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NRC Analyst Calls To Close Diablo Canyon, CA's Last Remaining Nuclear Plant

billstewart Diablo's built on an earthquake fault (216 comments)

The press is reporting that the Napa quake wrecked about a billion dollars worth of wine. Beats having a quake in Diablo canyon spilling plutonium.

about a week ago
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Google Announces a New Processor For Project Ara

billstewart Re: Google seems kind of serious about this (36 comments)

The reason for self-driving cars is so they can drive you by the billboards that match your demographic profile and skip the ones that don't bid as much for display time.

about a week ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Re: Redshirts vs. Old Man's War (180 comments)

Guess you and I are on opposite sides of the fence about Scalzi. I read Old Man's War, and while it was well done, it didn't grab me at all. Most military sci-fi is pretty soulless. Redshirts started out looking like it was going to be a fun Star Trek parody, but then went into a bunch of totally new directions. It wasn't my first choice of the nominees that year, but it way exceeded my expectations.

about two weeks ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Re:So, what controversy? (180 comments)

I recommend getting drunk first. What is it you trolls drink?

about two weeks ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Re:So, what controversy? (180 comments)

Correia seemed to be trying to rudely bully a lot of people to make it clear that he doesn't like all of you politically correct liberal liberal liberals out there in the publishing business. He was the one who brought Beale in to offend anybody who's even vaguely possible to offend; I don't like people doing that at parties I'm attending. (He also ran a campaign slate for nominees, which is pretty much not done (except every publisher saying "hey, vote for all OUR stuff.") I assume they did that together, but I don't know either of them. Their other main slate-member was Torgerson, who writes Mormonish mil-sci-fi. (He also threw the Schlock Mercenary comic in as a graphic work, which I found quite enjoyable back when it was originally nominated but which wasn't eligible as a 2013 work, so I thought that was tacky.)

Beale's fiction wasn't, in my opinion, Hugo quality, but it would have been ok in a pulp magazine back when those were the dominant form. His personal writings are so creepy that I can see why anybody willing to vote for his work would get criticism; reminds me of the "Vote for the Crook" election in Louisiana a few years back. Correia's writing is entertaining, in a mostly cartoonish way, and I'm ok with that. Not super deep, moderately fun if you like the stuff. Torgerson's work was so utterly soulless I ranked it below Beale's.

about two weeks ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Ideological right-wing whiners don't speak for me (180 comments)

Sorry, I'm a Libertarian, from a relatively conservative background (which is not at all the same thing as a right-wing background, so I guess I was the "wrong" type of conservative for you), and I'd much rather read good writing by somebody whose politics I disagree with than bad writing. There are writers who really need gatekeepers to keep them from wasting my time, and there are good writers who still need editors to rein them in (how did Neal Stephenson get to burn a Baroque Cycle worth of paper?) or to help them fix stuff that isn't working. Small presses or big presses can both do that, while electronic publishing usually means "self-publishing" by people who might know to hire a copy-editor, which isn't the same thing at all. And while Charlie Stross* is a socialist who hangs out with Paul Krugman, his economic writing is great stuff; I'm planning to finish Neptune's Brood after reading the Hugo nom excerpt.

Publishing on dead trees is a tough game these days - it has to compete with TV, video games, and the Web and other internet distractions for readers' time, bookstores are dying, getting people to sit down for an entire novel is harder than it used to be, and forget trying to make a living as a short-story writer now that the pulps are gone and the remaining outlets can't pay as much a word. "Hollywood accounting" is more of a problem for writers selling to the alternate-publisher press than the traditional houses.

And yeah, there's too much formulaic dreck out there; Sturgeon's Law hasn't changed, and many publishers are still willing to make literary decisions based on what they've been able to get bookstores to buy, but that's no different for Baen's mil-sci-fi writers than for the urban-paranormal subgenre or the million Tolkien imitators.

* (Yes, Charlie's published in London, and mostly only later in New York, because of the international publishing rights weirdness, but most of the other Scottish SF writers are fairly radically socialist just to annoy people like Anonymous Coward.)

about two weeks ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart "New York" was London this year - Orbit Excerpts (180 comments)

BTW, you might not have noticed, but three of the five nominees for the Hugo novels this year were published by Orbit Books, in London. The ideology that marked them was "Hey, we don't want to lose book sales by giving away free copies in the voting packet, let's just do excerpts!" Correia's trilogy was published by Baen, and the Wheel Of Time series, 15-or-so volumes, which got nominated as a single work, was published by Tor, both of whom included the entire sets, which I liked much better. (In Correia's case, Volume 3 was the new work that was actually nominated, but including the first two made it make a lot more sense.)

Excerpts didn't do the job for me. It's not just that I'm grumpy because I'm cheap and consider getting the nominated novels part of what makes it worth paying for the voting membership*, but it also affected how well I could judge the work before voting. For Stross's book, which I was planning to buy anyway, it was enough; for Mira Grant's, it probably was (though so far it doesn't look like as strong a work as the Feed series.) But I know both of their work and have read most of their novels, so I've got some idea of where they might be going; Ancillary Justice was Leckie's debut novel, and while the excerpt was enough to get some flavor of her writing skill, and see some of the things she did in the first few chapters, it's a bit of a slow start, I didn't get sucked into it, and also I can't yet tell whether the main character is just an interesting and complex post-human or a totally creepy slave-taker.

* The package includes the Hugo novels or excerpts, the Campbell-nominated works (mostly novels), all the shorter works, most of the graphical material, a lot of short stories in this year's short-form editor award, a really amazing related-works section (this was a good year for that), all for the cost of a supporting membership for the upcoming Worldcon, which is usually about $40. You get to nominate for the Hugos if you bought it in time, and you get to vote on the winners.

about two weeks ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Re:Tactics unsuccessful? (180 comments)

Yes. People talked about them. They got to whine to each other about how all the liberal feminazis voted against their immensely well-written books for political correctness reasons; I ranked them low because of the writing. They were pretty much going to do that anyway. Maybe they kept some better-written works from getting on the ballot (but there's usually lots of competition, and certainly was this time.) Maybe Correia will get some more book sales (a friend who likes his writing says that the trilogy that got nominated wasn't his best work; so far I've found it to be readable escape-fiction, fun if not deep.)

Having heard some of what Beale's written when he's blathering misogynistically about whatever vile tripe he's blathering about, I'm not going to buy anything that will pay him any money or even read more of his writing online. But I did give his nominated work a fair review (wasn't Hugo material; would have been ok as a story in a pulp magazine, back when there were more pulp magazines around.)

On the other hand, Torgerson's work surprised me - while his two pieces had much better writing mechanics than Beale's, they were utterly soulless non-introspective pieces of formulaic bland. Mil-fi isn't my favorite genre, but this isn't close to being Honor Harrington (which I liked) or Scalzi's Old Man's War (meh, and I like his other writing), or even up to the quality of one of the freebies given out at the previous Worldcon, where the author obviously at least enjoyed obsessively describing the spaceship which Our Guys were going to go Fight Aliens with.

about two weeks ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Chris Hadfield's Space Oddity missed by 3 votes (180 comments)

It hadn't occurred to me to nominate it, and unfortunately didn't occur to enough other people, so it missed the short list for Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form by about 3 votes (usually only the top 5 nominees get onto the ballot, occasionally 6 if there's a tie or fewer than 5 if not enough works meet the "5% of nominations" threshold.)

An actual astronaut, in space, performing a classic science-fiction-themed song, named after one of the most influential SF movies? It so totally belonged on the ballot, because [expletive deleted] we're living in the future!.

Of course, a few other works I liked, and works I haven't read yet by authors I like, also didn't get on the ballot, but that's normal.

about two weeks ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Fantasy's part of the genre (180 comments)

No, it's not hard sci-fi. Neither are many of the winners many years.

about two weeks ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Re:first post (180 comments)

That was nominated for best short story, but didn't get enough votes to make the short list.

about two weeks ago
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Interviews: Andrew "bunnie" Huang Answers Your Questions

billstewart Re:Nickname (32 comments)

You also forgot "Southerner" in your stereotypes, and you're probably thinking of a perfectly ordinary bunny rabbit. When I hear someone with the nickname bunnie, if they're a hardware hacker, he's who I think of.

about two weeks ago
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Interviews: Andrew "bunnie" Huang Answers Your Questions

billstewart Re:Grammar Flaming As A lifestyle... (32 comments)

First of all, this is English. You can do just about anything you want. Even more so if you're a descriptivist rather than a prescriptivist.

Second, using "they" as a non-gendered third person pronoun referring to a singular antecedent has been in documented use for at least 600 years. It's no worse an impedance mismatch than using a gendered singular third person pronoun, and no matter what your middle-school English teacher taught you, English grammar isn't Latin grammar, nor is it modern German grammar.

Third, you should be using lead-free solder these days anyway (and while it is a lot less cooperative, inexpensive soldering irons today are better than cheap soldering irons were when I was a kid.)

about two weeks ago
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San Francisco Airport Testing Beacon System For Blind Travelers

billstewart Re:Android's annoying (61 comments)

This is a belated reply, but the title was "Android's annoying". Yes, if I had an iPhone, I could use Siri, and it would Just Work, because that's what shiny Apple things do. On an Android phone, it's (optionally unlock the screen, then) go to Messaging, then hit the little microphone icon that tells it you want Google to interpret some speech, then tell it what the speech is, then hit the send button, all of which require me to put on my reading glasses first (which would be a bad idea, if I were driving, which of course I'm not.)

That's not even counting the HTC-skinned version of text messaging app, which knows I want to see lots of previous call history on the screen at once, and knows I'm not going to need to do the thumb-pinch thing to make the text bigger, much less having a menu entry to let me choose font size first, but that was my old 2.0-custom-HTC-AT&T version of Android, as opposed to KitKat.

about two weeks ago
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Leaked Documents: GCHQ Made Port-Scanning Entire Countries a Standard Spy Tool

billstewart Re:So what? (58 comments)

Well somebody set up us the boxee, captain!

about two weeks ago
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Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office

billstewart You're reading this on Slashdot (327 comments)

So, really, you're in no position to criticize...

about three weeks ago
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Big Bang Actors To Earn $1M Per Episode

billstewart Nash Bridges filmed near my office (442 comments)

Back in the 90s I was working in San Francisco, at 4th and Folsom. Don Johnson and Cheech Marin's show Nash Bridge filmed in SF, often under the freeway near my office, and sometimes on one of the streets near us. They'd block things off and film episodes, and the clerk for my department had the hots for him, so she'd have to go watch out the window if they were close enough.

about a month ago
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San Francisco Airport Testing Beacon System For Blind Travelers

billstewart Android's annoying (61 comments)

Maybe a current Android phone is better, but my old one has helpful things like a microphone icon next to the keyboard that you can press and type by voice recognition instead of keyboard. Which I suppose is useful, after I put on my reading glasses to do texting or other apps in the first place. (I'm sorry, I want the equivalent of being able to tell Siri to do stuff without needing to look at the keyboard - how else am I going to text while driving\\\\\\\\ um, use the phone with limited vision? And my HTC's version of Android didn't even let me pick a font size for text messaging; HTC just knew I'd prefer to see more lines of conversation and wouldn't need to do the pinch thing to make the text bigger.)

about a month ago
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San Francisco Airport Testing Beacon System For Blind Travelers

billstewart How my mom gets through airports (61 comments)

Yes, I know you're trolling, but I'm going to comment anyway.

My mom's not blind, but her vision's really lousy (age-related macular degeneration, like a lot of old people with serious vision problems.) She takes wheelchairs in the airport, which not only takes care of navigation, but also helps her deal with distance (she can do short distances herself, but has trouble with long distances or long standing.) As the Boomer generation gets old and decrepit, we're going to start doing the same.

Using technology instead of labor is what capital is for. The capital only gets wasted if these sensors are obsolete in a couple of years, and if we haven't learned any lessons about design or implementation from it.

about a month ago

Submissions

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US Senate passes Patent Overhaul Bill

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 3 years ago

billstewart writes "The US Senate passed a patent-reform bill, S.23 aka "America Invents", which changes US patents from First-to-Invent to First-to-File. (thomas.loc.gov Status Query, Computerworld Article, National Journal with comments pro and con, SF Chron). Patrick Leahy sponsored it. Passed 95-5, House expecting to introduce similar bill Real Soon. Silicon Valley businesses large and small were mostly against it, IBM was for it. Dianne Feinstein attempted an amendment to remove the First-to-File part, but voted for it anyway after that failed. Barbara Boxer voted against.

The US patent system has been first-to-invent for a long time, while Europe has been first-to-file. There's lots of other detail, largely intended to reduce the amount of patent litigation, improve the coordination with non-US patents, potentially improve the problems with patents on things with prior art and obviousness, and affect some tax issues."

Link to Original Source
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Pirate Bay is now Officially Notorious

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 3 years ago

billstewart writes "The U.S. Trade Representative's first global "Review of Notorious Markets" named Pirate Bay and Chinese search engine Baidu on a list of "notorious" sites for pirated goods and software. Most of the sites on the list were in China, and Pirate Bay's in Sweden, more or less, but other sites were in Mexico City, Buenos Aires, New Delhi, Kiev, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Manila."
Link to Original Source
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Elonex announces £99 Linux laptop

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 6 years ago

billstewart (78916) writes "Elonex is announcing a £99 Linux-based laptop for the UK education market. PDF Press Release. The debut will be at the Feb 28th Education Show and they won't actually be shipping until summerish. It weighs less than a kilo, has a 7" screen (no indication what resolution it is...), full qwerty keyboard, 1GB flash, 3 hour battery, speakers and headphone jack for playing MP3s. They're co-marketing it along with USB bracelets for kids who want to store more content (presumably supports regular USB sticks as well), and say that that will let kids use whatever laptop happens to be available. It doesn't say what Linux distro they're using, but they've got an online site for downloading more content.

While it's targeted for the education market (and part of a National Laptop Initiative), if they were selling it in the US I'd buy one — it sounds like a reasonable competitor to the Asus Eee, and closer to my toy budget.

One feature I'd really like to see on laptops these days is mechanical — it's having a USB jack that's set in some kind of indented docking space, so you can plug in a USB memory stick without having it stick out where it can get banged. There are some that have slots for compact flash or various SD cards, which can be a reasonable alternative, but memory sticks have become pretty universal."
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Microsoft to unveil virtualization strategy Tues

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 6 years ago

billstewart (78916) writes "The San Jose Mercury News reports that Microsoft will be announcing a virtualization strategy on Tuesday, including
  • an alliance with Citrix Systems (owners of XenSource),
  • acquisition of privately held Calista Technologies of San Jose, which has software that speeds up the performance of applications running in a virtualized environment, and
  • lower price for Windows Vista used on virtualized computers. (More at Bloomberg.)
The company confirmed its plans to deliver its Hyper-V hypervisor within six months of the launch of Windows Server 2008 (betas available now), which is expected this quarter. And of course there's hype about competing with VMware."
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XenSource releases product, gets bought by Citrix

billstewart billstewart writes  |  about 7 years ago

billstewart (78916) writes "XenSource has been in the news twice this week — Monday they release a product, then Tuesday they get bought for $500m by Citrix. Here's Network World's take on the buyout and on the product. It looks like the product is packaging new releases of several of their components — there's a 64-bit hypervisor version 3.1 that uses the Intel and AMD hardware tricks, APIs, management tools, and XenMotion, which lets you move running virtual machines around. According to Xen's product page, the free-beer XenExpress version gets the hypervisor, APIs, and some of the management tools, but not the fancier management or XenMotion, and it's somewhat crippled in terms of capacity (max 4 VMs, 2 CPUs, 4GB RAM, while the commercial versions support 128GB total RAM, larger VMs, and unlimited VMs and CPUs.)

(But will it run Linux?) It will run Linux — one of the data sheets implies that Linux only runs in 32-bit mode, while Windows can run 64-bit. Perhaps there's more documentation that provides more details."

Link to Original Source
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billstewart billstewart writes  |  about 8 years ago

billstewart writes "Network World has an article on networks of pneumatic tubes, which are still around in some cities, and also used in places like hospitals. As the article says, "Try delivering bottles of pills over Ethernet." There have been a number of proposals to take unused city pneumatic networks and run fiber optic telecom lines through them. Unfortunately, according to the article, most of them haven't actually worked out — 9/11/2001 interfered with the plans to do that around Wall Street, and city governments haven't always been cooperative, especially when their water&sewer departments want to run fiber through their own tubes. One company has some patents on doing it — the business model may be obvious, but getting the fiber actually blown through the tubes without damaging it apparently has some non-obvious techniques to it."

Journals

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billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I usually give positive moderations lots of slack - I may think a joke or an article is lame, but if somebody wants to moderate it Insightful or Funny, fine - I'll mark those moderations as Unfair/Unfunny if they're promoting obvious trolls or whatever, but that's not common.

Negative moderations are usually obvious also, but the one that I don't give much slack is "Redundant". If an article really was duplicating existing content at the time it was written, or is just adding a content-free me-too, then it's redundant, but if it's a +1 article written two minutes after the main slashdot article, and somebody posts something similar but much more insightful an hour later that makes it up to +5, the first one is still Not Redundant. Maybe it's Overrated, maybe it's Flamebait, and I'd let those moderations through, but I'll call a "Redundant" as "Unfair" if it wasn't redundant enough.

"Flamebait" gets a lot more slack - sometimes there are articles that I strongly agree with (even if I've written them myself :-) that are aggressive enough that they get Flamebait, and I'll usually let those stand - but I try to ding any moderations where the moderator's calling something Flamebait just because they disagree with it.

The one meta-moderation I have trouble with is when somebody rates something as "Funny" that looks like it was intended to be serious, not funny (and wasn't accidentally funny either.) Does marking the moderation Unfair undo the moderation, decreasing the posting's status? Or does it just ding the moderator's karma, which is fine...?

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Wow! A Journal! It's like Blogging! :-)

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 11 years ago Wow! This says it will go down on my permanent record - that's pretty scary, given the recent Congressional activity....

Blogging is lame enough - it's a way of nagging people who don't write their own HTML into at least writing text and links. Guess I can't flame them too much, given that I've done almost no edits to my web page in years :-) So here *I* am, not even getting my own Blogging software for my web pages, much less writing it myself - I'm just using /.s.

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