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Comment: Not really as dangerous as the flight itself... (Score 1) 264

by stuffman64 (#37930764) Attached to: How X-Ray Scanners Became Mandatory In US Airports

These x-ray scanners often give a dose under .1uSv, which would theoretically result in one cancer death per 200 million scans.

The dose on the actual flight itself from cosmic radiation is .005mSv/hr, or about two orders of magnitude more radiation on an average-length flight of 2-6 hours.

More info can be found here

Comment: Model M (Score 1) 422

by stuffman64 (#36745580) Attached to: How Do You Get Your Geek Nostalgia Fix?

I still type on an IBM Model M keyboard that will be turning 20 on Aug. 19th. Even though it lacks a "Super" key ("Windows" key for people using Windows), nothing else can come close to its feel. Of course, I can always spring for a Das Keyboard or the ilk, but why?

Plus, I like the irony of having a twenty-year-old keyboard attached to a modern, liquid-cooled PC.

Comment: Re:Confession Time (Score 1) 387

by stuffman64 (#36130884) Attached to: Confessions of a Computer Repairman

GS Tech Support "only" covers three of the client's computers. So far we haven't had too many issues, other than the clients who want us to install 20+ pieces of crappy software after we restore the OS.

Since our store is part of the new and experimental "Connected Store" model, our precinct operates quite a bit differently- we have individual consultation booths where a dedicated "Consultation Agent" takes a quick look at it, determines what need to be done, and handles the sale (or fixes a really simple problem and sends them on their way, usually without charge). The "Advanced Repair Agents" (that's me) do the actual work on it. The guys we have as Consultation Agents know their stuff, but aren't quite as skilled with making a diagnosis and fixing the issue. The Advanced Repair Agents (myself being one of them) are not that good with selling, but are very good at what we do. This is nice because we get a position based on our strengths. The best part about the whole thing is that agents are never allowed to be called out to the sales floor to help with sales.

Comment: Re:Confession Time (Score 1) 387

by stuffman64 (#36130312) Attached to: Confessions of a Computer Repairman

Another GS drone here... I'm fortunate enough to work in one of the new "connected stores" that operates slightly differently from the other stores, and I also have the fortune to work with a boss who is a genuinely nice person.

Up until recently, Geek Squad charged $200 for a "diagnostics and repair" service to find out what was wrong with the computer, and repair it (less the cost of hardware). Not everyone had to pay this amount; those with existing warranties or protection plans didn't have to pay the diagnostic fee ($70) at all, and only the remaining $130 if the problem was not due hardware (i.e., you got a virus/malware/borked your Windows somehow). People out of warranty were pretty much hosed- $200 for a one-time-fix is quite expensive any way you look at it.

Recently they rolled out a new plan that for the same price will cover pretty much anything that goes wrong with your computer for a year's time (excluding physical damage and the cost of replacement hardware, of course). Not only is it a lot better for the consumer, but I don't feel nearly as guilty for charging $200 for essentially deleting a few files or rebuilding the MBR or whatever. Better yet, it's 100 bucks for a year if purchased with a new computer.

Okay, enough of me sounding like a salesman trying to justify the prices. The point is, almost everyone here does not need anything like Geek Squad. We know what we're doing, and we have the skills to fix it ourselves. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't, and they'd gladly pay to have the work done (or simply don't have the time to deal with it themselves).

I'm sure many of the readers here pay money to have the oil in their car changed by the 15-minute shop down the street (or worse yet, the dealership). Just as GS charging for repairs is a rip-off in the eyes of this community, anyone with a jack, a wrench, and something to catch the oil sees paying to have your oil changed as a huge rip-off as well. And unfortunately, just like with Geek Squad, these people can end up being less-than-scrupulous as well- the one time I did take my car for an oil change (hard to do with a foot of snow in your driveway), I paid $35 for oil and a filter. When I was there, they tried to get me to put all kinds of crap in my engine to "flush" it, or pay for a premium air filter (I guess they didn't notice that I had a cold-air intake on my car with a washable filter, as it's hidden in the fender well). Worse yet, a few weeks later when I was under my car, I noticed my old oil filter still there. When I went back to complain, they quickly refunded my money without putting up any resistance (and I'm far from being a loud complainer... it's almost as if they said, "you got us, here's your money back").

The point is, services exist because people demand them. Unfortunately, the people performing these services aren't always the most honest people with the greatest integrity. On the flip side, there are many, many people out there that will do the job well.

PC Games (Games)

King's Quest Fan Project The Silver Lining Is Back 61

Posted by Soulskill
from the every-cloud-has-something-something dept.
LoTonah writes "After eight years of development and a Cease & Desist from Vivendi, King's Quest fan project The Silver Lining is back in action. From the website: 'We are extremely happy to announce that our project, The Silver Lining, will definitely see the light of day! In a wonderful turn of events, Activision reached out to the Phoenix Online team a few months ago with a desire to revisit their decision regarding The Silver Lining. After negotiations, the C&D has been officially rescinded, and Phoenix Online has been granted a non-commercial license to release The Silver Lining! Our team is ecstatic about this, and as hard as we've worked for eight years, it's the tireless belief and support of you, our fans, that has made this possible.' The first episode of the project is due to be released on July 10."

Comment: Re:works in Boston (Score 2, Insightful) 385

by stuffman64 (#31724782) Attached to: Chicago Debates Merits of ShotSpotter Technology

The triangulation is the easy part. The hard part is figuring out what exactly is a gunshot and what is firecrackers, backfires, kids popping plastic bags, etc. Being able to accurately determine this is not trivial, and thus is costly.

Of course, as something sold to the government, there's always going to be excessive markup, because they know they can get away with it.

Comment: It's Cool. (Score 2, Interesting) 72

by stuffman64 (#31505484) Attached to: The State of Robotic Surgery

I for one welcome our robotic overlords... I mean, helpers!

Last month I got to play with one of the Da Vinci units at a car show (why it was there is anyone's guess). I am amazed at how intuitive it was to use- even though I was just putting tiny rubber bands on small rubbery cone-thingies, the 3D display and 1:1 motion mapping really made it feel like an extension of my body. Even though the unit doesn't use force feedback, it almost seemed like it did (just my brain, I guess). The most amazing part? My 7-year-old niece had absolutely no problem using it, and now she wants to become a doctor.

Cool stuff.

Image

Political Affiliation Can Be Differentiated By Appearance 262

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-it-looks-like-a-liberal-and-quacks-like-a-liberal dept.
quaith writes "It's not the way they dress, but the appearance of their face. A study published in PLoS One by Nicholas O. Rule and Nalini Ambady of Tufts University used closely cropped greyscale photos of people's faces, standardized for size. Undergrads were asked to categorize each person as either a Democrat or Republican. In the first study, students were able to differentiate Republican from Democrat senate candidates. In the second, students were able to differentiate the political affiliation of other college students. Accuracy in both studies was about 60% — not perfect, but way better than chance."
Space

Herschel Spectroscopy of Future Supernova 21

Posted by Soulskill
from the that's-a-big-star dept.
davecl writes "ESA's Herschel Space Telescope has released its first spectroscopic results. These include observations of VYCMa, a star 50 times as massive as the sun and soon to become a supernova, as well as a nearby galaxy, more distant colliding starburst galaxies and a comet in our own solar system. The spectra show more lines than have ever been seen in these objects in the far-infrared and will allow astronomers to work out the detailed chemistry and physics behind star and planet formation as well as the last stages of stellar evolution before VYCMa's eventual collapse into a supernova. More coverage is available at the Herschel Mission Blog, which I run."
Science

Programmable Quantum Computer Created 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the four-out-of-five-ain't-bad dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A team at NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) used berylium ions, lasers and electrodes to develop a quantum system that performed 160 randomly chosen routines. Other quantum systems to date have only been able to perform single, prescribed tasks. Other researchers say the system could be scaled up. 'The researchers ran each program 900 times. On average, the quantum computer operated accurately 79 percent of the time, the team reported in their paper.'"

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