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Comments

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L.A. Science Teacher Suspended Over Student Science Fair Projects

RockDoctor Re:Its not about saftey (247 comments)

at the expense^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H profit of his students who are preparing for their AP exams.

It's to the profit of the students : this is a valuable lesson. DO NOT stand up for your (or even worse, other people's) rights ; DO NOT oppose The Management.

The students should be paying extra tuition fees (cash only) to the Administrators who came up with this stunt.

yesterday
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3 Former Astronauts: Earth-Asteroid Collisions Are a Real But Preventable Danger

RockDoctor Re:I am all for this research (70 comments)

There is not a probability that this event will happen selected by random chance. It's essentially certainty that this event will happen.

In the same way, a Boltzmann Brain is also nearly a statistical certainty. OK - their probability is only like 10^-100 per year, but since the future has an essentially unlimited number of years, then the average lifeform in the universe is a Boltzmann Brain.

If you agree that one event in 200 years of observations gives us an estimated probability of 0.5% events per year, then yes, it is true that in a period of some thousands of years such an event becomes essentially a certainty. But the probability remains at 0.5% per year.

Yes, that is assuming that Carrington events are independent of each other. Which is an hypothesis that we have NO evidence against. It would not be surprising if it turned out that Carrington Events are more common at Solar Maximum (for example), but with a sample of ONE event, we don't know how they're distributed w.r.t. the solar cycle.

What we do know is that in approximately 15 solar cycles, we've seen approximately one Carrington event. So that's an average of about 0.067 Carrington events per solar cycle. Same rate, different scale.

yesterday
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3 Former Astronauts: Earth-Asteroid Collisions Are a Real But Preventable Danger

RockDoctor Re:I am all for this research (70 comments)

Since when do Saturn Vs have sufficient fuel to fire for a year straight?

Since when did anyone (other than you) suggest using Saturn Vs for a job like this?

For a long term job like this, you'd be looking at an ion drive powered by a solar panel array, which is strong enough to counteract the gravitational attraction of the tractor-ship to the asteroid. Produce a few kilogrammes of thrust for the several years necessary ; re-supply with Xenon (probably) with an automated ship as necessary. Redundant ion drives (3 or 5, or more) arranged so that the exhaust doesn't impinge on the asteroid surface.

Seriously, the designs for doing this have been discussed on here (and in more serious fora) multiple times in the last decade. Have you missed all of them?

yesterday
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Why Portland Should Have Kept Its Water, Urine and All

RockDoctor Re:just like homeopathy (330 comments)

Do birds masturbate?

With which hand?

They get a beak job.

yesterday
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Criminals Using Drones To Find Cannabis Farms and Steal Crops

RockDoctor Re:So much nonsense in terms (256 comments)

Using current traditional soil methods, one acre of fodder grass will require 100,000 gallons of water. Most of this water is lost via transpiration of the plant and evaporation from the soil.
I can build you a 1/8 acre building, load it up with recirculating vertical-stacked NFT channels, and you could produce that same acre of grass using 1,000 gallons of water.

That would be say 10,000lbs, 4.5 tons of grass. Not a great yield for an acre, but not a disastrously bad one either.

So the 1000 gallons of water cycles through the hydroponic system around 100 times as it is gradually absorbed by the plants. Each time it is picked up by the plants and transpired (moving nutrients around in the plant in the process), it then gets re-captured from the atmosphere, re-condensed and pumped back into the hydroponics system.

3 days ago
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Plant Breeders Release 'Open Source Seeds'

RockDoctor Re:Shame this happened (136 comments)

We bought a lemon tree, then we were told we had to destroy it because it wasn't licensed.

This implies that you brought a ready-grown tree. Maybe only a few kilos, but that still takes a year or so to achieve, so they're relatively expensive. (This reminds me to water the 2m tall lemon tree sitting in the living room window, which we started from a seed in 2006. With pot and soil, it's over 30kilos.)

It just wanted to self-replicate and make us free food.

This, on the other hand, implies that you grew the tree from seed, or from a cutting of an original tree. The seed is one case, and is one of the reasons that plant breeders try to develop seedless versions of fruit, or ones with a very low germination rate. The propagation from cuttings though is much easier to contain, because you need access to the tree, not the fruit.

I was at the garden centre with the wife this afternoon. Many of the plant cultivars which the wife wanted to buy carried notices barring the buyer from propagating them without getting the prior written permission of the rights holding company. Buying those would have constituted accepting the terms of the contract, so I steered the wife to other cultivars from other suppliers which didn't carry such warnings.

I suspect that you brought a lemon tree from somewhere, and in the process agreed to a similar "no propagation" contract (did you actually read the terms of the contract that you entered into?) ; then you propagated the lemon tree to produce a clone (yes, a "clone", in the sense of "clone"). In doing so, you violated the terms of the contract you'd entered into with the selling company. And they complained to appropriate authorities ,who forced you to comply with the terms of the contract into which you'd entered.

(Your local laws and contract law may differ. But I suspect there's something along those lines happening. It's possible you did it from a seed, and the laws you have are even more restrictive than we have to deal with here. If your contract law allows you to be held to the terms of a contract that you're not shown ... it'll be almost like software sales.)

3 days ago
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NASA Proposes "Water World" Theory For Origin of Life

RockDoctor Re:Not Evolution (115 comments)

This is the theory of abiogenesis

It is one of several theories of abiogenesis, which are all under consideration by researchers.

3 days ago
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NASA Proposes "Water World" Theory For Origin of Life

RockDoctor Re:Maxwell's Demon (115 comments)

Sounds like NASA finally discovered Maxwell's Demon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M...

Nope, just an exciting 1980s proposal for one way in which significant parts of life's metabolism could plausibly have developed from an inorganic system into an organic one. There's nothing new about this article - OOL people have been discussing this since the detection of sub-surface water on Europa, and the basic research (Mike Russell's) was done in the 1980s based on theoretical work in the 1970s by Gunter Wachtershauser. None of which violates Maxwell's laws of thermodynamics, because they don't take place in closed systems.

3 days ago
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NASA Proposes "Water World" Theory For Origin of Life

RockDoctor Re:Further discussion (115 comments)

Dr. Nick Lane has a more extended discussion on the possibility of life originating due to naturally-occurring proton imbalances in his book "Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life".

... which was published a number of years ago. My copy has been on my bookshelf for at least 3 years, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't news when it came out.

The basic ideas that are presented here are not new (this isn't to diss Nick Lane - he's done some very interesting work, and written some good popular science books and articles). As the actual article (but not TFS) says, the basic idea of life developing from flow of alkaline hydrothermal fluids through pyrite deposits comes from Mike Russell in the early 1980s (and that develops work from Gunter Wachtershauser in the 1970s).

One of the more attractive features of this theory is that it allows incremental conversion of an inorganic chemical system into an organic one which fixes carbon dioxide into organic molecules. It would also explain the presence of iron-sulphur molecular groups in the cores of many important enzymes. It is one of the lead contenders in OOL discussions. But it's probably not the final answer.

3 days ago
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Racing To Contain Ebola

RockDoctor Re:Is Ebola a "rapid burnout" disease? (112 comments)

Using the back of a different envelope, let's hypothesise some mutation to ebola that gives it a 70% mortality rate (the mean of the mortality rates you cite), and a flu-like transmission profile. Then in around 5 years of cycling through the population, we'll be down to about 2.1 billion people left on the planet. That's around the population in the late 1920s to late 1930s.

Add on your 69 years for 3 generations and we'll be back to a population situation of 1933 + 69 = 2002. In short, we'd be back to the approximate population position of today.

I see that you cite American flu rates, suggesting that you may be American. Given that, likely you live there and rarely leave (average American)? Of the last 3 years I've spent about 8-9 months (I'd have to check my pay slips) living in various countries of Africa and on my last rotation out of there an aircraft fault put us down into Abidjan airport, which borders the most recent ebola outbreak. My next rotation into Africa will see me in Gabon, in the thick of the "ebola belt". Ebola isn't a theoretical issue for me, and I'm paying close attention to the vaccine work, and would consider participating in clinical trials of one.

5 days ago
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Nokia Had a Production-Ready Web Tablet 13 Years Ago

RockDoctor Re:Le Sigh.... (267 comments)

Yes, I remember the Psion Organiser. I never had one myself, but a guy at work dropped his into one of the chemical storage pits (filled with an oil/ water/ salt mix), and since we were 2 weeks from getting back to shore, he asked me if I could try and bring it back to life. All I did was clean it - very carefully, inside and out, water, alcohol, water, alcohol - and then dry it very, very carefully. But it worked when I put it back together, which allowed him to back it up. And it carried on working until the next hitch on the vessel, which astonished everyone.

That stuck in my memory for 8 years later when I was looking for something better then a Nokia Communicator, and which I'd be able to take to work. I wasn't disappointed by the hardware Psion were selling then.

5 days ago
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Nokia Had a Production-Ready Web Tablet 13 Years Ago

RockDoctor Re:The sad part here... (267 comments)

Sure, it was running a great OS for the time but that OS did not have the kind of app ecosystem that the iPad does.

And it didn't need it.

Writing documents - covered on the stock ROM (and you could get converters to go to Word and or Write formats too).

Spreadsheets - I could make the stock ROM's spreadsheet do the calculations for steering oil wells. Other people I knew ran their stock portfolios on their Psions. Converters available.

Drawing ... well, you could do it. The 4-shade grey screen was a limit there, but it was good enough for my purposes. Converters available.

Database - again, good enough for my purposes. I knew a mud man who did his stock control on one, so I guess that was good enough for him.

Presentations ... I think they didn't see making presentations as being a use case.

There were a LOT of other apps out there - I remember buying several, such as astronomical tools - but you could take the machine out of it's box on Xmas day and be up and running for any regular office tasks.

5 days ago
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Nokia Had a Production-Ready Web Tablet 13 Years Ago

RockDoctor Re:Yeah, probably a VGA screen (267 comments)

I used a Compaq desktop system which included a touch screen in 1989. It worked - and since I was new to computers then (I didn't actually have one at home at the time, and at work we used industrial rackmounts with teleprinter terminals and HP 9800 series systems for report writing.) The technology for touchscreens is decades old. IIRC those touch screens added about $1500 to the cost of the system, which wasn't a particular problem. If MS had agreed to include the drivers for them in Windows 3.0, then we'd probably have had the touchscreen revolution in 1991.

We hooked those systems up to the old Motorola analogue mobile phones - we could get 2400 BPS data links from 70 miles offshore. Since the antennae for a formal radio system would have cost 10s of thousands of dollars for installation, and be repeated each time we needed to hire a vessel, then the price of the touchscreen didn't seem too unreasonable. We saved hundreds of thousands over the years that system was working!

Ahhh, memories. Xenix! X! Multiple overlapping windows! All so new then.

5 days ago
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Nokia Had a Production-Ready Web Tablet 13 Years Ago

RockDoctor Re:Yeah, probably a VGA screen (267 comments)

... Interesting.

And with an $800 BoM, you'd have been up against a £400 Psion 5 (retail cost), which included all applications necessary (was a web browser considered necessary at the time? I honestly can't remember. I know I did do some web browsing on it, because it would connect well to my Sony mobile or Nokia Communicator ; but I honestly can't remember if the web browser was built in or one I chose)., a large installed base of users with their own applications from the 3- and 5- series and an established dealer network.

Oh, hang on - you priced things in dollars. American? Then no Psion dealer network. Maybe you'd have survived.

5 days ago
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Nokia Had a Production-Ready Web Tablet 13 Years Ago

RockDoctor Re:Yeah, probably a VGA screen (267 comments)

Technologies that had to mature before the tablet computers became practical:
Wifi networking.

Useful, I'll agree. Not "necessary". I ran cables throughout the old house in the mid-1990s, and was getting a stable 100MBPS connection from any computer from about 1996 until we left in 2012. If I had a guest and I wanted to provide them with WiFi, I'd turn on the laptops WiFi card and the last time I did it, they could get half the connection speed that I had through the cable. I was considering running 1000-base, but would probably have left it until the previous cable was 20 years old before replacing it.

Capacitive Touchscreens -- Most early designs used a stylus, which sucks, and had poor resolution to boot

I used a touch screen with a stylus. You might think that they suck, but I'm perfectly happy with them. My Psion used one (and I never lost one!) and my last - or last-but-one - phone also had a stylus (which I also didn't lose, until I lost the phone itself). You might think that they suck, but that's a subjective opinion, not an objective fact.

Low power but still acceptably fast processors -- A huge sticking point, lots of early tablets had extremely poor battery life on top of being slow

Yeah ... in 2000 I objected so badly to replacing the AA cells (rechargeable or primary) EVERY DAMNED MONTH. It was such a pain in the arse having to go to any shop in the world and buy two batteries EVERY DAMNED MONTH. It's so much better having to carry a charger (and the panoply of adaptors for the 5 different sockets that I meet most months) with me and having to recharge the device several times a day.

A touch enabled OS -- WinCE is terrible to use with a finger, and really pretty bad with a stylus. Symbian was never great. PalmOS was too narrowly focused on Palm pilots

When I discovered Symbian, I never felt the need to try a WinCE machine or a Palm machine. I just got on with using the applications and barely noticed the OS. Which is how it should be.

Battery capacity -- Battery technology has come a long way inetwork speed n the past 15 years. Early attempts would use NiCad batteries, which just aren't good enough, especially with the relatively high energy consumption figures from the old chips

See above comments about the horrors of a monthly battery change (Either NiCads, NiMHs or primaries).

The technology to make effective "tablet" devices was available in the late 1990s - Psion did it. To this day, it's a mystery to the community of "Psioneers" why they stopped manufacturing them, or why they didn't sell the hardware division as a going concern when they restructured to become a software-only company. If they'd continued ... well, the world is full of "if onlys".

5 days ago
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Nokia Had a Production-Ready Web Tablet 13 Years Ago

RockDoctor Re:Yeah, probably a VGA screen (267 comments)

Because it, well, works. The older tech worked poorly when it worked at all and suffered a much higher rate of failure.

Crap resistive touchscreens were crap because they were crap. Good resistive touchscreens were good because they were good, not crap.

See up-thread for comments about the Psion 5 family. I forget who made the touchscreen - I know that the display was a Hitachi part, but I can't remember if you could get the touchscreen separately. That was a good part - and probably one of the highest cost items on the BoM to build the device. But it was also one of the major features of the device, and essential to it's success.

5 days ago
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Nokia Had a Production-Ready Web Tablet 13 Years Ago

RockDoctor Re:Yeah, probably a VGA screen (267 comments)

Capacitive touchscreens are more accurate to use with a bare finger than resistive ones, which call for a stylus

[SHRUG]

When you want accuracy from fingertips, you use an implement. Be that a dissecting needle and forceps (I spend several hours each working day at the microscope - it shows), or a stylus, or a keyboard. Fingertips weren't designed for precision work. They evolved to their current form while we were still making tools by banging rocks together. By the time we started to make needles and fabrics, our ancestors were already "anatomically modern humans".

I used Psion 5s and 5mxs for about 10 years until supplies dried up - during the period that this device was designed. Applications and an excellent (for a pocket device) keyboard made the Psion ; the stylus wasn't a problem.

5 days ago
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Nokia Had a Production-Ready Web Tablet 13 Years Ago

RockDoctor Re:Yeah, probably a VGA screen (267 comments)

13 years ago I was using a Psion 5 pocket computer (running EPOC, later renamed Symbian). Terrible feature set - you could drop in as large a CF card as you could afford. Connectivity was by serial cable (I moved data on and off via the CF card, so didn't bother much with the cable, and often forgot to pack it.) A half-VGA 4-grey screen (internally EPOC could handle 16 colours, but the colour screens destroyed the battery life and wrecked the price point). A keyboard with good responsiveness and which you could type on for hours (I did all the time). A touch screen that worked. A suite of office applications which met my needs. And most important of all - it would run for a month on a pair of AA cells.

13 years later, the tablet market is bringing out some devices that are comparable with the Psion 5, but are all severely crippled by being hooked to an app purchase "store", instead of providing adequate functionality out of the box. I spent about 5 years after Psion stopped producing the 5s using ebaY to get spares to repair mine (the screens were not robust!) before reluctantly giving up on them. But that month of battery life ... irreplaceable.

5 days ago
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Civilization: Beyond Earth Announced

RockDoctor Will it be any better than CIV (88 comments)

... vintage 1991.

I'm still playing my original copy, in DOSBox. And for entertainment value, it sets a steep profile to match, let alone beat.

about a week ago
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Racing To Contain Ebola

RockDoctor Re:No quarintine = no containment (112 comments)

Objectively, is there really anything to do other than to strictly and conservatively quarantine every country (and sub-quarantine cities as necessary) with a positive case?

We need the MDT-MRPQ tool that we sent back to that field base for service last month, and we'll need them at the end of next month.

Are you going to pay the consequential costs of your "advice"?

(Bear in mind - the lead time to manufacture an MDT-MRPQ tool is around 8 months. Which is why we rent them from Franco-American corporations instead of owning our own. This reduces the price of the fuel in your petrol tank.)

about a week ago

Submissions

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Data security on the Internet of things - digestible version

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about 2 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 4 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 5 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 5 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 7 months 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 9 months 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 9 months 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 9 months 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 10 months 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 10 months 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 10 months 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 10 months 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 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 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
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Goatse.cx emails becoming available !

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "As reported a few months ago, the new owner of the dreaded goatse.cx domain is relaunching it as an email service. The notifications went out just a few hours ago, and already he's well past the half-way mark in his funding request. Accounts will be set up manually over the next few days, at which point I'll be changing my contact email for Slashdot to immortalise that eye-searing photograph!"
Link to Original Source
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Swede gets photo driving license - with a photo of a painting of himself

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "The BBC are reporting that a Swedish artist has read the terms of his driving license application carefully, and complied with them. The application calls, specifically, for a "recent likeness" of the subject, not for a photograph of the subject. So, he got out his paintbrushes and painted a self-portrait — a "likeness", and "recent" too — against the regulation plain background. Attaching a photograph of the portrait to the application, he then mailed off the application, and a while later got his new driving license in the post.

The artist cites arty-farty inspirations such as Magritte's painting of a pipe entitled "Ceci n'est pas une pipe", as well as "[questions of] technology and [...] of identity". Or maybe he's just a trouble-maker who deserves a day in a dark room with a police thug and a $5 wrench.

Of course any nerd would have spent months finding and writing drivers for managing a 1990s 480x320 pixel webcam and using that to produce the photo. It does rather beg questions of just how low a resolution a picture you can get away with though. And how would the police (etc) manage an HDR photograph (of one's reflection, out of focus, in a poor-quality mirror)."

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(Yet Another) Space-based navigation system

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "A proposal has been, uh, proposed for a relatively low-cost method for producing regional satellite-based location system. Instead of putting up an expensive constellation of atomic-clock-carrying satellites in near-polar orbits, the proposal is to send timing signals from ground-based atomic clocks, to pre-existing geostationary satellites with poor latitude control. The "geostationary" satellites re-transmit the timing signals to earth, and triangulation then supplies location from the arrival times of the signals at the receiver.
The proposal paper on Arxiv also suggests that, since most existing communications satellites are designed for 2-way communications, this could provide a "cheap" back channel for (say) location-enabled emergency communications."

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km-range shit thrower being developed in New Zealand

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year and a half ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "A man has been bailed by a New Zealand court for allegedly planning to [...] throw horse manure at [the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall].

The 76-year-old "known anti-royalist" was ordered to stay at least 500 metres (550 yards) away from the royal couple
(BBC)

Very obviously therefore, the Republican (sense: anti-imperialist, e.g. Brutus Senior or Junior ) campaigner is working out how to throw shit from significantly more than 500m away.
I can think of two [edit : three] credible technologies : a trailer-mounted trebuchet ; a shit-atomiser sited over 500m upwind and producing a miasma blowing downwind ; or a remote-controlled plane fitted with a real-time camera and a shit-dispenser.
Can Slashdot come up with better suggestions for assisting this vital free speech task?

As a corollary, the mechanism for dispensing shit from the model plane needs a name. Preferably a "backronym", such as an "ADAM — Automated Dispenser of Aerial Manure" or a JAMIE ... which I can't think of anything for. (Yes, those names are suggested by the Mythbusters and their "shit hits the fan" experiments.)"

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9000mile / 6 generation migration by BUTTERFLIES !!

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year and a half ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "I've always been impressed by the Monarch Butterfly's migration across most of the continental US.

W.O.W.

9000 miles between sub-Saharan Africa and the Arctic. Over 6 generations.

"This tiny creature weighing less than a gram, with a brain the size of a pin head, and no opportunity to learn from older, experienced individuals, undertake[s] an epic intercontinental migration."

W.O.W! Colour me impressed!"

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Kickstarter-supported game development halted,

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  about a year and a half ago

RockDoctor (15477) writes "Auntie Beeb is reporting that a game funded through Kickstarter has halted development following the expiration of the contracts for it's developers.

This is leaving the game in mid-air, and highlights a problem generic to Kickstarter-type projects.

More than 1,200 people backed "Haunts: The Manse Macabre" when it ran a funding campaign via Kickstarter in June 2012.

Haunts sought $25,000 (£15,590) from Kickstarter but the project proved popular and meant the game's developers got $28,739 (£17,895) to fund completion of the game. Prior to the funding appeal Haunts creator Mob Rules Games had spent about $42,500 getting the basics of the title completed.

Haunts' lead programmer was only contracted to work for Mob Rules for a year, said Mr Dakan, and having returned to Google has no spare time to keep working on the game.

(That's not quite as severe as the original slant of the story ; it implies nothing unreasonable about the developer.)

In addition, Mob Rules second lead programmer has quit and no longer wants to work on Haunts.

And these things happen. In the absence of barbed-wire whips, there is little that can be done to force someone to work on a project they don't want to work on.

Unfortunately Mob Rules has no-one available to do this work. In addition, Haunts has been written in the Go programming language which is not widely used and will limit its chances of hiring new hands to complete the work.

In his blogpost, Mr Dakan apologised for how Haunts has turned out and pledged to refund any backer who wanted their money back out of his own pocket.

That is an argument against using obscure languages. But maybe Slashdot has readers who are experienced with "Go", if the program is open-source?

It's a sad state of affairs (probably ; not my sort of game by a very long chalk), but it seems that the manager is trying to recover the situation in an honourable manner."

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Journals

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

RockDoctor RockDoctor writes  |  more than 4 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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