Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment Bullshit (Score 5, Insightful) 299

You know why the NSA was able to search social graphs and emails so easily? Because all of those pro-freedom Silicon Valley companies (Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, and so on) had already built infrastructure for doing so for the purpose of selling adverts. The NSA just piggybacked on existing system to look for other information. If Silicon Valley had really cared about individual freedom, Google would have been pushing federated, decentralised services with no single point where you can insert a tap. Instead, what has happened since we've learned about the NSA's involvement? Google has replaced federated XMPP in GTalk with non-federated XMPP in Google Hangouts.

Comment Re:Summary says it all (Score 2) 634

You realise, I trust, that one of the reasons why people moved away from metal-backed currencies is that they were too volatile? A new large deposit is found, the currency inflates. A new high-demand use is found, the currency deflates. A more efficient material replacing it for a large industrial uses, the currency inflates.

Comment Re:Too cool for NASA (Score 1) 205

There is no such thing as stealth in space. Anything coming from the moon to the Earth would either need a huge amount of thrust to go straight down (which would be easy to detect), or would cross into daylight and reflect a lot of heat even if it were black. And you can bet that anyone who had a launch capability on the moon would be under close scrutiny.

They'd also better have a first-rate missile defence shield, because in the two days it would take their projectile to reach Earth, their target would launch a lot of ballistic missiles (which take a maximum of about 40 minutes to arrive, anywhere in the world) and render their cities smouldering ruins.

And if they're relying on a large mass, not a warhead, then they won't have much delta-V for dodging, so they'll be easy to intercept. If they've painted it black, then it will be very vulnerable to heating by laser weapons and whatever colour it is it will be easy to fragment. The kind of mass that you'd need to survive reentry would either need to be huge or covered in (very fragile and vulnerable to attack) ceramic tiles to dissipate the heat. If you fragment it, the atmospheric friction will cause the entire thing to evaporate.

If attacking from space were easy, then Earth would have had a lot more extinction events in its past. The atmosphere alone does a pretty good job as a meteor shield.

Comment Re:Getting me started, man! (Score 1) 205

You don't even need to cut the military that much. Cutting back 1/3 would cover the US debt interest payments.

For reference, cutting 1/3 of US military spending would move the US from second place (behind Saudi Arabia) to third (also behind Russia) in terms of defence spending as a percentage of GDP, and still leave them top in absolute terms (spending three times as much as the PRC, in second place) and top in per-capita spending.

It's not entirely clear, however, that reducing military spending would help the US economy. A lot of R&D is subsidised from the military budget, which helps drive US high tech exports, and you can bet that if you cur the military budget by a third then this would be the first place that congress would want reductions...

Comment Re:Oh, I totally agree... (Score 1) 791

The phone might be, but all of the charging infrastructure won't be. People don't want to have to replace docks and so on with something new in 2-3 years. A TV that docks a mobile phone and allows it to function as a computer with a big screen may last 10 years, even if the phone is replaced after 18 months. That's likely to be a pretty common use case in a few years, so if you design a standard now that doesn't support it then it's a failure. And, no, USB3 is not fast enough for HD video.

Comment Re:Oh, I totally agree... (Score 3, Insightful) 791

I agree. There definitely should be a standard connector for this kind of thing, but it should be something that doesn't suck. The old Apple Dock connectors had a lot more functionality than the newer lightning ones, but the connector was bit too big. A ubiquitous connector needs:
  • A future-proof data signal (e.g. Thunderbolt, which can carry a signal fast enough that it won't be obsolete within a couple of years of release), that doesn't need to be supported by endpoints but can be detected and used if it is.
  • A widely-supported legacy signal (e.g. USB) so that it works everywhere
  • A lightweight mechanism for negotiating power demands and capabilities between supply and device.
  • A physically sturdy connector, with a reference design of a socket that will stand at least 1,000 insertions and ideally 10,000 in normal use.
  • A connector that either has an orientation so obvious that no one could possibly plug it in the wrong way, or one that works in either orientation.
  • Any patents that cover the design must be licensed royalty free, so third parties can interface with it cheaply and easily.

Neither microUSB nor Lightning meets these requirements. If Nokia wants to fix this, they should get together an industry group to design and agree to use such a connector. Don't complain at Apple, design a better connector than the Apple one, get everyone except Apple behind it, and market the hell out of it. Make every non-Apple phone have a big sticker on it saying that it supports the standard connector and list the features that make it better than the Apple one.

Comment Re:YOLD! (Score 1) 410

In that case, neither Ubuntu nor Fedora is Linux. There's about as much glibc code as there is Linux code in one of those, and the amount of X.org code dwarfs either. Even if you strip it back to a non-graphical core that can just boot, there's more GNU code than Linux. If you take a system like Debian and replace the kernel with a FreeBSD kernel, most users won't notice the difference.

Comment Re:Anyone noticed (Score 4, Insightful) 348

Why does that matter to me as a user or integrator? It still means that I am locked in to whatever vendor they choose for their DRM. If that vendor chooses not to support my platform, or decides that I am a competitor in some other business so refuses to give me distribution rights to their EME plugin, then I'm stuck.

This is the entire point of the original question in TFA. Netflix gets the ability to (slightly) more easily move between vendors for DRM. What do users get? Nothing. There is no requirement that OMA plugins be interoperable and there is no guarantee of a second source. If Netflix decides to use MS PlayReady, but MS decides that they don't want to support my device because it competes with the Surface or the XBox, then I'm in exactly the same situation as I was with Silverlight.

Comment Re:DRM makes more free media likely, not less (Score 1) 348

Okay, where is the DRM'd video available today that I can play back on every device that I own that has sufficient processing power and display capabilities for video playback? Where is the DRM'd audio that I can play back on every device that I own with speakers and enough processing power to decode compressed audio?

Today, I can view any standards-compliant web site on any computer (desktop, laptop, tablet) that I own. I don't need the content providers to invest in my platform of choice, as long as enough people (or people with enough money) want to use it, they are free to support the standards independent of who is providing the content. If I want to create and sell some appliance to view the web, I can do so without being locked in to a single vendor for any of the required code. With DRM, none of this is true.

Comment Re:Without DRM... (Score 1) 348

Pretty much every game I play, every video I watch, and every song I listen to is available on torrent web sites already, and yet I still pay for them. DRM does nothing to stop the availability of pirated versions, but it does impact me when it means that I can't play them. I have a FreeBSD machine connected to my projector and surround sound system at home. It plays BBC iPlayer and DVDs fine. It won't play Netflix. Who loses? Netflix, because they're trying to sell a service that I would happily pay money for (I already pay more than the cost of a Netflix subscription to a different company for DVD rentals), but can't use because they choose not to support the platform I'm using.

Who else loses? Consumers, because while we have a large number of competing providers of MP3 players and TVs, we have a very restricted set of providers of who can create Netflix streaming devices. They all have to either build their systems on Windows and license Silverlight form Microsoft or directly negotiate with Netflix.

Slashdot Top Deals

A freelance is one who gets paid by the word -- per piece or perhaps. -- Robert Benchley