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Comment: Re:So much for long distance Listening (Score 1) 109

by Brett Buck (#49502213) Attached to: Norway Will Switch Off FM Radio In 2017

By the way, "lack of distance" has been considered a feature, not a bug, for decades. The current US FM band (87.5-107.9 mHz) was chosen* to minimize "skip" transmission on the earlier, lower, band. This prevents stations from interfering as easily, and thus increases the number of stations permissible in a particular local listening area. There are still "clear channel" 50,000 watt AM stations that occupy exclusive frequencies for the entire country - they were trying to avoid that.

*partly - the other part was marginally a conspiracy to put Howard Armstrong's nascent FM network out of business by making the frequencies it operated on illegal. However, in fact, the lower frequency 42-49 mHz band *did* have the tendency to skip sometimes, and with the superior signal to noise ratio of wideband FM, could sometimes be clearly be heard at remarkable distances - or interfere with local stations at remarkable distances.

Comment: Re:Just say "No". (Score 1) 140

There's a similar paper here in San Francisco, Street Sheet.

I really hope Google doesn't decide to help them, I've seen their "vendors" chasing and screaming at people right in the middle of the Castro here.

I've also seen others blocking exits from BART escalators (meaning they're either begging or selling newspapers inside the paid area of the station, the first is illegal and the second requires a license. Street Sheet is an organization that just needs to stop existing, they just give homeless people an excuse to scream at people and threaten them.

Comment: Link to the full article, freely available ... (Score 4, Informative) 21

by StupendousMan (#49483471) Attached to: Spitzer Space Telescope Finds New Planet

... thanks to arXiv:


This event is VERY interesting and unusual because the microlensing event was observed from two very different places: on Earth, and from the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is many millions of km away from the Earth. Gravitational lensing occurs when a background star and a lensing star line up exactly in the same direction, as seen from an observer. Because Spitzer was so far away, it saw the lensing star line up with the background star first; then, as the lensing star moved in its orbit around the center of the Milky Way, the lensing star eventually lined up with the background star as seen from Earth, about 18 days later.

This lag in time between two widely separated observers seeing a lensing event will help us to figure out exactly how the two stars involved in the event were moving, and where they are, and other properties. Since most telescopes are located on Earth, in basically the same place, we almost never get this extra information.

Rah, rah, Spitzer! Rah, rah, OGLE!

Comment: Re:looks like Indians are smarter than us (Score 1) 74

Disclaimer: I have T-Mobile service, and I'll tell anyone I meet that I'm happy with the service. I don't work for them.

The problem with T-Mobile's policy is that it creates a barrier to market entry. If a new streaming service starts they have to come to T-Mo, hat in hand and ask for zero rating. If T-Mo says no, well, would you use a streaming service that eats your data allotment if you have other choices?

I use Spotify, but when looking at other services I specifically check if they're in T-Mobile's list. If they're not, I tend not to investigate further.

In this case, internet.org includes 8 providers, so I assume rather than being a relatively small part of the mobile market, this group is probably dominant. That means if your service isn't in their list, you'll probably get a lot less traffic. It also likely makes it easier to price real data service as a "premium" product. With internet.org gone there would be a lot more pressure on the mobile carriers to provide affordable data service.

Comment: Re:Wasn't quite the revolution ... (Score 1) 132

by JanneM (#49481743) Attached to: Chinese Ninebot Buys US Rival Segway

I appreciate your idea, but I don't think it's that good a fit for the Segway.

People that can't walk a mile most likely needs their own assistance tech - a walker, a wheelchair - on the bus or train as well. And people that don't have time to walk a mile or two won't be helped by a thing that barely moves above walking speed. A bicycle rental spot (or free city bikes) would be more helpful and less costly.

Comment: Asphalt is only used because it's cheap. (Score 1) 362

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49473389) Attached to: Can Civilization Reboot Without Fossil Fuels?

Asphalt gets worn down by [all sorts of stuff] ...

Like fossil fuels in general, Asphalt is used for road surfaces currently solely because it's overall cheaper (better price-performance) than many alternatives that we know damn well how to use. Restart a crashed civilization without cheap oil and one or more of these other alternatives will be used.

Asphalt is cheap because it's one of the side-effects of oil refining - a product that is valuable enough as a paving material that it's more profitable to sell it as-is than to "crack" it into lighter stuff and boost the fuel output (or other products) by a couple percent.

Comment: We just covered this paper in our class last week (Score 2) 43

by StupendousMan (#49469163) Attached to: Tracking the Weather On an Exoplanet

I'm co-teaching a graduate course on exoplanets, and we talked about this paper in one of our meetings last week. Here's the link to our discussion of "spectroscopy of exoplanet atmospheres:"


You can read all our materials at



Comment: Re: No, the program didn't fail (Score 1) 238

Mr. Kennedy is not a credible source. You know that, right?

I'm not concerned with whether he's credible. I just responded to the question about where the 3 months bit was coming from. It's poor form to imply people are pulling it out of a dark orifice when it's right there in TFA.

Another thing though that no one else is bringing up; how much tax revenue have they given up for 10 years?

The "lost tax revenue" I could care even less about. Governments habitually operate at a higher tax rate than the peak of the Laffer Curve. (Raising taxes further brings in more in the short term, though it ends up costing more than it brought in later. That's why they go far past the peak rather than zeroing in on it and maximizing the amount they suck out of the people's pockets.) So, on the average, every million dollars they DON'T tax now is MORE than a million dollars they'll eventually get in taxes later, once the transient has worked itself out. It's also SEVERAL million dollars more that people will earn in "generating" that added tax.

What concerns me more is including the wages and jobs LOST thanks to taxing the people to get those millions to spend "promoting" the plan, when comparing it to the pay for the jobs "generated" by the plan.

Comment: Re:= paracetamol (Score 5, Informative) 186

by Malc (#49468013) Attached to: Acetaminophen Reduces Both Pain and Pleasure, Study Finds

Growing up in the UK, I'd never heard of Tylenol until I moved to Canada as an adult. You occasionally hear it on American TV shows these days, but unless you know what the characters are referring to, it will just pass most people by. Even "acetaminophen" is an unknown term in the UK, it's always just "paracetamol"

Tylenol is most definitely a N. American thing that nobody else knows about. Panadol seems to be the generic antipodean headache drug - I know this because my wife is Aussie and after six years in London she's still confusing people by saying "panadol" instead of "paracetamol" :)

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: A giant panda bear is really a member of the racoon family.