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Comment: Re:Come now. (Score 1) 102

by Dogtanian (#47414185) Attached to: How Japan Lost Track of 640kg of Plutonium

According to another post [slashdot.org] this plutonium could not be used to make a bomb, and the explanation makes sense to me. So even if they change the constitution they won't be making any bombs, at least not with this plutonium.

This story rang some bells with me, and yes, it does appear to be the same case already reported on Slashdot (the figure given in the linked article there was also 640kg).

That time, however, the slant was on the Chinese being concerned that the Japanese may have been "stockpiling" this missing plutonium for weapons.

Which begs the question as to why, if it couldn't be used to make an atomic bomb?

Comment: BOOM! Take that ye scurvy bilgerats! (Score 1) 203

my old $500 epson is not as fast as a $50 cannon, but it renders images better

To be fair, I wouldn't expect a cannon to render *any* images very well. On the other hand, it probably does better than an Epson in defending ships against pirate vessels. (Well, perhaps not a $50 model...)

Comment: Re:Boards or ROM's (Score 2) 133

When I was about 15, there was a Laundromat down the street with an old Asteroids game where the vector monitor worked fine except that the beam never turned off, so you could see how it sat dead center in the screen most of the time, then drew a line from one asteroid to the next, to the next, etc. as it rendered a frame.

Let me guess... eventually it burned a hole all the way through the centre of the screen until one day it got through and (a) blasted the woman whose job it was to collect the change from the machines' head off or (b) lasered her, segment-by-segment- via an early-80s pseudo-computer-effect- into the Asteroids machine itself where she was forced to play life and death computer games and interact with anthropomorphic, sentient realisations of abstract computer concepts, while finding some way to prove that she *was* due the five hours overtime they'd refused to pay her?

Comment: Re:But the Tokyo area is so crowded (Score 2) 133

Secondly, even in Tokyo proper if you travel to any point in the city that is more than a 10-15 minute walk from a station(and there are plenty of them) you will find plenty of run-down and abandoned buildings. Property in Tokyo seems to follow an inverse square law, the value is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the closest station.

Which begs the question- would it be worth someone's time to buy some of these unwanted out-of-the-way buildings and then fund (possibly fully) the construction of a line and station covering that area?

That quite obviously wouldn't be cheap- to put it mildly- but given the ludicrous value of some buildings and land in Tokyo, the returns could be huge.

Comment: Intel have done this before... and here's the snag (Score 3, Informative) 80

by Dogtanian (#47275757) Attached to: Intel To Offer Custom Xeons With Embedded FPGAs For the Data Center
Intel has already come up with an Atom CPU with integrated FPGA, but only for the embedded market.

I'd already been thinking about the possibility of end-user-accessible, on-the-fly-reprogrammable FPGA functionality as part of a "regular" computer before I heard Intel had produced an integrated CPU/FPGA (though it's not clear how easily configurable the FPGA was there). I raised the issue in that previous thread and got a *very* interesting and informative response (thank you Tacvek) that pointed out some major problems with the concept of general access to such functionality.

The issues raised there explain why Intel are unlikely to be making an easily-reconfigurable hybrid product like this available to the general public any time soon, however smart and exciting the idea sounds.

Comment: Fish are vegetables too!!! (Score 1) 39

by Dogtanian (#47270353) Attached to: Fish-Eating Spiders More Common Than Thought

'Flesh Eating Spiders' would have made this story worth posting.

What do you think fish are made of, tofu?

One of these spiders was going around telling people "Actually, I'm a vegetarian."

When I pointed out that it was eating a fish, the spider replied "Oh yeah, I can eat fish, that doesn't count."

"Also, I'm permitted to eat Carrot Top."

Comment: Re:BTW: Only way to prevent digital source-trackin (Score 1) 240

If you're implying the use of steganography, then you're a moron.

Given the existence of undocumented- and more seriously, undisclosed- yellow marks output by various laser printers which have in at least one case been proven to be steganographic markings *and* decoded, it's certainly not "moronic" to consider that a similar scheme could in theory exist hidden in some digital cameras.

Frankly, in the wake of the Snowden revelations I wouldn't even consider this possibility ludicrously paranoid any more. Of course, digital cameras can have giveaway signatures like naturally-occurring hot pixels (and other signs) anyway, so in a sense it's already there. I don't think it's plausible that a non-GPS-advertised device would have a hidden detector inside, or even any method (e.g. WiFi triangulation) of detecting its location if that wasn't already designed into it.

A camera on a GPS-enabled smartphone though? If my life depended on it, I wouldn't bet against the possibility.

Comment: Re:The actual appeal (Score 1) 240

Call me when I can buy a DSLR back with 100 megapixel resolution for less than an insane price. Until then, I'll stick with [a Rollei medium format camera].

People who berated digital as being convenience-over-quality compared to their 35mm cameras a few years back (back when digital wasn't as good as it is now) seemed to forget- or didn't realise- that 35mm film itself was always a convenience-and-cost compromise over quality compared to medium and large film formats.

Images shot properly on larger format film have always been able to knock spots off their 35mm counterparts purely because they're starting with a massive technical advantage. Unfortunately, though one can buy a film-based medium or large format camera for a very affordable price, their digital equivalents- or more specifically the sensors that can deliver comparable resolution and performance to those formats- are, as you imply, prohibitively expensive.

That aside, as the other reply said, it's unlikely that the students in question are using 4 x 5 cameras and the like, and more probable that they're using bog-standard 35mm film cameras, so this is ultimately a red herring...

Comment: Re:Practice. (Score 1) 55

what's great and unique about SMS is you can send a SMS message to any cell phone and it will chime and the user will get a notice. maybe if you know that a person has snapchat you can snapchat your butt or whatever. but snapchat will die, so will everything else. sms as a technology isn't going anywhere.

True, the universality is a benefit, and that's why SMS will probably remain as a "baseline" service for quite a long time. OTOH, it *is* very limited, even by the standards of the late-90s when it first became *really* popular. (The 140 character limit is more reminiscent of limits imposed by the tiny RAMs of late-70s computers!).

Also, rather obviously, you can't SMS text a photo of your butt(!), and most of the end-users of other services are probably only doing so for ephemeral use- let's face it, that applies to text messages as well! In Snapchat's case, the whole *point* is that it's (supposedly) ephemeral. (Of course, I never trusted that as far as I could throw it, and apparently Snapchat were in trouble for retaining images themselves, which makes it even worse, but that's beside the point here).

Comment: Re:hehehe (Score 2) 100

by Dogtanian (#47187093) Attached to: id Software's Original 'Softdisk' Games Open Sourced
OP's wasn't that great a joke, but it was a fair reference to the infamous slogans used in pre-release hype for the game Daikatana- "John Romero's about to make you his bitch" and "Suck it down".

Aside from how this would have come across at the time, it probably backfired even worse when the game was significantly delayed and turned out to be a damp squib when it did arrive, something that must have rendered the apparently arrogant hype- and by extension, Romero- laughable and hard to take seriously, even if it was tongue-in-cheek and Romero later expressed regret at (reluctantly) approving the slogans in the first place.

Comment: Re:Practice. (Score 1) 55

Find a bunch of teenagers to spend 90% of your waking hours and 25% of your sleeping hours texting with. That's how they get fast, anyway... 500 text messages per day!

This may be true, but is typing on a smartphone's virtual QWERTY keyboard the same skill as old-school numeric keypad texting that the then-teenagers of 10 to 15 years ago picked up on their Nokia 3210s et al (i.e. three letters to a physical button)?

In fact, as far as I'm aware, "texting" in its original SMS sense is in decline in Western nations, (*) which doesn't surprise me as smartphones have other ways to send messages. My technophobic Mum seemed quite proud of the fact that she was actually quite comfortable with texting now (she has a no-frills feature phone that suits her). I didn't have the heart to tell her that she'd got there just around the point that "traditional" texting was starting to decline.. :-(

(*) SMS is apparently still rising in absolute terms, but that probably has more to do with the growth of mobile phones into new developing markets, and the fact that smartphones aren't quite cheap enough yet for everyone there- though they will be sooner rather than later.

Comment: Re:Practice. (Score 1) 55

I can't tell if this is a serious article or not. Practice really is the hardest part of learning to type quickly.

I got to be a relatively fast typist for a hunt-and-pecker after several years of using computers, to the point that some people at school were quite impressed. (Course, this is back when computers were still geek things- and I was a geek!- and most others only used them for games if at all).

Even so, further computer use alone- i.e. practice- would at best have made me a slightly better hunt-and-peck typist. There's no way I'd have picked up touch-typing if I hadn't made the decision to intentionally learn it (something I ended up doing via Mavis Beacon, less than coincidentally).

Can't say how much it improved my typing speed without the ability to go back and compare. Bearing in mind I *was* already quite efficient- and happy- with hunt and pecking after 15 years of computer use, was it worth relearning from scratch a totally different technique? Another 15 years on, I'd say probably yes, because since then I've been almost exclusively a touch-typist. For example, I'm using a keyboard with German-language (QWERTZ) letter and symbol legends that don't match the US layout I normally select in Windows. This isn't a problem, because I rarely look at the keys themselves anyway!

Nothing magic about touch-typing, and most people could learn it. However, as I said it's not something you'd pick up simply by practice alone.

I put up my thumb... and it blotted out the planet Earth. -- Neil Armstrong

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