Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Comment Hard-to-find Monorail? 3-D printing to the rescue! (Score 4, Interesting) 41

I have to say, at least for the mono-rail track, 3-D printing seems the clear way to avoid prowling E-Bay for hard to find and expensive pieces.

I wonder if owners would consent to have their pieces scanned to produce a blue-print.

(Of course, then we'd see whether Lego wants to dare the bad publicity of preventing a trade in replica pieces that Lego no longer sells.)

Comment Re:That title has quite a spin on it. (Score 2) 170

> Why would they betray their own community?

I think you've got it the wrong way around. The would-be terrorists are betraying the Muslim community in every possible way.

I'm certain that the immigrant communities understand that the extremists would be overjoyed to see them sacrificed to angry mobs in order to further the their agenda. There's not a lot of love lost between these groups.

(Of course, you're always going to be able to find some angry young men ready to sacrifice everything and everybody to their rage. But the community at large? No.)

Comment Re:it always baffles me (Score 2) 113

... why are mission critical devices connected to the internet

Because being connected to the internet saves a *lot* of money. Instead of having to have an entire emergency team on site at all hours, you can get away with a minimal team at nights/weekends, and workers who can, in an emergency, connect from home.

It takes a very capable manager who can persuade the higher ups that its necessary to continue spending a few millions dollars in wage costs every year to avoid what (at least until very recently) seemed to be a very illusionary threat. Besides, surely with a few precautions like multi-factor authentication, there's no possible way that anyone could break in :-).

Note, it's even harder if you're bidding for contracts. Try telling prospective clients that the reason your prices are double are because you refuse to enter the Internet age... Especially when those you are bidding against are assuring the customer that they're taking all the necessary precautions.

It's a sad fact of life that it's rarely worthwhile to spend a lot of money to protect against rare disasters if your competitors aren't doing the same. (Note, normal disaster planning adds a few percent to cost - we're talking about making yourself bullet proof, which may double or triple your costs.) The odds are fairly high that with much higher costs, you'll be bankrupt before the disaster hits, and moreover, if all your competitors are being hit by the same disaster, the general sentiment becomes "no-one could have predicted it" and everyone keeps their jobs anyway.

Comment Re:The third option (Score 2) 536

I did the essence of this with much less code.

Not "the essence" - *an* essence. A mere shadow of this error handler.

You and I might be content with "recycle" and a sad little notification in an error log somewhere, but not this error handler.

When it detected the CPU was failing, it would comb the register for life signs, route around the dying CPU, say last rites, mournfully bury it, and continue on its mission (as well as sending an email to accounting to order a new CPU). If the disk drive had been hit by lightning, it moved fast enough that it would outpace the bolt traveling down the electrical cord, rewire the junction box to send it current into the ground, power up the secondary backup drive, and send a work order to building maintenance to repair the malfunctioning lightening rod on the building's roof.

The database being converted to EBCDIC? Hah! The error handler converted it to Armenian, just to show it could, before converting it Aramaic, then English, then Unicode, and then sending an email to project manager to let him know he could remove the Unicode phase in our legacy database update project.

The error handler's philosophy was clear and built for an earlier age that even then, realized that man would in time become a lesser, diminished being, incapable of understanding the intricacies of exactly how the error should be recovered. As such, it did not depend upon the fallible hands of men to repair an unexpected error condition. It simply handled them *all*.

Alas, even the programmer, in his wisdom, could not foresee the changes that would one day occur, and for those of us who held but a hundredth of the knowledge that he had accumulated in his years of service, we could no more alter his code than a gorilla could rebuild a finely tuned Swiss watch.

And so his code was lost to the knowledge of men (except the revision control system).

I'm sorry. All you have there is good, maintainable, effective program.

What we had, and then threw away, was art made code.

Comment Re:The third option (Score 5, Funny) 536

I have not ever seen that done

I have. The coder handled every possible exception intelligently, handled the possible exceptions in the exception handlers, handled the possible exceptions in the exception exception handlers, etc. It was phenomenal. His code could practically handle a CPU burning out at the same time as the primary disk had been hit by lightening while the database had been accidentally converted into EBCDIC.

Unfortunately, it was also completely unmaintainable. No human being, outside of the original programmer, could possibly grok all the conditions, sub-conditions, and contingencies. The code was also 3000 lines of error handling for about 25 lines of normal execution.

It was my privilege to gaze upon the world's most complete error handling before I fulfilled my responsibility of burning it to the ground.

Comment Re:Damn... (Score 1) 602

My apologies, I missed your point. I thought you were asserting that you can't classify something as a mental disease unless you can describe the physical mechanism behind it. I was pointing out that we can't describe the physical mechanisms of many physical diseases either.

> My only point is that some mental disorders we don't understand well may well turn out to have physical causes.

Being a materialist, I believe that all mental behavior (both beneficial and adverse) has physical causes. However, I think we're a long way from getting a handle on the mechanisms (I'm not looking for the singularity this century...)

Comment Re:Damn... (Score 1) 602

So your fear of losing what you have is making you afraid of what you could possibly gain?

Who is you?

My son's characteristics are classified as Asperger's, but really, I'd just call it personality. If one could recode someone's personality, would they still be, well..., them?

The question of identity is always tricky (Would you volunteer for a Star Trek transporter? Is the person who's reassembled really you?), and the alteration of characteristics by which we define ourselves is always going to be a very personal decision.

I've often wondered about what would happen if we could cure some forms of mental retardation. For significant jumps in neural ability, wouldn't we have really essentially killed of the old person and replaced them with a new one? Every thing that defined the original subject in his or her own mind would likely change. All are tough questions with no obvious answers.

Comment Re:I probably shouldn't respond to Timothy's troll (Score 1) 242

I'd argue that while software patents are a net loss, the rest of the patent system has been quite successful for the US, doing more or less what it's intended to do. Certainly, it's worked a lot better at fostering innovation than in countries with very weak patent enforcement mechanisms like China.

I should point out that innovation is *not* universally a good thing - not all innovations work in the end. For example, much of the financial crisis was caused by innovation in finance that failed in the long term. (Although it should be noted that America dominates finance because of that innovation.)

As for copyright issues, that's not really a matter of innovation and thus not particularly relevant here. It's little wonder that America, being dominant in entertainment production is the keenest to protect its product. You'll notice that in Europe, each region is protecting their particular culinary specialties, etc. It is to be expected that every nation protects what they can (and America has the ability to push that protection elsewhere (other countries attempt to do this as well, but with notably less success)).

As for out-sourcing, this is a global phenomena. It's unsurprising that it causes a lot of dislocation and misery (and incidentally raises a billion Chinese out of poverty, but never mind them), as almost all major economic re-alignments do. However, it should be noted that in the absence of out-sourcing, manufacturing was likely to take a huge hit (albeit not as big as did occur) as mechanization took hold and required fewer people. Companies that didn't use lots of robots, etc. were already being forced to slash wages or increase prices. Either way, just as farm mechanization wiped out millions upon millions of jobs, the same thing was and is happening to manufacturing. And, yes, it's a real challenge to figure out how people who are not information workers by inclination are going to earn a middle-class living. But this is not new - heck, I wrote a high school paper on exactly this subject in the 70's.

Since I am not an American, nor live in America, I'm actually rather grateful for America's military budget. Let's just say I'm familiar with the concept of Finlandization, and the US is one of the only examples I can think of small countries adjacent to a powerful country where Finlandization didn't occur on any scale worthy of the term. (Call me cynical, but the natural state of political affairs is for the larger, more powerful countries to absolutely dictate policy to the smaller ones. The US pushes, not dictates, policy, and often doesn't get its way. I certainly didn't see the USSR have the same problems with countries in its sphere of influence, and I fully expect that once China dominates its region will enforce rather more cooperation. The USA's willingness to let weak countries like my own dictate their own affairs and allow an independent foreign policy is a historical aberration, and one I am rather grateful for.

Comment Re:I probably shouldn't respond to Timothy's troll (Score 2) 242

I'm sorry, but I have to call into question your claim that America isn't innovative any more.

While the rest of the world is *gradually* catching up, which dilutes the appearance of American innovation, there's still a huge amount of research done in America. More to the point, if you start looking deeply into almost any industry, you'll find that it's massively changed over the last 10-20 years, and mostly a result of American innovations.

Farming, manufacturing, chemistry, medical advances, business processes, transportation, finance, electronics (again phones, tablets, internet, etc.) have all made huge recent strides in innovation thanks to American advances. The only real change is that instead of having a virtual monopoly on such advances, American advances are now beginning to share the stage with other countries.

Don't confuse other countries advances with American decline. We should be celebrating, not sorrowing.

Slashdot Top Deals

You will be successful in your work.