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Comment This is called "cable mining" in the telephone biz (Score 1) 169

And Ma Bell has been doing it for a century. Cable rack in the central offices gets crowded after just a few decades, otherwise.

There's precedent, there are specialized tools and procedures for error reduction, and worldwide there are at least dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people with lots of experience in this very specific field.

Comment Blind folks still use cassette tape quite a lot. (Score 5, Interesting) 169

You can feel the weight balance to tell how much of the tape is on one reel versus the other. You can rewind and fastforward by gut-feeling, with no display. Every operation of the player is tactile, and there are no hidden options menus, touchscreens, or any of that crap.

Comment So, we've already paid experts to plan this... (Score 1) 352

And it's pretty cool:
The integrated space plan is an update of the document originally drawn up in the 1980s, and has been variously rediscovered since.

It's a long-view look at where we need to go and what we need to get there. In the 1980s, commercial spaceflight was envisioned somewhat differently than it's happened, and robotics have gotten way more capable, so the refresh is definitely needed.

Comment Helped diagnose an allergic reaction, too! (Score 1) 47

After popping a bunch of benadryl and being satisfied that my condition wasn't worsening, I elected to make a regular appointment with my GP instead of going to Emergency.

I decided to take a few photos of the skin rash before it went away, which allowed the doctor (three days later, when I was totally fine again) to quickly identify that it was indeed an allergic reaction, and based on where it appeared, the subsequent interview helped diagnose the cause. Worked great!

Comment It's dead either way, why not try this? (Score 5, Insightful) 371

Whenever I try to convert part-15 geeks into part-97 geeks, they're interested in high power, they're interested in DIY equipment, they're interested in satellites, they're interested in propagation, and as soon as I mention that you can't swear or encrypt, they walk away.

"If I can't send useful traffic over it, why would I bother?"

Ham radio is losing a generation of geeks who've grown up on a more-free network and aren't interested in a restricted one. Should we just let them go?

Comment Ricochet did this post-9/11, routing worked fine. (Score 3, Interesting) 45

While much of Manhattan's traditional communications infrastructure was literally a smoking crater after 9/11, the Ricochet mesh network was alive and well, built to barely notice the loss of individual nodes.

The company had recently gone bankrupt, but all the hardware was still in place, so some ex-employees drove from Denver to NYC with a bunch of modems and laptops, to bring mobile connectivity to the recovery effort.

Mesh works in this case because MCDN uses geographic routing -- the packet header literally contains a packed lat/long for the destination, and nodes make their routing decisions by angle and distance. There's a layer of name-to-geo resolution which makes that all work, and in the Ricochet days it was centralized, but I believe it could be made to operate with DHT like torrent networks do now.

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