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Grace Hopper Documentary Edges on Successful Crowdfunding

SeanDS Re:Indiegogo Campaign Link (65 comments)

Oops, I didn't notice that!

about 6 months ago
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Is Bamboo the Next Carbon Fibre?

SeanDS Re:From the UK Readers (198 comments)

BBC.com is part of BBC World, which is not funded by British taxpayers. As such, it is necessary to advertise on the BBC.com pages, and I guess this makes the BBC execs think this would conflict with the 'we don't endorse any particular companies through advertising' stance that the rest of the (British taxpayer funded) BBC has, at least for UK viewers.

This seems kind of stupid. Since BBC World is (mostly, I think) owned by the BBC, they could surely take the advertising revenue hit and let UK viewers access the pages ad-free. A lot of the content on BBC World appears to come from the main BBC anyway - for instance, this bamboo news I heard last week in the 'In Our Time' show on BBC Radio 4 (taxpayer-funded).

about 6 months ago
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Linux Voice is a New Magazine for Linux Users — On Paper (Video)

SeanDS Re:Marketing geniuses (72 comments)

Saying that, there is, of course, a version of the magazine available in PDF format. The subscription price is actually reduced by a fair amount to compensate for the lack of dead trees too (take note, Amazon).

about 7 months ago
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Big Bang's Smoking Gun Found

SeanDS Next up: a direct detection (269 comments)

A direct detection of a gravitational wave moving the mirrors of a large scale interferometer is up next. In the next few years, Advanced LIGO (US), Advanced Virgo (Italy) and KAGRA (Japan) will come online with the hope of directly detecting gravitational waves from sources such as supernovae and coalescing binary star systems. With this kind of network, it will then be possible to coordinate both electromagnetic and gravitational searches of our sky. This is useful for many reasons, one of which is that it lets us listen to the sound of black holes colliding where no light escapes.

Exciting times!

about 8 months ago
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The Earth As a Gravitational Wave Detector

SeanDS Re:Is 0.05 Hz to 1 Hz an interesting frequency ban (70 comments)

I don't know the answer to this, but looking at some LIGO charts (http://www.ligo.caltech.edu/advLIGO/images/refdes03.gif) they seem to be looking at 10-100Hz (roughly). Are there interesting or even expected sources in the frequency band investigated in this paper?

Gravitational waves are emitted at a wide spectrum of frequencies by different astronomical bodies. LIGO's frequency range is limited mostly by seismic activity at the low end and radiation pressure noise (essentially the momentum imparted by photons hitting mirrors) at the high end. It's about as well as we can do on Earth, currently. Indirect detections via astronomical techniques can avoid the issue of seismic activity disrupting measurements, and so it is possible to look at much lower frequencies. These frequencies, however, correspond to different sources to the ones LIGO can potentially see, so we can learn new information about different parts of our universe from both detection techniques.

about 8 months ago
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The Earth As a Gravitational Wave Detector

SeanDS Re:Please explain (70 comments)

Where does a gravity wave theoretically come from? All I can imagine is that they would come from a mass increasing or decreasing in magnitude, and I don't know of any way that happens.

The Guardian article refers to a detector which might have made an indirect detection of gravitational waves.

If two massive bodies such as neutron stars or black holes collide, the energy they lose in the form of gravitational energy is propagated away in waves. These waves are ripples in spacetime, and they are quadropolar in nature. This means that they stretch spacetime in one direction while squeezing it in the other.

Gravitational waves form part of the predictions of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. They are the last piece of the theory yet to receive a direct detection. A notable indirect detection of gravitational waves is the measurements of the orbital decay of the PSR B1913+16 binary pulsar, for which Hulse and Taylor received the Nobel Prize in 1993.

For the purposes of direct detection of these waves, on Earth we've set up a network of laser interferometers (the major players are Advanced LIGO, Advanced Virgo, GEO-HF and KAGRA, though all but GEO are currently in the process of being commissioned). If we arrange our detectors on Earth at right angles, we become optimally sensitive to the majority of gravitational wave sources. If the masses of the bodies involved in the collision are big enough, the ripples in spacetime will be strong enough to change the time in which it takes light to travel along each arm of the interferometer - in one arm the light will take longer time to travel, and in the other it will take shorter time. If we recombine the light in each arm, we can sense via the interference pattern of the light whether a gravitational wave has passed through the detector. In practice there are loads of other signal sources present in the interferometer, and quantifying and eliminating these sources of noise are the major tasks facing these detectors. With these noise sources accounted for, the first direct detection of gravitational waves might be made in the next few years.

The LISA project referred to in the main article is dead since NASA pulled out funding. The project lives on in the form of the ELISA project, funded by European organisations. This has tentative approval for launch in the next 20 years. This mission is not intended to directly detect the 'first' gravitational wave, but rather to detect them in abundence. Indeed, the problem with this type of detector is dealing with the huge number of potential detections. ELISA is also designed to detect waves in a completely different spectrum from the ground detectors, and from different astronomical sources. By the time ELISA launches it is likely that the network of detectors as part of the LIGO Scientific Community will have made the first detection, here on Earth.

about 8 months ago
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YouTube Ordered To Remove "Illegal" Copyright Blocking Notices

SeanDS Re:Draconian GEMA (427 comments)

GEMA and their clients benefit from the use of their music on videos on YouTube. While it's not right that Google can strong-arm everyone into accepting too low a price for the licencing (which I guess is why so many videos are blocked in Germany), presumably Google has offered a similar deal to GEMA as it has done to the US, UK and other countries' music bodies, and this has in turn set the baseline. If GEMA are being greedy and asking for more, then they deserve to be made to look bad by YouTube's message.

It's already a stupid idea to make YouTube negotiate royalties with every national body whether an artist is based there or not. Videos are being blocked from US and UK artists in Germany because the German record industry can't negotiate terms. That's silly.

I know I'm making a lot of suppositions here, but I really have very little sympathy for most record companies and their collective bodies.

about 9 months ago
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YouTube Ordered To Remove "Illegal" Copyright Blocking Notices

SeanDS Draconian GEMA (427 comments)

YouTube are right to pass the buck to GEMA. I've been living in Germany for 6 months after having lived in the UK all my life, and only having very rarely seen videos blocked by the UK music industry, almost all of the videos I try to watch on Facebook or similar (usually viral videos) are blocked. GEMA need to get with the times and realise they can't staunchly deny the internet the right to use its clients' music.

about 9 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Games Are You Playing?

SeanDS OpenTTD (669 comments)

I've played Transport Tycoon Deluxe since I was 12 and I've played OpenTTD since it came out. I'll probably play OpenTTD for years more. As the original game said in its tagline: "This game will bring out the megalomaniac in everyone".

Where other games are pretty and complex, OpenTTD is just about micromanaging a massive transport network. It's really consuming. I've lost evenings to the game for years. Sometimes I don't play it for up to a year, then go back to it and lose a month.

about 9 months ago
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Financing College With a Tax On All Graduates

SeanDS Re:This is an Australian innovation (597 comments)

This issue is fixed by making higher education free to everyone, which is what happens in Scotland. No fees to collect from fleeing emigrants. This works a treat because universities in Scotland are public institutions with the tuition fees they charge set/capped by the government (the rates they can charge the government, essentially). The country benefits from an educated workforce, especially because there are many high-tech businesses in the country that can employ them (letting the government recoup their investment in the form of income tax).

Loans for living expenses are also provided on a means-tested basis, and these are paid back by graduates only once they start to earn enough money. If they never earn enough money, they never have to pay their loan back. Also, if they haven't paid their loan back in full by the age of 50 (or something like that) then it is written off. These loans are provided by a semi-governmental organisation which has the power to collect the fees like any bank, so fleeing abroad will work only as well as it would for any kind of loan.

This probably sounds crazy to most Americans, but it works, and it receives overwhelming public support. It seems the only people complaining regularly are the universities who say they make a loss providing the education, but this argument is usually muted when you consider the huge amount of money the government spends on research in these universities (and lecturers are usually also researchers, so you can't really separate the two).

about 9 months ago
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Mozilla To Show Sponsored Links To First-Time Firefox Users

SeanDS Firefox Mobile (182 comments)

Although I don't so much mind this new addition if it brings in revenue to Mozilla, who are a nice company seemingly with the good of the web at heart, they have been playing one underhanded tactic recently with Firefox Mobile. On the mobile version, there is no way to remove the search providers pre-installed in the software (Bing, Amazon, Google, etc.). There used to be a way, but this feature was silently removed. I know I can just avoid using the search features (and untick the setting to automatically suggest search terms based on my input), but I should be able to uninstall search providers rather than give them free advertisement space on my browser.

about 9 months ago
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Scientists Extract RSA Key From GnuPG Using Sound of CPU

SeanDS Adi Shamer (264 comments)

Adi Shamir of RSA fame.

about a year ago
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The Burning Bridges of Ubuntu

SeanDS Re:So we should ditch Ubuntu and then (346 comments)

It doesn't have to have one. It's based on Ubuntu 'under the hood' so it benefits from Mark Shuttleworth indirectly. Mint takes the good stuff from Ubuntu, and leaves the crap (such as the advertisements in the search functionality... get. the. fuck. out.)

about a year ago
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Telegraph Contributor Says Coding Is For Exceptionally Dull Weirdos

SeanDS Don't worry, this is a paper for twits (453 comments)

The Telegraph is a conservative paper that longs for the days of Thatcher's 80s. They are probably still reeling from the removal of Latin and Greek lessons from schools, so any change to the curriculum that involves a subject less than a thousand years old is considered improper and worthy of insult. I wouldn't be too concerned about this article. The people that matter realise how important coding is to the nation, and they don't expect that everyone will be writing their own blogging platforms after a few years of tuition in school. It's about the mindframe that programming forces you into - it's good for problem solving abilities, and ushers in more technically minded youngsters. Win win. Don't listen to the idiots that don't see their own lack of technical competancy as a weakness but rather as a righteous, high brow statement of their upper class status. Look at how they compare coders to plumbers. These are the iProduct users of our time, who need every bit of their technology made ultra-simple due to their own ignorance.

1 year,24 days
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News Worth Buying On Paper

SeanDS Local newspapers will survive in an online age (106 comments)

This is why Warren Buffett is buying up local newspapers across the US. Online newspapers can only make money by reaching a large audience for the purposes of advertisements. Local newspapers survive because they provide local journalism that the national newspapers just aren't interested in (and rightly so - they can't make money from it). Local newspapers will survive for a long time, either in print form or in online subscription form, because there is an audience willing to pay for the news.

about a year ago
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Stubborn Intel Graphics Bug Haunts Ubuntu 12.04

SeanDS Problem started with 12.04 LTS for me (320 comments)

I have this problem on my laptop. It only started for me when I upgraded to 12.04 LTS. Ubuntu 11.10 worked like a charm, without this bug.

So if I am experiencing the same bug as the one this topic is about, then I guess it's to do with a new version of Compiz or X.org or whatever between 11.10 and 12.04. It's not a big issue for me - I use the laptop only to browse the web so I don't mind restarting when the bug appears. I'd be a lot more pissed if it happened on my desktop (productivity) machine. I would probably be driven to move distros.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: To AdBlock Or Not To AdBlock?

SeanDS Re:BBC Model (716 comments)

I've used the BBC news website as my main and often only source of news for years. However, I am still consistently amazed every few months when I discover yet another service that the BBC has been modestly offering in the background.

A couple of years ago the Tory government in the UK were trying to reduce the BBC's budget dramatically, arguing that it's lost focus on its core objective of news. In particular, they wanted to scale back the websites to just basic news, arguing that the real content should be provided by newspapers' websites. The reality is that the public love and defend the BBC's diverse range of services, and in the end I think the bill was scrapped. Now, with the recent Olympics, the BBC successfully (without a hitch, from what I saw) broadcast web-based feeds of 30 sporting events simultaneously, to tens of millions of viewers at once. Not only that, but you could rewind and seek within the live stream videos to rewatch notable events. They've recently extended the same functionalty to their iPlayer (catch-up TV) service, allowing me to rewind a programme that's currently broadcasting if I've missed the beginning.

The licence fee is an absolute bargain. I'd happily pay twice that amount. The only comparable website (and there are no real comparisons) would perhaps be the Guardian newspaper's website, which at least competes for news content. It doesn't make a stab at history sections, archives of old film footage (such as the Titanic launch), learning/revision services for school kids, a news service entirely aimed at kids (and toddlers), science...

more than 2 years ago
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Electronic Retailers In Europe Now Required To Take Back Old Goods

SeanDS Re:Retailers in the UK are paid by the weight of W (162 comments)

Ok, I was basing this on what a manager at a large electronics retailer I worked in told me. Certainly while I worked there, the company was absolutely happy to accept any WEEE goods from anyone, including those who hadn't bought anything from the shop. We had people coming in and giving us WEEE goods and then leaving without looking at anything. It seems to me that such a policy would only be in the company's interest if they were being paid by weight to do it.

Maybe companies are fined based on the weight of products sold minus WEEE collected? That could be construed as paying by weight as well as earning by weight, so perhaps we're both right. I'm happy to admit my ignorance on the matter though - my knowledge is just based on what a manager once told me.

more than 2 years ago

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