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Comment Re:Some time back. . . (Score 1) 69

The problem is that Amazon has separate feedback mechanisms for the product and the seller. And in the case of the former, they commingle all the product reviews together regardless of the seller. No matter if you buy a roll of tape from Amazon, Bob's Warehouse (fulfilled by Amazon), or Alice's Emporium (self fulfilled), the product review will be listed for all. So Amazon isn't wrong about negative seller feedback in a product review being unhelpful. The problem is that seller feedback isn't very obvious to buyers.

Comment It is the economy, stupid (Score 1) 174

Saudi Arabia remains a very rich country. Its subsidized citizens are obscenely rich, but even the non-citizens are doing rather well. It has, for example, a large population of Indians, who, despite having no prospect of citizenship, like their salaries much better there, than in their own reasonably free country.

For another example, it had a large contingent of Arabs from Palestine until 1991 (when the fools celebrated Saddam Hussein's invasion into Kuwait and were summarily expelled by the Saudis over it). They too preferred Saudi Arabia over the more secular destinations (like most other Arab countries).

Comment Re: sure! (Score 1) 289

Gold is undeniably a compelling leader in the "Hey, do you need an handy abstract representation of value?" market.

It is effectively impossible to counterfeit(all the metals that look kind of golden aren't nearly dense enough; Tungsten and DU have the density about right but are wrong in basically all other respects, nuclear synthesis isn't really counterfeiting but is uneconomic, it's tricky to alloy with something cheaper without being caught by even fairly primitive measurement of volume and weight; etc.), it's pretty scarce, it can be divided/combined/melted down/reshaped easily(unlike precious stones, say, where the value of two halves of a diamond is markedly lower than the value of the larger stone), people find it appealing, and so on.

The problem is just knowing what situations do, or don't, reward possessing a handy abstract representation of value. Too little civilization and you either can't find anyone willing to sell you stuff; or run into somebody who knows that the exchange rate between gold and iron is actually pretty favorable when the iron is of the right shape to stab the guy with the gold. Too much civilization and the fact that it's an inert, unproductive, comparatively cumbersome to transport/store/transact with lump of deadweight makes it a pain compared to whatever currency is being reasonably well managed at the time.

It's only in the intermediate situations, where you are developing a real market; but don't have anyone competent enough to produce worthwhile currency; or have a real market but a previously stable currency is on the rocks; where it really shines. Outside of that, it's just jewelry, anticorrosion coating, or a specific commodities position that might be useful under certain specific conditions as part of a larger portfolio.

Comment Re:And this is why... (Score 1) 21

I mean, LinkedIn can already do that, and gain a competitive advantage. On the other hand, Microsoft has a monopoly in one area and can use its money and brand to acquire another brand, acquire that data, acquire its attached contracts (LinkedIn members), and gain a competitive advantage in another area--which is abusive monopoly power.

Comment The fastest, most bang-for-buck fixes (Score 1) 176

Go through your text, and everywhere where it says "password" change it to say "passphrase."

The password-setting step, where you have the user initialize their password, should also say "don't re-use the same passphrase that you use somewhere else." Just say it. (If users want to ignore it, fine. You can't help people who don't want to be helped.)

This doesn't fix all the problems, but it fixes the most, in the smallest amount of time/effort. One of your interns can do all this in a single morning.


After that, make sure you're hashing, but use something already invented for this job rather than trying to figure it out yourself. (This might not be a job for an intern, though I bet it could, at some places.)

Congratulations, your site is now better than the other 99.9%. We'll revisit and update these decisions in a century or two, when you're considered to be better than only about 90%.

Comment Re:Are they getting rid of the packet inspection? (Score 4, Interesting) 39

Packet inspection is non-monetizable without a product.

Typically, data collection warehouses categorize and aggregate demographics information. That is to say: businesses don't sell your name and address; they sell the service of identifying preferences among demographics, demographics in an area, and likely market penetration when targeting a demographic in an area. Without all the arbitrary big words: they tell you how the population responds to certain products, services, and ideals, where that population is, and how big it is, and then you can target an area (a city) or a demographic (buy targeted ads aimed at a large, highly-responsive audience).

Sifting through all that data is hard. It's a highly-specialized task, and businesses which do this as a service tend to build robust organizational knowledge: their employees get good at their jobs, share information among each other, and send it up to management to be packaged and distributed as standard operating procedure and training material. Asking them what the market looks like is a hell of a lot cheaper and provides much better results than getting their giant database of information and trying to analyze it yourself: your own people will suck payroll while spending excessive amounts of time digging around in it, scratching their heads, making up arbitrary queries that seem obvious, and then produce *a* result--instead of identifying the goals and then immediately and systematically producing an analysis strategy that produces a *high-quality* result.

AT&T probably has little vested interest in tracking your web behavior, and likely found ads weren't making them sufficient money for the infrastructure cost. They would have spent a lot of time looking at this, predicting the cost of scaling (which would improve ROI), and working out if the new ROI was likely to be significantly-higher and considerably profitable. They might have identified a small profit (e.g. 0.5% margin, or 0.01% of their existing profit, or the like) and decided that the risks (the likelihood of earning less and facing a loss as an aggregate over the long run) weren't worth it. They might have just identified that ads aren't going to make them money at all. In any case, they have little use for large-scale inspection now because it only puts them at risk (notably regulatory risk--you inspected this shit, how did you not know child porn was there?) with no likely profit.

Even the ad networks that could use AT&T's theoretical tracking data can't make much use of it. They'd have to coalesce it with their data--which has to be robust, because they have to be able to actually track and identify users across the Web anyway--which is expensive and poor ROI if their data is already robust enough to match up to AT&T's data. There's a high likelihood that the attempt would actually pollute the ad network's mined data with erroneous data, since coalescing might not be anywhere near 100% accurate, and measuring the false-positive rate is impossible (if you could do it automatically, you wouldn't have false-positives; if you can do it manually, you're working with dozens of people's data rather than millions).

Comment Not a kidnapping tool, a child custody tool (Score 1) 96

Enable AMBER alerts. The AMBER alerts are designed and function explicitly to broaden the search for people harming kids.

That's what they are sold to the public as being.

What they actually are is a big hammer that divorced couples who hate each other can use against each other in custody disputes.

"But the system rarely works as well as that. In a 2008 article in Criminal Justice Review titled “Child Abduction, AMBER Alert, and Crime Control Theater,” Timothy Griffin and Monica K. Miller argued that “AMBER Alert has not achieved and probably cannot achieve the ambitious goals that inspired its creation.” Griffin and Miller examined data from hundreds of AMBER Alerts issued between 2003 and 2006, and dubbed the AMBER Alert system a “theatrical policy” that was largely ineffective in helping save kidnapped children. “In most cases where they were issued, Griffin found, Amber Alerts played no role in the eventual return of abducted children,” the Boston Globe wrote in 2008. “Their successes were generally in child custody fights that didn't pose a risk to the child. And in those rare instances where kidnappers did intend to rape or kill the child, Amber Alerts usually failed to save lives.” ...

"...those sorts of kidnappings are very rare. The vast majority of child abductions in this country are committed by relatives or acquaintances—estranged parents and such who usually mean the children no harm. Even though AMBER Alerts are only supposed to be issued in “the most serious child-abduction cases,” they are nevertheless used in domestic cases like these—cases where, Griffin argues, AMBER Alerts might actually serve to escalate an otherwise manageable situation. "


Comment Re: sure! (Score 4, Insightful) 289

Even gold depends on the shared belief that there will be somebody else willing to accept it in exchange for goods of actual use within a survivable period of time after whatever crisis you are expecting passes. Certainly more durable than a few electronic IOUs or fiat currency issued by a nation state that is now on fire/crawling with zombies/etc; but the intrinsic utility is pretty limited. If the apocalypse needs corrosion-resistant connectors, gold has you covered; you could substitute it for lead in ballistic applications; but that's pretty much the list.

With the exception of people expecting to deal with explosions(where bunkers are a natural fit; and fairly commonly used in varying degrees of sophistication); a lot of this disaster-prep stuff falls into an unhelpful category of being both overprepared and underprepared: If you are concerned, it's pretty easy to justify enough supplies to weather a breakdown in our efficient-but-tightly-stretched supply chains; but you don't usually need a bunker to do that. If you have a crisis more serious than not being able to buy groceries for a few months in mind, however, the problem stops being "Do I have enough MREs?" and turns into "Am I set for subsistence farming and/or tribal warfare; and do I really want to bother with that shit anyway?" unpleasantly quickly.

It all seems aimed at a (not impossible; but not necessarily plausible) medium-size disaster; which will somehow be big enough that the 'stash of supplies in the basement' crowd is doomed; but small enough that your bunker isn't going to be plundered by local militias and there will be a society worth living in waiting for you when it's time to open the door again.

Comment Re:... pretty much got what I expected ... (Score 1) 261

Since it's not clear from your post, have you actually played NMS?

The reason that most people essentially max out tech on their first planet isn't because they're "completionists", it's because there's so little content in the game. NMS is an "everything can be found everywhere in bulk" sort of game. Including tech blueprints.

Comment Re:1Million People (Score 1) 490

So how do you imagine that miners on Mars will be competitive without actually having mining equipment

It's not a comparison of mining equipment or no mining equipment - it's a comparison of A) automated, self-maintaining, may-not-get-damaged-or-it's-lost-forever mining equipment or B) human-controlled, human-maintained, human-salveagable mining equipment. In an environment where the premise is that humans already are.

The robots that are outcompeting them are on Mars, and orbiting Jupiter taking pictures, oh, and orbiting the earth transmitting signoals around and doing science and stuff.

Because there are no humans there. What about this is hard for you to understand? I'll repeat: there is precisely one place in the solar system where humans exist outside of Earth: ISS. Do robots outcompete them there - yes or no?

The best numbers I could find is that the annual cost of the ISS

Red herring. We're comparing to a scenario where humans are on Mars either way. Talking about the cost of putting people on Mars, keeping them alive, etc, is irrelevant because that is planned either way. The question at hand is, is it cheaper to use their already present labour, or send robots? And it's a no contest comparison.

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