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Comment No, the reason is laws. (Score 3, Insightful) 119

There is a reason that American teenagers aren't working in orchards... if growers paid enough to get teens to take the jobs, nobody would be able to afford fruit.

No. The reason is that the laws (child labor, working conditions) make it impossible for them to use teenagers any more.

Meanwhile the illegals can't complain about working conditions - and will work for less than minimum wage in (those occupations where it applies.)

US citizens needn't apply because they can't compete. (Even if they were willing to work for sub-legal prices and/or in sub-legal conditions, the employer can't risk that they might turn around and demand the missing money or compensation for the conditions.) The illegals, meanwhile, can afford to work that cheaply because social programs can pay for much of the support of them and their families - turning programs intended to help the poor into subsidies for their employers.

Meanwhile, the government's non-enforcement of the laws against the illegals working means that, in highly competitive markets (such as construction contracting), employers are left with a Hobson's choice: Use illegal labor and be competitive, or try to use legal labor and go out of business.

Comment Of course, there's a fourth option... (Score 1) 371

One thing you need to understand about programming languages, is that they're like comic book villains. They do die, but they're never completely dead. I learned COBOL for fun a few years ago, seeing it through the eyes of a modern programmer. It's unique among programming languages, I find the syntax remarkably straightforward, after you get used to some of the underlying concepts it's predicated against.

I think the language has possibilities. Especially in an age where the human computer interface has moved from keyboards to voice. It would be amazing if you could do the kinds of complex programming tasks by voice that you see in Star Trek, and I think we're only a few years off. Here, COBOL is really the only language that makes sense for the task. Well, for the most part, and barring some of the more recent additions to the language, that is. No such application exists for it, yet, but it certainly could. And something like that will certainly be both needed and wanted in the coming years.

As far as the banks go, you have to understand business. If a system works properly and needs very little maintenance, there is no business case for replacing it. It's not like anyone runs websites with COBOL these days. Typically, it's the language of big iron mainframes, that were designed to last forever. If the current group of COBOL programmers does die out, it makes sense to train new ones. There's still a fair amount of demand for it, which will appeal to the mercenary nature of modern programmers.

I don't think that's an outlandish suggestion. We pay people to learn new things all time, even programming languages. To pretend that banks are somehow different than any other big organization, anywhere else, in any other industry is silly. Let's just call this what it is, stop worrying about it, and move on.

Comment Part of why Silicon Valley is in CA (Score 1) 382

Most employment agreements are such that the company owns it even if it is outside of normal hours. So inventions you come up with on your own time are not yours.

And one of the key reasons Silicon Valley grew up in California is a law that, in effect, says:
  - As a matter of the state's compelling interest:
  - If you invent something
  - on your own time and not using company resources
  - and it's not in the company's current or expected immediate future business plan
  - you own it
  - regardless of what your employment contract says
  - and employment contracts have to include a notice of this.

Result: People who invent neat stuff their current company won't be productizing can get get together with a few friends, rent a garage across the street, and build a company to develop the new stuff. So companies bud off new companies, doing somewhat different stuff, like yeast. And the opportunity to get in on the ground floor attracts many other skilled people who might not be as inventive, but still wnt to be some of those "few friends" of the inventors.

Comment Re:Need this refined before I need a knee replacem (Score 1) 52

Sooner or later I will need a knee replacement. It would be nice to have a tissue one instead of metal and plastic.

I could use one now. I tore a meniscus in my knee a couple years ago, and it's healed as much as it will - which isn't enough. Surgery options only involve cutting it out (which leaves the bones rubbing each other) or replacing the whole joint (which is not only inferior but doesn't last as long a my current life expectancy).

Being able to drop in a replacement, grown from a printed scaffold of generic materials seeded with my own induced-pluripotent stem cells, would just fix it. (In fact it should fix it to be as good as it was decades ago, or maybe even better than it ever was.)

Comment Single target. (Score 1) 46

All [no standard] means is that websites will write their own version, some already have.

Indeed.

Also: In the race between weapons and armor, weapons always (eventually) win.

By creating a standard and getting the bulk of the "content providers" to adopt it, the WWWC creates a single big target that leads to breaking MOST of the DRM simultaneously. Meanwhile, content providers are left with the choice of getting behind the big target or being non-standard.

Which is fine: Like WEP, or a locked screen door, DRM won't protect things forever. But, like a "No Trespassing" sign, it DOES indicate INTENT forever. Intent of the content provider to limit access, and intent of the unauthorized content viewer to bypass that limit. That takes the "I didn't mean to do it." defence away, and gets any legal cases down to examining whether the poster of the No Trespassing sign had the right to limit the access and/or the crosser of the boundary had a right to obtain access.

Comment Leeches are already back. (Score 1) 478

When will Trump bring back leeching?

They're already back. They're used in limb reattachment surgery post-operative treatment.

When limbs are reattached the arteries work well right away but the veins not so much. So they have poor circulation and inadequate oxygenation, especially at the finger and toe tips. This can lead to further cell death, infection, and transplant failure.

Leeches applied to the extremities of the limbs can pull out enough blood and bring in fresh to keep more cells alive and bring more infection-fighting white cells to the area. And leeches do little damage other than draining blood, and provide their own surgical tools and anaesthetic. (It's in their evolutionary interest to not bother the victim into pulling them off while they're feeding, and not leaving wounds that would make him tend to avoid the location later.) So raised-sterile leeches are used, with substantial improvement in reattachment success rates.

Comment Re:Storage? (Score 1) 478

To pick up where renewables leave off, you want natural gas (or even petroleum) turbines that can quickly be brought on and off line.

Also: If you really are concerned about carbon dioxide, they produce a lot less of it per unit of energy.

In fossil fuels most of the energy comes from burning the hydrogen to water. Burning the carbon to carbon dioxide provides some, but it's mostly useful for packaging the hydrogen. Oil and gas is essentially long-chain-of-carbon molecules with two hydrogens per carbon and two more to cap the ends of the chain (with occasional tree-structures with the same carbon/hydrogen counts, and the odd ring-shaped or multiply-bonded impurity that''s short one or two pairs of hydrogens.)

So oil is a little over two hydrogens per carbon, gas goes from about 2.5 (butane) to 4 (methane). But coal is essentially just carbon. So gas is best, liquid oil fractions are not as good (though convenient for mobile engines), and coal is worst, on the energy/CO2 production ratio.

Comment If coal is dead, killing its bueaucracy won't hurt (Score 1) 478

Coal is dead. ... trying to resurrect something ... dying [from] market forces ... is [perjorative].

This isn't about trying to resuscitate the coal industry (though if it lets it run a little longer and die more smoothly - rather than being suddenly assassinated in a fit of political vitrual-signaling - it will let the miners and their offspring migrate to other jobs, rather than to government assistance.)

It's about killing off the massive, expensive, and intrusive regulatory infrastructure that no longer serves any purpose.
If Big Coal IS being killed by market forces, the government needn't bother killing it off.

It also gives Trump the opportunity to keep a promise to some of his voting base, make political appearances claiming credit for it, and engage in some virtual-signaling of his own (conservative style).

Remember: He didn't promise to bring their jobs back (though if some of the jobs do come back, or existing ones not be ended as soon, it is a bonus). He promised to dismantle the regulations that had already killed jobs - and give a dose of job-killing medicine to the regulators.

I suspect schadenfreud will please his coal-state voters, and the prospect of voter revolts and sweeping reforms may make at least a few future regulators think twice before stomping jackbooted on the faces of those they regulate.

Comment I wonder how much is really malware? (Score 1) 134

I wonder how much of this stuff is really leftover Adobe metadata and how much is components of malware?

With 20% to 40% of the code/data space of major applications composed of "along for the ride" data that's never interpreted, there's a LOT of room for malware to park itself, its redundant copies, its resources, and its purloined data without having to actually create files of its own.

Comment Size is still important (Score 3, Interesting) 134

I used to [use a tool to de-bloat images] This was important since much of the world was still on dial-up back then.

It is still important.
  - Some of the world is STILL on dial-up. Even in the US. (especially the rural part: At my vacation/retirement ranch I had only 28kbps until AT&T upgraded the cell tower to LTE last year).
  - Some of the "high-speed internet" isn't very - like DSL at 1.5 or 6 Mbps, or WISPs serving an entire town with what amounts to a WiFi hotspot.
  - Some services charge by the bandwidth used.
  - Some services throttle back "heavy users"
  - Some services sell tiered usage, with higher prices for larger monthly data caps, and killing the link (e.g. prepaid), drastically throttling down (e.g. 4G dropping to 3G speed), and/or charging punitive "overage" rates for bandwidth beyond the pre-purchased tier.
  - As the users get farther away, latency and setup-turnaround for the components of a web page display also slow the process.

Web developers tend to work with disks and servers built into their machine or attached by a fast LAN. So it's easy to miss that the actual users' experience may be slower - even drastically so. (Thus was the web, at the dawn of image-laden web pages, nicknamed the "World Wide Wait".) And they're not charged for that bandwidth, so they also don't get their noses rubbed in the price of it when they receive their monthly bills or hit their monthly caps.

So keeping a web page's bandwidth use small is still useful:
  - Even on broadband it makes it quicker - "snappier" - which improves the user experience.
  - It can reach a wider audience, as those on slower or more latent links don't give up in disgust.
  - It saves some users substantial money.

Comment Re:19th and 20th century powerhouse (Score 2) 206

Solar panels have a very large capital expense, they are cheap in the long run, but they are not feasible for running industry in poor countries.

Raw, ready-to-mount, single-crystal panels are down to $0.50/watt now, in pallets of ten at about 350 watts each, and have good lifetimes. Even adding the control electronics and batteries for nighttime and bad weather power, and replacing the batteries periodically, that's cheaper than building and running coal plants and their distribution infrastructure (even at third-world labor prices).

The control electronics is mostly semiconductor devices and still benefiting from Moore's Law. Solar panels are still improving, as are batteries (following their own Moore's Law like curves.) Solar has a factor of several in efficiency yet to go, and lot of room for cheaper manufacture. Batteries are pretty efficient, but still have lots of room for improvement in charge/discharge rates, lifetime, and manufacturing cost. Coal plants, meanwhile, are already close to as efficient and cheap to run as they can get. So solar will continue to improve its lead.

The main remaining advantage to coal plants is grid power gives suppliers an ongoing revenue stream and a captive market, while solar provides only an occasional capital purchase.

(But why do you never hear about the greenhouse effect of solar panels?)

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