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World's Smallest 3G Module Will Connect Everything To the Internet

CRCulver Re:Just in Time! (114 comments)

That's an American problem. GSM was sparingly rolled out in the US due to the prevalence of CDMA, so reclamation of those frequencies is manageable. There are no such plans for the rest of the world, where there are hundreds of millions of GSM devices still in use.

yesterday
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World's Smallest 3G Module Will Connect Everything To the Internet

CRCulver Re:Just in Time! (114 comments)

3G devices will continue to work with 4G/LTE just like GSM devices kept working after 3G was rolled out.

yesterday
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World's Smallest 3G Module Will Connect Everything To the Internet

CRCulver Re:Cost (114 comments)

Regardless of whether this might be a good thing for you as a private individual, 3G-connected appliances are already a hit with businesses. Vending machines that take cash are being phased out in many coutnries, and if they take your bank card they need a network connection. Remote monitoring of utility infrastructure is also an application -- it's hard to justifying running fiber out to one box in a rural area, but if it's within 3G range, there you go.

yesterday
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Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

CRCulver Re:Should we? (247 comments)

This still doesn't necessarily invalidate the proposal I referred to in my original post here. Vinge's novel had its alien civilizations, which chose a virtual reality over space exploration, moving deep underground to avoid worrying about asteroid impacts. (Then the expansion of the sun into a red giant would continue to pose a problem, but at a much longer timescale.)

yesterday
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At CIA Starbucks, Even the Baristas Are Covert

CRCulver Re:Yeah So? (239 comments)

This is a North American thing. In most of the world, coffee shops would never ask your name, even if they are Starbucks-clone chains. Starbucks locations abroad may ask your name, but this is obviously imposed by a customer service manual written in the US, just like McDonalds abroad makes staff smile broadly and recite lines totally out of context with the country around them.

yesterday
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Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

CRCulver Re:Should we? (247 comments)

If we found a 6 mile long rock headed for Earth and had a year's notice, I doubt we could do anything about it, other than try to survive it (all the fantasies about stopping it aside, we likely couldn't).

Asteroid defence would require merely placing some infrastructure in Earth orbit. That's a lot different than sending human beings outward through the solar system.

yesterday
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Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

CRCulver Re:Should we? (247 comments)

The Earth is thoroughly mapped, explored, photographed, populated, and exploited. There are no frontiers or mystery here any more.

I disagree. Powerful computing may lead to finding plenty of things of interest here on Earth. This theme has been explored by science-fiction writers in recent decades.

For example, Poul Anderson in his series starting with Harvest of Stars depicted humanity splitting into two groups, one exploring the stars, and the other content to remain on Earth and (as post-human machine intelligences) explore mathematics and other pursuits unimaginable to the human race as it is today. Of course, as an ardent Libertarian and advocate for space exploration, Anderson made the Earthbound "navel-gazers" the villains, but he was still aware that human expansion into space isn't a given.

In his novel Marooned in Realtime Vernor Vinge proposed that space might be empty because advanced civilizations don't expand outwards into the stars, but instead move into a virtual reality once they have sufficiently powerful computing power.

2 days ago
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Study: Multimedia Multitasking May Be Shrinking Human Brains

CRCulver Re:Not a new concern (87 comments)

Sorry, that should have read "to the devices in their hands". We haven't got to neural implants yet.

4 days ago
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Study: Multimedia Multitasking May Be Shrinking Human Brains

CRCulver Not a new concern (87 comments)

This idea that multitasking and short attention spans have a negative impact on cognition is not new. It goes back at least to Nicholas Carr's 2008 magazine article that served as the basis for his book The Shallows .

I think there are philosophical issues here. While the human biological organism might be "getting stupider", if our electronic devices are seen as augmentations, then doesn't our total cyborg person remain just as intelligent? That is, people have not become stupider, they have just moved some information processing from the brains in their skull to the devices in their heads.

The appearance of emotional issues might be a serious problem, but on the other hand, let's see how future generations who grow up with electronics from their infancy feel.

4 days ago
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Remote Exploit Vulnerability Found In Bash

CRCulver Re:So now it's the year of the Linux desktop (399 comments)

Actually, it was a great idea on a PC. Debian switched to dash among other reasons because the init system was a big bundle of shell scripts, and switching to a lighter shell brought immediate improvements in boot times. A similar desire for optimization (albeit one ready to junk much of the *nix tradition) led to systemd.

4 days ago
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Remote Exploit Vulnerability Found In Bash

CRCulver Re:Full Disclosure can be found on oss-security... (399 comments)

Only Nokia's N-series phones running Maemo ... are capable of running bash or sshd (without crazy hardcore modding).

Installing bash on the N900 required enabling root access and intentionally installing the package. Otherwise Maemo's default shell was Busybox. Jolla's Sailfish OS, however, seems to use bash by default in its terminal application.

5 days ago
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Remote Exploit Vulnerability Found In Bash

CRCulver Re:So now it's the year of the Linux desktop (399 comments)

You do realize that bash is (nowadays) installed in damned near every *nix out there (though I think HPUX is still holding out.)

Debian and a few other distros have long since switched to Dash as their /bin/sh. Openwrt uses ash (installing bash would require intentional effort), and I assume that many *nix devices with the Busybox environment in lieu of the traditional GNU toolset also eschew bash. Sure, bash is still common out there, but thankfully not as prominent as a decade ago, and even when present it might not be exposed to an attacking surface.

5 days ago
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Rosetta Code Study Weighs In On the Programming Language Debate

CRCulver Re:Who cares about succinctness .... (165 comments)

Succinctness can supposedly have performance implications in some contexts. I had been away from Python for over a decade before I recently picked up the newest edition of O'Reilly's Learning Python . I was surprised at how many instructions that developers previously spread out over multiple lines are now packed into highly idiomatic one-liners. The author, Mark Lutz, claims in several cases that the Python interpreter is likely to run the one-liner faster (even after it's all been compiled to bytecode) than the traditional multi-line expression.

Of course, Python's succintness is not Perl's succintness, but it can take people a long time to get up to speed with what now seems the expected idiom, and there's plenty of room for producing something that other eyes will find baffling.

5 days ago
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Astrophysicists Identify the Habitable Regions of the Entire Universe

CRCulver Like Niven's "At the Core" (80 comments)

Astrobiologists have long known that these events are capable of causing mass extinctions by stripping a planet of its ozone layer and exposing the surface to lethal levels of radiation. The likelihood of being hit depends on the density of stars, which is why the center of galaxies are thought to be inhospitable to life.

Like many here, I'm sure, I first considered the possibility that the galactic core was inhospitable to life when I read Larry Niven's 1968 short story "At the Core" (collected with his other "Beowulf Shaeffer" stories in Crashlander ). In his science-fiction tale, Niven had an astronaut visiting the core and witnessing the wash of radiation from so many supernovas placed so close together.

Niven's story, however, ended with the astronaut coming back and warning that this massive wave of radiation would be moving towards Earth at the speed of light. If that were true, and even the edges of galaxies were not safe in the end, then every galaxy would be ultimately hostile to life, not just in their cores. Is this the case, or did Niven get it wrong?

about a week ago
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KDE's UI To Bend Toward Simplicity

CRCulver Re:can we have ONE non-dumbed down GUI please? (184 comments)

XFCE hasn't been ultralight in a few years now. It is no longer recommended for netbooks and other underpowered systems. I think it might be a decent replacement for GNOME for many disgruntled users.

Personally, I'd recommend at least considering replacing most of your Linux desktop needs with Emacs and the command line. As the years have gone by, I've done less and less of my work outside of Emacs, a terminal and a browser. Even supposedly UI-heavy things like simple image manipulation are done faster from the command line with an imagemagick one-liner than waiting for Gimp to launch, reaching for the mouse, and clicking through dialogues. Sure, that way of working isn't for everyone, but the sort of people who read Slashdot might want to give it a try.

about two weeks ago
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U2 and Apple Collaborate On 'Non-Piratable, Interactive Format For Music'

CRCulver Re:confused (358 comments)

The only way I can see something like that working is a robust audio watermark containing the purchasers iTunes information.

Apple also sells music in its lossless format, and there it's hard to get "robust" without annoying the listener. If the watermark is in the metadata, one can simply convert the file to WAV to strip the watermark out and re-encode. If it is in the audio itself, it can lead to complaints: when Universal began offering lossless tracks, it encoded a watermark in the audio that manifested as an annoying buzzing noise, and eventually after much complaint it thankfully stopped doing that.

about two weeks ago
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U2 and Apple Collaborate On 'Non-Piratable, Interactive Format For Music'

CRCulver Re:Expert. (358 comments)

Um, no, he's much, much less an expert than Dre is. As a respected producer at least Dre has some validity as a good ear, and he can evaluate the results of different parametric curves on tone signature

Dr Dre the "producer" is essentially just an older peer that new acts can ask for advice and a respected name to put advertising. Usually in cases like this where an over-the-hill artist "produces" a younger one, it is in fact the much less celebrated engineer who is doing all the fine-tuning of the sound. The "producer" can only say "I like that" or "I don't like that" to what the engineer presents.

about two weeks ago
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Interviews: David Saltzberg Answers Your Questions About The Big Bang Theory

CRCulver Interesting what he chose not to answer (106 comments)

It's interesting that he chose not to answer (or Slashdot chose not to forward) the several highly moderated questions on whether the show truly makes geek culture mainstream ("laughing with the characters"), or if it just holds geeks up for ridicule to millions of ordinary Americans ("laughing at them"). From Saltzberg's answers, it's at least clear that he has no geek background and simply caught on a good business idea.

about two weeks ago
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To Really Cut Emissions, We Need Electric Buses, Not Just Electric Cars

CRCulver Everything old is new again (491 comments)

Trolleybus networks were rolled out in a great many Eastern European cities decades ago, with liquid-fuel-consuming buses often serving a minority of routes (typically ones going beyond whatever the city limits were when the trolleybus lines were build). It's amusing to think that we are going back to this, though now battery technology should be advanced enough that cities no longer have to deploy unsightly wires down all the thoroughfares.

about three weeks ago
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Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative

CRCulver Re:In Theory (387 comments)

Anyone who is proficient in programming shouldn't have a problem picking up a book (or website) and learning a new langauge, API, etc. in a weekend or two.

This claim gets thrown around on Slashdot a lot, but it's simply not true. In a weekend one might learn enough of a language to bootstrap oneself to learning more through reading real-world code, and you might even be able to fix a bug in an open source program that has been annoying you, but you can forget about working professionally with that language right off.

Just look at the standard references for various languages to see authors admit this. Python is a nice, clear language, right? "executable pseudocode". And yet in O'Reilly's Learning Python Mark Lutz, who has many years of experience teaching skilled programmers, say that it will take readers months to get a complete view of just the core language, let alone the standard library and important third-party libraries.

about three weeks ago

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