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Comment: Re:Be afraid, be very afraid (Score 1) 567

by w_dragon (#48871455) Attached to: Microsoft Reveals Windows 10 Will Be a Free Upgrade
They're upgrading existing installs - you're already a customer to take advantage of this. Besides that they're probably just trying to drive up their pre-SP1 numbers to convince some of their corporate customers to upgrade sooner. They're also upgrading machines that would be pretty unlikely to be upgraded otherwise.

Comment: Re:cost? (Score 1) 165

by w_dragon (#48826055) Attached to: Elon Musk Plans To Build Hyperloop Test Track
And hyperloop could, theoretically, move people and goods at several times the speed of sound for cheap, once the vacuum is established. Much faster than any other current method.

As to Musk being overhyped, he sold a game he programmed at age 12, was founder or co-founder of zip2, PayPal, spacex, tesla, and is credited with the concept of SolarCity. The only other person I can think of with that kind of diversity is Richard Branson. Maybe Paul Allen, but everything he's touched since Microsoft has failed. He certainly isn't always right, but he seems to have a knack for founding companies that work in areas that are just ahead of the curve.
Space

Hubble Takes Amazing New Images of Andromeda, Pillars of Creation 97

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-god-it's-full-of-stars dept.
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in April, 1990. In 1995, it presented us with one of its most iconic images: a close-up of gas pillars in the Eagle Nebula, dubbed the "Pillars of Creation." Now, as HST approaches its 25th anniversary, astronomers have re-shot the pillars at a much higher resolution. Here are direct images links: visible light, comparison with old image, near-infrared light. "The infrared view transforms the pillars into eerie, wispy silhouettes seen against a background of myriad stars. That's because the infrared light penetrates much of the gas and dust, except for the densest regions of the pillars. Newborn stars can be seen hidden away inside the pillars."

That's not the only new image from Hubble today: NASA has also released the most high definition view of the Andromeda Galaxy that we've ever seen. Here's a web-friendly image, but that doesn't really do it justice. The full image is 69,536 px by 22,230 px. To see Andromeda in all its glory, visit the ESA's dedicated, zoomable site that contains all the image data. At the highest zoom levels, you can make out a mind-blowing number of individual stars. Andromeda is over 2 million light-years distant.
Transportation

Why We're Not Going To See Sub-orbital Airliners 300

Posted by Soulskill
from the cloaking-devices dept.
glowend writes: Sci-fi author Charlie Stross has an article about sub-orbital flight, and why we'll never see it as a common mode of transportation. Quoting: "Yes, we can save some fuel by travelling above the atmosphere and cutting air resistance, but it's not a free lunch: you expend energy getting up to altitude and speed, and the fuel burn for going faster rises nonlinearly with speed. Concorde, flying trans-Atlantic at Mach 2.0, burned about the same amount of fuel as a Boeing 747 of similar vintage flying trans-Atlantic at Mach 0.85 ... while carrying less than a quarter as many passengers. Rockets aren't a magic technology. Neither are hybrid hypersonic air-breathing gadgets like Reaction Engines' Sabre engine. It's going to be a wee bit expensive."

Stross also makes a more general proposition that's particularly interesting to me: "One of the failure modes of extrapolative SF is to assume that just because something is technologically feasible, it will happen. ... Someone has to want it enough to pay for it—and it will be competing with other, possibly more attractive options."
Television

Dish Introduces $20-a-Month Streaming-TV Service 196

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-when-you-want dept.
wyattstorch516 writes "Dish Networks has unveiled Sling TV, its streaming service for customers who don't want to subscribe to Cable or Satellite. From the article: "For $20 a month — yes, twenty dollars — you get access to a lineup of cable networks that includes TNT, TBS, CNN, Food Network, HGTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, the Disney Channel, ESPN, and ESPN2. ESPN is obviously a huge get for Dish and could earn Sling TV plenty of customers all on its own. ESPN just ended another year as TV's leading cable network, and now you won't need a traditional cable package to watch it. For sports fanatics, that could prove enticing. But Dish has hinted that there may be limits on watching ESPN on mobile thanks to red tape from existing deals between the network and Verizon."

Comment: Re:This is laughable... (Score 0) 455

Yet we still can't answer basic questions about ourselves like 'why do we require sleep?' or 'what is a healthy diet?'. I think it is the height of arrogance to think we can achieve in a few decades what took nature billions of years. Today's computers are intelligent in the same way that a parrot is fluent in language.

Comment: Re:Mod parent up. (Score 1) 176

by w_dragon (#48442301) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?
The founder should be a subject matter expert. They should be the one guiding the product to the first release. Unless the product is a compiler it doesn't matter much if they can code. They need to have a vision of what the product will be, not what widgets are required for every function.

Comment: Re:The Fix: Buy good Chocolate! (Score 4, Insightful) 323

by w_dragon (#48399587) Attached to: MARS, Inc: We Are Running Out of Chocolate
I'd say chocolate is more like coffee. There are a few snobs who will happily pay incredible prices for what they're told is the best quality, a lot of people who want something that tastes right, and the majority that have never tasted it without drowning it in milk and sugar.
The Almighty Buck

The Downside to Low Gas Prices 554

Posted by timothy
from the speak-for-yourself-hummer-buyers dept.
HughPickens.com writes Pat Garofalo writes in an op-ed in US News & World Report that with the recent drop in oil prices, there's something policymakers can do that will offset at least some of the negative effects of the currently low prices, while also removing a constant thorn in the side of American transportation and infrastructure policy: Raise the gas tax. The current 18.4 cent per gallon gas tax has not been raised since 1993, making it about 11 cents per gallon today, in constant dollars. Plus, as fuel efficiency has gotten better and Americans have started driving less, the tax has naturally raised less revenue anyway. And that's a problem because the tax fills the Highway Trust Fund, which is, not to put too fine a point on it, broke so that in recent years Congress has had to patch it time and time again to fill the gap. According to the Tax Policy Center's Howard Gleckman, if Congress doesn't make a move, "it will fumble one of those rare opportunities when the economic and policy stars align almost perfectly." The increase can be phased in slowly, a few cents per month, perhaps, so that the price of gas doesn't jump overnight. When prices eventually do creep back up thanks to economic factors, hopefully the tax will hardly be noticed.

Consumers are already starting to buy the sort of gas-guzzling vehicles, including Hummers, that had been going out of style as gas prices rose; that's bad for both the environment and consumers, because gas prices are inevitably going to increase again. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, taxes last year, even before the current drop in prices, made up 12 percent of the cost of a gallon of gasoline, down from 28 percent in 2000. And compared to other developed countries, US gas taxes are pretty much a joke. While we're at it, an even better idea, as a recent report from the Urban Institute makes clear, would be indexing the gas tax to inflation, so this problem doesn't consistently arise. "The status quo simply isn't sustainable, from an infrastructure or environmental perspective," concludes Garofalo. "So raise the gas tax now; someday down the line, it will look like a brilliant move."

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