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Comment: Roof over my head (Score 2) 635

by PuddleBoy (#47789459) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

I've lived in the same house for almost 30 years and it was over 90 years old when we bought it.

You learn to do almost everything: electrical, plumbing, carpentry, paint, roofing (ugh!). You learn on a basic, visceral level how things work, fit together, fall apart. You 'feel' aging. You learn to predict.

In that time I've probably been through 25+ computers (many were servers), who knows how many peripherals, software, etc. Many are just a blur now.

And in the basement is a darkroom for, wait for it,.... film development and printing.

So, I can wake up in the morning, walk across 120 year old floors, and partake of a hobby that goes back over 150 years, essentially unchanged.

Ah, you young whipper-snappers...

Comment: Distinguishing shades (Score 1) 267

by PuddleBoy (#47620225) Attached to: My degree of colorblindness:

I seem to recall reading a stat some years back that approx 20% of men were colorblind to some degree; the percent for women was lower, but I don't remember it.

It can manifest in situations like; you have several pairs of socks, you wash them at the same time, but some are dark blue and some are black. You go to sort them and you can't distinguish in order to pair them up. Some people have tremendous difficulty telling the difference.

And judging by some of the house color choices in my neighborhood recently, colorblindness is becoming an epidemic!

Comment: Film cameras (Score 1) 702

by PuddleBoy (#46794447) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

I have owned a few (formerly-high-end) film cameras and they were built like tanks.

My Nikon F4 is 25 years old (?), has lots of scuffs and dings, but just keeps on working accurately and consistently. They were built for hard, daily professional use. I seem to recall that it was recommended that you get them CLA'd (Clean, Lubricate, Adjust) every 150,000 frames. They are complex cameras, with lots of adjustments and accessories. (Have you ever seen a cut-away of the insides of a high-end film camera? Amazing how they fit so much stuff in there.) You can pick these up for a few hundred dollars. (An interesting side-note: the F4 will take Nikon lenses made from 1960 to the present. Talk about backward-compatibility!)

Look at the way the bodies of the old 500-series Hasselblads were made. Take a solid ingot of aluminum alloy and mill out all the metal you *don't* need for the body. No seams, no rivets, no screws. Very rigid. (Of course, if you smack it so hard that it deforms, toss the body - it can't be repaired. But that takes a serious fall.)

Comment: Why send humans (Score 1) 307

by PuddleBoy (#46661049) Attached to: Should NASA Send Astronauts On Voluntary One-Way Missions?

I wish we could get past this obsession of feeling like we have to send humans everywhere (in the short run). (I'm thinking of long distance missions more than popping up to the ISS.)

If you look at the overall costs associated with programs sending humans versus programs that are all robotic, we could fund many times as many robotic missions for the cost of one human-containing mission. How many Hubble's or Cassini's could we fund for the cost of one manned Mars mission? I'm as big a fan of the space program(s) as the next nerd, but we have to be realistic about costs in a world where we have a long list of human and environmental issues to deal with just to keep our existing house in order.

After we have a solid handle on things like managing the health effects of zero or micro-g, food production, propulsion and radiation exposure, then we can consider a manned, long-distance mission.

Comment: on Mac OS (Score 1) 531

by PuddleBoy (#46381341) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Software Can You Not Live Without?

(I have not had to install a fresh OS of 10.x in years - knock on wood)

Firefox - lots of control thru add-ons
GraphicConverter - I shoot lots of digital pix and this piece of shareware does most of what I need to manipulate the bulk of them
BBEdit - just the best test editor
JAlbum - easy way to make web albums of hundreds of pix at a time
Transmit - most refined ftp client I've ever run into
LIttle Snitch - nice to know what's coming and going on your box

Comment: We worship capitalism, right? (Score 1) 822

by PuddleBoy (#46082113) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Does Edward Snowden Deserve?

So he should negotiate on those terms.

He has a portfolio of assets of significant value (as-yet-unrevealed secrets) that can be traded for options/assets that the guv'ment possesses (jail-time, amnesty, for example). Not revealing ABC is worth taking XYZ off the table. Two columns/sides - come to an agreement and be sure to make it very public. Use a third-party to draw up papers (Switzerland?).

Or, go the clandestine route: Snowden agrees to drop from public view for so many years and not reveal anything further and the US agrees (in writing) to leave him alone wherever he goes (except maybe the US).

+ - Welcome to the Cloning Factory->

Submitted by PuddleBoy
PuddleBoy (544111) writes "This story from the BBC:
A cloning factory — an incredible notion borrowed straight from science fiction. But here in Shenzhen, in what was an old shoe factory, this rising power is creating a new industry. The scientist in charge, Dr Yutao Du, explains the technique in a way that leaves me reeling. "We can do cloning on a very large scale," she tells me, "30-50 people together doing cloning so that we can make a cloning factory here."
Favorite quote from the article, "If it tastes good, you should sequence it""

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:IP telephony sucks (Score 1) 582

by PuddleBoy (#45561633) Attached to: The Dismantling of POTS: Bold Move Or Grave Error?

Your final point is an important one: people who grow up accustomed to low quality (or reliability) will tolerate far more than those who grew up with higher quality.

I've worked in telecom for 15 years and I frequently hear people spout that they switched to VoIP/SIP and saved lots of money. You talk to their staff people (who use the service daily, not the ones who make the financial decisions) and they'll admit to inconsistent quality. For a personal/home account, that loss of quality is a viable trade-off. But if you're running a business, you have to consider the affect on your communications with your clients. If your client calls regularly and half the time gets a low quality voice connection, in a subtle way, their opinion of your company declines.

Ultimately, just how a low a quality can we tolerate? (note that I am NOT talking about the speed of the service the voice runs over, just the voice connection quality) I am often appalled at the quality of cell calls - I struggle to understand words that are cut short or experience some sort of distortion, reducing me to guess based on context. Isn't this a race to the bottom, where everyone eventually will lose, except those who control the services from on-high? (Don't forget that downward pressure on prices eventually leads to downward pressure on your wages)

[further analogies can be made to low cost (and thus low quality) electronics that are only designed to last a short time before you have to pay again for a replacement]

Comment: Re:Molecules with sufficient energy? (Score 1) 123

by PuddleBoy (#45385245) Attached to: Scientists Invent Urine-Powered Robots

Your robot is also your urinal.

OK, but a 'robot' that was small enough to carry around with you would seem unlikely to produce much power. (The article implied a small robot - maybe I'm incorrect.) Maybe just enough to occasionally charge your cellphone? You're gonna carry around a bag of pee to charge your cell?

I somehow hoped for something (ultimately) on a larger scale.

Comment: Molecules with sufficient energy? (Score 2, Insightful) 123

by PuddleBoy (#45383881) Attached to: Scientists Invent Urine-Powered Robots

I didn't realize that compounds found in urine (a waste product, after all) contained enough convertible energy to make the net work output worthwhile. After all, you have to take into consideration the energy expended in gathering and transporting the urine to the robot. The article also mentions using waste water - waste water from what? Is the world just full of all kinds of energy sources that are being discarded, or are we finally realizing that what was once considered 'marginal' capacity for energy harvesting is worth pursuing, since much of the low-hanging fruit (e.g. easily-accessible oil deposits) has already been picked?

(Obligatory comment: I, for one, welcome our new urine-sipping robot overlords. What's that you say? You need several samples for my employment pre-screening?)

Comment: And baby makes... four (Score 1) 132

by PuddleBoy (#44138559) Attached to: UK Government Backs Three-Person IVF

I guess I'm still stuck asking why?

OK, so you've had your genome sequenced (or whatever) and determined there might be a problem. Isn't that nature's way of saying 'sit this one out'?

Rather than encourage society to devote so many resources to finding new ways to let you make a baby, how about adopting? There are soooo many deserving children out there who are aching for a home. They already exist - they already have the need.

Don't fiddle with nature - do the simpler thing and bring an existing child into your life.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson