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Comment: Binoculars (Score 5, Interesting) 187

by dlleigh (#47739175) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

Don't buy a telescope. Instead, get a good pair of 10x50 binoculars and an intro astronomy book with pictures.

A telescope will always take some setup and you'll be less likely to go to the effort as time goes on. With binoculars, you just grab them and go. That's a much better way to keep beginners interested.

+ - U.S. Rejects Demands For ACTA Transparency->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Trade Representative issued a release just prior to the launch of the New Zealand round of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement negotiations that has left no doubt that the U.S. is the biggest barrier to official release of the ACTA text. Unlike most other ACTA countries that have called for transparency without condition, the U.S. has set conditions that effectively seeks to trade its willingness to release the text for gains on the substance of the text."
Link to Original Source

+ - The iPad vs. Microsoft's "Jupiter" Devices->

Submitted by harrymcc
harrymcc (1641347) writes "A dozen years ago, Microsoft convinced major manufacturers to put Windows CE inside devices that looked like undersized touchscreen personal computers. The platform was code-named "Jupiter" and shipped as Handheld PC Pro, and it flopped--it turned out that people wanted full-strength notebooks. But in retrospect, it was a clear antecedent of what Apple is doing--much more successfully--with the iPad."
Link to Original Source

+ - Proposed Ban For Electronic Cigarettes-> 13

Submitted by Anarki2004
Anarki2004 (1652007) writes "There is yet another ban that nobody asked for being proposed in several states currently. From the article: There is debate about whether or not the FDA has jurisdiction over e-cigarettes. There's a bill currently in Congress that would further complicate that debate. The Family Smoking Prevention And Tobacco Control Act was passed by the House on April 2nd, and is now in the Senate. One of its provisions would allow the FDA "to review and consider the evidence for additional indications for nicotine replacement products." That could be interpreted to allow e-cigarettes to fall under the FDA's jurisdiction.

As a former smoker and an extremely satisfied user of electronic personal vaporizers, this ban would force me and thousands of others to either switch back to analog cigarettes, or give up nicotine all together (which as any smoker/former smoker knows is not an easy task). The only people who will benefit from this law are pharmaceutical companies peddling smoking cessation products, and the tobacco industry. This proposed ban does absolutely nothing to benefit the citizens."

Link to Original Source

Comment: A hardware solution for click abatement (Score 1) 519

by dlleigh (#27350609) Attached to: Old-School Keyboard Makes Comeback of Sorts

Tactile feedback is very nice, but I hate audible clicks.

A couple of decades ago I worked for Wang Laboratories and extensively used their "workstations" (basically smart terminals with a proprietary interface). Wang was the king of word processing when the professional world was just switching over from their Selectric typewriters.

To make these users feel more at home, the workstations included a mechanical solenoid that would trigger on every keystroke. This not only produced a loud, typewriter-like click, but also yielded a a tactile, typewriter-like thud.

I'm sure some engineer worked very hard on that solenoid to make the workstation sound and feel just like a Selectric, but I hated the noise and implemented a hardware solution: I clipped a solenoid wire with a pair of cutters and regained blessed silence. Many of my co-workers asked me to perform this simple service for them as well.

Later workstation models would mimic the key click by playing a sound through the speaker, but I could turn that off with an option.


+ - FireWire spec to boost data speeds to 3.2 Gbps 1

Submitted by Stony Stevenson
Stony Stevenson (954022) writes "A new set of specs for data transfer technology will quadruple top speeds to 3.2 Gbps. Formally known as IEEE 1394, the technology is called FireWire by Apple and i.LINK by Sony. The new version is called S3200 and builds on the earlier specification approved by the IEEE, according to the trade association that is preparing to unveil the details this week. The technology will be able to use existing FireWire 800 cables and connectors while delivering a major boost in performance. "It will probably go into storage products first," said 1394 Trade Association spokesman Richard Davies in an e-mail Wednesday. "It should turn up in set-top boxes and maybe Blue-ray devices, too. It's too soon to tell how fast consumer electronics makers might adopt it.""

+ - Best toy RC helicopter?

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Subject says it all. There seem to be a lot of these toy helicopters popping up everywhere from Chinatown to Future Shop. Having just bought a Micro Mosquito that broke in 5 minutes, I would like to know which model people buy (this is /., face it: you either want one too or you already have one). I know there are more serious RC choppers out there for 300-400$+, with gyros and sturdier build, but let's say I want a sub-100$ unit for indoor use. Any suggestions?

(I think the problem with the Mosquito is that the spacing between the drive motors is about the same as the width of a rotor blade, all that has to happen is for it to fall the wrong way and it chews its own blade off. A better design IMHO would be to place one motor aft and the other at the bow, if such words are used for a chopper.)"

+ - Catch the Meteor Show Tonight

Submitted by
Reservoir Hill
Reservoir Hill writes "Many meteor showers tend to disappoint, but the annual Geminid shower which peaks tonight, is expected to be a great one with forecasters predicting one or two shooting stars per minute during the peak hours. The moon is near its new phase, so skies will be dark. Meteors could start showing up anytime after dark this evening, low on the eastern horizon but a better display should begin after 10 pm local time, when the constellation Gemini, from which the meteors emanate, rises higher into the Eastern sky. By 2 am local time Gemini is directly overhead, and meteors will streak outward in all directions like spokes on a wheel. Here's some tips: Turn off all lights, indoors and out, dress warmer than you think necessary, give your eyes 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness, lie back on a lounge chair or blanket and scan as much of the sky as possible, and don't use binoculars or telescopes — meteors move too fast. If you live in the city, get out of town — city lights will overpower most of the meteors. "At first you might not see very many meteors — but be patient," said NASA astronomer Bill Cooke. "The show really heats up after midnight and by dawn on Friday.""

+ - HOA: Mandatory and exclusive ISP for 20 years

Submitted by
michaelmalak writes "5-10 years ago when buying a house, the concern was whether or not it was close enough to the telphone company's central office for DSL. Now you have to check the fine print of the Homeowners Association. Residents in Southern Walk in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, are up in arms over being required to pay $149/month for triple-play (whether they want the service or not) from an exclusive provider, OpenBand, designated by the builder, Van Metre, who by covenant will hold onto a majority of the HOA board for the next 20 years. That's right — the residents are forbidden from purchasing a traditional analog landline from Verizon."

+ - Light-based quantum circuit does basic maths

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "ZDNet Australia is reporting that researchers from the University of Queensland say they are close to building a quantum computer after creating a light-based quantum circuit capable of basic calculations. The quantum circuit pioneered by the Queensland researchers involves using a laser to send "entangled" photons through a linear optical circuit.

Professor Andrew White from the University of Queensland, who works on the project is quoted: "If you're using the current technology for sending information, and you want your information to be private 30 years from now, I would be very worried by this"."

+ - Music Decoded from 600 Year Old Engravings

Submitted by RulerOf
RulerOf (975607) writes "Musicians recently unlocked a 600 year old mystery that had been encoded into the walls of the Rosslyn Chapel that was featured in "The Da Vinci Code." The song was carved into the walls of the chapel not using traditional notes, but in the form of geometric shapes known as cymatics, or Chladni patterns. After the entire song was decoded, it was set to traditional lyrics and recorded, and can be heard in a video featured here, at the musicians' website. The video also gives a visual representation of how the engravings match up to the cymatic patterns.

From the article:

"The music has been frozen in time by symbolism...They are of such exquisite detail and so beautiful that we thought there must be a message here." The two men matched each of the patterns on the carved cubes to a Chladni pitch, and were able finally to unlock the melody.

Lastly, a direct link to the video."
Data Storage

+ - Long Block Data standard finalized

Submitted by
Anonymous writes "IDEMA has finally released the LBD (Long Block Data) standard. This standard increase the length of the data blocks of each sector from 512 bytes to 4,096 bytes. This is an update that has been requested for some time by the harddrive industry and the development of new harddrives will start immediately. The new standard offers many advantages where the improved reliability and higher transfer rates are the two most obvious. While the reliability is stated to increase as much as ten fold by some manufacturers, the performance improvements are a bit more elusive. Overall improvements include, besides the previous mentioned, shorter maintenance, time for format and more efficient data transfers due to less overhead per block during read and write operations."

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming