Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Dunno... (Score 1) 422

I disagree; unless you're shooting a cartoon, everything should be as realistic and beleivable as possible. And everything in the movie should strive to be a work of art in itself.

I agree with this filmmaker, "The goal of special effects shouldn't necessarily be to look realistic, they should be works of art themselves and help create a mood or tell a story." Look at Aleksandr Petrov's Old Man and the Sea vs the B&W 1958 photograph version with Spencer Tracey vs some not yet made 3D surround sound version vs Hemingway's book. Which is the most "realistic" version? Which is the most "artistic?" CGI, green screen, 3D, multichannel sound is not the end-all in movie creativity. The art of film is in showing us a particular point of view, compressing time and space, focusing on aspects of visual space which lend themselves to moving the story forward. I'd highly recommend looking at The story of Film:An Odyssey which shows that early attempts at film didn't understand that the art of film is in what it doesn't show. If you don't believe me, set up a 3D HDR camera in an apartment and film daily life 24 x 7 x 365 and see if anyone wants to watch it.

Comment Re:Opaque (Score 1) 107

X64? Weren't the Taliban still using C64s? Can GCHQ crack this Commodore 64 crypto: ; WAIT Command B82D 20 EB B7 JSR $B7EB B830 86 49 STX $49 B832 A2 00 LDX #$00 B834 20 79 00 JSR $0079 B837 F0 03 BEQ $B83C B839 20 F1 B7 JSR $B7F1 B83C 86 4A STX $4A B83E A0 00 LDY #$00 B840 B1 14 LDA ($14),Y B842 45 4A EOR $4A B844 25 49 AND $49 B846 F0 F8 BEQ $B840 B848 60 RTS

Comment While you're near Chicago... (Score 2) 363

Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin still holds the world's largest refractor in a beautiful 19th century building. The Astronomer royale of Scotland once called it, "The Taj Mahal of astronomy" and perfectly fits the stereotype of what an observatory should look like. Their visiting hours are meager and much of the lovely grounds was turned into a housing development during the property bubble, but it's well worth a visit.

Venture further north to the Wisconsin Dells, a down-to-earth tourist trap where you'll find water parks, Indian trading posts and.... the Mir space station? Yep. One Mir copy fell out of orbit, the other is somewhere in Russia and this one is in Wisconsin.

The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry isn't my favorite science museum, but it is big and was recently updated.

The university of Chicago's old Stagg Field was demolished (happily, via non-nuclear means) but you can visit a sculpture at the site of the world's first man-made atomic pile.

Comment Blind faith in science Re:Dialog is good and all. (Score 1) 717

"Faith" has no place in a field based on empirical evidence and doubt.

This ignores the fact that faith plays an enormous role in the unsteady progression of science. Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of the Scientific Revolution provides many examples where faith, politics and other irrational aspects of human nature have always pulled science in directions contrary to what should be a steady progression of knowledge.

Humans decide which areas of science deserve study. Global warming (aka climate change), oil production and weapons development gets more funding than breast cancer and potentially hazardous asteroids. AIDs and obesity gets more funding than diarrheal diseases and malaria-- not for scientific reasons, not because funded studies can improve more lives, but for political and economic reasons. Even once a project is funded, we shouldn't ignore real bias applied by individual scientists and teams based on their expectations. This isn't just falsified data. Some data is overlooked because it doesn't fit expectations-- our paradigm. On the surface this may not appear the same as religious faith-- indeed because it tends to be far more subtle, it is more dangerous.

Do we trust anthropogenic climate change research (in an environment where dissenting research isn't funded and anomalous data and opinions are marginalized)? Most of us trust it enough to want to make our modern world more efficient, some trust it enough to want to switch to potentially hazardous energy alternatives such as solar and nuclear. But should we trust it enough to modify the climate? We don't have a very good track record regarding the use of science to modify ecological systems?

Science has become a profession, usually far removed from the experience of ordinary individuals-- we all rely on faith. So we believed the tobacco industry studies which told us that smoking wasn't hazardous, we don't worry about the curious lack of studies on the long-term effects of GM foods, BPA and artificial fats and sweeteners. We have faith in science.

"New scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. -- Max Planck

Comment Re:Australia does a simple job here (Score 1) 768

When they were giving credit cards out like candy, did the price of everything skyrocket?

Yes. From 1900 to 1970 (The year BankAmericard bulk mailed 100 million credit cards-- a move Betty Furness compared "giving candy to diabetics", U.S. inflation averaged 2.5%. From 1970-1979 (when credit cards became our de-facto national ID) U.S. inflation rose above 13%. True some of it had to do with the oil crisis, Brent Woods etc... And yes, credit card debt is a relatively small portion of per-capita debt. But the assumption that printing debt is not at least as inflationary as the printing of physical money shows just how far the likes of Bernanke have strayed from economic reality.

When the government subsidized roads and national parks, did tolls and user fees skyrocket?

When government subsidized roads (our interstate highway system), our cities sprawled out and the price of gasoline skyrocketed. The subsidies of national parks are too small to make a dent in our economy.

Federal housing programs didn't make housing prices jump. The secondary mortgage market did.

Where would the secondary mortgage market be if the government didn't use our tax money to back the original loans?

The government subsidizes things for which there is enormous demand. That's the idea. They do it because of the basic defect in what's known as the "free market".

Suppose you have a lemonade stand. Your lemonade is $10/glass because you only have a 10 gallon supply and it's a hot day so there is an enormous demand. But not everyone can only afford to pay $10 so the government decides to give poor people $5 lemonade coupons which the lemonade stand owner can exchange for $5 cash. Great system, right? Now everyone can afford lemonade. Has demand increased or decreased? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?... Increased, yes demand has increased. And what happens to the price of any commodity when demand rises relative to supply? Anyone? Anyone?

Conservatives believe whatever crap their AM radios tell them to believe, because "somebody's always getting something I'm not", while being the first in line to get their free cheese.

I'm a social liberal but I'll put my conservative hat on to answer this one. One of the problems with the current U.S. university system is that entrenched liberalism has forced out ideas which run contrary to liberal philosophy. Some of these ideas do make it onto AM radio (albeit in an intellectually and audibly distorted form) but many are driven out as effectively as a modern day witch hunt. Witness the smear campaign against Newt Gingrich's decades old plan to save Medicare as well as the smears against anyone who attempts to reign-in the public service union/Democratic party cartel or any scientist who questions any aspect of the eco-meme du-jour (global cooling, acid rain, global warming...) As for the cheese. Again it's typical short-sighted thinking. The beneficiaries of the cheese giveaways aren't those who receive the free cheese (though I've never met a fiscal conservative who has partaken). The beneficiaries of the cheese giveaways are the powerful agribusiness companies who coaxed the government into policies which allowed them to temporarily disobey the laws of supply and demand, and profit from overproduction.

Comment Re:Australia does a simple job here (Score 1) 768

The reason the loan problem is so bad is that higher education in the US is so ridiculously overpriced.

The reason higher education in the US is so ridiculously overpriced is that the loan program is so bad.

--Fixed that for you.

FMAE+FMAC housing afford-ability programs (sic) drove house prices beyond insanity, SMAE did the same for university education. So let's see if we can use the government subsidy bias to prop up the sagging cost of health care!

Liberals have beautiful, compassionate, optimistic ideas which ignore the unintended consequences which take place in any actual universe. But I think they would excel at one dimensional chess.

Comment Re:Tech/legal solution to a form of light pollutio (Score 1) 379

Congratulations: you just outlawed HID headlamps, HID street lamps, projector HID lamps, fluorescent lighting, and incandescent lighting all in one fell swoop -

No, such lights could also carry an ID pulse, though at a slower data rate.

and you have just broken optical communications technology.

No, the protocol I've suggested specifically allows for optical communication. LEDs and laser diode lights will be increasingly used for communication and area lighting. I'm suggesting that such a protcol should contain a GUID (as WiFi, CDMA already do) and synchronized dark intervals.

You just outlawed laser light shows, and also pointers used by astronomers at meets and classes.

I've never understood why these should be exempt from sensible lighting rules. Does it really matter whether your plane is brought down by a Pink Floyd concert, an 'astronomer' pointing out Alberio or man-child with a laser pointer?

Shortsighted numbskull who if a politician would cause more problems than they solved.

When someone is eventually killed or injured by abuse of these devices, lawmakers will respond with far more draconian rules. To assume otherwise is shortsighted. The U.S. is a knee-jerk "somebody do something" society and much of the world follows the U.S. in these matters. I would also like to keep these devices legal but I think the best way to do this is some sort of science based pre-emptive legislation along with technology which allows us to identify those who use these devices in a manner which may bring harm to others.

Scuba diving, model rocketry, ameteur radio and many other hobbies have managed to avoid excessive regulation by devising their own training and regulations. I suggest that we do something similar for lasers and other potentially dangerous portable light sources. My initial proposal should not be taken as the final but I think it should be a starting point for discussion. (e.g. I'd be willing to use a tactical nuke instead of a Tsar bomb)

I don't need a ;-) do I?

Comment Re:Tech/legal solution to a form of light pollutio (Score 1) 379

Then some turkey mounts one aimed at the sky above your window. In your dystopia, you and yours are now the target of some manner of bomb.

We're talking about a laser guided Tsar bomb here. The correct pronouns are, Ye (medieval plural of you) and yours and his and hers and theirs and its and everbodys. The beauty of a Tsar bomb is your targeting only has to be accurate give or take a subcontinent.

Comment Re:I'm surprised it's such a problem (Score 1) 379

One of the reasons they're called flashlights in the U.S. (where they were invented) is that when they were invented, portable batteries were so weak and incandescent bulbs so inefficient that they would literally flash on for a few seconds before dimming (presumably from hydrogen build-up on the wet-cells) then they would go out. We have the opposite problem today. Forget lasers, ordinary LED flashlights (aka torches) are now powerful enough to cause eye damage. Until the 1980s, nearly all flashlights were fitted with a button on the switch which could be used to flash the light for signaling. I propose that lasers and high powered portable coherent lights should automatically flash a PCM GUUID code identifying the owner, the seller and (optionally) the GPS coordinates. See my earlier post for details.

Comment Tech/legal solution to a form of light pollution (Score 1) 379

The technical/legal solution:This applies to all light (300nm-1090nm) sources capable of emitting more than 10mW radiant power or 0.5mW power/mm with a beam divergence of less than 1 radian/meter.

1) At 10 millisecond intervals, the light must pulse a data frame containing Globally Unique ID pattern, followed by a dark interval of at least 1ms and optional packet data.
{50us GUUID pulse} {1ms dark interval} {5ms optional data packet or CW beam} {optional 0-50ms dark interval} ... {50 us GUUID pulse...}

The GUUID pulse shall be modulated to carry:
{16 bit country ID, 64 bit Mfg ID, 128 bit User ID,3D GPS coordinates of device (optional),spectral code(optional) }

The dark intervals will for pulse-width dimming as well as magneto-optical and/or rotating shutter synchronization for mitigation of light pollution at observatories, airports and elsewhere. This light data frame standard is designed for all fast switch (e.g. LED) light sources and can be applied to streetlights, headlights, searchlights, insecurity lights...

2) All unidentified lights shall be considered contraband and will be targeted by laser guided Tsar bombs.

Lasers pointed above the horizon should be considered a special case of light pollution (light tresspass). I suspect more deaths are caused by morons installing 500W+ "insecurity lights" on their home or business and aiming them so that they impair the ability of drivers to see the road, cyclists, pedestrians... There is a tight curve in the road near my house and the business at the end of this road installed three 500W+ halogen security light aimed into the windshields of cars as they approach this curve. The lighthouses and light buoys here and in my hometown are almost invisible until you are almost upon the rocks because there is so much light pollution in the city behind the lighthouse. IMHO we should solve the incoherent morons with incoherent light problem at the same time as we solve the incoherent morons with coherent light problem.

Comment Re:and what about xerox's stuff? (Score 1) 988

How about this? Seriously, look at the ratio of searches for HTC, Nokia, Samsung, Blackberry to iphone and then append "cracked screen" onto any of these search terms and you'll see that, though iPhone doesn't necessarily lead in market share anymore, it certainly leads in cracked searches. Are iPhone users naturally clumsier or is the iPhone designed to be fragile?

Comment Re:and what about xerox's stuff? (Score 3, Informative) 988

Jobs and Apple are the modern equivalent of Edison and Edison electric, they invent a few things but far more often then steal other people's ideas and perfect them. Nokias had multitasking, youtube videos... in 2006 if not earlier, Velo 1, Palm and similar devices had grid icons, touch screens years earlier. But there is one area where iPhone is far ahead of Android. I hope Apple patented this method of planned obsolescence.

Slashdot Top Deals

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.