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 Wake me when the discussion gets interesting (Score 2) 963

'The climate' is a complex system. Of course it's changing. Constantly. And of course there are trends in those changes. We get hung up arguing about how much the numbers are changing, when that's not even the interesting question.

The reason people take this issue so seriously is the idea that the system will run out of control if/when things get 'bad enough'.... That there's some sort of tipping point, after which things will somehow run wildly out of control. This is what we ought to be discussing. Instead we're yelling at one another about how much change we've seen and what it might mean.

We ought to be discussing things like positive vs negative feedback loops.

Instead, we've bickering over the numbers that people have seen on various gauges.

Comment Re:Cause You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd (Score 1) 1091

Linux runs on nearly everything, from micro controllers to super computers. The only place it isn't dominating the landscape is on the PC desktop, which is becoming less relevant with ubiquitous computing everywhere. People are carrying around multiple devices that each have more computing power than a desktop from 10 years ago, and this pattern is likely to continue. Linux doesn't appear to be in any danger of going away. Why should we be concerned if people want to keep using the same old operating systems that they've grown used to?

I meant it to be a real question. How does it impact your life if the people around you are using Windows, or Mac, or Linux operating systems? What options are closed to you because of their choices?

Comment Why does this matter? (Score 1) 1091

You might as well ask what it would take to get people to switch from religion A to religion B. You could point out all the similar features, and all the potential advantages to having more people use the same religious services, but it wouldn't help, and it's simply not going to happen.

People prefer the things they know, and regardless of everything else, change involves effort, so if there's not a really clear and significant benefit, why would anyone bother, just so you can be happier? Why do you care what religion or operating system someone else uses? How does it impact your life? Why does it matter to you?

Figure that out, and you can focus on the issues that are important to you.

Comment Doubt is understandable (Score 1) 701

Climatology has a bad reputation in part because there is the appearance of secrecy and insufficiently rigorous methodology, but also because there is self-evident inconsistent behaviour. We're told that there is a world-wide consensus among climatologists about how horrible this problem is, how we're all doomed, and how urgent it is to take immediate action. However, it's clear that they don't think it's serious enough to justify showing their work, warts and all. This leads people to conclude that they aren't all that serious about their soothsaying. They are still putting their own interests first, just like everyone else.

The world is full of people who say false things, why should we believe these claims? If their actions are inconsistent with their words, so much more reason to dismiss them. It's easy to dismiss climatologists as yet another false voice screaming for our attention. This is the age of scepticism.

If there were really a true consensus among tens of thousands of scientists, all in agreement that this was the single most important issue facing humanity, if they really all thought it needed immediate attention, they could pool their money, and walk us through the data on national television, graphs and all, like Ross Perot. If they were sure of their data, they could offer it up for free, beg us to look at it, and hold workshops every week at the public library to explain it, all in a selfless effort to bring climate literacy to the world. That's not happening, so it's natural to doubt the sincerity of their alleged consensus, and the claims that immediate action must be taken. Yeah yeah, we've heard it all before. Next?

Also, nature is full of self-regulating systems. Negative feedback cycles dominate all around us. Claims about runaway climate change or tipping points are extraordinary. Where is the extraordinary proof? If it is possible for the sky to fall, why didn't it happen some time millions of years ago? What makes right now so damned special?

Then there's all the abuse heaped on sceptics. If the climatologists are so damned sure of their science, why do they respond with such hate?

If the climatologists want to be taken seriously, they need to understand that doubt is natural, and act accordingly. This means they would need to hold themselves to a higher standard then those they disagree with, and avoid the damned shouting matches. If the issue is important to them, that's the cost of entry. We aren't going to retool the world economy overnight without getting massive bye-in, and that's not happening with the methods that have been attempted so far. What they propose would require widespread culture shift, which cannot be force.


USAF Seeks Air Force One Replacement 640

Tyketto writes "The United States Air Force has taken the first public step in the search for a replacement of the Boeing VC-25, also known as Air Force One, saying it is no longer cost effective to operate and modernize the two 19-year-old VC-25s, which are converted Boeing 747-200s. Airbus has already submitted data for the A380, and while Boeing has had the Air Force One contract for nearly 50 years, delays with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Boeing 747-8, as well as the KC-X Tanker competition, may see the USAF looking to Europe for its next presidential aircraft."

Comment Re:Climate: dominated by negative feedback cycles (Score 1) 474

"Pretty much all theoretical and observational evidence supports climate sensitivities larger than the no-feedback sensitivity, i.e., a positive feedback."

But only in the short term. This is like an eddy in the river. Sometimes water does flow uphill, but the general trend is that the river flows downhill and stays within the riverbanks. Over time, the river might shift, but rarely by accident.

Similarly, the climate changes, ice ages occur, droughts occur, but it tends to stay within certain bands.

"It's true that the climate system doesn't have a runaway positive feedback: when the response is large enough, the positive feedbacks weaken and the negative feedbacks strengthen."

Right, so the negative feedbacks are dominant. We all agree that climates change, that's obvious. It's also clear that they can change in ways we won't enjoy. The problem is when people claim to KNOW that there's a tipping point, and that they know where it is, and what causes it. This is just doomsday cultism, plain and simple.

The big question is "how much impact have we had on the climate?"

Rational discussion of that question is routinely sidelined.

Comment Climate: dominated by negative feedback cycles (Score 1) 474

"I've never understood why the group that believes we didn't do it think that means we can continue being oblivious."

That's because you haven't been listening. They don't think we "can continue being oblivious". They think something more like "our influence on the situation is insignificant" or "you there, with the ego, you're very funny".

All those ships we put in the ocean, they impact the tides, right? I mean, obviously, they displace water. Some of them displace many tons of water. Eek! High Tide! No shipping for a while! Hey, the tide went down, looks like we fixed it!

The alarm of climate change is based on the idea that positive feedback mechanisms will cause the climate to spin wildly out of control, that there's some "tipping point", and doom, doom, doom!

This is inconsistent with everything we know. Climate is dominated by negative feedback mechanisms. If you don't understand what I'm saying here, you don't deserve to participate in the conversation until you've come up to speed.

As for solar shades and other ideas.... Suppose we somehow managed to pull off something like that, and created a situation in which we have significant impact on climate. Who runs the thing? Politicians? A corporation? Majority vote, like the thermostat in the office? How secure is the system? What about maintenance?

Comment upgrade their systems, and get a hand-me-down (Score 1) 136

"I'm a Project Manager who recently decided that I want/need to get my dev skills more up-to-date... Should I buy a number of cheaper PC's, or should I buy one monster machine and leverage virtual machine technology?"

You'll end up splitting your time between PM and development tasks, so you'll be coming up to speed for at least a year, and you simply won't need as much hardware as your developers. You won't be stressing your system as much as they stress theirs. With that in mind, consider spending the money on upgrading one of their systems, and using their old system for yourself. Ask them, they will know which of them could most use an upgrade.

If you end up with the best development system, you'll be seen as a pompous ass who thinks he's a developer, and you'll never get the support necessary to improve your skills.


Android Also Comes With a Kill-Switch 300

Aviran writes "The search giant is retaining the right to delete applications from Android handsets on a whim. Unlike Apple, the company has made no attempt to hide its intentions, and includes the details in the Android Market terms and conditions, as spotted by Computer World: 'Google may discover a product that violates the developer distribution agreement... in such an instance, Google retains the right to remotely remove those applications from your device at its sole discretion.'"

Best Presidential Candidate, Republicans 1481

A few days ago we posted a story for you to discuss the best presidential candidates for Super Tuesday, but I figured it would be an interesting idea to try that again, but split the discussion into 2 halves. This is the Republican half — please only discuss the Republican candidates in this story. Huckabee, McCain, and Romney only.

Has Verizon Forfeited Common Carrier Status? 721

An anonymous reader writes, "Freedom of speech, the future of the Net, you name it. In October, a U.S. vigilante group asked Verizon to cut off Net access to Epifora, a Canadian ISP that hosts a number of (entirely legal) web sites offering support to minor-attracted adults. Shortly thereafter, Verizon gave 30 days notice to Epifora, ending a 5 year relationship. Telecos have traditionally refrained from censoring legal content, arguing that as 'common carriers' it is outside of their scope to make such decisions. Furthermore, they have refrained because if they did so in some cases, they might be legally liable for other cases where they did not exercise censorship. The questions are: has Verizon forfeited their claim to common-carrier status by selectively censoring legal speech that they do not like? And can the net effectively route around censorship if the trunk carriers are allowed to pick and choose whom they allow to connect?"
User Journal

Journal Journal: Music & File Sharing

You know what? I've come to a conclusion. Maybe I'm just in the writing mood today, but I really think I've finally crystalized an honest opinion about music file sharing and mp3 piracy.

It's wrong.

User Journal

Journal Journal: KOTOR!

Man, I've gotta tell you, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic may very well be the best RPG I've ever played, and I've played 'em all. Except the Suikoden series, evidently. Don't know how that slipped under my radar.

Slashdot Top Deals

No amount of careful planning will ever replace dumb luck.