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

JoeMerchant Re:Farm topography (91 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?

yesterday
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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.

2 days 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 week 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 two weeks 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 two weeks 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 two weeks 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 three weeks 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 three weeks 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 not Bush.

He's never stood in a flight suit under a banner reading "Mission Accomplished"

He's actually ramped down foreign deployments, not just planned to do it.

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

He's just a figurehead in front of a much larger machine that makes his decisions for him - well, o.k., on that one he is just like Bush.

But, the machine that Obama represents, corrupt, inconsistent, and self-serving as it is, seems to be an improvement over the machine that Bush represented. Now, if we can get an improvement over Obama next time, we can call ourselves an enlightened, empowered electorate, at least for a few years.

about three weeks ago
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MIT Study Finds Fault With Mars One Colony Concept

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

If you're going to live 24:39/7 in a 100% oxygen atmosphere, you might also want to shave (all the parts) and do everything you can to avoid oily skin. When (not if) the flash fire comes, you really don't want to provide any fuel for it with your body.

about three weeks ago
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Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science

JoeMerchant Re:Close the supply taps (283 comments)

In the late 1980s, I had a MS, and virtually zero chance of getting a meaningful university post until I got a PhD. There was one faculty member in our College with just a MS... not sure how he pulled that off, but when I was invited back to do a PhD / TA, I inquired about a position that might pay something better than 50% of what my MS degree was worth "on the outside" - I was politely told "we don't do that anymore... very rarely." To which I politely replied "I think I'll be looking for something else to do."

about three weeks ago
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Maps Suggest Marco Polo May Have "Discovered" America

JoeMerchant Re:Because of european perspective (276 comments)

Exactly this, I'm not saying there ever were Atlanteans, but if there were, and if they discovered electricity and the electric light, does it count?

Apparently not.

about three weeks ago
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Maps Suggest Marco Polo May Have "Discovered" America

JoeMerchant Re:Big Old Liar (276 comments)

According to the summary, he didn't write his book - a popular shadow author did, and as such, you can imagine that the shadow author filled in a lot of the material from his imagination, rather than Polo's actual experiences.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if scholarly analysis of the book finds it full of holes and inconsistencies... the communication between Polo and the author itself is bound to be imperfect, as is the author's desire to sell copies, rather than give an accurate account.

about three weeks ago
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Maps Suggest Marco Polo May Have "Discovered" America

JoeMerchant Re:So the Italians win the latest round ... (276 comments)

I think the reason the "Native Americans" don't count is because they didn't return to their point of origin to share their discovery....

So, since Marco Polo failed to tell anybody about the Alaskan coast in any way that the world understood for many hundreds of years, can he really get any more credit than the Vikings?

about three weeks ago
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Physicists Observe the Majorana Fermion, Which Is Its Own Antiparticle

JoeMerchant Re:...and my brain just cooked itself (99 comments)

That's because you're supposed to supercool to superconduction before looking for them....

about a month ago
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Physicists Observe the Majorana Fermion, Which Is Its Own Antiparticle

JoeMerchant Re:Well that's random (99 comments)

Quantum computing is actually related to the infinite improbability field generator...

Tulips, again.

about a month ago
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Satellites Reveal Hidden Features At the Bottom of Earth's Seas

JoeMerchant Re:So did they find Atlantis? (54 comments)

If the multiverse is true, then, yes - that has happened, just not here.

about a month 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  |  more than 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..."

Link to Original Source
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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?"

Link to Original Source
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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?"

Link to Original Source
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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?"

Link to Original Source
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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."
Link to Original Source
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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  |  more than 2 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."
Link to Original Source
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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 ."

Link to Original Source
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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...."

Link to Original Source

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