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Comment The (legendary) Vignelli Map did this 30 years ago (Score 1) 124

Massimo Vignelli redid both the signage and the map for the MTA in the 70's. Minimalism all the way - the signage remains to this day, white Helvetica on a black background, simple colored circles for the lines, and almost nothing else...there's barely even any arrows.

And his map...oh, it's a thing of beauty. "It was not a map. It was a diagram. It was not about what happens aboveground. The purpose of the diagram was to show where the subway lines go." So perfect that when the MTA wanted a weekend-service-change map they had him reissue it (and this time he eliminated ALL geographic information, and people love it)...and a copy of the original ,a href="http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=89300">still hangs in the Museum of Modern Art

Comment Nope, can't make a gun-type with Pu (Score 1) 192

If you could get isotopically pure Pu-239, which doesn't exist, it would work - but even the tiniest traces of Pu-240 will spoil it. Quoth Wiki: "The presence of the isotope plutonium-240 in a sample limits its nuclear bomb potential, as plutonium-240 has a relatively high spontaneous fission rate (~440 fissions per second per gram—over 1,000 neutrons per second per gram),[20] raising the background neutron levels and thus increasing the risk of predetonation."

Long story short, all those extra neutrons make a chain reaction far more likely to occur - so likely that if you use gun assembly, supercriticality is reached long before the two pieces are physically together and they just blow back apart with a negligible yield. Granted, "negligible" in the sense of nuclear weapons means anywhere from a few to a few hundred tons, and there's still an intense load of radiation and fallout, so for terroristic purposes it might suffice...but you aren't building a city-leveling device with Pu and a surplus artillery barrel.

  Anyway, breeding it with a neutron tube would be slow, Like building a skyscraper with a set of Craftsmen tools slow. Reactors are the *only* way to synthesize >mg quantities of any transuranic. If you have those resources, a simple (albeit large) implosion system is pretty much trivial.

Comment Sensors are much better at "capturing light" (Score 1) 137

My midrange-consumer camera (Nikon D5100) makes color images at ISO6400 that are roughly comparable in quality to "consumer" (say Fuji drugstore-brand) color film at ISO200. It captures 5 stops, 2^5 times more, light for the same (or better) overall quality. If by "capture light" you mean dynamic range or tonality or something other than raw ISO sensitivity there's more to discuss.

Comment I think the Motorola Droid 4 works in Europe (Score 1) 257

It's LTE so it should theoretically be global. Slide-out keyboard and all the other bells and whistles...1.2GHz dual-core A9, 1GB RAM, microSD slot. Slightly lower-res screen (4" 960x540, still entirely reasonable) but other than that it's entirely adequate. Runs 4.1 stock, I'm sure Cyanogen or AOSP is up to date though.


Comment The best drive-shooting I ever did was (Score 1) 295

With a 22-250 stuffed with 40-grain bullets@4200 fps. I had the drive set up at 25 yards, facing me - I aimed for the spindle, and by sheer luck hit it dead-on. At that speed, the thing literally detonated; the covers were intact but bulged, outside of that there was nothing left bigger than my fingernail...even the frame. Possibly the most satisfying act of destruction I've ever carried out.

Comment It wasn't rooting, it was breaking encryption (Score 1) 68

The researchers freezing the phone weren't doing it for anything as trivial as a root exploit; they were doing it to break the filesystem encryption. Freezing the phone (with it switched on) slows down the RAM decay enough so that quickly (~0.5sec) popping out the battery will reboot the system without the RAM erasing. From there, they start the phone up into "fastboot" mode, which is a pre-OS state that allows the device to be attached to a computer and have a custom OS loaded. That OS sniffs the RAM for the keys that had to be stored while the phone was on and decrypted, bippity boppity bacon you have access to the AES-scrambled filesystem. It's a nontrivial exploit and also nothing new, low-temperature data remanence is a known weakness of cryptosystems in general.


Comment Some of the best cans you can get are ~$100 (Score 1) 749

Sennheiser HD280 Pros. No fancy bells and whistles, no big-name musicians attaching their names, and especially a dead-flat frequency curve so you get out of them exactly what you put into them - they don't have some "inherent warmth" but if you play with your EQ you can make them sound however you damn well please. There's a reason they're in just about every recording studio on Earth.

Comment I knew cables were bunk but really learnt it when (Score 1) 749

I was working at Brookhaven with a fancy-pants laser-driven time-of-flight mass spectrometer. We needed (ideally sub-)nanosecond resolution with as close to zero variability as possible (at that point you need to account for things like cable length to the cm and "refraction" across connectors). The kind of technical minutiae that gives audiophiles hard-ons and makes One Billion Dollars for the cable companies.

We used...high-quality oxygen-free copper cables with gold-plated BNC connectors. Certainly not the $5.99 bargain bin from Staples, but we were paying ~65 for a one-meter stretch. It's not like I was dumb enough to fall for Monster's schtick before that, but it made the point in a way I don't think anything else quite ever could.

Comment Nobody's going to worry abou intent with a 17" bbl (Score 3, Informative) 404

The minimum legal length in the US is sixteen inches. That being said, the ATF generally considers it "constructive intent" if you have the parts to make an illegal weapon and ONLY an illegal weapon. It's been officially clarified that having a Thompson Contender interchangeable-barrel handgun, a rifle stock for the TC, AND a legal-length barrel is not constructive intent - while you could make a short-barreled rifle by putting the stock on TC, the long barrel justifies owning the stock. Same goes for AR pistols, if you have an AR pistol and an AR stock but no full-sized AR rifle, you're gonna be in some pretty serious poop. If you do have a rifle though, you're fine.

It is legally grey and I'm sure the ATF has played fast and loose with it before, but AFAIK it isn't a huge problem.

Comment Plastic is far more durable. (Score 1) 619

Ligher and far more forgiving. I've seen one Sammy, a Galaxy Note, with a cracked screen...and it seems every third iPhone is shattered. My broke-ass friend got a 4 when they went up for free, put in in a OTTERBOX, and promptly dropped and broke it. We're both technically savvy dudes and decided that the undeniably beautiful seamless metal and glass construction, while aesthetically incomparable, is utter shite at absorbing shock - phone goes down, lands on a corner, frame transfers energy to glass, CRUNCH. My S3 has hit the ground many times, hell, I slipped and literally flung it to the sidewalk once...nary a scratch, and it just has a silicone skin and screen film.

Comment Meh, I'll probably get one.. (Score 1) 619

I have two contracts with Verizon that roll over a year apart; I need both lines for the foreseeable future and don't plan on switching carriers (I go to deep deep Louisiana and Maine, NO other service out there). I have a less-than-year-old S3 that has been in a rubber-baby-buggy-bumper and screen protector since day 1, absolutely mint condition; I can unload it on ebay and get an S4 on contract while quite possibly putting money in my pocket. Been at it for four years, it's really not a bad gig if you can swing it.

Comment And it does reveal the aircraft (Score 5, Interesting) 270

The point of the whole secure-comms thing as I understand it is to have one 22 staying well out of range of the hostiles with its targeting radar active (which totally screams HI GUYS HERE I AM LOOK AT ME YAAAAAAAAAAH!), feeding the info unidirectionally to a few more Raptors that are much closer and have all their radio and radar emitters quiet; they receive the data, feed it to their tracking and targeting systems, and fire all without (theoretically) compromising their stealthiness - the bad guys see one fighter 150 miles away and think "ha ha dumbass is lighting us up from out there!" and next thing they know six AMRAAMS appear out of thin air 20 miles away.

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