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Comment Re:Buy from the Chinese (Score 1) 652

C'mon, at least buy them from the Chinese for a $100 or less a piece.

The problem with that is that they'd be too cheap, and thus more difficult to believe in.

Assuming for a moment that in the hands of a competent operator these things *do* find bad stuff more often than random chance would allow, you'd want them to be well and consistently made. You would want them built by a company that didn't skimp on materials and that wouldn't make random substitutions if certain parts or materials were unavailable. You'd want them as "mil-spec" as possible, so they'd survive field service. You'd want them to come from somewhere with a little credibility in the security field, as this mob seem to have from some of the other devices and bespoke vehicles they produce or distribute - this is not the kind of thing that you could get away with buying from just anywhere, and in the absence of the ability to properly and scientifically test it you'd need to rely on the thing's pedigree to some extent.

As for the assertion in TFA that reporters managed to carry AK-47s in their car without being challenged - perhaps what's being detected isn't the physical presence of weapons or explosives, but the intent of the driver and passengers. If a driver knew they had a bomb and had a belief that the checkpoint had a magic bomb-detecting divining rod, they'd be more likely to be nervous. Perhaps these devices give the operator a little more confidence that allows them to subconsciously take more notice of other behavioural cues. If that was the case, then a driver who didn't know the vehicle was packed with explosives or a driver who was a cucumber-cool psychopath could reasonably be expected to not "trigger" the device. Similarly, someone who was nervous in the presence of people with guns and badges and roadblocks could be expected to be spotted as being "uncomfortable" by the operator - and the gold teeth and perfume false-positive stories are intended to allow the operators to continue to believe in their skills and the device. You could probably get similar results from people who were conditioned to believe they were tapping into their own psychic potential, with a couple of potential drawbacks - if they fail with a prop they can blame the prop and the potential unreliability of the process rather than themselves, and they're less likely to be killed by the oppositiion if they're not seen as some kind of magical and irreplaceable person.

Sure, it's security theatre rather than a security device per se, and in use is a cross between a confidence trick and a carnival act, but that might just get results for reasons other than its own "bomb detecting" ability.

Comment Re:same thing happened with my old beemer (Score 1) 1146

and it really was the floor mat. Now I'm OCD about making sure it's in the right spot before I get in the car...

Same thing happened with my last Toyota, a '67 Corona. Turned out to be the breather tube from the rocker cover to the carbie fouling the throttle linkage and holding it wide open.

Comment Re:Oh no... (Score 5, Interesting) 319

Expanding on point 2, Microsoft may want to open up the MAPI specs a little more for the benefit of iPhones and the like. At $DAYJOB, we have Exchange 2003 and a number of users with iPhones and we've seen some bizarre things happen on occasion with calendar entries (weirdness when one of a number of repeating appointments is changed or cancelled and not showing up as changed or removed on the iPhone, that kind of thing). While I'm prepared to believe that it's partially to do with Apple testing more thoroughly with and developing against Exchange 2K7, I can't help but feel that a better understanding of how Outlook communicates with Exchange and a better understanding of how Outlook represents the data internally would help other developers produce something that works better with Exchange.

And that could well be Microsoft's strategy...domination at mail-and-collaboration server end. If they open up the client specs a little more, and that makes Exchange 2010 and beyond more attractive, they've won.

Comment Stick it to the man (Score 1) 645

You know, there's a way out of this. It's called EXCLUSIVELY playing material that's already in the public domain.

Sure, you won't get Top 40 crap - that's a benefit, by the way - but if you're after appealing background noises for a retail environment you'd be amazed at what's available. One of the best recordings of Rhapsody in Blue I've heard dates from 1927.

Play these recordings, arrange for somone to "anonymously" call the Music Police to report you, and when the bastards turn up simply ask them to leave the premises as you're not doing anything wrong - without explaining why you're in the right and they're not. Keep logs of what you play, and where you sourced it. Do NOT let any staff play ANYTHING else. Let the Music Police threaten to sue you. Insist that you've done nothing wrong. Let them get their lawyers involved, and let them run up some legal costs, then get the press involved.

If they're going to play stupid games like threatening action over someone "performing" songs while they're stacking supermarket shelves, they deserve everything they get. I hear there's a lot of stuff from the 40's that's not covered in the UK and Scotland any more, so that covers all the really great swing-era stuff, although I hear Sir Cliff is a little pissed about the fact that he may soon stop getting royalties for Summer Holiday and is trying to pull a Disney...

Comment Re:Can I avoid this simply by avoiding Disney? (Score 1) 498

I wasn't claiming there weren't ones before VHS & Betamax, in fact I specifically said there were VCRs before that. I wondered specifically what VCR Lumpy used and still had.

As do I. My post wasn't intended to suggest that you'd suggested that video cassettes started with Betamax; rather, it was intended to describe the range of possibilities - of which, on further reflection, I suspect U-matic is probably the most likely.

Comment Re:SNAPs (Score 1) 356

SNAP-10A is also still up there in a stable orbit, although it's no longer functional or complete - a failure in an electrical system, plus the beryllium neutron reflector was ejected.

Somebody (NASA? Or, if you're not keen, how about giving the Chinese or the Indians all the design specs) should be looking at this thing. It's already up there, and won't require a launch of radioactive materials. Worst case, it may be possible to simply re-use the fuel rods in another reactor - one with another 44 years of advances and design experience behind it. It's also been up there for 44 years - admittedly in mothballs rather than functional - and may provide some insights into the effects of long-term exposure to space for those kinds of systems.

What are the salvage laws, as applicable to space? Would China or India even need permission to simply take the fissionable material for re-use in another reactor? NASA "Parked" it, but could it be considered "abandoned"?

Comment But what does this actually mean? (Score 2, Informative) 875

In the convenience of your own home, or similar to the right to access clean drinking water you find in some places?

The wording is something to the effect of no household being more than 2 kilometres from a high-speed connection. Are we talking about a pipe to the house, or having to line up to use the communal pump and carry your buckets of bits back home with you?

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