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Comment: containment (Score 5, Interesting) 296

by Eric Coleman (#47866843) Attached to: WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives
The most important question is what is the lifespan of the helium containment. Helium is notorious for getting in to and out of places that other elements can't. For example, in balloon borne cosmic ray experiments, or anything with a calorimeter or hodoscope that utilizes photomultiplier tubes, you have the problem of the helium from the balloon getting into the PMTs, which hold a vacuum. Of course, there are low pressure conditions to consider, but I'm still skeptical of the helium staying in the hard drive.

Comment: This is missing critical information (Score 5, Insightful) 268

by Eric Coleman (#46172733) Attached to: Fracking Is Draining Water From Areas In US Suffering Major Shortages
Disclaimer, I'm no fan of this. However, this is article is missing critical information, namely, how much water do these drought ridden communities normally use? The number 97 billion sounds like a lot, but without some sort of baseline for comparison it could actually be a small percentage of total water demands for a community.

If one does some Fermi math on this, then it is a little less than 2 gallons per person per day per person in Texas. That's less water than a toilet uses. Are any of these drought ridden areas telling people to not flush their toilets?

Comment: Wiki (Score 2) 133

by Eric Coleman (#45831839) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Life Organization With Free Software?

I use a wiki. Specifically, I use OpenWikiNG, http://sourceforge.net/projects/openwiki-ng/ , however, any wiki software would work. My reason for using OpenWikiNG is that I largely use windows and the software is ASP based and can work with a simple Access database. The way I have it setup, and in hindsight, I would do this differently now, is that I use the personal web server that comes with Windows on my personal home desktop. With the access database, I don't have to worry about some heavy database engine. Since I'm the only user, this has been a very stable setup and trivially easy to migrate to a new machine when needed. Another reason I use OpenWikiNG is that it's open source, very simple, and somewhat easy to hack. It works for me, and that's all I care about.

With wake on LAN capability, I can VPN into my home network and wake my machine if I need remote access. And since this is a wiki, I don't have to install any software on any other device. All I need is a web browser.

In terms of usage, I have my wiki start page as my browser's home page. I have links to site I visit often, some RSS feeds, my daily schedule, even some emails and phone numbers. I use the wiki as sort of a second brain. I have pages where I put my ideas, pages where I put things that are important, things I might need, and all sorts of other resources from computers to food. My personal wiki is a much better bookmarking system than what any browser could ever come up with. I can easily annotate information that I add, and most importantly, I can search.

To give the benefit of my hindsight, I would probably want to use a dedicated LAMP server on my home network. And I would consider something with better file and image management, as OpenWikiNG really sucks at that. To really find something that would suit one's personal taste, I suggest looking at http://www.wikimatrix.org/ to compare them. I have a lot of stuff in my personal wiki, and converting it to some other format really seems like a hassle. So, if you do this, pick a wiki you're comfortable with. The more time you spend using it, the more you lock yourself in.

Comment: Mars (Score 4, Interesting) 264

by Eric Coleman (#42792549) Attached to: Updated Model Puts Earth On the Edge of the Habitable Zone
Mars had liquid water at some point and is outside the habitable zone, for some definitions of habitable zone. So it is entirely possible that planets with liquid water can exist outside the habitable zone. The real issue is with stability. An interesting take on this is to consider the flux of radiation from the Sun hitting the Earth. For a disk the size of the Earth, one can calculate the distance where water freezes and where water boils as a rough estimate of a "zone" of sorts. When looked at in this way, the Earth is at a point just barely above freezing. That we have the climate that we do beyond that near freezing point is due entirely to greenhouse effects.

Comment: Not the first android game device, (Score 1) 109

There are at least two other android game devices. There is the Archos GamePad, which has already shipped in Europe and looks similar to a PSP in my opinion, and there is the not-yet-released Wikipad, which looks to be just a large size tablet that has a snap on game controller.

And there is the Ouya which was mentioned here on slashdot recently.

I can't help but wonder if the android hardware game device market is about to get really crowded.

Comment: Good luck with that (Score 1) 212

by Eric Coleman (#42420283) Attached to: What Turned VR Pioneer Jaron Lanier Against the Web

Absolutely. I would rather suffer through a thousand trolls or genuinely extremist comments from anonymous persons than not be able to read the thoughtful comments a more timid person may not have written had they been required to attach their name to them.

Good luck finding that comment. Personally, I find that when websites have comment systems in place, like Youtube or Cnn, or (insert website here), then the comments tend to asymptotically approach pure nonsense as the popularity of the website increases.

Comment: Versus desktops? (Score 2) 277

by Eric Coleman (#41852933) Attached to: More Than 25% of Android Apps Know Too Much About You
That operating systems like iOS and Android even give someone the ability to see that certain permissions are required, and by the compliment, that there are permissions that are not required, is a step in a good direction. That granularity feature is absent in desktop applications--essentially all permissions are granted by default. For all I know pkunzip could have been keeping track of all those file_id.diz it encountered in order to build a profile of me, then dialing some BBS to upload the statistics to. That might seem implausible, but since there was no central authoritative repository to download pkunzip, it came from a BBS. That BBS could have replaced it with its own custom version for tracking.

The larger point is that desktop programs could have been doing for years what people are worried about with tablet and phone applications.

That said, it still creeps me out to see a solitaire game needing access to my address book. Maybe this is a case of "out of sight, out of mind."

Comment: Get the extended release version (Score 5, Informative) 807

by Eric Coleman (#39236283) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Life After Firefox 3.6.x?

I'm in the same boat, I just (two weeks ago) switched from 3.6 to 10. I still have 3.6 installed just in case, but so far I'm adjusting.

In order to have some stability though, try the ESR version, it's what I'm using. http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/organizations/all.html And if you want to read the FAQ, go with http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/organizations/faq/

So far, there are a few hiccups. There were a few add-ons that didn't make the switch, but they were rarely used, so I haven't noticed their absence yet. The tab size is annoying and I haven't figured out how to fix that yet. The old about:config fix doesn't work, and the userchrome.css fix just screws things up more.

I did need to readjust the default layout, the lack of a refresh and stop button is just annoying, but they're easy to add back. I like having a user interface, so yeah, that.

Noscript and Adblock plus work. I recommend the "status-4-evar" addon to get the status bar back.

Overall, I haven't noticed the slowdown or memory consumption. Of course, everyone's mileage will vary.

One new feature, at least new for me, is that you have FF restore all your tabs after you close your browser, but when you start back up, the tabs won't load unless you click on them. I really like this feature. Back in 3.6, it could take a really long time to restore a browsing session.

Overall though, the shock of switching isn't as bad as you think.

I think I should probably end this post with instructions on doing a side-by-side install. Before installing anything, make a copy of your firefox profile. Then edit the 'profiles.ini' to reflect this, it's up a folder or two from the profiles. In the profiles.ini, make a new name, something like myff10stuff for your profile. Then, get the ESR build and install to a different folder, but do not start FF at the end of the install. Edit the existing FF shortcut or make your own, but put -P on the end. it should read something like
"C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox 10\firefox.exe" -P myff10stuff
All that is because the profile manager doesn't let you copy an existing profile. You can delete, rename, or create a new one, but you can't copy. You'll probably want to do the same thing to the 3.6 copy and use the 3.6 profile.

Apple

+ - Smokescreen: a javascript-based Flash player->

Submitted by Tumbleweed
Tumbleweed (3706) writes "How to make Steve Jobs your mortal enemy: Smokescreen, a 175kB, 8,000-line javascript-based Flash player. To be open-sourced "in the near future". From Simon's blog: "It runs entirely in the browser, reads in SWF binaries, unzips them (in native JS), extracts images and embedded audio and turns them in to base64 encoded data:uris, then stitches the vector graphics back together as animated SVG." Badass! (Via Simon Willison's blog)"
Link to Original Source

Comment: slasdot me, please! (Score 1) 135

by Eric Coleman (#22380614) Attached to: Semantic Web Getting Real
In the registration process for getting an API key there is the following question and choices:

How many people do you anticipate will use your application?
1-10 (Just me and mine.)
10-100 (Intranet, protected access.)
100-1,000 (Slashdot me, please!)
1,000-10,000+ (Everyone, I hope.)

I'm sure there is some sort of semantic joke in their somewhere but I can't find it.
Google

+ - Google shareholders reject censorship proposal

Submitted by
prostoalex
prostoalex writes "At the annual shareholder meeting, Google put forth for voting a proposal for the company not to engage in self-censorship, resist by all legal means the demands to censor information, inform the user in case their information was provided to the government, and generally not to store sensitive user data in the countries with below average free speech policies. As this proposal, if passed, would effectively mean the end of Google's China operations, the shareholders rejected the document at the recommendation of the Board of Directors."
Privacy

+ - NSA installs secret room for illegal surveillance

Submitted by
An anonymous reader writes "http://www.wired.com/politics/onlinerights/news/20 07/05/kleininterview
http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006 /05/70944
http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006 /04/70619

Though the media is rife with general allegations, I haven't seen much out there about this in particular.

The first link is an interview with the whistleblower:
"Mark Klein, a retired AT&T technician, sits quietly at the center of a high-profile legal storm hitting the nation's largest telecommunications companies for allegedly helping the government spy on American citizens' phone and internet communications without court approval."

From the third article:
"AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full access to its customers' phone calls, and shunted its customers' internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against the company.

Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an affidavit in support of the EFF's lawsuit this week. That class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco last January, alleges that AT&T violated federal and state laws by surreptitiously allowing the government to monitor phone and internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants.""

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