top RAYA: Real-time Audio Engine Simulation In Quake
This is the equivalent of ray tracing in graphics - nice effect, but very heavy on the computation.
With graphics, rasterization is faster, and the reason is that it can be characterized as "a bunch of cheats that happen to look good". Can we identify some similar cheats for sound?
Yes, I think so. Here's a paper I wrote 16 years ago outlining one possible, very simple, basis for soundscape generation.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to progress with it as VRML faded out pretty quickly after 1998.
top To distress my enemies, I'd force on them ...
...ads that somehow manage to evade both ScriptSafe and AdBlock Plus.
top Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?
Good calculator - 10 digits, base-N mode, classic Casio design.
This was a present from when I was at University 25 years ago, and it lasted all the way to this year. Now, one of the display segments has failed so I replaced it with a FX85 which I hate.
top US Intelligence Officials To Monitor Federal Employees With Security Clearances
In private enterprise, I would not be surprised if such a system fell foul of legislation protecting whistleblowers. Should the same whistleblowing protections should apply to government agencies?
top Captain Cyborg Is Back! Kevin Warwick Predicts the Future
As a more ragged and old alumnus of the Reading University Cybs Deprtment (1984-1987), I have to add my own observation.
Prior to Prof. Warwick being engaged, we were a backwater department of about 25 students per year, stuck in half of a drafty old WWII building at the Earley end of the campus, equipped wth a heating system inherited from early Pleistocene times. (The other half was the psychlogy department.)
Warwick was appointed one year after I left. Within a year after that, the department moved to a nice shiny new building with hot water and transistors so plentiful that they didn't have to be desoldered and reused at the end of a project. I think that he can be credited with at least some of this upswing in fortune, even if he is a regular figure of fun in the news.
top China Environment Ministry Calls Itself One of Four Worst Departments In World
...currently headed by a Health Minister who is doing his best to sell off as much as possible, close A&E departments, believes in funding homeopathy as a treatment using taxpayers' money, and who co-wrote a book describing the NHS as a "sixty year old mistake".
about a year and a half ago
top Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Block Noise In a Dorm?
I agree that lyrics are distracting. I like ambient or Berlin school electronic music for this purpose.
top Google Doodle Celebrates Birthday of Douglas Adams
Here's a link to a rather good tribute podcast made for what would have been his 59th Birthday, including Simon Jones (Arthur Dent), Mark Carwardine, Stephen Mangan, Dirk Maggs, and me as the voice of Douglas himself.
top NASA's Basement Nuclear Reactor
Master Control P (below) also points out that you need to supply the additional energy (about 0.78MeV) to account for the difference in mass between p+e and n. That sounds like "game over" to me.
Since the ionization energy of hydrogen is around 14eV, there's nowhere near enough energy in a bound electron to do so, by a factor of 50,000 or so.
Also, the photoelectric work function for nickel is of the order of 5eV, so I'm pretty sure that unbound electrons at 100,000x that energy would easily boil off the surface, at least until the nickel got charged up enough to prevent it. But then, this residual positive charge would attract lower-energy electrons from the surroundings, effectively cooling the electron gas.
So, the remaining question is: can the THz radiation boost the energies of sufficient numbers of bound electrons to make the process work?
The more I look at it, the more skeptical I get.
top NASA's Basement Nuclear Reactor
Nickel-64, at a natural abundance of about 1%, would be a better candidate, as neutron capture would result in Nickel-65 which decays to stable Copper-65 with a very short half-life of 2 hours. This is a "clean" beta-emitter with an energy of about 2.1MeV.
The overall reaction seems to be p + Ni-64 -> Cu-65 + ve + anti-ve + 2.1MeV. This is at least physically plausible as a reaction. The electron (removed from both sides above) acts as a sort of catalyst, a way to get the proton through the coloumb barrier by transforming it into a neutron.
Getting the neutrons to collide with Ni-64 nuclei rather than escaping implies a lot of Ni-64, and any escaping neutrons would irradiate everything else nearby, or impurities in the nickel such as the aforementioned Ni-62, or worse Ni-58 which would produce Ni-59, a positron emitter with a half-life of 76000 years.
But to me, the real red flag on this is getting the hydrogen atoms to collapse into neutrons, a process which I've never heard of before. Even if it's possible, can you get a net gain? Does it take more than 2.1MeV? Slashdot - educate me!
top Why Hasn't 3D Taken Off For the Web?
I've been involved with the 3D-browser market since before VRML. Does anyone remember the Superscape VRT, Visualizer plugin, and the Virtual World Wide Web? The VWWW was a linked 3D world, spanning multiple websites - you could walk from one site to another in a virtual world, back in 1996 or thereabouts.
There's a problem with the economics of 3D content, but in my view it is beginning to shift.
On the one hand, creating 3D content is hard. There's a lot more effort in creating a model of a toaster for an online catalog, as opposed to taking a photo (even a nicely lit, airbrushed, professionally produced one). Time means money.
On the other hand, there is your market. VWWW required a rather hefty download - about an hour on a 28.8kbps modem - and a separate installation process. This limited the number of people who could see the content.
The tools for creating 3D content are also getting more available, and more automatic, and more pre-built models are available than in the VRML days.
WebGL has the possibility to crack the audience side of the equation. Three of the big four browser manufacturers are behind it. It just needs a very successful browser game to force the hand of the fourth. What if the next Minecraft was a browser game?
3D will never replace 2D. But it will become a useful tool alongside it, just as video and Flash do today. WebGL will be an important part of that process.
top Microsoft Granted Patent For Augmented Reality Glasses
The Personal System glasses from "Norbert and the System", a short story by Timons Esaias from 1993, may anticipate some of the features of this system. I haven't read the patent, but the overlay of contextual social information sounds a lot like what the original poster describes.
(Here's a link:
top Ask Slashdot: Good, Forgotten Fantasy & Science Fiction Novels?
The Professor Jameson series by Neil R Jones. Clunky but fun.
Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem. How they translated all the wordplay from Polish I will never know. Not forgotten, exactly, but all of Larry Niven's "Known Space" series, especially "Protector". Dragon's Egg and Flight of the Dragonfly by Robert L Forward.
(I just had a look at my bookshelf. Half the space is by authors beginning with "B" - Banks, Baxter, Bear, Benford, Bester, Bova, Brin, Bradbury, Brunner, Bulmer. Weird.)
top Ontario Teachers' Union Calls For Health-Related Classroom Wi-Fi Ban
No, the real reason was what happens if you walk into a hospital and say you are there for an NMR (say it out loud, quickly).
top 'Anonymous' Plans Sony Boycott On April 16
I have deliberately not purchased any Sony products since the Rootkit fiasco of 2005. Up until then, Sony was a trusted, quality brand for me and I had quite a few Sony gadgets around the place. No longer.
So I'm going to "sit out" instead.
top Which Comic Character Is the Greatest Engineer?
Not from Muppet Labs, but from ExTechOp (a subsidiary of SHIELD) in the Elektra graphic novel. His work on the revivification of Arthur Perry was incredible, even if ultimately flawed.
top Microsoft Files EU Competition Complaint Against Google
I've seen a lot of knee jerk MS-is-evil stuff (this is Slashdot after all) but what are the actual facts of the case? Just because we don't like someone doesn't mean that they can't be right occasionally.
We're supposed to be geeks here - rational, logical, all that jazz. Let's base the arguments on the facts.
top Mr. Pike, Tear Down This ASCII Wall!
It seems to me that this is an editor problem. And a lot of the blame for the parlous state of editors at the moment can be laid at the feet of Cpp, the C preprocessor.
"In retrospect, maybe the worst aspect of Cpp is that it has stifled the development of programming environments for C. The anarchic and character-level operation of Cpp makes nontrivial tools for C and C++ larger, slower, less elegant, and less effective than one would have thought possible." - Stroustrup, Design and Evolution of C++.
We should have a much better view of a program than a bunch of files containing characters.
top DNA-Less 'Red Rain' Cells Reproduce At 121 C
The official investigation concluded that they were spores from local algae, and that the initial DNA tests were flawed. Wikipedia has the details, as usual.
To go from "our test found no DNA" to "there is no DNA" to "they must be extraterrestrial" to "they look like the dust clouds in Monocerous" is a series of leaps that go wayyy ahead of the available evidence, in my view.
It would be very interesting to be proven wrong, however.
top Knuth Plans 'Earthshaking Announcement' Wednesday
...his proof of the Turing-Lovecraft theorem: "Phase Conjugate Grammars for Extradimensional Summoning"
top Kragen - Hypersound Car
A slashdot user called Kragen tried to attract my attention in the public forums, but was modded down and I thus didn't see his message for ages). Since his e-mail is hidden (as is mine), but there is no way to privately message another slashdot user, here is the best place I can think of to get his attention.
I went back on my initial Hypersound Car review. You can see my updated response in the review pages on amazon.co.uk,
or in the yakumo forums at: