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Comment Will Apple be able to spec/source a good OLED? (Score 3, Interesting) 131

I'm actually a fan of OLED displays when they're perfect, yes, even the bright colors.

But dammit it's hard to find a really good *actual* OLED display in an *actual* unit.

Went through five phones before I got a Note 4 with a good display. Went through four Galaxy Tab S units to find a good one new out of the box. Let's see, what are the problems encountered in the various and sundry displays?

- Strong yellow cast, like ridiculously strong
- Pink/green gradient, usually from corner to corner, with "white" only in display center
- Uneven brightness, i.e. dark "splotches" on white backgrounds or "dark gradients" at one edge of the screen to about 1-2" in from bezel
- Terrible pixelation/pixel noise at low brightness, not unlike digital camera "noise" in low-light exposures
- Burn-in (even in supposedly factory-new devices)

Either QC or the production process or both appear to be nearly fatally flawed for Samsung, and they're currently the biggest shipper of OLED screens in gadgets, and have had years of experience. You'd think they'd have it sorted out by now.

I love the *potential* of OLED, but it seems like for the most part right now, attempts to actually ship them in consumer devices leave a lot to be desired.

Comment Re:GG is owned by Sony (Score 1) 170

Snowed himself has called that idea a "suicide switch". It would be idiotic. It means that anyone who wants those documents merely has to kill him, and boom, instant access to the whole deal.

Which also gives the US incentive to make sure that nobody hurts a hair on his head.

Either way, I don't think Snowden's even been in control of those archives for years. There's a reason he turned them over to journalists and kept them somewhere that's even out of his own reach.

Comment Re:GG is owned by Sony (Score 3, Interesting) 170

By the way, where are the leaks? Cryptome has been keeping track, and on any scale, he hasn't "leaked" more than 1% of what snowden gave him.

And that's probably why Glenn Greenwald hasn't suffered a "fatal accident". Because he, along with Snowden, Poitras and others, have probably created a "dead man's switch" that releases everything if any of them die in suspicious circumstances.

That's what I'd do, anyway.

Comment Re:Cost of access is key. (Score 1) 314

That was not my point. Ofc we can improve ISP. No idea how much that improves either 'performance' or drops price.

It improves performance a *lot*. As for price, it depends on how expensive that rocket system is. For first stages, an improvement in ISP's effect on the size of the rocket isn't that much greater than linear. But the further up the delta-V chain the engine is used, the more of an impact it has on everything that was used to get it there. An extra hundred sec ISP on a first stage might reduce the system mass by a third; on a second stage up to LEO, maybe cut it in half; on a kick stage for a Mars transfer orbit, maybe cut it by two thirds. On an ascent stage from the surface of Mars... well you get the idea. Shrinking down a rocket to a small fraction of its size - fuel, tankage, and engines - well, that's really significant. ISP is very, very important for upper stages. So you can afford to pay quite a bit for those top stages if it improves their performance. Just not an "unlimited" amount.

There is no way a high tech electrical engine will improve its performance by 10% regardless how much money or time you put into it: the efficiency is already between 98.5% - 99.5%, up to 99.9% in some cases.

This is getting a bit offtopic, but at least the electric engines in EVs don't usually run at nearly that high. Depending on the type they might average 85 to 94% on average. It varies over their load cycle.

Regarding rockets: there is simply not much margin anymore in changing the form of the exhaust tube, burn chamber etc

Actually you can. The general principles of how rocket engines work are fixed, of course - your exhaust will never exceed its local speed of sound in the throat, and then you want to expand it as close to ambient pressure as you want. But the details vary greatly. There's bell nozzles, linear nozzles, annular nozzles, aerospikes, throatless nozzles, atmospheric wake compression, and on and on. There's tons of different ways - developed, in development, and in theory - to pump and inject your propellants - where they need to be pumped at all. Even many propellants that are traditionally thought of as being in one state can be implemented in other states. There's various ways - developed, in development, and in theory - to prevent nozzle erosion. To improve regeneration. To reduce mass. And on and on and on. Rocket combustion is a rather complex thing and we're still trying to get a handle on it. Do you know that we still really don't know how aluminum burns in solid rocket propellant? There's something like five different competing theories. I mean, things like this are a Big Freaking Deal(TM), especially when such small improvements in upper stage ISP have such significance for lower stage mass. And even on your lower stages there's a lot of things that have a big effect on your system cost. For example, how to stop resonant shocks from ripping them up - a lot of people don't realize that one of the main benefits of adding aluminum first stage to propellant mixes is that the droplets of burning aluminum damp shocks. (yeah, it increases ISP too by raising the exhaust temperature, but it also has disadvantages, such as not contributing to expansion, slowing down gases (particularly near the nozzle), and impacting/eroding the throat (or even forming an accumulating slag)

Re, nuclear+chemical. There are proposals for this. The main issue isn't efficiency - the extra chemical energy doesn't make that much of a difference - but thrust. The downside to nuclear thermal is that the reactor is so heavy (fission is like that, unfortunately) that the mass ratio is only something like 3-4:1. That's really bad (you generally get 15-20:1 or even better for a chemical first stage). So the approach is to inject oxygen early in the ascent phase for added thrust, but only run on hydrogen higher up when gravity losses are lower. I'm really not that sanguine about nuclear thermal rockets getting a serious development program any time soon, though. The public overestimates the risk, of course - not only am I sure they'd well seal the fuel elements against whatever damage would be incurred by explosion or reentry, but there's the simple fact that the fuel is "fresh", not contaminated with the more hazardous actinides. But it's going to be a hard sell. And a really hard development project, if they ever did try again. Gigawatt-scale flying nuclear reactors that pose radiation hazards during assembly and test aren't exactly childs' play.

Comment Re:The guy aint no Sagan... (Score 1) 314

You forgot to exclude operational expenses.

Yes, people to run robots and comm time on the DSN. We're not talking about massive expenses here. The real expenses are the capital costs.

And also didn't mention that you can't just lob chunks of metal straight to Earth's surface,

Actually, you really just can. Even random rocks from space - not shaped for optimal entry shape, not cemented together by anything yet what nature chose to gie them - do this all the time. They have to be between a certain size range (too little and the whole thing ablates; too large and it explodes, either in the atmosphere or on impact), but the random creations of nature do it; delberately shaped and sintered projectiles should have no trouble with it, with (proportional to their mass) relatively little burnoff.

You would, of course, need a rather large area designated as the impact area; even with very precise aiming, by the time they get to Earth and undergo reentry the random variables will spread them out over a sizeable chunk of land. A large salar might be ideal, since they get resurfaced periodically so the impacts wouldn't be damaging the landscape.

By your same logic, the mining of minerals on Earth would be zero dollars per gram if the equipment was solar powered and automated

It's almost as if I didn't discuss capital and ongoing costs in my above post.

Launch costs really are key to the rate of development at the very least, in that they limit the rate in which funding can be raised for the necessary exploratory and test craft to be launched. Even if the economics for operating a mine on a NEO works out really well at present launch costs, you have to prove that you can do it before you can raise the billions to build it. And to prove that you can do it you have to launch a number of missions while you're still relatively poorly funded. They face the same problem that Bigelow has faced - a probably reasonable business plan but the early phases hinging around factors that they don't control.

It does nobody any good to pretend that the lack of a space economy is because investors are cowards and morons

I think you need to go back and read my last post again, particularly all of the "it's too early to say"/""we don't know"/"but time will tell"/etc lines. I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying that there very well could be a compelling case for asteroid mining even without any radical changes in space technologies. But there's a great deal of work to prove that before we can get to that point.

Comment Re:Wrong way around (Score 1) 673

Better explanation:

sysvinit is widely considered awful by most distro maintainers.

How do we know this? Well, because distro maintainers have been trying to get away from it for years. Even when everything was run from 'init' there have been multiple refactorings of /etc/*.d to try to produce a better start up environment.

At some point, some distributions, notably Ubuntu, switched to an initd replacement called Upstart. Because they were desperate to get away from sysvinit. ChromeOS, possibly the most widely used Desktop GNU/Linux distribution, was also an early adopter of Upstart. Again because it was considered better - more reliable, faster, etc - than horrible old init.

So why are they switching to systemd? Because systemd is considered better than Upstart (which in turn is considered better than sysvinit.) systemd has a better process model, and doesn't ignore required functionality (yes, the same program that configures devices at start up probably should configure USB devices that are plugged in dynamically, and the same processes that configure the network based upon what devices are plugged in at start up should probably configure the network based upon what devices become available later, etc. So yes, this supposed "monolithic" approach is basic common sense.)

Most of those complaining about systemd are actually fighting an argument they lost in 2006, when Upstart became part of Ubuntu 6.10. They've lost it not just in the GNU/Linux world, but also in, say, the Mac OS X world, where sysvinit was unceremoniously ejected back in 2005. Or the Solaris world. etc.

You know, I could understand this if we were actually losing anything by switching to systemd. The desire to remove X11 from *ix, for example, replacing it with a dumb graphics engine with a fraction of the functionality, I think is genuinely a tragedy. We'll lose much of what made *ix what it is if and when Wayland is adopted. But systemd doesn't remove anything. It's fast, efficient, and it fixes huge holes in GNU/Linux, problems we've been aware of since the mid-nineties but haven't had the spine to fix.

It's something to be welcomed.

Comment Re:seriously? (Score 1) 78

Are the other variants more dialectal? In addition to huoji ( / ) (fire chicken) what I read states that there's also qimianniao ( / ) (seven-faced bird), tujinji ( / ) (cough up a brocade chicken) and tushouji ( / ) (cough up a ribbon chicken)

(hope Slashdot doesn't mess up the characters)

Comment Re:seriously? (Score 1) 78

On the other hand I would want to talk to Archimedes

You speak ancient Greek and can communicate with the dead? Okay, I'm impressed. ;)

Thanksgiving trivia for the day: the word for "turkey" comes from extensive and long-running confusion about where the bird came from. For example, in English it's called Turkey. In Turkey it's called "hindi", referring to India. In India it's called Peru. In Peru it's called "pavo", referring to peacocks, which are native to south and southeast asia, such as India (cyclic there), Cambodia, Malaysia, etc. In Cambodia (Khmer) it's called "moan barang", meaning "French chicken", while in Malaysia it's referred to as "ayam belanda", meaning "Dutch chicken". Both of those in turn think it comes from India: in French it's called "dinde" (from "poulet d’Inde", aka "chicken of India"), while in Dutch it's "kalkoen", referring to a place in India. Greek has a number of local dialectal names, such as misírka, meaning "egyptian bird", while in Egypt it's called dk rm, meaning the Greek bird (even though the latter part of the name derives from Rome - the Italians, by the way, thinking it comes from India). One variant of Arabic even credits it to Ethiopia.

A couple languages deserve special credit for their words:

Best accuracy: Miami indian - nalaaohki pileewa, meaning "native fowl"
Worst accuracy: A tie between Albanian (gjel deti, "sea rooster"); Tamil (vaan kozhi, "sky chicken"); and Swahili (bata mzinga, "the great duck")
Most creative: Mandarin - many names with meanings such as "cough up a ribbon chicken" and "seven-faced bird"
Least creative: Blackfoot: ómahksipi'kssíí, meaning "big bird". Hmm...

Submission + - Free Pascal Compiler 3.0.0 is out, adds support for 16 bit MS-DOS and 64 bit iOS ( 1

Halo1 writes: Twenty-three years ago, development started on the first version of the Turbo Pascal and later also Delphi-compatible Free Pascal Compiler, for OS/2 no less. Two decades and change later, the new Free Pascal Compiler 3.0.0 release still supports OS/2, along with a host of older and newer platforms ranging from MS-DOS on an 8086 to the latest Linux and iOS running on AArch64. On the language front, the new features include support for type helpers, codepage-aware strings and a utility to automatically generate JNI bridges for Pascal code. In the mean time, development on the next versions continues, with support for generic functions, an optional LLVM code generator backend and full support for ISO and Extended Pascal progressing well.

Submission + - Raspberry Pi Zero $5 Computer (

mikejuk writes: Rumours that something new was coming from the Raspberry Pi team have proved true — a $5 computer the Raspberry Pi Zero is here to give the BBC micro:bit and other low cost devices some competition.
The new Pi Zero offers quite a lot of hardware for $5:
A Broadcom BCM2835 application processor
1GHz ARM11 core (40% faster than Raspberry Pi 1)
A micro-SD card slot
A mini-HDMI socket for 1080p60 video output
Micro-USB sockets for data and power
An unpopulated 40-pin GPIO header
Identical pinout to Model A+/B+/2B
An unpopulated composite video header
form factor 65mm x 30mm x 5mm
1x Micro USB Data port
comes with Micro USB ‘On the Go’ adapter and Mini HDMI to HDMI adapter
It also runs Raspbian including Scratch, Minecraft and Sonic Pi. The GPIO is the same as all of the previous Pis but it doesn't come with a 40-pin connector soldered into place — so some assembly is required if you want to use it as an microcontroller. The same is true if you want to make use of the composite video output to drive older display devices.
To emphasize how low cost this device is, it is being given away free with this month's MagPi, the magazine published by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, which claims, probably correctly, that this is the first time a computer has been given away as a covermount.
This really is a revolution — disposable computing is here

The two most common things in the Universe are hydrogen and stupidity. -- Harlan Ellison