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:Stupid, stupid questions (Score 1) 341

This. Exactly this.

Nobody experiences fear weekly about losing their job to a robot" unless they are mentally unstable, or they are literally in the midst of an automation wave in their own company and they are watching coworkers get let go.

Hell... even the cashiers at mcdonalds or the grocery store who are literally watching them install self-serve checkouts a few feet away don't worry weekly about losing their jobs to robots.

Comment Re:Drone has no passenger at all. Results, not err (Score 2) 244

If UPS's truck rear-ends me on an ice-covered road, I'm going to sue UPS. I don't know what Tesla told UPS about what conditions are safe and which are unsafe for the trucks.

Right. That makes sense.

If UPS also sues Tesla for selling them bunk trucks, that's none of my business. That's all about the discussions and contract between UPS and Tesla.

But I think that's the point, UPS *is* going to sue Tesla for selling them bunk trucks, and the government stance on it that UPS *should* sue them, because the government feels that Tesla is going to be ultimately responsible, not UPS, not Amazon, and not the passengers.

So yeah, i think you are right... if my self driving car hits you, youre insurance covers you for the injurty/damage. And then promply sues me because its my car, and then my insurance company jumps in and pays yours on my behalf, and then when i demonstrate to my insurance company that the car was properly maintained so its not a negligent maintenance issue by the owner they'll turn around and sue the manufacturer...

And the government is saying, yeah, that's who is going to be ultimately liable here.

So when the government says we want to make the manufacturer responsible, i don't think that necessarily means in an accident the victim goes straight to suing the manufacturer bypassing the owner... but as the process winds through the system, the owners of the self-driving vehicles ARE going to be able to successfully sue the manufacturers for accidents the vehicles have.

Comment Re:I am, and should be, liable. Also implied warra (Score 4, Interesting) 244

If I chose to send my drone (toy) flying around a busy parking lot and a gust of wind sent it crashing into a baby stroller, I would be responsible.

Ok, that's a reasonable analogy. But I think its 'wrong' on two points.

First, it fails the scale test.

Cars are not a small hobby toy. And car accidents happen far more frequently than windblown drones crashing into baby strollers.

In other words, the analogy isn't applicable because if you scaled it up society would NOT be content with the status quo... that of simply holding you liable for your bad decision.

If it were happening thousands of time per day we'd surely see all kinds of new restrictions, regulations, licensing, and mandatory training and insurance for hobby drones. Drone manufacturers would be regulated to automatically detect and land and refuse to fly in windy weather. Perhaps even the outright ban of private citizens owning hobby drones.

Second, your analogy fails because the idea of it being your operational decision ... choosing to watch youtube in busy traffic or driving yourself is really missing the obvious endgame. We already know various industries (taxi/trucking/delivery/..) all want self driving cars, there won't be drivers -- only passengers, and the passengers won't be making any operational decisions; there may not even BE passengers in lots of cases. When there are passengers, they may not even be able to drive. They be drunk, or sleeping, or children...

Who is liable for the accidents those vehicles cause?
The passenger? Surely not. They aren't operating them except to have called it up and set a destination.


What error in judgement did they make that makes them liable? Provided they maintained the vehicles to the manufacturers specifications how are they responsible for car accidents resulting for deficiencies in the vehicles programming/sensor coverage/testing?

Chrysler/GM/VW/Tesla? It makes sense. They foisted the vehicles on the public. If they crash, it is because the vehicle wasn't sufficiently able to cope with doing the thing it was made to do. Operating in traffic in the real world safely is their function. That includes windy days, or in traffic jams, or during a police road closure or construction detour. If they are not fit to operate reliably, predictably, and safely in all these scenarios then they shouldn't be sold as self-driving cars.

I can choose to watch Youtube in busy traffic.

*Right now*, yes, there is this notion that the 'driver' is still operating the vehicle and could be responsible for whether or not the vehicle is operating autonomously or not... but that's today right now, this minute. We're in the beginning of a transition phase. Next year the cars will cope with more scenarios and do it better. The year after that even more still. 20 years from now, situations they can't safely cope with will be much rarer, and the idea that the person sitting in the front seat is responsible minute by minute for whether the car should operate itself or not will be ridiculous.

We need to consider the future. Because this little stitch in time where cars can drive themselves safely... but only sometimes and only when its really easy... is going to be quite temporary.

Comment Re:It's just too expensive for the hardware (Score 1) 151

Is it though?

  3D TV for a while reached the point where people were buying them without even trying ... the model with 3D was cheaper than the model without due to a sale, or everything that had desirable feature X also had 3D, or the store only had the 3DTVs in stock if you wanted a Sharp... or Sony or whatever.

Not even being basically 'free' was enough to get 3DTV to really take off.

I'm not sure VR is going to fare better... maybe they could give headsets away free with happy meals and maybe most people still wouldn't care. Or maybe they would... I don't know.

I just don't think its necessarily as 'simple' as you think.

Comment Re: lack of foresight (Score 3, Interesting) 193

No, but they did have private documents.

But its not the same. In those days, when you travelled and crossed borders you had to more or less consciously give some attention to the documents you brought with you. Reams of paper get pretty heavy; and so it wasn't customary to have every document, photo, and piece of correspondence, you ever produced or received *on your person*.

Now you cross the border... and your phone or laptop; especially if its also linked to additional cloud storage accounts and social media etc... it literally has the potential to be a every document, photo, and piece of correspondence you have ever received; and we don't give it a 2nd thought ... we need our phones to make a few calls or receive emails and look at maps while travelling, and we don't think about just how much data we're carrying around with us until some belligerent TSA goon is demanding we hand over our phone and laptop passwords.

We're not deliberately carrying all our photos and email history and bank records and tax documents through customs because we want to transport them to another country... its just incidental to how we use the devices.

Comment Re:vote with your wallet (Score 1) 161

Anything smaller than 12 inches that's warranted to run GNU/Linux?

The 12.5" Lenovo Yoga 260 and X260 are both linux certified by Lenovo for Ubuntu 14.
The Dell XPS 13 is 'linux laptop of the year' by most publications.
That's all smaller than 14" (system 76's smallest offering).

But you said 'smaller than 12'. There's not a lot smaller than 12 right now. Acer still makes some aspires that ship with linux in India, but probably hard to find here. (Although many of the models a few years ago were available in N/A with linux... just didn't sell well.)

FWIW this is supposed to be dropping imminently...

If you "order it in", and you find that the laptop's screen or keyboard doesn't agree with you, what are your options?

Return it? Yeah, you'd be on the hook for shipping. Still beats trying to fight linux onto staples discount trash IMO -- where the crappy keyboards and screens don't agree with me. At least with the Dell XPS and precision stuff is quality... and in most urban centres at least you should be able to get your hands easily on a windows variant in store or off a coworker / friend / peer etc so that you can feel it.

Comment Re:vote with your wallet (Score 1) 161

It's getting harder and harder to purchase a computer that doesn't come with Windows (unless you get a custom build from the corner computer store) and it's almost impossible to get a laptop.

I'd say its getting easier. Desktops are trivial from any decent small system builder.

Laptops are harder, but Dell has some limited options, but they are nice systems -- the xps 13 and the precision line are available with linux.

And there's a few dedicated linux laptop guys out there; system76, for example.

I would love to be able to zip into Staples and buy this week's on-sale laptop off the shelf and know that will work with Linux. But it can't be done.

Those are boat anchors at the best of times. And its not like its a conspiracy. Decent stuff is rarer. You want to buy a good router or wifiAP, same thing, its a crapshoot what's on sale on the shelves at staples etc; and you'll probably want to order something in.

Once you've accepted that you have to order it in, its easy to buy linux. (And honestly... I order in all my windows laptops and desktops too because the stuff they sell in stores even if you want windows is very hit and miss... mostly miss.

Comment Re:Great and all, but I think local email is dying (Score 1) 47

I am the only person I know who uses a local email client, rather than gmail, and I run with a reasonably tech savvy crowd.

Pretty much everyone I work with (ie clients) use outlook. The lowest people on the totem pole (e.g. retail store staff -- people who do not spend much time on the computer) are using gmail apps for work, or outlook online through office 365 -- but everyone in even routine admin positions on up through management is on outlook as part of office 365 or with the google apps connector.

Pretty much everyone i know 'socially' has email on their phone (ie via an app); and may use webmail or outlook depending if they have outlook. (Office Home edition doesn't come with it.)

Lots of people I know still use ISP mail as well via webmail, outlook, or their phone or some combination.

I personally have 2 mailboxes on outlook for office 365, and 2 more in IMAP on thunderbird (one ISP, and one hosted IMAP).

The issue as I see it, isn't so much that the 'local email client is dying' because its that POP/IMAP is dying. And that's not really a suprise... POP is outdated and inadequate in this connected world of devices and tablets and computers with everything in sync. And IMAP works... but is poor cousin to googleapps or outlook/exchange/activesync due to not handling contacts or calendars etc.

Meanwhile ISP mail is on the downtrend for a several reasons --
  - as people (intelligently) are realizing that being tied to an isp mailbox ties them to an ISP
  - 2nd because ISP mail frequently has irritating limits like nothing working but the webclient unless you were actually connected to their network, or receiving works but not sending etc etc;
  - 3rd it often has small mailbox sizes,
  - 4th its anti-spam capabilities tend to suck compared to the big providers.
  - 5th its harder to setup the client ... servers, ports, ssl? tls? imap or pop? where's the easy button?

I'd honestly be surprised if one person in a hundred was running their own email client rather than using a web interface to (most likely) gmail, or possibly some other similar web service

Maybe, but only if you only sampled home users AND didn't count using apps on their phones and tablets.

Decentralization is dying. Centralization is winning.

Yes..but that's a separate issue completely from clients vs web-based.

Centralization of servers is winning because google and microsoft have pretty compelling products --- for the business (office 365 and google apps for enterprises). And its compelling for the home user too ... for free. Hosting your own email server is a right PITA and more work than its probably worth and far beyond average joe... and not worth the trouble even to most techies (been there done that). And some little hosting company offering 10 x 500MB mailboxes that only support POP/IMAP ... for $60/year that's harder to setup, gets more spam, search doesn't work as well, and fills up too quickly... that's not terribly compelling either. (Although that is what I'm currently using for my personal domain...but i recognize its shortcomings and can't give many solid reasons to do it compared to using google or microsoft.)

And all that's left is the privacy-centric mail services, but those cost even more... $60/year per mailbox instead of $60 per year for 10 of them... and really only truly appeal to people who really prioritize privacy.

Comment Re:A damn good reason to learn security best pract (Score 1) 374

If you need a stronger microprocessor for a task use one. The notion that using buffer overflow or stack smashing or jumping into data segments with 'dynamic' code is something you should ever do is simply ridiculous.

Yeah... to get a 60Hz 1970s microprocessor to do something useful in 512 bytes of RAM you had to be creative... and it was expensive to go upmarket for a better CPU. But in the 21st century if you are using a buffer overflow to write code on purpose, the time you spend building and documenting and maintianing that... you should have just spent another nickle and got a more capable processor with more ram.

Comment Re:What brand of hammer? (Score 4, Insightful) 149

What brand of hammer do you use for your weekend carpentry projects?

I think that's the point. We try out and play with new tools on the weekend.

Programming languages do not matter.

They are all tools for essentially the same thing - banging, but they are not identical, and it makes difference what you use. And that's WHY we try new ones, to see if they make our lives easier or not.

Many of them are lousy, and many more are fine, but no better than what we already have, but some of them do make certain things easier in certain projects, and might transition to our regular toolboxes.

Programming languages are as interchangeable as hammers.

I have a regular old claw hammer from Sears for most things. I have a small finishing hammer for stuff like hanging pictures and building bird houses. My brother has a nailgun that I'd borrow if i were doing a big project like framing a basement. I've never had cause to use a ball peen hammer... but if i did any metalworking i'd probably quickly find my claw hammer ... inadequate. I don't have a rubber mallet either, but frequently find myself having to 'work around' not having one... enough that at some point I'll get one.

Comment Re:but but but (Score 4, Insightful) 557

Kindof unpleasant experiencing a total system lockup when you are presenting to 200 scientists. People in the audience actually said: "I can't believe you attempted this using Libre!", "Why are you using Linux for this?"

But the funny thing is I've also seen, MANY TIMES, someone try to present only to pull up their laptop...

"Windows is updating. 3 of 97. Please do not turn off your computer." ...

I've seen presentations rescheduled, the order juggled, or a presentation even outright cancelled because there was no other time, and there was nothing the presenter could do ... his 45 minute allotement was the only spot, and there was NOTHING he could do now but wait until Windows decided he could use his laptop again.

And the audience? They don't generally berate you for using Windows... they just groan in sympathetic empathy; because that's interrupted nearly all of our workflows at some point... although perhaps not so catastrophically.

Comment Re:BS detector went off and is overheating (Score 1) 309

The first being functions you expect people to know.

No. The first definition was 'common'. Granted the definition of 'common' is open to debate, but anything that appears on a $9 calculator at walmart is pretty common:

But if you want to restrict trig functions go for it. As far as I know they are fine though as they don't allow any trivial solution construction ... but if you can find one using infinite applications of sin or arctan, that would be a feather in your hat and a bit of fame.

As for your lamda solution...

Valid math. Everything is externally defined

You are defining a function on the spot. And more importantly you are missing the point -- generic solutions are inherently undesirable; and discovering them means eliminating them from the allowed set. You seem to be going out of your way to introduce mathematical functionality specifically to enable a trivial solution. The log / sqrt solution is at least interesting because it was not immediately obvious that allowing them trivialized the problem.

Finding another generic solution with the allowed operations is kind of interesting, but introducing math with a trivial and obvious application to a generic solution for the express purpose of the introducing that generic solution pretty much misses the entire point of the puzzle.

If you disallow that too, then I might try restating it using category theory. This continuing shows the distinction is arbitrary.

One part arbitrary, and two parts "anything that obviously renders the puzzle trivial is disallowed". Anyone playing with the puzzle today disallows log because a generic solution with it is known.

Comment Probably not very exciting (Score 5, Interesting) 91

I work at a place that gets inspected by APHIS. APHIS also puts our material into quarantine.

We have permits for all kinds of things that sound icky and salacious. If someone read the reports they might think, "Wait, something bad is going on here- why are they doing this? Let's follow the trail and find out what they are doing!"

They would be very disappointed to find out what is really going on- that it is all part of 'normal' business. That the icky sounding stuff would be absolutely pedestrian if you understood it.

APHIS is a prettyboring place once you get over the idea of 'quarantine'. My guess is that these records would be boring at first glance, andpretty much just spreadsheet data regardingregular inspections once you have an understanding of what they are doing.

But...maybe that's all just a conspiracy...

Slashdot Top Deals

There are never any bugs you haven't found yet.