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Sci-Fi Stories That Predicted the Surveillance State

darthservo Re:A little off beat, but... (213 comments)

The ship's computer seemed to do more of a passive listening - as you note, it only responded to commands but didn't record all conversations taking place on the ship. There are a number of episodes where crew have to filter through official ship or communication logs. If the computer was performing complete surveillance, there'd be no need to search through the official logs for suspicious activity. Additionally, conversations of mutiny or sabotage would no doubt have been immediately escalated to the proper chain if it had been monitoring everything.

Essentially Star Trek seems to feature the passive listening Microsoft would like to have you believe is in the XBox One.

about a year ago
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The Physics Behind Waterslides

darthservo Staying on the Tube (79 comments)

...slides like Walt Disney World's 10-story Summit Plummet...'We're thinking about things like, "are you going to stay on the fiberglass tube,"

Personally, I found Blizzard Beach's Slush Gusher (the slide adjacent to Summit Plummet) to be more unsettling during the descent. While Summit Plummet is fast, you don't really get to see much on your way down and it's over in a matter of seconds. The Slush Gusher levels out twice during descent along a straight path. After I'd reached enough speed by the 3rd drop, my body had left the fiberglass tube. I'm sure they're more concerned with exiting either side of the tube while descending, but when you're not expecting it to happen it is the slightest bit disconcerting to feel the slide 'leave', even for a moment.

about a year ago
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J.J. Abrams To Direct Star Wars VII

darthservo Re:The Lens Flare!!! (735 comments)

Especially with not just one, but *two* suns in the Tatooine system.

about a year and a half ago
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Windows 8 Sales Below Projections

darthservo Re:Boot directly to desktop? (663 comments)

I was thinking about this 'loss of the desktop' on my drive into work this morning.

The "desktop" in computer usability implies to the user "This is where you do work - a virtual desk." It's the notion that's been presented for many decades of personal computing. As such, it's also what people are comfortable with because of its ubiquity.

Unfortunately, the average user has seen the desktop as "This is a spot where I save documents I think I need all the time and where icons keep appearing for programs I must be installing." There's those few that do this to an extreme degree (desktop is literally full), but there are probably just as few that try to keep an efficient desktop where the only things on there are what they are working on at that moment. This shouldn't have been unexpected based on how people treat their literal desks - trying to make storage areas out of a work surface.

Users also have lately been weaned off of "You must know where you store your data"/hierarchal storage practices in favor of "You obviously can't remember where you put things, so we'll just find it for you"/search indexers. We also know that Microsoft has been capturing statistics for their user experience as well, and I'll bet that they thought "Hey, people aren't really using the desktop for much. They seem to be or could be using the start menu quite a lot for getting to what they want."

It would seem that according to Microsoft the next logical move was to keep the desktop as we know it there, but put it in the background - don't make it the focus. Instead, they decided to make a glorified start menu that uses the whole screen and then some. Apparently Microsoft felt it's what users really need access to the most.

Working in user support we all know how many groans and grumbles come with changes to the ways things are done/have been. (Sometimes we are even the ones doing the groaning and grumbling). I don't think Microsoft wouldn't have decided to make such a change without knowing full well the backlash it would get. They would have to have sincerely felt that the general populace could get along fine without having the desktop up front and that the tile interface really is the next step in usability.

But it's their guess. The users will answer.

about 2 years ago
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Steve Jobs Resigns As Apple CEO

darthservo To Quote Obi-Wan (1027 comments)

I felt a great disturbance...as if millions of fanboys suddenly cried out in terror...

more than 2 years ago
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Yes, an Armadillo Can Give You Leprosy

darthservo Thank Goodness I Read This When I Did! (151 comments)

I was planning on finally shoveling that pile of armadillo excrement in my back yard after work today, but I'm glad I caught this at work. Phew!

more than 3 years ago
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Nokia Reasserts Control Over Symbian OS

darthservo Re:Nokia isn't making clear why we should care (135 comments)

Indeed. I've had Nokia phones for most of my mobile phone-owning life. My last and current phone is an unlocked E75. It still works great for what I need it to do, and being unlocked I've ended up saving money in the long run over the subsidized phones w/ higher rates. However, I've recently (last 9 months or so) been thinking about what would happen if I needed to get a new phone today: which one would I choose? And my answer as it currently stands is...probably not another Nokia.

It's unfortunate, because I've stuck with and have liked Nokia for so long. But this split between OS's is what would hold me back from buying one right now. Only until recently have they announced that they will be abandoning the ^3 > ^4 > ^5 Symbian schedule in favor of more incremental future updates that could apply to more devices. But where does that actually put their device support? Who's to say that Nokia will not favor one OS by this time next year? And where would I be left if that happened and I was stuck with the other? How much will they actually support each OS?

I've been hoping Nokia will solidly commit to something and be more open with their road map and market strategy. It's what's holding me back from investing in their company further at this point. Simply saying that 'these devices will run this and those devices will run that' is not sufficient. Give me some reasons to invest in one of the lines/OS's, because right now they're both kind of up in the air.

But, I know that most people don't even consider this and especially so in the US where Nokia's market penetration is very low. Even this fact seems to escape Nokia's attention in that they aren't really doing anything to gain market share here. Not that it is significant (right now, otherwise I'm sure they'd be scrambling), but it's disheartening when their Europe devices are generally favored first over their US counterparts. Ignoring this situation only contributes to this overall problem. All of it makes me wonder what is going on behind the doors in Espoo.

more than 3 years ago
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Microsoft Is a Dying Consumer Brand

darthservo Re:Maybe Microsoft is different? (585 comments)

Not xbox-- that division has lost billions since inception.

Curse you Leonardo!

more than 3 years ago
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Thief Returns Stolen Laptop Contents On USB Stick

darthservo Re:Honor Amongst Thieves (352 comments)

Yet another that I had to laugh at when I figured out what must have happened.

One morning I came out to my car to find out it was broken into. I always lock my doors, but it's an 87 Civic and does not have an alarm system. The thief had got my door open and the trunk was also popped open. The trim around my deck was broken off, but everything (speakers, deck, faceplate from the glove compartment) was still there.

At first I thought that the thief got spooked by a car driving by or something and then ran off. But then I started looking at the details. The light inside the car was turned off, as was the light for the trunk. They had obviously physically been in both locations. My faceplate was just sitting on my passenger's side seat and the driver's door was closed (not like he made a quick getaway). It became more apparent they weren't interested in my stuff - it really isn't that good. It's not stock, but it's still cheap.

They only ended up taking $2 in change from my tray and that was it. I laughed as I tried to imagine them thinking that the stuff I had wasn't worth the effort. Then I started wondering if I should feel insulted that a thief wouldn't even steal my stuff. But at least they were courteous enough to not run my battery down and shut my door.

more than 3 years ago
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Star Wars Films In 3D Due In 2012

darthservo Re:Oh no. Not again. (409 comments)

I guess what you're trying to say is similar to the words of one Obi-Wan Kenobi: "Who's the more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him?"

...dang it.

more than 3 years ago
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The World's Strongest, Most Expensive Beer Served Inside a Squirrel

darthservo Re:It's still fermented; not technically distilled (228 comments)

Yes, sorry, my terms had been transposed. The wort is the result of the mash. Wort contains the sugars that are extracted from the grain - food for the yeast to make alcohol. When the yeast are added, the fermentation yields a beer.

However, my point was that whiskey uses the alcohol that has been burned *off* a fermented grain mash. It is this particular method (burning *off* alcohol) that is the beginnings of what can become whiskey.

So these types of beverages discussed in the story are still considered beers because the alcohol has not been evaporated off; it still remains within the original beer.

about 4 years ago
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The World's Strongest, Most Expensive Beer Served Inside a Squirrel

darthservo Not a whiskey (228 comments)

The reason the alcohol content is so high is not that its brewed, but that its freeze-distilled: by freezing the water out (the alcohol has a lower freezing point).

So calling it beer is really BS: its really a freeze-distilled whiskey.

Incorrect. Beer is brewed with the methods of mashing, hopping (optional), and fermenting. Whiskey is similar in how the mashing and fermenting is done. However, that is where the similarity stops. Look at the difference:

Whiskey: The fermented whiskey mash is distilled - the alcohol is evaporated off the mash. The result is a clear, at least 95% alcohol solution which is then mixed with water (decreasing alcohol percentage) and stored in barrels along with any other additives. The originating whiskey grain mash is discarded.

Beer: The fermented beer mash stays how it is. Alcohol is not boiled off. This result is a grain-based, yeast fermented alcohol with flavors and characteristics intact.

Eisbock method: (fractional freezing; an additional method used for these high gravity beers) The original beer with the fermented (not distilled) alcohol is chilled below water's freezing point, but above alcohol's. Crystallized water is then removed. The alcohol remains in the beer; its percentage goes up because water has been removed. The yeast's produced alcohol is not removed and isolated. The yeast still have done their fermenting job, their alcohol remains intact within the beer. The beer itself (flavors and alcohol) is just being concentrated.

Had they removed the alcohol from off the beer, it would then be a prelude to whiskey. It would also be clear until they started adding things to it. It's beer.

about 4 years ago
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The World's Strongest, Most Expensive Beer Served Inside a Squirrel

darthservo Re:It's still fermented; not technically distilled (228 comments)

When you make whiskey, the grain is also fermented. It's still not called mash when you drink it.

Correct, whiskey is made from fermented grain mash - that's how they distill the alcohol *off*. The alcohol they collect from *off* the mash is what is retained and used - so no, the alcohol could not be called mash. The originating mash is discarded with whiskey; with the beer it is not.

It is thought of as distillation because IT IS distillation, atleast by any definition of distillation that I know of.

Fractional Freezing differs from true distillation in that the substance removed is 'poorer' than what it is leaving. With true distillation, the substance removed is 'greater' than what it is leaving. True distillation is really more about extracting the greater part. With these types of beers, the water (poorer) is removed, while the beer (greater) is retained. Again, the only thing being taken out is simply water; the flavors and complex characters of the beer remain.

I still definitely would like to try some either way though :)

Hear hear!

more than 3 years ago
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The World's Strongest, Most Expensive Beer Served Inside a Squirrel

darthservo It's still fermented; not technically distilled (228 comments)

The wort is still fermented to create beer; they're playing with it further it after it's been fully fermented. In particular, as others have mentioned, these guys (as well as other breweries) are using a process referred to as the Eisbock method. It's thought of as a distillation, although it isn't technically a distillation.

With whiskey distillation, the grain mash simply yields primarily alcohol (at least 95%) - that's why the end product of the distillation is clear and free of the majority of congeners and other flavors. With this beer, all they are doing is removing water, accomplished by freezing it above alcohol's freezing point but below water's. (The temperature needs to be very precise and water crystallization very closely monitored) Because only the water is being removed, the beer's flavors and other substances remain intact with this method, therefore still retaining the original properties of beer. Think of it as beer concentrate.

more than 3 years ago
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Adobe Finally Fixes Remote Launch 0-Day

darthservo MSP installer (82 comments)

The MSP Installer is also available for those who may use Adobe Reader in silent installs/updates.

Side rant: Why does Adobe still only offer the unpatched versions of Reader on their front page?

more than 4 years ago
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iPad Bait and Switch — No More Unlimited Data Plan

darthservo Good idea, but... (670 comments)

On paper, it sounds great. But, you'd be gambling with the other guy. This is because there are only two players in the US that support GSM devices; there's only one other option for leaving AT&T - T-Mobile. Now, maybe some don't currently have issues with T-Mobile. But, who's to say that they won't follow suit and try pushing the same shenanigans as being discussed here? The underlying problem in this case is the US is the lack of (better) GSM provider competition.

Scenario: "This company is for saps, I'm going elsewhere!....(looks around)...wait, there's only one other option? Oh...I *really* hope they treat me better." End up not being satisfied with that company? Well then there's two options for your GSM device:
1. Suck it up and return from where you came.
2. The less convenient method involving moving out of the country.

more than 4 years ago
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iPad Is Destroying Netbook Sales

darthservo Re:Not surprising (911 comments)

...in contrast, is not just a cheap laptop. It fills a distinctly different need to a laptop. I've not entirely worked out what that need is - it seems to target a market that doesn't contain me - but it's clearly not the same set of uses as a laptop.

Couldn't help but chuckle after reading this description, as it for some reason reminded me of the Palm Foleo. DISCLAIMER: I am not insinuating that the iPad is the same things as a Foleo. Just thought it was interesting how the intended use of the Foleo has some similarities with this description. Also interesting to see what Palm got wrong, mainly hardware tie-in.

more than 4 years ago
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What Will the Browser Look Like In Five Years?

darthservo Re:Firefox from 2015... (201 comments)

Sorry. Forgot to post my disclaimer: I am an Opera user.

more than 4 years ago
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What Will the Browser Look Like In Five Years?

darthservo Re:Firefox from 2015... (201 comments)

Whoa! We're up to 75 now?!?!? This calls for a celebration! Pretty soon I won't be able to shop through the birthday section of party supply stores to get my number decorations.

more than 4 years ago

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