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


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. ×

Comment Re:Booting computers with switches (Score 1) 612

One of the first computers I operated was a PDP-8, complete with the lights and toggle switches. It was kind of a pain because one or two of the light bulbs were invariable burnt out, so reading back what you had already hand entered for the boot loaded was never a certainty. It was also a twelve bit machine and the instruction set (what little there was) was always written in octal. Our programming exercises were written out by hand on graph paper. When we thought it looked all correct we had to manually toggle it into those front panel switches. Once entered we could spit it out to paper tape to be re-used at a later date, because we were just that technically advanced.

Comment Re:Never had a chance... (Score 2) 78

The idea of modular phones or computers, where customers are expected to purchase proprietary modules to change their setup or just to upgrade, has been around since the dawn of the PC. Back in the 80's Byte magazine was filled with ads from computer manufacturers that claimed that you never had to buy a new computer, just swap out their custom (and therefore expensive) modules. Those manufacturers are, of course, not around any longer. It isn't possible to implement something like this without increasing size and manufacturing costs. *Every* time this idea gets flouted it fails miserably, but companies don't appear to learn from the past.

Comment Re:Whats wrong with the good old shopping trolley? (Score 1) 88

Because it will frequently fail. Try leaving that out in the rainy parking lot and see how long it lasts. It needs power, so now you have to recharge all your shopping carts every night, and of course they cost twice as much as a normal shopping cart. How does the customer dispute an error?, and yes errors will happen. Also, it's then so much easier to game the system to rip off the store.

This is one of those pipe dream ideas that always show up on TV commercials for big tech companies, yet nobody seems to ask the people that would be expected to actually use it.

Comment "It could help with lines,..." (Score 1) 88

It could, but it won't. Retails stores now only hire enough checkout clerks to keep customers from abandoning their shopping cart and walking out. When checkout clerks disappear, the stores will simply replace them with as few of these machines as possible. Your wait in line will still be just as long.

Comment Re:Karma (Score 3, Informative) 393

That would be well & fine for those areas from which the water was directly removed. The millions of trees the article is talking about, however, are mostly in the mountains and the associated foothills, upstream from where the water is eventually redirected. The trees get their water from precipitation, either directly as rainfall or from later snow melt. The years of drought have reduced the amount or rainfall, and removing every bit of infrastructure in the state's water system won't change that one bit, so please save you armchair engineering.

Comment Re:Self hosted (Score 1) 205

My IP, from Time Warner Cable, is effectively static, in that it doesn't change unless my cable modem is powered off for several hours, which hasn't happened in several years at least. Once the modem has a connection they have never cycled to a new IP address, and the few times it has happened I just updated my DNS records. Your mileage, of course, may vary. Still no longer run an outgoing mail server however, just too much of a pain in the ass to be worrying about.

Comment Re:Expediency of transactions? (Score 3, Insightful) 62

Electronic transfers of course only take milliseconds, but what's the point of banks using them if they can't steal your money for a few days and earn some interest on it before finally handing it over to the party that you originally intended to have it. Block chains will be no different. Banks will still take the attitude of "Fuck you, pay me".

Submission + - SPAM: California Enacts Law Requiring IMDb to Remove Actor Ages on Request

schwit1 writes: California Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed legislation that requires certain entertainment sites, such as IMDb, to remove – or not post in the first place – an actor’s age or birthday upon request.

The law, which becomes effective January 1, applies to database sites that allow paid subscribers to post resumes, headshots or other information for prospective employers. Only a paying subscriber can make a removal or non-publication request. Although the legislation may be most critical for actors, it applies to all entertainment job categories.

The purpose of the law is to prevent age discrimination. How soon will it get struck down for violating free speech?

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Brian Krebs is back online, with Google Cloud Hosting (

Gumbercules!! writes: After the massive 600mbps DDOS on last week that forced Akamai to withdraw the (pro-bono) DDOS protection they offered the site, is now back online, hosted by Google.

Following Brian Krebs breaking an article on vDOS (, leading to the arrest of the two founders, his site was hit with a record breaking DDOS. It will certainly be an interesting test of Google's ability to provide DDOS protection to clients.

Submission + - What are the FLOSS community's answers to Siri and AI? (

jernst writes: A decade ago, we in the free and open-source community could build our own versions of pretty much any proprietary software system out there, and we did. Publishing, collaboration, commerce, you name it. Some apps were worse, some were better than closed alternatives, but much of it was clearly good enough to use every day.

But is this still true? For example, voice control is clearly going to be a primary way we interact with our gadgets in the future. Speaking to an Amazon Echo-like device while sitting on my couch makes a lot more sense than using a web browser. Will we ever be able to do that without going through somebody’s proprietary silo like Amazon’s or Apple’s? Where are the free and/or open-source versions of Siri, Alexa and so forth?

The trouble, of course, is not so much the code, but in the training. The best speech recognition code isn’t going to be competitive unless it has been trained with about as many millions of hours of example speech as the closed engines from Apple, Google and so forth have been. How can we do that?

The same problem exists with AI. There’s plenty of open-source AI code, but how good is it unless it gets training and retraining with gigantic data sets? We don’t have those in the FLOSS world, and even if we did, would we have the money to run gigantic graphics card farms 24×7? Will we ever see truly open AI that is not black-box machinery guarded closely by some overlord company, but something that “we can study how it works, change it so it does our computing as we wish” and all the other values embodied in the Free Software Definition?

Who has a plan, and where can I sign up to it?

Submission + - mechanics of the rejection of science ( 2

Layzej writes: Science strives for coherence. For example, the findings from climate science form a highly coherent body of knowledge that is supported by many independent lines of evidence. Those who reject climate science often rely on several mutually contradictory ideas. Hence, claims that the globe “is cooling” can coexist with claims that the “observed warming is natural” and that “the human influence does not matter because warming is good for us.” A recent study examines this behavior at the aggregate level, but gives many examples where contradictory ideas are held by the same individual, and sometimes are presented within a single publication.

The common denominator among contrarian positions is the conviction that climate change either does not exist or is not human caused, and that either way it does not present a risk (or if it does, then adaptation will deal with the problem). In a nutshell, the opposition to GHG emission cuts is the unifying and coherent position underlying all manifestations of climate science denial. Climate science denial is therefore perhaps best understood as a rational activity that replaces a coherent body of science with an incoherent and conspiracist body of pseudo-science for political reasons and with considerable political coherence and effectiveness.

Comment Re:Other than Brother... (Score 1) 387

I have a brother HL2170W that's been our household workhorse printer for over eight years now. Had an issue exactly once, when a small foam pad in the inner works started to get sticky, causing paper jams. A quick youtube search showed me how to repair it. Other than that it's been working great. All the previous printers we owned, from HP & Epson, barely lasted two years. I learned my lesson long ago, and I will *never* again buy an HP product.

Slashdot Top Deals

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur