the unofficial Slashdot digest

A Beautiful Mind Mathematician John F. Nash Jr. Dies

Posted by samzenpusView
Rick Zeman writes: John F. Nash Jr. revolutionized the mathematical field of game theory and was given a mind that was unique and deeply troubled. He became known to most people by the movie about his life, A Beautiful Mind. Dr. Nash died, along with his wife, May 24 in a two-car accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. The Washington Post reports: "In 1994, when Dr. Nash received the Nobel Prize in economics, the award marked not only an intellectual triumph but also a personal one. More than four decades earlier, as a Princeton University graduate student, he had produced a 27-page thesis on game theory — in essence, the applied mathematical study of decision-making in situations of conflict — that would become one of the most celebrated works in the field. Before the academic world could fully recognize his achievement, Dr. Nash descended into a condition eventually diagnosed as schizophrenia. For the better part of 20 years, his once supremely rational mind was beset by delusions and hallucinations. By the time Dr. Nash emerged from his disturbed state, his ideas had influenced economics, foreign affairs, politics, biology — virtually every sphere of life fueled by competition. But he been absent from professional life for so long that some scholars assumed he was dead."

A true loss

By houstonbofh • Score: 3 • Thread
Truly a tragic loss, not just for science, but for all who were still learning from him. Both math, and that limitations are not what stops you.

Thanks You Dr. Nash

By cosm • Score: 3 • Thread
Historical inaccuracies aside, the movie A Beautiful Mind inspired me to pursue and receive my B.S. in Mathematics which resulted in a very lucrative and satisfactory career. My thanks go out to Dr. Nash and my condolences go out to his family.

Soft Sensors Map Skin Mechanics

Posted by samzenpusView
MTorrice writes: An international research team has built electronic, flexible patches that can measure the mechanical properties of skin and other biological tissue. The sensors consist of nanoribbons of a piezoelectric material, lead zirconate titanate, which deforms when jolted with electrical energy and, conversely, produces electricity when it's deformed. The researchers mapped the skin elasticity of dozens of patients in the clinic, building up quantitative data on healthy and damaged tissue. The information could help doctors better assess conditions such as dermatitis and skin cancer. The team believes that similar sensors could be implanted inside the body to monitor blood vessels and other soft tissue for damage or dysfunction.

Universe's Dark Ages May Not Be Invisible After All

Posted by SoulskillView
StartsWithABang writes: The Universe had two periods where light was abundant, separated by the cosmic dark ages. The first came at the moment of the hot Big Bang, as the Universe was flooded with (among the matter, antimatter and everything else imaginable) a sea of high-energy photons, including a large amount of visible light. As the Universe expanded and cooled, eventually the cosmic microwave background was emitted, leaving behind the barely visible, cooling photons. It took between 50 and 100 million years for the first stars to turn on, so in between these two epochs of the Universe being flooded with light, we had the dark ages. Yet the dark ages may not be totally invisible, as the forbidden spin-flip-transition of hydrogen may illuminate this time period after all.

Starts with a Bang

By vikingpower • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
is not scientific news, nor does the link point to any academic results. "Ask Ethan" is simply a popular-scientific discussion of results already known. So no News for Nerds, and hardly any Stuff that Matters, IMHO.

Nerve Cells Made From Blood Cells

Posted by SoulskillView
BarbaraHudson writes: CBC reports that Canadian scientists are turning blood into nerve cells. They do so by manipulating stem cells that have been taken from a patient's blood, eventually switching them into neural stem cells (abstract). These can then give rise to multiple different nerve cells suitable for use in the rest of the body. Team leader Mick Bhatia said, "We can actually take a patient's blood sample, as routinely performed in a doctor's office, and with it we can produce one million sensory neurons. We can also make central nervous system cells." They're working on turning the neural stem cells into motor neurons for treatment of diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Re:Wouldn't the new cells have the same diseases?

By NotInHere • Score: 4 • Thread

If you are researching in the Neuroscience field, you have a simple descision: either you accept that most grant money is inside the "curing Altzheimer" corner, and start constructing a story how your research can heal patients from Altzheimer, Parkinson or HIV, or you are heroic and don't get grant money. Your competition does get the money though, so you end up with them having an advantage.

I mean this is an effect of giving money only to research that has curing these illnesses as goal. If you do the groundwork, you don't get any money, so you have to do some of the higher level stuff too, which perhaps others would do if grants were fairly distributed. You can debate whether this is good or bad, both sides have their points.

Software Patch Fixes Mars Curiosity Rover's Auto-focus Glitch

Posted by SoulskillView
An anonymous reader writes: Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory have successfully uploaded and applied a software patch to NASA's Curiosity Rover on Mars. The patch fixes a focusing problem that cropped up in November when the laser that helps to focus one of its cameras failed. "Without this laser rangefinder, the ChemCam instrument was somewhat blind," said Roger Wiens, ChemCam principal investigator at Los Alamos. "The main laser that creates flashes of plasma when it analyzes rocks and soils up to 25 feet [7.6 meters] from the rover was not affected, but the laser analyses only work when the telescope projecting the laser light to the target is in focus." Before the fix, scientists had to shoot images at nine different focus settings to distill a decent set of data. Now, they say the new software results in better images in a single shot than even before the laser broke down. The program that runs the instrument is only 40 kilobytes in size.

Source code?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Apollo space program is documented in great detail. Even the software running in the flight computers is nowdays available and you can run the whole thing in a virtualized guidance computer.

Does anyone have any idea what's the case with probes and landers? I know they are mostly running VxWorks, but I'd love to take a peek on how some of the routines are actually implemented.

Still a hack, but way better than nothing.

By Mal-2 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

This fix still requires much of the resources of the previous method, essentially bracketing the shot and picking the best one. This means it will still take just as long to obtain each image, but apparently that wasn't a huge problem. What this saves is something precious though: bandwidth. Now the rover is picking the best shot, instead of sending a bunch of blind guesses and making us sort it out. I suspect that if the bandwidth wasn't precious, they wouldn't have bothered improving on the existing workaround, so it must have been worth all the trouble.

Not a fix...

By Alwin Henseler • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

..but an improved workaround.

If I read the article(s) correctly, problem was caused by failure of a small 2nd laser used for range finding. It seems that failure wasn't solved. Permanently out of action? Who knows.

Workaround was to take several shots at different focus settings, and have home base sort out the data. Improved workaround is to take several shots at different focus settings, have software on-site figure out which are the best, and only send that data back home.

To the editors

By Crashmarik • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

If you are going to have a story like this it would be good form to remember the H, aka HOW from who,what,when,where, why and HOW of a journalism article. At some point in the past this was a site oriented to the technical community, most of whom are very interested in the how. You might even think that for the most part the when, why, where and who are all at the who cares level. (Mars being an exception)

Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK

Posted by SoulskillView
Mark Wilson sends word that Amazon will begin paying corporate taxes on profits made in the UK. The company had previously been recording most of its UK sales as being in Luxembourg, which let them avoid the higher taxes in the UK. But at the end of last year, UK regulators decided they were losing too much tax revenue because of this practice, so they began implementing legislation that would impose a 25% tax on corporations routing their profits elsewhere. Amazon is the first large corporation to make the change, and it's expected to put pressure on Google, Microsoft, Apple, and others to do the same.

Re:just what we all love

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

You know in sports when someone finds some way to gain an advantage that is technically within the rules but clearly against the spirit of the game? People get annoyed because they expect fair play.

What Amazon and many others are doing is legal, but clearly subverts the intention of the law. We need to run tax more like a D&D session, where any rule lawyering can simply be overruled by the DM and if you piss them off too much a dragon steps on you.

Oversimplification ...

By golodh • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I agree to the extent that lots of taxes are simply passed through to customers. If you didn't, you wouldn't be in business for long. And yes, many of those taxes apply irrespective of company size.

But certainly not all of them. As is: different locations have different cost structures. They apply to different aspects of your business. Given the amount of goods that are transported throughout the country, it should be clear that capital costs (cost of setting up production facilities), labour costs, material costs, energy costs, insurance costs, labour productivity, production efficiency, spillage, waste and theft etc. ensure that you get different cost structures in different places.

As soon as you have that, you get a mix of suppliers in one market with different cost structures. As a result you get different profit margins and different tax burdens for different suppliers, and with it different returns on capital. Transaction costs, various constraints, and uncertainty about future costs limit how easily businesses can set up shop elsewhere.

Having a mix of suppliers with different cost structures and different tax burdens wouldn't be possible if taxes were just another cost.

Yes, yes, you think that if I made $1 million in profit last year and the government wants 30% of that, that it shouldn't raise prices. You'd be wrong.

No. The situation you describe is where you total all costs your business incurs, decide how much profit you'd like to make and add that too, factor in any profit taxes, and then charge whatever results to your customers.

That only works if your customers want whatever it is you're selling at that price and there's no-one around to compete with you.

In other words: a niche business.

What you're saying is that all taxes are, in the end, paid by society as a whole (including businesses), which is correct. And yes, if society wouldn't be paying taxes, it would quite simply pay for everything taxes are spent on in other ways, so ultimately all taxes are an expense.

But the fact remains that taxes on products weigh more heavily on individual consumers and taxes on profits weigh more heavily on "capital".

This is simply because an increase in profits will certainly not result in an increase in wealth for individuals that make up the "labour" part of society. They are very unevenly distributed and tend to go towards those individuals who contributed the "capital" part of the equation. Contrarywise, a decrease in profits will not *immediately and automatically* lead to a decrease in wages (and wealth for the "labour" part of society). In both cases "entrepreneurship" is in the way.

To the extent you're saying there's no difference between taxes on products and taxes on profits, that's an oversimplification.

Re:just what we all love

By IamTheRealMike • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Uhhhh - yes, there is something immoral about tax avoidance. Virtually all of the schemes used to avoid taxes were lobbied for by corporations


The "loophole" that Amazon has been using is nothing more than the EU single market, in all its glory, exactly as it was intended to be used. The single market was created specifically so companies could set up a headquarters in the EU once, and then sell to the entire trade region without having to register or pay taxes in every single country. This wasn't some clever loophole or corporate scheme, it was constructed, very deliberately and specifically, by politicians that wanted to bring Europe together to avoid another re-run of the World Wars.

When the EU and its predecessors were being set up, governments were all super keen to establish this sort of single market because they saw it as a way to allow their own home-grown champion companies to expand, by selling to people elsewhere on the continent. Paying tax in a single country is fundamental to having a single market, otherwise the paperwork involved with understanding and filling out dozens of tax returns in langauges you don't speak would just be overwhelming. At the time, presumably those politicians didn't care that this meant one day there would be non home-grown companies selling to their people - creating big new companies takes decades and sure enough this "scandal" has only appeared long after the EU was set up and a new generation of companies started moving in.

Regardless, the idea that these companies are grubby scheming tax evaders is pure, unadulterated propaganda. They're doing exactly what they were intended to do - set up a single HQ and sell to everyone from it. The idea that what was once desirable is now immoral is being pushed by the UK media and government to try and distract people from the core fact that there are going to be way, way more cuts and they will be way deeper than anything that's happened up until now. That's not Amazon's fault - the amounts involved are trivial. The fault rests solely on the British people and their leaders.

Re:just what we all love

By Tom • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You are mixing morals with laws. The two do not always match.

It may be legal to funnel taxes out of a country where you make your profits, but I have not yet seen anyone make a convincing argument that it is (morally) right.

A lot of things are legal, but not moral. Lying to your best friend, cheating on your wife, pissing in the pool.

On the other hand, there are things that are moral, but illegal, usually because laws change slowly or don't cover all edge cases. Fortunately, many countries have a permissive judicial system where a judge and/or jury can decide that yes it broke the law, but in this particular case it's (morally) right to let it go unpunished.

They are not the same. Tax evasion is illegal, tax avoidance is at the very least a gray area, and in the extreme way most corporations implement it, certainly not moral.

Re:just what we all love

By CrimsonAvenger • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

What do you call the use of unchecked power, that hurts the system but might help your own causes, but destroys things otherwise? I call that immoral.

Usually I call that "government"....

Study: Science Still Seen As a Male Profession

Posted by SoulskillView
sciencehabit sends news of a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology which found that science is still perceived as a predominantly male profession across the world. The results were broken out by country, and while the overall trend stayed consistent throughout (PDF), there were variations in perception. For explicit bias: "Countries where this association was strongest included South Africa and Japan. The United States ranked in the middle, with a score similar to Austria, Mexico, and Brazil. Portugal, Spain, and Canada were among the countries where the explicit bias was weakest." For implicit bias: "Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, and Sweden were among the countries with the highest implicit bias scores. The United States again came in at the middle of the pack, scoring similarly to Singapore. Portugal, Spain, and Mexico had among the lowest implicit bias scores, though the respondents still associated science more with men than with women."

Re: Guys just look better in lab coats.

By KGIII • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

How about if we believe your conclusions but do not think your data supports your claim, ie you are viewing what you wish due to your observations which are obviously (and not a fault) biased?

Re: Guys just look better in lab coats.

By Pubstar • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
>If your reaction to this is to disbelieve my credentials, then you are part of the problem.

>Post made as AC

Welp, I'll gladly be part of the problem not believing something posted on the internet anonymously.

That test is unscientific

By tgv • Score: 3 • Thread

The implicit bias test used is controversial, to say the least. According to mainstream cognitive psychology, it measures temporary perceptual associations via priming. These do not have a causal relation with higher level opinions. The effect can be caused by something as uninteresting as the local way of referring to science and scientists.

Methods? They had a large number of factors to correlate with their data: 25 (possibly a few more, depending on what you read), and ran a multiple regression over it, and are reporting an effect for every p .05. That's bad science at multiple levels.

It's just another fishing expedition.

Different genders, different choices

By popo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Should women be given free choice or not? One wonders exactly what the social-justice crowd had in mind.

The vast majority of women choose to study social sciences. Men don't.

Should their freedom of choice be curtailed? Should we 'force' women to study something they're not interested in? Because if such inhibition of personal freedoms is not acceptable then perhaps we should stop treating these obvious gender-aligned differences in preference as "flaws", and start treating them as "features" of our species.

The social justice crowd would of course insist that it's all "nurture" and not "nature". But how many times must this absurd belief system be obliterated with logic for it to finally disappear? --->

Yet another sexist article

By ruir • Score: 3 • Thread
Is slashdot trying to drive away the male audience?

The Hoverboard Flies Closer To Reality

Posted by SoulskillView
Dave Knott writes: Fans of 1980s cinema were disappointed when the year 2015 arrived without a practical version Marty McFly's hoverboard. Now, a Montréal-based man has brought it closer to reality by setting a new record for longest "flight" by hoverboard. In a filmed test recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records, Catalin Alexandru Duru pilots his somewhat cumbersome looking rig for 250 meters — five times the previous record — at a height of five meters above Quebec's Lake Ouareau. Duru and his business partner "hope to have a new prototype finished by the end of the year and then have hoverboards available for purchase across the country. He wouldn't say how much the prototype cost to build, but said that the first generation of the machine will likely be 'quite expensive.'" "This thing is still quite dangerous," he added, explaining that the pilot uses only his or her feet to fly the contraption. The commercial version's software will limit it to flying below a height of about one-and-a-half meters above the ground.


By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

If everywhere you go is on water.

Serious question : why can't it work over land ?


I'm sure it'll work just fine over land... but when something goes wrong it's gonna hurt a lot more when you hit the ground. Over water is probably a better bet for testing your prototype without a lot of doctor's bills.

Guiness just examined the footage?

By AchilleTalon • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
I find it a bit strange Guiness Records only examined the footage before granting the record. The guy is specialized in 3-D visual effects. I mean, anyone has seen the real thing flying? I am living in Montreal and we never heard about this before today. Don't you think if something like that happened at lake Ouareau in August 2014 it wouldn't have made the front page of our local newspapers?


By Dereck1701 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

There are at least two hoverbike projects in progress, they seem quite a bit more mature and practical than this thing but to each their own I suppose.

Best comment on the other website

By ArcadeMan • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

"This will revolutionize the way people get hurt in traffic accidents."

Re: Williams WASP X-Jet

By oobayly • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

In 40 years people have also got a lot heavier.

Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things

Posted by SoulskillView
An anonymous reader writes: A new report from The Information (paywalled) says Google is working on an operating system called "Brillo" that would be a platform for Internet-of-things devices. It's supposedly a lightweight version of Android, capable of running on devices with extremely limited hardware — as little as 32 MB of RAM, for example. The company is expected to launch the code for Brillo at its I/O event next week. This is particularly relevant now that Google has acquired Nest, Dropcam, and Revolv — a trio of "smart home" companies whose devices could potentially by unified by Brillo.


By phantomfive • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
For comparison, here is a typical microcontroller with a few kilobytes of RAM. No wonder the Nest is so's vastly overpowered for what it does.

Correctly named?

By chrism238 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Shouldn't we call this Brillio Beta, so that we can all invest heavily in it for 2 years before Google changes their mind and withdraws it?


By Mirar • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I regularly work with devices having 32*K*B or RAM. That talks TCP/IP. (And much smaller than that, but they do very limited amount of networking, like CAN.)

And I remember running Linux on devices with a lot less than 32MB...

What's the challenge with 32MB? And how is that extreme in any way?

Are they serious?

By rev0lt • Score: 3 • Thread
32MB of RAM? Many semi-modern UNIX systems can run with that amount of RAM without any modification... Many IoT applications require an OS that can work with 32KB, not 32MB.


By NotInHere • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Yes it doesn't mean, but when it says "google", your data land at their servers. And from a security standpoint, they have control.

Oculus Founder Hit With Lawsuit

Posted by SoulskillView
An anonymous reader writes: Palmer Luckey, founder of VR headset-maker Oculus, has been sued by a company accusing him of taking their confidential information and passing it off as his own. Total Recall Technologies, based in Hawaii, claims it hired Luckey in 2011 to build a head-mounted display. Part of that employment involved Luckey signing a confidentiality agreement. In August, 2012, Luckey launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Oculus Rift headset, and Facebook bought his company last year for $2 billion. TRT is seeking compensatory and punitive damages (PDF).

TL;DR version

By sjames • Score: 3 • Thread

He didn't give hinself shock treatment to erase his memory of the time he worked with us and he failed to deny that he existed during the years of 2011 and 2012. Even though he didn't steal our IP (or we would have sued for that), we want to sue anyway because we fumbled the future and he didn't!

Re:TL;DR version

By E-Rock • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

We consulted our lawyers, and they assure us that it'll be cheaper for them to pay us off than fight us, so free money!

It's hard out there for a patent troll

By PopeRatzo • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Patent trolls are like pimps without the cool clothes and '72 Riviera with fur-lined windows.

They both make their money off other people's work.


By Kjella • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Not really. I believe there is a clean hands doctrine that says if your inaction has amplified the harm then you might not get relief for that. For example if you live in the downstairs apartment and notice water is leaking from the upstairs apartment but don't do anything to stop it or limit the damage because you'd rather get the insurance money you can get cut short. It's a lot trickier with an IP issue, is it a lump transfer or an ongoing violation but I think it has most the characteristics of the former where you take a half-finished product and hand it to someone else to finish. In that case there's no harm in delaying apart from the statute of limitations.

Let's say I'm in an accident with you, but it seems at first to not be a big deal and I don't sue for damages. However it turns out it won't heal properly and I lose a lot of money and decide to sue anyway. Am I too late? No, those costs aren't caused by the delay, they'd come no matter what and it won't count against me. Of course I'm not in the US, there you find the nearest ambulance chaser and sue for $millions, unless it was a hobo that hurt you.

Re:Mark Zuckerburg

By thegarbz • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

It's like rain on a wedding day.

Ireland Votes Yes To Same-Sex Marriage

Posted by SoulskillView
BarbaraHudson writes: Reuters is reporting that the citizens of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to legalize same-sex marriages. While it's also legal in 19 other countries, Ireland was the first to decide this by putting the question to the citizens. "This has really touched a nerve in Ireland," Equality Minister Aodhan O'Riordain said at the main count center in Dublin. "It's a very strong message to every LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) young person in Ireland and every LGBT young person in the world." Observers say the loss of moral authority of the Catholic church after a series of sex scandals was a strong contributing factor, with priests limiting their appeals to the people sitting in their pews. In contrast, the "Yes" side dominated social media.

Re: This isn't a question

By AK Marc • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
There is a Gay Agenda. Those Gays want to be able to walk the streets without being tied to the back of a pickup and dragged until dead, or left for dead, just because someone is offended by their manerisms. That's an agenda. I think that rather than "hide" the agenda, the gays should own it. "Yes we have an agenda, we want to e treated like humans."

Re:This isn't a question

By Murdoch5 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Just like the bible, Because my book says so, verse one:

In the beginning was the sock and not God, God came about 2 minutes later.

So that is pretty hard evidence.

Re: This isn't a question

By MightyMartian • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Up until recently beating the shit out of your wife and forcing sexual intercourse on her against her will (spousal rape) was considered lawful and appropriate. Some traditional views just plain suck and we should welcome their demiwey.

This has nothing to do with Marxism, any more than throwing out laws banning miscegenation had anything to do with Marxism.

Doesn't belong here

By Skarjak • Score: 3 • Thread
This is good news but has nothing to do with technology. Why is this here?

Re:This isn't a question

By dryeo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I think that a representative democracy needs parts that can't be simply fired so they have some independence from the mob.

Ask Slashdot: Can SaaS Be Both Open Source and Economically Viable?

Posted by timothyView
An anonymous reader writes: The CTO behind Lucidchart, an online diagramming app, recently cited the open source rbush project as an invaluable tool for helping implement an "in-memory spatial index" that "increased spatial search performance by a factor of over 1,000 for large documents." My question is this: what risks does a SaaS company like Lucidchart face in making most of their own code public, like Google's recent move with Chrome for Android, and what benefits might be gained by doing so? Wouldn't sharing the code just generate more users and interest? Even if competitors did copy it, they'd always be a step behind the latest developments.

GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL)

By tepples • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The GNU Affero General Public License version 3 was designed to preserve user freedom and flexibility even when software runs on a leased server. It ensures that users can obtain and improve the software that they are using even when they are currently running it on someone else's computer. That way, if a particular service goes out of business, its customers can spin up an instance on their own servers with little interruption.

It depends on the code

By Todd Knarr • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Google's Chrome would be a good example. Google's business is not selling browsers. Their business is selling advertising. Many of the services they offer to attract eyeballs (and data) for their business require a good browser. So they don't lose any revenue by giving their browser away and letting other people build browsers based on the code, in fact the more modern browsers out there that're all compatible the better for Google. In that situation it makes sense to open-source their Chrome code. For any business, if the code's utility code that's necessary for the business but not a significant part of the parts that separate your offering from everyone else's it'd make sense to open-source it. You don't lose anything, you gain brownie points, and you may be able to use the bug fixes and enhancements others make without having to spend your own resources on them.

You don't, however, see Google open-sourcing the details of their analytics algorithms, or the exact code that drives PageRank, or the other things that set them apart from other search engines. Those things they need to keep secret because if they got out Google would lose a competitive advantage. Open-sourcing code like that would cost a business revenue, so it shouldn't be open-sourced.

Sell the Sevice

By davydagger • Score: 3 • Thread

Its simple, you use somthing like the Affero license so no one can make changes that you can't access. Since anyone can try, whatever good ideas other people have you can re-incorporate, so you can potentially have a far bigger unpaid developer base. If your product is known to attract hacker types as customers, they can act as force multipliers, easily. As compared to a closed program, you'll have more eyes on the code. Its also your code, and you know it better than anyone else.

Then you simply focus on having the best quality of service. You can copy software, you can't copy quality of service.

Combine these two, its not as easy as you think to compete against someone else with their own software.

You also have your brand name and reputation. which is built on that quality of service. Despite the fact that CentOS is given away for free, people pay good money for RHEL subscriptions, and RH is an economicly viable company.

The support is where the money is. The actual product is a loss leader.

Death In the Browser Tab

Posted by SoulskillView
theodp writes: "There you are watching another death on video," writes the NY Times' Teju Cole. "In the course of ordinary life — at lunch or in bed, in a car or in the park — you are suddenly plunged into someone else's crisis, someone else's horror. It arrives, absurdly, in the midst of banal things. That is how, late one afternoon in April, I watched Walter Scott die. The footage of his death, taken by a passer-by, had just been published online on the front page of The New York Times. I watched it, sitting at my desk in Brooklyn, and was stunned by it." Cole continues, "For most of human history, to see someone die, you had to be there. Depictions of death, if there were any, came later, at a certain remove of time and space." Disturbing as they may be (Cole notes he couldn't bear to watch the ISIS beheading videos), such images may ultimately change things for the better. Is it better to publish them than sweep them under the carpet?

Re:I for one

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

If sticking your head in the sand is what you want to do, then by all means. Doesn't mean that bad shit doesn't happen though, and if you're a citizen of a country whose military goes off and does these things, you have a right and a responsibility to know what's being done in your name.

Actually what's worse than remaining ignorant is responding to imagery of dead people with outrage for the people who presented you with the information. In a normal world, with a public that has its collective head screwed on straight, the reaction to the July 12, 2007 Baghdad air strike would have been disgust in the military, not disgust with the person who brought the atrocity to light. But no, Chelsea Manning took the fall for it instead.

Re:Reality desensitizes. See enough, you go nuts.

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Still, in some countries, crime figures are going DOWN per person, not up.

Actually, crime is going down in most countries. Reduced crime is correlated with rising literacy, and economic growth, but is most strongly correlated with banning leaded gasoline. There is little evidence that links crime rates to prevalence of violence on TV or in video games, although there is some evidence that video games reduce crime by keeping young men off the street during their prime crime years (age 15-24).


By MrL0G1C • Score: 3 • Thread

Wanting to watch people die is perverse.

What is worse, watching a person being raped or watching a person being killed? Both wrong, both perverse.

NO, it is not enough!

By duckintheface • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

"Hearing 'White cop kills yet another unarmed black man' is enough."

Absolutely not. Cops have been killing unarmed black men for a long, long time. It is only now, when video is frequently available and the media has decided to pursue the matter, that we see a national awakening to the problem. It is hard for most Americans to imagine what it's like to be a young black man living under the control of a brutal police force. We all want to believe that the police are there to protect and serve. It is only when we can see the evil with our own eyes that it becomes real and becomes intolerable.

News Agencies Responsible for Murder and Terrorism

By Etherwalk • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

By showing their propaganda videos, it means said publisher is condoning the acts displayed,

No it doesn't. The act of making such videos accessible to others, and approving of the actions within the video, are two entirely different, wholly separate things. You can make the video available without approving of the contents.

But by making it available you take some responsibility for the consequences of the reporting.

A bunch of reporters were kidnapped in the middle east around the Iraq conflict until it stopped being news and became less common. Then soldiers were kidnapped (IIRC in the lead-up to the Israel-Lebanon war) and the Press made a big deal about it, so they started kidnapping more soldiers. The Press shares some responsibility for the increase in soldier kidnappings. Not as much as the people who kidnapped the soldiers, but still some, because *without the press they would not have been kidnapped.*

The same thing is true for school shootings after Columbine.

And the same thing is true for 9/11. Right after the 1993 WTC car bombing, the news media began explaining of course the towers didn't come down *because they were designed to withstand the impact of an airplane.* Osama Bin Laden followed western news about his attacks; this suggested to him the idea of flying planes into the towers. Without media coverage and publicizing the fact that the towers were designed to withstand the impact of a plane, we probably would not have had hijacked planes flown into the twin towers.

News is important; coverage of important issues matters. But coverage of *single events*, when done without regard to the consequences, can cost a lot of lives.

Researchers Devise Voting System That Seems Secure, But Is Hard To Use

Posted by SoulskillView
An anonymous reader writes: According to an article in ReadWrite, a team of British and American researchers have developed a hacker resistant process for online voting called Du-Vote. It uses a credit card-sized device that helps to divide the security-sensitive tasks between your computer and the device in a way that neither your computer nor the device learns how you voted (PDF). If a hacker managed to control the computer and the Du-Vote token, he still can't change the votes without being detected.

Confidence versus rational confidence

By mtrachtenberg • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It is conceivable that the World's Cleverest People (WCP) will devise a system that reliably enables people to vote over the internet. And researchers tell us America is no longer a democracy, so I suppose it doesn't really matter that only the WCP will have rational reason to have confidence in the system.

But for those of us who think people should be able to prove to their own satisfaction that their vote was counted as cast, paper inserted into witnessed boxes and then counted in public seems like a better idea. It will never make Microsoft rich, though, so I doubt Microsoft Research will admit this.


By riverat1 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Voting should be a low tech process that anybody can understand. Too much technological magic erodes the trust of voters who are capable of understanding it. Simply marking a ballot with a pen is understandable by anyone. Maybe you count them by machine but you always have the fallback of machine counting. I don't trust any voting process that doesn't have that fallback option. If the voting records are only held electronically how can you ever completely trust the results haven't been hacked?

Beside hacking

By AchilleTalon • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Beside hacking a device to steal votes, there is a number of other concerns about the online voting which cannot be eliminated by any device you can imagine.

For example, how can you be assured the voter has not sell his vote and the buyer can just sit beside him to make sure he is getting what he paid for? How can you prevent someone to impose a candidate to someone else by threatening him/her/them? At a vote poll, you can make sure nobody is intimidated and anyway there is no way someone else can check the vote he tried to steal.

Online voting is a big No-No.


By epine • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

If I wanted ritual in my life, I would have become a priest and pursued my career with extreme political ambition so I could vote for the freaking pope.

I guess you've never read an article in your life about mobilizing the voters who are too lazy (or metabolically downtrodden from their Cheetos and Coke diets) to physically show up at a polling station?

Paper is a physical token. Reliably obtaining exactly one unambiguous, untamperable physical token with confidentiality from each adult member of society—the vast majority of which are collected on the same day—hasn't exactly proven to be an easy problem, especially when broadened to include public trust—that every voter understands and believes the process to have all of these properties (to at least a substantial degree).

Electronic voting vastly reduces the complexity on the collection side, but then the tamperability problem looms supreme, but this could almost be solved with enough crypto cleverness, except that the public trust story then requires a tiny bit of numeracy beyond grade six math.

Ritual, however, is accessible to a four-year old.

The same four-year olds who are unfortunately not yet equipped with fully functioning batshit detectors.

I don't want to abolish ritual. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.

Proctored voting

By Okian Warrior • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

A lot of people think online voting is the next big thing, but the problem is actually very hard to do online.

To do it right requires a "proctored" setting where the person is guaranteed to be alone, and unobserved (including video recording).

If you can't guarantee that the person is alone, then they can be coerced into voting a specific way. If you can't guarantee that the person isn't observed, then the person can sell their vote.

Video recording hasn't been addressed yet, but with the current system a voter can record their vote as proof of how they voted, and so vote selling is possible. It's functionally the same as being observed, just time shifted.

Add in the requirements for recounts and verification, and physical ballots in a proctored environment is the simple solution.

I've seen mathematical solutions that make tampering statistically impossible. The system injects a large portion of non-human votes in a cryptographically secure way such that it doesn't change the actual outcome, but it's impossible for a hacker to change votes due to the statistical likelihood that he'll change one of the non-human votes and be detected.

Even with these systems, you still need a proctored environment that guarantees anonymous and unobserved voting.

New 'Deep Learning' Technique Lets Robots Learn Through Trial-and-Error

Posted by SoulskillView
jan_jes writes: UC Berkeley researchers turned to a branch of artificial intelligence known as deep learning for developing algorithms that enable robots to learn motor tasks through trial and error. It's a process that more closely approximates the way humans learn, marking a major milestone in the field of artificial intelligence. Their demonstration robot completes tasks such as "putting a clothes hanger on a rack, assembling a toy plane, screwing a cap on a water bottle, and more" without pre-programmed details about its surroundings. The challenge of putting robots into real-life settings (e.g. homes or offices) is that those environments are constantly changing. The robot must be able to perceive and adapt to its surroundings, so this type of learning is an important step.

Re:"Deep Learning"...??

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

That strikes me as the sort of thing that would be "hardwired" in everything from nematodes to primates. Why is this news?

Because it isn't a nematode or a primate. It is a robot. A living thing that can learn and adapt is not news, because that's what living things do. A non-living think that can learn and adapt is news because that's what living things do.

Re:"Deep Learning"...??

By Ol Olsoc • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

This seems more like basic-level stuff... learning from your mistakes. That strikes me as the sort of thing that would be "hardwired" in everything from nematodes to primates. Why is this news?

Because you haven't learned what is news yet. But by trial and error, you'll catch on

Re:"Deep Learning"...??

By Richard Kirk • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It is a good question, and there are several answers...

Artificial Intelligence has been seen as a goal since Ada Lovelace was a lass. In the fifties, it was hoped that computers fed with parallel translations could learn the rules of languages, and provide fought translations of (say) technical documents on aeronautics from Russian to English, where sufficiently skilled and positively vetted engineers were rare. There were later attempts in the sixties and seventies to learn to walk, recognise objects, or solve puzzles. There was the constant hope that the next hardware would be a bit more powerful, and you could throw problems at it, and intelligence would somehow boot up. After all, that is how it must have started last time. However, intelligence failed to boot up, or maybe it always lost out to other brute force techniques which regular computers are good at.

The nematode has a simple. pre-programmed brain. It is good for being a nematode, but it doesn't really learn. Our brains have a lot of structure when they are formed, which means that our language centres, our vision centres, the parts that are active when we are solving spatial problems, or composing music, turn up in the same places most of the time; but we don't seem to run an actual program as such. We are born with very little instinct when compared to most other complex animals, but I suspect even they are not really running a program either.

The trick seems to be to provide the robot with enough plastic design to nudge it in the general direction of intelligence: too little design and it never gets its act together, while too much design means it is just doing what you programmed it to do. There are interesting times where computers are getting the complexity and the connectivity and plastic re-programmability to rival animal brains; but the spontaneous self-evolving problem solving spark just isn't there yet. But I hope we may see it in our lifetimes.

Re:"Deep Learning"...??

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

An automaton can be neither benevolent nor have free agency.

Why not? Unless you believe that brains are magic, or created by the intervention of a deity, there is no reason to believe that computers have any inherent limitation that living things do not have.

Re:"Deep Learning"...??

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Hmm... sorry, this has been happening for many years already... back to the 80s... This is nothing new.

No, it was not happening in the 1980s. The fundamental algorithm behind deep learning networks was worked out by Geoffrey Hinton in 2006. Before that, training a NN more than 2 layers deep was intractable.