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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

grahamwest Re:wow (571 comments)

Can you explain in more detail? It wasn't clear to me how this problem was handled. I did a little research and learned that the fast neutrons cause neutron activation, creating often long-lived radioactive isotopes of what they hit - which will generally be the reactor containment walls.

He did mention breeding tritium via lithium, so is the idea to plate the inner walls of the reactor with lithium? In that case, does the amount of tritium generated balance with the amount consumed? Or, does that just naturally reach equilibrium?

In any case, I think all of this is only alluded to in the video. If you have more insight, I think it would be useful to share it.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Remote Support For Disconnected, Computer-Illiterate Relatives

grahamwest Plain old DOS (334 comments)

Build them a small form factor PC. Don't connect the USB ports and don't provide an optical drive. Install FreeDOS, a basic dialup TCP/IP stack, an email client and a web browser. I'd also set it up to decompress and restore everything from a read-only partition every single time they boot, ideally before processing config files. If there isn't already a way to do this, FreeDOS does have source available, so you could modify that.

Notes on DOS email and web clients:
http://www.tokyopc.org/newslet...
http://www.compmiscellanea.com...

about 2 months ago
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No RIF'd Employees Need Apply For Microsoft External Staff Jobs For 6 Months

grahamwest Re:What about the lunch ladies? (282 comments)

They cover that in the full memo:

Q: Why do some supplier employees not take breaks when others do?

A: There are some business functions and processes that have been fully outsourced (Outsourcing), such as cafeteria services, landscaping and call centers. These Outsourcing engagements are limited, require a certain set of criteria be met and must go through a rigorous approval process.

about 4 months ago
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The lightbulb I've most recently acquired ...

grahamwest Re:Submit a poll idea :) (196 comments)

Between 2 and 3 years but it did not fail, so I don't know how long it would've lasted. I replaced it with a higher wattage "daylight" bulb a few months ago. I really like the much-less-yellow look of the daylight bulbs now and I don't think I'd use any other hue.

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Handle Unfixed Linux Accessibility Bugs?

grahamwest Re:A few options (266 comments)

Well it's the keys, specifically the modifier keys, that are supposed to be sticky. That doesn't imply that their stickiness can only be affected by other keys.

about 8 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Handle Unfixed Linux Accessibility Bugs?

grahamwest Re:A few options (266 comments)

I just tested and OS X treats the clicks and key presses the same way when sticky keys is enabled. Hit the modifier, the next click or key press is modified. Hit the modifier twice and all clicks and key presses and modified until you hit the modifier again to unlock.

Seems very much the logical way to do it.

about 7 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Handle Unfixed Linux Accessibility Bugs?

grahamwest Re:was a fix to make follow the specification (266 comments)

The spec in question - http://www.x.org/docs/XKB/XKBp... as Peter references in the bug comments - discusses StickyKeys (4.4 on page 9) and strongly implies modifiers only unlatch on key presses; mouse buttons are not mentioned. His change made the code match this reading of the spec. I have a hard time believing that's what the spec writers intended, but if so then KDE's lock checkbox really isn't supposed to do anything.

about 7 months ago
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$30K Worth of Multimeters Must Be Destroyed Because They're Yellow

grahamwest Re:Did Fluke request this? (653 comments)

This was my reaction as well. I looked at the trademark registration, which has a picture of the Fluke, then at Sparkfun's site. So, fair enough. However, I google image searched 'multimeter' and there are lots of multimeters in that same shade of yellow, of all sorts of brands. I had no idea yellow "meant" Fluke, personally. I think there's a valid case that this trademark has become diluted and generic. Whether all those others are licensed uses or not, if there's no scope for customer confusion of brand, it's no longer a valid trademark.

about 8 months ago
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70% of U.S. Government Spending Is Writing Checks To Individuals

grahamwest VERY misleading terminology (676 comments)

"Individual" in this case does NOT mean "person".

If you download the spreadsheet you can see that they classify total spending as either "direct" or "grants", of which the vast bulk is "direct". Everything that is not a grant must be being paid to an entity of some kind, whether an actual person, a company, a non-profit or something. You can verify this is the total Federal spending using the Monthly Treasury Statements at https://www.fms.treas.gov/mts/... - I recommend the PDF versions.

As for the percentage going to veterans, I expect the number of veterans isn't growing very much, whereas the Federal budget is. So a constant amount in a larger total is going to be a smaller fraction.

Bottom line, this article is FUD and should not be taken serious by anyone.

about 9 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: MMORPG Recommendations?

grahamwest Re:Can I recommend an MMO? (555 comments)

Have you played Star Trek Online? Seems pretty casual-friendly, does a nice job with the lore, and a bunch of the ex-Paragon people are working on it.

Full disclosure: I worked on CoH and know the people in question.

1 year,5 days
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Cisco Can't Shield Customers From Patent Suits, Court Rules

grahamwest Re:So does anybody... (111 comments)

The patents are about automatic failover when network nodes or spans break. The earlier patents are about having spare nodes and spans and deciding which to use when some part of the network fails (eg. having a node which broadcasts "who can help?" and available nodes broadcast back "i can help!" and a single node decides which available node to use). The later patents are about turning on and off routes between nodes to reconfigure the network, usually into some sort of mesh network.

I'm not a network engineer so it's hard for me to judge, but the earlier patents seem trivial to me especially since they're from the late 1990s. The latter patents might have some merit - the idea of changing the network to a mesh is interesting, but my gut feeling is they're mostly solutions that any decent engineer would come up with after a bit of head scratching.

about a year ago
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Indiana Man Gets 8 Months For Teaching How To Beat Polygraph Tests

grahamwest Re:federal overreach, as usual (356 comments)

If I come to you and ask you to sell me some dynamite so I can rob a bank with it, it doesn't matter whether I actually rob the bank or not. By agreeing to sell me the dynamite you become part of a criminal conspiracy. There's no duty on you to tell the cops about me, but there is the duty to say, "Sorry dude, I can't help you out with that".

about a year ago
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Indiana Man Gets 8 Months For Teaching How To Beat Polygraph Tests

grahamwest Re:federal overreach, as usual (356 comments)

It's against the law to fraudulently obtain (or conspire to obtain) a security clearance that requires you to have no family criminal ties if you do have a brother who is a criminal.

about a year ago
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Indiana Man Gets 8 Months For Teaching How To Beat Polygraph Tests

grahamwest Re:federal overreach, as usual (356 comments)

Because he was charged with advising and helping people lie to the federal government when they told him they were involved in illegal activity (eg. one of them said his brother was a "violent Mexican drug trafficker" for example. He was essentially involved in a conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and that's what they put him in jail for.

Polygraphs are tantamount to phrenology and graphology in my opinion, but that's not what this case was truly about.

about a year ago
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Microsoft Seeks Patent On 'Quieting Mobile Devices'

grahamwest Re:um... (71 comments)

Parental controls triggered by location as well as time, so basically yes. However, this is only a patent application and can thus be denied or challenged while under evaluation.

about a year ago
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Apple Now Relaying All FaceTime Calls Due To Lost Patent Dispute

grahamwest Re:Obvious patents and patent trolls (179 comments)

Here are a couple of the patents Apple was found to have infringed. They actually look non-obvious to me. Basically they're about running a special DNS proxy server that catches non-standard requests, checks credentials in some fashion, and either sets up a just-in-time VPN, passes them through to a normal DNS server, or returns an error. They also don't seem to be a troll company; it looks like this work was done as a government contract.

I didn't look for any details on how Facetime peer-to-peer worked so I don't know if the ruling is correct and generally I consider software non-patentable (copyright and trade secret should be enough) but this is not what I'd call a meritless patent troll case.

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%252Fnetahtml%252FPTO%252Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6502135.PN.&OS=PN/6502135&RS=PN/6502135
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%252Fnetahtml%252FPTO%252Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=7418504.PN.&OS=PN/7418504&RS=PN/7418504

about a year ago
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Home wireless security level?

grahamwest Re:Damn Nintendo DS (438 comments)

Same for me; I need my old DS and DSlite for foreign games. I look at the "security" as making the person have to do something explicit and illegal to use my network. If they're okay with that, they're probably okay with doing all sorts of other nasty things.

about a year ago
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My credits by name in (released) software:

grahamwest Video games are helpful for this (190 comments)

Junkyard pinball
Revenge From Mars Pinball2000
Star Wars Ep 1 Pinball2000
Redcard Soccer PS2/Xbox
NBA Ballers PS2/Xbox
NBA Ballers Phenom PS2/Xbox
Mortal Kombat Deception (not 100% sure about main credits, but definitely one of the dev team/support photos you unlock in the Krypt)
City Of Heroes (I think, the credits on the web site were updated but not always accurate)

about a year and a half ago
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Pinball: a Resurgence In Retro Gaming From an Unlikely Place

grahamwest Re:will machines be more common? (107 comments)

I worked at Williams in the 90s. You're pretty much spot on but I do have a few other comments. The fact that games broke more than videogames is true, but what really choked the industry - and I'm counting arcade videogames in this too - was that all the games wound up getting more and more expensive, yet earning less and less money.

Back in the day, if a game didn't pay for itself in 8 weeks, it was a dog. Really good games could do that in 3 weeks. Once they'd done that, the rest was profit. After a while the original location would sell the game and a lesser location would pick it up. Cheaper price, lower earning but still the game paid for itself in a few weeks. Repeat 2 or 3 more times and you have a game in a pizza joint, not earning much but doing well enough to be worth the effort. When the time-to-profit stretched out it choked this whole 'food chain' to the point that distributors were telling the manufacturers that they didn't want to buy any more games, even if they'd signed a contract for exclusivity in return for minimum orders, even if the game was incredible, because they already had a warehouse full of stuff they couldn't sell to the top-tier operators and thus just taking up space and (more importantly) non-cash illiquid assets.

There was also bloody-mindedness on the part of the locations, operators, distributors and manufacturers. Manufacturers kept jacking up prices without enough effort in R&D (Pin2k was an exception and I have so many heroic stories of our effort on that!) and without coming up with enough other ways to add value. Distributors cut back all the services they used to offer (e.g. board repair, big parts catalogs), operators were no longer willing to spend time fixing and cleaning games (easier to put in a Golden Tee Golf instead) and locations didn't want to deal with the space or the noise.

Pinball and slots at WMS were separate business units with their own assembly lines. Spinning reel slot design was briefly under Larry DeMar who was the head of engineering for pinball (and a legend in his own right thanks to Robotron, Defender, Black Knight, High Speed, Funhouse...) but that didn't really affect things and was before Pin2k got going. The fixed cost of the production line was a big drag on profit and we were barely hitting the minimum run rate most of the time, but it wasn't in the tens of thousands. 5000 a year was about where it was at, if I remember rightly. Revenge From Mars perked that up considerably but then the CEO decided to pump up the price for Star Wars Ep 1 and orders, which had been higher, dropped below its sales. That's when they pulled the plug.

After that, a bunch of the WMS pinball people went to Stern and some others went with Pat Lawlor who founded his own design company, manufacturing through Stern. That's why Stern's games improved in quality and play appeal. You can thank Dwight, Keith and Lyman in particular, plus Louis, Greg and John K along with Pat at PLD. George Gomez (Tron, Spy Hunter and the Monster Bash pinball, among others) now runs Stern.

about a year and a half ago
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Why Are We Still Talking About LucasArts' Old Adventure Games?

grahamwest Re:Last great game 15 years ago?! (285 comments)

Maybe it's a confusion over terminology. 15 years is about when Lucasarts stopped developing great games themselves. They published plenty after that of course, including Jedi Outcast, but they were all made by licensees. From the outside the studio looked really bipolar to me, thrashing back and forth between internal development and outsourcing frequently enough they couldn't build and maintain any strong teams.

about a year and a half ago

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