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Comment: Re: A fool and their money (Score 0, Troll) 256

It's very fashionable to decry things we don't understand. Dowsing clearly works; my father called the local dowser in for his house in a remote part of SW Ireland. I watched him walk back and forth across the land, rods twitching, and eventually he hacked his heel down and said to "drill here" and we'd get "water for a family of five and to spare". Drill he did, we dropped down a remote-control DanFoss pump, and sucked on an aquifer that never failed, even in the drought years.

OK, they guy knew all the land thereabouts: he lived locally. Maybe he just knew the exact path of every underground watercourse in the neighborhood, but I doubt it. As a scientist, I want replicability of the observation (no problem here: he and several others do this for a living: no charge unless the water flows), and I'd like an explanation of why (none yet)...but equally I refuse to dismiss a phenomenon simply because it has no explanation yet. If we did that we'd still be living in the dark because we couldn't explain sunlight.

Earth

Drought Inspires a Boom In Pseudoscience, From Rain Machines To 'Water Witches' 256

Posted by timothy
from the hi-cousin-barry dept.
merbs (2708203) writes Across drought-stricken California, farmers are desperate for water. Now, many of them are calling dowsers. These "water witches," draped in dubious pseudoscience or self-assembled mythologies—or both—typically use divining rods and some sort of practiced intuition to "find" water. The professional variety do so for a fee. And business is booming. They're just part of a storied tradition of pseudoscientific hucksters exploiting our thirst for water, with everything from cloudbusters to rainmachines to New Age rituals.
Piracy

Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up 376

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the guilty-until-proven-guilty dept.
A few weeks ago, Rightscorp announced plans to have ISPs disconnect repeat copyright infringers. mpicpp (3454017) wrote in with news that Rightscorp announced during their latest earnings call further plans to require ISPs to block all web access (using a proxy system similar to hotel / college campus wifi logins) until users admit guilt and pay a settlement fine (replacing the current system of ISPs merely forwarding notices to users). Quoting TorrentFreak: [Rightscorp] says 75,000 cases have been settled so far with copyright holders picking up $10 from each. ... What is clear is that Rightscorp is determined to go after "Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Cable Vision and one more" in order to "get all of them compliant" (i.e forwarding settlement demands). The company predicts that more details on the strategy will develop in the fall, but comments from COO & CTO Robert Steele hint on how that might be achieved. ... "[What] we really want to do is move away from termination and move to what's called a hard redirect, like, when you go into a hotel and you have to put your room number in order to get past the browser and get on to browsing the web." The idea that mere allegations from an anti-piracy company could bring a complete halt to an entire household or business Internet connection until a fine is paid is less like a "piracy speeding ticket" and more like a "piracy wheel clamp", one that costs $20 to have removed.
Programming

Software Combines Thousands of Online Images Into One That Represents Them All 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-representation dept.
Zothecula writes If you're trying to find out what the common features of tabby cats are, a Google image search will likely yield more results than you'd ever have the time or inclination to look over. New software created at the University of California, Berkeley, however, is designed to make such quests considerably easier. Known as AverageExplorer, it searches out thousands of images of a given subject, then amalgamates them into one composite "average" image.
Robotics

A Thousand Kilobots Self-Assemble Into Complex Shapes 56

Posted by timothy
from the aaaaaand-improvise! dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at Harvard's Self-Organizing Systems Research Group—describe their thousand-robot swarm in a paper published today in Science (they actually built 1024 robots). In the past, researchers have only been able to program at most a couple hundred robots to work together. Now, these researchers have programmed the biggest robot swarm yet. Alone, the simple little robot can't do much, but working with 1,000 or more like-minded fellow bots, it becomes part of a swarm that can self-assemble into any two-dimensional shape. These are some of the first steps toward creating huge herds of tiny robots that form larger structures—including bigger robots."
Space

Why Hasn't This Asteroid Disintegrated? 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the this-is-glue.-strong-stuff. dept.
sciencehabit writes: Planetary scientists have found an asteroid spinning too fast for its own good. The object, known as 1950 DA, whips around every 2.1 hours, which means that rocks on its surface should fly off into space. What's keeping the remaining small rocks and dust on the surface? The researchers suggest van der Waals forces, weak forces caused by the attraction of polar molecules, which have slightly different charges on different sides of the molecule. For example, water molecules exhibit surface tension because of van der Waals forces, because the negative charge of one water molecule's oxygen atom is attracted to nearby water molecules' hydrogen atoms, which have a positive charge at their surfaces. Similar attractions could be occurring between molecules on the surfaces of different pieces of dust and rock. Such forces would be comparable to those that caused lunar dust to stick to astronauts' space suits.
Government

San Jose Police Apologize For Hiding Drone Program, Halts Until Further Review 59

Posted by timothy
from the no-department dept.
v3rgEz (125380) writes As part of MuckRock's Drone Census, the San Jose Police twice denied having a drone in public records requests — until the same investigation turned up not only a signed bid for a drone but also a federal grant giving them money for it. Now, almost a full year after first denying they had a drone, the department has come clean and apologized for hiding the program, promising more transparency and to pursue federal approval for the program, which the police department had, internally, claimed immunity from previously.
Businesses

Why Morgan Stanley Is Betting That Tesla Will Kill Your Power Company 502

Posted by timothy
from the pure-greedy-capitalism dept.
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes One major investment giant has now released three separate reports arguing that Tesla Motors is going to help kill power companies off altogether. Earlier this year, Morgan Stanley stirred up controversy when it released a report that suggested that the increasing viability of consumer solar, paired with better battery technology—that allows people to generate, and store, their own electricity—could send the decades-old utility industry into a death spiral. Then, the firm released another one. Now, it's tripling down on the idea with yet another report that spells out how Tesla and home solar will "disrupt" utilities.
Privacy

Want To Work Without Prying Eyes? Try Wearing a Body Sock 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the cover-yourself dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes The "Compubody Sock," which anyone with knitting skills can make at home, is a giant sock-hoodie-bag in which you place your laptop or tablet, along with your head and hands, giving you total privacy while freaking out anyone who happens to be sitting next to you. Designer Becky Stern told Forbes' Kashmir Hill that the Sock was meant more as commentary on privacy and device addiction; even so, considering how NSA employees reportedly drape themselves in hoods in order to thwart hidden cameras while typing in passwords, it's not outside the realm of possibility that an ultra-paranoid someone could find a practical use for a body sock. But that paranoid android better have expert knitting skills: putting together the Sock necessitates a whole lot of steps ("Purl 5, purl 2 together, purl 1, turn the work," etc.). Your other option, of course, is to simply avoid working on sensitive stuff in public.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: What To Do About the Sorry State of FOSS Documentation? 430

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-up-with-the-times dept.
First time accepted submitter TWX writes I've been out of computers as a serious home-hobby for many years and in returning I'm aghast at the state of documentation for Open Source projects. The software itself has changed significantly in the last decade, but the documentation has failed to keep pace; most of what I'm finding applies to versions long since passed or were the exact same documents from when I dropped-out of hobbyist computing years ago. Take Lightdm on Ubuntu 14.04 for example- its entire configuration file structure has been revamped, but none of the documentation for more specialized or advanced uses of Lightdm in previous versions of Ubuntu has been updated for this latest release. It's actually harder now to configure some features than it was a decade ago. TLDP is close to a decade out-of-date, fragmentation between distributions has grown to the point that answers from one distro won't readily apply to another, and web forums for even specific projects are full of questions without answers, or those that head off into completely unrelated discussion, or with snarky, "it's in the documentation, stupid!" responses. Where do you go for your FOSS documentation and self-help?
Robotics

Wearable Robot Adds Two Fingers To Your Hand 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the handy-inventions dept.
rtoz writes: Researchers at MIT have developed a robot that enhances the grasping motion of the human hand. This wrist-wearable robot adds two extra fingers that respond to movements in the wearer's hand. The robotic fingers are on either side of the hand — one outside the thumb, and the other outside the little finger. A control algorithm enables it to move in sync with the wearer's fingers to grasp objects of various shapes and sizes. With the assistance of these extra fingers, the user can grasp objects that are usually too difficult to pick up and manipulate with a single hand.
Transportation

White House Punts On Petition To Allow Tesla Direct Sales 382

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the look-at-those-hands-wave dept.
First time accepted submitter neanderslob (1207704) writes Last Friday, over a year after the petition gained the required signatures for a response, the White House rejected a We the People petition to "Allow Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states." The letter went on to defend the administration by citing their initiatives "in promoting vehicle efficiency." In response, Tesla is firing back, blasting the White House for a lack of leadership on the issue and stating "138,469 people signed the petition asking the White House to allow Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states. More than a year later, at 7.30pm EST on Friday as most of America prepared for the weekend, the White House released its disappointing response to those people. Rather than seize an opportunity to promote innovation and support the first successful American car company to be started in more than a century, the White House issued a response that was even more timid than its rejection of a petition to begin construction of a Death Star." There's a legal issue here: the executive can't just wave state law aside. But they could suggest Congress write new laws instead of just noting that Congress would need to take action.

Comment: Re:Hardly viable... (Score 1) 151

by frisket (#47452175) Attached to: Scotland Could Become Home To Britain's First Spaceport

... they also have ground requirements much closer to 'airport with atypically long runway' ...

If that's what they need then the Irish government should look at creating a spaceport near Shannon, which has a gigantic runway,suitable both for the frequent US military stopovers to and from the Middle East, and (I was told) for the Shuttle, should an emergency ever have arisen requiring a landing in Europe if Edwards or elsewhere was unavailable. But that may just be local pride :-)

Movies

Economist: File Sharing's Impact On Movies Is Modest At Most 214

Posted by samzenpus
from the boosting-sales dept.
First time accepted submitter SillyBoy123 writes What is the impact of file sharing releases on the movie industry? Ask the studios and they will say billions. An economist named Koleman Strumph is presenting a paper at the National Bureau of Economics this week that tries to estimate the crowd out from these releases. His conclusion: "I find that file sharing has only a modest impact on box office revenue." In fact, Strumph finds that file sharing before the official release of a movie can actually be beneficial to revenues: "One consistent result is that file sharing arrivals shortly before the theatrical opening have a modest positive effect on box office revenue. One explanation is that such releases create greater awareness of the film. This is also the period of heaviest advertising. In conjunction with the main estimates, this suggests that free and potentially degraded goods such as the lower quality movies available on file sharing networks can have some beneficial effects on intellectual property."

UNIX was half a billion (500000000) seconds old on Tue Nov 5 00:53:20 1985 GMT (measuring since the time(2) epoch). -- Andy Tannenbaum

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