Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Comment Plenty of Prior Art (Score 1) 154

Assuming that he'd filed for his patents before the USPTO went insane, odds are low that they would have survived the prior art test. As others have mentioned, Gopher, FTP, and even several BBS systems would have been able to cover the prior art for the HTTP component. HTML was really just a bastardized version of SGML. And the entire concept of a hypertext page was predated by HyperCard and a bunch of work at Xerox PARC.

Why are we even having this discussion?

Comment Re:Not a Jet Fighter (Score 3, Interesting) 119

As it turns out, the real problem on these platforms is power generation. With synthetic aperture radars, flight control systems, on-board mission management systems, laser designators, EO sensors, and LOS and BLOS/satellite comms gear on board, the problem of supplying electricity for all the systems becomes critical.

I worked on the original J-UCAS program which transitioned from DARPA to the Navy, and designing the autonomous flight and mission management systems was the easier part of the problem. Creating the comm infrastructure (software defined radios), the operational procedures, the peer-to-peer cooperation, and mundane stuff like dealing with air traffic control turn out to be much harder in practice.

Definitely one of the coolest projects I have ever worked on and I'm glad to see one of the J-UCAS derived UAVs finally getting into the air.

Comment Re:Shallow (Score 4, Insightful) 470

It's just as shallow to compare a desktop software application's success to the much more transient, ephemeral, and difficult to quantify success of Facebook. Better to look at the Internet as a whole and ask a couple of simple questions.

First, name one network-wide, user-oriented application level service that was present when the commercial Internet opened for business in 1991 that is still in operation and use today.

Discounting UseNet and Email as infrastructure, the answer is likely "nothing." It's instructive to consider why. Early community plays on the Internet (The Well, The Globe, AOL, WebTV, and even MySpace) fell in succession, not because there weren't plenty of users and not because they weren't good services. They fell because, by definition, something newer and better comes along. It's the same reason we don't drive horse-drawn wagons to work. Supporting the infrastructure and feature set of an existing system means, by definition, that you will never be able to change and adopt new technologies as fast as someone else starting with a clean slate.

Second, what is so special about Facebook that it will avoid being obsolesced by the next cool fad? Answer again, "nothing".

Facebook's only advantage is the depth of its social graph. And as many posters have noted, the average Facebook user has a pretty static social graph and no need to add to it in any significant way now. Once you are fully connected, it becomes trivial to notify your graph that you are moving elsewhere, and then Metcalfe's Law kicks in. Once the infrastructure becomes distributed and you are no longer locked into a single service, people will be free to move their social graph and associated applications wherever they'd like.

Extrapolating the past lifecycles of similar, successful social sites to Facebook, it seems logical to conclude (as the author did) that Facebook's days are numbered. Maybe in the thousands, but numbered nonetheless.

Comment What a crock! (Score 1) 717

The developer is at fault, not Apple. Apple is not party to the GPL terms just because a developer with a political agenda chooses to upload an application to the App Store. The developer is at fault for choosing a distribution medium for his software that is incompatible with GPL terms. It's not any more complicated than that.

Comment Designers != Decision Makers (Score 1) 510

The fallacy in this article is that designers are the ultimate arbiters of how a web site gets built. It's just not the case. If I am paying the bills and I want to reach the largest possible audience, my first instruction to the designer working for *me* is going to be to avoid Flash, Java, and anything else that is plug-in dependent like the plague. Flash sites are inaccessible to the vision impaired, they are not generally searchable, they are prone to breakage when plug-ins are out of date or non-existent, and they are generally not maintainable by the organization they were created for once they are delivered.

Sorry, but sticking with standards based solutions and tools that manipulate open formats is the way to go if you, Mr. Designer-boy, are working for me. In a market-driven economy, designers are a commodity, not an industry force. They're gonna do what they are paid to do.

Comment Re:Space without astronauts (Score 1) 145

Actually the real reason is the pyrotechnics that are used to deploy the landing gear and the drogue chute as well. They both have to be armed and deployed manually by a series of buttons on the glare shield. It has been a long standing rule in manned space flight that anything that can explode on command like that is always operated manually unless it is impossible for some reason. The fact that neither system can be re-stowed after deployment is problematic.

Comment Re:Headline wrong (Score 1) 1088

You totally miss my point. Yes, mathematically your vote counts exactly the same. Politically, a vote from a sparsely populated area counts for far less than a vote from a populous area, simply because the economics of campaigns and time . Spending an hour talking to 10 voters in a New Hampshire barn is not going to garner the same number of votes as spending an hour talking to 50,000 people in a LA stadium. So why is a politician going to care about the issues facing 10 voters over the issues facing 50,000? They aren't. So ditching the electoral college and moving to a popular vote means that while everyone's vote counts exactly once, their opinions, beliefs, needs and issues will only count in proportion to the population of the area they live in.

Comment Re:Finally! (Score 1) 1088

You are missing the point. Yes, your tiny, insignificant, individual vote from B.F.E counts just as much as Mr. Downtown Manhatten. But your problems and your ideas and your concerns don't. Because you don't get to vote as a bloc anymore. You don't get the power of voting with others in your state to make your STATE'S voice heard. The concerns of your state (if they aren't the same as those of a densely populated, voter-rich one) can be easily and safely ignored because there's no need to woo you directly or pay attention to your issues after election. Think it through and you might understand why the tyranny of the popular majority is what the electoral college attempts to address. It isn't about your vote, it is about your concerns and issues being addressed before, during, and after the vote. Your issues in a less-populated region will simply matter only in proportion to your population now. Enjoy!

As Alexis de Tocqueville said, People get the government they deserve. If you're "smart" enough to think Iowa has it right, then by all means, please enjoy the pig farts and corn husks of your new overlords.

Comment Re:Finally! (Score 1) 1088

Read what I wrote. You are the one getting screwed by this concept. Candidates will only care about states with large, dense populations if the electoral college goes away. Makes campaigning cheaper and more efficient to address the needs of 40 million Californians in one campaign visit than 3 million Iowans in one visit. And if elected, they only need to pander to the same densely populated states. So you can forget Washington ever caring about marginal or fringe issues from smaller states.

The electoral college has as one of its purposes the ability to keep small states from being disenfranchised in national elections. Any state can tip the balance, so all are important. With a popular vote, the tyranny of the populous states will mean that smaller states are irrelevant and can safely be ignored. In short, this idea is stupid and Iowa should be spanked for trotting it out again. If it ever came to pass, they deserve what they get.

Comment Re:Headline wrong (Score 2, Interesting) 1088

Not true at all. Candidates are only going to campaign where they get maximum exposure to draw the popular vote. Large states like California, New York, and Florida will dominate the campaign. Fly-over states, New England, and much of the South will be ignored. That means their issues will be ignored.

A campaign stop in LA is going to generate orders of magnitude more exposure for a candidate than a stop in Des Moines. You are deluded if you think your vote in Iowa is going to draw as much attention from a candidate (or an elected official) as a voter in California.

Comment Re:Finally! (Score 1) 1088

You misunderstand my point. Theoretically, a vote in Iowa is worth as much as a vote in California. But the theory will not hold up under the economics of time and money in a real campaign. To a candidate, a campaign stop in California is worth orders of magnitude more votes than a campaign stop in Iowa. It is simply the case that by turning it into a popular vote, candidates will maximize their exposure in places where they will reach the densest number of voters and avoid places that are an inefficient use of their time and campaign funds. It means that the middle of the country gets ignored. It is not going to work the way people naively assume.

Comment Re:Finally! (Score 2, Insightful) 1088

Finally us white aristocratic land owners won't be the only ones electing the president!

Nope, what it means now is that California, New York, Florida, and Texas will pick our president. I am sorry, but if my state votes overwhelmingly for the losing candidate and its electoral votes get cast for the other candidate because they won the popular vote, explain to me how democracy was served?

People who think the Electoral College is bad have to be ignorant of the consequences of doing away with it. What it means is that candidates for national office will only campaign in a handful of states that will guarantee a popular majority. No one will ever again campaign in New England, the Midwest, or much of the South. So by doing away with electoral votes and tying them to the popular vote, you are potentially disenfranchising a huge number of states and their citizens from any meaningful participation in national elections.

Is that what you want?

Comment Re:Nothing New (Score 4, Insightful) 1061

but we are NOT producing food for 7 billion

No, we are wasting much of our production capacity on stupid, tree-hugging, already-shown-to-be-a-wrong-solution "technology" like ethanol production from corn. And a lot of people starve, not because there isn't enough food for them. But because there are corrupt, nasty people between them and a stable food supply.

Interestingly, there are roughly 2 acres of arable land per person on the planet right now. And guess what? Global warming would actually increase that acreage by almost 25% if average global temperatures rose 3F. It's entirely possible that a warming planet (despite the realities of sunspot cycles and impending cooling cycle) is actually required to support humanity, rather than being a harbinger of its demise.

Truth is, we are too stupid to know and too enamored with our culture of "fear" to admit it.

Slashdot Top Deals

In English, every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.