Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Astronomers Find Gas Cloud About To Fall Into Black Hole 94

First time accepted submitter pigrabbitbear writes "Black holes are basically celestial Cookie Monsters, gobbling anything and everything in sight. But because that appetite includes light itself, it's incredibly rare for us to actually see a black hole suck back an interstellar treat. Astronomers using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope have found just that: a mysterious, giant gas cloud that's rapidly been pulled into the maw of a supermassive black hole. The researchers, led by Reinhard Genzel of the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany, discovered the cloud as part of a now 20-year ESO program tasked with tracking stars as they whirl around the supermassive black hole, known as Sgr A*, at the center of our galaxy."

Comment Reboots help specific problems (Score 1) 705

We reboot servers on our (very small) installation.

The most obvious is if I change the configuration of the server in a non trivial manner, and need to make sure the whole server is consistent.A reboot is the quickest way to find that out if the changes stick and are consistent with the rest of the server software. It is best to test then than to wait for a reboot due to an unrelated problem (hardware failure, power cut, trip on the cable, etc...) and then have to figure out why the server is not working as expected.

Some of our servers running commercial software also have to be rebooted periodically, due to bugs of the software that clog the server to a useless state if left alone. We could shutdown all offending processes, clean the server state, and restart them, but a supervised reboot will reset the state of the server in a reproducible manner.

Other than that, we only reboot if and only if there is a security patch for the kernel that we have to apply or a critical firmware update.

These are probably not best practices, but work in our environment.

Comment Re:News flash (Score 1) 757

This happens all over the world. I also have a PhD in immunology, not from US or UK, but from a University and research institute somewhere in Europe.

I left science after my PhD to take advantage of a (risky) one time opportunity between my Thesis defence and a post-doc. This was such a rewarding and fruitful experience that I embarked in different career. I left Immunology for an IT job.

If I had stayed in academia, I would have to leave my life to pursue at least two top-tier post-doc in top labs outside my country. These post-docs, if successful, would give me a non-zero change of finding a paid (non-fellowship) position in a university or a research institute. If I could not overcome the institutional selection for these positions, I could have found myself over 40 and stuck in a career limbo, like many older post-docs where I had my PhD. Not a very good prospect, not getting a job because of being too old, specialised and hopelessly academic.

I research you are only competitive when you are young and your rain is cheap. This is why some foreigners, who have a higher brain/salary ratio than natives, are so sought after.

Comment Re:Props to Apple (Score 5, Insightful) 504

It's not just marketing, it's making products that work and do feel and look good. In spite all the limitations that any itemized feature check-list of apple products vs the competition will show, I have chosen apple products a couple of times.

The last istuff i bought was an iphone to replace my Motorola razr. I wanted a nokia N900, until a saw it had the thickness of a pack of cigars with a proce tag close to the iphone. I could have fun with linux on the nokia, but fun only lasts for a while especially for a thick heavy phone. Size does matter for a phone and a thick heavy phone would lay forotten most of the time in my backpack.

Why is there no serious competition? Are all competitors secret Apple fan boys? Why is it the the apple line of laptops look cool and sober and PC laptops have 10 stickers, a miss-match of random useless applications pre-installed and blinding leds and chrome all over? I am writing this on a 6 moth HP elite book that I quite enjoy and is not that bad, but it still looks like a farm tractor next to my wife's macbook pro.

Comment Re:FUD! (Score 1) 580

It is only a mater of time untlil the lock down is in place. This is Evil Plan basics:

1. Launch the store
2. Increase acceptance because it's secure, convenient and apple branded. Brain wash as needed.
3. Wait a bit an profit.
4. Start tarpitting third party distibuted/downloaded apps and free sotware.
5. Profit even more!

All smooth sailing with happy mac heads and software makers.

If Apple was ever in the dominant position Microsoft has been, we would be lucky to have free software and comodity hardware at all.

Comment Re:Why do I need KDE? (Score 1) 302

I use KDE for the same reason I use eclipse instead of emacs: It is functional, integrated and easy to apply my work flows to it. KDE is comfortable and comfort if very important when you are using the desktop hours on end every day of the week.

I hate to use MacOSX or Windows because I lack empathy to the way Mr Jobs and the whole MS & Partners think I should interact with my desktop. I annoys me and instead of getting things done, I get the feeling of fighting the computer. I also dislike plain window managers with overlapping xterms, because they feel very hard-edged to the user, even after editing a 10-page config file written in obscure script, they still feel not quite right.

With 4Gb of ram and a dual core chip with an intel x3100, KDE 4 works fairly well, even with a galore of firefox windows and eclipse running on the background. When this system bogs down, it is usually firefox's fault :)


What Can I Do About Book Pirates? 987

peterwayner writes "Six of the top ten links on a Google search for one of my books point to a pirate site when I type in 'wayner data compression textbook.' Others search strings actually locate pages that are selling legit copies including digital editions for the Kindle. I've started looking around for suggestions. Any thoughts from the Slashdot crowd? The free copies aren't boosting sales for my books. Do I (1) get another job, (2) sue people, or (3) invent some magic spell? Is society going to be able to support people who synthesize knowledge or will we need to rely on the Wikipedia for everything? I'm open to suggestions."

Comment doom shareware (Score 1) 739

I think it was about 95/96 I was an undergraduate student.

A friend of mine in the lab installed Slackware from floppies, complete with doom, on a pentium 120MHz. It was the only lab computer with a serious game. Linux seemed both alien and magical to a DOS/windows 3.1 user.

At the end of the year I was running c++ code on a Alpha station with RedHat 64bit installed, it was buggy (no X, console garbage) but faster and more useful than NT.

To think that it took me almost 10 years to come back to 64bit Linux on my workstation :)

Comment Re:*Fwooosh!* (Score 1) 471

Everytime something new and sexy comes to desktop PCs that does not depend on windows or microsoft, microsoft loses power.

So now we may have web browsing and voip on power up with no need for explorer or windows. Soon we may have bios-knoppix or bios-ubuntu, with openoffice and support for external media. I bet that would make for some sleepless nights in Redmond.

Feed The Register: Toshiba readies Cell-based graphics engine (

Watch out, Nvidia, here comes... er... SpursEngine

Toshiba will next week formally announce a processor based on the Cell chip that sits inside each Sony PlayStation 3 games console. The new CPU will be pitched not only at consumer electronics kit but set head-to-head with today's PC and Mac graphics chips.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Hello?

Ummm... no fans, no foes, no journal.

Fixed Journal. This is my first and probably last entry in this journal.

Now to find some fans and foes.

Slashdot Top Deals

Slowly and surely the unix crept up on the Nintendo user ...