Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×

Comment Re:Who would have guessed? (Score 4, Interesting) 251

Government procurement contracts pretty much preclude the government obtaining goods and services on the open market. Instead it must rely to a large degree on contractors and vendors who have the capability of handling all the special paperwork and requirements.

So if you're on a procurement committee you don't have much choice. Once you discard the vendors who (a) can't absorb the amount of money to be spent on schedule and (b) jump through the statutory federal contractor hoops, what you're left with is a rogues gallery of usual suspects.

Comment Simple answer: (Score 1) 188

Charge for the non-security feature updates -- maybe even do it through the app store. Customers have to pay for updates one way or the other, so you should be able to sell a competitively priced phone and then make just as much money selling fewer physical phones and more software updates as you would under the status quo. That'd be good for the environment too.

The one sticking point is, as always, the carriers. They'd much rather you trade in your perfectly good phone for another one whose price is rolled into a contract extension. I'm convinced that Verizon on several occasions deliberately botched upgrades to force you to buy a new phone with more RAM.

Comment Re:Pet Rock (Score 2) 192

Sure, the only really unpredictable aspect of this scenario is the size of the peak. If their business plans were predicated on maintaining usage near the initial peak indefinitely, then they were stupid plans.

I'm guessing that the plans for this product aren't that stupid. In that case a sensible goal will be to maintain a modest but loyal group of regular users and to periodically introduce new features that will entice usage jags out of occasional players.

Comment Why not public transit instead? (Score 1) 445

Public transit provides a service that complements as well as competes -- especially in an old, dense city like Boston where there isn't a lot of room to add cars and public transit carries about half the commuters despite being in dire financial straits.

Think about what would happen to Uber and Lyft in a place like that if you doubled the number of people using surface roads.

Comment Re:Broken Windows Policing (Score 4, Insightful) 191

The problem in any kind of engineering -- and we're talking about social engineering here -- is that everything has its drawbacks.

The foundation of modern policing is a focus on two functions: bringing people to justice, and keeping the peace. You can unquestionably obtain gains in controlling certain kinds of disorder by adding a third function to he police: acting as an instrument behavioral control on the populace. The drawback is that this puts police into a position of habitual conflict with populations they serve, undermining the Peelian principle that the police are the people, and the people the police.

Over time the police begin to be viewed less as public servants and more like an occupying army. Since this process takes time, we ought to be skeptical of short term results that show improvements in statistical measures of public order. Think of public respect and cooperation for the police as a kind of social capital. If in toting up progress you ignore the capital you're spending you're not getting a true picture.

Public cooperation has been the foundation of successful policing for almost two hundred years, since Robert Peel established the Metropolitan Police in 1829. We should think long and hard about abandoning, or even tinkering with that model.

Comment Re:konqueror best filemanager (Score 3, Insightful) 510

Konqueror would seem to be the best file manager for power users and programmers.

As far as I can see, file management really isn't a big deal for programmers. IDE, source control system, build automation tools, web browser, and of course a shell with the usual POSIX utility suite -- each of those things is a big deal. But Finder vs. Windows File Explorer vs. Thunar vs. Nautilus? I'd be curious if anyone can show that the choice has any measurable impact on productivity. It seems to me purely a matter of taste.

I stopped using KDE and Gnome years ago, except to try them out periodically to see where they're headed. And pretty much it's places I don't particularly care about. I won't be arrogant and say that makes them bad or stupid, it's just means they're not for me. To me the desktop wars are like college basketball; if other people are into it that's fine by me, as long as it isn't compulsory.

If there are enough people who DO want to go where these projects are heading, then KDE and Gnome will do fine. If they aren't, well, I'd feel sorry for all the people who put so much work into them. There was a time when these projects were critical to the future of software, but not anymore. Pretty much any one desktop system could disappear over night -- even (or perhaps especially) Windows. -- and it wouldn't be the end of the world. There's a healthy field of choices now, which is good for users if rough on the legacy of pioneering developers.

Comment Re:Stealth (Score 1) 117

You're assuming you'd fly a drone fighter with the same air superiority tactics that you use for manned fighters. That might not be the case.

You might opt to forgo the traditional aerobatic capabilities of a manned fighter for more stealth, even knowing that you'd lose more aircraft. It depends on how the math works out. Suppose you expect to lose 20% of your drones to dog fighters, but your early weapons lock advantage allows you to shoot down an additional 1.5 fighters for every drone you lose. That's a good deal. It wouldn't be so attractive if you were losing pilots along with aircraft.

Of course the math might work out completely the other way, in favor of highly aerobatic drones. Depends on two things: what you can accomplish tech-wise, and what your opponents can accomplish.

Comment Re:The H1B program could easily be fixed (Score 1) 332

For your low account number, I'm shocked at your sediments.

I didn't expect to precipitate that reaction :)

I've been in this field for a long time now, long enough to know how the program does work, and long enough to know how it should. I've worked with many H1Bs over the years, from barely warm bodies who unquestionably take up chairs that could be occupied by equally untalented American butts, to geniuses who couldn't really be replaced by anyone.

Concentrations of technical talent and experience create jobs -- it doesn't matter how you generate that concentration. The problem is the program isn't designed to increase the concentration of talent and experience here; it's designed to ship experience overseas.

Comment Re:Rise of the Republican Taliban (Score 0) 412

Republicans have sufficiently broadened the use of the term "Socialist" so that it includes stuff like acceptance of non-controversial scientific facts.

Consequently many young people who grew up with this usage consider themselves "Socialist", even though they aren't socialist according to the early to mid-20th Century standards (e.g. being against markets and all profit-based production decisions).

Slashdot Top Deals

"I'm growing older, but not up." -- Jimmy Buffett