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Analysis Suggests Solar System Contains Massive Trans-Neptunian Objects

RockDoctor Re:New System: Kuiper Planets (170 comments)

There is a general dispute in taxonomy between "lumpers" and splitters" - people who say "this, this and this share these characteristics, and so I lump them together in one taxon" versus those who say "this, this and this differ in these characteristics, and so I split them into these taxa".

You're evidently a splitter. No disrespect about that - it's a defensible position (see above). But being a lumper is also a defensible position (see above).

The important things that you need for designing a taxonomy are to know what questions you want your taxonomy to address - if you're wanting answers to questions of surface gravity, then a taxonomy based on colour is unlikely to be helpful, for example.

Our current taxonomy for planets is based on the observational status of the planets in respect of their neighbours - the "cleared orbital region" criterion. In principle, that is an addressable question - observe the skies, plot the orbiting bodies down to a few percent of the size of the planets of interest, question answered.

Where things are getting confused is that many people project questions of the origin of the planets onto the orbital classification. Which may not be the most logical thing to do, when looked at in the context above. The two questions are not strictly related : Earth, Venus, Uranus and Pluto all appear to have suffered a giant impact in the late stage of their construction, but Pluto does not currently have a cleared orbit to make it a "planet" under the orbital classification. So our believed-to-be-correct models of origin processes do not (necessarily) align with current orbital status. But you can see from the length of my qualifications above that one taxonomy split is based on fairly long chains of cause and implication, and the other on simple Newtonian mechanics. So I can understand why the IAU decided to go with the relatively simple present-day orbital status criterion.

If I were to design a planet taxonomy, I'd use a criterion of sphericity (is the shape within X% of being a simple spheroid) to divide planets from "minor planets" (you can look at it as the interplay of material strength versus object mass, if you like), and at the upper boundary the presence of fusion (separating planets from stars, with a fudge area to deal with brown dwarfs). But that criterion shows my interest in body materials (I'm a geologist by trade), which differs from the interests of astronomers in general.

about a week ago
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Why We Have To Kiss Off Big Carbon Now

RockDoctor Re:time to buy futures, now. (441 comments)

Just until the Saudis decide they've screwed the Iranians enough and cut their production again.

Iran isn't the target. They're in the same game as the Saudis.

The aim of this slump is to bankrupt the fracking industry. Once that has been done, production will be throttled back to bring the prices back up, but not to levels that would allow fracking to resume.

about a week ago
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Authors Alarmed As Oxford Junior Dictionary Drops Nature Words

RockDoctor Re:"cut and paste"? (174 comments)

but today nobody does that any more.

Not true.

Some times it really is quicker to do the job in an analogue way than to figure out a way to do it electronically with what tools are available. Or, which tools are allowable according to a site's IT policies ; if I'm forbidden to use "portable" apps by the IT department on a particular job, then it doesn't matter if I've got an appropriate DTP or CAD or drawing application on a memory stick. Those sites are also likely to be the ones that take 3 weeks to process an application to have an application installed.

Cut, paste, and dot over the edges with correcting fluid still works just as well, and can be effective. A couple of tips : if you have the opportunity, do your compositing at double-size if you can, then in the final copy down to correct scale your errors will halve ; if you have reasonably heavy paper, tearing rather than cutting will produce a more feathered edge that shows up less.

about two weeks ago
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Obama Planning New Rules For Oil and Gas Industry's Methane Emissions

RockDoctor Re:This makes sense nomatter your politik (202 comments)

trust me here, methane aint nothin to fuck with. tightening up leaks is inarguably a good thing.

This is true for far more direct reasons than greenhouse gas considerations (valid though those concerns are). Methane is a readily flammable gas. The oil industry has been paying most of my pay check for thirty-ish years for gas detection and analysis both for exploration reasons ("what have we got down there?") and safety reasons, in more or less equal measure.

The fact that you can sell it too is another, non-trivial incentive to keeping your wells, well heads pipeline etc in good condition.

There shouldn't be a need for regulation in this area : industry best practice and existing regulations about worker safety (there are laws against killing your workers) and environmental safety (there are laws against killing your neighbours and passers-by) ought to be sufficient. I smell politicians in "the public are looking, look busy!" mode.

about two weeks ago
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Obama Planning New Rules For Oil and Gas Industry's Methane Emissions

RockDoctor Just name him, why don'tcha? (202 comments)

according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the administration had asked the person not to speak about the plan.

The number of people so instructed is unlikely to be in the thousands ; probably only in the dozens. So by releasing this information in this way, they've come very close to pointing the finger of suspicion directly at him (or her).

Way to protect your sources, guys. I hop that you get lots more people bringing you scoops. Not.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More?

RockDoctor Quern. Or (flint) knapping. Or gas lights. (790 comments)

More points for the longer they lasted (typewriters were around for over a century).

A quern is a hand-powered grindstone. Practically every house in the world - well, the world grinding grain to make bread or porrage/ pottage/ gruel - used one from the dawn of seed gathering (centuries to millennia before the dawn of agriculture) until about the start of the industrial revolution. Say, between 10 and 20 thousand years.

They only went out of use when it really became cheaper and easier to take your grain to the mill to get it ground by wind/ water/ horse power instead of indulging in (literally) "the daily grind".

If you want a million or two years more of duration, then you could go for the sound of stone on stone, making a new stone tool. More latterly, depending on region, antler on stone, but that's probably only a few tens of thousands of years.

Oh, you wnat something technological?

How about the "pop" of a gas light lighting within it's mantle? These days you probably won't even hear it on a camp site - just the click of an LED switching on/off - but for a century or so it represented the chemical industry, the first large-scale "to the door" distribution network (home many optical fibres still run in trenches originally cut for gas pipes?) ; the billing that went with it, needing computers (human ones, then adding machines, then typewriters).

about two weeks ago
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The Mystery of Glenn Seaborg's Missing Plutonium: Solved

RockDoctor Re:Plural of cyclotron (85 comments)

Reading someone's motivations from their actions has always been a pretty fraught guessing game. It's not as if people are reknowned for their consistency or lack of hypocrisy in general.

about two weeks ago
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Professor: Young People Are "Lost Generation" Who Can No Longer Fix Gadgets

RockDoctor Re: Dupe (840 comments)

Oh, the thing I mentioned last about the Monsetego (or whatever it was - is Taurus a Ford model?) was back in the days of human design. My source was a Ford engineer who was bitching to me while I was hitch-hiking and he'd just been ordered to design this optical jig monstrosity, by hand, explicitly to bugger up reparability for the buyers. About 1982 or 1983. His story didn't mean damn-all to me at the time because it was about 6 years before I started trying to learn to drive. But I filed the story as something to keep the next driver entertained with. IIRC the engineer was driving from Ford's Dagenham plant back to Halewood after being dealt this shitty hand, and he was well fuming about it.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Linux Distro For Hybrid Laptop?

RockDoctor Re:Advanced Workings.... (210 comments)

I'd be overjoyed if windows 8 on the wife's machine would print to our 13 year old laser printer two days in a row without needing the printer drivers re-installed.

(I'd also be overjoyed if the wife would have let me install a proper network in the house when we moved in, because I can't get the printer to work at all over the wifi, but that's probably a separate issue.

about two weeks ago
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The Mystery of Glenn Seaborg's Missing Plutonium: Solved

RockDoctor Re:Plural of cyclotron (85 comments)

Though I still lose it when somebody writes "ex-patriot".

Errr, why? It would seem a perfectly sensible construct for someone who used to be a patriot but for whatever reason (money, loathing for their home-country's debased political establishment) has ceased to be a patriot.

There's the other homophone "expatriate", for someone who lives in another country to that of their allegiance, but that's a completely different concept. For example, I mostly earn my income as an expatriate, but it would be impossible for me to earn anything as an ex-patriot (since I have never been a patriot).

about two weeks ago
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HOA Orders TARDIS Removed From In Front of Parrish Home

RockDoctor Re:Conform or be expelled (320 comments)

This particular disease (HOA-itis) being an American one, I only slightly wonder what the supply of house buyers is like. If buyers are also in limited supply, then what is to prevent the seller form selling to the buyer without passing on the HOA obligations. Are they enforceable in court, or would the HOA have to come to court to prevent the sale going through without the HOa contract - thereby putting the costs upfront for the HOA too.

We used to have such tihngs in our country. They were called "feu duties", being short for "feudal duties". Yes, that does mean "feudal" in the same sense as "you owe three days a week labour in the Feudal Lord's fields, and he gets to virginity test all brides before their new husband gets to try them". We got rid of them in the mid-1990s. Glad to see America has yet to catch up.

about two weeks ago
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Extra Leap Second To Be Added To Clocks On June 30

RockDoctor Re:Better way (289 comments)

We will. I've noticed a lot of people are already back to entering years in two digits.

In the run up to Y2K I switched to using ISO8601 date format and haven't budged. YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS.ssss+TZ.... If the client then insists on using something parochial, I'll explain my reasons (date, alphabetical and numeric forms sorting into the same order) and then after they've expained why they want something parochial, I'll implement the changes they want. But they have to justify moving away from a reasonable proposition.

We were lucky that we managed to hide our Y2K bug from our customers (they came in from some 3rd-party software) by retiring the DOS version of our main product and completing the release of the windows V1 line, despite all it's bugs. But I also had a literally sleepless night babysitting a billion or so dollars worth of equipment (plus about 200 staff) as we checked out all the machines to see that there was nothing untoward happening. Cost around £2mllion.

about two weeks ago
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Bill Gates Endorses Water From Human Waste

RockDoctor Re:A Natural (245 comments)

You should have just pointed out what plants do with water, they split it into hydrogen and oxygen and so that is the only time water is really truly actually consumed.

Strictly not true. Neutral water has a concentration of approximately one part in 10^7 of hydrogen ions (and the same of hydroxyl ions), and they're constantly dissociating and re-associating. Off the top of my head, I forget what the mean lifetime of any one molecule of water is, but it's more likely to be fractions of a second than multiples of a year.

The original story is a non-story. I remember in the playground at school nearly 40 years ago joking that the idiots moving into town from London had never tasted water that hadn't been through three people's kidneys since it was last rainfall. Our geography teacher made us work out the numbers - it was a little short fo two pairs of kidneys.

about two weeks ago
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Lawmaker's Facebook Rant Threatens Media For "Unauthorized" Use of His Name

RockDoctor Re:Dear Kirby Delauter, (136 comments)

I will take my beatings

Just jazzing up a dead horse to give you a flogging that you will definitely not forget for as long as you live.

about two weeks ago
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Scientist Says Potential Signs of Ancient Life in Mars Rover Photos

RockDoctor Re:Time for some leaps and not baby steps (142 comments)

Current mission durations would make that about 2 rounds.

But bear in mind that you don't get onto this particular gravy train until you're in your early 30s (school, bachelors degree, masters, doctorate, post-doc experience). I went into industry instead of academia and so I'm about 7 years ahead of my classmates who went into academia and about 50% higher in salary.

You're projecting your money-grubbing motives onto other people. That probably says more about you than it does about them.

about two weeks ago
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Scientist Says Potential Signs of Ancient Life in Mars Rover Photos

RockDoctor Re:Time for some leaps and not baby steps (142 comments)

I don't think anyone in the scientific community has any doubts that there was life there at one time. It's just a matter of proving it.

I certainly hope you're wrong in this statement.

Well, speaking as an industrial geologist (not publishing for public consumption, but certainly researching), I can certainly state that this geologist is not convinced that Mars has ever had life. Certainly I'd be fascinated if life were found on Mars, or if evidence of past life on Mars were found. either event would hugely increase the breadth of our knowledge of the range of possibilities available to life. Unless, of course, it turns out to be essentially identical to life on Earth, in which case I'd have to suspect contamination of one environment from the other. But my personal interest in finding that evidence does not extend as far as over interpreting small items of evidence like this. Hell, I remember the 1996 McKay et al ALH84001 paper - I read that one hot off the presses and had a full day to think about it while driving to the other end of the country. Interesting, but not convincing ; and I think that the consensus has solidified around that position.

Science is a very conservative (small 'c') profession. We require evidence, and better evidence than this.

about two weeks ago
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Scientist Says Potential Signs of Ancient Life in Mars Rover Photos

RockDoctor Re:Time for some leaps and not baby steps (142 comments)

I suspect our two planets have been inoculating each other for a very very long time.

While that is certainly not impossible, I don't think that it's at all likely. And it is much, much easier to achieve the transfer from Mars to Earth than vice versa.

about two weeks ago
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Scientist Says Potential Signs of Ancient Life in Mars Rover Photos

RockDoctor Re:ok... (142 comments)

You can take another point off your score - the pictures may not mean much to you, but as a geologist, I find them quite informative. Not a slam-dunk, but definitely interesting. I could think of several competing interpretations which I'd expect to have been addresses in the full paper (I think I'll be into the local library to see if they stock 'Astrobiology' tomorrow).

I doubt that the Germans would be as rude about your technical knowledge on the basis of your original address as you are of theirs.

about two weeks ago
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Scientist Says Potential Signs of Ancient Life in Mars Rover Photos

RockDoctor Re:Slashdot today. (142 comments)

You're also reading and posting when the story has literally been here 15 minutes. There hasn't been time for quality discussion and moderation to take place

It'd take at least 5 minutes to read the first FA, and another couple to be fairly sure that the second FA was a complete regurgitation of the first. (Actually, I'm not really sure which was first and which second ; there may be a third FA.) So you're only allowing about 7 minutes to think of an analysis and compose a reply.

It took me pretty much that long to compose this low-content message.

about two weeks ago
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Ancient Planes and Other Claims Spark Controversy at Indian Science Congress

RockDoctor Re:Let the other party be listened to as well. (381 comments)

Even by the standards of Slashdot's ACs, that is some high-grade bullshit. n wonder you haven't got the balls to put your name to a post like that.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Uber driver accused of rape in India

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a month and a half ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "BBC News are reporting that a 26-year old Indian woman is alleging rape against a driver for the embattled Uber transport-managing company.

In a post on the Uber blog, one "Saad Ahmed" implicitly admits that the driver was a Uber driver, the the lift was arranged through Uber's service, and that the full range of Uber's safety mechanisms had been applied to his employment, and by implication, that Uber accepts some culpability for putting this (alleged) rapist into contact with his (alleged) victim. (The police have reported that medical evidence is that a rape took place, though who performed the rape remains an allegation.)

Going on previous Uber performance, can we expect the driver to be working again tonight, and the spokesman making such inconvenient admissions to be unemployed? That would sound about the level of PR skill of Uber's senior management — as currently constituted. They've managed to turn me from a potential supporter to someone who will be voting against Uber being allowed into my city or country."
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Danish researchers develop oxygen absorbtion/release chemical

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a month and a half ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "Contrary to recent stories such as a "tankless SCUBA system" which depended on Unobtanium to filter oxygen from sea water, a team at University of Southern Denmark have been developing a range of materials that can reversibly bind onto oxygen, and then release it under different conditions. While still a distance from full implementation as a system, this is the sort of chemical that would work for breathing systems.

Very sensibly, they talk of initial uses in fault-tolerant circumstances such as providing enhanced oxygenated air from portable systems rather than going straight to highly critical (if attention-grabbing) products.

The compounds in use are a whole family of cobalt-organic compounds with some inorganic components. By varying the inorganic components they can change absorption and desorption rates by factors of around a thousand, suggesting ways that the necessary charge and discharge cycle could be achieved."
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Life insurance restrictions for Space Tourists

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about 3 months ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "Reuters are reporting that there are changes afoot in the terms of life insurance contracts which will require additional premiums for "space tourists". While not likely to be a disabling issue for the industry — the statistics for astronauts dying in flight are not that bad — it is an issue that people considering such a jaunt will need to address. Obviously this has been brought to the fore by the unfortunate crash of the Virgin Galactic craft under test."
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Car thieves and insurers vote on keyless car security

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about 3 months ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "The BBC are reporting that Britain's car thieves, rapidly followed by Britain's car insurance companies, have been expressing their opinions on the security of keyless car entry and/or control systems. The thieves are happy to steal them (often using equipment intended for dealer maintenance of the vehicles) and in consequence the insurance companies are refusing to insure such vehicles (or to accept new policies on such vehicles) unless they are parked overnight in underground (or otherwise secured) car parks.

So, I guess I won't be considering buying one of those for another generation. If ever."
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Micro$loth to sack 18,000 workers

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about 6 months 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 7 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 9 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 a year 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 a year 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 a year 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 a year 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  |  about a year and a half ago

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 and a half 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 and a half 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 and a half 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 and a half 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?"

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 10 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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