Alterslash

the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2011-Nov-17 today archive
 

Alterslash picks up to the best 5 comments from each of the day’s Slashdot stories, and presents them on a single page for easy reading.

New Media Giants Take Out Print Ad Against SOPA

Posted by samzenpus in YRO • View on SlashDotShareable Link
itwbennett writes "Slashdot readers will recall that the SOPA hearings earlier this week 'excluded any witnesses who advocate for civil rights. Google's Katherine Oyama was the only witness to object to the bill in a meaningful way.' So to get the attention of lawmakers, new media giants Google, Facebook, and Zynga turned to the only place they knew that politicians gather daily. They took out a full page ad in the New York Times. The irony of taking out a newspaper ad to protect the Web is certainly lost on no one."

Re:Protecting interests?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Know some other losers?

How about slahshdot? How about any forum period. Equestriadaily? gone. Penny-arcade? gone. Stackoverflow? gone.

All it takes is someone purposefully posting copyrighted stuff to any of those pages and the site can be blocked.

Re:The arrogance of little boys

By TheRaven64 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Just nit-picking here, but he did not actually mention "home computers" or "personal computers"; he just said "computers".

Access to other computers is even rarer. Schools typically didn't have them at all, universities did but access was limited to a science and engineering students. If you didn't encounter a computer until you arrived at university, then you can hardly be said to grow up with them.

I'm in my 50s, and I have used computers since my teens

I'm in my 20s and can dance argentine tango, but neither of these facts lets you extrapolate to the general population. A few people in their '40s and '50s grew up using computers, but most did not.

Re:Why not use their own sites?

By Runaway1956 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

No, that would be ferronic, wouldn't it?

Re:Why not use their own sites?

By AngryDeuce • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

But it still doesn't really matter much when the only realistic choices for office are chosen for us ahead of time by the kingmakers at the GOP and DNC.

Yes, I know that anyone can technically run for office, but we all know that the only way to compete with the GOP and the DNC is to have their monetary resources so as to plaster your face and message on every billboard and television screen and radio within your voting district. I actually follow politics pretty closely in my corner of the country and every time there's a vote there are still people on the ballot I've never even heard of, have no website, have no information about them or their platforms at all.

Plus, after Nader cost Gore the election in 2000 and we ended up with that idiot George W. Bush as President a lot of people started really voting for the lesser of two evils in earnest. What other choice do the people have? Support a fringe candidate that is just not going to win, period? Or throw your hat in with the guy you disagree with the least that may actually win the election?

I say this, of course, because I'm sitting here wondering what the hell I'm going to do in 2012. I'm severely pissed off at Obama for all the campaign promises he reneged on (Gitmo, the wars, campaign reform, regulatory reform...I could go on and on and on) but what am I supposed to do if he's up against someone like Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum, that want to roll back civil rights to the 50's and start throwing gays into reeducation centers? I can vote for a third party, but we all know that is throwing your vote away, especially as regards a Presidential Election. Ross Perot and Ralph Nader got a whopping 18.9% and 2.7% of the popular vote, respectively. Neither won any electoral votes at all. You have to go back 100 years to the election of 1912 to find a third party candidate that got more than 20% of the vote, and that was Teddy fucking Roosevelt, one of the greatest President's this country has ever had in history, beloved by almost everyone. He managed to get a whole 27% of the vote running under the Bull Moose party, and this is one of four people on Mount Rushmore for Christ's sake...

So what do I do? Vote my conscience and throw my vote away on a third party? Or do my part to try and make sure that we don't turn into a fucking Christian Theocracy where abortion is murder, even in cases of rape, vaccines cause autism and are therefore banned, no mosques within 1000 feet of a government building, ridiculous shit like that? I'm heartily sick of voting for the lesser of two evils, but short of pulling an Egypt and overthrowing our government, I see no other recourse. We need to sever the ties between wealth and politics in this country, but I see no legal way to do so. There won't ever be one, there is no incentive for any of our sitting reps to change these things, and the only way one can even achieve these offices is by allowing yourself to be corrupted by this system in the first place.

So what do we do? Seriously, someone tell me how the hell we can solve these problems without plunging our country into anarchy, because I just see no other way at all...

Re:Why not use their own sites?

By Moryath • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Welcome to the real world.

In the starting days of the automobile, the horse farmers and buggy whip manufacturers managed to come up with all sorts of insane fucking laws. For instance, these. In a few states, you had to have a flagman walk in front of your car (yes WALK) waving a flag and beeping a horn to "warn" drivers of horse-drawn carriages that one of these crazy horseless contraptions was coming through.

Eventually, good sense prevailed, and the buggy whip manufacturers fell to their proper place in history... but some of these crazy stupid laws remain on the books, just unenforced.

Likewise, we'll probably see the same thing happen here. "Piracy", as the MafiAA goons tell it, is killing their ability to rip off artists of money. Sooner or later, the artists will find a way to make money that doesn't involve the goons and the illegal MafiAA price-fixing monopolies. It's already starting to happen. "Piracy" is also, thanks to fucked up copyright laws, becoming the only way to preserve our digital history; in the meantime, plenty has been lost, such as software for the Cray-1 that wasn't preserved and that can't be run on other platforms. The Apple II/e library is preserved only because "pirates" have preserved most of it and crafted emulation for it. Similar for most of the early Commodore computers, the Atari lines... DosBox almost REQUIRES that you have "pirate" software that ran on 5 1/4" disk in order to run it (e.g. "copy the disk") for some of the oldest stuff it runs, but modern computers don't even have the connections required to attach an actual 5 1/4" disk even if you could find media that hasn't succumbed to bit-rot.

It's impossible to say that copyright is meaningful when so much of "copyrighted" products today is covered by a law that lasts 100x longer than the expected platform lifespan. That's just ridiculous on the face of it and deliberately breaks the contract between copyright holders and society, which is that the copyrighted work WILL enter the public domain as repayment to the public for the grant of LIMITED duration monopoly.

New Study Finds People Remember More Than They Think

Posted by samzenpus in Science • View on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes "A new study has shown that people subconsciously retain information about things they've seen even if they can't consciously remember. From the article: 'Luis Martinez of CSIC- Miguel Hernandez University in Spain and his team "read minds" with the Princess Card Trick, an act invented by magician Henry Hardin in 1905. Participants in the study mentally picked out a playing card from a group of six cards, which then disappeared. When a second group of cards appeared, the researchers had amazingly figured out which card a person had in mind and removed it. Very few people caught the trick: All of the cards in the second set were different, not just the card that people had chosen. This trick is well-known to confuse the masses, even via the Internet a magician's sleight of hand can make it seem as though he/she legitimately "read your mind" A few moments after viewing the two panels of cards, volunteers were asked which of two new cards was present in the first set of cards. None of the volunteers could actually recall which card was present. Despite claiming that they had no idea, when they were forced to choose, people got the right answer around 80 percent of the time. “People say they don’t know, but they do,” Martinez said. “The information is still there, and we can use it unconsciously if we are forced to.”'"

Re:nanoseconds

By jd • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The brain is a machine, so reductionism works just fine. What I did not say, and needs to be taken into account, is that you cannot parallelize a process further than it can be reduced into wholly independent steps. (Interdependent steps should be split into the dependent and independent components, with suitable barrier operations to synchronize them.) Further, any parallel architecture, brain included, is subject to Amdahl's Law.

Computer hardware is capable of matching the human brain today, at least at the level of computation power. You can build a cluster of the required number of nodes, linked together via a hypercube network topology. You'd be bankrupt if you did, but you can do it. Nobody would have the faintest idea of how to program a supercomputer on that scale - you might not have noticed, but parallel programming is a highly arcane art. SIMD is about the only design anyone knows how to program on these proto-Deep Thoughts, but the brain isn't SIMD. It's MIMD. The total number of MIMD engineers out there is less than the total number of Perl 6 gurus. Put them in front of a machine with a few billion nodes and their brains will explode. It'd make a great Halloween video, but it's useless for Strong AI.

Lets say you could find a MIMD guru with the wizardry and dark arts expertise to program where angels fear to tread. Would that match the human brain? Well, still no. We don't have a specification for intelligence and you can't program Strong AI by guesswork alone. Strong AI proponents have tried and it doesn't work.

Ok, let's conjure up a specification. NOW can we match the human brain? Alan Turing proved the answer to that is yes. The brain is a Turing Complete machine, the computer is a Turing Complete machine, either can do the work of the other. You have to allow for the fact that brain cell DNA is self-modifying and that brain wiring is also self-modifying, producing an amazingly powerful and flexible system. You also have to allow for the fact that inter-neuron communication uses analogue or discrete signals, whereas computers are limited to binary, and the brain is incredibly small (reduced distances for signals). A computer with this many nodes would be multiple football stadia in size.

But, yeah, if we could solve the problem of not knowing what the hell intelligence even was, we could build an artificial brain equal to (but slower than) the human brain.

Re:"Selective" Memory

By skids • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Put it this way: you remember some things by thinking. Other things you remember by intuition/instinct. You remember summarized results, rather than the all the individual addends. Sort of like a bloom filter.

Learning to trust your instincts can definitely improve your ability to do things speedily without having to look up all the details about how to do it, and some people don't use enough of this capacity. It's a double-edged sword though -- the trouble comes when you get too comfortable with your instincts and start following spurious random background noise.

Re:Get it right

By voidphoenix • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
The opposite, in fact, is true. Unconscious is actually the correct term, and would be used by educated (at least in psychology) people. Subconscious is imprecise and academically useless, and generally only used in casual conversation, or by pop-psychologists and New Agers.

An unfortunate fact of memory

By symbolset • Score: 3 • Thread
Sometimes we remember things that didn't happen.

Spanish proverb

By srussia • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

They remember me when they need a ride to and from the airport, but they can't remember to pay me back the money they've borrowed.

"Ante el vicio de pedir, la virtud de no dar."

My English try: "When asking becomes a vice, not giving becomes a virtue."

Designers Build 35-Foot Robot Snake

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes "Canadian robotic design house eatArt has released a video of its latest project: the Titanoboa, a robotic snake based on a 50-foot long prehistoric serpent. The video pits the basilisk-like robot against the Mondo Spider, a walking machine large enough to hold a man, and there's obvious competition between the two. While eatArt showed a shorter version of the snake rollerblading at the Burning Man festival earlier this year, at 35 feet this is the largest version of the robot so far, with the team aiming to reach the full length in the next year or so."

Re:For food

By SeaFox • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of robot snakes on a plane!

A giant snake

By ross.w • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
but no badgers or mushrooms. What were they thinking?

Honey Badger...

By 3nails4aFalseProphet • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
...still doesn't give a shit. He'll eat a 35' robot snake. He's pretty badass.

Primal fear

By Cthefuture • Score: 3 • Thread

I had an interesting reaction watching that. It was kind of a base level primal fear instinct that got kicked off. I don't even mind snakes and have had many as pets. I have had some pretty big ones too.

However, seeing one that size and moving like that fired off neurons that said "run away!!" Was weird because that is not a normal reaction for me. It seems like it was specifically the size combined with that slithering movement and not the shape of the thing.

Needs a cover

By Daetrin • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
That's a very boxy looking snake, especially the head. They really need to get a cover or something to smooth it over, cause there are a lot of planes on that snake.

PayPal Launches Facebook App For Sending Money

Posted by samzenpus in News • View on SlashDotShareable Link
angry tapir writes "PayPal has launched a Facebook application designed to let users of the social networking site send money to each other. The application, named Send Money, features a greeting card component for accompanying the money transfer with an e-card containing a message, photos and videos to mark occasions like birthdays and anniversaries."

Given the scams and malware on Facebook, why?

By swb • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Given the spam, scams and malware on Facebook, I'm surprised they would do this.

Just a couple of days ago, I got a Facebook message from my sister in law "Dare you to watch this video" (I didn't) but when you do, it spams all your Facebook contacts with the message (and whatever else).

What happens when it steals money from your Paypal account instead?

And why is it you can even write malware on Facebook? Shouldn't they be able to stop that?

Re:Fat cash

By Runaway1956 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Significant, or otherwise, it's revenue. And, it's definitely significant to the victims! 180 day's interest on a thousand dollars is indeed a drop in the bucket for Paypal, but for many people, having their thousand dollars frozen for six months can be disastrous!

Re:No Bank/Checking account--Ever

By Grishnakh • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The problem with this is that, without linking to a bank account, it's much harder to move money in and out of Paypal; they want an enormous fee every time you ask them to cut a check.

The answer is simple: get one account (mine's at an old credit union in another state that I no longer use actively) and link that to your Paypal account, and ONLY use it for Paypal transfers. When you transfer money into the account, then you're able to write a check with it, or whatever.

Why people think they can only have one bank account, I have no idea.

Re:Fat cash

By Grishnakh • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I really don't know why anyone would use the PayPal app.

It's simple really: Facebook is becoming like a separate internet, where lots of people do all their business and personal activities. Many people, for instance, don't even use email any more, as they do all their messaging on Facebook. If you're thinking I'm wacked, consider how old you are: are you over 25 (or better yet, 30)? If so, then yes, this would seem utterly crazy to you, but this is actually exactly how much of the under-25 crowd thinks; they really do think email is "obsolete".

So if FB is like a second internet, with messaging, games, news, etc., it's only natural to think that people who spend all their time on there might also want a way of transferring money on there too. Sure, it's easy enough to just go to http://www.paypal.com/ and do it there, but again, we're talking about people who don't use the internet outside of Facebook.

Re:At Last...

By Grishnakh • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Exactly; it's the old chicken-and-egg problem. It's not just Amazon either, lots of other Ebay clones have popped up over the years, but none of them has gotten even a fraction as large as Ebay. All the sellers go to Ebay (despite the ridiculous fees) because all the buyers are there, and vice versa.

Any time I want to buy something on Ebay, I do take the time to look to see if there's another way of buying the same product elsewhere, but even with Ebay's high fees, strangely I find that it's frequently more expensive, if you can get it at all. I bought something recently, and found the exact same thing on Amazon, but the price there (from what appears to be the same seller) was higher, so I got it on Ebay instead.

The $443 Million Smallpox Vaccine That Nobody Needs

Posted by samzenpus in Science • View on SlashDotShareable Link
Hugh Pickens writes "Once feared for its grotesque pustules and 30% death rate, smallpox was eradicated worldwide as of 1978 and is known to exist only in the locked freezers of a Russian scientific institute and the US government. There is no credible evidence that any other country or a terrorist group possesses smallpox, but if there were an attack, the government could draw on $1 billion worth of smallpox vaccine it already owns to inoculate the entire US population and quickly treat people exposed to the virus. The vaccine, which costs the government $3 per dose, can reliably prevent death when given within four days of exposure. David Williams writes that over the last year, the Obama administration has aggressively pushed a $433-million plan to buy an experimental smallpox drug, despite uncertainty over whether it is needed or will work. So why did the government award a "sole-source" procurement to Siga Technologies Inc., whose controlling shareholder is billionaire Ronald O. Perelman, calling for Siga to deliver 1.7 million doses of the drug for the nation's biodefense stockpile at a price of approximately $255 per dose. 'We've got a vaccine that I hope we never have to use — how much more do we need?' says epidemiologist Dr. Donald A. Henderson who led the global eradication of smallpox for the WHO. 'The bottom line is, we've got a limited amount of money.'"

Re:Smallpox is extinct in the wild, not entirely.

By 517714 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Holding contrarian views is a great way to feel superior, until someone points to evidence that you are wrong. Variola (smallpox) virus can survive years, even decades under good conditions. The correspondence about the plans to distribute blankets to indians does exist if you care to enlighten yourself.

Re:Smallpox is extinct in the wild, not entirely.

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I hope you were trolling. If not, please read the below, viruses are nothing more than complex organic structures, they too are prone to decomposition.

  http://liambean.hubpages.com/hub/How-Long-Do-Viruses-Live

A smallpox virus at room temperature in an undisturbed environment could remain viable for years if not decades.

Hepatitis A&B viruses can live, undisturbed on surfaces outside a host cell for up to a week. Hepatitis B can also be contracted sexually.

HIV can typically survive outside a host cell undisturbed for no more than a few hours.

A rhino-virus can live undisturbed outside a host cell for up to a day.

It is thought that influenza viruses can last outside a host cell undisturbed for up to two days.

Re:News for nerds??

By Eskarel • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

None of that is really true. The Greeks went broke because they run a tin pot third world country that pretends to be in Europe. No one seems to pay any tax at all and the government is corrupt and inefficient. The Irish went down because they followed NeoCon ideals and let unregulated financial and property markets go wild and then bailed out the banks to the tune of their entire economy. A few years ago they were being hailed as the Free Market dream of Europe. Italy is also corrupt and has been run for the last couple decades by a guy who was much more interested in having lots of sex than actually running the country.

Europe as a whole is doing ok, and the Euro zone is only screwed because they have a single currency and single interest rate across countries with vastly different economies and legal structures which doesn't work. This means that the countries with crappy economies can't get themselves out of trouble and the countries with good economies are getting dragged down.

In no way is Europe going broke because of Universal Health care. The few countries where you can place even some of the blame on social policies were basked cases to begin with.

Cold War BioWarfare Types, not just Big Pharma

By billstewart • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The US Military hasn't been willing to let go of biological warfare, and probably also hasn't been willing to let go of chemical warfare either. And the Ex-Soviet Cold Warriors haven't been willing to either, and neither side trusts the other, and they aren't going to let little events like the fall of the Soviet Empire calm them down. If you remember the late years of the Clinton Administration, the fearmonger types were busy ranting about Anthrax and Terrorism, so after 9/11 happened, it was US biowarfare weaponized anthrax they kept working on got used for terrorism, and Bush got to lie about Saddam making anthrax and force US soldiers to get relatively risky vaccines to keep his pharma and biowarfare friends happy. Bush and Cheney also tried to ramp up anti-Russian fear and push NATO to be aggressive toward them (and after all, fighting Russians is NATO's whole purpose, so if they didn't do it they'd be obsolete), and that helped Russia pick Putin as a tough-guy leader, who's happy to have a quasi-enemy to give him an excuse to get tougher, and both sides get to use terrorism as an excuse to pretend that they need to keep developing biowarfare capabilities in case terrorists or crazy employees steal the other side's smallpox*, while quietly telling their own political hardliners that they don't trust the other side's military hardliners.

It's especially egregious with smallpox, because you can make anti-smallpox vaccines the old-fashioned way, from cowpox, and don't have to keep smallpox itself around. There's no excuse for either side not to eradicate their stash, and by doing so, they can reduce the risk to themselves as well as the rest of the world, even if the other side cheats . But even with anthrax, there's no excuse for the US to be developing techniques to weaponize it, as opposed to just keeping it around for vaccine and antibiotic testing, and while Cipro's now out of patent, countries like Argentina which have occasional anthrax problems (from cattle ranching) generally just use penicillins.

( * And it turns out not to matter whether the FBI is right that Bruce Ivins was guilty, or the crazy conspiracy theorists who say Ivins was framed as a coverup by the spooks who really did it are right, or the FBI-is-incompetent theorists who say that Ivins was believable enough to get people off the FBI's case after they were wrong about Hatfill, because either way there can be another Bruce Ivins or Ivan Brewski around to flip out or frame. Only way to prevent it is to destroy it all.)

Re:News for nerds??

By Alex • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

You've got this totally wrong - Greece has a HUGE government, AND low taxes. I'm pretty sure no US party is advocating that.

For example, Greeks get state pensions at 55 at 90% of earnings, and at 50 if you are in one of 580 hazardous professions (for example if you cut people's hair). In some situations, children can inherit their parents state pension when their parents die !

Plus no one pays any Taxes and the Greeks have spent the last 10 years running up debts to keep everything running, so now interest rates have gone up they are fucked.

Alex

Giant Chinese Desert Mystery Structure Solved

Posted by samzenpus in Science • View on SlashDotShareable Link
Velcroman1 writes "Slashdotters read Monday about strange symbols in the Gobi Desert recently imaged and indexed by Google Maps. Alien landing zones? Some military thingy? Bizarre art project? Nope. The grids of zigzagging white lines seen in two of the images — the strangest of the various desert structures — are spy satellite calibration targets, according to one NASA scientist."

Re:spy satellite calibration targets

By tlhIngan • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

If anything to me the interesting part is how much more poor the resolution on the Chinese sats are to the Americans since the Chinese targets are fricking huge and the bullseyes they have in AZ go down to some pretty tiny center targets. I'm sure in another decade though they'll have it tight enough they'll be able to read the license on a car, they'll just need a GUI in VB like the CSI guys.

The actual resolution of a spy satellite is classified. The use of smaller and smaller targets gives away the resolution of the satellite you're using it with. The fact that the targets have been getting smaller and smaller (and it's measurable) just means that they can ballpark the resolution easier.

The Chinese "huge targets" doesn't reveal a thing about the quality of their optics. It could be (as assumed) extremely bad. Or it could be extremely good and they're now focusing on parts of the design. Hell, the other test targets around the world are known - the Chinese could simply be targeting using those targets as well, and using these to throw everyone off.

Part of the role of a good spy is providing disinformation, after all.

Well, he might be an expert...

By DerekLyons • Score: 3 • Thread

Well, he might be an expert in something regarding Mars, but he knows nothing about camera calibration targets.

Because this (the array of lines) is what a camera calibration target looks like. The lines let you test for distortion, the spacing between the lines lets you test for resolution. Just like TV test patterns they're carefully designed to present exactly the features you want to test for. They aren't semi random fractal patterns, and they aren't allowed to degrade the way the ones in the Chines desert have.

The same goes for his "radar test target" - it looks precisely nothing like how aircraft normally appear on flight lines or adjacent to hangars.

More oddities

By Bazman • Score: 3 • Thread

So can anyone tell me what the circled numbers 1 to 5 are:

here

40ft across, irregularly spaced, close to something the size of a soccer/football field.

Re:Bombs..

By Patch86 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

A big chunk of the US war machine is GPS driven, and if you have a capability to operate without GPS and still hit your targets then you have an advantage.

That's a big "if". Much of the US military uses GPS, but is capable of falling back to more traditional methods. The Chinese military is likely to be just as reliant on GPS, and just as able to utilise fall backs.

The advantage of destroying GPS would probably be relatively minimal, but the disruption it'd cause to civilian operation (including in China) would be huge.

Re:spy satellite calibration targets

By jmac_the_man • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

If anything to me the interesting part is how much more poor the resolution on the Chinese sats are to the Americans since the Chinese targets are fricking huge and the bullseyes they have in AZ go down to some pretty tiny center targets. I'm sure in another decade though they'll have it tight enough they'll be able to read the license on a car, they'll just need a GUI in VB like the CSI guys.

Confirmation bias. The targets you see are only the ones big enough to be seen clearly on Google Maps. If we (or the Chinese or the Russains or whoever) had a spy satellite that could read the year off a quarter, the quarter would just be placed in the correct place and they'd take pictures of it. The fact that you can't see the quarter on Google Maps because GOOGLE doesn't have that kind of resolution doesn't mean nobody does.

Ask Slashdot: Best Tools To Aid When "On Call"?

Posted by samzenpus in Ask Slashdot • View on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes "Since most readers of slashdot are IT'ers, I assume this is a familiar story: when working in IT, it often happens you need to be standby or 'on call' during a certain period. That may mean you can receive phone calls or text messages from a monitoring system in the middle of the night. I've been looking for a way to have those alerts wake me in the middle of the night but not my partner, who is sleeping right next to me. Are there hardware aids out there that can alert a person without troubling their close environment? I'm thinking armwrists, vibrating head pillows, ..."

Re:Significant Other?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
I'm in IT and I'm married, but we hate each other and she sleeps in a different room. So there ya go.

Was only a problem until we had kids

By ediron2 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Everyone else has good tech suggestions... but also have a talk with your SO regularly to solve the problem without just throwing tech at it. If she's a light sleeper, the tech might be needed. If she's able to adapt, the problem may solve itself or take some minor shift like telling her 'kick me when you hear a work pager' (i.e., she becomes part of your alarm mechanism -- there's no fooling the spouse-as-snoozebar)

Wife used to notice stuff like this. Then the first baby came along and we started divvying out the labor: I feed the last bottle, she does the wee hours stuff and I do the early dawn stuff. This has evolved into kids, old cats gackking up hairballs, txts or calls about server issues, weather-related sounds (storm: close the windows), my insomnia and god knows how many other minor overnight interrupts.

Oh, and we got a kingsize bed (just that few inches more separation disturbs her less when I get out of bed) and I got rid of the boss who skimped on everything, then thought they owned me 24x7 to compensate.

Nowadays, we'll *RARELY* just be affected by these things. When that happens, we mention the problem and quickly adjust. But most triggers get ignored without even waking up. OTOH, if I need my wife awake, I can play her ringtone on my phone or speak her name loudly or make a sound like a cat hurking up dinner and *PRESTO*. (I know better than to ever abuse that knowledge -- I think my wife'd turn into the angry spawn of Shiva and Cthulu if I did it as a prank. I choose life.)

Most importantly, try to rein in the late night calls: they shouldn't be a habit unless you get compensated incredibly well for also doing off-hours support. Don't let employers abuse you. Rule of thumb: If the calls seem lame or about preventable issues, and if the company won't pay extra for prevention, you're being abused.

Light sleeper

By gnugnugnu • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Wait until you have children. You'll get much better at sleeping.

Re:Normally I'd recommend a BFH

By CrudPuppy • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I'm deaf and I use the AlertMaster AL10, but it could work well for anyone oncall. I simply plug my land-phone line into my alarm clock. The alarm clock controls a vibrator and can also flash any light/appliance that can plug into a normal outlet. As long as you pick up the phone quickly, it shouldn't severely irritate your partner.

I have everything call my google voice number, which rings my home phone (connected to alarm clock) and also rings my iPhone so I can actually stop the ringing since the landline has no phone connected.

Re:sleep?

By swordgeek • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

You're missing a major point here: Rotating on-call.

I'm on call right now, 24/7. I'm required to be available and functional (i.e. in town, sober), and must answer the pager within ten minutes.

For one week out of six.

That means that for about nine weeks a year, I'm a slave to the company. That also means that in a telecom company with >>2million customers, I can completely shut off my mind to work at 17:00 for the rest of the year.

And yes, I get paid well during those nine weeks.

Toronto School Bans Hard Balls

Posted by samzenpus in Idle • View on SlashDotShareable Link
In an attempt to finally "think of the children," Earl Beatty Public school has prohibited students from playing with balls after a "few serious incidents" in which students and staff were hit or almost hit by balls. From the article: "The happy days of kicking a ball around at recess ended Monday after students took home a letter advising that henceforth, no child could bring a soccer ball, football, volleyball or even tennis ball to the junior and senior school in the area of Coxwell and Danforth Aves." I assume all lunches will soon be taken via feeding tube to minimize choking hazards.

Re:What next?

By Hatta • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

A pen?

Re:What next?

By SeaFox • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Good God man! Haven't you heard the pen is mightier than the sword!
We can't have children carrying an item more deadly than a claymore.

THIS SIDE TOWARDS HIGHLANDERS

By TiggertheMad • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
Why would you give children landmines? You probably peel the 'DO NOT EAT' stickers off of them before you hand them off, too....

Re:No ball jokes in the comments.

By hairyfeet • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Fine, although I'd say that's a pretty ballsy move for you to just cancel them like that. You sir must have....balls of steel! Which of course means you're not allowed within 500 yards of the school in TFA.

Now for something serious...who the fuck decided we have to babyproof the world? Did I miss a memo? Hell when I was 5 I had my own minibike, most of the other kids had minibikes or go-carts as well. Did we get hurt? fuck yeah we got hurt, but you know what? We went home, put a band-aid on that shit and went back out again!

Hell its no wonder kids are coming out so fucked up nowadays, parents treating kids like they are made out of glass! Can't play outside, can't trick or treat, I had one bump into me at a grocery store and when I simply said "excuse me young lady" I had her mother whisper "stranger danger", needless to say I went off on her ass at how teaching basic manners instead of acting like everyone was gonna snatch her kid would make the world a hell of a lot better place.

Frankly I'm so damned sick of idiot parenting that it ain't even funny. i'm just glad that the parents in my building are actually teaching their children to behave instead of acting nuts. I had to knock on one of their doors the other day just to compliment her on raising such a polite child, who actually held the door open when I was loaded down and said "good morning sir" when I approached. How damned sad is it when simple common everyday courtesy has to be treated like some rare and precious accomplishment.

The larger question is...

By afxgrin • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Why is this relevant news to this site? Has /. become Fark?

This is also an elementary school in the middle of Toronto. It has limited yard space, and hence, not much room for kids to share a relatively small space.

EU Speaks Out Against US Censorship

Posted by samzenpus in YRO • View on SlashDotShareable Link
bs0d3 writes "The EU Parliament has adopted, 'by a large majority,' a statement warning the US to refrain 'from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names' due to the 'need to protect the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communications.' This resolution highlights both the practices prescribed in SOPA/PIPA... but also the actions of Homeland Security and ICE in seizing domain names. By adopting a resolution against domains seizures the European Parliament recognizes the dangerous precedent the pending SOPA legislation would set, and it wouldn't be a surprise if more foreign criticism follows. No country should have the ability to simply take over international domain names, and surely the US would feel the same if this plan was put in motion by a foreign country. Or as some 60 press freedom and human rights advocate groups put it in their letter to the US representatives: 'This is as unacceptable to the international community as it would be if a foreign country were to impose similar measures on the United States.'"

Re:US, get out

By Bucky24 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Actually I've noticed that the number of people who disagree with US policies is increasing. Slowly, yes, but people who are out of work and have very little to do but actually pay attention to what is going on seem to be getting the picture.

Re:they are not "international domain names"

By Fluffeh • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The ".com" domain is the domain for US commercial entities; there is no other. Because the US is fairly laissez-faire about it, a lot of foreign registrants have been able to get .com domains, but that doesn't make the TLD "international".

Europe has jurisdiction over .eu, .fr, .de, and other TLDs. The US has jurisdiction over .com, .edu, .org, ..net and a few others.

Why on earth is this +4 Insightful? This is the sort of information that most /.'ers mock Fox News for. Seriously.

The TLD for the US is *gasp* .us - unsurprisingly similar to just about any other TLD suffix denoting a particular country. Spend 5 seconds researching something before modding this rubbish up.

Re:Hypocrites!

By shutdown -p now • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

"The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation."

--Mein kampf, Adolf Hitler.

It's a fake.

Re:they are not "international domain names"

By sulimma • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

> The .COM TLD is managed by the US according to US rules because the US created it.
The US rule you are talking about is RFC920. RFC 920 is an official DARPA document: "This is an official policy statement of the IAB and the DARPA."

It explicitely has an international scope. It lays the rules for registering a second level domain in .com and does not restrict it to US companies.
While at that time almost all ARPANET nodes where in the US (European nodes have been part of the network since 1972), that does not mean that it was intended to stay that way.

Otherwise it would not have made much sense to specify .us and .de domains in RFC 920.

Re:US, get out

By Phoghat • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

As a US citizen, Believe me when I say that most other US citizens will agree with you. ...well, most sane ones. The number of which is rapidly dropping.

The number is dropping at a logarithmic rate. I almost got into a flamewar on FB with a person almost 40 years my junior who thought that censorship, by the government was not only good, but necessary to protect its citizens from the dangers of...she didn't actually say what, and she spelled coup (as in coup d'etat) as "Coo", and she states in her info page that she is a graduate of a university, having a degree in education.

"Jesus wept".

Computing Pioneers Share Their First Tech Memories

Posted by samzenpus in News • View on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes "Major names from the world of computing and technology such as Vint Cerf, William Gibson, Richard Stallman, Michael Dell and Hermann Hauser have shared their memories on their first computers and what inspired them to get involved with the computer. Highlight's include Cerf recalling his experience with the valve-based US air defense network Sage — as seen in Dr Strangelove — and Acorn co-founder Hauser building an eight bit computer out of marbles and a shoebox."

Re:Stallman ROFL

By Anrego • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The man is incapable of a light hearted discussion or joyful reminiscing.

He has tuned every molecule in his body towards his views on software. I don’t actually think the man is capable of thinking in other terms.

I don't understand . . . . .

By bogidu • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Most of them wished they had the internet when they were growing up. Granted, I'm about a generation behind most of them and got my first internet access account when I was 23, however I have to admit that over the last 10 years the 'potential' of the internet has pretty much turned to crap thanks to a) ISP Corporatism b) government meddling & c) the mistaken belief by so MANY groups that it is something that needs to be "CONTROLLED".

Personally i'm starting to take the pov that anything that has occurred on the internet could have eventually happened with 'near-line' or 'on-line' bbs's. I mean honestly, has http actually made things BETTER, or just more accessible by the masses?

Re:I don't understand . . . . .

By HeckRuler • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
That's because a crappy restrictive Internet is still a hell of a lot better then no Internet.

Also, you're talking about the "potential" of the Internet, the forecasted outlook of where it's going. It isn't looking stellar with the reduced competition among ISPs and politicians trying to restrict it. Back in the 90's, the Internet was a mystical land that was going to revolutionize everything. Lots of potential.

And it happened. It DID revolutionize how we do... quite a lot of things. And right now, in it's current state, it's pretty awesome. A vast swath of the Internets potential has been realized. Welcome to the future.

Finally, being more accessible by the masses IS BETTER. That bar has constantly been lowered. Facebook and all didn't do anything you couldn't have done with a bit of code and a personal website (and/or BBS), but it made it easier. And it's a good thing. Or do you want to have to string together an array of shoe-boxes with marbles?

Matrix

By kytreb • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
I was at the end of 8th grade when the Matrix came out. I was fascinated at that point. I actually had a minidisc player as tried like hell to get it to work as a regular disc drive. I started listening to industrial electronic music. I deleted windows from my computer and figured out how to get linux running. I started reading books on C++. I subscribed to 2600. FREE KEVIN. Throughout high school I was obsessed be programming. I kind of got out of it after my first year as a computer science major in college. After having spend the majority of my past 5 years in front of a computer screen I decided it was enough and got into economics. As dorky as it is to say, The Matrix had a huge impact on my youth. I'm still interested in tech. It is still a hobby (I am commenting on /. after-all). But the days spent with Mountain Dew, my face in a thick programming book and the glow of the CRT while listening to God Speed You Black Emperor at 3am are gone...

Re:Stallman in a sentence

By Rogerborg • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

He is angry. I had the, uh, "pleasure" of hearing him speak in person at the University of Glasgow, then do a Q&A session. He had brief jolly (lucid?) periods when he was rambling on by himself, but many of the questions sent him off on a tirade. When he was asked why most systems are GNU/Linux rather than GNU/Hurd he practically became incoherent, raving on about compromised principles (note: his principles, not Linus's), long term damage to Freeeedom, and the Great Patent Threat. I swear he was foaming at the mouth at one point. Of course, he didn't answer the question in any meaningful way.

Also, he stank. I don't mean that in a jocular "Ha ha, smell hippy" sense, I just mean that up close, he really did look filthy and reek of stale sweat. It was physically repugnant to be near him, and if you don't think that does or should matter, well, I do because basic hygiene is common courtesy, and Stallman's lack of it shows contempt for others. It's not the way to make friends or influence people, which is basically Stallman's job.

Microturbines Power, Cool Servers Simultaneously

Posted by samzenpus in Hardware • View on SlashDotShareable Link
jfruhlinger writes "The infrastructure of a large data center poses two main problems: You need to find a way to reliably power all those servers, and you need to figure out a way to deal with the heat those servers put off. Syracuse University and the University of Toledo are experimenting with one gadget to solve both problems. Small power units that run on natural gas, called microturbines, provide reliable DC power separate from the utility grid, and their heat output can paradoxically be harnessed to cool the servers and transmit the heat to other buildings on campus."

Turbo button?

By HornWumpus • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Will it finally have meaning?

Will future PCs suffer from turbine lag?

Re:Awwww shit.....

By skids • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

No this is for server rooms. Something tells me most people won't want to run a line from their natgas system into their server.

Speaking of server noise, though, I've often wondered if a laminar-friction impeller might at least not have that high-pitched whine. Basically this is a squat horn-shaped surface spun really fast. The air enters through the hole and gets accelerated by laminar friction out in all directions -- so it would have to be redirected with a hood to produce a lateral flow compatible with server fans, but then might be able to "entrain" like that ridiculous looking Coand-effect donut fan that Dyson sells. The main problem is the bearing has to fit around the big hole, so that's much more bearing adding to the cost of the unit. Though it might be possible with careful motor design to make the whole plate levitate rather than ride a bearing. The huge advantage, other than the lack of turbulence, would be there's no leading surface on which dust and debris can perch.

Re:Purdue University has this

By goofy183 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Citation?

Many EDUs and other large business campuses use tri-gen plants and from everything I've seen they arguably are significantly more efficient per unit of input engery: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trigeneration

chp

By thejaq • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
This is combined heat and power many facilities do it. It is green in the sense that energy is conserved because waste heat is used rather than discarded. A data center seems to be a good opportunity. The turbine converts 1 CH4 unit to 0.3 electricity, while the absorption chiller will move about as much energy as it consumes (COP 1), which means the 0.7 waste heat off the turbine can easily move the 0.3 units of data center electricity out of the data center and 0.4 units of waste heat (+ 0.3 data center heat) can still be used for another purpose. It might be good for a data center operator, but from a systems perspective the better use for that CH4 is still in a combined cycle utility plant which can make 0.6 electricity, use the waste heat for some co-located industrial facility and make the datacenter run an electric AC (COP ~ 3).

Cooling with gas

By SEWilco • Score: 3 • Thread

heat output can paradoxically be harnessed to cool the servers

Someone's never heard of LP gas-powered refrigerators.

Windows 8 Secure Boot Defeated

Posted by samzenpus in Technology • View on SlashDotShareable Link
jhigh writes "An Austrian security researcher is scheduled to release the first 'bootkit' for Windows 8 at the upcoming MalCon in Mumbai. This exploit loads in the MBR and stays memory resident until Windows loads, resulting in root access to the system. This allegedly defeats the new secure boot features in Windows 8's bootloader."

WRONG

By amliebsch • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

This headline is incorrect, secure boot was not compromised. From the ARS story:

The exploit allegedly defeats the security features of Windows 8's new Boot Loader. However, Kleissner said in a message exchange with Ars Technica that the exploit did not currently target the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), but instead went after legacy BIOS. Kleissner said he has shared his research and paper and the paper he plans to present, "The Art of Bootkit Development," with Microsoft.

Secure boot does nothing if you have legacy BIOS.

Re:Secure boot is UEFI

By cbhacking • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The funny thing is, this kind of thing is exactly the reason *for* Secure Boot (the non-conspiracy one, not the one that Slashdot is typically talking about). If you're using UEFI and you can verify a chain of trust, then you don't have boot sector malware. The fact that boot sector malware is possible on Win8 if you're NOT USING UEFI (because you're using an MBR) is not only obvious, it's the problem that Secure Boot is supposed to prevent.

I wonder, among the peoople who tagged this "irony", how many actually ahve the right of it. The only irony in the situation is that Slashdot is so rabidly opposed to the idea that a headline which is factually incorrect (blatantly obviously so) is posted because it is compatible with the popular bias, despite having no basis in the technology that we nerds supposedly understand.

That all said, there are certainly valid concerns about Secure Boot. It's entirely possible that they outweigh the value of making malware like this impossible. You should know what you're up against when you argue your case, though.

This is disgraceful

By amliebsch • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Seriously, hello, editors? Is anybody home? This post is 100% false. The very subject of this story has tweeted:

No it's not attacking UEFI or secure boot, right now working with the legacy BIOS only (details will be in the paper)

Do the words "reckless disregard for the truth" have any meaning to you?

Re:Could open your system up to malware like Linux

By hairyfeet • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Actually it doesn't have a damned thing to do with linux and everything to do with pirates. if you look on any BT site you'll find "Windows 7 all versions pre activated" which passes WGA and has for nearly two years. it does this by running a bootloader that fakes an OEM signature so MSFT would have to kill the keys for the major OEMs thus causing more than a little shitstorm from all those that bought win 7 PCs and suddenly were told they are pirates.

So despite all the bullshit from MSFT that it was about security, and despite all the FOSSies screaming "Its a plot to kill Linux!" in actuality it was just MSFT playing whack a mole with the pirates and yet again losing.

. The sad part was they HAD the cure for piracy in the west, I saw with my own two eyes as many pirates which had NEVER paid for Windows suddenly were running legit. i'm of course talking about the Win 7 HP $50 upgrade. When they killed that suddenly the local CL was filled with $100 PCs with $300 Windows installs. Just more proof Ballmer is as shitty a CEO as the Pepsi guy was for Apple.

Re:Maybe

By hairyfeet • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

That you should buy a Mac?

Sorry, but you know he walked right into that one, i just couldn't help it!

Apple Addresses Factory Pollution In China

Posted by samzenpus in Apple • View on SlashDotShareable Link
redletterdave writes "Apple reportedly sent five employees to meet with five different Chinese environmental groups on Nov. 15, only to learn about several troubling environmental issues at as many as 22 different product parts suppliers. In the three-hour meeting, the Chinese environmentalist coalition claimed the factories were releasing toxic gasses, heavy metal sludge and other pollutants. Apple acknowledged that a number of its supply firms have failed to properly keep track of their wastewater emissions and vowed to improve its environmental standards for suppliers; this is the first time Apple has admitted any wrongdoing in relation to environmental pollution from any of its Chinese supply chains. The meeting comes one month after one of Apple's Chinese suppliers of MacBook parts was shut down by China's government in response to resident complaints of 'unbearable odors,' which were described as a mix of chemical fertilizer and burning plastic."

Re:Really?

By CharlyFoxtrot • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The real problem is the macroeconomics of the matter. Jobs' built state of the art factories for both the original Mac and NeXT in the US. Both failed to return on their investment. At least Apple cares enough, wether it's due to concern for their image or genuine concern, to investigate and ameliorate conditions where possible. Most companies don't.

Re:Really?

By chartreuse • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Are you kidding? Dell and HP make a third of all PCs (and half of the ones sold in the US, where Apple's share is peaking at 15%). And they (along with ASUS) are some of FoxConn's biggest customers. They surely have as much pull as Apple, but they don't use it, do they?

Re:Really?

By Hognoxious • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

no they are not, you are right

Actually, yes they are, he's wrong.

they can choose to use suppliers who do not pollute,

That contradicts what you said before. Because if they don't choose good suppliers, they're effectively condoning and supporting bad ones.

Obligatory car analogy: If you get food poisoning at a restaurant, it's the restaurant who is liable, not the shithead who sold them defrosted prawns as fresh ones. Or should I say directly liable, i.e. to you; should you sue the restaurant, they can probably charge the vendor in turn.

In short: you're responsible to your customers for consequences caused by any and all subcontractors/suppliers you choose. And this makes 100% sense - if you weren't, you could get away with all kinds of scams using shell/sockpuppet companies. And that's reserved for Wall Street [dradadaTISH]

Not really a new thing...

By shawnce • Score: 3 • Thread

http://images.apple.com/supplierresponsibility/pdf/Apple_SR_2011_Progress_Report.pdf

http://www.apple.com/supplierresponsibility/

Re:Really?

By KlomDark • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Boo hoo hoo you snivelling whiner. OWS is the most interesting thing that's happened in the USA for a long time. Unless you are one of the top richest 30,000 people in the US, you should be very interested and very concerned.

Face it, you're just afraid. It's inevitable that OWS will continue and get stronger after all the TV-bound Americans were shown the victories of the people in the Arab Spring this year. Winter's gonna put a damper on a lot of it, but as the country returns to warmth next spring, I expect it to reawaken and intensify.

I haven't been involved, but it's been fascinating watching the normal citizenry begin to awaken finally. I thought it'd never happen.

But when the real numbers of unemployed are around 20% and growing (Look at all the high-profile factories, banks, investment houses, local government, etc. that have failed just in the last four weeks!), the middle class is going to be finally showing up in large number. It's to the point where the so-called "average" family (Two parents, two kids, a dog/cat, high school and/or some college.) who has been living frugally already and just trying to live an honest life, are getting to the point where they are not going to be able to keep a roof over their heads or feed their children pretty soon. (Sorry Timmy, but we just had to cook Lassie.)

Once the higher-than-ever heating bills kick in this winter, that's going to kill a lot of people's final savings. They are going to be hungry in belly and hungry in spirit come spring. Anything could happen. The 'leaders' who have thought far too little about keeping an economy going for the long term. No knowledge of symbiotic systems, no long-picture societal wisdom. Lying to themselves that the only purpose in life is making a short-term profit without any consideration for the long-term game.

It's in their hands, they can fix this and help people, or the normal people will be faced with the scary truth that they are going to have to fix it themselves, and soon, or be reduced (They and their children) to nothing more than cattle in the next few years. No pensions, no healthcare, no 401Ks, getting older by the day, knowing that when that day comes, if something doesn't change now, they will be to old and weak to change it then...

The Futility of Developer Productivity Metrics

Posted by samzenpus in Developers • View on SlashDotShareable Link
snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister discusses why code analysis and similar metrics provide little insight into what really makes an effective software development team, in the wake of a new scorecard system employed at IBM. 'Code metrics are fine if all you care about is raw code production. But what happens to all that code once it's written? Do you just ship it and move on? Hardly — in fact, many developers spend far more of their time maintaining code than adding to it. Do your metrics take into account time spent refactoring or documenting existing code? Is it even possible to devise metrics for these activities?' McAllister writes. 'Are developers who take time to train and mentor other teams about the latest code changes considered less productive than ones who stay heads-down at their desks and never reach out to their peers? How about teams that take time at the beginning of a project to coordinate with other teams for code reuse, versus those who charge ahead blindly? Can any automated tool measure these kinds of best practices?'"

Re:Measure the objective not the code

By Crashmarik • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Personally I am always happy with the guy who can get things done with one line of code instead of a hundred, but what I really care about is that objective is met and we don't have a host of bugs that require 10 times the cost of the development just to maintain. Its not hard stuff but it does require common sense and a hard nosed attitude both of which can be scarce commodities these days.

I am also REALLY happy to have "that guy" that has absolutely shit productivity, but somehow manages to pick up on every time a "solution" is proposed by the rest of the team to a problem that doesn't exist or doesn't matter, and stops THEM from being really efficient at doing the wrong thing.
  I'm also really happy to have "that girl" that doesn't seem to really be doing anything, but take her out of the team and everyone else starts floundering because she's actually constantly helping them be a lot more productive.

"Meeting the objective" is actually potentially just as bad as any other metric, because it depends on how you define the objective, and meeting it. What the customer asked? What the customer wanted? Or what the customer actually needed?

That guy and that girl are generally called project/team leaders. Don't fret, You raised an important issue. The guy you don't want on the team is the one that comes up with ridiculous edge cases and is needlessly obtuse. Like someone who invents coders that are doing the work of managers and senior managers then complains a measurement tool doesn't capture their contribution, or goes into a recursive loop trying to figure out what the objective should be.

Re:It's tricky

By nine-times • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Yeah, that's my point. As a manager, it's your job to learn about the people who work for you, to help them understand what they should be working on, to help motivate them, to judge their strengths and weaknesses, and to coordinate/arrange things so that their weaknesses don't keep them from doing their job well. Then you have to weed out people who aren't going to do a good job, and meanwhile reward, foster, and develop the employees who have potential and do good work.

That's a lot of work, but that's the work that a manager is supposed to be doing. Too often they shirk that work and instead treat their employees like "gears in a box". Sometimes it's laziness, but a big part of the problem is that our society/culture doesn't recognize the work/judgement of a good manager as valuable. We instead expect people to be interchangeable, which is a problem.

Measure Effectiveness, not Productivity

By TheWoozle • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I think the idea of "productivity" is a hold-over of the Industrial Revolution that does not pertain to many of today's jobs; jobs where the unit of work is hard to define, and ultimately irrelevant. Are you telling me you pick your doctor by how many patients he can see in a day? Probably quite the opposite!

In terms of software development, I find that the *effectiveness* of a developer is more important, where effectiveness considers the following (not an exhaustive list):
      - Appropriateness of solution
      - Thoroughness of implementation (logging, exception handling, graceful failure, input validation, etc.)
      - Well-written, parsimonious code that is easy to read and descriptive of what it does
      - Works right the first time, no kickbacks from QA or end user

Give me someone who is effective but slow over someone who craps out junk quickly any day of the week and twice on Sunday! In the end, I don't care about productivity metrics, I care that the end users get a useful piece of software that does what they need with a minimum of headaches.

the most important things can't be measured

By PJ6 • Score: 3 • Thread
This is the guy who first said it.

Stop listening to the MBA and metrics nutjobs. Don't try to manage your people like the machines they operate.

Re:more reasons than just reuse.

By c++0xFF • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

And the "reusable" version very often isn't reusable at all, since the original coder didn't properly envision what other use cases would look like.

EULAs Don't Have To Suck

Posted by Soulskill in YRO • View on SlashDotShareable Link
jfruhlinger writes "The ubiquitous EULA — reams of baffling text imposing draconian terms on software users — infuriate most Slashdot users and are routinely ignored by everyone else (until they suddenly cause trouble, of course). But it doesn't have to be that way. Several European countries are considering laws mandating user-friendly EULAs, and some companies provide them voluntarily."

Comment Summary: EULA Summary's Would be Nice

By kf6auf • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I don't know why no one includes summary's at the top of EULAs. It's not like it's that hard of an idea to think of and I've yet to hear a single objection (though I'm sure /. can help with this). No one is actually saying you can't have pages and pages of precise details spelled out in pages and pages for the lawyers.

By the way, this is suggested on page 2 of the article for all of you who either didn't read the article, or refuse to bother going to page 2 of an article that has no reason not to be on a single page.

Give me a contract to sign

By Teun • Score: 3 • Thread
Give me a proper contract to consider and maybe sign or don't bother me.

As the article says something about European countries I'll limit myself to that subset of humanity.

Most European countries should explicitly invalidate Eula's as a legal and binding contract, as a matter of fact I don't think many countries or courts in Europe would even consider them as such right now.
There are some countries that already have stipulations about the readability of consumer contracts and according to the issuers the Eula is such.

Plus the EU law gives you the explicit right to return any product bought over the Internet within a 7 day grace period.

Re:They inherently suck

By alostpacket • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Well I can see a valid use for a "This software is provided as-is" clause. It's clauses like this that are bad: "you can only use this yourself, never re-sell, rent, trade, and must only use it on one computer from the hours of 1pm-2pm with one hand tied behind your back..."

Re:If you have to scroll

By Oswald McWeany • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

You do realise that Apple now own the naming rights to any household pets you aquire in the future and you must now name all of them "Steve".

- and that's not even the strangest thing hidden in that EULA.

The Attack Shark!!!

By Dogbertius • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
Not all of them are bad. HavenTree did a humorous one some time back:

Text of software license
This is where the bloodthirsty licensing agreement is supposed to go, explaining that Interactive Easyflow is a copyrighted package licensed for use by a single person, and sternly warning you not to pirate copies of it and explaining, in detail, the gory consequences if you do. We know that you are an honest person, and are not going to go around pirating copies of Interactive Easyflow; this is just as well with us since we worked hard to perfect it and selling copies of it is our only method of making anything out of all the hard work. If, on the other hand, you are one of those few people who do go around pirating copies of software you probably aren't going to pay much attention to a license agreement, bloodthirsty or not. Just keep your doors locked and look out for the HavenTree attack shark.

Text of disclaimer
We don't claim Interactive EasyFlow is good for anything -- if you think it is, great, but it's up to you to decide. If Interactive EasyFlow doesn't work: tough. If you lose a million because Interactive EasyFlow messes up, it's you that's out the million, not us. If you don't like this disclaimer: tough. We reserve the right to do the absolute minimum provided by law, up to and including nothing. This is basically the same disclaimer that comes with all software packages, but ours is in plain English and theirs is in legalese. We didn't really want to include any disclaimer at all, but our lawyers insisted. We tried to ignore them but they threatened us with the attack shark at which point we relented.

Energy Firm Wants To Be First To Mine the Moon

Posted by Soulskill in Science • View on SlashDotShareable Link
coondoggie writes "By 2020, the Shackleton Energy Company says it intends to be operating the world's first lunar base and propellant depot for all manner of spacecraft. Shackleton stated that after a phase of robotic prospecting, its crews will establish the infrastructure in space and basecamps in the lunar polar crater regions to supervise industrial machinery for mining, processing and transporting lunar products to market in Low Earth Orbit and beyond. The company said it will use a mix of industrial astronauts and advanced robotic systems to provide a strategically-assured, continuous supply of propellants for spacecraft."

Re:Interesting but ...

By MozeeToby • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The moon buggy didn't have to work for very long, and even then it had serious issues with abrasive dust. They almost had to abort the use of the buggy on one mission because the fender got snapped off, which would have caused dust to fly everywhere (duct tape saved the day though). The dust on the moon hasn't been worn into relatively smooth shapes by thousands of years of erosion. It's sharp edged, extremely fine particles that gets everywhere. The buggies wouldn't have been operational after a month of activity on the surface, let alone the years it will take to develop an infrastructure on the surface of the moon.

Re:riding the gravy train

By Jeng • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

They don't look too legitimate if you check out their website.

http://www.shackletonenergy.com/

Re:Moon movie?

By thomst • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Here's the part of Bill Stone's TED talk that details Shackleton's plans.

Re:Interesting but ...

By Jeng • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080924191552.htm

The trouble with moon dust stems from the strange properties of lunar soil. The powdery grey dirt is formed by micrometeorite impacts which pulverize local rocks into fine particles. The energy from these collisions melts the dirt into vapor that cools and condenses on soil particles, coating them in a glassy shell.

These particles can wreak havoc on space suits and other equipment. During the Apollo 17 mission, for example, crewmembers Harrison âoeJackâ Schmitt and Gene Cernan had trouble moving their arms during moonwalks because dust had gummed up the joints. âoeThe dust was so abrasive that it actually wore through three layers of Kevlar-like material on Jackâ(TM)s boot,â Taylor says.

To make matters worse, lunar dust suffers from a terrible case of static cling. UV rays drive electrons out of lunar dust by day, while the solar wind bombards it with electrons by night. Cleaning the resulting charged particles with wet-wipes only makes them cling harder to camera lenses and helmet visors. Mian Abbas of the National Space Science and Technology Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will discuss electrostatic charging on the moon and how dust circulates in lunar skies.

Luckily, lunar dust is also susceptible to magnets. Tiny specks of metallic iron (Fe0) are embedded in each dust particleâ(TM)s glassy shell. Taylor has designed a magnetic filter to pull dust from the air, as well as a âoedust suckerâ that uses magnets in place of a vacuum. He has also discovered that microwaves melt lunar soil in less time than it takes to boil a cup of tea. He envisions a vehicle that could microwave lunar surfaces into roads and landing pads as it drives, and a device to melt soil over lunar modules to provide insulation against space radiation. The heating process can also produce oxygen for breathing.

Re:riding the gravy train

By Teancum • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Yes, the page looks shaky, but the people involved are real. Their marketing and website may leave a bit to the imagination, but they have some real engineers and folks who know what they are doing along with access to capital resources to get at least some major projects completed.

The problem here is that none of the guys involved are millionaires/billionaires like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos. Sadly, it will take somebody like that before these guys get much put together, so I'll admit it is a long shot at best. From a technical viewpoint, however, they certainly could get the job done if anybody can get it done.

Why they are going the route of the "donation" method to get something going is something I won't understand. For myself, I wish they would get rid of the silly little side projects like that, but there are others who have tried that route before. Sadly, I have never seen a project get built using that sort of financial model, at least in terms of rocketry or much of anything that dealt with devices that spent a prolonged period of time in space. The closest I can imagine that has been involved with projects on a similar scale is the Amsat satellites put up by amateur radio operators. There is also Team FREDNET who has been trying to compete with the Google Lunar X-Prize competition, who at the moment seem more likely to get something to the Moon before Shackleton Energy at least in terms of the resources being offered.

Still, this isn't a group that I would call a bunch of scam artists, but rather dreamers and wishful thinkers. If you really did want to go to the Moon, they would be the ones to make it happen.

Recreating a Mysterious, 2,100-Year-Old Clock

Posted by Soulskill in Science • View on SlashDotShareable Link
fergus07 writes "Swiss watchmaker Hublot has created a scaled-down working replica of the ancient Antikythera mechanism. The question is — why on Earth would you want to strap one of these to your wrist? It barely tells the time, and it can't take pictures, tweet or connect to your Facebook. In fact, very few people would have the faintest idea what it is, or why you'd want one at all. But for those that do recognize its intricate gears and dials, this tiny, complex piece of machinery tells a vivid and incredible tale of gigantic scientific upheaval, of adventure and shipwreck on the high seas, of war and death."

Re:Obligatory meme butcher

By Smallpond • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

The ad I see at the top of the page is for Fossil watches. ;-)

Mother******* Adsense spots, how do they work?

Actually, they use a complicated system of 84 gears ...

Re:vanity

By gstoddart • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

So I can't figure out why anybody would wear a wrist watch, unless for fashion. And that makes even less sense.

Fashion is part of it. So I can tell time in meetings if there is no clock. Because it takes 2 seconds to look at my watch, and more to dig out my cell phone, so when I'm walking it comes in handy. Because there's something really beautiful about a mechanical watch with its gears exposed. Because you can get used to wearing a watch, and if you're not wearing one it can feel odd. Occasionally having an alarm comes in handy. Or a stopwatch.

Just because it doesn't make any sense to you that doesn't mean that other people don't have reasons for wearing a watch.

They also make more than one flavor of ice-cream, too.

Re:Really cool ...

By Lumpy • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Just imagine what we lost when the idiot Christians burned the Library of Alexandria.
Just imagine how much was lost in ideas because if stupid laws or traditions in a certain islam bible.
Just imagine how many scientists were killed in early society in general because their ideas or understanding was greater than some monarch, and we cant have that!

Humanity has gone out of it's way to destroy knowledge in the name of hating change. Organized political Religion (Catholic church, Radical Islam, Moonies, David Koresh, Church of the Latter Day saints, Scientology, etc....) is simply a powerful tool to help spread hate and control. None of these religions have ANY use other than to keep certain people in power and rich at the expense of others.

Knowledge levels the playing field, therefore heads of powerful organizations go out of their way to SQUASH knowledge as it threatens their power and might.

Not all religion does this, but the ones that have a few that benefit greatly over the control of a large group of followers does.

lexical heresy

By tverbeek • Score: 3 • Thread
I'd like to take the person responsible for the first image out and punch him in the nose, for using Greek look-alike letters as substitutes for Latin letters. Using a Lambda as a capital A or a Sigma as a capital E is the worst form of international illiteracy.

Re:Amazing

By Luyseyal • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Another commentator mentioned the economic aspect. I won't repeat what s/he said but I did want to add that the Roman economy was largely predicated on conquering territories to generate tax revenue. Why? Because the Senate had voted to exempt themselves from all taxation. As they gained more and more land, it generated less money for the treasury necessitating conquering more people.

-l

P.s., I don't have a citation right now.

Desura Game Distribution Service Releases On Linux

Posted by Soulskill in Games • View on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes "Desura is a digital distribution platform for video games, focusing on releases from indie developers and mods rather than AAA titles. After a two-month beta period, Desura has launched a Linux client, which supports the installation and patching of games on any Linux distribution. With this release, Desura is the first client to work on both Windows and Linux systems, enabling games to be installed with a click. They're currently in discussions to release the code under the GPL."

Meh....

By sl4shd0rk • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Looks like all the game titles are Humble Bundle games. Don't get me wrong, I love the HB games and I think it's great that Linux is getting some gaming love but when I can just download, tar xvfz && ./runme , I don't see the point of this. Are other titles available? Does this mean EA is going to start doing Linux ports through this?

Awesome software

By kallisti5 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
I've been beta testing the Linux release for a while now, it's a well designed piece of software! It's nice having all your indie Linux games in one spot with reviews. It also makes a nice support channel when the games don't run right. Debian friendly.

Re:Awesome software

By esocid • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
RPM (Fedora) friendly too. I bought Project Zomboid, which later put it on Desura. It installed no problem, and also ran no problem, which I wasn't expecting.

Re:Ubuntu Software Center?

By recrudescence • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Because you now also own the game on windows and mac.

WTF!? ANONYMOUS READER!?

By recrudescence • Score: 3 • Thread

I have submitted this news item on firehose at least twice now and it got rejected each time! And now some anonymous dude pitches up and gets it in first time!
*rants and mumbles*

Seriously, Editors. It's either newsworthy or it isn't.

Occupy Flash?

Posted by Soulskill in Entertainment • View on SlashDotShareable Link
mcgrew writes "CNN is reporting another Occupy movementOccupy Flash. Their aim: get rid of Flash completely. They explain: 'Why does it matter when HTML5 has clearly won the fight for the future of our web browsing? Well, as we've seen with other outdated web technologies (most notably the much-lamented Internet Explorer 6), as long as software is installed on machines, there will be a contingent of decision makers who mandate its use, and there will be a requirement of continued support, the plugin will live on, and folks will continue to develop for it.' In response, a group of Flash developers have started Occupy HTML in Flash's defense. Popcorn, anyone?"

Occupy this...

By ArcadeNut • Score: 3 • Thread

While I despise Flash, I realize that a lot of companies have a ton of money invested in Flash. Replacing it is not going to be free. Flash will eventually be replaced without the help of protesters if the benefits of HTML5 out weigh those of Flash and the cost of HTML5 is similar to Flash. Cost = Labor, Training and Development Tools.

Re:I propose we Occupy "Occupy"

By mcgrew • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

"Ron Paul, a current presidential candidate for the 2012 election, has lead an
incredibly successful life and has a Net Worth of $4.9 Million".

"Barack Obama is the former Senator from Illinois and the 44th President of the
United States with an estimated net worth of $10.5 million."

Obama is only twice as rich as Ron Paul. They're both 1%ers.

Re:Unfortunate

By DriedClexler • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You can't both be for "responsibility" while also being for forgiveness of your debts incurred when getting an overpriced worthless degree.

It's unfortunate, too, because I agree with their criticism about all the wealthy who have gotten that way without producing any real value ... but most OWS solutions would simply make *themselves* those people, to the extent they want high salaries despite having worthless skills. Plus, their demand for more funding for higher education would just make the education system even more bloated and wasteful, with more university leaders getting big salaries for doing nothing of value.

Re:I propose we Occupy "Occupy"

By Anthony Mouse • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The problem is that there is no cause. There is no 99%. It's just a bunch of people who collectively agree that they don't like the way things are, but fundamentally disagree on how things should be instead.

It's shades of "change you can believe in." People want change, but what change? Borrowing so much that we can't pay the interest is change. Nuclear war is change. Is that the change we want? Certainly not.

You need to define a platform before you can have a cause. But that dissolves the coalition of the naive who each believe that everyone wants to do the thing they want to do rather than each having their own ideas and goals.

Re:I propose we Occupy "Occupy"

By Karlt1 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

And is there nobody here that can think for themselves anymore? Why has NOBODY here asked themselves "Who is pushing this? who will gain from it?" and the answer is....drumroll....Apple and MSFT! By pushing a heavily patented spec like H.264 as the video "standard" they will be able to further lock down the web.

As opposed to a closed source plug in? Where is the spec for the Flash run time?

And guess which codec Flash video usually uses?

What you will see is the MPAA come up with a truly horrible DRM for H.264 to protect their content, Apple and MSFT will embrace it, FOSS will be fucked.

So Flash is open sourced and doesn't have DRM?

Working On Man Made Lightning

Posted by Soulskill in Hardware • View on SlashDotShareable Link
New submitter PerlJedi writes "There is a very cool write up on the Make blog about an effort to build the world's largest tesla coils. Quoting: '"Somehow lightning can generate huge discharges with only about a fifth of the voltage per foot that lab discharges require," Leyh explains. "The part that especially fascinates me is that this mysterious ability kicks in around 200' in length, which is right at the edge of what we can produce with a practical machine." Leyh wants to see if humans can replicate this voltage economy effect, and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the building of two 10-story Tesla Coil towers (obviously superseding his current coil-size world record).'"

In soviet Russia...

By TheBlackMan • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
In soviet Russia they actually have some of these already:

darkroastedblend.com/2007/07/creepy-high-voltage-installations.html

Completely misread the title...

By Oswald McWeany • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Completely misread the title as

"Man made lighting" - I was getting all excited thinking they would soon be able to add photo-luminescent genes into people.

You know at the bars all the men are going to want to hit on the girl whose buttocks glow like a fire fly.

Want a pic...

By Sez Zero • Score: 3 • Thread

I don't care if it works or not, I just want a pic of me in front of two 10-story tall Tesla Coil towers wearing my xkcd shirt.

And perhaps a white lab coat, monocle and puffy white wig.

And pants, yes pants as well.

Re:I feel sorry for the house.

By Scaba • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
I believe it's Dan Aykroyd's house in the 1981 film Neighbors (a film that could have been great but suffered too many rewrites).

AC vs DC?

By Artraze • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

What confuses me is that there seems to be a disconnect regarding this project vs. lightning... Tesla coils operate on relatively high frequency AC whereas lightning is a very slow DC process. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say the lightning can get away with lower voltages because the charge buildup allows for partial ionization at charge concentration points (e.g. a lightning rod) which can create ion streams and render the atmosphere partially conductive thus reducing the required potential. That may not be quite right, but still I find it odd that one would try to replicate lightning using such a fundamentally different design; a marx generator seems far more appropriate. Does anyone know if they're planning on rectifying the output? I guess it's theoretically possible...

Also, Tesla coils generate a _huge_ amount of broadband RF interference (not to mention sound). It seems to me that building this thing would be far less difficult than simply being allowed to build it (and for good reason!). Do they have a location picked out and have they talked to local government and the FCC?

Net Neutrality and Carrier Incentives To Invest

Posted by Soulskill in YRO • View on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes "In policy debates before Congress and the FCC, the big ISPs and wireless carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Cox, Sprint) argued that net neutrality rules would give them less incentive to upgrade their networks. The reality is just the opposite, says Infoworld's Bill Snyder, citing a game-theoretic work done by two researchers at the U. of Florida's business school. If carriers can charge premium prices for expedited service, they have an incentive not to invest. Hmm, this reminds me of the agriculture business, where prices are sometimes propped up by paying farmers not to grow crops."

Re:Glad to hear it, but a big "duh!!!"

By Bloopie • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Also, I don't believe anti-net neutrality is a partisan issue, R and D are both for it.

If both parties are against net neutrality, how do you explain the Senate vote last week where the Democrats voted against repealing it and the Republicans voted for repealing it? And Obama threatened to veto a repeal? Link

Re:Open source internet?

By Ash-Fox • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Certainly correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd think trust is something you'd deal with at the presentation layer. We've dealt with spoofing at lower levels in our existing setup after all.

The problem with talking about the OSI model is that our current networking technology doesn't even respect that model. I will note that I didn't say it wasn't impossible to deal with untrusted nodes, but it's something that we should take into consideration when developing a new networking environment such as this.

Back to your original comment, I think dealing with it in the presentation layer is a bit too high in my opinion, as it would require reworking essentially every application to offer some form of encryption. There wouldn't be a clear way to ensure that every application developer even ensures there is encryption. I would suggest producing something similar to IPsec which sits in the 'network' layer of the OSI model, where by user applications would need little knowledge of what network they're operating over to function and ensure some form of security by default.

The issue however is having some sort of global authority system that hands out registered assignments to devices to ensure no spoofing. An authority system like this would likely cause a new slew of problems however, mainly the faults of having to deal with a centralized system.

Dealing with this sort of system with issues such as a netsplit (where the authority is on the otherside of the split and new devices are added to the side you're on, unable to get assignments ends up being rather a complicated matter.

Re:Let's try logic

By fermion • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
There is one other thing, a thing that most in the US have lot sight of. All mobile operators use the public space to generate a profit and as such should be required to use that space for the public good. If they cannot make a profit using the public space for public good, that public space should be given to someone who can. Nowhere is it written that profit is a fundemental right, although some conservative wackos want profit to be a fundemental right, I am talking about bush and reagan and the bailouts. Profit is merely something we have the right to persue.

We lost this when TV and radio took over our government and decided they were entitled to the bandwidth loaned to them by the people. The people have every right to take that bandwidth back. Even the cable operators, whose cable runs though and limits the use of public space, has a duty to the public though they too believe they can take from the people without giving anything back.

The argument for net neutrality is simply that the airwaves are public property and the public should make the decision on what it is used for, not the firms who are borrowing them. Like I said, if the mobile companies can't make a profit, then take the bandwidth away and attempted to be let to a new firm that can make a profit. This is what is done in real life. When a firm rents a space and does not make enough money to pay for that space, the space is taken back and rented to someone else. In the US we do say that they space is theirs forever just because they squatted on it and no one else wants it. We let the market work, except when a firm is so big they can corrupt the market by creating regulation to favor them. Which is the purpose of many regulations. To keep competition out.

And as far as sig goes with Ron Paul, remember that instead of letting the market work and allowing his constituents to suffer for bad housing and car choices, or to allow the public to decide what food was best for them, he used tax payer money to build a million dollar bus stop and gave untold hundred of thousands of dollars to his fishing buddies so they could be hired as consultants to push shrimp. This is what is wrong with the market. Even those that claim be hands off will not be able to avoid the temptation of free money and helping their friends steal from the poot.

Re:Manufacturing scarcity

By slimjim8094 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I'm almost a socialist, but you're right on. The classic example is the electrical market - when the utility owned the plants, transmission, and distribution, they made their money by convincing the regulators they had to raise rates. Plant inefficiency actually helped them do this.

And in that form, they were a natural monopoly. But simply splitting up the three parts made everything vastly better, as long as the split was handled properly. But now that production is competitive and the transmission companies are common carriers, a company can pay for power to be created and transmitted to them - and there's competition for that business, so reliability has gone up and prices have fallen.

For anyone who hasn't read up on it, basically there's a graph of quantity vs marginal $/MW, sorted by $/MW so it's monotonically increasing (though not linearly). Things like solar and wind are at the very bottom (since they cost nothing to run), hydro, then nukes, coal, gas, oil, peakers (jet turbines), etc. Every day, they predict how much they'll need for the next day (plus a margin) and tell all the plants below it to be ready. The key is that everybody gets the market rate. The last plant to turn on makes no profit, and the solar plants make (near) 100% profit at any load. So there's an enormous incentive to move down that graph.

It works. It really does, for the past 10-15 years. Prices fall, reliability rises, plants get cleaner. It's because they're not making money by convincing regulators, they're making money by moving down that graph.

I should note that the company with the wires is still regulated, but even they've been split into physical maintenance and procurement divisions - you can swap out the procurement side and the small line fee is still present, but you're not buying your electricity from the local utility any more. You're buying it from someone else. The reason it's cheaper is because the local utility has to be the "provider of last resort"; they pick you up if you don't pay your bill to the other one, so they need to buy a little bit extra. And yes it's all the same power, but the dollars match everything up and if you go through it, it does actually make sense to think about paying for those exact megawatts to get to you (since they're all the same) and it simplifies things.

Re:Farmer subsidies need to STOP

By BranMan • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
I'll take a shot at it. In essence, subsidies are an insurance policy so that we always have plenty of food. Without subsidies, farming would be subject to the ups and downs of the free market. Consider this - with subsidies, farms can, regardless of how much of what they produce, KNOW what they are going to have for income, more or less. The subsidies make sure the prices they get are STABLE. With that we can make sure we're always producing the right amount - i.e. too much for us here at home, so we sell the excess overseas - regardless of climate or droughts, since we'll always make sure we have excess capacity.

That works out really well. Without that, the market rules. If one year there is a drought, for instance, prices will jump as there will be shortages. The next year, all kinds of new people will try to get 'in' on the high prices and end up with a bumper crop, which will depress prices instead. Maybe to the point of bankrupting farmers, closing farms, etc. The next year after that, not enough of a crop is produced, and we have more shortages. Up and down, up and down. Not something we want happening to our food supply.

I'm probably not explaining it well enough, but that's the general idea - simple economics, lots of players looking for an edge - if we leave prices unsupported, we'll have chaos. And hunger. And if we end up hungry here, what about all the places depending on our exports?

Boeing Delivers Massive Ordnance Penetrator

Posted by Soulskill in News • View on SlashDotShareable Link
Hugh Pickens writes "In an age of drones and lightweight weaponry, the U.S. Air Force's purchase of the first batch of 30,000-pound bombs designed to pulverize underground enemy hide-outs highlights the military's need to go after hard and deeply buried targets. The weapon's explosive power is 10 times greater than its bunker-buster predecessor, the BLU-109 and it is nearly five tons heavier than the 22,600-pound GBU-43 MOAB surface bomb, sometimes called the 'mother of all bombs.' 'Our past test experience has shown that 2,000-pound penetrators carrying 500 pounds of high explosive are relatively ineffective against tunnels, even when skipped directly into the tunnel entrance,' says a 2004 Pentagon report on the Future Strategic Strike Force. 'Instead, several thousand pounds of high explosives coupled to the tunnel are needed to blow down blast doors and propagate a lethal air blast throughout a typical tunnel complex' (PDF). Experts note that the military disclosed delivery of the new bunker-busting bomb less than a week after a United Nations agency warned that Iran was secretly working to develop a nuclear weapon and is known to have hidden nuclear complexes that are fortified with steel and concrete, and buried under mountains. 'Heck of a coincidence, isn't it?' says John Pike, director of Globalsecurity.org."

Re:hardening doesn't matter

By mr1911 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

it's a simple matter to pour 20 feet of wrapped rebar and concrete on top.

Only if you designed the structure to bear the load of an additional 20 feet of rebar and concrete. Otherwise you will cause more destruction than the bomb you fear.

additional blast doors can easily protect against it.

That would seem to depend on your assumption of how much "additional" means and how you define easily. It isn't quite as simple as throwing up another door and a few baffles. You also seem to be under the impression that there is only one bomb instead of a successive strike of these things.

Either way, the facility is disrupted and funds/resources are being diverted when playing defense.

Re:Why?

By Paracelcus • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Dummy entrances, angled blast-by down-tunnel subdoors leading to hidden pressure vents, location misdirection, laminated corbeled superstructure, etc.

Re:Cool!

By Deliveranc3 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Just to refresh YOUR memory U.S. Invades (well about 2-3 countries a year but let's do 1 example). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_of_Pigs_Invasion
U.S. creates no fly zone, economic sanctions, practices attack maneuvers OVER your contry.
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/6030302/iran_fires_antiaircraft_missile_fails.html
Some examples of U.S. terrorist activities - http://www.salon.com/2011/03/11/us_arms_sales/. Rwanda, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq... what a catalog of success.

Now in case you missed it there's this large country called the U.S. they have military bases in 100+ countries most of which have actively campaigned to get the U.S. OUT.
Also, in case YOU missed it. There is this same large country called the U.S.. They view the world as their military theatre... pieces of their imperialist empire. They have the CIA good for poisonings.... supporting drug cartels and rebels in your country, and which is also useful against reporters.

Re:Cool!

By Crashmarik • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Just to refresh YOUR memory

U.S. Invades (well about 2-3 countries a year but let's do 1 example).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_of_Pigs_Invasion

U.S. creates no fly zone, economic sanctions, practices attack maneuvers OVER your contry.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/6030302/iran_fires_antiaircraft_missile_fails.html
  Some examples of U.S. terrorist activities - http://www.salon.com/2011/03/11/us_arms_sales/. Rwanda, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq... what a catalog of success.

  Now in case you missed it there's this large country called the U.S. they have military bases in 100+ countries most of which have actively campaigned to get the U.S. OUT.
  Also, in case YOU missed it. There is this same large country called the U.S.. They view the world as their military theatre... pieces of their imperialist empire. They have the CIA good for poisonings.... supporting drug cartels and rebels inyyour country, and which is also useful against reporters.

You didn't bother to read anything you linked to did you ?

But lets sort out your farrago of misinformation.

The U.S. invades 2-3 countries/year since the bay of pigs ? well lets call that 2.5 countries/year * 60 years = 150 countries since 1960. Seeing as the U.S. recognizes 195 I am sure we will get the last 45 done in good speed.

"The U.S. creates no fly zones over your country". You are upset about the U.S. trying to depose Saddam Hussein ? BTW your link was about Iran which doesn't have a U.S. enforced no fly zone.

U.S. terrorism, you link to an article authorizing private arms sales to sovereign governments. I don't know what your point is maybe you feel the guy who mined the lead to make the bullet is a terrorist as well ?

Now when you say countries have active campaigned to get U.S. bases out just what constitutes the country ? Because whenever the U.S. even thinks about closing a base the areas around it have their town fathers turn white at the thought of their local economies going in the crapper. If you would like examples look at Clark Air Base and Subik Bay in the Philipines.

Re:if women were in power

By Reziac • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

This is precisely my own observation, speaking as a professional dog trainer -- it's just the same with dogs. If you have a fight between males, they beat each other up, settle their differences, then go have a beer together. But females fight to kill, and they never forget who it was they decided had to die... and they will go to great lengths to achieve that.

Not to sound like a sexist pig, but IMO a lot of the social problems we see today are because of female-style solutions (precisely as you describe, draconian and inflexible), rather than just having it out and getting it over with and getting on with life, male-style. I've watched the political change across my lifetime, and it hasn't been for the good.

Potential 0-Day Vulnerability For BIND 9

Posted by Soulskill in Management • View on SlashDotShareable Link
Morty writes "BIND, the popular DNS server software, has been crashing all over the Internet. The root cause is believed to be a 0-day vulnerability in BIND's resolver. The ISC has issued an alert. Quoting: 'An as-yet unidentified network event caused BIND 9 resolvers to cache an invalid record, subsequent queries for which could crash the resolvers with an assertion failure. ISC is working on determining the ultimate cause by which a record with this particular inconsistency is cached. At this time we are making available a patch which makes named recover gracefully from the inconsistency, preventing the abnormal exit.'"

Re:10 years ago

By gmack • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

and not only did spammers plug up the queue with bad messages, it ended up being used for reflector attacks where the attacker set the target's address as the return and sent messages that would bounce to many different servers.

Theoretically, that is possible. In practice I haven't seen spammers use that mechanism.

I used to run qmail and I have seen it used for that.

The whole problem ended up being so bad that many that many mail admins considered servers running Qmail to be almost as bad as an open relay and there were people who actually maintained blacklists of servers running Qmail and that was right about when I stopped using it but I hear there have been patches to fix the worst of it's flaws since then.

A lot of people are irrationally against djb in any way. He's become like the president, every time something goes wrong people blame him. Those blacklists you speak of are less about addressing an operational problem and much more about irrational dick waving.

It's not irrational if you observe a problem only to be ignored. As I said earlier I used to run Qmail and I did so because of it's security benefits and while Qmail didn't get my box rooted the same way sendmail did, it still had it's problems. I have since moved to postifx and now have a que of 0 to 10 messages instead of the 300 to 1000 I had under Qmail despite the fact that I have 3x the number of domains and 5x the number of messages than I did before.

NSD

By powdered toast dude • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
As a long-time BIND hater, I recently switched from djbdns/tinydns to NSD. I figured if it's good enough for a few root servers it was worth a look. It's very efficient and fast, uses standard zone files, fully ipv4/ipv6 dual-stack transparent, and is DNSSEC aware. Very pleased so far.

Security tip of the day: Do not use BIND

By gweihir • Score: 3 • Thread

It has an atrocious security history. Seems the rewrite did not accomplish much. Or if you have to use it, lock it into a VM, preferably qemu, so that you get at least some level of isolation.

qmail backscatter

By Onymous Coward • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Did a little looking into it and, though I'm generally a fan of DJB's wares, unpatched qmail does indeed have the problem of accepting all mail for configured domains, regardless of localpart (box) validity. Which means DSNs will be sent for bad addresses, and since SMTP provides no way of validating senders, backscatter occurs. This is the term for it, by the way.

I've seen plenty of spam using the mechanism. It's a real problem.

Patches are available. But, yeah, DJB's licensing made even patching problematic for the longest time. Thankfully, he's conceded on that point. Which suggests to me he's not dogmatic or unreasonable, just rigidly principled.

I run Postfix, too. Love it. The licensing limbo was part of my decision to go with Postfix, though there were a number of factors. But I still run DJB's tinydns and dnscache.

Re:10 years ago

By MaraDNS • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Don't get me wrong, djbdns is an excellent DNS server. Unfortunately, it hasn't been updated for over 10 years and, since then, three different security holes have been discovered the djbdns package, the root server list has been updated, errno has been changed to make Linux more thread safe (requiring a patch to compile it), and so on.

djbdns can work -- but it requires patching by hand or using an unofficial fork like Zinq (which appears to still be supported -- the last release was done this year).

(I can also murmur darkly about the fact that djbdns uses a circular queue instead of a LRU for its cache, its lack of a Windows port, its need to use external helper programs to configure the server, etc., but, then again, its core recursive binary is even smaller than MaraDNS 2.0's tiny recursive binary. And three security bugs in the last decade is better than the 13 security issues in MaraDNS I have had to patch against.)

Apple's New Patent Weapon — Location Services

Posted by Soulskill in Apple • View on SlashDotShareable Link
DaveyJJ writes "Once again, it seems Apple is about to take intellectual property claims to a new level. Apple has been reissued a patent they acquired from Xerox that pretty much wraps up what we know as 'location services' as their own. In the overview, the patent says the system involved will display information specific to the location the device is in. The language used in the patent is broad and powerful. I guess now we wait and see whom Apple will use this against?"

Re:Evidence that patents need a limited time frame

By rtfa-troll • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I haven't seen many cases where Apple was the first to enter into litigation.

Gapes in stunned amazement. Let's just name some of the most famous cases where Apple sued first to try to stop competition.

  • Apple vs Microsoft; the classic "look and feel case"
  • Apple vs Samsung; actually many times over.
  • Apple vs Psystar
  • Apple vs HTC
  • Apple vs Nuevas Tecnologias y Energias Catala

I think we could even really claim Nokia vs Apple - in the sense that Apple clearly threatened Nokia first and Nokia just responded. I wouldn't be surprised if Motorola vs Apple couldn't be counted in the same category.

Apple behaves like a rabid dog when it comes to lawsuits.

Re:You are here...

By Jaysyn • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

If waterbed patents can be thrown out due to prior art in a sci-fi book, I don't see why prior art in a sci-fi movie would be any less valid.

Re:You are here...

By kelemvor4 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

A movie prop is not prophetic enablement.

For apple to have been granted the patent as it is written, they should have had to prove novelty. "Your invention must be different from that which already is publicly known or available." The look and feel of the iPad is not novel, as demonstrated by the movie I referenced. I'm not suggesting that Kubrick or Roddenberry should have been granted a patent for the idea. Instead, I'm suggesting that the idea as written should not have been patentable at all since it does not meet the basic criteria for a patent to be granted.

Re:You are here...

By Maury Markowitz • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

OMG, read the patent! Sheesh, they even linked to it so it was ONLY ONE CLICK AWAY. And you still didn't bother!

The patent does NOT cover location determination, so your entire argument is moon. It DOES cover the combination of location information with the on-line lookup of relevant information. To whit:

"The coordinate entry is transmitted to the distributed network for retrieval of corresponding location specific information. The location specific information may reside on a web page."

The patent dates to 1998, so I seriously doubt that there's prior art. Certainly the mobile networks simply did not exist, and the web itself was still getting started. There's certainly examples of geotagged DB systems from this era, but I don't recall one being used to do web queries.

This looks exactly as nuclear as the pundits are saying.

Can you sue me yet?

By kawabago • Score: 3 • Thread
A commercial in the near future.

Intel's Plans For X86 Android, Smartphones, and Tablets

Posted by samzenpus in Hardware • View on SlashDotShareable Link
MrSeb writes "'Last week, Intel announced that it had added x86 optimizations to Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, but the text of the announcement and included quotes were vague and a bit contradictory given the open nature of Android development. After discussing the topic with Intel we've compiled a laundry list of the company's work in Gingerbread and ICS thus far, and offered a few of our own thoughts on what to expect in 2012 as far as x86-powered smartphones and tablets are concerned.' The main points: Intel isn't just a chip maker (it has oodles of software experience); Android's Native Development Kit now includes support for x86 and MMX/SSE instruction sets and can be used to compile dual x86/ARM, 'fat' binaries; and development tools like Vtune and Intel Graphics Performance Analyzer are on their way to Android."

Re:Intel Softcores

By TheRaven64 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

What I would like to see is Intel creating a SoC and softcore suite

They did that, what, 18 months ago now? Total number of people who licensed it: zero. Why? Because x86 absolutely sucks for low power.

Lots of experience in chip design. I don't see why they can't create an ARM-Core competitor

Ah yes, all those massive commercial success stories that Intel has had when it tried to produce a non-x86 chip, like the iAPX, the i860, the Itanium. The closest they came was XScale, and they sold the team responsible for that to Marvell.

They can start from scratch. Unlike ARM there is no need to legacy support or backward compatibility.

Intel has two advantages over their competition: superior process technology and x86 compatibility. Your plan is that they should give up one of those?

They have produced great x86 compilers for years, so producing a new compiler for a new chip shouldn't be too difficult since they are already experienced with x86 and Itanium

Hahahaha! Spoken like someone who has never been involved with compiler design or spoken to any compiler writers. Tuning a compiler for a new architecture is not a trivial problem.

Re:Intel Softcores

By yoshman • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The mistake most people seem to make here is to compare ARM to IA32, when they should be comparing ARM to Intel64/AMD64 (x86_64) since even Atom can run 64-bit code these days.

Going to 64-bit does increase code size a bit, but one of the good things about x86/x86_64 code is that it is VERY dense. This document

http://www.csl.cornell.edu/~vince/papers/iccd09/iccd09_density.pdf

suggests that 64-bit x86 code is actually even denser than ARM-thumb code in most cases (which in turn is denser than "normal" ARM code).

High code density means more cache hits, which means better performance and less power-hungry.

x86_64 has the same amount of integer registers as ARM: 16. Every single x86_64 CPU has support for SSE, which means that floating point operations can (and is) handled by the 16 SSE registers instead of the old x87 fpu-stack.

Fact is that the 64-bit specification for x86 fixed a large number of problems that the 32-bit specification had, making x86_64 a really good architecture without any significant flaws.

Re:power consumption

By craftycoder • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I'd mod up your post, but I want to reply instead. Are you suggesting that the display uses 50-100 times the power of an ARM chip (and therefore 5-10 times an x86)? If that is true, that is very interesting. I did not realize the display was such an outlier in power consumption department...

Re:power consumption

By Mr Z • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Is the display really that much of a hog on a cell phone? Those numbers sound like laptop numbers, but I thought we were talking cell phones.

My phone has a battery that holds around 1300 mAh at 3.7v. That means I can draw 4.8W for 1 hour. If my phone's display really sucked down even 10W, then I wouldn't be able to have the display on for more than about 28 minutes total, which doesn't match my experience at all. I regularly browse the web from my phone for a half hour at a time, without making much of a dent in the battery.

A quick scan through this paper suggests backlight power for the phone they analyzed tops out at 414mW, and the LCD display power ranges from 33.1mW to 74.2mW. If you drop the brightness back just a few notches, the total display power is around a quarter Watt or so, which sounds far more reasonable.

I don't think Intel is standing still on power consumption. Their desktop CPUs are hogs, sure, but they can bring a lot of engineers to bear optimizing Atom-derived products. (We might get an early read from Knight's Corner, actually, although I expect it to still be on the "hot" side. I'm waiting to hear more about it.) Also, ARM's latest high-end offerings (including the recently announced A15) aren't exactly as power-frugal as some of their past devices. In the next couple years, I think the scatter plot of power vs. performance for ARM and x86 variants will show a definite overlap in the mix, with some x86s pulling less power than some ARMs.

Re:Intel Softcores

By Short Circuit • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

x86 is CISC when we know RISC is better. Intel/AMD do some tricks to make the core more RISC, but why not just cut out the middle man? Why bother with converting it at all?

Pull up a pillow and have a seat around ol' Grandpa Short Circuit. This may come as a shock to you.

Some programs still being sold and run on desktop computers today were compiled over ten years ago. Some programs still sold and run in x86 embedded environments were compiled twenty to thirty years ago. That's why x86 is still around.

x86 is still around for the same reason Windows is still around. It still runs binaries that are really, really old. In some cases (many, I expect), the source code for these binaries no longer exists, or the toolchain for building it is bitrotted. That's why x86 is still around.

Imagine some sci-fi horror film where everyone's forgotten how to maintain the vast infrastructure of their civilization, they just don't poke it because they don't want it to break. That's why x86 is still around.

Meanwhile, every year there are more long-lived applications built for the existing platform, with very little hope for being updated for newer platforms and processors; their binaries are likely to be running for another five or ten years.

Amusingly, open-source software has a clear advantage over closed source software in this arena. Several distributions are actively keeping software packages portable across CPU archs, and even portable across OS kernels. (Debian and Gentoo both support BSD foundations as well as Linux)

Identifying Nuclear Scientists Willing To Sell Their Knowledge

Posted by samzenpus in Science • View on SlashDotShareable Link
Harperdog writes "This is an interesting piece on U.S. programs most people don't know about: programs to identify and win over nuclear scientists who might be willing to sell their know-how to non-nuclear countries. Fascinating discussion, and points to the alleged Russian scientist who is reported to have sold information to Iran. How could he have been stopped?"

Re:And the Libya example.

By khallow • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

No - it wasn't until he suggested to the African states (especially oil rich Nigeria) that they drop the US dollar and accept gold or some other commodity in exchange for oil.

Ah, that explains the French actions then. They're always looking for an excuse to boost US power.

Re:How could he have been stopped?

By CrimsonAvenger • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The US legitimately believed Iraq did have WMDs, because Saddam engaged in a program of misinformation to make it seem like they did, in an effort to deter Iran from attacking. Saddam bet that Iran was the greater threat, and he bet wrong. Even President Clinton

One quibble - Iraq DID have WMD's. Nukes are a subset of WMD's, not the whole thing. Chemical weapons (which the Iraqis had been using in their little internal wars for years, count as WMD's.

Where was the US

By Evtim • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

when the Pakistani guy was selling the technology he stole from the Netherlands left, right and center?

According to a BBC documentary I saw a few years back there were at least 4 cases where the CIA asked to "deal with him" and was forbidden because at the time the US wanted to empower Pakistan against India which has become “dangerously socialist”.

So, under the approving eye of the west the dear doctor did sales pitches in Libya, Iran, Iraq, Syria and god knows where else. For more than a decade. Well done!

To summarize:

1. The nuclear powers have no moral right to deny development of nuclear weapons to any nation, especially since the most prominent member of the club is the only one that actually used them against civilians.
2. Fight the “red menace” by funding and training religious fanatics, allow them to build the bomb and then come back to squash them later. Win-win!
3. Lie your pants off in case they did not actually manage to build the bomb.
4. Invade
5. Profit

Neils Bohr and making an atomic bomb

By wfstanle • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The matter of putting the knowledge of building an atomic bomb ando actually producing an atomic bomb is a wholly different matter. The facilities to make one are enormous. Before Neils Bohr was aware of the Manhattan Project he stated the opinion that ( I am paraphrasing) making an atomic was theoretically possible but to make one you would have to make a factory the size of an entire nation. When he later became a member of the Manhattan Project he toured the facilities and then stated (again I am paraphrasing)... I said that making an atomic bomb would require a factory the size of an entire nation and that is exactly what you have done! (He was probably talking about a nation the size of Denmark, his home.)

Granted, the knowledge of how to build an atomic bomb is easy to master. In fact, it is easier to prematurely detonate a "Little Boy" type bomb than to actually deliver one to a target and THEN have it go off. An implosion type bomb ("Fat Man") is much safer as far as premature detonation. There still is the high explosive component of such a bomb which can go off prematurely. The chances that the resulting conventional explosion will cause a nuclear explosion is quite small. The explosion would be like a "dirty bomb" going off.

PS. If you are interested in the history behind the Manhattan Project, I highly recommend reading "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes. It is easy reading and I understand that it is fairly accurate.

Re:How could he have been stopped?

By Alioth • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

So all the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland (where Christians are killing Christians over trivial differences in their religious beliefs) doesn't count?

Has Apple Made Programmers Cool?

Posted by samzenpus in Apple • View on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes "CNET suggests that Apple has totally changed the general public's perception of programmers: It's now suddenly cool to code. No matter what platform you're on. They argue that App Store millionaire success stories have 'turned a whole generation of geek coders from social misfits into superheroes.' Apparently, gone are the days when a programmer was the last person you wanted to talk to at a party: 'Mention to someone that you make apps and their interest will pick up instantly. This is an astonishing change from what a programmer in the 80s could have expected in reaction to their job description.' The App Store millionaires, or 'Appillionaires', may have done all of us programmers a huge favor. Programming is now socially acceptable: 'Previous generations strapped on electric guitars and fought for super-stardom in sweaty dive bars, but today's youth boot up Xcode on their MacBook Pros.'"

Re:meh, must be like the 23423th geeks are cool

By markkezner • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

In my experience, if you tell them you make apps they'll glaze right over and start making assumptions about you. It rarely goes over very well, you can actually see the boredom grow in their face. If you're (un)lucky they'll ask you to fix their computer.

At this point in my life I would rather joke around and tell people some made up job, like that I'm a mattress quality control tester or that I carve names into gravestones. It makes for better conversation.

Re:No, they haven't

By luis_a_espinal • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The act of programming itself is certainly not inherently social.

Only when we limit the definition of programming to the mere act of typing instructions or prototyping an algorithm. In other words, this is true only if you equate the act of programming itself with the act of coding at the micro level. That has not been true for several decades now.

Also, with a programming task above a certain level of complexity, even if you methodically divide and conquer, you have to go back to some source for clarification on requirements or requirement discovery, verification and validation, peer consultation and verification. This is specially true for necessarily volatile business requirements and/or non-functional requirements that will have an effect in the architecture of any non-trivial, sufficiently complex system.

Most programmers seem to code much better when they are left to themselves for hours/days/weeks to just fully immerse themselves in the problem that they're trying to solve.

Under ideal conditions when you know enough of the problem (and there are no external forces to cope with) this is true for most. But programming does not occur under those conditions. I would also argue that if someone needs/thinks to need to immerse in a problem for weeks, there is a chance to introduce errors and come up with a flawed solution. A task requiring weeks of immersion is a task/problem of such complexity that it requires constant collaboration, validation and verification from peers in order to achieve an appropriate solution for the aforementioned task/problem.

Other areas of software development can benefit from having good social skills, for example if you get involved with the customer then you can save a lot of wasted time having to re-write things when they come back and say "that's not what we asked for!".

It's not only customers, but liaisons, business analysts, vendors, admins, fellow programmers in the same team, programmers in external teams, program managers (and if you do R&D or work with the DoD or DoE, with systems engineers, electrical/computer engineers, mechanical engineers, etc.) In other words, stakeholders.

You also have to bear in mind that not all programming is applications programming There are researchers who may be writing programs to solve specific problems where there is no end user per se. Other people may use the code or ideas that have emerged from solving this problem, but they will probably just read that that in a paper rather than strictly requiring any social interaction.

My point exactly, we rarely get days (and surely never get weeks) to immerse ourselves in a solution space when programming. We can't, as it is a sure way to produce the wrong solution for the wrong problem. That is what differentiates the mere act of coding with the act of programming (which itself is different from the act of systems and software engineering and development.)

Also when it comes to writing things like device drivers, the only thing you'd really expect to get back from users are bug reports.

Really, and where do they get their requirements for said drivers then? In addition of users bug reports, said programmers get requirements from marketing, market/product development and R&D. I think there is too much focus here on "users". Think stakeholders.

Re:No, they haven't

By somersault • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I'm not sure what you mean by "aren't that good". It's pretty egotistical to say that guys like Ken Thompson "aren't that good".

I suppose the fact is that there are different ways to be good at programming - some people are better at solving architectural issues, some are better at finding clever algorithms to solve problems, some people simply organise their code better, etc. So programmers can complement each other by interacting for sure, but that's more in design/thinking stages than when it actually comes to writing code. For coding, I've not read of anyone that actually likes to work in an environment full of distractions. It sounds like maybe you don't mind it. In that case you're either very good at fitting programming problems + social interaction into your head at the same time, or you are working on some really simple problems.

Anyway, what about guys like me who are the only developer in the company, and just have to get on with it themselves? I don't feel that I need a team to help me figure things out. I seem to be getting on fine as-is.

Re:No, they haven't

By _merlin • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Developing as a distinct part of a group only has an advantage if others in the group actively take interest. I don't see any real truth to what you describe in my decade of professional experience so far.

The group doesn't have to actively take interest - they help in other ways anyway.

Simply having someone listen while one tries to explain a problem they're trying to solve is often a great help: having to express the problem verbally can make the solution obvious. (This would theoretically work even if the listener was inanimate, since the speaker comes to the solution on their own. Tried it with oversize teddy bears, but the developers don't go for it.)

Giving the group facilities, like a pool table and a table tennis table, will encourage them to take breaks together, and they'll inevitably talk. They may not think they're interested in what each other are working on, but ideas still cross-polinate. Sometimes offhand comments are what one needs to hear.

Some people react well to /b/tard-like abuse. With a diverse enough group, you'll end up with someone who can dish it out. The people who take it well will seek such a person out. Some people can and do raise their standards if told they're not good enough. (Don't try this as a management tactic - just keep a /b/tard or two around, and the people who need abuse will seek it out.)

After some time working together, people will identify complementary skills in each other, and get help when faced with obstacles. If the people who they seek assistance from aren't willing to spend some time helping, maybe they're not the kind of people you want around. (There's another kind of problem person - the one who's too eager to help, and in fact takes work off other developers and does it in its entirety, so the original assignee never learns.)

Seriously, if you haven't seen an effective team in a decade, you aren't working with people who are anywhere near best-of-best developers.

Re:on the contrary

By tigersha • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

The only job where you lie in your back in dark corners and work with floppy cables is a network tech and a prostitute. And the prostitutes get more respect, more money and have satisfied customers.

BT Fiber Infrastructure Plans 'Fatal' To Competition

Posted by samzenpus in Technology • View on SlashDotShareable Link
twoheadedboy writes "BT today revealed it is to start selling its Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) for fiber broadband product to other providers later this month, but the announcement was met with one particularly cold response. Geo Networks, which is helping deliver superfast networks in Wales in partnership with the Welsh Assembly, said it was going to withdraw bidding for Government-provided BDUK funds and in all next-generation access sales. 'Inadequacies of the current PIA product are fatal to infrastructure competition,' he added. 'The Government's stated desire for a competitive market in the provision of new optical fiber infrastructure is at risk of complete failure.'"

Re:main problem is backhaul

By GauteL • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

"by which I mean the public's tax dollars"

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Re:main problem is backhaul

By Bert64 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The government should re-nationalise the infrastructure, and then run it on a break even basis...

Physical infrastructure is a natural monopoly because if the massive up front investment required to actually build it, and the massive inefficiencies of building multiple sets, so it makes sense for this to be government controlled.

Re:main problem is backhaul

By Bert64 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Yes this is something that so often gets overlooked, connection speeds get faster and faster but the data caps are getting lower... All this means is that you can hit the cap and get disconnected more quickly.

When they offered 512k connections with no data cap, that worked out to around 150GB/month downloaded (not counting upload) if you ran it flat out... They also offered 2mb connections which could pull 600GB.
Now they offer a 40mb connection with a 200GB limit, which in actual fact makes it more like "640k connection, burstable to 40mb for limited periods".

What we really need, in combination with fibre, is small community ISPs... That way you can get high speed uncontended connections with those living near you, which is great for gaming and torrent like protocols... Then other common data can be cached locally too.

And yes, the price of backhaul is ridiculous, and that just includes the line from the exchange to the isp, so even downloading from servers hosted by the ISP is costly... That's why most ISPs don't bother with caching anymore, internet transit is cheap, bt backhaul is not.

Re:main problem is backhaul

By petermgreen • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I remember my parents talking about what phone service used to be like. I remember them talking of messages like "all the lines to birmingham are in use". I remember phone call prices that made the phone something you used for short calls to get important information across. Long chats on the phone were a rare indulgence.

Nowadays the phone network seems to connect calls extremely reliably and unmetered call packages are common so you can chat as much as you like (provided you keep each individual call less than an hour).

How much of this is down to competition (enabled by regulators forcing BT to share infrastructure) and how much is down to technological improvements I do not know

Re:main problem is backhaul

By GameboyRMH • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Hey leave your logic out of this! If the government ran the Internet's infrastructure, there would be no upgra...oh wait...well it would be bloody expensi...aw damn...well you bet they'd spy on...shit.

The point is...shut up commie!