Re: OpenStreeMap (Score: 1)

by in Nokia's Here offline navigation for Android no longer in "beta" on 2015-02-14 22:07 (#33HS)

OsmAnd is HORRIBLE. Doesn't know street numbers, requires carefully inputting an address across several fields. Has practically no POI. etc.

Nokia's Here is... not horrible. In fact it's very good. (Offline) POI is not as up-to-date as (online) Google Maps or MapQuest, or a select few offline non-free navigation apps like Sygic.

And if you're driving a non-trivial distance, traffic info is invaluable. It's not possible for any open-source, non-tracking app to give you traffic info.

Re: Android Apps (Score: 2, Informative)

by in Samsung, the big brother inside your TV? on 2015-02-11 21:48 (#2X0F)

Samsung uses a proprietary system, but it has an App store and the SDK is available.

TypeMatrix or generic 89-key mini keyboard: (Score: 1)

by in Review of the Totally Ergonomic (TEK) Keyboard on 2015-02-10 01:46 (#2X00)

I was completely unimpressed with mainstream "ergonomic" keyboards, and kept using a standard one, until I stumbled on early demos of the Type Matrix:


I was both trying the new layout, and learning Dvorak. The later was a miserable process taking months, despite promises that almost everyone learns it fast. In the end, my typing speed improved, and I no longer had to stop typing due to wrist strain. Incidentally, I can seamlessly switch between Dvorak (home) and QWERTY (at work), no problem.

But at least the early TypeMatrix prototype wasn't very durable, and I wasn't happy with the $100/ea. price, so after the second one, I looked around for cheaper, simple keyboards that would give me most of the advantages. I wanted something without a num pad (much less distance to mouse), flat and 0.5" high with no incline... I found only one at the time, and it was just a quarter the price. With a nice durable steel backing plate, and key caps that only required a little sanding to reorder to Dvorak, my first couple lasted for quite a few years (unlike the TypeMatrix'eses). These days, they are available for just $10/ea. on Amazon.



I only hope they still build them like they used-to...

Re: D vs. R (Score: 1)

by in Congressmen raise concerns over SoCal Edison replacing 500 IT workers with H1-B visa holders on 2015-02-09 21:43 (#2WZW)

It's really not a partisan issue. The bill to dramatically increase H1-Bs is endorsed by several members of both parties. People on both sides have opposed H1-Bs to varying degrees. On the Democratic side, at least Pres. Obama and Sen. Durbin spoke out against them (years ago), and those are just the first ones I found.

That said... It's easy for Republicans to oppose H1-Bs (and any other visas) on simple xenophobic terms. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley firms are socially liberal, so they endorse and support Democratic candidates, not Republican ones. And those same firms lobby for cheaper IT labor more than anything else, which means more H1-Bs.

Re: Submissions (Score: 4, Insightful)

by in Pipedot Turns One on 2015-02-07 22:11 (#2WYZ)

Pipedot needs an app. Not a "Pipedot on your cellphone" thing, a mechanism that allows Pipedot to show up on your Share menu and submit stories that way.
I've often thought it is a shame that the Stream / Feed doesn't feed into the Pipe (with just a button-press) where the title, links, and RSS summary text would automatically be inserted into the submission form, then allow user editing/expansion before submission.

In the "Share" menu of my phone's RSS reader there is already GMail. If Pipedot allowed submissions via e-mail address, you'd be all-set with no mobile app coding work needed.

Re: You've done a great job. (Score: 3, Interesting)

by in Pipedot Turns One on 2015-02-07 22:01 (#2WYY)

I'm fine with one story per week or two weeks. If nothing happens, nothing happens.
I think that's a bad idea. Sites with infrequent updates quickly lose their bored readership. And without people reading the site daily, discussion would really stagnate.
I'd like to see more stories related to computers and software.
I actually think the site should be leaning more towards the technology side than it is, however my own interests are further towards the low-level science side of things, so for as long as I'm practically the only one submitting stories, it's necessarily going to veer off in that direction.

Re: More government bullshit! (Score: 2, Interesting)

by in Wood-burning homes targeted as major air polluters on 2015-02-05 23:52 (#2WX6)

it is possible to operate a wood burning heater that produces less emissions than a propane or butane heater
How's that? The summary mentions the best EPA-certified wood stoves emit 60 times as much as natural gas (presumably propane is similar), and other stoves do worse.

A "butane" heater is new to me, though there are butane stoves. Perhaps you meant natural gas? See above...

Re: Costs (Score: 2, Insightful)

by in Wood-burning homes targeted as major air polluters on 2015-02-05 14:45 (#2WX1)

As the outside temperature approaches -18 C (0 F), the energy requirement approaches that of the much simpler electric resistance heater
Actually, heat-pumps have been getting redesigned in recent years specifically to operate much more efficiently in cold climates. I was surprised to see how quickly they arrived on the market, myself, but they are out there.

Not sure what the best available is right now, but I was recently looking at Mitsubishi's "Hyper Heat" systems which offer "full heating capacity at 5° F [-15C] outdoor ambient" and continue "operation down to -13° F [-25C] outdoor" temperatures, at pretty good efficiency levels.
Geothermal-sinked heat pumps are much better
Yes, but the installation cost is many, many times higher, requires permitting, simply isn't viable in a large number of installation scenarios, and more. It's a superb method for extremely cold climates, but really not worth the cost in milder ones, particularly as air-source heat pumps improve.

Re: The beer bottle sounds more interesting (Score: 1)

by in Making the case for cardboard bottles, to replace glass on 2015-02-04 22:36 (#2WWV)

You misunderstand. The freezing is for extra structural strength. Milk crates are needed because the containers aren't strong enough to support the weight of several more rows of containers on top of them. Freezing turns the milk itself into extra structure that will support the weight, without the need for milk crates or similar, reducing shipping weight and volume.

Re: More government bullshit! (Score: 3, Informative)

by in Wood-burning homes targeted as major air polluters on 2015-02-04 19:48 (#2WWR)

Did you just call *Utah* a "nanny state"?! Utah, where they want to go against Federal law and eliminate the public education system, because it smells too much like socialism:

Re: The beer bottle sounds more interesting (Score: 1)

by in Making the case for cardboard bottles, to replace glass on 2015-02-04 09:51 (#2WWH)

Yes, the fat and water freezes at different temperatures, but once fully thawed they mix together and the taste is indistinguishable. Maybe that's only true of homogenized milk? Haven't tried it with non-homogenized.

Transporting an item that's far below its target temperature is considerably cheaper... The train cars or truck trailers don't need active refrigeration system, as it'll take at least a couple days to thaw out, and should be at its destination long before then. The volume increases by a small amount, but eliminating the need for extra structure (like milk crates) should save even more space, and most importantly, weight.

Re: Costs (Score: 2, Insightful)

by in Wood-burning homes targeted as major air polluters on 2015-02-03 21:39 (#2WWD)

The solution is quite easy... Burn the wood in the electrical generating plants. That'll quickly fix both problems.

Also, heat pumps only require 1/3rd to 1/4th the electric of basic resistive heaters, and better units can operate down to air temperatures below NZ's lowest ever recorded. A ductless mini split or a PTAC heat pumps can be had for under $700, and the majority of the installation can be done by an average homeowner, with the pros doing the final hook-ups. Just check the specs for minimum temperature before buying, as some are much better than others.

Re: The beer bottle sounds more interesting (Score: 1)

by in Making the case for cardboard bottles, to replace glass on 2015-02-03 16:01 (#2WWA)

Actually, I freeze milk all the time to give it several weeks of extra shelf-life, and it comes out tasting exactly the same as fresh. Only complaints I've heard are when people don't let it thaw entirely, and instead end up with a glass full of thick cream at the start, and basically just white-colored water later.

I despise the taste of powdered milk... Thinner than skim milk, with a spoiled rotten milk flavor and smell that's impossible to eliminate. Even freeze-drying results in the same terrible product. And even worse, it's really not any cheaper than the real, fresh stuff, probably due to the energy cost of the dehydrating process.

Re: The beer bottle sounds more interesting (Score: 1)

by in Making the case for cardboard bottles, to replace glass on 2015-02-03 12:51 (#2WW8)

Nice overview, but no answers.
Actually, it answers the question:

disposable plastic pouches > refillable plastic jugs > refillable glass > disposable plastic jugs > disposable paper cartons > disposable glass

I admit, "aluminum" is missing from the list, but it would likely fall second to last.

I only wonder why they don't freeze milk solid for shipping, so it can be stacked in its flimsy plastic jugs without requiring the added weight and support of milk crates.

Re: Fewer like this, please (Score: 3, Insightful)

by in DEA tracking millions of drivers across US on 2015-02-01 07:11 (#2WVN)

It's very much tech & privacy. A network of automatic license plate scanners has been installed all across the US. The reasons why has political connotations, but can't be explained without mentioning them.

Besides... the pipe is the place to vote on and discuss what should/shouldn't be here... Problem is, almost no submissions are coming in, which needs to change, first.

Photo of new islands (Score: 1)

by in Tongan volcano creates new island on 2015-01-29 02:35 (#2WT7)

Re: Reusable Grocery Bags (Score: 1)

by in California becomes first state to ban plastic bags, manufacturers fight law on 2015-01-22 20:54 (#2WSD)

That's actually a good point... It's entirely possible the energy cost of washing a cloth bag is more than producing and disposing of several one-time-use plastic bag. Now somebody just needs to actually prove it...

Re: Intentionally Misleading (Score: 1)

by in Elon Musk looking to blanket the planet with 700 microsatellites on 2015-01-20 08:50 (#2WRS)

I think it's a more viable option than the solar-powered drones or balloons that Google and Facebook are toying with, but they'll need the cash reserves of those two huge companies to make it workable.
Sounds like Elon Musk is following my advice:

Google Inc (GOOGL) Investing $1 Billion in SpaceX for Satellite Internet

Google can certainly afford to throw away $1 billion, particularly if their announcement encourages several times as much private investment, getting the project off the ground and of course the company's inevitable bankruptcy won't bring the satellites back down, leaving a resource Google will continue to benefit from, indefinitely.

Re: Of course you can use rockets (Score: 1)

by in NASA to test an inflatable heat shield for future manned Mars mission on 2015-01-14 04:59 (#2WQ5)

Rockets are fine for landing in Mars gravity.
The rocket scientist being interviewed, strongly disagrees with your assessment...

e.g. "would likely destroy the vehicle."

Re: I Understand (Score: 1)

by in Hackers destroy blast furnace in German steel mill on 2015-01-14 02:30 (#2WQ3)

I know a company where all USB ports were glued shut. A few 'experts' opened their machines to circumvent this useless chicanery
They didn't do a very good job then. Computers are easy enough to padlock. Besides, you're obviously not talking about a secure network.

And there's nothing special about USB... ANY WAY you get data into a secure network, from the un-secured rest of the world, is an attack surface. DVD-Rs are just as vulnerable as USB thumb drives. Glue-shut all the ports you want, and you'll still need to exchange data, and however you do that will leave you open to attack.

Re: I Understand (Score: 1)

by in Hackers destroy blast furnace in German steel mill on 2015-01-13 21:49 (#2WPZ)

You didn't read the article. The SCADA systems were on a different, firewall controlled network. That is not nearly enough to keep attackers out, for many reasons. The article explains the only sure way is an air gap... With ANY internet access at all, no matter how indirect, compromise is possible. An extreme example might be a DNS exploit, where any system on the control network only tried resolving a host name... Commands can similarly be relayed and data proxied over DNS.

Actually, I'd say an air gap is overrated though... The JC Penny breach wasn't over the internet, but instead required physical proximity as they broke-in over the WiFi network. Similarly, critical control systems need to be hardened against someone connecting a device with remote access capabilities... That could be a small WiFi router hidden somewhere, a cell phone connected to the network, a dial-up modem connected to a router, etc. Any one of those leaves an air-gapped network open to exploitation from outside attackers. You could insert a WiFi chip into a non-threatening looking USB mouse, and just leave it some place such a thing might have been accidentally dropped, and watch as it eventually gets connected, giving you a backdoor to an air-gapped network.

And don't forget Stuxnet... Completely air-gapped network, with tremendous physical security and paranoia. Still got penetrated by a worm on a USB thumb drive... which is how air-gapped networks get updates into their networks.

There simply is no easy answer to the problem.

Re: Great idea (Score: 1)

by in Boeing developing experimental hybrid-electric aircraft on 2015-01-11 05:13 (#2WPJ)

The technology does not lend it's self well as a replacement for jet propulsion, so the bigger faster planes will not benefit from this work in the foreseeable future.
I'm not so sure... I'd like to see how much more quickly a 787 with electric motors on the landing gear could reach takeoff speeds.

Re: Editor Question (Score: 2, Informative)

by in Spam Filtering on 2015-01-05 22:47 (#2WNX)

seem to follow a fairly standard template so a few well crafted regexp's combined with a tool like Fail2Ban feeding the IP blacklist might nail a lot of the low hanging fruit
Doesn't sound like you've seen the kind of spam |. has been getting flooded with... It's paragraph after paragraph of random nonsense words. No pattern to it, but instead quite intentionally very random. Only commonality is that they had links in there, somewhere.


I tend to find it annoying when sites hold comments in a moderation queue, so I wouldn't like to see that happening here for every comment that happens to have a link in it... Or ones that just happen to mention "viagra".

Editor Question (Score: 1)

by in Spam Filtering on 2015-01-04 22:08 (#2WNK)

What's your recommendation to editors on using, or not, the "Ban IP" option for spam posts?

Here's as good a place as any...

Re: Bogus arguments (Score: 1)

by in California becomes first state to ban plastic bags, manufacturers fight law on 2015-01-04 19:01 (#2WNJ)

If the problem is that plastic bags are just a scourage that needs to be eliminated... The 10¢ tax on paper bags that is part of the law, makes absolutely no sense, and is completely counter-productive to the supposed cause.

Re: Thank you pipedot (Score: 3, Informative)

by in Scientists discover the first protein that can edit other proteins on 2015-01-04 02:53 (#2WNA)

Submissions are always welcome. It's just Zafiro and myself finding and writing-up most of the content that hits the front page. When both of us are busy, as we have been (hence the past couple very quiet weeks), the site sits idle until we find some free time.

It's easy enough to approve or reject submissions on my phone when I have just a few minutes to spare, but not nearly so quick and easy to find interesting stories, and write-up a good summary of them, myself, while occupied with other tasks.

Somebody has to come up with the interesting content. I had never submitted anything to the old site, but I figured it out pretty quick once I gave it a try. With a bit of practice anyone can do it, and everyone is welcome to chip-in and try their hand at it. Something to keep in mind while waiting around to see when the next story is going to show-up...

Re: Maybe I'm a pedant (Score: 1)

by in Scientists discover the first protein that can edit other proteins on 2015-01-02 15:54 (#2WMH)

If you're going to complain about wording, you should go to the source.

The word "can" merely specifies the ability. It says nothing, one way or the other, about choice, so I don't know why you would read the word as involving decision-making.

Your preferred wording might instead be read to imply other proteins were known to have the (latent) capability, but perhaps this was just the first observed performing the function.

Re: Misleading/incorrect summary (Score: 1)

by in NASA envisons an airborne colony on Venus, before Mars on 2014-12-24 11:37 (#2WBA)


Re: Falling (Score: 2, Interesting)

by in NASA envisons an airborne colony on Venus, before Mars on 2014-12-22 08:15 (#2W8R)

You'd certainly go unconscious pretty quickly... extremely high temperatures combined with no oxygen and poison gases if you do try to take a breath. No doubt you'd have heat-stroke before you hit, but the human body doesn't just instantly shut-off when stressed beyond its limits. With the fall taking less than 2 minutes, you'd likely still be alive, even if pretty far gone.

Re: Discourage investment? (Score: 1)

by in T-Mobile granted rule-change in fight over AT&T, Verizon roaming charges on 2014-12-21 18:45 (#2W7Y)

That's the implication... It's a veiled threat to sabotage their own customers, out of spite. Verizon has bandied the same argument about with in the net neutrality debates regarding both their cellular and FIOS networks.

With FIOS it might sting the affected customers a bit, but would really just deliver more subscribers into the hands of cable companies, hurting Verizon even more. But with cellular, it's a particularly ridiculous claim, as they've recently been losing large numbers of customers to T-Mobile/Sprint, and have been forced to reluctantly cut their prices to reduce the churn. Failing to maintain their network would lose them even more customers, and require many further price cuts to maintain their position.

Re: Remind me (Score: 1)

by in ICANN gets hacked after employees hand out private data in phishing scam on 2014-12-21 18:29 (#2W7W)

I imagine if you can show a financial loss as a result of their shoddy security practices, they may be held liable in civil court and be required to pay compensation plus penalties, like any other organization.

Re: This is silly (Score: 1)

by in Europeans were lactose intolerant for 4,000 years on 2014-12-19 03:06 (#2W3Y)

Hard dry cheeses are quite a bit lower in lactose than, say, milk, but most other types are not:

And "less lactose than milk" is still nowhere near lactose-free.

Re: and so the chimney was invented (Score: 1)

by in Europeans were lactose intolerant for 4,000 years on 2014-12-15 01:09 (#2VY9)

Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, direct from the History Channel's Modern Marvels episode on toilets & sanitation:
You realize how bad the situation was if you look at the palace of Versailles. A fortune was spent in constructing it. It had these wonderful halls of mirrors, elaborate chandeliers, and you might have a thousand people being entertained. Eating and drinking copiously, but where did they go to the bathroom? There was not a single bathroom in the entire elaborate palace. And the answer is, they went in the stairwells. One of the reasons the French applied so much perfume during that period was to overcome all of the indoor odors from people relieving themselves.
And the idea that a man walks on the left side of the female dates back to this time. It was polite for him to get hit by the contents of the chamber pot and spare the woman.

Collateral damage (Score: 1)

by in The Pirate Bay is gone for good on 2014-12-11 23:18 (#2VVR)

I can't say I care what one person who happened to work at TPB happens to think. His complaints are just a bunch of whiny nonsense, and since TPB hasn't become what HE would have liked, he'd rather see it destroyed entirely, like any child taking his ball and going home.

I'm more interested in the collateral damage. From Wikipedia:
On 9 December 2014, The Pirate Bay was raided by the Swedish Police, who seized servers, computers, and other equipment.[18][19][20][21][22][23] Several other torrent related sites including EZTV, Zoink, Torrage and the Istole tracker are also down in addition to The Pirate Bay’s forum, which is also offline.[19]

Re: Nuclear power battery (Score: 1)

by in New Horizons spacecraft prepares to study Pluto after 9-year voyage on 2014-12-08 21:17 (#2VR1)

I would think something without moving parts would be superior.
Try hitting a computer chip with a hammer. Then try the same thing with your car's engine. Still think solid-state is always superior?

Both SRGs and RTGs are designed (and tested) with the same lifetimes in-mind. The SRGs even lose less capacity over time (thermo-electric materials decay). And NASA has done the testing to prove that SRGs can operate continuously for the necessary lifetimes.

Re: Nuclear power battery (Score: 1)

by in New Horizons spacecraft prepares to study Pluto after 9-year voyage on 2014-12-08 20:06 (#2VQW)

I am sure the uneducated mobocracy tried its best to throw a monkey wrench into the works.
The WP article says there were only about 30 protesters, far less than previous missions. The DoE just isn't churning out Pu-238 in mass quantities like it used-to, and it's much more expensive as a result, too.

My question is, why isn't NASA getting more efficient (so that it only needs a fraction as much Pu) since the "T" in RTG is only 5-8% efficient?

They've been extensively developing SRGs to replace RTGs for quite a few decades, requiring only 1/4 as much Pu for the power, yet haven't ever put a single one in space.

In song-form (Score: 1)

by in Most of my holiday shopping is done at: on 2014-12-06 04:34 (#2VN3)

Count me among the legions of dispassionate dyspeptics
Who regard this time of year, as a maudlin insincere
Cheesy crass commercial travesty of all that we hold dear

Re: Sweatshops. (Score: 2, Insightful)

by in Open floor plans in office space: more loss than gain on 2014-12-04 18:29 (#2VK8)

Construction is fine, if you don't mind working outside, exposed to extreme elements, from 200F degrees in the desert in direct sunlight, to -40F degrees plus wind-chill and rain up north. And also if you don't mind working crazy shifts, driving crazy distances to each new job, or having to pick-up and move 500 miles away on one day's notice. I've seen it, first-hand, many, many times.

While your IT career may involve some of that, mine has been mostly M-F, 8-5, with only 5% overtime from on-call and whatnot, and most every day at the same office, indoors. While your list of issues is quite true and resonates, I expect everyone in any job thinks everyone else's jobs are better than theirs, somehow. Everyone simply overlooks the non-obvious ways those other jobs are actually a lot worse (at least in some ways), which is why the "grass is always greener".

Re: But what about his code? (Score: 3, Informative)

by in Opensource game rejected from Debian for authors' social beliefs on 2014-11-23 04:31 (#2V6J)

That is an interesting link, actually...
Mikhail Kvaratskhelia (aka ‘mikeeeUSA’, aka serveral other aliases) is what constitutional lawyers sometimes call a werewolf – the most unappealing possible victim. He is a creepy, repellent, misogynistic crank, given to uttering threats of violent death against female Linux hackers, and quite possibly clinically insane. [...] To judge by the letter and the reports of his past behavior, he is a vile piece of scum; if he were to threaten harm to Ms. Eicher in my presence, I would cheerfully shoot him. -esr

Updated article (Score: 1)

by in Opensource game rejected from Debian for authors' social beliefs on 2014-11-21 23:33 (#2V5B)

Since everyone seemed very confused (myself included) I've updated the article to include information about MikeeUSA's afore mentioned "conservative views".

I must also muse that open source projects most frequently have the opposite problem: devs facing no consequences for misbehaving and abusing users.

WarGames (Score: 2, Funny)

by in Video game genre of choice: on 2014-11-21 20:39 (#2V59)

a strange game
the only winning move is not to play.

how about a nice game of chess?

Re: Anandtech (Score: 2, Informative)

by in Make the internet come to you, the way you want it, with RSS on 2014-11-20 23:29 (#2V3S)

That's true of Consumer Reports, techdirt, Newsweek, VOA, National Academies, Huffington Post, Breitbart, and a decent number of others. They're a minority, but there's plenty of them. If you wanted to get all your news from sites that offer full text RSS feeds, you could do so without too much of a trade-off.

UPDATE: Had PopSci in there, but looks like they JUST NOW (in the past week) changed their full-text RSS feed to summaries only.

Re: My killer app (Score: 1)

by in Google Glass future clouded as some early believers lose faith on 2014-11-19 10:56 (#2V4H)

I've tried cheap kid's toy night vision, with an LCD screen connected to a camera without IR filter... It's HORRIBLE. Distance perception is way off, it really needs those IR LEDs, and the range is just a few feet. Nothing like real night-vision, and certainly not something you'd be using to drive. But even more on point, if it can be done at a reasonable price, why stick it in a pair of glasses, instead of building it into the car, where you'll need it the most?

Also, it only requires a $15 Infrared thermometer to find poorly insulated spots in your house, if taking a little bit more time than a thermal camera... So I wouldn't call that a killer app.

Re: Good stuff (Score: 1)

by in Make the internet come to you, the way you want it, with RSS on 2014-11-18 14:39 (#2V42)

It's not strange we use the same app. Back when I went looking for an RSS reader, there was only a handful in the Market (now Play Store), and I used the by-far most popular and highest rated one. Just by virtue of being among the first, and still being around many years later (even if it has been a dead project for 2+ years now) they've got a lot of users to show for it. Being old and getting no updates has the secondary advantage of it still running on older phones, where newer apps often do not.

I'm not too happy with them, as I purchased a license for v1 right at the end of its life cycle, and they offered no upgrade path to v2. No idea about v2 to v3. But with no signs of life, the current release of v3 is probably the end of the line, even with the bugs with some feeds and podcast handling. It's just a question of how long until newer versions of Android break backwards compatibilty and put and end to it.

Looking through the store I don't see any other RSS readers that look obviously good. That's likely a byproduct of my now-aged phone, hiding newer and incompatible apps, as is frequently the case.

Re: Editor note! (Score: 1)

by in GamerGate, two months on: a story of change in the industry on 2014-11-17 06:56 (#2V2T)

Where control of ICANN comes into it, is authority to take-down domain names. The US gov doesn't like copyright infringement, so the Pirate Bay is having trouble keeping a domain that points to their servers. If they had a similar position on speech, things could get very ugly.

Re: Conspiracy theorists (Score: 1)

by in Philae lander: touchdown on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 2014-11-15 07:49 (#2V2H)

Zaf was dead on about the conspiracy theorists coming out of the woodwork, but it seems everyone was going in the wrong direction...

We've got a probe up there alright, but it's not examining the composition of a comet... No, it's secretly making contact with an alien race.

Re: Interesting (Score: 2, Insightful)

by in Philae lander: touchdown on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 2014-11-14 06:16 (#2V29)

This is the coolest thing ever, and I'm stunned how little coverage it's getting in mainstream American media. This is for me like the moon landing for our generation.
I think you're overstating it. Voyager I leaving the solar system is far more interesting.

It's much harder to cover than typical NASA stories, since the ESA is doing this one, and not many news agencies have foreign reporters on the payroll who can head over and send-back footage, while all networks have local stations across the US to pull from.

Intentionally Misleading (Score: 4, Insightful)

by in Elon Musk looking to blanket the planet with 700 microsatellites on 2014-11-11 19:31 (#2TZQ)

I thought about publishing the same story a couple days ago, but found it too much smoke and mirrors, with no actual news.

Elon Musk certainly didn't "announce" it... He's not even really involved at all: This is just a sad attempt from WorldVu to drum-up investors for their existing old crazy business-plan:
"the venture is in its formative stages, and Mr. Musk’s participation isn’t certain."
And it's a decidedly poor investment at that... Companies that have attempted similar business models tend to go bankrupt. See: Iridium. It's a hard business having to pay to launch hundreds of satellites, while not being able to sell to customers until completed, and most everyone with significant money to spend have other, better, local options (wired or cellular).

I'd like to see it go up, personally... Shortwave broadcasting is in steep decline and the internet isn't currently an option in remote areas of the world that are far off-the-grid. And text or audio services require only a very slow trickle of data, equivalent to dial-up or even 2G cell service speeds. The astronomical costs for current satellite internet is not viable for the impoverished people that WorldVu & O3b's model is meant to serve.

Rural areas of the US could seriously use something faster and cheaper than HugesNet. Even some urban areas have only one high-speed internet service provider available, and that may be with old & slow DSL at high prices. The large number of medium-orbit satellites with modern technology offers the potential for high speeds. But that requires getting prices below competing cellular offerings (eg. $30/month for 5GB+ data), and THAT price-point will probably require the first round of investors to go bankrupt, as it might never be viable to repay the initial cost plus interest with the small number of customers they can sign-up.

And THEN they'll still need government subsidies from around the world, on an ongoing basis, to make it economical for their stated target market. I think it's a more viable option than the solar-powered drones or balloons that Google and Facebook are toying with, but they'll need the cash reserves of those two huge companies to make it workable.

Re: IMAX killed it (Score: 1)

by in Interstellar and the end of the film era on 2014-11-10 03:04 (#2TYS)

Real film lent a grittiness to the movie that meshed well with the story and desperation and it would be impossible to replicate that with digital.
Impossible to replicate? Are you daft? You could easily transfer a digital print to film, then digitize the film... And that's the hard way. Easy way is to push the button on your digital processing suite that says "film grain".

IMAX killed it (Score: 2, Interesting)

by in Interstellar and the end of the film era on 2014-11-09 00:57 (#2TYN)

I suppose IMAX is to blame... Trying to squeeze more money out of their customers, they introduced "IMAX Digital" so they could show just any regular film nice and cheap, but charge IMAX prices for the ticket. Angering your customers who are paying big bucks and keeping film alive, is a losing propsition.

Another negative is the move to 3D. Whether you like 3D or not, it has divided audiences in half... Some won't ever watch a 3D movie, others won't pay to watch the regular 2D versions anymore.

But I suppose as long as IMAX and Cinemark XD are able to demand huge ticket prices, and fill their theatres, film won't be going away just yet.