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Google Sues Mississippi Attorney General For Conspiring With Movie Industry

Will.Woodhull Re:Dear Mississippi (104 comments)

There can be little question that what the USA needs now is another Teddy Roosevelt trust-buster. Big corporations-- and banks-- are exerting way too much influence on the USA's politics and marketplace. Time to do what T.R. did about100 years ago: use government to regulate Big Business so that the marketplace and politics can work the way the founding fathers intended. Instead of twisting governments-- state as well as federal-- to do what Big Business thinks is best for themselves.

I'm not sure that Saint Hilliary is earthy enough to get the job done. I'm not sure that Ms Warren has the skills and shrewdness of thought the work requires. Maybe they could combine forces.

What I am pretty sure of is we need a Mommy in the White House who can restore order in the nursery and rumpus room and do whatever enforcement is needed to get all the kids to play nicely with each other.

yesterday
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Kepler Makes First Exoplanet Discovery After Mission Reboot

Will.Woodhull Re:Why do these reaction wheels keep failing? (27 comments)

There is such technology. On Earth. In space there are limitations of weight and energy consumption to contend with.

2 days ago
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Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG

Will.Woodhull Re:Transparency is supported. Pronounciation? (377 comments)

An excellent discussion and I learned a couple of things.

I will continue to use .png for archival needs where bandwidth issues do not apply, and I can avoid worrying about the copy-of-copy degradation of .jpg without the excessive size of .tiff or other lossless formats. I will convert to .jpg at as high compression as is workable when preparing images for the web.

This leads to another question, now that several persons who know something about this stuff are gathered together on this one thread:

Blender can work with images from a number of different sources and these can be stored within the .blend database. These might be reference images during modeling or textures used in the finished product. They are usualy the major contributor to the size of the .blend file. So, does anyone know whether there would be an advantage to using one image format over another when working with Blender?

about two weeks ago
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Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG

Will.Woodhull Re:Transparency is supported. Pronounciation? (377 comments)

Why is there no mention of Portable Network Graphics in this discussion? .png has an alpha channel, has broad support, and uses *lossless* compression. What's not to like? It does not compress as tightly as highly compressed .jpg, but as several have pointed out, that's not as big an issue any more.

So am I missing something? Or is it just some kind of marketing thing that .png does not see much use?

about two weeks ago
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Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

Will.Woodhull Re:How about a straight answer? (329 comments)

If YOU had read the studies, you would know that the risk of lung cancer was a major talking point only for the anti-smoking marketeers, who felt that the very high risks of smoking induced heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were not scary enough to cause addicts to give up their habit.

To continue smoking or to give it up is the one decision that will have the greatest impact on a person's health twenty years and more down the road. Whether this is from the nicotine addiction or from all the other crud in inhaled tobacco smoke is an unknown.

about two weeks ago
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Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

Will.Woodhull Re:How about a straight answer? (329 comments)

From what I understand, there is little doubt climate change is happening, the questions is to what extent the impact of humans may be responsible.

That is not the question.

The question is, now that climate change has become inevitable, what should we do about it?

The answer varies considerably for different values of "we". However for most values of "we", it would make sense to do what can be done to reduce the greenhouse gases our human activities produce. For while this might not make a difference, it might make a big difference since everything suggests that that the climate's near future is characterized by one or more tipping points, and even a minor reduction in the rate of greenhouse gas production could be enough to keep from tumbling over a cliff.

about two weeks ago
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The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

Will.Woodhull Re:I am no economist, but as a geek ... (205 comments)

You are conflating Linux with the desktop environments that it supports. Don't do that. It just demonstrates how ignorant you are, and is rather annoying.

Linux is not built like Windows. A Linux distro consists of its Linux kernel and one or more desktop environments supported by the kernel. I am currently running the Ubuntu Studio version using the XFCE desktop with elements from Gnome and KDE blended in. It works pretty well: several years now without any system crashes, has handled several full distro upgrades without any issues. I can't count how many times the Linux kernel has upgraded. The kernel upgrades install with no more disturbance than a message saying that the computer needs to reboot for the new stuff to become active.

about two weeks ago
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Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

Will.Woodhull Re: As far as I'm concerned, Pluto is still a plan (77 comments)

Exactly. I'm sure that sooner or later the IAU will talk it over with the semanticists and fix the problems. I'm thinking it would be better if that would happen sooner rather than later. And I strongly believe that, committee inertia being what it is, poking at the problem will help it get addressed sooner.

about two weeks ago
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Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

Will.Woodhull Re:NASA at its best (77 comments)

My concern is with researchers from other fields who have cause to visit the astronomy silo but do not live there. We are more than a century past the time when any field of science could define its terminology in isolation from the rest of the community of scholars. Astronomy needs to look at its short-sighted parochial practices and use a wide field of view more often.

See comment #48550243.

about two weeks ago
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Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

Will.Woodhull Re:Dwarf Planets (77 comments)

The definitions do define the scope of research, especially research by persons in other fields who are visiting the astronomy silo but are not residents of it.

SKOS does not work well with murky or badly designed definitions or classification schemes. See comment #48550243.

Astronomy isn't just about stars and planets any more. At least, it shouldn't be, it should be part of the larger community of scientists and contributing its share to the common goal of greater understanding.

about two weeks ago
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Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

Will.Woodhull Re: As far as I'm concerned, Pluto is still a plan (77 comments)

Thanks for bringing up SKOS. This kind of semantic thesaurus has become an increasingly important tool in researching the literature of any field. This is especially true when the researcher might be following citations that lead him/her outside their particular area of expertise or into a natural language where he/she is not fluent.

Of course if the thesaurus is wrong, then literature that might otherwise be very important to a research project might well be overlooked. So building taxonomies-- classification hierarchies-- that are compatible with SKOS concepts is quite important. Especially at this time in the history of science where the most profound discoveries are no longer those that build the silos higher or deeper, but those that find the connections between silos. Such as the work that is being done by geologists and biologists into the role of some clays in the protobiotic formation of some proteins.

The IAU definitions of "planet", "dwarf planet", and other denizens of the solar system is not SKOS compliant. It should be, but it cannot be. The IAU defined this terminology in 2006. But SKOS did not become a completed W3C Recommendation until 2009; it had not even reached the stage of Recommendation Proposal in 2006.

So evidently the astronomers did as best they could with the tools available to laymen in the information management field in 2006. I think we can expect that the astronomers will revise their schema to better fit with the worldwide community of scholars when they next meet. Almost certainly they will bring some expertise in information management to that upcoming meeting. In the meantime, it is useful to keep in mind that the current definitions and taxonomy are not necessarily going to be regarded as valid, or even useful, a few short years from now.

about two weeks ago
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Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

Will.Woodhull Re:NASA at its best (77 comments)

Fortunately NASA is dominated by engineers who do not have to put up with stupid definitions developed by committees of astronomers. It takes persons with great vision to get hard data from Mars, Jupiter space, and soon Pluto. The vision of the International Astronomical Union is too microscopic to really be of much use.

about two weeks ago
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Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

Will.Woodhull Re:Dwarf Planets (77 comments)

Astronomers are now adding more and more epicycles to the definition of "planet" as used in their jargon. That's stupid.

The Keplerian solution is apparently too simple to grasp: A planet is one the set of {Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune}. Everything else is not a planet. That is a reasonable and sufficient definition of "planet" in the current astronomical jargon.

Meanwhile, those who wish to communicate in English can talk about planets without bothering to be so specific. There is a value in this. English is capable of handle concepts like regarding the Earth and Moon as a binary planet, where the gravitational interplay between the two bodies has uniquely shaped both, and given rise to significant activity not found elsewhere in the solar system. Such as tides, the effects of tides on ocean currents and weather, the influence tides have had on the evolution of life, the influence of tides and weather on human cultures, and so on.

Apparently none of these phenomena are of any interest to astronomy (despite Fred Hoyle's great book from many years ago) since they have defined their jargon in such a way that astronomy is excluded from participating in exploring such exciting concepts.

about two weeks ago
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Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

Will.Woodhull Re:As far as I'm concerned, Pluto is still a plane (77 comments)

And here I thought the purpose of "technical terminology" was to improve communications between experts within a field by assigning strict definitions to certain words. In the field of linguistics, this is called a "jargon", and can be used to refer to the trade talk of nuclear physicists or that of plumbers or carpenters, etc. Of course astronomers don't study linguistics so it is not surprising that they don't know this term.

Within their jargon, astronomers can mangle, mutilate, extend, or transmogrify whatever words they feel is necessary. But they have no business attempting to dictate anything about language to the general population. Going so far out of their area of expertise just demonstrates that some astronomers are know-it-all assholes.

Astronomers can have their "dwarf planets", and can define a planet such that anything like a planet that happens to orbit another star has to be called something else. But trying to make the common English language conform to their jargon is as silly as their current definition of what a planet is.

By the way, a more succinct and valid definition of "planet" within the current accepted jargon of astronomers is this: "A planet is a member of the following set: { Mecury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune }".

about two weeks ago
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Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

Will.Woodhull Re:As far as I'm concerned, Pluto is still a plane (77 comments)

And I see no reason why objects that meet all the requirements of being a planet but happen to orbit some other star cannot be planets. Wow, astronomy has now gone all the way from a parochial Earth-centered view of the Universe, to a parochial Sol-centered view.

But I guess you've got to expect stupid results when astronomers with no training in linguistics, taxonomy, or any related field step way out of their area of expertise to dictate about stuff to the rest of us.

Stupid astronomers. What would Galileo say?

about two weeks ago
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Why Pluto Still Matters

Will.Woodhull Re:Not worth reading (91 comments)

Having RTFA, it is evident to me that the reason the abstract lacked any redeeming quality of any kind is because the article itself had no redeeming quality of any kind.

Slashdot: I wasted several minutes of my life reading TFA. I want them back.

about two weeks ago
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Chromebooks Overtake iPads In US Education Market

Will.Woodhull Re:simple (193 comments)

That seems to be true of Apple products. But there are Android devices that are not built that way, and I think the same is true of at least some of the Chromebooks. I've done module level repairs on Asus netbooks and Acer laptops in the last few years, and I expect that Chromebooks of the same level of quality would be built as modular units. Not as monolithic "got to put it in the landfill because somebody spilled cola on the keyboard" crap.

But I may be wrong. I don't buy completely unrepairable trash, no matter what the price; I won't even look at it. (Part of the reason I haven't owned any Apple products since I gave up my Apple ][+ 30 years ago.) Back in the day, I used to custom build IBM compatible PCs by buying empty cases and fitting them with power supples, IO cards, memory sticks, drives, peripherals, and what-not for the soho market. So I have a lot of experience in computer maintenance that is almost impossible to acquire these days. Except of course for the gamers who are into the liquid nitrogen cooling systems so they can overclock to ridiculous speeds while using GPUs that all by themselves have a hundred times more computing power than was used to build the stuff that put a man on the Moon. Way back when. I wonder if anyone now alive will see THAT happen again.

about three weeks ago
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Chromebooks Overtake iPads In US Education Market

Will.Woodhull Re:simple (193 comments)

He has a pretty good chromebook junkyard that he lets the kids have access to to fix things before they have to pay for a replacement.

That is a great concept! I doubt that there is any school system that does not have a closet somewhere where dead Chromebooks could be stored. When the inventory becomes large enough, an elective high school course in tearing down, diagnosing, and repairing them would get some of them back in service while providing the students a great hands-on learning opportunity in problem solving and general shop procedures.

While many schools would not have a teacher with the requisite technical skills to take on such a class, most large school systems would be able to recruit volunteer "teaching assistants" from the local Free Geek computer recycling center. That recycling center might possibly provide access to shop space and tools, too. But given enough lead time and a willingness to canvas local businesses, the needed equipment (screwdrivers, testing frames, nuts and bolts storage containers, etc) could be obtained gratis. And I would expect that upon a properly presented request, Google would provide some help in getting a program up and running.

One of the things school administrators are likely to overlook (since to date they have not been schooled in looking at it) is the cost associated with the waste stream of broken student electronic gizmos. Like Chromebooks or iPads, etc. This needs to be corrected. Slashdot readership can take a role in helping local school systems come to terms with these end-of-service-life problems.

about three weeks ago
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Chromebooks Overtake iPads In US Education Market

Will.Woodhull Re:Disgraceful considering Google's age restrictio (193 comments)

Why didn't you just create a google account in your name and let him use it?

As someone who successfully parented a child through her teenage years, how the hell else could you give your child appropriately guided access to the Internet? The web is full of dangers for grandparent newbies who had been around the block several times before most slashdot readers were even born. It would be totally irresponsible, a complete case of child abuse, to turn a kid who has not yet even learned how to use his or her moral compass loose on the web without close adult supervision.

Very few, if any, kids who cannot yet get a drivers license should have their own accounts on the web. Let those accounts be in a parent's or guardian's name, where there is at least the possibility of intervening before the kid gets sucked into trouble.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Wanted: ebola-proof suits and/or terrestrial robots

Will.Woodhull Will.Woodhull writes  |  about 2 months ago

Will.Woodhull (1038600) writes "An open letter to the greatest philanthropists of our time:

Ebola is going to be an increasingly important thing in our lives for at least a couple of decades. An infection with a +70% mortality rate that is on an exponential growth curve is not going to be contained and eradicated any time soon. We are going to live with it, and some of us are likely to die from it, for years to come

We need something similar to a spacesuit to replace the protective garments that care givers are currently wearing. The suit needs to be immune to agents that can be used to assure disinfection of all its exposed surfaces. For instance, the wearer might need to be able to walk through an intense microwave chamber, or a massive bon fire, and probably through fog chambers of antivirus chemicals without being affected, and without destroying the suit's re-useability. The suit would also need to provide a good interior environment, including cooling, sip tubes for hydration and feeding, etc. Last, it should be bullet proof, since in many environments where it would be used there would be persons who would be willing to kill for the apparent advantages the suit might seem to provide. Finally, it needs to be mass produced: everyone involved in healthcare delivery should have one at hand.

Any well built ebola proof suit is likely to be a good basis for designing a spacesuit. Even in the unlikely event that we find some way to get rid of ebola in the next few months, the work done on the ebola suit would be of benefit.

Would someone like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, or Warren Buffet take this project on? We need these suits-- like literally yesterday when you think of the number of health care providers who have died from ebola, and some of those deaths have even been among persons who have the best possible gear now available, and the very best training in how to use it."
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A weighty comic: xkcd on gravity wells

Will.Woodhull Will.Woodhull writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Will.Woodhull writes "xkcd's comic for today is a wonderful description of the solar system in terms of gravity wells. Don't miss it!

It does raise a couple of questions: how accurate are the numbers (can we trust our comics in this day and age)? should this be incorporated into K-12 schooling? And what's with those Titanics: it seems like like they are singing a Frank Sinatra lyric with their lungs full of helium?"

Link to Original Source

Journals

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First Entry

Will.Woodhull Will.Woodhull writes  |  more than 5 years ago

I was active on Slashdot from June, 2002 to about a month ago as MysticGoat, account #582871.

I am continuing from this time forward with this account, under a nickname that is very close to my name in real life.

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