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Comment: Re:Cd of 0.36 in the 21st century??? (Score 1) 120

by Zobeid (#48680453) Attached to: Tesla Roadster Update Extends Range

Several of the Roadster's limitations (and I suspect aerodynamics falls into this category) resulted from the design process, which was basically starting with a Lotus Elise and then modifying, and modifying, and modifying... It imposed a lot of constraints, and Elon Musk later admitted it was a mistake not to design a new vehicle from a blank sheet of paper.

Comment: Keeping it Readable (Score 4, Insightful) 368

by Zobeid (#48542149) Attached to: Overly Familiar Sci-Fi

Yes, I also have griped about SF that shoehorns the distant future into the mold of today, or of the past. I have special disdain for those who want to recreate the wild west, or the age of piracy, or empires of the past with space opera trappings. If you love the old west, write westerns, man! The obsession with FTL travel (which seems unlikely to ever really become possible) also ties in with this.

To my way of thinking, conventional literature at its best explores the human condition. SF at its best explores how the human(-ish) condition could be different. SF that doesn't make it different seems like wasted potential, a missed opportunity.

However...

I learned a long time ago that SF stories and SF writers have limitations that they must work within. SF is about ideas, and there are limits to how many new and unfamiliar ideas you can cram into a story without either losing your readers or getting lost yourself. Your readers are embedded in the culture of today. Even if you as a writer can mentally break out of the culture of today, bringing your readers along for that ride is extremely difficult.

You might want to write a story exploring the potential of AI and robotics. Or nuclear fusion power. Or asteroid mining. Or molecular manufacturing. Or life extension. All good topics. Now try to write a novel where *all* of those scenarios have become real and are interacting with one another. Oops... That's going to be really hard to pull off without ending up in a muddled mess, and it's also going to be hard to explore each of those ideas in the depth it deserves. (Especially if you also have, you know... characters, and a plot, and so forth!)

Comment: Re:Not cursive, but fountain pen vs ballpoint pen! (Score 1) 523

by Zobeid (#48497405) Attached to: Finland Dumps Handwriting In Favor of Typing

"...and I never learned how to use the fountain properly."

Give one a try! It only takes a few minutes to learn: orient the nib to the page, use a light touch, try holding it at a lower angle. You'll be doing just fine in no time, and soon you'll also discover it's less tiring to your hand than a ballpoint.

Comment: Re:Just cursive, or all writing? (Score 1) 523

by Zobeid (#48497331) Attached to: Finland Dumps Handwriting In Favor of Typing

Keep in mind that for a lot of us old-timers, cursive writing isn't "fancy" and was never meant to be. It's simply what we were taught and always used -- or what we always used after second grade, anyhow. I'm not sure why it's now "archaic", yet somehow the little kiddie writing is still considered necessary.

Comment: Re:CORRECTION!!!!!! (Score 1) 523

by Zobeid (#48496939) Attached to: Finland Dumps Handwriting In Favor of Typing

Something has got lost in translation here.

Writing in longhand or cursive is not "calligraphy". The styles and tools used are very different. How so many people (you're far from the only one) have come to equate cursive with calligraphy, I just don't know. You claim "NO ONE writes in calligraphy", but I can assure you that many, many people write in cursive.

Comment: Re:quick notes? (Score 1) 523

by Zobeid (#48496811) Attached to: Finland Dumps Handwriting In Favor of Typing

No. Writing with a fountain pen is out-of-mainstream, but it's not "exceedingly rare". If it was, we wouldn't have 25+ (by my count) brands of bottled fountain pen ink on the market today! Also, most of these are used for daily writing, not for "calligraphy". Fountain pens are actually not that great for calligraphy, and buying actual calligraphy pens and calligraphy ink is much better if you want to get into that.

Comment: Re:quick notes? (Score 2) 523

by Zobeid (#48496685) Attached to: Finland Dumps Handwriting In Favor of Typing

So, I had to do a quick test on this... I pulled out a book and found a long paragraph to transcribe, first in cursive with a fountain pen, then printing with a mechanical pencil. My results: 7 minutes 53 seconds with the pen, 9 minutes 20 seconds with the pencil. That works out to a 15% speed advantage for cursive. It's not a huge, dramatic difference, but it's significant. Also, writing with the fountain pen was much less tiring to my hand, and it came out looking neater and easier to read (although both were perfectly legible).

I've often wished that someone had clued me into fountain pens back when I was taking notes in school. I think it would have saved me a lot of hand cramps.

Comment: Re:don't tax alternative energy and transportation (Score 1) 516

by Zobeid (#48417107) Attached to: Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

Quote: "We have to transition to ~ 90% of the transport and energy in the economy to non-fossil, in a damn hurry (e.g. 2050)..."

You may believe that, and some others may believe that, but our society as a whole does not. If it did, we (globally) wouldn't still be planning and building brand new coal and gas fired power plants with an expected 40-year life span *after* they go into service.

Comment: Let's boycott the two-party system! (Score 1) 551

by Zobeid (#48326353) Attached to: In this year's US mid-term elections ...

I think next time around somebody should organize a boycott of the Republicrats. Vote for independents... libertarians... greens... cthulhu... whatever floats your boat as long as it's not a Republican or Democrat. It's the only way to get some real change.

http://zobeid.zapto.org/image/...

Comment: Slam dunk bet! (Score 3, Interesting) 107

by Zobeid (#48326065) Attached to: Landfill Copies of Atari's 'E.T.' End Up On eBay

The E.T. game was a lesson in the folly of games based on movies. Sadly, it's a lesson many companies still haven't learned. There are still executives in the game industry who think the road to success is to license a big-name movie or other franchise and then sell a game based on it. And the key phrase there is "sell a game", without much thought given to actually creating the game, or what is going to make the game fun to play.

What makes a game fun and engaging is, primarily, the gameplay mechanism. Movies are non-interactive and have no gameplay mechanisms. Therefore, they have little of value to offer to a licensed game. Yes, you can take a generic, well-proven game mechanic and slap on a movie-colored coat of paint, but it means nothing. It may possibly turn out to be an OK game, but there's no reason to expect it to surpass games that were designed as their own properties from the outset. The reverse is more often true: a game concept originated by a game designers is more likely to produce a truly fun game, as compared with a movie concept that some programmers have been ordered to "turn into some kind of game that we can sell this Christmas".

Comment: Get rid of time changes and time zones! (Score 1) 613

by Zobeid (#48292961) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Do You Stand on Daylight Saving Time?

I'd love to get rid of time changes and just have Standard Time all year, but we don't need to settle for that unimaginative answer. We now have the technology to do better.

When everybody's carrying around a smart phone -- effectively, a computer with a GPS -- then it should be easy to calculate the actual local time, solar time, any place on Earth. If you have local solar time, and you have GMT (Zulu time), then you have everything you need to coordinate the vast majority of human activity. Then time zones become redundant, and time changes would make even less sense than they already do now.

Comment: SCSI madness (Score 3, Interesting) 192

by Zobeid (#47498039) Attached to: The Almost Forgotten Story of the Amiga 2000

I had an A2000 which I soon put a used A2620 card into -- that was the 68020 accelerator which effectively quadrupled the speed of the system. (When was the last time you saw an upgrade card do that??) It was the same card Commodore used in the A2500. It was an amazing machine for its day, not only in terms of graphics and audio, but for sheer processing power.

The thing that always drove me up the wall was SCSI adaptors. They were always tricky to get working -- fiddling with dip switches and jumper pins on the drives, and terminating resistor packs -- and I never had one that worked for a long time. It seemed like there was a steady churn of companies putting an Amiga SCSI card on the market, then going out of business, then another company would take a whack at it. I think I burned through half a dozen completely different SCSI adapters.

Comment: Re:Wow, two whole cats. (Score 4, Informative) 40

Texas at one time had six native cat species: bobcat, mountain lion, ocelot, jaguar, jaguarundi and margay. Jaguars and margays have been gone for about a hundred years, and now ocelots and jaguarundis are rare, with just a few hanging on at the southern tip of the state. We'd really prefer not to give them up.

No problem is so formidable that you can't just walk away from it. -- C. Schulz

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