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Comment: Re: Atomospheric toxins. (Score 4, Interesting) 252 252

I wish there were an easy way to do that. No one seems to have a workable solution.

My proposal would be to build a reflective artificial ring around the planet to divert the sunlight away and help Venus cool off enough to where we can work on the chemistry issue. The ring would be a sort of shield -- one we could even expand and contract to regulate the cooling and stabilize at a comfortable temperature.

Venus's atmosphere has a lot of CO2 and sulfuric acid we'd have to find a way to chemically alter and/or store.

The other thing people forget about Venus is that it rotates retrograde -- a year on Venus is 225 days ( no big deal), but a day on Venus is almost 117 Earth days. Any base would have to take into account the lack of sunlight for months at a time - so, something to augment solar panels and any crops need to adjust to the odd seasonality or be grown indoors. I suppose the same reflective ring could be used to reflect some light to the dark side of the planet to help with that issue.

Eh, it's nice to think about, but we'll never approve the resources to build a planet-wide ring around Venus. We barely support a tiny international space station as it is.

Comment: Re:that's right (Score 5, Insightful) 349 349

No, "Ape" is a very specific term used to specify members of Hominoidea. It is unfortunate many are ignorant of the meaning of the term and use it improperly to include monkeys.

Humans are apes - specifically, great apes. (aka Hominidae aka "hominids"). "Hominids" simply means human-like. It used to mean only humans, then it included other extinct human-like creatures and now it generally includes all hominidae. While "hominid" (or alternatively "great ape") is a more specific term, it is certainly NOT a more correct term, merely the Family of the SuperFamily.

One could say that humans are mammals and it would be no less correct. Humans are animals, chordates, mammals, primates, apes, and also great apes.

It's unfortunate that the Google facial recognition software was not aware that humans don't like being reminded that they are indeed very closely related to other great apes and could easily be confused with gorillas by a non-human intelligence. Our indignance at the notion we're apes that look a lot like gorillas is rather silly -- like zebras being offended at being miscategorized as ordinary horses.

Granted, I understand the racist implication that those flagged erroneously as gorillas are somehow less human than others. Thankfully, the computer isn't racist. It merely wasn't sophisticated enough to discern the difference given the input, the algorithm, and its training.

I'm impressed it figured out the object in the photo was a living thing and got the kingdom, phylum, class, order, superfamily, family and sub-family correct. If it had chosen chimp or bonobo, it would have been even closer.

Heck, check out this comparison of a gorilla baby and a human baby -- no one would have blinked an eye if the software said the gorilla was a human baby.

Another cute gorilla baby -- a bit older:

Comment: Re:linux hard to install and use for desktop users (Score 1) 171 171

This has always been my primary issue. The problem being that developers don't care what I want. I can't fault them for it as Linux is generally given away free, so it's not like I'm paying their salaries. They generally care more about their own personal tastes or that of the corporations that buy their linux support contracts.

I do not care for Gnome, KDE, XFCE, or MATE... I absolutely hate Unity. I do like Cinnamon -- but even with lovely distros like Linux Mint and the Ubuntu derivative Cubuntu, there's still so much of the OS that is impenetrable without a text editor and numerous Google searches to find documentation on what to change and how without corrupting your system. Thankfully, I've found many gui config editors that have been helpful. (I'd still like to know how to organize my own START menu... Windows used to be so easy - drag, drop... slide around... put shortcuts into folders if you needed to, etc. Cinnamon, I'm like... hmm... I see how to view and hide categories, but not create new ones or alter them.)

Hardware support will always be an issue until either Linux gets a large enough user base for general HW manufacturers to care OR a manufacturer takes it upon themselves to distribute Linux-only devices/laptops and ensures the parts are well supported throughout the lifetime of the device.

This is why ChromeOS and Android have a better shot at the consumer market -- Google can use its muscle to give a good user experience with a bit of Linux under the hood.

I figure -- give ChromeOS and Android another decade and Linux will likely just be able to borrow whatever drivers those devices are using - maybe even copy the interfaces as well. Heck, Darwin is mostly open-source -- maybe Apple will release more of their magic pixie dust of software solutions under MIT or BSD license for Linux to borrow as well.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 819 819

Great theory... but, no.

Stealth technology is a marketing ploy. Even the engineers that designed the F-16 laughed about how the F-35 has "stealth" capabilities because they knew the Russians and everyone else with any decent military early-warning radar system made within the last 30 to 40 years can pick up the F-35 easily.

The "theory behind the F-35" was that it was supposed to be a cheap replacement for almost all aircraft used by all branches of the military - a bomber, a fighter, and a ground support plane with vertical take-off capabilities for the Marines. It was supposed to be cheap b/c it could be bought in bulk and have interchangeable parts across the services. The reason it's a crappy dog-fighter is because when you create a Homer Simpson Mobile of an aircraft, you get a crappy aircraft.

Specifically, because the Marines wanted vertical take-off, the body has to be fat to support the downward thruster, and the wings have to be small as well. This means the plane has to go reeeeeally fast to support itself with its tiny wings. The high speed and tiny wings means terrible turning. The lack of a bubble cockpit means the pilot has to rely on sensors rather than turning their heads and looking around. It also can't really support ground troops for very long because it burns through fuel due to its speed and poor maneuverability. It can't hold much of a payload for bombing either.

As for future warfare, we still need fighters (drones or not) to combat enemy fighters. We also need bombers and we need ground-support. The F-35 does none of those things well.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 819 819

You misunderstand. The airplane was designed to be the Homer Simpson mobile of fighter craft.

This is a brief interview with one of the designers of the F-16 describing why the F-35 is a lemon:

We all knew it was crap years ago - anyone with eyes could see from the design specs that it can't handle a dogfight with even a Russian Mig, much less one of our own F-16s or F-15s

Basically, the stealth is crap, the wings are too small to maneuver, the cockpit has no bubble canopy, so the pilot can only look directly ahead (can't turn head at all to see beside you or behind you - supposedly electronics and screens assist instead, but the software isn't ready yet), the design is severely compromised so that all three services can use the same frame even though only the marines want the vertical take-off feature (still all models have a fat body even though just the marines have the actual vertical take-off)...

Comment: Re:It's good (Score 4, Interesting) 246 246

"Companies open source code only when they feel that they cannot make money from the code itself."

This is a lie. There are lots of reasons code is open sourced.

Sometimes it's to help standardize communications
ex: BSD licensed TCP/IP stack which was borrowed and adapted for many OSes including windows
ex: webkit released by Apple which was later used by Chrome et al.

This time, it's likely to encourage developers to learn Swift which although may be used to write code for other platforms will most likely encourage more devs to write code specifically for Apple while also helping Apple improve Swift as it evolves. This means more software will likely be written for Apple than would not be if they didn't open source it. It's a win for them financially in the long run.

As for the open source business model, who gives a crap? Who said that open source had to be a business model? Apple is primarily a hardware company. They sell devices at a premium and generally provide the software free or dirt cheap. Much of the base of their systems is open source. OS X is based on Darwin. It uses the CUPS printer system, too. Apple has open sourced a LOT of its internal software and used a lot of open source code as the basis for its products. They even brag about it:

  Do you think Apple software developers aren't paid for their work? How are they devalued or diminished as Apple open sources their work? I'm fairly certain they're still on the payroll even decades after their work was released to open source. Darwin went open source 15 years ago. Apple made money by giving away source code (like webkit - it helped standardize the web beyond IE and mozilla to make Safari a stronger IE replacement and OS X a stronger alternative to Windows.)

I feel like I should call the Waaambulance because you feel like you deserve higher pay because a company chose not to exploit your work for the maximum dollar value and pass some of that along to you.

As for the quality of code in closed vs open source and the responsiveness of the dev teams -- that varies from project to project and company to company anyway. It varies too wildly to even make a generalization. I've seen some crap code from major vendors and I've seen support discontinued unceremoniously as well.

Comment: Re:Jollies? My ass! (Score 4, Insightful) 106 106

The FBI was set up specifically so that Congress can plausibly deny the things it does. They gave it a charter with a broad scope, lots of funding, then stuck their heads in the sand so that they don't have to admit to what the FBI does on a regular basis. Now, Homeland Security can say anything/everything is a state secret and not even admit to Congress itself what it's been doing on a regular basis. It's appalling how many people have lied before congress about the things Snowden revealed only to backtrack later and admit they were indeed lies. I'm surprised no one went to jail for lying to congress.

As for the clowns in congress, most work for their corporate and union sponsors, not American citizens. They should have patches on their suits to identify their sponsors - like race car drivers. Good luck voting them out. Their parties gerrymandered their districts to make sure they get voted back in. They also wrote the campaign finance laws. Our "vote for one candidate = a vote against all other candidates" system is at the heart of why we're stuck with a 2 party system. Both parties are bought, so when you go to vote, you basically pick between Kang and Kodos.

We don't live in a democracy or even a democratic republic -- we're a Plutocracy. Corporations are people, money is both speech and power, and the rich generally control not only 99% of the wealth, but also 99% of the government.

Comment: Re:Fluidics was very big some 25 years ago (Score 1) 67 67

Or you could just get an electric car which typically has no transmission because with its higher torque, it can go from 0 to 60 in less than 5 seconds essentially on one gear.

I hope to have one electric car one day for everyday use and trips of less than 200 to 250 miles and another vehicle (perhaps just borrowing a parent's jeep from time to time) for longer road trips. I'm hoping for a breakthrough in battery or fuel cell tech to take things to the next level as well as a price drop - but, since Telsas have so few moving parts and the batteries are the primary part that degrades over time; they tend to hold their value really well as they require less maintenance.

Better yet, I'd love to live in a city designed for people instead of cars and use a taxi/uber/rental when necessary. The invention of the car drastically increased urban sprawl, but it also created a car culture that makes it very difficult to reverse the situation.

Maybe the Google Car and the like will replace human driving altogether; and we can schedule rentals to pick us up and drop us off from work... then again, mass transit works better - especially in a city. Seems a shame to have an expensive car that spends 95% of its time in the garage or in the parking lot at work, but with urban sprawl; I can't just walk, take the bus or the subway, or bike to work like most people in Europe.

Comment: Re:What's that you say? (Score 2) 528 528

You're conflating freedom with capitalism as well as conflating a social program with socialism.

In the USA, the people have long held that providing an education is so essential to the public good that it's mandatory for everyone to attend school up to a certain age - and usually tax-payer funded. Every public elementary, middle, and high school is a social program. Germany has simply included college as an essential social program - which makes sense given that today's economy requires higher education (given that robots and machines have taken over manual labor.)

Since most decent paying jobs today require a college degree, most every argument made for supporting the public social schooling programs of K-12 in the past can be made for supporting college today as well. Even those that do not have children still pay the taxes for K-12 because it's widely understood that the more educated the populace, the better tools they have to get jobs and the more informed they'll be on social issues when voting.

Your prior post, as the parent points out, omit that Germany is a very different country and provides different benefits than the USA's system - such as their universal health care. Overall, it also has lower rent prices, lower grocery prices, and higher purchasing power than the USA. They have different social programs; but they are not a socialist country.

Comment: Re:Easily fixed (Score 1) 90 90

My privacy isn't violated - it's an agreement.

I get a deal when I shop here, you track my purchases. I'm fine with that. Plenty of businesses tracked purchases long before the "rewards card" era -- often with these fancy log books and receipts, but sometimes just asking for things like zip codes (hardly personally identifiable, but useful.)

You do know that if you pay with a credit card, you're also being tracked by your credit card company as well, right? The police have a much better chance of subpoenaing your credit card company for records of your transactions than say... CVS.

Also, if you'd read my post, you'd see I'm using an old card for myself and a card for a deceased family member. I've also used employee cards (many will happily swipe their own cards if you tell them you've forgotten yours, though increasingly they ask for a phone number instead which works just as well). They're not getting perfect data - especially when my relatives and friends lend me a card now and then.

The sort of targeted advertising and improved shelf stocking that arises from the tracking is mostly beneficial. Oh no! My grocery store knows I buy ice cream on Fridays, so they stock it before I get there! What an Orwellian disaster!

Comment: Re:May be of some use (Score 1) 243 243

Ahhh... That makes sense. For the life of me, I couldn't imagine a use case where this would happen. Just shows my lack of imagination ;-) Thank you for the reply. This explains perfectly how you get a relatively long battery life with a higher than usual required voltage. -- low power except for transmission spikes, older design (likely pre-rechargeable era).

The newer Slashdot post follows up on the debunking of the overblown claims of the joule thief:

It hits all my points far better than I noted -- the most important being that most devices today are designed with the rechargeables in mind and/or have their own internal regulator making this thing moot... and also point out the flaws in logic of how much this would actually extend the use of the batteries even for cases like yours where it really might help.

I hope you get the chance to try these out to see whether they can help you. Depending on your setup, it could be a cheaper alternative to switching out that equipment. Best of luck to you.

As an aside: I have cheap outdoor thermometers that run off of AAs and transmit to a unit inside (one for the back porch and another for the greenhouse) They're cheap recently purchased AcuRite devices; but my uncle has a sophisticated system for his farm. I was recently looking into arduino and raspberry pi alternatives - and there's some really nice advancements in that area that may become cheap alternatives in the near future.

Comment: Re:Slashdot is Bullshit (Score 5, Insightful) 172 172

This is the crux of the issue.

When SF takes over a page and replaces an installer from the project with an SF program; it's deceptive and fraudulent.

If that SF program is a modified binary, a modified installer, or even a "download helper" or a wrapper around the original installer which prompts for crapware; SF is misrepresenting the download as coming from the project rather than SF unless stated clearly otherwise.

When a user downloads this fraudulent download, they blame the crapware on the project authors and not SF. This isn't simply a theory - the feedback on many projects includes numerous negative reviews due to this crapware which they falsely attribute to the project creators. This negatively impacts the projects and their reputations with their users. Real financial harm could be done if fewer donations are made due to the harmed reputations - or support contracts not renewed due to suspicions.

I believe SF's recent assertion that they will no longer do this is, at least in part, because they know this sort of activity will not stand up in a court of law and it is detrimental not only the projects they've vandalized, but to themselves in showing their poor character and lack of trustworthiness in choosing to implement such a scheme to begin with. Stopping the harmful practice does not undo the harm already done, so it would be nice to see some legal recourse to inspire fear in those who would dare to do this sort of thing in the future.

Even when an author approves such nefarious wrappers and crapware through an agreement, SF is using deceptive practices towards users by not clearly distinguishing their regular binary downloads from crapware downloads. The same green "download" button appears in either case, but with crapware there is sometimes a small print of "installer enabled" and an "i" in a circle one can hover over which will display that there may be crapware in the installer. In filezilla's case, it warns of an ad-supported installer.

IMHO, there should be clear distinctions between binaries offered by (or approved by) the project author and those offered or modified by SF as well as clear indications of when one is downloading a "download helper" or advertisement supported downloader or installer.

+ - Microsoft to Release Low-Cost Windows 10 with Bing Branding

jones_supa writes: Linux-based Chromebooks have experienced a huge growth in sales during the last couple of years, so much that Microsoft is getting nervous. The company is working with partners to bring cheaper devices to the market, and part of this plan is Windows 10 with Bing, a special version of the new operating system that would only be addressed to original equipment manufacturers. This low-price basic version of Windows comes with hardcoded Bing branding, although the search engine can be changed by the user. Microsoft wants Windows 10 to be installed on as many devices as possible, and the company's roadmap expects 1 billion PCs, tablets, and smartphones to be running it until 2017. The build for Raspberry Pi 2 is still in the works as well.

Comment: Re:May be of some use (Score 1) 243 243

D'oh! My bad.

Darned my eyes... I saw the 1.5 V and the 1V, but completely missed the 1.34V in the GP post. Probably because I did see it, but found it too incredulous to process. I may have presumed it to be a typo. Most any use of say, 100 mA would drain a Duracell battery below that voltage within 3-4 hrs of use. But, if this device pulls 500 mA, it'd only take about 10 minutes to go below that mark.

I guess the real question is - what devices require 2 to 4 AA batteries and are designed so poorly that they won't work with typical AA battery voltages? Most often, a device uses more cells specifically to boost the voltage. Rarely do you find cells in parallel. So, if these devices kick off at 1.34 volts, it's because they won't run with less than 2.68V or 5.36V and they fail to have good internal voltage regulators. You may be better off buying better devices? None of mine show a battery as dead until it's at least below 0.8V and they range from electric toothbrushes to TV remotes, Wii Controllers, mice, keyboards, clocks, and LED lamps. I'm curious as I've never come across this problem.

On the surface, I'd say that you're correct that a 1.5V joule thief battery would suffice if this is indeed an issue; but, changing AA batteries once or twice a year (as the GP says) is still likely to be the case - the trade-off for stabilizing the voltage is that the batteries will drain amps to maintain the 1.5V - even when it doesn't have to. Say the device could run on 1.4V, but the unregulated voltage booster will bump it to 1.5V anyway.

I also wonder what the internal drain of the batteries are and whether these devices are truly off when not in use or if there is a "vampire drain" that exists even when off. If there is a drain, will the battery booster try to deliver 1.5V even when the device is "off?" Wouldn't that drain it further as well?

In any case, the new device seems to work with both alkaline and NIMH rechargeable batteries equally -- and the eneloops drop off voltage the same or better than alkalines even in the 1.5 to 1.3 range as well, so going with rechargeables is still a good idea.

You can even get cases for the AA ones to make them fit into C and D cell devices, though I haven't tried it myself.

Comment: Re:May be of some use (Score 1) 243 243

Why? That just doesn't strike me as being very cost effective.

If the plan is to sell a pack of 4 sleeves for $10 to go with a pack of 4 alkaline batteries ($3 for Rayovac, $6 for Duracell around here), you could instead buy 4 Panasonic eneloop Ni-MH AA batteries for $13. You would, admittedly, have to pay for a charger and charge them beforehand, but you'd save lots of money over the life of the rechargeables. The Panasonic chargers go for between $7 and $14, but I highly recommend a La Crosse Technology brand recharger with LED displays and more sophisticated modes and options. -- they run around $35 to $40 on Amazon.

I've had nothing but eneloops for about 7 years now - they run in my electric toothbrush, my remotes, mouse and keyboard, etc. They're rated for over 2,000 charges each and I'm nowhere near that limit. As for voltage, they're designed to have a lower internal discharge rate than most rechargeables and a much higher and more stable voltage than most alkalines -- typically staying above 1.1 volts 'til they "die" and require a recharge. This means they last longer both when the device is not in use (not draining while resting), and last longer while in use because the voltage doesn't drop until it's drained.

I only had a problem with one device -- its tiny form-factor wouldn't let me squeeze the eneloop AAs inside as they're slightly thicker than a regular AA.

I've tried many rechargeables for decades and many were failures - largely because they failed to hold a charge or recharge well at all. Eneloops changed the game for me. They were originally made for cameras that required a higher stable voltage and used to be quite expensive, but the prices have dropped drastically.

Now, I haven't researched others as I haven't had to buy a AA or AAA in 7 years, but I'm sure there are others out there that perform as well or better by now.

Not the most scientific review, but here's one example of testing them against alkalines and other rechargeables:

Notice specifically the yellow voltage line for the eneloop AA rechargeables. After about 3 hours, all batteries dropped to 1.2 volts, but the eneloop stayed there longer and continued to stay between 1.1 and 1.2 volts for about 5 more hours while almost all the rest dropped off. Looks like the Varta ready2use NiMH beat them on overall life, but not by much.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351