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Fun To Be Had With a 10-Foot Satellite Dish?

jnnnnn Burn stuff. (386 comments)

Evaporate a thin layer of aluminium onto the surface and use it to burn things with the power of a million suns.

As if there was any other choice.

more than 4 years ago

Open Source Transcription Software?

jnnnnn Open source no. (221 comments)

Here's a list. In my experience, only Dragon is worth trying, with the following caveats:

  • It helps to spend ten minutes training it for each voice
  • It will still only get 99% accuracy
  • You need a high quality (low noise) recording with a good microphone

On the plus side, correction is easy -- read the document, and select words that look wrong to hear what they sounded like.

Most of the other programs are aimed at very small vocabularies (i.e. 100 words) for accessibility applications (controlling a computer).

more than 4 years ago

Vaccine Patch Removes Needle Pain

jnnnnn Some details from the article... (250 comments)

The needles are conical, about 200m diameter by 650m long, with 10m radius of curvature at the tip. They are made from a biocompatible polymer, polyvinylpyrrolidone, and mostly dissolve after about five minutes (they are highly water-soluble). The manufacturing process can be done at 23C (using a mold), avoiding damage to sensitive biological molecules. Each patch held 3 g of vaccine.

For comparison purposes, human hair ranges in diameter from 20-200m.

Here's the article, with some low-res pictures even for non-subscribers.

more than 4 years ago

Cheap ADSL Holds Up 802.11n Router Design

jnnnnn Re:Time Capsule (268 comments)

The Asus RT-N16 has been great for us. The wifi signal is stronger than the one you suggested. It's also $92 (maybe $150 with a hard drive -- it has two USB ports for hard drives) compared to your minimum $299.

more than 4 years ago

Spanish Judges Liken File Sharing To Lending Books

jnnnnn Re:But, but, but,,, (352 comments)

No, America is trying to strengthen copyright law so that it can make more money.

Multimedia is one of America's biggest exports. It is economically obvious (at least in the short term) that those who look after the country should strengthen copyright law.

It's up to other countries to flip the bird or extract economically equivalent concessions in return.

IANA (I am not American.)

more than 4 years ago

Chameleon-Like Behavior of Neutrino Confirmed

jnnnnn Re:Chameleon-Like Behavior? (191 comments)

One of the properties of subatomic particles is referred to as colour. The particles are not coloured (they are far smaller than the wavelengths of light that give colour), but it is a simple system of classifying particles, similar to resistor colour codes or the "terrorist" alert system.

The study of the colour properties is called "chromodynamics", and I guess "chameleon" must be a similar extension of the metaphor.

more than 4 years ago

Flash Destroyer Tests Limit of Solid State Storage

jnnnnn Re:Die? (229 comments)

Your NAND SSD is going to fail during an erase-program (aka "write") cycle, and except in the extremely unlikely case that the pattern you were writing did not involve changing any previously stored 1s to 0s on stuck bits, then the result is going to be wrong. You could read it, but you'd be reading the wrong data.

I disagree. Flash memory erases whole blocks in one go (with a high-voltage pulse). It should be simple enough to check that the whole block got properly erased during the erase part of the write cycle. If not, that is a worn-out sector, and can be marked as such with no loss of data.

Getting stuck in the programmed state is a good thing, it makes the check easier (check for all zeroed before writing instead of checking for a correct write afterwards) and possibly faster.

Correcting some other inaccuracies I noticed during this discussion, flash memory is a specific type of EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory). The main failure mode occurs because charge builds up in the gate oxide (the insulator between the floating gate and the substrate).

more than 4 years ago

Researchers Create 4nm Transistor With Seven Atoms

jnnnnn Re:Not Holding My Breath (120 comments)

They did it using an atomic force microscope (very sharp needle) to make room for the phosphorus atoms on the silicon surface (removing the hydrogen termination in certain places). Phosphene gas PH_3 then places phosphorus atoms in the vacated holes, and finally silicon is grown over the top using a low-temperature CVD process. It's a beautiful technique that took them several years to get right.

more than 4 years ago

Pakistan Court Orders Facebook Ban Over Mohammed Images

jnnnnn Re:Read your history (949 comments)

In a few centuries, or less, Islam will be mellowed out.

I hope Scientology never gets a turn...

more than 4 years ago

NASA Finds Cause of Voyager 2 Glitch

jnnnnn Bit-flipping (283 comments)

Here's an interesting thing: older computer chips are more susceptible to bit-flipping by cosmic rays, because they are thicker. The increased thickness gives the cosmic ray more chance of interacting with the chip (rather than passing straight through), scattering charge all over the place, and stuffing things up. IBM had a serious modelling project in the 80s that culminated in SRIM (free download), but apparently it's not much of a problem for modern computer chips. SRIM has since gone on to bigger and better things.

more than 4 years ago

1 Molecule Computes Thousands of Times Faster Than a PC

jnnnnn Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (246 comments)

The summary states it is 1000s of times faster *for a certain problem*, which is quite possible.

more than 4 years ago

Stock Market Sell-Off Might Stem From Trader's Fat Finger

jnnnnn Re:Institutional Traders Don't Enter Trades Like T (643 comments)

I did work experience at a large broker once, and spent a day watching the actual traders (there were only two, even for that large company, on text-based terminals). They say that quite regularly traders at other firms enter the price wrong, e.g. leaving the zero off the end of the price of a large sell order, which eats through all the buy orders and reduces the price quite significantly... they said that most of the traders were pretty good about reversing such transactions.

So things something like the OP describes can and do happen.

more than 4 years ago

NASA Mars Rover Spots Its Ultimate Destination

jnnnnn Re:They lasted too long. Bad engineering. Big fias (101 comments)

Wow, I bet you're the guy who makes laptops fail two days after the three-year warranty ends.

I am all in favour of careful engineering. Designing things to fail is extremely antisocial.

more than 4 years ago

IBM Creates World's Smallest 3-D Map

jnnnnn Call me when... (90 comments)

they hit 2nm resolution. That's when the quantum happy fun times really start.

more than 4 years ago

Porsche Unveils 911 Hybrid With Flywheel Booster

jnnnnn Re:Gyroscopic effect? (197 comments)

If the flywheel is horizontal, it will strongly resist roll (where a car's weight moves to the outer wheels on a corner), and may improve handling significantly.

If the flywheel is vertical (very unlikely), the car will resist turning and have very poor handling.

Conservation of angular momentum is the same force that makes bikes easy to balance (slow to fall over) when they're moving.

With a spinning wheel, rotating the axis (axle) towards the plane of the wheel is hard, but rotating around the axis offers no resistance.

More reading.

more than 4 years ago



Havok engine to be free for non-commercial use

jnnnnn jnnnnn writes  |  more than 6 years ago

jnnnnn (1079877) writes "From the press release:

Havok will offer the PC version of its award-winning physics and animation software product — Havok Complete — for download free of charge. For non-commercial use, Havok Complete for the PC will be freely downloadable in May 2008.

Link to Original Source


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