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Comment: Re:"Accidentally" (Score 5, Insightful) 372

by necro81 (#47773827) Attached to: Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

Well, if the police have nothing to hide they have nothing to fear.

Most in the Slashdot crowd would scoff at using the "nothing to hide" argument as it applies to more widespread surveillance of ordinary citizens. At the same time, they would happily use it as a justification for more widespread "surveillance" (e.g., transparency and monitoring) of police, intelligence services, and government in general.

I do not think this is an example of doublethink, or a double standard. It's not a double standard if the situations it's being applied to are, in fact, different. There is a very big difference between the private matters of private citizens and the actions of government employees in the conduct of their public roles. For that reason, always-on police cameras seem quite reasonable, so long as they can be switched off or set aside as soon as the officer goes off duty and resumes being a private citizen.

Many of the arguments raised in debunking the "nothing to hide" argument are worth considering, and should guide the proper implementation of police cameras and other "watching the watchers" efforts. I don't, however, think the arguments are forceful enough for us to not implement police cameras, though.

Comment: Re:Not the PSUs? The actual cables? (Score 1) 135

by necro81 (#47763877) Attached to: HP Recalls 6 Million Power Cables Over Fire Hazard
It's likely that there's actually more than 2A going through that cable due to power factor and reactive current. The 2 A on the nameplate is the net current that is drawn by the power supply, but if the power factor is not close to 1.0 (low- to medium-quality switching power supplies have power factor around 0.6), then there could be significant reactive current, well beyond 2 A, flowing through the cable.

USB transfers DC, and so shouldn't have any reactive current.

Comment: Re:Material selection (Score 2) 162

by necro81 (#47711149) Attached to: Wheel Damage Adding Up Quickly For Mars Rover Curiosity
Curiosity's RTG, like most that came before it, is powered with Plutonium-238. Pu-238 is an alpha-particle emitter, meaning that the radiation is easily blocked by most solid objects (as opposed to, say, gamma or neutron radiation, which require significant shielding). The radiation levels that leave the RTG housing would, I expect, be non-significant compared to the ambient radiation on the surface of Mars.

UV radiation would be a bigger problem as far as plastics are concerned.

Comment: Re:BarbaraHudson is an absolute idiot (Score 1) 89

by necro81 (#47702121) Attached to: Blackberry Moves Non-Handset Divisions Into New Business Unit

My, how times change. The first iPhone came out a little over seven years ago, to widespread mockery: "It has no keyboard!" "It's too expensive!" "Businesses and government will never abandon their Blackberries!" And now Blackberry is a shadow of it's former self, and we're arguing whether they're totally doomed or not....

Well, this is slashdot - what else are we supposed to do? If we weren't griping, sniping, and tearing everything down, we might actually go out and create something freakin' amazing!

Comment: Re:$4-15K/year (Score 1) 95

by necro81 (#47669645) Attached to: Student Bookstores Beware, Amazon Comes To Purdue Campus
As a counter-annecdote: when I was taking a course in Fourier theory, the professor teaching the course was in the process of writing his own textbook on the subject. Each week or so we got a printed copy of the appropriate chapter. He had been working on it for a while, and it was more or less complete: with huge numbers of embedded mathematics (including lengthy derivations), graphs produced in Matlab, all properly typeset using LaTeX. It was a fantastic "text" (although not exactly in book form), and better than the actual assigned text. It cost us, the students, nothing (other than the costs of being a grad student, monetary and otherwise).

Just for the heck of it, I did some searching to see if he ever got it published. It's available for pre-order now (more than a decade since I took the course). I guess it'll be the required text now, and retails north of $100, but at least it will be good.

Comment: Re:Disengenous (Score 1) 306

by necro81 (#47573413) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

Why? As long as there are 3 or more, why care about anything but price and selection? If you can find what you want, then it's just about price, no? At least, it is for me.

Because I rather like having vibrant communities sprinkled with local businesses - places where people go and interact - and a local economy not predicated solely on the whims of the Fortune 500. The end-game of what you are advocating is that everyone stays home and buys everything online or, if they opt for brick-and-mortar, their only option are big-box stores: nondescript cookie-cutter islands of mega-commerce in a sea of blacktop parking lots. I don't want that to be the dominant model, even if it means I sometimes pay a smidgen more. That smidgen more "buys" me a community I want to live in, and neighbors that can afford to live there. There's a place for big-box stores and online commerce giants - I have made purchases at Target, Amazon, and Home Depot in the last month - but I worry about me and everyone else being screwed by hegemony.

Comment: Depends on definitions (Score 1) 391

by necro81 (#47566911) Attached to: How long ago did you last assemble a computer?
I had to replace the screen on a broken smartphone in the last year. To get the screen free required a nearly total disassembly of the phone itself, followed naturally enough by a nearly complete (re)assembly. Most people would consider say that smartphones are a subset of computers; one can quibble as to whether "repair == assembly."

If the intent of the question is more along the lines of "When did you last purchase components for a desktop computer and put them all together yourself (i.e., sticking processor into socket, RAM into the mobo, etc.)?" Then the answer is: not in a decade, since that was when I last had a personal machine that was a desktop that required such assembly.

As a middle ground, I changed some of the components of my personal laptop (new HDD, more RAM, new battery, replaced a finicky flex cable). That was to years ago.

Comment: Yet another step (Score 2) 119

by necro81 (#47566459) Attached to: The Milky Way Is Much Less Massive Than Previous Thought
Starting from the Earth getting kicked out from the center of the universe to the present hypothesis that visible matter is just a tiny fraction of all the stuff in the universe, having the mass of the Milky Way reduced is just another step in what Carl Sagan called The Great Demotions. Hopefully by now humanity is getting used to it.

Comment: Re:Such a Waste (Score 1) 156

by necro81 (#47564663) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

It all could have been one movie it they followed the book

that's what I'm looking forward to once the third film is out: the fan-edit that removes anything extraneous (i.e., not explicitly in the book). Take out all of that, cut each chase sequence roughly in half, and you will end up with ONE tightly paced movie about 2:45 in length that is an entertaining adaptation.

Forty two.