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Comment: Re:Simple Explanation (Score 5, Insightful) 233

by Zak3056 (#48919671) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

More simple explanation: Life is out there, it's just too far away to detect, or to visit us--and will ALWAYS be so, because you can't cheat Newton and Einstein. An alternate "simplest" explanation (though less likely) is that we are first.

To suggest that ET hasn't come to visit us because we are "too violent" or whatever, and that they are masking their presence is definitely NOT the simplest explanation--it suggests that every nearby alien species has agreed to isolate us, and every member of those civilizations is on board with the idea. No one is out there playing with an RF emitter in the VHF band, Harry Mudd hasn't stopped by and spilled the beans, no one's even accidentally done anything to give the game away.

Sorry, I'm just not buying that.


Verizon About To End Construction of Its Fiber Network 200

Posted by Soulskill
from the you're-stuck-with-comcast dept.
WheezyJoe writes: If you've been holding out hope that FiOS would rescue you from your local cable monopoly, it's probably time to give up. Making good on their statements five years ago, Verizon announced this week it is nearing "the end" of its fiber construction and is reducing wireline capital expenditures while spending more on wireless.

The expense of replacing old copper lines with fiber has allegedly led Verizon to stop building in new regions and to complete wiring up the areas where it had already begun. The fiber network was profitable, but nowhere near as profitable as their wireless network. So, if Verizon hasn't started in your neighborhood by now, they never will, and you'd best ignore all those ads for FiOS.

Comment: Re:Not that easy to see (Score 1) 53

by langelgjm (#48885255) Attached to: Rare Astronomical Event Will See Triple Moon Shadows On Jupiter
I have a run-of-the-mill Tasco telescope and was able to make out the Galilean moons, as well as two cloud bands on Jupiter, and of course Saturn's rings. The big challenge I had was damping vibration - any touch of the telescope or the stand would make the image blurry. You can even make out the Galilean moons with binoculars.

Comment: Will new firms last long enough to pay claims? (Score 0) 238

by langelgjm (#48858267) Attached to: Google Thinks the Insurance Industry May Be Ripe For Disruption
No doubt the industry is ripe for disruption. BUT in addition to risk measurement, another big part of insurance is the stability of the insurer, especially with long-term insurance like life insurance. How confident are you that the Uber of insurance will be around when you die 29 years into your 30-year term life insurance policy? Or will they have been acquired a dozen times by companies of varying financial strength?

Comment: Re:I predict far less outrage (Score 2) 102

by FooAtWFU (#48844661) Attached to: Feds Operated Yet Another Secret Metadata Database Until 2013

Nah, when a citizen gets murdered, there's supposed to be a trial.

Okay. You're alleging racist treatments of minorities based on prosecutors failing to indict cops who kill black people.

There's supposed to get a trial when a prosecutor thinks that he can convict the guy of some crime. "Police officer shoots random innocent in what appears to be a tragic accident possibly involving negligence" is apparently not one of those cases, for some reason or another -- probably the cozy relationship between prosecutors and the police, which is dubious enough.

But I want to contend that it's not really racist: they really wouldn't hold a trial in a similar case if the guy shot was white, and if you keep playing at it for racial reasons you will fail to effect meaningful policy changes that will address the issue, which would be more unfortunate for minorities than it would for me or most Slashdot readers (because we're demographically less likely to come into contact with law enforcement, in part because we're fancy computer programmer types who make a lot of money and can afford to live in neighborhoods which aren't riddled with crime).

Comment: Re:Sounds suspiciously like welfare. (Score 2) 109

by FooAtWFU (#48781455) Attached to: Cryptocurrency Based Basic Income Program Started In Finland

I love the concept in theory, but a society rich enough to afford one is pretty unimaginable in today's world. Western societies are clearly incapable of even providing the current levels of welfare let alone a vastly larger level.

Well, to be fair to the basic-income schemes people propose, they're supposed to turn the current levels of overall welfare spending into more effective levels of welfare by disintermediating the funds from the millions of government employees who are paid to manage it (and paid reasonably well, at that).

Comment: Re:Arduinos and MCUs (Score 2) 189

by langelgjm (#48776719) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Options For Cheap Home Automation?

Some of the ideas seem like they could be solved by off the shelf hardware. Switching loads based on temperature? Buy a cheap programmable thermostat. If you want to monitor an AC load, you can use your preferred microcontroller along with an opto-coupler. I just did this, using an opto-coupler to monitor my programmable thermostat's relay and report a logic level to a Raspberry Pi, which then logs when the relay is closed (and thus the heat running) versus open (heat off). You can get opto-couplers that include built-in rectifiers, allowing you to work with AC voltages, but of course you need to understand what you are doing to avoid danger.

I used an Electric Imp, which is a WiFi-enabled microcontroller, hooked up to a digital temperature sensor and a photoresistor, as an outdoor temperature/daylight logger. Electric Imp is a hosted solution, which is not ideal - unless someone else reverse engineers the protocol and builds their own server, when the hosted service disappears, it'll be worthless, but it was very easy to use. Here's a graph of the output.

Cost becomes an issue. WiFi connectivity is expensive. Cheapest I think you can do is about $25 - that's what an Electric IMP costs (not including a breakout board), or a Raspberry Pi A+ if you throw in a $5 WiFi USB dongle. So you're looking at a minimum of $25 for each WiFi enabled device (and neither of those are ideal - Imp is hosted and lacks much GPIO, PI is large, delicate, and lacks some basic microcontroller features). That's not very affordable, especially if you're used to throwing a $3 Atmel chip in your devices.

My thinking going forward is to couple Arduinos with relatively inexpensive RF transceivers that work in the ISM band, and simply use one WiFi device (like the Pi) as a base station that can talk to all the other devices. That will bring the cost-per-unit down to maybe $15.

Note that you will be spending a LOT of time on each project. And you will almost certainly spend far more money than you will ever save. But we do it for fun, not for efficiency!

Comment: Re:Conclusion goes too far? (Score 1) 159

by Zak3056 (#48776567) Attached to: Inside North Korea's Naenara Browser

If that IP is non-routable it means that either the entire country is on one broadcast domain or they're pulling off some relatively complicated layer 2/3 network segregation (lots of enormous lookup tables, etc). I imagine communications would be very slow all around either way.

I think that the submitter getting all "zOMG they're running the whole damn country on!!!!11one" is at best premature, but assuming that they were, I'm wondering why you'd believe it's organized as one flat network requiring any kind of magic to operate? There's plenty of room to subnet in that /8...

United States

Bill Would Ban Paid Prioritization By ISPs 216

Posted by samzenpus
from the treating-it-all-the-same dept.
jfruh writes In the opening days of the new U.S. Congress, a bill has been introduced in both the House and Senate enforcing Net neutrality, making it illegal for ISPs to accept payment to prioritize some traffic packets over others. But the sponsors are all Democrats, and with Republicans now in charge of both house of Congress, the chances of it passing seem slim.
The Media

Gunmen Kill 12, Wound 7 At French Magazine HQ 1350

Posted by Soulskill
from the rest-in-peace dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A pair of gunmen have stormed the office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and wounding seven more. The magazine had recently published a cartoon of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and witnesses say the gunmen shouted, "we have avenged the Prophet Muhammad," before leaving. "Four of the magazine's well-known cartoonists, including its editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier were reported among those killed, as well as at least two police officers. Mr Charbonnier, 47, had received death threats in the past and was living under police protection." The attackers engaged police in a gunfire outside the building, then fled in a car. At the time of this writing, they are still at large. Currently, the BBC has the most information out of English news outlets. French speakers can consult the headline at Le Monde for more current news.

There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom. -- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923