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Comment: Re:OR (Score 1) 428

by Ernesto Alvarez (#35107896) Attached to: Prison Cell Phone Smuggling Out of Control

And what if I happen to be a visiting contractor, and I have an emergency while on the grounds, without a guard in line of sight? What if I'm driving by and break down right in front, and the prison microcell is more powerful than ATT's nearest tower?

Then the guards would be alerted to your activities and that "no guard in sight" situation would change. Problem solved.

Anyway, why would they let you into a prison as a contractor with restricted items, unguarded?

Comment: Re:What use? (Score 1) 38

by Ernesto Alvarez (#34720856) Attached to: Solar Cells Integrated In Microchips

That's what I meant.

If you used a solar cell as a light sensor, it'll deliver just a few milliwatts that you'd have to amplify anyway.
With this technology, you could place one of these cells on top of an amplifier, and apply power to the whole thing. It would then give you a reading of ambient light in a more reasonable range (say from 0V to V+), straight from the chip.

This could be useful as a one chip light sensor, say for a digital camera.

It would simplify light sensing equipment a lot, leading to very low prices.

Comment: Re:Oops (Score 1) 213

by Ernesto Alvarez (#34313964) Attached to: US Launches Largest Spy Satellite Ever

Because there are dishes on the ground perfectly capable of doing that job that don't cost nearly as much.

Actually, there are not many antennas bigger than that one. It is roughly the size of one of these puppies. The only bigger antenna I know of would be the one at the Arecibo observatory.

On the other hand, you're probably right, as the space agencies would now use arrays of little antennas to look out into space.

(That monster must be sensitive as hell, those 70 metre antennas have been used to communicate with far away probes that had problems with their high gain antennas, imagine the sensitivity of one of those just 20000 KM away)

Comment: Re:The thing with ASCII (Score 3, Informative) 728

by Ernesto Alvarez (#34084142) Attached to: Mr. Pike, Tear Down This ASCII Wall!

Japanese is typed using a more-or-less standard QWERTY keyboard.

...then requiring the input to pass through what amounts to a tokenizer to get the phonetic spelling, and into another program, which needs a database of words and has to prompt you for each one in order to select the proper one from a list.

Not something as simple as writing ASCII by a long shot.

Comment: Wrong approach (Score 1) 325

by Ernesto Alvarez (#33849526) Attached to: What Tech Should Be In a Fifth-Grade Classroom?

The article mentions that a classroom has not changed for the last century, and Laura Ingalls would instantly recognize one. The article writer seems to consider this some sort of disadvantage, without considering that form should follow function. In other words, a classroom is virtually identical as a 19th century classroom because teaching methods have not changed that much since that time (meaning a teacher telling and showing things to a bunch of students).

Classrooms are clearly adequate for their current purpose, and they will be unless some other way of teaching is found. Instead of changing the classroom, making it inadequate for the current teaching methods, the article writers should concentrate on more efficient teaching methods, and the changes in classroom design will come as soon as the need arises.

Comment: Re:Contact the registrar. (Score 1) 390

by Ernesto Alvarez (#33554096) Attached to: Defending Self In a Case of On-Line Identity Theft?

And if they comply, you would be proving you are indeed the squatter.

In other words, don't do it and contact a lawyer first. Once you're cleared, you could do it as a token gesture for your company.

The only thing the squatters can do to prevent you from doing the transfer at a later time would be to change the registration. Considering the situation, that would add evidence pointing to the real culprits.

Comment: Re:Begging the question (Score 0) 390

by Ernesto Alvarez (#33554014) Attached to: Defending Self In a Case of On-Line Identity Theft?

or get a lawyer.

More like "AND get a lawyer".

Your company has harmed you, and you'll need a lawyer for counteract that. They crossed a fine line when they suspended you. Of course, they might want to settle and that would be just fine, but it's not a matter of proving your innocence, your company has made a legally dubious move against you. The details, I wouldn't know, as I don't live in Indiana and I'm not a lawyer.

Seriously, you wouldn't hire a lawyer to administer your systems, so why would you get a system administrator for legal work?

In case I'm not clear enough: GET A LAWYER.

Comment: Re:None of the above. (Score 1) 342

by Ernesto Alvarez (#33547248) Attached to: My Camera ...

Everything less is utter shit on night scenes unless you're up close and using flash on something.

Or using a tripod.

Seriously, I own a panasonic FZ-28 and I have taken lots of night pictures like the ones you were talking about, with little problems. You can compensate for low sensitivity with exposure time. You won't be able to take photos of moving things or people, but usually that's not the point of a night shot.

My next camera is probably going to be a DSLR, but in the meantime, I'm taking this one to the limit.

When I travelled to Europe a few weeks ago I carried a 150cm tall aluminum tripod all the way, and I don't regret it a bit.

Comment: Re:I know this is a silly question before I ask it (Score 1) 674

by Ernesto Alvarez (#33105886) Attached to: How many languages do you speak on a daily basis?

I most certainly disagree with you in a few points.

First, you seem to assume that America (the continent) is just divided in three homogeneous blocks (by language). However, that is not true. While spanish from the river plate is technically the same language (and mutually intellegible) than other dialects (e.g. Mexican Spanish), there are lots of localisms that set them appart, usually making a word or two incomprehensible (needing further explanation). The same goes with words for animals and plants, as different words are normally used from the acceptable list, hampering conprehension. While there is a common subset, care must be taken not to use localisms that might lead to misunderstanding, sometimes with hillarious effects. See the case of cajeta for an example.

Second, you seem to be assuming (sorry if I'm wrong) that since America is divided into three big blocks, we don't bother to learn foreign languages, which is false. Here, in Buenos Aires, people above a certain educational level usually learn english as a second language (as it is very useful). There is also a fairly large number that learns portuguese (due to the proximity with Brazil). There's a similar effect in Brazil, swapping portuguese and spanish. While teaching at the local university, I expect the students to know english. The textbook is in fact in english (Peterson and Davies' "Computer Networks, a systems approach") and it is rare to find a student who can't understand it (less than one for each semester). Also, in my line of work (highly technical computer job), everyone in the Argentina office has at least some basic knowledge of english, while in the US office most cannot speak spanish at all.

Third, the urge to learn languages is hardly exclusive to Europe. Following your logic, I would have never learned french or japanese, as in theory I would have no use for it, something completely false, for the same reasons you expressed (people open up when you speak their language). In my case, tourists come here to visit, instead of me crossing some border close to my homeland.

There's something else that makes the people in the States not want to learn other languages. With a big border with Mexico, and a thriving latino culture in Miami and Los Angeles, I would have expected a high proficiency in spanish, were the conditions the same as in the rest of America. The same would apply to states in the vicinity of Quebec and french.

Interesting fact: I can understand Galician because it sounds like portuguese with spanish pronunciation (we get Galician TV on cable). I wouldn't risk trying to talk it, as I would probably take the wrong choices for words and pronunciation, mangling it beyond recognition.

Comment: Re:wait... what ? (Score 1) 421

by Ernesto Alvarez (#33027546) Attached to: The Possibility of Paradox-Free Time Travel

Wait, did I missed the part where time machines were something traditional or common or anything like that ?

Seriously, time travel became mainstream and nobody told me ?

What do you mean when time travel became mainstream? Don't you remember the 2460s? Ohhhh.
You must be a native!

I thought only time travellers hanged around slashdot these days. Who would have though people from early 2000s would be able to understand the topics raised here. Well, I guess there had to be some real geeks back in these days, too.

Send me an email and I'll reply with the blueprints for my time machine. Just feed it to a 3D replicator and it should make you one in a few minutes.

PS: Mine's a classic, so beware grandfather paradoxes. I can't wait to get a new one like the one we're talking about.

Comment: Re:why spend millions when you can spend billions? (Score 1) 326

by Ernesto Alvarez (#32985642) Attached to: Dell Ships Infected Motherboards

The chips could still be manufactured elsewhere, what is really needed is maintaining the firmware yourself, regulate the source with solid security policies, and flash the chips locally.

If you're serious, you're probably going to manufacture them locally.
From wikipedia entry on the NSA:

Its secure government communications work has involved the NSA in numerous technology areas, including the design of specialized communications hardware and software, production of dedicated semiconductors (at the Ft. Meade chip fabrication plant), and advanced cryptography research. The agency contracts with the private sector in the fields of research and equipment.

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