Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Donald Trump just got another point... (Score 1) 275

Reacting out of fear leads to poor policy. The idea that this will prevent anything bad from happening to us is just incorrect. The idea that we can do things that prevent anything bad from happening to us leads to all sorts of policies that "protect" us, but at great expense to our freedom, and cause us to be assholes to the rest of humanity, and in the end don't work. All the heros that we honor for great acts of valor aren't honored for hiding, but for taking risks to help someone else.

Comment Photometer on Apple ][ (Score 3, Interesting) 251

This was a long time ago, but I wired up a photometer (counts photons) to an Apple 2 joystick port, then wrote a tight 6502 assembler timed loop that would count pulses on the joystick button input. It would accurately read over 50,000 button presses per second, which was good enough to do variable star photometry. I also wrote an applesoft basic program that assisted in the process of variable star photometry and used the assembler routine to read values from the photometer. By connecting the photometer to a telescope and following directions of where to aim the telescope given by the software, it could be used to observe and graph brightness of variable stars over time. Also could be used to calculate the angular velocity of asteroids. This was is the days before extrasolar planets were found, but similar in principle to how that is done. Though the objects we were looking at were orders of magnitude brighter than the brightness fluctuations observed to find planets.

Comment Re:Maasai Community, Rift Valley, Kenya (Score 1) 310

We aren't doing climate change study, but that would be a fascinating thing to do here. We are told that 20-30 years ago, the rains arrived so regularly that people would know that rain would come +- a week. Though now days, rains come in deluges or not at all, or at times of the year that they normally wouldn't. There are a lot of people talking about the changes. There are a few organizations doing some amazing things to adjust. One of the coolest that I've seen are sand dams. It's like a man made aquifer in a dry river bed, about the simplest tech you can come up with, but it has huge impact.

Most of my coding is for fun to keep my skills at least a little bit sharp.

Comment Re:Maasai Community, Rift Valley, Kenya (Score 1) 310

My wife and I decided to do 3 years of volunteer work with an organization that does Food Security and Community Development work in the area, we work as liaisons between our organization and several Maasai organizations being funded to do development work. We end up doing a lot of capacity building with these organizations as well. My job doesn't directly involve any programming, but I do what I can to keep my skills up, in my spare time, and work on an assortment of projects for fun.

Comment Maasai Community, Rift Valley, Kenya (Score 5, Interesting) 310

Currently I'm sitting in the rift valley of Kenya, in a small rural Maasai community. We are the last house on the power line. No one south of us has any Utility power. We had a Giraffe just outside the back yard a few days back. Internet is via the cell network... there is a single spot in the yard where I've found 3g works. So I've planted a short pole, which has a power and a spot for the hotspot modem to sit. It's covered with a plastic bottle with the bottom cut out. to keep the rain and dust off.

Comment Re:Don't block it, QoS it. (Score 3, Informative) 159

I did IT work for a private university for 14 years, I managed bandwidth by blocking certain protocols to various networks and hosts until Naptster, and the following peer to peer protocols, after a couple of years trying to manage bandwidth by blocking protocols, sites, advertising, etc. I gave up on that. Ultimately all of that damages the user's experience, and increased my work load. It puts the IT guy in the position of chasing the users behaviors, always responding to the latest fire and worse it put the IT guy in the position of determining what is important to the users, which it turns out is different to each class of user. So next I tried using one of the many products that allow the IT guy to create classes of users, and classify traffic, apply rules by class, build QoS rules based on all classes. Turns out this is the same nightmare with a prettier UI. I ultimately found the Net Equalizer ( it is an elegant solution at a fraction of the cost. If you want to be the network nazi and control who uses what protocol, this isn't for you. But if you want to forget about bandwidth problems, this is it. It took about an hour to read the manual, play with options and plug it in, then I only touched it when we increased our bandwidth beyond its capacity a few years later. I don't work for the company or anything like that. It is just one device I bought that performed way beyond my expectations. Their web site has all the info about what it does and how. I would encourage everyone check this out if you have less bandwidth than you feel you need.

Comment Social Networks/Socializing, not the same thing (Score 1) 321

It seems google glass was made by people who spent a bit too much time using social networks, not enough time socializing... They are not the same. Google glass seems like a device that says to everyone not wearing one, "do something stupid, so I can put it on youtube, then we and the rest of the world can make fun of your mistakes." Where socializing is more about being concerned with other's well being, not exploitation. I do like a lot of what google does. I give them credit for trying. Hopefully Google Glass 2.0 will turn the camera around to point at the person wearing the glasses... I'm sure they'll figure out the optics to make it work.

Ultimately, the camera can go. I do however want a nice compact display that I can wear, see through, that also looks a bit more like normal glasses.

Comment Living among the Maasai (Score 1) 65

I'm living at the moment in the rift valley about 40-50 miles west of Nairobi in the middle of a Maasai community. A surprisingly remote location being so close to the capital of Kenya. The only internet available is via the mobile network. Out in this area, there is no such things as a land line, fiber, etc. Mobile is the only option.

One anecdote about how mobile has changed things here. Last year there was a land dispute between two groups of Maasai near us that was pretty serious, 100+ Maasai on each side were armed with clubs, swords, spears, bow and arrow, ready to do ancient style combat with each other. I watched Braveheart, but it is pretty wild to see people gearing up for combat of that sort in real life. At any rate on their belt with their swords and clubs, they also carry a leather case with their Nokia phone. In this particular case they were used to text taunting messages back and forth between the sides. Normally, they would have to be within arrow shot to get a good taunt in. Now they can text a zinger in from the safety of the lee side of a large rock. For those wondering how it turned out. They had advanced within 100-200m of each other before one side decided it wasn't worth it, turned and ran.

I don't have stats, this is an offhand assessment, but I would say that about 60% of the Maasai in this area have a mobile phone. But this comes with some caveats:
    - It is only in the last 15-20 years that people started regularly going to school in this area. So there is still maybe 85% illiteracy rate (off the cuff estimate). Which makes it difficult to SMS, except those who you know can read.
    - Also power is a big problem I would estimate that upwards of 95% of people don't have direct access to power. So their phones are not working possibly half of the time. We have a steady stream of people who come to our house to get their phones charged.
    - Most people here use a very basic Nokia phone which are great for voice calls and SMS, but aren't very smart.

Where the rich people live there is great 3G+ coverage and you will find lots of smart phones, etc. Out in rural areas the coverage is spotty data rates are low, service is a bit less accessible... Just like the US I suppose.

Africa is a huge continent with diverse culture and situations. There is a wide gap between rich and poor here. I think the mobile infrastructure is enabling, and more resilient than fixed infrastructure (in a place where it is common for people to dig up pipe or remove cabling from poles in order to sell the metal for a bit of cash). It is opening up the world in a way that was not previously possible. However, it is not magic, there are a lot of other things that need to be in place for the benefits to be fully realized. Good education, access to markets, a stable government being just a few.

Comment Science Fair (Score 1) 27

A girl in my highschool back in 1988 was used voyager I or II photos (I can't recall which) to calculate the depth of craters on a couple of Jupiter's moons. Which is little different than what the article is describing, but it seems shadows have a lot more information encoded in them. This girl and I ended up winning the science fair and going on to the International science fair, where I felt a bit out of my league. She won a few awards. Apparently at that point no one had thought to do that up to that point. (for those interested, I wired up a photometer to an Apple II and wrote some software to automate variable star photometry, which measures the light from light sources through a telescope over time. It can be used to find the rotation of asteriods, or with a sensitive enough instrument, the change in light from a large planet orbiting a star, stuff like that.)

Comment How important is the data really (Score 1) 414

I have a large amount of personal data as well (also, no pr0n), though I realized some place along the line that it wasn't that important not to lose it. When I die most of will probably be tossed anyhow. Who is going to want to sort through it all.

With that said, I still don't want to get rid of all my data, so I have a drobo with 5-2TB drives, and I also have a linux box with raid set up, that backs up the drobo. But really, think hard about how much effort and expense you want to put towards keeping data. There is probably a whole lot of it that can just be tossed because you will never look at it again. It will probably save you a bunch of time and money to go through all the data and get rid of the stuff you'll never actually use. This actually works well for garages too.

Slashdot Top Deals

"I may be synthetic, but I'm not stupid" -- the artificial person, from _Aliens_