Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Learn to Build 14 Websites with 28 Hours of Instruction on HTML, JavaScript, MySQL & More for $14 ×

Comment Re:Is that all? (Score 1) 89

I would have thought that most of this would be plug and play by now. Not so much that every component is the same, but that how the components interface would be the same. Much like when I hook a new more sensitive mouse, or a better printer to my computer, I don't need to reconfigure my browser. There can't be that many unique systems on any given platform. Gyros, rockets, sensors, etc. Maybe today's gyro package is way better than yesterday's but I would think that you just make the interface capable of handling an insanely great gyro and then don't worry about it for many many generations of gyros.

I would also have thought that there would be simulators for most of this crap. Things that would give a nice broadspectrum test of a system with various temperatures, magnetic flux, radiation, etc. Something where they could test just about every strange scenario that space throws at a system over its lifetime. But in spades.

Also by standardizing some of this crap, they could also effectively opensource their solutions. It seems fairly common to hear heroic stories where a system will have 5 gyros with a minimum of 3 required to operate. But then 4 of them fail and the geniuses figure out how to keep the system limping along on that single gyro. That is a perfect but of software to then just incorporate into all future systems.

Lastly why isn't there a "your commands are stupid, let's wait for manual control" edge case analyser. Things like spinning too fast, very long burns on the rockets, etc. If the computer decides to do one of these unusual things, that instead it yells to ground control, "Hey, could you double check to make sure that I don't have a case of the stupids."

Comment Keep in mind who approves the judges/lawyers (Score 4, Insightful) 78

Every judge and lawyer is run through a gauntlet of security background checks. Does anyone honestly think that a former ALCU lawyer or human rights advocate is going to past muster? They are only going to approve the most authority respecting hanging judges they can find.

Even for those defendants who want to hire a lawyer has to get that lawyer and their firm approved. Again an actual lawyer who believes in things such as the constitution or knows who side they are on are going to survive the testing. If your lawyer is rejected from the process you can still have them but they don't get to see your case.

Also a critical factor in winning cases that are already stacked against you is to hire a lawyer who then puts 10 interns onto the case along with a handful of investigators, none of whom are either going to be allowed to see anything or do an investigation. Thus these are nearly unwinnable cases.

Then the entire US justice system is adversarial. So any group of prosecutors and judges who don't have an opposing side are going to easily run circles around defendants who don't even know they are on trial (being investigated).

The key to all this is that there are already plenty of laws that deal with nearly every form of crime that a terrorist might do or plan. If you plan on murdering people then oddly enough that is a crime and can be investigated including wire taps. Murdering people is probably against the law. Hiring murders is, funding criminals is, hiding criminals, all existing crimes. There are all kinds of interesting things such as probable cause, RICO, etc that give police everything they need. Not everything they want, just everything they need.

The crazy thing is that this continues at pretty much full speed. It is almost like the constitution is some kind of measuring stick where they get to measure the size of their dicks by how many part of the constitution are ignored or suspended on their behalf. Like the stupid war on drugs, their efforts are going to only have overall negative returns. Maybe once in a blue moon they catch an actual bad guy as opposed to a straw bad guy they pretty much had to build from scratch. But for every bad guy they catch they will spread untold misery, economic problems, and potentially an increased death toll by slightly increasing the overall stress and unhappiness of the entire population. I will be discussing this sort of thing over the phone and sometimes the other person will say that they aren't comfortable talking about this on a phone. Crazy.

I would say that the only way that this madness ends is if crystal clear laws are put into place that wholesale ban this sort of behaviour. Potentially all the way to a constitutional amendment. Otherwise it will simply be a ratchet type approach. Every time there is a scare they will get a few more regulations or laws that favour the ending of this right or that privacy. These laws are typically one way. Very rarely are they repealed. Also there don't seem to be any willing investigators actively prosecuting those who have already violated existing laws.

I wonder what any of the space of likely presidential winners will do? Will they curtail these abuses and the entire abusive direction. Or will they realize that it just makes them more powerful?

Comment Separating causation will be hard (Score 1) 159

Separating causation in a case like this will be fantastically hard. My gut feeling (see what I did there) is that something like a gut bacteria is the route cause of much of the expanding waistlines. Even identifying a gut bacteria can be hard for if the cause were just crappy fast food, there could be bacteria that simply thrive in the presence of crappy fast food.

People of course use data like this to support their favourite issues such as processed food, fast food, sugar, western diets, etc. Not that all these issues are bad, but if my supposition is correct and it were to be gut bacteria, the gut bacteria might be increasing the desire for crappy fast food or whatever. Thus there would be a near perfect correlation of crappy fast food to fatties as the fatties would be demanding the crappy fast food.

The three ways to figure this out would be some fantastic biochemical insights as to how one or more bacteria are spreading and causing this. To do double blind studies where they add bacteria to skinny populations, or to figure out how to eliminate a suspect bacteria and then double blind some people there.

A double blind introduction of suspect bacteria into random skinny populations would probably produce the quickest results, despite the huge ethical issue this does have the advantage that the scientists can outrun the angry mob who weren't in the control group.

Comment The machine is comprehensive (Score 2) 331

What many people don't realize is that the party machine is much bigger than a single election or politician. Politicians come and go for the most part, but the machine is there today, tomorrow, and for a long time to come.

This has huge implications for those preparing to fight the machine. For instance if some small town guy puts up a Feel the Bern sign, the local democratic HOA or alderman will come knocking and put a bit of pressure on that person even if they agree with them and like the person in question. The reason they will do this is because the machine remembers who supports and who hurts them. So while they might be able to directly get to the guy who puts up the sign they can get to the people who can shut him down. They will deny the alderman support in the next election. Even the HOA president would be in trouble if the local state legislator showed up at a HOA election BBQ for the opponent this year instead of them.

This doesn't only apply to elections and election support. The airport might have been funded by a party senator, jobs at that airport, contracts at that airport, etc are very much handed out to party loyalists. So maybe the company that has the fuel contract is the employer of the guy with the sign. A little reminder as to who is in charge of their future will have them talk to the guy with the sign.

But this isn't a huge well organized conspiracy. Each level knows what is expected of it and just acts. Thus there are no wiretaps that will expose this, no paper trails to follow.

The crazy part is that both machines are active regardless of who is in power, or even who is the default party in that neck of the woods. If you take a state like Connecticut which will never go all republican, you still have a republican party machine that demands loyalty.

Where it gets even weirder is that they are like a cult hunting apostates. When the machine sees someone supporting the other party, that is from their view a healthy part of democracy. He won't get any contracts while they are in power, but they aren't overly vindictive. It is when their own don't support the candidate picked in a smokey back room. Those disloyal Mofos need to be taught some respect.

This is one of the reasons Millennials are the ones supporting Sanders, they aren't typically part of the machine and getting their livelihood from the machine. But if you are 60 and own a solid pillar-of-the-community business, then you don't dare turn your back on your superiors.

Comment What if the driver can't find me? (Score 1) 172

Many times I have had an uber driver who simply can't find me. They will text me and ask where I am and I will say exactly where I am referring to some giant landmark that I am standing under. I then watch them drive around a bit hundreds of feet away, and they text/call again.

Where I live now had all the uber drivers looking for my house about 300 feet away. The cab companies make the same mistake. So I just call and wander down to where I know they think I will be.

Obviously their mapping software isn't very good, but why can't the uber drivers just look to see where my "dot" is? I could see some of these drivers pulling this sort of crap hoping to charge me a "late" fee. Or they might just make this mistake for whatever reason they are making it now and charge me a late fee.

So unless it is me just not ready for when the uber car come then Uber could rapidly turn people off.

Also in order for this to be reasonable they need to get their "1 minute" to last less than 5 minutes. Because I would say that on average I wait 1 minute that lasts well in excess of 3 minutes and often pushing into 5 or more minutes.

How about we get to charge Uber a late fee when they say that the cab will be there in a certain amount of time and they are wrong by a sizeable amount?

Assuming the cab icons on the app aren't made up crap, then I watch my uber driver often take some of the crappiest routes to get to me. It can't just be the routing as they will go a block beyond me and then sometimes circle that block. Or get stopped at stop signs for a minute or more when there is no traffic in the neighbourhood.

Comment A somewhat rentier business got end run (Score 4, Interesting) 83

The traditional news business somewhat became a rentier business. One of the biggest revenue sources for newspapers was classified advertising. They would charge 20-30 dollars for something that cost them pennies. They also became the de-facto source of news. If they liked a politician or a party then they would not cover it negatively. If a friend of the owners got in trouble there would be no reporting. If one of their major advertisers got in trouble then little or nothing with lots of room for the companies to spin the negative news.

The business model was abusive and ripe for someone to do an end run.

The first sign I saw of this would be a local newspaper that carried just classifieds that were free for most purposes. They combined the online submission with print for the masses. I suspect that the news papers weren't happy with this.

The internet started to pick away at this. I would say the gut shot was craigslist and similar sites. Quite simply that was an instant lights out for an entire revenue stream.

The other was google adsense. Not that it is a great way to fund a site these days, but in the early days it was so damn easy to get started and your tiny site could instantly produce revenue. This allowed for some of the earliest web publications to make money and grow.

Google adsense wasn't just a slight revolution but it was a revolution in thinking. It had been proceeded by doubleclick. They were a huge pain in the ass if you were a nobody. They wanted to screen their prospective publishers to make sure they had the volumes and respectability. This translated to their preferring to land old media companies who were doing an online presence.

But what shocks me is that the old media companies have largely doubled down on what made them suck. They are still wildly biased. They don't seem to care about actual journalism such as taking down bad politicians or exposing evil companies. Then to add insult to all this they have adopted some of the worst practices of the internet such as clickbaiting or the various dark practises.

For instance, in my city there have been a spate of murders. Serious ones such as shootings on the core downtown streets. Reading the local newspapers they are talking about it in the general sense of a spate of murders. But no stories that paint a picture of who did what and why they might have had it coming, or not. Then I go on reddit and find eye-witness accounts, pictures, and stories about long running feuds between families. How is it that reddit has become the paper of record in a city of 1 million?

Then there are the autoplay videos. Wow what asshole came up with that gem. Not only do they autoplay, but they will follow you down the page, and even when paused will just start playing after a while. Then there are the videos that just keep streaming one video after another. These companies are wondering why we are all getting adblockers? Do they not understand that their cunning ways are effectively creating the drive and desire to dump them? That once dumped that we won't be coming back?

Comment Re:I was once an Oracle "guru" (Score 2) 162

The reason is that I could probably find 1000 white papers that would fear monger about either open source being a security risk "The source code has been leaked to hackers." or something along the lines of "Good luck without enterprise support." as if this means that a bug found in Oracle tonight will be fixed just for you by tomorrow.

The few times I ever called Oracle were disappointments, and pretty much all my support was from google searches. With MariaDB, Postgres, etc my support is from google searches.

The other is when people dismiss open source data stores as toys and not meant for corporate data. They usually just start making up arguments when I point out that the companies with some of the largest databases in the world use opensource. Things like, "Well they have heavily modified them." to which I will point out, yes, and the commonly useful modifications or fixes were pushed into the open source project.

I think it all boils down to, "My database is better than your database because I paid so much for it."

Comment I was once an Oracle "guru" (Score 5, Interesting) 162

In my distant past I was the guy who would made Oracle things happen for clients. But as I got more and more into dealing with clients I realized that Oracle is just a mean thing to do to people. One interesting part of the Oracle sales process seems to be to delay giving a final price. This way the project is well underway or even done before you present the client with some sticker-shock.

Then there were the prices themselves. I deployed quite a number of systems and could never predict the price. Would it be $30,000 or $300,000.

Then there were the end runs. Once Oracle got ahold of your client they were perfectly happy to see you swapped out and replaced with another consultancy who would slather the entire client with Oracle products. It was bordering on Oracle Doorbell for all your ding-dong needs.

There is no way I would ever use a solution that results in a company like that able to mess with my clients. No Microsoft, no Oracle, no IBM, or SAP.

My favourite is when I have a client who is in the process of throwing them out and they ask, "What will it cost to licence MariaDB." Then when they ask, "Can it handle our Enterprise database?" I will say, "Your $400,000 system has 40,000 rows of data in it. A $25 raspberry Pi could handle your needs." Then they ask about per seat licensing costs. "None." At this point I can see them fishing around in their heads for how they are going to be screwed; suddenly it dawns on them that the screwing is now over. They then go through a list of features that they have built up over time but couldn't afford. When they get the quote for those they pretty much throw up in disgust at how badly they had been treated over the years.

When they put it all together they realise that their previous consultant hadn't been working for them but effectively for a company like Oracle.

It has been over a decade since I dumped everything Oracle and will never go back.

Comment Re:Willingness to learn (Score 1) 559

MariaDB is the anti-Oracle. Oracle bought out MySQL which caused the main creator to flee and fork MySQL into MariaDB. There are three keys to MariaDB that would repulse an Oracle DBA. One is that for most use cases any halfway sane developer can conjure up a good enough schema. This scares the shit out of them. Maybe they could even double the performance if they used their skills, except that doubling 20ms queries isn't really worth much.
Second there is no company behind MariaDB to give grand certifications and otherwise reward people who promote the use of their product.
Lastly, due to the above two situations a MariaDB DBA is usually some guy who has a hundred other responsibilities in maintaining the servers. This is in direct opposition to someone who is solely responsible for just the Oracle database and used to be extremely well paid to do so.

At this point the only use case that I am seeing anymore for Oracle is that some fool is trapped in their ecosystem. There are plenty of MariaDB installs with massive clusters of computers happily handling absurd amounts of data. These are installs in the top 0.1% of storage and data bandwidth. I am hard pressed to even understand why anyone would pay for an Oracle DB at this point with all the fantastic options available. Plus MariaDB doesn't compile on Sun anymore.

One thing about the above Sun guy is that he also chose Sun because he would be one of the few masters of that universe vs all the little rats running around popping up Linux machines like weeds.

Comment Re:Willingness to learn (Score 1) 559

I have been working in technology for over 20 years. I see the same thing over and over. There is the oracle dba who fought for years to keep the primary servers all Sun. Then one day not only is the switch made to linux, but much to his shock one or more data stores were deployed with new projects. Radical things like MariaDB. Then the same guy is screaming mad that he isn't being consulted on database schemas saying that some junior programmer will just expose their clients to all kinds of pain without him.

But what happens is that all his attempts to stay with the old result in his not being invited onto the big billing projects. So as the ever shortening list of Oracle customers dries up, so do his billable hours.

Then another guy down the hall, the exact same age has just made a crazy contribution to redis because of his hard core C skills. Thus he has blended his old school C skills with his passion for a more recent and awesome technology. Oddly enough this second guy is fought over by the various projects as his contributions are relevant, and also don't come with any smell of arrogance.

Weeks after the Oracle guy is let go when the last project finally went away, the GM privately passes some of Oracle guy's emails on to the redis guy not only arguing that redis is a pile of shit, but that by contributing to a project he is revealing proprietary customer code and that the customer should be warned as to the risks of this and open source in general.

Sound hypothetical? Nope, real life example. I could find other guys who have done the same but you can cross out Oracle with Novell, MSDN, IBM, etc. I can remember in the early 2000s waving my arms in more than one meeting saying, "We can buy 20 whitebox linux machines for the price of one Sun machine, plus when the customer finds out what their database licensing costs are going to be for a database with a few thousand rows they are going to freak. Let's go open source on that as well." In the above there would be Sun certified guys arguing that Linux and whitebox machines working in a cluster were so fantastically unreliable that we were crossing the line into fraud to deploy them on clients. This would be when our own statistics showed a long term failure rate that was pretty much identical between the two. Then these same guys would eventually give up this battle but then move onto an argument about switching from perl to PHP because perl was a "proven" language.

I don't think that is is caused by age so much as by aging skills. I suspect a 50 year old who got into programming today would use modern tools in modern ways, but in 10 years would have a roughly equal chance of then being 10 years out of date as some 30 year old would have after 10 years of programming.

My personal example is that I work with C++ (which is pretty old school for many) but I know quite a few C++ programmers my age who don't even like vectors yelling that they are a performance hazard and cover up to much of what happens under the hood. I am not 100% modern C++ and haven't even generally stuck to the latest and greatest. But my code does require C++11 compilers to function in the slightest.

Comment Willingness to learn (Score 0) 559

The successful people in tech are willing to learn the newest and coolest. I have found that those older types who have the above complaint are often resting on laurels that younger people don't even know exist. Who cares if you are certified in Sun or Novell? It doesn't matter if you have worked with Window NT, your PhD in digital signal processing from the early 90s is worthless. It doesn't matter if you worked for Nortel, Intel, Bell labs, or IBM.

If you are looking at an older skill that is relevant it might be OpenGL. What project did you recently do on your own that didn't involve a white paper? If you want to impress you need to show that you are surfing the most recent wave, not talking about the big one in Y2K.

I find the main difference between younger and older developers is simply the younger ones are pretty much by default using today's technology. So an older worker who knows node.js and redis is far more valuable than one who knows Oracle and Perl. Of course the one who knows Oracle, perl, redis, and node.js is more valuable again.

Comment The unhealthy balances the healthy (Score 1) 273

The unhealthy balances the healthy by providing an outlet. Maybe there is some spill-over, but I find that in a discussion on Python Programming there is very little politics, racism, etc. There are excellent forums where people can crap on Trump supporters, or others where they can kiss the Trump ring. For the most part I would say that the "healthy" parts of reddit stay more pure than similar discussions in Slashdot. I don't know how many slashdot threads I have seen that started out with a metallurgical breakthrough where someone's comment mentioned Ayn Rand, and then proceeded into a huge libertarian knife fight.

So maybe 4chan levels aren't needed but if someone wants to set up an area where they hate some group, then great, now it will be less likely to spill over into my discussion of new features in C++.

Comment I want a $50 smartphone (Score 1) 197

What I would love is a $50 smartphone where I can at least partially upgrade it. A few things such as a better battery would be nice if. The simple reality is that while I have an unlimited everything package, I don't use my phone for that much. I use the maps, occasionally surf the web, run a few apps of no particular hardship on the CPU, listen to lectures and audiobooks, listen to podcasts, listen to music, and check simple things such as the time or weather. Oh, and I take non critical pictures and videos.

My present phone is an iPhone 5C which was an upgrade from a 4S only because the provider I switched to won't support the 4S.

I might switch to the 6 because of the larger screen. But if I could switch to the larger screen and only have the capacity I have now, it wouldn't bother me. In fact a 4S with a larger screen would be fine.

Even then the only reason I had a 4S is because I develop apps and my 3G couldn't go past iOS v5.1.1. So maybe I would still be using the 3G if I had not been "forced" to switch.

I think boiled down, I really don't need a $500 plus smartphone. If it weren't for the app development issue my phone would probably be something like the OnePlus 2. Simple, cheap, basic, and by far, good enough.

Comment Phone and devices (Score 1) 183

A switch that I have been planning on making is to a very dumb phone from the chocolate bar slab family. Except the one I am looking at can tether. Then I will just use other devices as I please for years to come.

The benefits are pretty good. The basic phone not only has a very good battery, but also has a swapable battery. The devices that I can tether will then vary with my mood, and over the years with what devices I still have. A small tablet one day, a larger tablet the next, or a laptop. This way when I buy another device I don't have to ask, "Is it unlocked?"

This is from someone who only recently replaced my iPad 1 for the simple reason that a few critical apps would no longer run.

Slashdot Top Deals

"It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." -- Artemus Ward aka Charles Farrar Brown