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Comment No excuse (Score 1) 201

A quick google search shows that there are, by the most wild estimate, 600 people on the planet, at most, who are over the age of 110. More like 150 to 300.

Yes we know that people who are very old are rare. Rare does not equal nonexistent. At least in the US denying someone service on account of age is a civil rights violation. The fact that it is a rare problem does not excuse them from failing to deal with the problem properly.

Raising the age to 130 just means there's an extra 20 years of potential pension fraud or incorrect payments.

That is not and should never be the problem of the customer. The bank can suck it up and deal with the problem in other ways. Go visit the customer if they are that worried about it. Old people often need help anyway.

Comment Sanity checks (Score 1) 201

Probably because it's not arbitrary; most people don't live to be 110, and everybody knows you're supposed to perform sanity checking. According to a quick google search (the height of scholarly rigor,) there's maybe 300 people in the world who are older than 110 years. The most wild estimate is 600.

Ok so then why was that sanity check not performed? It seems obvious that the system should be able to handle ages that people have actually reached even if only on occasion. 130 would have covered it at least for the time being and the programmers could have figured that out with about 60 seconds research on google.

On the other hand, fraud is a real thing, not to mention straight up human error; somebody dies, they don't get taken out of the system, so the money keeps going out.

Not a valid excuse to deny someone service who has done nothing wrong. Plenty of other and better ways to deal with the fraud problem.

Comment Accidental rules (Score 4, Insightful) 201

Programmers don't generally throw in arbitrary rules like that...

Like hell they don't. They do it all the time unintentionally and sometimes very much intentionally. The entire Y2K problem was from tens of thousands of programmers arbitrarily taking short cuts in their programming creating arbitrary rules in regards to what seemed like corner cases at the time. Happens all the time, especially when the programmers don't fully understand the problem they are being asked to solve. The software we use to run our company is positively riddled with arbitrary restrictions which interfere with the efficient conduct of our business. The guys who programmed it are smart enough and decent folks but they don't actually use the software themselves so they don't really understand the limitations they are creating along the way.

I'd say it's more likely they were given a specific business rule that prevented people over 100 from claiming pension cheques to reduce a fraud vector.

Highly unlikely. Laziness and/or incompetence are far more likely origins of this problem.

Comment From the fiction section of the library (Score 1, Troll) 201

What DO they teach them in Sunday School these days...

Fiction. But nobody really reads or even really believes the bible anymore anyway. People just pick and choose the bits of it to follow that suit their particular sensibilities and pretend that only those bits are the "word of god". In fact most of them don't even read the bits they follow. Someone else reads those bits and that someone else tells them what they want them to mean. Must be nice to have a world view unencumbered by evidence or logic or responsibility...

Comment Private sectors wastes money too (Score 3, Insightful) 69

This looks like another conservative trope about how the Federal Government wastes money, and somehow the private sector never does.

Arguably the private sector wastes FAR more money than the government does. 90+% of new businesses fail. Even the most successful companies make investments constantly that don't all pan out. The difference is usually that we have a lot less visibility into their failures nor do we have a lot of say over them unless we are investors. We are all "investors" in a sense in the government so we are a lot more sensitive to government waste as a result. But to pretend that the private sector is universally more efficient at everything is just demonstrably absurd. There are some tasks the government is far more efficient at than the private sector and vice-versa. The key is to know which is which and to not conflate the two.

Comment Was it obvious at the time? (Score 2, Insightful) 69

I fucking care. NASA gets less money every year from the US government. I'd prefer they don't waste it on stupid space suits they have no need for.

The question is whether it was obviously wasteful at the time the decision was made to fund the suit development. I don't know the answer to that either way but it's unfair to judge in hindsight if it wasn't clear at the time. R&D isn't some magic results dispenser that money in equals results out. Sometimes we pay a lot of money to learn what doesn't work. That's useful too though admittedly frustrating at times.

I'd prefer NASA be spending their limited budget on more robotic probes, since they have had excellent success with those so far, than some stupid goal of putting more very fragile and relatively useless meatbags in space.

And I feel that NASA should be spending more money putting humans into space and that we get huge value from doing so. Want to know the fun bit? We're both right. The difference is that I think we should be fighting to get more NASA funding and you apparently are meekly accepting the status quo. I want more humans in space AND more robots.

You're drawing a false equivalency. Yes, Trump is wasting a massive amount of tax payer dollars on his useless golf trips. But this money wouldn't go to NASA anyway.

It's not a false equivalency and you seem to have missed the point. And nobody argued that Trumps wasted money was going to go to NASA so that is a strawman. Waste is waste and tax dollars spent are fungible. Trump flying to his resort to play golf and line his own pocket is very obviously wasteful and unnecessary and arguably violates the emoluments clause of the Constitution. A decision to invest in a space suit that in hind sight we didn't need is waste of a different sort but still waste. Though I would argue a FAR more acceptable sort of waste. At least the space suit development was an attempt to do something potentially valuable to the taxpayers even if it didn't work out and we probably learned something useful in the process.

Comment Assumed demand != actual demand (Score 0) 119

North Slope of Alaska. Siberia. Anyplace in the enormous expanse of the boreal forest / not-so-permafrost and targa regions that encircles the planet.

You're talking about places, not the amount of actual stuff that needs to get there that could be economically transported by airship. It would have to have such a huge cost advantage to overcome the need for in place roads and other infrastructure.

Roads are becoming a big issue with global warming (which, of course isn't happening except in the arctic and nearby regions). Even a month less of ice road makes a number of projects economically infeasible because helicopters and bulldozers don't get along all that well.

If the ice is melting on the north shore then you don't need an airship. You need an ocean going ship which will be MUCH cheaper and more reliable than any airship. It's not like you are going to send an airship during a winter storm anyway...

Of course, we are talking about things that are on the edge of possible, much less not actually existing at present. But the market is probably there if you can deliver.

You're just doing a hand wave and assuming that stuff we currently send by truck is practical to be transported by airship. It's not remotely clear that this is the case. If it were obviously economically sane companies like ExxonMobil have a lot of smart people who would try to make it work. They spend billions on technology and the cost of an airship wouldn't be a big deal at all to them. To a degree you're arguing that the profit motive of oil and gas companies isn't actually that strong.

Comment Make a business case (Score 1) 119

This is a cheaper solution.

That has yet to be established. Building a small number of very large airships is an extremely expensive endeavor. It's not even remotely clear that there is enough business for them to recoup their cost much less be a cheaper solution. If you have actual data to support it being a cheaper solution and for the value of the business to be had by all means share with the rest of the class. This is not remotely the first time this has been discussed on slashdot and those who think it is a good idea (and it might be) almost universally assume it is economically viable despite a near complete lack of evidence to support that assertion.

That's what technology is after all, the ability to do things more efficiently.

Just because you come up with a technological solution it does not automatically follow that it is more economically efficient than the alternatives.

Plus: who gets to decide what's "frivolous"? Certainly not you.

The market decides what is frivolous ultimately. But that doesn't mean I cannot look at a project and determine that there is high probability of it being frivolous without spending the money to build it. I could be wrong of course but I'd be mildly surprised if this turned into an economical solution to a real world problem. If it were obviously a better solution to a pressing problem chances are someone would have already done it. We've known how to build large airships for about a century.

Comment Market demand? (Score 1) 119

This could be used to carry large ungainly freight, like lifting a factory-built house onto a mountainside.

I'm rather dubious that there is sufficient market demand for remote heavy lifting to make it economically viable. I could be wrong of course and I'm certainly no expert but is getting heavy equipment into rural locations a really big unsolved problem? We don't seem unable to get heavy equipment into pretty remote locations today. Superficially it sounds like a solution looking for a problem.

Then of course there is the seemingly needless use of (probably) helium on what stands a strong chance of being a frivolous project. While we aren't going to imminently run out of helium, the supply on Earth is finite and should be tended carefully.

Comment Need to cover ALL charging scenarios (Score 1) 177

You are missing the point that almost each Tesla owner has is own personal gas station at home where charging occurs most of the time.

The key word there is "most". For EVs to supplant ICEs there will have to be ubiquitous charging infrastructure available for nearly all situations, not just most. Long trips, rural travel, people without garages, etc. There is a lot of infrastructure that needs to be built to turn Pinocchio into a real boy. Right now there are relatively few people who can own an EV as their sole automobile because of the fueling limitations. This more than anything else is what holds EVs back from wide spread acceptance.

Comment Why range extenders matter (Score 1) 177

No, for a car that can do 200+ miles on a single charge why would you even want a generator in tow?

Umm... because I want to drive farther than 200 miles or I'm going to a location where the options to recharge are poor to nonexistent. I do that routinely. My parents live far enough away that there is no EV on the market today that could reach them without a recharge along the way. My gas powered truck can reach them on a single tank of gas easily. Furthermore it's more than a little rude to arrive at someone's house and ask if you can mooch some of their electrons so you can get home. There are precisely zero conveniently located recharge stations along the route and even if there were the best case recharge time (Tesla Supercharger) would add the better part of an hour to the trip - each way. It's even worse if you are traveling to someplace rural. It's pretty easy to carry some extra cans of gasoline. Pretty hard to get electrons when you are nowhere close to the grid.

I wouldn't mind having a towable gas/diesel range extender for long trips until they can get a critical mass of recharge stations with adequately fast recharge times available. I'm an EV enthusiast but it's important to make allowances for the fact that the technology and infrastructure are still works in progress.

Comment The need for charging stations (Score 1) 177

Overnight charging is the best way to charge an EV. Utterly painless, takes no time, hardly useless.

Explain to me how overnight charging is going to enable an EV with a range of 200 miles to drive from Detroit to NYC. Or do you live in a fantasy land where people never go more than a short distance from their house? Exactly how do you propose people who don't own a garage and/or who have to park on a street charge their vehicles?

There is a clear and obvious market for being able to recharge an electric vehicle in a manner similar to filling up at a gas station. To pretend otherwise is just dumb if you actually want to see EVs replace gas powered vehicles. We don't necessarily need charging stations on every street corner like gas stations but we do need them.

For some people, the greater battery capacity of newer EVs means even less need for higher capacity chargers. The greater the battery capacity the less the need to recharge quickly while on the road.

You could have an EV with a range of 1000 miles and there would still be a need for gas station style recharges in reasonable amounts of time. Less need does not equal zero need.

Comment Gross motor skills and tangible objects (Score 1) 268

Ok, so it's like the SCOTUS and pornography; you'll know it when you see it.

Sort of but really it's more of a consensus thing. There is debate about it but by and large the dividing line in most people's heads between sports and games seems to be the involvement of gross motor skills and manipulation of physical objects and/or other people. It's not clear to me that we would need to be dogmatic about it but that seems to be where the consensus about it lies at the moment. I don't see any principled reason why there couldn't be a sport involving gross motor skills centered around a computer. There just don't happen to be a lot of them currently. But I think few people would say that Starcraft or the like involve meaningful gross motor skills and it certainly doesn't involve manipulating anything tangible. Like most bits of language things mean what they are accepted to mean by consensus. The consensus might change but for now it seems pretty clear that few people think computer games are accurately described as a "sport". Whether this is a useful distinction is a separate question which I leave to others.

So, the followup question would be: you have teams of competitive StarCraft players who train in amounts and methods very similar to atheletes, and who play for cash prizes, sponsorship deals, and what not; what term would you say applies?

What's wrong with "gaming" or "professional gaming" if money is involved? They seem to want to use the word "sport" to eliminate stigma (real or perceived) around the activity but I see nothing wrong with simply being proud of it being a game and owning the term. Kind of like how geek and nerd don't carry the stigma they once did. I certainly like to play games and I don't feel any stigma in calling them games.

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