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Software Error Caused Soyuz/Galileo Failure

R3d M3rcury How many people... (68 comments)

How many people are going to be killed by C++ in the next decade?


I always find the "how many people will be killed" / "how many people have to die before" statements can be answered with this number.

3 hours ago

The Tech Fixes the PS3 Still Needs, Eight Years On

R3d M3rcury Re:Wet Dream (99 comments)

...or a customer who, say, buys a brand new PS3 from Sony's online store..

No, they're not suggesting that Sony upgrade everyone's WiFi for free. They are saying that if you buy a new PS3, it would be great if it came with support for more modern WiFi implementations.

5 days ago

NASA's Space Launch System Searches For a Mission

R3d M3rcury Re:Field of Dreams (53 comments)

I have some friends working on the Lunar X Prize []. Their lander is the size of a carton of cigarettes, and weighs less than a kilogram.

And what does it do? Drive 500 meters and send back high-def video? Does it have a spectrometer like Spirit and Opportunity? How about a soil mechanics testing unit like Lunakhod 2?

That's the problem, see. Real scientists like to try to figure stuff out and they need complicated instruments to do that--more than a high-def camera at least.

about a week ago

The 2014 Hugo Awards

R3d M3rcury Re:Informative winners list (180 comments)

True. But what if the object that they're connected to is moving? What's to say that ISS wasn't rotating in such a way as to create force?

Now ISS has various gyroscopes and thrusters to keep it oriented. However, it appears that many of the ISS systems were turned off and/or damaged, which means that those thrusters or gyroscopes may not have been working. So ISS may have also had some spin to it, considering that it and the Soyuz had been hit by debris.

So it's quite possible that ISS was rotating or spinning in some manner. While the ropes stopped their momentum, they were still taut afterwards so that implies that there was some force acting on them.

about a week ago

Smartphone Kill Switch, Consumer Boon Or Way For Government To Brick Your Phone?

R3d M3rcury Re:I wonder ... (298 comments)

As I understand it, the answer is "Yes."

What they're going for is to make the device useless. They can already make the phone unable to use particular towers or the whole network--essentially turning your iPhone into an iPod touch. But as I understand it--and I may be wrong--the idea of bricking the phone is that it will essentially make everything on the phone inaccessible.

about a week ago

Smartphone Kill Switch, Consumer Boon Or Way For Government To Brick Your Phone?

R3d M3rcury Re:Bricking or Tracking? (298 comments)

Again, they can do this now. Turn off the cell tower. Doink, problem solved. They can also generate a list of their IMEI devices so that only those devices will work.

about a week ago

Smartphone Kill Switch, Consumer Boon Or Way For Government To Brick Your Phone?

R3d M3rcury Re:Why such paranoia ? (298 comments)

In 2014 all a gov with a tame telco has to do is find your phone trying to upload. The unique video never gets out anymore. The citizen journalist is swept up and phone lost.

Okay, fair enough, I'll play into your fantasy.

Now, what's stopping the eeeevil people from doing that now? All they'd have to do is have software that says IMEI 07 345927 087947 7 can't talk to this cell tower. They can do that now. Your phone's IMEI number is the same, even if you switch SIMs, so that's no help.

about a week ago

Smartphone Kill Switch, Consumer Boon Or Way For Government To Brick Your Phone?

R3d M3rcury Re:Why such paranoia ? (298 comments)

They would, however, be able to keep the story about what's happening in Ferguson, MO (for example) from ever trending on Twitter, simply by killing every phone talking to a particular tower.

Or by shutting down the tower or by saying, "Phone number (whatever) cannot communicate with this tower."

And yet, somehow they haven't done this.

about a week ago

How Argonne National Lab Will Make Electric Cars Cheaper

R3d M3rcury Re:Fire (143 comments)

...which is why we put them in self-driving cars that communicate with each other to avoid accidents.

about a week ago

Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

R3d M3rcury Re:god dammit. (518 comments)

All birds are not equal. birdist!

about a week ago

Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

R3d M3rcury Re: Inconvenient truth? (518 comments)

It might be a better idea to halt construction and design a way to lessen the impact on birds than to continue construction and then have to retro-fit some sort of bird-scaring device onto it.

This is a pilot project, after all.

about a week ago

Wheel Damage Adding Up Quickly For Mars Rover Curiosity

R3d M3rcury Re:Just change the wheels (162 comments)

The problem is that landing isn't that precise. You could end up miles away from Curiosity. Then the wheel fixing robot has to drive across the same surface that damaged Curiosity's wheels, which will break the wheel fixing robot's wheels. Who fixes that?

about a week ago

If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

R3d M3rcury Re:Who needs oil? (305 comments)

It would also destroy the value of the dollar, which is boosted by OPEC.

about two weeks ago

Delays For SC Nuclear Plant Put Pressure On the Industry

R3d M3rcury Re:Just red tape? (142 comments)

The health effects of coal power plant emissions are so horrible (50,000 deaths a year in the U.S., more in China)

No, you're thinking of second-hand smoke.

about two weeks ago

Of the following, I'd rather play ...

R3d M3rcury Re:No Games I want to play. (274 comments)

Yeah. Of the list, I picked Blackjack, but I'd prefer backgammon.

about two weeks ago

Kevlar Protects Cables From Sharks, Experts Look For Protection From Shark Week

R3d M3rcury Re:The Discovery channel? (103 comments)

No that's TLC.

about two weeks ago

Apple's App Store Needs a Radical Revamp; How Would You Go About It?

R3d M3rcury Re:Two things.... (249 comments)

Actually, I would adjust this slightly.

First, as Apple, I would take a weed whacker to the store and remove huge swaths of duplicate applications. I'd pick three to five apps for a particular category, based on the product and the developers' fealty to Apple. Apple doesn't want developers just dumping applications. Apple wants their customers to have a support mechanism for apps, they want the developers to quickly support iOS updates, etc. So the idea is that having your iOS App in Apple's App Store is a badge of honor for all of the various Apple users out there. Apple will also assist with marketing.

What about everything else?

Second, introduce side-loading. Apple might think your app sucks, but you believe in it. So you can sign a deal with a different non-Apple-labeled store. Or you can distribute it yourself. You'd still have to sign the application with a certificate from Apple creating, in theory, a paper trail if something goes wrong. Users might also get the appropriate warnings ("You're running an app from the Internet that could trash your phone, eat your children, and destroy the universe. Are you really really sure you want to do something so dangerous?") to try to...uh..."warn" them of the potential issues.

So, yes, you can sell your strip poker game, fart box, smuggle illegal immigrants game, or whatever App you see fit. Apple gets it's $99 from the developer for appropriate certificates but Apple doesn't get any of the action from sales.

about two weeks ago



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

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  about 4 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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