínos.

  • With any window manager you can shift windows around wherever you please. With Windows, ad bars can be forced on-screen (unless you use a Visual Basic craX0r) so that you have to look at them. The fact that Linux users won't have to stare at the ads should be reason enough for NetZero et al. to abandon the plan. They just issued a press release with "Linux" in the text so that their stock would rise a bit.

    From what I've heard, though, NetZero's one of those companies that _forces_ you to click on an ad every so often or be disconnected. But hey, that's nothing a little scripting (on Linux or otherwise) can handle, right?
  • So you call me a troll. Since this is /., what it means is that you disagree with me, yet have no counterarguments. Could you at least tell us what is is precisely that you disagree on, even though you can't defend your position?
  • I can strongly recommend UKLinux [uklinux.net] for those in the UK. Performance is good, and they offer 20Mb free web space with PHP, Perl and MySQL freely available on it.
  • Okay, Mr. Martinez, I'll bite. This experiment is very important, and can end up helping everyone.

    First a few facts. Most of SETI is passive, i.e. just throwing something on unused systems and let it sit in the background collecting data. Araceibo, the radio observatory used for this, has a small instrument package on it that collects the data while other scientists do the searches for the other whos whats and whys of this universe. If you don't think that searching for the answers of where we came from and why we're here, you need a bit more curiosity. It takes very few resources, and will not cause crops to fail, people to revolt, the nukes to go off, as you seem to be suggesting.

    Second, helping starving people is noble, if the people want true help and not just a handout. Most of the problem is that the leadership in the countries where most of the starving people live are extremely opressive, and any attempt to change will be met with protest and fighting. You have to give these people things that they don't want, like freedoms of mental, social, and economical choice, no pseudo-democracies, no "people's" rebellions that 99.99% of the time quickly fall into.

    Unless you can get people to throw down their want to arbitrarily control someone else, then we will continue to have opression, regardless on who's in control.

  • Freewwweb went bankrupt in late June, and Juno bought out their existing customer base. The DOJ doesn't have anything against that.

    I liked Freewwweb, but I really had to question how they were making money. I didn't get any more spam, I didn't have to set their site as my home page, and I usually got very good connections, even during peak times (I'm in the New York suburbs). Oh well, at least this thread has given me some ideas so that I can unshackle myself from Windows before I go back to school.
  • This wasn't in the text of the article, but it's an update on recently posted material [slashdot.org].

    This article [canoe.ca] on Canoe.ca [canoe.ca] states that Jimmy Smits, Samuel L. Jackson, and Anthony Daniels have already left the Sydney set of Star Wars. Smits is already done his work (having only been announced that he was cast on Friday!), Jackson is done dialogue and must return in August to do a few action scenes, and Daniels will return briefly for work in Italy (Naboo) and Tunisia (Tatooine).
  • Of course you're assuming that this advanced culture works similarly to ours. Which is pretty doubtful considering how many distinct cultures we earthlings can come up with on our little planet.
  • by ahawk ( 31024 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @03:48PM (#908368) Homepage

    I got your free ISP for Linux right here: http://www.WorldShare.net [worldshare.net].

    On their front page, they state,

    "Worldshare supports dial-up to the following systems: PC, MAC, WebTV, Linux, Unix, DirectPC & Sega Dreamcast"

    They seem like nice folks, but I've had no dealings with them. Anyone out there had any problems?

  • "And insisting in doing SETI is inhuman. I mean, enough of the people in *our* planet are starving; yet all these self-described geeks would rather find out if there's life in another planet than see if there's still life in Somalia. "

    The world must look to the future, and that future is getting off this dust laden ball of rock and expanding. If people like you had their way an increasing amount of resources would be spent on people like those in Somalia who's actions show them to be no more than monkeys with guns, and eventually so much resources will be pissed away on touch-feely projects Earthside that will not solve anything that it will become impossible to have enough resources to commit to expanding into space. You want less strip mining for metals on earth? Space is where to get metals. You want less chemical production on earth? Space is where to get the chemicals, and where to refine the chemicals.

    Finding life on another planet would give a world wide impetus in expanding space sciences, and would create more opportunities and less crap.
  • Fuck 'em. Starvation is nature's way of telling you that you're not wanted.
  • You can do both, you know...

    Yes, but this is beside the point. I was addressing the fact that the SETI craze is symptomatic of deep problems within our modern industrial societies. The fact is that there is something ugly, something evil about our so called "civilizations", which results in people having their priorities completely fucked. Like dedicating resources to building dedicated SETI cards, while others, not only in faraway lands, but in their own city, are malnourished.

  • e) long or short term resource flight.

    The african countries (and to a lesser extent also parts of asia) have lost a large part of their resources to "export" over a long time. More dramatic is the case of the former USSR, which saw basically all of its captial flee (into the swiss bank accounts of shady people who, incidentally, were friends of the people running the capitalisation) overnight.

    Once the captial is gone, you are basically in the hole. Any amount of good management (read government) isn't going to make a difference if you have no resources to manage.
  • you can go to The Hunger Site [thehungersite.com] and still use SETI for your unused cycles. A great solution, non?
  • I went to their signup page - it SAYS they require Windoze AND M$ Internet Exploder to use it (can browse with Netscape but needs M$IE to connect - does this sound dumb? or dumber?) But I sent a note to FreeI (they announced Mac support, I asked them "How about Linux?"), and they said they are working on it - maybe - and suggested that a little push, something on Slashdot to work up some interest. I quote " If you wish us to be in Linux, please tell your friends, post this email in Slashdot and entreat them to email support@freei.net." So let's go, gang!!!!
  • enough of the people in *our* planet are starving

    I've got a friend that makes the same arguments about space exploration. "Why waste time doing it when there are people suffering here."

    I'm not sure what these people want us to do, go back to a horse and cart? Bang stones together and live in a cave? Do you know where the dish is that they use for this? hmm, it's in Puerto Rico. Is Puerto Rico a 1st world country? Doesn't this mean that there is money being spent there that normally wouldn't?

    Stopping progress doesn't help anyone. Sure if we all shared it would be a lovely world, but people don't. They are greedy. sure, they give a few bucks here and there, but how many people do you let into the USA or Australia every year?

    Our PM tells us that Australia is going great, but not that great that we can let people stay that have no homeland.

    Why do we send them back? Because our quality of life will go down. People say: I want to help the starving people of the world, but god forbid that I can't buy that 68" TV and DVD for the bathroom.

    If (when?) we do find something, could you imagine what would happen to the people on the planet? We are not alone... I like to think that it might unite us a bit more than we are now. And if there isn't life out there, doesn't that prove how fragile and precious life is here, and maybe we might start to look after it a bit better. I think that Carl Sagan made some points like that.

    sorry, just tired really tired. You we're probably only trolling anyway.

  • how does the design, manufacture, and subsequent sale of the card help the malnourished? I'm not thinking of the card-maker-in-extension, but the one in-intension. (Read Frege if you don't get this.)

    That giver-of-food-to-the-malnourished is not an intensive property of SETI-card-maker does not mean that withholder-of-food-from-the-malnourished is. That is your assumption. Maybe he spends the rest of his free time in soup kitchens. Maybe he's giving the proceeds of his sales to the homeless. Maybe the proceeds from this sale keeps him from being homeless and therefore one less mouth that you have to feed. You're shitting on this person based on one thing he did, knowing literally nothing else about him.

    You assume that SETI results won't somehow help the starving.

    Quite a reasonable assumption, isn't it? How will SETI help feed the starving?

    I don't know. That's the whole point of science. If we knew ahead of time how any particular scientific endeavour would help humanity, we wouldn't need to do science.

    Should we all quit our jobs and stop having social lives so that we can dedicate every waking hour to feed starving people?

    No. Where did you get that idea? not from me.

    Well, you're the one telling people that running a SETI client on their computers means that they are a scourge on humanity and that they cause people to be malnourished.

  • SETI@home is looking for radar pulses. Those are likely to be at a constant frequency and perhaps easy to detect.
    ( \
    XGNOME vs. KDE: the game! [8m.com]
  • Well, the way it reads to me, it seems that in any 30 day period the total is NOT actually FIXED, but can only grow at a gradual rate.

    Have you ever heard of the concept modifier scope ambiguity? For every day, there is a fixed maximum amount of money the sponsors may donate that day.

  • But red meat is so tasty... I couldn't give it up... that and I've never been a big fan of vegetables.

    Better make it Vegan, while you're at it - milk and cheese are pretty costly in the grain dept, too...
  • In addition to Freewwweb, I had the dubious distinction of using WorldSpy as well which was swallowed by JUNO a few weeks prior to Freewwweb's demise. Personally, I had no real connection problems with either other than you might expect when living in rural VA (26.4Kbps average connection - no complaints).

    I also felt as though the responses I got from JUNO's tech support were noteworthy for their lack of any basic grasp of the facts other than the average PC's being powered by electricity rather than rubber bands. Of course, I may be reaching a bit there.

    I did send out a letter to JUNO's president asking that they consider some level of service offering for Linux users. My stab at a windmill perhaps, but I thought it needed doing.

    NetZero has announced that they're working on a Linux version of their "Zeroport", but declined to give a date in response to my e-mail. At least, they appeared interested.

    For now, I'm using the nearly-free WorldShare.net which seems like a reasonable alternative and does offer the fact that you can target a favorite charity. They require taking part in regular surveys, but the ones I've seen so far haven't been too offensive.

    Ah, but what's a penguin to do??

  • For all we know aliens have built a super-hyper-transwarp highway right next to our solar system.

    And any moment now we can expect them to destroy Earth to build a hyperspatial bypass.

  • I have had two NT admins who ran SETI on high traffic NT servers during business hours. In both cases, we had users complaining about slowness and so forth. I sat down at one of the NT servers and there it was: SETI running and eating up 90% of the CPU time.

    In both cases, the problem was not SETI, but immature individuals who should have had better sense. ("It's your fault. You shouldn't run NT!" - Sorry trollboy, I beat you to it).

    One of them had the gall to distribute it across several workstations in our Amsterdam office causing user problems. That goes against everything I have ever learned about proper system administration - the best tech support for your users is having a well run network.

    SETI enthusiasts need to run this on their own machines, at home on their own time. Leave other people's property alone. It is no different than reading other people's email, using your boss's servers for porn or IRC. It is unethical and goes against system administration ethics - if such a thing still exists.

  • Last time I checked there were over 200 free ISPs in England, and at the current rate of growth I expect that figure could have doubled or trippled by now. Most of them support GNU/Linux, and the only ones that attempt to make advertising revenue also offer extra services in return (like 0800 call number, free tech support, etc).

    Slashdot seems to forget there is a world outside of the US.

    Abashed the Devil stood,
    And felt how awful goodness is

  • there was an interesting commentary on Apple's design here [zdnet.com] on zdnet. It goes through the history of Apple's design changes, and critiques the reasoning vs. the craze. some more commentary [cadfu.com].
  • Here's a press release [netzero.com] of Netzero.com announcing a Linux client for thier free ISP. Hopefully, this isn't vaporware.
  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2000 @05:20AM (#908405)
    Ok, where's the troll that's going to say "Hey, if *you're* so concerned, why are you posting on Slashdot instead of helping the poor and saving the whales?"?
  • I can't find it, either. =(

    Wrote the webmaster.

  • Urine is actually very sterile. Cheeck out this [thebody.com] site. Do a google search for even more.

    Yes I know you weren't serious, but..urine is very drinkable, and many people do. :)
  • If you've ever tried to interview anyone at Microsoft, you know that they are quite zealous about it -- an engineer at Microsoft would have to be cleared by the company to answer questions the way Ingo did. Are Redmond-cleared answers ones it would be worth fighting the bureacracy to obtain? I can't really see it ...

    More importantly (and to the point), I asked Ingo if he would mind answering questions in /. interview format after I saw him already answering questions at great length in the initial thread about TUX. If I find Microsoft engineers doing the same, then I would *absolutely* [Ja, hey Marge, you betcha!] solicit the same from them! :)

  • Check this out:

    PC104 Starter page [pc104.com]

    Wouldn't be too difficult to build an Apple G4-like tower of PC104 components and match the overall form factor ... as for the case, well a little soft-form plexiglass and an old frying pan, and you can make your own damned PC104 cube.

    Anyone else notice the similarity between PC104 carrier cages and the G4 cube? That little module animation of the G4 cube looks a lot like the various computer modules in the Shuttle's experimenter bays, for example ... and that's industry-standard rack gear.

    No reason we can't follow suit. Just find a cheap supply of PC104 components, build a stack, and away you go. Simple.

  • To keep even more within the spirit of the Linux community, how 'bout someone just write a Perl script to download the ads (and register the hits) automatically? ;-)
  • Well then, since the UN figures the world can only support 1 billion people continuously, and we're WAY over, I'm sure you'll be heading off to get euthanised Real Soon Now.

    Or don't you care about the planet?

  • by emerson ( 419 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @04:02PM (#908419)
    It shows no such thing.

    Doing SETI is completely orthogonal to helping starving Somalians. Show me a way to use spare CPU cycles to feed the third world. Show me a way to use food to find extraterrestrials. I'm waiting....

    The world isn't black-and-white -- just because I'm doing one thing doesn't mean I'm not doing something else also. There are lots of different things people can do with their resources and time, without them interfering or affecting each other at all.

    Helping SETI@home doesn't mean I'd "rather find out if there's life in another planet" than help my fellow man, it just means that's the best choice I've found for that particular resource, extra CPU cycles. It doesn't say anything else at all about my character or lack thereof.

  • has more on the freewwweb thing. fuckedcompany.com also makes for some interesting reading.
  • ... is a cover for a distibuted encryption cracking effort put on by the NSA.

    Sniff, sniff.. hmm, smells like troll to me. :P
  • Try Pro-USA [pro-usa.net]. They're a normal garden-variety ISP that works with any OS. There's a $30 setup fee, part of which goes to them, part to Rhinopoint, the firm that actually pays your ISP bill with them.

    Best of all--no annoying ad-serving apps! You fill out one 5-10-question survey a month, which will ask things like what political candidate you support, whether you have confidence in the economy, and so on, which will take you maybe all of two minutes if you read slowly.

    Found out about these folks just in time, as my campus started imposing time limits on peak-time dialins. So far, they've worked great for me, for Linux or Windows.

  • An iMac starts at $800, including monitor, and it's a pretty powerful machine. Last I tried to price out PC/104 or SBC-based PC systems, I couldn't even come close to building a high performance system for that kind of money. Not to mention the fact that fiddling with those components is a lot of work.
  • (half tongue-in-cheek conspiracy theory follows)

    I wouldn't be surprised if SETI@home was actually a US government project to build their own massively-distributed general purpose supercomputer. Can you think of a project that's more likely to attract geeks and non-geeks?

    Personally, I'm running MPRIME [entropia.com] , which helps find large prime numbers. Source code is available and they're responsible for finding the world's 4 largest primes. Since the algorithm is simple and well-documented (proven, even) and the results are verifiable by other programs, conspiracy theories are a little harder here.
  • And insisting in doing SETI is inhuman. I mean, enough of the people in *our* planet are starving; yet all these self-described geeks would rather find out if there's life in another planet than see if there's still life in Somalia.

    Quite frankly, you show a very naive understanding of the problem. Third world people do not starve because of a lack of food, they starve because a) their government is corrupt, and/or b) they do not have sufficient capitalism.

    Dumping food and dumping money has been tried over and over and guess what? It doesn't work, because it doesn't get to the people who need it, and what does get there, doesn't solve the fundamental problem.

    The solution is to help the people overthrow their government. But unfortunately, we have too many people like yourself singing "we are the world" rather than facing the fact that politics and economics have to change to solve the problem permanently.

    Bottom line, those people have to fix their own problems. We can't just wring our hands and magically cause problems to go away. But hey, at least you will look good to your friends.


  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @04:07PM (#908446)
    Actually, the reason we can't read their transmissions is that E.T is using strong crypto and it just looks like noise. The FBI was right, we need clipper chips. Damn you, Ronald Rivest!
  • Really?!?! God, I've been soooo confused all these years!!!

    Yes, you have been. You are looking at the surface effect, rather than examining the cause.

    Why is it, then, that a sizable portion of the US population is food-insecure?

    Food "insecure"? What does that mean? Point me to a news story about someone dying of starvation in the US. You can't. If someone chooses to go hungry, then that's the choice they've made. We are literally surrounded by free food, free food stamps and welfare. Not to mention that, ahem, if someone wants an actual *job* it's trivial to find one.

    And where the fuck did I advocate "dumping food and money"? Point out the exact fucking words.

    You've said that geeks should be doing something other than SETI. Since you apparently have the answer of what people should do, and it doesn't require anyone giving up any food or money, I would be most interested in hearing it. You've already posted some, er, theory that saving energy will feed third world people. I would be interested to hear exactly how that works as well -- specifically.


  • No matter WHAT America does, there's going to be SOMEBODY that is going to twist the story around to make us the bad guy.

    Funny, if you support the "common man" over the "oppressors" and such, why are you, now, defending the likes of hussain, milosovixh, and castro? Any one of which is a hundred times worse an "oppressor" than clinton could ever hope to be. (you don't see many people their lives risking on home-built rafts, in the straits of Florida, trying to get IN to cuba, do you?).

    Now, I don't know anyone who escaped from hussain or milosovich, so I won't bother more with them, but when I lived in Florida, I *DID* meet a number of people who were lucky enough to escape, alive, from castro.

    >Second, Castro's crime simply was aiming for Cuba
    >not to bend over to US interests over those of
    >its people.

    There was also that little matter of allying themselves with an enemy determined to destroy us at all costs ("we will bury you" ring a bell?). Oh, and also that little "pointing nuclear missiles
    at us from 90 miles away, a distance from which there would have been little or no warning before millions are vaporised" incident just MIGHT have had a bearing on the direction of the US's cuba policy.

    >US interests over those of its people.

    >Cuba was not a wonderful place before Castro.

    If you seriously beleive that castro cares, in the slightest, about "the intrests of his people", or that cuba is a wonderful little "workers paradise", I suggest you visit Miami sometime and ask the people who've BEEN IN CUBA, and been lucky enough to escape with their lives (and most often, with very little else) what it was like.

    Resistance is NOT futile!!!

    I am not a drone.
    Remove the collective if

  • where to start? hm...

    1.The MacJunkie guy eating his hockey puck mouse for claiming the G4 Cube photos were fake

    The pictures were fake. Just because the cube is real, doesn't mean the pictures are real. Ancient Zen proverb.

    2.Upgrading that Visor on your head so that getting out in the sun after an all-night programming session won't zap your memory

    The real issue here isn't just upgrading the visor, but overclocking the visor. Heck, overclocking a beowulf cluster of visors.

    3.Reading "Slashdot sucks" posts attached to redundant flames of redundant comments to the recurrent topic of free Linux ISPs

    I preferr reading smarmy "+2 funny" lists attached to "Slashdot sucks" posts attached to... yatta yatta yatta.

    4.Posting an article about a fraud mimicking of a credit card site and not mentioning the outright rip-off of Debian's website

    information wants to be $36.95 (California residents add 7% sales tax). Ancient Zen proverb.

    5.Craving the latest multi-processor board from SETI so that you can crack pr0n site passwords

    No, craving the latest multi-processor board so you can run a spell-check on "pr0n".


    The other two poll options were originally
    b) tea
    c) me

    7.Britney Spears

    Wait... didn't she already get voted off the island? Or am I thinking of someone else?

  • The only problem with this is that there is a fundamental flaw in what is known as the Fermi "paradox". It makes the rather large assumption that we (humanity) will be able to recognise this "unmistakable sign". Why should we?

    True enough, but if that's the case, then SETI is pointless. This is like the Ask Slashdot where the question was "Does Water Really Have To Mean Life?" [slashdot.org] There are a lot of damn good reasons why it does, as I outlined in my reply [slashdot.org].

    Still, with all of that in mind, we have no way of proving that water and life are definitely without a doubt intertwined. Heck, by Hume's Principal of Induction, we have no way of proving anything (I'm not a philosopher, so don't flame me if my interpretation of Hume is wrong). All we can do is make good guesses and hope for the best.

    We, as humans, have guessed that another alien species will discover the unusual property that radio waves can propagate over long distances. We assume that this species will be one that communicates with others of the same species, and that it will use these radio waves to communicate with others in locations beyond it's normal range of communication. As for proving that, we've got nothing except ourselves. But without any other reference model, can we really do any better?
  • i always liked to believe that E.T. are waiting for humans to get our shit together. I'm not so certain that technology is the only thing preventing us from getting in touch with our "neighbors".

    Why in gods name would an almost certainly enlightened race of beings want to have anything to do with a group of bipedal assholes who fight over little sections of dirt, or whether or not one group of bipedal assholes is slightly more tan than another group of bipedal assholes.

    i'm sure that, if someone is watching us, they're thinking the same thing 2 rich white guys think when they talk about going to Compton "i'm not going there! i'd probably get my ass shot at!"

    besides - what would the followers of Pat Robertson do when they find out that humans aren't Gods special little creatures?!?!(Which we aren't BTW - it's pretty fscking dumb to believe that, in a nearly infinite universe, organisms here on Earth are the only ones that are self-aware).

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • Given the cosmic spans of time we are talking about the chance that an inteligent civilization would be in a stage where it communicated by radio waves at the same time we communicate by radio waves is nearly nil. Life on other planets, even those closest to us in length of existance, would likely be millions of years ahead or behind us technilogically.

    Think of what was cutting edge just a thousand years ago. Back then the cutting edge of communication was giving a runner a document to run to the other kingdom. A thousand years from now we'll think radio communication as inefficent as having handwritten notes run hither and yon is today.

    Advanced civilizations which presumably have devised means to circumvent relativistic restrictions would not be using communication systems like radio which operate at a virtual snail's pace.

    The reason extraterrestrial life has not dropped by for a visit is the same reason you personally have not dropped by for a visit to ant piles or bacterial colonies. It's of no interest to you just as our simple single-cell-like civilization must seem to civilizations more advanced then ours. Even if they did drop in we'd be just as unaware as bacteria under a microscope.

    Summing up, looking for advanced civilizations by searching for radio emmisions is like looking for pedestrians on a highway as a sign of life. Its a search for the wrong thing; we should be looking for biproducts of things which are at the 'magic' stage for us but would be commonplace for advanced civilizations... quantum tunneling, strange gravitational anomolies, etc..

    I still believe SETI is a good effort; truth is we problably don't know what really to look for so to look for _something_ even if it might be the wrong thing is a good start.

    -- Greg
  • Kossé qu't'as contre le Québec, ostie d'Américain de tabarnak? C'est pas de ma faute si ton pays est tros cave pour savoir qu'il existe autre chose que ton gros cul de crétin pis tes osties de McDonalds à la con. Le monde entier t'haïs, mon gros criss. Mange un char de marde pis retourne baiser ta soeur dans le Midwest pis crosse-toé en regardant ton gun.
  • I think there is a need for the kind of hardware Apple produces: quiet, fanless, and small desktop machines with single-cable monitor connections and built-in wireless antennas.

    I haven't found anything quite comparable in the PC world (iPaq, Sony's machines, and Dell tried but all fall short).

    I don't care much for Apple styling, Apple software, or Apple corporate politics. But PC hardware vendors should take notice and deliver something similar. The value of the iMac and the cube is not in the translucent plastic, it's in the ergonomics of the hardware.

  • How can human beings judge whether or not they have discovered intelligent life? The patterns of repetition, harmony, etc., are as common in nature as they are in communication -- What if we already found them, and missed it?
  • I mean, the odds are just insurmountable, and how would it help us if we discovered that there's life somewhere in the universe that's too far for us to go, or for them to come?

    And insisting in doing SETI is inhuman. I mean, enough of the people in *our* planet are starving; yet all these self-described geeks would rather find out if there's life in another planet than see if there's still life in Somalia.

    It shows that they don't have any *real* concern for life, in this planet or other-- just playing with their tech toys.

  • If we can find the Martians from Heinlien's Stranger in a Strange Land it'll be worth it. Why, they could end all human suffering! (You grok?)

    I realize most people will find this to be a stupid response... but Hell this is a Troll that's been modded up to 4! Any response is a stupid response!

    (Just one more example of why I think /. is going downhill.)

  • Second, who's to say the aliens use the EM spectrum the way we do? Maybe on their planet light was the best way of communicating due to magnetic interference.

    Light and "the EM spectrum" are the same thing.

    Here's another thought - try looking at ULTRA-LOW FREQUENCIES.. if someone was trying to talk to us, they'd want to be sure a galaxy wasn't in the way. We're scanning in.. what... the gigahertz range? Signals deteriorate muuuuch quicker when they're higher in frequency.

    First, compared to most astronomical radiation, SETI looks at pretty low frequency.

    Second, and more importantly, the reason they look where they do is that the biggest signpost in the EM spectrum is the 21cm spin-flip line of neutral hydrogen. 21 cm = 1.4 GHz. If you want people to find your signal, you need to put it somewhere recognizable, and the 21cm line is by far the most obvious feature in the low-frequency EM spectrum.


  • Honestly, if you want find a way for my unused clock cycles to feed someone, I would be happy to sign up...
  • From an email Handspring sent to me in response to a request for them to replace my Visor for the DRAM problem:
    While we are confident that the patch will fix any problems you may experience, and we do wish for all of our customers to try the patch before getting a replacement Visor, we are willing to replace your Visor under our Advanced Replacement program.
    When I called the tech support number given in the email (888-565-9393), the tech support dude suggested the patch, but when I insisted, he issued me an RMA, took my credit card number as security, and promised to FedEx me a replacement (probably a refurb) in my color, with a waybill to returnship my own Visor at their expense.

    All this in the dead of night, at about 2 a.m. Central Time. Color me impressed.

  • The hope of a better life is what has driven our species to explore our world, and better make use of our environment through technology. To give up that instinct to stretch ourselves and push the limits of what we can accomplish and what we can discover, to limit what we hope to accomplish by our own ignorance, is to give up that hope which makes our life worth continuing. Maybe we can't bring the benefits of our success to everyone on this world, but that is no reason to give up on ever reaching beyond what we have already.

    Maybe finding other civilizations won't have any direct benefit. They might not be able to feed our hungry, or cure our diseases, or end our wars. They might even be a bunch of assholes. Assholes or not, it isn't enough for me or the thousands of others who run SETI@Home to simply guess if we are alone in the universe, and we won't be satisfied until we know for certian.

    That is why I run a screen saver.
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @03:29PM (#908507)
    Here we go again.. another group says because E.T. isn't communicating on the frequencies we're looking at, they must not be out there. And from this, we can deduce that there's less chance of aliens being out there. Wrong, all wrong.

    There's alot of assumptions here. First, that an alien race would want to be found and/or communicate. Maybe they're sufficiently advanced (and have met other species - maybe hundreds of planets) that we're just not worth their time. Anyone who's been around a three year old can understand what I'm saying here. Second, who's to say the aliens use the EM spectrum the way we do? Maybe on their planet light was the best way of communicating due to magnetic interference. Or maybe they don't have the same materials to make the same kinds of electronics we do. If they make electronics at all. For all we know, they're using quantum subspace carrier band signals to phone home.

    Oh, then there's the problem of language. How exactly are we going to be able to tell when something is trying to communicate with us if we don't know the language. Imagine getting a burst of static out of your speakers from your PC instead of a picture. Would you be able to decode it? Maybe they're using a different encoding scheme. Something unintelligible like Word 7 .doc maybe.

    Oh, and then there's the problem of signal propagation. Our EM signals probably don't reach far outside our solar system because they're not powerful enough to overcome all the natural noise out there. Maybe if we had a dedicated nuclear reactor and a transmitter we could push a strong signal out there. And who's to say there isn't a galaxy or three between them and us? Kinda hard to transmit through solid rock.. especially at the frequencies we use.

    Here's another thought - try looking at ULTRA-LOW FREQUENCIES.. if someone was trying to talk to us, they'd want to be sure a galaxy wasn't in the way. We're scanning in.. what... the gigahertz range? Signals deteriorate muuuuch quicker when they're higher in frequency.

    Just a few thoughts.

  • Personally, I think the surest sign that there's intelligent life out there is that the *haven't* tried to contact us.
  • What's the point of life here if we don't enrich it with our imagination?

    Your argument could have been made at any stage since the industrial revolution. Why invent the steam train instead of helping starving people? Or why the internal combustion engine, or the train or the aircraft? Why write poetry or play music? Why bother even living in the first place?

    Why are you online instead of in some disaster area helping starving people?

    The truth is that life is about more than helping the starving.

    Helping starving people in Somalia was tried if you recall, the UN ended up in the crossfire between factions with POPULAR support (and not just the US troops) to some extent starving people are victims of circumstance to another they make they sustain the society they suffer in, that's true around the world. A call for everyone to "help" is not the answer.
  • Yeah, but the G4 Cube costs way more than an iMac...

  • I just want to clarify a bit here about the consequences of crop failure in a free market context. Or, more precisely, the lack thereof.

    Let's say a given region which normally exports food has a bad spell and must import food. What happens to the price of food in that region? Obviously, it goes up. After initial speculative pricing, it will tend towards a level equal to the cost of food in the nearest exporting markets plus the transaction cost of processing and shipping.

    But what of the demand? Well, people will *demand* food theoretically right up to the point of suicide if they are allowed. That is, demand is almost completely inelastic because *not* having food is a sure recipe for getting no other values -- 'cause you'll be dead.

    Sophisticated markets have the ability to provide for such circumstances through financing. That is, by spending future capital today to pay for temporarily increased prices.

    This is exactly what happens in free-exchange markets. Say, for example, between US states. Crop shortage in Minnesota this year? Yeah, wheat prices go up, but the rest of the midwest bread basket covers the difference quite comforably. And as markets advance, the world's best analysis possible is placed against these factors by playing commodity futures markets to stablize prices.

    So why don't we see the same effects globally? Because these markets are not permitted in many countries where starvation is prevalent. If people are simply not allowed to bid up prices for food, then there's no possibility of market planning in anticipation of those prices!

    Out of all the things economists disagree, the Law of Comparative Advantage is the one that virtually all agree upon. And that all food shortages ever are -- time-cycled instances of comparative advantage. When such trades are blocked or nullified, the only guarantee we have is that somewhere, available resources are diverted into less useful purposes.

    This goes just as much for IMF handouts and charity food drives as it does for farm subsidies and trade barries. Diluting incentives to plan for the future is as harmful as anything.
  • by tommyk ( 31639 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @04:26PM (#908520)
    The first poster was dead on.

    Fermi's little question rests on a series of potentially bad assumptions:

    A.) Intellegent Life, when it arises, sends out radio waves and/or pokes about the planets while it exists, since such life tends to be curious and won't all be lay-abouts, it will come to visit.

    B.) We are smart enough, as we are, to detect life out there, if it exists, by eavesdropping and such life will make itself obvious, as we have, for a long stretch of time.

    C.) They have enough free time to deal with us, rather than each other, or would logically be inclined to deal with us, absent some strict moral code the whole galaxy embraces.

    The first assumption is incorrect on it's face, looking at our own history.

    We've only been sending out radio transmissions for a tiny fraction of our own recorded history... and it may be tommorrow we stop. Nor have we had much success ( for all our talk ) of colonizing other planets. We touched the moon for a few hours. I'm sure it's possible, but it may be not something that takes off in a big way, even here.

    I know, I see all the hands raised to volunteer... but wait till the first three missions to nearby stars fail.

    Or, what if we find we do have neighbors, and they want us to stay off their porch? If the galaxy is aa crowded as is implied, maybe all the fish staking claim and enforcing territorial boundaries makes colonization much more difficult and slow ( picture a whole bunch of contenders, all of them too busy fighting/standing each other off to bother with the earth... )

    All these civs use radio? Why? We may have some very different technology than radio in the future. Or we may use radio in ways we don't know right now. Who can say?

    Beyond this, when winnowing out stuff, the article is also correct in stating that the lifetime of planets is involved. There is no compeling evidence in our own history that life sustaining environments will produce 'intellegent' life...
    5 billion years to get Howard Stern... wow. Pretty short window on actually getting the message out.

    So, all those planets with civs on them may have a 200 year window where they use Radio, and then dump it for something better...

    How about this, too, the article assumes an advanced civ _must_ have a star to orbit...

    Why? If we have fusion power, do you need a star
    anymore? A planet? Why not build a ship and dump the planet? It might be, eventually, that's more efficient and portable of a system.

    Besides, if suddenly you were getting radio transmissions from some little planet off in the distance, wouldn't it be easier to listen and see how much you could learn about them while they broadcast credit card numbers and the human genome over the radio waves?

    Why stop that? Whether your intentions are benign or malignant, surely it's better to just snoop the lines?
  • But they are NOT free, you are paying with BT connection charges.

    In most parts of the US, local calls are free, known as flat rate calling plan. So freewwweb had to get their revenue from advertising.

    So the "free" ISPs in England still cost for all the time you are connected, which is why the average brit is only online for 7 minutes per day, and the average american is online for 33 minutes/day.

    Go read NTK [ntk.net] for the continuing saga of oftel trying to force BT into offering an american style flat local calling fee for anyone who wants it. The same fight is shaping up in france and germany.

    Its a shame a good service like freewwweb can't make it in the american market place. They were very friendly to all users, not just the windoze users, and that made the BSD/linux/mac/amiga communities very happy. Juno is a horrific company who pander only to those who they can make huge profits from with very little in return. They target the completely ignorant users who don't realise what a real connection to the internet should be.

    the AC
  • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @04:27PM (#908522) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the poster:
    First of all, Arecibo is a town, not an observatory. This evidences clearly how the scientific mentality values tools more than people.
    I don't usually say this, but... that objection is simply stupid (or deliberately obfuscatory, which is much the same). "Aricebo" is a convenient shorthand for the observatory, because that happens to be its location. People say "Mount Palomar" when they mean that observatory, too...

    And to high school biology, while you're at it. How the *** [will] pointing a radiotelescope at the sky will tell us how life appeared on Earth?
    Well, that depends on what sort of signal is found. If it's truly an attempt to communicate, then it will likely include details of the ET biology (much as the Voyager plate attempted to communicate our biology). So just by comparision, we see what sort of features are historical accidents and which might be necessary parts of life. If the ETs turned out to be bilateral bump-headed humanoids, it'd certainly say something.
    Oh, and I thought starving people just wanted food.
    And this might contribute to the persistence of the problem.

    I think the poster is essentially missing the point. In the grand scheme of things, SETI@home is a very small project consuming an infinitesimal amount of resources. I personally think it's ironic that anyone using a Net connection can argue that others are ignoring the problem. Why not dedicate your money (for ISP or equipment) to the cause of fighting world hunger?

    Problems like world hunger require attention, to be sure. But they do not require all our attention. Nor should they. Nor could they have it even if they do require it. Nor should they have it. Things like SETI@home lift the soul, force us to think outside ourselves, and add meaning to the world. They are examples of human dignity, and it saddens me that some say a struggle for human dignity requires snuffing out a different piece of it.

    There are a lot larger, and better, targets for your venting spleen.

  • Oh, then there's the problem of language. How exactly are we going to be able to tell when something is trying to communicate with us if we don't know the language. Imagine getting a burst of static out of your speakers from your PC instead of a picture. Would you be able to decode it? Maybe they're using a different encoding scheme. Something unintelligible like Word 7 .doc maybe.

    Ok, I know what happens when you ass/u/me, but I guess a lot of people assume that by some Universal Law, any language is going to have intentional redundancies and inefficiencies in order to avoid mistakes. Call it ECC if you want. ;-)

    By that thinking, even if we don't know the language, we would find nonrandomness in their text. Take a look at a MS Word document some time. A lot of it may be mysterious, but it's a lot more intelligable than static.

    Oh course, if they compress and/or encrypt all their communications, then SETI's in doodoo.

    ObJoke: Intelligent life wouldn't use Word anyway. Sorry, but someone had to say that.

  • Oh, then there's the problem of language. How exactly are we going to be able to tell when something is trying to communicate with us if we don't know the language. Imagine getting a burst of static out of your speakers from your PC instead of a picture. Would you be able to decode it? Maybe they're using a different encoding scheme. Something unintelligible like Word 7 .doc maybe.

    First you try to find the communication, then you attempt to decode it. Any type of communication by ETs is going to look different from normal background radiation, since if their intent is to communicate, they're going to try to make it be distinguishable from background noise.

    But that's just theoretical. What SETI@Home does is:

    • Look for a signal that's in a single frequency. Anyone communicating would likely do this because it enables them to get the most power in their signal.
    • Look for a singal that changes over time. You can't really communicate much by sending out a signal that never changes.
    • Any object in the sky that the radio telescode is observing will only be in its window of observation for 12 second. When it first enters, it will be weak, it will get stronger towards the middle, and then weaken. Anything that doesn't follow this pattern is probably a signal local to the solar system.
    • Look for doppler shift, as the signal source is likely to be in motion relative to the Earth.

    The this info is from the SETI@Home page which explains these things. [berkeley.edu]

    Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose that you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
  • So SETI is a waste because its not helping the starving people in Somalia and the like.
    Other than the other details pointed out in this flame war, lets take a look at other "useless" programs such as the entire space program.

    Right now New Orleans is setting its self up for one heck of a flood. How do we know this? Mostly from stuff in space. Sure the people living there know they are living below sea level (which isn't that uncommon) but thanks to the huge amount of data from "the space race" we now know much more about land formation as well as how deltas change over time. Then there is all that info on how to protect from storms since we now have some clue how to predict them. All of these things are a combination of lots of pure science that could be a "waste of time" based purly on its inital results but the real pay off comes from the spin-offs.

    Has SETI tought us about ET? No. It has given much insight about contaiminating the radio spectrum as well as pushed the general knowlege about high end radio scanning. Its thouse concepts (that came from the radio telescope geeks) that allow your digital cell phone to work as well as it does.

    The greatest thing SETI has done so far: Proves that people can get lots of cheap computer power when its needed.
  • by Izaak ( 31329 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @04:56PM (#908532) Homepage Journal
    OK, this is likely a troll, but I'll bite. :)

    I mean, the odds are just insurmountable, and how would it help us if we discovered that there's life somewhere in the universe that's too far for us to go, or for them to come?

    First off, SETI is about much more than finding E.T. Analysis of radio telescope data is advancing the field of cosmology in countless ways. The 'little green men' part of is just the sexy PR that attracts users. And who knows, maybe we really will discover intelligent life some day. It may be unlikely, but we won't know if we never look.

    And insisting in doing SETI is inhuman. I mean, enough of the people in *our* planet are starving; yet all these self-described geeks would rather find out if there's life in another planet than see if there's still life in Somalia.

    Contributing to SETI at home does not bar one from helping society in other ways. By your logic, my roommate should never plug in his electric guitar. Is it really selfish of him to engage in such a frivolous, self gratifying behavior like making music when that energy could help starving people? I mean, what *real* benefit does entertainment or art of any kind have in contrast to the worlds many problems?

    Give me a break! I believe in being a good citizen and all, but there needs to SOME room in the world for frivolity and advancement of knowledge for its own sake. Besides, in my experience, many systems that are running SETI@Home and such are boxes that need to stay up 24x7 anyway. Those cycles would go to waste otherwise.

    It shows that they don't have any *real* concern for life, in this planet or other-- just playing with their tech toys.

    You are painting with a rather broad brush there. That assumption is so unfounded I won't even argue the point. Let me ask you a question instead. Are you using alternative power sources like solar or wind? If so, good for you. If not, why not? After all, you express such concern for the consumption of those scarce resources. My lab uses a combination of solar panels and a small wind generator. On good days I put more power back onto the grid than I use. Rather than attacking SETI, why not put your energy (no pun intended) into promoting that sort of activity.

    'nuff said.


    P.S. Good trolling... bonus points for not being too 'over the top'. :)

  • Read the very articles which you are commenting on. The problem is in how the DRAM works. DRAM must be refreshed to keep its contents. In this case, the DRAM fails if refreshed in one fashion versus another. The software patch changes the way the DRAM is refreshed so that the contents are not corrupted. That is how a software patch can fix the hardware. You do NOT lose any memory, because indiviual bits are NOT remapped.

    Instead of just posting for attention, why not read the articles which are referring to first?

  • Read the articles again. They say that the affected memory is mapped as used by the patch, so it will indeed give you less than you paid for.
  • Ah, so I take it you have used the new mouse...?

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • I think the Apple desktop keyboards and mice are OK, but if you don't like them, you can always replace them (it's just USB).

    One Apple hardware design I find absolutely awful is the trackpad on the laptops, and there is nothing one can do about that. It would be great if they offered a choice of trackball, trackpad, and trackpoint.

  • Hrm. I guess that's a pretty subjective thing though - I'm typing this on a G3 Lombard and I actually like the track pad. It's something that grows on you, and doesn't accumulate lots of cruft like a trackball does.

    It'd be kind of neat if input devices could be modular though. :>

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • You're one of those politically correct bleeding heart people aren't you? "personkind", complaining about feeding the hungry, etc., etc... it just smells like political correctness. Well cry me a river, build me a bridge, and then get over it!

    If you feel so strongly about it, how about giving up internet access and donating the few dollars that you gain to charity? Sheesh...

  • Relatively speaking? Compared to what?

    The iMac was the top selling personal computer for a number of months, and is still holding its own.

    Just because a single company doesn't put the dozens of companies supplying machines for the 'other' platform out of business does not mean they failed at anything. Apple has lots of cash, growing marketshare, a high stock price, and so on. By what measure do you consider Apple's marketing a failure? Seems like it has worked to me.

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • hear me out here: Another principle is that the more advanced a social structure gets, the more able it is to kill in larger numbers. Humans now have nuclear weapons, we are currently capable of wiping out most every organism on the planet aside from cocroaches and 'nsnyc.

    what this leads to is the "bigger trigger" effect. A friend of mine once said "there is no learning curve with nuclear weapons" - and he was right. Perhaps when the US was the only country in the world with the bomb, we knew we could detonoate it without fear of retaliation. However, i'd personally like to see what happened if we decided to return to Hiroshima or Nagasaki for a second honeymoon. Kabloom, the population of the earth goes from ~6billion to 372,000 in a matter of a day or two.

    It can be inferred that another race of beings with technology that, to us, is indistinguishable from magic (figuratively speaking) Would have either A)Learned this lesson early or B)Killed themselves. Why? Because any race of beings that is capable of interstellar travel, perhaps harnessing wormholes, etc. has probably got a "bigger trigger."

    That's why i think it's almost a complete certainty that a race of beings visiting us from a galaxy millions of light years away is either going to be super nice, or dead.

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • Ah, but the existence of technology is the evolution of evolution itself. Humans exist to save all life on earth from extinction in the very long term. We're evolving ways to spread life through the galaxy. SETI is just a part of the beginning. And not everyone can work in planet maintenance; the talents of some are better suited to innovation.
  • Specifically, what kinds of patterns? If they're looking for most types of non-random signals that you'd find on a digital file, I'm not optimistic. At least one other person here's already pointed out that compressed (or even encrypted) data should look like random noise. And it will all be compressed digital data; the analog period of our civilization may look long from our perspective, but it's already coming to an end.

    I'd be hunting for something that would look superficially like random noise, but which can be demodulated and fitted to some block error correction code or another. Even our hard media like CDs (and especially CD-ROMs), hard drives, etc, are all using ECC to prevent byte errors; transmitting digital data across even interplanetary distances makes ECC coding a must.

    And error correction encodings aren't like a random file format; they're designed by mathematical principles to correct as many errors as possible given the number of data words and parity words. Of course, those numbers (as well as the number of bits in a word) are open to variation, and there's more than one block encoding algorithm out there, but what I'm saying is there's a limited number of encodings that should be checked; it's not an intractable task.

    Of course, if we actually want to pick up interstellar transmissions, we need to be searching not just for error correcting codes, but for wavelengths much longer than anything we currently receive; a space faring civilization would probably have an antenna hundreds or thousands of km long in each stellar system, transmitting in wavelengths designed to be recieved by similar systems...
  • Apparently the fix for the DRAM problem has to do with how the unit refreshes itself while off.

    The update from handspring states that "depending on individual usage, the patch may impact battery life. But how much exactly?

    There's a thread here [deja.com] on Deja with details that somebody reached by working from the specs on the particular RAM used in the Palms and Visors. His results are a doubling of power drain while the unit is turned off.

    Here's to hoping he's wrong.
  • by matman ( 71405 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @06:23PM (#908563)
    What makes SETI think that any technological civilization will use radio for very long? Or at least plain radio. I wonder if they can detect encrypted radio signals, or some sort of tunneling microwaves that go faster than light like has been described on slashdot? I mean, what's a few hundred years of radio use compared to the thousands of years that a civilization may exist?
  • I just read this in Scientific American: after the conquistadors colonized Florida, and converted/enslaved local indians, said indians started suffering from various nutrition problems caused by their forced change of diet, from a mostly proteinic diet (hunting, sea products) to a vegetarian diet (mostly corn). In particular, their ancestors used to have fairly good teeth, but they started having rotten teeth because they would'nt eat meat that would counteract bacterias in their mouth.


  • Sorry, couldn't resist :-)

    Poll: what did you find most interesting of the recent Slashdot coverage?

    1. The MacJunkie guy eating his hockey puck mouse for claiming the G4 Cube photos were fake
    2. Upgrading that Visor on your head so that getting out in the sun after an all-night programming session won't zap your memory
    3. Reading "Slashdot sucks" posts attached to redundant flames of redundant comments to the recurrent topic of free Linux ISPs
    4. Posting an article about a fraud mimicking of a credit card site and not mentioning the outright rip-off [491.org] of Debian's website [debian.org]
    5. Craving the latest multi-processor board from SETI so that you can crack pr0n site passwords ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hcontribute to finding extraterrestial life
    6. Coffee
    7. Britney Spears

    (Guide to Blind Moderators: in case you haven't noticed, the last two items cover two of the recent polls and the other items are parallel to the summary in this article...)

  • "Advertising" is sometimes false.

    SETI was chewing up 90% of the CPU (actually plural - there were four in the server).

    The admins are at fault because:

    1) The server and workstations in use did not belong to the admins or to the SETI project. They were bought and paid for by the company and its' stockholders and were bought for company business purposes.

    2) The admins should have been spending their time on work-related activities and not on downloading and installing SETI on company workstations and servers (over 50 workstations, mind you). Running SETI was not why they were hired, nor did it have anything to do with the company.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin