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Comments

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Neanderthals Ate Their Veggies

fantomas Maybe they liked them both (151 comments)

Good question, one I guess the paleo environmental folk might be able to shed light on (what species of flora and fauna were in the area). But folk can really like a big steak when they are hungry and equally really enjoy fresh picked fruits on a hot summer's day, there doesn't need to be a conflict on a taste front. From a survival strategy perspective it makes sense to be happy with either hunted or gathered food sources, reduces your risk of starvation. Your tribe's not going to survive that long if you turn your noses up at eating nuts from a nearby grove of hazelnut trees and insist on walking for 8 hours to maybe track down some meat. Enjoying both increases your chances of doing well.

about a month ago
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Cybercriminals Ramp Up Activity Ahead of 2014 World Cup

fantomas Is this greater in scale than the last Olympics? (90 comments)

Is the Brazillian World Cup situation significantly worse than the London Olympics for the cybercrime aspects? I might expect that 'real world face to face crime' (pickpocketing, bag theft, etc. ) might be worse as you'd expect London (as part of a wealthier country) to be better policed than a poorer country with higher levels of local corruption and poverty such as Brazil, but are there big differences between the online crime situations (fake websites, email scams, etc.)? The latter would appear to be more transnational and not so affected by local social/economic/policing conditions.

about a month and a half ago
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Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

fantomas the younger ones focus on keeping in a job (519 comments)

Interesting point, but I think the reason for the younger ones focussing on research is not necessarily because they don't like teaching, it is because their chance of attaining job security depends on them focussing on whatever keeps them well regarded and hence likely to get interviewed another short term contract at the end of that teaching year. That something is probably more balanced towards research outputs (regular high quality journal articles being published) than outputs from teaching.

I don't know about the USA but in the UK its not unusual for younger academics to have to pursue consecutive short term contracts for several years, each contract being 1-2 years long, before they have a chance of 'tenure' - a 'permanent' job (something that is open-ended and won't finish in months).

about a month and a half ago
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Radioactivity Cleanup At Hanford Nuclear Reservation, 25 Years On

fantomas naive question: does this include all waste? (123 comments)

Completely naive question here - civilised answers welcomed.

I've heard that the new generation reactors will be able to use 'old waste' for fuel. Does this include all sort of waste, or only some of it? For example, I believe that "nuclear waste" doesn't just mean Homer Simpson like glowing green spent fuel rods, but lots of things that have to get packaged up and safely disposed of like technicians' work wear, equipment, anything that comes into contact with radioactive sources. Am I right that this is also called "nuclear waste" (apologies, I really don't know much about the topic). If so, can this be used in the new reactors (I am guessing not all of it)? Does it represent a lot of volume / long term risk to be disposed of?

I get the impression that the term nuclear waste is used in a pretty homogeneous way but that it represents a wide variety of materials. I suppose in the case of decommissioned reactors this probably means some of the structure of the buildings themselves (tonnes of old concrete etc). I'm guessing that this can't get poured into a new reactor as fuel? Is this the big issue with decommissioning, not just old fuel rods but all the surrounding materials?

cheers for any measured responses on such an emotive issue.

about 2 months ago
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James Cameron and Eric Schmidt's SOI Grieve Loss of Nereus ROV

fantomas Isn't this small change for billionaires? (72 comments)

Isn't $6 million small change for Schmidt and Cameron? couldn't they just check out the loose change down the back of the armchair/ in their car's ashtray and pay for a new (and better one)? I am sure several US universities would be more than happy to have one of these folks offer to buy a new submarine for them on the agreement that said donor gets a certain amount of access to it.

Surely this is small change for these folks (and they are canny enough to work out how to make money out of the donation, e.g. by making a film about it).

about 2 months ago
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DogeCoin To the Moon Via a Google Lunar X PRIZE Team

fantomas Meanwhile, DogeVault has been compromised (El Reg) (35 comments)

Meanwhile, The Register reports that DogeVault has been compromised. Might be the micro rovers get a bus ticket to the seaside rather than a flight to the moon instead.

about 2 months ago
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GoPro Project Claims Technology Is Making People Lose Empathy For Homeless

fantomas Norway: super rich country with strong support? (320 comments)

Non-Norwegian here. Isn't Norway one of the richest countries in the world with a strong social support system? So the situations which make somebody homeless in other countries don't apply to Norway?

For example - in USA, I believe that people have to pay for healthcare, and after a certain period of time, no longer get housing benefit support when unemployed (USA person will have to help me here) - so it is possible to be a hard working member of society, but due to illness, get in debt (paying for medicine) and end up homeless (because you can't work, so can't pay your housing bills) so get made homeless, and can't get another place to live because you don't have the money to rent a new place?

If somebody is ill in Norway, do they have to pay for healthcare? if somebody is unemployed, will the state give them financial support to pay their housing costs? If so, you have a very different environment from other countries in the world.

about 3 months ago
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Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

fantomas We don''t do tax returns in the UK,you insensitive (386 comments)

The majority of people in the UK who work for an employer (rather than self-employed), and don't have other income to declare (e.g. part time self-employed in their own hobby business, renting out a property, or rich enough to be generating significant income from investments or savings) don't fill in tax returns, it is managed by their employer through Pay-As-You-Earn. As wikipedia says "because the tax code reflects other income (including the state pension), the PAYE system typically results in the correct amount of tax being paid on all the income of a taxpayer, making a tax return redundant".

Let the flamewar begin :-)

about 3 months ago
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London's Public Bike Data Can Tell Everyone Where You've Been

fantomas Those who use the bicycle hire scheme in London (41 comments)

Those who use the bicycle hire scheme in London, which is a subset of all people. But I agree with you, it's very interesting that the data's public. It might not be a violation of privacy if you've agreed to it when you hire the bike though? Never hired one of those bikes myself so I am not sure what you've agreed to when you click on "ok".

about 4 months ago
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Tesla Used A Third of All Electric-Car Batteries Last Year

fantomas Gigafactory - thous. mill. times typical Detroit? (236 comments)

Is a 'gigafactory' one that is a thousand million times bigger than a typical Detroit automobile factory? I am not quite sure I understand the term....

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Essays and Short Stories Should Be In a Course On Futurism?

fantomas Futurism? the early C20th art movement? (293 comments)

Well if you're going to teach about Futurism you should definitely include some critical consideration of the effect of industrialisation on European and North American countries, consider how art was affected by the experiences of artists in the First World War, and how it influenced the later art movements such as Art Deco, Surrealism, and Dada.

about 5 months ago
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James Dyson: We Should Pay Students To Study Engineering

fantomas Polytechs converting to unis was not the problem (321 comments)

The conversion of polytechnics to universities wasn't the problem: I was at a polytechnic in the mid 80s and got a grant cheque, as did most (all?) of my friends. Polytechnic students got grants just like university students. Courses were free to students: nobody paid a penny in "course fees".

  It sounds like I am about ten years older than you, the generation that looked on in shock as the concept of students paying course fees was introduced. We were upset when grant cheques were gradually reduced to zero before that.

I was from a middle class background with both parents working, so definitely not a poor student. But I got all my course fees paid and some living expenses paid by the government (to cover rent, food, books). I seem to remember it was on a sliding scale at that time (mid 80s) which was a recent change, with less paid to wealthier families and more paid to poorer families. But I am pretty sure I remember it covered all my rent money at least, it was a big enough cheque that my mum worried I was going to blow it all on booze and parties and random nice things and not put it in the bank to cover my rent and food!

Industrial scholarships existed but were a different thing - those guys lived like kings while they were students.

I suspect one of the arguments that might be offered is the increase in the number of students over the period from 80s to present making it more of an expensive proposition to fund. However, I suspect it also might be a political model: the right wing governments in the UK are very keen on a US model of funding, rather than a social democratic European model. I can't say whether a higher percentage of UK 18 year olds go on to study at undergraduate level than those in say the Netherlands or France or Finland, but there's definitely a different funding model between the US (leave college with $100K debt) and some European countries (course fees much lower than the UK, potentially leave with low to zero debt).

about 6 months ago
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James Dyson: We Should Pay Students To Study Engineering

fantomas Why controversial? was true for 1980s students (321 comments)

Not sure why the article describes this a "controversial proposal". In the 1980s in the UK many (all?) undergraduates got grants (scholarships from the state for living expenses) as well as all their course fees paid.

Perhaps it's an indication of how politics have changed that the proposal to reinstate something the people assumed was a normal expenditure by the government of the day, both left and right wing, for several decades (state support of people undertaking university studies) is now considered "controversial".

Ah happy memories of the grant cheque coming in, bank managers trying to appear down with the kids to get them to sign up for their first bank account with that large cheque and more to follow, financial management learnt by many who hadn't previously had anything more than their weekly income from a paper round striding down the streets of a big new city with three months of bed and board advance payments burning a hole in their pockets...

about 6 months ago
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Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist?

fantomas Primary school teaching a poor example (612 comments)

Actually there's quite a lot of debate about whether societal and professional attitudes make it more difficult for men to enter and stay in primary school teaching so perhaps this is not the best example to offer.

Try asking two friends (one male, one female) to announce in a conversation with their friends in a party that they like children and would like to work with them. I suspect the reaction will be quite different in each case. I can only offer anecdotal evidence but here in the UK I know two friends who are male primary school teachers and often have to justify their decision and are faced with critical responses, hinting that their motives are questionable: they've really had to fight prejudiced opinions.

about 7 months ago
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Photos Stream Back From China's Lunar Lander

fantomas Perhaps US geeks are not their target audience (268 comments)

Perhaps delivering high resolution images to US/ Western geeks is not their primary mission. Perhaps a few low res snapshots to keep the western media off their back (see, we really did it, put away your conspiracy theory stories) is all they felt obliged to do.

Maybe there's a high res camera sending pictures back to their scientific research / military people and they just don't feel the need to distribute this material to the general public in other countries. The Chinese funding model might not be the same as the USA's, maybe they don't need to distribute high res holiday snaps to ensure continued funding.

Perhaps there's no high res camera on board because the science of the mission doesn't need any more than a few low res snaps. The real work might be elsewhere. I've read a couple of articles that note that the lander is much bigger than you might expect for a rover of this size, so it might be the real mission here is to test lander technologies in preparation for sending a manned mission. It might be that the real science is around testing that platform, and the rover is just supplementary, a nice addition for extra kudos and you might as well do it while you're there.

about 7 months ago
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CubeSat Launch Visible Around U.S. East Coast Tonight

fantomas More exact, less "About" if you use metric ;-) (34 comments)

"about 4 inches on each side, weighing about 3 pounds and with a volume of about a quart."

According to the specification linked from the wikipedia article, you can offer more exact measurements in metric:
-The CubeSat shall be 100mm +/- 0.1 mm wide (X and Y dimensions)
- The CubeSat shall be 113.5mm +/- 0.1 mm wide (Z dimension)
- Each single CubeSat shall not exceed 1.33kg mass

about 8 months ago
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Anonymous Clashes With D.C. Police During Million Mask March

fantomas anti-Catholic was a major aspect, also pro-monarch (388 comments)

"It was a celebration of the capture and execution of anti-government forces, with some vaguely anti-Catholic undertones"

The Gunpowder Plot was a plan to blow up the (Protestant) King and politicians and replace with Catholic alternatives, including the possibility of replacing the current Protestant line with a Catholic monarch and more pro-Catholic politicians. Hence the celebrations centred around the failure of a Plot to kill the monarch, and celebrate his continued good health. Given the political and religious context of the times, this included strong, rather than 'vague' anti-Catholic undertones: for many years it was traditional to burn an effigy of the pope, and the famous folk verse includes the lines:
" A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
        A penn'orth of cheese to choke him,
        A pint of beer to wash it down,
        And a jolly good fire to burn him. "

Less revolutionary Catholics of the time feared a revolutionary responses to the suppression of Catholics in England at the time in case there was a backlash from the authorities, and indeed this did happen with the discovery and failure of the plot.

  Probably both sides were as illiberal as each other at the time, lots of nasty things were done in the name of God and the King across Europe.

I'd very much agree with you that people have re-interpreted the event to their own ends. I don't think the plotters were in the least bit bothered about votes for women, abolition of slavery, replacing a monarch with an elected president, and would happily have burnt anarchists at the stake if they'd found some.

about 9 months ago
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Web Literacy Standard Announced By Mozilla

fantomas Irrelevant to your friends' employment perhaps? (64 comments)

Not knowing the difference between the web and the internet or understanding what IP addresses are does not reduce the employment chances of many people. It maybe more useful than knowing about oak trees (unless you're a carpenter, furniture maker or tree surgeon) but I don't think a lot of taxi drivers / accountants / airline pilots / office workers are too bothered.

about 9 months ago
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British NHS May Soon No Longer Offer Free Care

fantomas Can't afford it and US health tourism (634 comments)

With respect to the UK (not England, England is not the UK, just as the USA is not America): "Can't afford it" is an interesting question.

  Is it rather a case of "what the government chooses to spend its money on"?

I am reminded of the quality of life in Costa Rica opposed to its neighbours: Costa Rica decided to abolish its army in 1949 and spends the money on education and health instead; it has a high level of literacy and has 'health tourists' who visit from the USA. Perhaps the issue of cost is around what you decide to spend your money on.

I am not sure Iceland went bankrupt? I think it nearly did, but the problem was that the government decided not to bail out the banks. I believe the country is doing rather well these days.

about 9 months ago
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Is Choice a Problem For Android?

fantomas Testing for 123 versions is a real pain (361 comments)

Went to a presentation on a project that's released its web tool as an app (iSpot - a nature spotting community tool). the project leaders said that at the point they decided to develop an Android app version, they asked the technical team to identify how many different versions/configurations of Android were out there that they'd need to make sure the code presented well on, to ensure a good user experience for all (you really don't need your first reviews on Google Play to say it sucks on their device in their preferred configuration). Apparently the technical team identified 123 versions/configurations of Android (approximately early 2012).

The project leader said this makes it a nightmare to test for a small development team (about 4 employees on the project). I am not sure what the solution is but it sounds like it causes them a lot of pain and requires a lot of management to ensure the majority of users get an equitable and positive experience of the app.

about 9 months ago

Submissions

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Why are Japanese men refusing to leave their rooms?

fantomas fantomas writes  |  1 year,24 days

fantomas (94850) writes "The BBC reports on the Japanese phenomenon of Hikikomori: young people, mainly men, who are holed up in rooms in their parents' houses, refusing to go out and engage with society. Why is this happening? and is it a global phenomenon or something purely due to Japanese culture? (we're all familiar with the standing slashdot joke of the geek in their mom's basement for example)"
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"Russians hacking our water pumps" was false alarm

fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 2 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "Remember the news that foreign hackers had disrupted US infrastructure, hacking into a water pump and overriding its controls? The Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center (ISTIC) claimed cyber attackers had obtained access using stolen login names and passwords. Well the BBC reports that it was a false alarm..Turns out the pumps were reset by the water engineer responsible for the pumps, who was on holiday in Russia at the time. "A quick and simple phone call to me right away would have defused the whole thing immediately," said the engineer, Jim Mimlitz. However, security experts warn that a real attack might happen some time in the future."
Link to Original Source
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Polish protestor uses drone copter to monitor demo

fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 2 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "In recent demonstrations in Warsaw, Poland, a demonstrator has used a drone helicopter spycam, manufactured by Robokopter, to monitor police actions and how they behave towards protestors. Videos show the copter taking off and flying over police lines. A case of man-bites-dog? Is this a first? or do slashdot readers know of similar technology being used by protestors in the USA 'Occupy' movements or elsewhere?"
Link to Original Source
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Iran tests out GEV squadron

fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 3 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "BBC News reports (in a video) that the Iranian elite Revolutionary Guards have taken delivery of a squadron of "flying boats" better known perhaps as Ground Effect Vehicles. One man reconnaisance versions of the famous Soviet ekranoplan, the Caspian Sea Monster? Meaningless novelties or innovative utilisation of under-used but efficient niche technologies? What do the slashdot crowd think?"
Link to Original Source
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New visa to help innovation in USA?

fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "The BBC is reporting on a proposal from Congressman Jared Polis to create a new type of USA visa to encourage entrepreneurs to base themselves in the USA. The Congressman and others are concerned that strict immigration laws in the USA are driving away talent to other countries, while critics argue encouraging immigration takes jobs away from Americans. Should the USA have a new "entrepreneur visa"?"
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High Speed Rail for the Land of the Auto?

fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "The BBC reports that "US President Barack Obama has announced his 'vision for high-speed rail' in the country, which would create jobs, ease congestion and save energy". Can rail work in the land where the car is king? Would you travel on the new high speed lines? High speed rail lines are popular in countries like China, Japan and Germany, but would they work in the USA?"
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Poll: how many countries have you visited?

fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fantomas writes "Suggestion for a Poll — how many countries have you visited?
  • None: TV gives me all I need to know about strange forn parts
  • One to Three: and they all speak the same language as my mom
  • Under 5: but one of them eats strange breakfasts and speaks odd
  • 5 to 10: and some of them haven't heard of my home town!
  • 10 + : I love travelling! the university of life! where did I come from?
  • Cowboy Neal sends me reports
"
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Iran launches first domestic satellite

fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "Iranian state media is reporting the successful launch of its first domestic satellite, according to the BBC. The satellite was designed for research and telecommunications purposes, the television report said. Iran's first satellite was launched by a Russian rocket in 2005, and in 2007 Iran launched its first rocket capable of getting a payload into space. Congratulations to the newest member of space-faring nations — but doubtless many governments will take their own political slant on whether this is good or bad news. Cynics may suggest this makes the world a more dangerous place, optimists may argue the more peaceful access we have to space the better. What do you think?"
Link to Original Source
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fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 7 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "US stun gun maker Taser is making a new cheaper, version available for fashion conscious members of the public. Cheaper than their current security models, this stylish 'non-lethal weapon' is being launched at an electronics fair in Las Vegas on Monday. The company has not yet revealed exactly how many volts it will deliver, but presumably it will still knock attackers flat. I guess if a bunch of 8 year old terrors now ask me for my wallet and mobile phone, I'll just have to hand them over, being bigger or having a few self defence martial art tricks really aren't going to help me any more. Any slashdotters know any ways of protecting yourself against tasers?"
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fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 7 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "The BBC is reporting that the current EU-US talks over data collected from people flying into the USA collapsed last night. The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are insisting on access to the airlines records and 34 pieces of data to be collected from each passenger. According to the undertakings on data protection provided by the US, this includes "personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, and data concerning the health or sex life of the individual". This has been gathered since 2004, but only as a temporary agreement and now renewal is due, national data protection laws in the EU doesn't allow the deal to continue. Chaos may ensue. Airlines who receive to hand over information to US authorities may be fined up to $6000 per passenger, and the passengers themselves held in immigration for hours. Good for the EU on protecting the privacy of their citizens? or are they hindering the War on Terror?"

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