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Comment: Re:About half (Score 2) 231

by ultranova (#49503647) Attached to: Norway Will Switch Off FM Radio In 2017

Meh. Didn't we hear the same argument when color TV was introduced? Or CDs, Digital TV, Digital cameras, Fly by wire, the Internet etc etc every other technology implementation ever?

Cassettes and analog cameras weren't banned. They simply fell out of favor because CDs and digital cameras were way superior as far as the end user was concerned. By contrast, digital tv and digital radio don't benefit the end user, they'll simply let parts of the spectrum be auctioned off; so they require legislation to force the end users to pay the costs for the transition so someone else can profit.

Comment: Re:Scientific American begs to differ (Score 1) 320

by ultranova (#49503611) Attached to: Can High Intelligence Be a Burden Rather Than a Boon?

What is 'general intelligence'? (Anything like Colonel Panic?)

Self-metaprogramming, basically. You are smart if you can repurpose existing neural circuits to handle new problems (because that way your consciousness is freed to consider things like consequences, and specialized circuit is of course faster than general-purpose one), you learn fast if you can build such circuits fast, and you are insightful if you can examine your own mental subroutines and how they work - if you actually learn to reprogram them consciously you'll likely find a new religion or something.

It does not follow that being able to understand calculus gives you peace, happiness and longevity.

70 years is equivalent to 411,222,120,000,000 miles. It might not actually be longer, but it sure sounds bigger :).

Comment: Re:Read "Outliers" (Score 1) 320

by ultranova (#49503573) Attached to: Can High Intelligence Be a Burden Rather Than a Boon?

It's not a debate that I mean to stir up 3-deep in a Slashdot thread, but just to say that the vast majority of people at most places on the political spectrum agree: Those that have the ability to succeed, should have the opportunity to. It's just the mechanics they disagree on that are sometimes, sadly, mutually exclusive.

The disagreement is about what happens to those who won't succeed, to Joe Average and Joe Hobo. Currently, Joe Average's position is getting worse and worse, which is a huge problem because modern economy can't actually work without them having money to act as consumers. And as the economy stalls and enters a tailspin, Joe Succesful shifts the blame to Joe Hobo, closing his eyes from the approaching ground because doing something about it would require taking a break from his personal interests to visit the cockpit, and getting Joe Average to get along with it because pretending bad things only happen to deserving people is a pleasant fantasy.

Of course such situations are always rectified eventually, the only question remains whether it's by recycling the wreckage.

Comment: get to the end of the article (Score 5, Informative) 224

by jonsmirl (#49502493) Attached to: Joseph Goebbels' Estate Sues Publisher Over Diary Excerpt Royalties

'Initially, he feared that Schacht would take out an injunction against the book, preventing its publication altogether. Determined to avoid the destruction of any books “on the grounds of a claim from Goebbels”, he agreed to pay her 1% of the net retail price.

He said: “When she wanted to cash in on that agreement, I said that agreement is null and void It’s against the moral rights You haven’t been entitled to sell me any words as those words lie within the Bavarian government.”'

The author agreed to pay a 1% royalty and then reneged when the heir tried to collect. Of course that triggered a lawsuit.

Comment: Re:vs. a Falcon 9 (Score 1) 65

by Bruce Perens (#49501071) Attached to: Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine

They can carry about 110kg to LEO, compared to the Falcon 9's 13150kg. That's 0.84% of the payload capacity. A launch is estimated to cost $4 900 000, compared to the Falcon 9's $61 200 000. That's 8.01%. That means cost per mass to orbit is nearly an order of magnitude worse.

Yes, this is a really small rocket. If you are a government or some other entity that needs to put something small in orbit right away, the USD$5 Million price might not deter you, even though you could potentially launch a lot of small satellites on a Falcon 9 for less.

And it's a missile affordable by most small countries, if your payload can handle the re-entry on its own. Uh-oh. :-)

Comment: Puulease... Kingston? Really? (Score 2) 49

Author must not know the difference between the real the rebrand. I would never buy Kingston anything. They just slap random components into those boards. There are hundreds of rebranders in the SSD space but only a handful of real companies. Kingston isn't one of them.

-Matt

Comment: Re:Wow... (Score 1) 49

Well, except that it isn't a mere month. Unpowered data retention is around 10 years for relatively unworn flash and around 1 year for worn flash. Powered data retention is almost indefinite (doesn't matter if the data is static or not). The modern SSD controller will rewrite blocks as the bits leave the sweet zone.

The main benefit, though, is that SSD wear is essentially based on how much data you've written, which is a very controllable parameter and means, among other things, that even a SSD which has been sitting on a shelf for a long time and lost its data can still be used for fresh data (TRIM wipe + newfs). I have tons of SSDs sitting on a shelf ready to be reused when I need them next. I can't really do that with HDDs and still expect them to be reliable.

Hard drives have a relatively fixed life whether powered or not. If you have a modestly used hard drive and take it out and put it on a shelf for a year, chances are it either won't be able to spin up after that year or it will die relatively quickly (within a few weeks, possibly even faster) once you have spun it up. So get your data off it fast if you can.

So SSDs already win in the data retention and reliability-on-reuse department.

-Matt

Comment: Re:Is banishment legal? (Score 1) 265

by hey! (#49498541) Attached to: Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C.

Well, keeping you out of the public eye is an appropriate punishment when you're convicted of a political crime. But we shouldn't recognize political crimes.

If people want to pay attention to what this guy has to say because he gyrocoptered in restricted airspace, that's their business. Even though it's a pretty stupid reason, it shouldn't be a judge's role to sit in judgment of that.

THere's an important flip side to freedom of speech that is often overlooked: freedom of listening. As a citizen you should be able to hear what the government doesn't want you to hear, unless the government has a compelling reason, and even then the restrictions should be narrowly tailored. "That guy just pulled a stupid stunt," is not a compelling reason to intervene in what people choose to listen to.

Comment: There is the small issue of academic freedom. (Score 1) 300

by hey! (#49498337) Attached to: Columbia University Doctors Ask For Dr. Mehmet Oz's Dismissal

You can't fire a faculty member because outside the scope of his duties he expresses an opinion you don't like -- even if it's a clearly crackpot opinion. If you could, Stanford would have kicked Linus Pauling out when he became a Vitamin C crackpot.

The difference, though, is that Pauling was a sincere crackpot -- brilliant people are often susceptible to crackpottery because they're so used to being more right than their neighbors. Dr. Oz is a snake-oil salesman; when he's faced with people who are educated -- not necessarily scientists but critical thinkers -- in a forum he doesn't control, he speaks in a much more equivocal fashion. That shows he knows the language he uses on his show and in his magazine is irresponsible.

So selling snake-oil isn't crackpottery, it's misconduct. But somebody's got to find, chapter and verse, the specific institutional rules of conduct Dr. Oz's misconduct violates. There will have to be due process, particularly if he's a tenured professor, which will probably require lesser disciplinary measures than dismissal be tried first.

Comment: Re:You Can See (Score 1) 110

Microminiature accelerometers are really cheap and very very light, and you don't have to wait for them to spin up or deal with their mechanical issues. I doubt you will see a gyro used as a sensor any longer.

Similarly, computers make good active stabilization possible and steering your engine to stabilize is a lot lighter than having to add a big rotating mass.

Comment: Re:Wow. Just wow. (Score 1) 321

by hey! (#49490245) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

So... They didn't test the iPad / content combo to establish usability / feasibility / usefulness prior to dropping all this cash?

That's speculation. Feasibility is no guarantee of performance.

I read the attached article, and there were two specific complaints cited. The first was security, which is a non-functional requirement; that could well be a failure of the customer to do his homework on requirements but presumably a competent and honest vendor could have done a better job on security. It's often the vendor's job to anticipate customer needs, particularly in projects of the type customers don't necessarily have experience with.

The other complaint is that the curriculum wasn't completely implemented. If the vendor failed to deliver something it agreed to, that's purely the vendor's fault.

Sometimes bad vendors happen to good customers. Bad vendors happen more often to bad customers, but every project involves taking a calculated risk.

Comment: Re:Sign off. (Score 3, Insightful) 321

by hey! (#49490193) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

Well, until the details of how the contract was awarded and how the vendor failed have been thoroughly investigated, it's premature to fire anyone.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for accountability and decisiveness, but picking someone plausible and throwing them under the bus isn't accountability. In fact that may actually shield whoever was responsible.

If you steal from one author it's plagiarism; if you steal from many it's research. -- Wilson Mizner

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