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The Schizophrenic Programmer Who Built an OS To Talk To God

JoeMerchant Re:Hmmm ... (448 comments)

Restores my faith in the Mod system.

2 days ago
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Study: There's a Wi-Fi Hotspot For Every 150 People In the World

JoeMerchant Re:And they're basically useless except to the own (63 comments)

Hotel rates are largely determined by who is paying.

Expensive hotels often cater to people on expense accounts who really don't care what the bill is.

about three weeks ago
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Study: There's a Wi-Fi Hotspot For Every 150 People In the World

JoeMerchant Re:And they're basically useless except to the own (63 comments)

If you count our phones HotSpot capability, we've got 5 WiFi HotSpots for 4 people in my house - I know several people whose homes are passing 2 HotSpots per resident.

about three weeks ago
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Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

JoeMerchant Re:Well (594 comments)

No, no, NO! What the Space program really needs are a bunch of people who never actually do anything beyond their day job and some hobby reading to espouse theories about what should be done. We should give all these people a forum where they can argue about what _should_ be done and let the argument proceed until a clear and obvious answer is arrived at - then we should set about doing exactly what the masses have decided, because, obviously, that will be the right thing to do.

Until then, we should redirect the funding that would go to the Space program to subsidize the cost of Cheetos and craft beer, because that's obviously what people need today, based on their observable behavior.

about three weeks ago
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Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

JoeMerchant Re: Well (594 comments)

Without financial backing, nothing in this world will happen.

SpaceShipTwo is designed to attract financial backing to the program. NASA funds through the political tax and spend process- this is what the alternative looks like.

about three weeks ago
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A Mysterious Piece of Russian Space Junk Does Maneuvers

JoeMerchant Re:Jeez, just come clean (146 comments)

Take a sailboat out in the South Pacific sea, get 500 miles from any port, and tell me how crowded the ocean surface (a 2D structure) feels.

The only thing that's crowded about space is the delta-V, there's plenty of room, but you really want that when relative velocities can be > 1 km/sec.

about a month ago
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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crashes

JoeMerchant Re:That's a shame (445 comments)

$200,000 is actually in reach of far more than 1% of the US working population... it's not an easy thing, but if it's all you ever want to do in your life, it's attainable with median income and a few decades of living frugally and wisely investing every spare penny.

This is a huge change from the late 1960s where your odds of becoming an astronaut were roughly equivalent to two lottery wins in the same year.

about a month ago
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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crashes

JoeMerchant Re:Huge setback (445 comments)

Yep, and many other technologies got set back like that, but mostly because there were safer alternatives.

To go from point A to point V, there aren't a lot of safe options, yet.

about a month ago
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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crashes

JoeMerchant Re:Huge setback (445 comments)

If the business plan for a new venture such as this didn't include unexpected "anomalies" in operations, it wasn't much of a plan at all.

Saying "I'll spend Billions until the first failure, then close up shop and go back to selling vinyl records" doesn't seem like the personality type we're talking about.

about a month ago
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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crashes

JoeMerchant Re:Not a good week... (445 comments)

Search for "Bill Stone moon" and see what that guy's attitude is toward the future of spaceflight.

Some people still believe.

about a month ago
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How Apple Watch Is Really a Regression In Watchmaking

JoeMerchant Re:How big a fuss is it, really? (415 comments)

The suckers do it for their phones, why not a watch too? You don't have to impress the world for more than 16-20 hours at a stretch, you can take it off and drop it on the quick charge while you sleep.

about a month ago
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Drones Could 3D-Map Scores of Hectares of Land In Just a Few Hours

JoeMerchant Re:Farm topography (94 comments)

Think about the labor pool - when you put out a want-ad for new employees, what type of people are you likely to find? 3D projection software operators with understanding of how it works, when it lies to you due to sketchy input data, etc. - or.... can you find somebody willing to work for minimum wage who can watch TV and count cracks?

about a month ago
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Lava Flow In Hawaii Gains Speed, Triggers Methane Explosions

JoeMerchant Re:OOOOooo "dozens warned they MAY need to flee" (64 comments)

Pahoa is Native town... these people don't have the kind of money that most Hawaii immigrants do, nor the financial ability to move elsewhere on their island.

about 1 month ago
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Mars Orbiter Beams Back Images of Comet's Surprisingly Tiny Nucleus

JoeMerchant Re:The incredible shrinking nucleus (47 comments)

The Oort cloud is supposed to be a veritable treasure trove of these things, all you have to do is tip them sunward (decrease their negligible orbital velocity just a little) and be precise enough about it to achieve Mars impact. The trick is getting a ship with any kind of delta V capability into the Oort cloud in the first place - solar power ain't gonna cut it out there, probably need a massive Thorium or Plutonium pile to make it go. Extra bonus, when you get there, the objects you are moving provide the reaction mass you need to move them (volatiles!)

about a month ago
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Tesla Teardown Reveals Driver-facing Electronics Built By iPhone 6 Suppliers

JoeMerchant Re:Value (158 comments)

I like the Dodge approach - build one level of trim, then strip out the customer facing "cool stuff" to make the base model... all the underpinnings are still there, base model probably costs about the same to make as the premium.

about a month ago
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Z Machine Makes Progress Toward Nuclear Fusion

JoeMerchant Re:Money Has Never Been The Problem. (151 comments)

They already had fission power, and the fusion bomb, seemed reasonable at the time.

Question is: what would society look like with unlimited free energy? Even without greenhouse problems, can you imagine every hut in India, China and Africa powered with 500 amps of unmetered 220VAC? Stick a 50,000BTU wall unit in the side of an uninsulated hut, and you can have any temperature you want inside. Carbon arc perimeter lighting for the village, turns night into day. Melt the sand to make glass roads... it's all great fun in a first settlement colony in a science fiction novel, but when you've got a whole planet full of people doing it at one time, I think the ecology would be in worse trouble than it already is.

about a month and a half ago
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Z Machine Makes Progress Toward Nuclear Fusion

JoeMerchant Re:No where close (151 comments)

Advancing at 100x per year, they're only 2 years away from breakeven.

Of course, advances are rarely regular, so they could be much closer to breakeven, or further.

about a month and a half ago
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MIT Study Finds Fault With Mars One Colony Concept

JoeMerchant Re:Practice colony in Antarctica first? (269 comments)

Yep - that fits the funding model pretty well, but from a practical standpoint, the astronauts probably need some non-flammable suits. Nothing says the suits can't be see-through, though - for, practical reasons.

about a month and a half ago
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No Nobel For Nick Holonyak Jr, Father of the LED

JoeMerchant Re:The Nobel Prize Committee blew it (276 comments)

He's proactively involved special forces in trouble spots before full scale deployments become necessary.

This is something every recent president has done. (And in many cases it gets us into trouble.) Do you have blind worship for this guy or something? I mean this statement alone suggests your nose is presently getting browner as we speak.

Lately I've seen a lot of flak about excessive use of drones, etc. etc. etc. So, sure, even Jimmy Carter tried to use the Seals, and it's always the CinC's fault when something goes wrong. Pulled out too early? That's why we've got ISIS. Pulled out too late? Fathered another Vietnam. Nuked 'em all? Oh dear, can't do that. Well, then, what are all the damn submarines and waste plutonium for?

In whatever year it was that Obama was elected, the USA had a choice, and we chose the less warmongering of the two parties... it's really the US voters who got that peace prize, the committee just needed a single person to award it to.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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CryptoCat - an encrypted web-based chat

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "Twenty-one-year-old college student Nadim Kobeissi is from Canada, Lebanon and the internet.

Cryptocat is an encrypted web-based chat. It’s the first chat client in the browser to allow anyone to use end-to-end encryption to communicate without the problems of SSL, the standard way browsers do crypto, or mucking about with downloading and installing other software. For Kobeissi, that means non-technical people anywhere in the world can talk without fear of online snooping from corporations, criminals or governments.

“The fact that you don’t have to install anything, the fact that it works instantly, this increases security,” he explained, sitting down with Wired at HOPE 9 to talk about Cryptocat, activism and getting through American airports."

Link to Original Source
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Amazon Android App Store - Mandatory One Click Ordering

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "So, it has finally arrived... since 2003ish I have been on the lookout for a decent, affordable (sub $100) web browsing device — and it came in the shape of 7" capacitive multitouch Android tablets from cheap off-brand manufacturers. But, this isn't a hardware review. This is a cautionary tale about the importance of choice in app-store compatibility. At least one of these devices is built with a strong preference for the Amazon App Store, yes, some apps can be side-loaded, but Google Play is specifically thwarted by the built-in Android image, making Amazon the "obvious" choice.

So, what's so bad about the Amazon App Store? Well, I personally don't mind that it runs continuously in the background as a kind of license server, though some people complain that it's hard on battery life (while others disagree)... my real beef with the Amazon App Store is its always active one-click: no password, app ordering, always available. The only way I have found to deactivate one-click app ordering is to uninstall the store, which deactivates ALL the apps that use it for license checking, which includes about 18 of the 20 apps I have tested.

You can say that Amazon's customer service is excellent and that they will refund any accidental purchases, you can say that they notify you of every app purchase immediately in e-mail; free and paid app purchase notifications look identical in every way until you click on each individual transaction to open it, and it is the same in Amazon's account review. This feels like a return to the old Record/DVD Club days where you get a bunch of cool stuff you want, very conveniently, for a reasonably good deal, but then have to fight to turn the thing off and eventually get charged for something you don't want, especially if you ever hand your tablet over to an elementary school aged child to play with unsupervised for any length of time.

After getting sucked in on the Free Apps, I finally purchased a couple of paid apps and was fairly shocked that, unlike the iPad, I didn't have to put in any kind of password. It's much less the 2x0.99 that bothers me than all the time and effort spent setting up two tablets, just to find out later that if I don't want to leave my credit card fully exposed for app purchases, I'll lose use of all the apps I have installed from their store. So, suck the customer in and after they have invested maybe 20 hours into your ecosystem, finally give them a clue that there's no way to turn off purchases, the parental controls options only apply to in-app purchases, not to app purchases themselves — and if your kids are smart enough to get into the master app listing, they can always launch the app store.

Response from Amazon Customer Service:

It was a pleasure to speak with you today! I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you spending some of it with Amazon Appstore support. Thanks for suggesting we add parental control for App purchases to the Amazon Appstore for Android. Customer feedback like yours really helps us continue to improve our products and provide better service to our customers. I've passed your suggestion to the Appstore team for consideration as we make future improvements. Thanks for taking time to offer us your thoughts. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Kind words, I really doubt the absence of password entry was any kind of oversight or accident."
Link to Original Source

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Apps for Apes

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  about 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Orangutans across the world may soon join the ranks of millions of humans as proud owners of new iPads. As strange as that may sound, a conservation group is testing out its "Apps for Apes" program, allowing orangutans to communicate with each other remotely via the iPad's video chat technology.

There has got to be an observation in there somewhere about the change this will bring in the average Apple user's intelligence levels..."

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Will Apple's iPad trademark prevail in China?

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Chinese officials face a choice in Apple's dispute with a local company over the iPad trademark — side with a struggling entity that a court says owns the name or with a global brand that has created thousands of jobs in China. Experts say that means Beijing's political priorities rather than the courts will settle the dispute if it escalates.

What are the odds that, of 1.3 billion Chinese, one of them has a stronger legal claim to the name "iPad" than Apple?"

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Hacking Yogurt to make Prozac with Open Source DNA

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "While most people think biotechnology is complex, expensive and exclusively practiced in fancy lab settings, designer Tuur van Balen argues it is actually quite accessible. He demonstrates his vision on DIY biotechnology by creating an ‘anti-depressant yoghurt,’ using open source DNA on stage in a 7.5 minute video. Smakelijk!"
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Is it wrong to want opt-in?

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "I have had a Yahoo account since before the turn of the Century, and one of my biggest complaints about it was being required to download the Yahoo Messenger desktop software just to access the account management setting to block "Friend Requests" from every random spammer on the planet.

My Google account, by comparison, was relatively quiet and Friend-Spam-Free, until just recently — although the "quality" of Google friend spam is higher than Yahoo (most of the random people asking to "Friend" me actually have some kind of common interest listed in their profiles), it's still random Friend request spam from people who don't even know people I know. Now, I suppose I'm going to have to "pay" for some peace and quiet in my Google account by taking the time to decipher their settings process to turn these people off.

I know that both these services are provided free of monetary charge, and that I am "free" to walk away at any time, but I do feel like the victim of a submarine attack after they provide a good service for 10+ years and then, without even a "would you like to opt-in" dialog, start flooding me with daily friend requests from essentially random people.

Is there a similar "homepage" service out there that respects its user's privacy and doesn't demand their time and effort to adjust it to do so?"

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Learn Coding Online

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Online services like CodeCademy and Treehouse are making a business of teaching programming online. Despite the fact colleges are churning out more programmers, many fast-growing Silicon Valley companies say they still can't find enough of them.

Do you think that the online schools will add anything to traditional self-teaching of programming skills?"

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Ask Slashdot: What will you do with 128Gb/s RAM ba

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Whiel manufacturers have been murmuring about 3D memory chips for years. Intel unveiled a Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) at IDF, which promises seven times the energy efficiency of today's DDR3, and now IBM and Micron have shown their hand too. The pair just struck up a partnership to produce cubes using layers of DRAM connected by vertical conduits known as through-silicon vias (TSVs). These pillars allow a 90 percent reduction in a memory chip's physical footprint, a 70 percent cut in its appetite for energy, and a radical increase in bandwidth: HMC prototypes have already scored 128Gb/s. It certainly sounds like a game-changer."
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Floating home for tech start-ups

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "Max Marty, founder of Blueseed, believes that US immigration laws are stifling entrepreneurs from other countries, so he plans to buy a ship and anchor it in international waters off the coast of California. He hopes that up to a thousand developers could live and work just 20 kilometres offshore, commuting via regular ferries to the mainland for meetings with clients and investors.

Ship residents will pay around $1200 per month for basic accommodation, which Marty says compares favourably with typical rents in San Francisco."

Link to Original Source
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Programming in Cell OS

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  about 3 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "An international team of synthetic biologists, led by professor of computer science Natalio Krasnogor at the University of Nottingham, hopes to change hopes to revolutionize synthetic biology with what they call Cell OS, a "bottom-up approach to cellular computing, in which computational chemical processes are encapsulated within liposomes." The team refers to this as "liposome logic" or "vesicle computing," which sounds analogous to the logic based off of the field-effect transistor, and it may be a part of the nascent "CellOS". The bold project is aptly named AUdACiOuS."
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Remote-Controlled Borg Beetle

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 5 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "A giant Borg beetle with implanted electrodes and a radio receiver on its back can be wirelessly controlled, according to research presented this week. Overlords at the University of California hivemind developed a tiny rig that receives control signals from the collective. Electrical signals delivered via the electrodes command the insect to take off, turn left or right, or hover in midflight. The research, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), could one day be used for assimilation on a planetary scale.

Obligatory: Resistance is Futile ."

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Robotic radical hysterectomy has advantages

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 5 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "Robotic-assisted surgery has become an appealing tool for gynecologic oncology surgeons. However, to date, there is little data to confirm the benefits of this technology. Patients who underwent RRH had less blood loss and shorter hospital stays. "This robotic-assisted approach deserves further exploration to evaluate the full potential and application of RRH."

I for one...."

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