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Comment: Re:your missing the point (Score 1) 385

by Mr.Radar (#43326031) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should Bitcoin Be Regulated?

Small transactions will be on the (short term) honour system.

One of the big selling points Bitcoin proponents use to try to get businesses to accept them is that Bitcoins "have no chargebacks." It seems like having every transaction "be on the honor system" is a much, much worse situation than getting virtually-instantaneous confirmation for all transactions upfront and then getting hit with a chargeback every once in a while.

I[n] the days before we had electronic credit card verification the store would take an imprint and only find out later whether the card was good or not.

Yes, and businesses also used to accept personal checks. Have you tried to use one lately? I can't think of any businesses I regularly patronize that accept them today. It used to be that the businesses had to account for bounced checks and declined credit transactions in their business overhead which was ultimately passed on to consumers. By accepting only cash, credit and debit cards with instant electronic verification (my newest credit card doesn't even have the raised lettering for imprint machines since so few transactions use them these days) they can remove this overhead and cut their prices, making them more competitive in the free market.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 599

by Mr.Radar (#42301627) Attached to: Why <em>The Hobbit's</em> 48fps Is a Good Thing
There are very definitely broadcasts at 60 FPS, at least in North America. The ATSC standard for digital television used in North America requires receivers to support 59.94/60 FPS progressive-scan modes at the 1280x720, 704x480 and 640x480 resolutions. Many sports events are broadcast at 59.94 frames per second in progressive scan due to the advantages it provides over interlaced scanning for fast motion.

Comment: Re:Hard sci fi or Soft sci fi? (Score 1) 100

by Mr.Radar (#40209435) Attached to: Ask the <em>Space Command</em> Team About All Things Sci-Fi

There are no hard sci fi movies, at least from the past 20 years

Moon, which came out in 2009, is a good hard sci-fi film. If that isn't hard enough for you, check out 2004's Primer which is by far the "hardest" take on time travel yet (warning: you will need a guide to understand what's going on in most of the film).

Comment: Re:Steam Box OS is Linux? (Score 4, Insightful) 224

by Mr.Radar (#39798465) Attached to: Valve's Steam &amp; Games Coming To Linux

I completely agree with this. One of the big problems with Valve attempting something like the SteamBox is Steam and games being tied to the Windows and OS X platforms. Apple definitely wouldn't allow a third party to use their OS and it's questionable whether Microsoft would let someone build a console on Windows technology that would compete with the Xbox. Not to mention that even if Microsoft did, consoles generally have a negative or very thin profit margin and paying for an OEM OS licenses on top of the cost of the hardware is the last thing you'd want to do in that circumstance.

From Valve's perspective, building a game console on Linux would be highly preferable to Windows because it would leave them in full control of the software stack without any license fees. Not to mention that a set baseline of hardware would allow them to do mitigate the biggest problem facing gaming on Linux (after game availability) which is the poor and inconsistent state of 3d graphics drivers by providing guarantees for what will work to developers.

If they are truly interested in building their own game console, porting Steam (and Source) to Linux would be a good first step.

Comment: Re:Power Supply (Score 1) 194

by Mr.Radar (#37330936) Attached to: Ask Director Eben Upton About the Raspberry Pi Foundation
Due to the design of the on-board power regulator it needs to at least 6 volts of input to generate 5 volts for the built-in USB host ports (most of the rest of the board runs off a separate 3.3v regulator). This is one of the most-requested features on their message board so they're looking into whether it would be possible to bypass the 5 volt regulator if the board is supplied with 5 volts in the first place but there are no promises and for now the official power specs are still 6 volts minimum (20 volts max).

Comment: Energy, and The Conservation Thereof (Score 1) 810

by Mr.Radar (#34785510) Attached to: Running Your Own Ghost Investigation?
Conservation of energy, or to be more explicit, where "ghosts" get their energy from, is one aspect of physics which seems to be completely ignored by "paranormal investigators" (perhaps because it requires more carefully designed experiments compared with the usual "investigations" which seem to mostly be people walking around with cameras and voice recorders in "spooky" locations). If ghosts or poltergeists (or at least the physical activities attributed to them) are real then energy must have been expended by some physical phenomenon to effect those activities.

Of particular interest should be the apparent correlation between "cold spots" and other "paranormal" activity, such as measurable EM fields. Perhaps the phenomenon behind many "hauntings" is actually some form of direct conversion of heat energy into electricity; if you could prove that and find the physical mechanism behind it you would become famous. Of course, part of the problem with investigating this aspect of the physics of "hauntings" is that you need to find a site where you can perform repeatable measurements and then you must carefully document where all the energy is coming from and going to.

Comment: Re:Text only? (Score 1) 167

by Mr.Radar (#33077676) Attached to: A $20 8-Bit Wikipedia Reader For Your TV
Whoops, you're right. In reviewing the page you linked it looks like Wikimedia Commons does guarantee licensing for reproduction at least in the context of copies of Wikipedia. However I was also wrong that all of the images from Wikipedia come from Wikimedia Commons. The Wikimedia Commons collection doesn't include "fair use" images and some other types of images which are used on Wikipedia (e.g. this image of Superman). That means that some of the images on Wikipedia are definitely okay for redistribution, but not all of them. As the Wikipedia database dump page puts it, "in conclusion, download [the] images [used on Wikipedia] at your own risk."

Comment: Re:Text only? (Score 2, Informative) 167

by Mr.Radar (#33074886) Attached to: A $20 8-Bit Wikipedia Reader For Your TV
Unfortunately Wikimedia Commons, the source for all the images on Wikipedia, does not guarantee that all the images it hosts can be redistributed (even solely for the purpose of inclusion with "offline" versions of Wikipedia) and doesn't provide a one-stop download to get all of its content (like Wikipedia provides). Tools to download (scrape) all of Wikimedia Commons do exist, but as of a year or two ago there was already 500 gigabytes of content if you wanted a full mirror and I can only imagine that the amount of content has grown significantly since then. So even if they could do it legally, they wouldn't be able to practically unless wanted to add a hard drive to the design (drastically increasing the cost).

Comment: Re:It's 1996 again? (Score 4, Insightful) 300

by Mr.Radar (#29689239) Attached to: FCC Chairman Warns of Wireless Spectrum Gap
I can see OTA TV going away (ATSC is horrible for mobile reception and cable/satellite work for almost all other purposes) but I predict an uprising if analog FM radio is ever taken away. Right now if you go to any dollar store you will probably find at least 1 FM radio. My car, alarm clock, emergency flashlight, MP3 players, (dumb last-gen) cellphone, and home theater receiver all have FM radios built in. It is possibly the most ubiquitous mass communications medium if you go by the number of receivers per capita.

The technology is extremely mature, very inexpensive, not (currently) patented, about as portable as it gets and it doesn't require a $50 monthly subscription to use. Sure *you* might not listen to FM radio but I and millions of other people do every day. Every car built since the 70s has an FM radio and people still listen to it every day when they drive. I get my news, in real time, from public radio between classes on my MP3 player's built-in FM tuner. Other technologies might be able to partially replace FM, but they will be massively more expensive and they will probably never achieve the reach FM has today.

Bottom line: because of the built-up infrastructure, FM is here to stay.

Comment: Re:Contracts aren't what they used to be... (Score 1) 300

by Mr.Radar (#28870395) Attached to: Antitrust Pressure Mounts For Wireless Providers

Try paying less than 30$ a month for a cell phone service. i'd LOVE to have a service that charges me based on my use. i make two or three calls a WEEK, all to my girlfriend and all about 1 minute long. "I'm ready", "OK, i'm on my way". i send a text message every two or three days. i'm not a twelve year old girl who has to yammer constantly.

I live in the US and I pay $6.67 a month for cellular service.

I have pretty much the same usage patterns you do so like you a contract plan didn't/doesn't make sense for me. I looked at prepaid plans and also like you I was dismayed to see that all of them had expiring minutes, usually after 30 or 90 days. Then I found that T-Mobile has a "Gold Rewards" program for their prepaid service where if you get your account to $100 worth of minutes they don't expire for a full year. I went ahead and bought their cheapest handset and a $100 refill card right away, a $140 up-front investment but so far I've only had to buy two other $10 refill cards to keep my minutes and rewards membership from expiring which gets me to $6.67/mo (including the cost of my handset) for my service to date.

I've just calculated that at my current rate of use I have about 18 months of service left (including the refill card I will need to buy next year) by which time I will probably be ready to move to a contract plan. At that time my service will have cost $4.72/mo, or $3.61/mo excluding the cost of the handset.

Comment: Re:Infocom was a damn good company (Score 5, Informative) 112

by Mr.Radar (#23125736) Attached to: Lost Infocom Games Discovered
That's actually already happened, in a way. After Infocom went out of business the fan community reverse-engineered their VM (the Z-Machine) and Graham Nelson designed a new language and compiler for it (Inform). That, along with other interactive fiction languages/toolkits that compile to their own VMs (TADS, Hugo, AGT, ALAN, and many more) and a small but dedicated community has ensured that interactive fiction hasn't died out.

Every year dozens of new games come out, usually for the two major annual competitions (the IF Comp and the Spring Thing). Most of them are shorter than "commercial-era" games, mainly because they're written by hobbyists who don't have the time and resources to commit to building large games. They run the gamut from puzzle-focused games in the style of Infocom to story-focused games that eschew large numbers of elaborate puzzles to focus on story, and there are also more experimental and artistic games that try to push the medium in new directions. The IF Archive has an extensive collection of these games, and there are several review sites that attempt to catalog and organize the archive. The IF community has long had rec.arts.int-fiction and rec.games.int-fiction at their center, though with the rise of blogs and web forums it has started to fragment some.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

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