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Comments

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After Four Days, Philae Team Gets to Rest

RockDoctor Re: "after four nearly sleepless days and nights" (87 comments)

That's the job. Many of my trine es go on to supervise or plan such jobs. They leave me with no doubt of the drain they put on people. And, in my experience they remember, and fight a corner for 24x7 experienced cover. But if the people aren't there to hire, and the bed space isn't available ... then at least they understand the problems of the (person)in the field better. It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing.

3 days ago
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After Four Days, Philae Team Gets to Rest

RockDoctor Re: "after four nearly sleepless days and nights" (87 comments)

I also get paid to be prepared to climb into the lifeboats, or go to the drill floor to deal with unexpected events. A wake up 2 hours after a 17 hour shift is not welcome, but is part of the job.

3 days ago
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After Four Days, Philae Team Gets to Rest

RockDoctor Re: "after four nearly sleepless days and nights" (87 comments)

I've been doing this since 1987, to varying degrees. Some years I've been down to about 1500 hours work (though we bill by the day, or part of, door to door), some years pushing 3000 hours, and utterly exhausted. The intensity increases with time, because you get sent to jobs with absolute greenhorn (instead of being the greenhorn yourself). And sometimes you do have to just dump raw data upstream for assessment there, but even then you need to verify that the collection parameters were recorded appropriately.

(An 8h x 5d x 48w year is 1920 hours. On the other hand, when I'm not at work, I can go for a week hill walking if I want, and there's nothing the Boss can say - it's my compensatory time for sleeping at the work site and being on 24x7 call.

3 days ago
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After Four Days, Philae Team Gets to Rest

RockDoctor Re: "after four nearly sleepless days and nights" (87 comments)

When I'm at work, and we go from routine operations (where I have a lot to do) to evaluation operations (where I have a lot to do and can't delegate chunks of it to my night-shift/trainee, because they're a trainee) then yes, I have to do this regularly. Bouts of 4-5 days are normal; up to 8 days not uncommon, but deeply draining. Then there will unavoidably be 1-2 days of engineering/ maintenance work, and then the cycle repeats. Bouts like this happen a couple of times a month, then I'm rotated back to shore or my home country to recover.

Don't get me wrong- this is draining. But it's not impossible.

OTOH, there is a good reason that 90% of trainees move on to office work instead of staying in field work : a lot of them can't handle the fieldwork.

4 days ago
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Police Body Cam Privacy Exploitation

RockDoctor Re: Legalities (301 comments)

The same issue applies to a police officer recording copyrighted matter in the process of his work in a private home. His possession of an unlicensed recording of Katy Perry (whoever he is) remains a crime, regardless of whether he also has footage covering work - related stuff. Even if it's the same footage.

4 days ago
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US School Installs 'Shooter Detection' System

RockDoctor Re: Dumb idea ... Lots of assumptions .... (693 comments)

The guy in Sandy Hook did really want to kill people, and because publicly available guns existed, he succeeded in killing 30 - odd.

Another victory for the gun industry.

4 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Dealing With VoIP Fraud/Phishing Scams?

RockDoctor Re:Sue Them or Give Up? No. Kill them. Messily. (139 comments)

Well, I wouldn't go directly to murder.

Removal of fingers, ears, external genitalia, in approximately that order. Lots of unsubtle anal rape with a cattle prod. Come on guys - you've got professionals doing this stuff for your government. It's not rocket science (though you can use pyrotechnics, if you want to be showy). Just good old torture. And you need to communicate to the spammers to make sure that they know their children, siblings or parents are paying for their actions.

4 days ago
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After Four Days, Philae Team Gets to Rest

RockDoctor Re:RTG (87 comments)

RTGs were considered and rejected as too heavy for the power needed. You'll note that the large majority of the science programme was carried out, despite the unintended changes to operations.

4 days ago
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After Four Days, Philae Team Gets to Rest

RockDoctor Re:"after four nearly sleepless days and nights" (87 comments)

The key word is "nearly" ; most people who haven't had to do it on a regular basis are surprised to learn that you can function on quite small amounts of sleep. You do still need some sleep, and your performance degrades over time, but it's not too drastic.

My normal working day is 18-19 hours, but when we're in critical operations I go down to working about 03:00 to 12:00, have a nap after lunch, then am back on shift from 13:00 to about midnight ; lather, rinse repeat. After a week, you're really looking forward to a solid 5 hours sleep, but you can get by, and make decisions and react to unplanned events during that time.

That's oilfield operations, and generally not safety critical (I don't operate cranes or powered equipment, for example) and it's not preferred to working a 12-12 hour shift pattern. But if that's what the manning provided requires, that's what you do.

4 days ago
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After Four Days, Philae Team Gets to Rest

RockDoctor Re:the dire equations (87 comments)

I think they've found it already, to a couple of Philae-diameters.

4 days ago
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After Four Days, Philae Team Gets to Rest

RockDoctor Re:Questions for any who have been following this (87 comments)

A smaller panel got sunlight when the drill was used to rotate the probe. So, if it is powered down and we wait, it should eventually charge back up. Each time that happens, the ESA can work at getting it into a better position, little by little.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. A significant amount of power goes into heating the batteries up, which is necessary to get a significant amount of power out of (and in to) the batteries.

Batteries are, as I'm sure you realise, chemical devices.

All chemical devices operate at different rates at different temperatures.

A popular rule of thumb is that a 10degree (Kelvin/ Centigrade) increase in temperature will double the rate of a reaction.

These will be mollified as the comet comes closer to the sun. But working out the exact probabilities is just plain unpredictable. Plan 'B' of listening for "pings" regularly is indicated, while the rest of the science programme continues.

4 days ago
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Google Wallet API For Digital Goods Will Be Retired On March 2, 2015

RockDoctor Re:Google's Paypal (105 comments)

So, if I still had the 4-5 year old Mac which I got rid of in about 2009, then I'd be able to get it repaired?

4 days ago
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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

RockDoctor Re: Yes! (242 comments)

Pretty good advert for watching fewer Hollywood movies. I can't watch fewer new releases, so I'll have to watch fewer repeats. That won't be hard either.

about a week ago
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What Happens When Nobody Proofreads an Academic Paper

RockDoctor Re:Have seen this several times as reviwer... (170 comments)

this phrase was not in the version that went to the reviewers.

Then there's an even more serious problem of version control.

about a week ago
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US School Installs 'Shooter Detection' System

RockDoctor Re:Dumb idea ... Lots of assumptions .... (693 comments)

death counts will be indistinguishable from your average school shooting.

Yeah, that's really been the experience here in Europe, where we have the death penalty for thinking about buying a water pistol. Why, only last week the river of blood gushing out of one of our infant schools was so intense that it washed a truck load of old age pensioneers off the road. Fortunately no harm was done, as their truck ride to the Soylent manufacturing plant ("the grinder" as we laughingly refer to it here) was diverted by the crash into the big cat enclosure at the zoo. One of the tigers has a little indigestion, but the veterinarian assures us that he'll recover.

In the words of Crocodile Dundee, that's not a sarcastic response, THIS is a sarcastic response.

about a week ago
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US School Installs 'Shooter Detection' System

RockDoctor Re:Dumb idea ... Lots of assumptions .... (693 comments)

Why are you bothering with WiFi? Most schools are by now thoroughly networked, so judicious placing of the cameras would keep the signals in the wires. At which point you've pretty much dismissed any concerns about unauthorised access to the cameras and video streams. That'll take another couple of thousand dollars off the bill, and now your major cost is likely to be men on ladders actually installing the things.

Of course, it's all insanity, and probably unconstitutional. Imagine impinging on an American's bear-given right to go around freely killing anyone and everyone they want. Next thing you know you'll be allowing people to not attend church and suffering witches to live.

about a week ago
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Fukushima Radiation Nears California Coast, Judged Harmless

RockDoctor Re:caesium 137 bioaccumulates (113 comments)

We do know what radiation does. We do know the dose is insignificant compared to want you received from space.

Depending where you live, you can receive as much or more from the ground compared to space. But you need to be a commercial flyer for that to become a significant health hazard.

about a week ago
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Tor Project Mulls How Feds Took Down Hidden Websites

RockDoctor Re:IPv6 as a help? (133 comments)

So ... if I cared enough, AND I had any ISPs who did IPv6 (I'm not aware that there are any in this country, but I haven't looked), then before signing on the line, I ensure that I get a contiguous block of 128 or 256 or 1024 IPv6 addresses, to use as I like. Essentially, demand a class C or class B address (equivalent) from your ISP?

about a week ago
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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

RockDoctor Re:Woo-hoo! (242 comments)

Beat me to it, by a day or so and about 15k.

about a week ago
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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

RockDoctor Re:While you're at it... (242 comments)

Doctor Who got a lot of miles out of quarries (Blake's 7 too)

Same quarries in many cases.

about a week ago

Submissions

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Life insurance restrictions for Space Tourists

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about two weeks 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 three weeks 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 7 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 9 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 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  |  1 year,7 days

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  |  1 year,7 days

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  |  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 and a half 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 and a half 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."

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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