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Comment Re:Dystopian SciFi too optimistic... (Score 2) 236

I guess I misinterpreted "...attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate" as interstellar then. But I guess you can add Cesium Beam weapons to the list of unattained technology. I'd have to watch again, but I seem to remember "incept. dates" of the repicants being show as the late 1990's.

Comment Dystopian SciFi too optimistic... (Score 2) 236

Several of the older movies were set in times that have already past (Blade Runner, Colossus, 2001) but depicted technology far beyond anything we have now. Blade Runner: Organic humanoid robots, flying cars, interstellar travel. Colossus: AI-like computer that can control the world. 2001: Interplanetary travel by humans, suspended animation of humans, AI-like computer.

So we waited and the AI and other technologies never came. What does it mean when our dystopian sci-fi was too optimistic?

Maybe a more realistic view of the future is that we never create AI, or flying cars, or interplanetary/interstellar travel for humans because we are too busy wasting our resources on killing each other.

Submission + - Maybe we need an automation tax (

An anonymous reader writes: Robotics professor Alan Winfield is not anti-automation, but he believes that the benefits of robotics and automation should be shared by all. Is an automation tax one way to ensure that the benefits of automation don't come at the expense of workers? Winfield proposes parameters for taxing companies introducing automation to their production pipeline.

Submission + - A close call of 0.8 light years

t4ng* writes: A group of astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile and South Africa have determined that 70,000 years ago a recently discovered dim star is likely to have passed through the solar system’s distant cloud of comets, the Oort Cloud. No other star is known to have ever approached our solar system this close – five times closer than the current closest star, Proxima Centauri.

What was happening on Earth 70,000 years ago? For one thing, Homo Sapiens were almost completely wiped out by the effects of super volcano Toba.

Comment Re:Huh (Score 5, Interesting) 567

This is the same weird logic used in health care insurance, which also wants to charge more or less based on individual risk. So if we follow their logic...

  • They increase their accuracy in predicting who will be in an accident and change them more.
  • They increase their accuracy in detecting good drivers and charge them less.

Extrapolating this out, they eventually end up charging each individual exactly what it will cost the insurance company to pay each individual's claims plus their profit margin. At that point, the insurance company is a useless middle man and everyone may as well be self-insured.

Comment Re:What if they *are* right? (Score 1) 173

Web sites that use PayPal often won't work without third party cookies enabled. When you press the payment button, you end up getting dumped to the PayPal home page instead of to a payment page. Enable third party cookies and it works fine. I haven't delved into it too deeply, but I assume it doesn't effect all their shopping cart frameworks, because I have seen some site using PayPal that do work without third party cookies. Maybe Mozilla figures that until issues like this are resolved, disabling third party cookies by default will cause too much havoc.

Comment Re:There are none (Score 1) 175

Add to that, some satellite internet services use DSL for the upstream connection, which wouldn't work at all for a remote station in South America.

GlobalStar is a low earth orbit (about 60 miles up) satellite communications system that can do internet traffic. Latency will be much lower than a geo-stationary satellite. But speed will be low (about the same as a phone modem) unless you tie several channels together. To keep satellite costs down, the system is a "bent-pipe," so availability will depend on whether GlobalStar has a ground station somewhere near where you are using it. Having to license ground stations in hundreds of different countries is what really held back development of this system.

Iridium is also LEO, but has more complex satellites that route calls from satellite to satellite until it is over a ground station in the US, then routes the call to the ground. Last I heard it had been appropriated by the US military (they liked that all calls went through the US instead of ground stations in other countries). I don't know whether civil service is available any more. But it would probably also be a pretty slow link since it was originally designed for phone calls.

Comment Be Careful What You Wish For... (Score 2) 172

The law of unintended consequences would indicate that this could be exploited if corporations collude to use such a law to keep downward pressure on employee compensation. If none of your employer's competitors will hire you because of anti-poaching laws, then your employer has no motivation to treat you well because they know you have no place else to go unless you completely change careers, and that would have it's own downward pressure on compensation.

Comment Re:Steps You Can Take Against Internet Surveillanc (Score 5, Interesting) 234

Considering the number of things the NSA has completely missed (e.g. Boston bomber, Snowden, Bengazi, etc.) I'm beginning to wonder if the NSA really has any decent spying capabilities at all. What if this is much like a Banana Republic, were the government puffs up it's chest and parades around a bunch of military men and equipment to try to scare it's citizens into line. But actually they are totally outnumbered by the citizenry, have very little real power, and they know it.

All these "leaks" about the NSA spying on everyone in the world could just be a desperate attempt by a government that realizes it has very little real control over people to try to keep people in line. Sure, they might be collecting a lot of data, but storage and analysis may be such a monumental task that they can really only figure out things in retrospect, which really doesn't give them much advantage over classic investigation techniques. But hey, some tech companies are probably getting rich over this.

Comment Re:Not happening (Score 1) 304

Yes, this article is similar to others I saw back in those days, it is talking about experimental preemptable kernels. But it did not make it into any official kernel release until 2004. Still, it's there now, so good on the kernel developers for taking care of that. Question answered, thanks guys. (Except for the comedian that modded my OP as flamebait)

Comment Re:I would love 4K!!! (Score 1) 559

Isn't the whole point of 4K to just one-up online services like NetFlix? Studios can get a higher profit margin out of selling 4K movies on discs (if people are willing to buy them), but consumers and providers wouldn't have the bandwidth to handle a 4K video stream of the internet without a lot of expensive infrastructure investment (at least in the US).

Comment Re:Not happening (Score 1) 304

Yes I already knew that Windows had moved graphics drivers out of kernel mode, and the loss in graphics performance because of it. That isn't what I was getting at. Windows is always interruptable and always preemptible no matter what ring it is executing in, no matter what ring drivers execute in. Is that true of Linux or not?

Comment Re:Not happening (Score 0) 304

Not trying to flamebait here, and I admit I stopped following Linux kernel development about 10 years ago. It seemed to me, at least in the past, that a major roadblock to Linux being useful for audio, video, or real-time applications was that kernel-mode execution was non-interruptable. I remember there were some forks that made Linux more of a real-time OS, but I never heard of any of that being incorporated into any of the major distributions. When I asked a Linux apologist about this he acted like I was crazy and said, "Of course you can't interrupt the kernel, it's in kernel mode!" Funny, because Windows has been doing it since Windows NT.

Is this still the case with Linux? If it is, how can an application guarantee that audio and video won't experience hiccups? Just by throwing lots of CPUs and processor power at the problem? Better drivers would not solve this problem.

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