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Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

robbak For mobile? That is BETA's worst failure (2219 comments)

I seem to be locked into beta on my phone, and it just simply doesn't work. 3 comments down, and the comments are single-word lines, and a few more nested comments down, even that breaks. Even though I visit classic.slashdot.org, i end up at beta.

Look, someone with black-hat skills, track down their dev environment and rm -r it for us, please?

about 3 months ago
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Australia OKs Dumping Dredge Waste In Barrier Reef

robbak Re:Sign the petition (277 comments)

So you want them to dump the spoil closer to the reef???? The great barrier reef is about 75 km off the coast at Bowen, where this development is happening, and you'd need to travel twice that to be outside the boundaries of the marine park.

about 3 months ago
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Australia OKs Dumping Dredge Waste In Barrier Reef

robbak They are taking it to a 'safe dumping zone'. (277 comments)

They have chosen a safe dumping zone where the movement of silt won't cause problems. But the entire east coast of Queensland, however, is the marine park, so all the safe dumping zones are inside the 'park'. So that means that GBRMPA has to check the details and make sure that what the engineers have worked out is a safe dumping zone is actually one, and that the currents won't take large quantities of fine silt onto reefs. They have done so, worked out that it is, and the world moves on.

Now whether anyone should be digging up coal and shipping it to places where it will be burnt is another matter. But the placement of the dredge spoil is simple engineering.

about 3 months ago
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James Gosling Grades Oracle's Handling of Sun's Tech

robbak Quickstarter still exists (223 comments)

It is still there as an optional item in the installer, not selected by default (because that is the way it should be).

about 3 months ago
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JPMorgan Files Patent Application On 'Bitcoin Killer'

robbak Re:Maybe the Patent Office will notice (292 comments)

Applying for a patent is a negotiation process in which you throw out a bunch of claims looking to get the best deal you can. You start with Claim 1 being a claim on the sidereal universe and all it contains and work your way down to more specific stuff. Depending on the skill of those writing the patent you will get more or less of the invention you actually wanted.

As you can see in the application they have already dropped the first 154 claims in the original application.

And that is the main problem. When an inventor files a patent, it should be totally specific. If that patent is rejected, they should have two options: Argue that the patent as it stands is valid, involving the courts if necessary, or toss it out, and create a new, correct patent with a new effective date.

And if the way a patent is written could be read to cover some prior art, either before or after it is approved, then the patent is wrong and should be tossed, entirely, unless that prior art was explicitly listed in the 'prior art' section.

So this patent application should be the recipient of a junior-clerk's REJECTED stamp, because it doesn't explicitly list the Satoshi paper in it's applicable prior art section.

about 4 months ago
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Google Wants To Write Your Social Media Responses For You

robbak Of course, they way it should be used: (163 comments)

'If you were going to say one of these, STOP! you are being boring! Think of something original to say, or shut up!"

about 5 months ago
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China's State Press Calls For 'Building a De-Americanized World'

robbak Petrodollars (634 comments)

The US has gone to war a number of times (it is claimed) to prevent countries trading oil in currencies other than the Dollar. Some of those claims might border on conspiracy theories, but it remains that the tactics to keep oil trading based on the U.S. Dollar look remarkably like 'force'.

Etymology note: Petroleum is latin for 'Rock Oil' (Petra, rock + Oleum, oil, from the Latin for Olive.). When we created that abbreviation, Petrodollars, dollars for oil, all that was left of the oil was the 'o'. The word looks more like 'Rock 'o Dollars, doesn't it?

about 6 months ago
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First Few Doctor Who Episodes May Fall To Public Domain Next Year

robbak Yes, I agree. If only I could mod my own comment. (216 comments)

I'd give it -3 overrated. And this thread has been interesting - I have learnt a few things about this that I wasn't quite aware of - such as the actor's guild conditions that prevented the recordings continued use, and so contributed to their destruction. I was aware of the official programs to recover missing copies, but am not surprised at BigBadBus' notes below about archivists lack of concern for the official programs.

about 7 months ago
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First Few Doctor Who Episodes May Fall To Public Domain Next Year

robbak BBC's most effective copyright strategy in effect. (216 comments)

Namely, destruction of all extant copies.

BBC destroyed the only copies of most of those episodes decades ago. The only existing copies are some that were sent overseas and temporarily lost, so they were not recovered and destroyed. Others only exist in the form of home-made speaker-to-microphone reel-to-reel audio tapes.

about 7 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Attracting Developers To Abandonware?

robbak The closed source story is the same, except worse. (321 comments)

You make this point yourself. If the developer of a closed source package gets bored of it, or it is not profitable (which itself is a high bar for a most producers!), or both, they will drop it. Anyone who came to rely on it is completely stuck, as they cannot fix the most trivial or sexy bugs. They have to live with it until advancing technology and other changes make the program fail completely, and they will have to retrain.

If it is open source, then at least you can recompile and/or port to a new OS. You have the option of paying someone to fix a problem. You have none of those options if the closed-source producer of a package arbitrarily decides to drop it.

about 7 months ago
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Australia Elects Libertarian-Leaning Senator (By Accident)

robbak Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (343 comments)

That is exactly the system.

When a voter selects a vote above the line, they are choosing for their numbering of all the candidates to be as the party has outlined to the electoral office. It is a short-cut - a useful one, because there is often over 100 candidates for the senate.

You can choose not to use the shortcut, and number alllllll the boxes below the line. You might just get finished before the count is done.

about 7 months ago
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Easily-Captured Asteroids Identified

robbak Re:58 Second Burn? (160 comments)

They are trying to hit an earth-sun lagrange point. If they do so, the object leaves its solar orbit and enters an unstable earth orbit. They then need to give it another few burns to stabilize the orbit (and keep it away from the lagrange point, which would allow it to leave earth orbit and resume orbiting the sun) . If they miss, then it travels on, on a different orbit, with roughly the same chance of hitting the earth as it ever did.

about 8 months ago
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Boeing 777 Crashes At San Francisco Airport

robbak Re:Open airplanes (506 comments)

The FAA almost never comes out with flat 'pilot error' as a cause. They always go as far as they can to answer the next why - Why did the pilot make this decision, and why did the craft respond so poorly to the sub-optimal inputs. And then why those issues happened, etc. They will often start the process at the human error and try to find the design and corporate failures that caused it.

about 9 months ago
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Altering Text In eBooks To Track Pirates

robbak So, rip 3 copies of the ebook and diff them. (467 comments)

This is so very easy to deal with. Rip at least 3 copies and diff them. The minor tweaks will stand out a mile, and you then have a clean copy you can (and, if they start pulling tricks like this, Should!) distribute widely.

about 10 months ago
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Japan's Radiation Disaster Toll: None Dead, None Sick

robbak Yes. This is about establishing a baseline. (319 comments)

Testing for cancers in a population at this time is all about establishing exactly what cancers existed before the problem. so you can accurately determine what effect the plant's failure will cause.

As the numbers seem slightly high, I suspect regression toward the mean will cause a drop in the number. That will cause confusion in the masses!

about a year ago
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Own the Controversy! Blackbird DDWFTTW Up For Auction!

robbak Re:can someone explain this (266 comments)

The story is quite simple. The propeller pushes against the air, its positive effect is affected by the difference in speed between the craft and the air. The propeller is driven by the wheels, so its negative effect on the craft is due the the difference in speed between the craft and the ground.

If you have a wind, the craft-to-ground speed is different from the craft-to-air speed. The vehicle can extract energy from this difference - like any sailboat, really - and pull ahead of the wind.

1. Force equations? The force backwards on the wheels is proportional to the groundspeed, the force forwards on the propeller is proportional to the airspeed. If groundspeed exceeds airspeed, as it does travelling downwind, there is an unbalanced force. If losses could be eliminated, the craft could travel at infinite speed (until relativism takes effect!)
2. If you give it a shove, without wind, airspeed == groundspeed, so there is no unbalanced force. Losses are all there is, so it slows down.

about a year ago
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Own the Controversy! Blackbird DDWFTTW Up For Auction!

robbak Re:It would use the energy from the treadmill. (266 comments)

Of course, if you are like me you begin to think about the speed rating of the tyres and bearings, but that is beyond the scope of the stupid question.

about a year ago
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Own the Controversy! Blackbird DDWFTTW Up For Auction!

robbak It would use the energy from the treadmill. (266 comments)

A treadmill is motion is no different to a still surface being affected by a wind. The ground is moving relative to the air, and vice versa. The movement of the treadmill would drive the wheels, the wheels would drive the propeller, and it would move forward relative to the air.

about a year ago
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In Sandy-Struck NJ Town, Verizon Goes All Wireless, No Copper

robbak I agree with the decision to not roll copper. (155 comments)

Rolling out new copper in this day and age would be madness. But the decision to rely on wireless as anything other than a short-term emergency measure is wrong. They should, of course, be rolling out new fiber as a matter of urgency.

about a year ago

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