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Comment: Perish the thought... (Score 4, Insightful) 370

by Akardam (#40647637) Attached to: Why Is Wikipedia So Ugly?

To paraphrase a favorite character of mine, "... I'm so sick of (article writers like this) I could vomit...".

Wikipedia has at its core one basic job to do: convey information. Setting aside for the moment the questions of validity of content, sources, spats between editors, astroturfing, etc, the prime question is, how quickly and easily was one able to find what one was looking for and absorb it. This is a task at which I personally feel Wikipedia does a fine job. It is a simple, straightforward visual style that doesn't bolt on any extraneous flash (no pun intended) or style just for flash or style's sake.

By the way, when the article author compares Wikipedia and Geocities visual style and finds similarities, I'm prompted to wonder where the author actually was when Geocities was in its heydey.

As for the complaint about the complexities of editing on Wikipedia: Heaven forbid that when editing one of the great repositories of human knowledge, that the editors should take the time required to learn the skills necessary to do so... seriously, if Wikipedia ever "redesigns" itself to appeal anywhere near the lowest common denominator of the Facebook/Twitter/Myspace generation, I quit.

Comment: Re:Laser (Score 4, Insightful) 374

by Akardam (#27195431) Attached to: US Pentagon Plans For a Spy Blimp

It's amazing how trivial those problems are compared to protecting a blimp at 65,000'.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airborne_Laser:

"If the ABL achieves its design goals, it could destroy liquid-fueled ICBMs up to 600 km away. Tougher solid-fueled ICBM destruction range would likely be limited to 300 km"

65,000' is just a hair under 20 kilometers. That's beans compared to what the ABL is supposed to be able to do against a smaller, much faster moving target, from a mobile platform. You might need a stronger laser than the ABL carries, but as I said before, most blimps aren't particularily tough.

Comment: Re:Data safety with extreme prejudice using a hamm (Score 1) 546

by Akardam (#27136531) Attached to: What To Do With Old USB Keys, Low-Capacity Hard Drives?

One nice side effect, is the smashy smashy bit is a great stress reliever, just wear safety glasses and perhaps gloves.

In the case of a drive that really isn't prime for donation or repurosing (I'd rather see them reused than destroyed), I'll second this. It's also a great perk for a subordinate. One time we had a junior tech who was just having a hell of a week. I plucked an old 4gb scsi drive off the shelf, gave it to him, and said, take this out back and beat the crap out of it. When he came back in he had a huge grin on his face and he sure felt better about life.

Comment: *sigh* Iternet ! build to be bomb proof... (Score 2, Informative) 198

by Akardam (#27134067) Attached to: Human Exoskeletons Getting Closer

The internet itself exists because the US military was seeking a way to maintain communications in the event that a major city was destroyed with an atomic bomb, causing a disruption in telephone communications.

Why, oh why do people keep trotting out this tired old myth?

The ARPANet wasn't created to survive a nuclear holocaust. Hey geniuses, it used common (though pricey and high speed) telco circuits - the same as carried telephone communications. They weren't hardened or anything like that. Explain to me how they'd stay put when everything else went kablooie?

The original purpose of the ARPANet was to allow resource sharing between research centers with computing resources that were being funded by and/or involved in defense level research. Even after the first dozen-odd IMPs (routers of their day, and amazingly only refrigerator sized, compared to the behemoths that they interconnected), they weren't even hardened.

Ironically, it would be over 20 years from the inception of the ARPANet that there would be a sufficiently large number of nodes and more imporantly links to give the Internet the level of robustness that might give it a reasonable chance of surviving an all out nuclear attack, the kind that people continually champion as its original raison d'être.

Anyone who's interested in learning more should really read the excellent book, _Where Wizards Stay Up Late_.

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