Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


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

Comment No matter how clueless we are ... (Score 4, Insightful) 259

... machine learning is the solution. And cancer is not "like a computer virus that invades and corrupts the body's cells". That is how an actual virus works, hence the analogy by which the "computer virus" term came to be. Cancer is more like when a bit randomly flips in RAM and then by pure coincidence this causes a memory leak within an infinite loop that spreads shit all over the place until everything comes crashing down.

Comment Re:Brought to you by SJWs (Score 4, Informative) 128

What I wonder after reading this sorry story is: was Holmes aware that she was selling snake oil all along, or did she start out with the genuinely belief that her company could make the technology work? I'm willing to believe the latter: they did try, but the longer their breakthrough failed to materialize, the more they had to shift their efforts towards keeping up appearances, or "controlling the narrative" as it's called.

Holmes new the technology cannot possibly work. According to the articles I have read on the topic (including the one in Vanity Fair) she was told so directly by her professors at Stanford when she approached them with the startup idea. Her chief scientist was telling her that the thing is not working. What did she do? She stuffed her board with people who new nothing about biology, chemistry or engineering. The job of her second in command at the company was exclusively to suppress information leaking out. So yes, she new what she was doing: scamming people out of their money.

The VF article also tells a disturbing story how friends and political connections of her father basically propped up the company, gave it legitimacy and suppressed inquiry through legal threats (David Boies) and by using their commanding position in the military (Gen. James Mattis).

Comment Probably no, but then who can tell for sure? (Score 1) 470

Eradicating an abundant species that is in the middle of a food chain tends to impact the food chain above it. Anything that feeds on mosquitoes or their larvae, as well as any animal that feeds on the animals that eat mosquitoes may be impacted. It will also depend on the specific ecosystem where the mosquitoes are being eliminated. Tropical forests with their diversity of insects will be less affected (although highly specialized species like Gambia fish will go the way of the Dodo bird without mosquitoes). Tundra ecosystems where mosquitoes are large chunk of the insect biomass will be hit harder. You can also have effects that are hard to anticipate. For example, caribou migration routes are effected by mosquitoes (caribous like us tend to avoid being attacked by large swarms of insects). This in turn affects where lichens are being eaten and where caribous fertilize the soil with their dung. It may sound as cliche, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and we have very compelling evidence that pathogens, including the ones spread by mosquitoes, affect the evolution of their hosts. On the other hand, what are the chances that wiping out couple of the hundreds of mosquito species will have a major long lasting impact? All the consequences and their impact are hard to predict, but easy to verify once they happen (at least the short term ones). The best approach would be to eliminate locally mosquitoes in various environments and measure the effect on the ecosystem. If nothing bad happens than let's scale up and eliminate more of them (yeah I know, humanity's ability to agree on long term systematic approach and execute it to completion is not one of its strengths). For a while we will not have to scratch ourselves, then some other bug will fill the niche (blood is too tasty and filling meal, to be left wandering around).

Comment President Trump (Score 1) 409

Because of Hillary we are going to have president Trump. Reading through the articles it appears that her defense boils down to her being complete moron. She has hard time recalling anything (really she did not recall training, there must be a paper record if she took it), and she thought the common prefix for classified paragraphs, "(C)", was indicating alphabetized order (seems her version of the English alphabet consists of a single C letter repeated over and over again).

Comment Re:Mental illness (Score 2) 396

My understanding of the UCLA copyright policy is that the rights are divided by the university and the people who created the code (staff, students). The university has the largest share. I am not sure students are always entitled to a share. It will probably depend to a large degree on how involved the supervisor was in developing the code and how much the student contributed intellectually to the project. There is a quote in LA Times that suggests that the professor was more involved than usual with the work of the student:

Klug, who was described by friends as a kind and caring man, worked diligently to help Sarkar finish his dissertation and graduate, even though the quality of Sarkar’s work was not stellar, one source said. “Bill was extremely generous to this student, who was a subpar student,” the person said.

Passing code and data from one student to another is a normal and common practice that ensures continuity of the project, reproducibility of the research, etc. This guy is clearly nuts.

Comment Not if you can avoid it (Score 1) 982

I was just dealing with the fallout of a forced win7 to win10 upgrade. Windows 10 is more resource hungry - particularly RAM. The recommended 2GB are a joke. You need 6GB for it to feel usable. It also lacks drivers for ubiquitous hardware modules that are not that fresh. In my case it was NVIDIA G210M card with hybrid engine - this is the setup where the laptop switches between discrete and integrated graphics, depending on the power state. The lack of support was something I could live with - just use the old windows 7 driver. Except I can't, because updates are now mandatory and automatic. Windows 10 insists on updating to the latest and greatest nvidia driver, which fails causing the OS to use the default VGA driver and produce grotesquely distorted picture. So buying new PC with windows 10 is ok. Upgrading an old system, particularly a laptop may be very frustrating. Failed updates sometimes result in unbootable system, which in my case could only be fixed with clean install. Did I mention that you have no control over the updates??? The come the privacy issues, which are discussed at length by others.

Comment Re:Wah wah they're automating Wendy's (Score 1) 415

And also time to start thinking about what to do when most jobs are done by robots (owned by rich people or corporations) and almost everyone is unemployed.

Exactly that! There is no cost to labor that is low enough to make it competitive with modern day automation. Talking heads that say minimum wage rises are making companies to switch to automation, don't know what they are talking about (TFA shows that quite well). Sure strawberry picking may still be a human domain, but for how long? Even if human labor was free, it will be hard press to compete with the consistency and productivity that automation brings. So yes, it is time to think how a society will function when most people will not have jobs. What would happen to such society if labor is the only source of income and jobless people are being talked down?

Comment Re:MVNOs instead? (Score 1) 33

Google definitely has the right idea with Project Fi. Project Fi alone can make you buy into their android ecosystem. I have been using it for a few months. It truly shines when traveling abroad. For the first time in my life I feel like I have a real mobile device. I no longer need to swap sim cards or pay roaming (especially data roaming!). The other killer feature are the seamless wifi call integration. Helps a lot in area with poor wireless coverage (my home). It is beyond me why Apple will discard the idea so lightly. They are facing stiff competition both in the device and multimedia business. Integrating the network into their ecosystem is not a bad way to grow their business and increase the value of their current offerings.

Comment Re:It's a matter of congestion (Score 1) 381

Self driving cars reduce congestion the same way food reduces obesity. What helps with congestion is adding lanes (good luck with that in SF) or reducing the number of cars on the road (very unamerican). The best practical solutions to congestion are: 1. large capacity public transport that stays off the roads (aka trains); 2. Integrated business and living areas cities, so you don't need to drive to get a carton of milk and if possible walk/bike to work.

Slashdot Top Deals

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein