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Comment Re: North Pole (Score 1) 496

It's certainly some point near the South Pole, since the North Pole hasn't got any earth. I'm not good enough with math to figure it out, but it's some point greater than one mile North of the South Pole such that when you do the one mile walk West, you cross all the longitudes and end up where you started. Then when you walk North again, you're back where you were in the beginning. Why is this more correct than starting at the North Pole? The same reason why Musk thought it better to rely on thrusters broom-balancing a landing rather than a simple parachute: he likes to do things the hard way!

Comment Re: aggregate all my communication channels (Score 1) 421

Sounds like you want an iPhone. It does everything you asked for, with the exception of no highpass filtering (it's a limitation of current cell protocol--use Skype if you want greater resolution) and the phone book is sorta built in, but it only functions as a lookup when you receive a call from an unknown number. I use Android, though, so I can't tell you the current state of the iPhone's antenna, but I understand reception is just fine these days.

Submission + - ThyssenKrupp Introduces Maglev Elevators for Office Towers

An anonymous reader writes: The German industrial conglomerate ThyssenKrupp has announced MULTI, believed to be the world's first elevator system for commercial buildings based on magnetic levitation technology (maglev elevators from a company called MagneMotion are already in use for weapons transport by the US Navy; and yes, Star Trek's "Turbolift" was similar). This would remove a longstanding pair of bottlenecks in the quest for building ever-taller skyscrapers, namely, the increasing weight and space requirements for cabling at higher building heights. In addition, the elevators can be designed to run horizontally (or even diagonally) as well as vertically, and can support multiple cabins within a shaft; Thyssen Krupp released a YouTube video showing cabins traversing a loop spanning two adjacent vertical shafts, with horizontal traverses at the bottom and top floors. This multiplexing, combined with the reduced footprint for required for each shaft, should result in better utilization of building floor space (a potential drawback would be that a passenger nonchalantly holding an elevator door open might shut down traffic flow for the entire building). The maglev elevators would be expensive. Rather than disclose how much the system would cost, the company says their system will be ideal for new buildings at least 300 meters in height (by comparison New York's Empire State Building, with 103 stories, has a roof height of 380m). It plans to introduce a test deployment in an 240m office tower it is building in Rottweil, Germany; the public will be invited.

Submission + - Mechanical Insects Evolve The Ability To Fly Though A Window (

mikejuk writes: You might think that the world has enough insects without creating robots in the same style. In this case, however, the real interest is in the way the ability to fly though a window can evolve without anyone really trying.
This particular robot, DelFly — see, is a miracle of miniaturisation. It weighs just 20 grams including a 1-gram autopilot and 4 grams devoted to a stereo vision system. It was designed at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. The idea was to try to evolve behaviour that would get the autonomous system to fly though a window all on its own. This involves finding the window and working out a flight configuration that gets DelFly though the window.
DelFly learned using the genetic algorithm, An initial population was created at random and then tested in simulated environment. Each individual was rated on their success and a fitness value computed. The best individuals are used to create a new generation by crossover and mutation. After 150 or more generations the behaviour tree proved about 88% successful which should be compared to an 82% success rate for a hand-crafted tree.
So put simply the DelFly evolved to fly though the window — just like the real thing.

Submission + - Cyberattack on German steel factory causes 'Massive Damage' (

An anonymous reader writes: In a rare case of an online security breach causing real-world destruction, a German steel factory has been severely damaged after its networks were compromised. "The attack used spear phishing and sophisticated social engineering techniques to gain access to the factory’s office networks, from which access to production networks was gained. ... The attack used spear phishing and sophisticated social engineering techniques to gain access to the factory’s office networks, from which access to production networks was gained. Due to these failures, one of the plant’s blast furnaces could not be shut down in a controlled manner, which resulted in 'massive damage to plant,' the BSI said, describing the technical skills of the attacker as 'very advanced.'" The full report (PDF) is available in German.

Comment Re:Who is this still a problem for? (Score 1) 383

What is more clear about, "To page this person, press five now. At the tone, please record your message. When you are finished, you may hang up, or press one for more options. 'Hi, I'm unable to answer the phone right now, but if you leave a message after the beep, I'll call you as soon as I can.'" than "Hi, I'm unable to answer the phone..."?

Are there millions of people paging other people? (On their cellphones that have caller ID and TELL YOU THAT YOU HAVE MISSED CALLS.) And how many people press 1 for more options? Would you say there are more, or less, that press '1', than press the secret key (usually '#') to skip the operator messages?

The messages, while not swindling, are an annoyance to anybody that has operated a phone in the last 20 years.

I say get rid of them. For my sanity, at least.

Comment Re:Why limit it to torrents? (Score 1) 297

Fun thing to do with this: convert a raw audio waveform to PNG with his tool, then convert it to JPG (with some modest compression), then back to waveform.

Obviously, it's not going to sound wonderful, anymore, but it's a fun experiment in lossy compression in the audio domain. (Albeit a wholly inefficient and crappy one, but fun!)

Comment Old news? (Score 1) 157

There was some hullabaloo back when Nintendo first announced the Wii's capabilities because Microsoft had been working on a "magic wand" since somewhere around 1997, I believe. I'm totally unable to find any references, but there WAS a project page hosted by Microsoft which featured (besides an ugly color scheme) photos and text talking about the project/experiment.

Anyone else know what I'm talking about?

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle