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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

Narrowband Re:I'm sure it will suck (242 comments)

This is partly because Foundation was kind of an experimental attempt to write a story where the story line was carried in the dialog and the action took place off camera. That might make it a bit challenging to make into a script, since key action scenes don't actually occur and would have to be created from whole cloth.

about a month ago
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'Star Wars: Episode VII' Gets a Name

Narrowband Re:Bring back Jar Jar binks while you're at it (267 comments)

Jar Jar Binks is simply evidence that George Lucas got his studio projects mixed up, and somehow Roger Rabbit ended up in Star Wars.

about a month and a half ago
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'Star Wars: Episode VII' Gets a Name

Narrowband Re:No thank you (267 comments)

+1 for Ocean's 11.

And don't forget that before Peter Jackson, the best available movie version of Lord of the Rings was an animated musical.

And finally, does anyone seriously believe Adam West was better as Batman in the 1960s than any of the more recent movies?

I think that's three.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Where Do You Stand on Daylight Saving Time?

Narrowband Re: I'm not sure what bothers me more, (613 comments)

I'm an amateur astronomer, I want as many hours of darkness in the evening as I can get.

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

Narrowband Re:Light on details, however... (395 comments)

Compactly isn't the issue, it's capacity per weight that matters more.

And, not exploding.

about 2 months ago
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Hawking Radiation Mimicked In the Lab

Narrowband Re:Mimicking a theory, not a phenomenon (66 comments)

...it doesn't prove a single thing about how black holes behave - because he did not create one.

Um, good?

The research value may be lower, but discouraging physicists from creating actual black holes on the surface of the earth (or really anywhere near the solar system) seems like a sound idea.

about 2 months ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

Narrowband Re:Still being made... (304 comments)

Corsairs are good too, but they have a shorter than average key throw that doesn't sit quite as well with my typing habits; my fingers always want to keep pressing even when the key is already all the way down. (I learned on the old Model M's we had in my high school AP Comp Sci class, back in the 80s when the IBM PS/2s were a new thing). Otherwise I agree it's a solid product, and we have one attached to an old iMac our son uses.

I didn't know about the Razer driver issue; the last Razer mouse and keyboard I had didn't need a driver installed at all; they seemed to work out fine of the box.

Das Keyboard is another option, with a good typing feel, and I use one of these at work, but I tend to rate it just a step down from the Decks, because the keycaps are printed on instead of two-color molded plastic.

about 2 months ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

Narrowband Re:Still being made... (304 comments)

Yes, but it was Apple that led the charge in choosing the IBM PC jr. as its ideal keyboard model to follow (chicklet keys, small, and wireless) for desktop PCs. They picked the right company's keyboard to follow, but completely the wrong model.

about 2 months ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

Narrowband Re:Still being made... (304 comments)

There are still good alternatives that have the keys and the feel and heft, even beyond the Unicomps. Deck keyboards with Cherry Blue switches, for example. Or maybe Razer (they have the switches, don't know about the weight). Or for Macs, the Matias keyboards.

about 2 months ago
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Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

Narrowband Re:Small Orion reflector (187 comments)

From personal experience, our son was able to learn and use a Starblast 4.5" pretty easily in 4th grade. My wife and I are both members of our local astronomy club, and have been into astronomy a long time, so we were able to give him help when needed, but also we took him to some of the public events for the club, and let him go to it. He enjoyed one project in particular where he tracked the galilean moons of Jupiter over several nights, sketching out their positions in a notebook, and he still likes using it to show planets to other kids at these sorts of events a couple of years later.

Binoculars are a good starting place for adults, but harder to work with kids with, in my opinion, because you can't point them at something and then show it to the child, nor can they really get your help interpreting what they're seeing.

about 4 months ago
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Public To Vote On Names For Exoplanets

Narrowband Or better, "Pluto's Revenge" (127 comments)

That's my vote, but there are all kinds of great possibilities: Gallifrey, Alderan, Tatooine, Romulus, Mordor, Asgard, Manticore, Beowulf...

about 5 months ago
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Elite Violinists Can't Distinguish Between a Stradivarius and a Modern Violin

Narrowband Time and progress more than gullibility (469 comments)

I remember this discussion when I was playing violin in high school and college (quite a while back), but it seemed like professors and violin teachers talked about surpassing Strads as a goal that might be reached someday, and that people were working toward. It never seemed to me like something the music community thought could never be achieved, like there was something mystical about it. So I'd chalk it up to time, not gullibility.

Since at least the 80s, modern instrument makers have been trying to duplicate and reverse engineer the Strads and try and make a modern instrument that's equally good. And there were tests like this, but when they were performed, the Strads would win out consistently. But now it looks like they finally succeeded. And we're entering the age where even outside blind tests, performers are starting to recognize this, like Yo Yo Ma and his professed affinity for carbon fiber cellos (I think he appeared on "How it's Made" a couple of years ago when they were demonstrating their construction).

I think you're right that it's not amazing that we'd get here eventually. In any theoretically achievable goal, where you're not trying to break fundamental physical laws, time, effort, and innovation win out. It's just like building better computers and programming them to beat chessmasters. At first, the technology and the programming just wasn't there, and computers lost. Now it is, and they win.

What this test doesn't say, however, is that the best of the modern violins are cheap. They aren't. They may not be the historical artifacts that Strads are, but they aren't something your average highly ranked college student performer could afford to perform on. I remember how prices ran, even for decently good modern instruments. This may bring the cost down from the tens of millions to the tens or hundreds of thousands, but the instruments they're comparing with are still astronomically priced, from most people's perspectives. They're the product of decades of research and mastery of the craft by modern luthiers, where the work is one part art and one part science. Good progress, and a big milestone, but they're still probably decades from making the same kind of qualities common and affordable.

about 8 months ago
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NASA Puts Its New Spacesuit Design To a Public Vote

Narrowband NASA's attempt at Case Modding (127 comments)

Kind of sad that NASA's suit R&D rollout to the public seems to be focused on case modding the exterior.

That said, they clearly need a "retro" cover. First look at the NASA design reminded me of a book I read as a kid, "Tom Swift and his Jetmarine," where he built escape suits for his submarine in the shape of giant eggs, like Humpty-Dumpty.

about 9 months ago
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Tesla's Having Issues Charging In the Cold

Narrowband Battery chemistry and safety (476 comments)

Depends on battery chemistry. Most electric/hybrid cars seem to be congregating around Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries, which generally shouldn't be charged in the cold... it can cause lithium plating to accumulate on the anodes and if done repeatedly can eventually compromise the safety of the battery packs. Discharging (using) them below freezing is OK, but charging is not.

about a year ago
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Cold War Spoils: Amateur Builds Telescope With 70-Inch Lens

Narrowband Like HST (but not in a good way) (101 comments)

It's an impressive amateur engineering feat, but its performance as a telescope might not be anything to write home about. It probably shares one quality with the hubble that you wouldn't want: a problem with gravity.

Remember how when it first went up, the hubble had problems focusing clearly? The designers forgot that its mirrors would be deformed/reshaped by the lack of gravity. Essentially, the hubble's primary mirror was optically designed to work as a telescope mirror on earth, not in space. It wasn't until the later mission to fix it with some corrective optics that it really achieved its best capabilities.

Now, since the surplus 70" mirror this guy used was designed to work on a satellite, it would very likely have the same problem but in reverse. If the mirror was designed to be shaped properly in a microgravity environment, it would also be deformed when on earth (as it is when used in the amateur telescope.) That might make the images from it quite a bit worse than one might hope for from a 70" instrument.

about a year ago
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Signs Point To XKCD's Time Ending

Narrowband Re:oblink (226 comments)

Cool! I guess it's ending at Andrew Henry's Meadow... I loved that book when I was very little.

about a year ago
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Kernel Dev Tells Linus Torvalds To Stop Using Abusive Language

Narrowband Re:Victim Card (1501 comments)

Swearing and calling people names is one thing. But legitimate verbal threats can still be short of actually showing up at your door with a baseball bat. If a guy tells you he's going to show up at your door with a baseball bat, that qualifies.

about a year and a half ago
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Who Will Teach U.S. Kids To Code? Rupert Murdoch

Narrowband High school is too late (138 comments)

I took AP computer science in high school, myself, and it really wasn't programming, it was pretty much the same as a college data structures class (arrays, linked lists, trees, sparse matrices, searching and sorting, etc.) Going straight into that without some earlier programming foundation doesn't really work so well. We need to start kids earlier to really get proficient.

The logic skills needed to code can be developed, too, but it needs support much earlier, including in elementary school math. I remember in 2nd-4th grade, our textbook was called "sets and numbers," and we did a lot with set theory, which my son's school hasn't. There are tradeoffs: he was into algebraic equations in 4th grade, which I never did until at least middle school. But overall it seems like he's had less emphasis on logic and discrete math and more on general/continuous math. My wife and I have tried to supplement it, but it isn't really standard anymore, where we live.

Anyway, if kids get enough practice with sets and set operations in elementary school, then logic operations a bit later (which and teach them how it's really the same, AND = intersection, OR = union, etc.) and throw in a few other concepts like variables, then they should be ready to start getting some early programming classes in middle school, which will stick with them a long time.

about a year and a half ago
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Man Of Steel Leaps Over Record With $125.1 Million To Mixed Reviews

Narrowband Re:that money (364 comments)

That's too much like saying it re-enforces a simplistic worldview that there is such a thing as reality, whereas nothing is actually "real." After all, isn't "reality" just a stand-in for perception?

In an even more complex construct, it is equally simplistic to assume good and evil are not real as it is to assume they are. It all depends on how many levels of non-reality you want to contemplate, and how superior you want to consider yourself to those who adhere to "simplistic" world views.

about a year and a half ago
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Apple Updates MacBooks and Mac Pro Desktop With Haswell, "Unified Thermal Core"

Narrowband Re:Not a cylinder (464 comments)

Specifically it looks like a NeXT cube. Something tells me that's the wrong link, and that it doesn't look like that.

about a year and a half ago

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