Most of the remaining MPEG LA patents that matter run out in Q1 2014. They have others, but most of them are on features added to MPEG-4 late, ones that aren't needed in a browser's decoder, such as interlace support and decoding of images with errors.
When I was a teenager back in the 70s I knew a kid who put a solenoid controlled bleach dispenser over his rear tires to achieve that truly obnoxious white smoke burnout.
Why, do you ask? What possible purpose could that serve? Well, when his girlfriend dumped him, he backed up into her parent's driveway and blanketed their house in smoke for ten minutes.
This pretty much shows the level of mentality involved.
While I am all for automation, Kiva is about as dehumanizing a system as I could imagine possible.
Agreed. Kiva is one of the most blatant examples of "Machines should think, people should work". The intelligence in the system is in computers. All the humans do is reach into the bin the laser pointer points to, take out an item, wave it under a bar code scanner, and put it in the output bin which has a light on. It takes 15 minutes to learn the job (really, about 90 seconds, but you get a little faster with practice). There's no hope of promotion, and it's only a temporary job until the picking robots are developed.
Welcome to the future.
This should be very effective if it works. Which it should. Automated manufacturing usually takes a lot of startup time. Production lines have to be designed, fabricated, and carefully installed with everything aligned properly.
There's already a big success in this area - Kiva Systems. They make those little mobile robots used for order processing. Kiva already is handling about 20% of online orders, and Amazon bought the company recently. Setting up a warehouse for Kiva is simple - all you really need is a big flat floor. You put down markers for robot guidance, bring in the shelving units, the charging stations, and the human order-picking stations, which are all standard components, hook everything up to the servers, and go. No need to fabricate and install complex conveyor systems. No need for on-site robot repair techs - all the Kiva robots are interchangeable, so you have spares, and you can just send them back to Kiva HQ (which is small) for repairs.
Thank you for being a physician. Seriously. It's appreciated.
(-- would've been dead in the '90s except for someone like you)
The reason why progress has been so slow is because there is no one single disease, "cancer." Instead we have a few thousand different diseases which we collectively call cancer. Many of them look extremely similar, even to professional oncologists. First we have to identify all of these different cancers, and then we have to discover effective treatments against them. Some cancers will have common weaknesses; many (most?) do not.
There's a reason why cancer is called "the Emperor of Maladies". Cancer is probably the hardest scientific problem the human race has ever wrestled with. It makes the moon shot and the internet look like pikers by comparison.
Cancer is hard, and every day we don't have a cure more people are going to die in horrible ways. The first part makes us want to give up on cancer research, or to say that it's too hard, or to say that we haven't made any progress... but the second part will always keep us coming back to do more research and make another attempt.
My dream is that cancer might be cured in 100 years. I think it's a dream worth working for.
Well, start with the conservation status of the birds. Both species are rated as "Least Concern" -- which means no identifiable conservation issues.
In the 1950s there were only 412 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the US, due to hunting and DDT. By 1995 they were taken off the endangered lists, and five years ago they were taken off the "threatened" list. By now there are nearly ten thousand breeding pairs in the lower 48. Half of US states have at least 100 breeding pairs.
From an environmental viewpoint it's quite reasonable to stop treating an occasional accidental bald eagle death as some kind of serious event. For healthy population, an individual removed is room for another individual, just as with reasonable levels of deer hunting. Emitting more carbon in order to stop a handful of eagle accidents makes no sense at all.
I'm reminded that when President Truman had his heart attack in 1956, the official prescription from his physician was bed rest accompanied by Mrs. Truman to keep him warm.
That was the whole, complete prescription.
Anyone who says medicine hasn't improved since 1952 simply isn't paying attention.
Having once written for HyperCard, I'm glad it's gone. It had some syntax in common with COBOL. ADD 1 TO N is valid COBOL and valid HyperTalk. The data access in Hypercard (put the second word of name into last_names) was worse than COBOL.
If you used card names instead of card numbers, the program ran much slower.
The cited article is interesting, but he never gets into Bitcoin's "contract" capabiilty. There have been proposals to add mechanisms to Bitcoin so that you could send Bitcoins to someone, but they couldn't spend them until the sender committed the transaction. This provides a way to insure you get the goods when you order something.
So far, that's a future feature, not a usable one. This is why Bitcoin remains the scammer's paradise - anonymous, irrevocable remote money transfer. There's little risk of annoying lawsuits, cops, or armies of angry customers with pitchforks coming after you.
As a result, more than half of Bitcoin "exchanges" have gone under, usually taking customer funds with them.
Most alternative reactor designs have some major flaw. Sodium reactors have sodium fires. Pebble-bed reactors have pebble jams. (An experimental one in Germany is such a mess there's no way to fully decommission it.) Helium gas-cooled reactors leak helium. (Fort St. Vrain was converted from nuclear to natural gas because of that.) One of the painful lessons of long-life nuclear power plants is that what goes on inside the reactor vessel has to be really, really simple. Anything complex in there will break. It's being shot full of holes at the atomic level, after all. (See "hydrogen embrittlement").
Pressurized water reactors and boiling water reactors at least have only water to deal with. The fuel rods are solid rods. The thing is basically simple, although the plumbing gets insanely complex. Even then, big accidents have happened.
Some of the fancier reactor designs require an associated chemical plant to reprocess the materials. This is a pain if you're in the power generation business, and a source of leaks and risks.
Show me someone building an airplane. Oh sorry, you need an FAA license for that...
Check out the Experimental Aircraft Association. Visit the Oshkosh Fly-In. FAA regulations on experimental aircraft are quite lenient. You can't carry passengers or fly over heavily populated areas, which is reasonable enough. For flight test, there's the Mojave Air and Space Port. "My job is to give people permission. Every day in the skies over Mojave and on the ground at Mojave Air & Space Port, people take enormous risks, which someday will yield great things for all humanity." -- Stuart Witt, CEO, Mojave Air & Space Port.
How about a rocket?
"You want to test a rocket engine? This is a place where you can do that." -- Board of Directors, Mojave Air and Space Port. SpaceShip One and various X-Prize trials have launched from Mojave. Rotary Rocket flew from there, although not very far. I know people at TechShop building upper stage engines for orbital insertion.
Flying car? Forget it...
There are several ultralight helicopter kits. Quadrotors seem to get bigger each year. Thrust-type VTOLs need a lot of power, which usually means jet engines, which means a flying car will cost about as much as a small bizjet, which limits the market. Paul Moller built a flying car; it doesn't work, but that's Moller's problem, for which he's been making excuses for 40 years. I had some hopes for Urban Aeronautics out of Israel, which was showing a non-flying mockup in 2010, but they never made it fly.
Government is not preventing you from doing any of these things.
Models work from assumptions. The assumptions you put into them don't have to be plausible; a model simply spits out the consequences of the initial conditions you choose. Thus you could start a simulation of the Earth which started with the tropical seas being frozen and the polar seas being at 38 C. Those initial conditions are impossible, but the computer program will faithfully spit out *some* kind of result.
Well, how about this for a system: instead of counting how many papers a researcher publishes, count the number of times a paper he has written has been cited by somebody else.
This is truer measure in any case. I recently had occasion to review the information science research literature on ontologies, and discovered that about 5% of the literature was absolutely vital to read, and were cited by a substantial fraction of papers in the field -- hundreds of times in my own literature search, and likely thousands of times in total in peer reviewed literature.
About 20% dealt with abstruse and narrow technical topics which were nonetheless useful to people working in the field; or were case studies. Such papers make up the bulk of citations in the research literature, although any single such paper probably gets only a few dozen citations. Still that's useful work.
The remaining 3/4 of papers are trivial, a complete waste of anyone's time to read. They may score a handful of citations, but from authors scraping the bottom of the barrel. They're so trivial, obvious, and unoriginal.
Odd side note: the less an author has to say, the more elaborately he says it. The really important papers tend to be written in straightforward, easily understandable prose. The trivial papers read like parodies of academ-ese.
Well, C.S. Lewis had an interesting take on this. He obviously believed in miracles, but he thought of them as becoming "naturalized", in the way a foreigner becomes a naturalized citizen in his adoptive land, and is subsequently bound by the laws of that land. So when the *supernatural* occurs (e.g. drowning the northwest corner of the continent at the end of the First Age), the consequences should follow *naturally*.
I bring this point up with my fantasy writing friends. Just because your world *has* miraculous things in it doesn't mean *everything* should be a miracle. People should have common-sense responses to miraculous things. If wizards throw lightning bolts in battle, then the cavalry shouldn't charge in a tightly packed formation until they're right at the line of battle.
George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire conspicuously soft-pedals magic, but ironically a lot of the world of those stories fails the naturalization test. For example kind of society depicted is dependent upon consistently generating a massive agricultural surplus, something that's not compatible in my opinion with decade-long winters. But I gave up after only a million words into the stories, so maybe that's explained elsewhere.