Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Dana Nuccitelli works for an oil and gas compan (Score 1) 400

If however they're defending the theory of AGW then there's clearly no conflict of interest is there?

Most of the 'fossil-fuel companies' are actually energy companies now, and will happily sell you solar panels, wind generators, and so on, and be the first in the queue for government subsidies on these things. There's a conflict of interest when they make claims in both directions, the difference is that in one case they are making the same claims as people with less of a conflict.

Comment Re:When did reality ever matter to climate change? (Score 3, Insightful) 400

Oh. Would you care to point me to the hoards of level headed climate activists who say this about Hurricane Katrina or Sandy?

You're misunderstanding how science works and what the claims were. You make a prediction (e.g. pumping loads of extra energy into a chaotic system will cause more extreme weather) and you then look at the new data to see what it does to your hypothesis. Each data point will do one of three things:

  • Fit with your predictions, and therefore strengthen your hypothesis.
  • Not fit with your predictions, but within your predicted error margins, and so have no impact on your hypothesis.
  • Fit completely outside your predictions, disproving your hypothesis.

The scientists you are referring to are saying that they have more data points in the first category when these events happen. They don't conclusively prove their hypotheses (but then, that never happens in science), but they do lend it some extra weight.

If we assume that CO2 was the sole cause of warming in the last 130 years and nothing else was going on

No one is claiming this. There's a reason why these models take very large compute clusters to run: they have a huge number of variables and input data from a very large number of experimental inputs.

Comment Re:How can you not read a Wordstar 1.0 floppy? (Score 1) 440

It depends on the complexity of the format. I have some WordStar 1.0 for DOS files, and I don't have a program that an open them, but if you look at the contents they're basically ASCII plus some escape characters, and I can make a reasonable guess about what the escape characters mean if I ever care enough to recover the data (since it's school work from when I was a small child, I don't care all that much). If you have set of fixed-size records in ASCII or EBCDIC, they're still easy to decode now even if they were written in the '70s (as long as you moved them onto newer media over the intervening time). If you have PCM data, the same applies: it's a trivial format, so as long as you have the raw bitstream it's easy for someone to reconstruct it. I used to have a Windows 3.11 application that was designed for audio editing, and it had a mode to open files that either had no header, or had a corrupted header, which let you select sample rate, bits per channel, endian, and a few other things, and it would open them: it may take an hour of futzing with settings to work out exactly which data layout you have, but it's a fairly trivial problem.

It's different for film, because getting video down to a manageable size requires some compression, which is much harder to reverse engineer. Fortunately, there are comparatively few common formats for video editing to choose from.

Comment Re:Lost a customer (Score 1) 170

I use VirtualBox, although most of my colleagues use VMWare, so I get to compare them fairly regularly. They're not that far apart (not enough for me to bother getting VMWare, anyway), but there are a few places where VirtualBox lacks:
  • USB passthrough is flakey. Sometimes it works fine, sometimes it manages to put the host's USB stack into a state where it needs a reboot to fix (or possibly unloading and reloading the few dozen kexts that make up the Apple USB stack).
  • The DHCP service is annoying and directly forwards the DNS address rather than providing a proxy, so when you move between networks DNS stops working.
  • I don't run Windows in my VMs, but apparently if you do then VMWare has better support for integrating the apps with the host system.
  • VMWare is a lot better at memory management. It allocates memory using the normal userspace heap and so VMs can be swapped out when they're idle and it does some deduplication of memory. In contrast, VirtualBox just wires the entire VM's memory, so you end up with 2GB less available memory for everything else if you have a 2GB VM.
  • VirtualBox uses Qt, which is a way of writing applications that don't behave even vaguely like native ones. This is a minor nit, but a more significant one is that a bug in Qt means that a laptop with both integrated and discrete graphics will always stay using the discrete one if the VirtualBox control panel is running.
  • A related bug in the crappy Qt interface means that it will interrupt shutdown if the control interface is running (even if no VMs are).

For me, VirtualBox is Good Enough, but there's definite room for improvement and so I can understand why other people would pay for VMWare. I did pay for Parallels back when 2.0 came out, to run on my shiny new first-generation Core 2 MacBook Pro. It caused host kernel panics on a regular basis, which turned out to be due to their misreading of the Intel IPI documentation. They wanted me to pay for Parallels 3 to get the bug fix, so I will never give that company any money ever again.

Comment Re:Nexus 4 Alternative? (Score 5, Interesting) 52

Cortex A7 is not ARM's flagship performance chip, but it's pretty respectable. It's basically a tweaked Cortex A8, with the instruction decoder updated to be compatible with the A15 extensions and the layout optimised for better power consumption. It's still in-order, but it's dual-dispatch and gets similar performance to the A8 clock-for-clock in a much lower power envelope. My current phone has a single-core 1GHz Cortex A8, and it's starting to feel a little slow for a few things, but it's not exactly crawling.

The Krait is an A15, which does have a much higher IPC than the A7, but at the expense of power consumption. Four A7 cores, at the same clock speed, will draw slightly less power than one A15 core. For a tablet, I'd definitely be more interested in an A15 (or a big.LITTLE with both), but for a phone the A7 is probably a better choice.

Comment Re:Movies (Score 1) 322

The only problem with TV is that it's effectively open-ended in terms of time and scale, which many developers and writers don't seem to be able to handle well

The same is true of books. I've read a couple of series recently where the author has felt the need to increase the difficulty of the things that protagonist has to overcome each book such that by the time you're about half way through the series it's completely ridiculous.

Comment Re:Movies (Score 4, Insightful) 322

Definitely not. I was torn between TV and books, because both media allow you to tell a rich story. Radio serials also work, but I'm not a huge fan of just listening to voices - I'd mostly rather read the story. Movies try to cram an entire story arc into at most 2-3 hours, and so often feel very rushed.

Comment Re:Python is readable (Score 1) 187

Sure, whitespace is significant, but I've never had it break easily or be "brittle" as you say

The Jabber Python MSN transport shipped with an intent bug in an error path for several releases. The error path was never hit on the developer's test machine, but always hit for me because I didn't install one of the optional libraries. The error was caused by mixing tabs and spaces, and so looked correct in the editor, but Python happened to interpret a tab as a different number of spaces to the editor[1] and so it ended up doing something different.

This is what people mean when they call it fragile. You can introduce bugs as a result, but never see them unless you hit the code path in question (this, by the way, is a common source of exploitable bugs in all languages: code paths that are rarely hit that contain bugs, and Python makes them so easy to introduce). Meanwhile, in any language that either enforced the no-mixing-tabs-and-spaces rule with static checking[2], or which had a block delimiter character, these would be caught statically at parse time.

I can think of no other language where such a high proportion of code that I've run that has shipped as working releases has needed me to fix it before it will even start. As far as I can tell, all of the refugees from VB6 ended up writing shoddy Python code. Is it the language's fault? Well, it certainly doesn't help. I've been asking Python programmers for the last year what an else clause on a for loop meant. Last Friday, one gave the correct answer for the first time. Why do I know what it means? Because a person who wrote some (and shipped) some code using it apparently didn't...

[1] Ignoring Python's general hostility to using the character that means 'indent by one level' for indents, any language with significant whitespace that doesn't error when you have a line that has both tabs and spaces at the start of a line is broken.
[2] I believe that Python now has an option to check this. It should have been on by default since the first release.

Comment Re:Beware of Microsofties bearing gifts (Score 1) 535

Feature phones make alot of money and are stepping stone to smartphones

Remember those graphs from a few years ago, comparing Apple and Nokia in market share and profit? They were almost exact mirrors: Apple had something like 80% of the mobile phone profits, Nokia had something like 80% of the market share. Feature phones these days are on razor thin margins. You can buy a cheap Android phone for under £50, and get one free on a low-end contract, so who is going to buy a feature phone? Android and the iPhone have brand recognition in the smartphone markets, but no one associated Nokia with it (well, geeks did, because we all remember the communicator and subsequent devices). Nokia never had mass-market smartphones, they segmented their market in a way that made it difficult to move from one tier to the next. Their smartphones had such different UIs to their feature phones that you may as well go with Android or iOS (which you've heard of) if you're going to buy a new smartphone to replace your old feature phone.

Comment Re:Beware of Microsofties bearing gifts (Score 1) 535

The Symbian kernel was a really beautiful design that was still ahead in terms of power management and security than anything else on the market. It was saddled with a userland and userspace APIs that were designed for when 1MB of RAM was about the limit for a phone and so handling resource constraints were more important than making life easy for programmers. Their solution? Replace the kernel with Linux.

Comment Re: Oh, really? (Score 1) 1255

I appreciate that being held to account is annoying. Everyone finds that annoying in their jobs. It is however the only way any of us are ultimately held to any standard what so ever. You will be judged. Get over it.

Again, you've clearly not read anything that you're replying to. Especially:

Saying that the parents are more a problem then a help ignores the fact that were the parents not involved the system would and does go to hell.

YOU are the only person who has said this or claimed that anyone else has said it. Everyone else is saying that they want parents to be more involved in their children's education because it's the largest single determining factor in the child's success.

Comment Re:Oh, really? (Score 1) 1255

It also means that teachers are incentivised to focus their attention on children who are on grade boundaries. If you're a solid B student, there's no incentive to get you up to an A. If you're an A student, there's no incentive to really stretch you. If you're on the C-B or B-A border line, then helping get you across the line has a big return on investment for the teacher's ranking.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!" -- Looney Tunes, "What's Opera Doc?" (1957, Chuck Jones)