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Astronomers Find What May Be the Closest Exoplanet So Far

Markvs Re:ok, so, what now (89 comments)

So close... and yet still a freeking impossible distance away.

Oh.. it's just 11 light years away. That's a small number, right? As much as I'd like to be able to say we have a "warp drive" or "jump drive" or something like that... at the moment 11 light years might as well be 11 million light years. it makes no difference to our ability to get there.

Exactly. Even if we DID build an Orion nuclear spacecraft (http://www.spacedaily.com/news/nuclearspace-03h.html), at best we'll get 1/10th light speed, and it would take the equivalent of several thousand Saturn V launches to build the ship in space. So we're talking at best a 220 year round trip, IF everything went right.

4 days ago
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Sony Tosses the Sony Reader On the Scrap Heap

Markvs Re:Loved me som PRS-505 (172 comments)

I was very pleased with my 505, as well. I didn't bother with their software (I think it was Windows-only and was mainly used to buy DRM-encumbered stuff from their own store) but just using it as USB mass storage worked well enough for my purposes.

I use it primarily for reading stuff from Project Gutenberg (since there is no DRM insanity) or taking other miscellaneous PDF and text content with me. The screen was quite good and sure beat reading any amount of text off of a glowing screen.

It is too bad that they are leaving the market but I can tell my use-cases aren't those used by the masses so I am not too surprised.

That's exactly what I did with our 505!
My wife had it for just about a year and then wanted a Kindle so I loaded it up with about two dozen public domain books. It worked very well, and for my train ride into NYC was perfect because the battery life was adequate and the screen was non-glare and nigh indestructible no matter who hit it/pushed into me/knocked my bag. Heck, I fell asleep several times and dropped the thing hard. It didn't care.

And since absolutely nobody ever wanted to steal it, that was a bonus too.

about a month ago
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New Mars Crater Spotted In Before-and-After Pictures

Markvs Re:Meters? (41 comments)

For those who are metric-impaired, 50 meters equals 1968.5 inches.

Since we are on the archaic unit bandwagon, thats approx 0.25 furlongs.

Or about 9.942 rods. Which in my car would cause me to burn 0.00007238095 hogsheads of gasoline.

about 3 months ago
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The Big Bang's Last Great Prediction

Markvs Re:most successful? (80 comments)

The most successful scientific model is found in Genesis chapter 1. It begins with the creation of light.

Well, yes. That's what the Big Bang Theory is in a nutshell, and it was after all originally developed by Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian Catholic Priest.
It's notable that all of the planet's major religions endorse the BBT and consider it to not be at odds with their faith including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, & Judaism.

about 3 months ago
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Radioactivity Cleanup At Hanford Nuclear Reservation, 25 Years On

Markvs Re:Way too much money for the local economy to fin (123 comments)

Yet every delay seems to be caused by inadequate funding at the Federal level, to the point where the deadlines have been pushed back beyond the projections for when waste is likely to reach the Columbia River. What's that going to do to the local economy?

Actually, it improves the potato crop. (FIVE GUYS needs every potato they can lay their hands on!) The waste has also sped up work at the prehistoric Kennewick Man site, and has increased sales of all kinds of abatement gear (and anti-roadrunner technology) from ACME in nearby Walla-Walla.

about 3 months ago
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First Arrest In Japan For 3D-Printed Guns

Markvs Re: Hey Tim (274 comments)

That old hackney phrase. Where you outlaws get those guns? Oh from good guys in states where it is legal to sell them in bulk.

I disagree with your insinuation that the US Government are the good guys in this case. (Think "Fast & Furious".)

about 4 months ago
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Fire Risk From Panasonic Batteries In Sony Vaio Laptops

Markvs The lack of irony (36 comments)

The laptop manufacturer with an decade long ongoing power supply issue in almost every model now has battery issues? Say it isn't so! Oh, wait, this isn't 2009. We've already done this.
http://hothardware.com/News/So...

about 5 months ago
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China Rejects 545,000 Tons of US Genetically Modified Corn

Markvs Dennis Rodman just called (215 comments)

The North Koreans will happily take it.

about 8 months ago
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A War Over Solar Power Is Raging Within the GOP

Markvs Re:If they're concerned on picking winners or lose (1030 comments)

Wow. I love your link... thanks for showing that the fossil fuel industry does not get a single subsidy. Seriously. Everything listed from pages 6 through 13 is a tax break.
And let's look at the things this wonderful environmentalist think tank listed as "Grants":

1) LIHEAP ($6,358): The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Government funding to keep poor people warm.
2) Strategic Petroleum Reserve ($6,183) : This is the Federal government keeping oil around in case of an emergency.
3) Black Lung Disability Trust Fund ($1,035) : Federal money to pay benefits to sick miners.
4) Highway Trust Fund ($500) : The Highway Trust Fund supports highway, road, and other transportation projects throughout the country. It is funded largely by the Transportation Fuel Excise Tax on road fuels.
5) Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve ($50): similar to the SPR in #2 above, but concentrated in the Northeast where home heating oil is a common fuel.
6) Naval Petroleum and Oil Shale Reserves ($28) : "As the payments do not benefit a fuel source, but rather were used to settle a dispute, they do not constitute a subsidy to fossil fuels."

Calling any of these a subsidy if a sad joke. In short, there is NO SUBDSIDY OF FOSSIL FUELS by the US Government.

about 9 months ago
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Should the Next 'Doctor Who' Be a Woman?

Markvs Re:We tried a woman in power and it didn't work ou (772 comments)

What? Are you saying that the Britain she inherited from James Callaghan was somehow a paradise? It was a MESS, as was the US when Reagan took the reins from Carter! Her economic reforms are the reason why today Britain's economy doesn't look like Italy's!

1 year,24 days
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Should the Next 'Doctor Who' Be a Woman?

Markvs Re:We tried a woman in power and it didn't work ou (772 comments)

Margaret Thatcher was in power here 1979-1990. She fucked over the arts during that time. It will take a few more years to get over it.

On what do you base that conclusion, when we had TOM BAKER as the Doctor from 1975-1981 followed by PETER DAVIDSON from 1981-1985? Then we had such other Britcom greats as Blackadder, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Blake's 7, Red Dwarf, Antiques Roadshow, East Enders, The Young Ones... plus the rise of British New Wave and Heavy Metal, etc.? Okay, the Bond franchise went from four solid Moore films to the questionable Living Daylights and awful License to Kill starring Tim Dalton, but surely that wasn't all Maggie's fault! And we did get The Elephant Man, The Empire Strikes Back, Chariots of Fire, Excalibur, Gandhi, Pink Floyd's The Wall, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Henry V, Highlander...

1 year,25 days
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Army Creates a Directed Lightning Bolt Weapon

Markvs Meanwhile, the Japanese Navy... (214 comments)

Has begun work on something called a 'Wave Motion Gun". Details are sketchy at this time, but the plans seem to involve the recycling of a sunken World War Two battleship...

more than 2 years ago
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Computer Games That Defined RPGs In the 1980s

Markvs Re:Pool of Radience was so good (350 comments)

Legacy of the Ancients! Now THAT was a great game! I also love Wasteland & Pool. The Pool of Radiance module for Neverwinter Nights was flawless, IMO. My old gaming buddies and I played that 4 or 5 times just for the nostalgia. (And heck, it was BETTER since it was multi-user and not just us talking about what we were doing at home on our Commie 64s...)

more than 2 years ago
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Computer Games That Defined RPGs In the 1980s

Markvs Re:Wasteland. (350 comments)

Miss! (I want to go beat them with my Visa card until they explode like a blood sausage... NO! Better! Reduced to a thin red paste!!)

more than 2 years ago
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Setting the various household clocks ...

Markvs Re:What? (344 comments)

It doesn't matter. I'll just keep subtracting 1 until I forget to wind my watch. Then I'll have to walk down to Grand Central to set it again. That's right, I wear a mechanical watch. Good luck telling the time during the next blackout!

more than 2 years ago
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The best computer upgrade I've ever done was:

Markvs NEW MODEM! (522 comments)

Not having to slam the phone reciever down on the old Bell accoustic coupler was a BIG deal. And 300 baud was *so fast*. Then I went to 1200 baud... and I thought WHOA! I can now recieve data at a speed I can't read at! That lasted for almost 5 years until 2400 baud came out and downloads were instantaneous.

Now, of course, my cable modem has 12Mbps and it's way too slow. :-\

more than 2 years ago
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Computer Science Enrollment Up 10% Last Fall

Markvs I'm 37.. I'm not old! (173 comments)

I started my Master's about 18 months ago after graduating with a Bachelor's in 1995. Why? Cash. Simply put, after a bit over 15 years in the industry you can't advance too far from "Senior SysAdmin" without a Master's. Oh, there are some possibilities but the cold hard fact is that to get anywhere fast it's the way to go, just like having the Bacehlor's kept me ahead of the competition during the .COM days. Sure, I didn't make outrageous money but I've been very comforable since I started working and that's no bad thing.
Did I learn anything then or am I learning anything now? Not anything directly useful on the job, no. But that's not the point of school anyway. You're there to hone your thought process and take in ideas and points of view you otherwise wouldn't encounter. Science knows, I'd never have taken Java last year if they didn't make me do it for the degree.
Bottom line: We need more IT professionals that are... IT *professionals*. Too often I've interviewed people that can't write or speak professionally (no, I don't care about accents!), or are just plain sloppy either in their manner of dress, their grasp of their skills, or (worst) their grasp of what work is about. The money is out there to be made, but getting the right person for an IT job in a financial firm is often a long process. A degree in CS is a good starting point and if nothing else lays a foundation for becoming a professional.

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How/Where To Start Watching Dr. Who?

Markvs Where to start? Season 13! (655 comments)

Maybe it's because this is where I started (as a youngin' back in 1980)... Start with "Pyramids of Mars", which is a great primer episode. If you like it, then watch The Android Invasion. If you can stomach the production values of THAT, you can watch any old Doctor Who episode with impunity! Then move onto "Brain of Morbius" and "Seeds of Doom". Now that you've gotten a decent dose of Tom Baker... go watch "The Five Doctors". This will get you a solid basis with the other characters and Doctors. "The Three Doctors" is optional, IMO unless you really like one of the first three.

But the best way to start is to watch the first and last episodes of each Doctor from 1-7, (read: 14 episodes) then start the modern series with Christoper Eccleston.
I also believe these are episodes ANY Whovian needs to have seen, (besides the first and last of any Doctor):

William Hartnell (Doctor #1): The Daleks, The Dalek invasion of Earth
Patrick Troughton (Doctor #2): The Tomb of the Cybermen
Jon Pertwee (Doctor #3): Ambassadors of Death, The Time Warrior
Tom Baker (Doctor #4): The Masque of Mandragora, The Invasion of Time, Full Circle/State of Decay/Warrior's Gate
Peter Davidson (Doctor #5): Black Orchid, Arc of Infinity
Colin Baker (Doctor #6): Trial of a Time Lord (I'm probably going to get killed for this, but if you watch it all in the same week and in order, it's one of the best stories ever written for DW!)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor #7): Ghost Light

more than 3 years ago

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