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Comment Re:NIH? (Score 1) 97 97

The Commodore is definitely a fairer comparison, and doesn't fare well against the BBC, either.

The BBC may have only had half the memory in its most common form, but it had expansion ports the C64 could only dream of, a far superior BASIC implementation (with a built-in assembler), networking, disk drives that couldn't also be used as space heaters (and before you go on about the extra 6502 inside the 1541 disk drive - how many people actually made use of it?), co-processors, multiple ROM slots, and full documentation. Oh and a power supply that didn't randomly melt.

It lost out to the C64 on price and the number of games available; and as everyone knows, the key factor in what computer you bought in the 80s was how many of your friends you could swap games with.

I had (and still have to this day) a C64, but always found the beeb significantly easier to program.
Transportation

Planes Without Pilots 460 460

HughPickens.com writes: John Markoff writes in the NY Times that in the aftermath of the co-pilot crashing a Germanwings plane into a mountain, aviation experts are beginning to wonder if human pilots are really necessary aboard commercial planes. Advances in sensor technology, computing and artificial intelligence are making human pilots less necessary than ever in the cockpit and government agencies are already experimenting with replacing the co-pilot, perhaps even both pilots on cargo planes, with robots or remote operators. NASA is exploring a related possibility: moving the co-pilot out of the cockpit on commercial flights, and instead using a single remote operator to serve as co-pilot for multiple aircraft. In this scenario, a ground controller might operate as a dispatcher, managing a dozen or more flights simultaneously. It would be possible for the ground controller to "beam" into individual planes when needed and to land a plane remotely in the event that the pilot became incapacitated — or worse. "Could we have a single-pilot aircraft with the ability to remotely control the aircraft from the ground that is safer than today's systems?" asks Cummings. "The answer is yes."

Automating that job may save money. But will passengers ever set foot on plane piloted by robots, or humans thousands of miles from the cockpit? In written testimony submitted to the Senate last month, the Air Line Pilots Association warned, "It is vitally important that the pressure to capitalize on the technology not lead to an incomplete safety analysis of the aircraft and operations." The association defended the unique skills of a human pilot: "A pilot on board an aircraft can see, feel, smell or hear many indications of an impending problem (PDF) and begin to formulate a course of action before even sophisticated sensors and indicators provide positive indications of trouble." Not all of the scientists and engineers believe that increasingly sophisticated planes will always be safer planes. "Technology can have costs of its own," says Amy Pritchett. "If you put more technology in the cockpit, you have more technology that can fail.""

Comment Re:Perl, PL/SQL, and Cobol (Score 1) 386 386

I love how webdevs and embedded programmers manage to constantly underestimate the sheer volume and scope of enterprise code that exists in the world.

Perl: Can't disagree there, really.
PL/SQL: Right, because oracle enterprise usage is dying out and no-one creates new databases based on it anymore...
COBOL: This will continue to exist when there's nothing left but rats and cockroaches. Wanna know why? Because it *works*, it works on mainframes, and it works *fast*. The business processes it runs rarely change and the code is all a very well known quantity by know, so there's absolutely no need to change it any more than utterly necessary. Sorry to inform you, but it's going to be around for another 20 years at least.
Mars

Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity 549 549

An anonymous reader writes: Elon Musk's ambitions for SpaceX keep getting bigger. First he wanted to make the trip to Mars affordable, then he wanted to establish a city-sized colony, and now he's got his eye on the future of humanity. Musk says we need a million people on Mars to form a "sustainable, genetically diverse civilization" that can survive as humanity's insurance policy. He continued, "Even at a million, you're really assuming an incredible amount of productivity per person, because you would need to recreate the entire industrial base on Mars. You would need to mine and refine all of these different materials, in a much more difficult environment than Earth. There would be no trees growing. There would be no oxygen or nitrogen that are just there. No oil." How fast could we do it? Within a century, once the spacecraft reusability problem is solved. "Excluding organic growth, if you could take 100 people at a time, you would need 10,000 trips to get to a million people. But you would also need a lot of cargo to support those people. In fact, your cargo to person ratio is going to be quite high. It would probably be 10 cargo trips for every human trip, so more like 100,000 trips. And we're talking 100,000 trips of a giant spaceship."
Encryption

FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous 354 354

An anonymous reader writes The FBI is concerned about moves by Apple and Google to include encryption on smartphones. "I like and believe very much that we should have to obtain a warrant from an independent judge to be able to take the contents," FBI Director James Comey told reporters. "What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law." From the article: "Comey cited child-kidnapping and terrorism cases as two examples of situations where quick access by authorities to information on cellphones can save lives. Comey did not cite specific past cases that would have been more difficult for the FBI to investigate under the new policies, which only involve physical access to a suspect's or victim's phone when the owner is unable or unwilling to unlock it for authorities."
Technology

Italian Researchers Demonstrate 'Powerloader' Suit 57 57

Sockatume writes "Researchers in Italy have demonstrated a powered exoskeleton that can lift 50kg with each hand, as demonstrated in a video with the BBC. The 'body extender' from the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory of the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Pisa has been developed for applications like disaster relief, and is just one of many strength-augmenting systems being developed for use in rescue, military, and medical applications. Neither the researchers nor the BBC make the comparison to the Powerloader in the movie Aliens — but come on, look at it."
United Kingdom

UK MPs: Google Blocks Child Abuse Images, It Should Block Piracy Too 348 348

nk497 writes "If Google can block child abuse images, it can also block piracy sites, according to a report from MPs, who said they were 'unimpressed' by Google's 'derisorily ineffective' efforts to battle online piracy, according to a Commons Select Committee report looking into protecting creative industries. John Whittingdale MP, the chair of the Committee — and also a non-executive director at Audio Network, an online music catalogue — noted that Google manages to remove other illegal content. 'Google and others already work with international law enforcement to block for example child porn from search results and it has provided no coherent, responsible reason why it can't do the same for illegal, pirated content,' he said."
Shark

South African Research Team Creates World's First Digital Laser 81 81

smi.james.th writes in with news about new laser technology developed in South Africa. "The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) announced in Pretoria on Tuesday that it had developed the world's first digital laser. 'I am always very cautious about using the term "breakthrough",' noted Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom. 'We scrutinized this very carefully before we said that this is really new! South African scientists are once again making noteworthy contributions to the world.'... A normal laser contains two mirrors, opposed to each other and at opposite ends of the instrument. One is highly reflective and the other is a curved, partially reflective mirror. In the digital laser, the curved mirror is replaced by a liquid crystal display (LCD) system. The LCD is connected to a computer and monitor."

Comment Is that a serious question? (Score 1) 276 276

Try googling. :0)

Visual COBOL? Fujitsu did that - I have a demo disk from somewhere around 2001.

COBOL++? Well, OO COBOL has been in existence since 1996/7 that I'm aware of and doubtless from before that. Microfocus were the first to do it that I came across, but the above-mentioned fujitsu compiler also did OO.

Did you also know that COBOL.NET exists? Oh yes. Be afraid...
Biotech

Reversible Male Contraception With Gold Nanorods 160 160

MTorrice writes "Men's options for birth control have significant downsides: Condoms are not as effective as hormonal methods for women, and vasectomies require surgery and are irreversible. Doctors and scientists have for decades searched for more effective and desirable male contraception techniques. Researchers in China now propose a nonsurgical, reversible, and low-cost method. They show that infrared laser light heats up gold nanorods injected into mice testes, leading to reduced fertility (abstract) in the animals."

A large number of installed systems work by fiat. That is, they work by being declared to work. -- Anatol Holt

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