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Comment: UUCP Mailnet (Score 1) 428

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47789663) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

I still have several machines that interchange mail with each other and the Internet via uucp mailnet. I poll an ISP twice an hour (or use an alias to force a poll if i don't want the mail to wait.)

I even check my personal mailbox on that domain every couple months. (Every three weeks or so I get another offer to buy my domain name, which has been around since the list of machines that exchanged email fit on three typeset pages.) But you wouldn't BELIEVE the amount of spam that accumulates on an account that has been around since before the first mass mail-merge spam scripts were offerd for sale. (I think I still have a saved copy of that original piece of spam - advertising spam software.) The spammers STILL include that address in their mailing lists.

If the NSA or ISIS ever kills the connected Internet, UUCP mailnet will still work, merrily bucket-brigading email among the hadnful of machines whose mail transfer agents still interconnect by routes that don't just hand the mail off to an Internet hop.

Also: Back when we ran mailing lists over UUCP, the polling delay limited the deluge of mail when someone on the list accidentally forwarded his mail to the list. This gave us time to catch it manually and suspend the account before everybody was buried in repeated messages. B-)

Comment: Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping. (Score 1) 428

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47789629) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

vi for me, too.

Not that I have anything against emacs. But I bought my first unix computer in the 80s, and it only had two megabytes of RAM and used an early member of the 68xxx series that couldn't do demand paging to act like it had more. This was too little to compile and run emacs.

After about three years of heavy bulletin-board participation I had the vi commands "wired into my brainstem". I tried emacs several times over the years and each time discovered that certain common things I did (and still do) with vi took about twice as many keystrokes.

Once I tried using its vi emulation mode - only to discover that it (the version at the time) had TWO of them, in true emacs kitchen sink style, and each had different deltas from getting the vi commands right. With only one I might have gone on to use it, and learn the deltas, while edging into native commands. But with two, and no obvious selection, I didn't bother.

Nowadays I use vim, which is close enough. (Especially if you tell it to act like vi in a couple important places.)

Comment: Re:Slashdot got a sensational story wrong? (Score 1) 121

by the gnat (#47785663) Attached to: No, a Stolen iPod Didn't Brick Ben Eberle's Prosthetic Hand

Slate's columnists not only demand that we accept the most apocalyptic interpretation of the data as gospel (scientists are not used to using terms like 'believe' and 'denier', but okay, the Maoists take taken over the issue)

Again, you're painting with a broad brush, and you seem to have no idea what the people you're talking about actually believe in. I'm a scientist, I don't vote, I'm a libertarian on most issues, and I'm pessimistic about our ability to actually do anything about global warming, but I still think the so-called skeptics are lying sacks of shit. Most scientists I know feel the same way, not because we're committed to some utopian vision of. . . cap-and-trade legislation? - but because we hate seeing paid shills distort the evidence and accuse our entire community of bad faith. It's the same reason that creationism drives us batty.

but that we automatically reject every proposed solution. We're all going to die, because that's the just fate Gaia intends for us as punishment for being fat and eating meat. We can't go nuclear to eliminate carbon! We can't bioengineer better crops!

Okay, time to back that up: when has Slate published screeds against a) meat-eating, b) nuclear power, c) bioengineering? I know for certain that they've run multiple articles in support of bioengineering, and I can remember at least one or two making fun of vegetarians. And it's not like you need to look very far to find a "left" outlet supporting your favored policies; the New Yorker just ran a very critical article about an anti-GMO activist that basically ended with the statement that only bioengineering would save the world.

What I would really like to see is a leftist site that reclaims the spirit of Roosevelt. If we have problems like climate change, energy shortage, war and poverty, let's attack them by building the giant public infrastructure projects that Steinbeck waxed so lyrical about. An energy independence Apollo would address all of these problems at once.

Liberals have been talking about this idea for years, usually by analogy to the Manhattan Project rather than Apollo. You don't see it getting wider reporting because everyone with a brain realizes that it has a snowball's chance in hell of getting through Congress.

Comment: Re:Slashdot got a sensational story wrong? (Score 1) 121

by the gnat (#47782075) Attached to: No, a Stolen iPod Didn't Brick Ben Eberle's Prosthetic Hand

yes, Slate's columnists seem to have sensed that the anti-vaxers have crossed a line in their Luddism

You're still grappling with a straw man. Slate writers have repeatedly denounced anti-vaxxers in fairly strong terms, and I have yet to see a single article taking the opposing view. More generally, they've been strongly anti-pseudoscience. You're assuming bad faith by making it sound like Slate has only grudgingly decide that there's a limit to their left-wing lunacy, rather than being firmly opposed to such nonsense on principle. If their "readership" really consisted of hardcore Luddites why would the editors consistently go out of their way to piss them off? Besides, you find find people saying stupid shit on virtually any Web forum - every Slashdot post about creationism inevitably attracts a slew of pissed-off religious fundamentalists, but I don't go around complaining that Slashdot's readership consists of superstitious morons.

Comment: Re:Slashdot got a sensational story wrong? (Score 4, Informative) 121

by the gnat (#47779861) Attached to: No, a Stolen iPod Didn't Brick Ben Eberle's Prosthetic Hand

their No Nukes anti-vax GMO-free science illiterate readership.

Uh, which readership would that be? I've been reading Slate almost daily for a while now, and they've been very consistently against the anti-vaxxers and, to a lesser extent, haven't had much sympathy for the anti-GMO crowd either. They even employ Phil Plait, who rarely misses an opportunity to denounce scientific illiteracy. Perhaps you confused them with Salon?

Comment: Re:Take 'em to small claims court. (Score 1) 349

This is going to go no where unless he can get an independent expert to certify that his measuring technique is accurate.

We're talking small claims court here (where proceures are much more relaxed due to the small amount of the dispute) and civil procedure (where the standard of proof is "preponderance of evidence", not "beyond a reasonable doubt".

Also: A suitable expert shouldn't be THAT hard to find, and (with open source and things like the Raspbery Pi and Beagle Bone available for platforms), independently engineering a meter to check the first one should be quick work - and something a customer of another ISP might want to do, as well.

Heh. Once it's done it could be published open-source, bringing the tool into the hands of the technically-literate masses. A couple thousand small claims cases a month might be more effective than a class action suit for getting their act cleaned up.

Comment: Re:That almost happened a while back. (Score 1) 140

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47774975) Attached to: Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

A pitty, thugh. By the time this was discovered I had done an outline for a five-volume fiction cycle, working through at least four genres, based on the sun going "putt" from time to time. B-b

The Arthur C. Clarke sci-fi novel "The Songs Of Distant Earth" (1986) used the Case Of The Missing Neutrinos as the opening premise [followed by "the sun is about to nova" and humanity having] a few hundred years to develop interstellar-travel technology before the Sun went nova. 'Twas a good story.

Indeed it was.

In mine, though, there was nothing wrong with the sun at all. It's just that the high neutrino flux makes other physical phenomena more apparent and (by book three) usable at a practical level. FTL interstellar travel IS developed by the fifth book (when things are fully sorted out), which is in hard science fiction space-opera form.

Of course, by that time "magic" is hard science (though its engineering is more like animal husbandry), religion has merged with psychology, and one of the crew members (or is he the FTL engine?) is (and must be) a literal god. (For the engineering crew chief think "Scotty in Druidic Robes"...) Using a god plus a nuclear reactor for the engine leads to complications (but not the ones you're probably thinking of right now).

No, not like Clarke's story at all. More like Keith Laumer collaborates with Larry Niven. B-)

Comment: Take 'em to small claims court. (Score 1) 349

Take them to small claims court.

Ask for the difference between the billing tier your meter says you should be in and the one they charged you for. Dump your data in a reasonably clear format and show and explain it to the judge. Be prepared to swear that it is correct.

If they overcharge you next month, do it again.

Keep it up until they fix the meter so the agreement is close enough for you to be happy with it (or until the judge gets tired of it and issues an order - either to you or them - to make the cases stop.) It's not barratry - no matter how vexing to the utility - if the suits are legitimate, with real grounds asking for restitution for real damages, nor if the the suits are repeated because there are new instances of the tort.

First time through, ask for all the months for which you have data that shows overcharging. (If you can demonstrate a rule for the systematic overcharging, ask for the overcharges back to the instalation of the system, but be prepared for the judge to reject that.) Up to the small claims price and time limits, of course.

Be polite to the judge. Assume he's smart enough to understand this if you explain it clearly. (Judges don't get to be judges without being smart and good at figuring these things out.)

Comment: That almost happened a while back. (Score 2) 140

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47772063) Attached to: Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

The other interesting result would be if the expected neutrino type was not detected by this experiment, invalidating the hypothesis. This would raise further questions such as: is there some other mechanism powering the Sun? Is there something deficient in our understanding of neutrinos that prevented us from detecting them despite them being there?

That almost happened, in the early days of neutrino dectection - before things like old mines full of purified water and 3-D arrays of photodetectors running for months at a time, and you could count the number of detected neutrinos on two hands (in bi-quinary so you could go a bit higher than ten). This was when the detectors could only detect the type of neutrino directly generated by fusion reactions, and before the discovery of neutrino oscillation, when it wasn't yet clear whether neutrinos had no, or very very little, rest mass.

Early numbers, and their error bounds, made it clear that there weren't enough neutrinos being detected. (This was known for years as the "missing neutrino problem".) But the earliest ones WERE about right for a situation where all the stars EXCEPT the sun were running by fusion and the sun was out.

That may sound odd. But there was a very cute explanation that made it plausible:

The gradual gravitatonal collapse of the sun, as heat is radiated away, could power it for millenia. It's nowhere near enough to power it long enough to explain the fossil record, but it IS enough to have kept it running for historic time. Meanwhile, if a fusion reaction were to start up near the center of such a ball of collapsing gas, it would also take many years for the heat to make it to the surface. Neutrinos (which go through the sun like marbles through a light mist) are about the only signature of what's going on in there NOW.

But suppose, instead of fusing continuously, stars were reciprocating engines. They might run without fusion for centuries, or millenia, until they were compressed enough to "light up" at the center. Then the fusion heat and reaction products might make the reaction ramp up. They'd burn for a little while (which would heat them up and expand them mabye a few inches), until the decreased density and/or reduction in fuel and/or accumulation of reaction products "put the fire out" again. Repeat for the life of the star.

In this scenario, if our sun happened to be between "putts (and the very nearest stars didn't happen to have an unusual distribution of where they were in their cycles), you'd see the same neutrio flux from the rest of the sky as if all the rest of the stars were running continuous fusion. That's because it's the average of stars that are "on" and "off", and comes out to the same amount of total fusion and neutrinos.

Of course later data, both larger samples and detectors that could "see" the other neutrino types, put the kibosh on that model. A big part of it was the discovery of neutrino oscillations, allowing a stream of neutrinos that started out as one type in the sun to arrive as a mix of the three types. (This means that neutrinos have a non-zero rest mass, fly slightly slower than light, and thus experience time and are ABLE to change from one type to another.)

A pitty, thugh. By the time this was discovered I had done an outline for a five-volume fiction cycle, working through at least four genres, based on the sun going "putt" from time to time. B-b

Comment: Re:And there is the matter of (Score 1) 140

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47771985) Attached to: Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

But, again, neutrino oscillation can't nullify these results, because oscillation only makes neutrinos harder to detect (by changing their "flavor"). It doesn't create neutrino signals where none originally existed (at least not in this sense).

Sure it can: By "oscillating" other flavors of neutrino into the type they're looking for, when they weren't there in the first place (or not in sufficient number).

They'll need to look at the ratio of the various types and back-calculate to eliminate other possible signals, or combinations of them, to see if there is a way for other (possibly unexpected) reactions to produce a signal that looks like the ones expected and/or observed.

Comment: Re:Beyond what humans can do (Score 1) 494

by swillden (#47770815) Attached to: Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

Global warming exists. Anyone who denies that is also a moron. But it's certainly not manmade.

I don't get the focus on whether or not the warming is anthropogenic. Should we ignore all problems that we didn't make?

Supposing that the warming isn't primarily anthropogenic, there's still plenty of reason to believe that the greenhouse gases we're adding are making it worse, and in fact we can even make some reasonable estimates of how much worse they're making it.

At the end of the day, you'd really better hope that you're wrong about our ability to modify the climate. Because the current climate of Earth is not typical. In fact, there isn't really a "typical" climate for the planet. Ice core histories show us that it swings between much hotter than it is, and much, much colder (by "colder", think "equatorial oceans frozen 30 feet deep for millenia"). Both extremes will be unpleasant for us, and I say "will", not "would", because it's gonna happen. When? We have no idea. We know that climate changes can happen very rapidly (couple of decades), even without an obvious precipitating event (big meteor, supervolcano eruption, etc.), and that they come at apparently-random intervals.

So if we want this planet to be nice for us long-term, we'd better learn to engineer our climate. Or get even better at adapting our local environment. Or both.

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