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


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Pseudoscience debunked? (Score 1) 374

A polygraph is not complete pseudoscience. There's a definite correlation between the various factors measured and lying.

There is a study that keeps being brought out to justify the use of polygraphs in job applicant security screening. The only problem is that the study was studying an entirely different use of polygraphs (determining whether the test subject performed a specific act where direct physical evidence is available), and security screening is known to be an area where they have substantially lower accuracy -- and they only just barely managed to be better than chance in the study. Paraphrasing the words of the American Psychological Association, there has never been a study examining the use of polygraphs for security screening which is not methodologically flawed, and there is no known physiological reaction to lying that cannot also be caused by other effects (e.g. stressful situations, particularly like you might experience in, say, an interview for a job you really really want). So, no, at least for the purpose under discussion here: polygraphs *are* complete pseudoscience, and there is no statistically significant correlation that has been demonstrated in a methodologically sound scientific study.

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 1) 189

I agree that's a complete dick move on their part. But when you see "We may, from time to time at our sole discretion and without notice or liability, create, amend, change, or delete any content from the IGP Offerings." at the top of their terms, that should raise a *huge* red flag before you reach for your wallet in the first place.

I don't know about your jurisdiction, but mine has "unfair contract terms" legislation. One of the Act's cited examples of a term which is unfair and therefore not enforceable in any contract is a term which:

has the object or effect of
enabling the seller or supplier to alter unilaterally without a valid
reason any characteristics of the product or service to be

Quoting from government advice on interpretation of this law:

Where circumstances could prevent the supply of the
goods or services agreed (or a version of them that the consumer has
indicated is acceptable) then the consumer should be able to cancel the
contract, and receive a refund of prepayments.

A term which could allow the supplier to vary what is supplied at will –
rather than because of bona fide external circumstances – is unlikely to be
fair even if customers have a right of cancellation and refund. The
consumer should never have to choose between accepting a product that is
not what was agreed, or suffering the inconvenience of unexpectedly not
getting, for example, goods for which he or she may have an immediate
need, or a long-planned holiday, just because it suits the supplier not to
supply what was promised.

If you have similar legislation in your jurisdiction, you may want to challenge the decision not to supply what you paid for in court. You may be entitled not just to a refund, but also compensation.

IANAL; this is not legal advice; consult a legal professional before commencing court proceedings; etc.

Comment Re:Not P2W (Score 2) 189

So, what you're saying is that there is a game mechanic (the XP system) whose effects are to make the game less fun by turning it into work, but which you can pay real money to lessen, and you don't see that as a problem?

Different people have different tolerances for repetitive play, and different amounts of free time that they can spend on it. People with less free time have a tendency to want to advance faster so that they can enjoy different parts of the game; people with more free time tend to prefer to take progress through the game at a more leisurely rate so they can enjoy it for longer. While I haven't played this particular game, it is usual for the cash shop in free-to-play (and even sometimes non-free) games to sell ways to modify your progression rate, increasing it or even in some cases decreasing it (I know several players in LOTRO, for example, who have paid for the ability to stop gaining XP in order to allow a single character to complete all the quests at each level, which is not normally possible because you gain XP too quickly and there are many quests; the item costs about $5, so it's a non-trivial purchase, but some people find it lets them enjoy the game better, so...).

Comment Re:I'm making those mistakes right now, myself. (Score 1) 189

Except that in my case, my friends and I decided to start our own company. We're building a MMO.

Everyone's building an MMO. It seems to be the default I-want-to-make-this-kind-of-game genre (just like building an OS is the default for big software engineering projects -- just look how many hobbyist OSs there are out there!). Perhaps you shouldn't let this discourage you, but still worth thinking about.

If we're onto book recommendations, there are a couple more:

A Theory of Fun, Raph Koster. If you read his blog, it turns out there's a new edition due out soon, so may be worth waiting for it, but this is the seminal title on what it is that makes games fun.

Designing Virtual Worlds, Richard Bartle. Bartle co-developed the first MUD, which of course was the inspiration that eventually led to the development of the first MMOs, so this book is actually pretty indispensible for an MMO developer, I reckon. Goes into a lot of nitty-gritty about how a typical MMO actually works.

Comment Re:It's Simple, Really. (Score 1) 189

I was listening to the radio last night and they reported the top job desired by children is that of reality star. I see this in a number of high school and college graduates as well. They want to be a star working at a star company. For jobs that do not really create anything, CEO, lawyer, doctor, that is OK. But for an engineer, who should be innovating everyday things that makes our lives better, that should be making the world safer, it does. Of course a game developer is likely more like a lawyer than an engineer, but still. I would say find somewhere you can make a difference, not somewhere you can be a star. It is not a bad thing to know that you went into work and did something meaningful. Of course that could happen a Blizzard. But if someone is offerring you a job at a firm where what you do matters, and you are getting well compensated, I think that is a good thing.

I think working on a project that would likely make millions of people happy (even if only for a few hours each) is pretty damned meaningful. Sure, entertainment isn't life-or-death, but it's got to be more rewarding than, say, accountancy.

Comment Re:They didn't know he also... (Score 1) 403

It is also quite likely that advocating or promoting suicide is a violation of the terms of service.

To be honest, I don't see anything advocating or promoting suicide. I see him explaining his reasonings in rather clear terms and as such I'd classify it as a discussion about suicide. There is a difference between discussion and active advocation and/or promotion.

There's a page on the site that outlines a list of possible methods and reasons why you would choose one or the other of them. Sure, it's in the context of how he decided what method to use for himself, but it can be read as instructional for other people, which is a clear violation of Yahoo's ToS.

Comment Re:They didn't know he also... (Score 4, Informative) 403

Yahoo has contractual obligation to provide service, sudden death of a party is a sleazy way to weasel out of a service contract.

Unless he violates the terms of service.

10.1 Prohibited Uses
You agree that you will not:
(p) promote or provide instructional information about illegal activities, promote physical harm or injury against any group or individual, or promote any act of cruelty to animals.

A section of his site was instructions on how to commit suicide, which is an illegal act in many (most?) jurisdictions.

Comment Re:Letting the battery cycle? (Score 1) 363

You can treat them however you like cycle-wise and you'll get about the same total lifespan out of them

This isn't entirely true. See the graph here (the page is mostly about lead-acids, but as the author states the graph in question is valid for li-ion, just with a different scale). Look at a couple of data points towards either edge of the graph, for example, 20% and 80% depth-of-discharge. At 20%, the battery the author is describing gets 3,300 cycles whereas at 80% it gets 675. Assuming the battery has a 1Ah capacity (for simplicity of calculation) this means that with 20% DOD you get a total battery life of 660Ah but at 80% you only get 540Ah. That's nearly a 20% difference in lifespan.

Comment Re:non-replaceable batteries (Score 1) 363

If it was under warranty you could have them do the work for free.

"the AppleCare Protection Plan for notebook computers does not cover batteries that have failed or are exhibiting diminished capacity except when the failure or diminished capacity is the result of a manufacturing defect" (source).

Comment Re:Survey says... (Score 1) 363

...that's about the most stupid thing you could do.

"X" hours? I don't need to get up to plug the charger in. So why is this the most stupid thing I could do?

Because most batteries last much longer if you don't discharge them as far. So charge them whenever you can and they're not nearly full. About 80%-90% is probably the best place to start, not 10%.

Comment Re:Wrong Question (Score 5, Informative) 410

Evidence suggests that scaling quantum computing to the large number of qubits required to decrypt 2kbit RSA would be extraordinarily expensive, if possible at all. The largest quantum computer[1] built so far outside of secret institutions has, I believe, 14 qubits (I may be a little out-of-date, but not by a long way). Scaling has occurred at a fairly constant linear rate of about 1 qubit per annum since the earliest machines were produced. There's no signs of an exponential take-off the way there was with conventional computing hardware, which suggests that the expense of scaling to larger and larger quantum computers doesn't get decrease the way it does with silicon.

Some data points:

1998: 3 qubits
2000: 5 qubits
2001: 7 qubits (largest achieved to date with single atom containing all qubits in different degrees of freedom)
2005: 8 qubits
2006: 12 qubits
2011: 14 qubits

This is the best private industry can do. I'd be surprised if the NSA were doing more than a factor of 10 better. To crack 2048-bit RSA, about 3000 qubits would be required[2], or about 20 times my best guess as the limit of what the NSA could have achieved. Besides, Shor's algorithm is not instant: even if it's faster than any classical algorithm, it's still third-order polynomial on the number of bits in the input, and quantum computers don't perform individual operations particularly quickly, so even if we assume the NSA has managed to make a quantum computer that's a thousand times faster per operation than existing private systems, to factor a 2048-bit RSA key on a 3,000 qubit computer would take about 8.6 billion operations running at about 10-100us each, which is to say approximately 1 to 10 days of time on the (enormously expensive) system (of which they almost certainly only have one, which will therefore have a very long prioritized queue of jobs waiting for it).

And upgrade to 4096 bits, and they'll need a quantum computer with 6,000 qubits, and the job will take somewhere between a week and three months to complete.

[1] I'm excluding so-called quantum annealing computers from this, e.g. various systems produced by D-Wave, because they cannot be used to run Shor's algorithm, so are not a threat to RSA. This is not so much an entry into the debate as to whether or not they should be classified as quantum computers, but a practical decision based on the subject under discussion.
[2] traditionally, this would be 4096 (twice the number of bits in the input), but this arxiv paper claims 1.5 x bits in input or fewer is achievable through a method I don't really understand

Comment Re:hushmail.com (Score 1) 410

Yes, they surrendered data with a court order. Pretty-much any service provider in most countries will, and when there's actual evidence of serious crimes tied to your identity it's easy to get such a court order in most countries. These were targeted, court-approved disclosures, which is a very, very different thing from massive unwarranted trawling.

Also: if you avoid their javascript-based interface and use the java applet, they still *can't* disclose your emails, as they are never available unencrypted on their server.

Slashdot Top Deals

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.