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Comment Inherited hand-me-down high end, a missing categor (Score 1) 249 249

I don't know about everyone else, but I have not one, but two systems I inherited from my dad (may he rest in peace) who was a crazy audiophile. Every 10 years or so he'd buy the latest and greatest system, and then give me the old one as a hand-me-down. One is in our living room, and the other is in the rec room. Both are amazingly good. Recently I had a windfall and went out and bought a brand new high-end system. I set it up right alongside my dad's (now) 40-year-old system in the living room and did an A/B test. There was simply no comparison. THE OLD SYSTEM WAS CLEARLY BETTER. Insanely better. Much has changed in recent years, e.g. smaller speakers with better magnets, complex digital sound processing, etc. But the old system had much better bass and much better treble, clarity, richness, etc. By system I'm including preamps, amps, crossovers, speakers, etc. The source was the exact same digital lossless sound file. Has anyone else had the same experience? I wish this hand-me-down category had been one of the choices in the poll.

Comment Re:It'll never happen (Score 1) 333 333

Yes. The Fermi Paradox. In reply to others above who seem to feel that intelligent life would only have to be a bit more intelligent than us to be able to get anywhere near us, I say no. Any form of life that is smart enough to go faster than the speed of light would view us something like the way we view bacteria. Or even less. To them we might be more like ghosts. Most people pretty much never think of making contact with ghosts. Or do they?

Comment It'll never happen (Score 2, Insightful) 333 333

I thought someone had proven, with a good thought experiment, that this will never happen. Has something to do with the size of the universe, time, and other stuff. i..e. Sufficiently intelligent beings who have learned to travel faster than the speed of light would be totally uninterested in visiting low life forms such as humans. Don't have a reference, but hopefully someone else does.

Comment Re: I guess that means ... (Score 1) 340 340

what is ridiculous is that the so-called "researchers" were on the radio today here in Edmonton, and made the bizarre claim that their system could be converted to deal with terrorism by just programming in terrorist scenarios that their software would then solve...

hello defense spending budget!

Just watched the "Imitation Game" last night, the Alan Turing story and this was basically the fundamental idea of the movie: that Turing would make a machine to foil the Nazis. It worked, and look where we are today.

Submission + - Craigslist down

bshell writes: Surprising that no slashdot news yet of the massive Craigslist shutdown. Various stories online about the apparent DNS attack. Is it down right now? Many pundits suggest that users clear their browser cache, but this doesn't work. The plain IP address for Craigslist is unresponsive, even with a direct link to one of their IP addresses. Ars Technica has a story, but nobody is reporting on the ongoing problems after the attack. With Craigslist being one of the webs major traffic generators it seems odd that there is not more coverage.

Comment Sounds not unlike the intervals used by other bird (Score 1) 80 80

Surprised nobody has linked to this YouTube video of the thrush in the paper: Doesn't sound that much different from a lot of other birds that use similar intervals. e.g. Red winged blackbird and chickadee.

Comment Download the pdf of any magazine instantly (Score 1) 285 285

One thing I've noticed is that any print magazine you may want can be downloaded from your favourite torrent site in just a few seconds. e.g. here are the latest issues of some popular ones... and of course These are pdf files of only a few tens of megabytes and with hundreds sharing new issues hot off the press, they appear almost instantly on your computer. With this going on, who would buy a paper magazine? NB: these are page for page exact copies of the real print magazine so all the ads are intact. I even wonder if magazine companies are uploading their own publications to sell more ad space based on how many torrented mags are shared. If I was in the magazine business I would do this for sure.

Comment The New Yorker? (Score 2) 285 285

The New Yorker website is quite good, but many of their articles can only be found in the real print magazine. They don't appear online. Plus, there's something *better* about the print version of the New Yorker with its classic very readable three column layout, its well designed typeface, inimitable New Yorker cartoons sprinkled about each issue, and even the tiny little illustrations that dot the articles and follow some clever theme in each issue. I know there's an iPad/Tablet version of the New Yorker (which I have never read) but the print magazine is still pretty nice. And I have not even mentioned the expensive ads.

Comment Communicare (like Medicare)? (Score 1) 355 355

Since public health is considered a primary good, virtually all advanced nations have some system of medicare whereby citizens get free health care, paid for by tax dollars. If we can agree that communication is a fundamental basic human need--it's what makes us human--then why not provide Communicare as well? Especially today, in the 21st century when for the first time in history global communication has become incredibly cheap thanks to the Internet and wireless telephone technologies. If you eliminate the profit component, which in some cases is 1000 fold (e.g. for text messages), it probably would cost no more than about $100/person/year to provide free telephone and Internet service to every citizen in a country. In fact you can make a philosophical argument that it is fundamentally immoral to profit from the human need to communicate, just as it is immoral to profit from human illness. What is needed is a politician, a champion, someone like the great Tommy Douglas of Canada who brought medicare to all Canadians in the 1960s. I wonder which country will be first to wrestle communications from the relatively small number of for-profit corporations and give it to its citizens for free, or more accurately, for a tiny fraction of their tax dollars. Think how much cheaper it would be than medicare.

Comment Re:Can't believe this made it past the editors (Score 3, Interesting) 117 117

Smell receptors are very similar to immune system receptors. They are designed to use combinatorics so that they can "identify" on the order of trillions of different shaped molecules. In fact they are designed to "detect" molecules that have never even been invented. The mathematics of smell combinatorics is what makes it (currently) an intractable problem. Also, I believe we only know what a few of the human smell receptors detect, in terms of molecular shape and smell. It's extremely difficult to conduct experiments on smell--i.e. on how smell receptors work--in human subjects. There are countless problems and this is why smell remains a mystery. This story is not about *science*. It's about an Art Project. As long as you treat the original post as a fanciful work of art, all is fine. As soon as you assume that anything like that can be created with present day technology you are off in dreamland.

Comment Re:Can't believe this made it past the editors (Score 2) 117 117

The difference here is that in the early days of photography we knew that light created images, and we knew that lenses refracted light in such a way that we could capture it. We also had silver halide which changed from clear to black on exposure to light. In other words, we had a lot of technologies based on light that we understand. At the moment this simply does not exist for the sense of smell.

Comment Re:Can't believe this made it past the editors (Score 2) 117 117

Perhaps you are not a chemist. When you say, "You merely want something that smells like them," how do you characterize that smell in the first place? Are you aware that there is no system for doing this today? Smell is not like light or sound, where there is a well understood spectrum of vibrations or frequencies and all you have to do is duplicate those frequencies. Nobody knows what smell is. If we knew that, then "smell photographs", as well as copiers, smell-phones and even "smell glasses" to correct anosmia as we have glasses to correct myopia would exist. But they don't. Why? Because there IS NO SYSTEM TO CLASSIFY SMELLS. Rather, there are dozens of systems and none of them work. A chemist cannot synthesize a molecule and say in advance what it will smell like. They might be able to say, "this will smell fish-like or ammonia-like, or fruity, or floral, but they cannot say: "this will smell exactly like that vase of flowers." This is not possible with today's science. So your response makes no sense. The closest thing we have to this is what is called "head-space analysis", a technique that is VERY expensive and in fact requires a human nose at the end of the gas chromatograph to work. That "nose" does not come cheap. Experts that do this sort of thing are paid very well and there are not many of them in the world. The reason why the flavour and fragrance industry is a multi-billion industry is because none of this is easy. While it would seem that science has figured out smell, in actual fact smell remains one of the bigger mysteries of science. It's pretty much unknown how it works. There are theories, but none of them work to enable chemists to "merely create something that smells like something", to paraphrase your initial conjecture. And "coffee smellers and perfume smellers" don't actually create smells. They take compounds either derived from natural products or synthesized by chemists and combine them in ways that smell correct. By the way: this is an art, and it's VERY VERY hard to do.

"It might help if we ran the MBA's out of Washington." -- Admiral Grace Hopper