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Comment Can't replicate (Score 4, Informative) 135

I can't replicate it either. The YouTube video claims I double-tap the home button but the second tap is slightly longer? By the end of the first tap it's already bringing me back to the lock screen, i.e. by the time I'm pressing down for the second tap, I'm already being taken back to the lock screen. iPhone 5, updated last night to 7.0 (11A465).

Submission + - Another Climate-Change Retraction (

jamie writes: It seems every time someone twists global-warming science into 'good news,' a retraction is soon to follow, and so it must be for Slashdot. Yesterday, the conservative Wall Street Journal published yet another apologetic claiming "the overall effect of climate change will be positive," by someone who (of course) is not a climate scientist. Today, Climate Progress debunks the piece, noting 'Ridley and the WSJ cite the University of Illinois paper to supposedly prove that warming this century will be under 2C — when the author has already explained to them that his research shows the exact opposite!' We went through this same process last year, with the same author and the same paper, so it's pretty embarrassing that he 'makes a nearly identical blunder' all over again.

Submission + - Gore Misquoted on Hexametric Hurricanes (

jamie writes: In a story on Thursday, Slashdot and its readers had a little fun at the expense of Al Gore, who was quoted as saying that the hurricane severity scale was going to go to 6. A correction was made the next day. The author of the piece that Slashdot linked now writes "I retract the balance of my criticism." Turns out Gore was misquoted.

Luckily for Gore, this is the first time he's been ridiculed for something he didn't actually say. Well, except for Love Story, Love Canal, farm chores, and everyone's favorite, inventing the internet.

(The original Slashdot story is at and its central link now includes the Washington Post's correction.)


Submission + - One-line software patent expires (

trombonehero writes: Here's a particularly silly example of a software patent which has been holding real innovation back for 22 years: a patent on an if statement which is required to correctly implement the JBIG fax codec.

This silly patent, which held some open-source software back for 17 years, comes out of patent today, but it might be a little bit late for bold new innovations which interoperate with the fax network.


Leaked Heartland Institute Documents Reveal Opposition To Science 615

New submitter bheerssen writes with an excerpt from an article by The Bad Astronomer: "The Heartland Institute — a self-described 'think tank' that actually serves in part as a way for climate change denialism to get funded — has a potentially embarrassing situation on their hands. Someone going by the handle 'Heartland Insider' has anonymously released quite a few of what are claimed to be internal documents from Heartland, revealing the Institute's strategies, funds, and much more." At least one site has the documents in question.

Comment Re:/. turns green, lifts bus over head: PATENT SMA (Score 1) 584

Hmm. Well, there's also 7844610 which was filed in 2004 and does seem pretty similar. In fact their abstracts are identical. That's a little deflating.

The patent whose application was filed in April 2002 is this related one, 7502770, which isn't very similar. I think that's the one you meant.

Comment /. turns green, lifts bus over head: PATENT SMASH (Score 5, Informative) 584

I think I may want to contest this patent.

The patent cites Slashdot comment moderation as an example of how not to assign importance to user actions. Its authors were apparently unaware that the algorithm they described in November 2010 is virtually identical to the way Slashdot has actually assigned importance to user voting on Firehose stories since May 2008 (give or take). I know because I wrote it.

What this patent calls "authority," we call user "clout."

Multiple clouts, actually. Each Slashdot user has a number that describes how valuable the system believes their up/down votes in the firehose are, and it's separate from how valuable their descriptive tags applied to stories are. (Up/down votes are simply tags with special names, making vote-scoring and description-determination very similar under the hood.)

It's been a while since I looked at this code -- I work for sister company ThinkGeek now -- but scanning over our public repository here are some of the interesting parts:

plugs/Tags/ - the tags_peerclout table is the way that each type of clout is built. It has fixed entries at gen=0, the zeroth generation, which would typically be the Slashdot editors or other users considered reliable and definitive. To build gen=1, the code looks at how many users tagged or voted on the same objects as the gen=0 users did, and assigns the gen=1 users scores based on similarity (or difference). Then from the gen=1 users, gen=2 users are assigned scores similarly, and so on.

The gen=0 entries in that table "designate one or more contributing authorities by delegating to each a specific quantity of authority." I don't think I could describe that better myself.

plugins/Tags/Clout/ process_nextgen() - here's where each new generation of user clout is successively determined, for firehose votes in particular. Line 194 invokes the algorithm and line 203 assigns that user their new voting clout. This iterative process is the automated method through which "each contributing authority may in turn designate and delegate authority to one or more additional contributing authorities."

plugins/Tags/Clout/ init() - sum_weight_vectors totals the change in clout for each generation, and possible weight decreases exponentially. If you're in gen=1 the maximum weight you can have is only 60% of the maximum from gen=0, etc. The fraction is smaller than 100%, which helps ensure "that the total quantity of authority delegated does not exceed the quantity of authority the contributing authority was itself delegated." When the clouts are used to determine firehose item ratings, "the ratings are combined in a manner that affords a higher priority to the ratings provided by contributing authorities to which a greater quantity of authority was delegated."

All this may have changed since it was written. I don't actually know what's running on Slashdot at this moment. I'm just going by the public repository that I knew was on, and I don't even know if there's a later version of the code available anywhere.

But I suspect that this system would constitute prior art.

Also, looking over my code from 2008, boy, I really wish I'd put in more comments.

Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda Resigns From Slashdot 1521

After 14 years and over 15,000 stories posted, it's finally time for me to say Good-Bye to Slashdot. I created this place with my best friends in a run down house while still in college. Since then it has grown to be read by more than a million people, and has served Billions and Billions of Pages (yes, in my head I hear the voice). During my tenure I have done my best to keep Slashdot firmly grounded in its origins, but now it's time for someone else to come aboard and find the *future*. Personally I don't have any plans, but if you need to get ahold of me for any reason, you can find me as @cmdrtaco on twitter or Rob Malda on Google+. You could also update my mail address to be malda at cmdrtaco dot net. Hit the link below if you want to read some nostalgic saccharine crap that I need to get out of my system before I sign off for the last time.

NASA Discovers 7th Closest Star 137 says "Scientists using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have discovered the coldest class of star-like bodies, with temperatures as cool as the human body. Astronomers hunted these dark orbs, termed Y dwarfs, for more than a decade without success. When viewed with a visible-light telescope, they are nearly impossible to see. WISE's infrared vision allowed the telescope to finally spot the faint glow of six Y dwarfs relatively close to our sun, within a distance of about 40 light-years. 'WISE scanned the entire sky for these and other objects, and was able to spot their feeble light with its highly sensitive infrared vision,' said Jon Morse, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. 'They are 5,000 times brighter at the longer infrared wavelengths WISE observed from space than those observable from the ground.'"
Real Time Strategy (Games)

Sports Bars Changing Channels For Video Gamers 351

dtmos wrote in to say that "This summer, StarCraft II has become the newest bar room spectator sport. Fans organize so-called Barcraft events, taking over pubs and bistros from Honolulu to Florida and switching big-screen TV sets to Internet broadcasts of professional game matches. As they root for their on-screen superstars, StarCraft enthusiasts can sow confusion among regular patrons... But for sports-bar owners, StarCraft viewers represent a key new source of revenue from a demographic—self-described geeks—they hadn't attracted before."

Researchers Report Spike In Boot Time Malware 132

wiredmikey writes "In their most recent intelligence report, Symantec researchers pointed out a massive increase in the amount of boot time malware striking users, noting there have already been as many new boot time malware threats detected in the first seven months of 2011 as there were in the previous three years. Also known as MBR (master boot record) threats, the malware infect an area of the hard disk that makes them one of the first things to be read and executed when a computer is turned on. This enables the threats to effectively dodge many security defenses."

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