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Submission + - Earth Gets Another Quasi-Moon 1

The Bad Astronomer writes: Astronomers have found a new asteroid, 2014 OL339, that is a quasi-moon of the Earth. Discovered accidentally earlier this year, the 150-meter asteroid has an orbit that is more elliptical than Earth's, but has a period of almost exactly one year. It isn't bound to Earth like a real moon, but displays apparent motion as if it did, making it one of several known quasi-moons.

Comment Re:Test string here: (Score 1) 399

FWIW, I tried changing "echo vulnerable" to "whoami" and it didn't work. In fact, it segfaulted!

Maybe a path issue? Try it with /usr/bin/whoami (or wherever it is on your system).

On the system I tested, I do get a segfault but only after it has run the command. It's definitely not limited to built-in commands; "/usr/bin/man bash" worked just fine.

Comment For today, yes; in the future, mostly no. (Score 0) 253

Smartphones are very good currently. Within the next year or two, I think they'll have mostly caught up with desktop PCs for casual and office-type tasks. So currently specs MOSTLY matter if you're a hardcore phone gamer, doing something like running a bitcoin miner on your phone, or are WAY behind the curve (like me). But in the reasonably near future, there are only going to be a couple of specs that matter: How fast is the mobile connection? How long does the battery last? How big is the screen?

Comment From a non-driver perspective (Score 4, Insightful) 218

I stopped driving 2 years ago, voluntarily. My SUV cost me around $800 a month in replacement costs. Another $200 in maintenance. I was burning through $12,000 a year in gas. I spent an average of 1000 hours a year in the car, for work, for groceries, for fun. 999 of those hours were spent focused on the road. I hate talking on the phone while driving.

Consider my annual total: about $25,000 + 1000 hours of my time. For the "privilege" to sit in Chicago traffic.

I'm a consultant. I now use UberX every day. I also use public transportation when I'm not in a rush or when someone isn't paying me to swing by.

I spent about $5000 a year on UberX. $100 a week. While I am being driven around, I can respond to emails, make phone calls. I bill for that time. When a customer wants me to visit them, I pass the UberX fee on to them plus 50%. No one scoffs at it. Some customers will realize the cost of me visiting them is more expensive than just consulting over the phone.

I figure I'm $20,000 ahead in vehicle costs, plus I've literally gained another 600-700 hours of phone and email consulting time a year. Call it $40,000 ahead.

I don't take cabs, because they don't like to come to where my HQ is (ghetto neighborhood). UberX comes 24/7, within minutes.

My little sister had an emergency surgery a few months ago. I immediately hired an UberX driver, who took me from the office, to the hospital. He waited. We then took my sister to her apartment to get her cats and clothes, then he took us to the pharmacy. After, he drove us to our dad's house to drop her off, in the suburbs of Chicago. Then he drove me back to work. 3 hours, $90. I can't get a cab to wait even 10 minutes while I drop off a package at UPS. Forget about them taking credit cards.

UberX charges my Paypal account and they're off. If they're busy, they charge a surcharge. I can pick it or take public transportation.

I know why the Chicago Taxi authorities want Uber gone. But a guy like me is their best customer. Next year I'll budget $10,000 a year for UberX, and it will make my life so much more enjoyable and profitable.

Driving yourself around is dead. It's inefficient. Ridesharing is "libertarian" because it is truly freeing.

Submission + - New Mars crater spotted in before-and-after pictures

The Bad Astronomer writes: The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted a new crater on the surface of Mars, and, using before-and-after pictures, the impact date has been nailed down to less than a day — it happened on or about March 27, 2012. The crater is 50 meters or so in size, and surrounded by smaller craters that may have been caused by smaller impacts due to the incoming meteoroid breaking up. Several landslides were spotted in the area as well, possibly due to the shock wave of the impact.

Submission + - Astronomers determine the length of day of an exoplanet

The Bad Astronomer writes: Astronomers have just announced that the exoplanet Beta Pic b — a 10-Jupiter-mass world 60 light years away -— rotates in about 8 hours. Using a high-resolution spectrometer and exploiting the Doppler shift of light seen as the planet spins, they measured its rotation velocity as 28,000 mph. Making reasonable assumptions about the planet's size, that gives the length of its day. This is the first time such a measurement has been achieved for an exoplanet.

Submission + - Astronomer discovers nearby brown dwarf literally as cold as ice

The Bad Astronomer writes: Using data from the orbiting WISE and Spitzer infrared space telescopes, an astronomer has discovered a brown dwarf that is just 7.2 light years away, making it the seventh closest known interstellar object to the Sun. Not only that, it's cold ; its temperature is likely 240-260 Kelvin, well below the freezing point of water. It's literally as cold as ice.

Submission + - Earth-sized planet discovered in its star's habitable zone

The Bad Astronomer writes: Astronomers have announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a very nearly Earth-sized planet in its star's habitable zone. The planet is the fifth in a system of five orbiting a red dwarf star 500 light years away, and is located in the region where liquid water could exist on its surface. It's not know if this planet is Earth-like — that is, with water and air and the potential for life — but it's the closest we've yet seen where one could be like our own planet.

Submission + - Object seen in skydiver's helmetcam unlikely to be a meteorite 3

The Bad Astronomer writes: The viral video showing what looked like a meteorite falling past a skydiver made quite a splash, with many people assuming it was true. However, further analysis shows that it's also perfectly consistent with being a small (1-3 cm) rock that fell out of the parachute itself, which is a far more likely explanation.

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing for money.