Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


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 My suggestion (Score 1) 194

Nationalize all the commercial telecoms. Then convert them to local and regional cooperatives. Communications is a utility now. While we're at it, we can do the same with the commercial power companies. I am lucky enough to live in an area served by an electric co-op. I live next door to people who have a large fee attached to their electric bill just so that the local commercial power company can pretend to build a site for a nuclear plant that will never be constructed.

No more of this phony blackmail. [pun intended.]

Comment Re:Lack of interest in basic science? (Score 3, Informative) 115

Yes. Intel is an Engineering company. And it's a science company.

Have you looked into how a fab works? How semiconductors work? Chipmakers depend more directly upon using and advancing science than possibly any other industry. Oil and gas companies possibly come close. Advancing the state of the chip making art is not about recombining well-known facts of physics in clever ways or managing complexity more creatively (though that's part of it). It's about finding and using new discoveries with science and making use of them at scale. Every technology node ("transistor shrink") requires advancing the limits of manufacturing for thousands of processes. Intel has armies of people trained purely in physics, chemistry, materials science, etc. solving the problems of reliably scaling the manufacture of things that just couldn't be made even just a few years ago.

Yes, they have suppliers who make very specialized equipment. These guys are ostensibly even closer to the "science". But, none of this really works without a lot of cooperation.

Let's be clear: Intel's profits shrink fast if science doesn't advance.

Funding STS is just about the most appropriate thing for these guys to do.

Comment Go Fund Me (Score 1) 508

My wife is a teacher. She uses this at least once a year.

So far, she's used it to buy a a bunch of building blocks, books, a few bean bags, iPad reading and math apps and a few devices for non-verbal kids to learn to communicate.

It's pretty amazing how much people will contribute to helping kids learn. I suspect if you did it thoughtfully, you could get the $170 chromebooks for every kid in your class (or school) who can't afford one.

Comment Re:What I don't like (Score 1) 474

Except that it's not fruitless.

IT keeps systems running so that everyone can get their jobs done without armies of clerks and acres of file warehouses. Development either makes a product or designs the systems that IT operates (or both).

As for the rest of the company: hopefully, whatever they're doing to make the money is a net positive for the rest of us.

People really want things like being recognized, making a difference or being liked (or just having power). It's the nature of IT in large organizations that you will get less opportunities for many of these things. Development usually has more opportunities.

In sales, in production and in many other types of jobs you're likely to be working a deal or making a delivery. You have tangible results and direct contributions to the results. IT makes indirect contributions. It's not fruitless. It just feels that way.

You're going to have to get creative to find ways to feel and to show up to others as a valuable contributor. It's usually completely against the grain for thing-oriented introverts. If you really value how you and others feel about your work, you'll find a way or find another line of work. Good luck.

Comment Not used to quality details? (Score 2, Insightful) 143

I call BS. The people running Chinese factories understand quality far better than most of the world. They are constantly concerned with it and have a mandate to move up the quality and technology chain, else lose their shirts when Vietnam or Bangladesh or some other poor Asian country hits the power curve part of the contract manufacturing business.

This guy must have picked the cheapest of cheap desperate Chinese manufacturers and then decided to ride them like hell on details. Apple, LG, Samsung and so many others build the top-quality devices in China. Anyone credible over there knows what they're doing.

Comment Iteration, Openness (Score 1) 250

There's three basic things that Microsoft is doing right these days and it applies to .NET as well as many of their other technologies / products.

1. They steadily iterate. .NET had the advantage of avoiding a lot of the bad old parts of Java because it came afterward and the designers had a good handle on what wasn't working. When something is missing or isn't working well, they address it in the next release. Microsoft has had a fairly consistent 7 major releases in 12 years. The longest gap was 2.5 years from 1.1 to 2.0 and 3.5 to 4.0. Those were also where the biggest upgrades came from. Java went 4.5 years from v6 to v7 and then almost 3 more years to v8. There's been about 9 major releases in 20 years. The pace is slower, the gaps are longer. By itself this isn't a big deal, but when it comes to evolving to meet the needs of developers, MS has the advantage.

2. Microsoft has figured out how to play in the open. .NET is well on its way to being a completely open, standardized technology. It's becoming viable to run it for real on Linux servers. The web stack is becoming very flexible and powerful. The advantages of openness that used to accrue to Apache and PHP and MySQL are now becoming strengths in .NET as well.

3. .NET has Microsoft's superior documentation and support.

I really used to dislike M$. I wrote a fair amount of Java on Linux. The MS products and operating systems are not cheap. The have been ruthless competitors and sometimes illegally so. But it's really pretty amazing to consider how well they support their stuff and how well they document it relative to the messes I've dealt with in the Java world. Oracle just doesn't appear to have as strong a team at work behind their stuff.

I still love languages like Scala and Python and I still want Linux for most of my web servers, but the gaps are closing and the game is getting really interesting. If you are ignoring Microsoft, you may get caught by surprise.

Submission + - How a Super-Intelligent AI Could Wipe Out Humanity (

the_newsbeagle writes: Oxford University futurist Nick Bostrom thinks we're doomed. It's his job to contemplate existential threats to the human species, and he predicts that a super-smart artificial intelligence program will be the end of us.

His new book, Superintelligence, outlines AI takeover scenarios, discusses what might motivate a superintelligent AI, and lays out reasons why the AI’s pursuit of its goals would likely lead to our extinction. This excerpt from the book imagines a situation in which a developing AI lulls humans into complacency before making a "treacherous turn."

Comment Being a Millionaire (Score 1) 467

My dad was a small-town banker and my father-in-law was a box factory floor manager.

Both managed to save over half a million before they retired through no particular brilliance, just hard work and saving.

If you're a developer younger than 35 and don't save a million before you retire, there's a good chance that you're either not going to retire or you're going to be poor when you do.

Retiring at 65 and living to 85 gets you 50k per year with a million dollars of savings. Investment and interest could extend that another 5 to 10 years. On the other hand, medical technology advancing gives you a pretty good chance of living that long. Save now. Spend later.

Comment Yes, they're bastards. And Greedy. (Score 1) 386

Rich people get income from "investment". Poor people get income by working. When you invest, you take the accumulated surplus work and use it to accumulate a larger surplus. You also retain more surplus. When you work, you directly contribute labor that is needed to sustain life and civilization and give away a "fair" portion of the surplus to your bosses.

We have a sliding tax scale. Everyone gets taxed 15.625% (social security and medicare) on labor. Except if your labor is valued about 2x to 3x above average. After $120k per year, you pay minimal additional SSI/Medicare.
Then there's income. Income tax is mostly paid by fools and people who earn about 2x to 4x the average wage. If you're in the lower class, you probably pay nothing or get a small stipend from the government. If you earn average to about 2x average wage, you most likely pay 8 to 15% of your labor in income tax.

Then there's sales tax. That averages around 9.5%. It's effectively regressive because those of us who spend almost all of our income on things we need end up paying 6 to 10% of our income in sales taxes. Rich people spend very little of their total income in sales tax. They "spend" a lot of their income on generating more income instead of on taxable purchases. The sales tax rate is more like 1 to 2% of rich peoples income.

Then there's capital gains. Rich people earn most of their income from capital gains. They nominally pay 15 to 20% of capital gains in taxes. In reality, the richest people pay almost no capital gains because it's much cheaper to just buy tax loopholes and hire attorneys and accountants.

Lets say you work hard and manage to get yourself into the "upper middle class". Your family makes about $160k per year. Probably 7% of that goes to sales tax. Another 15% to SSI/Medicare. Another 10% to income taxes. Another 4% to various state and local taxes. You're paying about 36% of income in taxes. It could easily be more like 40%. The millionaire a few neighborhoods over? He pays about 3% in sales taxes because he only spends about 500k of his annual income. 20% in income taxes because most of it is capital gains. 5% in state taxes and 4% in SSI/Medicare because he doesn't have to pay much after around $120k. That's right: 32%. Also, his company may be getting tax breaks for "staying in the area" or investing in solar or whatever else he can finagle out of the local and state governments. So that's it for taxes.

Now, lets also look at how income is distributed. We already know that basically, right now, the rich get richer and the poor tread water or get poorer. How come? It pretty much flows naturally. Capitalism is mostly about competition. In nature, competition produces winners and losers. The alpha male lion does most of the mating (hence the "lion's share"). The most well adapted species survive and take over. The rest go extinct. There's a direct parallel between our economic system of unequal gains and the fact that we, as a species, are winning the competition for survival so thoroughly against every other species that we're presently causing the greatest mass extinction event in the history of the world.

Nature is really just an extension of physics whereby biology governs a set of complex chemical interactions that collect, store and expend energy in endlessly varying eddies, pools and swales. Life surfs on the energy gradient that exists between the sun and the vast cold emptiness of space. We are fractal perturbations of the otherwise straight forward march of entropy in the universe. Evolution is the process whereby life develops ever-more efficient and complex means of subsisting on smaller portions and more exotic locales in the energy landscape. This demands that the least efficient competitors die off to make room for more advanced ones.

We are transitioning out of the existing system, riding the phase-change whereby evolution is no longer being playing out exclusively in the biome, but also in memes manifested as technology. Just as the earliest life forms were massively inefficient relative to today's species, they are orders of magnitude more complex and effective at catching energy and complicating the process of entropy than non-living processes. Our technological processes are quite inefficient at harnessing energy but make up for it by having access to immense pools of energy that are unavailable to biological organisms (fossil, nuclear fuels and soon extra-terrestrial solar). Thus the scale of technological processes completely dwarfs that of biology so it can, at present, afford to be inefficient.

Let me pose this question: which ecology has more potential for evolutionary advancement? One where many competitors exist with a gaussian distribution of resources, all with the strong desire to work their way up into the safety and security of the upper class? How about one where a handful of competitors safely control a vast amounts of resources and the majority of competitors have subsistence resources? In the second scenario, most competitors don't have the resources to evolve technologically (try new ventures). In the first scenario, the pace of technological evolution is much faster because so many more experiments (mutations) are being run in parallel. It's a fair analogy to the economic circumstances in the U.S. of the 1950s and 60s and the U.S. of today.

There's another factor to consider here. We are conscious, self-aware entities. At some point, we can look at the situation, do the analysis and conclude that:
1) There's enough resources for everyone. People don't have to starve or even just subsist. Not even some of us.
2) We don't have to kill off or marginalize nature to further our expansion.

We can modulate our the impulse to conquest and expand.
We can work together.
Those who can't or won't, don't really have a place at the table.

It's not inevitable, AND it's also the only future worth having.

It's only by contributing to a shared, peaceful future that each and any of us will find true fulfillment and satisfaction.

Comment Conflict of interest (Score 1) 181

It's simple. On the one hand there is the incentive to make the game enjoyable. On the other hand, there is an incentive to make the game less enjoyable if you don't pay. When you simply pay for access to the game, the incentives align. When you don't, the incentives are at odds. The only mitigating factor is that the game has to be enjoyable enough to get your attention in the first place.

Slashdot Top Deals

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham