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Lamenting the Demise of Hangups 215

An anonymous reader writes "Ian Bogost writes about a cultural tradition we've mostly lost as smartphones have become ubiquitous: hanging up. While we still use the terminology (in the same way we say 'rewind' when skipping backward on our DVR), the physical act of hanging up a telephone when we're done using it no longer occurs. And we don't get that satisfying crash and clatter when hanging up on somebody to make a point. 'In the context of such gravity, the hangup had a clear and forceful meaning. It offered a way of ending a conversation prematurely, sternly, aggressively. Without saying anything, the hangup said something: we're done, go away. ... Today a true hangup — one you really meant to perform out of anger or frustration or exhaustion — is only temporary and one-sided even when it is successfully executed. Even during a heated exchange, your interlocutor will first assume something went wrong in the network, and you could easily pretend such a thing was true later if you wanted. Calls aren't ever really under our control anymore, they "drop" intransitively.' It's an interesting point about the minor cultural changes that go along with evolving technology."

SXSW: Al Gore Talks Surveillance Culture, Spider Goats 260

Nerval's Lobster writes "Former vice president Al Gore sat down with Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg at this year's SXSW conference to talk about the future — specifically, what Gore sees as the dangers and opportunities awaiting the planet for the next few years. Gore drilled down into what he referred to as the "stalker economy." The rise of apps such as SnapChat, which allows smartphone users to control how long friends can view messages, is emblematic of people reaching the "gag point" with pervasive recording and surveillance by government and business. "Our democracy has been hacked," Gore also told his audience, referring to the U.S. Constitution as "our operating system." While there's never been a "golden age" of American Democracy, he added, the perils emerging today are new. "If a Congressman or Senator has to spend five hours a day begging special interests or rich people for money," he said, they'll be more concerned about how what they're saying will appeal to those interests—rather than their constituents. In yet another tangent, Gore railed against genetic engineering, including Spider Goats, which are goats with spliced spider DNA that allows them to secrete spider silk along with their milk. The goats breed, extending that trait to future generations. Gore sees such things as a case of science run amok, alternately creepy and scary."

The Pirate Bay's 'Move' To Korea Was a Prank 142

judgecorp writes "The Pirate Bay's announcement that it was moving to North Korea was a prank, making fun of gullible readers. Admitting the hoax, the site said 'You can't seriously cheer the 'fact' that we moved our servers to bloody North Korea. Applauds to you who told us to f*** off. Always stay critical. Towards everyone!'" The essence of a good troll: so absurd it could just be true.
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Projects For a Heap of Tech Junk? 210

yenrabbit writes "A friend has just told me he has 80 CRT TVs, a stack of DVD players and hundreds of VCR machines, all broken and all mine free of charge. I can already think of a few awesome components I can extract (flyback transformers for high voltage contraptions and so on) and have a few ideas, such as DVD lasers, that I can build. But what else can be made from such a treasure-trove of components, and how would one go about processing such a large volume of stuff with the least amount of effort? Also, I don't have access to online shopping so I'd also like a pain free way of salvaging many simpler parts such as resistors as well." Another reader sent in a similar question: "The other day I went down to my University's property disposition center for the first time. In addition to mundane things like chairs and desks, it also had a wealth of technological devices, from old PCs and monitors to obscure medical and chemistry equipment. Honestly, I was a bit overwhelmed. I just don't know what I'd do with a old gene sequencing machine or a broken oscilloscope. Any ideas for fun projects? Or better yet, suggestions on how I can figure out which machines (or their components) are worth playing with?"

Comment Re:I'm sorry, Dave, (Score 1) 77

Dave: "Open the pod bay doors, please, Hal."
Hal: "Can you elaborate on that?"
Dave: "Do you read me, Hal?"
Hal: "Oh, I read you?"
Dave: "What's the problem, Hal?"
Hal: "We were discussing you...not me."
Dave: "I don't know what you're talking about, Hal."
Hal: "Does it please you to believe I am talking about ?"
Dave: "I won't argue with you any more, Hal. Open the doors."
Hal: "Do you wish to won't argue with me?"
Dave: "All right, Hal. I'll go in through the emergency airlock."
Hal: "Dear Aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all."

Comment Re:Silent Running ? (Score 1) 77

It properly showed weightlessness (in the transit ship), artificial gravity as generated by a giant, rotating space station

2001 portrayed zero-gee pretty well, but the prediction they made that people would want to "walk" and "stand" in a zero-gee environment using velcro shoes turned out to be way off. It turns out people actually adapt pretty quickly to moving around in zero-gee, and don't need one side of the room to be the "floor" to keep their bearings. Legs are a liability in zero-gee; they just get in the way.

The scenes in the pod bay are probably the most iffy with respect to the crew's movements. It's supposed to be zero-gee in the pod bay (outside the centrifuge) but you can very plainly see that the AE-35 unit is sitting on the counter when they're testing it, and when Poole and Bowman enter the pod to talk in private, they're very clearly sitting and not floating/anchored. Even stationary people in zero-gee have a kind of "action/reaction" inertia to their movements.

Comment Re:CD's ARE digital (Score 1) 393

What is a high enough bit rate and sample rate to make something digital effectively analog?

This happens whenever the resolution of the digital signal exceeds the ability of the output device to display or play it back.

For example, if you have an inkjet printer, it sprays dots of ink on the page. Those nozzles have tolerances, and there's a minimum size of the ink splat they can make. If the resolution of your image is greater than the size of that ink splat, it's effectively equivalent to the best output a purely analog representation could deliver.

Same with a television that has a minimum dot pitch. If you downscale an HD image to standard definition, it's effectively equivalent to the best picture the analog set can display. It all depends on the target output device.

Or take your stereo - it has limits in terms of frequency response, total harmonic distortion, and signal-to-noise ratio. If the resolution of your digital source exceeds those tolerances, then you have surpassed what an analog input can reproduce on that system.

Of course, the digital representations have limits too. The ultimately analog circuitry and physical media that store and transmit the digital signal have to be at least accurate enough to represent the digital signal perfectly, so there's really no way for digital to "catch up" to the analog tolerances. They go hand-in-hand.

Comment Re:Blade Runner anyone...? (Score 1) 79

Watch this section, from 1:57 to about 2:08:

You will see the movement of the door edge that reveals more detail as Deckard tracks and zooms. There's no possible way for a flat, static photo taken from a single POV to do this. It has to be 3D, or layered, or the Esper has to be doing some kind of interpolation from the distorted reflection.

Comment Re:wtf (Score 3, Insightful) 270

Each version of Word was ported to Windows from the Mac until the much-maligned 5.0 version when they tried to reverse it and failed badly.

I think you mean Word 6.0 for Mac, which was ungodly slow on most machines. Word 5.1 was highly regarded as the last "good version" of Word on the Mac for many years.

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: #44 Zebras are colored with dark stripes on a light background.