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Comment: Forget paranoia, more likely about the $$ it costs (Score 3, Insightful) 325

by fantomas (#48546285) Attached to: Heathrow Plane In Near Miss With Drone

Let's trust Wikipedia on bird strikes and assume that small objects (under about 10kg) rarely cause a catastrophic collision, mostly it looks like bird strikes and similar are survivable for planes, they just cost lots of money. Looks like most aircraft aren't going to fall out of the sky even faced with a drone operator who successfully crashes into a plane. However the photos show it can make a pretty mess of expensive jet engines.

So I suspect that commercial interest might also be at play, it would be in the airlines' interest to claim a terrorism threat to stop idiots going to the supermarket in the morning then flying a drone near commercial airspace in the afternoon. Going to cost a lot to replace one of those jet engines from the look of the wikipedia photos showing what happens when a bird hits them.

Seems like if you want to commit an act of terror then a 5kg lump of plastic isn't likely to knock an airliner out of the sky, but it will probably cost the airlines a lot of money so I can imagine they'd quite like some regulations in place to stop idiots flying them near their planes.

Comment: yes but we're a group of islands in the Atlantic (Score 1) 90

by fantomas (#48469461) Attached to: WaveNET – the Floating, Flexible Wave Energy Generator

This may be so but we (the British Isles) are a group of islands in the Atlantic, we get waves rolling around our coastline 24/7, coming in a long way across open ocean, and we've got a lot of sea. We're a relatively small island and people get protective about windfarms getting built on land. So it's a reliable source of energy to explore in a place not many folk mind too much having installations on, definitely worth researching scaleable solutions here.

Comment: Depends where: LHR: 191k passengers/ day (Score 1) 237

by fantomas (#48386907) Attached to: Will Lyft and Uber's Shared-Ride Service Hurt Public Transit?

London Heathrow sees 191,000 people arrive and depart per day.

Excluding passengers in transit, that's still going to be an awful lot of people moving in and out of the airport on the edge of London. I can't see you shifting them all in 4 person cars without more traffic jams that already plague the M25 (ok, I suspect from your post you're unhappy with more than 1 to 2 people per car, but in principle car sharing and multiple car passengers is feasible).

Maybe airports can be serviced in small rural areas by cars but in major metropolitan areas mass transit systems are more efficient.

Comment: Are the police involved? (regarding death threats) (Score 1) 239

by fantomas (#48153581) Attached to: How Women Became Gamers Through D&D

I understand that cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian, who made the statement that the best thing men could do to support women was to believe them when they say they are being harassed, has had a death threat made against her. Are the police involved? If somebody made an anonymous death threat against me I'd call the police and expect them to take it seriously. How is this being handled in this case (I don't know how things work in the USA).

Comment: No, I'm his age and we learnt metric (Score 1) 942

by fantomas (#48041309) Attached to: David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

> It couldn't possibly be because he's older... was taught imperial when he was in school... and humans tend to go with what they know?

No.

  I was born the same year as him and we were all taught metric units in England from the beginning of school, imperial units were never used. We were introduced to it in passing when we were aged about 8 or 9 as a funny old system that people used to use so we might come across from our older relatives it but not something we should pay very much attention to . Britain in the late 60s early 70s was still optimistic and looking to a scientific new future, white heat of technology and all that, and metric measurement was seen as part of the scientific new future (remember we had decimalisation of our currency at the same time, 1971, so we'd moved to 100 pennies to the pound from 12 pennies to the shilling, twenty shillings to the pound: imperial units were out of fashion). Metric measurement was pretty well known even by our parents at the time who'd gone to school in Imperial times (literally: pre 1947 when India, Pakistan and Burma were part of the empire, run from London) and taken for granted.

  Of course I should be fair and note that according to wikipedia, DC went to an exclusive private school from the age of seven so perhaps they had rum ideas about education and believe the empire was about to return and taught the kids a dead measurement system... but if it followed the national guidance on curriculum, he would have learnt metric.

We still have a passing knowledge of imperial units in the UK, folk still know a handful, but it's a very partial and incomplete understanding and the majority of people under 50 would look at you as being a bit crazy if you said you wanted them to work in pounds and ounces and feet and inches. Most of them wouldn't know how many pounds were in a hundredweight or feet in a furlong.

DC is trying to out UKIP the UKIP and gain favour with the over 60s Little Englander vote.

Comment: Not in school when they are 6 years old (Score 1) 942

by fantomas (#48041059) Attached to: David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

The article is in response to David Cameron's opinion that he'd prefer school children to learn Imperial units instead of metric as their first means of measuring the world. It's what he wants 6 year olds to learn.

I'd agree it would be interesting to give people an insight into old measurements for those folk who want to work with equipment that still has legacy imperial hardware around that they might encounter, e.g. 16-20 year olds starting an apprenticeship in some engineering domains. But I don't think working with imperial measurements is the same level of priority as the majority of other subjects that 6-11 year olds should learn. Unless you live in the USA or Liberia (I think these are the only two countries in the world to use imperial measurements as their main system?). And I definitely don't think rocket scientists should learn them, we all know how well that US Mars spacecraft faired when there was a mixup on the US side between imperial and metric measurements ;-)

Comment: Imperial Nanking university, China, 258AD (Score 1) 173

by fantomas (#47987797) Attached to: Mangalyaan Successfully Put Into Mars Orbit

Funny that, I work at a European university and this afternoon I attended a presentation on scholarship, part of which included a history of scholarship and the university. The highly regarded senior lecturer flagged up Imperial Nanking University, 258AD, as the first real university, and made a good case for it, as does wikipedia.

I think you're arguing that a university is only a university if it follows a definition of what one is according to Western European medieval law: I'd say most people would go with a definition that explores how it matches against educational criteria. Something on the lines of a gathering together of scientists and educators to share ideas, engage in research, and communicate expertise to students with the goal of enabling them to achieve mastery (and in turn teach others), while reflecting on the practices of teaching and learning. The educational model that medieval European universities operated on definitely has predecessors elsewhere in the world, such as China, and I could believe India as well.

Comment: but I'm pleased their media is just as bonkers! (Score 1, Funny) 173

by fantomas (#47981489) Attached to: Mangalyaan Successfully Put Into Mars Orbit

Very true. I am pleased one of the stories gives its readers the handy hint that the rocket "weighed nearly 320 tonnes - almost as much as 50 full-grown elephants". Nice to see the media world-wide goes for those handy public friendly measurement analogies to really mess with people's heads. Not sure how many elephants there are to the Library of Congress or a US football pitch however.

Comment: Opens up a new courier option to Mars (Score 1) 173

by fantomas (#47981415) Attached to: Mangalyaan Successfully Put Into Mars Orbit

Agreed- good science by India - congratulations to ISRO for their work. Certainly it may open up interplanetary exploration in the same way SpaceX have been redefining conversations about getting into earth orbit. the NASA Mars Orbiter cost 671 million. I am sure it is more complex, but I am also sure some spaces agencies may be contacting ISRO to ask about using their platform to transport their experiments to Mars as an interesting alternative to NASA's much more expensive option. More options to getting to Mars presumably means it's more likely more spacecraft will be heading that way?

Comment: bug/feature: depends on where your home is? (Score 1) 322

by fantomas (#47629089) Attached to: With Chinese Investment, Nicaraguan Passage Could Dwarf Panama Canal

"One of the things most people see as a bug but I see as a feature with China is their ability to just do things.....they can just tell millions of people to move out of the way of an infrastructure project"

Your opinion might vary depending on whether your home is in the path of a development. For some people, having the ability to halt the development and have the decision whether or not to commence destruction of your property arbitrated by a neutral third party is more important than rapid development of large scale projects.

Comment: Maybe they liked them both (Score 1) 151

by fantomas (#47323739) Attached to: Neanderthals Ate Their Veggies

Good question, one I guess the paleo environmental folk might be able to shed light on (what species of flora and fauna were in the area). But folk can really like a big steak when they are hungry and equally really enjoy fresh picked fruits on a hot summer's day, there doesn't need to be a conflict on a taste front. From a survival strategy perspective it makes sense to be happy with either hunted or gathered food sources, reduces your risk of starvation. Your tribe's not going to survive that long if you turn your noses up at eating nuts from a nearby grove of hazelnut trees and insist on walking for 8 hours to maybe track down some meat. Enjoying both increases your chances of doing well.

Comment: Is this greater in scale than the last Olympics? (Score 1) 90

by fantomas (#47220375) Attached to: Cybercriminals Ramp Up Activity Ahead of 2014 World Cup

Is the Brazillian World Cup situation significantly worse than the London Olympics for the cybercrime aspects? I might expect that 'real world face to face crime' (pickpocketing, bag theft, etc. ) might be worse as you'd expect London (as part of a wealthier country) to be better policed than a poorer country with higher levels of local corruption and poverty such as Brazil, but are there big differences between the online crime situations (fake websites, email scams, etc.)? The latter would appear to be more transnational and not so affected by local social/economic/policing conditions.

Comment: the younger ones focus on keeping in a job (Score 1) 519

by fantomas (#47211761) Attached to: Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

Interesting point, but I think the reason for the younger ones focussing on research is not necessarily because they don't like teaching, it is because their chance of attaining job security depends on them focussing on whatever keeps them well regarded and hence likely to get interviewed another short term contract at the end of that teaching year. That something is probably more balanced towards research outputs (regular high quality journal articles being published) than outputs from teaching.

I don't know about the USA but in the UK its not unusual for younger academics to have to pursue consecutive short term contracts for several years, each contract being 1-2 years long, before they have a chance of 'tenure' - a 'permanent' job (something that is open-ended and won't finish in months).

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