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Comment If I had a dollar.. (Score 1) 78

for every single "bug-sized robots are coming" I've read over the years, I'd probably be able to make one myself now. It's a great idea but it's been in the pipeline far too long. Calling it now, in the next 3 months we're going to see another "bug-sized robots are here" story. That's about all one can say with certainty about this invention. As long as science exists, there will always be a researcher looking for funding so they can design a bug-sized robot, only to fail at the last second when they realize they can't put a practical battery on these things.

Comment Re:Could Be Like Motorworld (Score 1) 145

I've watched every season of the new Top Gear and about half of the old ones and always dreamt of the day when Top Gear would come to my city in India. They did, but I wasn't there, and their coverage was overwhelmingly negative. Highly disappointing. The first shot of my city is a video of someone pissing on the street. That's like introducing NYC by showing a crackhead smoking openly on the subway.

Jeremy being himself was highly inconsiderate with people's lunchboxes in Mumbai, but that wasn't offensive as such and those boxes were probably just props. The thing they did with the train was slightly offensive but really not that bad. The most offensive thing was James putting a Ganesha idol on the hood of his Rolls Royce instead of on the dashboard where it's supposed to go. It's really subtle but makes a huge difference because out here people consider idols to be an embodiment of the actual deity, and you would never tie somebody to the front of your car and race it unless you were trying to torture them. Poor James: he was really trying to be as PC and respectful of the culture as possible but it failed.

As a huge fan of the trio, I don't think they're all that offensive when they intentionally make a joke about this or that culture or demographic. Their jokes (even the offensive ones) have good entertainment value and tell it like it is. They only cross the line when they do something racist or offensive inadvertently (like that car in Argentina, or the slope joke, or the n-word slip, or the Ganesha idol), and those are the instances that they need to avoid by, say, including an actual local in their production crew.

Also, Grand Tour is a shitty name for the show. I hope they go with something else.

Comment Re:CTF Code (Score 1) 13

You can't blame them for not posting something that anyone who needs it can find through the article/google, and you can't blame them for being lazy when you yourself are too lazy to post an anchor tag around that link. I miss the /. of 1999 too, but what we have now is much better than what we had a year ago.

Comment Re:Strange irony (Score 1) 232

All the examples you gave are for computer companies and it is acceptable for them to have funny/pointless names but this does not always extend to enterprises in other sciences, especially those where real physical objects and real (sometimes public) money is involved. The problem is that at the end of the day you need to be able to sell it to grumpy old men who do not have the training/mental capacity to understand the importance of the actual science and all they can see is balance sheets and the name. Say you're on a senate floor and trying to argue for more funding for this research ship. You give a well prepared 10 minute speech on how it can benefit society, only to be shot down by a simple jab at the funny name of the ship: "While Mr. XYZ wants to spend our outstretched budget on pipe dreams and Boaty McBoat, what about the poor, hungry and disrobed on our streets?". David Attenborough goes a long way in decreasing the impact of that sentence.

Research that does not have short term results is fighting an uphill battle for funding in these times because most countries that can afford to pay for such research have unbalanced budgets and are still operating in recession mode, i.e. 0% or nearly 0% interest rates. At a time like this, it is prudent to have a name for this research vessel that can be used in all contexts even if it may come at the cost of being seen as humorless or old fashioned. You can't compare a privately funded here today gone tomorrow software company with a publicly funded research juggernaut.

That said, I do look forward to a time when all those old men are dead, people are playing super smash brothers and dubstep at retirement homes, and someone has the gall to name a space rocket Dicky McDickface.

Comment Minibuses in India (Score 1) 400

There is some precedent for this in India. We have what are called minibuses which are run within cities and are owned by private bus companies as opposed to the government. These buses are about half the size of a regular city bus (Mercedes Sprinter from 70 years ago), have fewer rules and regulations, and pay huge amounts of money to lobby local cops and politicians. For passengers, they can be useful sometimes because they serve the same routes as the city buses, but are more unsafe to ride in than city buses because they get crowded as fuck. In my family, no one has ever come back from a minibus unharmed. But like most people from the lower-middle-class and up, we never ride in any public transport. For drivers on the road, minibuses are a huge nuisance because they drive fast and aggressive in order to maximize their trips, don't follow traffic rules because of said lobbying. I once saw a minibus driver purposely reverse into the car behind him in stop and go traffic.

While I agree that buses should be made to go faster and avoid stopping and waiting as much, this acceleration should be done with care so as to not end up like the anarchist minibuses of India.

Comment It's not such a bad thing (Score 1) 137

There's no reasonable expectation of privacy on a public bus. If you say something in a bus, you're clearly ok with the other passengers hearing it, so why not the government? Same thing with video surveillance. If anything it provides security in the DC/MD/VA area where without this surveillance it would be super unsafe on the bus/train because mugging and murder is a cottage industry in PG county and other shitty areas around DC. I understand that its a systemic problem and the government (and hence everyone) is mainly responsible for the poverty in the DC area that gives rise to the crime, but I'll still tazer the fuck out of anyone who tries to steal my overpriced tablet and I'm thankful for the protection those cameras provide me.

Comment In other news.. (Score 1) 78

John von Neumann is helping Islamic terrorists from his grave. Our correspondent found out that ISIS has been using von Neumann computers to propagate terrorist propaganda over the Internet. Find out more tonight at 8... In all seriousness, though, I don't think this is Slashdot's fault. They're just reporting the story as is without filtering it, under the assumption that their readers will be able to make out what's happening right from the summary itself.

Comment Re:what a laugh (Score 1) 532

I agree with you on how refreshing it is to have someone running who says it like it is, but Trump adds unnecessary vitriol to everything he says in order to go 'viral' and snag the most headlines. This type of rhetoric can be a slippery slope and start an unpleasant race to the bottom. The former President of Mexico went on record calling him a lunatic and said he won't pay for Trump's "fucking wall". If Trump was running for the mayor of Chicago this would probably be okay, but as a President he would make the country lose respect every time he loses respect like this. Moral superiority and all that gone down the toilet.

IMHO Sanders is equally good in the saying it like it is department but without the extra negativity and oversimplification of issues.

Comment Re:Form Factor not "Format" (Score 1) 202

but you also are still pushing this over the same SAS/SATA connection, which means you approach a SSD's lower-end performance.

For non-cached data, I don't see these new 2.5" drives exceeding SATA's 6Gbps (about 600 MBps) or SAS's 12Gbps (1.2 GBps). By the time these get put into production, SATA and SAS 4 (or, who knows, 5) will already be out.

Comment Re:Third option - don't care (Score 1) 403

(any criticism here is meant to be constructive) It's not so much a problem with the medium of video as it is with the content that's on there right now. In the current batch there are only really shitty videos that are irrelevant to most of slashdot. Idgaf about user accounts in Windows 10 or iPhone sales, and those are the top videos right now. In all the video stories right now, the MIT reactor and glowforge 3d printer seem to be the only videos that I'd watch. But I admit I haven't watched either of them because I come here to read the news. All the CIO type stuff, newbie level stuff and stuff that belongs on engadget needs to go from videos. The rare interesting story about actual scientific breakthroughs, and other niche stuff that you only find on Slashdot should stay IMHO.

I think videos do have a place on slashdot and this feature just needs a major rework. I watch more tech-related videos on the BBC site than I do here. You guys should look to that for inspiration. On the Slashdot story page, I wouldn't mind seeing videos/pictures along with the text of the story.

Comment Re: Require that patents be defended (Score 2) 134

Then you just write it in fancy sounding bullshit, and pass it off as a unique invention -- and the morons at the patent office, whose only real criteria is if the checks clear, will rubber stamp it and suddenly you have a patent.

To a great degree this is actually true. The patent officers don't care about the checks that much, though. It just creates a lot of work for them when they reject a patent claim and the lawyers of the people applying for the patent, i.e. prosecuting (that's the technical term) it prove them wrong and get their rejections overturned. It also shows badly on the record of the patent officer if their rejections tend to not hold up. The lawyers usually have more resources and motivation to make the patent pass through. So, the patent clerks tend to take the path of least resistance, i.e. approving the patents after doing their due diligence. Patent officers have a pre defined set of databases(including scientific journals, previous patents, etc) that they look through for prior art, and they don't look outside of that set (for example on Google) to find out if an idea is original. There is a fair amount of screening that goes into granting a patent for sure, and they don't just stamp anything. But they will stamp anything as long as their asses are covered. And they are really tiny asses that don't need a whole lot of cover.

Now when you bring up a case in court to invalidate somebody else's patent, that's when your lawyers will do all the google searches and thorough research to show that the invention was publicly known before the patent was granted. This research would go in front of a judge who will most likely rule in favor of whoever hired the bigger guns.

The problem with ideas in software (as opposed to, say, chemistry) is that they are generated far too quickly and anonymously to be included in formal databases and journals, even though they may be publicly known. I'll give you a rough example. Around the year 1998, you could use a plugin in Winamp called Geiss that showed trippy visualizations of music. Before that plugin (correct me if I'm wrong), music visualization was mostly just fancy waveforms. Apple lifted this idea wholesale and made it part of iTunes in 2001. Sony patented this idea in 2009. Poor Mr. Geiss got diddly squat for his invention, even though millions or even billions have probably used it till date, and his idea got patented more than a decade after conception. Such is the state of affairs: big tech companies go out and patent ideas that they learn from the general public. If the idea's implementation takes off, the patent provides them security, and if it doesn't, it's a bargaining chip to gouge money from anyone that tries to use the idea.

Regarding the patenting of ideas versus inventions, in theory you can only patent inventions, but the definition of what constitutes an invention is very lax, especially for software, and you don't have to go and show a working proof of concept to a patent officer. If the patent application describes the software in enough detail so as to allow an average programmer to develop it based on just the description, it's good enough to qualify. In other words, you can pretty much patent a piece of software at the requirements and architecture stage.

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