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An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man

EmperorOfCanada Story from Soviet Russia (325 comments)

A friend of mine bought Vodka in Soviet Russia and described the process as:

Get in line and at the end of that line tell the person what you would like to order. The give you a ticket for the item.
Get in another line and produce the ticket which you then pay for that item.

Then get into a third line where they will very carefully scrutinize the certified paid ticket and give you your vodka if there is any left.

He said that the time he went that the 3 lines were around 40 minutes each as the counter people were very very slow and methodical.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Good Hosting Service For a Parody Site?

EmperorOfCanada Re:Check out XMISSION (113 comments)

Yup when I see plesk I see asshole admins from the 1990's.

2 days ago
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Robot SmackDowns Wants To Bring Robot Death Matches To an Arena Near You

EmperorOfCanada Remote controlled cars aren't robots (82 comments)

Slapping some armour and an axe onto an RC car doesn't make it a robot; it is just an RC car with anger management issues. For a real robot battle the robots should be fully autonomous; they enter the ring, are activated, and have at each other. I suspect that the first generation would mostly just go straight into a corner and hack at the wall. But with enough prise money AI routines would start to creep in and then it could get interesting. I would love to see them adapt to damage, or take advantage of their opponent's damage.

The only sad part would be if this is where genuine AI was born.

3 days ago
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Google Fiber To Launch In Austin, Texas In December

EmperorOfCanada Re:I want slower for cheaper (88 comments)

I'll buy that in a second. My pretty shitty service (Eastlink) costs me around $60 a month so in 5 months I would cover the $300. My effective download speed is around 15Mbs but the upload is basically fast morse code and my ping time is often all over the place; enough that I really feel sorry for the gamers.

Not that GF is coming to Canada but I would celebrate my call to Eastlink to tell them that they won't be getting another cent from me in this lifetime.

5 days ago
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Google Fiber To Launch In Austin, Texas In December

EmperorOfCanada I want slower for cheaper (88 comments)

I want 10mbs for around $10. Basically I don't need that much for work during the day and Netflix at night. I don't even need that great a ping time.

Keep in mind that those are the needs of someone who develops software that is heavily network centred. Once in a blue moon when I really need a full iso of a linux distro I might grumble that faster would be better but I am not sure that I would notice the difference 99.9% of the time.

5 days ago
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Battery Breakthrough: Researchers Claim 70% Charge In 2 Minutes, 20-Year Life

EmperorOfCanada Re:I want this to be true but... (395 comments)

A great comment I read a while back was to ignore anything on the cover of Popular Mechanics involving propellers.

about a week ago
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If Your Cloud Vendor Goes Out of Business, Are You Ready?

EmperorOfCanada They could AIG you (150 comments)

In the sub prime mortgage disaster AIG insured for a very low rate against the impossible (or so they thought) possibility of all these mortgage backed bonds and whatnot collapsing. So quite simply they didn't have enough in reserves to cover all the losses. The government ended up stepping in. But in that case the government can just make money out of thin air. They can't make servers out of thin air.

So assuming some company is willing to take your money to provide ready access to a failover crisis how do you know that they can handle the load, it might be like all the Titanic passengers trying to get into way too few lifeboats. Also if something like AWS ever went belly up you couldn't buy a server or find another co-location fast enough. Every other service out there would be instantly swamped even if they didn't double their prices overnight.

My sites are small enough (I don't want them to be) that I could round up enough hardware to host them locally for a while.

But this does potentially make a case for finding some slightly older hardware and doing development on it in your office. The idea would be to have enough hardware to be able to somewhat, or even entirely service you basic server needs. It might not be pretty but it would be way better than 100% down and panicked calling to every cloud host out there.

about a week ago
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"Double Irish" Tax Loophole Used By US Companies To Be Closed

EmperorOfCanada When a politician's lips are moving (259 comments)

When a politician's promises something that is not even in his next term of office then he is basically saying that they aren't doing it. In 2020 (assuming their hand isn't forced before then) they will grant "extensions' and "waivers" and magical beans that will allow this practice to carry on.

This could easily be implemented in 2015 or at most 2016. Taxes change all the time and often by huge amounts so drastically changing this wildly unfair situation would be nothing out of the ordinary.

But I will make a prediction. The EU, or Britain, or the US will simply wave a wand and end this practice. Too much revenue is being lost. These companies are clearly generating vast profits domestically in many countries and somehow not paying taxes on those revenues. Not only is this not fair from a tax owed perspective but it is unfair competition to those local companies that pay those massive taxes and can't then use that money R&D, massive marketing, or simply attracting new investors to expand the company. So for any country to allow this continue is to basically throw faeces into the faces of their own industries.

about a week ago
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Battery Breakthrough: Researchers Claim 70% Charge In 2 Minutes, 20-Year Life

EmperorOfCanada I want this to be true but... (395 comments)

Whenever I see a battery the size of a postage stamp as the prototype I get very nervous. I have read about a zillion revolutionary batteries where the scientists are holding up a fingernail sized bit and saying that all our battery needs have been met. But then the years go by and I never hear about the battery again. The only variation that I am seeing here is that one of them is holding a bottle of milk, while the other guy has a pretty geometric display of fingernail sized batteries.

Quite simply I want to see these guys replace the battery in a small electric car with a known range, battery, charge time, etc and then drive to exhaustion, recharge in 5 minutes and then drive to exhaustion a handful of times with a battery no bigger than the original. Then I want to see a machine that is doing something boringly energy predictable like boiling a tank of water until the charge runs out, recharging, and boiling the just refilled tank of water. That way they can say, this battery the size of a popcan boiled 18 liters of water (or whatever a good popcan sized battery could boil) every 20 minutes for the last 6 months and is able still boil 17.6 liters of water. (25 minutes per cycle for ~10,000 cycles). But some spec of a battery that is subjected to tests that are not real world enough with graphs of discharge rates and whatnot just don't electrify me. Those are great for a science journal but I want tangibles. Unless there is something screwy such as extreme altitude boiling water from room temperature takes a fairly fixed amount of energy.

about a week ago
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Flight Attendants Want Stricter Gadget Rules Reinstated

EmperorOfCanada Only one important rule that nobody knows anyway.. (405 comments)

When you are flying there is only one real important thing to know and that is how many rows you are from the emergency exit. Basically can you find the emergency exit with your eyes closed? (i.e. full of smoke) The instructions say take note of the emergency exits but unless you can get to them in a crash that you have survived then they might not be much good.

The remainder of the rules are pretty obvious, how to put on your seatbelt, and even the live vest rule is a stupid one to keep demonstrating because if the crash is in water and completely out of the blue then either you imitate someone else's actions or you will blindly struggle (to the emergency exit) and fling yourself out. Or the plane is losing altitude and heading for the water and you will have time to imitate everyone else putting on their life vests.

The reality is that if there is a serious plane problem that the logical measures would include (bailing out with a chute), smearing yourself in a fire retardant gel and putting on a nomex poncho, and having some sort of gas mask, oh and putting on helmets. Those sort of things would vastly increase the survival rates for plane crashes that didn't turn everyone into burnt jam.

The simple reality is that nobody is listening to the safety announcements where they play that lousy game of charades of inflating the vest by mouth and whatnot.

The main use of the stewardesses it to get everyone off the plane in a hurry if something does go wrong. Plus if the plane is going to land in water they will redo the life vest tutorial and you can be assured that everyone is going to pay attention that time.

about a week ago
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Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

EmperorOfCanada Getting better at it too (608 comments)

I would think a whole other factor is that when wind turbines are new to an area the expertise in putting them up and maintaining them would be low; thus the costs would be a bit higher. But after a decade or so of experience that the local talent would be getting better and better at selecting, installing, and maintaining the turbines and associated electrical infrastructure.

This would be on top of the fact that the turbines themselves are becoming cheaper and better with their nearly continuous improvements. So for anyone making decisions on future projects these numbers would not only be getting more reliable but could end up not being optimistic enough. Whereas with more mature technologies like coal the numbers are going to simply be the numbers.

about a week ago
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PETA Is Not Happy That Google Used a Camel To Get a Desert "StreetView"

EmperorOfCanada What the f........ (367 comments)

Maybe if they were grinding up the camels live (legs first) for fuel for their streetview vehicle. Or were dragging the camels behind the streetview vehicle, then they would have a point.

I see PETA about the same way I do see camels, ornery, biting, spitting, smelly, animals

about a week ago
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Independent Researchers Test Rossi's Alleged Cold Fusion Device For 32 Days

EmperorOfCanada Re:Careers damaged (975 comments)

I give this project a very high hoax factor but it is no longer 100% like it was the first day that I first read about it. The test I would like to see would include Penn And Teller as the debunkers as they would think way outside the box, not examining extreme physics, but looking for smoke and mirrors.

Oddly enough if Penn and Teller gave it a thumbs up while working with the appropriate physics and chemistry experts, I would say that this is probably true moreso than if any group of physicists gave it a thumbs up.

The simple reality is that this guy really needs to publish how to build your own and let the world have a crack. With this the hoax factor almost instantly goes to 100% or 0%. If it isn't a hoax I suspect that the guy is obsessed with not being ripped off. If I were him what would piss me off is if some somewhat famous physicist looked over my publication and then called the effect governing the process after himself, and the nomenclature stuck. Of course I would also be pissed off is somehow my patent was end-run somehow.

A whole other psychological thing that might be at play would be that the guy does have something but has no idea how it works; thus he might accidentally have figured out an interesting way of tapping into nearby high tension powerlines or something and will be proven to be a fool, even though he may have still developed something fairly interesting, just non-nuclear. Also if many other scientists do get their hands on it and figure out how it works he might just be called a tinkerer, idiot savant, etc as opposed to pretty much being classified along with the guy who invented fire.

I wouldn't bet on this being real, but much like the faster than light neutrinos I have my fingers crossed. Those would have been so cool!

about a week ago
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Independent Researchers Test Rossi's Alleged Cold Fusion Device For 32 Days

EmperorOfCanada Careers damaged (975 comments)

If this thing turns out to work it will upset a whole lot of apple carts and I am not only talking about the obvious energy sector ones. But projects like ITER go to hell. Patent offices would be forced to use their brains. And then worst of all a whole lot of very smart people with very respectable degrees would have to say, "Not only was that not invented in a prestigious institution by a prestigious graduate who was funded by a prestigious grant giving organization, but we don't have a clue as to how the magic works."

But the real problem with his project is basically that after the last cold fusion debacle nobody will touch that with a 20 foot pole. Basically if you want to work on cold fusion the closest would be to try and get a grand for "Alternate forms of neutron emission for the detection of hidden explosives." To associate your reputation and name with cold fusion would be roughly equal to associating it with paranormal studies. So even if you have a pet theory that you have in a bottom drawer that perfectly meshes with what this guy is doing would you dare take the risk and back this guy?

about two weeks ago
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Fusion Reactor Concept Could Be Cheaper Than Coal

EmperorOfCanada ITER Killer (315 comments)

I would be so happy if this was an ITER killer. To me the ITER project is just a massive white elephant that was designed to last entire careers of delivering nothing. All the squabbling over who builds what and where it is built just reeks of petty bureaucrats gone wild. The zillions of dollars should have gone to hoards of small scale fundamental research projects instead of one giant role of the dice.

What would make me laugh even harder would be to find out that the "leaders" of ITER were trying to squash this fusion project just so they don't get shut down.

The other thing that I would be willing to bet is that if the ITER project were shut down that physicists and engineers would pour out of the woodwork saying that they didn't previously dare criticise the project for fear of their careers being destroyed but that now they can say how much the project stunk.

about two weeks ago
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Fuel Efficiency Numbers Overstate MPG More For Cars With Small Engines

EmperorOfCanada Top Gear had an interesting experiment (403 comments)

Top Gear had an interesting experiment where they raced a Prius against a BMW M3. But what they did was have the Prius go all out and the M3 just paced it. Then they measured the actual gas consumed and found that the BMW had better mileage under those circumstances.

Some time ago I had a big old V8 car and I could pretty much halve my mileage simply by being only somewhat more aggressive. City driving would also send that car's mileage into a tailspin. The rated mileage was around 23/18Mpg but I would say that with gentle highway driving I could do 23 but with typical city driving it might have been below 12.

So what I would like to see for a metric would be something similar to the Top Gear scenario; basically they would drive the car around a test track at three(light, normal, and lead foot) given sets of reasonable accelerations, braking, speeds, etc and then tell us the consumption rate. Then we could compare apples to apples when buying cars.

about two weeks ago
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One In Three Jobs Will Be Taken By Software Or Robots By 2025, Says Gartner

EmperorOfCanada 1 in 3; no; how about 3 in 5! (405 comments)

If automation doesn't kill at least 50% by 2025 I'll have my robot eat its hat.

What hasn't happened yet is the creation of the IBM PC of robots. There have been a few cracks at it such as the PR2 but I see that as more of a Sinclair than PC. I want a whitebox robot that I can then glue bits on through a PCI type interface equivalent and make it a factory robot, a hospital robot, or an agricultural robot. For instance I was looking at a machine that was making pretzels and someone had called it a robot. I would have called it a slightly adaptable pretzel making machine.

I have two rules of thumb for what I call a robot: One is that it adapts to its environment somewhat; for instance a garbage picking up machine that looked for garbage, picked up garbage, and did other things such as bringing back a full load and dumping it would meet rule one. Rule two(the lesser rule) is that at the core of the machine can be adapted to something else. So the garbage picking up robot could have some bits switched and it could be a mowing robot or a snow removal robot. I am not saying that the actual garbage robot would be swapable, but that the factory that makes them would be at least adapting a central common core.

So a roomba very much meets rule one but is mostly failing on rule two.

And my rules also apply to software that eliminates a job. I suspect that the software that replaces a call center worker will end up being related to the software that replaces a medical doctor on diagnoses. So adapts to is limited environment, and has a common core.

But when robot designers are working with tools that meet both of my rules then the robot revolution will take off and the job losses will be astronomical. Basically any fairly repetitive job that follows a simple set of logical rules is doomed. This describes many many jobs ranging from building cleaners to medical doctors. Oddly enough some lower skilled jobs will require humans for a very long time. Car repair would be a good example. Often when a car breaks in some way things can be disrupted. So that a simple repetitive routine won't work. Things need to be pounded, pried, and even torched to even get things apart. But computers will assist with such a job by helping to diagnose. If robots are going to damage the car repair profession at all it will be by the robotic assembly of cars resulting in more reliable cars and fewer accidents by robotically driven cars.

about two weeks ago
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

EmperorOfCanada Completely wrong metrics (389 comments)

The local (a 2nd or even 3rd rate) medical school has pushed for a BSc in Medical Science which is starting its first year the past September. The dean of the medical school told me that the HS class average was 98%. Quite simply many public schools won't grade inflate enough for a 98 average. My daughter had the highest grade 12 math average in a 1000+ HS at 97. (She didn't apply to this program) But that might not have been enough.

There are all kinds of ways that a superior student could end up with far less than a 98%. Taking advanced courses, taking lots of hard courses, entering plenty of math/science competitions, fantastic science fair projects, etc.

Basically what they are saying is that you get to go to medical school if you have OCD and aren't interested in anything else.

Some med schools also have lists of this or that activity that they like to see but then the students go through it like a checklist.

I have long thought that there should be more of a risky system where you apply for medical school and then spend 6 months doing medically related things but then the people who just don't fit in are dropped. The same with other programs such as physics, chemistry, engineering, etc.

about two weeks ago
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JP Morgan Chase Breach: Shades of a Cyber Cold War?

EmperorOfCanada Boot them from the Swift system for a few weeks (96 comments)

If this turns out to be provably true then an easy solution would be to boot Russia from the swift system for a few weeks. That would basically mean that no international transactions could take place large or small. Or if they wanted to make it interesting they could restrict swift transactions to minor amounts so that the very richest would be impacted while the average Russian would feel a lesser impact.

But large food importers and whatnot would be massively impacted.

But before this can be done Europe needs to find an alternative to Russian Gas. But when Europe does then they won't tolerate Russian shenanigans for 1 second.

The key is that any retaliation needs to hit those around Putin who can change their mind about his being in power. The average Russian on the street will choose Putin over the West nearly 100% of the time.

about two weeks ago
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Marriott Fined $600,000 For Jamming Guest Hotspots

EmperorOfCanada Wouldn't their profits have been higher than $600k (278 comments)

If they were charging some people $1,000 during that time period then it would only have taken 600 customers to cover the fine. With all the smaller fish who were fried it could easily have been millions. Plus the huge inconvenience for those who went without. This fine should have been ruinous and someone should have gone to jail. Someone really senior, not just some tech dweeb who was scapegoated.

One of the rules that have long thought should be that when a corporation commits a felony there should be mandatory jail time and that it should be at the highest level that may (not certainly) have been aware of the crime. So if a UPS driver runs someone over going too fast that he may or may not go to jail but that if they can show that some executive was told that some policy would push drivers to speed, then boom it would be whatever sentence that would apply had he been speeding himself.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Japanese can build their own radiation detectors

EmperorOfCanada EmperorOfCanada writes  |  more than 3 years ago

EmperorOfCanada writes "Here is a DIY radiation detector For those Japanese wondering if radiation levels have gone up that can be made with household supplies: any clear sided container with a flat metal(preferably) lid, some black paint, rubbing alcohol, a can of keyboard air duster, and a flashlight . This won't give an absolute measurement but it will tell you if you are in a hot zone. The radiation leaves trails in the mist and looks very cool. Can't beat a home made Geiger counter in 10 minutes and for less than $20 US."
Link to Original Source
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Cheap cloud diffusion chamber with air duster

EmperorOfCanada EmperorOfCanada writes  |  more than 3 years ago

EmperorOfCanada writes "A 15 year old girl has invented a very cheap and easy way to build your own cloud diffusion chamber; which is a neat way to see various radiation particles leave trails. Radiation such as cosmic rays, background radiation, and any handy radiation sources such as a disassembled smoke detector.
Video"

Link to Original Source
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Avoiding eVoting fraud

EmperorOfCanada EmperorOfCanada writes  |  about 6 years ago

EmperorOfCanada writes "I am looking for suggestions on how to prevent the use of eVoting in an upcoming election (Mid Oct.) in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The city is going to allow people to vote both online and by telephone. As a security aware software developer I am frightened of the number of ways that an electronic portion of an election can go wrong. For well over a year I have been in contact with a senior city official over this issue supplying her with dozens of examples of eVoting going wrong in the many ways it tends to do so. Obviously security theater has won the day and here we are staring down the barrel of an election with votes recorded at the whim of the company running the evoting. How can this be prevented? Does anyone have any good examples of grassroots efforts that succeeded in preventing the use of electronic voting? Is there any way to force an audit of the code / machines / security / raw data that are involved in this craziness? Minimally can people comment expertly on just how stupid an idea it is to allow voting via the internet and by telephone? Thanks, A very concerned citizen."

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