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


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:It's finally becoming a well know "secret"... (Score 1) 329

Yepp. The very best people I have ever met where still in university. They never left...

And I worked with some top notch people in industry, people with internationally recognised names. But they were after all, with the odd exception, not quite in the same league as the best in university. They were generally much better, and there were many more of them as well. I guess that's why they gravitate there.

Comment Re:and that would be a bad thing... because? (Score 1) 620

I find it interesting that many pooh-poohers have suddenly switched from no, not true, not happening to nothing can be done. I mean, this is something like the fourth or fifth one in this thread, whereas even a week ago this was an unusual response. Was there a focus group somewhere that said this is more effective? Didn't your marketing people think this message is a bit too dark for the average mark?

No, its simply that everyone is following more or less the same script. But as they're not coordinated completely, they're slightly out of sync.

It's straight from the playbook of the tobacco lobby. Seem like you're having a debate, but it's just a carefully scripted set of talking points designed to give as little ground as possible and only when you have to, while wearing your opponent out. Much like a military "defence in depth" is. It's the same principle.

Comment Re:A completely unaccountable governing body (Score 1) 667

How can Britain be getting 2/3 off and still paying more money than every other country bar Germany?

Because it's one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and currently the fifth largest economy. Also you're not "paying more money than every country bar Germany". In one measure you're third, but correcting for GNI you're in ninth place, after Belgium, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Luxenbourg, and frigging Italy. The latest of which has an economy in shit state.

So you're only paying a large sum, in absolute terms because you're a large country. One would expect a large country to pay more. Corrected for the size of you're economy, you're not in the top five, and just barely squeeze in the top ten.

And yes, the UK rebate is a thing. Most definitely.

Comment Re:30-44 is old? (Score 1) 153

I have no idea how old you are, but it does not matter. When you were young there were people complaining about the feckless youth of that day. Heck, archeologists have found clay tablets with such rants.

The problem with that argument is that it's always right.

By that token nothing could ever take a turn for the worse, as someone of age will point it out, and your argument will come into play.

OTOH my kids don't learn the rules of the language (not English, but we have a grammar also), they don't learn their multiplication tables, and they don't study long division any more.

As far as I can tell, this is not counter balanced by learning something else it its stead. This is also born out by our slumping ranking in e.g. the Pisa studies. (Or the diagnostic maths test all engineering students have taken at my Alma mater for the last close to forty years.)

So yes, I'm old, and kids today can't do X worth a damn, but in many areas my judgement is supported by international studies and comparisons. Kids today do a lot worse in many respects/subjects than we did. Demonstrably so.

Comment Re:Republicans are anti-science (Score 1) 649

Anyone telling you radio waves are proven safe is a fucking idiot, including you. Radio waves have been studied until recently for health effects, and the studies so far have shown a mix of results. The only people who think it's been "proven" safe.. are fucking idiots, like you.

Bzzt. Nothing is of course ever "proven" safe. You can't in the real world prove the null hypothesis. The best you can do is asymptotically approach it.

Now, "radio waves" are of course many different things, so they can't be "proven safe" anyhow. If you stick your head in the micro wave oven you'll manage to hurt yourself seriously using "radio waves", so of course there is EM-radiation in certain bands with certain power that are unsafe. Goes almost without saying.

What people typically mean though is the question of whether there is any biological effect appart from heating when being exposed to low power radiation in the low GHz range from e.g. cell phones.

And there the science is pretty clear, i.e. there is no "mix of results". Yes there have been single studies that claim to show one thing or another, but that's true in any biological research, when revisited either the protocol is unrealistic, there have been errors or the effect can't be reproduced. So we haven't found any real effect, we don't have any theory or model that could explain it if we found it (i.e. there's no "smoke" to make us go searching for a fire to begin with) and we don't see anything epidemiologically either. And we've being doing these phones for a couple of decades now at a grand scale, so they should have shown up by now.

So while we can't say that it's "safe" we can with some confidence say that if there is an effect its so small as to be completely dominated by other effects, from a risk standpoint that is. Your inattentiveness with increased risk (to take one example) probably completely swamps any risk from EM.

Comment Re:As intended (Score 1) 102

There are a lot of things to dislike about Unions. But thinking you can stand up as a single individual and negotiate on an even footing with an organization which is stocked with cash, "Human Resources", lawyers, and the patience to starve you out is pitiably naive.

Yes, the simplest of game theoretic economic analysis shows that you as an individual employee cannot "negotiate" with your employer. Even for very small companies.

Say that your boss has ten employees. So you go to negotiate. The only thing when it comes down to brass tacks you can negotiate with is walking away. I.e. quitting. That means that your boss will lose 10% of their productivity, while you will lose 100% of your income stream.

That's not even close to equal. Your risk and hassle is much greater in that situation than that of your counterpart and any negotiation of course reflects that basic truth.

So as an independent contractor with many diverse income streams your of course much better off, and that's why law often reflects that, in that if you "contract" but only have one client for long periods of time, then you are an employee and should be entitled to all benefits thereof. Benefits that have been collectively bargained (even through the political system) as its only when ten of you threaten to quit working together that the situation above balances out.

Comment Re:Wrong focus. (Score 1) 244

Well, judging from their tactics in "fighting terrorism", they would produce child pornography themselves, if they legally could. They have been producing "terrorists" for a while now.

Yes. And I was troubled by what seemed like ineptitude in addition to all other moral problems that that approach entails.

But then I dug a bit deeper and found Al Queda training material that explicitly warned would be home made jihadists from seeking like minded and forming a cell with the motivation that any like minded you find will most likely be law enforcement or an informant.

That puts the tactic of trying to trap everyone and his brother and doing so very publicly in another, more effective light. While the moral and ethical problems with such an approach remain, it suddenly looks both effective and down right sneaky. Denying your enemy the well known effectiveness of organising and acting in a group, having him commit his forces piecemeal is good for your effort, and hinders his. (Its not for nothing that the military always fight in teams or groups, and almost all of the training is devoted to how to work as a team and part of a team.)

From that perspective you can almost see the powers that be thinking that finding and stopping "black swan" self radicalised terrorists is almost impossible, so the second best thing is to limit their effectiveness by denying them the advantage of organising. And this is something that has been borne out in e.g. in France. The Charlie Hebdo terrorists were brothers, and hence difficult to isolate with such a strategy. They'll trust each other implicitly. The other organised attacks were by groups that had been put together and trained abroad. Those are more dangerous but also much more vulnerable to traditional police and intelligence efforts (even though they obviously failed here).

So, from that perspective, i.e. pure effectiveness without trying western sensibilities too much (they even follow established law and everything), there could be something well thought out behind this approach. And Al Queda and its ilk has obviously taken notice themselves, so whether thought out in advanced and executed, or just a haphazard happy accident, it has had effect.

And isn't that a scary thought? They may not be wholly incompetent, but actually good at their jobs... :-)

Comment Re: Celcius to Fahrenheit converter failed? (Score 1) 162

And who said you couldn't have a reasoned and polite conversation on Slashdot anymore! :-)

Yes, much of it is arbitrary, and even in SI-land we do cheat from time to time with specialised units for special purposes; I still hear about the odd Angstrom, even though its on the way out.

However, I do prefer a system where the conversion factor is almost always "ten" rather than arbitrary and any "fudging" is hidden in the constants that you're not getting rid of anyway. (And no having more divisors in your unit itself doesn't make it easier to build a kitchen. That's why the standard European kitchen module is 600mm...)

But of course using one system is vastly preferable. I shudder to think if you had your own imperial units for all things electrical as well... That would be worse, even though the Henry and Coulomb are awkwardly large.

Comment Re: Celcius to Fahrenheit converter failed? (Score 3, Insightful) 162

Now just between me and the people who actually do know "fuck-all" about physics, it is pretty damn humorous that the metric system, which I often hear fans bragging about how you don't use fractions, is measured to the highest available accuracy.......

By a fraction. Howbow dah?

Well, that's a little funny. But us in SI-land at least have a definition. What I find more funny is that you in imperial land don't even have a definition. What I find funnier is that imperial units are defined in terms of the relevant SI unit. E.g. " The international avoirdupois pound is equal to exactly 453.59237 grams." Now, that's funny.

And it doesn't matter if 0C is distilled or salt water or whatever. It's much more convenient to know that if I'm close to 0C when driving I better watch out for ice, than "thirty something". The approximate freezing point of water makes practical sense in a lot of contexts, worthy of a "special" number. (Most everyday thermometers aren't accurate to more than +/- 1C anyway (half that if you're lucky), so the exact definition in the physics lab isn't that important for most cases anyway.)

Comment Re: Best way to defend yourself (Score 1) 377

Second, it was the practice for private citizens to own cannon.

And the ships to put them on...

The number of guns on privateers outnumbered the fledgeling US navy's by more than ten to one. That's not only a lot of fire power in private hands, it's the majority of fire power in private hands.

Comment Re:Linus is a dumb ditch digger (Score 1) 361

Bullshit. I was there during the '90s too. SunOS was the cool kids' UNIX at the time and you could get retired 3/xx series Sun hardware cheap. Linux did run on a common PC but was a bug-ridden, totally insecure crock of shit until about 2.0.

Well I was there too, and my recollection is a bit different. First you couldn't get "cheap" 3/xx hardware unless you were lucky or connected, and second Linux may not have been performant early on, but it wasn't especially buggy or "insecure crock of shit", well at least not compared to anything else. SunOS came with a boat load of severe vulnerabilities right out of the box for basically the whole of the nineties. And it was neither worse nor better than anything else. Security just wasn't understood or on everybody's radar until it started to pick up the very last years of the nineties.

Comment Re:Linus is a dumb ditch digger (Score 1) 361

There's also another aspect: Linux ran on cheap (and nasty) hardware that people actually had available. The BSD people were famous for "That's a crap piece of hardware; wont write a driver for that. Buy this expensive kit instead..." Linux OTOH was driven by a "lets make it run everywhere" kind of ethos.

My first 386 ran Linux from version 0.11 and onwards. I couldn't even get the (semi legally aquired) 386 BSD versions to boot. Let alone run.

Comment Re:Nothing New (Score 1) 477

Ah, yes, 1993, the year September never ended. I remember it too.

But it was a bit better than what you say before 1993. The noobs were usually well in hand by October or so. It didn't take until May. Well, usually... :-) (I didn't get access until 1988 myself as Sweden wasn't hooked up until then... We missed the Morris worm by a month by virtue of not being on the Internet... :-))

Comment Re:The end is near? (Score 1) 481

The problem with a "cost" analysis is that you're comparing apples and oranges. If it was only a matter of cost/kWh then solar and wind would be fine and dandy. There'd be no question that that would be the way to go.

Unfortunately running on unreliable sources like solar and wind doesn't work as our use of the grid presumes stability of delivery and being able to follow load. We're already having problems in Europe due to wind having to be dumped at negative cost on the market (i.e. they produce more wind than we can use); wind being especially problematic in that the power delivered varies as the cube of wind speed. You only get nominal power in a very narrow range of wind speeds.

Now, of course, these aren't problems that are insurmountable, but it would take a substantial change of the grid with large scale long range interconnects (to even out differences in wind/sun) and storage (to further even out e.g. day/night). These costs are substantial, and must be factored in when talking wind/solar.

As it stands now we have the figures already. Sweden with a hydro+nuclar mix where we've switched as much to electricity as possible we emit roughly half as much CO2 per capital as the "forerunner" Germany. If we factor in industry production we're even better of. Germany's getting rid of nuclear means in actual fact that they have tied themselves to lignite coal (the largest source of particulate pollution in Sweden is actually coal power refuse blowing here from Germany and Poland). They pay about three times as much for electricity as we do, and hence do not use it if it can be avoided. They use fossil fuel for as much as is practical. (I.e. heating their houses etc.) Same is true of the Denmark to a large extent.

But with the current government here, they'll finish off our nuclear in short order, and we'll be changing our energy mix to the same dirty mix as Germany in short order. Don't you worry... All in the name of becoming "green". It's enough to make you bloody weep.

Comment Re:They took the worst part of Python (Score 1) 199

Doesn't change the fact that the Python block syntax can cause serious problems and offers *no* actual benefit over using delimiters like {} and using delimiters solves the problems Python's syntax can cause.

Yes it does have a benefit. Since people actually read indentation and not braces, a brace in the wrong position, aka wrong indentation, leads to bugs as well. Enforcing what people actually read, instead of differentiating between a convention for humans (indentation) and syntactic rules for the compiler lessens those risks.

That's not to say that Python's choices are perfect, and that there aren't gotchas. But to say that it carries no benefit isn't true either.

Slashdot Top Deals

"You tweachewous miscweant!" -- Elmer Fudd