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Fusion Reactor Concept Could Be Cheaper Than Coal

zmooc Re:The $50,000 question... more energy out than in (315 comments)

Waste heat already is quite a lot: 15 terawatt. Global warming equals something like 250 terawatt. If energy consumption keeps growing about 1.5% / year like it has for the past few decades, it will take about 80 years (T+80) for waste heat contribution to overtake the heat flux from earths interior. 40 years later (T+120) our waste heat will equal the total energy used by photosynthesis. In about two centuries from (T+200) now it will have risen to values comparable to what the greenhouse effect does today. Two more centuries later (T+400) we'll finally quality for our Kardashev Type I medal according to some and yet two centuries later (T+600) our energy consumption will surpass the total solar irradiation. In theory, because by then we'd be fried unless we have our giant space coolers in place. About two millenia (T+2500) later our power requirements will outshine the sun.

about two weeks ago

Deputy Who Fatally Struck Cyclist While Answering Email Will Face No Charges

zmooc Ridiculous (463 comments)

What's ridiculous here is that charges will not be pressed *because* the officer did not violate Vehicle Code section 23123.5 (which prohibits operating electronic wireless communication devices while driving) since it "does not apply to an emergency services professional using an electronic wireless communications device while operating an authorized emergency vehicle".

Apparently they totally failed to check whether the dude might have violated the law that says you should not kill people by driving over them with your car, which he obviously did violate.

Apparently killing people with your car is illegal UNLESS you're doing it while operating an electronic communications device in a police car; in that case you actually get a reward: the job you applied for over a year ago. How odd...

about a month and a half ago

Google Introduces HTML 5.1 Tag To Chrome

zmooc Re:talk about "old tech" (94 comments)

It's much more than that; the images contained in a TIFF file cannot be downloaded separately while the images contained in a picture-tag can. This way I don't have to wait for ages when browsing on my phone while I can still enjoy top quality images on my desktop. That was already possible by allowing the webserver to serve a different pictures based on the User Agent, but that's ugly and it doesn't allow the user to choose the bigger file after all. Furthermore, this new tag allows the browser to select an image based on the speed of the connection, potentially making the web much more responsive in general.

about 2 months ago

Man-Made "Dead Zone" In Gulf of Mexico the Size of Connecticut

zmooc Re:Get the neutient right at least (184 comments)

Stop phosphorus runoff

Peak phosphorus is expected by 2030. Total depletion a few decades later. This problem will solve itself and while doing so it will probably solve the overpopulation problem as well;-)

about 2 months ago

After NSA Spying Flap, Germany Asks CIA Station Chief to Depart

zmooc Re:I don't blame them for being mad. (219 comments)

Germans have always had more of an issue with "being spied on" than others do. For example, Germany is one of the only countries in which taking a picture with others on it is illegal unless you've got permission from all subjects!

Also, Germans have major issues with Google Streeview and they were the ones that sued Google for receiving their wifi-broadcasts.

I think they've taken this privacy-thing a bit too far, though...

about 3 months ago

Study: People Would Rather Be Shocked Than Be Alone With Their Thoughts

zmooc Re:Sad, sad times... (333 comments)

For the record I would have ZERO problem doing this at all... in fact I could think for hours...

I bet you cannot do this on a deadline set by others in an environment you're not familiar with. You're just going to sit and wait for the researchers to come back in and announce that your "thinking" period is over. This experiment obviously fails to create the conditions that are needed to be properly alone with your thoughts.

I would absolutely not be able to concentrate in this setting even though I have no trouble at all to be alone with my thoughts for extended periods.

about 4 months ago

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal By Google Over Street View Data Collection

zmooc But why? (113 comments)

I really don't get this. You get a radio transmitter, start transmitting stuff en then go complaining that others are listening. Anybody, corporations like Google included, should have the absolute right to do whatever they want with any electromagnetic or other radiation that reaches their bodies or equipment. Any restriction on that would be the modern-day equivalent of prohibition to look at things. If you don't want me to see your stuff or receive your radio waves or listen to your sound waves, just don't be so rude to transmit them towards me, even penetrating my body.

about 4 months ago

Evidence of a Correction To the Speed of Light

zmooc Dark matter? (347 comments)

So photon's act like matter at bit more often than we expected, right? How much of dark matter/dark energy problem can this phenomenon account for?

about 4 months ago

Even In Digital Photography Age, High Schoolers Still Flock To the Darkroom

zmooc Re:It's a hipster thing (240 comments)

It's not (only) a hipster thing; it's mostly a budget thing. Many photographers want to work with a properly large camera (35mm full frame, medium format (60x60mm) etc. Since most of us don't have the budget to shell out at least several thousand bucks up to well over $10K for a proper camera, our only option to get large format quality is to use old school film.

Said differently: digital has only surpassed film quality in a cost-effective way for very small sensors and/or large volumes of photographs (where the cost of developing film starts to become a factor).

about 4 months ago

Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans As Antarctic Ice Melts

zmooc Re:Meanwhile, in reality world... (784 comments)

That's not what that link says; it says it has been losing mass "since at least 2002". While it is obviously losing mass now, it has most probably not "been melting for decades". We don't have any serious data on that before 2002, when GRACE was launched. Funny how the real facts get in the way of a good misinformation campaign.

about 5 months ago

Australian Government To Standardise On Drupal

zmooc Re:Those poor bastards (102 comments)

4.) Rich content editing - Good, finally they found one reason to standardize their CMS onto every agency - because this is such a huge problem with CMSes - wait, what? No, it's not.

As far as I'm aware, all available editors are based on contenteditable functionality, which has been bug-ridden for years and simply was not designed to offer a rich content editing experience to the end user of a CMS. Yes, this is a huge problem with CMSes, including Drupal. For this reason, this is not fluff, pointless of misleading, it is an outright lie.

about 5 months ago

Autonomous Car Ethics: If a Crash Is Unavoidable, What Does It Hit?

zmooc Gameability (800 comments)

One thing I believe was not mentioned in the article (though I only quickly scanned it) is that if such cars start behaving too predictively, they can be gamed. Once we know that a car will do whatever it can to avoid a collision with a pedestrian, it will be extensively gamed; cars will be tricked into doing stupid things.

So when the decision who to hit comes up, the only way to be reasonably safe is to determine who's not following the rules and to hit that one. Any other rules will be gamed extensively. This will become a major hassle to adoption of autonomous vehicles; they will probably need to drive much slower than actual humans to avoid getting into such situations continuously, especially in built-up areas where any parked car could hide an annoying car-bully trying to trick your car into acting like an idiot.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

zmooc My tech stuff that fails to break (702 comments)

Sony Clie (1999)
Pentax K-5 (2011)
Megallan GPS (2000)
Samsung BW laserprinter (2003)
Subaru Outback (1995)
Yamaha Clavinova (1988)

Apart from the Pentax DSLR I have not encountered similarly sturdy stuff recently... built to last mostly appears to be a thing from the past:|

about 6 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How To Handle Unfixed Linux Accessibility Bugs?

zmooc Use windows (266 comments)

Just use windows. It doesn't really work any better but at least they don't break core functionality a few times a year and then take months to fix it...

Ok maybe I'm exaggerating and this is only an Ubuntu problem; it's been years since I've been annoying-bug-free for more than 3 months with...

about 7 months ago

Hungarian Law Says Photogs Must Ask Permission To Take Pictures

zmooc Re:Out of step with reality (149 comments)

I agree that street photography is not some kind of unalienable right. However, I do NOT agree there's a reasonable expectation of privacy in the public space, not even in Germany. With the law as it currently is (though not as it is currently enforced), photo-journalism in public spaces becomes quite a hassle. If we'd all live by the law, our era would effectively become a rather dark one in history; for example just about any photograph depicting the demolishing of the Berlin Wall would have been illegal.

Most Western countries have no restrictions on taking photographs in the public space but they do have laws to protect subjects against negative consequences in case such photographs are published. I think that's the right balance, especially if photogs behave responsible (unlike many paparazzi, which are actually legal in Germany...)

about 7 months ago

Hungarian Law Says Photogs Must Ask Permission To Take Pictures

zmooc Re:Out of step with reality (149 comments)

Your law may not be properly upheld in practice but that does not change the situation of Germany being in the very small club of countries where the art of street photography is effectively illegal or at least very cumbersome.

about 7 months ago

The Science of Solitary Confinement

zmooc Re:"Corrections" (326 comments)

3,500 prisoners serving a life sentence... that's rougly about 1 in 100,000. 80,000 is about 1 in 4,000. In the random western country where I live, only 1 in 500,000 are serving a life sentence. I cannot find numbers for the number of those in solitary confinement but with a total of 1 in 2,000 people in jail, about half would have to be in solitary confinement to match the US numbers.

So, no, I don't think those staggering numbers take the edge out of the argument, they
confirm it. The US has been leading the ranks of prisoners per capita for ages and is one of only a handful of western countries in the top 100.

about 8 months ago

Iconic Predator-Prey Study In Peril

zmooc Re:not that simple (84 comments)

Isle Royale is being preserved today as a wilderness, but it isn't an "untainted" one, and hasn't been for a couple hundred years. It is what it is because of human activities.

As long as those human activities are merely that: human activities, I would still consider the island untainted in a way; there's nothing especially unnatural about most human actions, even if those actions often bear effects that might be described as a plague. This changes, however, when those human activities start involving actively trying to "shape" "nature", as is proposed by the ecologists this article is about. In my opinion this would instantly change the situation on this island from "nature trying to find a new balance after a small infection with humans" to "not nature anymore".

Through some strange feelings of guilt about the way it has affected nature in the past, mankind has somehow developed the idiot idea to try to keep the few occurrences of nature that we have left exactly like they are now. By doing that, we're slowly turning nature into a museum. Instead of doing that, we should have the decency to let nature be nature, even (or especially) when it changes in a way that we don't like.

This may (will..) probably mean die offs and those obviously aren't a good thing. According to humans, that is, mostly because of their somewhat irrational love for big mammals, cool trees and fear of change. But nature doesn't give a fuck, it doesn't consider humans special. The place will look totally different in 10, 100 or a few 1000 years anyway. Just let nature be and it will find a new balance. Maybe not on a timescale meaningful for the average human, but it will. Because that's what nature does.

about 8 months ago

Laser Headlights Promise More Intense, Controllable Beams

zmooc Re:brighter? (376 comments)

Now we get to be blinded by lasers, great...

The FA states:

To ensure no one gets blinded, the lights work together with BMW's camera-aided digital high-beam assistant, which dims the light if it detects an oncoming car or another car up front.

about 8 months ago

What Are the Weirdest Places You've Spotted Linux?

zmooc Re:Coffee machines (322 comments)

The main operation for which they require a full featured operating system is to fill up their 64MB of RAM:P

about 8 months ago


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