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Comment Re:hahaha! (Score 1) 932

It's so ridiculous when climate change deniers point out the Antarctic sea ice thing. That is happening despite record temperatures in the high latitudes of the southern hemisphere. There is no doubt that Antarctica is warming at tremendous rates, and if that trend continues the increase in continental ice will obviously be a short-term phenomenon.

Comment Re: Maybe not extinction... (Score 2) 608

That is an incredibly complicated thing to determine, and is certainly not one-sided like you make it seem. In the 20th century, over a billion people died prematurely due to smoking for example. That's about ten times more people than in every 20th century war combined. Approximately two million people die from occupational hazards each year? How much of that is preventable?

Comment Re:Oh, the irony (Score 1) 523

Sort of. The Patriot Act is simply too large to have been drafted in the timeframe allotted, so we can start with the obvious truth that whoever really wrote it had it on the shelf awaiting an opportunity. That is chilling, and under-reported, enough.

Well, it is certainly true that the intelligence agencies have always hated FISA and the ECPA, and they used 9/11 as an opportunity to push for changes that would never have been allowed in other political climates.

But they didn't literally have it sitting on the shelf, unless you have some sort of evidence to show otherwise. It was a little over a month between September 11th and when the first draft of the PATRIOT Act. That's a reasonable amount of time to bang out 120 pages of legalese, the majority of which were pretty banal reforms.

The problem of governments using crises to rush anti-democratic legislation is horrible enough without making up conspiracy theories.

Comment Re:...but if you want free software to improve... (Score 1) 1098

I agree with your general argument, but it's also true that for hobbyist programmers the most popular way to license your code is with the GPL (and anecdotally/IMHO the more useful projects almost always are). I'm sure if more small projects were licensed with the BSD, the prevalence of corporations forking the code and not giving back would be much higher.

Again, I'm not so sure that is the worst thing in the world (and the existence of the GPL for those that want that protection makes it moot anyway) but I absolutely understand the sentiment of people who do not want the code they write to be used by for-profit corporations without any protection for the community. If I'm going to write proprietary code for Apple and Google, they damn well better be paying my salary.

Comment Re:Sounds like this article was written by Google (Score 2) 338

Apparently "free" in your mind does not include the millions of dollars a year the city government was losing operating the service. Pretty sure that wasn't monopoly money they were spending. Residents can still get a 5mbps synchronous connection for free. Schools are still getting free gigabit. It's just the gigabit residential/business that is $70/month, which is what a fair amount of Americans pay for service that is orders of magnitude worse. Provo City is making out like a bandit. I wish the other UTOPIA cities could get on board.

Comment Re:No tech advances can stop war (Score 1) 514

That is not true. The three bloodiest centuries in history were the 20th, 19th, and 18th. The 20th "won" by a large margin.

Even in the last 50 years, you have seen many wars with casualties in the millions: Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran-Iraq, the Congo, etc. Although they pale in comparison to the World Wars, those are still some of the worst wars in history.

You do have a point to a certain extent. Modern weaponry has, in the last half a century, reduced the likelihood of major superpowers going to war with one another. But as the global population increase puts more pressure on dwindling resources (fossil fuels, water, arable land), I think the possibility of conflict between superpowers is much more likely in the coming decades than it has been recently, and a few regional political conflicts have the potential to explode should thing take a turn for the worse (North/South Korea, Pakistan-India namely).

Comment Re:All of it (Score 1) 187

It can be extremely convenient to store application data in the cloud. I use budgeting software that syncs to dropbox, making it possible to switch seamlessly between using the software on my phone and desktop.

That being said, I think the total amount I store on dropbox is about 50MB so it's a very small percentage of my total data.

Comment Re:ya know... (Score 1) 710

Well the problem is that once you get past a certain time period, you start to run out of sources. Writing was incredibly rare before the 1st millenium BCE and only existed in certain civilizations. It's not a coincidence that we know more about Greece, Egypt, Persia, Babylon, etc. rather than other civilizations. They were the only ones keeping records! Other civilizations only have oral histories, which are certainly interesting but of highly questionable accuracy.

Also the reason why written sources are more numerous and accurate after around, say, the 6th century BC is because that's when people started writing everything down! Although writing existed before then, there was a massive increase in trade during that time period and that's when writing became commonplace. Scholars believe that was the time period in which the Greek legends as well as the first books of the Old Testament were all written. So there is a period ranging around the 6th century BC to the present where we have continuous (and thus accurate) written history being recorded, a written history of the oral traditions of those cultures (that goes back some time but is of questionable accuracy), and then a time of prehistory where we have no information other than what we can put together from archaeological data.

If you look at that wikipedia page you linked, almost all of those dates are based on archaeological data. The way that works is an archaeologist finds a site that looks promising and starts a dig. They find any artifacts in that area, analyze it, date it, compare it to other sites in the region, and extrapolate information based on that. Other scientific fields are also used to help out: chemistry, genetics, linguistics, anthropology, climate science, all of them are used in constructing history. But that's not very precise and extremely dependent on finding good archaeological data, so that's why you have the lack of precision.

Go back 2,000 years and there is quite a bit of archaeological data. Go back 5,000 years and it is is very hard to come by. Go back 10,000 years and it's practically nonexistent. That's why we know so little of prehistoric civilizations. There's literally no other information other than "There were people here, and they left these types of tools" and maybe some bones or cave paintings.

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