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Comments

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Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

necro81 Re:"Accidentally" (281 comments)

Well, if the police have nothing to hide they have nothing to fear.

Most in the Slashdot crowd would scoff at using the "nothing to hide" argument as it applies to more widespread surveillance of ordinary citizens. At the same time, they would happily use it as a justification for more widespread "surveillance" (e.g., transparency and monitoring) of police, intelligence services, and government in general.

I do not think this is an example of doublethink, or a double standard. It's not a double standard if the situations it's being applied to are, in fact, different. There is a very big difference between the private matters of private citizens and the actions of government employees in the conduct of their public roles. For that reason, always-on police cameras seem quite reasonable, so long as they can be switched off or set aside as soon as the officer goes off duty and resumes being a private citizen.

Many of the arguments raised in debunking the "nothing to hide" argument are worth considering, and should guide the proper implementation of police cameras and other "watching the watchers" efforts. I don't, however, think the arguments are forceful enough for us to not implement police cameras, though.

2 days ago
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HP Recalls 6 Million Power Cables Over Fire Hazard

necro81 Re:Not the PSUs? The actual cables? (135 comments)

It's likely that there's actually more than 2A going through that cable due to power factor and reactive current. The 2 A on the nameplate is the net current that is drawn by the power supply, but if the power factor is not close to 1.0 (low- to medium-quality switching power supplies have power factor around 0.6), then there could be significant reactive current, well beyond 2 A, flowing through the cable.

USB transfers DC, and so shouldn't have any reactive current.

2 days ago
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World's First 3D Printed Estate Coming To New York

necro81 Re:Let us redefine "progress" (108 comments)

A reference to Star Trek VI was the last thing that I expected to find as the first post...

about two weeks ago
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Wheel Damage Adding Up Quickly For Mars Rover Curiosity

necro81 Re:Material selection (162 comments)

Curiosity's RTG, like most that came before it, is powered with Plutonium-238. Pu-238 is an alpha-particle emitter, meaning that the radiation is easily blocked by most solid objects (as opposed to, say, gamma or neutron radiation, which require significant shielding). The radiation levels that leave the RTG housing would, I expect, be non-significant compared to the ambient radiation on the surface of Mars.

UV radiation would be a bigger problem as far as plastics are concerned.

about two weeks ago
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Blackberry Moves Non-Handset Divisions Into New Business Unit

necro81 Re:BarbaraHudson is an absolute idiot (89 comments)

My, how times change. The first iPhone came out a little over seven years ago, to widespread mockery: "It has no keyboard!" "It's too expensive!" "Businesses and government will never abandon their Blackberries!" And now Blackberry is a shadow of it's former self, and we're arguing whether they're totally doomed or not....

Well, this is slashdot - what else are we supposed to do? If we weren't griping, sniping, and tearing everything down, we might actually go out and create something freakin' amazing!

about two weeks ago
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Student Bookstores Beware, Amazon Comes To Purdue Campus

necro81 Re:$4-15K/year (95 comments)

As a counter-annecdote: when I was taking a course in Fourier theory, the professor teaching the course was in the process of writing his own textbook on the subject. Each week or so we got a printed copy of the appropriate chapter. He had been working on it for a while, and it was more or less complete: with huge numbers of embedded mathematics (including lengthy derivations), graphs produced in Matlab, all properly typeset using LaTeX. It was a fantastic "text" (although not exactly in book form), and better than the actual assigned text. It cost us, the students, nothing (other than the costs of being a grad student, monetary and otherwise).

Just for the heck of it, I did some searching to see if he ever got it published. It's available for pre-order now (more than a decade since I took the course). I guess it'll be the required text now, and retails north of $100, but at least it will be good.

about two weeks ago
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Alleged Massive Account and Password Seizure By Russian Group

necro81 Re:because writing propet software (126 comments)

I misread "propet" like you did, then wondered what "prophet software" was supposed to be. Maybe Windows ME was supposed to be Windows Messiah? Instead it turned out to be Windows Anti-Christ.

about three weeks ago
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Inside the Facebook Algorithm Most Users Don't Even Know Exists

necro81 Re:About Facebook (130 comments)

crack addicted meth head chimp

Ooooh, now THAT I gotta see!

about three weeks ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

necro81 Re:Disengenous (306 comments)

Why? As long as there are 3 or more, why care about anything but price and selection? If you can find what you want, then it's just about price, no? At least, it is for me.

Because I rather like having vibrant communities sprinkled with local businesses - places where people go and interact - and a local economy not predicated solely on the whims of the Fortune 500. The end-game of what you are advocating is that everyone stays home and buys everything online or, if they opt for brick-and-mortar, their only option are big-box stores: nondescript cookie-cutter islands of mega-commerce in a sea of blacktop parking lots. I don't want that to be the dominant model, even if it means I sometimes pay a smidgen more. That smidgen more "buys" me a community I want to live in, and neighbors that can afford to live there. There's a place for big-box stores and online commerce giants - I have made purchases at Target, Amazon, and Home Depot in the last month - but I worry about me and everyone else being screwed by hegemony.

about a month ago
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How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

necro81 Depends on definitions (391 comments)

I had to replace the screen on a broken smartphone in the last year. To get the screen free required a nearly total disassembly of the phone itself, followed naturally enough by a nearly complete (re)assembly. Most people would consider say that smartphones are a subset of computers; one can quibble as to whether "repair == assembly."

If the intent of the question is more along the lines of "When did you last purchase components for a desktop computer and put them all together yourself (i.e., sticking processor into socket, RAM into the mobo, etc.)?" Then the answer is: not in a decade, since that was when I last had a personal machine that was a desktop that required such assembly.

As a middle ground, I changed some of the components of my personal laptop (new HDD, more RAM, new battery, replaced a finicky flex cable). That was to years ago.

about a month ago
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The Milky Way Is Much Less Massive Than Previous Thought

necro81 Yet another step (119 comments)

Starting from the Earth getting kicked out from the center of the universe to the present hypothesis that visible matter is just a tiny fraction of all the stuff in the universe, having the mass of the Milky Way reduced is just another step in what Carl Sagan called The Great Demotions. Hopefully by now humanity is getting used to it.

about a month ago
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The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

necro81 Re:Such a Waste (156 comments)

It all could have been one movie it they followed the book

that's what I'm looking forward to once the third film is out: the fan-edit that removes anything extraneous (i.e., not explicitly in the book). Take out all of that, cut each chase sequence roughly in half, and you will end up with ONE tightly paced movie about 2:45 in length that is an entertaining adaptation.

about a month ago
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Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

necro81 Re:Like So Many of Humanity's Woes (868 comments)

Dozens of times during my lifetime peace has been within reach, only to be shattered by some asshole on one side or the other

Soooo, you're saying it's just like that speech in Team America: World Police

about 1 month ago
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Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

necro81 Re:Radicalization (868 comments)

Show me another country in the region that has a single Jew or Christian in office.

You mean like Lebanon, Israel's neighbor to the north?

From Wikipedia:
"High-ranking offices are reserved for members of specific religious groups. The President, for example, has to be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, the Speaker of the Parliament a Shi’a Muslim, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Eastern Orthodox....

"Lebanon's national legislature is the unicameral Parliament of Lebanon. Its 128 seats are divided equally between Christians and Muslims, proportionately between the 18 different denominations and proportionately between its 26 regions."

I wouldn't say that government-by-religious-and-ethnic-quota is necessarily a great way to go, but it does provide diversity.

about 1 month ago
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Stanford Team Creates Stable Lithium Anode Using Honeycomb Film

necro81 Re:I'm worried about a hurdle nobody's mentioned. (119 comments)

What kind of ridiculous regulations do you think they'll try to impose on devices that contain a multi-kilogram slab of Widely-Known Drug Precursor?

I would argue that none are really needed - it's a self-limiting problem. Any meth-head dumb enough to try to crack open an enormous battery pack and pull out a metallic lithium anode is likely to end up extra crispy.

about a month ago
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China Plans Particle Colliders That Would Dwarf CERN's LHC

necro81 Re:Cost Seems Low (219 comments)

After all, prior to constructing the LHC, Europe didn't have that expertise either and yet all those devices got built just the same.

I disagree: there is a decades-long history of building similar, though simpler, devices in Europe and the United States. Sure, there was a lot of invention involves and new challenges to tackle, but a lot of the fundamental technologies already existed. More importantly, there was a substantial population of people who had experience in designing such (earlier) technologies, manufacturing them, getting them to work, and maintaining them. China does not have that kind of depth.

about a month ago
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China Plans Particle Colliders That Would Dwarf CERN's LHC

necro81 Re:Cost Seems Low (219 comments)

The cost of the LHC has been estimated at $9 billion. I know there are different labor costs between Europe and China, but there are lots of costs that can't easily be brought down. The tunnel's gonna need a whole lot of concrete, steel, etc. - global commodities whose cost doesn't vary that much by geography. The LHC is packed to the gills with custom components: everything from the the superconducting magnets to the RF generators to the detectors to the massive computing systems to sift through all the subatomic debris. Even assuming China has the technical expertise to create that custom componentry (a question I can't answer - I simply don't know)...

does it pass even casual scrutiny to think that China can make a collider of twice the size at one-third the cost?

about a month ago

Submissions

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Networked Gadgets Waste 400 Terawatt-Hours of Energy Every Year

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about a month and a half ago

necro81 (917438) writes "IEEE Spectrum reports: "Your Xbox wastes a lot of energy—energy that could power the entire United Kingdom. Well, it's not just your Xbox, but your Xbox and my printer and your friend's television and 14 billion other networked electronic devices around the world....

"The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a new report on just how much power all those networked devices use...[t]he results are amazing: network-enabled devices in homes and offices around the world consumed 616 terawatt-hours in 2013, and 65 percent of that (400 TWh) could have been saved simply by using technology that exists today."

It's a problem of design: even though it's technologically straightforward to design products for better energy consumption, with little incremental cost, there's no incentive for a designer to do so. It's not their electricity going to waste, after all."

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Luke Prosthetic Arm approved by FDA

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about 4 months ago

necro81 (917438) writes "The FDA today approved the Luke prosthetic arm for sale. The Luke Arm, created by Dean Kamen's DEKA R&D Corp., was a project initiated by DARPA to develop a prosthetic arm for wounded warriors more advanced than those previously available. The Arm can be configured for below-the-elbow, above-the-elbow, and shoulder-level amputees. The full arm has 10 powered degrees of freedom and has the look and weight of the arm it replaces. (more info here) Through trials by DEKA and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Arm has been used by dozens of amputees for a total of many thousands of hours. Commercialization is still pending."
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Megatons to Megawatts Program Comes to a Close

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about 7 months ago

necro81 (917438) writes "In the aftermath of the Cold War, the disintegrating Soviet Union had tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and tons of weapons-grade fissile material. In the economic and political turmoil, many feared that it would fall into unfriendly hands. However, thanks to the doggedness of an MIT professor, Dr. Thomas Neff, 500 metric tons of weapons grade material made its way into nuclear reactors in the United States through the Megatons to Megawatts program. During the program, about 10% of all electricity generated in the U.S came weapons once aimed at the country. Now, after nearly 20 years, the program is coming to an end as the final shipment of Soviet-era uranium, now nuclear fuel, arrived in Baltimore."
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Inventor of AK-47 Dies at 94

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about 8 months ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Lt. Gen. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, an arms designer for the Soviet Union, creator of the AK-47, passed away today at age 94. Kalashnikov was born a peasant and entered the Soviet Army as a conscript. However, the self-taught tinkerer had an aptitude that took him far. The AK-47, his best-known creation, was praised for its reliability and low cost; attributes that have made it the most successful firearm ever, seeing use in homeland defense, rebellion, terrorism, and untold massacres. The inventor was himself ambivalent about the uses his creation had seen, but was nevertheless proud of his contribution to his country, where he is praised as a hero."
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Another Casualty of Typhoon Haiyan: Geothermal Power

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about 9 months ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Little known even in environmental circles is a renewable energy success story: five geothermal power plants on Leyte Island in the Philippines — each of which producing enough power for the entire island — that collectively produce more than 10% of the Philippines total electrical demand. From boreholes deep underground comes pressurized water heated to 280 Celcius. At the surface it flashes into steam, turning one set of turbines, then cools and contracts to spin a second set of turbines. The low-grade steam is then condensed back into water and reinjected into the bedrock. But Typhoon Haiyan destroyed the cooling towers, snapped transmission towers, and scattered the employees."
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MAVEN mission to Mars will proceed, despite shutdown

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about a year ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Due to the ongoing shutdown of the U.S. Government, NASA is largely grounded. This is bad for all kinds of reasons, but one particularly bad outcome would have been missing the launch window for the MAVEN spacecraft, due to launch 18 November. The next launch window would not have been until 2016. MAVEN, thankfully, has been given the go-ahead, in large part because this orbiter will serve as a vital communications link for the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers currently on the surface. Currently, these rovers are served by two aging orbiters: Mars Odyssey (launched 2001) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (launched 2005). Maintaining communications with the rovers is considered essential, hence the preparations and launch will proceed. (NASA's official mission website is currently offline.)"
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MAVEN mission to Mars will proceed, despite shutdown

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about a year ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Due to the ongoing shutdown of the U.S. Government, NASA is largely grounded. This is bad for all kinds of reasons, but one particularly bad outcome would have been missing the launch window for the MAVEN spacecraft, due to launch 18 November. The next launch window would not have been until 2016. MAVEN, thankfully, has been given the go-ahead, in large part because this orbiter will serve as a vital communications link for the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers currently on the surface. Currently, these rovers are served by two aging orbiters: Mars Odyssey (launched 2001) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (launched 2005). Maintaining communications with the rovers is considered essential, hence the preparations and launch will proceed. (NASA's official mission website is currently offline.)"
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Link Rot and the U.S. Supreme Court

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about a year ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Hyperlinks are not forever. Link rot occurs when a source you've linked to no longer exists — or worse, exists in a different state than when the link was originally made. Even permalinks aren't necessarily permanent if a domain goes silent or switches ownership. According to new research from Harvard Law, some 49% of hyperlinks in Supreme Court documents no longer point to the correct original content. A second studyon link rot from Yale stresses that for the Court footnotes, citations, parenthetical asides, and historical context mean as much as the text of an opinion itself, which makes link rot a threat to future scholarship."
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Apple's New TouchID - Breakthrough or Disaster?

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about a year ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Apple isn't the first company to integrate a fingerprint reader into a cellphone. But with the introduction of TouchID into the home button of the new iPhone 5S, Apple has thrust the technology front and center, and made a big gamble in the process. Will users accept it? Will other companies follow? What happens if the false positive/false negative rates are too high? Without an open and inspectable protocol, we have to take Apple at its word that the fingerprint data exist only in the sensor and the (local) processor; no APIs for third-party access have been announced. Is this an acceptable security model? If it's an awful model, is it at least better than the alternative (passcodes, or nothing at all)?"
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Transporting a 15-m, 600-ton Magnet Cross Country

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about a year ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Although its Tevatron particle accelerator has gone dark, Fermi Laboratory outside Chicago is still doing physics. A new experiment, called muon g-2 will investigate quantum mechanical behavior of the electron's heavier sibling: the muon. Fermi needs a large ring chamber to store the muons it produces and investigates, and it just so happens that Brookhaven National Laboratory outside NYC has one to spare. But how do you transport a delicate, 15-m diameter, 600-ton superconducting magnet halfway across the country? Very carefully."
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Fukushima cooling knocked offline by...a rat

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

necro81 (917438) writes "The cooling system at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, responsible for keeping the spent fuel pools at an appropriate temperature, lost power early on March 18th. During the blackout, the temperature in the spent fuel pools gradually increased, although TEPCO officials indicated the pools could warm for four days without risking radiation release. Power was restored earlier this morning, and the pools should be back to normal temperature in a few days. During the repairs the charred remains of a rat were found in a critical area of wiring, leading some to believe that this rodent was the cause of this latest problem. At least it wasn't a mynock — then we'd really be in trouble."
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Towards a 50% Efficient Solar Cell

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about 2 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "IEEE Spectrum magazine has a feature article describing DARPA-funded work towards developing a solar cell that's 50% efficient, for a finished module that's 40% efficient — suitable for charging a soldier's gadgets in the field. Conventional silicon and thin-film PV tech can hit cell efficiencies of upwards of 20%, with finished modules hovering in the teens. Triple-junction cells can top 40%, but are expensive to produce and not practical in most applications. Current work by the Very High Efficiency Solar Cell program uses optics (dichroic films) to concentrate incoming sunlight by 20-200x, and split it into constituent spectra, which fall on many small solar cells of different chemistries, each tuned to maximize the conversion of different wavelengths."
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US Supreme Court rules against Warantless GPS Trac

necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "In a rare 9-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled (PDF) in United States v. Jones that law enforcement needed to obtain a search warrant before installing a GPS tracker on a suspect's car, then monitoring the car's movements. The Court split 5-4, however, on the scope of the ruling, and ruled largely on the fact that they installed the tracker on the defendant's private property (a car), sidestepping much larger questions about pervasive police tracking using GPS, cameras, and cellphones."
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HPV Vaccine Recommended for Boys

necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "An advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon issue new recommendations that pre-adolescent boys be vaccinated against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The disease is sexually transmitted, endemic in the sexually active, can cause genital warts in both men and women, and is the primary cause of cervical cancer, which kills hundreds of thousands of women globally each year. The three-dose vaccination has been available for several years and already recommended for pre-adolescent girls. Vaccinating boys should further reduce transmission"
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Integrating Capacitors into Car Frames

necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "It has long been recognized that adding capacitors in parallel with batteries can improve the performance of hybrid and electric vehicles by accepting and supplying spikes of power, which reduces stress on the battery pack, extending range and improving cycle life. But where to put them, when batteries already compete for space? A new research prototype from Imperial College London has integrated them into the body panels and structural frame of the vehicle itself. In their prototype, carbon fiber serves as both the structure for the vehicle and electrode for the energy storage sandwiched within."
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Capturing Solar Power with Antennae

necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Researchers at the University of Missouri and the Idaho National Laboratory have demonstrated a new method of capturing solar power. Rather than using semiconductors to capture photons of sunlight, they fabricated small coiled antennae (several um square) that resonate with the wave nature of light. The antennae are tuned towards midrange infrared light (5-10 um), which is abundant on our cozy-warm Earth — even at night. They also demonstrated a way to imprint these coils on a substrate, like how CDs or vinyl records are produced, but could be scaled to roll-to-roll mass production. The usual caveat applies: it may be 5-10 years until this could hit the market."
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Cisco to Close Flip Camera Unit

necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "When the Flip video camera arrived on the scene a few years ago, it made a splash. Compared to its camcorder brethren, it was smaller, lighter, easier, and cheaper. It was a much ballyhooed touchstone of the Good Enough Revolution. Competitors rushed in; the Flip evolved. Now the Flip is seeing its last days. Cisco, which bought Flip for more than $500 million just two years ago, will close Flip down as part of a money-saving restructuring. The ubiquity video-capable smartphones and pocket cameras has largely eliminated the Flip's niche market."
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Segway Company Owner Dies While Driving A Segway

necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Jimi Heselden, the British multi-millionaire defense contractor and philanthropist, who bought the Segway company last December from inventor Dean Kamen, died yesterday after an accident while riding one of the machines. While using a ruggedized X2 version of the two-wheeled balancing scooter at his estate in North Yorkshire, he apparently drove over the edge of a precipice and into the River Wharfe. He was found later by a passerby and declared dead on the scene."
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Ted Stevens and Sean O'Keefe in plane crash

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about 4 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "The NY Times is reporting that former Senator Ted Stevens was aboard a small plane with eight others that crashed in remote southwest Alaska Monday night. Reuters is reporting that he died, along with at least four others. Meanwhile, the North American CEOof aerospace firm EADS and former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe was was also reported in the crash. Rescue crews from the Alaska Air National Guard reached the site about ten hours after the initial crash."

Journals

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necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 7 years ago http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/04/06/036222

Just bookmarking the 5 minutes of fame that the Cool Robot got here on slashdot.

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