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Comments

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Enraged Verizon FiOS Customer Seemingly Demonstrates Netflix Throttling

RockDoctor Re:Thanks (394 comments)

their average speed across the most popular sites.

And exactly how are you going to define that?

2 days ago
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Nightfall: Can Kalgash Exist?

RockDoctor Re:Klemperer rosette (86 comments)

Configuring the Nightfall system as a Klemperer rosette would be one way of achieving the result - but the symmetry would still be broken by the orbiting moon that gives the eclipse.

You'd have to have the various stars in more-or-less concentric orbits of different periods. Then, at some point, they'd all get lined up in one (small angle of direction) from which they could all be simultaneously eclipsed. Ah, no, I see my error ; you only need to get them into one half of the sky for the other half to experience darkness.

But again, that wouldn't work for a Klemperer rosette configuration, either from the central location (not necessarily occupied) or from any of the rosette objects in a rosette of more than three objects (here there are 6 objects).

2 days ago
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Switching From Microsoft Office To LibreOffice Saves Toulouse 1 Million Euros

RockDoctor Re:As We Speak (292 comments)

Either that or members of city council wake up with severed horse heads in their beds.

Or Jobbies?

(That's Scots for turds. as well as some Mac Fanboi.)

3 days ago
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Earth In the Midst of Sixth Mass Extinction: the 'Anthropocene Defaunation'

RockDoctor Re:But what IS the point they're making? (328 comments)

You've gotten less that half-way through your last mammoth before it's no longer safe to eat, so now you gotta kill another.

Actually, you do have a point. So people don't do that.

Mammoths (and bison, and caribou/elk, and horses - to name some of the other usual suspects) are quite dangerous animals when they're full grown. And they are very protective of their young, until they get to a certain age.

So, going from the actual skeletal evidence, what it seems happened, repeatedly, was that hunting would target the yearling (or two-year) youngsters, separate them from the adults, kill and eat them. Getting to the infants through the adults is too dangerous, and getting the adults is too dangerous too. So you take out the middling ones.

Take out 50% of the yearlings (two-yearlings) every year for one generation, and you have halved the population. After five generations, the herds become small enough that they can't protect their infants so effectively ... and you get a populations crash.

Quoth the hunter : "But we never took out too many. We were hunting sustainably!"

Fishermen say the same. And they believe it's true. Population dynamics are not intuitive.

3 days ago
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Internet Explorer Vulnerabilities Increase 100%

RockDoctor Second user? (137 comments)

Does this mean that IE has acquired a second user? And do they use it simultaneously?

3 days ago
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Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

RockDoctor Simple answer : protection. (545 comments)

So my question is: what is holding everyone else back from freeing themselves from contacts and glasses?

I've had to, in the past, pull steel splinters (from a rock-hammer, a day-to-day tool at the time) from embedded in the surface of my prescription lenses. When I go out of my office and into the workspace in which I work, I am required by company site policy to wear protective spectacles, even if of no optical effect. So I wear my prescription safety spectacles.

Lasik eye surgery would do nothing to remove the obligation to use that PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

Dissent on this point is taken as a resignation. You're escourted off the site, with your belongings, never to return and never to work for that client again, anywhere in the world, in any position.

3 days ago
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UEA Research Shows Oceans Vital For Possibility of Alien Life

RockDoctor Re:Correction (97 comments)

that carpenter gets special moral authority from his claimed relation to God, and there's only a handful of individuals in history who've been credited with such significance.

There's no shortage of people claiming such a relationship with the FSM. On my friend's locked hospital ward the last time he had one of his episodes, there were 4 claimants.

The number who have actually had such a relationship remains the same as the number of gods - zero.

Or are you hoping to grow in legend until your distant descendents come to worship you as well?

Well, It's not impossible for my legend to grow. Does that mean I'd need to log into FaceSpace and MyBook more than every few months? But it's absolutely impossible for my descendants to worship me, absent one of (1) The Plastic Hippy having had a 15 month pregnancy after we broke up, or (2) someone microsurgically repairs my vasa deferens then anally rapes my corpse with a cattle prod to get a semen sample (the latter has happened, and Diane Blood seems proud to have raped her husband's corpse so. I would hope the necessary repair work would suggest to the courts my strong desire to not have descendants ; since it would require the work of lawyers, I'm not going to bet on it never happening.)

5 days ago
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UEA Research Shows Oceans Vital For Possibility of Alien Life

RockDoctor Re:Correction (97 comments)

You've plotted three chapters for the compendium "Generation Ship Tales", examining the fates of the generation ships sent out by Earth in the 3000s.

ha, ha, but serious. There's a sea of ideas out there for SF authors to mine, but they don't seem terribly inclined to dip into that particular pond. targeted anthologies ("Dangerous Visions", the Berserker universe) have a decent track record for getting people to play with an idea.

5 days ago
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Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

RockDoctor Re:Time delay (95 comments)

Then again, if the atmosphere clears up in a year or two, then they either are even more advanced than we are or they destroyed themselves and their planet healed itself.

We've two data points for the cleaning up of atmospheres after a sudden bout of pollution : the ozone hole we created in a few decades is steadily reducing and dispersing since the 1990 ban on producing CFCs ; that looks as if it'll be cleared up in a century or two (large, sulphate-rich volcanic eruptions not occurring, which may put it back by a few years or decades). Whether that was an externally detectable pollution event is more dubious - it was hard enough to detect from here.

The other datum is the decay of the PETM carbon dioide spike of 55 Myr ago. That took between 100,000 and 150,000 years to return to something resembling an equilibrium CO2 content in the atmosphere and reduce temperatures to something approaching their pre-PETM levels.

Combining the two, expect it to take 10s of thousands of years for a major pollution spike to "heal". If you look at it from the other end of the telescope, that's around 10 overturnings of the oceans (our largest and most massive environmental component).

about a week ago
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Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

RockDoctor Re:idiotic (95 comments)

We can almost create artificial gravity by finding a way to generate Higgs Bosons and attach them to matter.

Do you have a vaguely credible citation for that - an Arxiv paper, or a professor of physics describing a roadmap. I've never heard even a hint of anyone planning to do that. (Besides, for a long, long time, it'll be much easier to mimic gravity with centripetal acceleration of the floor.)

and we're almost done with fusion.

Well, give or take a decade or three. It does appear to be closer now than when I was an optimistic schoolkid hitch-hiking to university.

We already developed algae that can strip CO2 out of the air.

I'll grant you that. It means that when I stop drilling oil wells, I can start drilling wells to dump CO2 into. That's fine by me. (You do realise that we've got gigatonnes of CO2 that need to come out of the atmosphere and back into the ground before we can even start to consider the job done?)

I think you're being highly optimistic on a 20 year timescale. Maybe 20 years once we get the political will together and start to actually address the problem. 50 years being highly optimistic ; well over a century being realistic.

about a week ago
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Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

RockDoctor Re:idiotic (95 comments)

What kind of moron came up with that? Let's see, life was here for like 500 million years, for about 150 we've been ruining the atmosphere, and 100 years from now we'll have solved it.

OK. And now let's look at the real figures :

There has been life on the planet for approximately 3500 million years (definite fossils to 3.2 billion, more disputed going back to 3800 million).

The first major pollution event - the production of oxygen - started around 2600 million years ago, with oxygen becoming ubiquitous (if at 1/100th of current levels) by about 2300 million.

Multicellular life first left fossils (the Ediacara fauna) about 600 million years ago (what you think was the origin of life?).

Multicellular life came onto land about 420 million years ago.

For about 150 years we've been polluting the atmosphere significantly (NB : there is detectable pollution in the Greenland ice cores dating back to Roman times. If you consider lead dust from Britain under the Romans "significant".), and we're continuing to do it at an accelerating rate. Going on the previous occasion when this happened, it'll take around 100,000 to 150,000 years for the atmospheric perturbation to self-correct. At that scale, it doesn't really matter if we die this year, next year or 1000 years from now.

and 100 years from now we'll have solved it.

Can you cite a source for that? I've never heard that sort of claim, even from pot-smoking AGW-denying oilfield trash. (Actually, working in the oil field, I haven't met AGW-denying trash. We know fine and well what we're doing.)

about a week ago
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UK Cabinet Office Adopts ODF As Exclusive Standard For Sharable Documents

RockDoctor Re:Why ODF? (164 comments)

MS Office is an obsolete dinosaur already. Light it's pyre and send it on its way.

Can't we just bury it in a hole in the ground (even if it leaves a small hill) and use the wood for something useful?

about a week ago
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UEA Research Shows Oceans Vital For Possibility of Alien Life

RockDoctor Re:Correction (97 comments)

Why are you expecting them to stop? That's a huge waste of fuel.

Like I said, put them into a ship with big enough storage to drop off a colony-forming ship every 10 generations - let them do the deceleration, mine your consumables, and re-supply the mothership. If that's happening every 10-20 generations, then you've got a release valve for your society (something that we don't have at the moment, but designing a society with release valves is one of the influences you can have across the millennia). And if (again, racing certainty) some of your would-be colonists get freaked by leaving the mothership behind, then the colonists have a release valve as they're establishing their society since there will be a re-supply mission accelerating back to the mothership next generation.

you've confirmed there's a hospitable panet (gravitational lens telescopes are your friend)

Short of manipulating a large (planetary mass?) lump of neutronium (which I'm not sure can exist), we don't have even a vague direction for such an object. And if we had to do that, we might well find it easier to go there (or send robots and relay stations) than to build such a telescope.

would you be happy if our lives today were bound to the vision of some ancient Roman emperor?

Some people seem to want to bind themselves to the pronouncements of some Roman carpenter, of whose existence we're by no means confident and whose diktats are based another half-millennium further back when (putative) his ancestors were slaves. At least we're pretty confident in the existence of the Roman emperors, even if some of them were as mad as a box of badgers. (I'm actually planning a walk along Hadrian's Wall - after that, I can securely attest to the existence of a Wall, with at least legion-marks referring to Hadrian ; after which, disbelieving in his existence would be perverse. In a generation ship, the existence of the ship, and it's constructors, would be hard to ignore.)

Like I said, that's why you build your society with (ir-)regular break points. Whether you have the ship travelling on a loop, or just driving straight(-ish) on for the horizon ... well that might be something that you re-assess every millennium or so. It would be another break point. Maybe you build into the design so that every 10 dropped-off colony ships, you can fission your mother ship into two and then continue to grow each on their chosen routes. Each generation would still need to be making choices, but equally each generation would be subject to constraints (as we are) which were imposed on us by ancestors only a (relatively) small number of generations ago. If you're an American, then almost certainly one of your ancestors chose to travel half-way around the world less than ten generations ago ; if you're not an American, then almost certainly several of your ancestors chose to NOT travel half-way around the world less than ten generations ago. How do you feel about those choices, whichever way they went?

Assuming 20-30 years per generation

Big assumption. The pressure to use medical developments and technologies to extend life is strong. On the assumption that the mammal body plan can't be pushed beyond 200 years, why would you go around doing momentous things like breeding before your 80s? Remember that for most of human history it was reasonably common to co-exist with your grandchildren, but seeing great-grandchildren was pretty rare. I'm trying to think of a mammal (or bird ; I don't know about reptiles or elasmobranchs at all, to cover the disparity of the vertebrates) that does routinely see it's great-grand offspring. If you wanted to change the generation ship people into a new species, that might be one of the most effective ways to do it - change life spans.

about a week ago
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UEA Research Shows Oceans Vital For Possibility of Alien Life

RockDoctor Re:Correction (97 comments)

Of course, I suppose after generations on a world-ship it's quite possible that not everyone would want to settle down.

I'd say that's a racing certainty. It's not a trope I've seen exercised much in SF (a notable exception being "Building Harlequin's Moon" by Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper. The necessity for a mutli-generational approach would tend to cramp things like character development (BHM spans a period IIRC of some 60,000 years, as the colony ship has to lay over to carry out repairs, and in the process need to, erm, build a moon. In orbit around "Harlequin." (Niven is Old School SF.)

There are interesting things to think about in such a situation and a mission. Including, particularly, how do you man a mission that is going to be profoundly multigenerational. How do you know you're going to be able to motivate the 79th generation after launch?

about a week ago
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UEA Research Shows Oceans Vital For Possibility of Alien Life

RockDoctor Re:Correction (97 comments)

Those strong magnetic fields would, indeed, change the energies of electron orbitals (indeed, of proton orbitals inside complex nuclei too), but they'd do so in accord with the laws of physics. That would (probably ; IANA quantum mechanical chemist) change the laws of chemistry to be different to those that apply in lower magnetic fields (and lower field gradients too). However the underlying laws of physics will still be the same.

There's a very definite hierarchy of precision and strength of lawfulness in the sciences. If we accept economics as being a science (the dismal science), then it's "laws" are much looser than the laws of biology. (I was reading a paper last night on the laws of social evolution of non-breeding behaviour, couched in terms of probability of various outcomes, and the consequent effects on probably descendent count for each member of the population ; those laws were couched very much in economic terms, of calculating probabilities.) The laws of biology are much stricter ; egg plus egg does not make a fertilized egg ; 23 chromosomes plus 24 chromosomes makes for a pretty fucked-up organism, if it's viable at all ; oxygen metabolic enzymes plus sulphide (or hydrosulphide) ion makes for a broken or non-functional enzyme molecule. The laws of chemistry underlie the laws of biology and are considerably stricter ; in aqueous solution, silver ions plus chloride ions precipitates silver chloride if the solubility product of AgCl is exceeded (assuming no thiosulphate ion in solution) ; argon reacts with fewer elements than xenon, and forms less stable compounds ; silver chloride has the sodium chloride structure at NTP. The laws of chemistry themselves are founded on the laws of physics - those precipitations and crystal structures are basically the result of electrostatic interactions (as are the more subtle interactions of quantum mechanics in forming covalent bonds) ; when people talk about "unknown new laws of physics that will give us FTL travel, I invite them to jump out of a tall building and try to argue for an exemption from the laws of gravity.

In your example, the changes to the emergent laws of chemistry result from adherence to the more fundamental laws of physics.

If you can drag up a few string theorists, I can bring some mathematical philosophers ; we can throw them into a pit and let them fight it out to see if physics or maths is more fundamental to the universe. I'm not a great fan of either marshmallows, or popcorn, but I can bring a barbie and some great venison burgers.

about a week ago
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New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

RockDoctor That is an insane failure of driver training (205 comments)

It also has an optional 'pull-down conversation mirror' that lets drivers check on kids without turning around."

A driver who even thinks about turning around to check on what the passengers are up to should lose their driving license until they've successfully re-passed their driving test.

That's why you strap them in. That's what you have other adults in the vehicle for. That's why you train the kids from before potty-training to not touch their seat belts on pain of straight back home and no fun for the rest of the day. That's why you train the kids over the same time scale to not distract the driver.

This is a technology which should not exist.

about a week ago
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Researcher Finds Hidden Data-Dumping Services In iOS

RockDoctor Memo to Self : don't buy iAnything (98 comments)

Memo from Self : Like I was going to do that? After the last time I worked on a Mac?

about a week ago
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UEA Research Shows Oceans Vital For Possibility of Alien Life

RockDoctor Re:Correction (97 comments)

The laws of physics (and chemistry) are the same pretty much everywhere

Where, precisely, do we know that the laws of physics are different from those we see here? "pretty much everywhere" implies that there is somewhere that isn't included. Where is that?

about a week ago
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UEA Research Shows Oceans Vital For Possibility of Alien Life

RockDoctor Re:Correction (97 comments)

even at small fractions of light speed, remain expansionistic, and avoid completely eradicating ourselves or transcending as a species we could colonize the whole friggin galaxy in only a few billion years.

Billion? A few tens of million years.

The galaxy is about 100,000 LY across. If we can get to 1% of c, then moving out to cover the galaxy would take (order of) 10 million years transit time. Since you're using generation ships, then while you're in flight you can be preparing a colonisation ship in the centuries between stellar encounters and drop the settlers off (and along with them, your political dissidents, mutants and space-sick passengers and other problems) ; if they think the star is settleable (does it have asteroids ; never mind the planets for the next x generations) then they stop, otherwise they do some quick (decades) mining for consumables and then depart to catch up with the mother ship.

I'd guess that "we" could colonise the galaxy in 100 Ma. Of course, by then, the species would certainly have changed, and probably fragmented into significantly different species. Certainly cultures would have changed drastically.

But it's all SF for the next number of generations.

about a week ago

Submissions

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Micro$loth to sack 18,000 workers

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about two weeks 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 a month 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 3 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 5 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 7 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 8 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  |  about a year 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  |  1 year,5 days

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  |  1 year,23 days

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  |  1 year,25 days

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."

Link to Original Source
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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."

Link to Original Source

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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