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Comment: Re:Expensive? (Score 1) 285

by R3d M3rcury (#47504303) Attached to: How One School District Handled Rolling Out 20,000 iPads

Except that the iPads will inevitably fall behind on the technology curve and need to be replaced [...]

Depends on what you're using it for. If you've got your standard courseware, why would you need to upgrade the iPad? So it's running iOS 5 instead of iOS 8, that doesn't affect your courseware.

I'd also point out that an iPad 2 from 2011 is compatible with iOS 8 from 2015. So there's four years right there.

Comment: Re:What if we hadn't? (Score 1) 204

by R3d M3rcury (#47495357) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

One of the things I always like to point out in the "Manned versus Unmanned" arguments is comparing the amount of lunar material brought back. The Apollo program returned something like 800 KG of moon rocks. The Soviet Union's landers returned something like 0.8 Grams of moon dust. And those rocks were brought back because an astronaut (who in later missions was trained in geology) actually thought they were interesting, whereas the moon dust returned by the Luna probes was whatever happened to be within reach.

So it costs a lot more. The question is, do you get more value out of a manned mission versus a robotic mission? Apollo brought back 1,000,000x the amount of lunar material for 1000x the cost. So if you're just calculating based on those numbers, Apollo gave a better return than the Luna program. But that initial cost was pretty off-putting.

As people at NASA and others have pointed out, what the rovers have accomplished on Mars could have been done by an astronaut in a couple of days.

An analogous issue is time versus money. I could buy a ticket on the Concorde way back when and get from New York to London in three hours for $6000. I could buy a ticket nowadays on a non-supersonic transport for maybe $1500 that would get me there in 8 hours. The question is, is it worth the extra $4500 to get there five hours earlier?

Mars isn't really changing. There's really nothing about Mars we need to know right now, such that it would be worth spending that initially large amount of money to find out.

Comment: Re:What we know (Score 1) 278

by R3d M3rcury (#47472613) Attached to: The debate over climate change is..

2) If something bad is happening and we're causing most of it, are the costs of mitigating it less than the costs of enduring it? This one seems poorly explored so far, I have yet to see a really good analysis. I happen to think the tail risks are high enough it's worth it, but not everyone agrees.

Who decides what is bad and what isn't bad?

This is interesting from a nationalistic point-of-view. Consider Siberia. Warm it up, get rid of the permafrost, and there's some nice arable land there that could feed a lot of people. That would be a pretty good thing for Russia. Consider America's wheat belt, where lots of food is grown for people in the US and abroad. If that were to, say, dry up, that would be bad for the United States.

Right now, you're seeing trade routes open up in the arctic ocean. That's not a bad thing for countries like Canada, Russia, and some of the northern European countries. But if China's rice fields suddenly are starved for water, that would be bad for people in China.

So, yeah, climate change could be a boon for Russia. It might not be so good for the US.

Comment: Re:A butterfly flaps its wings... (Score 1) 278

by R3d M3rcury (#47472573) Attached to: The debate over climate change is..

I'd be lying if I said I was really all that concerned about a 1 degree change [...]

Well, that can depend on where the change happens. Here in Southern California, 1 degree isn't going to even be noticeable. But take a place where it's usually right around 31 degrees F and make it 32 degrees F and the locals will certainly notice the difference between rain and snow.

Comment: Re:In Iraq? (Score 1) 435

by R3d M3rcury (#47470329) Attached to: FBI Concerned About Criminals Using Driverless Cars

My favorite additions:

Heaven is where:
The police are British
The mechanics are German
The cooks are French
The lovers are Italian
The teenagers are Japanese
The movie makers are American
The musicians are Russian
The women are Swedish
And the whole thing is organized by the Swiss;

Hell is where:
The police are German
The mechanics are French
The cooks are British
The lovers are Swiss
The teenagers are American
The movie makers are Japanese
The musicians are Swedish
The women are Russian
And the whole thing is organized by the Italians...

There's also a good one where heaven is "An American Salary, a Chinese Cook, a British House, and a Japanese Wife" whereas hell is "A Chinese Salary, a British Cook, a Japanese House, and an American Wife."

Comment: Re:Same old song and dance .... (Score 1) 214

by R3d M3rcury (#47450721) Attached to: Economist: File Sharing's Impact On Movies Is Modest At Most

Would they continue to want to go to the theater, which has a much larger screen and great sound, but which also costs a fair bit (and even more for any snacks you want, which are actually the theater's primary profit center) and which isn't as convenient in either time or space as having it at home?

Speaking entirely for myself, the theater has to offer something that I don't get at home.

I don't have a full-blown "home theater." I don't really even have a partial-blown "home theater." I have stereo sound on a 34" LCD TV. If I want to get fancy, I can run the sound through my amplifier and decent speakers. And this is fine for the cute and cuddly romantic comedy or serious drama. The theater doesn't offer anything extra. On the other hand, I watched "Gravity" this past weekend and I remember thinking that, yeah, some of those scenes would be really cool in IMAX 3D. I'm sorry I never got a chance to see it that way (I was planning to do it, but things kept coming up).

I wonder if piracy has an effect on the kinds of movies that end up in theaters. It may be harder to get that quiet dramatic film made than the special-effects laden "blockbuster" that you would want to go to the theater to see.

Comment: Re:Lies, damn lies. (Score 2) 214

by R3d M3rcury (#47450413) Attached to: Economist: File Sharing's Impact On Movies Is Modest At Most

Why do you think there has been a rapid decline in content creation? less movies and music every single year, year on year. Piracy is killing the industry.

There is an intriguing aside, though.

Take a movie like the upcoming "Guardians of the Galaxy." This is the kind of movie I want to see on a big screen--lots of explosions, daring-do, grand space battles, a raccoon with machine guns, etc. Conversely, take a movie like "Jersey Boys" and I don't see a real need to schlep to the theater to see it--the viewing experience will be about the same if I watch it in the theater or on my 34" Flat-screen in the living room or if I watch it on the 19" RCA CRT in my bedroom.

Give me a low quality copy of "Guardians of the Galaxy" and it will probably inspire me to see it in the theater. Give me a low quality copy of "Jersey Boys" and I'd probably be content to watch that and not see it in the theater or rent it later.

So I wonder if piracy is having an effect on the types of movies that we see being made.

Comment: Re:Without a phone? (Score 3, Interesting) 56

by R3d M3rcury (#47421599) Attached to: The Future of Wearables: Standalone, Unobtrusive, and Everywhere

I think it's doable, depending on what you want it to do. Considering you example of the Casio Data Bank 150, about the only thing that needs Internet access would be the scheduler for keeping your calendar in-sync. Personally, I'd drop the phone directory because I have that on my phone. Calculator, stop watch, alarm, etc. are all doable without the Internet.

If the watch is something you glance at ("Whoops! Time for my 2:00 meeting!") or use momentarily ("What is 17% of $7392?"), I don't think there'll be a problem with battery life. But if the theory is that my smart watch will replace my smart phone, I don't think so.

Always think of something new; this helps you forget your last rotten idea. -- Seth Frankel