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US Army Wants Weapon To Destroy Drone Swarms

bitingduck Re:Flak (208 comments)

Which is basically a tiny flak cannon vs birds.

You might as well have it operated by trained rats, or maybe marmosets for full on cute.

about a week ago
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US Army Wants Weapon To Destroy Drone Swarms

bitingduck Re:That would be a Directed EMP (208 comments)

I had this thought pretty much immediately, as well. However, at the current sizes of commercially-available "drones", the military already has a such a system that could be easily adapted for anti-drone use - chaff.

Chaff falls out of the sky quickly - you'd probably want proximity shells full of it (plus some BBs), or a flail drone.

about a week ago
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US Army Wants Weapon To Destroy Drone Swarms

bitingduck Re: That would be a Directed EMP (208 comments)

With automated fire control system, the return fire is normally in the air before you fire the second round.

Since there are also systems that will shoot down the incoming round, the return fire is probably in the air before the first round even hits the ground (if it makes it that far).

about a week ago
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Regular Exercise Not Enough To Make Up For Sitting All Day

bitingduck Re:Exercise: When and How? (348 comments)

Find an engineering job at a place with a large campus where you have to walk to meetings a lot. I normally work at a site that's built on the side of a mountain, so there's maybe 500 feet of elevation change from bottom to top, and I've typically had to walk a couple laps nearly every day to meet with people, plus various shorter walks for things. Right now I'm temporarily at a subcontractor site that's also a large campus, but it's dead flat and it's not nearly as nice.

about two weeks ago
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Regular Exercise Not Enough To Make Up For Sitting All Day

bitingduck Re:Limited power to change working situation... (348 comments)

You can get up and take a five minute smoke break every 30 minutes.
Sitting on your ass all day sounds so bad, taking up smoking might actually be a net-win.

Especially if you don't light the cigarette.

Smoking is one of the few things where you can look at study after study and it's unambiguously very, very bad for you. They don't have to tease correlations out like in the "latitude of birth correlates with risk of hangnails" kind of studies, it just jumps right out of the data.

So take a smoking break, but don't light up. Or at least don't inhale.

about two weeks ago
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Why Run Linux On Macs?

bitingduck Re:Some people like to tinker (592 comments)

Apple hardware has an unparalleled build quality; no one disputes that. The only question on that front is whether you find it worthwhile to pay for that quality.

Used to. I have a house full of ancient macs that are still running stuff for me that doesn't require sitting in front of the computer actively interacting with it. Then there's the 2011 Macbook Pro with the GPU problem. We have two of the late 2011's and they started showing the GPU desolder problem about the same time and then both failed to boot into the OS at all within a few weeks of each other. It's a widely documented, well defined problem, and Apple has pretty much refused to acknowldege it. The best they seem to do is give people "depot" repair for $300 where they swap out the motherboard with another one that's been reflowed and will start to show the problem again in a few months because the design flaw is still there.

about two weeks ago
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Why Run Linux On Macs?

bitingduck Re:To escape the walled garden (592 comments)

I install all sorts of open source packages on OS X and have for years-- I just got a new MacBook with Mavericks on it, and stuff installs just fine. For things like perl and ruby I've been using perlbrew and rvm so I can have any versions I need. For most libraries, I typically install them from source rather than the package managers because there often ends up being some issue with other stuff I want to use if I do the package manager versions. It's usually pretty quick and painless.

That said, I also have VMware installed so I can do stuff in windows or linux when I need to, and it's very convenient. Plus, Yosemite is bad enough that I'm finally interested in looking at linux as a long term option to get away from the increasing number of bad decisions and serious bugs that apple has been making lately.

about two weeks ago
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UK Computing Teachers Concerned That Pupils Know More Than Them

bitingduck Re:Any experienced teacher already deals with this (388 comments)

I was lucky enough back in the 80's that when there were 4-5 of us in the computer programming class who knew more than the instructor that he also knew that and was cool with it. We didn't cause trouble, and he would ask us stuff that he didn't know occasionally.

It eventually led to a summer gig doing some programming for the school district. On the first day, the district programmer (smallish district, there was just one guy) took me into his office and said "I know you can get in and figure out how to get in and change grades. Please don't." and left it at that.

about two weeks ago
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Ford Touts Self-driving Car, Launches Global Mobility Experiments

bitingduck Re:Can see this in tourist boulevards or retirees (73 comments)

doesn't make sense. you can see it being operated in the exact places where unexpected is to be happening and where a human could react fast enough due to slow speeds.

it's not dense traffic where you would want it. it's the highway. when you're going 80mph the car can react faster than you in a meaningful way(to a moose, a stopping truck or whatever).

You'd want it in dense, slow traffic. Go drive the LA freeways at rush hour some time- stop and go traffic that creeps along with the cars just a few feet apart. It takes a lot of attention to drive in, but it really shouldn't be hard for a robot car to do. There's some lane changing (which is what slows traffic down- people trying to find spaces to get to the exit or merge on) but everything is very predictable. The autonomous car can safely drive closer to other cars, will have less lag before moving when the car in front moves (or stops) and can better negotiate lane changes with other autonomous cars because it isn't limited by the viewing angle, reaction times, and interpretations of other drivers to detect indications of what they're trying to do.

about three weeks ago
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Tumblr Co-Founder: Apple's Software Is In a Nosedive

bitingduck Re:Any actual examples? (598 comments)

The release version has a lot of issues with sending mail. My partner has Yosemite that came on a brand new mac and OS X mail is unusable. I got a refurb that came with Mavericks and that version is fine.

about three weeks ago
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Tumblr Co-Founder: Apple's Software Is In a Nosedive

bitingduck Re:Any actual examples? (598 comments)

I'm sorry that this is the first time that you have ever upgraded an operating system. it must be tough wading into an area that is brand new to you.
1) when a new OS comes out, some apps designed for the old OS have problems. This works out over time as most apps are updated. Some old unsupported apps are left in the dust and no longer work under new OS versions. this has been true since DOS.

Except they broke their own mail app that comes with the OS when they released Yosemite. It sends mail when and if it feels like it, and there's nothing you can do about it. There's no excuse for your OS updates to break apps that you provide with the OS and update with it.

about three weeks ago
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The One Mistake Google Keeps Making

bitingduck Re:They said that about cell phones (386 comments)

You pretty much just made the case for Palm Springs/Palm Desert being the first community that puts in driverless car infrastructure. It's relatively isolated a couple hours east of LA, and there's already a second "limited access/limited speed" road system: golf cart lanes (usually shared with bicycles). There's a large reasonably well-off older population who already get around town on golf carts, so adding autonomy to the carts and infrastructure to support it would probably be effective and widely accepted.

about a month ago
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Culberson As Chair of NASA Fundng Subcommittee Makes Europa Mission More Likely

bitingduck Enceladus (57 comments)

Enceladus is probably a better candidate-- there's reason to believe that it's as little as a few meters to get to liquid water that's already known to have most of what you need for life. It's much farther away though, so it's a lot longer to get there.

about 2 months ago
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Russia May Be Planning National Space Station To Replace ISS

bitingduck Re:What's it good for? (236 comments)

If you need an environment free of vibrations and atmosphere, can't you just park it a foot from the space station? And once the experiment is done, retrieve it?

The added bonus is that if the experiment needs modifications, you have the possibility of doing it in almost real time and send it out again.

It's not that clean an environment around space station. It's more llike the space equivalent of Pigpen from the old Peanuts comics- a station with a cloud of contamination floating along with it. There was a microgravity facility that was very loosely coupled to ISS, but it still has to be coupled so that when the space station maneuvers your things keep up. If you really need microgravity it tends to be easier to make a free flyer and stick it in a higher orbit. The possibility of re-usability is appealing, but it rarely seems to work out to be cost effective for anything large-- the cost of making the stuff is usually much less than the cost of all the testing and verification that it will actually work when it gets there.

about 2 months ago
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Russia May Be Planning National Space Station To Replace ISS

bitingduck Re:What's it good for? (236 comments)

The ISS cost $150 billion over 20 years, or about $7.5 billion a year to construct and maintain. The US currently spends about $3 billion a year to keep it going - or about $8 per person. It's not a lot of money. Think about that - watching a movie about space costs more than actually maintaining a real life space station.

The movie analogy is one of my favorites. I like to point out to people that you can send a small rover to Mars for the same cost (or less) than making a couple of really bad movies about sending people there. You can send a large rover for about the cost of a James Cameron extravaganza or two about it.

about 2 months ago
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Russia May Be Planning National Space Station To Replace ISS

bitingduck Re:What's it good for? (236 comments)

Consider Philae - if it had landed a few meters in another direction it would still be working. If it had been a manned expedition, that wouldn't have been an issue.

Or they could have included three or four more copies of the lander and still cost less than sending humans. Rosetta has been in space for 10 years-- there aren't going to be humans floating around in tin cans in deep space for that long for a *long* time. At least not live ones.

Or look at the Mars rovers. Great stuff, but there's little ability to improvise. Think up a different experiment you want done? Well, it'll have to wait for the next rover because that one can't do it.

That's not an argument for manned missions so much as an argument to either make things we're sending smaller and more capable or increase our ability to send larger and larger things. A significant portion of the mass you send on a human mission will be just stuff to keep the people alive, limiting the amount of stuff you can send for them to do experiments or massively increasing the cost because you're trying to send a general lab. If you're developing a set of very general lab stuff that humans can take halfway across the solar system, for the foreseeable future (even with significant reductions in cost to orbit) it's going to be less expensive and lower risk to make a robot that operates the lab and feeds it with stuff.

about 2 months ago
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The Downside to Low Gas Prices

bitingduck Re:Stupid, trucks cause the problem (554 comments)

Delivery vans often reduce other traffic-- a UPS truck going through a neighborhood dropping things off might be eliminating a bunch of local trips to run errands, reducing the traffic on local roads and the need for parking at local sellers.

about 2 months ago
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The Downside to Low Gas Prices

bitingduck Re:Stupid, trucks cause the problem (554 comments)

More to the point, think of right fucking now where large swaths of the country are buried in 2' or more of snow. Have fun walking or riding a bike in that. Then just wait for a little later in the winter when there will not only be snow, but pretty damned cold air temps even w/o windchill.

When I was using a bike for primary transportation and we got 3 feet of snow in one day (and another foot the next) the only reliable transportation was bike. I helped push a lot of stuck cars out, only to watch them creep along and get stuck again.

Bike gets stuck? Pick it up and move it. Get to a street that's not plowed? Carry the bike. I went grocery shopping by bike in that mess, and it was *way* better than any other transportation.

about 2 months ago
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Boeing Readies For First Ever Conjoined Satellite Launch

bitingduck Re:First 'conjoined' satellites? (67 comments)

Or Herschel & Planck?

http://orbitalhub.com/?p=475

They don't stay together, but they're large satellites launched in a stack. The Herschel load doesn't go through the Planck structure, so maybe it doesn't count.

about 2 months ago
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What Happens When Nobody Proofreads an Academic Paper

bitingduck Re:MS Office Incompatibility (170 comments)

In LaTeX (and Word for that matter), I always prefix my notes with @@@ because that is a string that nnever occurs in normal text (easoly searchable) and that sticks out visually like a sore thumb.

Percent-sign-prefixed comments ("this needs an update") are much easier to overlook, or even guaranteed to be overlooked during proofreading. At least, I don't proofread my LaTeX markup, but rather the typeset document.

Word actually has a "comment" feature that attaches comments to particular locations in the text, and a flag that lets you show/hide them. It's been there for quite a long time. It works quite well.

about 3 months ago

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