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Comment Advice from a MRR of 40+ years (Score 1) 149

It's only a hobby.... it's only a hobby....

There is likely a model rail club or more in your area. See if they have open house and go check out the place. A good club will be warm and welcoming with folks that are comfortable to be around. Forget the layout at the club, you are looking for a place to hang out with others that know a lot and don't mind answering questions. Fastest way to kill enjoyment of the hobby is to get around folks you'd rather paste in the beezer than talk to. Model railroaders are 25% normal people, 50% kind of quirky, and 25% jerks, given a random sample.

First step is to decide what you want to do. I like to do 1900's, 1960's, and modern railroading, so my layout is designed to be able to add and remove things that are not period. So the box car icing station from the 20'-60's becomes a fuel rack by removing structures and putting others in it's place. Also, do you want to be able to turn a train on and let it run around on a loop, or is it going to be a point to point layout?

Final advice - your relative may say maybe even before their death - but I wouldn't take over anything much before then. Just enough to comfort them they have gotten to bug to bite you is about right. If they give it all up too soon, they may be giving away what joy they can still get from the hobby. Just my two cents.

Digital control for more than a simple model is almost required. Most folks go with DigiTraxx system for controls, and various others for the decoders depending on what is desired out of the model. If you want sound, lights, and smoke (the good kind) out of a model, then almost certainly the decoder choice will be the appropriate SoundTraxx Tsunami - about $100 for the decoder, speaker, and supplies. Retro fitting decoders is fairly easy - the hardest part for me is getting the engine opened up without breaking off things.

Submission + - Power cycle a remote server and router

buss_error writes: I am using Belkin WeMo's, ezOutlets, and Raspberry Pi's with custom software to reboot remote servers.
WeMo's: Good for servers, not good for rebooting routers as they don't have a reset only function.
exOutlets — Great if you don't have too many, has auto power cycle upon no ping from a set of web sites they select.
Raspberry Pi's: Best, but takes programming.

What do you use to power cycle a remote server and router?

Comment Welcome change from Battery Breakthrough comments (Score 1) 44

I breathed a bit of relief that this wasn't another "battery breakthrough" story.

For the last 4-5 years it seems every popular news outlet is excited to announce battery breakthroughs. But for every breakthrough for instant charging for example they don't explain that the battery is 100x larger in size or 100x heavier or whatever. And similarly, when the battery holds 100x the energy, they don't explain the other downsides that impact its practical application. I mean, a capacitor "charges" quickly (and can discharge quickly), but with a number of trade-offs.

I don't know how to get folks to write a more nuanced story - this may just be because the sensational gets the headlines and clicks (even if not as accurate).

Comment Pot meet kettle (Score 4, Insightful) 431

Pot meet kettle!

What's happened is the government has changed lawful access to mean secret courts with secret warrants, mass hacking and surveillance of systems we use every day for commerce etc with zero or token oversight. This is the real zone of lawlessness.

These systems can then be used for cyberstalking some ex, data sold to an investigator for profit, used politically to smear opponents etc, and result in innocent people blocked from flying, subject to extraordinary rendition, special measures interrogation techniques (ie, torture) etc without due process. If this happened in another country we'd call it extra-judicial lawlessness and condemn it.

I think many people are supportive of lawful access. This means due process, within the court system, etc etc. Suspected of x, probable cause, warrant issued but briefly sealed, warrant executed and unsealed, ability to contest basis for warrant, knowledge of its execution and existence etc, etc. This system of due process exists for a reason - and is well articulated and well developed going back to our constitution and subsequent amendments etc.

Our economy and society wins if we can rely on these systems to handle our searches for medical conditions, our emails to loved ones, confidential business information etc etc without massive invasions of privacy. Our economy and society win if we can count on the rule of law.

Small wonder Google and Apple are resisting the secret "National Security Letter" no due process system the government has invented, or the direct hacking of their systems.

Comment Radio? (Score 1) 126

I occasionally listen to 95.7 (now "the jet" formerly "KJR") here in Seattle, but not as often since they (ClearChannel) twice attempted to rebrand it and somewhat altered its format (for one thing they put in a damned morning show, when they used to brag about playing only music in the morning because "who talks along with the radio?")

Now it is pretty much my USB stick in the car and Pandora at home.

Submission + - In response to open access journals, Nature starts own (Beer-free) Library (

An anonymous reader writes: The fact that access to scientific journals is expensive and that universities in developing countries can't afford them has been one of the key points for open access journals. Nature has started now a "world library of science" to offer content to developing countries (and everyone else) for free, but without a permissive license. Unesco also allowed to add its logo to the front page.

Submission + - Pitivi Video Editor surpasses 50% crowdfunding goal, releases version 0.94

kxra writes: With the latest developments, Pitivi is proving to truly be a promising libre video editor for GNU distributions as well as a serious contender for bringing libre video production up to par with its proprietary counterparts. Since launching a beautifully well-organized crowdfunding campaign (as covered here previously), the team has raised over half of their 35,000 € goal to pay for full-time development and has entered "beta" status for version 1.0. They've released two versions, 0.94 (release notes) being the most recent, which have brought full MPEG-TS/AVCHD support, porting to Python 3, lots of UX improvements, and—of course—lots and lots of bug fixes. The next release (0.95) will run on top of Non Linear Engine, a refined and incredibly more robust backend Pitivi developers have produced to replace GNonLin and bring Pitivi closer to the rock-solid stability needed for the final 1.0 release.

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354