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Comment Debate club (Score 4, Interesting) 1191

"Debate club" is an excellent description! We have something unique here that is so far ahead of the game it looks old fashioned. Slashdot is not a "news" site and never has been, if I want to read a good a news site then I will go to the BBC. The slashdot "story" is just a summary of the (alleged) topic up for debate, it points to one or more articles that are already fine examples of traditional news publishing such as the BBC and invites the reader to express and defend their opinion on it.

The new style is like every other mainstream site because it's coming from a long publishing tradition. Things are set into columns, the columns surround by pictures in a way that's both easy to READ and eye-catching. The newspaper tradition does not expect the reader to insert their own comments within their carefully layed out columns.. Slashdot's format begs the reader to WRITE something. At Slashdot the comments are the content, take the focus away from them and it will rapidly devolve into just another link farm..

Put another way, if the active Slashdot commentators liked the traditional feedback formats of newspaper publishers then there would be no reason for Slashdot to exists. Sites like the BBC would keep the eyeballs on their own site. The comment system is Slashdot's "value add", without it, it's toast. Make it look like a traditional comment system that's normally provided by the real news sites and people will just comment directly on the real news site.

There's a reason people like me came here in the late 90's and are still actively commenting, it's not support for Slashdot in the way one supports a football club, it's support for a genuine alternative to the traditional publishing meme. One that has the ability to turn a story into a conversation, which is something I think is desperately needed to counter the undue influence of the incontestable propaganda statements known as "opinion columns" that dominate the MSM, particularly in the US.

Comment Don't fix what ain't broke. (Score 4, Insightful) 1191

Glad you posted directly. We're a hard crowd to please, after a very brief look my main objections are...
1. Use the whole width of the screen. The narrow width gives the individual comments a ridiculously tall aspect ratio which destroys the flow of the thread. The threads need to stick out like dogs balls for an old fart like me to follow them.
2. Get rid of the pictures on the front page or give the option of a list format that reflects the style of the current front page, thumbnails perhaps?.

Like many other loyal fans, the reason I have posted well over 5K comments, a few stories, and the occasional small donation in the past 10+yrs, is the comment system! There are a billion sites where I can post comments at strangers, but other than chat rooms full of sexually frustrated people, this is the only site where I can hold a conversation with them.

Slashdot will never be the "cool kid", but this "new look" is like Sheldon picking out his own suit, even the geeks are shaking their heads in bewilderment.


Nothing new here, the IRA regularly called Scotland yard to claim responsibility just prior to their attacks, they even had a system of secret code words to prove who was talking. There's no point to an attack if the terrorist tries to hide responsibility, and a claim of responsibility after the attack can be disputed. Like the animals who hacked a solider to death in a busy London street and then started talking to CCTV cameras about 'why', these people want the whole world to know who they are, and why they are pissed. There will be people in Kenyan who sympathised with the 'cause' (at least before the attack), unsurprising if the operation started leaking with so many people involved.

Terror doesn't work, and probably never will, it simply makes the vast majority who survive more determined to kill you. By that I mean, who off the top of their head can remember the stated reason for the murder above? - Most of us don't care, they have gone so far past the point of 'reasonable', we simply dismiss the message as the ramblings of a madman and demand they be removed from OUR society. That's why the mall attack is big news in the western world, we can relate to the situation because nothing says "OUR society" like a giant shopping mall does.. A 'terrorist' attack that wipes out an entire mud-brick town in nearby Sudan or Mali will be uniformly ignored by the MSM.

Comment Re:Lunar clocks? (Score 4, Interesting) 91

A quick check of WP says that the largest meta-study found no correlation, they found what they claimed to be "statistical errors" in the 20 studies that did find a correlation. To me that doesn't say "no", it says the evidence we have to date is weak (unless there's a much larger set of "error free" papers backing the "no correlation" side).

Personally I think there is a grain of truth in it, and my ex-wide who worked in ER for several years (as a cleaner) swears by it. However the moon doesn't actually create freaks from otherwise normal people, rather it provides just enough light for existing freaks to wander about at night and hurt themselves/others. I wouldn't expect the effect to be noticeable in a modern city hospital because city lights outshine the moon anyway. Weather also plays a huge role in the number of freaks wandering around at night, like everyone else, they (mostly) have enough sense to get out of the rain and are much more active on warm nights than cold. According to my ex-wife and her co-workers, a full moon on a hot and humid Saturday night is the perfect freak storm in a rural (or beachside) ER, statistically you're more likely to be murdered on a hot humid day than any other day.

There's a very good reason that virtually every ancient religion has a sun and/or a moon god, they were observed to rule the natural cycles around them. Modern city/urban life obscures most of those observations and people are left wondering why the hell stone age people went to the effort of building places like stone henge.

I think it's pretty much the same reason our modern society went to the effort of building the LHC or the Hubble telescope, ultimately they were trying to understand the world around them. Knowing where and when to turn up for an "all you can eat" buffet is a very deep behaviour in evolutionary terms, creatures as diverse as apes, jellyfish, corals, bears, and crocodiles make good use of it.

In most cases we are at a complete loss when it comes to explaining these things in detail. For example, how do crocodiles "know" to gather an hour or so before fish become trapped on a flooded river ford? - The brief event (filmed by Attenborough) only happens right at the peak of a king tide. AFAIK, nobody (including Attenborough) has a clue how the hell the crocs tell the difference between a high tide and a king tide BEFORE it arrives. In ancient times people just accepted that (say) the crocs inexplicable ability to predict king tides was due to "divine knowledge".

Humans are the undisputed masters of observing and exploiting patterns, however the root cause of the pattern is often irrelevant to it's utility. Ancient people would have simply observed the crocs (a wise defence behaviour anyway) and been alerted to the imminent fish bounty by their behaviour, some would have been mauled/taken by crocs when they went after the fish, lucky escape stories would abound, semi-random rituals would rapidly emerge to appease and thank the crocs. Next thing you know everybody wants a row of granite crocodile gods adorning their pyramid's driveway, and virgins are feeling nervous.

Comment Re:Great idea! Let's keep it going: (Score 1) 266

Not seeing the problem here? Account self-destruct buttons are trivial to implement and should be at the discretion of the user, even if the user is an old fart like me. I think it would be unreasonable to expect companies to wipe the information from back-up tapes, just deleting the account should suffice for this purpose, if not the NSA have their own backups anyway. .

Comment Re:Oh good grief. (Score 1) 254

All of us develop according to the platform. In other words, you want to make a living coding apps, code in Objective -C, C# or Java.

There's still plenty of work targeting multiple platforms in plain old C, it's been putting the cake on my table for the last couple of decades. Having said that, most (paid) developers can do "something" in most languages simply by reading some code and googling unfamiliar constructs. I suppose when you think about it, googling an unfamiliar language is just a more relaxed version of WTF. Also, in my experience most WTF comments within the code are criticisms of the author, rather than the language itself.

C++ is a common entry point into programming for serious students. LUA is a relatively simple scripting language which cannot 'implement any algorithm' because (last time I looked) it's not a general programming language, it is however a popular video game interface which introduces a lot of young people to game programming. The languages that professional developers traditionally consider more difficult to learn properly are at the bottom of the list, namely C, Ruby, and Pearl.

At the end of the day, professional developers learn syntax to practice programming, somewhat like a doctor learns anatomy to practice medicine. The difference being that anatomy doesn't change much over time. ;)

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