Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


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 Re:I think its good. (Score 1) 437

even if such a knife got past security, anyone who tried to take over a plane using it would immediately get jumped by - probably all - the passengers

You know, I've heard this line of reasoning a couple of times and I'm not quite sure it holds up. I think that most people in that sort of situation wouldn't want to be cut with a pocket knife regardless of the implied threat of the guy crashing the plane into a building. Some people would probably attack the guy with the knife, but I don't think that subset of the population would have increased drastically post-9/11.

Keep in mind that al-Qaeda sent teams of five for each of the planes they hijacked. They specifically brought extra folks on board to handle a passenger upset like a passenger tackling the first terrorist that brandished his knife. Although I've not read the 9/11 Commission report in its entirety, I would suspect that most of the hijackers remained seated to retain the element of surprise in such a situation. Given that the hijackers rehearsed their attack many times over, I doubt that a post-9/11 group of passengers would fare much better.

Comment Re:This actually looks really unusable (Score 1) 317

I'd be worried about triggering the touchpad while my hand is traveling to a button. WHy not put the buttons to the side?

There was a third-party Xbox controller called the FPS Master that moved the face buttons to the grips of the controller to be manipulated by your middle and ring fingers. I wish we had seen something like it in the 360/PS3 generation but third-party controller support was largely shut down by the console manufacturers.

Comment Re:Officer dickhead is a dickhead. (Score 1) 1440

A nastier scenario at a stop light is when a car next to the texting driver moves forward a little bit and the texting driver sees that movement in their peripheral vision. The texting driver will often take that as a cue to go without looking at the light and may end up driving into cross traffic or rolling over a pedestrian using the crosswalk.

I see no problem with ticketing texters as a stop light. Besides being marginally dangerous at the stop light, the texter is likely to continue texting in motion which is much harder for a police officer to catch. Drivers should be in full control of their vehicles at all times they're on the road. I can hardly wait until driverless cars make this no longer a necessity, but for now it's negligent and shows an utter disregard for the safety of others to be distracted while driving.

Comment A Perl/Unix Way of Thinking (Score 5, Informative) 164

For those who don't know, Ingy is a fairly prolific Perl developer [1]. The position he espouses here is quite typical of folks developing modern Perl. The crux of it is that it is better to provide an interface or API for a smaller bit of code that is easily spoken with than one tucked away in the bowels of a massive framework that's tied to a specific language. This position is really a reiteration of Ken Thompson's Rule of Modularity within the Unix Philsophy [2].

To me, this is a noble design goal because it allows developers to use the programming languages they're comfortable with and/or those that best fit the task at hand. I feel that this general principle has been the guiding force behind Google developing Protocol Buffers [3] and Facebook developing Thrift [4]. Software seems easier to build in small pieces that interoperate than if the developers try to build a monolithic and homogenous system all in one go.

It saddens me to see so many folks dismiss this position as a "fad" when it's one of the points to the open source movement.


Comment Bringing Perl With You (Score 2) 427

If you're comfortable with Perl, it's definitely something you can bring with you to the Windows world. You can use Strawberry Perl with or without Cygwin. If you need to deploy code, you can use PAR::Packer's pp utility to wrap your script, its included modules, and the perl interpreter into a standalone executable.

Perl can do a ridiculous amount of stuff when you start using modules from CPAN. The Windows world is very GUI heavy, but a lot of things can be done using CPAN modules. Writing to Word docs. Controlling VMWare. Networking with just about every protocol you can think of. Creating GUI applications for others to use. There's also a nifty little module called Win32::GuiTest which will let you programmatically control GUI programs that don't provide a command line interface.

Good luck!

Comment Re:Seriously? Do your own job. (Score 1) 286

I posit that there is a silent majority of people that are interested in seeing this sort of Ask Slashdot post. The answer may seem obvious but that doesn't negate the value of the discussion. It is almost inevitable that someone will post a unique solution that many people had not considered. That's what we, the silent majority, are here for.

Comment Re:Economy of Scale (Score 1) 283

No Buck Rogers, No Bucks. [...] Robots are good and they can be used successfully, but "boots on the ground" or in this case "boots in space" are also required.

Robots can do a pretty good job of immersing everyone in the discovery, rather than just the astronauts.

Have a look at this awesome panorama that Mars Rover Opportunity took. JAXA also strapped some HD cameras to their lunar orbiter, Kaguya. Kaguya's cameras benefited science greatly by stitching footage together to create a complete lunar topographical map. The side benefit was some brilliant footage of the lunar landscape to placate the taxpayers.

I don't know about you, but I'd love to see some footage of a nuclear-powered robot drilling into Europa's subsurface ocean.

Comment Re:China debuts human rights abuses (Score 1) 491

Hitler's rise to power was caused by a want of food, if not entertainment. Germany was pretty well decimated at the end of World War I and bled dry by the concessionary provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. This gave rise to the concept of Lebensraum, where Germany felt it needed to conquer other lands to provide for itself.

I hear what you're saying about Ahmadinejad. He is definitely a looney and is bringing the government of Iran closer to nuclear armament. The people of Iran, however, aren't behind him. The ongoing protests there are a testament to that. Now, Ahmadinejad might ride the backs of the Basij and launch a few missiles at Israel but it won't win the hearts of enough people to be able to build an armament capable of total annihilation. I maintain that the main difference between Hitler and Ahmadinejad is that Ahmadinejad's people already have bread.

Fast international communication has done us a huge favor by making globalization possible. I am hopeful that the new efficiencies caused by new technology and globalization will knock the wind out of madmens' sails. I do not rule out the possibility of the prophesied Armageddon, but I think an astronomic world-ender like an asteroid or radiation storm is more likely. My stance may change if another destructive technology is discovered that is easier to manufacture than nuclear weaponry. Nukes have only been around for a little over half a century. Who knows what the future holds?

Comment Re:China debuts human rights abuses (Score 1) 491

I would think that three squares and a movie to watch on Friday night would tend to thin the ranks of those willing to resort to terrorism.

Anyway, a few nuclear explosions here and there are not going to do that much damage. Hell, terrorists could blow away a couple of major cities and humanity would work its way around it. The "mushroom cloud" total destruction scenario you're alluding to would require a pretty impressive engineering feat that would only be within the reach of big governments with the collaboration of many people. A few nutcases like bin Laden and McVeigh won't be able to pull that off.

Perhaps a few terroristic nuclear explosions would cause government to tighten its grip like 9/11 did. I imagine the people wouldn't allow the government that kind of control, but we've already hypothesized about the outcome of oppressive control in movies like Brazil and the Matrix and books like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. Whether you believe the people would successfully revolt or government would be able to maintain perpetual control is up to you.

Comment Re:China debuts human rights abuses (Score 1) 491

That's globalization, man. Eventually China will have their own labor rights movement like the US and Europe did back in the 1800s. Expect at least another Haymarket riot or two. It's not going to be easy, but their standard of living will rise to meet or exceed our own.

That's not a bad thing. Eventually, countries will find specializations and niches to fill and products will once again be made close to home. Why build and ship something halfway across the world when it can be done here? Manufacturing will drop these excesses caused by human rights inequalities between countries (unless some really goofy dictatorial control magically happens). In essence, goods and services will be streamlined and everyone (you, me, and the Chinese) will benefit.

This probably won't happen in our lifetime, but I see humanity going in a pretty nice direction. This doesn't worry me in the least.

Slashdot Top Deals

The only perfect science is hind-sight.