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Comment: Re:Why bother? (Score 1) 298

All I can see on this Slashdot thread is mis-matched anecdotes.

That's the nature of slashdot, no matter what the subject of any given thread.

I read slashdot at least daily, sometimes visiting several times a day if a topic is of great interest to me. But I don't read it for information about any subject. I read it to find out what the attitudes and biases of one vocal segment of the technoratti are. Sometimes that helps me shape my own opinion; sometimes it helps me identify where I should invest my limited argumentative resources. But almost never does slashdot give me any solid information; it is always just a jumbled of mismatched anecdotes.

Comment: Re:Dear Mississippi (Score 4, Insightful) 107

There can be little question that what the USA needs now is another Teddy Roosevelt trust-buster. Big corporations-- and banks-- are exerting way too much influence on the USA's politics and marketplace. Time to do what T.R. did about100 years ago: use government to regulate Big Business so that the marketplace and politics can work the way the founding fathers intended. Instead of twisting governments-- state as well as federal-- to do what Big Business thinks is best for themselves.

I'm not sure that Saint Hilliary is earthy enough to get the job done. I'm not sure that Ms Warren has the skills and shrewdness of thought the work requires. Maybe they could combine forces.

What I am pretty sure of is we need a Mommy in the White House who can restore order in the nursery and rumpus room and do whatever enforcement is needed to get all the kids to play nicely with each other.

Comment: Re:Transparency is supported. Pronounciation? (Score 1) 377

by Will.Woodhull (#48576119) Attached to: Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG

An excellent discussion and I learned a couple of things.

I will continue to use .png for archival needs where bandwidth issues do not apply, and I can avoid worrying about the copy-of-copy degradation of .jpg without the excessive size of .tiff or other lossless formats. I will convert to .jpg at as high compression as is workable when preparing images for the web.

This leads to another question, now that several persons who know something about this stuff are gathered together on this one thread:

Blender can work with images from a number of different sources and these can be stored within the .blend database. These might be reference images during modeling or textures used in the finished product. They are usualy the major contributor to the size of the .blend file. So, does anyone know whether there would be an advantage to using one image format over another when working with Blender?

Comment: Re:Transparency is supported. Pronounciation? (Score 1) 377

by Will.Woodhull (#48571119) Attached to: Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG

Why is there no mention of Portable Network Graphics in this discussion? .png has an alpha channel, has broad support, and uses *lossless* compression. What's not to like? It does not compress as tightly as highly compressed .jpg, but as several have pointed out, that's not as big an issue any more.

So am I missing something? Or is it just some kind of marketing thing that .png does not see much use?

Comment: Re:How about a straight answer? (Score 2) 329

by Will.Woodhull (#48563557) Attached to: Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

If YOU had read the studies, you would know that the risk of lung cancer was a major talking point only for the anti-smoking marketeers, who felt that the very high risks of smoking induced heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were not scary enough to cause addicts to give up their habit.

To continue smoking or to give it up is the one decision that will have the greatest impact on a person's health twenty years and more down the road. Whether this is from the nicotine addiction or from all the other crud in inhaled tobacco smoke is an unknown.

Comment: Re:How about a straight answer? (Score 1) 329

by Will.Woodhull (#48563497) Attached to: Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

From what I understand, there is little doubt climate change is happening, the questions is to what extent the impact of humans may be responsible.

That is not the question.

The question is, now that climate change has become inevitable, what should we do about it?

The answer varies considerably for different values of "we". However for most values of "we", it would make sense to do what can be done to reduce the greenhouse gases our human activities produce. For while this might not make a difference, it might make a big difference since everything suggests that that the climate's near future is characterized by one or more tipping points, and even a minor reduction in the rate of greenhouse gas production could be enough to keep from tumbling over a cliff.

Comment: Re:I am no economist, but as a geek ... (Score 1) 205

by Will.Woodhull (#48553987) Attached to: The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

You are conflating Linux with the desktop environments that it supports. Don't do that. It just demonstrates how ignorant you are, and is rather annoying.

Linux is not built like Windows. A Linux distro consists of its Linux kernel and one or more desktop environments supported by the kernel. I am currently running the Ubuntu Studio version using the XFCE desktop with elements from Gnome and KDE blended in. It works pretty well: several years now without any system crashes, has handled several full distro upgrades without any issues. I can't count how many times the Linux kernel has upgraded. The kernel upgrades install with no more disturbance than a message saying that the computer needs to reboot for the new stuff to become active.

Comment: Re: As far as I'm concerned, Pluto is still a plan (Score 1) 77

by Will.Woodhull (#48552683) Attached to: Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

Exactly. I'm sure that sooner or later the IAU will talk it over with the semanticists and fix the problems. I'm thinking it would be better if that would happen sooner rather than later. And I strongly believe that, committee inertia being what it is, poking at the problem will help it get addressed sooner.

Comment: Re:NASA at its best (Score 1) 77

by Will.Woodhull (#48550441) Attached to: Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

My concern is with researchers from other fields who have cause to visit the astronomy silo but do not live there. We are more than a century past the time when any field of science could define its terminology in isolation from the rest of the community of scholars. Astronomy needs to look at its short-sighted parochial practices and use a wide field of view more often.

See comment #48550243.

Comment: Re:Dwarf Planets (Score 1) 77

by Will.Woodhull (#48550349) Attached to: Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

The definitions do define the scope of research, especially research by persons in other fields who are visiting the astronomy silo but are not residents of it.

SKOS does not work well with murky or badly designed definitions or classification schemes. See comment #48550243.

Astronomy isn't just about stars and planets any more. At least, it shouldn't be, it should be part of the larger community of scientists and contributing its share to the common goal of greater understanding.

Comment: Re: As far as I'm concerned, Pluto is still a plan (Score 1) 77

by Will.Woodhull (#48550243) Attached to: Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

Thanks for bringing up SKOS. This kind of semantic thesaurus has become an increasingly important tool in researching the literature of any field. This is especially true when the researcher might be following citations that lead him/her outside their particular area of expertise or into a natural language where he/she is not fluent.

Of course if the thesaurus is wrong, then literature that might otherwise be very important to a research project might well be overlooked. So building taxonomies-- classification hierarchies-- that are compatible with SKOS concepts is quite important. Especially at this time in the history of science where the most profound discoveries are no longer those that build the silos higher or deeper, but those that find the connections between silos. Such as the work that is being done by geologists and biologists into the role of some clays in the protobiotic formation of some proteins.

The IAU definitions of "planet", "dwarf planet", and other denizens of the solar system is not SKOS compliant. It should be, but it cannot be. The IAU defined this terminology in 2006. But SKOS did not become a completed W3C Recommendation until 2009; it had not even reached the stage of Recommendation Proposal in 2006.

So evidently the astronomers did as best they could with the tools available to laymen in the information management field in 2006. I think we can expect that the astronomers will revise their schema to better fit with the worldwide community of scholars when they next meet. Almost certainly they will bring some expertise in information management to that upcoming meeting. In the meantime, it is useful to keep in mind that the current definitions and taxonomy are not necessarily going to be regarded as valid, or even useful, a few short years from now.

Comment: Re:NASA at its best (Score 1) 77

by Will.Woodhull (#48544443) Attached to: Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

Fortunately NASA is dominated by engineers who do not have to put up with stupid definitions developed by committees of astronomers. It takes persons with great vision to get hard data from Mars, Jupiter space, and soon Pluto. The vision of the International Astronomical Union is too microscopic to really be of much use.

Comment: Re:Dwarf Planets (Score 1) 77

by Will.Woodhull (#48544427) Attached to: Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

Astronomers are now adding more and more epicycles to the definition of "planet" as used in their jargon. That's stupid.

The Keplerian solution is apparently too simple to grasp: A planet is one the set of {Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune}. Everything else is not a planet. That is a reasonable and sufficient definition of "planet" in the current astronomical jargon.

Meanwhile, those who wish to communicate in English can talk about planets without bothering to be so specific. There is a value in this. English is capable of handle concepts like regarding the Earth and Moon as a binary planet, where the gravitational interplay between the two bodies has uniquely shaped both, and given rise to significant activity not found elsewhere in the solar system. Such as tides, the effects of tides on ocean currents and weather, the influence tides have had on the evolution of life, the influence of tides and weather on human cultures, and so on.

Apparently none of these phenomena are of any interest to astronomy (despite Fred Hoyle's great book from many years ago) since they have defined their jargon in such a way that astronomy is excluded from participating in exploring such exciting concepts.

Comment: Re:As far as I'm concerned, Pluto is still a plane (Score 1) 77

by Will.Woodhull (#48544347) Attached to: Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

And here I thought the purpose of "technical terminology" was to improve communications between experts within a field by assigning strict definitions to certain words. In the field of linguistics, this is called a "jargon", and can be used to refer to the trade talk of nuclear physicists or that of plumbers or carpenters, etc. Of course astronomers don't study linguistics so it is not surprising that they don't know this term.

Within their jargon, astronomers can mangle, mutilate, extend, or transmogrify whatever words they feel is necessary. But they have no business attempting to dictate anything about language to the general population. Going so far out of their area of expertise just demonstrates that some astronomers are know-it-all assholes.

Astronomers can have their "dwarf planets", and can define a planet such that anything like a planet that happens to orbit another star has to be called something else. But trying to make the common English language conform to their jargon is as silly as their current definition of what a planet is.

By the way, a more succinct and valid definition of "planet" within the current accepted jargon of astronomers is this: "A planet is a member of the following set: { Mecury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune }".

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming

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