Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment Re:Another boondoggle (Score 2) 70

Why can they use a sand pit instead of a multi million dollar proprietary technology ? An equivalent area of sand would work just as well and would not need expensive renewal every time a plane does overrrun.

The only proprietary part of the technology is how the material is made.

The material itself is basically foamed concrete. When something light is on it like a vehicle or a person, it's like normal concrete - a hard surface that can be driven on quite easily. Something heavier like a plane causes the concrete to collapse, which arrests the plane in an orderly manner. And for emergency vehicles rushing to the scene, they can still drive on it.

The FAA and many other agencies around the world have spent decades finding overrun surfaces that try to arrest a speeding plane and slow it down safely. Foamed concrete has proven to be the best material of the lot, and the processes used to make it are proprietary to the company making it. (There are multiple companies who do this.)

You are, of course, free to invent your own way to make this material and to then release it to the world, open-source style

Comment Re:How do you get extra work? (Score 1) 71

How are they suppose to hire people, if they can't contact people "after hours". Or what about if they need to call someone in to work more hours?

Then presumably you get in contact with them before they knock off for the night. Or you declare them to be "working" then send the message. The latter will likely mean you'll be working OT and getting time and a half or double time, so in that case, you'd want to make sure your message is damned important.

The goal of the ban is to avoid "free" messaging during off time - if you get a message, it either can wait until tomorrow when said employee reports for their shift, or it must be handled immediately which means they must get compensated for their time. No sending a message and hoping the employee checks their phone over dinner and spends 15 minutes composing a reply for no compensation.

Comment Re:It gets worse... (Score 1) 335

People used to claim that Apple was a hardware company but given the current state of their hardware this is hard to believe. I think they are turning into a dongle company where they plan to make their money selling dongles to let you connect all their hardware together.

Not a viable business model. Apple sells cables and adapters, and 3rd parties sell the same, much cheaper.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there arne't 3rd party USB-C to Lightning adapters available for $10 now. And Amazon Basics probably has a 4-pack of USB-C to USB-A female adapters for $10, too.

Comment Re: I went the other way (Score 1) 105

You must live in NYC or SF then. You can't buy one and walk out of the store with it at most Apple stores in the USA.

They're in stock in most places now, so yes you can.

For the first few months, though, they were highly unavailable - apparently demand for them was unexpectedly strong and Apple was caught off guard. They made around a million of them for the first run, and that sold out in 3 days. It took Apple a month to make more of 'em.

I'm guessing Apple sold a LOT more iPhone SEs than they expected to.

Comment Re:I went the other way (Score 1) 105

Hated the iPhone 6 and 7, so I bought the Asia-only iPhone 5 SE with 64 memory.

Small, fast, long battery life, fits in my pocket.

Fashion is knowing that nobody wears watches anymore. And big phones are a sign you're wasting cash.

The iPhone SE is not Asia-only. It's worldwide. It's an interesting Apple experiment trying to see if the demand for large screen phones is because people want large screens, or because the good phones had large screens and people didn't really care for having huge screens. Given the SE does remarkably well (It exceeded Apple's expectations), it looks like people want a good phone, and many people don't necessarily want huge screens on them.

It was hard to tell - Android phones had it so larger phones had better specs and few to none were making small screen phones with high end specs. Plus there is a legitimate market for large screen phones.

Comment Re:... what? (Score 2) 90

Why is it an OS function to take 3D pictures of things?

I want my OS to provide basic functionality and then let me decide what toys to put on top of it.

Because then the OS can present a unified interface for 3D scanners to applications. It won't matter if your scanner was based on dual cameras, or an old Kinect, or a new Kinect (old = pattern distortion, new = time of flight), etc. etc. etc. Any application who wants to take a volumetric image can simply ask for one and not worry about the underlying details.

Relying on 3rd party applications leads to odd fragmentation issues where Scanner A only works with programs A, B, and C, while Scanner B requires program D, and gonig from D to A requires programs E and F to convert formats. Or you end up with what happened to scanners that led to the TWAIN standard.

Comment Re:PRO hardware needs to come back they killed (Score 1) 230

PRO hardware needs to come back they killed so much like.

Which would basically end up being a rounding error in Apple's revenues.

The pro machines never sold well. The Mac Pro had laughable sales,a s does the Mac Mini. Apple really kept them along because of the small by very vocal community who can be guaranteed to buy a few thousand units.

And if you say Apple keeps sucking at the specs, well, Apple is limited by what Intel has. The Mac Mini i7 dual core is the only processor using the same socket as the i5 processors and the Mini doesn't sell enough to justify having two different motherboards for it.

Desktops don't sell well, period - Apple started selling more laptops than desktops around 10 years ago, and the PC market has been mirroring the same.

Comment Re:Ah, minimialism (Score 1) 523

Lenovo did this with their X1 Carbon a while back too. What is the obsession with removing functionality? Sure, Mac users probably don't use the Escape key too much, let alone the function keys. However, Esc has always been the equivalent of Cancel on MacOS and Windows dialog boxes, and terminal-based applications still use it.

No, they didn't, actually. The Esc key was still a real key, it was must moved left of the 1, where the tilde/backtick key is. That was moved to some place beside Ctrl I believe. Kinda like how UK layouts have a huge Enter key and mover the pipe/backslash beside the right Ctrl key.

Comment Re:Unicode? Can you speak it? (Score 1) 52

Shouldn't need to replace anything, just not mangle it in the first place. Assume that all text is potentially UTF-8 and life becomes a lot easier. In practice it hardly makes any difference to how code is treated providing you don't truncate text in the middle of a code point or make bad assumptions such as byte length == number of displayable characters. If it's getting mangled it is probably because a script or database is changing the character encoding somewhere along the line.

Slashdot already supports Unicode.

Yes, they do support it. The reason why it doesn't appear to work? They have a whitelist of characters that are allowed.

Why? Because unicode is complex. A character is one or more Unicode codepoints. This consists of a base character itself, plus one or more adornments you can add (accents, emphasis marks, etc). A lot of these adornments can be used to seriously screw up the rendering of the webpage - most common in the past when it was abusing the left-to-right and right-to-left text formatting codepoints. But the modern day one is to abuse the adornment codepoints that can end up making a character thousands of pixels tall and repeating it over and over again to make a mass block of ... black, similar to the pattern you see on the security envelopes. And depending on how your browser is, some of those adornments will invade outside the container and over other people's comments.

And that doesn't even include the ability to overload the browser's text cache and crash browsers.

If you want to see an example, a popular trick in the /. world is toe fake your moderation score using the RTL characters. Google for "5: erocS" to see plenty of examples. Before they implemented an output filter, it would look like "Score: 5" and the real score would look like "1- :erocS".

In fact, abuse of Unicode continues on sites that support it, norminally by piles of trolls.

TL;DR: Unicode is supported, but abuse of it resulted in the site employing a whitelist of allowed characters.

Comment Re:Monopolies are bad (Score 1) 70

Brick & Mortar businesses' response has been to cut back selection. Just TRY to find good precision screwdrivers locally, for example. Sears, Home Depot, Lowes, smaller hardware chains, etc - no dice. Frys has some decent sets but they're not here in the northeast so they aren't an option.

That's because retail space is expensive. So the stores have to basically sell through volume in order to compete with the likes of Amazon. So they'll only stock the most common items people buy in large quantity. Chances are most shoppers are online-savvy so more niche items like precision screwdrivers will be online only rather than occupy a bit of the shelf that they could use to sell something that moves quicker.

The savings from not having a B&M location mean cheaper prices (sure there's a warehouse, but a warehouse can be located in a cheaper area, often where shipping infrastructure is good versus easy accessibility for customers). Sure there's shipping but if you ship enough and have a warehouse near the shipping center, your costs are very low

Back in the day when the only way to get stuff is your local store, carrying a lot of stuff made life convenient. Now that everyone is shopping online anyways, as s store your best bet is to optimize for stuff that moves and that people need to buy repeatedly (like consumables).

Comment Re:Stateful Encryption Solutions (Score 1) 86

Instead of waiting 10-20 years and then suddenly finding out, oh crap, some government has finally has built a quantum computer powerful enough to crack RSA/ECC? /blockquote

While vulnerable to a quantum computer, practical quantum computers aren't even close. To break RSA-2048 for example would require a 2048-bit quantum computer. We're currently around... 5.

The real issue is everything around the quantum computation - the set up and readouts limit number of bits because as we increase bits, the amount of time before they decohere falls dramatically. And once they decohere, your result is meaningless.

So even if you managed to set up all 2048 qubits to the starting state (superposition), the system falls apart before the algorithm starts as the system is just too unstable.

D-Wave may have hundreds of bits, but that's for quantum annealing, which is a tiny subset of quantum computing problems available, of which factoring is not one of them.

And that's RSA-2048. Which I believe is obsolete, and everyone is recommended to go with RSA-4096. And this is because advances in traditional computing have made the time to crack from lifetime of universe to something still absurdly large.

Comment Re:Useless for any occasion (Score 1) 425

Seems like it would be useful in an environment like a gun range where you aren't relying on it for safety.

A) as another poster noted, the whole reason you go to a gun range is to get more better at shooting the guns you have, so that if you need to (or want to) use them for real later - either quickly like self defense, or more methodically like hunting - you know how well you can aim with them, what realistic distances are, how much kick to absorb or correct for...

B) Which leads us to a fingerprint scanner being a disaster in a crisis situation like a home invasion, you don't have the time for that nor want to rely that a gun you might have not touched for a while still has power enough to enable the fingerprint scanner. Similarily if you go hunting, it would REALLY REALLY SUCK to travel for hours to find out your fingerprint friend has no power or just decides that environmental conditions mean your fingers are now invalid.

So said fingerprint scanner gun would never be a gun you would use in real life, making it pointless to shoot at the range,

You mention hunting - is it really a quick draw sport where if the reader takes an extra few seconds to recognize you, it's a critical failure? Sure maybe you might have to pick a new target, but I wouldn't call it critical.

And what about shooting for FUN? You know, recreation? I never plan on having a gun at home, or using it for self-defense (the stats are against me anyhow - as in guns at home typically end up killing the owners more often than the intruders).

This is what's wrong with gun culture in America. Everyone seems to assume the only purpose of a gun is self-defense. True, you can use guns in this manner, and guns are often used in this manner (see: military). But I'm willing to bet they're used far more for both recreation and hunting. Everyone seems to believe that a gun is purely to kill someone, and no one can seem to wrap their heads around the idea that there are plenty of people who don't want to do that at all, or who are smart enough to realize that self-defense is probably the worst possible use for most people.

Hell, even arming the populace makes it a more dangerous world - wasn't there a sniper at the University of Texas Austin campus back in the 60s? Everyone raced home and got their rifles, and the end result is there were more deaths from friendly fire than deaths caused by the sniper. In fact, a police officer who took down the sniper was nearly taken down himself from one such equipped student.

And why do you want to go to a gun range and fire off a gun? Why not? Why do people run for fun (they're not planning on doing a marathon)? Why do people race cars on tracks (they're not going to join the F1 or other race league)? Or play instruments, or do dozens of other activities, by the end of which they can be better than a professional.

Maybe it's time to drop the self-delusion and just admit they're fun to use and mastering anything doesn't have to be for any end goal, other than the challenge of mastering it.

Comment Re:Reason (Score 2) 106

The number is to make account recovery possible in the event you've forgotten your password. The assumption is that attackers won't have access to your phone. That assumption is violated if your telco will transfer your number to the attacker's phone, of course.

And the good folks at NIST have already commented that phone numbers are a bad authentication method and should never be used for the second factor.

Because of exactly this - a phone number is not necessarily under control of the phone you think it is. There are many reasons why a phone number might not lead to the phone you expect, so you should never just trust a phone number.

Comment Re:Walmart also uses direct solar (Score 1) 57

This. Commercial PV panels are about 18% efficient at converting solar energy into electricity, and the best fluorescent bulbs are about 15% efficient at converting electricity into light (the rest becomes heat). So if you install PV panels to power your lights, you're only converting about 2.7% of the sunlight hitting your solar panels into interior light.

Fluorescent lights are around 80% efficient (similar to LEDs). Incandescent lights (traditional light bulbs) are around 15% efficient. It's why you can replace a 60W light bulb with a 13W CFL.

Comment Re:Ultrahd? (Score 1) 71

I seem to recall Sony positioning the Playstation as a media machine. First and foremost they advertised it as one of the best and most widely available bluray players when it first came out. The first bluray player to conform to the new specs of the day, and it was cheaper than most off the shelf bluray players too.

That was the PS3. The PS4 Sony realigned it as a games machine. Re-watch the introductions and you'll see Sony demoing games, while Microsoft demoing everything BUT games in the first introduction (the second introduction they showed games).

Remember, PS4 is "winning", so Sony doesn't want to fix what isn't broken.

Slashdot Top Deals

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky