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Comment Re:Ask Slashdot (Score 0) 152

Despite the lowly vocabulary, the parent is 100% correct.

The best indicator ever that something is just useless and completely ignored were it not as a toy, is that there is no open source alternative being worked on.

I mean, some toy projects even get the open source alternative going. When it doesn't have, it is a very clear indicator that nobody cares outside of the little world that is san-francisco bay area.

Comment Re:politifact says: mostly true (Score 5, Insightful) 106

It's easy to twist perception when you provide a statistic without the context necessary to understand it.

For instance, saying that 26 reports are hoaxes makes it sounds like the issue is being massively overblown in the media. But we know from other reporting that Samsung has received at least 92 reports in the US alone . And according to the summary, only 9 of those 26 "hoax" reports originated in the US, so if we just take the numbers at face value, it would suggest that at least 90% of the reports are NOT hoaxes.

To say the least, putting it in that context paints a very different picture.

And that's before you even start to look at what they've deemed to be a "hoax". If you do so, you'll realize pretty quickly that what they've actually done is identify 26 cases that may be hoaxes. A more accurate way labeling of their numbers would suggest that 12 of the 26 worldwide reports were verifiably not the phone's fault, but that the remaining 14 were unverifiable one way or the other. Beyond that and you're starting to ascribe intent, rather than sticking to the facts.

If we want to get a better sense of what's actually going on, it makes sense to exclusively limit ourselves to verifiable reports. If we start by assuming that 12 of 26 is a representative approximation for how many reports are verifiable out of the ones Samsung labeled as "hoaxes", then it would suggest that roughly 4 of the 9 "hoax" reports from the US are verifiable and 5 are unverifiable. That leaves us with 87 reports (i.e. 92 - 5) that should be verifiable one way or the other, of which 83 (i.e. 87 - 4) would be verifiably accurate. Given that 1M units were sold in the US, we can say that the verifiable failure rate to date is 83 out of every 1M, with that number likely rising over time as more verifiable reports come in.

Unfortunately for Samsung, that number is WELL beyond the 24 out of every 1M estimation that they publicly stated a few weeks back, so it should come as no surprise that they'd be trying to put a positive spin on things.

And, of course, an easy way to put a positive spin on things is to throw out some big numbers in a vacuum and hope people don't ask too many questions. Which is what they seem to be doing here.

Comment Re:Let me see if I understand (Score 1) 83

If I offered you a bribe in exchange for providing me with info that your NDA says you can't share, I may not be a party to your NDA, but I can still be sued for inciting you to breach it. The same applies here...sort of. The interesting wrinkle in this case is that the contract itself was likely illegal from the beginning due to the terms in contained, meaning that it was never enforceable to begin with.

Comment Re:The obvious next step (Score 1) 139

I'd suggest that the obvious next step is to produce a device and corresponding software that will allow a user to see through frosted glass or the wavy glass blocks that are frequently used in the bathrooms of homes. Both are intended to let natural light in while providing privacy by breaking up/diffusing the image in ways that make it impossible for the human brain to reconstruct, but there's no reason (I can see) that a computer shouldn't eventually be able to reconstruct the original image, allowing someone to effectively look through privacy glass as if it was perfectly clear.

The applications in law enforcement and voyeurism are obvious.

Comment Re:Wonder what the RNC is doing about now? (Score 1) 333

most reporters are well-educated.

[citation needed]

I'd wager that the most well-known reporters are well-educated, but most in general? I very much so doubt that. Just think of how many ditzes and idiots you've seen reporting the news over the years, if not live, then in blooper reels and the like. They're way more common than the smart ones.

Comment Re:Irish blessings (Score 1) 579

It's worth noting that their agreement with Ireland actually increased their IRS tax bill. The IRS demands X amount for any profits you make, but allows you to write off the amount that you paid in taxes to local governments elsewhere for profits generated there, meaning that your final IRS bill is X - local taxes you paid (we'll call it Y). By reducing their tax burden in Europe, they reduced the amount they could claim as a tax write-off, meaning that the Y value was actually larger than it would have been otherwise.

To get around that fact, they've been taking advantage of a loops that under certain circumstances allows them to defer paying IRS taxes if they keep the money outside of the US (i.e. don't repatriate it). They've been keeping the money overseas for years now in the hope that the US will have a tax holiday that would allow them to bring it back without paying the full amount, but now that the jig is up in Europe, there's no reason to keep the money over there, so they're going to go ahead and repatriate a large chunk of it, by the sound of things. It's just been sitting there doing nothing since it's been earmarked for coming back to the US, so it's no skin off their nose, but it is an interesting wrinkle in this whole fracas.

Comment Re:So what was the prior feature? (Score 1) 160

You don't need Tesla Autopilot to live (drive the car) compared to an dialysis machine.

If you are going to die unless technology intervenes, then, yes, the technology is needed for your survival. Period. It makes no difference when or even if you recognize your need. The need exists, regardless of your perception. A Tesla driver suffering from Imminent Fatal Crash Syndrome who could have been saved by Autopilot needs Autopilot in exactly the same way that a patient suffering from kidney failure who could have been saved by dialysis treatment needs dialysis treatment.

The reason your statement appears to hold water is because you're comparing the general population on one side against the small group of people whose need we recognize on the other side, rather than comparing like with like. What you should have been comparing was the people on each side whose lives would actually be saved by the relevant technologies.

More or less, you're getting hung up on your perception of the situation. You knew about the dialysis patient's need in advance, so you think that they have a need where Tesla driver's don't, but the fact is, most people will never have to face either situation, so your logic that says Tesla drivers "don't need" Autopilot would also tell us that most people "don't need" dialysis. In both cases, however, there are people who will die unless the technology intervenes. They both need the technology to survive.

What you're defending [...]

You do realize that people can scroll up just a hair to read the last line of my previous post and see that I said nothing of the sort, right? I actually said the opposite of what you claim I did. The only thing I was defending was the application of logic and critical thinking in our discourse, regardless of which side you take.

[...] half-baked technology that can kill multiple people being marketed as fully baked

Pretend for a moment that Autopilot was replacing a previous automated system that was exactly as safe as human drivers are today (i.e. 30,000 fatalities per year in the US). If we could say that Autopilot was 5% safer than the earlier system, we wouldn't hesitate to replace the earlier system, would we? It'd mean saving 1500 lives each year in the US alone, while still allowing 28,500 deaths. It wouldn't be perfect, but it'd still be a large improvement over the status quo, so we'd consider it well worth it, right?

But because Autopilot is taking control from humans, rather than from an automated system, we (myself included, I'll admit) won't consider it fully-baked until it is SIGNIFICANTLY beyond a 5% improvement. Even though Tesla is claiming that it's already nearly twice as safe as the average human driver, we still won't trust it. We each like to think that we're above-average drivers (even though half of us statistically aren't) and we fear ceding our lives to systems outside of our control, even if they're demonstrably safer than keeping control to ourselves. It's a matter of perception for us, rather than fact. Our perception tells us that the handful of deaths attributable to Autopilot are a huge cause for concern, regardless of the fact that they may have come at the benefit of many more lives saved.

Again, as I already said, I don't think that Autopilot is ready for primetime just yet, and I'm not saying that I buy into Tesla's line that Autopilot is already safer than humans (to be clear, I absolutely do not buy into that line, based on firsthand accounts I've heard of how it performs), but I also want us to do a better job of separating perception from reality. We got security theater at airports the last time we let perception shape our reality when it comes to the topic of our safety. I don't want to see a repeat.

Comment Re:So what was the prior feature? (Score 5, Insightful) 160

So he admits from his own mouth that the previous technology is a killer?

That's faulty logic. If a hospital upgrades to some just-released equipment and is able to save more people as a result, that doesn't mean that they killed the people who could have been saved by that equipment, had it been available earlier. The state of the art is constantly getting better. Admitting that the newer stuff is more safe than the older stuff doesn't mean that the older stuff was killing people. Quite the contrary, since in many cases that older stuff saved a number of lives that would have been lost had people relied on the alternatives that were otherwise available at the time. Saying that the newer stuff is even more safe just means that we have something even better now.

Of course, I say all of this to point out the fault in your logic, not to suggest that I think Autopilot is ready for primetime already. Because it's not.

Comment Re:cable is not over the air waves (Score 1) 149

Let me add some emphasis to your question, since it's really two questions in one, both of which are worth addressing...

why does the FCC get to regulate it?

Because Congress transferred the Interstate Commerce Commission's telecommunications authority to the FCC when they abolished the ICC. That's why they're the ones doing the regulating. And while it's true that their original mandate only applied to the airwaves, the ICC was abolished the same year that the FCC was founded--1934--so for all intents and purposes the FCC had the authority to regulate wires right from the start.

why does the FCC get to regulate it?

Because your assertion that a cable company "ought to be able to do whatever they want with [a wire] as it does not interfere with other devices" is woefully misguided. For one, cable companies don't just "put some wires down"; they rely on one of our most precious public resources: access to public property. They oftentimes don't own the easement or utility pole that their line runs through or across, so it's to be expected that their access would be subject to some form of regulation.

Moreover, there are decades of precedent supporting the FCC's authority to impose regulations of exactly this sort. The best and most relevant example would probably be what happened when the Carterfone entered the scene in the late 1960s. At the time, AT&T was requiring that all customers rent their handsets from them and prohibited their customers from connecting devices made by anyone else. The FCC eventually ruled that AT&T was required to permit all lawful devices on its network, which paved the way not just for competing handsets, but also for new classes of devices such as answering machines.

In much the same way that Ma Bell was protecting its monopoly by tying their service to mandatory devices that needn't be mandatory, so too are cable companies doing the same thing today with the local monopolies that they've managed to carve out for themselves. The FCC has already established its authority to regulate in this area, and they have every reason to exercise it here, given the consumer-hostile situation that we currently all find ourselves in. The FCC has had difficulty establishing its authority to attack the root of the problem (i.e. the state laws and exclusivity agreements that lock out competition), but that doesn't mean they can't go after the symptoms that fall under their jurisdiction, which is exactly what they're doing.

Comment Re:No 4K UHDBlu-Ray player? (Score 3, Insightful) 82

While it struck me as baffling too, now that I've thought about it some more, I'm inclined to think that it honestly shouldn't have come as a surprise. 4K blu-rays entered the race late, stumbled out of the gate, and found that they were not only entering a market in rapid decline, they were doing so without the benefit of the factors that allowed their predecessor to enjoy a middling level of success.

The fact that the Xbox S supports 4K blu-rays does nothing to change the situation at large, since it's a mid-cycle console upgrade that flew by the majority of the public without them even realizing it had happened. There's virtually no chance of it changing the situation that drove Sony's decision.

Mind you, this is much to my chagrin, since I'm still in the habit of buying physical media and making high quality rips of it so that I can control where and how I view it, but it's pretty clear that Sony has looked at the sales numbers for 4K discs up to this point, seen that they've failed to turn the tide of declining sales, and have decided that it's not worth the couple of extra bucks per console to support a format that will never manage to gain traction in the market at large.


Just to break things down a bit more, since I realize I said a lot of things without explaining what I meant...

Sales Decline
Even though blu-ray won the format war over HD-DVD, blu-ray sales have been declining for about five years, with the decline hitting double-digit percentages for the last three years straight. It's a format in falling-off-a-cliff levels of decline, despite no physical successor displacing it. DVD sales are down by a similar amount. On the flipside, streaming is up. WAY up. The writing is on the wall for physical media, and has been for some time, whether we like it or not.

Beneficial Factors
This is happening, despite the fact that blu-ray had every opportunity to succeed. Getting people to buy an expensive new TV would typically be a major hurdle, but the falling price of HDTVs around the time that blu-rays launched (coupled with the fact that massive, flatscreen HDTVs were a compelling upgrade over the bulky, small CRTs that everyone had at that point) helped drive an incredible adoption rate that far outpaced the typical upgrade cycle.

4K's Hurdles
In contrast, while 4K blu-rays have to cross that same hurdle of getting people to buy new TVs, we haven't seen 4K TV adoption move anywhere close to the same speed that we saw with HDTVs (i.e. it's on par with the typical replacement cycle). 4K TVs are proving to not be a compelling upgrade for most people over existing HDTVs, presumably because the benefits of UHD over HD are lost on most people.

Late Arrival and Competition
Moreover, YouTube, Netflix, and other streaming services have been providing 4K content (or higher) to the people who wanted it for years at this point, and they did so without requiring big ticket purchases of their users. The first 4K blu-ray discs didn't start shipping until March of this year, so the format was both late to the game and priced higher than its competition, meaning that it's, unsurprisingly, fared quite poorly in the market.

Other Moves
On the other hand, we've seen Sony work on making PlayStation Vue a more compelling service. When the Olympics were ongoing, I saw numerous mentions of it as a viable alternative to cable subscriptions and services like Sling TV. And this is in addition to Sony's ever-expanding, existing library of digitally distributed games and movies available in the PlayStation Store.

All of which is to say, between the market and Sony's other moves, it shouldn't have come as a surprise to us that this would happen, even though we might wish otherwise.

Comment Re:Feels a bit ... too much (Score 1) 145

Can't forget Audrey Hepburn appearing in a candy commercial, decades after her death.

And remember when those Matrix-movies-that-shall-not-be-named had hundreds of Agent Smiths? The technology they used to scan Hugo Weaving and replicate him digitally was already being billed at that time as a way to bring dead actors back, or else bring back younger versions of actors who've aged significantly...which is exactly what we saw in one of the newer Terminator movies (whatever the Christian Bale one was called), when a digitally created, young Ah-nold suddenly showed up to reprise the role.

Captain America: Civil War even got in on the action, with a Robert Downey Jr. who was several decades younger in a flashback scene. When he was on the talk show circuit to market the film, he mentioned how weird it was to see himself like that, but I suspect we'll only be seeing more of it, since if there's one thing Hollywood likes to do, it's to rehash things they know we liked the first time around.

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