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Scientists Seen As Competent But Not Trusted By Americans

DriveDog perception of what truth is (395 comments)

When "scientists" discuss harsh facts that may have disastrous consequences, people think they're exaggerating, trying to be persuasive, and not being impartial.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

DriveDog Yes! (234 comments)

Probably. I went back around age 45 to get a physics B.A. at a local state university with a small department so I could teach high school science (had 2 prior undergrad degrees in Econ and CS). I wasn't planning to do any astronomy or astrophysics, but I needed a few more hours, and the school had a 32" observatory, a Harvard-trained astrophysicist, and several interesting classes. The teaching gig afterwards didn't work out, but I'm so glad I studied astrophysics. Independent amateur researchers absolutely do contribute, but not very often in theoretical astrophysics. There's a LOT of original astronomy that can and is done by amateurs on smallish budgets. Learn a little nuclear physics and understand what's going on inside stars. Every week there's some new cool discovery in the news (a Thorne-Zytkow star found recently) and being able to comprehend what it's about is great. Many stars don't fit into neat categories, and those are the most interesting. You can use your programming skills in quite a few ways, if you're so inclined. Around here there's a community college with a small observatory run by students and a couple of committed teachers that hosts astronomy conferences and speakers. For some, it's a great opportunity to learn and contribute to the community. I have no idea how common such programs are. If you really want to spend time observing on your own, the DIY community is stronger than ever. Just as with other types of hacking, you could contribute by designing affordable, innovative DIY equipment made of common items. Like to travel? It's a good excuse to go looking for dark clear skies, and many places with dark skies are stunning in other ways. Heck, I'm thinking of taking a scope on a 21' boat to a dark isolated island. I won't discover anything but bugbites, but what a nice outing. Don't let the naysayers bother you, except for this: there probably aren't too many careers available. Keep your day job (literally). Oh, one more thing—don't restrict yourself to light. Radiotelescopy offers a lot of opportunities for amateurs as well, alone or in cooperation with others.

about two weeks ago
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Tim Cook Says Apple Can't Read Users' Emails, That iCloud Wasn't Hacked

DriveDog What's not said... (191 comments)

What did Cook not say? Did he bluntly say "we cannot read your mail"? Or did he just say "we don't have a key"? A general statement like "There is no way for us to read your mail or provide your mail to anyone else" would have more meaning. Reporters could ignore such statements, or at least every time they print one, point out how it could be misleading.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

DriveDog Re:I wouldn't use it, but... (471 comments)

I'd recommend starting by avoiding LCDs. Use something like color E-Ink—a low-power but high-contract display—and use it artfully.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

DriveDog Re:Suunto Ambit 3 (471 comments)

Suunto makes capable machines and I don't doubt this one works well. However, not all of us find the "big round" utilitarian look to our liking. Likewise, I respect Luminox, but I don't wear one for the same reason.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

DriveDog Re:Smart Watch Apps I would (and do) use (471 comments)

At some point in the future we'll either talk about how dorky people looked fumbling with their slab phones all the time (I always have) or just think of them like pocket watches—a machine put in use before it was miniaturized. I suspect that in the old days glancing at your wristwatch during meetings was tolerated a lot better than pulling out your pocket watch.

The Pebble is definitely more attractive than most others, certainly more than what the Apple looks like so far. Surely the fans will buy Apples, but I'm guessing Apple won't dominate the market or even lead the way this time. Until we have some kind of I/O that displays stuff in our eyes or brain without Glass and reads thoughts, seems like the wristwatch is the least intrusive, most convenient device.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

DriveDog Just the moon (471 comments)

I want features that have already appeared in watches: time display, stopwatch, alarm, tides for anywhere not dependent on downloading, barometer/altitude, compass, glow-in-the-dark, survivability from shock/EM fields/water/heat/cold, good styling (very few smart watches are much less than ugly), programmable remote control, good battery life, and durability, all in one. Add to that rudimentary navigation (only signals from GPS satellites necessary, and maybe not even that), Bluetooth, an accelerometer, and a great programming environment for those not wanting the hassle of a ridiculous tool chain.

A fatter version should have something like FindMeSpot functionality—SMS to satellites.

Oh yeah, and a friendly price.

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

DriveDog Not pure electric, arghhh (491 comments)

City and school buses are the perfect target for hybrid ICE/Electric propulsion (along with FedEx and UPS delivery trucks). They accelerate and decelerate a huge mass every block or so. Recapture as much of the energy as you can while slowing to speed up again. The power of the ICE needn't be anywhere close to what it is currently. Maybe not even electric—some mechanical means of storing energy for short periods would be helpful, and probably a lot cheaper. Just DO SOMETHING to avoid throwing away all that energy put into accelerating every block.

Since there's already a lot of experience using CNG for buses, use that and avoid much of the complicated emissions-control equipment. Buses are so big that putting a reformer on board and fueling them with methane but powering them with fuel cells might be feasible.

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

DriveDog Re:And low-emission transport trucks, too (491 comments)

There are low-tech means of capturing windpower at sea that certainly aren't as efficient as fabric sails but are cheap, reliable, low-maintenance, and work independently of direction of wind vs heading. To supplement other means of propulsion they can make a lot of sense. I agree that hoisting sails on cargo ships probably won't catch on.

about three weeks ago
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Space Station's 'Cubesat Cannon' Has Gone Rogue

DriveDog Re:Don't point that thing at me! (143 comments)

Maybe, but people tend to pull coupons out of the automatic dispensers just to see another offered. I suspect some being happened by and was doing the same. As long as more keep popping out, they'll keep doing it.

about three weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

DriveDog Re:Anthropometrics (819 comments)

Competition in Europe isn't just between airlines. Serious passenger rail service in the US would do a world of good.

about three weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

DriveDog Re:Anthropometrics (819 comments)

Better yet, install them in a fixed reclining position to begin with. When might I want to sit up straight? If I'm eating a meal, and I can't remember the last time I had that on a plane (obviously I don't fly transcontinentally).

about three weeks ago
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Researchers Harness E. Coli To Produce Propane

DriveDog Re:Guts (82 comments)

Propane is heavier than di-nitrogen, hence they'll be ground-hugging and slower to dissipate.

about three weeks ago
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Researchers Harness E. Coli To Produce Propane

DriveDog Re:Environmentally-friendly? Hello?! (82 comments)

Which is what I'd hope to get out of this, something that can be done on a medium-sized or smaller farm. Or under my house, but for the explosion hazard. Decentralized bacon byproduct!

about three weeks ago
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Researchers Harness E. Coli To Produce Propane

DriveDog Re:hubris (82 comments)

Yes. And if the frackers were required to incorporate the external costs, it would be more expensive still.

I take it you mean LPG liquefaction and liquid storage is cheaper/easier than LNG. CNG is certainly common and useful, just not very compact, even at 3,000 psi. LNG is arguably safer, however, as it's lighter than air, whereas a major LPG leak can leave a lot of gas at ground level. And LNG is cold enough to quench hot bullets if they penetrate the tank. LPG isn't particularly cold until you evaporate some of it.

about three weeks ago
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Aaron's Law Is Doomed and the CFAA Is Still Broken

DriveDog Called the Rep... (134 comments)

Call your Rep if they're on the Judiciary Committee. Google the committee to find out who's on it. My Rep's staffer was unfamiliar with the bill. At least bring it to their attention. I've usually sent email. It hasn't gotten the attention that a voice phone call has. Be polite and firm and be ready to explain what the bill is.

about 2 months ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

DriveDog Nobody has it right (306 comments)

After reading a number of comments, I see that many of them fall into either the "Amazon is evil" or "Publishers are evil" camps. Guess what? Just like politics, it comes down to choosing the lesser evil. Neither one works to serve consumers.

about a month ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

DriveDog Re:Disengenous (306 comments)

There's a lot of argument for more sellers. Fewer is almost always bad for consumers in the long run. But here's something else. Amazon won't sell some things for fear of attacks from special interest groups. Suppose you want to read something shunned by many. No other outlets but Amazon? Too bad. On the other hand, a small seller based in a garage in L.A. isn't going to give a flip about a special interest group in Texas.

about a month ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

DriveDog Re:Disengenous (306 comments)

An interesting case is Costco. They push suppliers hard, but they also concentrate on quality. In some areas, this works well. However, their definition of quality isn't everyone's. Quality to me means food with no transfat (not "0%", which is often a lie allowed by the FDA). Their idea is what the majority wants—that which tastes good. With only big box stores, there's no one to sell to the minority with different needs.

about a month ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

DriveDog Re:Disengenous (306 comments)

Nothing speaks to the few big guys driving out the small guys with variety more than hardware stores. Need a 3/4" to 1/2" barbed brass plumbing adapter? Forget it. It's not used in new construction or renovations, so they don't have it. But they have 50 different kinds of drills. I have two, a cordless and a hammer drill, and may never need another. Also, they tend to carry fewer brands that cover more items, even though the best maker of each item is different. Too bad. The makers that remain profitable are thusly the ones who expand their line until they're no longer very good at any one thing.

about a month ago

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