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Comment: Am I the only one who thought ... (Score 1) 520

by admiralZ (#43065395) Attached to: Neil deGrasse Tyson On How To Stop a Meteor Hitting the Earth
Am I the only one who thought of Project Valkyrie (not the World War II project, the interstellar one) as being a comparatively cheap and easy solution for deflecting or destroying meteors headed for Earth with little advance time?

With only a few modifications (most notably, removing the passenger compartment), a rocket-propelled antimatter delivery system with sufficient antimatter (say, 10 Kg, magnetically isolated) dragging a tungsten shield (20cm thick, say a 20ft diameter disk) a fair distance away (50 meters) would produce upon impact a matter-annihilating explosion of gamma radiation with a yield of approximately 400 megatons (depending on the annihilation percentage), with most of that force being diverted away from the Earth (the tungsten shield absorbing what heads for Earth due to tactical trajectory placement (alignment before impact with the shield being directly between Earth and the meteor creating an umbra).

Another side effect: that much ionizing gamma radiation would undoubtedly weaken the meteor's base components on a molecular scale, making the object much more susceptible to break-up and frictional heat destruction if any of it hit the atmosphere.

Having that much antimatter on hand may be an issue, since, according to the last news article I read about it, 10Kg would be about half of the antimatter currently available on Earth, but the parts already exist, and casting a tungsten disk that size is only a matter of cost, not time. The Newtonian backlash on the tungsten disk would propel it back towards the Earth, but I would rather have a 20ft diameter disk coming at the Earth instead of a house-sized chunk of iron and nickel, wouldn't you?

I don't really see a downside to the plan except lead time.

Any comments would be appreciated.

Comment: One good sci-fi/fantasy book for a child of 8 ... (Score 1) 726

by admiralZ (#40390735) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Science-Fiction/Fantasy For Kids?
The Girl With the Silver Eyes is a good intro due to good and simple vocabulary explained in the book and a reasonably compelling story that is relatable.
But, as with all recommendations for children, I strongly advise any parent to read the book themselves before handing it over to their kid, because a parent may not know everything about their child, but they are still the best judge of skill level and censor for the inappropriate.

Comment: Ironic... (Score 1) 62

by admiralZ (#33842904) Attached to: AT&T To Allow Xbox 360 As U-verse Set-Top Box
I used to work for U-verse as a Tier 2 Specialist, and the XBox 360 as a set-top box was in development as of 2 years ago, the back-end MAC recognition and Xbox 360 Dashboard upgrades were already in place a year ago. In short, there was no real reason for this upgrade to have been released now instead of a year ago (all real testing is done in field anyway, because AT&T friendly Alpha communities do not give a diverse enough sample for real world testing). I do like the fact that the XBox 360 has better HDMI (Motorola and Cisco STBs have known HDMI picture and sound issues, but that may be due to HDMI version incompatibility issues from the TVs and PC monitors).

What AT&T really needs is an increase in the robustness of the Windows CE STB firmware (yes, I can confirm that they do run a modified version of Windows CE; in fact, they use Microsoft MPEG2 and 4 compressions for the video, both SD and HD, upgraded regularly via firmware pushes) to allow support agents to troubleshoot problems with a picture preview (if the STB is even booted to the point of receiving programming). In the support center in which I worked, 95% of the employees hadn't ever actually seen the hardware or content that U-verse provides (aside from pictures).

In my opinion (call me an insider or uneducated, I don't really care), the U-verse customer experience suffers from the fact that U-verse support agents rarely, if ever, get hands-on experience with the hardware and content that they are supposed to be supporting (no matter what neato upgrades AT&T decides to offer, usually at an additional charge).

Add to that the fact that the vast majority of support agents for AT&T are contract employees instead of perm, the turnover rate was horrendous at my support center, support centers are now being forced to upsell with a quota attached (remember, U-verse only exists to make money for the wireless side of AT&T), and loss mitigation (the amount of people who would have canceled had their problem not been solved by tech support) isn't even factored in, and you can color me surprised that U-verse even made it to 1 million customers.

Comment: Another fan-made Zelda "Movie" (Score 1) 222

by admiralZ (#30618800) Attached to: Nintendo Shuts Down Fan-Made Zelda Movie
Hey, did anyone here ever see the ign.com April Fools joke trailer for 2008? Watch it here. Compare this with the YouTube trailer for The Hero of Time movie (alternate version). You will immediately notice a difference in quality (in IGN's favor). Nintendo probably didn't pursue IGN for their joke trailer, but that may be due to the fact that IGN wasn't actually making a movie, just an April Fools trailer. But, if I were Nintendo, and I were inclined to grant trademark lenience, having seen both of these samples, I would choose the IGN version, because the Hero of Time movie looks puerile by comparison (and, yes, I do mean that it looks like a child filmed and post-produced it).

% APL is a natural extension of assembler language programming; ...and is best for educational purposes. -- A. Perlis

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