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Comment Re:Right in front of your face (Score 1) 620

EBCDIC did have one way it was superior to ASCII:

It correctly collated digits after letters.

However, it then sorted abc...xyz before ABC...XYZ—and put special characters like {} into the middle of the letters between I and J and R and S.

So, in other words, not superior at all. :)

Comment Re:Poorly described (Score 2) 120

Agreed. it's been around a long time.

Note that the sending array is huge. 1 sq km in the linked article. That means that the energy density of the beam is low, so you don't cook passing birds, but more importantly, don't waste energy heating up the water vapour in the air either. The receiving antenna also needs to be big. The bigger the better, so you can keep the efficient coupling over a long distance. In this case, long enough to get it to orbit.

The interesting thing about this idea is getting the high specific impulse, so you can single stage to orbit.

The coupled microwave idea has been mooted before for a couple of things.

1. Beam solar power back down to earth (1 km array in space, 10 km x 10 km array on earth. Quite efficient.)

2. Ion drive. With a 10km x 10km or even 100km x 100km and 1x1km or 10 x 10km you can power an ion drive over huge distances, enough to send something to nearby stars. With no power source on board, the rocket gets to be extremely efficient. There is of course the inconvenience of the earth both rotating and orbiting, so you really want the transmitter in space.

This latest idea looks quite interesting.

Comment Re:Nitrogen asphyxiation? (Score 4, Insightful) 1081

That is very much the heart of it.

Consider at one extreme, public decapitation. However, only 'barbaric' cultures do this. So, the quest in the USA in particular was for a more 'humane' method, one that, incidentally, does not traumatise the executioner or the witnesses too much. (And that's a thing to consider. You probably don't want the sort of person who really, really enjoys their job to be an executioner in the first place [the normal solution to this is to appoint a condemned prisoner, but that has other problems]); and you probably don't want to send your humane executioner insane simply from doing their job either).

And so, the quest for 'humane' methods that don't traumatise anyone, which historically got side-tracked by the shiny of technology (poison gas, electricity).

Lethal injection goes to extreme lengths to pretend that all is sweetness and unicorns: victim is put gently to sleep, then paralyzed (so on-lookers don't freak out---of course if prisoner is not unconscious, this is the stuff of nightmares), then heart is stopped (apparently agonising if not unconscious). So. Many. Ways. To. Go. Wrong.

And it's all down to the pretence that the state can kill someone 'humanely'. Without upsetting anyone, not even the condemned.

Comment Re:Objective C (Score 2, Interesting) 407

I agree.

I was surprised to find how clean Obj-C was. Eventually, I figured out that it's because of two things:

[1] The weird at first [receiver message] syntax makes it explicit that it is a message passing object model. I find that a natural and helpful model, rather than the procedural-like syntax of C++ and Java. The syntax helps me think in objects, with a clean visual and mental distinction between the Obj bits and the procedural bits.

[2] NextStep is a thing of beauty.

Against that, modern C++ has more modern and advanced syntax (lambda, templates). I'm not sure they make up for it. But rather than C++ I'd go for some other modern language (insert large list here).

Comment Re: Perl is more expressive (Score 1) 192

Well, they are both tending towards line noise in my opinion, but doesn't the c++ version have a typo :) ? (auto &l should be auto &l1).

Personally, I find the Perl version a little clearer, but to a c++ geek, the familiarity probably makes the construct obvious and the Perl version ugly; a Perl geek draws the opposite conclusion.

Comment Re:To save you the click through trouble... (Score 1) 190

Backblaze tested the slower and cheaper STBD6000100, not the ST6000NM0024.

For their tests they note that the WD Red uses slightly less energy (which is important to them, when they have racks full of the drives) and also because it can lay down 1TB a day MORE than the Seagate. Again, a slightly different workload than most of us.

For them, the extra cost and power of the higher spec Seagate aren't worth it.

In summary: essentially equal performance (go to SSD if you need speed); essentially equal cost; slight edge on power to WD;

For reliability, no failures or pre-failures in 3 months of 24/7 operation.

Comment Re:OH GOODY (Score 2) 203

Indeed. "Strong" is not a well understood concept. People often confuse it with hard, or tough or stiff.

I can thoroughly recommend The New Science of Strong Materials or Why You Don't Fall through the Floor by J.E. Gordon, which even has a positive review by Bill Gates.

Finding something that is:

  • Hard
  • Tough
  • Light
  • Cheap
  • Transparent

is challenging. Sapphire gets a pass for Hard and a (mostly) Transparent.

Comment Re:Confirms that Apple's strategy is correct (Score 1) 415

I have an old mechanical watch. It requires winding once every two days, so I wind it every day. No big deal. BUT, it takes a few (10, 15) seconds to wind the watch. Can I charge the Apple Watch in under a minute? While wearing it?

Winding a mechanical watch and charging a cellphone/smartwatch are not quite as comparable as other posters have been making out.

I'm all for computer dating, but I wouldn't want one to marry my sister.

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