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

by bshell (#46774757) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?
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... http://kickass.to/national-geo... http://kickass.to/the-economis... http://kickass.to/scientific-a... and of course http://kickass.to/penthouse-us... 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

by bshell (#46774611) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?
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

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

by bshell (#44213149) Attached to: Smell Camera Snapshots Scents For the Future
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

by bshell (#44213129) Attached to: Smell Camera Snapshots Scents For the Future
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

by bshell (#44213101) Attached to: Smell Camera Snapshots Scents For the Future
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.

Comment: Can't believe this made it past the editors (Score 5, Insightful) 117

by bshell (#44212825) Attached to: Smell Camera Snapshots Scents For the Future
This is vapourware. Perhaps pun intended. Imaginative, kind of, but such devices have been predicted since the early 1900s. Never comes to market. Why? Headspace analysis is super expensive. Even the right library of molecular signatures, which would be needed to interpret the output of the GC/Mass Spec is in the neighbourhood of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then you need a really good GC/Mass Spectrometer machine. Or at least a really good Gas Chromatograph. All this is very expensive, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars neighbourhood. And that's JUST TO FIND OUT WHAT MAY BE IN THE SMELL. Then you need a professional perfumer and a perfume house with thousands of fresh organic compounds available to reblend the smell. This is a million dollar project, or at the very least tens of thousands for each "photograph". Prohibitively expensive. I cannot believe a moderator let this one through at slashdot. Oh well.

+ - With 8.5 tons of lithium batteries, PlanetSolar ship is biggest mobile battery->

Submitted by bshell
bshell (848277) writes "The Verge has a great photo-essay about Tûranor PlanetSolar, the first boat to circle the globe with solar power. The boat is currently in NYC. Among other remarkable facts, the captain (Gérard d'Aboville) is one of those rare individuals who solo-rowed across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, journeys that took 71 and 134 days, respectively. The piece has a lot of detail about control systems and design."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Same company is going after Canadians (Score 1) 225

by bshell (#43732685) Attached to: Federal Judge Dismisses Movie Piracy Complaint
Voltage Pictures (who are these guys?) are doing the same thing in Canada, according to this article at Torrent Freak. Makes a good read. Basically, in Canada, the ISP Tek Savvy is not standing up to Voltage, however they have delayed proceedings for a month to notify their users. Here's a question for you Slashdotters: if a person removes all evidence of downloaded movies from their computer and denies downloading anything or ever possessing any "pirated" material can they still be found guilty? I know that there may be a record someplace of the bits having transited the Net to a particular IP address, but is this enough for a conviction? If there "is no body", i.e. no "pirated" file as evidence, how can anything be proven? Same for broadcast material? If I "accidentally" capture some radio waves from a private network and watch a pay-for-view show, then the show is over, how can anything be proven that a show was "pirated"?

Comment: Re:Logical conclusion of this in Black Mirror epis (Score 1) 473

Actually, to be honest, I totally agree with you and your position. I'm not a luddite and I've used your argument similarly many times with friends. It's interesting that in the end the guy cuts the thing out of his head though. Also, by far the most attractive woman in the episode has no "grain", but she also shows the horrible scar it left, demonstrating what an ordeal it is to get the thing out of you.

Comment: Re:Logical conclusion of this in Black Mirror epis (Score 1) 473

...and some people were mistrustful of photography because they thought that cameras could 'steal' their souls, or worried that automobiles traveling faster than 50mph would rip our bodies apart. This is really like saying that 1984 is the "logical conclusion" to the internet and government intervention, when in truth we, as a society, are generally pretty good at voicing concerns, and we're able to deal with and temper those concerns.

I'd certainly agree that there are some major negative side effects of this technology, so in the end I think comments like yours are good to bring up. I still, however, remain pretty hopeful that this is a technology that will have tangible, positive effects on our lives. Eventually.

Well, still: as an exercise, watch the episode. It's a fast torrent download. And then let's discuss.

Comment: Logical conclusion of this in Black Mirror episode (Score 1) 473

Try downloading and watching this episode of Black Mirror, "The Entire History of You" (Season 1, Episode 3) in which most people (in a not too distant future) have a 'grain' implanted behind their ear which records everything they do, see or hear. This allows memories to be played back either in front of the person's eyes or on a screen, a process known as a 're-do'. Google Glass feels like the beginning of this, and [spoiler alert] what do you think happens at the end of the episode? You can read the whole synopsis on the Wikipedia page for it.

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