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Comment: Re:The money AT&T didn't make from Bell Labs (Score 5, Informative) 552

by skwang (#29252345) Attached to: Where Have You Gone, Bell Labs?

Bell Labs was a subsidiary of the Bell Telephone company. Since the telephone company was a regulated utility, and a monopoly, the US government did not allow it to commercialize many of its discoveries and inventions. UNIX for instance was "given away" with a license to universities (e.g. UC Berekely), companies, and the government.

I believe the conclusion you drew is incorrect because it was based on the faulty assumption that Bell Labs tried to commercialize and profit off its products, when in fact it could not.

Comment: vacuum (Score 1) 464

by skwang (#28126317) Attached to: Is Playing a DVD Harder Than Rocket Science?
Operating a laptop computer in a vacuum would probably overheat the device. There is no air (or any convection medium) to cool the hardware.

In addition, outside the spacecraft in space, there is a significant amount of radiation in from the solar wind, among other sources. This would most likely disrupt the operations of the transistors in the hardware as they are not radiation hardened.

Comment: Re:Whiskey and its age (Score 1) 366

by skwang (#27831247) Attached to: Nuclear Testing Helps Identify Fake Vintage Whiskey

Pi_rules response to your post is correct, I just want to add some pedantic commentary.

People think "whisk(e)y" refers to something specific. Instead whisk(e)y is the most generic term for a family of alcoholic beverages. I usually use a geometry analogy: whisk(e)y==quadrilateral. A quadrilateral is any four sided shape (in two-dimensions).

If we start demanding more definitions on our quadrilateral we use different terms. If one pair of sides are parallel to each other, the shape is a trapezoid (trapezium). And if both pairs of sides are parallel to each other, this is a parallelogram. However, both trapezoids and parallelograms are still quadrilaterals.

Parallelograms can be broken down even further. A parallelogram with four 90-degree/right angles is a rectangle. A parallelogram with four equal sized sides is a rhombus. Likewise, a rhombus with four right angles is a square. Squares are also rectangles by construction. And all these shapes are still quadrilaterals. I might not be 100% correct in my geometric definitions, but the point of my analogy is that there is a family of shapes, starting with a quadrilateral, and additional definitions result in different names.

Whisk(e)y just means any grain that has been fermented, distilled, and then aged in wood barrels. Whisk(e)y can be made from wheat, corn, rye, barley, and malted barely. In fact it could be made of rice, oats, millet, etc. although I don't know if any whisk(e)ys that are made from these grains. (Aside: Sake is made from rice but not distilled and thus not a whisk(e)y). Not surprisingly, rye whisk(e)y is made from rye. Scotch whisky comes from Scotland. Single malt scotch whisky means that the whisky is made in Scotland and comes from a single distillery where malted barley was used as the grain. Bourbon is an American whiskey which is made from at least 51% corn which is aged in new barrels only (so barrels can't be reused). Bourbon must also be distilled in Kentucky.

As you can see these definitions start to get myriad and confusing. Some of these terms are codified by law. To call a whiskey a bourbon you must follow a certain prescription by law, or else you cannot label it as bourbon.

Perhaps to be explicit and answer multipart/mixed question, the term whisk(e)y is not dependent on the grain the product was made from nor where the product originated. There are American malt whiskeys, made from malted barley and even roasted over peat to give it a the smoky flavor some Scotch whiskies have. There are Scotch whiskies made from wheat and unmalted barley, named single/blended grain whiskies depending on whether the whisky comes from a single distillery or whether it is blended from many sources. Rye whiskey was historically distilled in large quantities in the USA. Today Canada is a major source of rye whisky. Ireland, Japan, Austraila, etc. There are distilleries in many European countries, even in Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, India, etc. etc. All make whisk(e)y.

So in conclusion, please don't assume that the name whisk(e)y denotes what ingredient was used to distill the product or where it was made. Whisk(e)y can come from any grain, and is worldwide in production.

Comment: Re:Whiskey and its age (Score 1) 366

by skwang (#27822353) Attached to: Nuclear Testing Helps Identify Fake Vintage Whiskey

Yes you are correct. My OP implied otherwise. It should be spelled based on where the product is from. I guess I was trying to make the point that since the article dealt with The Macallan, the spelling should have been whisky, with out an "e".

Bourbon is a whiskey, with more strict definitions. It's like the adage that all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares.

Comment: Re:Whiskey and its age (Score 2, Funny) 366

by skwang (#27822263) Attached to: Nuclear Testing Helps Identify Fake Vintage Whiskey

Aging can mean two things. 1) The passage of time. So a whiskey stored in any container gets physically older.

2) But aging a whiskey is a specific process. Whiskey is created by the interaction of a spirit with the wood that it is in contact with. In effect you distill a "solvent" and that solvent dissolves chemicals in the wood. Thus when you remove the whiskey from a barrel you are in effect stopping the "aging process."

When I said "[the whiskey] no longer ages." I mean this specific process (#2), not that the passage of time stops. :-)

PS I do happen to a physicist though...

PPS ...not from Scotland.

Comment: Whiskey and its age (Score 5, Informative) 366

by skwang (#27821391) Attached to: Nuclear Testing Helps Identify Fake Vintage Whiskey
As a whisk(e)y connoisseur let me add my 2 cents with following points.

1. The older a whiskey is the more expensive it gets due to rarity, not quality. Many people have a bias toward older whiskeys (whiskies) because they think they are better. Like wine, some whiskeys age well, others don't.

2. Whiskey must be stored in oak barrels to age. Once it is out of the barrel, and in a bottle or steel vat, it no longer ages. So a 10 year old whiskey sitting in a bottle for 50 years is still a 10 year old whiskey.

3. Whiskeys in barrels lose about 2% a year due to evaporation, known as the angel's share. That 2% is mostly water in hotter climates, but in cooler ones, like Scotland, what is lost is mostly alcohol. Thus a spirit which is put into a barrel at 60% alcohol by volume (ABV) will be reduced to 50% ABV then 40% ABV as time goes one. This is important because once the produce drops below 40% ABV, it can no longer legally be named whiskey. Thus whiskeys are usually never older than 40 years of age to due the angle's share.

4. Whiskey is how it's spelled in the USA (where I am writing this.) In Britain and Canada it is spelled whisky. Since the article discusses whisky from The Macallan distillery (yes the "T" is capitalized), the article's title and summary misspelled "whisky."

Comment: mplayer + avidemux (Score 1) 501

by skwang (#27527681) Attached to: Decent DVD-Ripping Solution For Linux?

I use mplayer for ripping the DVD and avidemux for the transcoding the video.

Specifically I use mplayer to dump the VOB files on the disk. Then I use avidemux, which in turn uses x264, ffmpeg, lamemp3, etc. to transcode the video to any format I want. This process is not a "one-click solution," but I find that going through the process for each DVD title manually gives fine-grain control over the final product.

I put up my thumb... and it blotted out the planet Earth. -- Neil Armstrong

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