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Comment: Narcobeer? (Score 1) 333

I seem to be the only one so far to make the connection to narcobeer. Alan Cole and Chris Bunch wrote a series of military sci-fi (The Sten Chronicles) in which narcobeer is the drink of choice for low status migrant workers. Corporations in the sci-fi equivalent of mining/single industry towns would encourage the consumption of it as a means of controlling the "migs".

Comment: Re:BAh, (Score 1) 124

I have to say, I'm of really mixed feelings about paying royalties for the right to play music. On the one hand, there is the advertising of a band or artist aspect which you refer to, which helps drive ticket, CD, download and merchandise sales. But on the other hand, musicians are in the business of making music. I see nothing wrong with paying to see/hear them in person, so I have no problem with paying (in some fashion) to hear them broadcast or streamed. Pus, I've been spoiled by growing up during a time when broadcast radio was entirely free, paid for by ads and later having access to virtually unlimited music through legal or illegal downloads.

The biggest reason I am against requiring publishers, bands or artists paying to have their music streamed though? One word: Payola. If the owners of music have to pay to have their stuff heard, then only the stuff owned by the deepest pockets will get heard. We already complain quite loudly about manufactured bands and artists who have no real talent, are airbrushed, auto-tuned and managed to a fare-thee-well by the big labels. The labels spend a lot of money finding good looking people who are suitable for such exploitation, massaging the image etc etc. They want and need to get that investment back. Pouring money into radio and internet stations would just become part of that investment. If you think that having to pay for play would convince the labels to only focus on bands/artists with *talent* that the consumers want to hear, in sufficient variety, you are clearly not living in the same universe I do.

Any broadcaster or streaming site pretty much has to choose a playlist based on highest bidder, they are in it to make a profit after all. The only question is; who do you want to be the highest bidder? The music owners=Payola, The advertisers who want music we like to be played so we'll listen (traditional radio and paid access only streaming download sites) Or the actual listeners? (Satellite and some cable-only "radio stations") Everyone involved between the original creative spark and your ears needs to make a living. As I said, I'm spoiled by free radio, streaming and downloads, so I favour the ad supported model rather than the payola or subscriber models. That lets me get my music for free and still have more sense of influence over what is being played.

I deeply miss Yahoo Launch, free music I could rate, build custom playlists with and so on. There were unskippable ads, a programmed halt in playing every once in awhile to make sure I was at the keyboard and an annoying tendency to play artist interviews/behind the scenes and the odd "top 40" track no matter how vigorously and thoroughly I downvoted that stuff. But even with those annoyances, it was my favourite source of music when at the computer for a long time. Nothing I have found since has quite satisfied me. Currently I am alternating between using the Songza website, the Firetube plugin and Minitube for Linux. I've thought about adding a shoutcast server to my home server machine and building my own playlists, but that wouldn't satisify my desire to get *good* recommendations based on my admittedly eclectic tastes. (early delta blues, the latest death, thrash, symphonic and nu metal, dubstep, electroswing, taiko drums, even the occasional bit of crunk)

Comment: Re:Impossible (Score 1) 274

by morethanapapercert (#49200141) Attached to: Laser Takes Out Truck Engine From a Mile Away
I've seen several images of American Civil War bullets being dug up welded together. There were battles where there was so much musket and rifle fire and so densely targeted that a few bullets actually collided in mid air Granted; this was an accidental result, the product of sheer numbers. It invalidates your specific claim without invalidating the point I think you were trying to make about using lasers to down incoming missiles/artillery/etc.

Comment: Only a mile? (Score 1) 784

A mile is roughly 1.6 Km and I live in a neighbourhood court that is 1.1Km from the local school IF you take the semi-hidden foot paths that wind their way through other neighbourhoods. If you stick to the proper streets with sidewalks, it adds another 200m to the trip but those are all fairly busy streets, North/South thoroughfares for traffic. Every school day, about a dozen kids from my neighbourhood make that walk, most often with no adult in tow. Granted; most of the time, most of the kids are in clumps and there is usually a parent somewhere in sight walking the youngest ones (5-7 yr olds). But for the most part, the kids are unsupervised and there are always a straggler or three. If I kid got lost or decided to play hooky and go exploring, nobody would notice them detouring.

Every Wednesday evening, my friends 10 yr old son does a paper route that is just under 2 Km long. At this time of the year, that means working mostly in the dark and along streets that are pretty bare. It's supposed to be his older brothers route, but the elder got sick of it and was going to quit. The younger lad campaigned heavily for parental permission to sub-contract the job. (Since the newspaper company wouldn't hire anyone younger than 12) He's been doing it for a little over two years now with no problems except for one jerk who usually has a hostile and aggressive acting dog. The man tells the boy to just ignore the dog, to tell it to shut up and go on with his delivery. Both my friend and I have told the lad that controlling this dog is NOT his job. If there is any doubt, any cause for concern *whatsoever* he is to skip the delivery and let the jerk complain to the newspaper.

When I was a child in the major city of Toronto, two of my friends and I routinely made bicycle trips that were well over 3 Km in round trip length so we could explore a ravine city park/conservation area. Plenty of opportunity to get into an accident, get lost or encounter a person of bad intent. Lots of adventures, some minor accidents scrambling around in the ravine, but NO tragedies.

we moved when I was 11 and for the remainder of the school year (about 4 mths IIRC) I escorted my 5 yr old brother on the TTC to our old neighbourhood, dropped him off at the day care and then proceeded to my school around the corner. Our mother went with us for the first trip, just to reassure herself that I knew the route as well as I claimed. (a short bus ride to the station, several stops on the subway and then a 4 block walk above ground) But after that, it was all on me. The following year, it was a 1 Km streetcar ride, followed by a two block walk for my brother and I to attend school. His afternoon day care picked him up at lunch time, but after school I picked him up from daycare and took him home. We usually walked because there was a bakery we would mooch day old goodies from. I took care of my brother until our mom got home at around 5:30.

TL'DR version. Both my own extensive experiences at that age and my daily observation of kids that age today suggest that a 1 mile walk from a park IS NO BIG DEAL. It really does depend on the competence of the child(ren) involved and the character of the route being taken.

Comment: Re:They all suck (Score 1) 190

by morethanapapercert (#48687657) Attached to: Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared
Hear hear! I also learned on a Selectric. I miss the amphitheatre/stepped key rows, the demi-conical keys, and the serious business and damn near indestructible double shot keys. I can find mechanical keyboards with the right key shapes and if I lay out serious money, can even get the double-shot keys made out of that serious, almost indestructible plastic that Ma Bell and IBM used for their products. What seems to be impossible is finding a keyboard with all of these features *and* the slight curve of amphitheatre key rows rather than the stepped style.

I have given serious thought to making my own keyboard essentially from scratch, sourcing keys and switches online and then building my own curved "plank" to mount them on, and soldering my own logic board.

My dream keyboard would have the following features:
1) curved "amphitheatre" key rows
2) double shot ABS demi-conical keycaps with transparent symbols. (appear black except when lit from below)
3) Illuminated keys that are not only switch-able, but dim-able as well. (I plan on PWM and tricolour LEDs so I can chose my own custom colour and intensity)
4) relatively quiet mechanical switches, possibly MX Cherry reds
5) Ctrl, Alt, Meta and Windows keys as well as a double row of Function keys. (I got my computing start using terminals and I miss some of the dedicated keys those keyboards would have) with status lights for each
6) rubberized shaped buttons for the keys commonly found on "media keyboards" (calculator, email, favourites, rev, fwd, play, vol+, vol-)
7) horizontal bar Enter and Backspace keys
8) USB port on the right side for occasional thumb drive uses
9) wireless, with one of those RF charging mats built into the desk to power it, on-board batteries to run it when I remove it from the pad

I have the skills needed to make the board itself, it's the logic board inside I'd need help on. As far as I know, it should be fairly easy to set up some sort of an IC that can map the roughly 150 actual key switches and output the appropriate actual keyboard signals. From there, it should be trivial to tack on the 27.8 MHz transmitter that sends to the USB receiver. I don't have much need to program macros and those few I use can be handled in software on the computer.

Comment: Drake equation... (Score 1) 307

by morethanapapercert (#48453463) Attached to: Complex Life May Be Possible In Only 10% of All Galaxies
Of course, all of us here are familiar with the Drake equation, something this article certainly applies to.

But I wonder, has anyone made a serious attempt at coming up with real numbers for the various variables to see what the final number was? Every attempt I've seen thus far at solving the equation either uses very loose figures or doesn't enumerate the variables at all.

What I'd like to see is someone take the most rigorous numbers we can come up with, narrowing the estimated ranges as best as we can with current knowledge and then combine that with the stellar distributions we already have mapped. The idea being come up with our very best guess at the number of systems which harbour life (preferably intelligent life) and how big of a sphere of space would we have to explore before we are mathematically probable likely to encounter/discover alien life. I've seen the Seager Equation, which inherently implies the number of possible life bearing planets within a certain radius sphere {our detection range for biosignature gases} but still doesn't try to plug in the best numbers we can come up with.

There is the Texas U calculator, for anyone who has estimated values for the variables at Drake Calculator But I don't have the data to plug into it, nor do I have the skill needed to evaluate the usefulness of numbers I can search for on my own.

Comment: Re:Their answer to oversubscription as well (Score 1) 243

Given the way many broadband ISPs oversubscribe their services, I consider weasel words like "up to X speeds" in the fine print while all the headlines and banner texts say "Now surf at X*" or "Fastest Internet in Y county!*" with all those asterisk footnotes to be a form of corporate buggery.

Comment: Re:Also notoriously difficult for westerners: (Score 3, Interesting) 217

An amusing quote I read once:

English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over, and rummages through their pockets for loose grammar. - Paraphrase of a quote by James Davis Nicoll

Comment: Re: a quick search (Score 4, Informative) 334

by morethanapapercert (#48180979) Attached to: No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade
Except that Canadian Rangers do not use modern small unit tactics. They do not conduct what you'd think of as a military patrol, more like a border security and game warden patrol. The primary purpose of their rifles is self defence against wildlife or obtaining food while on patrol, not engaging a human enemy. This is also behind the rationale for the .303 cartridge rather than the more modern .308, 300 winmag and other rounds I've seen suggested. Canadian Rangers don't need long range accuracy, they need medium range stopping power using only the military ball rounds approved by international conventions. (the Hague Convention if memory serves correctly)

The conditions and primary mission of the Canadian Rangers also drives the choice of bolt action vs a semi-automatic. Compared to more modern firearms, the Lee-Enfield is built with fairly loose tolerances, so the barrel and action can expand and contract in response to the heat of firing and the extreme cold often found in the Arctic without failing. (when shooting an attacking polar bear at less than 200m, making sure the weapon works is far more important than obtaining sub-MOA accuracy.) The weapon also has to be easily field-stripped even when wearing gloves. Being a Commonwealth country, we still have lots and lots of WW1 issue rifles, making their use very cost effective. The only reason the Canadian Forces wants to replace it is because nobody has made parts for them in decades, so things like firing pins and trigger springs are becoming scarce.

Comment: Re:I've never shorted a stock (Score 1) 99

by morethanapapercert (#47955925) Attached to: Microsoft Kills Off Its Trustworthy Computing Group
The problem is; as I understand it, is that Microsoft (as well as Apple and Google) have such huge cash reserves that they could afford to operate in the red for YEARS if the board of directors thought it was useful to do so. If Microsoft decided to get really serious about cloud computing and the potential for trusted computing and DRM, they could afford to take really dramatic steps to drive the market in that direction. We've seen the success of Steam and other mandatory connection, micro-transaction business models. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that the Microsoft board wants to drive individual/consumer desktop use in that direction. I seem to recall that RIAA and MPAA slipped Microsoft a bunch of cash to support development of trusted computing. If MS rolls trusted computing and trustworthy computers into a cloud oriented scheme, I'm sure there is more money to be had from that direction.

[tinfoilhat] Then there is the fact that cloud oriented computing has some rather severe concerns about data integrity, privacy and so on. I'm sure the spooks would LOVE to have everyone store their data and run cloud applications or at least cloud "certified secure" applications where they can stick their digital fingers in. [/tinfoilhat]

Comment: Re:Too Bad (Score 4, Interesting) 106

You may be right about some people finding Sheldon's outing as autistic to be insulting. But for what it's worth, I wouldn't. I AM autistic (Aspergers) as is my two sons and the elder son of my best friend. Both my friends son and I find ourselves identifying with Sheldon because certain facets of his personality and interpersonal relationship skills resonate with us. There have been numerous times when Sheldon has said something virtually word for word that my friends son or I have actually said previously. For both him and I, it is a relief to see someone portraying an autistic individual that isn't "disabled".

What separates Sheldon from folks like my friends son and myself I think is humility. We know we're different. We may share Sheldons iron clad assumption of rightness on the emotional reaction level, but intellectually we know we're different and that we have to make constant efforts to adapt to the world instead of expecting the world to adapt to us. We've had to come to recognize, accept and even to some extent celebrate neuro-diversity in a way that Sheldon doesn't seem capable of doing. We don't have Sheldons towering intellect, but we are smart. Thus; we can be wrong, life has given us lessons in humility that Sheldon hasn't had and we have learned from them.

The solution of this problem is trivial and is left as an exercise for the reader.

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