Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Submission Summary: 0 pending, 35 declined, 5 accepted (40 total, 12.50% accepted)

Enlightenment

+ - Male hunter-gatherers: deep voice pitch = success

Submitted by dpbsmith
dpbsmith (263124) writes ""Deeper voice pitch predicts reproductive success in male hunter-gatherers, according to a new study from researchers with Harvard University, McMaster University, and Florida State University," according to the Harvard Gazette.

Anthropologists studied "the Hadza, a Tanzanian hunter-gatherer tribe that lives much the same way that most human beings did 200,000 years ago." The tribe does not use birth control, a factor which interferes with studies of reproductive success in modern populations. They found that males with lower voice pitch had more surviving children.

According to the article abstract they found that "men with low voice pitch have higher reproductive success and more children born to them" and hence "there is currently selection pressure for low-pitch voices in men," but that "voice pitch in men does not predict child mortality. These findings suggest that the association between voice pitch and reproductive success in men is mediated by differential access to fecund women," i.e. the chicks just prefer deeper-voiced guys.

The researchers found that "Voice pitch is not related to reproductive outcomes in women.""
Toys

+ - Has audio gone about as fur as it can go?

Submitted by dpbsmith
dpbsmith (263124) writes "I was listening to a CD remastered from a 1972 recording of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and I was thinking to my self "1972? Really? That sounds pretty damn good." Then I was listening on my iPod to a 1957 recording of the Boston Symphony that I had recorded off the air in analog FM with my RadioShark, and I was thinking to myself "1957? Really? That sounds pretty damn good."

I'd summarize the history of audio over the last fifty years by saying that from the forties to the mid-fifties, what happened was magnetic tape recording, and "hi-fi," i.e. high fidelity becoming available to any well-heeled, knowledgeable audiophile. What happened in the sixties was two-channel stereophonic sound. What happened in the seventies was the elimination of tape hiss, through direct-to-disk, Dolby, and digital recording.

What happened in the eighties, nineties, and this decade was... nothing much, as far as actual sound quality. The big advance was that integrated circuits, digital audio, rare earth magnets for speakers, offshore manufacture changed changed the population that got to hear mid-fi sound. Today anyone who wanders into Best Buy and spends $500-$1000 dollars will just automatically get a quality of sound that only serious audiophiles in the 1970s got to hear. (The people who bought expensive prepackaged "hi-fis" and "stereos" during the 1960s and 70s got crap in a pretty cabinet).

I know I'm going to get flamed by the high-end fans, but I still say that except for the advances represented by stereophonic sound and the elimination of analog tape hiss, everything else has been subtleties appreciated only by cognoscenti. The acceptance of compressed digital audio and the apparent market failure of SACD and DVA would seem to support this.

So, is that all there is?

Can anyone imagine a future advance in audio, impossible now due to cost or technical factors, that would produce an improvement in sound so dramatic that it would make the ordinary lay listener say "wow?" What would it be? Wavefront reconstruction? Headphones that sense head movement and rotate the stereo sound image in the opposite direction (so as to keep it stable?)Cheap cochlear implants for people without hearing deficiencies that would extend hearing up to 30 kHz?"
Programming

+ - Syntax-aware searching?

Submitted by dpbsmith
dpbsmith (263124) writes "Today most code editing tools now offer syntax coloring...

...so why don't they also offer syntax-aware searching, such as the ability to exclude comments from searching (or to search comments only)?"
The Internet

+ - Conservapedia

Submitted by dpbsmith
dpbsmith (263124) writes "Conservapedia appears to be undergoing an interesting evolution. Or meltdown. The site was started last fall, initially as a project for about sixty homeschooled students to learn their assigned subject matter by writing encyclopedia articles about it.

However, its rather grandiose home page makes claims for the site that are extravagant compared to the reality. It bills itself as a "a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia." In reality, it has about three thousand "articles" that are amateurish dictionary definitions, extracted from the students' textbooks in an effort to rough out a topic list for the encyclopedia; a score of high-school-term-paper quality articles; and a score of personal essays by Andrew Schlafly on topics in which he has an interest, an expertise, and a fairly right-wing point of view.

After some admiring mentions in conservative blogs by writers who apparently did not really look at the site, it was discovered by non-conservative circles. It has been quite interesting to perform successive Google searchs on "Conservapedia" over the course of the last twenty-four hours, as the conservative mentions get overwhelmed by non-conservatives making mocking fun of the site.

At the moment there appears to be a vicious circle taking place. Vandals are being attracted to the site. The typical vandalism consists of adding over-the-top satiric parody of what the contributors imagine to be Conservapedia's point of view. Non-conservative readers are apparently failing to judge what is real (Conservapedia's bee in its bonnet about Wikipedia's occasional use of British spellings, and CE/BCE for dates instead of AD/BC) and what is vandalism ("However, God has recently revealed on His blog that Jesus is actually His nephew, not His son.")

Their server is currently quite slow. When it is possible to get in and access Recent Changes, there is some evidence that the administrators are not managing to block vandal accounts or delete joke pages as fast as they are being created.

At the moment it almost appears as if the founders of the site have provided free Wiki space to non-conservatives, who are using it to build a satiric website that mocks the founders' opinions.

On December 22nd, an article on Conservapedia was deleted from Wikipedia, either because it did not have a high enough Alexa rank to be considered notable, or because of Wikipedia's liberal bias. Unfortunately, the vandals apparently are not using the Alexa Toolbar, as Conservapedia's Alexa rank still stands at 1,985,594."
Windows

+ - Near-future Fords to feature "Windows Automoti

Submitted by dpbsmith
dpbsmith (263124) writes "The Detroit Free Press reports that some kind of "Windows Automotive" software suite named "Sync" will be featured in some cars available Spring 2007, all 2008 Ford models, and Lincoln and Mercury later.

The software does not, apparently, run the engine or do anything directly connected with transportation.

It will, rather, allow the user to "use their vehicle as a computer in key ways, such as hands-free cell phone calls or downloading music or receiving e-mail."

Bill Ford and Bill Gates were reported as saying Ford and Gates said that having high-definition screens in vehicles, speech recognition, cameras, digital calendars and navigation equipment with directions and road conditions will set car companies apart from their competitors in the future. "There are going to be those who have it and those who don't. And even those who get it later are going to be a generation behind," Ford said.

(The higher the screen definition, the better you'll be able to concentrate on driving? Mental note: re-read Marshall McLuhan on "hot" and "cold" media...)"
Portables

+ - MIT physicist envisions wireless recharging

Submitted by dpbsmith
dpbsmith (263124) writes "A Boston Globe story The Vision of an MIT Physicist: Getting rid of pesky rechargers says that Marin Soljacic "has a plan that would mean the end of rechargers."

  "In a paper awaiting publication... he has shown that it is possible to use a carefully designed magnetic field to deliver power to anything within about 10 or 15 feet. To recharge a device, the person would just have to leave it within the field — say, in a home office — where it would pick up power using a built-in antenna without harming anything else in the room."

The device "makes use of a concept in physics called resonance... Soljacic realized that he could build a simple antenna that would resonate with a particular kind of magnetic field, allowing the antenna to draw power while the other objects in the room would not. The field is about as powerful as the earth's natural magnetic field, he said."

What's the opposite of turning over in one's grave? Tesla must be smiling down from heaven..."
Portables

+ - How do you manage portable-device paraphernalia?

Submitted by dpbsmith
dpbsmith (263124) writes "So I bought a nice little digital voice recorder to replace my old cassette. It came in one of those ultrasonically-welded blister packs that's not designed to store anything, and cannot be opened without destroying it utterly.

Inside the package was the recorder, a leather case, a belt clip, a lanyard, a pair of earbuds, two AAA batteries, a USB cable with a unique connector on the recorder end (unlike the device-end USB connectors on any other device I own), a USB docking station, an instruction manual (a funny little perfect-bound book that's too small to shelve with other books and a different size from the funny little perfect-bound books that came with my other devices), a quick-start guide (a laminated plastic trifold card that's a different size etc.), a software CD, a warranty card, and a partridge in a pear tree.

At least there's no wall transformer, thank goodness.

I'm rarely going to connect it to my computer but I don't want to lose all this stuff (much of which is probably hard to replace).

The situation is similar for almost little electronic gadget I buy lately. They come with perhaps an average of a dozen pieces of paraphernalia. All of them (except perhaps the warranty card!) are fairly important to keep. Even when a device comes in a cardboard box rather than a blister package, the box is usually poorly designed for storage, about ten times as bulky as it needs to be, and is unique in size so it won't shelve or stack neatly with other boxes.

What solutions have Slashdotters found for efficiently storing and organizing the paraphernalia associated with the little electronic devices in their lives?"
Toys

+ - Why must gear look "old" in six months?

Submitted by dpbsmith
dpbsmith (263124) writes "After a few years... probably as a result of the blue and UV content of fluorescent light... the popular "beige" plastic that houses so many computer components, originally a dignified if boring R=231, G=224, B=210 has become a slightly-mottled yellowy-grey, somewhere around R=241, G=220, B=171. No amount of cleaning will restore the original color.

Clean-looking surfaces acquire subtle fingerprints, then obvious fingerprints, then thin and surprisingly-hard-to-dislodge little dark films or crusts of finger oil. If you virtuously soak a paper cloth in Windex or Mr. Clean or 3M Desk and Office Cleaner or isopropyl alcohol, you discover previously-unnoticed little bezels and grooves and things that are suddenly revealed as telltale dark-brown lines of uneven weight.

That plastic cling-wrap stuff protects the little LCD screen and control panel of that little portable device during shipping, and then the moment you peel it off the surface underneath start to accumulate scratches. (Or if you leave it on, little bubbles form underneath).

I'm tempted to single out Apple as a particularly bad offender, but it's not really true. It just seems worse because a) Apple gear looks better to begin with, and b) it feels like more of a betrayal because Apple gear gives the impression that they did not "cheap out" on the enclosure.

Now, spare me the obvious "planned-obsolescence" explanation. Sure, that's part of it. But they can't really expect you to buy a new computer every six months. If it were planned obsolescence, they'd design the computer that looks brand spankin'-new for exactly three years and then suddenly and swiftly deteriorate into crud... like Dorian Gray.

Seriously... If They Can Put A Man On The Moon... and increase the speed and storage capacity of everything to the point where we need to learn a new SI prefix every few years, why can't they design enclosures that look good for more than a few months? That resist finger-soil and scratching? That don't accumulate cat hairs and lint between the keyboard keys?"
United States

+ - You have been "randomly" selected...

Submitted by dpbsmith
dpbsmith (263124) writes "One thing I've noticed is that the people who are told by the TSA that they have been "randomly" selected for baggage inspection have a tendency not to believe it.

I know one couple whose wife has been "randomly" selected four times, while the husband never has been. The wife believes that it is because each of those times, she was travelling by herself, without checked baggage, (whereas she has never been inspected when travelling with her husband with checked baggage).

In "Uncommon Carriers" John McPhee accompanied a truck driver to write about the experience, and buying a trucker's cap to blend in. He says "I would pay for my freedom at the Seattle-Tacoma airport when, with a one-way ticket bought the previous day, I would arrive to check in my baggage." His baggage was "randomly" selected for inspection, and later he was "once again 'randomly selected' for a shoes-off, belt-rolled, head-to-toe frisk."

So, what about it? Is the TSA simply flat-out lying when they tell you that you have been "randomly selected?""

"You don't go out and kick a mad dog. If you have a mad dog with rabies, you take a gun and shoot him." -- Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, about Muammar Kadhafy

Working...