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Comment Re:Posting Anonymous Coward (Score 1) 48

But notice how warm and rich the 'pops' are! Can't do that with a CD, now can ya? ;)

As a kid I'd sometimes let an LP sit in the inner circle-groove and turn the amp way up, just below the point where the rumble fed back into the cartridge. The repetitive sound was as unique as a fingerprint and I'd listen to that for awhile. I'd imagine I was inside some giant machine.

The worst gash-skips I'd 'fix' with a hot needle or razor blade. This stopped the skip but left a horrible noise. Then I discovered that you could often shave gently down from the top of the gash until the part protruding into the groove came out, leaving some of the musical material intact.

I'd always check the serial number traced into the vinyl casting on the smooth surface just outside the label looking for a secret message. Sometimes there was one.

I owned one of the first SAE Impulse Noise Reduction systems made. It was even better than sliced bread.

One day I resolved that my cultural education was not complete until I actually listened to Wagner's complete Ring Cycle, which was recorded on many discs. After the first half-hour I switched over to 78rpm so I could appreciate the music and be amused by the chipmunk singing. The Ring Cycle was completed ahead of schedule.

I placed Christmas albums on the ends of the shelves so when my cat tried to climb then she wouldn't ruin the good stuff.

Used to have 40 feet of vinyl collected over a lifetime. Lost it all in the financial Self-Storage Unit Disaster of 2007. I now advise people if you fall upon hard times, gather your most prized possessions and bury them in the woods. There is a much better chance you will see them again, OR at least they will find a good home --- because unlike storage auctions where strangers acquire everything and discard what they don't want --- anyone who finds your cache will only take what they consider valuable.

I have the utmost respect for the people who are diligently placing out of print vinyl onto the Internet in high quality. But so very many of them fail to apply a light spray of isopropyl alcohol to the surface before playing. It boggles the mind.

One of my favorite riddle-stumpers used to be,
How many grooves are there on the average 12" long playing record? I'll consider any guess with the right number of digits to be a correct answer.
Answer: .edis hcae no eno ,owt ylnO

This used to be a real 'I should have known this' forehead-slapper. Now people have so little experience with LPs you just get a smile and a nod, as if I was just volunteering some useless obsolete fact. Which it is, I guess.

Comment Re:The Madcap Affair of the Purple Emu (Score 1) 48

Thanks. And here is the Ace + Emu story in more detail (turns out Ace did ask but was its 'pulp' was rebuked by Tolkien). The grassroots anti-Ace campaign is worth a read here, it was something the publishing world had never experienced. Also a good photos of the Purple Emu Fellowship I owned which showed more of the drawing. It was a nice illustration. The artist pegged the landscape pretty well but could not have known that Tolkien was fastidious in his portrayal of Middle Earth and kept its flora and fauna strictly Earthlike in appearance, save a few notable exceptions. No emus or lion-things.

To counter the "What the hell does all this have to do with 'news for nerds'?" while discussing Tolkien,
How It's Made: Books

Comment The Madcap Affair of the Purple Emu (Score 4, Interesting) 48

J.R.R. Tolkien's Rings trilogy was originally published in 1954-55, relatively obscure until an American pulp publisher 'Ace' just went to press without even asking, never mind the money. Tolkien battled them for rights and royalties, and things dragged along slowly until a cadre of deep fan American readers took on the cause with verve that Ace could scarcely have imagined, and sent them reeling. Ace eventually offered an arrangement that was accepted by the Author and formal truce was declared.

Meanwhile (1960s) popularity of the books had taken off considerably in the United States and Britain. So with new interest Ballentine Books approached the author with intent to produce an 'authorised' paperback edition -- with some revision -- and they would do the cover. From Humphrey Carpenter's J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography,

[After some delay] they decided that they could not wait any longer. In order to get at least one Tolkien book into the shops they published The Hobbit in the original text without waiting for Tolkien's revisions, which they planned to include in a later edition. They sent him a copy, and he was astonished by the picture on the cover. Ace Books for all their moral 'piracy' had employed a cover artist who knew something about the story, but Ballantine's cover picture seemed to have no relevance whatever to The Hobbit, for it showed a hill, two emus, and a curious tree bearing bulbous fruit. Tolkien exploded: 'What has it got to do with the story? Where is this place? Why emus? And what is the thing in the foreground with pink bulbs?' When the reply came that the artist hadn't time to read the book, and that the object with pink bulbs was 'meant to suggest a Christmas tree', Tolkien could only answer: 'I begin to feel that I am shut up in a madhouse.'

Late in 1965 the `authorised' paperback of The Lord of the Rings was published in America in three volumes, with Tolkien's revisions incorporated, and with the emus and the Christmas tree on the cover of the first volume, though this picture was later removed and one of Tolkien's own drawings was substituted; two more of his pictures were used for the second and third volumes. Each copy carried a message from Tolkien: 'This paperback edition and no other has been published with my consent and co-operation. Those who approve of courtesy (at least) to living authors will purchase it and no other.'

Purple Emu Fellowships are now rare. I used to have one.

Comment Re:Same old trickery (Score 1) 136

Parent did NOT deserve 'Troll'. The study mentioned in TA is controversial. People are moderating with their balls not their brains, and their balls shrivel up when anyone suggests there may not be some dire emergency at Fukushima related to killer radiation. But even so,

We've seen this hoax before, why am I not surprised there are people still pushing it? The only difference with this one is how poorly written it is. Cancer rates are actually lower than expected/normal around Fukushima.

Calling it a 'hoax' is going way too far, you should calm down too. It's still early to make definitive statements about cancers, but there is certainly no 'spike'. One of the main reasons the government took the (courageous) position that the thyroid abnormalities were unlikely to be associated with the disaster was, abnormal nodules were detected 'too soon' after the disaster when screening began, and their own health professionals assured them that these conditions take years to develop and were more likely the result of some pre-existing condition. And the last in-depth study was some 10 years prior, so when Fukushima occurred there was a lack of recent baseline. A cause for concern surely but not

The same old deception. Use data from ultrsensitive tests that detect more pre-cancerous cells than what is found under normal testing, then claim that is an increase. But when these same tests are performed on control groups anywhere, they find similar increases in detection of pre-cancerous cells. A simple read of these claims show they completely lack any reasonable baseline or control group methods. Add it to the list of deceptions that keep being debunked but keep showing up.

I'm upset at Fukushima disinfo too, but what can you do about it, especially when the AP is clearly in the market for scare stories, and the usual journalistic burden of proof and balance that applies in other things is relaxed. If your own child was given ultrasound and a 'nodule' showed up, you would not be subject to a hysterical reaction. The doctor would assure you that it should be monitored, but they do form and dissolve naturally. You'd be given nutritional supplements. Yet researchers feel free to insinuate a cause when it suits them. And even if they don't, journalists feel free to insinuate on their behalf by offering side-stories that make a 'connection'. To the slashdotter who ejaculated

It's their fault for not being born in the great state of AMERIKA!

and was also modded Troll... you're not far off the mark. The United States and others have added potassium iodide (for iodine) to its table salt for some 80 years now to counter endemic Goitre. Traditionally Japan has not iodized its salt because the national diet has been heavy with seaweed, a natural source, and there were were concerns that fortified salt plus seaweed might supply an over-abundance of iodine, which is also harmful. Perhaps some Japanese children have been starting to prefer Western diets and should, as are other rural populations, consider the benefits of iodization.

all good sources for learning about the hysterical Fukushima over reaction that pull no punches. A lot of what has passed for 'news' has been crap. Look out for closet anti-Islam liberal bias though. Linking to the Christian Science Monitor is OK but links to Al-Jazeera (Brit flavoured and even populated by BBC reporters) might get you down modded here /SARC.

And, of course, the article linked in the submission doesn't actually even present a real case of cancer, just hints there may be, and twists quotes from random sources, not showing the context in which they were stated. They reference the data is from a university study, but do not supply the conclusions of that study nor write the article with input from anyone involved in that study.

Here is Leslie Corrice's October 8, 2015 take on it. While the insinuations it makes are over the top it does provide more data on an interesting issue. And the data gathered some times proves more useful than the authors' conclusions.

"A maverick Japanese professor contradicts the consensus on Fukushima child thyroid anomalies. Toshihide Tsuda, professor of Epidemiology, and three colleagues have published a report contradicting the Fukushima University Medical School, the Japanese Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening, and the National Cancer Center, that all say the detected child thyroid pre-cancerous anomalies in Fukushima Prefecture cannot be linked to the accident. Tsuda maintains that the rate of anomalies is 20-50 times the national average, and "is unlikely to be explained by a screening surge." He's been alleging that the nuke accident is causing a thyroid cancer epidemic for three years. LINK1 -- LINK2 (Comment --- The published paper linked above may be freely downloaded by clicking the 'Article as PDF' button on the page. One striking point that seems intentionally overlooked by the authors is that many of the areas with the low exposures have a high incidence of pre-cancerous child thyroid anomalies, and the lowest incidence seems to be in some of the higher exposure areas. One of my esteemed colleagues in Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information finds this inexcusable, thus the report "likely belongs in the trash heap".

Comment Re:Hmm... (Score 2) 136

Reminds me of using 6-sigma process on a widget made of 112 parts and 16 widgets/year.

Or using Critical Path Management for programming projects when you are the only programmer in the organization.

Boss: [interrupting work] "I need to see a CPM chart with tasks and personnel."
Programmer: "Okay." [produces chart with a horizontal row of connected boxes] "See? There's only one path, it's all critical, and it's all me."
Boss: "Better get on it then."

Comment Re:I won't be all that surprised... (Score 5, Interesting) 84

Well, wasn't that what happened with Dual_EC_DRBG?

We can never know for sure, but empirically, I really don't think Dual_EC_DRBG ever pinged on NSA's --- or any other state intel actor's --- radar. At least not before EC vulnerabilities became public knowledge. Its use by default in the RSA BSafe toolkit meant that products using that toolklit would be vulnerable. And YES, that was a rich prize. BSafe may have been part of a program to seed a backdoor towards, say, a particular target state or industry.

BUT... there is for me an irreconcilable problem with that theory. I ran an ISP in those crazy early days when administrators were faced with a choice of whether to 'drop in' a BSafe object library under license (prove USA blahdy-blah) or compile the SSLeay/OpenSSL source, which was by no means as smooth and functional as it is today. But even pre-2000 it was obvious that the whole world was going the OpenSSL open source route as soon as it was stable.

Given that OpenSSL's populary was increasing by leaps and bounds... and yet, the OpenSSL FIPS Object Module v2.0 had a bug that prevented Dual_EC_DRBG from being used. *IF* the back door was being actively exploited by some state actor, they would have noticed this right away and it would have been a trivial matter (and top priority) for some helpful volunteer to emerge from the shadows and toss in a fix for it. Maybe even a soft-sell for epileptic curves. But this did not happen. Ergo, circumstances more closely resemble a situation in which NOBODY, including NSA, cared.

Remember that intel agencies are padded with the same bloviating internal memos as any organization, and love to take 'credit' for a thing to show their prowess whether or not the thing is actively being used. Maybe a good part of Snowden's trove are empty boasts.

Comment Some 2600 hacks... (Score 4, Interesting) 250

(in the jolly days before digital switching)

Friend was diagnosed with cancer and was recovering from chemo in New Jersey some 1500 miles away. She ran a local ballet company for 30 years and it was to be the first time she had ever been away for their Spring performance. I was sound technician at the theater and we cooked up a scheme to telecast the performance to her. There were a several payphones outside, and I grabbed my butt-set and discovered their pairs appeared in the basement. I put a temporary jumper from one across to an unused pair of the theater's Bell 1A2 key system so it would appear up in the sound booth, put a single line phone on it with a simple phone patch (just a 600 ohm transformer, resistor and capacitor) to an output from the mixing board. A co-conspirator drove 30 miles to the house in New Jersey in which she was staying to install another phone patch into a good Hi-Fi amp and speakers. That night just before the performance I hung an 'out of order' sign on the payphone and we dialed an 800 number in the payphone line from the booth and Blue Box 2600/MF'd the call over to the New Jersey house, and patched in. During the performance one of the dance instructors sat in the house whispering into a microphone with commentary on what the dancers were doing, which went into the private mix. Cost of call: $0. It was all in place and ready minutes before the performance began, a real high-five moment because we came up with the idea to do it three hours before.

Also lots of explore sessions which I'd do from an empty conference room at the University because there were two phones there and dial-9 local toll restriction was so easy to bypass (it was 'supervised', inject quick local digits before telco dial tone). One call I made in stages: into New Jersey (Atlantic path) -> France -> Tokyo -> Hawaii -> local number (knowing it would return via Pacific path), then finally ringing the extension of the phone next to it. Literally a call manually routed around the world. Quality was awful, my 'Hello' was audible bit it sounded like 'helawk' some 2+ seconds later.

Also various random numbers to confused persons in Moscow, in Cold War days before USSR direct dial was permitted from the USA. So you bounce through France. Bouncing between UK/France a couple times then back home was loud, echo-y and strange sounding, the Brits liked their trunks piping hot.

Comment Re:Crowd fund it (Score 1) 182

[CORRECTED LINK to ARTICLE, 150 comments]
Ask Slashdot: Best Payloads For Asteroid Diverter/Killer Mission?

TheRealHocusLocus writes:

The Emergency Asteroid Defence Project has launched a crowdfunded IndieGoGo campaign to help produce a set of working blueprints for a two-stage HAIV, or Hypervelocity Asteroid Intercept Vehicle. This HAIV paper (PDF) describes the use of a leading kinetic impactor to make a crater --- a following nuclear warhead would detonate in the crater for maximum energy transfer. The plans would be available for philanthropists to bring to prototype stage, while your friendly local nuclear weapon state supplies the warhead. This may be a best-fit solution. But just ask Morgan Freeman: these strategies could fail. What --- if any --- backup strategy could be integrated into an HAIV mission as a fail-safe in case the primary fails? Here is a review of strategies (some fanciful, few deployable) if we have to divert an asteroid with very short lead time. A gentle landing on the object may not be feasible, and we must rely on things that push hard or go boom. For example: detonating nearby to ablate surface materials and create recoil in the direction we wish to nudge. Also, with multiple warheads and precise timing, would it be possible to create a "shaped" nuclear explosion in space?

Comment Re:Crowd fund it (Score 1) 182

Use Kickstarter or another crowd funding to make it work. 450 mil is a bit steep though.

Been there, done that. Despite two month of press releases and a reasonable well-documented deliverable (plans for HAIV mission payload vehicle), a panel of international experts willing to donate their own time, a mere $200,000 target to help with other expenses, even a Slashdot article to promote it, should I even mention cool items (the shoulder patches arrived today)...

Only 187 human beings (2 were me) from planet Earth put in a grand total of $8,834 towards their $200k goal.
May we now have a moment of silence to consider this.

[... ... ... ...]
[Hissssssss...... BANG!]

What a mess. Glowing iridescent rings of exposed mantle like the hollow eye sockets of a ghost. Each one the eye of a hurricane of steam and worse things. Now if this was your planet, you would be feeling unpleasant tingles working up and down your spine right now just to look at them. Or even to hear me describe them. If there are no tingles you haven't given it enough thought. Thousand-foot tsunamis towards the coasts (it's an ocean impact). Molten fragments are setting prairie and forest ablaze a thousand miles away. When it burns out night will fall early. The next Winter will last dozens of years. It is merciful when dark clouds roll over everything at the end. Final curtain.

Good thing we took that 'statistical cost-benefit analysis' approach to heart. Makes it easier to bear.
If survival would be ZERO, cost-benefit analysis is as pointless as dividing by ZERO.

Comment Condensing the article and sentiment behind it (Score 1) 182

"[extinction 50% of species events] Every 100,000,000 years or so on average..."
NOPE. They happen when your odds come up.
"we know city-killer events happen at least every few millennia..."
NOPE. They happen when your odds come up.
"Tunguska-level events... may happen as frequently as once per century..."
NOPE. They happen when your odds come up.
"City-killer asteroids...will be incredibly rare: only occurring once every 100,000 years or so."
NOPE. Hey I thought you said 'every few millennia'! But NOPE. They happen when your odds come up.
"Species-ending strikes...all human life on Earth...every 100,000,000 years or so
Shucks I thought we'd be in the top 50%.
Anyway, NOPE. They happen when your odds come up.

There's a reason that not everyone likes to gamble. None of us should want to gamble with these risks.
They invoke morality in the form of responsibility to one's children.
Once you learn of an existential risk it is immoral to deny it exists.
Immoral to take one single step back from a position of being able to better deal with the risk.
Waiting is not a step forward. Because time is passing, it is a step back.
Waiting is gambling.

There might be many here who'd toss a million-to-one die for some immediate benefit vs. the off-chance of their own death.
(But truly) how many of those people would toss that million-to-one die if the payoff was theirs but the death would be their child?
How many might boast they could do so with no hesitation... but then... back out at the last moment? (It's okay)
That's one toss. How about once a day, or year?
It's happening. By reading and knowing about this risk you are playing the game right now. It's real.

These arguments that attempt to make existential risks subject to sports-book rules, frankly, make me want to puke from anger! Part of me is wondering, why aren't we throwing stones at these people, jeering at them?

We've known that the sky could be dangerous for hundreds, if not thousands of years. We've had space travel for 50.
Does NASA have anything better to do than get rockets into space again?
Better to do than delivering science payloads to comets and other bodies?
Better than ensuring the standard rocket could accommodate heavier. say, an asteroid countermeasures package?
Better than refining systems and procedures so launches could occur with as little as several weeks' notice?

Comment Re: First Pest! (Score 4, Funny) 59

C: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!
O: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting. Powered off I mean.
C: Look, matey, I if me mum canna call me at night the phone is deaad. I know a dead phone when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.
O: Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for the fjords.
C: PININ' for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he turn 'imself off the moment I got 'im home?
O: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable display and feaatures idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!
C: The features don't enter into it. It goes dead.
O: Nononono, no, no! 'E's just off is all. Such a dimwit h'ta come in to the store to learn how ts turn a phone on? Gaaarsh.

Comment How Sony and Apple dumbed down the human race. (Score 1) 328

Once upon a time there was this thing called High Fidelity, and it wasn't just about sound quality. It also involved a certain level of expectation consumers placed on consumer products, standard features, lines that engineers dare not cross. Throughout the era of magnetic tape -- from giant reel-to-reels and cart machines used by broadcasters to the successful and long-lived boom box cassette, no one would have dared to introduce a product that could not record.

There were just too many reasons in those days why people would want to record their own sound. From children recording the family opening presents on Christmas morning ("open this first!") to playing 'radio announcer', making simple start-stop 'mix' tapes from favorite radio stations, recording lectures, meetings or conferences, even phone calls (remember the suction cup induction coil?), it was a staple of childhood and adulthood that at several key stages in life, for whatever reason, we would rely on these devices to capture and play back voices, acoustic music for entertainment or transcription. The AGC circuit and built-in electret condenser microphone were perfected through the the 70s and were standard on every portable tape system. As quality improved the only real feature tier was whether the device could record in stereo, and whether it could accept line inputs. But mono/AGC recording was a standard feature.

Then around 1980, things began to improve --- but also take a turn for the worse. The Walkman series was marketed aggressively with the promise of improved fidelity and portability, and in that initial design, a gambit:how would the consumer react to a playback-only device? A small measure of additional engineering, some re-tooling at modest cost, could have placed a 'record' button on the Walkman too. There was risk. But they had decided to play a new game, and undoubtedly some argued that the demand record capability, where it existed, would result in the purchase of an additional full-featured recorder. The gambit paid off. The playback Walkman became very popular, even to the point of becoming a high demand fashion accessory among the youth. I loved audio and gadgets but was never tempted to get a Walkman, its lack of record capability made it a damaged product and seeing it become popular made me uneasy in ways I can only describe now.

And so it was that for a great many households on countless Christmas mornings, a brain-damaged by design Walkman was unwrapped and in place of that second present --- the 10-pack of blank cassettes ("Open this one next!")... there was a half dozen pre-recorded music cassettes selected by the parents (at $10 a pop) that weren't quite what the kids wanted to hear, but never mind, they'll soon be spending their own money for more. Walkmans were expensive. No real cassette recorder under the tree this year. And so a record of the voices of the family on Christmas morning became a thing of the past, and as has happened many times in this era of "progress", something that was possible in the past was no longer in the present.

By slow and painful degrees, as popular read-only portable sound devices and the pre-recorded music to play on them sapped peoples' money, recording became the provenance of non-portable cassette decks owned by those serious money to spend. And along the way, collateral damage was done as the average person 'lost' the ability to, on impulse, record voices or music or the spaces around them. Wouldn't it be bizarre if you could point to a period in history where people, modern literate people, stopped carrying around pen and paper, stopped writing things down as they had before? In which a certain cultural forgetfulness arose? That is how I feel about the practical 'loss' of our ability to record cassettes.

And so it was some twenty years later when Apple hit the second and third round of iPod design. Apple had none of the excuses, and was taking none of the risks that Sony had taken by capping off the recordable tape era with the Walkman. They were marketing to kids of kids who in the 80s had never really known what it meant to be able to talk to yourself (via playback), record one's surroundings, gatherings of friends. If there was the tiniest bit of will there would have been a way: circuits all on a chip, microphones tiny, microprocessor more than capable for continuous mp3 streaming. Digital Recorders did exist in this 'enlightened' era --- as expensive 'niche' devices marketed specifically for dictation and transcription by students and professionals. Priced beyond kids.

The iPod was priced beyond kids' reach too, just as the Walkman had been years before. But there is no limit to the power of persuasion and doting parents, so any 'sell' was possible once it, like the Walkman, had become a fashion accessory. The first iPod was indeed a miracle of miniaturization and performance. But by the second generation recording was possible --- *if* you purchased an additional accessory and intended to navigate the feature to record 'voice memos'. What followed, by my quick read, were years of 3rd party products and clip on accessories, and the device's refusal to stream directly to mp3 at any bitrate despite upgrades in processor capability. In short, record capability as a sloppily executed engineering afterthought with menu-navigating monkey work. For sound capture your cheapest cassette recorder from the 70s and 80s with it's one touch record that captures a room full of voices with AGC... beats the usability crap out of iPod nano.

Smartphones have once again placed one-touch sound recording into the hands of every day people, but again, at a dear price. Many manufacturers cannot get it through their thick heads that people might want to record sound and not video. And while the CCD/lens technology steadily improves and the condenser microphones used today are best-of-breed, the microphone is typically placed behind a pinhole without an even microscopic piece of rubber that might have reduced finger-on-device noise, with a directional characteristic that makes it useless for general recording. Yes I know, bluetooth to the rescue! But when I consider what might have been the features that consumers demand by default, and not this gambit play of "what can we shave off next"... I wonder whether the future will bring us to 'peak HD' and then, with some future 'Walkman' decision, not an increase in feature or fidelity, but a steady decline (for less cost and increased margin) until kids are using bleeding-edge technology --- that delivers the same sound and visual experience as Edison's gramophone and kinetoscope --- while thinking it's new and cool. Not even realizing that their grandparents had better.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan