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


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Does it address what ports are open? (Score 2) 611

I went on a hike to Trolltunga in Spring and had better phone coverage over the whole trip than I did in NYC. It does seem weird to me that I can sit on a mountaintop in the middle of a huge national park and get great 3G coverage, but in America's most populous city I can't have a five minute phone conversation without getting the call dropped. The usual retort is that Norway has tons of oil and so can afford great infrastructure, but Sweden and Finland manage pretty well on relatively meagre GDPs.

The one constant guarantee when it comes to stories on slashdot about American broadband coverage (or lack thereof) is that someone will point out how vast the US is compared to Japan and that is why the coverage is so shit. Except in the US the coverage also sucks for wireless broadband in the major cities, and the coverage in Scandinavia is world-leading despite having a population densities well below of that in the US. (Norway and Finland have almost half the population densities). The obvious reason why the infrastructure sucks is that it's not getting invested in.

Comment I'd say rats are smarter than cats. (Score 3, Interesting) 716

I worked with rats for a while in my research, and I thought it was very striking how smart a relaxed rat is. What's immediately apparent is how varied their personalities are, and how aware they are of their environment. They take an intense interest in the people around them, and unlike cats aren't easily distracted from they are engaged in. Cats seem to have their bodies hard-wired into the part of their optic system that deals with motion. No matter what a cat is doing all you have to do is make a sudden darting motion to override everything and have them staring, hypnotised, at the moving object. Rats react more like dogs, where they seem to ponder the event rather than react immediately to it.

Another cool thing is how rats behave in research. Decades ago, research in rats involved having a big writhing mass of savagely wild animals in a cage, which were picked out with long tongs to be manhandled around for tests. This was the same with dogs and apes, one researcher told me that they used to have an ape research centre in Sweden where it took a half dozen lab techs to hold down a screaming chimp to get weighted every few days (with obviously shitty results). They eventually realised how awful and unnecessary this was and instead trained the chimps to go stand on a scale in return for a banana (research on primates is now illegal in Sweden). It worked equally well with dogs, who were given treats after blood samples were taken, so they eventually would run to their cage doors and offer a paw out in order to give a blood sample in exchange for a treat.

When we took blood samples from the rats, they would lay quietly in our arms and stretch out their back legs, which we would shave and then prick with a needle. The lab techs had been training them for weeks to do this, by stretching out their legs, pinching them slightly and then giving them strawberry jam or chocolate spread as a reward. (Even that reward aspect was interesting, the rats had their own unique preferences between strawberry and chocolate).

Comment Re:This is an advertisement! (Score 1) 144

I live in Sweden and can say that the Philips wake up alarm clock thing works. When it gets dark here in Winter you generally have a few hours of pitch black in the morning to get to work in, and by the time you're home in the evening it's totally dark again. Where my gf comes from there are periods of total darkness for weeks.

Philips advertise that the light boosts various hormonal levels due to the light hitting your sleeping eyelids. I have no idea about that but it does work as an effective way to gently wake me and my partner. Light ramps up 30 minutes before your alarm goes off, and then the alarm ramps up in volume over a few seconds. Usually we're both awake before the noise starts (we set the light intensity to it's eye searing max, it's possible to set it lower and avoid being woken by just the light).

It works to wake us up, and although it may be placebo, we wake up without that horrible feeling that waking up in the middle of a Scandinavian Winter usual gives. Which is the feeling that even though it's 7am your body thinks someone just woke you up at 2am by accident and that you actually got very little sleep. With the light clock it's a more normal waking feeling.

It's one of those things that you don't know are so useful until you get one, like a fridge. Probably not so useful to people living further south though.

Comment Re:Forward thinkers (Score 1) 506

Here in Sweden the savings I guess are passed on, because people that self scan get a load of 'deals' on various items.

First off the system is totally different than what people describe here, there is no weighting. You pick up a hand-held scanner (shaped a bit like the ray guns from the first star trek TV show), and then you go through the shop scanning what you pick up and put in your bag (which is great, I usually just stick it all in whatever bag or coat pockets I have available and rarely buy plastic bags now). The scanner shows you the items and prices on a display. You hand in the scanner and pay as you leave. In the beginning they randomly checked (I think maybe one in 10 times), which was fairly painless. In total I was checked three times by my local Ica store. I haven't been checked in well over a year now.

As I said there are also deals just for self scanners, and usually they are not bullshit deals on slow-moving items, but pretty decent savings on products that everyone uses. It saves a ton of time and the store has a policy of having no queues for the self scanning line, so they always prioritise serving those people first. It's a great win-win situation.

Comment What's the downside? (Score 4, Informative) 260

A lot of people are asking why evolution has taken away our regenerative capacities, and are guessing what the downside of this regeneration is.

P21 is involved with anti-cancer. It arrests the cell cycle when DNA damage occurs, allowing the damage to be repaired (so mistakes are not carried forward into new generations). Or if the damage is too severe, the cell is made senescent (they lose the ability to reproduce and instead lead out a gentle retirement, performing their normal job until they just die of old age)

P21 knockout mice show a lot of carcinomas and P21 is also up-regulated by and works to remedy excessive oxidative stress. It's very unlikely this research is going to lead to a pill that knocks out P21 and lets us grow limbs back. It will only lead to a greater understanding of how our pathways work.

Comment Re:This is not a real problem (Score 1) 256

Not necessarily, at the moment there is a database with the results of the STRs for the 13 (well known) loci that are tested. So if you have access to the database you can make a match for a specific person and fake evidence against them.

But, if you have a second group of 13 loci that are kept secret, and the records for these STRs are NEVER recorded, then anytime evidence needs to be checked, the results from both groups of STRs can be checked. That information would not be kept, so it would be impossible to fake it from a database. Why even limit it to 13 loci? Why not have a list of hundreds of STRs that can be checked to corroborate evidence?

Comment This is not a real problem (Score 3, Informative) 256

At the moment most (if not all) DNA profiling is done by examining STRs. STRs are specific spots in your DNA where a certain pattern of DNA is repeated a number of times. And the number of times it's repeated might be different for you from the STR at that spot from someone else.

So if you check many of these spots, you can make it extremely unlikely that someone else has all of these spots with the same number of repeats as you do. In the US they check 13 loci. And this fake DNA (the stuff they advertise as being possible to make just by looking in the database, with no original genetic material) is just a load of these loci, with the correct number of repeats in there.

The reason it isn't much of a problem is that the technological bottlenecks that made the human genome project such a money pit are close to gone now. Taking a genetic sample and fully sequencing it shouldn't be that much of a problem in the next few years (I mean you can already do it for the price of a coat. To proof against fake evidence, many other SNPs or STRs can be checked instead, as a confirmation. Keeping a list of another 13 STRs to be used as confirmation would be a good start, having the loci known but not recording the results in databases to prevent this kind of counterfeiting.

Comment offtopic (Score 1) 186

I've been living in Sweden for 5 years (originally Irish) and am starting to plan a move to Berlin. Any tips on how to handle a move to Germany, or things to be prepared for?

(I've heard the job situation is not great, but I work in science and find it's generally unaffected as of yet by the economic situation).

Comment Privacy in Sweden (Score 3, Interesting) 108

Sweden has some strange privacy norms. Asking what someone votes for politically is close to a serious faux pa. In fact some people I know have absolutely no idea how their parents or even partners vote. That is a very private thing. But you can look up car owners on a free and public website by registration number, you can go and check tax returns for anyone in Sweden, and see what they earn. On the other hand, religion is another area that you very much leave alone and don't ask about.

Hopefully the IP information will be considered something a little more private, and after the Pirate party did so well in the European elections maybe there is a chance that common sense will prevail and rules like IPRED will be struck down anyway.

Comment I think both methods are viable together. (Score 2, Insightful) 254

I use itunes all the time, and rip my own CDs (and download the albums I own on vinyl), in total I think my library is around 140 gigs. Streaming as an alternative would suck because I would NEVER be able to remember all those albums and artists! I love to browse through the music that has taken years to accumulate and spot something I haven't heard in ages and play it.

If someone deleted my iTunes library I would never be able to get it all again precisely because I would never be able to recall everything in there.

Having said that, streaming services like Spotify are fantastic for their own niche. A lot of people I know that are maybe not as into music as some, use spotify as their sole music source and find that satisfactory. Then you have the great ability to just type in some artist or famous song that you wouldn't like enough to buy or even download, but want to check out.

and there are the communal aspects of it, like making a playlist for a party that anyone who is invited to can add songs to. This is a very useful service I've used a few times to great effect.

Comment What fantastic games these are (Score 1) 153

No nostalgia here either, i recently installed ScummVM on a nokia 770 tablet, and replayed all the monkey Islands, they were absolutely fantastic. There are a lot of good handheld games these days too, but nothing comes close to the level of comedy or cinematics as did Monkey Island.

So good!

Comment Re:As to the question of the Nokia N810 (Score 1) 283

I have the Nokia 770, and it's a great ebook reader. I must have read a hundred books on it by now. The only problem is reading in bright sunlight, that's not so fun.

But great battery life, and it plays SCUMMVM so right now I have Full Throttle on it, as well as a few maps, mp3s and maemo mapper for the occasional drive.

Comment What about Spotify? (Score 4, Insightful) 329

I haven't touched since I got spotify. I've heard it's not available world-wide, but seeingas it's free and legal, surely this is the future of public music?

It has an iTunes-ish inerface, but has access to millions of artists, and the normal selection of radio-stations. As Well as the great features of being able to make and share play-lists with friends or create an open playlist for a party.

Do many people here use it? IS it a known service? And does anyone want an invite?

Slashdot Top Deals

"Gort, klaatu nikto barada." -- The Day the Earth Stood Still