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Elite Violinists Can't Distinguish Between a Stradivarius and a Modern Violin

by (1706743) Re:Modern audiophiles are no different. (469 comments)

I have an old stereo tube amp (Dynakit ST-70) -- I'm not at all an audiophile, I just think it's an awesome old piece of gear.

When I asked a Nobel-laureate professor of mine what he thought of the difference between tubes and transistors vis–à–vis audiophile claims, he said, "Vacuum tubes are exactly the same as transistors...except they f****** glow!"

about two weeks ago

The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates

by (1706743) Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (509 comments)

As a theory, AGW is in many respects similar to evolution: they're both lousy theories, but they happen to be right. By "lousy theory," I mean that they fail to make quantitative predictions. Evolutionary theory cannot say exactly how many centimeters longer the teeth of some species living on island X relates to its kin on mainland Y. However, it can say, "the teeth will be better suited to the environment."

I'm certainly no expert on either evolution or AGW, but a similar claim for AGW might be something along the lines of, "if you do something to a chaotic system, stuff will happen." Clearly there are published papers that try to make more quantitative models -- some successfully, some not so much. But I would be interested in reading a paper -- published in a legitimate journal -- with the phrase, "we are all gonna die!!!!!" I'm just not so sure the editors of Nature or Science would let that many consecutive exclamation marks get by...

In pre-Newton/Galileo/etc. times, as far as I know the theory of gravity was basically, "things tend to fall." It's a terrible theory, sure, but it happens to be right.

about two weeks ago

FCC Boosts Spectrum Available To Wi-Fi

by (1706743) Re:100mhz is a lot? (73 comments)

What's the max theoretical speed improvement?

Here's a good article on (I believe) the relevant speed increase: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...

That said, I've never taken any signal processing classes so I could be pointing you in the wrong direction.

about two weeks ago

NASA Snaps Shot of Mars-Bound Comet

by (1706743) Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (38 comments)

...we're still fascinated with tribalism and the Kardashians.

I think our fascination with them is healthy. They help to illustrate our desire to explore, while at the same time serving as a gentle caution against the more dark, violent aspects of our own humanity.

And it's spelled, "Cardassians."

about three weeks ago

More Than 1 In 4 Car Crashes Involve Cellphone Use

by (1706743) Re:Statistics suck (367 comments)

While your logic is sound, your proposal is ridiculous. How many car crashes are there where all occupants are naked while wearing a ridiculous hat? Not very many. Clearly, we should mandate that *everyone* drive naked (and wear a ridiculous hat).

about three weeks ago

Microsoft Launches Office For iPad: Includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

by (1706743) Re:I don't understand... (184 comments)

Because one huge tech company is finally acknowledging the existence of another huge tech company's mobile operating system, something long overdue (according to some). Perhaps boring -- especially if you use neither Office nor iOS -- but certainly tech news.

about three weeks ago

More Than 1 In 4 Car Crashes Involve Cellphone Use

by (1706743) Seatbelts are even more dangerous than texting (367 comments)

How many people-hours are spent texting while driving vs. talking while driving? The fact that only 5% are linked to texting doesn't say anything about the "specific danger" of texting, that is, the danger of texting normalized to some sane metric (people-hours spent texting, number of people who routinely text and drive, etc.). Since most people wear seatbelts, one could say that a very high percentage of accidents involve seatbelts, but that's not exactly a useful statistic. Apologies if this info is prominently in TFA...

That said, shut up and drive.

about three weeks ago

Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

by (1706743) Re:One thing's for sure... (870 comments)

Or just use a drone to drop them some money.


about three weeks ago

Sony: 10 Million Credit Cards May Have Been Exposed

by (1706743) Re:not just theory (251 comments)

Have you tried contacting Sony to see if you are one of the lucky 10M with compromised CC info? Of course, not that I'd necessarily trust Sony after their lack of honesty and transparency throughout this fiasco ("oh just a PSN outage / actually some account info has been stolen / actually CC info has been compromised").

Another possibility could be that there are a lot of stolen CC numbers out there, but the thieves are biding their time so as not to draw unwanted attention. However, now that this PSN thing hit the fan, they figure they can get lost in the noise and have Sony blamed for their actions. A very shaky theory and I really doubt that's the case, but still.

more than 2 years ago

Amar Bose To Donate Company To M.I.T.

by (1706743) Re:Lows for the size (275 comments)

I've only listened to one of those once or twice, and I thought it sounded ok. However, for $500, you could have an entry level component system (skimp on the receiver, not on the speakers). Heck, I bet you could rival the sound quality with a good pair of computer speakers (with sub) plugged into the headphone-out of a decent clock-radio-CD player. That should cost well under $500.

Of course, aesthetics and size matter to some, and a Bose system certainly beats computer speakers. Of course, you can always beat the performance and/or make a "neater" system, if you're willing to buy used and wait for good deals -- I've scrapped together a modest system over the years, and having spent probably under $100, I have a pair of 80s Klipsch floorstanding speakers, a 60s (?) tube amp, an 80s receiver (which I use as a preamp) and a decent-sized 80s SS power amp (in case the ol' tube needs work...I hope to bi-amp it some day). Fun stuff, but not as chic (or compact) as the Wave system, to be sure.

more than 2 years ago

Amazon EC2 Failure Post-Mortem

by (1706743) Re:I realise this is "News for Nerds"... (117 comments)

Indeed -- such visionary powers would've come in handy on some of my old quantum psets!

I suspect the comment was referring to simple classical mechanical systems. I do find it fascinating that on a windy day at the beach, I can throw a baseball well over a hundred feet and have the other person catch it without needing to move (and I'm not particularly coordinated). Granted, with such lax accuracy, the relevant calculations aren't too tricky, but I still find it neat that humans (and other animals) have such a good intuitive sense of (classical) mechanics.

more than 2 years ago

China's High-Speed Trains Coming Off the Rails

by (1706743) Re:Good Dept ? Bad Dept (347 comments)

Was going to make a joke about calculating the eigenvalues of the department's debt matrix -- det(dept. debt). It sounded funny in my head.

more than 2 years ago

iPhone Tracking Ruckus Ongoing

by (1706743) Been said before, but (353 comments)

What a long way Apple has come.

I find it rather sad really...I used to be a Mac-guy (before Linux stole my heart), so I've a special place in my heart for 'em.

more than 2 years ago

Sony Blames 'External Intrusion' For Lengthy PSN Outage

by (1706743) Re:Right... (321 comments)

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. :)

In response to this I thought about making a Portal cartoon of a meadow with portals on either side to illustrate the sillyness of this (the sillyness of the human tendency to think this way, not of you relating it). I did not do this because a) I've never played Portal and b) I'm lazy ;)

more than 2 years ago

Sony Blames 'External Intrusion' For Lengthy PSN Outage

by (1706743) Re:Right... (321 comments)

A higher rate of obesity in America does not necessarily make most Americans fat. Where'd you learn logic, America?

Correct in the Spock sense, not in the Joe Friday sense:

Q: How many adults age 20 and older are overweight or obese (Body Mass Index, or BMI, > 25)?
A: Over two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.[4]

All adults: 68 percent
Women: 64.1 percent
Men: 72.3 percent

That's from an NIH page, and it references an AMA paper. I guess the fat vs. overweight distinction can be argued.

more than 2 years ago

Comcast Hounded By Collections Agency

by (1706743) Re:Good show (142 comments)

You actually demonstrated how one can be totally ungrammatical but still convey the information, which maybe you intended to bolster my point? Thank you!

Certainly. By returning the favor, please fork GCC such that any syntax error is automatically fixed with something syntactically valid. No one should be bothered with semicolons, matching parentheses and braces, etc.

more than 2 years ago

Comcast Hounded By Collections Agency

by (1706743) Re:Good show (142 comments)

If English required technical accuracy to work, your analogy would make more sense.

English requires technical accuracy to work well, just the same as math. If I start Taylor-expanding something for a few more terms than necessary, but mess up the signs on the higher order terms, my answer could still be qualitatively right; however, it introduces some ambiguity -- "is this dude doing something tricky that I don't understand, or is he just wrong?"

Both "OR maybe they're employees?" and "OR maybe their employees?" make sense, but mean very different things (I realize the original mistake used "there," but still...).

Personally, I just find it difficult to "decode" certain botched sentences. For example, "on sundae I went two the store and wile I was they're aye red a book (vary suite!) and blue my knows," is...well, tricky to read (reed?). I know, an exaggerated example...

more than 2 years ago

Minnesota School Issues iPad 2 To Every Student

by (1706743) Hypothetical... (456 comments)

I suspect there are stricter privacy laws regarding minors. So if these are the 3G versions which end up tracking the user...who's responsible? Apple, the school or...? Just curious. For example, if the iPads sync with school computers but are free to go with the student when school's not in (no, I didn't RTFA...), then there could be very personal data on the computers which may not have encrypted home partitions. Makes a whole lotta minors' personal data relatively easy to collect.

Just wondering out loud.

more than 2 years ago



DIY SMS controlled power outlets

by (1706743) by (1706743) writes  |  more than 3 years ago

by (1706743) (1706744) writes "Although proprietary solutions do exist, it's possible (and easy!) to control power outlets/lamps/etc. via SMS – with no special hardware and no subscription fees (I'm not affiliated with any proprietary solution — no Slashvertisement here). All you need is an SMS-capable cell phone, a Google Voice account, ssh access to a box with an email account, an old computer, some relays/TRIACs, and a little time to kill. Aside from the cell phone, and possibly your email server, there are no monthly costs. In addition to switching off lights and appliances, you can run arbitrary commands on your computer this way (yes, there may be a few security implications with that...). Here's a simple howto."
Link to Original Source


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