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How the Ancient Egyptians (Should Have) Built the Pyramids

RockDoctor Re:Use Smaller poles (202 comments)

Use lots of smaller poles and make it really roll like a cylinder.

You'd get into a law of diminishing returns in rolling resistance compared to the complexity of the modification. You could probably turn the octagonal section of the modified (cuboid) block into a dodecagonal section by using rods of two or three different diameters and lashed into (their term) "mats" before being lashed onto the block. But whether it would be as stable, is one very open question ; whether it would be as strong under cornering (which would preferentially load the thinnest rods in the "mat") as the octagonal-section / dodecahedral-enveloped system that is proposed here.

Hmmm, I'm trying to remember my crystallographic space groups. Dodecahedra are in the same space group (class) as cubes (it's the secondary axes of 3-fold rotational symmetry that matter), so by choosing the arrangement of rods in the mat you should be able to make the envelope into a true (Platonic) dodecahedron envelope. Contrary to the paper's illustration, you'd need to attach three trios of "rods" to the three pairs of faces so that the ends of the rods protrude over the faces of the (cubic) core. And you'd need two different lengths of rods, to round off the corners. And I'm falling into exactly the same "diminishing returns" trap that I'm pointing out under your feet.

There's some interesting geometry there. And since I'm sharing an office with a lifting-slinging-hoisting-crane operations instructor, I think I'll shove that paper under his nose because he likes fiddling with scraps of rope (a "marlinspike seaman" as they were called in my youth), and I think he'll be interested.

It's an interesting idea. But it does clearly contradict the evidence of the contemporary records, which is a BIG strike against it being true.

yesterday
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13-Year-Old Finds Fungus Deadly To AIDS Patients Growing On Trees

RockDoctor Re: Nature is fighting against gays... (134 comments)

Substituting EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) for HIV/ SIV, and bats for primates ... and you've got a good description of the probable source mechanism of the current Ebola outbreaks in West and Central Africa.

Incidentally, "improper animal handling procedures resulting in blood-to-blood contact" may include chopping up an infected animal for dinner (as most people envisage it), or digging bits of splattered bat out of the radiator of your car or from your clothing after the bat has become road kill. Which is certainly what worries us and our medical advisers as we travel near to infected areas.

3 days ago
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The Evolution of Diet

RockDoctor Re:Average lifespan is misleading (281 comments)

We tend to make the assumption that an average lifespan of 30 means that nobody lives past 35 years old

We who? I doubt anyone thinks that.

To misquote someone, nobody ever lost money by underestimating the statistical ineptitude of the common man. Or something like that.

I wish it were true that nobody really thought that poorly. But I am realistic enough to recognise that there are significant numbers of people who really are that ignorant and incapable of basic maths.

3 days ago
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Dropbox Caught Between Warring Giants Amazon and Google

RockDoctor Or stay offline. (273 comments)

But that might be the only thing keeping us from choosing between the Wal-Mart-A and Wal-Mart-B of online storage.

I carry 2x1TB drives around with me, and synchronise between them. No online storage for me.

Then again, with 1MBPS of public network link shared between 180 people, no online storage for anyone on this job either.

3 days ago
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Numerous Methane Leaks Found On Atlantic Sea Floor

RockDoctor Re:Global Warming? (273 comments)

We're dumping centuries worth of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.

Looking back into the rock record (I used to use the rocks associated with this event as steering information to earn my bread and butter ; I work in a different part of the world this year), we've released as much CO2 in under 2 centuries as the PETM (Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum) took around 6 millennia to release. Dull, boring fact - like I said, my bread and butter for over a decade.

(look at the "clathrate gun hypothesis" for an example of what could happen).

s/clathrate gun hypothesis/PETM/ (or the interface between Forties / Andrew Sand Formation and the overlying Sele and Baldur Formations (spellings vary between countries and companies).

s/could/did/

Dull boring facts, again.

Global warming deniers can bullshit all they want. Here in the oil industry we've no doubt what is happening. If our managers (not being geologists) want to lie about geology (or pay shills to lie for them), that's politics, not geology.

I suppose I'd better go and drill my hole in the ground now.

3 days ago
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Mangalyaan Gets Ready To Enter Mars Orbit

RockDoctor Re:It's only ahead of Siding Spring by a month (67 comments)

Will it have time/fuel to "duck and cover" by getting to the far side of the planet before the close approach of the comet and the potential of a cometary dust storm that could wreck it?

While this is a non-zero probability event, it is a low probability event. I doubt that the mission planners are particularly worried about it.

Maybe if there's a mission-compatible way of sequencing things that will reduce this low probability even further, at little cost (which is what Hubble did during a predicted Leonid meteor shower ; but the Hubble Deep Field South was already planned, and the only real change was when the exposures were scheduled. Which by coincidence pointed the HST away from the radiant of the meteor shower.)

Incidentally I note that the mission is being monitored by the Indian Deep Space Network. Which either operates for a few hours a day (per mission, depending on direction to the spacecraft), or indicates that India has done some significant multi-national diplomacy to get their ground stations into a number of countries.

LMGTFY. There's a Wiki page that says it's one site near Bangalore. And that mentions the use of steerable antennae to " improve[s] the visibility duration". But this site says there are a number of other tracking sites. "ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) [...] has a network of ground stations at Bangalore, Lucknow, Sriharikota, Port Blair and Thiruvananthapuram in India besides stations at Mauritius, Bearslake (Russia), Brunei and Biak (Indonesia). " So, maybe several different organisations, with overlapping missions and facilities. Like Topsy, it's probably something that "just growed".

3 days ago
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Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?

RockDoctor Re:Things (191 comments)

A short-wave transciever could come in mighty handy should disaster come.

Several people each having working and mutually compatible transceivers would be much more useful. So you need to have been, in practice, drilling with your local emergency services professionals to ensure that you know how to contact them, what to report and how to triage ... in short, you need to spend considerable time practising these things.

Which is why, on the vessel I'm working on today, we spend about an hour a week on safety drills involving the whole crew (on-shift and those nominally asleep ; nobody sleeps through those alarms). An hour a week ; 52 hours a year, or 6 and a half working days a year. That's the sort of commitment you need to make to be significantly useful. For a less focussed "how to be effective in a major emergency" level of preparation, you'd probably still need to devote a full weekend a year. Which is do-able ; but it's a lot more than having some particular piece of equipment and then not really knowing how to effectively use it when the shit hits the fan.

3 days ago
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Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

RockDoctor Re: Dobsonian (185 comments)

If you're going to be strict about getting the absolute best out of the budget, then spending more than a trivial sum on optics is a complete waste for most potential astronomers, regardless of age. Most of the budget will need to go on getting away from light pollution.

you could argue that is only some 50% of the target audience, but it's still 50% who you're going to need to ship dozens or hundreds of km to decent skies.

Alternatively, allocate 20 or 30% of the budget to dark sky advocacy work. You could even use a "reduce waste" slogan like "why pay to light up the bottom of the clouds?" Which raises another point, always a bugbear of astronomy, the weather.

3 days ago
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Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

RockDoctor Re:Dobsonian (185 comments)

not bore them to death trying all night to set up their mounts.

It took me about 15 minutes to polar align my first ever telescope, on it's first night after delivery. It's not rocket science, and it's not as difficult as you seem to think.

I will admit that the manual was pretty decent on this point, and I'm the sort of person who Rs T F-ing M before unpacking anything else. which isn't a normal 11-year-old's natural trait. But so what? On the first night, you set up the scope and get them hooked. First night is for seeing sights. If that works, then there will be other nights for them to learn the hobby. If the first night doesn't show enough goodies, then there won't be a second night.

4 days ago
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BBC and FACT Shut Down Doctor Who Fansite

RockDoctor Re:So much for fair use (186 comments)

Maybe so, but even under the US Fair Use doctrine

Irrelevant. The BBC is not governed by American law. (Hint : look at what the first "B" stands for.)

4 days ago
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Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

RockDoctor Re:Cheap grid storage (442 comments)

Reported reserve growth is common. Changes in prices (and extraction technologies) alter the economic cut-off at which a deposit becomes an economically-exploitable reserve.

Actual growth of a reserve is much much rarer and much slower. It takes millions of years to cook a source rock and generate hydrocarbons ; it takes more millions of years for the hydrocarbons to migrate from source into a reservoir. Most ore deposits also take extended periods of time to form, with consequent slow absolute production rates.

When oil prices were rising (a joyful period - it's around 10 times the price now compared to when I entered the industry), there was a bunch of economists who'd make a lot of ill-informed comments about how the rising prices meant there was literally (not figuratively) an infinite supply of oil available. Which goes to show how delusional some economics professors can be. Some of these people really do need to go out and take a hammer to a lump of granite for an afternoon - it's both educational and therapeutic.

5 days ago
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Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

RockDoctor Re:Cheap grid storage (442 comments)

I read that too. As a geologist, I take such predictions with a considerable pinch of halite. I know how unsure such predictions are - it's my job to make such estimates.

You may remember some kerfuffle a few years back with several oil companies admitting to 30 to 50% decreases in their predictions of production and reserves? Within the industry, that was viewed as a perfectly reasonable admission of the inherent uncertainties of the original predictions.

I honestly doubt that other extractive industries will have better resource estimates. Particularly when you get into Rumsfeldian known-knowns, unknown-knowns and unknown-unknowns. Which is where a lot of reserve and resource predictions lay.

5 days ago
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Cause of Global Warming 'Hiatus' Found Deep In the Atlantic

RockDoctor Re: Washington DC think tanks (443 comments)

agenda is to shift money to untaxable locations and hide it (I thought that was EVERYONE's agenda),

If that's really your attitude then you must be some sort of right-wing tax-avoiding nut job.

American? That would explain it!

about a week ago
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Scientists Baffled By Unknown Source of Ozone-Depleting Chemical

RockDoctor Re:Check your local fracking mixture (303 comments)

In addition to being illegal, [in-]effective[,] not soluble is water, and would not make hydrocarbons more mobile or more soluble. It would however, readily dissolve in hydrocarbon fluids, where it would be difficult and expensive to separate.

These are valid general objections. I'll add a genuine question from someone with 30 years experience in drilling oil wells - what the fuck would you expect it to do?

The only time I've seen carbon tetrachloride used on an oil rig (with the possible exception of in HVAC systems, which I just use but don't have to maintain or care about their details, and which might contain CCL4) is as a laboratory reagent for separating different densities of liquid hydrocarbons. Which is something you don't really need to do at the rig site (why would you want 10 different tankers or pipelines when you can just run one to the storage farm and on to the refinery after blending). Separating gaseous and liquid hydrocarbons is routinely done (strangely, in the so-called "separator" ; doh!), but just using simple physical properties ; separating out solids ("waxes") is also needed in some low-temperature fields to prevent "waxes" accumulating in pipes, tanks, etc. But again, you don't need CCl4 for that either.

I can't think of a reason to use anything more than traces of CCl4 on a drilling rig. Even for the lab uses we've replaced it with propan-2-ol or acetone.

about a week ago
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Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

RockDoctor Re:Cheap grid storage (442 comments)

about half a day of average power consumption in used battery storage. So, while we probably don't need that much storage it may be considered so inexpensive that we'll use it all.

Is there enough lithium in the world for that?

No, seriously? Is there enough lithium at a high enough concentration in ore minerals (e.g. spodumene, or other primary lithium sources), to make that quantity of batteries? Or would you need to depend on more esoteric accumulator cell chemistries such as the magnesium-based ones promised for the last decade or so?

about a week ago
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Financial Services Group WCS Sues Online Forum Over Negative Post

RockDoctor Re:Too many damn immigrants (112 comments)

That would be ... the French invading the British province of Canada with assistance from some bunch of ex-convicts in 13 colonies on the east coast of the southern part of the continent?

How did that turn out? Did you get that house painted white again?

White man's immigration to America - and their genocides of the inhabitants - started well over 3 centuries ago, in large part as a colony for transportation of criminals and other undesirables. By two centuries ago the hecatomb of the native inhabitants was well under way using germs, steel and guns in approximately that order of importance. Though that's not the origin myth that your educational machines in Hollywood put out.

about a week ago
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No, a Huge Asteroid Is Not "Set To Wipe Out Life On Earth In 2880"

RockDoctor Re:Actually... (123 comments)

A bunch of relays (or pneumatic or hydraulic values for that matter) is not self-concious, and no amount of them however interconnected will become conscious, self-aware, or have feelings.

There's no reason to believe that's true.

Yet he states it as if true with the unshaking certainty that is normally associated with the raving lunatic (who has stopped taking their prescription drugs) or the religious. not that there is much perceivable difference between the tow groups.

I'm hoping my lunatic friend stops taking his medications again. When he's rational and dosed-up we both want to use his deranged ravings to found a religion and make us lots of money. Worked for Hubbard ; worked for Joe Random Swami ; worked for Sun Yun Moon ; worked for Moses ; no reason it shouldn't work for us too. You can sell the same claptrap repeatedly. just keep your sucker lists from one religion to the next.

about a week ago
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Kevlar Protects Cables From Sharks, Experts Look For Protection From Shark Week

RockDoctor Re:The Discovery channel? (103 comments)

Now it's ancient alien swamp logging transgender pawn shop owners.

FTFY

about two weeks ago
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Murder Suspect Asked Siri Where To Hide a Dead Body

RockDoctor Re:No matter where it is ... (160 comments)

In fact it's looking very like the Apple connection is solely intended as a viral marketing stunt. Apple vendors are piggybacking a mundane murder trial with their astroturf in order to sell more iPhones.

So, let me get this right. This story (fabrication, whatever) implies that Apple users are so fucking retarded as to do something like this, and that Apple VENDORS are using this demonstration of the retardedness of Apple USERS to sell more Apple stuff to those same Apple USERS.

Now, I've never liked Apple stuff after owning one for a couple of years. But I know that the guy who sold that Apple iWhatever to me (at a good price ; trying for a conversion!) wasn't a retard - I still work with him. So I think this story probably reflects worst on Apple salesmen. I could believe it of them.

about two weeks ago
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Entire South Korean Space Programme Shuts Down As Sole Astronaut Quits

RockDoctor Tough thing to do. (186 comments)

To go against the wishes of your management in Korean culture is one tough thing to do. That lady has got (metaphorical) balls. More so than the large majority of the Koreans I've worked with (in Korea).

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Micro$loth to sack 18,000 workers

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a month and a half ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "The Grauniad is reporting that Micro$loth are planning to sack 18,000 people in the near future. I'm sure that'll make them feel better. The sacked people, of course ; it'll be devastating to the managers who hand out the redundancy notices."
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International game tournaments segregated by sex/ gender.

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about 2 months ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "The Grauniad is reporting that a finnish heat of an international gaming competition is being segregated into male and female branches in accordance to international rules.

The International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) want "eSports" to be recognised as equivalent to physical sports. And that, it seems, requires that competitors be segregated on grounds of sex. Which may be appropriate for pole vaulters, but not necessarily appropriate for ePole vaulters. This leaves the organisers of national heats of eSports in a rather invidious position of having (in this case) a tournament only open to "Finnish male players."

So, support gender equality, or support the recognition of electronic sports as having the same status as kicking balls around? Pick one."
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French Railways order the wrong size of train.

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about 3 months ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "The BBC are reporting that SNCF, the French national railway system, has ordered several thousand new complete trains, but then discovered that they are

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-27497727

to fit into many railway stations.

For reasons that are not explained, the railway owning company (RFF) had to measure the sizes of it's platforms to find out what size they were (which begs the question of, why didn't they know the sizes of their stations already?), then tell the train operating company (SNCF) what size trains to buy. But RFF only measured the sizes of stations built in the last 30 years, and since discovered that stations built previously were noticeably different, and the new trains wouldn't fit into older stations.

At least they were both using metres, not cubits versus roods.

[The French] Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier blamed an "absurd rail system" for the problems.
"When you separate the rail operator from the train company," he said, "this is what happens."

The last quote is ominous for the Britons who pay for the BBC, as our railway system is similarly divided up between track-owning companies (many) and train-operating companies (also many), thanks to the the Maggon and her cronies."
Link to Original Source

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Pentagon : scope of intelligence compromised by Snowden 'staggering'

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about 3 months ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "The Grauniad are reporting that a Freedom of Information Act request has revealed a report (or 12 pages of a 37-page report, the remainder censored) that

“the scope of the compromised knowledge related to US intelligence capabilities is staggering”

Well isn't that just terribly sad for them. My heart bleeds. Ed Snowden, if we ever meet, the first beer is my shout."
Link to Original Source

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A new class of plastics : recyclable thermosetting polymers.

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about 3 months ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "Plastics which form by chemical reactions in the presence of heat are very useful. They can be very strong, and if you incorporate appropriate "filler" materials (chalk, glass fibre, carbon fibre), they can have very attractive engineering properties. But .. that chemical reaction makes them very difficult to recycle, because the new chemical formed during the reaction will often char before it melts. We're not talking about thermo-plastic polymers here (e.g. nylon, polypropylene, PET), but thermo-setting ones including epoxies, phenol-formaldehyde resins, etc.

But no more : an international team have discovered a new class of polymer-forming reactions that produce a thermo-setting polymer, but they can recover the initial components by digesting the polymer with moderately strong acid (pH 2 ; I'd wear gloves. And glasses.), so after a component is used and obsolete, or broken, it can be separated reasonably easily into it's original components (including valuable reinforcing materials, such as carbon fibre) and these then re-used. That is a pretty big step forward."

Link to Original Source
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First diver dies in S.Korea ferry recovery efforts.

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about 4 months ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "The BBC are reporting that the Korean ferry disaster has claimed it's latest victim, a civilian diver engaged in body-recovery efforts.

Five minutes after commencing a dive to about 25m, diver Lee lost communication with other divers. His body was later recovered to the surface.

This is unlikely to be the final death. Last week another diver lost consciousness underwater, which is an extraordinarily bad situation. He had dived four times previously that morning. Several others have been treated with at a hyperbaric oxygen recompression facility after decompression events.

The initial search of the vessel is nearly completed, but the entire ship is to be re-searched. 40 bodies are still missing."
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Data security on the Internet of things - digestible version

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about 6 months ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "While it has been discussed on Slashdot before, the questions around data security on the "Internet of Things" may seem a little dry to many people.

The excellent webcomic 'Freefall' (by Mark Stanley) addresses some of these concerns in typical "Ha ha. But serious." manner. While the original Internet-controlled coffee machine might not seem so threatening, when it becomes a voice-controlled coffee pot, linked to your grocery account ... all of a sudden it doesn't seem so innocuous."
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Bitcoin plummets after Chinese block 3rd-party payment processors

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about 8 months ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "In order to use Bitcoin in the real world, you need to convert it into a convertible currency (Kroner, or Rupees, or Yuan, or even USD), a task that is undertaken by "third-party payment provider[s]."

Earlier this month, China's central bank warned that Bitcoin was "not legally protected," had no "real meaning", and barred financial institutions from using the currency. That ban was extended to 3rd-party providers on Tuesday (though with a deadline of Jan 31st / Chinese New Year), and last night 3rd-party provider YeePay complied with the ban. In consequence the Chinese Bitcoin exchange BTC China announced that they could not accept deposits in yuan ; overnight, the exchange's value for Bitcoin has fallen to half it's earlier values.

All the theorising about the value of Bitcoin in opening up a new economy is moot if users can't either put money into the currency, or exchange the currency for one that they can use in the Real World."

Link to Original Source
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The Empire of Evil develop technology ... without (obvious) evil intent.

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about 9 months ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "In a move designed by a PR genius, a conspiracy team of crack Iranian hardware hackers are developing a ground-steered drone for marine Search and Rescue work. Development plans include fully automating the flying and search-and-track capabilities. This will no doubt be followed up by a beefed-up version capable of dropping a "dirty nuke" in Central Park New York.

In deference to the expressed stereotypes of Slashdot, it is also impossible that these persons of the "brown" and "Muslim" persuasions to have developed this technology on their own, and must have stolen it from someone in the rest of the world."
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Falling GOCE satellite seen from Falkland islands.

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about 9 months ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "The GOCE satellite was expected to fall out of the sky at the weekend, and orbital calculations before it last disappeared from the view of ground stations suggested that it came down in the South Atlantic.

The BBC post pictures from a Falkland Islands resident (Las Islas Malvinas if you're in Latin America) who saw a large, fragmenting fireball travelling in the right direction at the right time. Video is available. You'll need to travel to their home near Volunteer Point to view it. If you happen to have a satellite base station in your back pocket, they might be interested in borrowing it to be able to upload the video recordings. Don't bother to take a mobile phone.

Oh, nice tombolos along that waterfront."
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"Light Caber" to be replaced.

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "In news not coming to you from the Star Trek universe, the so-called "light caber" is to be replaced. How this will impact future aspirant Jedi Knights is unclear, as they will have to manufacture new designs. Members of the Jedi Knight community who are experienced tossers may be little affected."
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Google 'Glass' to be banned while driving

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  1 year,29 days

RockDoctor (15477) writes ""Stuff" magazine, a "gadget" oriented mag, is reporting that the UK's Department for Transport is planning to ban drivers from using Google "Glass", using the same law (1988 Road Traffic Act) that is used to ban drivers from using hand-held mobile phones.

While there are obvious parallels between the distraction potential of the mobile phone and of "Glass", there are arguments in the other direction that the speech-control aspects of "Glass" could make it less distracting than, say, a touch-screen SatNav. So, to ban "Glass" driving or not?

Typical fines for using a mobile phone while driving are £60 cash plus three penalty points on the driving license ; the points expire 3 years after the offence and if you accumulate 12 points then you've lost your license. Repeat offenders may experience higher fines and/ or more points. Around a million people have received the penalty since the mobile phone ban was introduced in 2003."

Link to Original Source
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Cyclist pleads guilty to manslaughter of pedestrian.

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "The Grauniad is reporting that a San Francisco cyclist has pleaded guilty to a charge of "vehicular manslaughter" over a collision which killed a 71-year-old pedestrian.

Seemingly, the cyclist had run three successive red lights before finding himself "unable to stop" and ploughing into multiple pedestrians at a junction. "Unable to stop" plainly translates to "driving too fast" in this case.

Running multiple red lights, as the cyclist seems to have accepted by the plea bargain, is a mark of reckless irresponsibility on behalf of the cyclist, as is his admittedly excessive speed. Cyclists have obligations towards pedestrian safety in the same way that motor vehicle drivers have too."

Link to Original Source
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Wood-powered USB re-charger

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "Out camping, and your smart phone has a flat battery, so you can't turn it on to discover that you haven't got a signal to call up a weather report to find out if it's raining or not? Well now you don't just have the option of opening your eyes and looking at the skies (hint :the big, round wet things are "raindrops" — Wikipedia may have a better description) ; now you can also feed some random bits of plants — twigs, cones — into a little camping stove, and while you're making a cup of $BEVERAGE$ the stove will produce enough electricity to recharge your power-hungry technology.

OK, I'm being a touch sarcastic about using it for a mobile phone. But as someone who likes week-long trips into the mountains, with camera batteries to re-charge, and GPS loggers to re-charge, and tablet computers which I use to record my geological notes also needing re-charge ... this is a technology that I may well be experimenting with. It's not without criticisms, valid ones, but it does have interesting potential. I'm sure the compounded wilderness experience of the techno-nerds of Slashdot can work out some criticisms of the idea.

In a sideline, it comments on the (in-)efficiency of thermoelectric electricity generation : for a stove peak power of 5.5kW, it can produce up to 4W of electrical power, for an efficiency of 0.072% (tech specs here). Hmmm, maybe photovoltaics on the lid of my rucksac would be better?"
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BBC gives up on 3-D programming.

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "After spending several years on supporting the uptake of 3-D TV, the BBC has accepted that people don't want it, and are turning off their 3-D channels following an uptake of under 5% of households with 3-D equipment.

I can just feel the joy at not having wasted my money on this technology."

Link to Original Source
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Will Alibaba have a bigger IPO than Facebook?

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "The BBC are speculating that the impending IPO of Chinese mega-B2B company Alibaba may have an IPO value larger than that of Facebook. Since Alibaba primarily put the manufacturers of physical goods into contact with the customers of physical goods, does this remind you that the world does exist outside of the Interwebz?"
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Retail 3-d Printers becoming available in the UK

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "Well-known retail electronics/ gadgetry company Maplin are advertising the availability soon of retail build-it-yourself 3-d printer kits from German (I think) supplier Velleman. While this is quite expensive (£700), it's specs also include a fairly large build volume (20x20x20 cm).

While Maplin have never been cheap, they are one of the few places in the UK these days where you can get electronics parts on the "High Street" (more or less — dozens if not a hundred stores ; for electronics what Jessops used to be for cameras) without having a business credit card and a £1000/month minimum account spend.

So, if they're dipping a toe onto the 3-d printing bandwagon, then it's a good chance that widespread adoption is not far behind."
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XCom : Enemy Unknown (iOS) edition to be premium-priced

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "BBC News are reporting that 2K Games will be marketing the iOS (iPhone and/ or iPad? I'm not an Apple-core.) at the relatively high price of £13.99 (20€ / $US17.99) compared to a more typical game price of £5.99 (etc. etc.). They discuss how effective this "premium-price" model will be, compared to the alternative "pile'em high and sell 'em cheap" model or the "give away the game and charge for buying a BFG9000" model.

Seems to me about the same price that I paid for the original game in ~1994, and I still enjoy playing that. Guess that makes me an economic dead end to the company though."
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US College students raise money for sex-change

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year and a half ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "In a small and unusual outbreak of peculiarity, Yahoo is carrying news of an American college "fraternity" (approximately, a single-gender house owned by a student group, providing communal accommodation at universities that don't have student accommodation) which has raised thousands of dollars to pay for the gender re-assignment surgery of one of their first-year members.

According to the story, "Donnie Collins, 20, a sophomore at Emerson College in Boston, was born female but has been living as a male since he was 17..." and had joined a male fraternity (females go to a "sorority" ; it's Latin, live with it), but his health insurance (American for "citizen's medical service", approximately) wouldn't pay for the surgery to remove his breasts. So, the men in his accommodation grouped together to raise the money for the surgery.

Yahoo's editors (or Reuters, the source of the story) are obviously puzzled about the motivation of the fraternity men. But it seems obvious to me : the severed breasts are going to be mummified and nailed to the wall of the living room. Once the "girl" has gone."

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Road tunnel "cheesed off"

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year and a half ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "Life can be hard for roads and road tunnels : mountains press down on your shoulders, snow and ice dust your feet, and deisel and petrol fumes choke your lungs. But occasionally you can get really cheesed off. "the Brattli Tunnel at Tysfjord, northern Norway" has been closed and badly damaged by a fire on a lorry load of cheese. Which is moderately scarey and not terribly funny when you remember that a few years ago one of the trans-Alpine tunnels was closed by a similar lorry fire with several deaths and the tunnel closed for repairs for months.

On the other hand — the Mythbusters have tried building salami-powered rockets in the past, and may have a new material to evaluate."

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Journals

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So, new toys. "Acheivements" and encouragement to contribute

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Well, pouring a little (more) petrol onto the fire of burning the religious seems to have garnered me another fan, one "thats1fuzzybug99" has increased my "Friend" count by almost 6%.
That would be wonderful. If I knew what it meant.
I wonder who some of the other 94-odd% are. Hopefully some are very odd!

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Politics and moderation.

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Doing some moderation and getting extremely pissed off by the endless maundering of (presumed) Americans about some internal political matters. Someone called Kerry Dubyah is contesting with someone called John Bush for the leadership of some body called POTUS (sometimes a related position called FLATUS is also brought into the "debate" to confuse matters. this post seems to be related to the gigolos/ babotchkas that the contestants use/ are used by. I think.)
I'm wishing for a moderating flag like "Parochial Politics" that would come at a level like "-99", so that such comments could be killed off at source, leaving the interesting (to nerds - this is "News for Nerds, stuff that matters" after all) stuff like the trolling, the flamebaits and the actual technical stuff where people can find it without wading through the dross. Might be able to get rid of the Iraq dross through the same method.

But how to put this forward to the "system" as a proposal? Still can't find a place to post such suggestions/ requests.

The idea is not /quite/ comparable to moderation though - things can move up and down a scale in the moderating system, but I envisage this as being more like a permanent flag. Sort of like the "green beard" method described by W.D.Hamilton.

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