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Comment Re:Ha-Ha! (Score 1) 257

Windows is the last remaining bastion of the keyboard-accessible GUI. Mac never had it,

Huh? OS X is completely keyboard accessible (though there's a thing that you need to flick in System Preferences to enable it). In any OS X dialog that uses the standard NSAlertPanel interfaces, enter will perform the okay action and escape the cancel action.

Comment Re:Ha-Ha! (Score 2) 257

Windows excels in building user facing apps with good UI and good experiences

An odd quote about an OS that manages to get the buttons in the wrong order for basically every dialog box. Quick quiz: In your web browser's tool bar, does the left or right arrow mean forwards? In any random Windows dialog box, is the left or right button the proceed forwards one?

Comment Re:Just what the world needed most urgently... (Score 1) 184

Add to that, anyone who says that static typing improves performance clearly hasn't been paying attention to the last 30 years of compiler research. The StrongTalk team disproved this hypothesis quite soundly for any language that includes subtyping. The problem is that static type annotations must be conservative. They give you loose guarantees that are always true, but for optimisation you care about what tight guarantees that are usually true. Profiling (which JIT environments do at run time and AoT environments do as part of the build) gives far more useful information.

Submission + - SPAM: It Can Power a Small Nation. But This Wind Farm in China Is Mostly Idle.

schnell writes: The New York Times reports on a massive wind farm in remote Gansu province that boasts more than 7,000 wind turbines but whose capacity goes more than 60% unused. The wind farm epitomizes China's struggles in its efforts to become a world renewable energy leader: the Chinese economy is slumping, leading to decreased energy demand; the country lacks the infrastructure to haul power from remote wind-producing regions to industrial centers; and government policies continue to favor the domestic coal industry. China has 92,000 wind turbines, more than double the US's capacity, but China generates only 3.3% of its electricity from wind compared to 4.7% in the United States.

Comment Re:Or just go back to the way things were before (Score 1) 5

This is personal to me. A friend I knew in high school, went into the service with, and kept in touch with couldn't afford insurance and caught appendicitis. It ruined his credit and nearly his family. In 1992 when he had a heart attack, he just laid down and died rather than calling 911.

That's what happens in the US when you work full time and can't afford insurance.

Submission + - SPAM: Wyndham Worldwide Portal down for 8.5 hours

Jager Dave writes: Unreported, but experienced first-hand, the Wyndham Worldwide Portal, the cloud interface that runs reservations and availability for probably 75% of their hotel chain (they are the largest hotel chain in the world), was down from approximately noon until 8:30p (EST), leaving a great deal of their properties dark. When contacted, the statement was "We're aware of the issue and are working on a resolution".

No URL, because it was not reported on. Yet.

Submission + - Gambler Phil Ivey Sued For Being Too Good (thefederalist.com) 2

schwit1 writes: “The Borgata alleged that Ivey’s actions, which the casino agreed to in advance, constitute cheating. In fact, they merely constitute a gambler getting a legitimate advantage over the casino. In this age of cozy cooperation between the state and the gaming industry, that’s something that’s just not allowed.”

Submission + - Driverless electric shuttle being tested in downtown Vegas (yahoo.com)

schwit1 writes: There's a new thrill on the streets of downtown Las Vegas, where high- and low-rollers alike are climbing aboard what officials call the first driverless electric shuttle operating on a public U.S. street.

The oval-shaped shuttle began running Tuesday as part of a 10-day pilot program, carrying up to 12 passengers for free along a short stretch of the Fremont Street East entertainment district.

The vehicle has a human attendant and computer monitor, but no steering wheel and no brake pedals. Passengers push a button at a marked stop to board it.

The shuttle uses GPS, electronic curb sensors and other technology, and doesn't require lane lines to make its way.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Are Headphone Cables Designed To Fail Within Weeks Of Purchase? 3

dryriver writes: I'm a heavy headphone user. It doesn't matter what headphones I buy — Sony, Philips, Logitech you name it — the headphones typically fail to work properly within a few weeks of purchase. It is never the headphones/earbuds themselves that fail. It is always the part of the headphone cable where the small wires connect to the almost indestructible 3.5mm metal headphone jack. Result? Either the left or right ear audio cuts out and you need new headphones. Putting 1/2 a cent worth of extra rubber/plastic/metal around that part of the cable to strengthen it would likely fix the problem very effectively. The headphones would last for a year or even longer. But almost no manufacturer seems to do this. I keep trying new models and brands, and they all have the same "cable goes bad" problem — earbuds that came with a Sony MP3 player I bought developed the problem within 15 minutes of first use. My question to Slashdot: Do headphone manufacturers do this deliberately? Do they think "We'll sell 40% more headphones each year if the average pair doesn't last beyond 3 months of normal use" and engineer a deliberate weakness into the headphone cable? How can these major brands with all their product engineers not be able to strengthen the most obviously failure-prone part of the headphone cable a bit?

Comment Re:How many *useful* packages? (Score 1) 132

I agree that it's nice to have a large standard library that's decomposed in such a way that you can only pick the bits that you need, but a good standard library follows a common set of conventions and is designed in such a way that no individual parts conflict with others. NPM is not this: individual developers provide functionality using their own set of conventions and packages often conflict (made worse by JavaScript's lack of easy tools for encapsulation). As such, you may pick half a dozen useful functions, find them all in separate NPM packages, each with their own idea of what a sane parameter order or callback design is, and find that they all add a method on String with the same name and different semantics.

Comment Re:This will never happen, even if I want it to. (Score 1) 266

Why on earth do you think that the ruling class is unhappy with this one? A lot of people used the referendum to protest the policies of the Westminster Parliament that have been to the detriment of people outside of the South East for decades. The ruling class are now 'doing what the people demanded' by shifting more power to Westminster.

Comment Am I the only one... (Score 5, Interesting) 128

.... who can't help but cheer at my screen when they nail one of those landings? Now I finally understand how sports fans feel when they watch a game and do the same thing ;)

One thing nobody can deny about them is optimism. ;) Seriously, their IPS numbers are, pardon the pun, out of this world. $200k per booster launch. $500k per tanker launch. I mean, really? Good luck with that. No, seriously, good luck with that; I won't be expecting anything close to that, but please by all means prove me wrong ;) ITS would be a great system to have, I've been playing around with some Venus trajectories with it recently. Looks like it can do a low-energy transit with nearly 300 tonnes of payload from LEO and back again with the same, over 400 if starting at a high orbit - but from an economics perspective the high energy transfers actually make more sense.

I noticed a lot of people were confused about why Musk wanted the trips to be so short and was willing to sacrifice so much payload to do so - many assumed it had to do with radiation or something. But the issue is, when your craft costs so much but your launch costs are cheap, you can't have it spending all of its time drifting in deep space, you need to get it back for a new mission as soon as possible. There's a balancing point, in that if you try to go too fast, you reduce useful payload below the point of making up for it with going faster - but a minimum energy trajectory is just not optimal when the ratio between launch costs and transit vehicle cost is so extreme. I come up with the same thing from Venus as they were getting for Mars, although for the Venus case you end up aerobraking to a highly elliptical orbit rather than to the surface for ISRU refill (you need ISRU, but for the ascent stages, so it's not realistic to do so for the return stage in the nearer term). So for Venus they get no refill like on Mars, but they also don't have to do a powered landing nor do an ascent on return - it's six of one, half a dozen of the other. Both are quite accessible with it.

Comment Re:Great strides (Score 1) 128

It depends what you mean by "refurbishing"; each element is different.

The solid rocket boosters, for example, suffered a hard impact into salt water. They then had to be fished out of the water. And of course you don't just "refill" a SRB, they have to be taken apart and recast, then put back together.

The ET is disposable, and had to be rebuilt from scratch.

The orbiter was legitimately reusable, but with design flaws.

I don't blame the shuttle program - they were sort of pigeonholed into this dead end by circumstances. The concept came about during the heyday of the Apollo Programme, when NASA budgets were serious. It was supposed to be a much more reusable, much more maintainable, and somewhat smaller system. It was supposed to then have a huge flight rate supporting all of these big projects that were on NASA's docket, including a permanent moon base and a huge manned orbital station dwarfing ISS, which was supposed to replace Skylab.

But of course, Vietnam and the realities of having soundly trounced the USSR in the space race led to their budgets being slashed, which pushed the program into ever more untenable positions until it was nothing more than a jobs programme. Forget full flyback reusability of all parts. Forget the titanium frame for the shuttle, which would have let it run hot and thus not required so sensitive of a TPS. Go begging for money and be forced to modify the design to meet Air Force requirements, pushing you into an inferior design position. On and on.

If I'd fault them for anything, it'd be for going straight for a full reusable workhorse rather than a small-scale pilot programme first. But those were the days of optimism. Optimism which only recently seems to start being regained.

Either way, the Falcon boosters are a very different beast. A vertical soft landing is hugely different from the SRBs, yet the thermal issues are far easier than with the Shuttle. And the Merlins were designed from the start under the principle of preventing the need for a full teardown. That doesn't mean that they will be cheap to reuse. But it does mean that they have the possibility of it.

I do think SpaceX had a rather clever strategy, in that while their goal was reusable, they made a rocket that in the process was cheap as a disposable. So they could get volume and flight history while working on getting the kinks out. They may have flown too close to the sun with the densified propellants and (externally) unlined COPVs, but obviously, with a company like this, their whole existence is to push the envelope.

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