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Comments

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Are Habitable Exoplanets Bad News For Humanity?

fyngyrz Re:Beta Sucks (314 comments)

No. You're just talking about speed. To do what you're talking about takes energy, too, and no one has come up with a decent proposal that describes where that much energy would come from. We could probably come up with enough to get to a really near star (other than our own) if the entire planet got behind the idea and pushed like mad. But with no known payback, why would they?

The idea that it's just a matter of time is a bankrupt one right out the door.

1 minute ago
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Are Habitable Exoplanets Bad News For Humanity?

fyngyrz Using uranium for power stupid? (314 comments)

burning Uranium for cheap terrestrial power is about the most stupid use imaginable.

...because?

I mean, a little is useful for medicine, but other than that, what would you have us save it for?

16 minutes ago
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Are Habitable Exoplanets Bad News For Humanity?

fyngyrz Re: Maybe not extinction... (314 comments)

If you want to call Alcatraz Island a continent, yeah. Otherwise, no.

Facts for you nuke hysteria types: So far, over two *thousand* nukes have been set off. On the ground. Over 500 in the atmosphere alone. In space. Under water. On the water. Underground. And, newsflash: No continents were lost. Many of these nukes were of considerable size; the Soviets had the record at 50 megatons in one shot, but that's not to say others weren't trying. Total nukage set off so far, about 600 megatons (conservatively.)

Face it: Nukes surely do make big bangs compared to conventional explosives, and blown open power plants tend to make good sized parks as everyone runs screaming (although note the wildlife seems to do ok, all things considered), but in reality, nothing much significant happens consequent to a single actual nuke or power plant failure. Certainly not in proportion to civilization in general. And certainly not at the scale of continents.

Another fact: There's more crap in the air you should be worried about from burning coal than there is from all man made nuclear activity, ever.

We now return you to your regular channel, "The Hysteria Show"

21 minutes ago
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The Ethical Dilemmas Today's Programmers Face

fyngyrz Not new, not news. (180 comments)

Making a sword or shield? What if it breaks in battle? Making a wagon wheel? What if it breaks down in the middle of nowhere? Making a horse harness? What if it fails pulling a carriage uphill? Making a chair? What if it fails when some person sits on it? Making a steak? What if it has a sharp bone sliver in it? Writing a control system? What if you miss something? THEN YOU FIX IT, that's all. Be as careful as you can of those things you can think of; ask for help so you have a chance to get more than a narrow view. But when something goes wrong, the "I should be totally safe, and I'm gunna sue ya" thing is a sickness, not a feature of a well functioning society.

All this "total safety, all the time" hysteria is really wearing. It's hurting us more than it's helping us.

A well lived life will entail risk, and probably lots of it. Not to mention non-optimum choices made for reasons you'll look back upon with utter confusion later. Or, you can live in a pillow-sided room eating only gruel that was sterilized by gamma rays. I know what I choose. Do your best, learn from your mistakes, remediate any that you can, and move on. If some crap you bought breaks, throw it out and replace it. If you got hurt, try to heal. End of story. The ethics are obvious. The smothering is insidious. But I think it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. There's far too much money in finger pointing. And we're just too stupid, collectively, to do anything about it.
.

2 days ago
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MIT Designs Tsunami Proof Floating Nuclear Reactor

fyngyrz wonder bout... (217 comments)

Rouge waves, typhoons, collisions with tankers, vulnerability to warships, aircraft, submarines.

But hey. It's cool that a tsunami won't screw it up.

about a week ago
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

fyngyrz direct democracy? (817 comments)

I think you are feeling very confused: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...

You actually live in something *better* than a direct democracy.

A direct democracy enjoys no constitutional guarantees of rights. It's strictly majority rule.

about a week ago
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

fyngyrz Re:Rome 2.0 (817 comments)

Right this way sir... here's some bread, we hope you enjoy the circus.

about a week ago
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

fyngyrz Another way to look at "rich" (817 comments)

This study defines "rich people" as those making around $146000/year.

If you think about it, there's no control for expenses there, so it's not a very effective definition (I'm always kind of a amazed at the mindset in the US that tries to simplify things by drawing a numeric line in the sand, as if there were no other issues. And people put up with it. We need better schools.

I define "rich" as: wealthy enough to be living in a manner comfortable in every material way to the individual or family, and able to survive indefinitely in that state, or in an increasingly wealthy state without relying on income from, or charity of, others. Regardless of if one actually chooses to exist in that state, or not.

Not trying to force that definition on anyone else, but that's how I see it personally.

about a week ago
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

fyngyrz See your doctor (817 comments)

I recommend antibiotics.

about a week ago
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

fyngyrz TFS (and perhaps TFA) has it wrong (817 comments)

The transition was from a flawed, but still readily identifiable constitutional republic (not a democracy), to a corporate oligarchy.

This has never been a democracy, and furthermore, the constitution insists that the federal government guarantee each state a republican form of government, as in, a republic -- not a democracy. That's in article 4, section 4.

This is why representatives decide the actual matters, and voters don't, in the basic design.

Of course, now even the representatives don't decide -- nor judges -- if the legislation deals in any significant way with business interests. The only way the old system still operates even remotely the way it was designed to is when the issue(s) at hand a purely social ones. Even then, the bill of rights seems to be at the very bottom of any legislator's or judge's list of concerns.

Can't see any of this changing, though. The public is too uninformed, and short of completely revamping the school curriculums, they're going to remain that way.

about a week ago
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Astronomers Solve Puzzle of the Mountains That Fell From Space

fyngyrz Re:How about... (51 comments)

Guess I should have been a little more explicit. I meant, as distinguished from one that required another object impact. Just an original ring system.

about a week ago
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Astronomers Solve Puzzle of the Mountains That Fell From Space

fyngyrz How about... (51 comments)

...a collapsed ring system?

about a week ago
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FAA Shuts Down Search-and-Rescue Drones

fyngyrz Re:Not just an RC Plane (218 comments)

How's your quad record?

Not nearly as good (or nearly as long.) No dead kids. One live and very stupid adult (ten hours), a lost cow. about 15 minutes, poor thing was stuck in a mudhole --- getting it out was a lot more challenging than finding it, and two dogs, one of which was seriously snakebit and down hard, but survived. They were both pretty hard to find. Size matters. And yes, this is all pretty new to me. Which is not to say it's not worthy. It's rewarding as all get out.

Quad's do not have the range, period.

You can cover a square km -- which is a *lot* of area -- perfectly with a pair of quads in rotation, regardless of terrain, with 99% uptime and plenty of reserves using some very simple procedures. Move 1km, repeat. It's reasonably efficient, and the search is much more fine grained -- it's almost impossible to miss something of reasonable size, those dogs notwithstanding. More below; see the other replies. I don't feel like explaining all this twice.

It is common sense, called glide.

You know what glide is? It's continuous motion, which loses detail, requires faster cameras for the same quality image (higher shutter speed, higher ISO), and raises the noise level in lower light. You know what glide requires? Height. You know what too much height does? Reduces detail. And that's not even all of the issues. You see, it's not that obvious after all. The task is to find, not just to fly long distances. When distance methodologies compromise seeing, as they tend to do, other options offer useful compromises.

You'd be a lot better off asking questions than you are pooh-poohing without knowing what you're talking about. Of course, this *is* slashdot, sigh.

about two weeks ago
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FAA Shuts Down Search-and-Rescue Drones

fyngyrz Re:Not just an RC Plane (218 comments)

They are only popular because they are mechanically simple WITH MODERN ELECTRONICS. You can not fly a quad without computer augmentation.

Yes, and? I didn't suggest attempting this with obsolete, unstable old hardware. I really don't see your point. Quads with camera mounts and "modern electronics" (meaning GPS, compass, active pitch control/tilt sensors, altimeter, rock solid XYZ hover with no control input, auto-return) start at about $470. They get even better from there. A trunk full of them is within the budget of almost any S/R group with the willingness to stand in intersections for a day or so with hats and signboards out. Or courtesy of one or two kind benefactors. First thing I did after flying my first one was pull my jaw off the ground and go right back and buy the rest they had in stock. Had to be done, really.

I can take one up, hover it, take a stable high resolution image, move it, take another stable high resolution image, etc. This means even when it's getting dark, I have better detail -- and lower noise -- because I don't have to have such fast exposures. Bring it back (no landing strip required), swap quads and go back out on the next radial, while the crew pops a new battery into the just-returned unit, repeat every ten-fifteen minutes or so, and keep doing that while the images are checked over carefully. Out on one radial, in on the next. Full circle till you repo to the next GPS indexed location. Works great.

Gimbals... the quad can spin in place. While hovering in an extremely stable manner, for that matter, or spinning/panning while working through any set of heights I choose. Be nice to just have a tilt control. More weight. It's really not seriously limiting, nothing like that yet. Should try it though. Tilting the quad itself isn't really possible without it moving, or at least, not the ones I'm using.

While the range/duration would be wonderful, fixed wing requires far too much for this area -- your seaplane is great in some ways, but there's no body of water around here worth talking about for the vast majority of the area. There's nowhere to land. Nowhere to take off. "Wet grass takeoff"? Grass? How about rocks and cactus and nasty, sticky sand? Kind of puts a crimp in fixed wing efforts. Quad simply doesn't care. Put it down (on a rock, on your 4x4 or snowmobile, or just open your hand), up it goes, and you're off and hunting.

Then there are the badlands. Even worse. Not only is there no water, nowhere to take off, nowhere to land, the bloody ground wants to break you -- it's unstable everywhere, either collapsing under you or falling on top of you. Which is part of why people get stuck out there in the first place (wish to heck they just wouldn't go.) With a FW, how do you work down a twisty arroyo that's too complex to follow at speed, and too deep to get a camera angle into because you can't stay over it long enough to make it count? I can just go there and drop right into it and work it right along at whatever rate is convenient. Success? Pop-up and strobe. Awesome.

Battery reload is not the critical issue when you can see better, navigate better, have a more stable platform, get looks into places like arroyos and caves and under-hangs and under trees and bushes that would otherwise completely block your view, and remain on station instead of having to fly by repeatedly when it's called for. You can hover and think instead of getting further from a point of interest with every moment. Battery reload is nothing. You bring em back, instantly take another one off, while that one is reloaded, charge packs as required, no problem. Preparation is key, of course -- but it certainly isn't a problem or even a challenge. You still get essentially 99% active search time without overlap -- or underlap. I throw a trunk in, grab my crew, and go.

Aerobatics... that's an interesting undertaking, but not relevant for my use. Although I've seen people do some crazy things with quads, my own interest is strictly useful camera work. I have shots you simply can't get from a FW platform. Impossible. Quads are *wonderful* already. And of course, like everything else, they keep getting better. And with practice, so does the pilot, although they are about a zillion times easier to fly right out of the box than FW r/c aircraft, or at least any FW r/c aircraft I've ever had the pleasure of flying.

Best of luck in your endeavors. Don't rule out quads!

about two weeks ago
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FAA Shuts Down Search-and-Rescue Drones

fyngyrz Re:Not just an RC Plane (218 comments)

Nonsense. Quads are ideal for turning one person into a center of a decent radius search at a rate much higher than can be done alone. Duration is as long as you have a pocket full of batteries and a vehicle (anything... a 4x4 or a dirt bike will do) available to charge them, which could be days at a time. My quad can hit just under a hundred, so it's way faster than it needs to be for any sensible perception of what you (or it) is looking at. You have no idea what you're talking about. I've been out on hunts for people many times here in Montana, and I can tell you if I'd had the quad then, I'd have a much better idea of what was around me, a lot sooner. Many searches are of relatively small areas, and often by small groups. Anything that helps... helps!

about two weeks ago
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FAA Shuts Down Search-and-Rescue Drones

fyngyrz Arrest is just the start (218 comments)

Would you really, though? You want to lose your home, your job, perhaps your family, your freedom, your ability to be further employed, have your credit rating destroyed, end up on various lists like no fly, felon, etc... do you really?

It's pretty easy to be upset about this, but the reality of putting your head into the gears of legal process -- even when you demonstrably and obviously on the side of sanity and righteousness -- is that your head gets squashed and the gears are only further lubricated by your juices. I speak from experience.

If you'd really sacrifice pretty much everything on such matters of principle, my hat is off to you. Truly. But when people go in all bright eyed and bushy tailed to do battle with the abject moron we collectively call the justice system, they invariably come out much sadder, wiser, poorer, lower class, jobless, and without having accomplished a damn thing WRT their original intent. So you might want to give that another serious think. You can do more good out here, with resources intact, than you can speaking to a lawyer through bars and learning that your "way out" is, at best, a plea bargain that compromises you for the rest of your life. Even if they promise you it won't.

about two weeks ago
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FAA Shuts Down Search-and-Rescue Drones

fyngyrz Finding it hard to grasp (218 comments)

Because it's fucking stupid. And harmful. And inflexible. And consequently puts people at risk. Because it looks exactly like rules for the wrong reason, inability to deal with what the world actually is, entrenched reasoning for circumstances no longer extant...

You know, things like that. Stupid shite.

about two weeks ago
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FAA Shuts Down Search-and-Rescue Drones

fyngyrz Government as obstacle to progress (218 comments)

o We only made X categories because we're imagination-free government drones

o We can't imagine dealing with anything not in our predefined categories

o Yet your application doesn't fit a predefined category, so we put it where it doesn't fit

o So you can't fly

o And little Mary Jane will die of exposure.

o Now, about next year: We'd like a budget increase for our yearly Vegas party, yeah?

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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RRAM poses challenge to FLASH memory market

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  about 9 months ago

fyngyrz (762201) writes "RRAM, a long-awaited alternative to other memory technologies that can retain data while powered down, has finally reached manufacturing. With higher data density, 3D stacking on chip (not chip-on-chip, but layer-on layer), lower power, more longevity, RRAM seems poised to drive electronic storage considerably forward. If initial designs use the current interfaces, we could see some immediate performance gains (RRAM is quite a bit faster than flash) as well as increased data capacities. Of course, no one needs more than... oh, never mind."
Link to Original Source
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Samsung releases source code for NX300 and NX2000 mirrorless cameras

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  about a year ago

fyngyrz (762201) writes "There are already powerful third-party software mods for cameras such as magic lantern, but as far as I know, they're all reverse-engineering efforts, and have been somewhat hamstrung because of that. Samsung, in offering the source code to these two cameras, may have tapped a golden vein. I'm a Canon user, but upon learning this, I immediately began to consider Samsung as a 2nd camera."
Link to Original Source
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Twitter sells two years of user data, tweets

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 2 years ago

fyngyrz writes "Thought those tweets had settled back into anonymity, or that they weren't being kept for long? Ooops. Turns out that Twitter has sold a huge database of several years tweets to a marketing company, which in turn has quite a list of customers ready to data-mine the trove of remarks about, well, everything."
Link to Original Source
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FAA Bill Authorizes Surveillance Drones over US

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 2 years ago

fyngyrz writes "Congress passed a bill this week that makes it easier for the government to fly unmanned spy planes in U.S. airspace. One wonders if those gentle souls who find it so entertaining to shoot road signs will enjoy this intriguing new opportunity."
Link to Original Source
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Time Travel in our lifetimes?

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 2 years ago

fyngyrz writes "If space travel is the final frontier, then what is time travel?

Einstein showed that mass and energy are the same thing. The time machine we’ve designed uses light in the form of circulating lasers to warp or loop time.

In Einstein’s theory it turns out that not only matter such as the Earth can create gravity but also light. It is the energy of light that creates gravity. Consequently, since time is affected by gravity and light can create gravity due to its energy then light can also affect time."

Link to Original Source
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Legal Tender? Maybe not.

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 2 years ago

fyngyrz writes "Lousiana has passed a bill that says people may no longer use cash for second hand transactions. The idea being to make all transactions traceable, thus foiling copper theft, etc. This move has profound implications that range from constitutional rights to bitcoin, Craigslist and so forth; I wonder if there are any slashdotters at all that support such a move."
Link to Original Source
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Costdom of Speech

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 3 years ago

fyngyrz (762201) writes "Philadelphia decides that bloggers must pay $300 for a "license." Again, government, this time at a city level, interprets "shall make no law" as "hey, boys, let's make a law!" The first — and the fourteenth — amendment specifically say this is not allowable government behavior."
Link to Original Source
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In THIS house... FTL fields and currents. Really!

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 3 years ago

fyngyrz (762201) writes "So you think of electrons like dominoes in a wire. Push on the one in the end, the others react one after another. Pretty vanilla physics. Further, because the electrons are moving, you get magnetic effects, radio, etc. Good stuff. So. What if you move all the "dominos" at once? Put your virtual hand on all of them, and push them over. They're not moving sequentially any longer. They move together. At any speed you can make them go. Well, that's what these researchers are doing — "pushing" all along a conductor at once, able to make a signal go — ready? — FTL. Fascinating stuff. And it may explain pulsars."
Link to Original Source
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Copyright sure... but what about "feel"?

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

fyngyrz writes "After securing copyright permission to use the Romantic's song "What I Like About You", the publisher of the game "Guitar Hero" is being sued by the band because "the company has infringed the group's right to its own image and likeness" because the cover song is so similar to the original version.

They're seeking an injunction against the game, which could do some real sales damage during the holiday season if granted.

Now, speaking as a musician, I'm right with the program when people say copyright is flawed, but... has this band fallen off the edge here?"

Link to Original Source
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Climate change science; taking a closer look.

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

fyngyrz writes "Climate change, global warming. Done deal, right? Not so fast:

A study has been submitted for publication in the journal Energy and Environment which actually looks at the level of support in the scientific community. From the results: "Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis." It is very interesting to see how neutral (and properly so!) the scientific community actually remains when it comes to anthropocentric global warming.

Are we seeing the pendulum swing back to a rational position?"

Link to Original Source
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fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

fyngyrz writes "As always, there are rumbles of discontent from the scientific community with regard to global warming. This article from R. Timothy Patterson, professor and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, lays the overriding mechanism of climate change squarely at the feet of the various solar cycles. In the article, he explains that solar energy impacting the earth is part of the mechanism, while the sun's solar wind drives cloud formation in a complementary cycle that enhances the effect of the actual heat input. But that's not the kicker. The interesting part is he is predicting global cooling, rather than warming."
Link to Original Source
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fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

fyngyrz writes "Looks like Mars is warming just as fast as we are. Unfortunately, it's a little more difficult to whip the public into a frenzy of guilt over emissions when even the most daft rank and file citizen will figure out that our CO2 excess doesn't make it to Mars under any circumstances, and so the discovery doesn't bode well for the CO2 alarmists.

Looks like we might be back to terrorists, panicking over each others morals, and legislating personal choices for the entertainment of the day."

Journals

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Why no recent journal entries?

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Because I have a blog at http://fyngyrz.com/.

It kind of makes the whole journal thing redundant. If you really want to see what I have to say about random things, by all means, you're invited to the blog. If not, well, it seems you're in substantial company, if nothing else. :)

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One of those poignant losses

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

18th October, 2007, we lost a dear old friend, a (mostly) Siamese cat yclept "Gwai-loh." Gwai was quite vocal, as are many Siamese; he also had some strange characteristics, for instance you could hold him upside-down on the ceiling and he would walk around - inverted - for as long as you were willing to hold him up there. For years, we kept him around the office, and he had a habit of coming up for affection when whoever he was approaching was on the phone. So he'd come up to you, get right up to your face (and the phone) and let loose with a really loud meow. Which you would then have to explain to the customer. One time I was on the phone with a rather famous Hollywood special effects dude when Gwai let loose with this, we had a good laugh over it. Eventually, we put up a web page on our site with a .wav of Gwai's signature meow, and a picture of him staring at a screensaver on a ginormous (for the time) monitor. A surprising amount of the code in WinImages was written with Gwai warm and settled either in my lap or across my arms.

Well, eventually, the old boy's liver failed, and I put out a rather startling amount of money to see if we could get around that, and amazingly enough, it worked. We got two more years of Gwai, all of it of quite high quality, before he finally laid down for the last time. His last couple of days were spent purring and head bumping while all the while refusing to eat or drink... finally, he just didn't wake up.

I miss him terribly. Sometimes it hits me right between the eyes and I can't even think straight. I can't dig over a decade and a half of unconditional love and affection out of my system with any amount of rationalization or any other flavor of self-bullshittery. Here's to my grizzled old friend. I only hope he knew how much I loved him in return.

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Mouseovers - as bad as popups?

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Is anyone else as annoyed as I am by words and phrases in web articles that pop up boxes because my mouse pointer happened to cross them, temporarily hiding the content I was reading in the first place? I didn't click on anything, and consequently, I don't want a context change. I find these annoying to the point of noting what the site is and not going back. Anyone else feel the same? Anyone have a defense of the practice?

I went to this article today to read it in response to a slashdot posting, and managed to accidentally activate the wireless mouseover / popup as I was reading. Bam. Content hidden, thought stream interrupted. Isn't this essentially popups, revisited?

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Cold War, Version II

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

So I wake up this morning, and Putin has dissolved his government.

Then, same morning, Russia announces a bomb with nuclear-level destructive capability. But they say they're not escalating.

Then, later the same day, the US announces they have a matter-antimatter (proton/positron) annihilation laser, which, they say, is to normal lasers as nuclear weapons are to normal bombs.

At the same time, Bush, old "We'll never pull 'em out", is about to announce a troop pullback in Iraq.

Oil's hovering around $80 a barrel. The dollar is in the outhouse, and we've basically had many of our civil rights eliminated or made irrelevant.

Did I miss something here?

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More on Global Temperature Change

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

As always, there are rumbles of discontent from the scientific community with regard to global warming. This article (vile email registration required) from R. Timothy Patterson, professor and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, lays the overriding mechanism of climate change squarely at the feet of the various solar cycles. In the article, he explains that solar energy impacting the earth is part of the mechanism, while the sun's solar wind drives cloud formation in a complementary cycle that enhances the effect of the actual heat input. But that's not the kicker. The interesting part is he is predicting global cooling, rather than warming.

But wait; there's more. This months Discover Magazine (print version also) has a lengthy article about this same mechanism, that is, cloud formation driving the climate and the sun driving cloud formation by way of modulating the effect cosmic rays have, by Henrik Svensmark, the 49-year-old director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen.

Svensmark says that we are in a warming trend, so his conclusions are at odds with those of Patterson; but they both agree that CO2 isn't nearly the looming threat that it has been made out to be with regard to climate change.

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Montana surprises us again, this time on Eminent Domain

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Recently, Montana legislators made news when they passed legislation outlawing Real-ID, calling it a threat to privacy and liberty. Now, legislation making the taking of property by eminent domain for the purposes of increasing tax revenues illegal has been passed and signed into law by Montana's governor. For more on why this is a serious issue, check out the Supreme Court's "Kelo" decision, named after a Connecticut woman who (unsuccessfully) fought to keep her home from city plans to arbitrarily take it and subsequently turn it over to private developers with the objective of collecting higher tax revenues from the property.

Montana has a 2% unemployment rate at present, and maintains a balanced budget, something the feds might want to give some consideration to. I have to say that although I am typically very cynical about government, and although Montana has made some very serious mis-steps in terms of liberties in the last few decades, the state seems more interested in doing the right thing than the wrong thing at this point in time, and I am feeling very pleased with my representatives right now as a long-time resident.

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Has Apple made a costly miss-step?

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  about 7 years ago

With the recent news about cellphone activity allegedly being the underlying cause for the sudden loss of large numbers of bees, an insect that forges an absolutely critical and irreplaceable part of the food chain, is Apple's iPhone doomed to enter the market just as cell phones face severe clampdowns, or even wholesale replacement?

Cell phones operate at microwave frequencies for a pretty good reason; basically, microwaves enable small equipment. They also do a decent job of penetrating many types of structures, if not through the walls, then at least through the windows. However, there are other frequencies available, lower frequencies that have been busy for many decades without any significant observed effect on bees or other life. People already understand how useful cell phones are, and there are manufacturers with significant experience in VHF radio, to name one technically possible replacement band — so an interesting market shake-up is certainly feasible. Excellent VHF transceivers are marketed by amateur radio manufacturers, for example.

Normally, we would assume that an established, profitable market similar to the cellphone market would be stable and have a long, healthy life expectancy based on the functionality offered to the market. However, if the bees go, we will too - and that, ladies and gentleman, is an outcome that not even Steve Job's legendary reality distortion field can deal with.

Perhaps Apple should get back to working on OSX, and forget the iPhone. I have this nagging feeling that the iPhone is going to be this year's "politically incorrect" device. I know I've stopped using my cellphone for anything but emergency calls; how about you? Seen any bees lately?

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My Mac finally crashed.

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 7 years ago

I bought my daily-driver Mac, a mini, pretty much when the PowerPC mini was released. I was tempted beyond belief by that form factor, and the price. I loaded it; a gig of ram, bluetooth, wifi, modem, big drive (for the day), the superdrive, and so forth. I bought every option because the more that was jammed into the box, the more I liked the form factor. I know it's a little weird, but there you have it.

Since then, I've used the little box daily, for just about everything. It's been powered up since I bought it (thanks to a UPS.) This year, a couple of months ago, I bought a Mac laptop - a top of the line 17" Mac Pro - but I still use the mini every day. I've rebooted the mini many times, almost always in response to an Apple upgrade or security modification, once when I went from 10.3 to 10.4, never as an attempt to fix a problem. I've never had any problems of that kind, frankly.

Today, without any particular warning, my Mac dimmed the screen, locked my mouse and keyboard, popped a black rectangle up which informed me in no uncertain terms that I needed to reboot. Now. I lost a long post I had been writing for Kuro5hin.org, and I failed to even reach the level of being annoyed about that because it was just so astonishing to me that the mini had actually - gulp - crashed.

I just want to say that I hadn't even realized that my expectations had been silently and sneakily leveraged to be so astonishingly high. After years of being screwed with, and over, by Microsoft operating systems, I no longer expect that an OS should, or will, crash. Massive kudos to Apple.

...and my little PPC mini came right back up, and yes, I'm using it right now, and I still don't expect it to crash. :) I was using a beta version of a web browser and my guess is it was just a little too beta.

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Best slashdot comment ever encountered

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 7 years ago Best slashdot comment, ever:

Russia's Biggest Spammer Brutally Murdered

Posted by timothy on Monday July 25, @11:48AM
from the but-what's-the-motive-detective-columbo? dept.
Karellen !-P writes "Vardan Kushnir, a notorious russian spammer who headed the English learning centers, the Center for American English, the New York English Centre and the Centre for Spoken English, was found dead in his Moscow apartment on Sunday, Interfax reported Monday. He died after suffering repeated blows to the head."
----------------------------------------
Should have opted out. (Score:5, Funny)
by Tackhead (54550) on Monday July 25, @11:54AM
(#13157866)
> He died after suffering repeated blows to the head.
From a hidden microphone at the scene of the murder:

"You are receiving *WHAM* this blow to the head *WHAM* because you are part of a *WHAM* specially-selected list of *WHAM* people who agreed to receive *WHAM* blows to the head *WHAM*.

To stop *WHAM* receiving these *WHAM* blows to the head, please *WHAM* email us at no-more-please@optout.blowtothehead. com and *WHAM* we will remove you from our list of *WHAM* blow-to-the-head-club members *WHAM* (heh, we said "club"!) *WHAM* within 24 to 48 hours.

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Slashdot needs some fixes

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 9 years ago Slashdot is fun and useful and all, but there are some pretty annoying problems with the site. They constantly come up in an "off topic" manner, and consequently get (sort-of) appropriately modded down - this journal submission is intended to give them a legitimate home. I submitted it as a story, but - of course - it was rejected.

These are the things that seem most obvious to me, but I am sure there are others, given how annoying the issues I have in mind are to me. Please feel free to add your thoughts to all this, shoot my ideas down, whatever.

Moderation is anonymous

I say this is a Very Bad Thing. You can compare this to Kuro5hin, where you can easily see who did what to whom. Moderation with accountability allows anyone to see when a vendetta is being pursued, or when someone is systematically modding a subject down because they disagree, rather than because the issue is actually off-topic, a flame and so forth. I cannot begin to count the number of comments I have seen that have been modded down because they were contraversial, as opposed to offtopic, flamebait, or whatever else the down-mod claimed they were. The site's editors are also anonymous and that provides a hidden power structure which isn't a particularly good thing in any venue. I have read multiple claims that this poster or that poster cannot get mod points "because they modded something [a slashdot luminary] posted some time ago." If this is an illusion, exposing who did what to whom will in turn expose the illusion. If it is not an illusion, then exposing what happened should reduce the problem, because such action would rightfully be condemned by readers if it is inappropriate. I find the idea that the site's editors might be sneaking around and quietly muzzling moderators in a punitive manner more than a little disturbing.

So my first suggestion here is simply to lose moderation anonymity. My second is that if and when mod capability is removed from a user, the date of, and reason for, that action be posted right in their user page.

Many - perhaps even most - down mods are punitive or inappropriate

I suggest that the meta-moderation process be adjusted to include the ability to flag down-mods as obviously inappropriate, and to remove moderation privileges from those who commit such down-mods, as well as the down-mods themselves.

Up-mods don't need metamoderation

I suggest the outright removal of metamoderation of up-mods; if someone considers something interesting (or whatever) positive characteristic, who are we to say that this isn't so? That's the moderator's take on the comment, and up-moderation is a (very limited) opportunity for a moderator to "uplift" the story to the rest of us based on that perception. Upmods aren't harmful the way down-mods are - quite the contrary - and it seems to me to be a complete waste of time to metamoderate upmods for that very reason.

With mod points so scarce (and I agree they should be) we are forced to pick the things we really appreciate to up-mod. I rarely see an honest need to down-mod (obvious "first post" and gay/nigger trolls excepted), but I simply do not see a need to counter an up-mod. Someone thinks this, that or the other thing is insightful or interesting or sexy or whatever? Ok, that's at least notable - and that is exactly what an up-moderated and hence higher point comment does, it becomes more notable - not more interesting, not more insightful, but more notable. It might not actually seem that the applied moderation is accurate to us on reading the modded comment, but it is interesting that so-and-so (or at least "someone", if moderator anonymity remains preserved) thought it was worthy of a mod point. Comments can argue the issue if a poster is so motivated, and that seems like plenty of recourse to me. We see this all the time anyway; why not simply make it the official means of argument with an upmod?

Metamoderation is a scarce resource - put it where it does the most good

The removal of up-mod metamoderation could allow multiple meta-moderation of down-mods so that a reasonable, multi-user consensus that a down-mod is innapropriate can be reached. It seems to me that it should not be a light thing to say that someone is abusing the moderation system; you want to be reasonably certain. A meta objection to a down mod should cause that down-mod to immediately rear its ugly little head in a bunch of other meta-moderation queues so that consensus can be reached - and then corrective action taken if the mod is widely deemed inappropriate. This last point is important: It is a real shame that reasonable posts are permanently lost to the default view because some moderator was being a twit.

Fix the comment point system

There are several things wrong with this area of the site. The first is simply exposure, like authorship of moderation. Anyone who looks at the summary of points in a profile and tries to figure out what happened to a heavily moderated comment in a story is doomed to failure. It's Byzantine at best, and opaque and threatening at worst. Expose it.

Next, The math behind up/down mods is bizarre, to say the least. At a minimum, fix it so it is linear; or if not, then at least expose each and every mod point and show what it did to the story (along with the inflicting member - again, see Kuro5hin for a nice example of how this should be done.) Of course, if only this is done, an outcry will probably arise to fix the math, for the obvious reasons. :)

Expand the moderation choices

I have also seen lots of very good suggestions for additional moderation reasons. I'd like to see the readership discuss that here and perhaps a poll be subsequently created to see which new moderations should actually be added.

Story submission is entirely in italics

How is one expected to visually check the HTML of a story if the story preview enforces italics for the entire body? Why not use dark blue on white, and let italics flow according to the story tags so we can actually see what we're writing? You know, that radical new concept, "WYSIWYG"?

Sign the Polls

Stories are signed so we know who to thank (or blame) for the story. Sign the polls too. As I write this, there is a poll up for "favorite writing instrument" and the poll fails to include "keyboard" as an option. Somebody should have some digital egg on their face for that one. Maybe accountability will result in better quality polls. One can hope, anyway!

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