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Comment Re:Floppies never got more reliable, either (Score 1) 277

I lived in a dorm in the 90s, without access to a network. To use a network, particularly the Internet, I had to travel to the lab where there was very slow dialup access.

There was more than one occasion when I, and a friend of mine, were trying to get files larger than a MB or two (porn, installers) down to our rooms from the lab. It was maybe 25 yards of hall, a cement stairway, and then another 50 yards of hall - all told along the shortest route. We never could figure out why well over half of the disk images were bad.

This happened over a period of years. We eliminated the possibility of the floppy drives, or the disks, being bad: we could transport between our rooms and read, but if we brought the floppies up to the lab, they were then largely unreadable either in the lab, or back in our rooms without being written. It didn't matter the brand or quality of disk, either.

Turns out it was the school bell, which was about 60 years old, in the stairwell. The damn thing put out an EMF field so strong it wiped the disks - and could turn white noise on an AM radio into tones.

Comment Re:Camera in fridge is pretty useless (Score 1) 216

Nah, that's over-complicating it to lesser effect.

Everything's got a UPC code on it. Just scan that with the cameras as you put the items into (or out of) the fridge. Then you can have a type-separated list of what's in the fridge with pictures... or hell, even a McDonalds style menu of what's in the fridge, turned into recipes. Tuperware could be identified as 'leftovers' and image recognition is good enough to be able to tell a tomato from an onion... use it.

Comment Re:This is stupid. (Score 1) 171

Shortsighted.

The production capacity used to make the guns can much more easily be turned around into a means of producing mechanical butter churns and automatic milking machines than it would be to produce the machinery to do so from scratch (ie from a "we must churn butter faster, now!" perspective. Short term delay, long term benefit.

Comment what? these people make a living doing this? (Score 1) 171

On the contrary, it'd have resulted in an economic boon for the Republic. The deathstar is a sunk cost; the production and supply facilities which were not in orbit for the purposes of construction are now sitting idle. This is likely many star systems worth of mining operations, refinery,

Think about what happened in WWII in the US: typewriter manufacturers, automotive manufacturers, etc. all quickly shifted gears to produce planes, tanks, and guns - enough weapons that we were supplying the Russians, British, and ourselves. At the end of the war, that production capacity was turned towards domestic production of goods.

I'm sure there was a bit of an economic setback due to the loss of (entirely human) life, particularly in the logistics and research departments, but I suspect that'd be offset by allowing Bothans to perform such roles, for which they're superior.

Comment Re:The difference is starting us in the face, yet (Score 1) 568

OK. So follow this through logically for a moment.

Engineering - Professional Engineers - is a tightly defined field, and is primarily required by government works. There are standards and specifications to which things must be built, based on known material strengths and capabilities.

If it is exploratory work, it's not engineering, it's science. No PE is going to sign off on "clean room" type materials which haven't been subjected to a battery of tests. The materials available for common structural construction are fairly static and change very, very slowly - it's merely in how they're assembled which really changes, but their properties and interactions are largely static.

Consider how that doesn't apply to software, at all. And even if it did, how exactly are you going to scope the exams for being eligible to design a steering servo's control software? Whereas you need a single PE for a bridge design, sometimes a couple depending on the size of the project, the code for that steering servo is going to be reviewed by a team of software people. It's a very different approach.

Comment Here we go again (Score 3, Interesting) 568

Look, 'software developers' are, to a large part, engineering software. They're making a machine, an engine designed for a specific purpose. I don't personally think MOST 'software engineers' qualify as actual engineers, they're neither bright enough nor especially forward thinking enough. But you're not going to hoist a regulatory body on an industry like software... we don't want it, and it won't help the industry. (Though, that's never stopped government before...)

The fact that so, so many software developers are shitty engineers is besides the point. There are many, many shitty "real" engineers out there, too. The difference is that the damage of a single bad software 'engineer' is negligible compared to the damage of a single bad real world engineer.

Knowing quite a few of both, I would say the biggest mindset difference between a software developer and an engineer is whether they're conservative or liberal. Software developers, for whatever reason, almost invariably seem to be very politically liberal, which I feel is the same mindset reflected in a lot of the disastrous "cleverness" so many developers inflict on people, but also in the ability to write extremely useful tools. Licensed engineers almost always seem to be fundamentally conservative (as are most good systems people), if not necessarily culturally or socially. Now, there are definitely exceptions to those rules, but for the most part they seem to be true - desire for pushing their own ideas, versus desires for order.

Now, there are definitely people in the field who should be called "engineers", though they're typically not developers. They're the ones who are finding design, implementation, or use case issues - and those disciplines almost never fall under an 'engineering' title. (Though, Senior Software Engineers or whatever are often doing this, as well.)

Comment Lazy approach (Score 1) 236

I'm cheap, and always have been, so it's an easy choice. Google has made this immeasurably easier.

There are a number of TVs in the house, and I have this thing called "wifi".

I picked up a couple of the Google Chromecast dongles for $25 each, and they go in the TV. We have Android phones in the house, so we use Chromecast to stream pretty much everything to the TV - Amazon Prime, Netflix, or the local Plex server.

Local media (movies and audio) are kept on a FreeNAS box, and Plex is one of the trivially configured plugins available (through the FreeBSD jail system).

I also have wireless HDMI adapters, so that solves the "I want an extra monitor while I'm working from the living room" problem.

I also have a rooted Wii (with eg. dlna client) and a Blueray/DVD player, so there are alternative means of streaming if an Android phone isn't available... but there are at least 6 in the house...

If I had a stereo to speak of, I'd just use something like the Chromecast Audio dongles for the same functionality (or maybe, this: http://www.amazon.com/Kinps%C2%AE2-Switch-Splitter-Input-Output/dp/B00NNHWRGW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1445449981&sr=8-2&keywords=hdmi+switch+2+out)

Conveniently, all my media is also available through Plex wherever I go with Internet access.

Really, the only limit for full home automation is your budget, at this point. it's trivial to do with ubiquitous home automation kits... My favorite is Ubiquiti brand.

Comment forward looking design (Score 1) 557

The biggest complaint I've had about my homes is that they weren't built in a forward looking fashion.

All of the wiring was designed and installed in a fashion which requires the house to be gutted to upgrade it to code.
Some of the materials used were designed to be replaced or fail (eg. cheap orangeberg sewage utility plumbing), with difficulty in replacing.
No foresight was given to the durability of the structure (eg. having to replace the roof every couple years due to hail) in terms of costly maintenance and time.

So for my list:

* The structure would be a large monolithic dome, for durability.
* The entire structure would be built with 'false walls' between the living space and the exterior wall(s) to allow for easy access to eg. power runs.
* There would be a raised floor, to allow for easy access to...
* Heating, which would be run in a similar fashion as electric, eg. under the floor water heat, provided by eg. pex tubing.
* Since the structure is basically a large faraday cage, fibre would be run to an external structure to allow for outdoor wireless technology expansion.
* Solar would naturally be integrated, with the wiring put in place to allow for future expansion if necessary (both in the utility room via additional capacity on the fuse box, but also at wherever the power is generated). If Google can leave a large amount of their fibre dark to await capacity, I don't see why I can't do this with copper.
* Several additional sub-juncture fuse boxes would be placed throughout the house - one for the kitchen, one for the garage, one for the basement. Just something small. No point in having a purely single-star power topography.
* Solar concentrators windows/lights on the roof would assist by providing light to the house while at the same time powering solar.
* The house would undoubtedly leverage geothermal for power (hopefully) and heating/cooling, as heat exchangers are quite efficient and monolythic domes have notably low energy cost.
* Large windows (where appropriate) would have the newer panes which automatically dim the environment and/or can be used for projection purposes.
* Power outlets would be placed every 5 feet along walls and counters.

For security, I would likely install something like UniFi (ubiquiti) based cameras. I'm a fan of their power control systems as well, so those would also be used for lighting and such. I'd probably also consider using x10, simply because it offers a bit more flexibility and no lock-in.

But then, replacing eg. in-wall power outlets is fairly straightforward.

Comment Re:Sudden? (Score 1) 268

What I'm curious to see: do they have any actual ice sheet data? You know, from this half of the past decade?

Because, yeah, we know this shit already, up until around 2009, it got warm and ice melted. Then it started cooling again. And now, we're passed the 'benchmark lots-of-ice' from the 1970s (the one that's been used for alarmist claims since then about ice sheet levels), according to NASA. There's now markedly more ice in the arctic than ever before*!

http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/antarctic-sea-ice-reaches-new-record-maximum

* or, at least, since it started to all melt in the 1970s.

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