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Bill Gates Puts Classic Feynman Lectures Online

sakusha Re:I know why. (338 comments)

Check out the player experience, and its navigation, commentary, captioning, etcetera. And it uses Smooth Streaming to provide proxy-cachable video at multiple bitrates.

As he said, those features are all available on the video players already available. QuickTime and QuickTime Streaming Server (and it's Open Source version Darwin Streaming Server) already offer all those features.

So why do I need Silverlight, except to support Bill Gates' attempt to "knife the baby"...?

more than 5 years ago
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Copyfraud Is Stealing the Public Domain

sakusha Re:I'm glad someone's pointing out this fraud (263 comments)

Correct. There is no way to put a Public Domain book back into copyright, except through translation (that would be a new, original derivative work). Just re-typesetting the text does not create a new copyright. Mazzone's paper describes in detail "copyright creep" where authors slap a new foreword onto a PD work and then claim a fraudulent copyright on the whole book. Yes, the foreword would be copyrighted but the other contents could not be copyrighted.

more than 5 years ago
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Usenet Group Sues Dutch RIAA

sakusha Re:FTD is a plague on Usenet (90 comments)

A useful analogy, but it's worse than that. It's kind of like someone building a superhighway through your backyard. Let me give a specific example.

I used to participate in an alt.binaries group, we traded fairly obscure music (mostly out of print) and it was a low traffic newsgroup (not in the mp3 hierarchy), so even the top Usenet ISPs wouldn't give it much storage space. So we had a generally agreed-upon posting method, no flooding and each person would restrict their posts to about 500Mb per day. We judged that most of the top ISPs gave the newsgroup about 5Gb of file space, so files never expired from old age, they were always pushed off the server. When we limited flooding, posts would last about a month on the server, when everyone posted faster, they expired in about a week. That seemed adequate, everyone was happy, and if files expired early, most users were happy to repost on request (although more slowly a second time).

So after a few go-rounds with FTDers dumping 1Gb floods, and everybody getting pissed off, some FTD asshole starts a 10Gb flood. Regular users are posting a few albums of maybe a dozen files, and their first file is pushed off the server before the last one is even done posting. The FTD idiot isn't even aware that he is flooding off his OWN files, the first 5Gb is being pushed off the server by the last 5Gb. Now THAT is really goddam stupid.

Obviously the FTDers are not aware of common Usenet limitations. They think a Usenet nntp server has unlimited resources, but it doesn't. In an ideal world, every nntp server would have infinite storage space, that is impossible, but it's a basic assumption of the FTD system. They treat Usenet as an infinite resource, they can dump an infinite amount of files anywhere and they expect the system to handle it. I've seen even worse abuses, some FTD asshole will pick some obscure binaries group and use it to dump off-topic files. It doesn't matter where you post an FTD file, you could post mp3s in alt.bestiality.hamster.duct-tape and the FTD servers would locate it just as easily as if it was in alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.* since their system is designed to handle locating the files. It's indexed on their servers, not under topic categories by newsgroup. They'll dump files anywhere they like, and are answerable to no-one. This has ruined several newsgroups and driven people away from Usenet.

Fuck The Dutch.

more than 5 years ago
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Embedding Video In a Site For iPhone/iPod?

sakusha Re:RSTP (68 comments)

Oops, should have previewed and edited that again, of course it is RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol) and I always mix it up as RSTP.

more than 5 years ago
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Embedding Video In a Site For iPhone/iPod?

sakusha RSTP (68 comments)

Streaming QuickTime has been a continual subject of discussion on the QuickTime Streaming Server listserv. Note that I am not referring to progressive download QT, I'm talking about RSTP streaming. Services like YouTube have the ability to detect the maximum bandwidth of the receiving device and deliver a stream encoded for that bitrate. In YouTube's case, they have a custom app that detects whether you're on EDGE or WiFi and delivers a progressive streaming file of higher or lower quality. I have been dissatisfied with the YouTube service, it seems to always stream poorly. And you have to wait and wait for enough of the file to load before it will start playing. Usually my iPhone (even on WiFi) goes to sleep and shuts off long before I can start watching, which aborts the download.

What the QTSS listserv people are all begging for is true RSTP streaming from QuickTime Streaming Server to the iPhone in Mobile Safari, and an API for apps. QTSS detects your device's bandwidth and delivers a true stream with the appropriate bitrate so it can begin playing instantly, and if you drag the playback slider to any point in the file, it begins playing instantly from that point. This would be a huge advantage, but there is a downside. Since the stream is being delivered continuously on demand, you can't deliver higher bandwidth (higher quality) files that would take a while to download. The file's bitrate may be no more than the channel would allow. But us QTSS users think this is an advantage, I would gladly trade off a little quality for instant-on playback. Another advantage is that QTSS can deliver live video from QuickTime Broadcaster, so live TV events can be delivered live.

The upshot of the deal is, Apple has not yet enabled RSTP in the iPhone, so it is not available in apps like Mobile Safari. I personally believe (without any evidence) that this is Apple's attempt to cripple Mobile Safari so as to not antagonize AT&T by overloading their network with streaming video. But there are some apps that have RTSP streaming now, there's an app that streams college radio stations (I forgot the name of the app). I don't know how they got it to work, they must have their own RTSP code, it's not in any current iPhone 2.0 OS API.

I have been telling people for years, if you wanted to start a new TV delivery method, all you'd have to do would be roll out a new line of smartphones with adequate data capacity and live streaming like QTSS. You could start another major network overnight. I've found the quality of TV watching on my iPhone (from my own manually encoded files) to be perfectly fine. But Apple won't enable RTSP on the iPhone... yet. Maybe they have something coming in iPhone OS 3.0, but there hasn't even been a hint of this capacity. Plenty of people are filing the request with the appropriate Apple people, and we get no response whatsoever. Let us hope that no news is good news, and they are not leaking or hinting at anything because they are under an NDA because it's about to roll out.

more than 5 years ago
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Usenet Group Sues Dutch RIAA

sakusha FTD is a plague on Usenet (90 comments)

FTD is doing horrible things to usenet, they're a plague on any newsgroup they descend upon. FTD makes software so people can use Usenet as a P2P system without ever interacting with the newsgroup. This has not been popular with most newsgroups that have standards for posting. FTD does things their way, and when massive complaints from newsgroup participants are posted, the FTDers never see them. I've seen newsgroups destroyed by floods of FTD posts. The regular participants (the most valuable members of the newsgroup) have their contributions buried by massive floods of off-topic posts. And there's nothing you can do to stop them.

On most usenet groups, FTD is commonly parsed as "Fuck The Dutch." They want to exploit Usenet for their own ends without participating in Usenet culture. Fuck em.

more than 5 years ago
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First Graphics Game Written On/For a 16-Bit Home PC

sakusha Not the first.. (159 comments)

While this may be the first game for a 16-bit personal computer, I don't believe it is the first game for any personal computer.

I will offer a more likely contender: TARG for the Processor Technology SOL-20. I recall typing this game (and several others I've forgotten) into my SOL back in 1975. TARG became available commercially on a cassette called GAMEPAC 1, I just happened to have the GAMEPAC 1 manual sitting here and it's copyrighted 1977.

Since the article claims sometime in 1975 as the "release' of Space War, it is probably going to be difficult to pinpoint exactly which app was written first, they appear to date to almost exactly the same time. But since Space War was a one-off production for a unique custom computer, it hardly had the impact of an app like TARG that was widely available on a commercially produced personal computer (that came as a kit or pre-assembled).

In case you're interested in TARG, it was a dart throwing game done entirely in text mode, with animated graphics. IIRC you used keys to move a cursor up and down and the space bar to toss a dart at a target. A little custom character flew across the screen. I'm restoring my SOL now and TARG is the program I'm trying to get to run first. The CPU is working but alas my RAM boards are dead so there's no memory space to run even small apps.

more than 5 years ago
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Why There's No iTunes For Movies

sakusha WRONG: Movies have ALWAYS been about restriction.. (474 comments)

That's the worst (and most totally incorrect) description about the early history of the movie industry I ever heard. And I've heard a zillion of them, since I worked in Hollywood for many years.

Obviously you are confused about the origin of the patented Edison cameras. There was a format war and Edison owned the basic patents on standardized film cameras that worked with the movie projectors in all the theaters. Some people tried to issue cameras in the Edison format that didn't pay Edison royalties. Others tried to start a new format, with predictable lack of success.

If you're going to argue a historical point, you should at least make a MINIMAL attempt to get the history right. I'm no fan of Edison (who often acquired patents in ways that we would now call him a "patent troll") but that doesn't make the early history of the Movies anything more than a plain old patent infringement problem. Without Edison's corporate backing of a standard format, movies as a medium would have been delayed in development and might never have taken off as a popular entertainment. You can try to recast that as a the activities of Robber Barons, but you're not being the least bit objective about that.

more than 5 years ago
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Reflections On the Less-Cool Effects of Filesharing

sakusha Re:even for top 100,000... (458 comments)

Yes, the "Top 100k torrents" is just another data point. Maybe it would be preferable to look at the top 100k through 200k torrents, sliding down a little further on the "long tail" (oh how I hate that whole long tail BS). Or maybe it might be preferable to look at the "bottom seeded torrents," like the torrents with only one seeder and no leechers. In this case, P2P nets are acting like a web server, with a single source, it's not distributed at all, it's point to point, kind of what P2P was intended to work around. This reminds me of the "good old days" of Napster, when you could find almost anything, no matter how obscure, if there was a single point on the Napster net anywhere with that one file.

Anyway, demand for mainstream product is always going to be high, no matter what the medium. But it is pretty clear that the internet has opened up many niches, and obscure niches are thriving. I don't think you can "prove" it in any mathematically rigorous way (as this article lamely attempted). But you can always cite "Rule 34," it seems obvious to anyone who has used the net more than casually.

more than 5 years ago
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Reflections On the Less-Cool Effects of Filesharing

sakusha A poor argument. (458 comments)

That was a very poor argument. You're basing your argument on the top 100 torrents, this is like an inverse of the "long tail" argument. But that's the only data you have, since you can't look at the top 100,000 torrents.

There are other ways to look at this. For example, I used to be active on usenet in some specialist binaries newsgroups. We traded obscure music in our genre, none of this was new or of wide interest, it was definitely a niche. I did one vinyl rip and restoration of a very obscure LP that I might have one of the only existing copies, it took weeks to restore and clean up all the pops and clicks. That rip was traded back and forth repeatedly. Then all of a sudden, a new remastered CD of the album came out. I'm convinced that repeated trading of my vinyl rip proved demand and the record company was watching, and decided to remaster and rerelease it.

Now if that (admittedly anonymous and unsupported) anecdote doesn't convince you (and why should it) then the mere existence of niche trading sites (on usenet and torrent trackers) should convince you. Take a look, there are plenty of them, within easy reach.

If you're going to argue that the most easily available torrents are the most easily available mass-trade products (like top 40 music) then you've found the perfect set of stats to prove your point. Maybe you shouldn't form your hypothesis and then go looking for data to fit it.

more than 5 years ago
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EFF Says Obama Warrantless Wiretap Defense Is Worse than Bush

sakusha EFF says EFF worse than EFF. (904 comments)

In a press release today, the EFF asserted that today's EFF actions are worse than any previous EFF actions. EFF Spokesperson Ewan McTeagle said, "This is a radical assertion that is utterly unprecedented. It's especially disappointing argument to hear from the EFF."

more than 5 years ago
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Physics Experiments To Inspire Undergraduates?

sakusha Re:Frickin' Lasers (249 comments)

Ah yesss.. thanks for refreshing my memory, we were indeed trying to measure the Faraday Effect. I never thought to do this experiment in anything but air, or that a different medium would show clear results. But then, I was a dumb high school junior that was just beginning to study quantum physics. Hell, in those days, quantum physics was not as well developed as today, I don't know if anyone had even measured this phenomenon in different media. But today, it seems like basic optical-table equipment. Now I want to do the experiment all over again with a TGG Faraday Isolator, to vindicate my original ideas. I checked around the web, a basic Faraday Isolator will cost somewhere between $750 and $4000. No, I don't really want to know THAT badly.

I suspect my physics teacher was proud of me for overreaching my abilities, or he would have just shut down my stupid experiment. I guess he thought I'd eventually figure it out in college classes. Well, if nothing else, it was a memorable failure. I sometimes quote Robert Goddard, after watching one of his rockets blow up on the launch pad, he said, "We have successfully gathered negative information!"

more than 5 years ago
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Physics Experiments To Inspire Undergraduates?

sakusha Re:Coil Guns (249 comments)

Well that's what's so great about the Ice Bomb Experiment, there is no chemical reaction, merely a phase change in water from liquid to solid. It's just physics. It's an almost perfect physics experiment, an irresistible force (the expansion of freezing water) meets an immovable object (the cast iron vessel). And there's only one variable, temperature. It's perfect.

more than 5 years ago
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Physics Experiments To Inspire Undergraduates?

sakusha Re:Coil Guns (249 comments)

I disagree with the XKCD strip about the primacy of mathematics. Some people say everything is a subset of math. IIRC it was the mathematician Ulam who described the schism between math and physics by saying, "insofar as mathematics accurately describes the real world, it ceases to be interesting."

more than 5 years ago
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Physics Experiments To Inspire Undergraduates?

sakusha Re:Some ideas... (249 comments)

That wikipedia page is a very poor summary of the experiment, I assure you the receiver does not measure just single photons. Remember I've seen the experiment apparatus in action. It uses a powerful laser (don't recall exactly the power, but it must be kilowatts) slaved to the big telescope, and sure, due to the distance and travel through the atmosphere there must be some spread and diffusion of the beam. The biggest problem is the atmosphere, you can hit the LRRR and sometimes the beam gets diffracted through air currents on the return trip and misses the receiver completely. But on a calm winter night, when everything works right (and it does take considerable artistry and practice to get it right) you can get a good packet of photons back. Our observatory had a little device that went PING when it got a good signal, so the operator knew when his aim was good.

more than 5 years ago
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Physics Experiments To Inspire Undergraduates?

sakusha Re:Frickin' Lasers (249 comments)

Perhaps what you have a point. I lamented the sorry state of science education today, apparently the George Bush era happened to it, and all the money got sucked out of basics like science education and instead, is spent on foolish crap like standardized testing. I don't see the point of testing all students if they don't spend money on TEACHING them stuff first.

But you overstate your point. Yeah, I went to a well-supplied school public school that was brand new, I was in the second graduating class. We had:

1) One laser that cost a few hundred bucks.
2) One used oscilloscope that cost about $750 when new
3) One rusty military surplus magnet that weighed about 100 pounds, and a few other magnets under 5 pounds.
4) Two little tiny microwave emitters that cost about $5, they looked like little metal capacitor cans about 1 inch in diameter.
5) A microscope borrowed from the biology class, a bunch of used electronics parts we cannibalized from old TVs and breadboarded together to make a basic electric field generator, and an atomizer from an old perfume bottle, to perform the Millikan Oil Drop experiment.

Perhaps it is just the passing of time and memory since your high school physics classes, but I have a hard time believing that the Millikan Oil Drop Experiment wasn't covered, at least in the text book. That's how the electrical charge on the electron was measured. It's pretty basic.

But I think you've hit the nail on the head. It's about priorities. We both had highly educated, committed teachers just short of PhDs. But my school district is in a university town and is committed (even today) to education. Apparently your town is committed to producing dumb jocks that will become truck drivers and fast food workers. That's just sad.

But more to the point.. Even with a reduction in funding for high schools, the equipment that I described is easily within reach of a freshman college course (which is what the OP was about). Or rather, if your college does NOT have access to an oscilloscope and other basic equipment, just drop out and go to some other university because you deserve a real education.

more than 5 years ago
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Physics Experiments To Inspire Undergraduates?

sakusha Re:Some ideas... (249 comments)

The Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment is a great demonstration, but laser power isn't really the problem. I've watched someone demonstrate this experiment on a modest 40 inch reflecting telescope (modest by university observatory standards). The problem is not sending enough power, or getting enough photons back. The problem is hitting the damn LRRR. It is not as easy as it sounds. The guy that demonstrated it was well practiced at hitting the target, he used to demonstrate it every semester and knew from long, tedious practice where to aim. Even then, it seemed to be more aim by gut instinct than by any precision pointing.

more than 5 years ago
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Physics Experiments To Inspire Undergraduates?

sakusha Re:Coil Guns (249 comments)

Anything that blows up is probably a Chemistry experiment, not a Physics experiment. Electrolytic decomposition of water into hydrogen and oxygen is a chemistry experiment.

The only thing like that I can truly put in the category of Physics is the "Ice Bomb" experiment, which is extremely hazardous. Somewhere on the internet, through some professional Physics & Chemistry website, I saw the best video of that experiment ever. They got a cast iron sphere about 2 inches thick and about 4 inches in diameter, it had an huge cap with threads about an inch deep. They filled it with water and sealed it up, it was truly a 4 inch cannonball with solid iron walls 2 inches thick in all directions. Then they dropped it into a big vat of slushy water ice and dry ice. All that was surrounded by piles of sandbags and plexiglass shields. After a few minutes, the ice bomb exploded, flinging shrapnel everywhere, ripping apart the sandbags and the protective plexiglass shields. They retrieved the pieces of the metal sphere, it was ripped into pieces. Wow you should have seen that explosion.

Nowadays, people do this experiment with pop bottles, it's lame. Find a good Physics supplies shop that is focused on educational demonstrations, they have loads of great gear for doing experiments like this. You can't beat the classic demonstrations, although it may be expensive to arrange the really good equipment (especially if you're going to destroy it).

more than 5 years ago
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Physics Experiments To Inspire Undergraduates?

sakusha Frickin' Lasers (249 comments)

What the hell is this with the lasers? These are not projects that are comprehensible on a fundamental physics level, at least not in the construction of the projects you described. And Jacob's Ladder? Seriously? I remember doing that experiment in JUNIOR HIGH school. What has happened to science education today?

I'll give you an example of a laser experiment gone wrong. I remember when I was a junior in high school back in the 1970s, I was taking AP Physics, and lasers were brand new and expensive. But our school just bought one and we were dying to figure out experiments to fiddle with it. One day I read an offhand remark in a physics book that the angle of polarization of a laser beam could be altered by a magnetic field. This seemed impossible to me, sure a laser was an electromagnetic phenomenon, but it was light, how could magnetism affect it? So I figured I could get one of our strongest magnets that weighed about a hundred pounds, run the laser through the gap, and measure deflection with a couple of simple polarizing filters. But no matter what I did, I could not measure any deflection. The teacher suggested I try using a longer beam, maybe hundreds of yards between the source polarizer and the detector. That was a total red herring. My lab partner and I tried all sorts of things to use as long a laser path as possible, a few hundred yards even, but even a car driving by the building would make the whole rig vibrate enough to make it impossible to hit the target, let alone measure the polarization. After a week of fiddling around, we finally went back to the physics teacher and admitted defeat. The teacher burst out laughing, and said, "oh of course, what you were trying to do is impossible, and the length of the beam is irrelevant. It would take massive magnets the size of a house to cause any measurable deflection. I just wanted to see what lengths you'd go to to try to measure it." Oh was I pissed.

Well anyway, I have a dim view of the sort of example physics experiments you described (other than the cloud chamber). We did much tougher experiments in high school. Try giving your students the classics, experiments they'll really learn the FUNDAMENTALS of physics from. I have fond memories of doing the Miliken Oil Drop Experiment in high school, it was so much fun I did it over and over to get more accurate results. Or give your students old school equipment like oscilloscopes. You little kiddies DO know what an oscilloscope is, don't you? We did experiments like setting up two microwave emitters side by side to generate an interference pattern, then hooking up an oscilloscope to a detector, then moved the detector around to measure the high and low energy points of the pattern, then plotted the positions of the detector over graph paper. The teacher didn't tell us the frequency of the emitters so we had to work that out for ourselves from the interference pattern. There are loads of classic physics experiments using oscilloscopes, but they are largely forgotten today because the teachers never learned to use them properly when they were undergrads. Maybe it's time for YOU to learn about them.

If you can't get freshmen physics students motivated by the classic experiments showing the most fundamental aspects of physics, experiments that once were so difficult that they were only done in the greatest labs of Nobel Prizewinning physicists, but now are easily performed in any school lab, you will fail as a physics teacher, and at the goal of teaching physics. Flashy gadgets with frickin' lasers are no substitute for the beauty of the simplest physical phenomenon. If you can't get students to see that through your labs, it will be your failure, not theirs.

more than 5 years ago
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In Finland, Nokia May Get Its Own Snooping Law

sakusha Re:Not just Nokia or employers in general (284 comments)

And similarly, in the US, corporate email is considered the property of the corporation and employees have no expectation of privacy for emails and work produced on corporate owned hardware.

more than 5 years ago

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