Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Comment One really crappy laptop per child (Score 1, Funny) 102

It all sounds so fantastic, that all children should have access to a laptop.

Well, recently I was in the tiny Pacific country of Niue, where every child actually has a laptop.

More than that, basically the entire nation (of 1,500 people) is a wireless hotspot, so every child can access the internet.

But don't be misled, the laptops given to the children perform about three functions. They do connect to the internet, but even doing something as simple as a google search is next to impossible, because the speed is so slow.

If you don't mind using a keyboard that looks like a child's toy (huge letters that require a few fingers to press, thus making typing impossible) and a screen that is tiny, I guess you could use a notepad to write a school essay.

Perhaps they achieved what every third world nation seems to want, one laptop per child, and have bragging rights as the first place on earth to do this, but surely the next step should be "one half decent laptop per child".


Best Man Rigs Newlyweds' Bed To Tweet During Sex 272

When an UK man was asked to be the best man at a friend's wedding he agreed that he would not pull any pranks before or during the ceremony. Now the groom wishes he had extended the agreement to after the blessed occasion as well. The best man snuck into the newlyweds' house while they were away on their honeymoon and placed a pressure-sensitive device under their mattress. The device now automatically tweets when the couple have sex. The updates include the length of activity and how vigorous the act was on a scale of 1-10.

Comment Free speech (Score 0, Troll) 400

At the risk of joining the flame war about free speech, I wanted to say that I appreciate free speech, and the USA clamps down on it from time to time, just as all countries do.
Don't believe me? Think about this.

As a journalist I travelled into the USA recently. Apparently as part of the US "war on terror" foreign journalists are now required to explain why they are entering the United States. They have to explain details of any stories they want to work on, and say which states I was travelling in. This is designed apparently to stop the wrong type of reporters getting news out of America.

This is nothing new. When Mike Moore travelled to Cuba as part of a documentary he was making, he was threatened with legal action, because there are restrictions in place regarding travel to Cuba. The USA is content for negative messages about Cuba, but cannot bear for a documentary to be made about the country that may tell a different story.

I remember how the US TV networks stopped running footage of Osama Bin Laden too, apparently because his hand gestures were giving coded signals to operatives about when and where to attack. Mind you it had absolutely nothing to do with the US government trying to stamp out political speech.
The fact that Al Qaeda operatives could freely watch his speeches online apparently slipped by the US govt.

Cuba clamping down on anti-government activists is nothing new, but lets not pretend the US govt doesn't play the same games when it suits them.

Comment Re:Overly ambitious (Score 1) 118

When the Mars rovers were sent out, Mars was unusually close to Earth. Sending out similar vehicles now would be much tougher, take much longer, require much bigger fuel loads, cost much more money, and give many more opportunities for errors.

At some point the US may want to ask whether it desperately wants a functional healthcare system, or six more Mars rovers. I mean, the rovers did a great job at first, but apart from difficulties in continuing their journey, what have they added scientifically to our understanding of Mars in the past year?

Comment Re:Get your lawyers ready /. (Score 1) 859

Well, a pretty pessimistic attitude.

Not only can rehabilitation work, as the legions of successfully reformed criminals shows, but I think it shows a level of maturity in a society when rehabilitation is considered as an option over 'lock em up and forget em'.

As an example, look at the civilised way Norway reacted when two children murdered another, compared to the hysterical overreaction in Britain when James Bulger was killed by two children.

Years down the track, I know I would prefer to live next to the Norwegian children, who were treated via rehabilitation, compared to the Bulger killers, who were locked up for long periods before ultimately being released.

I think the death penalty is the signature of a society too stupid to realise that you don't teach people life is sacred by taking it away. If you need any further proof of this, take a look at the homicide rate in countries that have the death penalty, as compared to those that don't. You could also look at homicide rates in the US states with the death penalty, compared to the rate in those that don't.

In Canada the number of people murdered has declined since the death penalty was abolished. In 2007 (the most recent figures I could find), there were 594 homicides in Canada, 159 fewer than in 1975 (one year prior to the abolition of capital punishment), after a long trend downwards.

As for Germany's laws on suppression of criminals' names, I disagree with it because I believe in free speech. Nevertheless, this call to have them killed I think is just barbaric.

Comment Re:Obvious choice (Score 1) 481

Penguins either have to live in Antarctica or Africa, depending on species, and neither climate much appeals to me.

Penguins are a fair bit more widespread than Africa and Antarctica.
We have them in Australia and I know they are in New Zealand too.
Aside from the ones that are in zoos elsewhere.

Comment Space race (Score 1) 703

I wonder if all those people cheering when the Berlin Wall came down would have had any idea the end of the Cold War meant the end of a space race, and probably delayed exploration of the cosmos by decades.

In my opinion we would probably already have people on Mars (or at least en route) and probably a permanent base on the moon if there was just a bit of hardcore competition from someone like the Russians.

Fingers crossed China and Europe start getting their programs up to speed soon.

Comment Reading in the sun (Score 3, Insightful) 139

Kindles always spout how great it is you can read in the sun, because their eInk allows better viewing in direct light, but without that technology, this new device will be far less useful.
I thought this would have been fairly obvious, but from TFA: We hope that LG has included a passively-lit e-paper display option in the device.

Comment Why travel is good value (Score 2, Interesting) 958

In case anyone is interested (I suspect not) I am on my third passport and have visited scores of countries. I have no idea how many, but I have been across most of Europe, Africa, North America, Australia and the Pacific.
I recently read why travel is much better value than other purchases.
When you spend money on something like a new car, or a new TV, you constantly lose money on your investment.
A new car for instance is of most value when it is bought, but over time loses value, is superceded and becomes damaged.
Travel on the other hand is constantly is worth more, as when you finish the travel you have the stories to tell your friends, the photos you can share and the experiences you can relive in your mind.

Comment In other news, Galvani noticed this 220 years ago (Score 1) 99

This experiment no doubt sparks a bit of interest (pun intended) but the relationship between electrical stimulation and leg movement is fairly well known.

Luigi Galvani noticed way back in the 1700s that the legs of a dead frog would twitch if its sciatic nerve was hit by static electricity.

The idea that human's with spinal cord damage may be able to walk using this technique sounds to me fanciful, because the electricity needs to be directed. It seems more like a technique that would be able to provoke something similar to an epileptic seizure in these patients (which is of course caused by electrical discharges in the brain).

It may be useful for other reasons though. People with spinal cord damage can have their leg muscles waste away through disuse, meaning if a real cure is ever found, they may still be left unable to walk.

Perhaps this work will enable them to be more easily rehabilitated in the future, should it prove useful at stimulating dis-used muscles.

Comment Re:Know your market. (Score 1) 964

There are just not so many black people in Poland. Microsoft was probably right thinking that having black people in the ads would not connect in a 99.9% white population.
Because white people can never connect with black people?
It is thinking like that which meant the Rwandan genocide happened without the United Nations lifting a finger, and that the genocide in Sudan is heading the same way.
I am not black, but I have no problems identifying with a black businessman, nor an Asian one.
I can't imagine I am alone in this. I have black hair, and can also relate pretty well to people with red or brown hair.

Comment Cost effective? (Score 1, Insightful) 402

For the life of me I can't see how this will be cost effective or environmentally friendly.
I know sometime in the future there will be scarcity of oil, or peak oil (if we aren't there yet) but no-one seriously thinks that there will be so little fuel that a navy ship won't be supplied for many decades.
Oil will become relatively more scarce through time, but at some point I think it will cease being used in cars and turbines, and used only for niche machinery and for making plastics. By the time there is no oil left for navy ships, I am betting another fuel source will have come along.
Also, from TFA:
"CO2's abundance, combined with concerns about global warming, make it an attractive potential feedstock, Dorner says. Although the gas forms only a small proportion of air - around 0.04 per cent - ocean water contains about 140 times that concentration, he says."
Can someone smarter than me explain how it addresses concerns about global warming to get the highly CO2-concentrated sea water, convert it into fuel, that presumably is then sent via an exhaust stack into the air? Isn't it just like mining coal and sending it into the air, except this plan uses carbon in the oceans?


Submission + - UFO sightings linked to sci-fi?

NewsWatcher writes: The BBC has an interesting story about the link between sightings of UFO and sci-fi films. From the article: "Documents from the Ministry of Defence released by the National Archives show the department recorded 117 sightings in 1995 and 609 in 1996." Those years correlate with the screening of the film Independence Day (1996) and when The X-Files was at the height of its popularity in the UK (1995). "The more that alien life is covered in films or television documentaries, the more people look up at the sky and don't look down at their feet," said an expert on UFO sightings based at Sheffield Hallam University.

Slashdot Top Deals

Do not underestimate the value of print statements for debugging.