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Comment: Re:tl;rambj (Score 1) 45

by tyme (#47487455) Attached to: Appeals Court Affirms Old Polaroid Patent Invalid

What patent were you reading? There is not a single mention of conversion of vector images to raster images!

The patent describes a set of recorded data that corrects for color and "spatial" distortion of an image by an input our output device. All the claims pertain to various features of that data set, or of the process of applying the corrections to an image.

Comment: I wouldn't get too excited about this either way (Score 1) 304

by tyme (#47355175) Attached to: Ninety-Nine Percent of the Ocean's Plastic Is Missing

First, if fish (or other marine animals) were eating the plastic (and there is a lot of evidence that they are) then they would also be starving to death (as they can't digest the plastic, and it fills up their digestive systems). When they die, the plastic would be returned to the ocean, and we would see it in our assays. So I don't think that the plastic getting eaten is the obvious solution.

Second, as anyone who has gotten sunburned while swimming knows, water doesn't block ultraviolet light very effectively, so plastic floating near the top of the water column would be exposed to a lot of UV. Plastic breaks down pretty quickly when exposed to UV, so we may just be seeing the natural destruction of the plastic by sunlight (and, I suppose, that plastic that has been partially broken down by exposure to UV might be more easily consumed by bacteria, but that's pure speculation).

Third, maybe we aren't measuring the amount of plastic in the ocean correctly. If the plastic is being consumed, or is sinking to the ocean floor, then we might easily be missing it. Also, the plastic might well not be evenly distributed across the ocean: it may be collecting in specific places due to winds and ocean currents. If we are not collecting samples evenly over the entire ocean, then we could be missing some high concentration areas.

I doubt that this means we can all breath a sigh of relief and decide that dumping plastic in the oceans is no big deal. I also doubt that this means that plastic is a much bigger problem than we thought (how could it be a bigger problem then we thought? People have been screaming about it like it was a sign of the end-times!). It is interesting, however, and I would like to know why our measurements don't match our expectations.

Comment: Re:Not all are edible though... (Score 2) 290

by tyme (#47090031) Attached to: Should We Eat Invasive Species?

morethanapapercert wrote:

my concern is that deciding to eat the invasive species is tantamount to an admission of defeat.

While I don't think that we should accept the status quo of irresponsibly introducing invasive species to our local environments, I think it's a wonderful idea to try eating our way out of the problems we've already created. For example, the Northern Snakehead is a recent and particular problem in my region (Washington D.C. Metropolitan area) and, coincidentally, is quite tasty. If we could manage to fish them to extinction it would be all for the best, and should be encouraged. Of course this may not work for many invasive species (some reproduce too rapidly to be effectively controlled by human predation, others might not be edible or palatable), so this sort of solution should be considered only as a second (or lower) tier option.

Comment: Re:On that note (Score 2) 290

by tyme (#47089995) Attached to: Should We Eat Invasive Species?

Jane Q. Public wrote:

In order for it to be true, the average "microbe" would have to be incredibly smaller than the average human cell

Indeed: human skin cell = 30 um, red blood cell = 8 um, human X chromosome = 7 um, yeast cell = 3x4 um, mitochondria body = 4x0.8 um, E. coli bacterium = 4x0.6 um. (taken from this page found via a rudimentary Google search, zoom down to the micrometer range)

Human cells are pretty large, on average, and microbial cells are much smaller.

That doesn't make the cited factoid any more meaningful, but it is certainly not worthy of doubt based purely on the numbers (that is to say, there are certainly more atoms of calcium in your body than there are human cells, but does that mean that you are, in fact, a lump of chalk?).

Comment: Re:Iapetus (Score 4, Funny) 51

by tyme (#46770517) Attached to: Astronomers Solve Puzzle of the Mountains That Fell From Space

Yes, Iapetus was photographed by Voyager 2 in 1981 (link to NASA image with metadata listed), and I would suspect that there were earth based images taken well before that (but none that would show any detail).

Who would have expected a summary on Slashdot to be carelessly wrong about something factual and easily verified?

Comment: VMS was doomed when HP bought it (Score 4, Interesting) 238

by tyme (#43968001) Attached to: HP Discontinue OpenVMS

When the amount of development your OS gets suffers "compared to HP-UX" you are in astonishingly deep trouble. I have had three run-ins with HP-UX, first in 1998, next in 2004, and finally in 2010 (when my current job retired all it's existing HP servers and moved to Solaris). When I encountered HP-UX the first time, in 1998, it seemed to be at least 10 years behind the times. Very little had changed in 2004, which meant that it was falling farther and farther behind each year. In 2010 it seemed little better than it had been in 2004, and I guess that management agreed, since we finally cut the cord and moved on to something that was, at least by comparison, more up to date.

I also used OpenVMS in the early 2000s, and it was capable, but idiosyncratic (record structured files were a PITA, and the file versioning was no replacement for proper version control. I really liked logical names, however, and the global symbol table was useful). It had a head start on lots of other OS's with respect to clustering features (cluster wide file system, message queues, and distributed lock management was all built-in), but much of the userland was GNU stuff ported over on the POSIX layer. DEC seemed to have given up on the whole "innovation" thing and was just milking existing big contracts.

Comment: "Experts" (Score 4, Insightful) 398

by tyme (#40425857) Attached to: U.S. Gas Prices Continue To Fall

Experts who claim that prices will continue to rise when prices have been rising, or continue to fall when prices have been falling, are nothing but weather vanes. These are the same idiots who have denied that we were in the last half dozen bubbles; the same idiots who were excited about DOW 30,000; the same idiots who claimed that stock/housing prices could just keep going up and up FOREVER!

Dennis Ritchie is twice as bright as Steve Jobs, and only half wrong. -- Jim Gettys