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 Not just politics, but fear (Score 1) 344

There is more to it than federal research subsidies and politics. There is genuine fear. Fear does not need a basis in fact to be real.

A large part of the public is afraid of anything radioactive. It's invisible, has no smell, can not be felt or heard and it can kill you. It's the perfect bogey-man. I have found that facts don't usually matter when someone is truly afraid.

Then there's the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The people there are afraid for their jobs. The result is paranoia in regulation. If they decide that high-tech pipe B might possibly be even slightly better than high-tech pipe A, they will mandate an upgrade for all plants still under construction, even if it means jack-hammering 12 ft of reinforced concrete to replace the pipes.

When you factor in the lawsuits from self-appointed watchdog groups it becomes impossible to estimate either the total cost or when the plant will come online. With those in doubt it is impossible to determine whether the plant will be a good investment, and thus no private firm will take the risk.

Comment It could be fear of the Congress (Score 2, Interesting) 190

There is a very real possibility that ISP's will be required to enforce copyright laws in the same way that convenience stores are required to enforce age limits for alcohol and tobacco. ISP's might also lose the "safe harbor" provisions and become "accessories" to the actions of their users.

If either of these possibilities becomes law the ISP's will be required to shut down IP infringing traffic. So it could be evidence that ISP's are looking for a way to comply with such laws should they be passed.

It would not be the first time that the U.S. Congress has put a deadline on a technology which did not exist yet.

"No man's life, liberty or property is safe when congress is in session."

Comment Re:Simplicity (Score 2, Insightful) 460

Another feature is software simplicity. This may not be an issue for the laptop, but it is an issue for the embedded system. Or it can be during development.

USB is a complex protocol which requires a fair amount of code and data structures to support. A serial port on the other hand requires less than a page of code (in it's most simple form). The result is that when a system crashes, a serial port has a much better chance of being operational than a USB interface. Many systems with serial ports are designed so that a break signal on the line will interrupt the processor from whatever it's doing and send it directly to the debugger. When you can examine the entrails it is much easier to divine the cause.

Of course it is possible to design a bit of hardware which looks like a USB serial port adapter to a laptop and a serial port to the embedded system. Even better would be a new USB interface which gives full access to system memory and processor state.

Comment Re:Presumably... (Score 5, Interesting) 416

Presumably all DVD readers made for the next 1000 years will be backward compatible. Have you tried to read an 8-inch floppy disk lately? And they're only three decades old!

When the equipment for reading these starts to become museum pieces people will migrate the data to whatever the state of the art is at the time. Then these stone DVD's will last a long time in the landfill.

It does raise some fun things to speculate about though.

There are some ancient writings which no one knows how to read anymore. Will future archaeologists wonder what the microscopic pits in our coasters with holes in them are all about?

Will they suffer from data overload?

What will future archaeologists, with PhD's, think when they read what you, personally, wrote in a forum? Now that's scary.

Hardware Hacking

GPL Firmware For Canon 5D Mk II Adds Features For Filmmakers 117

tramm writes "I've released an extension for the Canon 5D Mark II DSLR's video mode to enable functions that are useful for independent film makers. While the camera produces a great movie out of the box, the audio is a severely limited. My code adds features that should have been in the software, like on-screen stereo audio meters, live audio monitoring, reduced audio noise and crop marks for different formats. An introductory video shows the new features in use and an audio evaluation compares it to the stock firmware with very good results. It's similar to the incredibly flexible CHDK software for Canon's point-and-shoot cameras, but targeted at the film makers using the 5D. The Magic Lantern firmware is GPLed and new features will be written to make the camera even more useful on set. There is a wiki for documentation and development."

Spammer Alan Ralsky Pleads Guilty 144

Czmyt sends the excellent news that one of the US's most notorious spammers has pleaded guilty and could serve 6 years in jail. "Five individuals pleaded guilty today in federal court in Detroit for their roles in a wide-ranging international stock fraud scheme involving the illegal use of bulk commercial e-mails, or 'spamming'... Alan M. Ralsky, 64, of West Bloomfield, Mich., and Scott K. Bradley, 38, also of West Bloomfield, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and to violate the CAN-SPAM Act. ... Ralsky and Bradley also pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering, and violating the CAN-SPAM Act. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Ralsky acknowledges he is facing up to 87 months in prison and a $1 million fine..."

Comment Re:False-Positive Rate? (Score 1) 369

This device sounds a lot like a non-contact polygraph. Now polygraph testing has been somewhat discredited of late, but that does not mean that it's useless.

It could become a useful supplement to the current search process by indicating who the agents should spend extra time on, or who needs to be checked by a more experienced screener.

Comment Sorry, Rail still not happening (Score 4, Insightful) 897

Rail has been a popular environmentalist cure for traffic, pollution and fossil fuel use since at least the Arab oil embargo of 1972.

The issues which have prevented its universal adoption across the United States are still here.

  1. Legal costs
  2. Right-of-way acquisition costs
  3. Construction costs
  4. Traffic Disruption due to construction (an intangible but real cost)
  5. Operating costs
  6. Maintenance costs
  7. Americans still want the freedom that cars give them.

Don't hold your breath on rail.

Comment Re:SUVs (Score 4, Insightful) 897

Detroit didn't come up with SUVs to dupe anybody. SUVs were popular because of their versatility, perceived sturdiness and their status.

The Big 3 have labor costs about three times higher than other auto makers in America. They also pay pension and health care benefits for about twice as many people as are currently working. In order to make a profit they had to sell large high-priced cars.

The high gas prices scared a lot of people away from SUVs for now, but what Americans want in their cars has not changed.

First of all, the automobile represents freedom. Freedom to go where you want, when you want. You are not tied to mass transit schedules and routes.

Americans still want cars that are status symbols. Even those who buy hybrids do so to show how much they care about the environment.

Americans want cars that are safe and useful. A family of five wants a car that can comfortably haul the family plus a couple of friends plus their stuff.


Google Maps Shows Chinese Nuclear Sub Prototype 339

mytrip writes "An image of what could be one of China's new nuclear ballistic missile submarines is available on the Google Maps and Google Earth satellite-image site, a defense blogger claimed Tuesday. The satellite picture was discovered by Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project for the Federation of American Scientists, and announced Tuesday on his blog. Kristensen believes the picture, taken by the Quickbird satellite late last year, reveals China's new Jin-class, or Type 094, nuclear ballistic missile sub. The new sub class is approximately 35 feet longer than its predecessor, the Xia-class, also known as Type 092, according to two images Kristensen compares on the blog. The Jin-class sub has an extended midsection that houses 12 missile tubes and part of the reactor compartment, Kristensen explains."

Submission + - DRM Guru: New BluRay Won't Be Cracked For 10 Years (

Mike writes: "Supposedly the latest issue of HMM contains a quote from Richard Doherty, a Media analyst with Envisioneering Group which claims that "BD+, unlike AACS, which suffered a partial hack last year, won't likely be breached for 10 years." Doherty also said, "and if so, the damage would affect one film and one player." Will the BD+ format really be impervious to hackers for a decade? I've got ten bucks that says it won't. Any takers?"

Submission + - PostgreSQL publishes first real benchmark ( 1

greg1104 writes: "The current version of PostgreSQL now has its first real benchmark, a SPECjAppServer2004 submission from Sun Microsystems. The results required substantial tuning of many performance-related PostgreSQL parameters, some of which are set to extremely low values in the default configuration — a known issue that contributes to why many untuned PostgreSQL installations appear sluggish compared to its rivals. The speed result is close but slightly faster than an earlier Sun submission using MySQL 5 (with enough hardware differences to make a direct comparison of those results unfair), and comes close to keeping up with Oracle on similarly priced hardware — but with a large software savings. Having a published result on the level playing field of an industry-standard benchmark like SPECjAppServer2004, with documentation on all the tuning required to reach that performance level, should make PostgreSQL an easier sell to corporate customers who are wary of adopting open-source applications for their critical databases."

Submission + - PC Power Management, ACPI Explained In Detail

DK writes: Computer performance have increased at an amazing rate in recent years, and unfortunately so does power consumption. An ultimate gaming system equipped with a quad-core processor, two NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra, 4 sticks of DDR2 memory and a few hard drives can easily consume 500W without doing anything! To reduce power wastage, a few industry standards have been developed to make our computers work more efficiently like APM and ACPI. ACPI is the successor of APM and is explained in detail in this article.

Slashdot Top Deals

If you had better tools, you could more effectively demonstrate your total incompetence.