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When Snowden Speaks, Future Lawyers (and Judges) Listen

Posted by Soulskill in YRO • View
TheRealHocusLocus writes: We are witness to a historic first: an individual charged with espionage and actively sought by the United States government has been (virtually) invited to speak at Harvard Law School, with applause. [Note: all of the following links go to different parts of a long YouTube video.] HLS Professor Lawrence Lessig conducted the hour-long interview last Monday with a list of questions by himself and his students.

Some interesting segments from the interview include: Snowden's assertion that mass domestic intercept is an "unreasonable seizure" under the 4th Amendment; that it also violates "natural rights" that cannot be voted away even by the majority; a claim that broad surveillance detracts from the ability to monitor specific targets such as the Boston Marathon bombers; him calling out Congress for not holding Clapper accountable for misstatements; and his lament that contractors are exempt from whistleblower protection though they do swear an oath to defend the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic.

These points have been brought up before. But what may be most interesting to these students is Snowden's suggestion that a defendant under the Espionage Act should be permitted to present an argument before a jury that the act was committed "in the public interest." Could this help ensure a fair trial for whistleblowers whose testimony reveals Constitutional violation?


By Kaenneth • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Right or Wrong, he's a brave man.

Not just "unreasonable".

By jcr • Score: 3 • Thread

What the NSA is doing is billions of counts of illegal wiretapping. A This kind of mass data gathering is precisely what the fourth amendment prohibits, and any person involved with this program is violating their oath and committing felonies on a routine basis.


Re:Not just "unreasonable".

By sumdumass • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

They wouldn't be committing felonies as that would require a violation of law rather than violations of constitutional restrictions against government. The law, constitutional or not, allows the NSA to do what they are doing else a lowly court could shut it all down by a simple low level prosecutor bringing charges to a grand jury. Once it is in the grand jury's hands, the government cannot order the prosecutor to stop anything and it is almost impossible for the administration to stop as the judicial branch is separate. Congress would have to pass a law barring the judicial branch from taking the case up or proceeding with the case which would only work if a court didn't find constitutional issues with the case before it was passed.

Do not construe this comment to be in support of the NSA, just reality as it is presented to us today.

Identity As the Great Enabler

Posted by Soulskill in YRO • View
New submitter steve_torquay writes: Last week, President Obama signed a new Executive Order calling for "all agencies making personal data accessible to citizens through digital applications" to "require the use of multiple factors of authentication and an effective identity proofing process." This does not necessarily imply that the government will issue online credentials to all U.S. residents.

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) is working towards a distributed identity ecosystem that facilitates authentication and authorization without compromising privacy. NSTIC points out that this is a great opportunity to leverage the technology to enable a wide array of new citizen-facing digital services while reducing costs and hassles for individuals and government agencies alike.

Done right it's a great idea...

By NicBenjamin • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

It would be great if you could more easily and securely access more of your tax records, or your Social Security benefits statement. This would also greatly improve things like government contracting.

OTOH, if the system is hackable then you could easily lose all your data to some guy on another continent.

Which would be a bad thing.

Let me guess, it will be based on your SSN

By schwit1 • Score: 3 • Thread

Any solution that comes from bureaucrats should be immediately discounted.

I suspect it will be too easy to compromise, inflexible and require antiquated, proprietary technology.

Tetris Is Hard To Test

Posted by Soulskill in Games • View
New submitter JackDW writes: Tetris is one of the best-known computer games ever made. It's easy to play but hard to master, and it's based on a NP-hard problem. But that's not all that's difficult about it. Though it's simple enough to be implemented in one line of BBC BASIC, it's complex enough to be really hard to thoroughly test.

It may seem like you can test everything in Tetris just by playing it for a few minutes, but this is very unlikely! As I explain in this article, the game is filled with special cases that rarely occur in normal play, and these can only be easily found with the help of a coverage tool.

Re:One line?

By BlackHawk-666 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

In ASCII, but many BASICs will reduce keywords down to a single byte.

perhaps. I wonder if it NP-hard

By raymorris • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The fact that probability is involved doesn't mean there's not an optimal strategy, of course, where optimal is defined as "highest expected score" (score X probability). So figuring out an optimal strategy is a hard problem - how hard is it?

If the probability of a certain series of shapes coming next were 100%, we'd have an NP-hard problem, agreed? Does another probability make it easier or harder? Harder, if anything. That's provable because the probability version can be solved by solving each of the potential series as if each were known. What's harder than NP-hard? It may well still be NP-hard. It can't be of any more solvable complexity class.

Infomercial for a code coverage tool?

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Code coverage tool seems like a good idea from some theoretical stand point. But in practice number of code paths multiply rapidly and getting all the paths executed would involve unreasonably long time. Further rarely called procedures or rarely executed is just one class of problems. There are functions that will execute million times correctly and misbehave once in a million or once in a billion calls. For example I came across a bug in something so simple like calculating the centroid of a triangle. Absurdly simply code that adds the x, y, z coordinates of the vertices and divides by 3. That is all. In dealing with output of some CAD software, when the smallest angle of the triangle fell below 1.0e-08 radians, it returned a wrong value of the centroid. Typical sanity checks based on mathematical facts, like centroid of a triangle can never be outside the triangle will not work. The code that checks inside-or-outside of triangle is far more complex than the centroid code. The floating point truncation errors make this kind of sanity check useless. You can't even plot it on the screen and look at the centroid. OpenGL is implemented in single precision.

So at some point you reach a point of diminishing returns. It might not be worth making sure every line got tested when there are procedures that have a bug that happens in one in a billion calls. My philosophy is, "Perfection is the goal. Doing better than the last release is the shipping criterion".

Nonsense -- make your own test suite

By rs1n • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Why would you only test your code via normal use? Why wouldn't you just create a test suite that actually tests all the scenarios? In the case of tetris, you can simply force a sequence of pieces that will enable you to reach the scenarios described in the article. Or you can even start the game with a pre-made board.

Has slashdot really become a means for tech companies to inject free advertisement by a simple blog post made to look like real journalism?

C64 BASIC version within a screen of code

By Neo-Rio-101 • Score: 3 • Thread

It's a 15 liner.
Note that the {CBM-x} represents the graphic on that particular key (press the c= key and the letter to produce it)

1 a$="efijefijefijefijbfjnhijkbfjnhijkijfgaefjijfgaefjefjkiefbefjkiefbbfjidefj"
2 a$=a$+"abeieijkaeijijkgabfjiefgehijebfj@abe@dhe":o=207:dime(o):forx=0to111
3 print," {CBM-M}"," {CBM-G}":p=asc(mid$(a$,x+1)):e(x)=(pand3)+(pand12)*10:next:m=2024
4 print," {CBM-T}{CBM-T}{CBM-T}{CBM-T}{CBM-T}{CBM-T}{CBM-T}{CBM-T}{CBM-T}{CBM-T}":gosub6:goto7
5 pokei+e(r),c:pokei+e(r+1),c:pokei+e(r+2),c:pokei+e(r+3),c:c=160:r$="d":return
6 i=1152:r=h:c=32:gosub5:j=int(rnd(0)*7)*16:r=j:gosub5:r=h:h=j:i=i+9:return
7 gosub6:w=i:t=i:g=r:k=240:l=1278
8 gosub15:c=32:gosub5:r=-r*b-g*notb:g=r
9 i=w:w=i+40:gosub5:gosub15:ifbthen12
10 getk$:g=randkor((r-4*(k$="s"))and15)
11 t=w:w=w+(k$=l$)-(k$=r$):l=l+40:goto8
12 c=o:gosub5:m=m-(l0:w=-t*b-w*notb:l$="a":return

The Problem With Positive Thinking

Posted by Soulskill in Science • View
An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times explains research into how our mindset can influence results. The common refrain when striving for a goal is to stay positive and imagine success — people say this will help you accomplish what you want. But a series of psychological experiments show such thinking tends to have exactly the opposite effect. "In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, we asked two groups of college students to write about what lay in store for the coming week. One group was asked to imagine that the week would be great. The other group was just asked to write down any thoughts about the week that came to mind. The students who had positively fantasized reported feeling less energized than those in the control group. As we later documented, they also went on to accomplish less during that week." This research has been replicated across many types of people and many different goals.

Building on that research, the scientists developed a thought process called "mental contrasting," where people are encouraged to think about their dreams coming true only for a few minutes before dedicating just as much time to thinking about the obstacles they'll have to deal with. Experiments have demonstrated that subjects using these techniques were more successful at things like exercise and maintaining a healthy diet than a control group. "[D]reaming about the future calms you down, measurably reducing systolic blood pressure, but it also can drain you of the energy you need to take action in pursuit of your goals."

What is "positive thinking"?

By physicsphairy • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I don't see why establishing unrealistic views of reality would ever be constructive. Imagining the week will excel in every way and finding out that it doesn't isn't what I consider "positive thinking" -- obviously the week is going to fall short and then the lesson learned is not going to be a habit of thinking positive, it is going to be the opposite, that thinking positive is futile and incorrect.

What I consider "positive thinking" is a realistic perspective which acknowledges the good and the bad but emphasizing the good aspects. Seeing losing your job as an opportunity to start a new chapter. Seeing the misfortune of others as an opportunity to help them. Being thankful for what you already have instead of craving everything you don't. It's a more accurate view in any case -- it's quite rare that losing a job or a relationship deprives the rest of your life of meaning or success, and solving problems actually does give the brain a sense of euphoria, so why should you be upset about encountering them?

The mental contrasting approach the article describes seems oriented along those lines, but to me it's not a matter of "contrast" so much as a matter of compatibility -- positive thinking doesn't contrast with realism, realism simply sets the context in which positive thinking should take place.

Is it really negative?

By Ol Olsoc • Score: 3 • Thread
The problem I see with positive thinking is that you'll be setting in a room with a group of people, and someone will have an idea. The the "positive thinkers all try to make th eidea sound like a great idea.

And negative thinking doesn't help all that much either. Negative thinking just assumes nothing will ever work.

Pragmatic thinking, on the other hand, asks "What might go wrong?" Pragmatic thinking says, "I want this to work well, but what would keep it from working?"

Pragmatic thinking ends up getting things right much more often than either positive thinking oe negative thinking.

People I worked with would always cringe when I'd say "Hold on a second!", until They found out how often I was right in the end. Eventually they'd bounce ideas off me for projects I wasn't even on to se if they forgot or didn't think of something.

It's more than that

By Phroggy • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Positive people are dangerous. Because they assume everything is going to be fine, they fail to plan for things to go wrong, and then after you're stuck cleaning up the mess they caused, they sweep it all under the rug and act like everything went smoothly - so not only do you get no recognition for your heroic efforts to fix everything, but they're fully confident in their ability to handle the next situation just as well as the last.

But nobody wants to listen to the pessimists, because they're so negative.

Lazy positive thinking

By Livius • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The idea behind positive thinking was never to simply visualize the positive goal, it was to envision the challenges and think through overcoming the challenges.

Ignoring the challenges is an absence of thinking.

Re:Stockdale Paradox

By eulernet • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Stockdale was impressed by stoicism, but he was a positive thinker.

His premises are wrong: "I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life,"

"I never doubted that I would get out " is positive thinking, especially when reality shows that this will be probably wrong.
"turn the experience into the defining event of my life" is also positive thinking, it's called "peak performance" in positive thinking.

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Make a High-Spec PC Waterproof?

Posted by Soulskill in Ask Slashdot • View
jimwormold writes: I need to build a system for outdoor use, capable of withstanding a high pressure water jet! "Embedded PC," I hear you cry. Well, ideally yes. However, the system does a fair bit of number crunching on a GPU (GTX970) and there don't appear to be any such embedded systems available. The perfect solution will be as small as possible (ideally about 1.5x the size of a motherboard, and the height will be limited to accommodate the graphics card). I'm U.K.- based, so the ambient temperature will range from -5C to 30C, so I presume some sort of active temperature control would be useful.

I found this helpful discussion, but it's 14 years old. Thus, I thought I'd post my question here. Do any of you enlightened Slashdotters have insights to this problem, or know of any products that will help me achieve my goals?


By StevenMaurer • Score: 3 • Thread

This is the big question. Because, to riff off the 14 years old discussion, wireless has progressed leaps and bounds since then. So simply putting the PC inside a waterproof chest and using a combination of WiFi, Bluetooth, and a few wireless display technologies. This is what is presently on Intel's product roadmap anyway.

Your biggest problem is likely to be the monitor. Every means we have to produce significant amount of light (especially required for outdoor viewing), requires dissipation of heat. That means venting. Which means air holes. Which can get spray in it.

So really the question can't be answered unless you explain the purpose of the PC. Is it there to do things like take measurements? Can it be controlled from a mobile phone? (they're much easier to seal) This is what is needed to know how to give further advice.

Re:There are computers built for this.

By OzPeter • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Yes, you can find off the shelf computers which will do this and which have real GPUs.

That's not going to help him. Apparently where he is at, the google is broken.

Re:The right enclosure

By speederaser • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Search for NEMA enclosures and pick the one that fits your machine.

Here's one you might like but it's not cheap at $325 each.

Pelican Case + Thermostatic Heater

By localroger • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Double enclosed is best, but you probably don't have room for that. I've been putting stuff in food processing plants for 20+ years though where the conditions (especially during cleanup) are comparable. Find the smallest Pelican case (there are generic knockoffs, if you go with one check it thoroughly before trusting it) and equip it with a thermostatic heater to keep the temperature above 70F or so all the time to limit condensation. Pack in a big bag of dessicant because without double enclosure that still won't be perfect.

NEMA 4X is all you need?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I'm used to IP67-IP68+(IE. IP69K) for my work in designing autonomous subs(although I have other experience from GPU mining bitcoins), but NEMA 4X is specifically designed for the high pressure water jet conditions you're describing.

Although I'm curious WTF you're doing in a mobile/stationary weatherized application that requires a GTX970(A Jetson TK1 is easier to cool and good enough for most computer vision problems)? I'll answer your question directly instead of asking you how I can back out of your difficult design requirements:

First off: Lets assume IP55 is good enough:
These are the most cost effective IP55 ventilation fans I've been able to find.

If that's good enough for you: get on McMaster and order a NEMA 4X enclosure and consider yourself lucky that was all you needed. You have an industrial cooling problem, they have industrial cooling solutions. If you want some a little closer to your side of the pond: request a catalog from Rittal or get on their website and see if they have anything that meets your needs.

If IP55 is not good enough, and nothing as generic as a cosmotec fan or a cooled Rittal enclosure can get the job done: you can start by reading all the other responses and see if anyone has a better suggestion I'm unfamiliar with. If not, your job is either impossible, no one here knows what the solution is(or isn't saying if they do), or you have to go custom. That means in house or out of house design.

First off lets make something clear: you have a thermal management problem, not a water ingress problem. It becomes a water ingress problem when you are unable to adequately manage your thermal output without circulating air from the outside of the enclosure.

Shedding the heat of a 500-1000W PC using nothing but convection cooling with the enclosure skin/fins is difficult in the size you've described so the easiest thing to do would be to cheat and exceed your volume constraints via an external radiator in a location where your volume constraints are less of a problem. Supposing that is not possible: in a stationary application the ground becomes a pretty good heat sink if you dig down far enough. An alluminum water block burried beneath your computer circulating water through a NEMA 4X enclosure on the surface with the CPU and GPU pimped out with watercooling blocks. Excluding that as a possibility(mobile application?): pumping the heat in to a thermally conductive chunk of material large enough to dissipate it is still your preferred solution.

If there is no way around self-contained: you're either going to have to spend a lot of time and energy maximizing the thermally conductive surface area(doing analysis to determine it is adequate to meet your use case a high enough percentage of the time to matter), make the system fail gracefully under the conditions where it exceeds it's thermal management capabilities, optimize system thermal efficiency to the greatest extent possible by doing things like underclocking the CPU and using more CUDA/OpenCL for your code, redesigning your system(using a wireless modem to offload the processing requirements to a datacenter like Amazon AWS or even a closet at a nearby facility), or some crazy combination of all of the above in appropriate proportions to maximize the value to the customer(whoever that is) on the time frame/capital investment scale they are willing to pay for, and/or manage their expectations appropriately to where you can redefine your requirements, and/or claim it's impossible and hope a smarter/more ambitious engineer doesn't prove you wrong.

The correct answer is so situation specific it is difficult to tell you what to do without more information. These are some of the questions I would ask. Good luck with your bizarre requirements definition. I'm sure you've been painted in to a corner for good reasons and not because of an unwillingness to compromise on the "I want everything" mentality that makes programs like the F35 and F22 so fucking expensive.

Building All the Major Open-Source Web Browsers

Posted by Soulskill in Developers • View
An anonymous reader writes: Cristophe de Dinechin, long-time software developer, has an interesting article on the processes involved in building the major browsers. From the article:

"Mozilla Firefox, Chromium (the open-source variant of Chrome) and WebKit (the basis for Safari) are all great examples of open-source software. The Qt project has a simple webkit-based web browser in their examples. So that's at least four different open-source web browsers to choose from. But what does it take to actually build them? The TL;DR answer is that these are complex pieces of software, each of them with rather idiosyncratic build systems, and that you should consider 100GB of disk space to build all the browsers, a few hours of download, and be prepared to learn lots of new, rather specific tools."

Easy with Gentoo

By crow • Score: 3 • Thread

Of course, if you use a source-based distribution, it's easy, but that's not the point. If you download the source and build it yourself, you'll have to learn a bit about how they manage the build environment. You'll have to handle being sure all the dependencies are installed. You'll have to figure out any configuration options.

That's exactly what people who make distributions do. If you want to see how complicated the build is for any piece of software, just look at how complicated the build scripts are for various distributions. I expect you can find these for the binary distributions. With Gentoo, just look at the ebuild file.

I run Gentoo

By NoNonAlphaCharsHere • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
So it's simply emerge --update world* but I always groan when I see Chromium has a new version, which it does almost weekly, because it takes approximately FOREVER to compile. Firefox and Seamonkey take a long time, sure, but Chromium, yikes, come back tomorrow.

*Actually, it's: emerge -v --deep --newuse --with-bdeps=y --update world 2>&1 | tee update-world-deeper-`date +%F`.log, but that's just me.

People who do this

By SampleFish • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

There are some really great distros that are based on said sources:

Pale Moon is an open source alternative to FireFox:

SRWare Iron is a Chromium project:


By Anonymous Brave Guy • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Unfortunately, like too many OSS projects, Mozilla seems to think it will have the only cygwin instance on my system. It therefore assumes it's OK for me to just reconfigure the entire universe according to its preferences, redefine all my paths so the MozillaBuild version of everything takes precedence over anything else that's already installed, and so on.

In reality, I have various other tools installed that bridge the Windows and Linux worlds, including things fundamental to using various version control systems and other everyday needs. As much as I'd like to support Mozilla and be willing to contribute a bit here and there, I'm not going to compromise the development machine I also use to earn my pay cheque just to get their esoteric build system to work.

Re:I run Gentoo

By morgauxo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I use Gentoo too. Most things compile in minutes. Some things such as browsers can take hours. Big Desktop environments like KDE/Gnome and also LibreOffice can take over a day each. Some people can't imagine how a Gentoo user can stand it. It's really not a problem though.

The build process never prompts you for anything, all options are chosen before it starts. It also does not require a GUI. (There are GUIs available if you want one) It's just pretty simple commands like (emerge chromium). Emerge handles the whole process, downloading source, compiling, installing and does all the dependencies too.

So... the answer to long build times is easy. Just start the build in a screen session. Then you can close the window and forget about it. It will be done when it is done, feel free to continue using your computer in the mean time. Or, not. You CAN walk away. If you are concerned about the build process running in the background slowing down your computer when you are using it for other things that's no problem either. You can just raise the nice level. It might take longer to finish but you never even have to know that the build is running.

New Oculus SDK Adds Experimental Linux Support and Unity Free For Rift Headset

Posted by Soulskill in Linux • View
An anonymous reader writes: Oculus, creator of the Rift VR headset, has released a new version of their SDK which brings with it long sought-after support for Linux, which the company says is "experimental." Linux support was previously unavailable since the launch of the company's second development kit, the DK2. The latest SDK update also adds support for Unity Free, the non-commercial version of the popular game authoring engine. Previously, Unity developers needed the Pro version—costing $1,500 or $75/month—to create experiences for the Oculus Rift.

about time

By Nyder • Score: 3 • Thread

this is the year of the linux VR.

FCC Postpones Spectrum Auction Until 2016

Posted by Soulskill in Mobile • View
An anonymous reader writes: 2014 was supposed to be the year broadcasters would be allowed to sell off their unused spectrum to mobile carriers. That got pushed back to 2015 in December, and now the Federal Communications Commission has bumped it to 2016 in the face of a lawsuit from the National Association of Broadcasters. The FCC says the legal briefs aren't even due until January 2015, and it will take them until the middle of the year to review the documents and respond in court. The delay is just fine with the NAB, but probably bad news for anyone hoping that spectrum would help to improve mobile communications in the U.S. any time soon.

Re:Why is it a 'sale' ?

By Lunix Nutcase • Score: 4 • Thread

I don't get your point. A spectrum auction is where the FCC sells licenses to use bands of spectrum. I don't know where you got the false notion that these companies owned the spectrum itself.

Bad news for OTA folks

By speedlaw • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
The "spectrum" the Govt wants to auction is "found" by "repacking" the remaining TV over the air broadcasters. Among the great idea are multiple stations using one channel (So we get two crappy streams on one frequency instead of the pretty HDTV we were promised) and other stations going back to VHF-Lo (RF channels 2-5) which don't work all that well without big antennas and have issues with interference and digital. The NAB is unhappy because the "re pack" means that many stations will lose broadcast area. If you are a cable co, or a broadband provider, OF COURSE you will want to do anything you can to cripple the "cut the cord" can't ban OTA broadcast, but you can cripple it. There is debate as to how much money the broadcasters will get in compensation, but there clearly isn't anyone looking out for the OTA viewer. I like some broadband too but this is the new titan fighting the old titan...

Re:Why is it a 'sale' ?

By mirix • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The licenses are transferable, and give the right to use the spectrum. How is that different than the spectrum itself? It's a fiction so of course it's a license and not the 'physical' aether.

The problem for me is, instead of a lease going back to the state, which then leases the spectrum to someone else... some firm profits handsomely from selling a license for a fictional monopoly on a common good. That's kinda fucked.

I absolutely understand the need for licensing, else there would be mayhem. But it could be done in a better way. I guess it's the same idea as $1M taxi medallions. Those should be leased and non-transferable too.

EU Sets Goal To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions 40% By 2030

Posted by Soulskill in News • View
An anonymous reader writes: The 28 nations in the European Union agreed Friday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% (going by 1990 levels) by the year 2030. The deal received widespread criticism; industry bosses said the 2030 targets were too extreme, while many environmental groups said the goals weren't ambitious enough. The deal requires each nation to achieve the goal independently — earlier targets could use international offsets to avoid or reduce action. EU officials hope the agreement will encourage the U.S. and China to take a more aggressive stance on fighting climate change.

Re:...and everybody gets to be right

By ganjadude • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

while many environmental groups said the goals weren't ambitious enough.

They could say they want to cut the number 100% by 2030, and there would be people out there saying its not fast enough. It seems for some reason everytime something like this comes up, the only people you hear are those who say we shouldnt do anything, and those who say we are already doomed and should live in mud huts. Why cant we come up with a rational response? something where we use what we have now, and work towards a better tomorrow together?

instead of saying "global warming is a hoax!" why not say "well, its always better to have a clean environment, so lets work towards the goals"

and instead of saying "we need to stop using oil now! we need to stop using X Y Z NOW!!!" , how about we say "well, i know we cant stop society by eliminating everything that is "bad for the environment" so lets work at it one step at a time"

in the end, we go broke, shady business people get rich, and nothing changes. its disgusting

Re:Cruel way

By haruchai • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

There's no need to wait for the perfect solution and there are plenty of avenues to follow and that are being followed.
2030 is 15 years away and there are other very significants sources of CO2 apart from energy use. Given how long the warnings about global warming have been around, this should have been a problem that's nearly solved, not in desperate need of a magic solution within a decade.

Re:Theory vs reality?

By JDAustin • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

A few points of order though.
- Clinton signed Kyoto but never sent it to the senate. The reason being is it never had support from either party and would have died by about 90 votes.
- Second, W could have withdrawn from Kyoto with a stroke of a pen as the President can cancel treaties.
- And finally, treaties inherently do not have the force of law behind them. They do not supersede Federal, State or even individual rights (see the recent Bond v US ruling). Now the Obama admin doesn't agree with this as they argued that a treaty trumps everything....but as we know with Obama/Holder, just because he says its doesn't mean its true.

So, good news and bad news

By russotto • Score: 3 • Thread

The good news is the European nations just signed an economic suicide pact.

The bad news is there's no way they'll actually keep to it.

Re:Theory vs reality?

By haruchai • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Europe's population has grown since 1990 but not as much.
No, it's not a given that emissions would have increased because there was little effort made to rein them in. The advanced Western nations enjoy a similar standard of living as North America but use far less energy to do so. And all those countries are democracies.

You may have missed the memo but China ate your lunch money anyway, to the tune of a couple TRILLION, mostly because you were sold on the idea of cheap shit and outsourced manufacturing - and US emissions increased, even per capita.
If it wasn't the for overall efficiency and large population of California & New York holding down the per-capita numbers, America would the worst of the Western nations for CO2 emissions by any measure.

And stop bitching about China & India having no restrictions - they were using only a fraction of the energy and resources despite their huge populations.
But if America had the balls to dive wholeheartedly into finding solutions, then they could sell them to the developing nations.

High Speed Evolution

Posted by Soulskill in Science • View
Taco Cowboy writes: Normally, the term "evolution" implicitly refers to super-long time frames. However, in the case of lizards on Florida islands, evolution seems to have shifted into a higher gear. Researchers have documented noticeable changes in a native species over a period of just 15 years, after an invading species altered their behavior (abstract). "After contact with the invasive species, the native lizards began perching higher in trees, and, generation after generation, their feet evolved to become better at gripping the thinner, smoother branches found higher up. The change occurred at an astonishing pace: Within a few months, native lizards had begun shifting to higher perches, and over the course of 15 years and 20 generations, their toe pads had become larger, with more sticky scales on their feet.

'We did predict that we'd see a change, but the degree and quickness with which they evolved was surprising,' said Yoel Stuart, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Integrative Biology at The University of Texas at Austin and lead author of the study... 'To put this shift in perspective, if human height were evolving as fast as these lizards' toes, the height of an average American man would increase from about 5 foot 9 inches today to about 6 foot 4 inches within 20 generations — an increase that would make the average U.S. male the height of an NBA shooting guard,' said Stuart."


By Artifakt • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It's not quite that simple, but you could probably simplify it to a few basic steps, like:
Is there a coding mechanism for heredity? - Yes, the genetic code.
Is there a way to generate new code? - Yes, mutation.
Does that code allow unlimited blending? - No, if it did the two sexes would completely blur together, among many other lesser examples.
Is there selection for fitness? - Yes, not everything gets to reproduce as much as it attempts to, and at least some of that is attributable to being "unfit".

Basically, people can point to examples where limited blurring may occur, or being taken out of the gene pool may have nothing to do with fitness (all dinosaurs are equally unfit to survive a 5 mile wide asteroid strike), or many other such factors, but they aren't really offering any effective criticism of evolution unless they want to claim things like selection or mutation never happen.

This is also why what Darwin did was science. His publication made several testable predictions - that there would be a genetic code, that the code could be altered on occasion, and that it would not allow unlimited blending of traits.

How is this surprising?

By ChrisK87 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
I don't know why the researchers were so surprised by this. If the genetic variation already exists within the population under selective pressure, then the "evolution" measured by phenotypical changes in the population can take place literally overnight. Kill every human under 6'4" and the population will be 6'4" from then on, especially if you don't return to the set of selective pressures that had encouraged the shorter average. Sure there will be a lot of shorter individuals being born at first, but they'll fall to the same new selective pressure that killed the initial short cohort. This is exactly how the famous peppered moth evolution event happened so quickly; it wasn't anything unusual about the moth species in question, just a quick change in the suitability of existing genes. Evolution is only slow when the locally optimal genes don't exist in the population, and need to arise by mutation or genetic flow, or when an immediate optimum has room for genetic fine tuning, so to speak. TFA isn't really an example of evolution per se, it's an example of natural selection--a closely related concept in that they almost always co-occur, but it is not the same thing. We've changed the equilibrium frequencies of various genes, but as far as we know there are no new genes in this population. (And as far as that goes, it's a decent illustration of the importance of genetic diversity in a population: this population would be extirpated if it didn't have the genes responsible for these behavior and phenotype changes.)

Re:Is that unreasonable?

By ArcadeMan • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

According to this recent study, for example, European men have gained approximately 4 inches in height in 100 years, i.e., about 4 or 5 generations.

That's natural selection at work. If you can see further ahead in the traffic, you'll arrive home earlier and score with the women before the short men who are still stuck in traffic.


By pubwvj • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

We see this on the farm. Nature guides the hand of evolution in the wild through selective adaptive pressures. On the farm it is the hand of man, sometimes, but the same thing. We use selective pressure to improve our livestock. In just the past slightly more than a decade we have made significant evolutionary changes to our pigs. They're a particularly nice animal to work with for genetic selection because they reproduce fast (up to 3 litters a year) with very large litters (8 to 21 piglets per litter) with rapid growth (6 months to market, 9 months to breed) so we can turn over generations quickly.


By itzly • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

However, none of that is evidence that it is not designed.

Indeed. All we can say is that the theory doesn't need a designer. It doesn't need a painter or hair stylist either. Would you prefer if we rewrote the theory of evolution so that there was a hair stylist fixing the hair of the woolly mammoths ?

Italian Supreme Court Bans the 'Microsoft Tax'

Posted by Soulskill in Technology • View
An anonymous reader writes: In a post at the Free Software Foundation, lawyer Marco Ciurcina reports that the Italian Supreme Court has ruled the practice of forcing users to pay for a Windows license when they buy a new PC is illegal. Manufacturers in Italy are now legally obligated to refund that money if a buyer wants to put GNU/Linux or another free OS on the computer. Ciurcina says, "The focus of the Court's reasoning is that the sale of a PC with software preinstalled is not like the sale of a car with its components (the 4 wheels, the engine, etc.) that therefore are sold jointly. Buying a computer with preinstalled software, the user is required to conclude two different contracts: the first, when he buys the computer; the second, when he turns on the computer for the first time and he is required to accept or not the license terms of the preinstalled software. Therefore, if the user does not accept the software license, he has the right to keep the computer and install free software without having to pay the 'Microsoft tax.'"

Ban the MS tax on Android instead

By haruchai • Score: 3 • Thread

Why should anyone be paying M$ so much as a thin dime let alone $10-$20 in royalties on each Android device sold?

The elephant can forget. The geek never learns.

By westlake • Score: 3 • Thread

The bare bones PC doesn't sell worth spit.

It is not and never has been and never will be a mass market consumer product.

The OEM system install was the key to making the PC a mass market product. It meant that you had a working --- tested --- configuration out of the box, appropriate for its price range and intended use.

In 2014 it is still possible for the geek to be tied up in knots by Linux audio.

Something that leaves the OSX and Windows user with his head shaking in disbelief.

Walmart --- with its enormous purchasing power --- spent about ten years trying to make the OEM Linux PC a viable alternative to Windows in the North American retail market.

The chain sold tons of crap-tastic hardware to the geek for maybe $25 less than a Windows PC with a far more muscular CPU, twice the RAM and hard disk storage. For its rural customers on dial-up, Wamart had a Linux PC without a working modem.

The point being, that by the time product reaches retail shelves, the price of the OEM system install is essentially irrelevant.

There is something distinctly fraudulent about buying a Windows PC and demanding a refund when you could have bought a Linux PC from the start.

Re:And so therefor it follows and I quote

By Midnight Thunder • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Well, given that Apple doesn't charge for OS upgrades anymore, it can be argued that the cost of the OS is $0, when bundled with a Mac. You can get your refund, but I am not sure that $0 is worth the effort.

The real cost is having to buy a new Mac every few years because the latest upgrade was an upgrade too far. Well, at least it easier to roll back, compared to an iPhone.

Re:And so therefor it follows and I quote

By Immerman • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I agree in principle, though I think the actual per-unit price paid by the manufacturer is a more reasonable refund than the open market OEM price. Otherwise if I've managed to negotiate a better deal with MS then the excess of a full oem-price refund may well exceed my profit margins. Whether MS should be allowed to negotiate such deals is a separate issue.

The price situation is also complicated by crapware subsidies - if you remove Windows then presumably you also remove all the crapware installed on it. Now my feeling on preinstalled crapware is that they pays their money and they takes their chances, after all most halfway competent users will remove it immediately anyway. But that subsidy may well exceed the low negotiated price of Windows, in which case an OS-less machine will legitimately be more expensive.

Re:And so therefor it follows and I quote

By speedplane • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Imagine we lived in a world without hamburgers, only cheeseburgers. The solution would be to encourage people to open up hamburger shops, not to demand that cheesburger shops refund the cheese.

Scientists Engineer Cancer-Killing Stem Cells

Posted by Soulskill in Science • View
SternisheFan writes with news that medical researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have successfully cultivated stem cells that will kill brain cancer cells in mice without damaging healthy cells. "They used genetic engineering to make stem cells that spewed out cancer-killing toxins, but, crucially, were also able to resist the effects of the poison they were producing. ... In animal tests, the stem cells were surrounded in gel and placed at the site of the brain tumor after it had been removed. Their cancer cells then died as they had no defense against the toxins ( abstract)." The next step in the research is to try the treatment on humans. Chris Mason, a professor of regenerative medicine, said, "This is a clever study, which signals the beginning of the next wave of therapies. It shows you can attack solid tumors by putting mini pharmacies inside the patient which deliver the toxic payload direct to the tumor. Cells can do so much. This is the way the future is going to be."

Stem cells designed to kill brain cells

By clickclickdrone • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
What could possibly go wrong...

Skipping some steps

By Shavano • Score: 3 • Thread

The article says " In animal tests, the stem cells were surrounded in gel and placed at the site of the brain tumor after it had been removed. Their cancer cells then died as they had no defense against the toxins (abstract)." The next step in the research is to try the treatment on humans."

They're missing a few steps. How about the next step is to try the treatment in live mice and see if continuous chemotherapy has harmful effects on their brains? How about animal models in the same order as humans (e.g. monkeys) before you try it in humans?

Re:The bottom line

By mark-t • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Wow... didn't have to read very far before I found somebody regurgitating *THIS* conspiracy theory again... of course, like most conspiracy theories, any otherwise entirely logical refutations are attributed as being part of "the cover up", and are excluded from consideration, preventing actual critical analysis.

There are problems with the pharmaceutical industries in North America, but this is not one of them.

Re:Skipping some steps

By NoKaOi • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

It's poorly worded, but if you read TFA carefully, they did use the treatment in live mice. They surgically removed the tumor, then put the stem cells at the site of where the tumor had been and they killed the remaining cancer cells. The article also contradicts itself in first saying that the next step is testing on humans, and later saying the next step is testing a number of different techniques with it on mice with glioblastoma. Unfortunately the paper itself is behind a paywall.

CHP Officers Steal, Forward Nude Pictures From Arrestee Smartphones

Posted by Soulskill in Mobile • View
sabri writes: Following the initial suspension of a California Highway Patrol officer earlier this week, news has come out that the CHP has an entire ring of officers who steal and subsequently share nude pictures. The nudes are stolen from women who are arrested or stopped. Officer Sean Harrington of Martinez reportedly confessed to stealing explicit photos from the suspect's phone, and said he forwarded those images to at least two other CHP officers. Where is the ACLU when you need them the most?

Re:Prison time

By Idarubicin • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

How the fuck is this modded insightful? Even at 0? This is the type of shit that gives SJW ammunition in claiming that IT culture is hostile to women. I like to believe the words that come out of my mouth when I argue that point.

You know, I just put together now that "SJW" is intended to be an acronym for "Social Justice Warrior" (which is in turn intended to be a derogatory phrase meaning, as far as I can tell, "uppity feminist"). For some weeks now, I have been pondering what the internet has against straight (or single) Jewish women. Now it makes a lot more sense.

That the "reasonable" faction of the male IT world - that the parent poster would like to think he represents - seems to believe that the SJW caricature represents a non-trivial force that is conspiring against him is troubling. That the acronym SJW exists and is presumably widely understood in his circles is rather more revealing about (his part of) "IT culture" than he probably thinks.

Don't get me wrong, the parent poster is better than the grandparent asshole who believes all rapes are imaginary--but just being better than the anonymous trolling asshole isn't setting a high bar.


By amiga3D • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Fuck that. This is beyond libido. I like women fine and like to see attractive ones but leering at nude photos stolen from their phone is not normal behavior. To imply that it is makes this perversion seem mainstream. It's just short of sexual assault. Would you steal someone's nude photos? Would you even go into their phone to look at their photos? If so you're not the kind of person I'd ever want to know. The reason this sickness is so prevalent in society is that we tolerate it and fail to condemn it strongly enough. It's sick and they should be fired.

Typical Submitter Laziness!

By MildlyTangy • Score: 3 • Thread

Again, we are subjected to incredible levels of laziness from a Slashdot Article Submitter.

Too blimmin lazy to even Google search in this day and age!!

Here, Ill do this complex and difficult task for you, since you have to ask Slashdot for help:

Q: "Where is the ACLU when you need them the most?"
A: ACLU, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor, New York NY 10004

Re:Prison time

By Shoten • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Formally, a flash bang is a "stun grenade" and falls in the "less than lethal" category of offensive weapons.

Note it is not harmless, most people report significant temporary (1 year or less not 5-10 minutes ) or permanent hearing loss. If close to the detonation point, 2nd & 3rd degree burns are common. Vision problems (retinal damage, corneal burns, etc) are another frequent side effect.

  These weapons are designed for high risk breaches, not raiding a house in the middle of the night to serve a search warrant after you've already arrested the suspect.

One more thing: flash-bang devices often ignite fabrics and papers, if they happen to land on them. The amount of heat they put out is quite intense, if brief, and the reason why tactical teams frequently wear either natural (cotton) or ablative (nomex) fibers on the outside. Imagine if a raid starts with the blankets of a crib catching fire while the baby's inside, and the parents can't do a thing about it because they've been put face-down on the floor, hands zip-tied behind them, hysterical while they have a cop kneeling on the middle of their back.

Re:Prison time

By DrJimbo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

No, it's called "asset forfeiture" and it does happen far too often. Hell, happening once is far too often.

In the US there are two kinds of asset forfeiture, criminal and civil:

There are two types of forfeiture cases, criminal and civil. Approximately half of all forfeiture cases practiced today are civil, although many of those are filed in parallel to a related criminal case. In civil forfeiture cases, the US Government sues the item of property, not the person; the owner is effectively a third-party claimant. [...]

In civil cases, the owner need not be judged guilty of any crime; [...] In contrast, criminal forfeiture is usually carried out in a sentence following a conviction and is a punitive act against the offender.

I don't want to put words in your mouth but I think the type of forfeiture you so strenuously (and correctly) object to is called civil asset forfeiture or civil forfeiture for short.

Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"

Posted by timothy in News • View
theodp writes According to Steve Ballmer, is not a real business. "They make no money," Ballmer said on the Charlie Rose Show. "In my world, you're not a real business until you make some money. I have a hard time with businesses that don't make money at some point." Ballmer's comments come as Amazon posted a $437 million loss for the third quarter, disappointing Wall Street. "If you are worth $150 billion," Ballmer added, "eventually somebody thinks you're going to make $15 billion pre-tax. They make about zero, and there's a big gap between zero and 15." Fired-up as ever, LA Clippers owner Ballmer's diss comes after fellow NBA owner Mark Cuban similarly slammed IBM, saying Big Blue is no longer a tech company (Robert X. Cringely seems to concur). "Today, they [IBM] specialize in financial engineering," Cuban told CNBC after IBM posted another disappointing quarter. "They're no longer a tech company, they are an amalgamation of different companies that they are trying to arb[itrage] on Wall Street, and I'm not a fan of that at all."


By Ksevio • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
Who gave you a monopoly on deciding which words people can use?!

Re:IBM no longer a tech company?

By alexander_686 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Let me be the Devil's advocate.

First, Amazon is not "re-investing profit into more and more expansion." Amazon has one of the worse Return on Investment (ROI) in the S&P. That is, it has below average profits on its investments. What it is doing is exchanging profits for growth. It is a subtle but importance difference.

You are right, Amazon could be today's profits for bigger future profits. That is the general consensus among stock analyst. Which is why Amazon's stock price tends to flop around so much. Stock analyst have to guess what Amazon's profits will be in 10 years, which is shrouded in risk and uncertainty.

However there is a contra view. That Amazon is stuck in low margin business that will never generate large profits. That the only way to expand is to offer lower prices than anybody else, resulting in a "Red Queen's Race", where everybody has to run faster just to stay where they are. If that is true, Amazon will never be able to generate "normal" profits, so future profits will be small, not large.

Only time will tell on who is right.

What an archaic mentality.

By • Score: 3 • Thread

These days, the measure of being a success is being able to lose staggering amounts of money while continuing to exist. The bonus round is where the government bails it out because it's too big to fail and the whole cycle repeats on a larger scale.

Re:The US tech industry

By dgatwood • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

As many folks have already pointed out in other threads on the subject, Intel screwed up the Haswell line by using an entirely different pinout on the i7 than on the i5. The result is that any motherboard with soldered-on chips has to be specifically designed for one or the other.

Apple chose the i5, presumably because that's the hardware grade where most of the Mini's sales came from, rather than doubling their R&D cost by building two very different motherboards.

Here's hoping Intel doesn't screw up Broadwell in the same way.

Re:IBM no longer a tech company?

By _Sharp'r_ • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Ballmer's grandstanding. I'm pretty sure he understands the numbers in Amazon's 10-K filings.

Amazon made $745 million in income from $74 billion in sales last year, for a net income of $274 million.

That even seems understated, because they're obviously spending way more to expand their capacity than they need for just supporting their current operations. Last year, they have a net cash flow of $5.5 billion from operations, then spent $ 3.4 billion on purchases of property, equipment and software. Even after spending that much geared towards growth, that still leaves $2 billion in free cash flow to spend.

Let me put it another way, Amazon's net worth (assets minus liabilities) has gone from $17 Billion in 2010, to $23 Billion, then $27 Billion, now $33 Billion end of 2013. You don't do that without being profitable each year along the way, regardless of what they decide to do with the profit, which is clearly currently to reinvest the cash in order to expand quickly and grab as much market share as they can.

Ballmer's just jealous that no matter what Microsoft does or who they purchase, they can't convert their windows/office cash cows into a worthy reinvestment, because they're essentially out of new ideas, having mostly missed the ground floor of the Internet revolutions. So Microsoft's best bet is to act like a mature company and pay dividends so their stockholders can use that money to invest in something like Amazon.

Google Search Finally Adds Information About Video Games

Posted by timothy in Search • View
An anonymous reader writes Google has expanded its search engine with the capability to recognize video games. If your query references a game, a new Knowledge Graph panel on the right-hand side of Google's search results page will offer more information, including the series it belongs to, initial release date, supported platforms, developers, publishers, designers, and even review scores. Google spokesperson: "With today's update, you can ask questions about video games, and (while there will be ones we don't cover) you'll get answers for console and PC games as well as the most popular mobile apps."

I don't like

By NotInHere • Score: 3 • Thread

the current trend of google to create a "smart search" that directly answers your questions. Not because this isn't useful, but because projects like wikipedia suffer from it. This is even a direct competitor to wikidata. I still don't understand why wikidata isn't copyleft, its a bad descision in my eyes. Or isn't there any copyright on databases? Then i'll look forward for open google scraping projects.

Re:results rather lame

By _xeno_ • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Since you mention it, if you search for "Doom", you get (amongst others):

Doom (Video game)
Developers: GT Interactive Software
Designers: Tom Hall, Shawn Green, John Romero

Doom (Video game)
Developer: id Software
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

So I guess John Carmack never did exist.

And, yes, "Doom (Video game)" appears twice. The second one is actually "Doom 4."

Re:I don't like

By redmid17 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
It's not really a direct competitor. The smart search answers have 3-4 sentences topically explaining something. Wikipedia has, almost always, exponentially more data.

'Smart search' is great for questions like "Who won the World Series in 1987" or "How many Grand Theft Auto games are there". It's not so great for "What is the plot of GTA V".

Slidebox Bob

By epine • Score: 3 • Thread

Google didn't do this to make the gamers happy. They did it to make the non gamers happy, because video game culture is ladden with a rich and repurposed vocabulary that constantly shows up when people don't want to see video games in their search results.

They have to recognize games in order to remove games. Once they've gone that far, throwing up a positive infobox is Slidebox Bob.