Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment Re:Can't wait to get one in my watch. (Score 1) 155

Yeah, I was thinking more in terms of 'end user does something stupid, now somebody gets to collect the plutonium dust' type problems. I suppose that the major advantage is that people are somewhat less likely to do dumb things to electronics that they'd need to cut open their abdomens to get at.

It's really the end-user/disposal problem that makes me nervous about nuclear batteries, not the 'will the engineers screw it up?' aspect. 'Sealed sources', containing various isotopes neatly packaged as radiation sources, are even simpler to implement than nuclear batteries; and generally aren't an engineering problem; but the DoE has gone to a lot of trouble hunting down 'orphan sources' that have left responsible supervision for one reason or another; and it's hardly unheard of for those to end up in some 3rd world junkyard being crowbared open by people who have no idea what a mistake they are making.

Pacemakers have the advantage of a more or less automatic paper trail(since the diagnosis of cardiac abnormality and implantation surgery tend not to be handled in cash and off the books) and people don't tend to cut through their own bodies in order to do stupid things to their gadgets; but I'd be rather pessimistic about the possibility of sound lifecycle management for nuclear batteries in broader application.

It's too bad; because they'd be extremely useful for a variety of low power off-grid stuff; but when people can't even be bothered to separate their trash from their recyclables; it's hard to be optimistic about their safe disposal of nuclear batteries.

Comment Re:No (Score 1) 278

At a population level, farming is close to automated. When ~2% of the population is farming and the rest of us aren't starving you know that we've wrung serious gains in efficiency out of the process.

As with many areas, though, it gets harder to justify once you pick off the low hanging fruit. If you absolutely must have your tech demo, robotics can probably provide something that at least doesn't have any visible humans except when techs are on site dealing with failures; but you'd have to be replacing some pretty expensive farmers to have it make any sense.

Comment Re:wait... (Score 1) 87

My understanding is that, outside of the worst areas(the reactor complex itself and some areas that were most heavily exposed to fallout during the accident) the level of ionizing radiation isn't particularly high. The main area of concern is that some of the more persistent isotopes in the soil could become a serious problem if people were to live there or grow food there. Alpha emitters, in particular, are essentially harmless unless taken internally; but quite nasty if they are(and some of them have the unpleasant property of being chemically similiar to biologically relevant elements in safer areas of the periodic table).

It is true that radiation is bad for semiconductors(though worse for ones where details matter, like microchips; and merely accelerated aging for things like PV panels) but if you take care to avoid disturbing the soil too much, it's not as though the whole place is bathed in gamma rays.

Comment Re:Restricted zone (Score 1) 87

I don't know if the design calls for this; but it wouldn't be rocket surgery to lay out a PV generating facility such that it doesn't disturb the soil much(possibly some posts driven into the earth if there is a risk of high winds) mostly just a frame laid on top; raised walkways between all the areas that will need to be serviced periodically; and a parking lot where you can check people coming in and out.

You certainly don't want people coming home from work coated with strontium; but, especially at scale, it's probably cheaper to take a few protective measures than it is to buy real estate that somebody actually wants. As 'brownfield' sites go, the zone of alienation is pretty seriously brown.

Comment I don't get it. (Score 2) 23

It's not exactly news that Twitter is in need of ways to wring more cash out of their operation; and it's not news that these sorts of compromises and temporarily having your precious brand mouthpiece go off the rails can make customers a bit jumpy, so why don't they offer some appropriately overpriced enhanced authentication setup for the relatively deep pocketed users?

You've got a variety of solid options(RSA fobs, FIDO tokens, PIVs, etc.) for authentication; and could also add some options for delegation/limited roles to suit accounts where multiple people are generating tweets; without just having everyone share credentials in an egregious breach of sensible practice.

It'd hardly be free to implement; but when dealing with customers who routinely buy things like TV advertising time, you could probably get away with charging a fairly decent price for it.

Comment Re:Always a good sign... (Score 1) 111

Plus, the ad guys are busily competing with one another to enhance their techniques; and since they are (on the whole) turning a profit, they have no incentive to stop.

The feds have the disadvantage of being more likely to call down the jackboots on you; but unless particularly irrational their desire to spend money on further surveillance is usually outweighed by their desire to fund other projects once they are reasonably confident that the major threats are being watched.

It has really been terribly depressing watching the breakdown of even the pretense of privacy, and the rise of people talking about the most egregious commercial surveillance like it is inevitable, or even a feature.

Comment Always a good sign... (Score 5, Interesting) 111

The really disturbing thing isn't that some shit Chinese handsets are full of spyware; but that our own technology industry is so overrun with advertisers, tracking, and 'analytics', that we can't distinguish between espionage and the Chinese just catching up with our business models; because the only real difference is that espionage tends to run at a loss, while advertising is economically self sustaining.

Comment Risky? (Score 1) 121

I agree that 'smart glasses' fall into the "not at all clear we can actually find a market for these" category; but 'risky' seems like an odd term.

TI would be more than happy to refer you to somebody who sells suitable displays in small quantities; and Apple engineers presumably have access to quantities of iphone/Apple watch dev boards, so getting a prototype up and running would probably be cheaper than some excessively long meetings.

Doesn't mean they'll necessarily have any better luck getting a useful product out of it; but it is a trifle difficult to call it 'risky' when potential losses are so small compared to the company.

Comment It gets worse! (Score 3, Insightful) 108

Just wait until someone reminds the UK that their own government designed(and widely disseminated both the hardware and the schematics); for a low cost, easy to build submachine gun perfectly suited to the requirements of irregular warfare, guerrilla activity, and abundantly lethal anywhere close range and high rate of fire is an advantage.

There are all kinds of dangerous radicals out there, irresponsibly popularizing implements of mayhem; whatever shall we do?

Comment So, Zuck... (Score 5, Insightful) 232

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

I was considering purchasing a bunch of ad impressions and various social-media astroturf to promote my product on your 'Facebook'; but I hear that it is 'crazy' to believe that Facebook has any influence on audience beliefs or behaviors.

Please clarify.

Sincerely, Your Customers.

Slashdot Top Deals

Can't open /usr/games/lib/fortunes.dat.