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


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:I am going to call BS... (Score 1) 39

My gut tells me that at least one thing they are missing in the mechanics is that these were aquatic animals. The inverse square law has always suggested strongly that it would be very dangerous for these things to try and walk on dry ground - and a broken leg would be fatal for them without exception. But they inhabited supertropical swampland areas and if they kept a good portion of their bulk in the water...

Comment Re:I'm for this (Score 1) 394

"Your thinking is too limited. It's obvious that they enjoy being the subject of Congressional probes about their failures, with the added chance that the boss could be fired like just happened to two Marine generals fired for negligence in Afghanistan."

Look, I am not pinning all the blame for this on any one person. There is plenty to go around. I see right now the intelligence folks getting real upset with Obama and with due cause. He's being a weasel and trying to throw them under the bus.

Ultimately the scandalous shape of the intelligence agencies has been influenced by executives and legislatures that have wanted 'tough action' or 'do everything possible' or some such formulaic, political reaction without knowing the messy details, and a judiciary all too eager to bend the law to the will of the other two branches. There's plenty of blame to go around and when Obama tries to throw his subordinates under the bus they have every right to be a bit indignant.

"And if it turned out that the attack they didn't stop was one involving Black Plague that ended up killing tens of thousands of Americans, just think of the pride they would feel. "I didn't stop that!""

A black plague attack would be extremely unlikely to kill so many, unless it was accompanied by more conventional attacks that thoroughly knocked out health care facilities as well. It was truly deadly in the middle ages, but then again, quite often so was diarrhea back then - our medicine sucked.

But sure, you have a point. It's perceived as safer, in terms of job, for these people to violate millions of peoples constitutional rights than to have to admit at some point that it is impossible, in anything vaguely resembling a free country, to be absolute sure that bad things can never happen.

This infantile philosophy of government is the root of the problem, not the particular people who happen to be pursuing their career goals at the expense of their country at any given moment.

Comment Re:Isn't this what the Taiwanese believe as well? (Score 1) 262

Interestingly I understand the chinese phrase for japanophile is a taiwanese coining. Slashdot mangles it horribly though.

At any rate, while the anti-independence people seem to use japanophile as something of a slur against pro-independence folk, I think it has limited validity. There are those that remember the period under japan as better days but from what I can see they are a pretty small minority, and most modern independence voters have rather different issues on their mind.

Comment Re:Why the secret data collection? (Score 4, Insightful) 394

"In fact, the FISC ruled a similar, smaller scale program involving cables on U.S. territory illegal in 2011."

Exactly. The defenders of this nonsense want that little bit to get skipped and forgotten.

There is no question this is illegal, they dont even have a tiny fig leaf of being able to argue they thought it might be legal. It's illegal, even the FISA "court" refused to agree to this.

So they just did it anyway. Sounds to me like despite all the noise about 'oversight' adult supervision is exactly what has been missing.

Comment Re:Isn't this what the Taiwanese believe as well? (Score 4, Interesting) 262

It's actually a topic of controversy in the ROC today.

The ROC and the PRC, recall, were united for a time under Dr. Sun Yat Sen and they both claim the same territory as that original, united ROC claimed. That means both officially define Taiwan as a province of China, and themselves as the lawful government over all the provinces of China. This is not new.

But there is also a significant undercurrent of nativist and japanophile sentiment for independence in Taiwan, and not everyone agrees with that de jure interpretation. This faction is not new either and has actually become popular enough to control the government at least part of the time, so it's not hard to find officials asserting the very opposite. It's a very contentious issue. The apparent impossibility of liberating the PRC held territory, and a strong desire not to be absorbed by it, is probably a main cause of the increase in independence sentiment.

I dont live there and am not pretending to be an authority, just a sinophile sharing what I have observed.

Comment Re:Technology is hard and dangerous (Score 1) 610

"Software engineering is NRE. You do it once, and it applies to millions of units"

True in theory. In fact, software development as an industry is built around and focused on doing everything quick and dirty in the anticipation that the device will be obsoleted rather than supported. That sort of work is just not acceptable when you are talking about something where the consequences of bugs is so catastrophic.

And yes, there are some programmers that dont work like that, I am sure. With enough money, you could get a system like this done right - designed carefully, implemented precisely, mathematically proven. But I dont think YOU have any idea how expensive that would be. And it certainly wouldnt look anything like the system Toyota put together here.

"So software costs are neglible (plus, they have to write software for the engine control computer anyway; a few more lines to deal with the throttle isn't a big deal)."

This is exactly the sort of thinking I am talking about. This is the way the current software industry thinks. It's fine when you are dealing with angry birds or even office software. It's completely inappropriate in the control system of a vehicle that can kill dozens of people if it malfunctions.

In fact adding a few more lines to deal with the throttle is a huge deal if this is going to be done right, the whole system has to be validated again. In this case, the system was never validated in the first place!

I only hope they have to pay out enough money to teach them a lesson and prevent this from happening again. I fear it will instead be small enough that within 10 years every car will be done this way.

Comment Re:Technology is hard and dangerous (Score 1) 610

So you spend a little more on labor and a little less on parts. I know buyers are price-conscious but I doubt many would actually choose the reliability trade-off here.

A simple physical wire linkage is a mature and reliable method where very little can go wrong. Sticking an overpowered and under-programmed general purpose computer into the link is just asking for trouble. Not saying there would never be a good argument to go that route - there could be - but saving money is a lousy reason, not least because either the savings evaporates on software engineering costs, or you wind up killing people with bugs.

So very predictable.

Comment Re:I can't remember (Score 1) 144

"I don't understand why everyone complains about the Firefox release cycle when it is nearly identical to the Chrome/Chromium release cycle."

We laughed at the Chrome brain damage and the fools that used it, secure in the knowledge at least our browser wasnt THAT stupid - and then it started doing the same thing. That's kind of it in a nutshell.

I do use ESR but I would be much happier with a fork going back to version 3 or earlier and maybe fixing some of the more annoying ancient bugs instead of trying to cram new features I dont need or want down my throat while breaking the UI repeatedly.

Comment Re:I can't remember (Score 1) 144

"Even then there are some that just don't have a way to re-enable. Like autocompleting URL bars that autocomplete entire URLs, and not just domains or partial URLs."

Or like the status bar. WTF was wrong with the status bar? If you didnt like it you could turn it off like all the other bars. They killed it all the way back @ firefox 4 (when the whole train seems to have gone off the tracks) and made it impossible for it to be fully reconstructed even through an extension. And, btw, that extension is now being reported as incompatible with Firefox 25.

So glad I am using ESR instead of latest Firefox right now. And still hoping someone with a brain will fork the project before the next rev...

Slashdot Top Deals

People are always available for work in the past tense.