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Apple Acquires "Pandora For Books" Booklamp For $15 Million

R3d M3rcury Re:forever payments (25 comments)

Well, to each their own.

As always, it depends on a few things. I have no problems renting movies from Netflix and not owning them, but there are some movies I prefer to own. I can imagine the same thing--I've bought some "throw-away" books for airplanes and such and would be fine with the idea of just being able to pull up one to read. But there are some books that I've read that I enjoy and I want to keep and re-read every now and then. So Apple wins both ways--you "rent" the book, read it, decide you like it, and then overpay to get the book from Apple's Store.

2 days ago

How One School District Handled Rolling Out 20,000 iPads

R3d M3rcury Re:Expensive? (285 comments)

Except that the iPads will inevitably fall behind on the technology curve and need to be replaced [...]

Depends on what you're using it for. If you've got your standard courseware, why would you need to upgrade the iPad? So it's running iOS 5 instead of iOS 8, that doesn't affect your courseware.

I'd also point out that an iPad 2 from 2011 is compatible with iOS 8 from 2015. So there's four years right there.

about a week ago

Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

R3d M3rcury Re:What if we hadn't? (211 comments)

One of the things I always like to point out in the "Manned versus Unmanned" arguments is comparing the amount of lunar material brought back. The Apollo program returned something like 800 KG of moon rocks. The Soviet Union's landers returned something like 0.8 Grams of moon dust. And those rocks were brought back because an astronaut (who in later missions was trained in geology) actually thought they were interesting, whereas the moon dust returned by the Luna probes was whatever happened to be within reach.

So it costs a lot more. The question is, do you get more value out of a manned mission versus a robotic mission? Apollo brought back 1,000,000x the amount of lunar material for 1000x the cost. So if you're just calculating based on those numbers, Apollo gave a better return than the Luna program. But that initial cost was pretty off-putting.

As people at NASA and others have pointed out, what the rovers have accomplished on Mars could have been done by an astronaut in a couple of days.

An analogous issue is time versus money. I could buy a ticket on the Concorde way back when and get from New York to London in three hours for $6000. I could buy a ticket nowadays on a non-supersonic transport for maybe $1500 that would get me there in 8 hours. The question is, is it worth the extra $4500 to get there five hours earlier?

Mars isn't really changing. There's really nothing about Mars we need to know right now, such that it would be worth spending that initially large amount of money to find out.

about a week ago

Malaysian Passenger Plane Reportedly Shot Down Over Ukraine

R3d M3rcury Re:Wait for it... (752 comments)

Actually, the flight was beginning to go off course and they couldn't reach the pilots so they shot it down and spared the world another month of "What Happened to Flight 17?" stories.

We should be grateful to the Russians...

about two weeks ago

The debate over climate change is..

R3d M3rcury Re:What we know (278 comments)

2) If something bad is happening and we're causing most of it, are the costs of mitigating it less than the costs of enduring it? This one seems poorly explored so far, I have yet to see a really good analysis. I happen to think the tail risks are high enough it's worth it, but not everyone agrees.

Who decides what is bad and what isn't bad?

This is interesting from a nationalistic point-of-view. Consider Siberia. Warm it up, get rid of the permafrost, and there's some nice arable land there that could feed a lot of people. That would be a pretty good thing for Russia. Consider America's wheat belt, where lots of food is grown for people in the US and abroad. If that were to, say, dry up, that would be bad for the United States.

Right now, you're seeing trade routes open up in the arctic ocean. That's not a bad thing for countries like Canada, Russia, and some of the northern European countries. But if China's rice fields suddenly are starved for water, that would be bad for people in China.

So, yeah, climate change could be a boon for Russia. It might not be so good for the US.

about two weeks ago

The debate over climate change is..

R3d M3rcury Re:A butterfly flaps its wings... (278 comments)

I'd be lying if I said I was really all that concerned about a 1 degree change [...]

Well, that can depend on where the change happens. Here in Southern California, 1 degree isn't going to even be noticeable. But take a place where it's usually right around 31 degrees F and make it 32 degrees F and the locals will certainly notice the difference between rain and snow.

about two weeks ago

FBI Concerned About Criminals Using Driverless Cars

R3d M3rcury Re:In Iraq? (435 comments)

My favorite additions:

Heaven is where:
The police are British
The mechanics are German
The cooks are French
The lovers are Italian
The teenagers are Japanese
The movie makers are American
The musicians are Russian
The women are Swedish
And the whole thing is organized by the Swiss;

Hell is where:
The police are German
The mechanics are French
The cooks are British
The lovers are Swiss
The teenagers are American
The movie makers are Japanese
The musicians are Swedish
The women are Russian
And the whole thing is organized by the Italians...

There's also a good one where heaven is "An American Salary, a Chinese Cook, a British House, and a Japanese Wife" whereas hell is "A Chinese Salary, a British Cook, a Japanese House, and an American Wife."

about two weeks ago

FBI Concerned About Criminals Using Driverless Cars

R3d M3rcury Re:Less. (435 comments)

Good point. I get in my automated car to take me to the airport. Then my automated car goes home, where it has a nice parking spot with inductive charging that doesn't cost me $20 a day. When I get back from my trip, I signal my car to come get me and it drives back to the airport by itself.

about two weeks ago

Economist: File Sharing's Impact On Movies Is Modest At Most

R3d M3rcury Re:Same old song and dance .... (214 comments)

Would they continue to want to go to the theater, which has a much larger screen and great sound, but which also costs a fair bit (and even more for any snacks you want, which are actually the theater's primary profit center) and which isn't as convenient in either time or space as having it at home?

Speaking entirely for myself, the theater has to offer something that I don't get at home.

I don't have a full-blown "home theater." I don't really even have a partial-blown "home theater." I have stereo sound on a 34" LCD TV. If I want to get fancy, I can run the sound through my amplifier and decent speakers. And this is fine for the cute and cuddly romantic comedy or serious drama. The theater doesn't offer anything extra. On the other hand, I watched "Gravity" this past weekend and I remember thinking that, yeah, some of those scenes would be really cool in IMAX 3D. I'm sorry I never got a chance to see it that way (I was planning to do it, but things kept coming up).

I wonder if piracy has an effect on the kinds of movies that end up in theaters. It may be harder to get that quiet dramatic film made than the special-effects laden "blockbuster" that you would want to go to the theater to see.

about two weeks ago

Economist: File Sharing's Impact On Movies Is Modest At Most

R3d M3rcury Re:Lies, damn lies. (214 comments)

Why do you think there has been a rapid decline in content creation? less movies and music every single year, year on year. Piracy is killing the industry.

There is an intriguing aside, though.

Take a movie like the upcoming "Guardians of the Galaxy." This is the kind of movie I want to see on a big screen--lots of explosions, daring-do, grand space battles, a raccoon with machine guns, etc. Conversely, take a movie like "Jersey Boys" and I don't see a real need to schlep to the theater to see it--the viewing experience will be about the same if I watch it in the theater or on my 34" Flat-screen in the living room or if I watch it on the 19" RCA CRT in my bedroom.

Give me a low quality copy of "Guardians of the Galaxy" and it will probably inspire me to see it in the theater. Give me a low quality copy of "Jersey Boys" and I'd probably be content to watch that and not see it in the theater or rent it later.

So I wonder if piracy is having an effect on the types of movies that we see being made.

about two weeks ago

New Technology Uses Cellular Towers For Super-Accurate Weather Measurements

R3d M3rcury Re:We live in the future (42 comments)

Actually, the post office is remarkably efficient, given the volumes of mail they carry.

But their bad reputation also works well for providing excuses.

"What do you mean you didn't get that check? I mailed it a week ago! Damn post office..."

about two weeks ago

How Google Map Hackers Can Destroy a Business

R3d M3rcury Re:Business search sadly broken (132 comments)

My favorite, from Yelp, was a search for bike shops in my area had a paid advertisement for a wedding shop.

"I love my bike, but I'm not going to marry it..."

about two weeks ago

The Future of Wearables: Standalone, Unobtrusive, and Everywhere

R3d M3rcury Re:Without a phone? (56 comments)

I think it's doable, depending on what you want it to do. Considering you example of the Casio Data Bank 150, about the only thing that needs Internet access would be the scheduler for keeping your calendar in-sync. Personally, I'd drop the phone directory because I have that on my phone. Calculator, stop watch, alarm, etc. are all doable without the Internet.

If the watch is something you glance at ("Whoops! Time for my 2:00 meeting!") or use momentarily ("What is 17% of $7392?"), I don't think there'll be a problem with battery life. But if the theory is that my smart watch will replace my smart phone, I don't think so.

about three weeks ago

NASA Approves Production of Most Powerful Rocket Ever

R3d M3rcury Re: i dont see a problem here (146 comments)


Look, I agree with you in a long term sense. But the United States didn't have the capability of putting people into space between about 1975 and 1981. Somehow we survived as a nation for those six years.

Some of the issue I have with these things are launch costs eating up NASA's budget. I'd far rather see NASA farm out Low-Earth Orbit flights to Space-X and the like than have them waste taxpayer money on their own system which is only "just as good" yet costs twice as much.

Now, that said, this sort of research is interesting. To draw an analogy, there's the old--and untrue--saw about NASA developing a pen that can write in zero G where the Soviet Union used a pencil. To use Space-X as an example, their solution to building a rocket that will carry 50 tons into orbit is to add more engines. NASA's solution is to figure out how to build a more powerful engine. Space-X's solution is quicker and cheaper but it doesn't necessarily improve the state of the art. I like to see my tax dollars going into this sort of research and development that could be used by American companies 10 or 20 years down the road.

about three weeks ago

Tesla Aims For $30,000 Price, 2017 Launch For Model E

R3d M3rcury Re:20% smaller? Not likely (247 comments)

Well, figure a Model E will be around 157 inches if that 20% number is accurate. So the more accurate comparison would be with the Mini Clubman.

about three weeks ago

Tesla Aims For $30,000 Price, 2017 Launch For Model E

R3d M3rcury Re:Who designed this one? (247 comments)

Only if you promise not to go back in time and kill Hitler. It's so noob.

about three weeks ago



Don't Try To Sell a "Smart" Gun in the U.S.

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  about 3 months ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "How's this for a good idea? A gun that won't fire unless it's within 10 inches of a watch? That's the iP1 from Armatrix. Of course, don't try to sell it here in the United States:

Belinda Padilla does not pick up unknown calls anymore, not since someone posted her cellphone number on an online forum for gun enthusiasts. Then someone snapped pictures of the address where she has a P.O. box and put those online, too. In a crude, cartoonish scrawl, this person drew an arrow to the blurred image of a woman passing through the photo frame. “Belinda?” the person wrote. “Is that you?”

Her offense? Trying to market and sell a new .22-caliber handgun that uses a radio frequency-enabled stopwatch to identify the authorized user so no one else can fire it. Ms. Padilla and the manufacturer she works for, Armatix, intended to make the weapon the first “smart gun” for sale in the United States.

“I have no qualms with the idea of personally and professionally leveling the life of someone who has attempted to profit from disarming me and my fellow Americans,” one commenter wrote.

Their complaint? The gubmint..."


Text Someone Who's Driving and You Could Get Sued

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  about a year ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "A recent decision from the New Jersey Appelate Court [PDF] states that you can be sued if you send a text message to someone who, in the course of reading or responding to the message, is involved in an accident. In this particular case, the judges decided that the person who was texting, Shannon Colonna, was not liable because she didn't know that the defendant was driving. So the litmus test appears to be that if the sender knows the recipient is driving and knows the recipient will likely read the text immediately, they could be in trouble. (page 25) Not sure how you'd go about proving this..."

Late Night Gaming Banned in Vietnam

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  more than 3 years ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "Vietnam's Ministry of Information and Communication has asked ISPs to block access to on-line games between 10:00PM and 8:00AM. 'The request, made on Wednesday, is another move from the authority to mitigate the side effects of online games. The request follows numerous stiff measures by the ministry to tackle the issue, including cutting internet access to agents at night beginning last September.'"
Link to Original Source

What Clown on a Unicycle?

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  more than 4 years ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "The New York Times has an article about walking and using a cellphone. But the interesting part was an experiment run by the University of Western Washington this past fall.

There was a student who knew how to ride a unicycle and a professor who had a clown suit. They dressed a student up as a clown and had him ride his unicycle around a popular campus square. Then they asked people, "Did you see the Unicycling Clown?" 71% of the people walking in pairs said that they had. 51% of the people walking alone said that they had. But only 25% of the people talking on a cellphone said that they saw the unicycling clown.

On the other hand, when asked "Did you see anything unusual?" only about one person in three mentioned a unicycling clown. So maybe unicycling clowns aren't enough of a distraction at the University of Western Washington..."

Link to Original Source

Save The Planet: Eat Your Dog

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  more than 4 years ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "New Zealand's Dominion Post reports on a new book just released, Time to Eat the Dog: The real guide to sustainable living. In this book, they compare the environmental footprint of our housepets to other things that we own. Like that German Shepherd? It consumes more resources than two Toyota SUVs. Cats are a little less than a Volkswagen Golf. 2 Hamsters are about the same as a plasma TV.

Their suggestions? Chickens, Rabbits, and Pigs. But only if you eat them."

Link to Original Source

Save the Apollo Landing Sites!

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  more than 5 years ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "The Lunar X-Prize is a contest offering $20 million to the first private organization to land and maneuver a robotic rover on the moon. There is also a $1 million bonus to anyone who can get a picture of a man-made object on the moon. But one archeologist believes that "The sites of early lunar landings are of unparalleled significance in the history of humanity, and extraordinary caution should be taken to protect them." He's concerned that we may end up with rover tracks destroying historic artifacts, such as Neil Armstrong's first bootprint, or that a mistake could send a rocket slamming into a landing site. He calls on the organizers to ban any contestant from landing within 100KM of a prior moon landing site. Now he seems to think this just means Apollo. What about the Luna and Surveyor landers? What about the Lunokhod rovers? Are they fair game?"
Link to Original Source

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  more than 7 years ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "I was going through the links in the 'Funnies' section and I found that a bunch seem to have been discontinued.

Mikey — Appears to have been taken over by a squatter.
Dr. Fun — Has been discontinued.
After Y2K — Updating sporadically at best. Looks like the last one was in 2004.
Helen — Ended at the end of last year.

Also, the Fifth Wave has moved to

Anyway, it might be time to clear out those five. Perhaps replace them with AppleGeeks, Ctrl+Alt+Del, Joy of Tech, Sheldon, and Evil, Inc.. Of course, that's just my list. What other comics do people think would be entertaining for Slashdot readers?"

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  more than 7 years ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "The Wii's controller is an innovative device. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the strap that you're supposed to attach to your wrist to keep the controller from accidentally flying across the room. Televisions, walls, and windows are in danger from the flying Wii controller. The website "" has the stories."



An Open Letter to Mike Frager

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  more than 7 years ago

So I saw Mike's Open Letter to Steve Jobs and I kind of wanted to comment. Since he doesn't have a comment section...

First, from his letter, this one jumped out at me:

I rely on dual monitors and a Mac Pro is not within my company's or personal budget.

So here's a crazy idea, Mike: Buy an iMac.

From Apple's iMac page on graphics:

[...] all three iMac models let you use a second display in extended desktop mode -- in addition to simply mirroring the first.

So you can buy a $999 iMac and still use your second display with it. Or, if you prefer the beefier graphics cards of the higher end models, go with them. You can still use your second display with it.

On a more general note, though, supporting PCI cards actually requires some things such as a minimum size and all to keep things cool. Some of us old timers remember, for example, when IBM came out with the PS/2 Model 30 which would accept IBM AT cards--except that the enclosure was too small for them to fit. Apple's PowerMac Cube was another example--you could use whatever PCI cards you wanted, except that they had to be specially designed to deal with the Cube's size. Needless to say, I think only nVidia did one.

So, in other words, you want a Mac in PC clothing.

This isn't a bad thing to want. Personally, I sort of agree with you--I'd like to see Apple do an inexpensive Core 2 Duo tower. But I recognize that my aims and Apple's don't mix.

First, I think you overestimate the market for this. The "Tech Savvy" market is nowhere near as big as we geeks tend to assume. There are far more people who will be wowed by Mac mini's small size or the iMac's stunning looks than would be interested in a "Me too" looking tower. For business who want dual-monitor support as inexpensively as possible, again, the $999 iMac rears it's head. For home users wanting to replace that virus-ridden desktop, the Mac mini and the iMac will fill their needs quite nicely. The lack of expandability isn't really hurting Apple. Macs are expandable "where it counts"--memory and hard disk space.

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