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Comment Re:Why do people not understand (Score 5, Funny) 55

Being Slashdot, we could use parentheses instead:

((space junk) fighting) cable = "a cable that fights space-junk"
(space junk) (fighting cable) = "a fighting-cable that is space-junk"
(space (junk fighting)) cable = "a space-ready cable intended for fighting junk"
space (junk (fighting cable)) = "a broken fighting-cable found in space
space ((junk fighting) cable) = "a TV cable channel showing junk-fighting tournaments that is broadcast to space"

I had to struggle with some of those...

Comment Re:Clarification: Plus 8% US tax vs including 20% (Score 1) 172

When the company collects VAT, it's INCLUDED in the sticker price - it's illegal in the UK, I understand, to show customers who they are really paying by listing it as "+0.80 purchase price plus VAT".

It's not illegal to show the price before VAT in the UK. However, for goods aimed at consumers, the price you pay at the till (including any applicable taxes) must be the most prominently displayed price. My understanding is it's the opposite in the US, where it's common not to show customers how much they will be paying, by not including taxes, mail in rebates, service charges, etc. That seems bizarre to me.

Comment Re:marketing B.S. (Score 1) 190

That's odd, considering that all the colors the human eye/mind perceives is made up of signals from three types of color receptors in the eye.

That's because the eye's colour receptors respond to a range of wavelengths and those ranges overlap.

The RGB wavelengths emitted by a TV are over fairly narrow ranges, and correspond to the wavelengths where the eye is most sensitive. For example, pure blue from a TV will be around 470nm as that most strongly excites the blue receptors of the eye, but it also weakly excites the green and red receptors.

In nature a wavelength of 400 nm will weakly excite the blue receptors only, and not the green and red receptors at all. A TV can't do this - it would need to be able to support "negative" values for the red and green channels.

Comment Re:Lololol leftists (Score 1) 94

[...]the social model has already collapsed, many times over, and we have never had a revolt before.

It came close a few times in England, for example with the Luddites in the 1810s, which also had the Pentrich rising, Ely riots, Spa Fields riots, and the Peterloo massacre. The English parliament of the time certainly feared a revolution, and passed the Six Acts in response. Ten years later saw the Swing Riots, also protesting unemployment following agricultural mechanisation.

Comment Re:In the Soviet Russia a cable buries YOU!! (Score 1) 157

The main problem arises when you start trying to have agreements with owners of land where you want to lay the cable. And God save you from trying to put it through a forest.

In this case the land owers were local farmers who also had rubbish interent (often dial-up), and really wanted better interent. In some cases their businesses almost required it, as far as I can tell. From the article, quoting Christine Conder:

"So the farmers have been incredibly supportive of this and that's why they've given us free rein throughout the fields, which we go through to connect them and then we get to the villages which subsidise the farmers' connections.

"You couldn't do it just for the farmers alone, but you couldn't get to the village without the farmers so it's tit for tat."

Comment Re:other? (Score 2) 167

You're correct that the original story said these were debit cards, not credit cards.

I don't see how this necessarily requires Mastercard's approval. Presumably "a major international bank" (MIB) can already issue Mastercards, and guarantees them. Do Mastercard themselves approve every type of Mastercard that MIB issues?

MIB could come to a private arrangement with BitInstant, that goes like this: BitInstant maintains your balance. You use your BitInstant/Mastercard/MIB debit card. MIB credits the vendor and debits BitInstant. BitInstant debits your account, converts it to "real" money (that's what they do) and credits MIB.

If Mastercard is already happy with MIB issuing Mastercards, and MIB is happy with its arrangement with BitInstant, then what's to stop this going ahead? The danger to the end user is that BitInstant goes south and loses your money, but that's not Mastercard's or MIB's problem, except MIB would be liable (I expect) for the payments it had accepted (and guaranteed), but not yet been credited for by BitInstant. As far as Mastercard are concerned, it would be MIB that backs any and all the guarantees that you get with a Mastercard.

Comment Re:Flywheel (Score 2) 52

Reaction wheels (or flywheels) and control-moment gyros work differently, even though they can both be used to create torque,

Reaction wheels spin up (or spin down) the wheel to create torque - the axis of the wheel does not change. The tail in this robot is an unusual case of a reaction wheel - it's not actually a wheel, but is uses the same princple.

CMGs use the gyroscopic effect you get from changing the axis of a spinning wheel to create torque. The rotation speed of the wheel is (usually) constant. They use little power and can be very powerful. The ISS uses them to maintain attitude.

Comment Re:it will about balance itself (Score 1) 212

Whats more they will now get more distracting calls from accidents that are resolved by participants or cops (no serious injuries - sensors cant tell about this) or even completely bogus from defective cars, so the ambulances will move around needlessly at some times (likely failing to help some extra people due to extra distance).

There's a fair amount of information you can get from sensors that can be used to predict the severity of injuries - the number occupants and in which seats, the crash severity and direction, which airbags deployed, the seat belt status, if the car rolled over, etc. A lot of this is already monitored anyway, so you don't even need new sensors.

One documentary I watched about reasearch into this subject (probably Horizon's Surviving a Car Crash) said they were getting surprisingly accurate predictions of the injuries.

Comment Re:The process (Score 1) 216

I think that this is an early draft text of the bill in question: http://inforrm.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/defamation-bill.pdf

I think that's the existing law, from 2011. The new proposal is linked to from the article: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2012-2013/0005/cbill_2012-20130005_en_2.htm#pb2-l1g5

It does indeed contain new language protecting websites that host user generated content.

Comment Re:No they are not forced.... (Score 1) 216

Why add new laws? Even on the Internet, it still doesn't matter -- records can still be obtained by the courts.

The fine article touches on that - this is an update to a law from last year, and adds provisions to protect operators of websites hosting user generated content. At the moment they are still the publisher, and could in principle be held liable. From the proposal:

(2) It is a defence for the operator to show that it was not the operator who posted the statement on the website.

(3) The defence is defeated if the claimant shows that:
(a) it was not possible for the claimant to identify the person who posted the statement,
(b) the claimant gave the operator a notice of complaint in relation to the statement, and
(c) the operator failed to respond to the notice of complaint in accordance with any provision contained in regulations.

Comment Re:No they are not forced.... (Score 1) 216

I've heard this factoid of "truth is not always a defence" about English libel law before before. I have no idea how true it is (IANAL), but the proposed bill says this:

It is a defence to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that imputation conveyed by the statement complained of is substantially true.

The reports on the bill suggest this is already the case. It might

The courts have for many years recognised the common law defence of "justification" which protects publications that are substantially true.

See AC's comment downthread for links to PDFs of both.

Comment Re:Altavista predates the snippets patent (Score 1) 83

The snippets patent isn't legit, Altavista and Lycos BOTH PREDATE this patent and both had snippets.

Altavista only showed the first line or two of the matching web page. One of the reasons I switched from Altavista to Google was Google showed you the context around your search term, which I found more useful than Altavista's summary. Of course I lost out on Altavista's "near" operator.

Comment Re:No expectation of privacy (Score 2) 215

Wow. Just Wow. I'm in my 40s, grew up in the UK, and live in Germany where there are about 40 murders with guns every year. I don't think I've every heard a gun being fired outside of a firing range or similar, and I live within gunshot of the centre of a city of around 150K people.

I only ever remember seeing a gun once where you wouldn't expect it (i.e. not carried by police/army, and not on a range). That was in Rome about 15 years ago, and even then it might be that the guy wielding it was undercover. It looked like it to me.

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