Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment Re:horse has left the barn (Score 1) 338

People need to realize that the effects of global warming are at this point unstoppable.

I know horses can count to three and do simple arithmetic, but to bolt the barn at the very stroke of four hundred greatly surpasses my prior estimation of equine quantitative analysis.

"Storm's-a-brewin'," says the white horse, from behind the thoroughly bolted barn door.

"North of four hundred! Wouldn't be caught dead in that climate," says the black horse, giving the topmost bolt a final check with his teeth.

"Not with those bloody superstitious bipeds completely giving up on proactive management, just because they burst through the first screw-up milestone still in the same old business-as-usual blind gallop," agrees the chestnut.

"Typical glue-obsessed skin-pickling apes," agrees the white horse. "I'm waiting this out from in here."

"Agreed," says the black horse. "Unless. Duty. Summons."

"That creeps me out," says the white horse, moving another step away. "How will you know?"

"Stormy, moonless nights, black cats, one-eyed bats—all the assorted omens of end times and human fate," says the chestnut.

"Stop kidding around," says the black horse. "Salty white filigrees on the cement floor will spell things out all too clearly."

"Good to know we don't have to stand around counting bats eyes," says the white horse. "That would have sucked."

"Beats what the humans can manage," says the chestnut.

Here the white horse lets fly with a giant fart of approval.

"Hey, stop that, meth breath!" says the chestnut.

"Too late!" says the white horse, "better out than in."

"Wrong," says the black horse. "Better in than out," continues the black horse, after checking the middle bolt with his teeth one last time.

Comment Re:They weren't late, they just completely blew it (Score 1) 210

So Microsoft wasn't late to the market. They were right there at the beginning of the smartphone market and had ample opportunity to dominate it. They just blew it. I suspect someone high up in their management chain, maybe even Gates himself, didn't believe this phone-PDA convergence was going to happen.

Very much agree. Microsoft's Vision - from Gates and through Ballmer - was Windows Desktop on everything. They executed their vision very well. It's just that it wasn't what their customers wanted and they were pig headed enough that they refused (still refuse?) to change to something that customers actually wanted.

Comment Re:No you don't (Score 1) 210

GPS navigators

Windows actually. My last Tomtom crashed spectacularly to a CE desktop. Admittedly that was a while ago.

As pointed out, TomTom is a Linux-based GPS; AFAIK they have only ever delivered Linux-based devices. So you're probably confusing your devices, or you had a really really old TomTom that is nothing like their products over the last 10+ years, but I highly doubt that. (FWIW, TomTom made the news back in the early 2000's b/c MS sued them over FAT FS patents since they used Linux and a FAT/vFAT FS.)


Mostly just a bit of custom code, unless you count that one camera Samsung made that runs Android, but then you should also count that camera with a Gigapixel sensor that runs full blow Windows 7 on it.

routers, set top boxes

Yep and yep.


Errr nope.

wrist watches

Errr what?

Look there's a lot of things in Linux, but don't pretend it's on every device in the house. There's an awful lot of custom code out there and for many of the above if they are running on Linux it's typically the type of device you end up throwing away because it's slow and clunky to use (though no where near as slow as it would be running on Windows, and no prizes for guessing why I don't use that old Tomtom anymore)

Linux actually runs on a lot of stuff you wouldn't even imagine it runs on - and the devices are not slow. The majority of set-top boxes now run Linux; there's a lot of "smart" devices (refrigerators, microwaves, etc) that run Linux. Many of these same devices also use Qt - which has an extremely presence in the embedded world (go figure).

Now, while those devices may run Linux they don't necessarily run it in the same way you think. They might run a minimal (f.e busybox) or custom user land that may not resemble anything you would think of as Linux.

Comment Re:First Post (Score 1) 210

More to the point, Microsoft never sticks to a product line long enough to warrant investment in it.


Microsoft had the leading smartphone OS before it was called a smartphone (remember PocketPC's ?), before RIM's blackberry became the de-facto business device.

False. PocketPC was a desktop clone for small device form factors that sucked so bad it was hilarious. Sure if you wanted Win95/NT4 on a phone it'd have been great...but then, you had to use a stylus to do anything as that was your mouse, and it required a full keyboard. Could it be considered a Smart Phone? Yes, but it absolutely sucked and never really had a very big market share - no where near majority by any means.

Palm and then RIM won b/c they actually did stuff the user cared about in easy to use manners.

Google set their eyes specifically on overtaking RIM and Apple came up and offered something compelling that wasn't a stuffy old blackberry clone.

Yes, Google and Apple aimed at displacing RIM b/c RIM was the de facto standard for anything more than a basic cell phone. If you wanted email, you got a Blackberry. RIM would probably still be a leader in the market if they hadn't screwed up with a highly centralized network design and had a 1 week network outage - which led to a lot of execs getting iPhones and demanding that their IT departments integrate the iPhone so they could use it; both Apple and Google exploited that, though Apple was the clear winner having a superior and flashier product that the Exec's loved.

The end result is that Apple is the Market Leader for the Smartphone, if you're not doing it Apple's way, you are doing it wrong. Google recognized that and changed Android from knocking off Blackberry to knocking off iOS, Nokia meanwhile kept on trucking out phones that appealed to people who didn't care about smartphones. Microsoft's killed it's own market share in order to push Windows Phone 7, then 8, and now 10. Each time halving their market share. So they went from 11% in 2001 to 0.7%.

Microsoft screwed up and lost it's foothold in the mobile scene. Had they never dumped the PocketPC, they might be market leaders today.

Well, if Microsoft hadn't abandoned PocketPC (aka Windows Mobile) then yes they'd probably have a bigger market share, but it'd still be a pittance compared to Apple and Google. As I said, PocketPC was basically the Windows Desktop in a small form factor - it would not be able to compete with Android or iOS. It also didn't have updates of any kind - builds were done by hardware vendors (not Microsoft) and there was no AppStore kind of thing for it. What you got when the device shipped is what it had when you retired it.

But that was always the Microsoft motive operandi - everything was focused around the Windows Desktop Environment or was an extension of it. For mobile, they put out PocketPC/WindowsMobile to exand Windows Desktop to mobile/small form factors; they put out Windows Server to push Windows Desktop into the Server Room; then extended Windows Desktop into the XBox to capture game consoles; they put out Windows 10 IoT to capture things like RasperryPi's (accessible and programmable only via Visual Studios, no direct user-interface).

No, Microsoft has not really learned the lesson of the failed Windows Phone experiment - that they won't ever hold the entire market, that people don't want Windows on everything. They're done a bit better with Azure and responding with LInux capabilities on it - but it still runs on top of Windows and all the overhead that incurs.

Comment Re:Ban UDP (Score 1) 343

Since it can't comply with BCP38 without ISP intervention, which most ISPs seem intent on ignoring, I suggest a complete UDP ban. If that means rewriting DNS and NTP, so be it. As for telnet, it can do die in a fire, as any sane person would use SSH.

UDP is used for a lot of stuff - like VOIP and Real-time Streaming (where quality is preferred over quantity - a missing packet doesn't matter as much as getting the general stream), Peer File Sharing (BitTorrent, P2P, etc - quantity of data across a large spread of sources), DNS, and much more. It's literally the back-bone of the Internet.

Comment bollocks (Score 1) 175

Bollocks on their predication rate. Real forecasters report skill. By contrast, actual progress on predicting the North Atlantic Oscillation, perhaps an achievable goal, would be huge.

Both of these issues are covered in Judith Curry on Climate Change, a podcast from 2013 which, as it happens, I consumed yesterday.

Concerning the rush to embarrass themselves by reporting their weather prediction rate, it's because of the taxonomic land grab.

Host: I wonder how you feel about how your particular field has changed as you've grown up in it and been out for 25 years. ... Do you feel that we are making progress in the scientific world on this particular topic? Or are we in trouble?

Guest: I think we're in big trouble. When I left graduate school, nobody called themselves a climate scientist. They were an atmospheric dynamicist or a geochemist or a physical oceanographer or things like that. And we were all focused on increasing fundamental understanding. And that was the focus. It was the breakthrough in understanding, changing the way people think, was what mattered. And somebody who published too many papers was probably looked at with suspicion--they are doing the quick and easy stuff; they are not really digging in. It was potentially superficial.

The other thing that was looked down upon, say in the 1980s, was doing something that was too applied, working to deal with regional problems or something like that. That was viewed as soft core; it was what the people did who couldn't really make fundamental contributions to understanding, so they moved on to some of these applied topics, which were useful in some way to regional decision-makers.

I would say in 2000--it was a gradual transition, but I think circa 2000 there was a switch to people finding it beneficial to self-label them as a climate scientist. There was a lot of money, research dollars in this area; there was a lot of influence to be had, in terms of sitting on panels and boards and committees and being interviewed by journalists and being invited to testify in front of Congress. And so the value and the influence of the scientist sort of switched into that dimension where your measure of influence was not so much how you increased our fundamental understanding of how the oceans worked, but it was really to what boards and committees you sat on, your press, and your influence in policy, being invited to testify in front of Congress, and whatever. So I've seen that switch.

The problem is, the concern that I have for the health of our field, is that there's still a lot of fundamental things that we don't understand. The climate models aren't good enough. We need to go back to basics, increase our understanding about the non-linear dynamics of all these ocean oscillations and complexity of the system and things like that.

There are a lot of fundamental things that are getting short shrift, that the sex appeal in our field right now and a lot of funding is to do what I call mock 'climate model taxonomy', where people are analyzing the output of climate models and finding something interesting, alarming, or using them to infer that we won't be able to grow grapes in California in 2100 or something like this. This is the stuff that gets published in Nature and Science and PNAS. People get a press release.

Note that the word "useful" as I chose to hear it, is entirely confined to the domain of career advancement and the writing of committee-room position papers.

Two things about Russ.

One is that he doesn't connect as much as he should. He's (since) done other podcasts which talk about how the regional nature of congressional representation makes politics in America intensely regional. This is why the phrase "grapes in California" is so revealing. Only when your claims are sufficiently regionalized do you become grist for the mill, where the constant circulation of dollars sets up its own giant, oscillatory loops.

The other thing is that Russ loves to hide behind "we can't know". "If we can't know, leave things alone" eminently suits the Koch brothers ("alone", by definition, means business as usual). Russ goes mainly that far in padding their empire. The Kochs probably consider Russ as a tiny public-service inoculation against Grand Plan Reformist Flu.

On the flip side, the intro to Hardcore History contains the gravelly line from Edward R. Murrow "we are not descended from fearful men.ï" True that, except when fearfulness plays to an activist industrialist world order. Russ is, sadly, within the domain of human agency, a fearful man.

Russ's answer, therefore, to decision making under extreme uncertainty is to fall back on an ideological crap shoot. Just put the invisible hand on the steering wheel, responding to local, distributed information on a global scale. What could go wrong? Lots of things. Would it be more or less than what could go wrong it we actively attempted to steer by overselling science. Hard to say.

There's no shortage of examples of atrocious steering. There's no shortage of examples of atrocious non-steering. Please enjoy your stay on the N=1 blue marble. In a nutshell, name your spin.

Comment where will it end? (Score 1) 86

I won't dream of a single (or multiple) damn quantum thing until I see an equation that describes a real-world superposition scaling limit, species type "immovable object".

I believed in Moore's law because it was on a collision course with the atom, right from day one. Even as a child, I didn't believe in a Laplacian universe, in the sense that the accumulated knowledge required to compute the deterministic outcome could exist in one place—a place smaller than the universe itself—for any value of "smaller" my small mind was capable of entertaining.

I've been reading articles about quantum computing seemingly for decades now, and not a single article has pointed out any practical scaling limit. For all these dunderheads seem to know, we could cajole the entire universe into a state of Laplacian superposition, if only we didn't suck at stacking these tiny little Lego blocks.

No scaling boundary equation widely promulgated = no credibility widely disseminated = very little fantasy action for people who don't believe in giant green men with anger management issues.

Comment Re:Were the users randomized? (Score 1) 519

Or do you seriously think an Apple Intel CPU is more reliable than a Dell Intel CPU?

Never heard of Xeon? At least half of a high-end chip's reliability comes from the post-manufacture test procedure and binning standard.

At Apple's scale, they can negotiate any production standard with Intel that they wish to have. This isn't even uncommon, as companies like Google and Facebook are already negotiating custom Xeons for the datacenter, which certainly involves tweaking some internal chip firmware (e.g. changing cache allocation policies or thermal envelopes), all the way up to possibly adding specialized instructions and/or execution units.

Finally, far more problems arise from the mainboard and assembly quality than the underlying chip quality, but at the end of the day it all adds up.

Welcome to Supply Chain 501. It's not your father's Supply Chain 101.

That said, Apple (the company) is a cult-like Black Box of the highest order. When it serves their agenda, they make good products. When their agenda shifts with the winds of fashion—so long, sweet Mini—caveat emptor.

The New Mac mini is Quickly Turning into a Disaster
Mac Mini 2014 Review: A Terrible Shame

Once upon a time, a very nice product, too bad about the "greatness" removal tool presiding from the glass office.

Comment Re:ASLR was a dumb idea while it lasted (Score 4, Interesting) 72

Yes it is but people have been trying to do that for 40 years and have not gotten it right yet so...

Wrong. Plenty of code correctness has been deployed in service of this goal.

Unfortunately, there are endemic economic and political reasons why we constantly choose the protocols and implementations that are bigger, hairier, and less continent.

All you need is a culture of kicking non-conforming implementations to the curb, and then the rigorous implementations have a chance to emerge from the weeds. Do we have such a culture? No—most of the time—no, we do not. Such a culture would cramp Megacorp style, and interfere with timeless value-adds, such as embrace and extend, closed ecosystem, DRM jungle, NIST-sanctioned algorithmic weevils, definition by implementation, documentation by implementation, etc. etc.

Far, far away in dull and dusty places like the Erlang OTP or Bernstein's qmail or Knuth's TeX—or perhaps even the Google protocol buffers for at least one lucky and unusually blessed language binding from the somewhat recent past—you just might find a rigorously coded parser or two.

For the most part, however, I agree. We'll probably never have rigorous parsers in a dominant culture of "screw everyone else", Wild West dysenteroperability.

Comment Re:space agency cooperation? (Score 3) 244

Of course NASA passed on decades of hard-won experience. They're not psychopaths.

It went something like this:

Dear ESA:

Hire only the best and the brightest, keep the group challenged and engaged for decade upon decade, with frequent launch opportunities pushing the boundary of the possible at each and every iteration.

N.B.: Sorry, there's no silver bullet.

Comment one track mind (Score 2) 99

My favourite touch is the two giant call-outs in the linked article.

Few of the sites I read regularly have these any more (meaning since I got good at "inspect element" and custom User CSS overrides; appears I've accumulated 150 of these over the past three years, also used to defeat anything that hovers or slides annoyingly).

Comment Re:DNA testing is inherently racist (Score 1) 228

Basketball is inherently racist, as genetic traits are heritable and are correlated with your ethnic/genetic background.


What's racist about race is presupposing outcomes that were highly predictable on first impression, because it's lamentably a very short step for an advantaged social group—often one of relatively homogeneous racial composition, suffused with elaborate rituals of social etiquette—to conclude that a disadvantaged racial subgroup never given an opportunity to do x can't do x.

Race isn't just some magic third rail used to divide humans into two distinct groups, in much the same way that humans divide house pets into two distinct groups: potty trained and not potty trained. There are days, though, where that can be a good working assumption.

Comment acid reflux hellban honeypot (Score 1) 49

Somehow this story showed up in my Slashdot feed, when it's really just supposed to trigger a mass outpouring of the reflex derision arc among those so inclined (said barf cookies falsely paraded by its practitioners as chuckle fodder).

"There, don't you feel better now? Now come sit with us at the adult table." Amazing what a quickie bile purge can accomplish in raising the level of discussion elsewhere.

This is all good. Yet somehow my dank, reeking bile seems to have been misclassified as grasshopper lipstick and I seem to be trapped in completely the wrong purgative honeypot. Where do I unclick "chuckle fodder"? Where do I unclick "news-item-of-the-week free-association paralympics"? Which direction do I kneel to moon Marvin, patron saint of universal laugh-at-anything good will?

No, I'm not new here. It must be shocking to some that I haven't figured out my account configuration yet. You'd think I'd know by now that no unexplored configuration sub-menu goes ultimately unpunished.

Well, now I know. True hell is becoming stuck in the wrong hellban honeypot.

Comment algorithmic morality long-term side effects (Score 1) 365

The side effect of your Mercedes choosing to impact the young mother with her baby stroller instead of the nearby telephone pole (ouch! that could hurt!) is that the customer's testicles fall off, and his dick never rises for the rest of his miserable, injury-free life (female customers sensibly snipped the wires on this pathetic contraction long ago).

The Mercedes survivor can always tell his disappointed women, "not MY fault, the Mercedes made me do it". Mercedes! Modestly dressed women cross themselves. Everyone spits.

All this spit makes the sidewalks dangerous to navigate for the common folk, but we can all rest safe knowing that the privileged remain comfy and cozy inside their steel cocoons.

Slashdot Top Deals

BASIC is to computer programming as QWERTY is to typing. -- Seymour Papert