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Comment: Re:Don't foget (Score 3, Interesting) 186

by defnoz (#48563073) Attached to: NetHack: Still One of the Greatest Games Ever Written

Amazed ADoM ( hasn't been mentioned yet. I've been playing it for about 15 years on and off (and actually won for the first time this year!). It lacks the stupid stuff you can only learn from spoilers that Nethack has, and it's got a more consistent universe - no stupid Sokoban, no flash cameras and credit cards...

DCSS seems pretty nice too, not played much

Comment: Re:Cue Ayn Rand worshipping Libetarians... (Score 1) 325

by defnoz (#48546829) Attached to: Heathrow Plane In Near Miss With Drone

Really? Those same engines are tested by firing frozen chickens into them while they are running.

Ah, that reminds me of one lunchtime debate with a colleague when this factoid came up:

Me: ... yeah, I don't think they use live ones
Him: Nah, they use frozen chickens
Me: Defrosted though I'd think?
Him: No - at that altitude, they *would* be frozen
Me: ......

Comment: Re:I'm starting to wonder... (Score 1) 182

by defnoz (#47823743) Attached to: Taking the Ice Bucket Challenge With Liquid Nitrogen

I'm no doctor, but I think the cause of death is less likely to have been "[taking] part in an ice bucket challenge" than subsequently "leaping into [shallow] water from 25-metre high cliffs."

Ontopic, I think everyone who has ever used LN2 will have dipped their hand into it. You get a couple of seconds of feeling perfectly fine, then a very sudden searing cold burn. Where I work we were given felt gloves to use when dispensing it until I pointed out that if you actually get LN2 on them (rather than just handling cold metal) it will soak in and be right next to your skin. Now we just use standard marigolds.

Comment: Re:Self propelled (carries it's own jet fuel) that (Score 1) 195

by defnoz (#47473777) Attached to: The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train
The prototype TGV was powered by dinosaur juice - I believe they swapped to electric mainly because of an increase in oil prices. Maintenance was probably also an issue (the prototype was gas turbine-electric which has a terrible record in the rail industry).

But yeah, electrification is the only sensible option - you're fixed to the route of the track anyway (or if not you've got bigger worries than where your power's coming from) so why not stick some OHLE alongside.

Comment: Fastest? Depends how you define "train" (Score 1) 195

by defnoz (#47473751) Attached to: The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train
This "train" (debatable if it's a train if it's only one vehicle) would only hold the record for the fastest conventional wheeled train in the US anyway.

The record for the fastest railed vehicle in the US - hey, even the world - is more than an order of magnitude faster. I'll pass on having a ride though.

Comment: Re:Maintenance for all trains is high (Score 1) 195

by defnoz (#47473699) Attached to: The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train

There is also the not small problem of grade. Trains dislike hills, with a grade over 1% being excessive to them. Cars routinely handle ten times this. Grades dictate routes. The only way around this is tunnels & bridges. Either way, cost per mile for a track is much higher than for a road. With costs born by one company, rather than all of us.

1% is too steep for a 10000 tonne freight train, it's nothing for an electrified passenger line. High speed lines commonly have gradients of 3 or 4%. For comparison, in the UK the maximum gradient guidance for a motorway is 3% (the steepest is 5.6%). Curvature is the main constraint with HSR requiring curve radii of ~3 miles compared to 0.5 miles for motorways.

Tunnelling is actually not a massive cost these days - to the point where nearly half of the planned HS2 line here in the UK will be tunnelled, not due to geology but to avoid land grab and spoiling the countryside (in some rich areas, obviously). Alternatively you can do as the Chinese and build elevated lines which both avoids geography to an extent and reduces the land grab - in China it was cheaper to build viaduct than on the ground for land purchase reasons alone.

Comment: Re:The death of trains (Score 1) 195

by defnoz (#47473657) Attached to: The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train
High speed rail != high speed train

In the French (and even more so German) models, the high speed network continues on normal track beyond the dedicated high speed routes, allowing service to places which wouldn't merit their own line. This is where such accidents occur - the train involved is incidental.

In Japan and Spain the HSR network is self-contained since the track gauge is different to the conventional network - If the US did ever decide to build a line I would expect it to be the same. Not because of the gauge, but to allow HSR to use existing technology which would not pass US rail safety requirements.

Comment: Re:The math(S) doesn't work (Score 1) 590

by defnoz (#41830097) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Stands In the Way of a Truly Solar-Powered Airliner?
Last I checked, air expands when heated, so your lasers would need to point downwards. Secondly, air is pretty poor at absorbing EM radiation so you'd not be able to generate a "hot zone", you'd just heat up air in the line of your beam For a long way. Third, the amount of power you'd need would be astronomical (unless you trapped the hot air in a balloon for lift, which has been figured out for a while now).

Comment: Re:I'm not British (Score 1) 160

by defnoz (#41749521) Attached to: BBC Turns Off CEEFAX Service After 38 Years

Now that Ceefax is considered obsolete, those days are over. It sure makes it a lot harder for me to enjoy their broadcasts.

If you were still watching analogue TV then it certainly will be a lot harder to enjoy any broadcasts. Subtitles are available on digital using the red button - I'm pretty sure the BBC and possibly other broadcasters are obliged to provide subtitles.

Comment: Re:Python (Score 1) 525

'Maths' is the correct spelling in English; 'math' is correct in American. In any case, a mis-spelling is not an issue of grammar, it is one of spelling.
A point of grammar would be pointing out that the verb 'solve' does not take an indirect object ('me') but would require a preposition to indicate the action occuring, viz:
* "For example, I created one which solved me the maths homework."
"For example, I created one which solved for me the maths homework."
"For example, I created one which solved the maths homework for me."

Comment: Re:New Scientist hyperbole (Score 1) 68

by defnoz (#39547313) Attached to: Scientists Build World's Most Sensitive Scale

Sounds like BS to me; conventional GCMS can resolve differences in molecular weight to a fraction of a proton's mass. And these techniques are used very heavily already, I think any mysterious "proton-scale differences" (sounds like quackery in itself) would have been noticed.

BTW whilst there aren't any isotopic diseases - unless you count cancers due to radioactive isotopes of otherwise fine elements - there is burgeoning interest in isotopic drugs, although it's questionable how much is genuine benefit and how much patent trickery.

Comment: Re:back to onetime pads and tapped morse it is, th (Score 1) 82

by defnoz (#39547095) Attached to: British Government To Grant Warrantless Trawl of Communications Data

No, I'm not. I have the right under common law to not disclose information which can then be used to incriminate me. That includes talking to police, period. I do not even have to give them my name.

Of course you're not physically compelled, by some supernatural force, to give them any information. Just as you're not physically compelled to pay your taxes, to drive at the speed limit or not to murder your mum.

Comment: Re:back to onetime pads and tapped morse it is, th (Score 1) 82

by defnoz (#39547085) Attached to: British Government To Grant Warrantless Trawl of Communications Data

I didn't deny the existence of anything. I said they are not getting the fucking encryption keys.

This would make sense if the sentence you would expect to receive for witholding the keys is less than the sentence you would expect for giving access to the data (or if handing the keys over would endanger compatriots for instance). Otherwise it's a way to go to to stick by your principles.

Of course it would make sense to use an encryption system which gives you plausible deniability in the first place, or hide incriminating data within a load of legal stuff which you might reasonably want encrypted (accounts or somesuch).

Comment: Re:Cue the straw men. (Score 1) 210

by defnoz (#39442363) Attached to: Millions In China Live In Energy Efficient Caves

I expect, within a week, to find at least one person rambling that 'All the liberal ecocommies want us to go back to living in caves and mud huts.'

You've not read the comments on TFA then. Sensible move.

Republitarian at 2:41 PM March 19, 2012
Exactly how liberals would like us to live, shivering in caves, using no energy and no water, i.e., regressive.

I also enjoyed:

ericdb at 2:06 PM March 19, 2012
And to think their communist society began on the "promise" to take care of the poor, now they have one of the highest poverty levels in the world, not including the cave dwellers.

...which conveniently misses out (a) that people have been living in houses like these for centuries, and (b) that China is not communist in any meaningful (at least economic) sense, and it's much closer to an unregulated rampant free market economy. Which is why it has very, very poor people and very, very rich people.

(posting to remove accidental negative mod).

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972