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Comment What makes you think ... (Score 1) 20

Please stop linking to or even mentioning Wikipedia. Starting now. See how good it feels to bask in a flow of information free of ass hat manipulation!

What makes you think other information sources - encyclopedias, news outlets, books, etc. - aren't subject to "ass hat manipulation"?

At least with Wikipedia the information gets a chance to get out (and into the page history) before some ass hat gatekeeper decides to shut it down or distort it beyond recognition.

Comment Re:Positive development (Score 1) 169

Means more room for humans. We're succeeding as a species. I suspect it wont end well for us though.

I don't see any reason to believe it will end badly, at least not for reasons related to this issue.

Homo Sapiens has proven to be an extraordinarily adaptable and successful species, a global superpredator, which has inevitably displaced many other species. The Holocene Extinction, which has been in progress for thousands of years, is the result. The rate of extinctions accelerated dramatically in the last few centuries, particularly as the human population has exploded.

However, in the last few decades humans have become aware of the issue and have begun to care about it. This isn't to say that we'll ever value other species as highly as our own, but we've begun to think that it's important to avoid destroying them. That coupled with the fact that human population is likely to peak within 30 years and then begin declining and the fact that new technology is enabling us to tread more lightly means that extinctions directly produced by human activity (e.g. habitat expansion) will slow and perhaps cease.

Indirectly-caused extinctions will likely continue for millenia, though. Global warming is going to do in a lot of species (though it may create a good number as well), as climate shifts exceed the ability of species to migrate. It may also provoke some more directly-caused extinctions as it causes humans to migrate. Not much, though, since we already live pretty much everywhere. The accommodation of human-transplanted "invasive" species is also going to take a lot of time, and transplantation is probably going to continue as much as we try to avoid it, so there's going to be a sort of homogenization effect across the globe which will wipe out a lot of species as more aggressive and capable species get moved into their area. If humans choose to begin engineering planetary climate and stabilize it, so that it stays permanently within a particular range, that large driver of new speciation will be eliminated which will also contribute to the establishment of an equilibrium that will likely contain many fewer species than the planet has had for most of life's history upon it. It's also possible that we'll begin engineering biodiversity as well. That's hard to say.

Or maybe we'll have a massive nuclear war, simultaneously removing ourselves from the picture, ending the Holocene extinction with a spike, and kicking off an explosive new round of speciation. I think that and similar humanity-caused, humanity-ending disasters are unlikely, but I am an inveterate optimist.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 2) 1006

That's indeed the kind of ideas that is now floating around. I rank it in the category of Iraq coming to kill us all, with the same combination of inflating the threat and at the same time regarding the opponent as a pushover. I think Colin Powell has made some sensible comments on that. Russia is paranoid about us, about NATO. We scare them. They are a small power, we're a big one that is surrounding them more and more, and then sabre rattling is a sensible response.

That doesn't explain why they weren't rattling their sabers a few years ago. The Economist has a recent article that does offer an explanation that covers that as well The thesis is basically that domestic troubles caused by a weak economy have motivated Putin to seek ways to distract his people from domestic concerns. Specifically, he's tried to recapture the superpower position of the Soviet Union. He can't, really, because Russia isn't the Soviet Union. Without the central planning structure to force the massive overproduction of military resources, the Soviet Union wouldn't have been the Soviet Union, either.

But his people don't really realize this and, frankly, the rest of the world tends not to realize it much, either. So Putin can rattle his rusted and broken saber and the rest of the world reacts as though he was the mighty Soviet Union. Except... there is one area in which is military isn't so rusted or broken: nuclear weapons. Oh, his nuclear armament is aging and dilapidated, but it's still very real and Russia has the technological wherewithal to build highly functional nukes and missiles to carry them. Russia can't afford to build very many of them, but it doesn't really take all that many.

So, as it becomes more and more apparent that Putin doesn't really have the conventional forces to make the world treat Russia with the fear and respect that the Soviet Union got, he's almost certainly going to be making more and more use of the nuclear threat that the world can't ignore. And that will help to keep his people feeling like they're a major world power again, which will keep him in power.

Is this true? I don't know. Makes sense to me.

Comment Re:Am I missing something? (Score 1) 142

Hangouts used to have seamless SMS/Hangouts.

No, it was never seamless in the sense that iMessage is. The seams were harder to see, and that was exactly the problem that motivated the clear separation; the failure modes of the combined messaging were subtle, hard to understand and opaque to users. The upshot is that the combination made Hangouts messaging appear to be unreliable.

Actually, iMessage isn't really seamless either. It breaks badly if iMessage thinks the destination device is an iPhone but it isn't. It's very good in a pure-Apple world, though.

Comment Re:Am I missing something? (Score 1) 142

Hangouts does everything you describe. It's what I use all the time. It is seamless across my phone and table and my PC. And it is seamless across windows, linux and apple.

It is seamless between SMS and the internal delivery system, and the conversations are synced to my gmail account allowing me to search them.

I like Hangouts and use it constantly, both personally and for work (I work for Google, where it is arguably the primary means of communication), but it isn't quite as seamless as iMessage in one respect: SMS integration. In iMessage there is no distinction between SMS and iMessage messages; they're all just messages. If they can be delivered via Apple's infrastructure, they are, if not they're routed via SMS. With Hangouts, SMS and Hangouts chat messages are distinct. They look similar, but they're different in subtle ways.

Of course, Hangouts clearly is superior to iMessage if you or your friends use non-Apple devices, because Hangouts works on a much wider variety of platforms, and for those who understand the distinction it's *good* to know what is SMS and what is not, because SMS is inherently unreliable -- and in some parts of the world SMS is also ridiculously expensive while data is cheap.

So, although depending on your context Hangouts may be better than iMessage, it's definitely not as seamless in a pure-Apple world as iMessage is.

Comment Re:where is your brain? (Score 1) 317

Are you actually asserting that demand is level 24 hours a day?

It can come very close.

In California, for example, a very large part of the demand is pumping water through aquaducts. By placing reservoirs along the way and doing most of the pumping during times of low electrical demand, California electrical utilities used to be able to keep the power demand nearly constant - and can still keep it much more level than in many other places.

Also: Coal plants can provide baseload, while wind and solar together do a great job of shaving peaks: Higher wind corresponds to higher HVAC load as well as higher generation. Solar not only tracks the air conditioning requirements but also comes close to tracking the daily load peaking - and solar plus wind tracks it even better, since the lake effect makes an afternoon-through-evening hump in wind generation.

at a power output proportional to the CUBE of the windspeed.

is this relevant somehow?

Yes, very. The steeply up-bending curve means that wind generators that are able to make use of high winds - which only happen for a tiny fraction of the time - have a peak power rating far above the average power they are able to produce in normal winds. So the peak power vastly overstates their average contribution.

Comment Re:Let me know when ... (Score 4, Insightful) 317

The power can be stored,

The issue is not that the power can be stored.

The issue is that power capacity comparisons overstate the total amount of energy you get out of the renewable generation equipment over the long haul because coal generation can run near capacity all the time and renewables (excluding water power) only a small part of the time.

I'm quite supportive of renewable energy. (I'm a major participant on one of the renewable energy tech discussion boards, too.) But while it's very GOOD that renewable power has passed coal in power capacity, even with near-ideal load-levelling storage, it will take about another factor of three before it surpasses coal in providing usable energy to the loads.

Comment Let me know when ... (Score 2, Insightful) 317

... they overtake coal for amount generated per unit time.

Renewables may have higher total peak, but coal plants have level output and can run 24/7, while sun is only about a third of the day and wind varies with the weather - at a power output proportional to the CUBE of the windspeed.

Comment Re:Halfway There (Score 1) 425

It's not "gun controllers bringing it up", it's manufacturers working on them. What do you have against manufacturers developing new products?

I have absolutely nothing against manufacturers developing new gun safety products and offering them on the market. The concern with these "smart" guns is that they'll be mandated by law. This has already happened in New Jersey. The 2002 Childproof Handgun Law says that three years after "smart" guns are available for sale in the US, all guns for sale in New Jersey must be "smart". The law doesn't require that the guns be in any way reliable or have obtained any significant market share, just that they've been available for sale. So if these actually make it to market people in NJ who want reliable guns are screwed. And if any other states, or Congress, passes a similar law, then all of us are screwed.

Actually, I'd have no problem with smart guns if they were really reliable. And there's a really simple reliability screening test we can use: offer them to military and law enforcement personnel. Cops in particular should see a lot of value in smart guns because cops occasionally get shot with their own guns. However, they also need their guns to be extremely reliable, and big departments and the FBI have the institutional resources and motivation to seriously test them. So, once the technology reaches a level where police are not only willing to use smart guns but actively want them then it's fine to mandate them for civilians.

Of course, thanks to the NJ law, civilians are going to fight like hell to keep these things off the shelves, which means that the years of refinement needed to make them reliable is never going to happen. Not in the US, anyway.

Comment Re:If the point was ... (Score 4, Insightful) 334

There's no proof that it has anything to do with Wikileaks, but in a world of IoT devices with no thought toward security, anyone who cares to do so can mount DDOS with the power of a national entity.

What's the point of doing what Assange and Wikileaks have been doing without any moral position? He isn't helping his own case.

Comment Re:Legal? (Score 2) 283

No, of course it is not legal to set a trap to intentionally hurt someone, even if you expect that the trap could only be activated by the person committing property theft or vandalism. Otherwise, you'd see shotguns built into burglar alarms.

Fire alarm stations sometimes shoot a blue dye which is difficult to remove or one which only shows under UV. Never stand in front of one when pulling the lever! But they are not supposed to hurt you.

And of course these booby traps generally are not as reliable as the so-called "inventor" thinks and tend to hurt the innocent.

Comment The issue isn't (just) speed - it's (also) range. (Score 1) 44

LTE is already pretty darn fast, so losing a little performance isn't going to make that big of a deal. It's not as if you can torrent to your hearts content without killing your cell phone bill.

The issue isn't just speed. It's also range.

At any given speed, the Qualcom can support it at substantially lower signal levels. 6ish dB in a lot of cases, a bit less in some, enormously more in others.

Look at the graphs in TFA. In addition to some specific pathologies that penalize the Intel chip farther, the bulk of the graph has the drop off looking similar but with the Qualcom shfited 5 or 6 dB to the right. (Those squares are 5 dB wide.)

6 dB is four times the effective signal strength, which corresponds to twice the range. That maps into four times the area served at that speed from a single cell tower (important in sparsely-served areas), deeper penetration into buildings and the like (in more heavily-covered areas). It can also map into more data pushed before a given area and channel allocation's bandwidth is saturated. 3 dB corresponds to twice the effective signal strength, 1.4ish times the radius, twice the area served.

If the modems were equivalent and the problem just the layout of the board and antenna, you'd expect the two curves to be the same shape but just offset. The shape is substantially different, so (board issues or not) something else is going on.

Comment Re:Account Recovery (Score 2) 106

Google no longer supports non-security questions for account recovery.

FTFY. Security questions are a joke. The answers are almost always easy for an attacker with a little bit of information about you to find, and a lot of the time the legitimate user can't remember them. Moreover, those two traits are strongly correlated: the harder it is for an attacker to find the answers, the more likely it is that the user won't be able to find them either.

Everyone should stop using them.

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