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Comment: Re:Why 1.1 billion? (Score 2) 84

by Dogtanian (#46794847) Attached to: Microsoft Plans $1 Billion Server Farm In Iowa

Why is the price tag more important than the technical details? A diamond and gold encrusted Raspberry Pi in a large warehouse could cost 2.2 billion...

Yes, it could. And if such a Raspberry Pi would exist, much like the data center designs of the largest providers in the world, you would know very little about it for security reasons.

The price tag is more important in this case because it probably *does* reflect the scale and possible power of the project. It's not likely to be being expensive for the sake of being expensive

The hypothetical Raspberry Pi isn't a good comparison, since it was contrived for the sake of being expensive and none of that expense has much effect on the core function. Real-world examples of such devices- i.e. much, *much* cheaper devices with masses of expensive trim glued on (such as "the world's first Arab supercar", (*) Vertu phones et al) would only ever be made as status symbols, so they're not likely to be kept secret, and the type of people who own them would probably be able to keep them secure when not in use (**), you just lock them away.

By contrast, the data centre is expensive for a reason, serves a purpose and can't be locked away. Not really that good a comparison.

(*) Where I already criticised the ludicrous contrived expense of such tacky bling-ified items by pointint out that one could make the world's most expensive car by gluing the Koh-i-Noor diamond to an ageing Vauxhall Corsa, yet its "value" would say sod all about its core function as a car itself.

(**) "In use" being when they want to impress someone who's as much of a bell-end as they are, or lure some gold-digger into bed.

Comment: Re:Google needs to do their research (Score 1) 98

by Dogtanian (#46765801) Attached to: Google Looked Into Space Elevator, Hoverboards, and Teleportation

Anyone who's seen Back to the Future knows hoverboards are just around the corner.

Given that the title of the thread is "Google Looked Into Space Elevator, Hoverboards, and Teleportation", my suspicion is that Google got their inspiration from "Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator", "Back to the Future II" and "Star Trek" respectively.

They abandoned the "space elevator" idea because they were worried about cosmic rays and Vermicious Knids.

Comment: Re:Nope, not okay for either (Score 1) 574

by Dogtanian (#46755351) Attached to: Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support
What's your point? That he's not entitled to criticise Apple for not offering the option- whether you agree with that criticism or not- simply because he's free to write his own and/or because Apple put a lot of effort in to theirs and have the right to offer what options they want?

Of course they do, and of course he has the right to criticise that behaviour.

This is just a variant of the stupid, flawed argument that repeatedly comes up on the supposedly intelligent Slashdot where someone rebuts a criticism of a product with something like "you're free not to buy it", as if that freedom somehow negated anyone else's moral entitlement to criticise that product or company, whether or not they bought it.

Comment: Re:Surely ironic (Score 1) 275

Quite how much it was "satire" upon that point or that it was simply a catchy- but still obviously non-literal- visual metaphor (as I commented above) is open to question.

Either way, it's definitely not meant to be taken straight. I mean, I doubt this computer magazine is literally suggesting that one can squeeze more data into their computer by robot hand forcing it in!

Comment: Re:It was a "joke" back then (Score 5, Insightful) 275

If you Google "Byte magazine covers", you'll see that the covers often took a certain amount of artistic license.

I'm not even sure that one needs to excuse it as "artistic license".

To me- and I suspect almost anyone at the time- that looks as if it were quite clearly intended as a non-literal but eye-catching metaphor for "one day we will have wrist watches as powerful as today's personal computers".

I honestly don't think for a second they were suggesting that such a machine would *actually* resemble a ludicrously miniaturised PC...

(Skims the actual article)

Okay, so even the article itself understands that the original image was tongue-in-cheek; something the summary doesn't make so clear. And I do understand the point it's trying to make about predictions of the future looking like the present with high-tech bells on. But at the same time it slightly weakens the point being made, as there are probably many seriously-intended examples of "future tech" that are almost as silly!

Comment: Spiderman, spiderman, does whatever... (Score 0) 322

What were the words of Uncle Ben? "With great power comes great responsibility".

Am I the only person who read "Uncle Ben" and thought of the fictitious rice guy?!

Though it pretty obviously wasn't him, it sounded like something one of those oft-quoted American leaders might say, so I assumed "Uncle Ben" might refer to "Benjamin Franklin". Then I looked it up.

Sorry, did you ask for me to return my geek card? Er.... listen, to be honest I already had to hand that in a while back. I only got in here because I bribed the guy on the door with an "Apple Genius" t-shirt. What? Yeah, I know, I don't think he's a real geek either, he only wanted that because it got a product placement on The Big Bang Theory. He bought Windows 8 for the same reason.

Anyway, I don't know that much about Spiderman, saw the first two movies a few years back but don't remember much about them. Can I stay if I mention I liked Spiderman and his Amazing Friends when I was a kid? No? Look, I know the words to that Spiderman song, here, let me sing it for you...

Comment: Re:You don't want to see IR (Score 1) 99

by Dogtanian (#46621061) Attached to: Contact Lenses With Infrared Vision?

You don't want to see IR

(Disclaimer: I am not a physicist, nor even a scientist).

The thing is, people talk about detecting or seeing "IR" as if it's a single entity, much like how they talk about seeing or detecting visible light. However, "IR" covers a much, *much* wider range than visible light (*) and "near" IR- which is just outside the visible light range- arguably has a lot more in common with visible light (and how it can be recorded) than the "far" IR closer to the other end, which is used in heat-sensitive cameras.

"Near" IR can be recorded on most regular digital cameras if the IR-blocking filter has been removed (i.e. they're sensitive to it by default and it has to be filtered out), or even if the IR-blocking filter is weak (some older cameras were like this). It looks interesting and different, much like how someone who can only see green or blue light might feel when seeing a photo of the red part of the spectrum. And it can be used for night vision if it's used with a near-IR light source (which people can't see, but is still easy to detect with unfiltered electronic sensors).

But it won't give you "heat vision" unless the thing you're viewing is so hot it's almost- but not quite- visibly glowing red (**). The wavelengths of IR given out by things at normal temperatures are much lower (i.e. closer to "far" IR) and require different detection equipment- the problem being of course that they traditionally had to be cooled to avoid detecting their own heat being emitted.

And in fact, IR-based "night vision" could refer to (at least) these two very different solutions- *either* the "easier but requires IR illumination" near-infrared device one could theoretically do with modified off-the-shelf camera sensors or far-infrared heat detection (i.e. detecting the objects' own heat).

Anyway, it sounds like this report is describing "heat vision" far-IR detection, since it mentions the problems with that, and how it gets around it. Just bear in mind that "infrared vision" could potentially refer to either near or far IR, and they're different kettles of fish.

(*) Visible light covers wavelengths from 380 to 700 nm (i.e. approx twofold difference from the shortest to the longest), IR covers from 700nm (0.7 micrometres) to 1mm (1000 micrometres), a factor of well over a thousand times difference!

(**) AFAIK this is as per:- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... , i.e. as something gets hotter, the frequencies it gives off generally increase, from far-infrared to near-infrared, to red and then to yellow. (Yellow becomes "white hot" rather than blue because it's still emitting significant amounts of lower frequencies). So if it's almost- but not *quite*- red hot, it'll be emitting signficant amounts of near-infrared. Much cooler, and the radiation will be of lower wavelength.

Comment: Re:It all winds up on a dinner table (Score 5, Insightful) 188

by Dogtanian (#46620515) Attached to: UN Court: Japanese Whaling "Not Scientific"

I've tasted whale, it isn't tasty.

Apparently most younger Japanese aren't much into it themselves either, and the "tradition" isn't, really. From this report:-

For [Mitoshi Noguchi] there is nothing wrong with eating whale, it reminds him of school lunch.

"When we were growing up we didn't have ample supply of food, so this was meat for us, our protein," he says. "So when we eat it now it's very reminiscent. It's delicious."

Mr Noguchi is in late middle age, but on the same table is one of his much younger colleagues, Yoshitaka Takayanagi, born after the meat was phased out in Japanese schools. Few Japanese eat whale regularly these days, especially the young, and he has only eaten it twice before.

This covers the phenomenon in general in more depth:-

So why does Japan exert so much diplomatic effort on this issue? The official line is that whaling is an integral part of Japanese culture, a practice dating back hundreds of years.

That isn't quite true. A few coastal communities, like Wakayama, have been hunting whales for centuries, traditionally with hand-held harpoons.

But the rest of Japan only became familiar with eating whale during the 20th Century, as modern ships with harpoon-guns became available. Whale meat was especially widespread in the difficult years after the Second World War, when it was seen as a cheap source of protein.

But as incomes rose, people switched to imported beef, or fish like tuna and salmon. With such an abundance of high-quality protein available these days, few Japanese see the point in eating whale, which doesn't taste that special.

There are other reasons for Japan's determined campaign.

"If the current ban on hunting whales is allowed to become permanent," says Hideki Moronuki, at the Fisheries Agency, the government department leading the campaign, "activists may direct their efforts to restricting other types of fishing."

As Japan consumes more fish than any other nation, it worries about possible curbs on its fishing activities in open seas for species like tuna.

Officials also like to claim that whales damage fish stocks because of the quantities they eat, although this is largely dismissed by scientists in the rest of the world.

But perhaps the biggest factor is resentment of being told by other countries what Japan can and cannot do.

"Why do people in the west make such a big deal about our very limited hunting of whales?" asks Hideki Moronuki.

"How would they feel if we told Americans they couldn't hunt deer, or if we told Australians to stop hunting kangaroos?"

Comment: Re:CloneZilla (Score 1) 423

by Dogtanian (#46598587) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Preparing For Windows XP EOL?

I kind of wonder whether activation is going to work after April 8. No one has brought this up in years. Microsoft's servers have to still answer to requests from XP machines; if they don't, the software is unusable.

I kind of wonder what the legal issues would be if they *didn't* keep the activation servers working for the forseeable future.

Yes, I'm sure they've got a "you agree to give us your firstborn if we ask for it and not to sue us if we turn of the servers" clause in the EULA somewhere. Whether that would stand up in court- especially outwith the US- given MS's near-monopoly position on the desktop market (*) is open to question.

(*) Yes, MS are arguably losing dominance, not because anyone achieved the impossible and unseated them in the desktop arena, but because the current paradigm shift in computer hardware is moving things away from desktop PCs. Still a massively dominant company, however.

Comment: Re:Don't get it (Score 4, Interesting) 129

by Dogtanian (#46481535) Attached to: XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Has Already Become a Best-Seller
Whether you find it funny or not, XKCD at least has creativity and intelligence, and it's unfair to compare it with the awful "User Friendly". AFAICT, that only got where it was by targeting and pandering to the geek audience and being an online webcomic in the mid-to-late-90s when the former was still rare and the latter still somewhat novel.

The fact that it was badly-drawn (*) and not actually that clever in itself- so much as giving its oft-maligned (**) target audience an excuse to feel superior to others- didn't seem to matter.

As I once commented elsewhere:-

Compare that to User Friendly. Aside from its "moderately-promising 14-year-old still showing too much influence from the Teach-Yourself-Cartooning book" drawing style, User Friendly has always relied on its geek-friendly subject matter and viewpoints to flatter the audience and obscure the fact that it's neither creative nor funny.

Here's a good example:-
http://ars.userfriendly.org/ca...

There's nothing creative about this. The "news" was a real-life item reported in many tech outlets about a year back. The strip itself is just a lazy excuse to let the audience laugh again at that story- it adds nothing to it except an audience-pandering but uncreative aside.

xkcd has a long way to go before it gets *that* lazy.

(*) XKCD isn't exactly detailed in the artwork stakes either, but that comes across as an intentional style, whereas User Friendly just looks like a wannabe of better-looking cartoons.
(**) This is before it was (allegedly) cool to be a geek.

Comment: I am the Slashdotter,Please describe your problems (Score 5, Funny) 241

An argument has been made (by both myself and others) that at least one slashdot user is a script already. Not necessarily an intelligent one, but a script nonetheless.

Does it bother you that an argument has been made (by both yourself and others) that at least one slashdot user is a script already?

Comment: Re: Not too bad...for a PC. (Score 1) 178

by Dogtanian (#46094955) Attached to: IBM's PC Junior Turns 30, Too

The DMA controller was a seperate 40 pin Intel chip and omitting it probably reduced the cost by tens of dollars. It also severely crippled the I/O throughput.

"Tens of dollars" (cost price) would still have been a significant amount back then. Also, if, as others have commented, the PC Jr was already intentionally hobbled to avoid competing with IBM's more expensive machines, this reduced performance would likely have suited marketing anyway(!)

Comment: Despise that low-profile keyboard and mouse (Score 1) 178

by Dogtanian (#46094817) Attached to: IBM's PC Junior Turns 30, Too

Funny that for all the bitching about the "chiclet" style keyboard back then, now I see way too many laptops (and even Macs) that are using what looks like the same style.

I laugh and laugh at the Mac's chiclet crap. They're horrible to use for touch typing, just one step above a membrane keyboard.

To be fair, AFAICT (*) "chiclet keyboard" is a word that seems to have changed its meaning over the years. In the PC Jr's day (again, AFAICT) it referred to *rubber-keyed* keyboards with the "chiclet" appearance. Rubber keyboards- like the PC Jr's- are not fun to type on.

The present-day Mac desktop keyboards often called "chiclet"- like this one- are, to be fair, not rubber keyed.

That said, I'd now like to agree with the parent and grandparent... they're still absolutely f*****g awful, style-over-substance garbage. I was typing on one (like the image above) today, and it's utterly horrid. I would blame it on the keys' lack of travel, but I've used laptop keyboards that are actually quite nice despite that. It may well be the "chiclet" layout, can't say. I've used it before as well, so it's not a case of being unfamiliar with it.

On the same machine I'd already swapped out the equally overrated "Magic" mouse mainly because its low profile might have looked good, but it was odious from an ergonomic point-of-view (i.e. nothing to hold in the hand, and I don't even have big hands).

Urgh.

(*) Based on what I've read from US sources. I live in the UK, and the expression "chiclet keyboard" wasn't used over here in the early-to-mid-80s (because "chiclets" gum wasn't sold here either). We simply called them "rubber keyboards".

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