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Comment: Re:Hard to say (Score 1) 346

Does anybody know what "digital media company" really means? The new management and many of the established employees have gotten to know each other, and decided to part ways because they weren't going in the same direction. It happens all the time in the magazine business. The new owner wanted something new (even if he didn't know what it should be); the established employees thought they had something worth preserving (even if it wasn't making enough money to survive). This one's getting noticed because it's a well-known name.

Comment: Re:UPS (Score 1) 236

by jhecht (#48434507) Attached to: What is your computer most often plugged into?
With NoStar Electric, where I used to have a power failure every couple of months, it's insurance against losing hours of work rather than electronics. Fortunately things are a lot better now (if we can keep the drunks and texting drivers from busting another utility pole) - but if power failures are frequent, you need one.

Comment: Re:Lasers and deformable mirrors arnt expensive (Score 1) 150

It's a solution searching for a problem. The military has been looking at laser links through the air, but those are for non-stationary applications, such as between ships and marine forces on land. The OA talks about civilian uses on land. Claims that outages would be less than five minutes per year are highly weather dependent -- a lot easier to achieve in the Sonora desert than in a rainforest. Construction costs are big issues in urban areas, which is one environment they suggest. Developing countries are another. It's unclear what millimeter band they are using; some would require licensing, at least in the US, which was the rationale for the previous generation of all-optical through the air systems. But that generation has largely vanished.

Comment: Re:WTF? (Score 1) 265

by jhecht (#48133659) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Can't Google Block Spam In Gmail?
Almost all the mails I find in Google's spam filters are false positives, including Fidelity mailings and many legitimate mailings such as e-newsletters. My gmail accounts get virtually no "real" spam, but Google seems to program its filters to catch something. Mostly it's press releases, some of which do look spammy, but as a journalist I need to receive some of them. But it could be any mailing that meets Google's spam criteria, including a series of rapid-fire emails back and forth or routine administrivia like dental appointment reminders. (Interestingly, it has never flagged LinkedIn notices as spam.) If you're missing something important, check your Gmail spam folder. You may be surprised.

Comment: Re:avoiding doing a postdoc isn't possible (Score 1) 283

by jhecht (#48091555) Attached to: Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science
Physics had a similar problem in the 1960s. The Department of Defense pumped a lot of money into universities to train more PhDs, starting after World War II and continuing, with a few interruptions, until the mid-60s. The number of physics PhDs soared from around 100 in 1946 to over 1600 in 1970. By then all the jobs were filled, the space race was starting to wind down, and 1010 job-hunters chased 63 jobs offered at the American Physical Society's big meeting. It was brutal.

Comment: Re:A basic land line (Score 1) 635

by jhecht (#47790715) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?
The best feature of a landline is being able to understand the people you're speaking to. At least here in the US, mobile voice quality tends to be poor, thanks largely to speech compression, background noise, and the lousy acoustics of many models (smartphones have to do a lot of processing to make up for their tiny mikes and speakers). In the US, the basic landline rate usually covers unlimited calls within the US may be lower than the basic individual mobile rate (without a maximum number of minutes a month). If you talk a lot, landline to landline calls are a clear win in both call quality and price.

Comment: Re:Mixture of Bulbs (Score 1) 278

by jhecht (#47450087) Attached to: My most recent energy-saving bulbs last ...
I've been using compact fluorescent bulbs for the better part of a decade and many (maybe 5-10 in a large house) have failed. Most were cheap no-name models, but they didn't account for all the failures. Poorly made CFL bulbs are a known problem. I've been running half a dozen LEDs for 2-3 years, and only one of them failed, just a couple of weeks ago -- a no-name bulb I picked up on sale for $1.99 at Home Depot. Didn't realize quite how cheap that was until I got home and checked them out. I don't notice a major color issue. I do notice an annoying hum in one compact fluorescent, presumably a defective driver. The one place I am holding onto incandescents is in an old candelabra-bulb chandelier with dangling glass baubles. It's pretty with clear-glass incandescents. The CFL versions are out and out ugly, and the LEDs aren't much better.

Comment: Re:Need to be able to use without looking at it (Score 1) 148

Short glances are one thing, but the new displays require focusing and reading, which takes more time. An old-fashioned dial-meter takes only a glance to roughly estimate speed, fuel, and engine temperature. A large two-digit speed display works because it takes only an instant to read. But that was the only legible display on the 2014 Prius C I test-drove. The second digital display on the top displayed small characters that were hard to focus on, and switched through a series of four displays to boot. If you were looking for something beyond speed, you had to look away from the road for much too long, and I couldn't even focus on the thing. We bought a 2013 Honda Fit instead -- the displays are readable on a quick glance. That's what it's going to take for the auto makers to learn.

He: Let's end it all, bequeathin' our brains to science. She: What?!? Science got enough trouble with their OWN brains. -- Walt Kelly