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

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment Re:Most techies have no real free will to do so (Score 1) 537

You do realize that one of the problems is the whole 'Better living through science' meme and its offspring, right? So we've got an inherently flawed assumption that science will save us all--usually accompanied with the idea that we don't actually have to change, or that a perfect solution is obtainable.

Most of the people who are out to implement these things are motivated by what is fundamentally a religious mindset--and, sometimes, you've got a better chance of a foamy-mouthed fundamentalist follower of a traditional religion being willing to change methods that don't work. If your belief system insists that the reason your efforts are failing is a lack of enough people believing and throwing money into your solution--you just are not psychologically in the position to truly accept even the possibility that the reason your solution is failing is because your solution is simply not ever going to work.

One of the best examples I've seen is from socialist countries.

The bottom line is that for some problems, we may just have to accept that the 'ideal' solution is impossible--and sometimes no 'good' solution is possible, and we should be honest about picking 'least bad.'

And, frankly, the first problem techies probably ought to tackle is science as a religion. That lovely little meme has gotten a death toll in the millions, and that's just if you set the meme's birth to the turn of the last century. If you include its earlier formulations...

Comment Re:CS should _not_ be taught to teenagers (Score 1) 241

I'd say that the base level of understanding I'd want everybody to have actually could be covered at a younger age and much more simply--teach basic logic, do it early, and do it well. You can stick to mathematical logic if you want. I'd have actual coding be in optional classes, and by HS I would actually insist that no language that isn't of serious use--let's go "Live, with a compiler for it written in it, significant large projects use it" for our criteria here--be offered once you get past an intro course.

I'd also treat anything that restricts them to a walled garden or private playground like the plague carrier it is: If simplicity is the key desire, stick to either the classics or do something like use one of the open-source game engines and have everybody's goal be to get a ultra-short game done.

I was part of a pick-up team whose sole goal was to get a visual novel done in our free time in a month: we started with zilch, not even the game engine picked out yet, but got it all the way through beta in that time period...and did it pretty comfortably. (End result was even fully voiced.) The actual coding is probably less important to have everybody know than the process--and I think overall a game probably will be generally a good pick for a small, fast, and fun project with a decent chance of success, especially if you encourage them to have the mindset that if their idea is for a big game...what they're doing now is the short demo to raise funds and interest with.

Comment Re: Medical research (Score 2) 81

You are also supposed to mention those things with your bog standard psychology papers--and in several places, including the abstract, where you cover your sample size and your alpha as well as what you got as an effect size. This doesn't really do much, though, if the entire system is skewed to encourage generally weak work.

With the neuroscience papers involved in this analysis, though, I would want to know what they're looking at. Some papers oughtn't be counted simply because the research relies on people who have neurological damage and you can't do much if you can't find that many people with that problem--well, okay, a lot can be done with carefully applied violence but it tends to get frowned upon for some reason. So, well, some of these studies are weak simply because there wasn't much else that could be done, and some are done basically to go "No seriously can we dig up more test subects?!" (If the results are sufficiently dramatic, you might manage to get more people involved in the search through haystack so you can find the 'needles' required...or, anyway, more of them.)

Comment Re:Not only that (Score 1) 183

We need to find a way to properly incentivize security as its own end, because as I have noticed in my career, getting security resources is like pulling teeth, until someone threatens a suit or seriously damages the reputation of the company. Even then, it is usually more for window dressing.

I put in bold what might be the right way to go about it--though I'd suggest having it be criminal charges, so nobody actually has to prove they specifically got harmed, merely that the data breech happened and neglect either made it possible or made it worse. You might also make the degree of liability in civil court reflect the degree of effort put into practical security measures--a company that kept the sensitive data it had to the bare minimum & well-secured would be held less liable on the basis that they did try, while one that was a hoarder of sensitive data stored in plaintext out in the open would get slammed...regardless of the verifiable damage cause to those whose data got exposed.

Comment Re:Bottom line... (Score 1) 183

Let me get this straight--if you have (limited liability) companies, you need regulation because they will take actions that externalize their real costs.

To start with, what's keeping those companies who've been successful enough to afford to do it from having the regulatory system written as to improve on the externalization of their real costs and/or get as rid of as much of their competition as possible?

Moreover, you do realize that the 'limited liability' doesn't keep the company from liability, right? It just protects the owners, and the extent to which it does that is variable. This isn't necessarily bad, either; consider how you'd feel if you were in an LLC and the sole person even trying to bother with basic efforts to secure sensitive data. Would you want to be held personally liable for your partners' irresponsibility?

Comment Re:Sounds good (Score 1) 133

I'm not sure which country either of you two is in, except apparently not the US.

In most systems the criminal courts only deal with the question of "Did J Random commit fraud?"-- not the question of "How much damage may J Random have done and to whom?" beyond what might required for the specific type of fraud J Random is charged with. That part would require the law have the charges and penalties be different depending on the victim and/or financial amount defrauded. The am, from what I can tell, always defined by the value the person who committed fraud received, not how much R Smith could have made otherwise because you can prove without a doubt how much money J Random made--as has been noted elsewhere, it's a bit hard to prove that everybody who pirates something would have paid a cent for it.

Recovering damages is more a civil court issue, though it might be handled incidentally by the criminal court, especially if reparations are part of the penalty for fraud. (Consult your local legal system to know, it varies.)

I think it's worth noting that, as far as I know, normally lost sales have to be projected from actual sales figures--the assumption you see when the *AA strikes that every pirate is a lost sale when quite a few may be people who'd not buy at all or are in fact a gained sale that would not have happened if they'd not been able to watch or listen to it for free ahead of time. (Movie marketing, for example, has gotten to the point that the main useful information most trailers in the US provide is "This movie is a thing that exists." Hollywood has hit the point where I'd consider it vastly unsurprising if they produced an awesome-looking trailer for a movie that even Uwe Boll would be embarrassed to have made... I can't say if this problem is one the movie industry as a whole has.)

Comment Re:Drop in the bucket (Score 1) 161

Actually, it's not likely to go very much of anywhere because on some disease we either have very little clue right now where those 'particular areas' are, and a decade is the minimal time needed to get a drug developed and to market...using very optimistic numbers.

It doesn't exactly help that sometimes what we may have been framing as a disease is, in point of fact, within the normal healthy range of human variation--we just don't necessarily want to admit it.

...If I thought Zuckerberg would do anything more than try to ensure the people he considered were the Right People got to arrange the metaphorical deck chairs, for as little as they're wanting to invest in a decade? The best bang for the buck would be working on countering the medicalization of deviance--but you're not curing anybody, just...admitting they weren't sick in the first place. (When politics gets involved, the actual argument tends to be along the lines of "Are we calling the right people deviants?" rather than "Shouldn't we not be doing this at all?")

Comment Re:bad patents (Score 1) 109

Which doesn't really answer the question of how, precisely, do you propose we reward people for putting forward the time and effort to make these breakthroughs and then share them? The only thing wrong here is that you're specifically attributing this problem to capitalism, when this is a problem for any system--what incentive do I have to come up with a brilliant idea that solves one of your problems...and then share it?

The fundamental question here is: Do those who invent have less of a right to remuneration for the labor they perform in doing so?

If you answer no, you've just created an entire section of labor that no longer can trust that it will get paid.

I'm all for limited time periods for intellectual property--I've read enough of the history of what happened before that was in law to feel it's a necessary thing. I just don't believe in the current woefully incomplete comparison to real property--if we're going to treat it like physical property, then it ought to be valued and taxed like physical property...and can enter the public domain early by failure to pay those taxes. (That might even make it practical to offer the ability to extend it however long you want--but with the rate increasing with each renewal. At some point, even Disney will probably decide that that cartoon mouse's first appearance isn't worth that much...and, well, until then they can pay through the nose for the privilege.)

Comment Re:Works because of one very important fact- few t (Score 1) 109

Actually, I think the main reason they're considered evil is because their behavior is fundamentally a legal form of extortion--it would be like if I started claiming you trespassed on my property...because your shadow happened to possibly cross just slightly into it, maybe. These are not companies that in their behavior can be distinguished from Investment Company Q which will actively do things like try to find a company to license the patent out to, or offer Companies A, B and C a chance to license X because it's actually better for the job than widget W.

This is in fact quite possible and has happened. Sometimes the reason X didn't sell in the first place has been as simple as Company Y not knowing how to sell it. Occasionally, this is a systemic and endemic problem for Company Y, and the patent ends up being sold off by Company Y's creditors who just want all of Company Y's remains sold after Y experienced the fate of any company that couldn't even sell water in a desert.

The thing that distinguishes Z from Investment Company Q? Q is making an effort ahead of time to make money off of Invention X. Z is just going to sit on the patent and wait until it can sue somebody claiming infringement, and tend to hope to get paid to just go away. As long as they figure it's cheaper for them to get bought off...

Comment Re:Doesn't solve the problem (Score 1) 109

You are making the lawyers lot of money though I guess

How? Read their site -- the donated money in excess of the PTO filing fees gets paid to the prior art searchers.

Which is in and of itself a chore, given that I've seen a few patents that I'm not that sure were not in point of fact created by a very good parody generator that has been well-fed on patent applications. I can fully believe that a good prior art searcher deserves fully to be paid.

I'd also like to feel a bit more confident that you couldn't manage to get the patent office to grant a patent on a filing that is nonsensical, but I don't expect that to happen.

Comment Re:This is my shocked face. (Score 1) 139

You...do know that jpeg, gif, and png--the image formats most often seen on the internet--all require you flatten the layers in the process of saving, right? It's only trivial to remove the black square when it's still in its own layer. Still, the easiest tool to use for applying that black square is the most simple pixel-pushing program on the machine you're using, which probably will never ever support layers. Something like GIMP or Photoshop is fussy and overkill.

Basically, it looks like the article pretty much is verifying that the KISS principle applies here: You're better off just not fussing with blurring or pixelation and going the box route. I'm more concerned for the people who didn't go on social media using this for privacy, but rather what happened is that the news outlet or reality TV show's makers thought this was a good way to protect people's privacy... (This particularly applies to those who had been promised privacy or have their identity protected by law.)

Comment Re:addressing the wrong problem. again. (Score 1) 140

That is basically what the tragedy of the commons is about--what happened isn't like giving your kid a car, it's like giving your kid keys to the family car...and having your kid decide that hey, since it's not their car, there's nothing wrong with doing things to it that run up mechanics' and body shop bills...and rarely bringing the car home so you can see what the damage is this time.

See also 'diffusion of responsibility' and other related concepts, though honestly most places deal with this overall problem by having sessions be of explicitly limited length. (As for filters? I'd go with it only applying if you're using the free tablet--or just make it so the sole option you got for browsing on it is a lightweight text-only browser.)

Comment Re:Trades (Score 1) 420

Some of these are actually jobs where a skilled human is going to be still better at it than a robot well after we've gotten a decent percentage of jobs that ask for four-year degrees automated; my understanding from people who are machinists or work with machine shops is that everything that can be reasonably automated at this point has been. What is a complex task for a human is not the same as what is a complex task for a robot.

From some of the estimates I've seen that I consider reasonably likely? Some of these are actually harder problems to automate than some jobs held currently by people with 4-year degrees. (And some things are automated that we can demonstrate oughtn't be, like issuing DMCA notices.)

Comment Re: Meanwhile the EU is saying... (Score 1) 315

The problem here seems to be that the decision rules are really biased to ensure that the voices of those not in the ruling classes are silenced. Europe didn't as much give up colonialism as it lost the ability due to population loss to go impose it elsewhere.

At this point...? I am not going to say that globalization is not necessarily bad, but a lot of the international governmental bodies such as the EU are pretty much rigged (intentionally or not) to result in some type of oligarchy. It's a problem inherent in the system, and embedded in the foundations of many them. It's the government version of that OS whose core has what we realize now are some very poor decisions in essential basic structures--and how the problem gets handled from there is pretty much the same. (Except, well, politicians have less incentive than programmers to avoid the 'solution' of ignoring the problem on the theory that this will somehow cause it to fix itself.)

Comment Marketing doesnt do math (Score 1) 224

Depends on what sort of scaling we're talking about. If it's a completely relative scale with no reference points, then any values for a and b where b=a*.125 would be just as valid and informative. If it's a scale using a number line, with or without a definite end point, then the actual distance between the two matters, and if it's a unit like percentage then each value's distance from the ends of the scale also is significant and meaningful.

However: Most likely marketing chose the numbers using the 10s die from a pair of percentile dice, and therefore the only thing that is meaningful here is that the one with the higher number is probably intended to be seen as the more upscale model. So the right answer is that the one with the higher number is intended to be approximately 10% cooler.

Slashdot Top Deals

How many hardware guys does it take to change a light bulb? "Well the diagnostics say it's fine buddy, so it's a software problem."

Working...