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Comment: Re:Does It Matter? (Score 1) 118

by fermion (#48940923) Attached to: VirtualBox Development At a Standstill
I paid for virtual machine software for the Mac to run Windows XP and 7. I did not want to reboot. I switched to virtual box not because it was free, but because I felt it was better. I have not needed to run windows for a couple years, so I do not know what the current state of development is in the market, but VirtualBox would be my initial choice if I needed a VM. One data point. For the modeling software I was using on Windows 7, Parallels made my machine run much hotter.

Comment: Re:I work in Earth-observing satellite ground syst (Score 2) 24

by fermion (#48937401) Attached to: Spire Plans To Use Tiny Satellites For More Accurate Weather Forecasts
The first question that popped into my mind was did they have a new model that would take data from 100 satellites and produce a more accurate forecast. I don't think that satellites alone are not going to create a more accurate forecast. This reminds me when I was talking to a teacher back in the 80's. He mentioned that at one point it was believed that if we could create a dense enough network of satellites and sensors, we could forecast the weather with great accuracy and for arbitrarily long periods. Theoretically, given an infinite array of sensors, the forecast would be perfect and long range. But then actual science interfered as the work of Lorentz propagated through the ranks. The sensitivity to initial conditions, and the inherent limitations of data collection, made such claims of better forecasting theoretically impossible. I have to think that the current configuration of satellites represents some compromise between cost and benefit. Not to say that more satellites will not provide a benefit. Whoever contracts with the service will be able to claim 'We have better forecasting because we have more satellites', which will help with marketing. It will help push forward the cubesat business and will test out these new technologies, which is of great benefit. And it is an experiment that might succeed in producing useful data that might be able to be put into better models.

Comment: Re:Wouldn't a sorted table have been more useful ? (Score 2) 136

by fermion (#48892859) Attached to: By the Numbers: The Highest-Paying States For Tech Professionals
This is advertisement from the parent company of /., so there is no need for any real information.

Presenting things as maps is the 21st century method of establishing credibility. It is much cheaper than actually creating an informative graphic with useful data, a la Edward Tufte.

As has been mentioned, this data is not all that useful. One still pretty much makes more money in places that are more expensive to live, but not nearly enough. For instance, in San Jose one might make 25% more than in Houston. On the other hand, the median price for a home in San Jose is 5 times the average pay listed on the site, while in Houston the median price for a home is only 1.4 times the average pay listed on the site. Doing this type of normalization is simple, but does not drive rubes to higher paying jobs that might pay higher commissions to places like Dice.

Comment: Re:Or: (Score 5, Interesting) 65

by fermion (#48892777) Attached to: Smartphones, Tablets and EBay Send SkyMall To Chapter 11
This seems to be the narrative that the parent company, Xhibit Corp,is pushing. Perhaps blaming 'the market' will help it in bankruptcy with creditors, and protect the owners from personal liability.

What is not being widely reported is that Xhibit Corp sold the customer loyalty fulfillment part of the business last year for around $20 million. This was the unit that apparently generated the vast majority of the revenue and probably all the profit. Why would a firm who expected to stay solvent sell of the unit that generated most of the revenue, a unit with guaranteed sales?

It really seems like a scam to create liquidity of the profitable assets and then screw the creditors. The fact that the business was a failing was probably known at the time of the sale. For instance, it was probably known that Southwest Air was going to stop carrying the catalog.

Comment: Re:oh good grief (Score 1) 818

by fermion (#48877357) Attached to: Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret
The Miata is a highly tuned engined with a highly tuned exhaust system in an attempt to create a pleasant engine noise experience.

What we are talking about here is noise for those who need others to notice them. Who buy the big truck or the loud motorcycle because they do not get enough attention at home.

This of course is different from an electric car which needs fake noise so that others are not startled.

In any case the Miata has one of the most expensive engines, and that along with the suspension contributes the majority cost to the car. There is nothing else that one buys a Miata for.

Comment: Re:We've sold the spectrum here; wouldn't be allow (Score 1) 104

by fermion (#48812241) Attached to: Where Cellular Networks Don't Exist, People Are Building Their Own
Another thing to consider it that is not as necessary. For many in developing world there is no landline, or at least affordable landline.

I remember about 20 years ago I knew many more people in South America who had cell phones that in the US. I, at that time, did not have a cell phone. OTOH, many of those in SA that had cell phones did not have land lines because the lines either did run into the mountains, or the land line was too expensive. In particular, the local service would not sell what we call residential lines, instead requiring the higher business rates.

What they did have outside the US were reletively strong repeaters, and many had then. The cell phones would work in urban areas, then fade, then work again when they were in range of the home signal booster.

Now, as in many places outside the US, the coverage is excellent and one is never very far away from a shop that will top off your data.

Comment: Re:You don't say !! (Score 4, Interesting) 324

by fermion (#48804435) Attached to: How To Hijack Your Own Windows System With Bundled Downloads
This is old news, but still of a concern because of Google. I have noticed lately that sometimes when I search for software to install on a new machine or try out for a project, one of the download services comes up as the first result instead of the actual place hosting the repositories and packages.

This reminds me when link farms were more of an issue than they are today, and when just doing a search could kill your windows machine.

Really it is the search engines that keep these people in business, and modifications of the algorithm could minimize the damage just like it did with link farms.

Comment: Re:We don't need to stinkin' badges ... (Score 1) 46

by fermion (#48794801) Attached to: Chicago E-Learning Scheme Embraces Virtual Badges For Public Schoolers
"gamerfication" is something that some educators want to try. I see no problem with this as some students will respond to this kind of motivation. I see it as worthy as grades. Long term, however, the value will be no more than grades or a high school diploma. There will be issues with validity and value. Did the kid earn the badge or was given the badge. Were the requirements for the badge the same everywhere, or were some people give lower requirements.

Comment: Re:Rewriting history to favor India/Arabs? (Score 1) 187

The reality is, for instance, that Algebra is derived from Arabic, that Algebra as we know it today was refined in the middle east, and is of particular Arabic origin. Much of the origin myths of the west have been written to exclude non-western contributions. This can be as simple as US children not being taught that the Russians were instrumental in defeating Hitler, to including stirrups on horses in B.C.E Europe even though such technology only existed in China until the 5th or 6th century C.E.

Comment: Re:Broadcast Radio? Eeew.... (Score 1) 126

by fermion (#48785027) Attached to: Radio, Not YouTube, Is Still King of Music Discovery
who is going to pay $200 a year for radio. I pay almost that much for contributions to non profit stations, but if I listen to commercial radio it is streaming from my phone, mostly non-US stations to discover movie.

In any case Sirius does not solve the basic problem, which is the payments to the artists for airplay. Streaming services are going to tend to much better than radio to target new music to listeners, and are not running ads to pay for excessive fees to allow artists to publicize their music, so while these services need to pay artists, they cannot be as much as radio. Likewise, the big publishers should be removed from the process, otherwise we are going to end up with same lame formats we have on radio.

Comment: Re: How? (Score 1) 272

by symbolset (#48723179) Attached to: How Civilizations Can Spread Across a Galaxy
It turns out going fast is an energy problem, not a mass problem, except in as much a mass is a form of energy. Fusion converts mass to energy, so Lockheed Martin says they might have this figured out. Naked fusion propulsion in the gigawatt range (million horsepower) in a form factor that would fit in the back of a pickup truck. A few of those in parallel, a few gallons of water and it's off to the stars at 1G. Being in the exhaust would suck though - wear your SPF 5 billion because it's going to be hot.

Comment: Re: (Score 2) 272

by symbolset (#48723153) Attached to: How Civilizations Can Spread Across a Galaxy
These suns have already been this close to our sun thousands of times in the last 4 billion years that our solar system has been thoroughly polluted with life. We have exchanged many megatons of material with them. As some of these suns are 8 billion years older than our sun it is far more likely life came here from there than the other way around.

Anyway, the article neglects that these suns probably have Oort clouds of their own, and a different ecliptic plane, which means theircomets would be coming at an angle Jupiter doesn't protect us from, and potentially at an exceptionally high rate of speed. What with our own comet adventures with Shoemaker-Levy 9 and Siding Spring, Earth interaction with a comet may be more likely than previously thought.

Everybody likes a kidder, but nobody lends him money. -- Arthur Miller