Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


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 Dead Reckoning (Score 1) 647

I'm surprised that the drone used such a simpleminded technique as the one described in the article. For centuries, sailors have used a technique called dead reckoning that extrapolates from a previously known position, speed, and direction to an estimated current position. Today, when navigation instruments fail, sailors still use the technique. A friend of mine crewed on a boat sailing from Norfolk, VA to St. Thomas, USVI (roughly 1500 miles) using nothing but dead reckoning. When they arrived in St. Thomas, they were about two miles off course. I'm not a drone expert, but the attack that the Iranians mounted against the drone could easily have been defeated using other countermeasures besides GPS signals.

Comment Re:How many Muzzies have won a Nobel Prize? (Score 1) 1319

Muslims inherited the scientific work of the Assyrians, who were a highly prolific community of scientific theorists, when they conquered them. Within 100 years of the conquest, no significant new scientific work was accomplished by this community. Muslims conquered centers of scholarship (e.g., Alexandria) and maintained them through the dark ages. This was an important contribution, but it should be understood for what it was - maintenance of centers of scholarship that others created without contributing significant scholarship on top of the established paradigm. Has Christianity been hostile to science? Of course, examples (Galileo et al.) are well known. However, science advanced, perhaps despite Christian orthodoxy, once the dark ages ended. Significant scientific advancement stopped within 100 years of the Muslim conquest of the Assyrians (roughly 900 CE) and restarted in 1200 CE when the dark ages ended.

Comment Andromeda Strain (Score 1) 1200

The Andromeda Strain, 1971,, has a scene where scientists are simulating the growth of a foreign living substance, the Andromeda Strain. The substance grows exponentially and the computer "blows up" trying to keep up with the high speed growth. The computer's console device was a TTY. Although most computers in those days had TTY consoles, it is funny to see scientists entering in commands on the TTY. Of course, the TTY lives on as the standard input device in Unix. etc. operating systems. We just don't have a physical TTY in front of us any more. In those days hardly anyone was exposed to computers and movies' depictions of the giant machines usually had operators wearing lab coats and carrying clipboards.

Comment This is the Way my Firm Works (Score 1) 498

My firm's business model includes part time workers working from home on their own computers. Since these knowledge workers already have computers and high speed internet access AND since all of our applications are web based, why do we need to replicate the employee's hardware/software/service environment? We test applications against IE, Firefox, and Chrome to insure compatibility. Even though we buy all services from the cloud, we need to stay abreast of changes in technology such as smart phone access. Consequently, we have a CIO. Our research shows that security problems are more likely to occur in in-house hosted environments than in SaaS environments. Nothing is fool-proof and vigilance is always requiremed, but our model has been working well so far. Finally, the employees love working at home. We have zero capital requirements and happy employees. What's not to like about that?

Comment Re:Yes (Score 1) 433

Allow me to generalize sqlewis100's post. The examples provided are business processes that separate responsibilities such that fraud can only occur if multiple parties (e.g., those who print the checks and those who sign them) collude. If such safeguards are built into all business processes, then the probability of fraud is minimized; it is never eliminated. In a mature field such as accounting, best practice business processes contain safeguards that raise the price of fraudulent behavior to prohibitively high levels. The problem with IT is that it is about 500 years behind accounting. There is no escaping IT's relative immaturity. We are vulnerable until we can mature the field. I just hope that it doesn't take 500 years.

Comment Vision Without Execution is Hallucination (Score 1) 735

The problem with some entrepreneurs is that they can't execute. That is, they must develop a business plan and execute it. If the plan underestimates the value of programmers, the business will fail. If the plan correctly values the programmer, but the plan is not executed correctly, the business will fail. Additionally, entrepreneurs must be able to adjust the plan when the facts change.

Submission + - Troubling New Direction for NASA (

caramuru writes: You'd be hard-pressed to find an American who doesn't know that the "S" in NASA stands for "Space." Since the race to the moon in the 1960s, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been one of the most storied agencies in the U.S. government. Now, under President Obama, its mission is changing — and space isn't part of the story.
"When I became the NASA administrator, [Obama] charged me with three things," NASA head Charles Bolden said in a recent interview with the Middle Eastern news network al-Jazeera. "One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering."

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Comment Medicaid (Score 2, Interesting) 116

I can't speak to all of the poster's comments, but I can address the Medicaid point. I have worked for over 25 years for Medicaid contractors and have done so in 14 states, so I have a pretty good perspective on the pluses and minuses of outsourcing this service. Medicaid is usually the largest line item in a state's budget. Consequently, IT and other services required to run the program are not only expensive, but highly visible. Many state bureaucracies have concluded that they do not want to risk such exposure and are willing to pay for the privilege of pointing their fingers at a contractor whenever there are problems. Most of these contracts' operational expenses pay for non-IT services such as mail room, data entry, call center, and other staff. These personnel fall into the same category as the janitors, security personnel, and others that the poster identifies. Most of these contracts require the contractor to develop at a fixed price a system for the state to be used in the operations phase of the contract. State IT units are unwilling to take on such risk and, instead, only develop systems on a cost-plus basis. Most of these contracts require the contractor to supply a minimum number of IT staff devoted to change orders, so the contractor only makes additional money when the volume of change orders exceeds the capacity of the contracted minimum of staff. Additionally, maintenance required for bug fixes is usually not a reimbursable expense. Again, contractors are required to assume risk that states will not take on. Health care administration is a rapidly changing (You cannot imagine the impact of HIPAA on health care administrators, public and private), and contractors with multiple contracts are much better able to understand the changing environment, develop solutions for the changes, and leverage experience from all of their contracts for the benefit of each individual contract. Although there are only about five contractors in this market, the competition is brutal, resulting in lower prices for states. Although it would seem that states lose valuable expertise when an incumbent contractor loses a re-bid, the reality is that people working for the old contractor tend to go to work for the new contractor.

Are these contractors perfect? Absolutely not. I have seen failures that could only be resolved by kicking the contractor out. This is obviously painful to the contractor, but very disruptive to the state. States could save themselves this disruption by changing some of their procurement rules (e.g., the bidder with the lowest bid price exceeds a minimum technical score) that reward lower quality proposals. They could also increase the Medicaid program's performance by optimizing their end-to-end business processes prior to issuing an RFP. Many states' business processes are fundamentally broken. If you compare the head count used in a state-staffed operation vs. the head count used in a contractor-staffed operation, you often see a two- or three-to-one difference. Medicaid RFPs are notoriously ambiguous and routinely include phrases such as "including but limited to" in requirements statements. Fully modeled and documented processes generate fully developed use cases.


Best Man Rigs Newlyweds' Bed To Tweet During Sex 272

When an UK man was asked to be the best man at a friend's wedding he agreed that he would not pull any pranks before or during the ceremony. Now the groom wishes he had extended the agreement to after the blessed occasion as well. The best man snuck into the newlyweds' house while they were away on their honeymoon and placed a pressure-sensitive device under their mattress. The device now automatically tweets when the couple have sex. The updates include the length of activity and how vigorous the act was on a scale of 1-10.

Comment The Singularity is Near (Score 1) 428

Ray Kurzweill's "The Singularity is Near" predicts human brain simulation within 20-30 years. His predictions are based on estimates in hardware advances (e.g., Moore's Law), advances in AI, Neuroscience, and other technologies required to crack this problem. His work was vetted by experts in those fields (he is an expert in AI) and since the book's publication in 2005, no serious objections have been raised about the underlying science and engineering required to simulate the human brain. IBM's simulation of a cat's cerebral cortex is a step towards ultimately simulating a human brain. Kurzweill's argument (accelerating change) indicates that the IBM simulation will be followed by other simulations of increasing complexity and the rate that these simulations are undertaken will accelerate over time. Perhaps Ray could chime in here and put this thing into perspective.

Slashdot Top Deals

Advertising is a valuable economic factor because it is the cheapest way of selling goods, particularly if the goods are worthless. -- Sinclair Lewis