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Comment Re:Physically feasible? (Score 1) 330

Step 1 : Make antihydrogen
Step 2 : fuse to anti-iron or an elemental Type 1 superconductor
Step 3 : suspend the chunks of superconducting antimatter inside tanks made of permanent magnets in the walls. This is stable. Keep the wall temperature cold enough (about 3K or so) that the antimatter stays superconducting.
Step 4 : grab it with lasers and feed it into your engine
Step 5 : engine uses big honking magnets to repel the pions produced as a result of the antimatter reaction. This is about 30% at converting annihilation energy to thrust

You can get a heck of a lot faster doing this. At least 0.5 C. And it's not only not known to be impossible, it's straightforward - you would need many many orders of magnitude more engineering ability and manufacturing ability to do it, but the principles behind it are sound.

Comment I agree completely (Score 1) 190

The Rasberry Pi is a basically a complete desktop computer. Even running distros without rendering of a graphical desktop, it has all the internal complexity of Linux. Not a good place to start - Linux is immensely complicated and there are many ways to go wrong if you're just starting out. So you get a desktop PC with the muscle behind a decent desktop PC, like a fast processor, a bunch of ram, and a nice set of I/O ports. Not good if you have access to something better.

Arduinos, on the other hand, are basically a bare chip. The arduino IDE is extremely minimalistic. Any instructions you type in, that's what it's gonna do. The arduino libraries are hidden - you don't have to include anything, you can just type a command in C you googled for and it calls the relevant library. You only have to tell it the target chip, and it, for the most part, can run code you wrote on a different type of arduino without you doing anything but changing the target.

Comment Re: Bodes Really Well for a Fair Trial (Score 2) 486

See, the part that truly makes you decent about this is you recognize that luck played a roll. Certain uber-rich have been surrounded by bootlickers for so long that they genuinely believe that THEY, individually, got their fortune 100% through their own efforts, with no luck, and thus they don't have to lift a finger to support the society they live in that made this possible.

  And by "support society", I don't mean give tens of thousands of bucks to welfare queens so they can make more babies. I think the rich should pay enough taxes so the government doesn't have to borrow money, and can maintain the productive stuff - the roads, etc - in top tier condition. I think certain wealthy people are basically "looting" America, by causing America to rack up a ton of debt and not even maintain its own infrastructure, in return for lower taxes.

Now, of course, as you point out in your own post - and I fully believe you - there's no secret club where the rich people coordinate their looting of America. It's more than each wealthy person, seeking their own interests, tends to support politicians who say what they want to hear - such as "we don't need to raise taxes on the rich, the current progressive tax system already charges them more (it doesn't if you factor other taxes than income), give the rich people more money and it will "trickle down", etc.

The real problem is that such ridiculous lies become official government policy because democracy is kind of flawed and ignorance can rule the day.

Comment Re: Bodes Really Well for a Fair Trial (Score 1) 486

I think it also depends on what you mean by a "few bucks", and how you got it.

1. Did you invent some new idea and sell it for millions or tens of millions of dollars, after slaving away on it 16 hours a day for years? Yeah, ok, you deserve it.

2. Did you brown-nose your way to the top of a major corporation, exploiting your gender/racial diversity or good ole boy connections to get promotions you didn't deserve. Then, after taking over, you run a nearly century old company into the ground. You negotiate pay packages worth tens of millions of dollars a year. When they fire you, you collect another 50 mil on the way out.

The problem is that there seems to be an awful lot of #2 going on. There just aren't that many company founders getting rich after making genius inventions, and a whole lot of rich, connected people getting obscenely richer still.

Comment Welcome to 2006 (Score 4, Insightful) 221

You've been able to do this for years and years a different way.

1. Get a sheet fed scanner like a Fujitsu Snapscan ($400)
2. Cut the binding off the book
3. Place the stack of pages into the scanner
4. Get a coffee

And you're done, the thing's 600 DPI and does both sides in the same pass. It creates a PDF directly, and you then want to OCR the PDF, running a sharpen filter on the text, and decide on how much you want to compress the PDF. A 1000 page textbook ends up being about 700 megabytes, in crystal clear quality.

Comment Re:No they should not (Score 2) 568

What about if the person builds a circuit board that uses physical transistors to solve a problem?

Move up 1 abstraction level. Now, the individual physical transistors are crammed into a chip, and the engineer just chooses a routing path on the chip (called a gate array) between the existing transistors.

Next level up is basically to use a network of truth table solver ICs (FPGA LUTs)

Next level up is to define a micrcontroller and then write a series of steps for it to perform.

Next level up is to use a premade microcontroller and define those steps.

Next level up is embedded C...

Point is, software engineers are engineers. Where you're confused is most programmers do not actually use most engineering techniques, and just create quick and relatively sloppy solutions. Kind of like if architects skipped most of the math and just sketched up a building real quick, stopping the moment it looks cool. They'd order a bunch of buildings built and when they fall down, they'd grumble and fix the mistake that caused the building to collapse, generally using the laziest shortcut available to fix the problem.

Comment It wasn't lack of protections that worried Snowden (Score 5, Insightful) 239

As several news articles have pointed out, the very same man who Snowden saw lying to Congress about the extent of the spying would have been the one Snowden would ultimately be reporting to, were he to report his concerns. Sure, they might have then fired Snowden as a result - but it's also entirely possible they wouldn't. The main thing is, there was no chance whatsoever that the NSA would decide to come clean and tell the truth because a junior IT guy pointed out they were lying. They knew they were lying at much higher levels and were ok with that.

Comment Re:Can you buy these panels yourself? (Score 4, Informative) 184

Like this?

Point is, you need a panel. And you need a microinverter. And you need a wire to the roof. And you need a box, called a combiner box, the wire goes into. There is usually a cutoff switch on that box. Then, after that, the wire from the combiner box is usually backfed into your main breaker panel, with the power going backwards through an appropriate breaker rated for the wire's ampacity. Really, the tricky part is the power company has to come and approve the design and install their 2 way meter. Everything else, any idiot can do.

Comment Can you buy these panels yourself? (Score 1) 184

As other commentators have pointed out, the install prices these days, compared to the prices of the panels, are insane. The installations have gotten simpler than ever - with microinverters, you literally can go up there and install 1 panel per weekend as the system functions just fine with N number of panel/inverter modules installed. (as long as N is smaller than the number of panels that can fit on your roof)

Anyways, SunPower won't sell you the panels directly. I have seen them available online but only their scratch and dent models with no warranty.

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