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NASA Setting Up $250,000 Mars Lander Competition

R3d M3rcury Re:Easy Peasy (44 comments)

I was thinking of the line from the summary "into orbit." They didn't say which orbit. Mars? Earth? Sun?

Step 1: Drop Atomic Bomb on Mars.
Step 2: Collect money when pieces of Mars enter into Mars orbit or Solar orbit.

I dunno if you could get a nuclear bomb to Mars for under $250,000, so I'm not sure there's a "Step 3: Profit!" here.

4 days ago

Photo Web Site Offers a Wall of Shame For Image Thieves

R3d M3rcury Re:So, copying is stealing after all? (126 comments)

I know what surprised me is the implied attribution.

So I grab a pretty picture of people eating cookies and put it on my website where I advertise my home-made cookies. We can debate whether that is theft or not.

What's surprising is that the person in question is a photographer and, therefore, it's implied that the pictures on the website advertising his photography business are pictures that he took.

Personally, that's where I have the issue. Not so much in the "stealing" of images but "stealing" the credit for those images.

5 days ago

Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

R3d M3rcury Re:Poor poor bigot (1109 comments)

Regardless of what some advocacy organization says [...]

Like The Washington Post and ABC News?

Actually, as of late, they haven't been passing. Again, you have to stay up to date. There are a bunch of legacy laws that need to be overturned, granted, but you're not seeing any new laws banning gay marriage in the last year or two--the last ban was back in 2012.

about a week ago

Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

R3d M3rcury Re:Poor poor bigot (1109 comments)

But the reality is that the majority of US residents are still somewhat negative about gay marriage.

Nope. Gotta stay up on the news...

That said, I agree with you about splitting the two. In an ideal world, that would be the way to go. Unfortunately, I could imagine a lot of people suddenly being upset that their government sanctioned "marriage" suddenly has become a government sanctioned "civil union."

about a week ago

SF Evictions Surging From Crackdown On Airbnb Rentals

R3d M3rcury Re:Adventure holiday! (319 comments)

They'll hire someone locally to tow your car out to California so that they can then impound it. :^D

Seriously, one of the great things about SF and NYC is that you don't need a car! There are plenty of transportation options. Hell, even a cab isn't too horrible in the city.

about a week ago

U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Rule On Constitutionality of Bulk Surveillance

R3d M3rcury Re:Utterly gutless (141 comments)

This is not a question over whether or not what the NSA was doing in the past violated the constitution, but that what they are doing right now violates the constitution.

The question is whether or not there is a reason that a final ruling has to be given right now.

How is what the NSA is doing affecting you right now, such that they have to stop immediately? How will a, say, 1 year delay affect you? During that year, are you likely to be deprived of your life? Liberty? A large amount of money?

No? Then it's probably worthwhile to let the system work the way it was intended.

about a week ago

Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds

R3d M3rcury Re:Phones yeah (227 comments)

My mom sure isn't going to be wrestling 00 gauge charge cables into a connector.

Years ago, they had these things called "Gas Station Attendants."

Just sayin'...

about a week ago

Most Expensive Aviation Search: $53 Million To Find Flight MH370

R3d M3rcury Re:Tracking` (233 comments)

First, I don't imagine that Malaysia Air is paying that $50,000,000. Malaysia Air is out the cost of a Boeing 777 and probably some death benefits. But I'm sure those things are insured. On the other hand, Malaysia Air would have to pay for this tracking system.

Second, I'd point out that the last big "disappearance" (i.e., nobody immediately knew where it crashed) was in 2009--five years ago. And it's not like it's that common that airplanes crash and are not found within a few days. So you're spending money on the off chance that an airplane of yours crashes somewhere difficult to find. You'll probably spend that money for 50 years before you ever take advantage of the system. So, yeah, it's not really worth it to Malaysia Air.

Third, let's say you add the trackers. You spend the money year in and year out and, eventually, it comes in handy. So what? You can look and say, "Yup! The plane just crashed in the middle of the Indian Ocean!" Now what? You're still out the plane. You're probably not going to have much for survivors on a plane that crashes in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It's not going to make a difference in your insurance premiums. You're adding costs for basically no benefit.

about two weeks ago

Illustrating the Socioeconomic Divide With iOS and Android

R3d M3rcury Re:You pick a platform based on market size. (161 comments)

You pick a platform based on market size.

It's not quite so simple, as you point out.

If you target one platform, you target PC's, unless the market for your application is graphic artists, musicians, etc., then you target Macs.

This is the important part. You don't target based on the number of devices sold--the market share--you target based on the platform that your intended audience is using. It is the rare application that will force people to forgo the newest things or switch platforms. There were plenty of DOS developers who eschewed Windows. Where are they now? There were some Mac developers who ignored Mac OS X for as long as they could as well. Eventually, they either updated or disappeared.

Also, as an aside, it can depend on what you're trying to accomplish. Take Bungie, for example, who made a name for themselves on the Mac platform before going to Windows and eventually getting bought up by Microsoft. It was a heck of a lot easier for Bungie to make a name for themselves on the Mac platform than it would have been for them to do it on the Windows platform because there's a lot more competition and it can be tough to shout over the cacophony of other developers. So if I were developing games for Xbox live, for example, I'd be looking at Windows mobile to try to make a name for myself.

I can't buy an android device and get "The Android Experience" - unless you call a balkanized chaos "The Experience".

While I agree, I'd argue that I can get "The Android Experience" from Google's Nexus line of phones. I can get a "Motorola Experience" from Motorola, a "Samsung Experience" from Samsung, etc. This is different from the PC world where everybody has the same "Windows Experience." The problem is that it leads to a commodity environment where all you can really compete on is price in a race to the bottom that nobody wins. Needless to say, Samsung and Motorola don't really want to be in a market like that.

about two weeks ago

Russian GLONASS Down For 12 Hours

R3d M3rcury Re:How does this affect dual-system chipsets? (148 comments)

True. But if you, say, double the number of satellites you're tracking, you have a better shot of being in the line-of-sight of three of them...

about two weeks ago

NASA Can't Ethically Send Astronauts On One-Way Missions To Deep Space

R3d M3rcury Re:Exploration isn't safe (402 comments)

The interesting question is did they need to be sent?

To me, exploration is about seeing what has never been seen. That can easily be done with robotic probes that have cameras and we would see what has never been seen on our screens at home. I've enjoyed the various views of Mars, Venus, Titan, and the Moon. There's not a great reason to send people out there to explore the Solar System.

However, if we want to learn about what we're seeing, I think people are a better choice than probes.

about two weeks ago

NASA Can't Ethically Send Astronauts On One-Way Missions To Deep Space

R3d M3rcury Re:robots (402 comments)

Stick to robotic missions, which are better value for money anyway.

I know that's the common belief, but is it true?

Robotic missions are cheaper. But robotic missions seem to beget more robotic missions to answer questions that the first robotic missions weren't able to answer. And so on and so on and so on.

Did we learn more about the Moon from the 6 Apollo missions that landed than we did from the 18 or so successful Soviet Lunar probes?

Let's say it would take us 20 years to prepare a Mars mission. Would it be better to spend that money and have scientists on Mars who could answer all of these questions once and for all or to spend half that money over the next 20 years shooting probes at Mars and hoping we eventually get some answers?

Robotic missions aren't necessarily better. They are, however, cheaper, and can be done faster. Keeping the national will pointed at Mars for 20 years in order to receive funding would be difficult. The amount of money to spend would be even more difficult to come up with. It is politically easier to get less money to send a probe to Mars for three years. Which is why we do it. We can try for the impossible and fail or we can try for the doable and succeed.

I'm sure there isn't one NASA Geologist who would say that robots are better than he/she is. It's just that robots are all we're willing to afford.

about two weeks ago

8.2 Earthquake Off the Coast of Chile, Tsunami Triggered

R3d M3rcury Re:How can different news sources (86 comments)

It might also be the race to get the information out.

I don't know if USGS is involved in earthquakes off the coast of Chile, but I know that the USGS refines it's numbers over time. So you might hear about a 5.0 which turns into a 5.2 and then down to a 5.1. But in our info-driven got-to-have-the-news-now-and-damn-the-accuracy culture, timeliness is more important than accuracy. We don't like to wait for data.

So instead of saying "Big Earthquake in Chile", they throw the number in. The number doesn't mean squat to most people, other than "7.7? Wow--that's pretty big."

about two weeks ago

The Connected Home's Battle of the Bulbs

R3d M3rcury Re:As one-way as X10 (176 comments)

Well, I was attempting to be somewhat humorous, as a, "You kids today are so lazy. We used to have to walk over to the TV, up hill, both ways, just to change the channel!"

But I'll give it a somewhat serious answer, because it's an entertaining point.

Growing up, we had one of those TVs. We also got our TV via an antenna on the roof. This antenna picked up two networks--ABC and CBS. It also picked up a local PBS station. That was it.

So how often did we desire to change the channel? Not often. Back in those days, if you had two 30-minute sitcoms on CBS, say, ABC might counter-program with an hour-long drama. So changing the channel would put you in the middle of something. You might as well sit and watch the other sitcom. So in the evenings, you might change the channel once an hour.

Even when we stayed at Grandma's house--she had a Community Antenna so she could get NBC--the formula was still pretty much the same. You might change it once an hour.

So, if I had to get my lazy ass off the couch to change the channel, I probably wouldn't change it very often.

That was sort of the point. You're right--I don't often desire to change the light level in my room. But part of the reason for that may be that I have to interrupt what I'm doing, get up, walk across the room, adjust the level, walk back to the couch, decide it's still a little too bright, go back over, adjust it a bit more, go back to the couch, etc.

Even the direct On/Off can be a nuisance. My TV sits at one end up of the living room. My computer on the opposite end. There's a ceiling light that sits about three-quarters of the way back from the TV. When I'm watching TV, it's nice to have that light off. When I'm using the computer, it's nice to have that light on. So do I turn the light off and back on again whenever I move from the TV to the computer? Nope. I usually just leave the light on. I've adjusted the brightness of the TV to deal with it.

Now, imagine an automated system that could optimize the lighting in the room based on what I'm doing. If I'm watching TV, it might turn down the surrounding lights so the backlight on the TV doesn't have to be so bright. Saves energy. When I get up to grab a snack, if detects this and flips on more lights. If I walk over to the computer, it will optimize for that. Heck, even forgetting the whole automation thing--just having settings for "TV", "Computer", and "Other" might save some energy right there.

about two weeks ago

How a 'Seismic Cloak' Could Slow Down an Earthquake

R3d M3rcury Re:Weaponize (101 comments)

True. But what if the building is built already? Say, a building from 20 years ago.

about two weeks ago

The Connected Home's Battle of the Bulbs

R3d M3rcury Re:As one-way as X10 (176 comments)

I can hit a switch as I enter or leave a room.

And I'll also bet you're not so lazy that you can't get up off the couch to change the channel, either.

about two weeks ago



Text Someone Who's Driving and You Could Get Sued

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  about 7 months 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 4 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 http://www.gocomics.com/thefifthwave/

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 "www.wiihaveaproblem.com" has the stories."



An Open Letter to Mike Frager

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  more than 6 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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