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Comment Re:Beyond idiotic (Score 1) 228

Well, there's good reason to hope on the carbon emissions front.

The global trend toward replacing coal with natural gas will have a massive impact on human CO2 footprint. And this isn't the result of the strangling hand of regulation either: gas plants are simply more economically efficient and easy to run. It also coincidentally generates less than half the CO2 per kwH that coal does.

This trend alone makes hitting world CO2 goals a lot more feasible. A better electricity grid will allow more diverse energy sources as well. It's really quite feasible to increase electricity production while reducing CO2 emissions.

Comment Re:It Doesn't Work That Way (Score 1) 228

Well, your point is well taken: Moore's law is an empirical observation, not the result of a plan.

However it doesn't follow in the least that doubling clean energy requires a doubling of investments. That's because clean energy is actually benefits more form economies of scale than fossil fuels. To double your output of electricity from coal, you may get better at building coal power plants, and you may enjoy some economies of scale as people invest in infrastructure to transport coal, but you still have to pay for twice as much coal. Renewables use slack resources that are simply being thrown away now: sunshine, wind, water flow etc. Of course there are physical limits to renewables, but we're nowhere near them yet.

Comment Re:Block on the phone. (Score 2) 74

I like the idea of moving as much decision making as possible to the phone, but I don't want a whitelist. That would require me to make the effort to whitelist people, plus having the prescient power of anticipating which strangers I want to hear from (e.g. whoever found my dog and called the number on her collar). I'm ok with getting a call from a stranger, as long as their "return address" isn't forged. If the return address is correct, and they are annoying, I can blacklist 'em. Allowing strangers to call me is the best default. Not perfect (it's easy to imagine some failure scenarios), but best.

Comment Re:As usual, more detail needed (Score 1) 120

Generally speaking you should never, ever change your behavior based on the results of a single study -- even a controlled, double-blind study, much less an epidemiological survey. You should wait for a comprehensive literature review paper in a high-impact peer reviewed journal before you consider a result reliable.

That said, correlation is still quite valuable -- to researchers. Science doesn't have the resources to come up with quick, definitive answers on a question like this, involving a complex system that is expensive and ethically tricky to monkey with. So science spends a lot of time doing safer, more affordable stuff like looking for epidemiological correlations, until it can justify spending a lot of rare research dollars on something more probative. And those dollars are about to get a lot rarer too.

Comment Re:Similar (Score 1) 195

Kiribati is going underwater. Does anyone else care? *sigh*

I could rob you and beat you to pulp. Would anyone else care? The answer is that wise people would care, because they'll know if I get away with that I'll be getting away with a lot more.

Same with climate change. Yes, Kiribati may disappear. But the Kiribatians aren't the only people who will pay; in fact most people in the world will end up paying. The way this works is that we all get some up front economic benefit from unregulated carbon emissions and we all pay for the consequences later, but the trick is that the benefits and costs aren't spread uniformly. Some people make a killing on cheap fossil fuel and then can move the bulk of the resulting assets out of the way of climate change. The worst hit are those whose wealth is in land -- the Kiribatians obviously, but also farmers in places which become unsupportably arid.

Comment Re: Oh well (Score 1) 195

I don't think it's greed. I think it's wishful thinking.

And it absolutely would be great if there were no downsides to burning all the fossil fuels we can lay our hands on. Most people on this site are too young to remember the smog we had in the 1960s and 1970s; they're imprinted on a time when gas was cheap, air was clean, and anthropogenic climate change was (as far as the general public was concerned) undreamt of. Who wouldn't want that to be true?

Comment The more things change... (Score 1) 35

The more I love dvd.netflix.com. The streaming service continues to be semi-lame (never seems to have what I want). And the ratings and general listing UI has done nothing but get worse for the past 10 years. But queuing up a dvd and have it arrive in a couple of days is solid. And cheap.

Comment Re:So what? (Score 1) 394

This just removes the fig leaf. .. Anyone who's serious about security wouldn't rely on the ISP being on their side-- one would already be using strong encryption etc. for all communication if one were actually concerned about security.

This really is the best way to look at things.

If people want "privacy laws" then those laws shouldn't be about what's not allowed to happen; the laws need to be about what is required to happen (the goal being to encourage common sense practices, because nobody can protect your privacy for you.). Make it so that businesses and people can't access government's network services without going through a darknet, for example. Do not allow any plaintext email communication with the government. Put into "REAL ID" that the issuing authority also has to sign the identified person's key and include the fingerprint on the ID card. Don't allow government money to be spent on computers containing any software which can't be audited and maintained. And so on.

Don't make anyone protect their privacy overall, but do make it so that they have to pay lip service to common sense in any interaction with government (and then let convenience and economy of scale take it from there; lazy people will then do the right thing). Or, just don't have privacy laws since, obviously, we don't really care. Pick one or the other.

Comment Re:Huh? I use these all the time. (Score 1) 262

This gets down to something that used to be a common UI design principle before software became so feature-ful it became impractical: manifest interface.

The idea of a manifest interface (which also is a principle in language and API design) is that if the software has a capability you should be able to see it. You shouldn't have to root around to stumble upon it. Tabs follow this principle; there's enough visual and behavioral cues to suggest that you need to click on a tab. The little "x" in the tab also follows this principle.

But context menus you access by right-clicking break this rule, which means that there may be millions of people laboriously clicking on "x" after "x", unaware that they can make all the extraneous tabs in their browser disappear with just two clicks.

This, by the way, is why Macintoshes were designed with one button on the mouse. But even Mac UI designers couldn't get by with just single and double-click, so you have option-click too, bit by in large you could operate most programs without it.

Anyhow, to make sure people know about this kind of feature, your program is going to have to watch their behavior and suggest they try right clicking. But that way lies Clippy...

Comment Re:Making NASA Great Again (Score 5, Informative) 307

Actually the Wikipedia article on the National Aeronautics and Space Act has an interesting list of the legislation's priorities, starting with priority #1:

The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;

Historically speaking the act, which was signed into law in July of 1958, was a reaction to the "Sputnik Crisis" created by the Soviet launch of an artificial satellite eight months earlier in October of 1957 -- an act which filled Americans with awe and a little dread, knowing that a Soviet device was passing overhead every 96 minutes.

So arguably NASA was founded to achieve preeminence in Earth orbit, not necessarily manned space exploration, which isn't mentioned at all in the legislation. Yuri Gagarin's Vostok 1 flight was still three years in the future, and JFKs Rice Moon Speech followed a year and a half after that. That speech is well worth watching, by the way, if all you've ever seen is the "We choose to go to the moon" line.

Manned exploration of the outer solar system wasn't really what the founding of NASA was all about; in fact manned spaceflight has only a single mention in the unamended 1958 text:

... the term "aeronautical and space vehicles" means aircraft, missiles, satellites, and other space vehicles, manned and unmanned, together with related equipment, devices, components, and parts.

The main focus of NASA at its founding was to provide a single agency to coordinate space and spaced-based research, which at the time would have been largely (although not exclusively) Earth-focused.

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