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


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Can't we do this for the coal mines? (Score 1) 79

As far as weather goes, every Earth-August there is an asteroid-monsoon season on the Moon, when it rains tiny little rocks. Transparent umbrella technology that lets the sunlight through but bounces the hail coming at you (or your solar panels), with 11 km/s, does that exist? Made of moon-based-materials? You're talking heck of a titanium springs and heavy gauge artillery proof aluminum-oxynitride-like shields. I don't think anything can take 11 km/s, other than an atmosphere that burns it all up. One wonders how come none of the GPS/TV satellites get hit, or the ISS. Is it only a matter of time, or the chances of getting hit by an asteroid are that much smaller than getting hit by lightning down on Earth? Well, if I count the shooting stars, and the number of lightnings, lightnigs do occur more frequently. In fact anyone walking outside in broad dayling in August risks getting killed by a falling asteroid that didn't get sufficiently buned/vaporized by the atmosphere. But the chances are indeed less than getting hit by lightning, at least down on Earth, for the post-combusted, falling all the way to the surface, meteroids..

Comment Re:wow (Score 1) 325

A few corrections are due here: PNG is not exactly GNU PNG, but close enough in stance and philosophy to be called sibling-like related. PNG originally stood for "PNG is Not Gif." It is an internet phenomenon, like Linux and most "free" software, it was developed by volunteers in 1995 as soon as the submarine patents on Gif's surfaced, to be a patentless, open and "free" replacement to royalty demaning Gif's. Moreover MS did not "flock" to PNG, they were even a bit sluggish with the adoption. They may in fact have licensed GIF, and simply added PNG support because of the technological superiority to GIF's. Nevertheless the lessons learned in PNG vs. Gif might be interesting in regards to H264. Of course there is a way to mysteriously take out and make disappear all the developers who exhibit volunteering tendencies, and these days, the same PNG vs. GIF might go down differently, with all those freedom-touting voices gone. Lots of people die mysterious deaths, suddenly, unexpectedly and very young. These days.

Comment Re:don't forget squeezebox (Score 1) 139

You know paper books are on the way to getting banned, when toilet paper culture is changed to bidet's, where water is considered a renewable resource but paper is not. As long as I can take comfort in taking a reassuring peak that there is a roll of toilet paper right next to me, as I'm reading, I don't have to worry about book paper in front of me being legally banned, even if that "book" is an LCD screen for now, and traditional, "antique" paper books are hard to come by.

Comment Re:don't forget squeezebox (Score 1) 139

Oh and guess what.. I don't have much of a life, but I can say that I have been able to abstain from watching a single DVD movie so far. Ever since DVD's appeared on the scene. Because of the gargantuan copyright crap they instilled into it. I don't care what anyone else does, it's their business, but it's not for me. I've watched VHS tapes, quite a few, that my "bum" friend showed on his VCR, a few years ago, "unbum-like-ly" careful not to show a DVD, and parading gutted tapedecks from the 70's as DJ mixing rigs. I don't know what's right or wrong about intellectual property, I can't tell others what to do, but I can make a choice on what I do and don't do. And then everyone is free to live their life as they please, as long as they let me be the way I wanna be too. Oh, and, even though my father was an alcoholic, I've been able to abstain from alcohol, I drink a sip here and there, but have never got drunk. Have I said I don't have a life? How about trying to abstain from Windows or Apple, or any proprietary computer systems? It's extremely difficult, especially when the hardware you buy only has windows drivers provided, and the devices is lobotomized, and most of the functions are implemented in software. I still keep good old Windows 2000 around, but I realize its days are numbered too. I have a cellphone, but I don't enjoy it, because it's not hackable, I don't feel like it's mine. It's full of secrets. I open it, use it, done with it, put it away. Same with a car, use it, done with it, but don't get the intellectual joy of hotrodders out of it, like they used to back in the days, that tinkle, sparkle in the eye kind of joy. The only joy in the computer and computer like things comes where I'm free on it, in things like Linux/Freedos or assembler. But I know these days are numbered too, and there will be a point in time, where I'll simply open up a computer, get whatever needs to get done, done, and close it off. It will be no source of excitement. The fallback for now is hardcopy books. Like Newton had them. When paper books are banned, to save trees, or burned, like the inquisition used to burn forbidden texts, because they contained "unmanaged", "raw" text, and only Kindle-like devices are allowed, where how long you spend on each page is monitored by da man, to make sure you're not reading or thinking something illegal, that you do not exhibit any statistical criminal thought patterns, in the name of public safety and security, when that time comes, I guess I'll have to give up reading too. I don't know what the heck I'll do then, but I hope that will be after my time.

Comment Re:don't forget squeezebox (Score 2, Insightful) 139

Analog will be soon banned/phased out. Because it represents the old mentality where you can listen to unmetered programming, and are free to make a recording with a tape deck. Where intellectual property is regarded as a temporary reward, an incentive to enhance creativity, and remove secrecy, but ultimately everything is meant to enter the public domain, as soon as further prolonging of property terms does not sufficiently enhance initial creativity, or release of private knowledge, private secrets into public domain. Recording radio programming with a tapedeck? Are you out of your mind? These days such violations of intellectual property laws, even the mere thought of copying any information, let alone it "eventually" entering public domain, have to be eradicated from the minds of people. These days we have to convert to a system where every time you start up the radio you click an accept button, that you agree that all content coming through it is owned by da man, for da man, and only for da man, and only by his grace and infinite kindness are you allowed to listen to any of this wonder and amazement for such a low low introductory monthly rate. Otherwise you're considered a heretic/pirate/thief, who probably just expects to get everything for free in life, and not have to pay for it. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Well, they say the best thing in life are free: sunshine, air, love, mothertongue, and it used to be the radio, you "payed for it" by being subjected to advertising, but now you'll get advertising + you have to pay for it in cold cash too. We can start with the radio first, while x-ing off all those things from the list of best things in life are free. Well, at least you have the option not to listen to the radio, like I do, or not to buy the radio programming decryption monthly card, the kind they sell for satellite tv programming. And life is still good. I can personally attest to that - I have not watched tv, nor have I turned on my car radio for 2 years now. Ok, here and there, but I don't miss it at all. When you have to start paying for the sunshine and air you consume, because it's owned by da man, it's gonna be very difficult to live happily without those things. Oh, by the way, since last February 2009, over a year now, I've been vegetarian, and doing just fine. Well, I did eat meat here and there, like pepperoni pizza, or company burger cookout, but I can go on fine without it, I don't miss it at all.

Comment Re:This is news??? (Score 1, Funny) 55

Space is no hiding place from an artificial AI with stronger intelligence than humans, that's full steam ahead to getting developped, and it's practically impossible to avoid. There is talk about the "awakening" of the universe, how that era is unavoidable, how everything is going to be interconnected and intelligent like a Borg cube. Where does such a world leave humans? Humans may be fugitives from hunters with stronger AI than them, similar to how deer and rabbits run from us. But even deer and rabbits can escape, if they hide sufficiently well - stronger AI does not automatically mean total domination. In the jungle there are predators and prey, and having the status of prey or even a nuisance, does not automatically mean extinction. Humans, through their own monkeying, will almost inevitably create robotic beings higher up the foodchain than themselves. If not in 50 years, then in 50 million. It's only a matter of time. Under such circumstances one has to come to terms with no longer being on top, with being prey, and act accordingly. Empty space is no hiding place from strong AI, but the depths of Jupiter's hydrogen ocean, the thick clouds of Venus, and especially the deep oceans of Earth, could be. Just as we don't go and try to hunt down every deer and rabbit there is in the world, stronger AI beings may decide it's not worth it to seek us out under difficult circumstances. One still has to beware "cleansing" of areas similar to how we cleanse the ocean of all vertebrate life with our super efficient fishing nets. AI might do such a thing, and places we though were good hiding places, might end up on their radar screen, and that's bad luck for us. By analogy, we don't hunt hienas and sharks for food, we share the world with them going after the same food, but if they get caught in the way, or in our fishing nets, that's bad luck for them. The good strategy of prey, or lower on the foodchain predator, is to strive to stay off the radar screen of the top predator. Sometimes simple camouflage works, not because it's super efficient and super smart, but it's good enough to be not worth the effort to seek. But all one needs is an infrared camera on a cold night, and all of the sudden camouflaging beings glow. So one can try, but outsmarting, out-tricking the defense tricks may be retardedly simplistic. But there are certain things, such as how some snake venom's work, how life works, that's a mystery to us, there are certain things that even stronger AI than us would not know, understand and control. Just because they'd be smarter, it does not mean they would know everything. Unless they keep creating smarter AI, turning themselves into prey too, to the point where basic laws of physics might be changed, and we'd see really strange space warping ball lightning phenomena maybe more frequently, and just try to stay out of the way. Maybe, unlike to Moore's law, there may be a natural ceiling to intelligence, something we cannot understand why right now, and then everything might be in equilibrium, humans down from the top of the food chain 3 levels or 5 levels, or something similar. If anything, one would hope that the higher intelligence AI will value variety and natural conservation, and view us as integral part of their ecosystem, and maintain our population. However climate control of the Earth, to make sure it keeps functioning well, would probably end up in their hands.

NASA is doing the right thing by exploring Captain Nemo worlds. The barren surface of the Moon, Mars, and the emptiness of space is not a security zone to hide and ensure the survival of humanity in face of stronger AI, but underground tunnels on the Moon, Mars, deep waters of Earth, thick clouds and unforgiving climates of Venus may be. The worse and more unforgiving a zone is for comfortable life, the more security it poses in view of it being less tempting as a resource to higher AI. Extremophile bacteria can survive in regular environments too, but should they be under extreme attack, they can also survive in places where no other beings can go after them.

Comment Re:wow (Score 1) 325

I use it to watch youtube on puppy linux. The nice thing about puppy linux is the layered filesystem, to where a reinstall is as simple as starting a new personal file, as the OS layer never changes.

Btw, I forgot to mention how MS flocked to the GNU PNG image format as soon as they were assaulted with patent lawsuits over Unisys' LZW GIF patents. That's all we need to do with H264 too, come up with an equivalent or even better open codec.

Yes it took money, time and effort to come up with the GIF LZW format, same with the GNU PNG format. Did MS consider the harm they did to Unisys by not paying them the fees they wanted to collect, and instead blatantly using someone else's work, for free, without paying them a dime? Can they at least show a donation to nonprofit GNU on their tax deduction, as a fair compensation and retribution for coming up with PNG, equivalent or at least comparative to what they truly deserve for that work?

Comment Re:HTML5 will be a screw job. (Score 1) 436

There is FUD for people to identify HTML5 with H264. The W3 would never push a proprietary technology, but they can condone the behavior of MS and Apple spreading FUD, and brainwashing people into thinking HTML5 is H264, and nothing else. It really comes down to the "de facto" "status quo" of the future, because theoretically you may use open video codecs, but if any websites do so they are bought out/taken down/assaulted/blown up by mysterious circumstances, if the only type of video content coming from the web is through proprietary codecs, then what does it matter if you still have "theoretical freedoms?" It's kind of like the Bill of Rights anymore - slowly reduced to theoretical freedoms instead of practical ones from 50-100 years ago, because in the real world, you either can't afford them anymore, or there are other catch 22's.

Comment Re:H.264 (Score 5, Insightful) 436

It causes harm to the patent owners not being able to push it as the one and only standard, and then fully locking down all video content in the world. As long as there are other video formats to convert to, any patent assault simply creates a mass exodus. So this is a preemptive move to an oncoming showdown. They are growing frustrated at the inability to jerk the rest of the world around and tell them to pay up, so now we get abuses like this:using monopoly in one domain to gain monopoly in another. This is what happens when the Microsoft-Apple-etc. IP Consortium gets full monopoly, pretending to be straw-man competition to each other: All your content are belong to us, either to me, or my cousin right over here. So payup mofos. Maffiozo style. What changes in the world from yesteryear?

By the way, I was born in a commie block country where we only had one government provided car model, stuck in the 50's design, the only difference being the color, if you were looking for variety. With a 7 year waiting list. The statistical planning committee of the 5 year communist economic congress has come to the conclusion that only manufacturing "the best", "the most efficient", and "most economical" car model cuts down on economic waste. All they had to do was weigh the pros and cons and vote on what this best thing for everyone is, and then there is no reason to make anything else that's "suboptimal." All knowing, all wise, omnipotent infinite wisdom. With pHd's in Economics from the top universities of Moscow, decorated with 50 golden stars, party achievement awards. Making everybody drive a shitty car stuck in the 1950's. Then the Berlin wall came down, and the Glasnosty and Perestroika were done with. Call it whatever you want, the car sux a fat one. I don't care about your ideology, if the stuff I'm sitting in sux, and don't tell me there isn't anything better, because I see you, Mr. Party official, ride around in a black Mercedes Benz. You don't even believe your own preaching, but you're telling me the car I'm sitting in is what the pHd economic summit committee declared as optimal. You know what, let's change, you ride around in this car, and let me ride around in that non-committee non-mandatory, customer-focus-driven, customer-picked free market produced, through all that "waste" of "unsuccessfull" models that were comparatively suboptimal.

Come to the USA, there are many cars. No waiting lists. Arguably some cars are "better" than others, just like some video codecs are better than others, but there is a "price" you pay for "better" such as losing some freedoms that things like a Theora codec would provide. I abhor any kind of totalitarian centralized control. I love the jungle, the variety.

Comment Re:wow (Score 1) 325

Besides software patents being stupid, at least Adobe provides a Linux version of Flash, and any kind of patent bs issues are handled by them. Though I have no idea what flash does in the background while it's running on my computer, it could be screwing me totally. So open source is welcome, to inspect what the heck is going on, but I hope Google provides an h264 linux codec to linux, and fight the total bs patent battles with the armies of marketroid lawyers from MS and the like, and shield me from any such harassment and abuses. Or they create a patentless codec to use on their youtube, the likes of ogg instead of mp3 and the myriad of other proprietary formats coming from ms and apple, all wanting to hijack the standard, and milk the internet cow for themselves.

If anything, Adobe positioned themselves in a spot - establishing a proprietary standard over the so far open and free internet - that both MS and Apple are vying for. The first step is getting something proprietary or at least patented pushed onto the internet. Once people can't live without it, turn on the cash flow from it. Kind of like mp3, gif, and the likes did it - push it for free, and start asking for a fee late in the game. Adobe got through the push it for free phase, and just when it is about ready to start charging, and asking for a per-click-per-minute fee, the big boys are x-ing it out of the game very fast. They wanna do that kind of charging, but they don't wanna pay up to somebody else. Imagine the kind of money you can make when you 0wn da internet because everyone is using your patented video/display method to view everything, and they are paying to you by the minute. Can you say 1 trillion dollar yearly revenue eclipsing that posted by Exxon?

One wonders how on Earth the Internet got this far without asking for a per minute fee. I guess it's been going through that push it for free phase, kind of like drug dealers do it. The only way the internet is gonna stay free is if you can maintain ways to live without it.

Comment Re:Playing devil's advocate for a second... (Score 1) 140

Monks circumventing the language tax by taking a wov of silence, or even by naughtily inventing their own sign language instead of trespassing on someone else's sign language intellectual property, will be put into straightjackets, declared mentally ill, and put on medication that has the effects of laughing gas, to improve their clinical depression and speechlessness symptoms.

Comment Re:powerpoint is the real enemy (Score 1) 233

I was forced to create slides at a corporation. I pretty much lost that career over it, because I sucked at it, I hated doing the whole thing, to me it seemed like such a nonsense. I had no problem writing detailed analysis. I said I wanted to be a lab scientist, not a presentation clown. I was told if I was unwilling to get better at doing powerpoint presentations, I had no future there. I said then maybe I don't have a future there. And so it happened.

Slashdot Top Deals

It is now pitch dark. If you proceed, you will likely fall into a pit.