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Comment: Physics (Score 1) 145

by butalearner (#47880479) Attached to: X-Class Solar Flare Coming Friday

Flares are bursts of energy, so they travel at the speed of light -- there's no real early warning for 'em, as by the time you see it, it's here. (there might be a slight warning before you hit the peak of the flare, but we're talking seconds, not days).

The CME is what's coming on Friday ... Coronal *Mass* Ejection ... ie, it's more than just an electro-magnetic pulse ... it actually has mass associated with it.

You might also get some SEP (solar energetic particles) before the main sort of 'cloud' from the CME arrives -- those can be worse for the people in space, as they arrive minutes to hours after the flare, and they'll just go through things in space (eg, spacecraft, space stations, etc.).

disclaimer : I'm not a solar physicist, but I'm a programmer/sysadmin supporting the Solar Data Analysis Center at GSFC.

If the flare was pretty much a direct hit, are we still going to be in the way if it takes 2-3 days for the CME particles to reach us? With a radial velocity of 30 km/s, the Earth will have moved several million kilometers away from the point where the flare struck. I know the Sun rotates in the same direction (~24 day period) as the Earth orbits (~365 day period), though, so maybe that imparts just the right amount of radial velocity.

Comment: Re:No, that's not what it says (Score 2) 259

by butalearner (#47855053) Attached to: Tesla Plans To Power Its Gigafactory With Renewables Alone

No, that's not what it says. It says it will be net-zero. That's a big difference.

This plant will be grid-connected. It will simply produce as much energy as it uses. Not all the time, not 24 hours.

So they will be drawing power from Fossil fueled Electric plants just like the rest of us. So much for carbon emissions being ZERO.

You're going to have to explain to slow people like myself. Where is the following logic wrong?

Tesla is going to produce, on average, enough energy to run the gigafactory without getting any externally-created electricity. In reality, sometimes Tesla will not create enough energy, so it will draw from the grid. On the other hand, sometimes it will produce too much, and that goes back to the grid, where it is used elsewhere. The energy used elsewhere is used instead of fossil fuel-produced energy. Therefore, effectively, carbon emissions from energy production will be zero (though, as you say, their equipment will produce produce greenhouse gases).

Anyway, I don't get why this should be disappointing to anybody. It sounds like awesome news to me; if everybody did this, we would be a lot better off.

Lastly, I found it quite interesting that 85 windmills in Reno could produce more than twice the energy of 850,000 square meters of fixed solar panels...and it would be more if wind speeds were slightly higher. That seems crazy to me.

Comment: Re:Inevitable (Score 1) 81

by butalearner (#47833667) Attached to: Twitpic Shutting Down Over Trademark Dispute

The guy who owns it (It's a small self-funded business) should have seen the writing on the wall and taken the $10M he was offered years ago. I suspect when twitter tightened their grip twitpic's revenue, profit and users dissipated. In it's heyday it was allegedly making ~$700K a year.

He claims they were making $1.5 million a year, actually. I could see why it might be tough to sell out if that's true.

Comment: Re:Seriously? (Score 1) 116

by butalearner (#47815647) Attached to: E-Books On a $20 Cell Phone

I used to read on a Droid Eris (2009 phone with a 3.2" screen), and it was perfectly fine for my purposes. Well, not for the Kindle app. That worked very slowly at first, then they "upgraded" it and it was unusable. Aldiko worked and looked great, though. In fact, that was pretty much all that phone was used for after a while, since it wasn't connected to any cell phone service. With it on airplane mode, the wifi off, and the brightness at minimum, the battery would last several days. I've since graduated to an old Droid Incredible with a 3.7" screen, which felt huge at first. Put the latest Cyanogenmod on there with the same settings, install Aldiko, and you're golden.

Granted, I couldn't imagine using a 3.2" screen if I needed a larger font, and my Nook Touch is a whole lot more pleasant, but the phone is easier to carry around, so I ended up reading on it more often than the e-reader. The only bad part is losing your place; it's difficult to control the little slider to get back to where you were even on large screens...on the tiny screens it's painful.

Comment: Re:Blender (Score 2) 163

by butalearner (#47809603) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: the State of Free Video Editing Tools?

blender is good for video editing, but there's no way on earth that you could call it initutive. The quirky UI takes a steep learning curve.

This is definitely true of their modeling UI, but I found the video editor quite intuitive, and my last video editing experience before that was several years prior, Adobe Premiere 2.0 or so. With only the tooltips, I quickly figured out various helpful keyboard shortcuts without referring to a tutorial or cheatsheet or anything. The only thing that tripped me up a bit was how to change the output settings (you have to go back to the Scene view/window/whatever it's called in Blender parlance).

Comment: Re:Where are these photos? (Score 1) 336

by butalearner (#47808971) Attached to: Reported iCloud Hack Leaks Hundreds of Private Celebrity Photos

That being said, those that choose to enjoy someone being taken advantage of, and snickering about it... that's the definition of sociopath.

Actually, that's more like schadenfreude. It does not take a personality disorder to dislike a famous person. It might not be a reasonable dislike, if it's due to jealousy of their wealth or looks or what have you, but it's not sociopathy. And given the reasonable expectation that these celebrities' exposure will almost certainly garner sympathy for them and improve their careers, their temporary anger and mortification doesn't even seem like that high a price, when the one feeling the schadenfreude is struggling to make ends meet, or has had people making fun of their looks since middle school.

Not saying I agree, but I can understand the point of view.

At any rate, the damage has been done, and trying to stop people from looking is an exercise in futility and madness. Appealing to people's sense of morality or social justice might work for a few people, but it's not going to make any of the victims feel better, or make people check their security settings. It's not going to give NSA an "in" on spying, either. It makes far more sense to raise awareness for the sharing/security settings on phones and other devices, and push handset makers and backup solution vendors for sensible defaults, including encryption. Between social engineering, physical theft, and spurned ex's we probably won't stop this sort of thing from happening entirely, but we can make it a whole lot more difficult.

Comment: Re:OK Another one (Score 1) 89

by butalearner (#47786189) Attached to: Astronomers Find What May Be the Closest Exoplanet So Far

Venus near the surface, is hotter than the sun-side of Mercury (by our estimates).

Two words: cloud city.

Sounds preposterous, I know, but it's almost certainly easier than colonizing the first completely habitable earth-like exoplanet (and the article actually makes it sound more plausible than the name implies). That's not to say we should stop looking for them, of course...far from it. Those are the best chance we have to find extraterrestrial life, intelligent or otherwise.

Comment: Re:The real crime here (Score 1) 465

by butalearner (#47731171) Attached to: 33 Months In Prison For Recording a Movie In a Theater

The important point, I believe, is that incarceration shouldn't be the first response for non-violent criminals. Which makes a whole goddamn lot of sense, the massive snark in the comments here notwithstanding. Yeah, we might end up having to incarcerate some, or maybe even a majority of them, but I guarantee you we end up with less overburdened prisons and more tax-paying, productive members of society.

As for the guy headed to prison for almost 3 years, he should've been hit with fines and/or wage garnishment the first time they caught him. If he kept it up after that, that's when you start hitting him with heavier fines, community service, confiscating tech, computer restrictions, etc. Wage garnishment need not be as draconian as some of the other commenters have said. They know they have to make it worthwhile for the person to work. Yeah, he might quit his job and refuse to get a new one and end up in jail anyway, but he might not, and that would be better for everybody.

Comment: Re:Libraries are one thing Amazon is not (Score 1) 165

by butalearner (#47670319) Attached to: Why the Public Library Beats Amazon

But libraries already have floating e-book licenses you can check out for downloadable content (including off hours) in addition to everything else they offer.

My daughter volunteered at the local library this summer teaching younger kids to read. In theory some semblance of this "could" be done over the Internet, but I just don't see it actually happening, and it wouldn't be the same.

Just so. In fact, these days it seems like libraries are more about being community centers than a place to borrow books. Where I live now it's not quite as noticeable, but in my previous city there was always a line to get on the computers, but hardly anybody browsing the stacks.

My library hosts story time for kids, book/movie/anime clubs, beginner PC classes (typing, office software), board game nights, arts and crafts for kids, arts and crafts for adults...all free. During tax time, they have all the forms and information you might need, and they provide information sessions and classes on free e-filing. They also host paid events; recently they had a LEGO exhibit with competitions for kids and open build time, and a Tor editor and author Q&A session where they critiqued the first couple pages of attendees' stories. Granted these things could be hosted elsewhere, but being at the library makes it more likely that I'll hear about it and far more likely that I'll go.

Also, my library also gives me access to subscription sites, including ebook and audiobook sites. I can pay $100 per year to subscribe to, or I could go to my library. I can pay $260 to get lifetime access to a single language on RocketLanguages, or I could go to my library and get access to every course on every language they have for free. While the interface isn't as slick as Duolingo, there are more languages available and it just feels like a better way for me to learn.

And of course there are the books themselves. My city has a pretty solid collection of sci-fi/fantasy, though it's not quite as exhaustive as my previous city. One nice thing they do here is try to have plenty of copies of the first books in a series, something that was a big annoyance before. I can't remember how many times I saw an interesting book while browsing, only to find out it is a sequel and I'd have to request the first one. I could also check out e-readers themselves, something that is relatively new both here and my last city.

TL;DR: you might replace one single aspect of libraries with something like Kindle Unlimited (and poorly at that), but that's not all libraries provide. Not by a long shot.

Comment: Re:Long overdue... (Score 1) 126

by butalearner (#47665209) Attached to: Android Motorcycle Helmet/HUD Gains Funding

There are at least four things a driver might legitimately want to see on a HUD. Speedo, Tacho, Navigation (no map is necessary, but the distance to and direction of the next turn are nice) and radio controls. All of these are things you will regularly want to look at while driving. I'd skip the last one, I can tune my radio by ear since I don't actually listen to broadcast radio, but the other three are all things I'd very much like to have.

I'd like to see (and I think this is where things are going) displays that combine or simplify information from sensors.

My car should basically build a mini-map of vehicles around me, potential dangers, and so on. I don't need to see it on the HUD, but perhaps just arrows (color-coded and/or faded with distance) pointing to other cars in case I don't see them. Arrows toward nearby emergency vehicles would be helpful, too, since I can never tell what direction the siren comes from. It should estimate braking distance and monitor driving conditions, and warn me if I'm too close to the car in front or behind me, or if I'm getting too close to anything beside me. That's combining knowledge of the vehicle (weight and braking info), GPS, cameras/range sensors, and current weather information.

I would like performance displays as well. Checking the tach and speedometer is all well and good, but I like to keep an eye on efficiency gauges when the car I'm driving supports it. More to the point, I'd like my car to tell me how fuel efficiency might change if I sped up or slowed down, being mindful of course about the speed limit. I'm picturing a HUD showing a small slice of an estimated efficiency curve with a marker for the speed limit. Maybe a fancier version would take into account information about the terrain and surrounding vehicles to somehow suggest optimal speeds for efficiency and safety. I want my car to notice when efficiency doesn't meet expectations, too, and tell me if tire pressure is off nominal, the car weighs more than expected, and so on.

Lastly, I want to be able to bring up lots of information on startup that disappears when I'm moving or in gear. I want to know how approximately how many miles I have until empty, how my car's fluids are doing (including things like oil purity, not just level), how my car's my battery, tires, brake pads, air filter and so on are doing, safety information (everybody is buckled up, emergency break is off, lights are on if not automatic), and so on.

+ - Nasa approves 'impossible' space engine design that apparently violates the laws-> 4

Submitted by sirlark
sirlark (1676276) writes "In a quiet announcement that has sent shockwaves through the scientific world, Nasa has cautiously given its seal of approval to a new type of “impossible” engine that could revolutionize space travel.

In a paper published by the agency’s experimental Eagleworks Laboratories, Nasa engineers confirmed that they had produced tiny amounts of thrust from an engine without propellant – an apparent violation of the conservation of momentum; the law of physics that states that every action must have an equal and opposite reaction."

Link to Original Source

+ - City of Turin embraces Linux->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Yet another prestigiuos city is abandoning closed source solutions.spending review is the keyword in italian governance right now,so the city manager had to decide whether to upgrade all existing software and hardware(since 80% of its install base is XP) or migrate to an open source solution(it is not clearly stated in the article bit it appears to be replace by Ubuntu). Differently from Munich or Bolzen , the migration in Turin will encompass the whole IT infrastructure and will make the city save 6 million euros."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:So fix it (Score 1) 430

Or, for the less altruistic out there, write tutorials, put them on your own blog and youtube, link them from the project's wiki in a reasonable, completely non-spammy way (e.g. copy the content, attribute it to your blog with a clearly marked external link), and make a dollar or two from advertising.

Or, if you have the money to spend, offer a bounty.

Comment: Re:where's the money?! (Score 1) 213

by butalearner (#47573355) Attached to: Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM

I am a long time member of the ACM, and I've always thought the value for money was excellent. I'm not an academic and I don't go to conferences. The Safari and 24/7 Books Online subscriptions, plus the skillsoft training is where I see most of the value.

That's good to know for future reference, though every company I've worked for has offered those things to its employees and contractors.

Comment: Re:Damn I used to like southwest (Score 1) 928

I get the impression that you have about equal chances of getting a rude gate agent no matter what airlines you fly with. Which is to say they're almost all reasonable people, but sometimes have bad days, other times it depends more on how you ask. The guy here seems to have an entitlement. He's a frequent flyer, his kids aren't, he was asking if they could get on with him in the early boarding. He could have paid the early check-in fee for them and gotten on before most people anyway. I think it's $15 on southwest. Point is, he had other options. It's fine to ask for favors, but if you're fuming about someone NOT granting you a favor, you're probably the asshole in that situation.

I posted this above, but in my experience, when Southwest announces boarding procedures, they almost always include a special perk for families traveling together that they can board with the family member that has the lowest ticket. This might not be fair, but it is something they have always done in the past both in my experience and the guy in the article's experience. Now the guy was probably upset and embarrassed, so it's entirely possible he wasn't entirely honest about how rude the attendant really was, but I want to be sure the part about family boarding is clear.

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